Reviews

Book review: Beginning Ajax with PHP by Lee Babin

Book Review
Apress: Beginning Ajax with PHP by Lee Babin

Book Site | Sample Chapter: 3 PHP and Ajax | Table of Contents

Although no stranger to Ajax, I received a review copy of Beginning Ajax with PHP expecting some watered down presentation of Javascript with some PHP thrown in. I was quite surprised to find a good presentation of using Ajax and PHP, easy enough for the beginner and still interesting for those who have done it for years.

The book starts out exactly how I would write it -- SIMPLE! The first time I did Ajax with XHR (xml http request), I used a plain text file, which I then read into a DIV at the click of a link. This takes a similar approach and has data stored in an array which is then accessed with a simple call to a PHP file. The following chapter, takes it a step further and this building upon previous chapters is a common theme in the book.

Book Review: PHP Hacks

Book Review: PHP Hacks by Jack D. Herrington, published by O'Reilly

I had borrowed a Perl Hacks book from and friend and really liked it, it was great! It had a lot of practical things as well as some fun things. I expected the same from PHP Hacks and I was not disappointed!

Here’s the table of contents: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/phphks/toc.html

O’Reilly also has some sample hacks: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/phphks/chapter/index.html

Here's some that I found interesting:

The Practical Stuff

Breadcrumbs
Not familiar with the term? Check it out. I think this hack may get you started on a breadcrumb function/method. In the end they suggest a xml file to show which page urls were parents of which. The way I've done this before was I had a class for each major section, and sub section, and had a method ->addCrumb($label, $url) which I had in the constructor…and the subsections of course would call the parent contructor and it kept the breadcrumb hierarchy intact. But hey, that’s the fun of programming - different ways to do the same thing to meet different needs! Definitely a good hack to get the juices flowing!

CodeSnipers First Birthday Contest

Greetings and welcome to CodeSniper's First Birthday Contest.

For those of you just joining us, we launched one year ago this morning with 10 contributors. We've had some ups and downs, some changing of the guard, and some silent periods (*ahem*July*ahem*), but overall, it's been fun and educational so far. On the flip side, I know of at least three CodeSnipers who have been contacted by companies and had their contributions here referenced. Not huge, but still exciting.

Now the contest part...

Retrain your brain

 Brain Age for Nintendo DSDo you feel yourself slowing down as you get older? Feel like your brain’s getting a bit sluggish? Nintendo might have the answer: Dr Kawashima's Brain Training (Brain Age in the US).

You’ve probably already read about this, and about how popular it’s been with Japanese pensioners, in a mainstream newspaper or on another website (got to love that marketing exposure). In case you haven’t, it’s a collection of short brain exercises for the Nintendo DS. It makes you perform simple little tests like memorization, reading aloud, or basic calculations, on a regular basis, keeping graphs to track your performance over time. To make sure there’s no cheating, you can only record a score in each training program once a day.

Finding your Blue Ocean

One of the hardest problems starting a micro-ISV is defining your product, and one of the best ways to frame this question comes from a very unlikely source: the Harvard Business School press.

MBA stuff is usually about as useful to developers and feathers on a fish; MBA’s tend to be the people who wander from corporate cubicle to meeting, muttering in incomprehensible management-talk. Yet, here’s a book by two highly prominent MBA academicians that nails how micro-ISVs can find the right application or web service to create.

Now Chan Kim and Bruce Henderson didn’t set out in Blue Ocean Strategy to find out how startups can define what they are starting up – they wanted to find the key secret sauce of why when big businesses start new businesses some take off, most putter along a few crash and burn spectacularly. But hey, I’ll take it.

Source Code Browsing Tools?

Marco Sanvido asks: "I often look at source code (especially C, but this question is valid for other languages as well) and I have a really hard time in understanding how it works. Documentation is often missing or quite outdated, and the only way to see how the program works is to try to understand the source code. Which tools do you prefer to use for browsing and studying source code? So far I have used LXR for Linux, Eclipse for java, and CScope, but I'm not sure that these tools are the best solution." It's tempting to flood this question with answers for your IDE, but the key thing here is _browsing_, not _development_. What decent, lightweight programs would work well as source code viewers?

The Art of SQL

Graeme Williams writes "One difference between SQL and a conventional procedural programming language is that for SQL there's a bigger gap between what the code says and what the code does. The Art of SQL is the opposite of a cookbook – or rather it's about cooking rather than recipes. It's not a reference manual, although there's plenty to refer back to. It's an intermediate level book which assumes you know how to read and write SQL, and analyzes what SQL does and how it does it." Read on for Graeme's review.

Say Hello to My Little Friend

With my recent Ruby on Rails project, I've done more on the linux command line than with PHP development. For example, you run a ruby script to generate a code skeleton for scaffolding, controllers, models and views. Stuck with a windows environment for my development on the go (I commute 3 hours a day, in which time I'm hacking away on my laptop, which I am doing right now. In Vim.)

I reached into the crevices of my mind to remember how to create Batch files. Yes, that’s right, batch files. Yes, Good Old MS-DOS. I still have a DOS For Dummies book (aquired long after DOS was out, I just couldn't resist the nostalgia and I think it only cost 2 bucks). I created a batch file for ls, mv and cp. Not rocket science I know and although I had installed cygwin I was not particularly keen on using that all the time, I also had found some exe's that imitate many of the unix commands...but I didn't need all that jazz. I just wanted a ls, mv and cp command!

As my project progressed, I was doing more and more on the server side, tweaking here and there. Man, I said… I need to get VI for windows I knew it existed, I had it many years ago. Actually, I think it was only a dos version that I had. I searched and discovered GVIM. And it’s pretty darn nice!

Sharing my cool toys

I was berated the other day by Keith. He told me about PLEAC and I said yeah, I know!! He said no fair you didn't share your cool toys! So for all you remaining coders out there, I'm sharing! Here's a few handy code snippet sites and I'll review for you today.

PLEAC
This site uses the Perl Cookbook as the basis (which has the Perl source freely available) and volunteers rewrite the snippets in other languages where possible. Very handy, if you know one language and wonder how you would do it in another language.

MySQL 5.0 - A quick look

I've started seriously playing with MySQL 5.0 as an upgrade from the 4.0 that we've been using for a long time now at work. And I'm liking what I'm seeing.

Some people will claim that other databases have had features for years that are just now going into MySQL. I'll agree with that, though no other databases have had the same momentum and open source traction that MySQL has. The closest open source competitor, PostgreSQL, is more feature filled but still doesn't seem to have the following that MySQL has.

Let's look at a few of the new goodies.