Wiggly fun

Daniel and I went to see The Wiggles a couple of weeks ago. For those who don't know, The Wiggles are children's entertainers. Rather than describing them in great detail, I commend to you various clips on Youtube. Just search for "The Wiggles".

Before Daniel developed an interest in this group, I had little appreciation of their talents. But now I enjoy them, and I am deeply envious. Here is a bunch of 40-something guys (except maybe Sam who is to the Wiggles what Brian Johnston is to AC/DC) who earn $50 million a year and have legions of fans all over the world. Furthermore, they have a new audience every year, pack venues at every concert, and play two or three shows a day and are in bed at a civilised hour. It ain't rock'n'roll... in many respects, it's better.

Most of their fans adore them and their shows have something for everyone. Even the hardest, most ardent music fan would appreciate the impromptu bursts of "My Sharona" and "You Can't Touch This / Superfreak".

The only vision of their concerts I've seen is performances at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, with multi-camera video shoots and a full band. I'm given to understand that their Christmas show is a bigger affair so maybe it's unwarranted to complain about...

Sequencing. They all sang. Murray and Jeff played live. Anthony looked as if he might have been playing the drums and I think it was acoustic. Everything else was backing tracks.

The sound at Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne was atrocious. The house PA is a cluster of horns with what appears to be a sub (well, not horns) hanging from the roof. About half the stalls wasn't covered by that. They set up a pair of RCF powered speakers on either side of the stage. These were rather shrill and didn't cover the space adequately. "It's too loud", said Daniel with all the auditory sensitivity of a 3-year-old. (When's the last time you heard 20k?)

What should they have done? You can't run a kiddies' show loudly. But something like a normal clustered concert system or even some mini-line arrays would have been nice.

Still, at $20 a ticket (list price ... I was skinned by an ebay scalper), you wouldn't get that.

What's a sound guy to do...?

phpmelb meeting - May 2008

I went to the PHP Melbourne User Group meeting on Thursday evening. There were two presenters:

Avi Miller from Squiz, vendor of MySource Matrix, an open source CMS, talking about PHP Code Sniffer, a tool which checks compliance with coding standards.

Ben Balbo, long-time member of phpMelb and current office-holder (I'm embarrassed that I can't remember which office), giving a demonstration of views and stored procedures in MySQL.

PHPCodeSniffer is certainly cool, not least because it's very clever and I suppose it has its uses where adherence to coding standards is held to be a high priority. However, I enjoyed Ben's talk as it's the simplest and easiest explanation of views and stored procedures that I've ever seen. Must try out those features!

Why blog?

Oh no. Yet another first post by a relative nobody justifying what is really vanity publishing.

Most blogs seem to start off this way. Well, even if the first post is not about why the blog exists, you can be pretty sure that soon enough there'll be such a post. This is that post (and it's the first).

Why blog?

Apparently there are 33 reasons to start a blog, but only if you think you can express your freedom of speech (as opposed to exercising it) and can bare the author's nasty habit of joining what should be 2 or 3 sentences with commas. And he seems to be a self-improvement junkie, so you've really got to take it with a grain of salt.

I much prefer these reasons, though I'm not immune to some of the temptations. Perhaps it's not so much about being famous as partly using a blog to further certain ambitions. Now I'm starting to sound like that personalhack.com fella.

But it's true. As noted in my "about" summary, I'm a wanna-be PHP developer. I should probably learn other languages but I don't earn a living programming and need to balance work and family life too. I hold the slightly vain hope that discussion of programming ideas on this blog might elicit some interest from others, including those who might employ me.

Why PHP?

Back in university (20 years ago), I did a bit of Basic and assembler programming on a BBC micro. I wrote a program that would display a score (the Bezier curves for the clef symbols were a killer!) and play sound (that bit was in assembler). Later, there was a little Pascal and C on an early Mac and the Hierarchical Music Specification Language, based on FORTH. Pascal and C use braces; HMSL doesn't. I really like braces and I don't like the idea of whitespace determining program flow (therefore, so Python and Ruby seem really odd). So PHP seems like a natural fit. And then there are all those libraries with built-in functions for doing all sorts of really cool things relatively easily. I especially like PDO.

Like every PHP novice, I've written a templating system and had a go at writing a framework. But there are so many people much cleverer than me so I gave up. As Clay Sharkey said, build a cool app. So I did a bit of experimenting. I haven't had much of a go at Zend or Solar though there are things that seem admirable. I used Cake and ran into a lot of problems, such as the insistence on naming form fields in a certain way and then finding that the Cake Model component didn't give results whose names conformed to it. WTF?

Lately, I've been playing with konstrukt, a framework which concerns itself with the controller and view (presenter?) parts of the MVC puzzle. It seems really nice. It doesn't assume anything about the model part -- you can roll your own. Pretty URLs are handled really nicely with hierarchical controllers and nested views are easily set up.

I suppose that if I were really serious, I'd have written my own blogging app. I might still, just for fun and as a learning experience, using konstrukt. In the mean time, Habari will do. It seems to be the most nicely coded PHP blogging app around. I'll also have to learn how to write a theme for it, including a customised front page. I may write about that experience too.

Since I'm an audio engineer and teacher of sound production, you might find the odd post about sound and audio technology.

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A vanity publishing venture of David Rodger, sound production teacher and wannabe PHP developer