Just one geek's opinions and epiphanies

The Little Wins: Packagist & Composer

Ok kids, are you developing in PHP, and have a need to manage your Assets (CSS, and JS)? Well I have finally packaged my own Asset manager and made it available through Packagist/Composer.


It has no dependencies itself, so there is no crazy overhead (aside from the composer overhead).

If none of that made any sense to you, well then you are probably family or friends, and I welcome you too! Learn some PHP, or Python and improve your world.

Hello Prgmr.com!

Well it took a few days, for good reason, but I am finally running Utahcon.com on the latest WordPress with a new configuration on a new host! The new VPS is from http://prgmr.com which is a Xen host. I am running  their $6/mo package which give you:

  • 128MB Ram
  • 3GB of Storage
  • 20GB of Transfer

It doesn't sound like a lot, but it should be more than enough for this server. I brought Utahcon.com over from Linode, where I was paying $19.95/month. So the extra $13.95 in my pocket means I can spend the extra on adding servers for the purpose of advancing my projects.

So what am I running on top of the VPS? Great question, here are the details:

  • Fedora 17 (prgmr.com image)
  • nginx (web server)
  • PHP5.4
  • MySQL (tried desperately to get MariaDB, but alas I had to move on)
  • Wordpress 3.4.2

As you can see I didn't need a lot of power under the hood to run a single blog (and I might actually end up running a few blogs from here). I had the site hidden at beta.utahcon.com but if you are reading this it is available through simply visiting utahcon.com or blog.utahcon.com (deprecated).

Moving forward all links to my blog should be sent to simply utahcon.com

All other sub-domains will be moving on to other purposes.

Thanks for checking in, and I let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Book Review: Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scrapers, 2nd Edition

Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scraping

If you have been reading my reviews for any amount of time you know that I love tech books, and I usually give them pretty glowing reviews, especially No Starch books. They are informative, teach you things, make you think outside the box. I love No Starch books.

Alright, now that you know I love No Starch I am sad to report I have found the bad apple in the bunch. Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scrapers. I didn't come to this point of view lightly, I really tried to find the good in this book, and there is some, however it is overshadowed by what I consider to be a pretty lame mistake on the authors part.

Webbots, Spiders, and Screen Scrapers is all about the what, how and why of webbots, spiders and screen scrapers. Basically a guide to why you need them, how to make them, and what they should be doing. It is a great reference as to what webbots are, and you can learn a thing or two while reading this book.

My gripe is pretty simple, and there is a work around for it, but here it is. The author, Michael Schrenk, didn't teach us all about writing webbots, spiders and screen scrapers. The book was meant to be an tool in teaching the PHP/cURL involved in writing these bots. Instead the author wrote a library of functions and tells you to include it, and then uses the book as an almost 400 page reference to his own library.

Sure you could open the library up and read though the code and get an idea of what is going on, but really that wasn't the point of the book. The point of the book was to show you how to use PHP and cURL to build your own bots, and spiders. What you get is a book that tells you how to build HIS bots and spiders. Furthermore the library comes with disclaimers about bugs in the code, instead of fixes to the code. So now you have a book that won't teach you to code PHP /cURL webbots, and it gives you code that may or may not work for what you are doing.

The silver lining in all of this is that the book did come with the library and if you are inclined to open it up and read through the code, then you can get a sense of what you really wanted to know in the first place. How to handle pages as files, how to parse for information, and how to store the information you pulled. I really would have liked the book to have been more about the building of the library than a reference to the library.

Get Your Advent On!

Learning is so important in my industry (programming and computers in general) that you can never look at a learning opportunity as wasted time. Also it is the Christmas season, and people do Advent things... so I present the Advent list. All these sites have Advents going on that teach tips and tricks for different languages.

I hope you find these handy, and learn a thing of two!


Ah yeah! I have finally done it! I have forked, committed, pushed, sent a pull request and now... I HAVE BEEN MERGED!

12:25 < Fuel-Bot> [oil] philsturgeon pushed 2 new commits to master: https://github.com/fuel/oil/compare/a8e1387...4be84aa                                                   eighty4 12:25 < Fuel-Bot> [oil/master] Making more use of the Form::label() in the scaffold builds - Adam Barrett                                                                    el2ro 12:25 < Fuel-Bot> [oil/master] Merge pull request #18 from utahcon/master - Phil Sturgeon

Today at 12:25MST my pull request for Oil was merged into the master line, which means it is gold!