ZendCon ’08 – Day One

So its end of Day One here at ZendCon, let’s do a quick re-cap.

So i met up with my co-worker, another SWAT member Neil Broers, and we got going to the conference center across the street. We went through registration, got our cool ZendCon Bags and all the cool papers inside there. It was almost time for our first tutorial, Zend PHP 5 Certification Crash Course, so we headed up to the right room to get our seats.

This crash course was given by Christian Wenz, a german php developer, author of a great many books and a great contributor to the ZCE Exam, so he has really good info on all the details. This is a 18h course given by Zend, but it was compressed into just over 5 hours for the ZendCon atendees. So that cause a little rush in some topics, but overall it was a great talk.

What Wenz did for the session is to just go through all topics showing some of the trick questions we should expect in the exam as well as give us an overall view of the whole exam, and such. This was really great, during the morning we focused on some 4 of the 12 topics, especially the PHP Basics topic, and we could clearly see that the test was all about little missing pieces and details that changes the whole output, which is something i actually don’t like about the certification.

So during the coffee break I got into a quick conversation with Derick Rethans and Neil, and Derick was telling us about working with dBus, so that he could dialup his phone using PHP, yeah, that cool and insane at the same time, but hay… i got PHP to turno on my lights didn’t I?

Lunch was really good, cheers to Cal Evans for the great event organization, we had a choice of Turkey and Rosbeef sandwiches with brownies, ok, I’m off PHP, but hey, it was awesome! After lunch i introduced Neil some PHP celebs and met some of them myself.

We had a chance to meet Matthew Turland, which i had been chatting with already, who is author of Phergie a PHP IRC bot, Davey Shafik co-author of the ZCE Guide and Original creator of Phar, Elizabeth Smith, one of PHP Women’s key figures, Derick Rethans, all around core developer and Xdebug author, Cal Evans, Zend go to guy and indenti.ca’s creator, and Wez Furlong, well you know Wez right? Core developer and all around PHP Celeb. Oh and i also met Lorna Jane from IBuildings, but just briefly.

So we had a great chat before sessions started up again, and it was actually good that at some point we got off PHP and started geek-chatting, that was really fun.

The afternoon was part 2 of the crash course and followed the same line. and afterwards I got a big surprise! I’m the newest ElePHPant Herder in SF. I got my elePHPant plush toy, from … yeah I think I can’t say who gave me it until after the conf.. or he’ll have no life at all. But he knows who he is, THANKS DUDE!

But talking about the session, let me share of the topics we heard there.

Zend PHP 5 Certification Crash Course

Wenz gave us some starting tips, and i wrote down some extra stuff in each section, so let’s get at it.

First of all, you need to have some knowledge of rare attributes and edge cases for the main functions, that helps alot. Your answers should be lowercase with the “()” at the end, well, its just the best policy.

PHP Basics. Watch out for indentation trick questions with HereDoc and always, always pay attention to number representations, like

$x = 013 //this is an OCTAL NUMBER, so 1*8 + 3 = 11 not 13

We chatted quite a bit over string to int, to float and other conversions and we test has a whole bunch of trick questions here. Something else to note is the boolean conversion and the 4 exceptions that result in false (“0”, 0, “” and NULL).

Words like always and never need to be closely looked at and are probably wrong, but this is no just PHP exams, right? We also did some questions on bitwise operators, which you don’t need to be an expert at, but should know about. As well as knowing the on the ASCII Table, that uppercase letters have lower values then lowercase, since that will matter in string comparison questions.

Functions. watch out for argument handling, and writing functions with dynamic parameters, using the get parameter functions, also, and I had never actually realized this, but this code works:

$somevar = "my";
function yell(){
$GLOBALS['somevar'] .= " God!";

echo $somevar;

OOP. Yeah.. not much here… I mean, if you develop PHP in OO you are well versed for this, but do take a look at SPL and its various aspects.

Strings. Functions, functions and functions… check them out, learn about case sensitive and insentive and try to get the names right.

RegExp. Don’t need to be a wiz, but be sure to know the basics and be able to break down the PCRE patterns, and identify them in questions

That’s about it, we had more topics but the follow the same line and I actually didn’t note anything new that i can popup here.

So, here we go, time to sleep and get ready for Day 2, see you all tomorrow.