PHP Development in the Cloud by Ivo Jansch and Vito Chin

Cloud computing is finally reaching a point of maturity and leaving its early “hype” years behind. Ivo and Vito do a very good job of bringing the topic into a PHP developer’s world in a very concise and objective manner, without leaving important platforms and concepts behind.

From the top the book sets down the glossary and explains very clearly what Cloud computing is and where it stands, which is very important if you are to decide wether its the solution for you or not. It also brings the concept into technical view reviewing the differences between a regular hosting environment and a elastic cloud structure. This is very important to architects building new applications that mean to take full advantage of the cloud. Finally the book overviews a few examples and most importantly a few providers and solutions, such as Amazon, Windows Azure and Google App Engine.

The book was a very pleasant read, not thick and not too thin. It helped me greatly as I prepared to give a presentation on Cloud Computing, allowing me to see different points of view as well as compare other technologies i had not had time or chance to try. I recommend this for any application architect who is thinking if the cloud is the right solution, but even if its not on your mind yet. Its very important to know where the cloud fits in so that when given a choice you will know the cloud is an option to be considered.

Book CoverTitle: PHP Development in the Cloud – a php|architect Guide
By: Ivo Jansch and Vito Chin
Publisher: Blue Parabola

Pages: 172
ISBN: 9780981034522

Buy it: At php|architect

Review: The Art of Community – Jono Bacon

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I must confess that Jono Bacon actually caught me by surprise. While I was following the creation process of the book (O’Reilly invited UG leaders to send feedback) I could have never imagined I would one day have something so useful for someone who deals with communities on a day to day basis. In this universe Jono is a well known figure, with vast experience in managing and participating in online communities, which credits him as a perfect candidate to write a book like this one.

A book about how to manage and live amongst virtual communities has all the elements to be a boring book full of “do’s and don’t’s”, in summary a very repetitive and unpleasant book. However Jono proves his understanding of the communication channels (important part of any community) right off the bat in the book’s introduction. Here he showcases his writing strategy, telling personal experiences. Building on top of this premise the author goes throughout the book presenting us with new concepts or strategies and following it up with a real life example from his and others’ experience in communities. This makes the book a delightful read, easy and flowing, the kind of book you can pickup anywhere and have fun while you plow through the pages, perfect for the everyday life of lines and waiting. I recommend loading it up on your e-reader if you got one.

The book is incredibly broad and valid for numerous roles inside every community, from managers to members, volunteers, to the regular Open Source developer. Each level of the community stands to gain from this book and even people who work with or use the community, such as marketing people, and activists who need to learn how to communicate and win-over the communities. Each chapter dives into a different and fundamental aspect, like communication, building buzz, measuring, events and handling conflicts.

Anyone who has ever managed a community and looks at this table of contents will surely have a few flashbacks of various moments in their experience, I know I for one identified myself in quite a few situations, from my motivation to participate in the PHP community to the conflicts and the experience of contributing to Open Source. I usually like to give more details of each chapter when I do reviews like this one, but in this case that feels like I would be cheating the reader from the amazing experience of having Jono lead you through his experiences and concepts, so i’ll not do it.

In summary, if you have any involvement with virtual communities, be it as a manager, member or just someone who interacts with them, this book should have its place in your shelf. Buy it, read it, enjoy it an have fun while you learn to take your community to the next level.

The Art of Community

Author: Jono Bacon
ISBN: 978-0-596-15671-8
Pages: 400
Year: 2009
Publisher: O’Reilly
On O’Reilly
On Amazon

Book Review: Guide to Date and Time Programming

This review has been pending for a while, but recently I finished reading Derick Rethans’ book: Date and Time Programming. A first look at the topic (Date and Time) might get you thinking, “Why the hell do I need a book to teach me about time?” But further investigating, and some life experience will show you that dealing with Date and Time is not always as straightforward as “Its twelve o’clock”. Derick’s book gives you an in depth look into handling various factors of date and time such as timezones and days that did not exist, as well as finally delivering something missing from php.net: documentation of the DateTime Object.

The book covers a lot of ground, even tough it looks rather thin. Derick does a wonderful job of introducing date/time matter in the opening chapter, covering all the calendar switches (Julian to Gregorian) and its complexities (did you know Feb 30th has already happened once?) as well as timezones, solar times and daylight-saving details. This is all very valuable information for anyone working with dates.

The progressing chapters dwell into the various operations we use with and around date and time, like parsing, representing, manipulating and bringing attention to various perks of timezone and daylight saving handling in all the various functions in PHP. Its also very interesting that the book fully covers and makes crystal clear the new features in PHP 5.3 to deal with this topic.

The book also dewlls into PHP internals and describes how to use timezones and to update the internal timezone database, as well as how to deal with database engines and still get back correctly timezoned dates.

The book is a really pleasant read in a very orderly fashion, Derick covers all steps before introducing new issues instead of just throwing them out and explaining afterwards. It also functions very well as reference book, since documentation on this topic is not all it should be on the PHP Manual. This is a *must-read* book for anyone that has ever had to deal with handling date or time in a PHP system, or anyone who plans on launching systems that are aware of timezone differences.

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Date and Timephp/architect’s Guide to Date and Time Programming
by Derick Rethans
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Marco Tabini & Associates, Inc. (April 20, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981034500
ISBN-13: 978-0981034508