Month: January 2018

The struggle with migrating to PHP 7

InternetMyWikisProgramming

When PHP 7 was first released, I was very excited to install it on one of MyWikis’ servers. In retrospect, I was too excited to install it—I should have been more patient. Some critical components of our website ended up breaking because they were incompatible with PHP 7. Of course, I hastily reverted back to PHP 5.6 and have kept it that way since.

Today, I’ve been thinking about whether to begin migrating to PHP 7. It has matured and many PHP applications have had time to adjust to PHP 7. The primary application I have in mind is MediaWiki—the lifeblood of MyWikis. Since MediaWiki 1.27.4, it has been fully compatible with PHP 7. It is now viable for MyWikis to initiate an upgrade of PHP on our servers. However, my answer to upgrading is still no.

I truly do look forward to unwaveringly upgrading to PHP 7. However, that day has not yet arrived. Too many legacy web applications are still stuck in PHP 5. Heck, many of them are stuck in PHP 5.3. In fact, 5.3 strikes that sweet balance between old PHP and new PHP (as it only deprecates certain legacy features instead of removing them). I have taken the responsibility of maintaining an old website that my mom wrote in PHP ten years ago (yes, really, in 2008). This website is deeply sentimental to me because my mom made it for an eight year old me. When I restored it back from a backup, it was an honor to fix the PHP errors that had appeared. I assume the website was written in PHP 5.2 standards, so when it was upgraded to 5.4, I had to remove all of the register_globals() functions, LOL!

But my point is, as a businessman whose livelihood depends on PHP, I don’t have the liberty to screw around and upgrade PHP to the latest version whenever I please. I have to consider its compatibility with legacy software that, while not up-to-date yet, is vital to my business. Today is not the day that MyWikis will be upgrading to PHP 7. I don’t think the day will come until PHP 5.6 is completely EOL’d. I do believe this is the best course of action, as upgrading will only bring havoc to our tranquil servers in their status quo and disqualify our servers from handling potentially important legacy software.

Until PHP 5 completely flatlines, MyWikis will not be upgrading to PHP 7.

How I watch the news these days

Society

The 2016 presidential election was undoubtedly one for the history books. We are still feeling its aftershocks today and are still trying to adapt to this earthquake’s changes. Since then, I’ve changed significantly from this unusual development in American politics. The most notable change in my lifestyle is how I watch the news these days.

Recently, I took a political science class at UNT and I’ve been able to gain a deeper insight into American media’s influence on politics. The class has changed my opinion on cable news channels such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News; I’ve only become more opposed to watching any of them. In general, the class has taught me that cable news channels’ content is biased and shallow.

This has only been amplified by the recent presidential election. Gone are the days of reliable breaking news reports upon which we could rely. Today, I follow the Associated Press and Reuters News on Twitter and no longer check CNN as I did religiously many years ago. When I began reading CNN.com in 2011, the news stories didn’t have clickbait headlines. Instead, the content’s quality was high and obviously the headlines were professional and summarized well. Upon reflection, sure, the articles were usually shallow, but they weren’t as shallow as today. They certainly were not as biased as today. I did appreciate learning my international affairs from CNN, and if they weren’t covered well, I would read that week’s edition of The Economist to supplement. Overall, it was a very agreeable experience. But that experience is only a pipe dream today.

I’m no longer surprised, but I continue to be shocked by the interactions that happen between anchors and commentators. Today, I saw Don Lemon trending on Twitter. Mildly interested by what trouble he was causing today, I saw the clip of Don Lemon’s show where he cut off the outspoken conservative commentator. This made me cringe. Neither side had respect for the other, regardless of how valid each side’s points were. Apparently, none of the other side’s opinions were valid, and all of them were offensive and unbearable. While they may truly be offensive, it’s still not acceptable to be hearing any of this on TV. Where has the civility gone? That is what I truly expect for TV news, not ad hominem bickering. On a higher level, this is yet another example of how these cable news channels have become echo chambers these days. What happened to “if they go low, we go high!”?

Watching these heated conversations makes my blood boil. It always makes my blood boil. Perhaps these cable news channels know that their content makes their viewers unreasonably angry. In fact, their primary goal of being biased is to attract a dedicated viewership, so it makes sense that they have now resorted to appealing to our thymos. Philosophy defines logos to be our rational soul, thymos to be our spirited soul, and epithymos to be our appetitive soul. Cable news channels have devolved from logos-appealing (which I desire) to thymos-appealing. Now, instead of being enlightened by rational logic, we are bombarded by angering conversations. In effect, our ability to think rationally is stripped away from us. This is a problem. Perhaps that is why each side accuses each other of “brainwashing” with their bias. Yet, it only makes sense if a third-party neutral observer asserts such a claim.

In short, I have moved on from shallow, thymos-appealing cable news channels and now read neutral news sources that minimally exhibit bias in their content and nostalgically remind me of the renaissance of CNN.com’s content.

The problem with hiring programmers to make things for you

ProgrammingSociety

I truly believe computer science is innately an intersectional discipline. (To be honest, while pure computer science is the root of today’s technical innovations and I recognize its importance, it is boring to me.) As a business founder, I firmly believe computer science and business is where it’s at. CS + Entrepreneurship is the magic formula that can truly change the world in this day in age. Programmers and businesspersons working together is much more impactful than either working alone.

Problem is, we have evolved to the point where the slightest “brilliant idea” can be touted by a self-proclaimed “entrepreneur”, and you as a programmer can have a piece of the action, as long as you sign an NDA of course. It’s gotten to the point where these kinds of people, who know nothing about programming, expect to woo over talented programmers with a bit of equity. Because all startups succeed these days, right?

It’s gotten super annoying that most people do not understand that programmers spend a good amount of time working on each project. There is a shortage of programmers in the world and we don’t have enough to spend several days to make a few extra bucks. Our work is valuable and you should learn that $100 isn’t going to cut it. Neither do we want equity. At the end of the day, time is money, so all we want is to be compensated reasonably.

However, this tweet is an extreme case. In most cases, I don’t see people wanting to keep the equity. They just want something built for them. They look up to us programmers because we possess the power to build something they can’t. But they don’t know what it actually takes to get it done, so they unknowingly propose a ridiculous amount of compensation and are then mocked by programmers. How is this fair? They’ll never know this is unreasonable while you basically bully them behind their backs.

We (the programmers and the people who solicit the services of programmers) suffer from a lack of mutual understanding. I’m here to set the record straight once and for all.

People who want the services of programmers, get ready to pay for it. Equity doesn’t work and neither does just $100, because both are insults. And stop asking for the most qualified programmers unless you’re willing to pay six figures. You’re not getting the most qualified programmers for your side job if you hire freelancers, that’s just how it works.

Programmers, stop making fun of innocent people trying to get something accomplished. Unless they are a stuck-up asshole like the person in the tweet above, they usually don’t mean any malice. They just don’t know what to offer, and instead of laughing about them, you should let them know what’s reasonable so they’ll know for next time. Be more understanding and empathetic towards them.

Remember, as ridiculous as an offer might sound, you might be turning down the next Uber. That ridiculous tweet up there might indeed sound ridiculous, but Travis Kalanick tweeted something just as ridiculous sounding in 2010 and now the person who responded to that tweet is a billionaire.