Home > Uncategorized > Taking care of business

Taking care of business

One of the great pleasures of my current employment, aside from the proximity to Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, is my constant learning requirement. My kind corporate overlord will occasionally suggest, in the strongest of terms, that it would be to my advantage to know, for example, Javascript. This is passed along in the same way that a road sign might inform you that it would be wise, if wish to retain your health, to beware of certain falling rocks.

This often has some problems, however, given the ambiguity of scope: will my antiquated Javascript abilities, much like my antiquated Japanese subcompact, be able to weather the vaguely forecasted hazards? Small rocks and small scripts are probably not worrisome, but entire user interfaces implemented in Javascript have the potential to flatten my vehicle, if I might momentarily mix metaphors.

However, my latest tasks have brought me up to my ears in PHP. But in this case, the road sign granting me foresight to this had apparently been taken as some sort of souvenir by vandals, because this set in with little forewarning. This is by no means a bad thing, but it does make life more interesting.

You see, “learning” PHP the way that I am is sort of like learning French by flying to Paris and taking a room at a local establishment for vagrant transients like oneself. Walking around town, you can see that they use a certain word to refer to a bagel and another for the roads and another to refer to your stupid hat, but when you begin trying to use their tongue to launch a defense of your hat (which is, in point of fact, a Fez), your linguistic ineptitude will end up implying that their mother is, in fact, perched atop your cranium. But, following the metaphor, perhaps the greatest injustice of all is that instead of giving some kind of feedback, this Frenchman will stare at you blankly, fixedly, and unblinkingly, until you choose to end the interaction and go research some French profanity with which to defend yourself.

See, when you write a dynamic web page in PHP, the idea is to get some content out that is different every time. So to have a PHP page that fails so utterly that it refuses to relinquish a single tag of output causes one to evaluate whether professional bicycle riding might actually be one’s true calling. Because this sure as shit ain’t working out.

And so just as the Frenchman gives no error message, which would usually be encoded in the traditional form for such feedback (The Slap), this page refuses to correct your error, and simply wishes to let you know that it will have none of your crap.

So, of course, the natural recourse is to take it up a notch: you learn more French than is encapsulated in your Langenscheidt French Pocket Dictionary. Or, rather, instead of hacking together code in a basic text editor, you go a get a real PHP editor: something manly like Eclipse. And I think there is a point to be made here, in that this step will take some time. Now, I’m not saying that Eclipse Integrated Development Environment and the French language have the same learning curve, but there is a certain dark correlation.

Were I a more suspicious man, I might suspect a link there.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Hazel
    June 19, 2008 at 1:14 am

    While I know nothing about PHP–or, in fact, any programming language besides HTML–this was just a great post. There’s nothing quite like a string of overly-specific metaphors to brighten up one’s day.

    Also, Jimmy John’s is indeed awesome.

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