Why Google 2-Step Authentication Sucks (at least now)…

I am finally trying to take the leap here, but I’m run into a major road-block. With something like my Google account, I use it too much, in too many different places and many of them require using Google’s application specific password feature (iPhone email, Outlook) and on top of that, I change these settings (remove and add) very frequently. So, why can’t Google just allow me to see this password, instead of having to generate a new one every time? Of better yet, give me the option of only requiring 2-Step for these protocols I prefer (yes to HTTP, no to SMTP, POP3, IMAP.)

At least with Outlook, I can copy and paste, but have you tried to type one of those application specific passwords into your iPhone? Sucks.

Anyway, I guess I’ve had my test run, and I’m done. Removing 2-Step Authentication today for Google. I’ll keep using it for Twitter and for Facebook, as those work well (especially Facebook, that whole scheme works well.)

Lone Star PHP 2013, These Were Not The Droids I Was Looking For…

First of all, kudos to Chris and all of the team that put on Lone Star PHP 2013 –  the conference was well done and the facility was great again this year (Wi-Fi was actually usable this year.) Also, good job to all of the speakers – I know that some of this material is difficult to present, and we are (on average) a fairly critical crowd. I’ve bring my whole team to LSP every year, we will definitely be back next year.

So, with all of the props, what is this article about? What do I want to change? I suppose my expectations are pretty high due to the fact that I only get to attend one tech conference a year, but I really did have high hopes of learning new technologies that were useful or improving my proficiency with the skills I currently have.

So, my expectations were not met, then? Well, yes and no. I did learn a few new things, but not a lot that was tremendously useful. I did improve in some ways my current skillset, but definitely nothing groundbreaking. I’m fairly certain my team got more out of it than I, and as the I.T. Director that is equally important. Our training opportunities are limited.

However, my biggest complaint is what I feel like is (unrealistic) ideals in the PHP community or a lack of practicality – this is not the fault of LSP or any of the developers that gave talks. In fact, I will take the blame myself, because I thought about submitting a talk, but didn’t…so there. I also, did not really review the talks submitted beforehand (lack of time and I knew I would go anyway, again, my fault.) I feel like some areas of PHP are talked about like we live in a vacuum. Like the continued emphasis on how Unit tests should not test dependencies, especially not database interactions (sorry, Matt, I’m not knocking you…just the concept.) Really? I mean, so I have to write 2 tests – one to test JUST the code and one to test the code AND the database call (cause if both don’t work together, the users don’t care if my code works by itself.) Yes, the community has an answer for this as well. Use another testing system, like Behat – so I have to learn and maintain another testing system to cover this (even more) critical issue. I barely have time to write one test, let alone two…especially when one test can tell me if either don’t work (may require a little more debugging, but when managing several hundred thousand lines of code….you get the drift.) Of course, when I went to my first conference (ZendCon, I think it was 2005), there were many topics that I felt that was about, that today, I agree with and practice (or just don’t feel so strongly against), but today I am a much better developer than I was 7 years ago.

So, I suppose if want things to be different, I need to take action. Maybe I’ll submit a talk called “PHP In The Real World” or “PHP For Developers Who Have Way More To Do Than They Time” or “PHP For Developers That Manage An Entire I.T. Operation.” Maybe we could have a whole track: PHP Programming For The Way Too Busy.

Actually, one thing we saw very little of is talks on deployment (other than the Phing talk, which I missed, and we don’t use Phing anyway.) I’m a developer that manages the process from end to end (from writing the code to managing the servers and even the desktops that use the code.) Maybe publishing this article convince me to submit next year (or shut up.) I would love to see a talk on “How To Implement a C.I. Like Jenkins On Windows.” Oh, did I not mention that I develop for Windows and IIS? Well, that’s because trying to get talks on PHP Development in Windows for Windows Servers running IIS would probably get me stoned.

One more time, before I get dismissed for being too hard Lone Star PHP 2013, everyone did a great job and I really did enjoy myself (I go as much for the community interaction, as the local PHP User Group meets on a night that I cannot attend) and did hear some very good talks and enjoyed meeting some people that I only know from podcasts and Twitter, like Ed Finkler and Adam Culp.) I hope the conference continues to grow and I know everyone will continue to work towards making it better and better each year.

XWiki Enterprise – A User Experience (Review)

After spending 3 years trying to make MediaWiki work, I finally came to the conclusion that I was tired of trying to create documentation that was like creating an application. I write code all day, and I love it, but I don’t want to have write code to document my code – why is that so much to ask? Well, it seems that is a lot to ask, because as my quest to find solid Wiki software, that included a good WYSIWYG editor (without the system being complete overkill, like some were a full CMS with a  wiki component), was almost impossible.

I really wanted a system developed in PHP, as that is my primary development language and I almost never like anything out of the box. Alas, none were up to par, or like I said they were complete overkill. So, I expanded my search to include systems developed in any language, as long they were self-hosted solutions (I did not want off-site hosting.) Even after I became willing to look at just about anything, I found only a handful of Wiki systems that provided a WYSIWYG editor, and most of those that had one, were plugins that were were 3rd party or underdeveloped (or very, very very old.)

The other issue I had was the one system I found that I really liked, no, loved almost from the moment I used the demo was a Java server (servlet? forgive me Java gurus, I am a PHP / C# guy, and know so little Java, I’m a bit embarrassed to talk about it.) I began testing the software, trying to run it using Apache Tomcat on Windows….well, it worked, but performance was not good and Tomcat has some issue with freezing on Windows from time to time (not exclusive to XWiki, I found numerous indications of this occurrence) and I did not have the skill-set to figure it out. 

So, I finally began testing XWiki on an Ubuntu (12.04) Guest running on VirtualBox on a Windows Host….and whala! I just love it. I did have to go through the pains of getting VirtualBox to run as a service on Windows (tried Hyper-V, but Ubuntu was just lock up from time to time), but eventually  got it working like a champ.

I give you…..

XWiki Enterprise is a professional wiki that has powerful extensibility features such as scripting in pages, plugins and a highly modular architecture.

I just love the WYSIWYG editor and the LDAP authentication was extremely easy to configure with Active Directory. We all know that if documentation is too difficult, it won’t get done (well, it won’t get done even more than it won’t get done if it’s easy.) And this system is EASY to use – the ability to upload images, the migration from MediaWiki (while was somewhat manual  was made easier by the fact that XWiki supports most of the MediaWiki syntax.)

All in all, it’s a great system that we look forward to using for years to come!