Category Archives: Me


If ever there was a word to make someone defensive, it's privilege.

You are brought face to face with the fact that someone else doesn't have the same experiences in life as you and that their experiences somehow make their life harder than yours.

I am one of the most privileged people I know. I am a well-educated European white man. I was raised in a loving, stable home. I have a loving, stable relationship and two children. I am doing well financially, working in a job I love. The list goes on and on and on…

I understand intellectually that not everyone has this good a run in life. But I feel defensive when someone mentions privilege. "But it's not my fault!", I want to whine.

I have friends who are treated as inferior by strangers. I have friends who are not listened to at work because they aren't a white man. I have friends who have been sexually assaulted. I have known this for years and I used to shrug it off as "It's just the way the world is, but not all men are like that.".

This is not acceptable.

I've started paying more attention. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I will not blithely ignore that the rest of the population have to deal, day-in and day-out, with problems that I cannot ever fathom.

I'm reading articles and watching talks on the subject. I'm listening carefully to what my wife and friends have to say. How else can I learn?

I now know what the Bechdel Test is and I've noticed the lack of female protagonists in new games coming out of E3. I was shocked and depressed by what I read on #yesAllWomen.

I will change my behaviour and the way I talk. I will call out others too.

I will fail regularly in my attitude, in what I say and in what I do. I need my friends to point this out and, when they do, I will not whine.


On the 26th January, I fell off a skateboard, dislocating & fracturing my left elbow. A trip to A&E that Sunday resulted in hospital admittance on Monday and surgery on Tuesday.

This was the first time I've been admitted to hospital for an overnight stay and I found the whole process fascinating, but not something I ever want to repeat. I also can't say enough good things about the staff at Worcester Royal Hospital. Everyone I interacted with was friendly, helpful and competent.
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2013 in pictures

As 2013 finishes, I continue my tradition of showing off some photos that recap my year. Last year I discovered that I didn't take many photos at all, so this year I've published at least one photo every day! A lot of them were rubbish, but a good number are shots that I'm very pleased with. Continue reading

Minding my own business

After nearly ten fantastic years at Big Room Internet, I have decided to take the jump and run my own business! Having concentrated on project management for the last year or so, I am happy to return to hands-on development. I also intend to provide training and consultancy services.

I'm really excited by this new phase of my career. I have created a shiny new company for interesting projects: Nineteen Feet Limited. If you want to hire me, then please get in touch.

Over the years, I've discovered that I most enjoy developing directly for a client and building solutions that meet their specific needs. I've had great success teaching at conferences (such as PHPNW and ZendCon) and am looking forward to providing bespoke Zend Framework training to developers.

Ideas of March: It's my content and my opinion

If there's one thing Twitter is not good at, it's holding a discussion on something controversial. Sean Coates noted this problem when he said: "I’m not worried about having my opinion disagreed with; I *am* concerned that I will be crucified for something I don’t mean." I suspect this is because you don't have the space to develop an idea on Twitter. It also doesn't help that Twitter is a conversation which means that people are arguing before you've written your second tweet!

As Chris Shiflett wrote earlier this month, real writing happens on blogs. With a blog you have the space to write down what you mean and develop the idea. However, even here there is risk. Lorna Mitchell noted that comments make it easy to criticise. You can leave an quick "drive-by" insult anonymously for minimal effort. This can become a disincentive to write opinion pieces on blogs too.

Like Chris, I also strongly believe in owning my data. My blog provides information that I want to share and more important, information that I want to find again! I was caught out on my Automatic Apache vhosts post where I linked to an alternative solution which has subsequently been taken down. Information that I want to refer to again must be on my blog as otherwise I can't be sure it'll be there when I need it.

I will continue to share technical things on this site as I believe that my posts are useful to others. Over time, I intend to blog more opinionated pieces. My views on some topics should be shared and would be a useful reference to point people at. Sometimes, I will turn off comments and encourage others to respond by writing their on their own blog. In more than 140 characters and less anonymously.

2012 in pictures

As another year draws to a close, I continue my tradition of showing off some photos that recap our year.


January 2012 was a quiet month. I released Daily Jotter 1.3 and started using Sublime Text as my editor of choice for programming. Photographically, the highlight of the month was the Worcester Flickr Group's scavenger hunt.



It snowed in Feburary and I started publishing articles on ZF2. Again, a Worcester Flickr Group outing to the Panorama Tower, Croome D'abitot in Worcestershire provided the only interesting photographs that I took all month.

Panoramic Tower


I was very much into Instagram and didn't take any photos with my DSLR this month!



In April, I went to the inaugural Whisky Web conference as an attendee, which was fun, especially as Josh used one of my photos in his keynote.

Josh Holmes


Both sons have their birthdays in May and a big family get together were the highlights of May.



Nick and Kerry were married this month.

Nick & Kerry's wedding


A quiet month. I visited the PHPNW user group to see Jenny's first talk.

Jenny presenting at #phpnw


In August we went to the Isle of Wight on holiday and I managed to visit the steam railway.

Old and newer


Eldest's first day at high school!

First day at high school


October saw me speak at both the PHPNW and ZendCon conferences. I gave a tutorial with Evan Coury at both events which seem to be appreciated by the attendees.

The bar was popular in the evening

Whilst in California, I managed to take a photo of the Golden Gate bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge


After the busy-ness of October's travel, I had a quiet month in Worcester. I also got some Toyella business cards!

I have @toyella cards!


Last month of the year and the last month that my company's offices were in Birmingham as we moved to Worcester for the start for 2013. There was also a lot of rain!


All in all, another pretty good year. Next year, I intend to take more photos with my DSLR though.

2011 wrap up

As I have done in 2008, 2009 and last year, I thought I'd continue my tradition of recapping my year.


PHPBNL 2011 happened in January. Also, my Mac OS X application, Daily Jotter was released onto the Mac App Store.

My app is on the Mac App Store!


The first PHPucEU happened in Manchester which was great fun and, of course, the PHPUK conference in London. The biggest news for us though, was that we moved house in February!

We have keys to the new house!


I went to Canada for the rather excellent Confoo conference and watched a snowball fight!

Snowball fight!


A relaxed month after 3 months of conferences and a house move. There was a Royal wedding in the UK which resulted in a lot of merchandising!



May was the busiest month ever. Both sons have their birthdays in May and DPC in Amsterdam and php|tek in Chicago are back to back conferences! So many good photographs this month, but I have gone with this one of Jeremy Kendall as he took many excellent photographs at tek!

Here's looking at you!


Our trip to the zoo this year was in June when we went to Twycross Zoo.



We went to the beach in July.

On the beach


In August we went to the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

Fleet Air Arm Museum


My eldest son achieved his Grade 1 classical guitar certification this month. We also went to a friend's wedding.



October saw the very excellent PHPNW conference return for its forth year and I was very glad to be asked to do a ZF2 tutorial which seemed to go well.

Rick and Jeremy


November was the month that John Arnold held his creativityex project. I particularly liked my effort for negative space:



Last month of the year and as part of the Worcester Flickr group, I got to take a photograph in a studio!


All in all, a pretty good year. One interesting thing I did notice was that I have a lot more good photos sitting in Aperture than I published. I think this is because Aperture is so slow to use on my old Macbook Pro. I was better at publishing photos with Capture NX2 and I thought that was slow; Clearly it wasn't that bad!

2010 Wrap up

Another year is over, and as is becoming a tradition, I like to show off some photos that recap my year!


We started the year with a visit to the zoo!


There was also snowy weather last January and on the last day of the month, we put our house on the market. We would be accepting an offer on it in late October.

For sale


In February, I took pictures of canal boats.

The PHPUK conference was also in February, where I presented a session about Windows Azure and PHP.

Presenting on PHP & Azure


I took my best picture yet of Worcester cathedral.

Worcester Cathedral


April was all about my wife! She had her first tatoo done.

Tiger tattoo

and spent some time in hospital having her appendix removed

Flowers and cards


The big event in May was php|tek. I struggled to find a single picture that captured the conference for me, but went for this one.

php|tek 2010 conference


June saw another conference: DPC in Amsterdam.

Cal presentating

This photo of Chris Shiflett was also popular:

I cannot even begin to think of a caption


Photographically, the main source of all my photos was my aunt and uncle's 40th wedding anniversary, of which I haven't published any of the photos :)



I took the kids to the Severn Valley Railway in August, but the main event was our friends' wedding!

Bride and groom


September saw the inaugural PHPSW meeting in Bristol.

The audience!

I also tried to take a photo of a glass of red wine with a white background. This proved to be much harder than I expected

A glass of red wine


The Severn Valley Railway's autumn gala was held in October

City of Truro approaches Highley

October also saw the fantastic PHPNW conference come back to Manchester.

Rowan uses an example we can understand!


I tried my hand at photographing fireworks



The snow really fell in December. So much so that we had to abandon a trip to London having travelled 13 miles in 6 hours.

It's a bit snowy...

Photos of Seagulls

Today was a good day in photography for me as for the first time in absolutely ages, I took some time out to take photos for the sake of taking the picture. My son was at a birthday party and I had about an hour free, so I went down by the river Severn in Worcester.

Worcester has a cathedral and I was lucky enough to have some lowish sun shining on it:

Worcester Cathedral

I don't often take photos of the cathedral as I find it hard to compose a nice picture of it. Also, it's been done to death by photographers with a better eye than me. However, I really like this one. The composition is nice and the colour of the brickwork is pleasing.

As I had a mostly empty memory card, I went down to the river to try and take a photo of a bird in flight. This isn't easy and I took just under 80 shots and had 3 in focus:

Seagull (1)

Seagull (2)

Seagull (3)

I'm pleased with all three as getting a shot of a bird in flight where the bird's eye isn't blurred takes lots and lots of practice. As I haven't practiced, clearly I got lucky! I set my D80 to use the centre auto-focus point, as it's the most sensitive in the camera, then told it to continually focus and I just pressed the button whilst trying to pan with the moving bird. It's remarkably difficult to keep the bird in the view finder, let alone keeping the focus point on the eye!

I think I did okay and I'm keen to try again sometime.

Mobile web monopoly

There's a recent post by Peter-Paul Koch called The iPhone obsession about how Mobile Safari is being treated by web developers as the only web browser to develop for. PPK likens this to how we all used to only develop for IE6. Unfortunately, the article has lots of hyperbole and iPhone hate which significantly detracts from the actual message.

The fundamental point is that Mobile Safari is not the only web browser available on phones and if you are serious about providing mobile web to your users, then developing for the other 85% should be part of your modus operandi.

However (and there's always a however!) it's not easy. It's trivial for me to have multiple web browsers and multiple operating systems on one computer for testing. It is not trivial for me to have 10 phones with different browsers and screen sizes. We don't do enough mobile work to justify the costs.

What actually annoyed me was Rentzch's response. Rentzch started by saying that Koch's argument was "stupid/lazy/undisciplined" and then goes on to say:

I see a quiet revolution of mobile developers waiting for other phones to catch up to the iPhone.


I think mobile developers intuitively grasp that accommodating the insufficient software+hardware of non-iPhones out there will only prolong the status quo, extending needless suffering for developers and users alike.

That's exactly what we all said when we wanted Netscape 4 to die because IE was so much better. Rentzch has made Koch's point for for him whilst trying to disagree.

For what it's worth, I think that any mobile device manufacturer who wants web developers to develop for their device's browser, should provide hardware that doesn't need a plan. It doesn't even need to be a phone. Mobile Safari is the easiest mobile browser to test against as it's available in the iPod Touch.