I just received a copy of PHP5. Wprowadzenie, the Polish translation of Learning PHP 5. I don't know any Polish, but if my calculations are correct (from Listing 7.13), "Kurczak generała O'Tso" is a spicy dish with chicken, dried pepper pods, maybe some peanuts, green pepper, and other goodies.
The article provides an overview of working in the Ning playground -- in addition to all the regular PHP you know and love, it covers using the Ning Content Store, simplifying file uploads, and using our Ajax components.
Yesterday was an international day around here. The delivery man also brought PHP 5 - Elementi di programmazione, the Italian translation of Learning PHP 5. It looks great, although I have to admit I'm a tiny bit disappointed that they didn't take the French approach and transpose all the Chinese food references into local delicacies.
The Russian translation of PHP Cookbook, PHP. Сборник рецептов, arrived in the mail yesterday. My rudimentary sound-out-Cyrillic-letters skills that remain from a trip to the Soviet Union in 1989 have been helpful as I stumble my way through.
Why do folks who want the freedom to remix content as they see fit get their digital dander up when other people remix their own content?
Gmail's introduction was accompanied by a barrage of complaints that the automated scanning-of-messages to display ads was involuntarily subjecting those who correspond with Gmail users to a privacy invading examination and modification of their message.
Now, the introduction of a version of Google Toolbar that annotates addresses, ISBNs and similar data with links to maps and Amazon.com has provoked a similar storm of outrage. The complaint goes something like "I am a virtuous content publisher whose brilliant web pages are being chewed up by the Evil Google Content Manipulation Borg without my consent! Foul! Foul!"
What these complaints conveniently elide, however, is that it is individual users who are making the choice to have their web pages modified. These users must install the Toolbar and then click on the appropriate button in the Toolbar to follow the additional link. Nothing sneaky is going on behind the scenes.
Objecting to users modifying web pages before, as, or after they view them is a dead end. Tools and add-ons such as popup blockers, custom style sheets, screen readers, auto-form-field-filler-outers are precisely those sorts of content modifiers. And surely no one suggests that those be banished to preserve the sanctity of the web browsing experience, right? What would be next? Preventing me from putting squibs of black electrical tape over the annoying LEDs that glow all night from various devices in my home? Should I expect a nastygram from Uniden because my application of tape has prevented me from enjoying the experience of the "Charge" light on my cordless phone as they intended?
What applies to the MPAA and the RIAA applies just as strongly to Joe Homepage. If you've got thoughts/words/songs so brilliant that you can't bare to have them disparaged by content-modifying Philistines (hint: nestled at the bottom of this particular slippery slope is "The EULA for this sonata requires you to listen to it on speakers that are at least THIS good to properly receive the artist's message.") then keep that brilliance to yourself. If you require the ego gratification/financial compensation/curiosity satisfaction that comes from transmitting your message to other humans then you absolutely, positively must accept the idea that you lose some control over what happens to your baby.
This shows how an authors' association like the Science Fiction Writers of America could collect its members' ISBNs and affiliate IDs for their favorite web-stores and provide plugins that would rewrite every single instance of my ISBNs on pages viewed through the plugin with a link to my affiliate account on Amazon, making me some serious coin. Wanna support an author? Install her plugin and help her feed her kids. Wanna support a charity? Install its plugin and have all the affiliate links rewritten to its benefit. Wanna support youself? Install the plugin that rewrites every ISBN with your own affiliate ID.
The framework of configurable end-user content modification provides a powerful engine for consumer choice. This goes beyond tossing affiliate commissions for your purchases into whichever non-profit bucket you value (although that's a fine idea). This extends to content ratings, corporate business practice review, editorial commentary, and many other areas.
Once the framework is in place, users can choose to have recomendations on whether a particular site is appropriate flow into their browser from the Christian Coalition or from MoveOn. As you shop for refrigerators, you choose whether you want annotated information about the refrigerator makers from Greenpeace, the Cato Institute, or Consumer Reports.
The annotation and modification of arbitrary content, with end user consent, is a golden opportunity to build a world of informed readers and consumers.
All that said, the Toolbar isn't perfect (and it is, after all a beta). For example, you can choose your map provider, but not your bookseller. The primacy of end-user choice would certainly be reinforced if all the various link destinations were configurable.
I don't mean to be an apologist for Google. I like some things about the company and its products, I dislike other things about the company and its products. The most important issue here is not the specifics of the toolbar. The most important issue is recognizing that we all have to give up the control over our content that many of us demand of Big Media Corporations.
There are plenty of similarities between what Sebastian and I did, but he has a few nice touches that I will adopt for next DocBook project, such as using XIncludes for code examples (makes building an archive of all the examples in the book a snap) and a snazzy build script that does things like syntax highlighting.
I use Learning PHP 5 as a textbook for some PHP classes and training sessions, so being able to move back and forth between DocBook and the XML that Pres2 understands is helpful. (I'm actually using a modified, PHP 5-only version of Pres2 (that I've named "Pres5") for the presentations, which I'll package up and release one day when (familiar refrain ahead) I make the code less embarassing.)
My third book, Learning PHP 5, is just about done. It's a straightforward introduction to building dynamic web sites with PHP for folks who have no PHP experience and little or no programming experience.
It starts with the basics of how PHP talks to your web server and web browser and works up to form handling, database access, sessions, XML, and more.
One of the books that I'm writing right now has a section on PHP code caches / accelerators. I'd like to include some comparative benchmarks in the book that explore the performance of the different accelerators in various circumstances.
To do the benchmarking properly, though, I need some computers that I don't have, namely a relatively beefy server on a network with a bunch of client computers that can bombard the server with requests. Perhaps someone has a setup like this that I could run some benchmarks on?
I am most interested in the relative performance of the accelerators, not their absolute performance, so the server doesn't have to be anything really beefy, just powerful enough that it doesn't run into problems that are unlikely in the real world (like swapping web server processes to disk when handling five simultaneous requests).
The server should be running Linux (although the presence of a Windows server as well would be a bonus) and the client computers can be running just about anything, as long as they can handle one of the zillion web stress tools out there. The server must be configurable so that while the benchmarks are running, there are no other variable-load programs running (i.e. a mail, DNS, or active web server is no good.) Remote (ssh) access to the machines would be most convenient for me, but if you're in the New York City area, on-site access is OK, too. I can pay you in thanks, acknowledgement in the book, and a free copy or three of the book.