#followfriday – Those That Influence Me Most

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I’m a big believer in giving credit where credit is due. There are a number of people who have influenced my experience as a programmer, and I want to take time on this Friday to talk about and thank each one of them individually. Oh, and they’re all on Twitter in case you want to go participate in #followfriday and add them to your list.

The five I picked have been influential in my development as a programmer, and I owe each of them a debt of gratitude. I wanted to highlight them, as they’re A-list members of the PHP community and people everyone should know. So, in no particular order…

Matthew Turland (@elazar)
Matthew Turland Matthew Turland is the Researcher. Matt always has an article or blog entry about something I’m thinking about, and he’s known among his peers as being someone who carefully researches things, and writes and works carefully. I’ve learned from Matt that there’s probably someone else who’s already thought about my problem, and that a little bit of good research goes a long way. As Keith Casey put it, “Matt is meticulous, precise, and always working to understand it better.”

As a community member, Matt has contributed Phergie, an IRC bot that runs around on Freenode in many of the PHP channels. His contribution is certainly appreciated…if not painful (I’ve been “popped” many-a-time by that bot ;-)).

Cal Evans (@calevans)
Cal EvansWhen it comes to encouragement, Cal Evans has it nailed. Cal is the Encourager. Cal always has a friendly word and has always encouraged me. From introducing me to colleagues to talking about ideas and projects, I can count on Cal for a friendly smile and a word of encouragement. Cal’s blog is always full of small bits of wisdom and I really like that he’s active in the community. Cal was best known as Zend’s Community Guy before he moved over to iBuildings, where we miss him dearly (since he’s in the Netherlands).

Cal really embodies the idea that you catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar. I’ve learned from him that a dollop of encouragement goes miles farther than a pound of anger or yelling. His posts on management style are particularly useful for the day when I’ll have to lead a team. Cal’s an invaluable member of the PHP community.

Keith Casey (@caseysoftware)
Keith CaseyFrom my own personal experience, Keith Casey is the Enforcer. Keith never hesitates to smack me around when I need it, and he doesn’t put up with much guff. This is a good thing, because I’m known to be a bit of a pain in the ass. But not with Keith. He’s smart, sees through crap, doesn’t put up with much, is willing to tell it like it is, has unimpeachable honesty and integrity, and is above reproach. The community is better off because Keith is in it, and I’m a better programmer because I know him.

Perhaps the most important aspect is that Keith doesn’t seem to hold a grudge. The same guy who smacks me around also drinks alongside me at the monthly Beverage Subgroups and is still a lot of fun to be with. Opinionated, honest, and usually right, Keith is one of my most valued influences.

Eli White (@eliw)
Eli WhiteIf you ever see PHP code that has 10,000 lines of commenting and runs thousands of loops a second without breaking, it was probably done by PHP’s MacGyver, Eli White. Eli’s time as an employee of Digg gave him a look at systems many of us will never get, and the opportunity to solve problems most of us will never experience. But it also made Eli into one of PHP’s pre-eminent developers. As Eli will probably tell you, we’ve had many a debate where I’ve said something as a blanket statement and he’s corrected me – and he’s almost always 100% right.

Eli has taught me that there’s a lot you can do with PHP if you’re creative enough to figure it out. And that there sometimes is an exception to a well established rule (e.g. running MySQL queries inside a loop). Without him, I don’t think I’d have tried some of the things that I have tried, and I know that I’d be a worse off developer. Eli’s contribution has been invaluable.

Barry Austin (@barryaustin)
Barry AustinMy experience with Barry Austin has led me to see him as being Wise. Barry always presents a well-thought response to any query, thinks carefully, and has excellent advice. When you ask Barry something, he’s going to think about it before he gives you his answer. He’s got lots of experience in security, managing teams, and working with people, and his thoughtful responses always reflect his experience. Barry has taught me the value of careful contemplation, and I deeply respect this about him. I know that I can ask Barry about anything and the response he’ll give me will be well considered and match the wisdom I have come to know from him.

As a community member, Barry is an important voice for strategy and direction. The DC PHP developer’s group is better because of Barry, and anyone that knows him would agree.

So who are your strongest influences? These are mine, but everyone has people that influence them . While I’m not going to try and start a meme, whereby these five now have to write about it, thanking people never goes out of style. So take some time and thank those that matter to you, that have invested in your career, that have mentored you.

Happy Friday.

Brandon Savage is the author of Mastering Object Oriented PHP and Practical Design Patterns in PHP

Posted on 4/3/2009 at 12:30 am
Categories: Friday Inspirations
Tags: , , ,

Rob... (@akrabat) wrote at 4/3/2009 7:34 am:

I couldn’t agree more. Good write up on some of the top PHP community members.

Regards,

Rob…

Heather (@hwhite34) wrote at 4/3/2009 9:26 am:

Brandon,

I think you did your mentors proud by recognizing them and saying ‘thank you.’ Congratz to you for being a savy PHP mentorer as well.

Heather =^..^=

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