Long time, no post

In a few days, I’ll be on a sort of sabbatical were I get to spend the thousands of euros earned in the last years on coconut-shell cocktails at various lavish resorts.

OK, that’s not entirely true, but I’ll do the next best thing: write about experiences learned by looking at a few PHP-based commercial projects (oh, the joy!) I worked on in the last few years, while fighting off heatwave after another on a small island in the middle of nowhere.

Civic Duty, Made Easy & Fun

Approximately four years ago, I came up with a relatively new idea; empowering people to report architectural and quality-of-life issues.

Unfortunately, at the time few people took the idea seriously and worse some even laughed at the concept (these are the same kind of people that can’t come up with anything original and end up creating flawed fakes of what the client wants to copy).

Anyway, my little rant aside, I would like to introduce you to SeeClickFix.com, a great service which puts what I had in mind to practice. Although it came to my attention a year or so ago, I’ve decided to help out popularizing the system in Malta, with the objective of getting Government Departments as well as citizens to make use of it.

So how does it work? It’s actually very easy:

  • People find issues or add feedback to existing ones (votes, comments, etc)
  • The Government and related organizations monitor and fix contributed issues

Below, you can see the current state of issues around Malta using their widget:


From Web to Desktop

These last few weeks have been quite a change for me. As you may know, I have changed workplace and consequently, my tools of the trade at work. After years working with Web technologies (PHP, Javascript) and Linux servers, I have now switched to C# mainly on the Desktop in an MS-dominated environment. There are challenges as well as advantages, just as there were before. As such I can’t rate this transition but I must admit I do miss the familiarity I had acquired. Still, this is a great opportunity for new experiences, which is what I was seeking in making my move.

So, how’s it been so far? Well, I found C# very easy to work with – the second script I wrote involved executing C# expressions on the fly (together with caching and code preprocessing). And guess what? It worked on my second run! Yeah, I’m that good. 😀 Seriously though, C# is a very modern language with a strong set of pre-built libraries and functionality. This means that a new developer only needs to be familiar with the syntax and know how to look things up in the docs… easy!

As part of my new job, I currently have to work a lot with SQL (MS and Oracle). Admittedly, this is not an area I like but on the bright side I get the opportunity to fill this knowledge gap. Oh, and I’m currently using this awesome tool from MS known as BIDS/SSIS – it basically makes database migration really easy.

A Purpose

It is appropriate to start this by detailing the point of this blog (not that it is terribly different from the rest of the blogs out there).

I will be reporting my experiences throughout life, especially in the technology area but as well as my take on the way things are going around. So in a sense, this is about my personal thoughts and advice from my experience (hopefully more of the latter than the earlier).

Finally, I would like to point out that this is not the first time I started a blog. However, in the previous two installments I lacked serious commitment – something I hope to change this time.

PS: Any suggestions on the website design? It’s been handcrafted by myself…quite a feat considering I don’t do graphic design!