Matt Trask

My time at SunshinePHP

February 20, 2016 | 10 Minute Read

#Conference Time!

A few weekends ago, I finally made it. No, not to being 6’4 and beautiful, but to a conference. Its been on my list of things to do for about a year now with some near misses. After I tossed the idea to the boss people at work, we got it all worked out. After getting the hotel and flight set, I was on my way. Hopefully after this, you have more proof why a conference is worth the price.

##Why SunshinePHP?

The first question to answer, is why SunshinePHP? Coworkers are leaving this week for ConFoo, and there are other conferences, but why did I pick Sunshine? A few reasons, first is I opened my mouth and said Id be there, thus causing people I interact with online daily to be excited to finally get to put a face to my online personality. Also, Sunshine is great because its one of the more inexpensive conferences. Price doesnt dictate if a conference is going to be good or not, but with Sunshine being on the lower end of the price scale, it made sense.

The talks too were curated towards things I was interested in learning. Looking at Confoo, it has great talks. However, Sunshine is specifically PHP, which allows me to get the most of a conference. This isnt to say that language agnostic conferences are less then specific languages! Confoo looks awesome, and I truly wish I was going as well. But since I had to pick, I did what I thought was best for me. I strongly advise you to look at any confereneces that pop up and attend as many as you can!

##The First Day

After I woke up at the crack of dawn, eating breakfast (and drinking) at the airport, I landed in sunny Miami around 12. After spending some time on South Beach, we got back in time for the hotel happy hour. It started out great, and I was able to start meeting some awesome people. After the happy hour ended, a group of us decided to go to dinner. At dinner, we had Luke Stokes, Jaques Woodcock, Robert McFrazier, Emily Stamey, and so many more awesome people! After dinner, we were lucky enough to get to hang out more talking over all kinds of topics in Jaques’ room with a few bottles of rum and scotch.

##The Second Day

I would lie if I said I wasnt a little hung over. At least I played it cool by drinking straight liquor over mixed drinks so I kept the sugar count low, which helped me bounce back hard. Luckily, a few of us got together for some yoga just to get some energy into our day. After a solid breakfast offering, we got underway with a powerful keynote from Josh Holmes. During this talk, the theme of the conference was unvieled, Community and Working Together. Big appreciation to Josh for his talk, it was powerful and set the tone of the conference with a great bang.

After that, it was off to see the great Ryan Weaver talk about JWT and Security within Symfony. Although Im not a Symfony user, it was great to get some insight into it, and made me more interested in giving it a try. The next talk was “The Pattern to Design Patterns” by Chris Russell which was an awesome and different approach to design patterns. After lunch, we came back for the keynote and it was powerful. Sharon Steed grew up with a stutter, and decided that public speaking was the way to get over the stutter. Talk about taking on a challenge head on!

I got to sit in on a talk about REST Api’s with Amanda Folson which was informing and gave me some ideas how to construct an API properly. After that, Gary Hockin did a great talk about PHPStorm and Step Debugging. Live coding took place, and Gary was hilarious when things didnt go great. Was fun to hang with Frank De Jonge and Chris Pitt as well! Finally I ran into a challenge. The last block of the day had 3 great talks, and a Magento talk. Just giving Magento a hard time, but really there was a lot of great talks. I had to pick, and did a talk about Docker with Robert McFrazier. Docker is something Ive struggled with, so seeing it broke down to simpler terms made it easier and wanting me to pick up where I left off and get it working.

After that, I ran into CodeRabbi and gave Jessica Mauerhan a hard time from the back row. Following that, a night of drinking and fun. But on to day three!

##The Third Day

This kind of feels like a post counting down to something. Christmas, CoC violation, something. Just wait and see!

Funny enough, I started this day hung over too, and skipped yoga cause the bed was comfy. Life in the fast lane I suppose. As I trudged down stairs to get food, I was excited to get started again. This time, we had Jessica Dunbar who had great insight to dealing with people with different perspectives. Its not all about you, and she showed us how to make sure everyone worked together to achieve a common goal. After that, I was fortunate to see Chris Pitt talk about writing asynchronous PHP. The ‘yield’ keyword is magic. After being blown away, I finally got to see a talk from Phil Sturgeon. He talked about things people dont talk about when dealing with API’s and REST. Fantastic stuff. After lunch, I decided a nap was the best idea possible, and then after that I skipped the session only cause I didnt see much that interested me. Unfortunately, after sitting around with Joe Ferguson, Emily Stamey, that Magento dude and Jeremy Mikola, I had to run to catch Matt Stauffer talk about from Idea to Prototype in 50 minutes with Laravel. Minus his apparent lack of breathing, he nailed it.

After Cal Evans did the closing keynote, and I took home a sweet, big red elephpant, I was able to sit in on the PHP Townhall. This is where it starts getting fun. So another person decided to ask about the whole raging CoC debate. After watching people I wont name saying things like “the opponents of CoC are jackasses and idiots” amongst other things, Jeremy Mikola organized a #wurstcon.

It was something hilarious to be apart of. Except that one person, who I will refuse to name, made some fun (read dick) comments towards me. First, as we were sitting in the car about to go, she pops her in the car to say hi, and looked at me and said “fuck this guy”. Mind you, Ive never said more then 3 words to her before, and before the conference, Ive never met her. Whatever, I blow it off. No big deal, thats just how some people are. But later, while we are out, I was standing talking to someone. The same person from before comes up and says “You need to fuck off back to the shire, I need to sit down”. Now, I get it. Im short, I have a beard so I may look like a hobbit, but really? This person doesnt even know my name, but just told me that Im a hobbit, and need to fuck off so she can sit and eat. Another person over heard this, but I was so stunned at this comment I just left the area in silence.

As we got back to the hotel, I was talking with Jaques about it. This was a person who just said earlier that CoC was needed to make sure people were treated with respect. She stated that the community had a strong attitude, and that people are bullied often. So its ironic she would do something like this. And this shit happens alot, but I refuse to let it ruin my first conference experience. The last point I want to make is why didnt I tell the organizers. It came down to two reasons. One was this was after the conference was over. We werent even at the venue. The other is the sheer shock I was in, and the fact that even if I were to say something, what do I say and would it make a difference?

The aftermath

This conference was one of the best decisions of my career. Getting to meet so many awesome people, getting to hear new ways to code and write apps, and be around people smarter then I was amazing. I can tell you Im hooked and plan to attend as many as possible. If something like this, traveling to another city isnt possible, then get to the user groups in your area. Sometimes they have smaller conferences they help run which will help you get to go to a conference and share the experience I had!


So in the recent days, someone has used my blog post to make an argument that the person in question isnt a viable choice to lead the PHP-FIG. First things first, Samantha almost instantly reached out to me when she read the post. From other sources, she was mortified to read the post and knew that it was her actions that caused me to write the post and detail things. Once she messaged me, we started talked, and both her and I arent so different. We use sarcasm and brashness as tools of humor. I cant fault her on that, cause I wouldnt want to be faulted on it. As we talked, we buried the hatchet so to speak, and have started on fresh ground. Next time I see Samantha at a conference, Im sure beers or drinks will be shared. Another member of the community, Maraget Staples messaged me. She was there at the incident, and through us talking, she said she was sorry for what happened, but now, Ive been officially welcomed to the PHP Conference Family. Only now I plan on speaking instead of visiting. Maybe 70/30 talking to speaking.

Now, on to something that is bothering me, which is someone on the FIG mailing list using an anonymouse email address to attack Samantha for what I wrote. Had this person read my blog, and the comments, they would have seen that the incident is behind us and we are now in a much better place. To use this one incident as something to discredit someone from a position they have been asked to fill isnt what this post is about. This isnt a post about being pro-CoC or anti-CoC. It was an incident I was involved in, and felt like airing my concerns. Would a CoC have fixed this? Well, I dont know. I dont feel like I wanna venture into that argument. All that I give a remote damn about is that I voiced a concern, Samantha was able to step up and do something I know a lot of people wouldnt have and come to me an immediately apologize and put this behind her.

I fully support her vote for the PHP-FIG Secretary, like I would if someone else had won the vote and had the same issues like I described in the blog post.

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