Portal (the game from Valve)

A couple days ago I bought Portal via Steam, and even though it’s probably one of the shortest games I’ve played it is undoubtedly one of the best! The premise is pretty simple; solve puzzles by using the portals that you can shoot in to the floor, ceiling or wall and walk through (or in some cases, fall in to or be shot through!) But a simple concept doesn’t mean it’s a simplistic game. It’s great to look at (considering it came from Half-Life 2 this is no surprise), has a fantastic sense of humor running through-out, and will sometimes mess with your head (“…OK, so I have to shoot this wall, to fall through that ceiling and.. woah! I can see me walking through the ceiling from down here!”)

The only downside to this game is that it’s very short – completed within a few hours easily. And that’s only a negative because the game is so captivating that it really leaves you wanting more.

There is a hack to integrate the Portal gun in to Half-Life 2 game play that I am looking forward to trying out because it’ll add a whole new dimension to the game play.

$20 well and truly spent well!

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Zend Certified Engineer

During the php|works conference in Atlanta this year I took the PHP5 Zend Certification, and I’m pleased to say that today I found out I had passed! So I am now pleased to say that I am a Zend Certified Engineer for both PHP4 and PHP5.

And just to prove it…

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Simple image view helper for Zend Framework

Here’s a simply view helper for the Zend Framework that can be used to display image tags. It checks to see if the image file exists and if not then it’ll use the data url scheme to output a very simple image that, ironically, says ‘NO IMG’ on it. 🙂 Please note, though, that I’ve only seen Firefox support this scheme, as wonderful as it is!

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php|works speakers

As people going to the php|works sessions will tell you, there are a lot of good speakers here. Speakers that really know what they’re talking about and have been involved in their subject for quite some time. You know; the kind of people that you as a developer really want to emulate. But I’ve noticed something that makes me really happy, and that is that the speakers are also attending other people’s talks, listening and asking questions. It’s nice to see because it shows that no matter how much the speakers know about their subject, there’s always something new to learn and they’re not so pretentious that they think they know it all.

Hope for us all yet, eh?

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Is this what being starstruck feels like?

Right now I’m sitting at a table with the likes of Cal Evans, Ben Ramsey, Sara Goleman, and Derick Rethans – all big players in the PHP world. And here I am, lowly ol’ me who does a bit of PHP at work. Wow. I feel a little starstruck (in a geeky kinda way), I have to admit!

OK, to be honest, I’m not saying anything, but, hey! I’m here. It’s a start. 😉

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Today I’m flying to Atlanta for the php|works conference. I am really looking forward to this as there seem to be quite a number of good talks – so many, in fact, that I had a hard time deciding which tracks to attend.

As part of this conference package I also had the opportunity to do the Professional PHP online course run by php|architect. I enjoyed that, and learned a fair bit, so I’m hopeful for the conference. 🙂

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Robust email address validator – with address suggestions!

I’m sure you’ve seen the simple email address format validation function; they’re usually a simple regular expressing that just check the address portion (the user@example.org bit). That’s really only a bit of the validation that should be done. The RFC822 specs detail that the format of email addresses can be much larger, for example, it could be something like “Andrew Collington & Co.” <a.collington@example.org>, and, of course, the simple regex on that would fail. But even a check on the address format isn’t often enough… The user could enter a correctly formatted email address but simply have mis-spelled the address… they may accidentally type in user@yahooo.com, or user@hitmail.co.uk rather than hotmail.co.uk, and things like that. In which case you may want to check the MX and/or A record to see if its a valid domain. And whilst you’re doing that, why not check to see if it’s a commonly used email host that maybe they’ve typed in wrong?

So here is a class that will allow you to do all that in one easy method call:

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