Ed Barnard

Ed Barnard

A Cray Research veteran, Ed has been studying and programming computers 50 years, including 10 of Unix operating system development in assembler and C, and 3 teaching operating system internals in assembler. Ed’s been writing PHP since 2007. Ed gets outdoors when he can for hiking and camping.

Where do you work, what is your current role?

On contract at Best Buy in Minnesota, through TEKSystems. Working with Magento 1.

How do you use PHP professionally?

I’ve been doing full-time PHP since 2007, except for a year or two of embedded C followed by a few months of Perl. I stay with the “back end” as much as I can: Database, offline processes, business logic.

How and when did you get involved speaking or writing in the community?

I drove down to php[tek] in St. Louis (2016). I offered a three-part php[architect] article, and it was published over the next three months. My first talk was at Madison PHP that fall and I did NOT tell anyone it was my first talk until it was over.

What’s your best conference memory?

Getting to tell MY story (programming the CRAY-1) – and those great chats with Michelangelo van Dam in Madison and Seattle.

What advice do you have for someone going to their first conference?

Ask questions. It’s guaranteed you’re not the only one. Every instructor I know is EAGER to answer questions, share suggestions. YOU are the reason we’re here. Take advantage of us. Many of us connect on Twitter.

Tabs or Spaces?

That was settled in the 19th Century. Professional typists use tabs and have for six generations.

Do you know how to exit VIM?

Yes, since it’s the same sequence to exit vi or ed.

What’s your primary OS: Windows, Mac, or Linux?


What would you tell someone looking to grow beyond copy-pasting PHP from the web?

Become a craftsman or artisan. Study and understand our craft. That might mean reading book, enhancing an open source project, whatever.

What’s one lesser-known feature of PHP that you use a lot or appreciate?

String increment because it tickles my sense of the ridiculous.

Is a degree in Computer Science critical to be a professional programmer?

It’s important but an awful lot of websites have been excellently built without benefit of a Computer Science degree. In fact, a liberal arts degree plays extremely well with a software development career, assuming the person is also picking up the software-specific skills as well.

In your experience, what skill or ability do excellent programmers practice?

It’s the people skills, which is a really rotten thing to say because I’m not a people person. So let’s go with hexadecimal arithmetic without a calculator.


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