I'm Matthew Setter. I'm a security researcher, privacy advocate, software engineer, and tech writer, who loves teaching people all that I know.
It's The End of An Era - Goodbye PHP Architect.
This month marks the end of an era for me. It's my last article for PHP Architect magazine. Why's that significant, you may well be asking?
It's because I'm the longest, consistent, contributing author, having started writing for them back around 2009. Well, that's what Kevin Bruce told me. It's been a fun and enriching journey these many years — especially if you considered the quality of my writing when I started. While I wasn't terrible, let's just say that there was definite room for improvement. But we all need to improve over time?
Some have asked why I've decided to pull up stumps and call it a day after all this time. So I thought I'd share my reasoning here.
Where It All Began?
Back around 2009, I was working in the UK for a company called iBuildings, now called Inviqa (don't ask me what the new name's all about), as a PHP-focused software engineer. At the time I was just living the life of a developer in London, England, developing and maintaining PHP apps, and having a good time doing it.
The work included creating custom apps, hacking on Magento (version 1), Drupal, WordPress, and a series of other applications which the company supported for their clients.
Then, one day on the company mailing list there was an announcement, which went something like:
If anyone wants to write for the company blog and share their knowledge and experience, so long as it's on a topic that we're after, and the content is coherent, we'll pay you £200 per/post.
The email grabbed my attention, as my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I were always looking for short weekend trips around Europe and I saw the money as a potential handy way of helping to fund our adventures. £200 isn't quite what it used to be, nor was it mega money. But as Tesco's (a large UK supermarket chain) says: "Every little counts".
So I got in touch, I believe it was with Lorna Jane at the time, and expressed my interest, along with ideas for an article or two. I believe she responded saying that the article wasn't what iBuildings were after, but that I should get in touch with Cal Evans at Zend Developer Zone.
So I got in touch with Cal who, like Lorna, said that the article topic wasn't what he was looking for either, but that he knew someone who may be interested. That someone was my mate Beth Tucker Long (@e3BethT), the then editor of PHP Architect magazine.
She liked the topic and gave me the okay to write the article for the magazine. The rest, as they say, is history! I began contributing on a semi-regular basis, which in time morphed into a regular column: Education Station.
Through writing for PHP Arch, I got to know so many wonderful people, including the entire team who took over the magazine (Oscar Merida, Eli White, Sandy Smith, and Kevin Bruce) after the original owners moved on.
Through writing for the magazine and having excellent critical feedback from Beth (and later Oscar and Kara Ferguson), I began to improve the quality of my writing quite rapidly. And through doing so, a range of opportunities opened up, which never would have, had I not had that experience.
These include writing for Codeship, Loggly, LogDna, Pantheon, SitePoint, and Sqreen. It also included working on training courses at Zend, creating courses for Pluralsight (I'm on my second), and lead me to one of my current clients, ownCloud.
Moreover, it also opened up the possibility, well I choose to believe it did anyway, of beginning to do professional conference speaking. My first conference that I spoke at, the one that I'll remember with most affection, was PHP World 2015, in Washington, USA.
It was Beth herself actually, at PHP UK Conference (back in 2010 I think), who asked me when I was going to get up on stage and start giving talks.
That's why this journey has been so special to me. However, like everything else, all good things, in time, do come to an end.
The Question Is Why?
Well it's, more or less, an easy answer to give — even if it wasn't an easy decision to make. I've been working pretty hard for the last three years building a successful freelance business. However, I've also had a range of health issues which I've been trying to solve for that entire time as well — health issues which I still don't have a complete set of answers for.
In addition I'm a husband, and a father to two young children which, while very enriching, brings its own set of challenges. As a result, everything was starting to get on top of me. What's more, I felt that, as so often can happen in creative endeavours, I was running out of things to say in the column.
This might sound cheesy. It may even seem like somewhat of a cliché. But one of my core motivators for writing the column was to be able to contribute back to the community who has given me so much since I wrote my first line of PHP code back in 1999.
To feel that I might be being insincere in my offering weighed heavily on my mind. So, when considering all of these things together, I felt it was time — at least for now — to pull back from writing the column. I had a great discussion with Oscar, the current editor, and we agreed that the December edition of Education Station would be my last.
He was kind enough to leave the door open, should I want to contribute on an intermittent basis in the future (which I'm sure I will).
Where To Now?
That's a good question, one in which I've invested considerable thought. To give a short answer, it's as I discussed in a recent post here on the blog, I'm getting my focus on and learning all I can about secure software development and ethical hacking.
It might not sound like I'm slowing down that much, if I'm rapidly ploughing into new work. However, the column wasn't the only work that I've set aside. There's been other work too.
I've also taken time out to take stock of how I organise myself, to see where I can do it better, and how I can work in simpler, more effective and efficient ways. It's given me the chance to recognise that there are better ways of working and that I don't have to work all the time. Shock horror, I can actually take a break, and the world won't fall apart!
It's heartening to know. Plus, it's great to have that much more time for my young family, something that a generation ago wasn't as readily available.
Thank You PHP[Arch]!
So, in closing, I want to give a heartfelt thank you to some of the key people who've been a part of this journey, those being @e3BethT, @CalEvans, @SandyS1, @KevinBruce, @omerida, and @eliw. I couldn't have done it without you.
Here's to further changes and future success!
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