Thursday, 18 February 2010

What is PHP? - The Course

You may well ask 'what is PHP ' ?
Not sure I know but I will try!

Well it is a programming language which in simple terms is used to make web pages DO SOMETHING.

To make them accept and receive input and make them dynamic rather than static and as I understand it - which is not much as yet - mostly used to put stored information on to a web page or retrieve stored information. This information can be put in by the website user, usually using a form,  or requested by the website user or put in and requested by the website author.

Shopping cart websites mostly use PHP i.e Amazon. Facebook uses PHP to run its social network site as does most sites that are not static web pages - this blog system probably runs using PHP.
It used to be called Personal Home Page, but it is now been changed to Hypertext Preprocessor.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PHP


Here is an example of some 'VERY VERY' basic PHP code:
//set up variables including some calculations
  $myname = "Dave";                //My name
  $jobnow = "Lecturer" ;           // my job now
  $agenow = 56 ;                   // My age as of 2010
  $yearnow = 2010 ;                // This year
  $years = 5 ;                     // number for calculation
  $newyear = $yearnow+$years;      // result of variables $yearnow and $years added together
  $newage = $agenow+$years;        // result of variables $agenow and $years added together
  $lifelater = "sailing round the Mediterranean" ;  // what I would like to be doing

// This example shows variables (above) being echoed to the screen,
// and also a variable used in an inline calculation (65-$agenow below) 

echo "Hello! my name is "."$myname" .". It is ". "$yearnow" . " and I am currently " ."$agenow". " and a "."$jobnow" . ". In " . "$years" . " years time it will be " . "$newyear" . " and I will be ". "$newage"
. " and  ". "$lifelater" . "  - I hope. It will be another ", 65-$agenow , " years before I am able to retire fully." ;
 
?>


Do I understand it ?
Sadly after a 3 day intensive course - no not really! - I hope to in about 2 months as we have two assignments to do over 2 months, but on the course I found it hard to grasp

This was part of my frustration on the course. The last time I did a course that involved any sort of web technology was about 10 years ago, but then I was always the star pupil. The one that got it straight away, flew ahead and helped others in the group and came away with a merit if not a distinction.

I already knew that in the last 10 years my brain has become not what it then was. I am aware that my memory and my ability to grasp new concepts are diminishing, I guess it is age?

Well I hope it is just age, as dementia runs in our family and if you have HIV you are hugely more likely to get this than the average person and there is something called HIV dementia which you can get even if your HIV is controlled as mine is by drugs.

So I really  fear any signs that my mind is not functioning as it did in any way and while I'm not sure of the extent of it I know I am not imagining that my mental abilities are not what they were, so anything that confirms this is highly upsetting to me.

So I knew this course would be hard and more difficult than I may once have found it. but I was astounded by how hard it was and how difficult for me to grasp things I know I may have grasped much quicker in the past.

But what was even more worrying is I found I had forgotten stuff I used to know off by heart - such as HTML & CSS code which I taught myself many years ago. And also realized that as I have done a smattering of programming theory before that some of the concepts I used to know. And while I used theses concepts in other programming languages such as visual basic and C++ I should have understood the concepts and been able to work out how to use them in PHP.

What was  worrying was I had forgotten stuff I knew I once knew, and when I tried to remember or relearn it was like there was a hole where the memory should be that try as I might, I could not fill!!!

- it felt very strange and I truly then really started during the course to wonder if I really do have the onset of dementia ? it was more than just not being able to grasp something , it felt like something in my head was missing!!!

That alone would have made me cry with frustration in itself and indeed embarrassingly did a couple of times during the 3 days - what a wally!! the others in the group must have thought me!!!!!!!!!! well I have a good idea what some thought, some were very kind but others I know found me a disruption.


But also I had to cope with:
  • The almost agoraphobia I feel right now when out of the house for any length of time after not being out for more than a couple of hours for over 6 months, especially on my own with no one I knew.
  • Meeting new people and trying to relate to them ( that course would have gone so differently for me if a friend had come . Hazel was going to come but decided not to . If she had been there I know I would have been able to hold it together with no problem. But I seem to be incapable of coping with any situation where I do not know anyone now)
  • Having to cope with my extreme lack of self esteem and total paranoia of how others are viewing me! Of course if I draw attention to the fact I feel self conscious and feel I do not fit in ( and at the moment I often do) this makes it worse and draws attention to myself more - an makes me look like a complete wally!!
  • Fearing my mind just would not be up to the course and confirmation that it may not be!
  • Being outside my work comfort zone i.e not in front of my own computer with the programs I use installed, for instance there was not even Dreamweaver on the laptop I had and I have not even written HTML without Dreamweaver for many years ( also I had to use a laptop and  my eyes are not good enough to see the screen properly, especially small bits of code like stops and double speech and single speech  marks etc. So at home I use two large screens)
  • Being on a course i.e and away from home when I was feeling ill
  • Getting myself to a college on time when I have not HAD to be anywhere on time for at least 3 years.
The worse in terms of social interaction was having to do the course with people I did not know.

To be fair while there was one or two who did not know anyone. But most were either lecturers, IT employees or existing students at the college who know others on the course.
And this would not have mattered quite so much to me  if this had not been an intensive course i.e had been one day a week  or had only been for a couple of hours a day, as my frustrations of it all would not have built up or had time to dissipate in between sessions. And ther would have been more time to get to know the other participants and feel more comfortable with them.

This would not matter one iota to the others there as this was such a minuscule part f the lives of busy people who meet new people every day.
But for me it was a huge thing to attempt

Which is terrible as  considering I was a student at that college full time for 3 years once and also taught web design and digital imaging as a lecturer there!!!!


It is amazing how a few life events can change things for you so much !
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