Saturday, 24 March 2007

Zend Certification Exam

As i mentioned in one of my previous posts, i had scheduled to take the Zend Certification on Friday the 23rd of march, which i did.
That date was chosen , not because i could not do it any earlier, but because i could not do it any later. Zend will stop the PHP4 test on the 31st of march 2007.

Of course from the beginning it was a must using the official Study Guide and Practice Tests book,
which seemed to be quite a good deal.

The Study guide covers some of the major topics in php development, starting from the basics and array, strings, pcre, stream programming etc.

The guide contains not too much information, which , cuts both ways. First: you won't need to much time to go through it. Second: that's not all the information you will need, to pass the test.

Do not be fooled !! Even though the Booklet starts of by telling you what php tags are, this is not for people who have not written a line of php in their life. Chapters and topics will get very complicated and very soon , as you go on reading. They will nee you to have the background knowledge.
On the other hand, even if you are not taking the test, this material is written by a group of php experts that will put light on many edgy points in developing, so it might be a quite good read.

The exercise book, will cover basically everything you learned on the Study Guide + extra material. The presence of this extra material, confirms what i wrote earlier, about the fact that the guide will not teach you everything that you need to know.

Two things will help a lot: Experience, ability to memorize ( php manual always at hand).

By this point, I think that the exercise book is a lot tougher ( in some topics ) than the test itself,

After a couple of white nights, gallons of coffee, and a staggering amount of random information stored in my head ( :) ) went and took the exam.

Now, i know the test is supposed a real-life one, but it isn't.
Today, one of the biggest tools that a php developer has at hand, is the (well structured) PHP Manual.
I think the exam concentrates too much on asking ie: the correct order of input and output of
array_merge_recursive, but also not giving you a chance to write a single line of code, or have a case study etc...

One of the good things of the approach that this test has, is that by the end of your studying time (if you did it properly ), regardless if you pass or not, you will code much faster and you will need the manual way less.

All these things said, i don't have a real problem with the way that the preparation and the test works.

The only thing that quasi-bugs me, is the fact that the only passing grade is PASS.
I'm definitely not talking about myself here but, there are some people out there , who are proper php gurus, and probably should not be evaluated the same as somebody who barely passed it.
I mean, maybe it's just the formulation GRADE: PASS.
Could be ' Congratulations, you succeeded.. etc etc'.

So yesterday, i passed the ZEND Php Certification test ( with a positive grade that i would love to know specifically ) in Rome Italy.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

LDAP Strikes again

Last night around 1Am i was called in @ work due to ' a few strange techie things happening here, Sid '.
Once got there figured out it was a lack of internal networking due.
For this to be thanked was our Microdowell UPS System holding the web/auth/smb machine.

This last pc is a Fedora 6 machine, which amongst many services runs also Ldap, for smb and mail authentication.

Trying to restart the machine, i was stuck forever on:

Starting System Message Bus ....

As i had the chance to figure out from the booting info, there was a previous failure to startup ldap.

At least to start the machine, the solution seemed to be getting in Runlevel 1 ( which i basically the only mode that will be able to go through ) and edit /etc/nssswitch.conf.
In this file commented all the lines that take info from Ldap.

#protocols: files ldap

This will allow the system to start the services without the slapd support-

Now, i have heards a lot of folks around blaming Samba for the same problem.

I suggest them to look in the same file and they will probably notice that Ldap is set to give samba auth too.

So that started the server which after i edited the nsswitch again and tried to restart ldap, responded with the following:

[root@tserver]# /etc/rc.d/init.d/ldap start
Checking configuration files for slapd: bdb_db_open: unclean shutdown detected; attempting recovery.
bdb_db_open: Recovery skipped in read-only mode. Run manual recovery if errors are encountered.
bdb_db_open: Database cannot be opened, err 13. Restore from backup!
bdb(dc=domain,dc=com): DB_ENV->lock_id_free interface requires an environment configured for the locking subsystem
backend_startup_one: bi_db_open failed! (13)
slap_startup failed (test would succeed using the -u switch)
stale lock files may be present in /var/lib/ldap [WARNING]

so the server won't start at all.

Now, Ldap is a wonderful piece of software but this is a very very annoying problem to have.

This is what will you:

[root@theserver]# /usr/sbin/slapd_db_recover -v -h /var/lib/ldap
Finding last valid log LSN: file: 1 offset 5324863
Recovery starting from [1][5213551]
Recovery complete at Sat Mar 17 09:13:51 2007
Maximum transaction ID 8000040d Recovery checkpoint [1][5324863]

And at the end of this process you have to chown the files in /var/lib/ldap to

Conclusively, if this happens (and knowing Ldap, it will) this is what's to be done:

  1. Enter in runlevel 1, edit /etc/nsswitch.conf and comment out the lines that have ldap and reboot.
  2. Edit the file again.
  3. try service ldap start ( to make sure this is your case)
  4. If the result is similar to mine above do:
/usr/sbin/slapd_db_recover -v -h /var/lib/ldap
chown -R ldap.ldap /var/lib/ldap

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Expert Rating PHP Certification

For a while i have been thinking/preparing to take the Zend PHP Certification Exam.
After (finally) booking it (23rd of march), was roaming around on the net, and came across

Checked out their certifications, and decided to take their PHP4 official certification test.

40 questions, 40 minutes
every question has up to 8 answers, one or more of which, could be true.

Not a mean test, but deffinitely not as easy as i thought it would be.
I guess i prejudicated for not being the Zend one.

Passed it with:
Percentile: 79 GPA: 2.8

So from now on i ( at will, not too often ) will be displaying
around the following logo.
I think it's quite cool.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Should there be some 'Hello World' ?

Well well, this is the first post of this blog.
Frankly, i see myself now as a proved web user. Tried it all: Cms, boards, you name it...
Yet, i had never been attracted by the blog idea.

Anyhow, here i am.
So far i don't suffer of blogorrhea, not i think i will, ... for a while.

At this moment besides my actual work, i am dev-ing on the side
a custom made cms for a web-dev company.
So i think there will be some of that here.

be right back :)