A Swan on Black

Time for a check in

Things have been busy behind the scenes at Hidden Hat HQ recently – ith the result that the site resembles a scrappy swan at present – slow and steady (if not stately and elegant) above the surface but thrashing away under water.

The Swan…

We’ve released a fair amount on the site since the last check-in.

For the Python For PHP Programmers project, I’ve released articles on conditionals, multiline strings, random number generation, and basic type checking.

In this strand – which we might politely label miscellaneous – I have ruminated on the relationship between code and art and strayed into the world of work by considering the all too common phenomenon of the the team asshole. Assholery is seen by many as a valid management style – especially if it gets results. Personally, I doubt that’s a good strategy (as the current state of a certain bird site attests). Either way, though, I don’t think making people miserable is an acceptable price to pay for success.

This week… well, you’re reading one new article right now. I’m also aiming to get another Python for PHP Programmers article out. I may put up a separate announcement piece for the news to come. Read on.

… with the thrashing legs

There’s a traditional difference between working on a business and working in it. As I covered in great detail last time, I often tend to focus on productive tasks rather than selling the fruits of that work – which is not always the best strategy. I’ll do a mea culpa on that a little later.

Python for PHP Programmers

As far as product work is concerned, though, I’ve been busy. I have decided, for the first Hidden Hat book, to go with Leanpub. I like the ethos of writing in public, and I like tools they provide authors. Although I’m capable of building a markdown to manuscript pipeline – and I’ve done so before – I feel that, at least this time round, I’ll be better served by putting my effort into writing and networking than into font and format fiddling.

So, I have opted for Leanpub. There’s even a book page which, at time of writing, is comically bare. Here’s a screen grab, in case by the time you click it’s full of content.

An empty leanpub landing page

I’ve been producing content for the book for a while now both to try out the idea and the format and to provide content for this site. Now it’s now time to focus more intently on the book itself. To that end, I have at last produced a table of contents I like. If you’ve signed up as a beta reader, I’ll be surveying you on that shortly – and also issuing coupons for the book as promised to all those who reply.

If you haven’t yet signed up as a beta reader, time is running out (at least for this stage of the process). Use the form on the landing page if you want to join up.

In other P3 news, I have just finished a meeting with my friend and colleague Max Guglielmino in which he presented several covers. He has produced a blinder. Look out for a cover reveal next week.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working to finish the first couple of chapters, and then I’ll finally make the work in progress available for purchase.

PHP 8 Objects, Patterns and Practice 7th Edition!

Also this week, I signed with Apress to produce a new edition of PHP 8 Objects, Patterns, and Practice. In fact, I signed two contracts because, this time round, the plan is to release the title in two volumes. This means that the ‘practice’ part will get its own book. I have some ideas about the new chapters but I’ll also be polling PHP developers to get a sense of the best topics to cover.

So now I have three books to work on, in addition to promotional work. That’s not to mention client and product projects.

Oh look! Shiny!

I’ve always been a procrastinator. These days, this generally means finding myself diverted by a brand new code or writing proejct. . I read an interesting (and alarming) elegy for coding at The New Yorker site. That reminded me that it’s worth staying on top of LLM developments – on the principle that, if nothing else, it’s better to surf a wave than to drown under it.

To that end, I kicked of a spike to research the OpenAI Assistants API. Longer term, I’d like to add assistants to Shelley, my commandline AI client. In order to play around with the API, of course, it turned out I had to write my own library. And two days were lost.

On the upside, I’ll probably release my dogfood on Github, and there’s probably a blog post or two in it!

Traffic and sign ups

And now to the confession. Although I have promoted every post to some extent, I have not yet embarked on my plan to expand my reach. I have, at last, sent out a mailing list post – and I should do another one this week.

Traffic to the site is relatively stable but but there has been no real growth, despite my regular posting.

Engagement on social media has been good. I’ve also had a very positive response to PHP Objects, Patterns and Practice news across the social media platforms.

At the same time, I recognise I need to do more work to get the message out if I’m going to develop this site. I also need to circle back and implement the site improvements I discussed in the last article.

I have had a few more beta reader sign ups, and a steady trickle of mailing list submissions but again, I need to work harder make the graph more of an upward curve than a straight line.

How you can help

Sign up to the mailing list below for general site news and chat. Ask your colleagues to sign up as well. If you’re interested in the Python for PHP Programmers project then head there to sign up – you’ll get additional book news. You could also opt in as a beta reader right now. Soon you’ll also be able to pre-order the book. Follow me on Mastodon, Linkedin or X.

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Photo by Erik van Dijk on Unsplash