PHP Interview With Ligaya Turmelle Co-Founder Of – Find A Mentor #php-mentoring

About This Interview

This is the #25th set of PHP Interview to help aspiring PHP developers and PHP fans alike to get inspired by listening from those PHPeople who are already highly involved into the PHP Ocean and *being there* taming the waves and surfing better than ever to make themselves an Awesome PHP Expert both in their own eyes (for self-accomplishment) and for the PHP Community.

On the other side, this is an opportunity for new PHPers to get to know their “PHP Elders. I hope you will derive as much fun to read my interviews as I’m having by interviewing those awesome PHP people.

A Small Intro..

Ligaya Turmelle Co-Founder Of

In this edition I talked with the full time Goddess, Ligaya Turmelle who is the Co-Founder Of – The PHP Women User Group. [Ligaya @lig] is also the Principal MySQL Technical Support Engineer at Oracle. @lig is the second #phpwomen I’m hosting on She has been speaking at so many conferences namely ZendCon, PHP|tek, Day Camp for Developers, Zend PHP Conference; and she will soon speak at the incoming hot SunshinePHP Conference (organized by Adam Culp) scheduled for February 8-9 2013 where she will talk about ‘Replication with MySQL‘.

And Now The Interview…

>> Please tell us a bit about yourself

My first experience with computers was in 1987. I had a computer class that introduced me to writing computer games in Basic. There were no PCs then, instead we learned on dummy terminals of the mainframe.

And while I enjoyed my introduction to programming, I hated hearing the whine of the mainframe disks… (reminded me of nails on a blackboard).

I didn’t consistently interact with another computer until 1999 when I went to Uni.

>> How you started with PHP

My very first project with PHP was my senior project at Uni (a website for the college counselors) back in 2002. I actually got my first job after Uni – just because I knew *what PHP was* since it was so little known at the time.

>> The relationship between You and The PHP Community comprises..

I first heard about the PHP Community in 2003 When [Chris Shiflett @shiflett] posted about it on his blog. I was still very new to the language so I wanted to try and help out and learn from the those more experienced then I was. So off I go, joining IRC for the first time and the rest they say – is history.

I have been a member of the PHPCommunity IRC channel (#phpc on freenode) from the first flood at Chris’s Call to Action, through the time when there we are few as 10 of us regularly (shout-out to awormus, cnb, ebag, zircu, ramsey, light, enygma and all the other old timers) on the channel till the present day. For many years I *literally* knew every single person that was in the channel and found some of my closest friends and most of my original mentors there.

From the PHP Community channel grew the PHP Women user group. On October 8, 2006 [Elizabeth Naramore @ElizabethN] and I were on the PHP Community channel. I can’t remember what conference it was anymore, but we started questioning where all the women were. That in turn let to our blog posts asking all the women in PHP to stand up and be counted… which in turn led to us forming PHP Women.

>> How do you find PHP now as compared to when you first started

PHP, the language, is still mostly the same then when I first started. There are plenty of articles on the web to tell you the good, the bad and the ugly of PHP, but – it still just works to just get stuff done.

What has changed is the community around PHP. As the language has matured and become accepted into the main stream, so has the community. Best practices, frameworks, and agile development have all become “normal” for the professional PHP coder.

>> What would be the Top advice to a PHP beginner

Join IRC. On freenode you have ##php for asking technical questions, #phpc is the water cooler of the PHP world (least in my humble opinion) so any PHP news of interest will make its way there, and there is #php-mentoring to hopefully help you find an official mentor if that is what you desire.

>> To someone who wants to become a better PHP developer..?

Find a mentor – or 10. No 1 person knows everything, so the more people you know to get help from and learn from, the better you will be.

>> A PHP blog or resource you highly recommend

That is a no brainer –

>> One PHP person that you admire and what strikes you about him/her

This is a hard one to answer since there are so many that I admire. But if I had to pick one, it would have to be [Laura Thomson @lxt]. I do not know her very well personally but she, to me, represents what I want to be: Scary smart, passionate about her work and family, respected by all and a beautiful overall person.

>> One PHP Community that you recommend

This should be obvious – PHPCommunity – #phpc on freenode

>> Are you part of any PHP User group? Could you tell a bit about it

I am a member of the Jacksonville, FL PHP user group. We are admittedly a small group but we are growing.

>> A PHP Usergroup that you appreciate and would highly recommend

I haven’t been to one of their meetings in years, but I have always admired the [Atlanta PHP user group @AtlantaPHP].

>> Which was the worst programming mistake you did?

Oh heavens – this is so embarrassing. When I was first starting out writing PHP code (2003) I had to make an email marketing system (Yeah, yeah – spam I know). Anyway as I was testing a feature of it, I accidentally stayed connected to the live company database instead of my test db to send out a test email.

The email Subject line: You suck! The body of the email: You suck, I rule!

Yeah… that was sent to the *entire* company from the CEO down…

Needless to say I thought I would be fired for that stunt. Luckily most ignored it and those that didn’t – had a sense of humor once I explained what had happened.

>> Things that you’ve learned from being part of The PHP Community

That small decisions can have huge impacts on your life. If I didn’t make that original choice to join #phpc I would never have met my mentors, learned as much as I did, made friends and connections with people that to this day help me both personally and professionally.

I personally blame the success of my career completely on #phpc.

>> If you had to go back in time, would you still choose PHP?

Yes I would still choose PHP – and honestly there is nothing I would do different.

>> How do you time manage all the stuffs that you do, coupled with your personal life?

I still work on this. Working from home helps but mostly I do the things I do – at the sufferance of my family. They have and do let me know when I am “away” too much. Though admittedly lately I have been pulling back from most things just to give myself a break as I consider going back to school again.

>> The best conference you attended would be..

There are a couple of them.

  • PHPTek (any year) – best small conference
  • MySQL User Conference 2008 – A medium sized conference (1000< attendees < 3000) that still managed to feel small and intimate.

I have learned a lot at large conferences (3000+ attendees) but so far they have always felt rather impersonal.

>> Can you please share the good, and may be not so good moments, of being part of all the conferences you attended

The goodcatching up with old friends. Since the PHP World is global, it is not unusual that the only time I see friends is at a conference.

The badforgetting that for most attendees we are strangers. I have to actively work on introducing myself and including people I do not know into any conversation.

I still am not sure if it is “good form” to let people know that I am speaker at a conference if they do not know it already.

>> Why you are successful and why others are not?

Luck, a passion for what I do, a willingness to work hard, friends and a willingness to step forward and make a fool out of myself in public as I try something. But mostly luck.

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{I’m thankful to your response(s)!}

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