Web & PHP talks to the organiser of the hip and happening Sunshine PHP Conference

The Interview: Adam Culp

Adam Culp (@adamculp), is a blogger at Geekyboy.com and organizer of the SunshinePHP Developer Conference as well as the South Florida PHP Users Group (SoFloPHP) where he speaks regularly, is a Zend PHP 5.3 certified engineer and currently taking on consulting and development projects through his own company Unique Web Sites, Inc. Adam is passionate about developing with PHP and enjoys helping others write good code, implement standards, refactor efficiently, and incorporate unit and functional testing into their projects. He created ReqHarbor.com to help non-technical users gather and manage application requirements, and also set up OutsourceHarbor.com to help companies to find good local developers.

So Adam, tell the Web & PHP readers a little bit about you. How did you get started with PHP?

I started building websites by accident about 13 years ago. I have always enjoyed technology and after building my personal website a few friends who owned small businesses asked if I could make one for their businesses as well. The list of sites I built started to grow through word-of-mouth, and before I knew it I had 20 customers, then 50, then 100. Around that time I saw dynamic websites starting to grow and realized I needed to expand my knowledge to include some sort of server-side scripting language, but didn’t know where to turn.

I looked at ASP, Cold Fusion and even considered Perl, which I knew through some minor scripts for form mail and counters. I quickly became discouraged when I realized ASP and Cold Fusion had some very expensive licensing and were not supported well on Linux servers, meaning more expensive and less stable Windows servers. I continued to look around and found a plugin for Dreamweaver that allowed PHP to be done in a WYSIWYG fashion, so gave it a try.

Not being a programmer it was a bit tough when things didn’t work as expected, but I stuck with it. Eventually Dreamweaver included the PHP functionality out of the box, and things got better. However, it was not good enough and still required me to switch over to code view once in awhile. Little by little I was finding myself in code view most of the time, and no longer needed a WYSIWYG at all. I had become a „real“ PHP programmer.

Adam is the organizer of the South Florida PHP Users Group (SoFloPHP), tell us about the role you play and why you decided to take on this task.

It was one of those true moments of insanity that led me to start the users group, but is also infinitely rewarding at the same time.

In 2009 I received an email from Keith Casey, who was trying to help organize a Codeworks event in Miami and was looking for the PHP community in south Florida. The answer, there wasn’t one. Keith felt someone should start one, and I agreed but took no action. Over the next year I thought of starting a users group, but didn’t know where to start.

It was at the 2010 php|tek conference in Chicago where I ran into Lorna Jane, who gave an uncon talk about getting involved with the PHP community, which made the difference. I talked briefly with her after the talk and pretty much decided at that point that starting a users group was „my“ task, rather than waiting for someone else to do it.

When I returned home to Florida, and after failed attempts to reach out to some small and inactive groups, I created the group on meetup.com. The registrations started rolling in and before I knew what had happened I had 100 members and started the monthly meetings.

I have been the organizer for the past 2.5 years, and have learned a lot in the process. We are a very active group with 330+ members now, but I would like to also get others involved in organizing it.


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