Enter the Ninja

The word "ninja" in kanji script
The word “ninja” in kanji script

I’m Kenn. I grew up before computers were really a thing. But I was pretty obsessed with Asian martial arts and culture for as long as I can remember.

In the 80’s, ninja movies were quite the thing, and I loved ’em. Nevertheless, they were somewhat less than wholly accurate, at least not with regard to the historical ninja. The ninja was the covert operative of the feudal Japanese world, carrying out missions of stealth, assassination, and espionage. While they might have worn the sort of black clothing we’ve all seen in the movies when appropriate, it was just as important that they blend in. A ninja didn’t want to stand out, and while fighting was among their skills, generally speaking, if they had to fight, it meant that something had gone horribly wrong with the original plan.

I’ve been in the IT field for over three decades now. I’ve done a lot of things, but two things that have taken center-stage in my computing life over the past few years has been Linux and WordPress.

One out of every three websites on the whole of the Internet are powered by WordPress, and an estimated 80% of all web servers are LAMP (Linux, Apache2, MySQL, and PHP). For the most part, these things are not overly-loved by the development community; it is popular to deride PHP, to switch to Nginx, and to embrace NoSQL databases like MongoDB. And you know what? I get it. I use Nginx frequently, I’ve implemented a MongoDB project, and I even do crazy things like NodeJS sometimes.

From my first halting steps on my Commodore 64 through this moment right now, computers have fascinated me. Programming them, configuring them, integrating them. I’m not super-picky about the tools… I’ve used a lot over the years!

And I’ve seen how things come and go, and how ideas repeat themselves.

PHP 7+ is fast, versatile, and reliable. MariaDB (which I use instead of MySQL exclusively) is an old-fashion relational database, but those are still pretty darn awesome if you configure them correctly.

Of all the computing things, LAMP is my constant. So I thought I’d write about it.

About this Site

Quite a few years ago, when I was in my first gig as a professional server and database administrator, I started a folder into which I’d put notes in text files… I called it “Kenn’s Notes” and it was indispensable. The notes weren’t pretty; sometimes they were just a series of commands, but they saved me a lot of time. Years later, after I’d moved on, I found that the people that followed me were still referring to “Kenn’s Notes” regularly. Tech blogging for me is the evolution of that; I come back to these posts to find out how I did it last time.

I hope that the stuff I post here can be useful, but do understand, it’s likely to go down a rabbit-hole or two now and again. I like to code, build, and experiment more than I like to write about it, and it’s a lot harder to write for other people than oneself.

This site is fun, and that’s a big reason why it exists. Remember – as a techie – never to let yourself stop having fun with it.

But where are the Ninja?!

Well, if you saw them, they wouldn’t be very good at their jobs, would they?!

In feudal Japan, the ninja thrived on the fact that the Samurai had a code (bushido). Samurai weren’t supposed to do things like sneak and spy and assassinate, but in times of war and political intrigue, such things can be… useful. So the Samurai employed the ninja to handle their wet-work.

In those times, and in that place, the work of the ninja wasn’t socially acceptable. They didn’t get ticker-tape parades or medals. Like many a Linux server guru or database administrator, they worked from behind the scenes; the world saw the results, but not the actors.

This site got its name because I couldn’t help but make that connection. It’s cool to know the latest Javascript framework like the back of  your hand, and people (including me!) will definitely be impressed if you do.

But still… four out of five web servers run PHP. Half run Apache2 (with Nginx running a fairly-close second these days). And 70% run on *nix (Unix/Linux).

Is the world still running?

Thank a LAMPStack Ninja!

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My Favorite Places on the Interwebs

  • Digital Ocean – If you’re a server nerd, it lets you make the world your playground (at very reasonable prices).
  • CakePHP – It was the first PHP framework that we really got into; we’re still using it today.
  • LinuxBabe – Home of some wickedly accurate walk-throughs for how to do just about anything with Linux servers.
  • SpinupWP – These guys are one of our secret weapons. (Shhh!)
  • W3 Schools – simple, straightforward, and lots of examples.
  • Mozilla Observatory – Because my stuff is never quite as tight as I think it is!
  • GTMetrix – Remember the phrase “speed kills”? On the web, it’s the opposite. It’s good to know wher eyou stand.
  • WPMU DEV – $50 a month sounds like a lot but these folks have a suite of plugins that can really change the game for developers.
  • WordPress Developer Resources – If you want to develop in WordPress, it pays to RTFM.
  • Unsplash – Because you can’t make sexy websites without a few pretty pictures.
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