Category: News about Work

Zend Certified Engineer (ZCE) 5.3

By , Thursday 30th September 2010 9:00 pm

With the official release of the Zend Certified Engineer (ZCE) programme for 5.3 I thought I’d give  my quick impression of what I thought of the exam.

A little background on myself: I was first introduced to PHP about 7 years ago and have worked professionally in PHP since 2006. I currently work for an exciting start-up called Brightpearl based in Bristol, UK, producing integrated CRM, accountancy, and ecommerce software. I haven’t previously obtained any of the previous ZCE qualifications. I currently develop in the 5.2.X series and haven’t really used any of the specific 5.3 features (I’m waiting for Zend Framework 2 and Doctrine 2) in my development projects.
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UK Names Directory and Facebook Application

By , Friday 10th April 2009 9:33 am

One of the fun things I’ve been involved in whilst working for Tracesmart is the names directory. Basically we took our huge information database and pulled out a big pile of stats about various names.

The process is all one big SEO effort in order to draw more traffic to the site, but it also provides some interesting information and name statistics.

Here’s an example for my name Lloyd Watkin, or I suppose more correctly Steven Watkin. Take a minute to look up your name on the Tracesmart site, might be interesting ;)

We’ve also got names statistics data on the names directory page which tells you what names have been searched and how recently. Its quite interesting to see famous people’s names fly up the stats when they appear in the news. A recent example is that of Liam Neeson who’s wife died from a skiing accident recently, although obviously people aren’t quite right on the spelling (hence the huge numbers of hits on this name) — Liam Nilson.

Facebook Application

Once the names directory was created we set about creating a facebook application which we duely named ‘My Name‘. The facebook application is an extension of the names directory and provides some additional statistics. In order to add the names directory to your facebook account please visit:

2008 WTF?!?

By , Thursday 1st January 2009 12:00 am

2008 was a strange old year, there’s several things I really enjoyed about it,  and there’s some things that have now been forgotten and moved on with….


I haven’t done much in the way of scuba diving I think I managed around about 10 dives all year. One of those dives was the scuba santas event at Vobster Quay which was more successful than my wildest dreams. In the end we raised over £1000 for the RNLI, got coverage on BBC and ITV, and had around 80 divers in the water. Vobster was a sea of scuba diving santas for the day! I really hope I get to do mroe diving in 2009 (lots more!), getting back into it will involve lots of training to get comfortable again. I miss the days of getting on the boat, sun beaming down, grabbing a lobster, packing up   and heading home for a few beers.


At the end of January 2008 I was involved in a car crash, hit from behind whilst stopped, nothing major or so I thought. Over several months my neck pain got progressively worse stopping me running. In the end I contacted an accident claims company who started getting me treatment with a chiropractor in Cardiff which I’m still attending (March 2009 – the claim still isn’t settled either). Running is another one of those things I want to get back to, I did start with Miles but between illnesses, injuries, and him eventually moving to Cambridge we only got out a handful of times. I really need a good kick up the bum to get going again, although my one consolation is that I have been cycling back and fore to work for months which is doing me some good.


In July 2008 I moved into a flat with Megan, we’re getting through the painting and decorating and getting it looking really nice  – although we’re sort of dragging our heels with the painting….still. The flat is in Adamsdown in Cardiff (I never seem to move far) and is suiting us just great.


Work was all over the place in 2008, I started off drifting a little before taking up work at a letting agent as manager. This helped no end with the estate and letting agency software that I was developing. My plan for the estate and letting agency software is to release it as a low cost product when I have more time to clear it up. From what I’m told about competing products on the market it is easier to use and performs many or more of the same functions in a better way :)

During April 2008 coming up to my 22nd birthday both Megan and my mother started pushing for me to ‘get a career’, which a hard idea to swallow was really what I needed. Running my own company was fun but didn’t provide the stability needed and earning a pittance at the letting agency wasn’t a long term career goal. It was always a case of wait until I get my software finished and I’ll start selling it, but time was always against me.

What followed was several interviews with some great companies in some great areas, full of promise of moving to a new area, fresh start seemed great. The best job offer was with a large hosting provider in the Worcester area and seemed ideal. So what happened? Well I had developed an online SMS solution back around christmas that had been sitting around not doing much which investors were found for. Excellent I thought and off we went. All didn’t end well and after several months of broken promises and rising stress levels I made a stand and walked out. Working 60 hours a week, coming home and doing another 3-4 hours plus working all weekend and for all the stress it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. (Here I’d like to thank Megan, my parents, and my friends that stood by me, I was a stress-headed dick at times, and I’m sorry)

Four weeks later I landed myself a job with a company called Tracesmart in Cardiff Bay as a PHP Developer. After passing the tests and the interviews I started with a whole pile of enthusiasm (as you can imagine things had been a bit low for sometime). Tracesmart perform people searching, people tracing, electoral roll data handling, involving huge quantities of data. I’ve been there now for about 5 months (given I’m actually writing this in March 2009) and I love every minute of it. I’m pushing myself every day, have a great working environment (my desk overlooks the bay!), good colleagues! I’ve been involved in some good projects (other posts to follow) and I’m really proud of the work I’m doing there.


Despite starting 2009 in Germany suffering from the Novo virus 2009 is great so far. Megan and I spent  New Years time in Germany and Amsterdam. Amsterdam is beautiful and the Anne Frank house had a real profound effect on me, somewhere we’ll definately be returning to. Work is going really well. My neck is getting better and better so in a couple of weeks time I’ll head out for those first few awful runs once again. The only thing I really need now is a good few dives (or a dive holiday) to get back into the swing of things!

FREE Board Management Software for Estates and Letting Agents

By , Thursday 19th June 2008 11:23 am

As a result of feedback from our agents I’ve now added FREE board management software to the property SMS software that I’ve written.

I’ve created the system so you can make use of the board management or not. If agents use the software then the website will send out an email to their board agent at the end of the day to instruct them on board placement (there’s more detail in there than that :)).

Anyway please feel free to take a look at the property SMS system that I’ve written.

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