How I Write Professional Code

Subtitle: and talk about it UNprofessionally

I’ve been writing code for about the last decade and a half. It really wasn’t till I started working on a team of developers that I was pushed to write better, more readable code — a very important lesson. Then, it wasn’t till I started breaking old habits and started writing in a test driven development (or TDD) fashion that I started to write professional code. Continue reading “How I Write Professional Code”

Unmasking the User in PHP CLI Scripts

Who are you. Whoo whoo. Whoo whoo.

…The Who? Anyone? …Bueller?

So let’s say you need to know what user is running a script in PHP. If you’re like me, you may have tried get_current_user only to find that’s just for the current owner of the file. Well THAT’S deceivingly unhelpful! =\

Wait! Sec. One more moment of gripe: If what get_current_user in php does makes sense to you, I’d like to be the first to ask you: …How?!

Not only did that not help, but I also couldn’t find any solutions or hints in the right direction from the comments in the documentation (generally, I find them to be a good place for a next step). There was one suggesting to using posix functions like this: print_r(posix_getpwuid(posix_geteuid())); — however, no luck! If the user is invoking the script with sudo, we lose all trace of who done it. Also, this is technique can limit who can use it as it’s not uncommon for environments to disable posix_* functions for security.

So, Who Really Done It?!

Ranting aside… the answer to this eluded me! Low and behold, the it was inside of $_SERVER all along. Le sigh. I put together a quick function with a few fallbacks to figure it out. Let me know if this doesn’t work for you, but for me, does the trick in spades =]

I like this solution the best. Not only is this data already in the scope of our script already, but we don’t have to use posix or try crap like echo exec("who am i"); and parsing through that. #winning

Hope that helps someone out there in the ether!


One or many

So, I get that there are probably better ways to handle this circumstance, but when working with legacy code, sometimes, it’s not up to you. I had a method that would be called with either one thing, or an array of these things. Approaching a context like this, the solution we came up with was (what I think is an) amazingly simple way to ensure if you’re sometimes receiving one thing or an array of things, you can handle both.

Check it out:

There it is. And now hopefully I’ll remember this better next time I need something quick.


Quick way to remove all tables in MySQL DB through *nix CLI


Here’s a quick time saver (if you dev like me, it’ll come in handy!) for when you just want to drop all of the tables in a database. Of course, test it first so you know what you’ll be dropping!

Test First:



The basic formula is a BASH for loop that grabs all of the tables in the desired database, filters the output using a combination of AWK and GREP so we can use just a simple list, then drops each table separately.


SQL Adding a Column to an Existing Table

Since I can never remember the syntax to add a column to a table, here it is:

alter table foo_tablename add column foo_column int(10) default null

  • alter table – the actual command
  • foo_tablename – the table name we’re altering
  • add column – telling sql to add a column instead of some other alteration
  • foo_column – name of the column to add
  • int(10) default null – the column’s qualities (it’s an int up to 10 digits long, can be null and defaults to null


Performance Issue Gut Check for MySQL

Sometimes MySQL performance can be difficult to hammer out. One of the quickest ways to get a good gut check is to have a look at the current process list. Check this out:

Now, this is relatively uninteresting, but sometimes, you’ll find a list of active queries that have stacked up against your db. Some things that can really help you identify issues is by ensuring each different piece of your platform identifies itself uniquely.

Once that happens, you can see which queries from where are hanging on. Parts of your platform can stall and hold onto connections, queries can take an eternity, bad code can hold result sets in memory, etc… This should give you a good idea where to start looking!

Hope this helps =]