Spectrum IT sponsor and host a range of technology user groups across Hampshire, Dorset and the South Coast. The purpose, to bring together IT professionals keen to share best practice and engage in discussion about technology and the future of their profession.
Lee Boynton, co-organises PHP Hampshire together with Michal Skokowski (@skoku87), Charlotte Jewer (@Charlotte_Jewer) and Joel Jenvey (@jdjenvey). This User Group meet up in Portsmouth once a month to share knowledge and help build a community in the local area.
Since 2013 Spectrum IT has helped to publicise this monthly meetup, provide an Amazon voucher every month for attendees to be in the chance of winning and cover the cost of venue hire allowing it to be free for attendees.
Here Spectrum IT enters a Q&A session with Lee Boynton to find out what makes him tick and his interest in PHP.
How did your career start out?
Spectrum IT helped me get my first job as a PHP web developer two weeks after I finished my university master's degree :)
What is your current job role? What is a typical workday like?
I am currently a Senior Security Engineer. On a typical day, I might be implementing security improvements in our infrastructure, discussing how to implement new features securely with software engineers, or mitigating/fixing any security issues that come up in our software.
What tech tools / gadgets make your job easier and why?
Anything that helps you to automate things, and constantly iterate to improve what you're building. Having everything (code and infrastructure) in version control combined with automated tests allows your whole team to be constantly iterating without fear of breaking things. Tools like git, PHPStorm, phpunit, behat, docker, puppet/chef, terraform and a continuous integration/deployment system are invaluable.
What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most and what would you change or improve?
I enjoy the variety of activities I could be doing on a day to day basis; I could be writing code, updating a server configuration or discussing new features as part of a sprint. I would like to find out new ways of considering security earlier on in the software development process.
How do you stay up to date with industry trends?
Twitter, Reddit, user groups.
How did you get involved with Spectrum IT?
I applied for a job they were advertising, many years ago now! Spectrum IT now kindly sponsor PHPHants.
Could you elaborate on what PHPHants is and the core purpose of the group?
PHPHants is a PHP user group for Hampshire, based in Portsmouth. The core purpose is to share knowledge (it does not have to be PHP specific) and to build a community in the local area.
How are you involved with the User Group?
I'm currently an organiser and have been so since 2013.
How do you come up with speakers/topics for your talks? What advice would you give to beginners?
We ask people through Twitter, sometimes people would like to practice their talks before giving them at conferences. We also encourage the local user group members to give a talk on a subject. We don't tend to suggest topics and are happy to have talks that are not PHP related or even purely tech talks. My advice to beginners is to take inspiration from their work or academic projects. If you have achieved something you are proud of, talk about it. It could be how a certain problem was solved, or a demo of a new tool or language features. If you've needed to learn something new, chances are other people would be interested to know what you've found out. You also learn a lot about a certain subject simply by preparing to give a talk on it.
Who would you recommend in the IT community? Who has influenced you?
Being interested in security, I follow people like @taviso, @troyhunt and @SwiftOnSecurity on Twitter. In the PHP community, I follow people like @CiPHPerCoder, @ircmaxwell and @SaraMG. I also try to learn as much from people at work as I can.
What is your next goal?
Currently to travel more!
What advice would you give to people trying to get into the industry?
Don't be overwhelmed by how much there is to learn. Everyone starts out somewhere, and the more you learn the more you realise how much more there is to learn. But even the most experienced people have gaps in their knowledge, and may not have time to keep up to date with the latest developments in IT. Make learning a habit, fortunately, IT is an industry where you can be paid to learn things. Don't be overly concerned with qualifications, although they are useful you can go a long way without them.
What do you do in your spare time? Hobbies etc?
Travel, hiking, getting away from the computer!
What plans are there for PHPHants in 2020?
We are actually looking for some new people to help out with organising the meetups. If you are interested, get in touch with me (@leeboynton) on Twitter!