SOAP-ping wet

All Consuming has a SOAP interface to its database. I made a reading list yesterday for the site, but it works with static javascript and doesn’t offer any kind of customisability at all, so a SOAP client in PHP looked to be the best solution. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single implementation of SOAP in PHP that works in this instance. My hosting company does not bundle Pear with PHP, so that solution is out. So is another dll which I have no use for since I don’t have shell access. The only code solution which I’ve found to work is nuSOAP, but it hasn’t been updated for an year, and it doesn’t work in this instance (it works with Amazon’s API though) since it doesn’t support proxy without a WSDL interface.

If anyone can find another working implementation of SOAP in PHP, I’d be grateful. Otherwise, I’ll have to hack the nuSOAP code to get things done.

Resemblance

I’m an exponent of the reader-response theory, “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder,” so when someone compares me to someone else, I go and look and gaze and stare at that person to see what quality makes us alike. A little while ago, someone compared me to Greg Bear. It’s quite difficult to get books here by authors who don’t write sensational or romantic thrillers, or who aren’t that insanely famous and Greg Bear is one of those people (at least, in Thiruvananthapuram) who fall into that zigzaggy middle ground. But I got hold of ‘Darwin’s Radio’ yesterday and I’ve been reading it.

Frankly, I can’t make out any point where we’re similar in our writing. Bear is a bit too scifi-ish, though he is real enough if you want something like a medical thriller. Look over to the reading list in the sidebar, I’ll update it as I find books to read, courtesy All Consuming.

Right the First Time

There’s a lot of emphasis on getting things right. I suppose that is needed, even essential. Nobody I’ve met however, can get things right (get every single detail right) the first time. And yet, that’s what every student who goes through an examination is supposed to do. From the point of view of an evaluator, this may not be so big a deal since everyone who takes the exam is in the same boat, and after all, “To err is human, to excel divine” and all of us seem to be searching for a bit of divinity.

One thing that this examination process lets go through the sieve-holes however is a crucial analytical skill: that of identifying and correcting mistakes, and finally to submit a revised and finished product. In an ideal examination scenario, a student would look over his valued paper, learn from his mistakes, identify the areas where he is weak and work to improve his paper as a whole. However, I’m sure that the percentage of students who do this is very small, perhaps in the order of <5%. And yet, debugging – the act of finding out mistakes and correcting them is crucial in any workplace, especially so if your job demands analytical reasoning skills. This skill, like many other skills that we aren’t taught, we learn either because of things that we do in real life, or when we’re stuck at a juncture in our job – incidentally, this is part of the reason why job offers carry an “experience” requirement.

One of the best ways to learn to debug is (as the term implies) to learn to program. When you write a piece of code, you rarely get it right the first time; debugging is often considered an art (just like coding is) and more often than not, the secret to get a program working is to know how to debug, not how to logically work out the code. If you’ve got children, please teach them BASIC.

Getting it right the first time isn’t that crucial for most of us, learning how to get out of a hole (both at the workplace and in life) counts, so get it wrong and then get it right. But do find a way out of the hole.