Tag Archive for 'raspberry pi php'

PHP OOP & Algorithms I: An Introduction

quadAvoiding the Misinformed

Programmers often spend more time un-doing bad information than using good information. One of the comments that set me off recently was someone “explaining” to others on a blog why PHP was not an object oriented language. Then he continued to blather on about the difference between compiled and interpreted languages. Whether or not a language is compiled or not has nothing to do with whether or not it is an object oriented language. Having interfaces, classes and communication between objects are the key criteria of an OOP language, and certainly since PHP5 has been a full-fledged OOP language. (We PHPers should not feel singled out because I recently saw post where a Java programmer pronounced that neither Python nor Perl were OOP, and she was “informed” otherwise by irate Python programmers. Perl has been OOP since V5.) So here I am again wasting time grumbling about people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

Instead of frothing at the mouth over the misinformed, I decided to spent more time with the well-informed. To renew my acquaintance with algorithms I began reading Algorithms 4th Ed. (2011) by Sedgewick and Wayne. Quickly, I learned some very basic truths about algorithms that had been only vaguely floating around in my head. First and foremost are the following:

Bad programmers worry about the code.
Good programmers worry about data structures and their relationships.
Linus Torvalds (Creator of Linux)

Since we’ve been spending time on this blog acting like good programmers, that was reassuring. In this post, I’d like to look at two things that are important for developing algorithms: 1) What to count as a “cost” in developing algorithms, and 2) Identifying good and bad algorithmic models. First, though, play and download the example. Using two different algorithms, a logarithmic and a linear (both pretty good ones), I’ve added “dots” to loop iterations to visually demonstrate the difference between a logarithmic algorithm (binary search) and a linear algorithm (loop). The “expense” of the algorithm can be seen in the number of dots generated.

The example is a pretty simple one. However, since this blog is about PHP Design Patterns, I added a little Factory Method. The two algorithm classes act like clients making requests through the factory for a big string array with over 1,000 first names. Figure 1 shows the file diagram:

Figure 1: File diagram for use of Factory Method by two algorithm clients.

Figure 1: File diagram for use of Factory Method by two algorithm clients.

In looking at the file diagram, you may be thinking, “Why didn’t you use a Strategy pattern coupled with that Factory Method?” I thought about it, but then decided you could do it yourself. (Why should I have all the fun?)

Lesson 1: Leave the Bag of Pennies

The first lesson I learned in Bank Robbery 101 was to leave the bag of pennies. They’re just not worth it. Speed is everything in a bank robbery, and so you pay attention to how to get the most with the least time. The same thing applies to analyzing algorithms. For example, an object (as compared to an integer, boolean or string) has an overhead of 16 bytes. I have actually seen posts intoning, “objects are expensive…” Just to be clear,

Objects are not expensive. Iterations are expensive, quadratic algorithms are expensive.

In evaluating an algorithm you need to see how many operations must be completed or the size and nature of the N. An N made of up strings is different than an N made up of Booleans or integers. A quadratic (N²) and cubic (N³) algorithm are among the worst. They’re gobbling up kilo- or megabytes, and so that 16 bytes seems pretty silly to worry about. So instead of seeing an algorithm weight expressed as N² + 84 bytes, you’ll just see it expressed as ~N². (When you see a ~ (tilde) in an algorithm, it denotes ‘approximately.’) Another way of understanding the ~ is to note, They left the bag of pennies.

Lesson 2: Watch out for Nested Loops; they’re Quadratic!

I’ve never liked nested loops, and while I admit that I’ve used them before, I just didn’t like them. They were hard to unwind and refactor, and they always seemed to put a hiccup in the run-time. Now I know why I don’t like them; they’re quadratic.

Quadratic algorithms have the following feature: When the N doubles, the running time increases fourfold.

An easy way to understand the problem with quadradics is to consider a simple matrix or table. Suppose you start with a table of 5 rows and 5 columns. You would create 5² cells—25 cells. Now if you double the number to 10, 10² cells = 100. That’s 4 x 25. Double that 10 to 20 and your have 20² or 400. A nested loop has that same quality as your N increases. If both your inner and outer loop N increases, you’re heading for a massive slowdown.

Algorithms, OOP and Design Patterns are Mutually Exclusive

An important fact to remember is that good algorithms do not guarantee good OOP. Likewise, good OOP does not mean good algorithms. Good algorithms make your code execute more efficiently and effectively. Good OOP makes your programs easier to reuse, update, share and change. Using them together is the ultimate goal of a great program.


Change File Permissions on Raspberry Pi: A Mini Post

raspiFilePermEasy as Pi

When I first found out that I had to change the file permissions to use the Memento implementation that stores data in JSON format, I had to change permissions on my Mac’s localhost, my Linux server and my Raspberry Pi sitting on my LAN. I had not done so before on my Raspberry P,i and I figured that some of those who have Raspberry Pi computers may not have either. I use the Raspbian OS, which is a version of the Debian Linux OS, and these instructions are based on that OS. If you have a different Linux OS or even Unix, the CLI commands in the Root Terminal should work for you as well. (Click below to see the directions for making the changes.)
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Easy Writer: Setup for Raspberry Pi PHP

RaspPHPFocus on writing PHP Code

In fiddling around with PHP on a Raspberry Pi running on a Debian Linux OS more or less directly from a terminal mode, I realized that the focus (in my case) was getting the Linux commands right and very little with actually writing PHP programs. Most queries about getting the setup right involved Linux system administration and not PHP programming.

This short post is for Raspberry Pi users (and perhaps Linux users in general), and it focuses on setting up your Raspberry Pi so that you can use default Raspberry Pi editors (LeafPad) and the File Manager to work with PHP programs. Once set up, you will find the process of creating server-side programs in PHP much easier with no need to use the  terminal editors after setting up your system.

Installing Apache and PHP

Because PHP is a server-side language, you will need both a server and PHP installed on your Raspberry Pi. Using the Root Terminal (Accessories → Root Terminal), enter the following line:

sudo apt-get install apache2 php5 libapache2-mod-php5

Press the Enter key and patiently wait until it’s completed the setup. Once done, you computer will have both a web server and PHP installed. To test whether installation was successful, open a browser from the main menu (Internet → NetSurf Web Browser) and enter the following:


If everything works, you will see the message shown in Figure 1 on the right:

Figure 1: Default Web Page

Figure 1: Default Web Page

This location (http://localhost) is the root for your Web pages—PHP and any other Web page you decide to put on your Raspberry Pi Apache server. The name of the file is index.html. On your Raspberry Pi, in the Linux file system, the address is:


Open the File Manager (Accessories → File Manager) and in the window where you see /home/pi enter /var/www. You will now be able to see the icon for the html file that was automatically created when you installed the Apache server.
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