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Improving your mental health while working at home

We’ve previously covered tips, tricks and resources to improve your working at home productivity - today we chat about how to improve your mental health! 

There are currently more and more people switching over to remote working - perhaps your company has changed policies, or maybe you’ve been forced to work at home due to a stay-at-home order - whatever the case, mental health while working at home is vitally important.

Some of us are made to work at home - working from an office, may not be your jam, and the peace and serenity that a home office offers completes the mood.  However, there are some of us that enjoy the daily routine, the commute to the office and the morning catch up around the coffee machine! 

So have you been stuck lately feeling a little more down than usual? Here are some tips to increase your mental health during this time.

Keep your morning routine

Even though you are working from home, and technically can get away with wearing your pajamas all day - you definitely shouldn’t! A morning routine helps set the mood for the day. Perhaps this includes getting ready, dressed or going for a morning run. 

Exercise and eat well

We aren’t talking about a full gym session - merely taking some time to move around. A walk around the block or a bit of stretching will help get those endorphins going. A good diet also goes a long way to helping you feel better - unfortunately too much sugar and too many carbs can have a negative impact on your mental health.

Focus on the now

Practice mindfulness - the ability to focus in on the here and now helps us to drop the negative or difficult emotions that weigh us down. 

Open up to someone

You are valued by others - knowing that is important. Finding a safe space to chat about things goes a long way to lifting the mood. Not sure where that safe space is? Check out https://osmihelp.org/ for some great resources and information.

Take a break

Working from home can sometimes feel endless - some of us struggle to log off at “home time” because, well, you are at home. But this important step is essential to your mental health. Take moments throughout the day to step away - just a couple of minutes to grab some water and take a break.

If you haven’t already, please sign up and donate to OSMI - Open Sourcing Mental Illness. We’ve previously chatted with Ed Finkler, OSMI’s founder. CakeDC fully supports OSMI and we love opening up the conversation around mental health - Do you?

Latest articles

Why Use CakePHP

CakePHP  is a web development framework running on PHP. CakePHP provides tools to help build websites and web apps faster, stable and very easy to maintain. We will outline some of the interesting features of the CakePHP framework below:

Authorization

The authorization layer is in charge of determining if a user is able to access a feature or not. Authorization in CakePHP may be as complex as you want. It is powerful because you can define permissions per role, ownership, or anything else by just writing a policy.  In CakePHP 4, the Authorization layer is part of another package, which means that it can be used in a non-CakePHP app.

MVC Support

The layers in CakePHP are very explicit. Firstly, you will see that the application has specific folders for each layer (Model, Controller, Template). Secondly, you are encouraged to not access layers incorrectly, because the right way is simple enough. After using multiple frameworks out of there, I can say that CakePHP implements MVC and it implements it well.

Bake

Bake is not something new in CakePHP 4. It has been included with Cake since version 0.1.0 and even now when it is released as a plugin, it is a required tool for any developer. Bake makes generating an application, controllers, models and everything else easier... just running a command and within minutes. Other frameworks may have some tools, but in my opinion, there is nothing like bake.

Database Migration

Database migrations with CakePHP are simple, quick and safe. Those are probably the only three things you look for when versioning your database. MigrateShell can be used to generate migrations and you are able to alter database structure in any way, as well as running queries/commands. The CakePHP team is also responsible for Phinx plugin development.

Multi Language Support

This is another old feature that has been in CakePHP for years and has been recently improved in CakePHP 4. I must say that we have not found any other framework with the same set of features for internationalization and localization. You only need to use the translation function for any strings [__()] and define a way to set the language in your app. After doing that, just extract PO files using the shell and start translating your strings.

Powerful ORM

ORM in CakePHP 4 is able to do anything you can imagine. Simple and complex queries have an easy way to be executed using ORM functions. Joins, grouping, subqueries can be done in just minutes. Even after working in complex reporting for several clients, we have not found something that cannot be done through CakePHP ORM.

PHP Standards 

Going back to previous CakePHP versions (1.x and <2.x) we found that they implemented their own standard, which was good if you only worked with CakePHP... but it made integrating external libraries more difficult. In CakePHP 4, as well as 3.x, it is not a problem anymore because the wonderful CakePHP team is aware of the latest standards for the language and they are implemented inside the core... as well as the libraries released around it. It allows you to use any PHP library or package inside your Cake application.  I could go on all day about features that I like about the CakePHP framework, but there's more blogs to write in the future. I hope this gives you some incentive to use it.  

Managing A Company During A Global Pandemic

A worldwide pandemic is not something a company, a manager, or a team ever plans for. This time 6 months ago we were bringing in more clients than anticipated, and planning for an international conference. Fast forward to now, just like most companies we have been hit, our conference has gone virtual, and many employees are still worried about what is to come.  Here are 5 things I have learned during these uncertain times:  

1. Don’t panic. 

Easier said than done, right? Being responsible for a team of great people and their financial, as well as professional, well being can be trying at times. I have learned it is best to stay calm, push forward and still do the best we can, even when our best isn’t always enough. Luckily, I am not a worrier by nature, and I hope that I can be a solid backbone for my team and clients, while letting them know that they (and our company) are my top priority … now more than ever.   

2. Be transparent

It is best to have sure answers and knowledge of what is expected, and to be open and honest about this with the team. If we are going to be working longer hours one week, maybe shorter the next, I want to be upfront so that no one is caught off guard. If policies or procedures are changing, they are notified immediately   Same thing goes for our clients, we have always prided ourselves on being honest and transparent about the behind the scene scenarios. It may not always be good news that’s delivered, but it will be honest. I have set goals to make my expectations clear, and reasonable.   

3. Be available:

Someone like myself, I am always going in a million directions. I have made it a point to make myself available for help, support, or whatever it is that someone may need. This goes for  clients, team members, even friends.  A pandemic like this really makes you step back and think about what is important, and things that you may not have made priorities in the past that needed to change. Our team is used to working remotely, but we communicate daily, and we always have open lines of communication (sometimes in the middle of the night as we all work in different time zones.  

4. Be Understanding

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. It is vital that each individual understands that not everyone is the same. We do not handle stress the same, we go through trials and tribulations differently, so it is important to be empathetic. We need to provide tools for success... and sometimes that means paid time off, new communication platforms, team building exercises, or just listening and being compassionate. I think a mistake a lot of people made early on was expecting everyone to adjust to the new way of life, with no clear direction. This resulted in a lot of confusion, and negativity, instead of learning together and changing the course of action. 
 

5. Surround yourself with a great team. 

Luckily for me, our team is fully functional without me, maybe that should scare me a little, huh? We have structure, we built up trust with each other, and everyone works towards the same goal - being successful, delivering to our clients, and growing together. While it may be my job to keep everyone moving forward and be motivating, it’s no secret that they motivate me, too. Despite working in different countries, our team has built great relationships with each other, and everyone is ready to step in and help their colleagues whenever necessary. 
 

Final thoughts

Has 2020 been different than I imagined? Absolutely. We do not know the answers to every question. We also do not know where this year may take our team, the company, or the world! One thing I do know is we will adapt, adjust and keep pushing forward. We will keep providing the best service to our clients as we always have, and we will not panic…. Not yet at least. 
 

A Quick CakePHP Local Environment With Docker

CakePHP and Docker

We all know that while developing a CakePHP software, we need to have a local environment with PHP, HTTP Server (nginx, apache) and a database (MySql, Postgres, Mongodb, etc). Installing those tools directly to your system is the basic way, but it can become a bit tricky when we have multiple projects using different versions of those tools... that’s where Docker will help us. In this article, we will show a quick docker setup to improve our CakePHP local environment. If you don’t have docker installed go to: https://docs.docker.com/get-docker/. It is available for Linux, MacOS and Windows. For our setup we are going to use PHP, Nginx, and Mysql. All of the information required will be added to a new file named docker-compose.yml. In our environment we will need two docker images [https://docs.docker.com/engine/reference/commandline/images/], one image for php + nginx and one for mysql.   

Setup Nginx + PHP service

Create the file  docker-compose.yml inside your application with this:    version: "3.1" services:   php-fpm:     image: webdevops/php-nginx:7.4     container_name: myapp-webserver     working_dir: /app     volumes:       - ./:/app     environment:       - WEB_DOCUMENT_ROOT=/app/webroot     ports:       - "80:80"   Now,we have a service named php-fpm, which is able to run php 7.4 and nginx at port 80 pointing to our webroot dir. Important note: the container_name must be unique in your system.   

Setup MySql service

Our MySql service requires a username, password and database name. For this, we are going to create the file mysql.env (don’t use a weak password in production, you could share a mysql.env.default file with your team) with this content:   MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=password MYSQL_DATABASE=my_app MYSQL_USER=my_user MYSQL_PASSWORD=password   Now, at the end of docker-compose.yml , add this:      mysql:     image: mysql:5.6     container_name: myapp-mysql     working_dir: /app     volumes:       - .:/app       - ./tmp/data/mysql_db:/var/lib/mysql     env_file:       - mysql.env     command: mysqld --character-set-server=utf8 --init-connect='SET NAMES UTF8;'     ports:       - "3306:3306"   Before we start this service, lets add the service for our database, include this at the end of the file:  docker-compose.yml . You’ll see that we have - ./tmp/data/mysql_db:/var/lib/mysql, this allows us to persist mysql data. Now we also have a service named mysql with one empty database named my_app and a user name my_user.
 

Starting the services and app configuration

Before we continue, make sure that you don’t have any other http server or mysql server running. Now that we have finished our docker-compose.yml  we can execute docker-compose up to start the services and access the app at http://localhost. The next thing you need to do is update your database configuration with the correct credentials - the host is the service name, in our case it is “mysql”:   'host' => ‘mysql’,             'username' => 'my_user',             'password' => ‘password’,             'database' => 'my_app',   That’s it! Now we have a working local environment for our CakePHP app. We can now access the services using docker-compose exec php-fpm bash  and docker-compose exec mysql bash.  The files mentioned here (docker-compose.yml and mysql.env) can be found at  https://gist.github.com/CakeDCTeam/263a65336a85baab2667e08c907bfff6.  

The icing on the cake

Going one step further, we could add some alias (with linux) to make it even easier. Let’s add these lines at the end of your ~/.bashrc file:   alias cake="docker-compose exec -u $(id -u ${USER}):$(id -g ${USER}) php-fpm bin/cake" alias fpm="docker-compose exec -u $(id -u ${USER}):$(id -g ${USER}) php-fpm" alias composer="docker-compose exec -u $(id -u ${USER}):$(id -g ${USER}) php-fpm composer"   With those entries, instead of typing docker-compose exec php-fpm bin/cake, we can just type cake. The other two aliases are for composer and bash. Notice that we have ${USER}? This will ensure that we are using the same user inside the services.  

Additional information

Normally docker images allow us to customize the service, for webdevops/php-nginx:7.4 - you can check more information at: https://dockerfile.readthedocs.io/en/latest/content/DockerImages/dockerfiles/php-nginx.html and for mysql check: https://hub.docker.com/_/mysql . You can find more images at: https://hub.docker.com/. If you are not familiar with docker, take a look at: https://docs.docker.com/get-started/overview/, as this documentation provides good information.   Hope you have enjoyed this article and will take advantage of docker while working in your CakePHP application.  

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