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SitePoint PHP Blog:
Risks and Challenges of Password Hashing
March 11, 2014 @ 09:31:45

The SitePoint PHP blog has a new post today about the challenges of password hashing and some of the common risks that can come with it. It's a continuation of a previous article about the actual techniques for hashing in PHP.

The fact that the output of a hash function cannot be reverted back to the input using an efficient algorithm does not mean that it cannot be cracked. Databases containing hashes of common words and short strings are usually within our reach with a simple google search. Also, common strings can be easily and quickly brute-forced or cracked with a dictionary attack.

He points to a video demonstrating a method for getting the password data and why just salted hashes aren't a secure method for storing this information. He mentions a "randomness issue" (and PHP's rand function). Instead, he shows an example with openssl_random_pseudo_bytes o pull a chunk of randomized data. He then talks some about password stretching using the PBKDF2 handling in PHP. Finally, he goes past the hashing and gets into encryption, mentioning "password tweaking" as an alternative to generating a single key for every user.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/risks-challenges-password-hashing/

Community News:
Pusher Challenge (Make Your App Realtime)
October 11, 2011 @ 13:57:34

The folks over at Pusher (the real-time push notification service) have announced a contest they're holding for developers (not just PHP either) to enter for a shot at a MacBook Air and a ticket to the Keeping it Realtime Conference - the "Pusher Challenge".

We believe you can massively improve the user experience and engagement of your existing applications by making them realtime. Pusher lets you do that quickly and simply with our hosted API. In the Pusher challenge, we want to see the innovative ways you can turbo-charge your apps with a sprinkling of Pusher magic.

Pusher uses Websockets to handle the notifications. You can sign up for a developer account to get the development ball rolling but the deadline is midnight (GMT) on October 16th (just five days away!) so dive in and get realtime quickly for your chance to win!

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Dzone.com:
Object Calisthenics
August 19, 2011 @ 10:15:10

Giorgio Sironi has a new post on DZone.com today with a look at what he calls "object calisthenics", a sort of ">workout exercise for you to do to flex your object-oriented programming skills.

Calisthenics is a Greek-derived term for exercises, in the gym sense. I have object calisthenics, exercises for object-oriented programming, around for a long time and saw them as fascinating, but never got the time to try.

The challenge he lays out includes rules relating to indentation levels (really complexity levels), wrapping primitives in strings, small entities and using first-class collections. To illustrate, he works through a solution to the prime factors kata and breaks it down into the eight different rules complete with code examples.

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Ibuildings techPortal's Blog:
Ibuildings Challenge Results
May 03, 2011 @ 13:36:14

On the Ibuildings techPortal today they've posted the results of their Ibuildings challenge where the developer had to create a script able to play "Four in a Line" based on an abstract Player class provided.

Four in a Line as game has been mathematically solved and the advantage lies with the player taking the first turn. To level the playing field, we allowed each player to fight against all the others; in this way, any player had the chance to begin with the first move advantage playing against all the other opponents at least once, sharing the elements of luck and making it easier to spot skill.

There were three different categories - junior, medium and senior - and one winner for each:

  • Junior: Xavier Van Herpe (won a DPC2011 ticket)
  • Medium: Piotr Mlocek (won a DPC2011 ticket)
  • Senior: Tomas Creemes (won the iPad)

They also include some observations about the code submitted to the competition including adherence to coding standards and overall performance.

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ibuildings challenge results winner


Project:
phpGolf - Programming Challenge
October 06, 2010 @ 13:39:00

Coding for a day job is interesting, but sometimes you just want to flex your development skills in something a bit more fun. phpGolf might be what you're looking for.

The term comes from Perl Golf where the point is to solve programming challenges with as few bytes as possible. Just like in real golf where players aspire to get the ball in the hole with as few strokes as possible.

There's some good challenges posted including several that are just output like "99 Bottles" or "Rot13" as well as some more difficult ones like the "Spiral" or "Blackjack". Judging from the list of submissions and the bytes they used to solve the problem, there's some creative developers out there. Take a look at the challenges and see how you and your code compare.

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Ibuildings techPortal:
The Test Driven Challenge - Winners and Results
July 08, 2010 @ 11:37:23

On the Ibuildings techPortal site today Ivo Jansch has announced the winners of their latest programming contest (a class to satisfy a given test case, a sort of TDD challenge).

n May and June we ran another one of our PHP coding contest. We love to play with PHP and offer people a chance to show off their coding skills in exchange for prizes! This time the contest revolved around creating a class that satisfies a given unit test case. The test case contained tests for 7 mathematical operations. The contestants did not only have to guess the actual operation, but also provide a class that implements the operation in as few lines as possible.

The contest this time actually had two mini-contests - one for the smallest solution following coding standards and the other for the smallest code size. There were three winners, one in head of the categories: David Frame, Piotr MŁoeck and Luca Lancioni. Congrats to all three!

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Ibuildings Blog:
The ElePHPant Challenge - Winners and Results
May 17, 2010 @ 15:56:27

Ibuildings has officially wrapped up their "Elephpant Challenge" contest they were holding to solve a routing problem that involved a globe-trotting PHP ElePHPant. Their latest post (from Ivo Jansch) reveals the results.

Contestants had to write a script that calculated the shortest route for the Elephpant. The contest has several side goals: entries were not not only validated against the given landmarks and a second secret set of landmarks, they also were scored based on their performance, code complexity and code size.

The shorted route, found using the Haversine Formula, involved stops in Mexico City, Cupertino, Hawaii and the Tower of Pisa. The winner for the Medium category was Andy Thompson with an average of 10 landmarks with 38 lines of code (in 333 seconds). The winner in the Senior category was Michiel Brandenburg with coming out on top with a runtime of 50 seconds in 46 lines of code.

The post also includes some interesting observations they found about the event including contestants' general adherence to the specs, how the choices the developers made really made a difference in the outcome and how difficult running a contest like this could really be. Congrats to the winners!

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elephpant challenge ibuildings travel winner


Cal Evans' Blog:
A Challenge to IT Companies
August 26, 2009 @ 08:23:57

If you've ever been a developer for a company (large or small - it could happen anywhere) and are frustrated because you have developed a technology that was claimed by the company, you're not alone. In fact, Cal Evans has issued a challenge to companies to modify their thinking.

Something has been bugging me for a while now. I've been a member of more IT companies than I care to remember. Outside of cube farms, one thing seems to remain constant throughout, a contract that was written in the 1800s. Most (not all) of the employment contracts I have been handed to sign have contained a clause that states something to the effect: While you are working for us, if you invent something we like, we can claim ownership of it.

His suggested solution? Companies need to "stop thinking wrong-headed" and immediately go and claim the technology as their own. A better idea for both the employee and business is more around a "right of refusal" on ideas developed. Cal gets a bit more specific than that in the post and challenges CEOs/managment of technology companies to adjust their processes to work this in.

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challenge ownership opinion


Community News:
A Challenge for Documentation
June 19, 2009 @ 15:33:09

As Marci Tabini has pointed out on the php|architect blog today, Rasmus Lerdorf, creator of PHP has publicly posted a call for work to be done on the documentation of the PHP language.

Guys and gals, in the old days we had a very close tie between the code and the documentation. As the project has grown the two have drifted apart. I think this is mostly because the phpdoc team has done an amazing job keeping up with the code changes and writing awesome documentation. This has made us a bit lazy and complacent.

I would like to encourage everyone on this list to spend a little bit of time looking at the parts of the documentation that cover things you are familiar with. Or even just going through some of the doc bugs and helping out in general.

He even includes some basic tips to get you started down the road to better PHP documentation - check out the phpdoc tree from CVS and run the configure.php command to test any changes you might have made. That's it! So I guess the real question is how much can you help?

Marco points to the bugs list as a resource to get started from.

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Rob Allen's Blog:
Zend Framework connection to SQL Server using SqlSrv
May 13, 2009 @ 09:32:27

Rob Allen has posted the settings you'll need to connect the Zend Framework with a SQL Server backend (via SqlSrv).

It turns out that fellow challenger Juozas Kaziukenas also needs a connection between Zend Framework and SQL Server, so we have joined forces to create App_Db_Adapter_SqlSrv and associated classes. Juozas started a project on codeplex at http://zfmssql.codeplex.com/ and has enabled me to commit to the project too.

Rob based his implementation on this and has set up his application.ini file to use the SQLSRV adapter (example included).

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