php debug from a sysadmin’s perspective’ish

As I’m helping a dev figuring out a broken wp theme, I came over this, imho, super-tip on howto print contents of a variable to the httpd log file.

In this particular case I’ve narrowed it down to a variable that seem to behave different between a 2 minor wordpress versions.

file_put_contents('php://stderr', print_r($foo, TRUE))

Will print the content of variable $foo to the httpd log, in my case I put that into places in the code to track content for a couple variables in the code, I added a ‘mark’ as well to easily grep it from the weblog

file_put_contents('php://stderr', print_r('Here man: $foo', TRUE));

I found this over at

Switching from stock Debian Squeeze php 5.3.x to dotdeb’s 5.3.10 ’caused encoding problems

I switched from stock Debian Squeeze php 5.3.x to dotdeb’s 5.3.10 yesterday on a lot of servers. Usually a minor upgrade shouldn’t introduce any major changes, but in this particular case I’ve come across several customers having encoding problems. It’s related to the mysql backend, which defaults to utf-8 and customers having code encoded in latin1 (iso8859-1 or iso8859-15), that is: they’ve encoded their stuff in mysql in latin1. It’s an easy fix, you simply have to specify your mysql encoding when connecting via php, f.example:

$link1 = mysql_connect('localhost','user1','pass1',TRUE); 

More info at