although admittedly this is referring to LAST_INSERT_ID() and not lastInsertId(). Can anybody tell me the difference?
The ID that was generated is maintained in the server on a per-connection basis. This means that the value returned by the function to a given client is the first AUTO_INCREMENT value generated for most recent statement affecting an AUTO_INCREMENT column by that client. This value cannot be affected by other clients, even if they generate AUTO_INCREMENT values of their own. This behavior ensures that each client can retrieve its own ID without concern for the activity of other clients, and without the need for locks or transactions.