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dws (341)

dws
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http://www.davewsmith.com/

Journal of dws (341)

Sunday October 26, 2003
05:05 AM

If Macgyver programmed, he'd use Perl.

[ #15396 ]
While setting up for a Halloween party at my daughter's school, a bunch of helium balloons escaped to the temporary safety of the auditorium ceiling. Now imagine some Dads standing around looking up at the balloons, thinking "What would MacGyver do if his wife wasn't around?" The answer involved a tall ladder, a broom, and a large cardboard tube with tape on the end of it. Ten minutes later, the balloons were down, and all evidence of the hack had been erased.

I think this is why Perl gets a bad name in some quarters. One sweet spot for Perl is the set of quick-and-dirty problems that invite quick-and-dirty solutions, evidence of which is best erased. But our solutions live on, in periodic cron jobs that scare the bejeezus out of the unwary soul who trips across them months or years later, long after the immediacy of the original problem is lost from memory. Then, instead of a "Wow, that's elegant" reaction, we get "What is this crap!?!"

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  • by inkdroid (3294) on 2003.10.26 8:51 (#25197) Homepage Journal
    And I thought MacGyver [webenz.com.au] liked Perl because it is a Swiss Army Chainsaw. [usenix.org] :-) Seriously though I see your point. I think the most disturbing thing about Perl is what has made Perl so useful...regexen. It's a nightmare to step into a program with a highly complicated, uncommented regex which is doing something very important. It's nothing that a comment, or the /x modifier can't solve though. It's also amusing to me that Perl regexes have been adopted by many other languages, so they [sun.com] can't [python.org] say [mit.edu] Perl is the only language with modem noise any more!
  • Having faced this problem many times before, I finally learned a nice trick to get them down, if the balloons have ribbons or cord of some kind.

    Get another balloon, with an extra-long ribbon that'll reach to the ceiling. Float it next to one of the runaways, then rapidly turn the ribbon in circles. Usually the friction is enough to snag and twist in the other balloon's ribbon, allowing you to pull it down. I saw this done at a car dealership once, and I've found it useful since.

    OK, so this has nothing