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essuu (3384)

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Journal of essuu (3384)

Friday July 29, 2005
04:52 AM

New Class::DBI mailing list

There's been a lot of heat and light in the Class::DBI community and sadly Tony feels sufficiently hounded to close the mailing list but after discussion with him I've set up a new one. It is no way intended as a fork in the community but more as a way of allowing the community to continue until Tony feels able to participate again.

I don't much care for what's happened, it leaves a sour taste but I do know that I want to see the project and the community continue. Those interested can sign up at

Saturday May 24, 2003
10:38 AM

Feeling tainted

I've recently upgraded SpamAssassin to the latest version including new Bayesian goodness so I've been looking for spam to train it on.

Now the NMS support mailing list gets spam. Lots of spam. As much as 30% of the traffic is spam which, for some reason, sourceforge doesn't filter out.

My procmail rules filter out mailing list messages into their folders before SpamAssassin runs on the rest. I forget why but it means that all this spam sits in the nms-support folder and for the most part I ignore it. But now I've been going back and filtering it out by hand into a spam folder to pass to SpamAssassin.

I've only been through 300 or so of the 4,500 messages and I feel slightly queasy. I'm off to do something else for a while...

Wednesday January 22, 2003
07:23 AM

Perl for the desktop

I read brian_d_foy's journal on the subject of pre-requisites and wanted to make a comment but comments aren't enabled so I'll make them here instead.

First of all I think he is spot on in his comments but I wouldn't necesarily class web applications as end-user. A developer of some sort still has to install them and they're intended for other people to use. User applications reside on the desktop (to all intents and purposes). I am talking about users here in the context of normal people who use computers to get their jobs done. Not us lot who have a somewhat different relationship with the things :)

Now most users in this class use either Windows or Mac OS. In both cases installing an application is as simple as draging-and-dropping (in the Mac case) or running setup.exe (on windows). There is no equivalent in the perl case...

  1. Install perl
  2. Install the gui widget library (in C or whatever)
  3. Install the perl/gui bindings and all the other CPAN modules required
  4. Install the app

What I really want is something that will take my code, an build me a distribution that includes core perl, only the core modules that I am actually using, the widget library, cpan modules and my code. It doesn't have to be compiled, except when the target is a OS that doesn't traditionally have a compiler (like windows, again).

Does such a thing exist ?

Saturday November 23, 2002
08:28 AM

This week I have mostly been writing perl

All in all, this has been a good week for me. True, I haven't launched my new company website like I promised myself I would do without fail but I have had fun with perl. technical meeting

We had a tech meet. Lot's of people have written about it, including Acme, Barbie, Ranguard, Spyhg and twoshortplanks. Many thanks to the latter (a.k.a. Mark) for organising it & to Profero for hosting it.

I love tech meets. I like learning unexpected things, such as finding out about a module that's going to make my life easier. I like catching up with people I haven't seen for a while. I always come away from a meeting more enthused about perl than I was before.

Personalising Flash

My work project this week has been writing some little cgi scripts to process data for a client-side e-invite written in Flash. Simple requirement, add the invitee's name into the movie and capture their response when they click on various buttons. Oh, and email them with the link to their invite. And can we see who's responded ?. Ah, and we'd better send them a confirmation email if they've said yes. Don't you just love the shifting sands of client requirements :)

Using perl, SQLite and some Apache rewrite rules I soon had it all working nicely. One of my favourite reasons for using perl is that it allows me to generate html if I want to, or text, or run from the command line or as CGI. Perl is happy in all these environments. So much more flexible than torturing asp, coldfusion etc etc which are the hammers I've seen other companies use to drive in these sort of screws.

Two lessons I learned though :

  1. Flash is like perl, it has lots of facets and few people know them all. I was surprised to find out that the designers knew nothing about Flash's interactive capabilities despite them being excellent graphic designers. I found myself having to learn some Flash just to get the project working. I shouldn't be surprised I suppose, I know next to nothing about writing gui apps in perl yet I am reasonably confident with cgi and data munging.
  2. Self contained scripts are fine but the instant you start cutting and pasting that DBI connect string and some SQL code into the next script, paste them into a module and share it between your scripts. You will be grateful for it later, when the next request comes along !

Quizz of the Week

I haven't had much time for this over the last 2 or 3 weeks and procmail has been piling up unread emails in the qotw mailbox for me but the heat and light around the "use strict and warnings mantra" debate put it back on my radar. I tried this weeks quiz today and made a passable attempt at it. It was fun to try and unlearn all the idioms I usually use. I think it resulted in a better solution so I must try to be similarly objective in my normal coding.

Friday October 04, 2002
08:04 AM

Iritating sigs & broken applications.

Some people will know that I've been having all sorts fun and games over the last few weeks trying to get a refund out of a domain registrar that charged me for renewing a domain, didn't renew it (because they'd detagged it) and then tried to charge me £50 to retag it.

Thankfully, those nice folks over at Black Cat Networks were able to take control of the domain for me and look after it for a mere 11.75 GBP and I now have my main email domain back. It's only taken six weeks.

Three things have particularly annoyed me about the whole affair.
  1. The registrar made no attempt to contact me before detagging it. No warning, no invitation, nothing and then they tried to charge me a stupid amount to fix it.
  2. Their renewal application is so broken that it will quite happily accept and bill my credit card for something it can't deliver. Isn't that fraudulent ?
  3. In my dealings with $registrar, each email has the same standard sig on it which has been driving me increasingly mad. Remember that I'm trying to not use their service:

Thank you for using our service



To give this little rant some perl content, I've now written a little perl script that looks at my xml list of registered domains every day and emails me when one is due for renewal. Every day I find new uses for perl that make it so much more useful beyond the boundaries of cgi scripts :-)

Tuesday September 24, 2002
08:24 PM

WWW::UsePerl::Journal broken

I suddenly noticed that richardc's dead handy journal-to-mail script has stopped working. A bit of digging identified changes to the user page as the culprit.

A simple change to the module fixed it (at least as far as it passes it's tests and runs the code I need it to :). It's been mailed to the relevant people but here's my patch in case you need it right now.

--- /usr/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.6.1/WWW/UsePerl/       Sun Mar  3 20:09:14 2002
+++ lib/WWW/UsePerl/  Wed Sep 25 02:15:14 2002
@@ -43,7 +43,7 @@

-$VERSION = '0.05';
+$VERSION = '0.06';

=head2 new

@@ -100,7 +100,7 @@
         my $content = $self->{ua}->request(GET UP_URL . "/~$user/")->content;
         die "Cannot connect to " . UP_URL unless $content;

-        $content =~ m#User info for $user \((\d+)\)#ism
+        $content =~ m#$user \((\d+)\)#ism
           or die "$user does not exist";

Monday September 23, 2002
11:57 AM

At last !

Sony have finally managed to deliver my new battery. Only a week late and missing YAPC but hey, it's here. For some reason the power management utility on my linux install seems to think I have 7 days of power in it, even though it has gone from 100% to 87% in the last 20 mins. Even I can do the maths that works out it will actually last about 2.5 hours.

Still, that's much better than it was when I bought it second hand just before yapc::2001, when it could manage about 45 minutes on a full charge. Perhaps the iBook can wait a while...
Sunday September 22, 2002
08:12 AM

Strange happenings and Sony inepitude

Saturday didn't happen. Honest. ;-)

I did go to Oktoberfest though, the party split with some jumping in a cab and Barbie & friend, Andy Wilson and I going one stop on the U-Bahn. No problem, thought I, we'll meet them there.

No one had explained how utterly, utterly huge Oktoberfest is. I have never seen so many people so drunk in one place ever. And this from a memeber of ! Needless to say, we didn't find the others but I did have a go on the rollercoaster. It was awesome, even after drinking for most of the day. Sometimes, though, I really wish I didn't wear glasses (I don't get on with contacts) as it sort of spoils the fun when everything is even more blurred than usual. Next year I might actually have to make a special trip to sample Oktoberfest properly.

Sunday dawned bright and early for me as I made my way to the airport at 7am. Somehow I had managed to book an earlier flight than all the other'ers but in a way that was good as I really was too tired and jaded to talk this morning.

Now I'm back at home and pondering what I learned from YAPC.
  • Larry rocks, we really appreciate you coming all the way over.
  • Schwern is a brave man.
  • Casey West would have provided one of the most memorable moments of the conference, except it didn't happen. :)
  • iBook is the portable computing platform of choice for descerning geeks.
  • Perl is very much alive and well
  • ExtUtils::ModuleMaker and Test::More look very useful and will feature in future projects.
  • Drinking with Grep, Gellyfish and Evil Dave leads to badness. Strictly speaking I learned this last year too but I foolishly seem to have forgotten it :)
  • I really should make more effort to learn the local language. We had 8 months warning after all.

So where are we going next year ? Can't wait !

And Sony ? Well having failed to deliver it before the conference, they also failed to deliver it at the conference. I decided that I didn't want to waste any more money on international calls to listen to their awful hold music so I figured I'd just hassle them when I got back. Guess what I found on my doormat when I got home ? Yup - A card from DHL saying they had attempted to deliver the battery on Friday. So Sony hadn't redirected the shipment at all. I suppose I shouldn't really be surprised :-(

Friday September 20, 2002
11:33 AM


Woo !

Today has been a good day. Although I got here a bit late, I've seen some really interesting talks, including several lightning talks, Security in Perl Scripts and Tagmemics.

Larry's talk was really interesting, linking many concepts and ideas into a though provoking half hour.

Schwern's refatcoring talk was interesting too, I hadn't thought of refactoring in quite that way before.

The highlight of today has been the auction. As usual hosted by Greg McCarroll and apparently 2,500 eur has been raised.

I am now the proud owner of a t-shirt (only 1 of 8) and a totally unique stein signed by Larry. I like this way of raising funds.

Now it's time for beer.
02:59 AM

Day 2

Day 2 of the conference proper was excellent. I saw Casey West talk about using Template Toolkit. I already use TT2 a lot but it was still god to watch someone talk about it with such enthusiasm.

James Duncan talked about Pixie, a very cool looking object database. I can already see uses for it in some of my own work.

Gellyfish's talk was a truely awe-inspiring demonstration of the art of off-the-cuff, hungover presenting :)

I dropped in on Geoffrey Avery's talk about ExtUtils::ModuleMaker which seems like a very powerful replacement for h2xs and then settled into the main hall for power and bandwidth. I wasn't too interested in Thomas Klausner's obfuscation talk, I was waiting for the Testing talk following it, but I found myself considerably impressed by what he was able to do. I've always considered obfuscation to be a bunch of clever tricks of no real use but I think that I may spend more time looking at it. Theone thing that the lecture revealed to me was that obfuscation teaches you a lot about the guts of perl and that can only be good in the long run.

Paul Johnson's Testing and Code Coverage talk was interesting but very dry. Most of it was taken up with discussing the definitions and theory of code coverage. I would have preferred to see longer spent on actually using the tools available to perl programmers, such as Pauls own Devel::Cover.

After tea, we had a series of excellent lightning talks and the Jos Boumans took us through POE for beginners. Jos is a very entertaining speaker and the war stories he used to fill the time at the end of the talk were very funny.

The evening went the usual route, with much beer consumed and ending in Greps room for a game of guess the tune (thanks to many gigabytes of mp3s and iTunes) and much singing fuelled by a bottle of Bushmills from the bar.

Day three is starting slowly :-/