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pjf (2464)

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I run Perl Training Australia [].

I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.

I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.

Journal of pjf (2464)

Tuesday November 02, 2004
04:55 AM

Ascidians, Planning, Media

[ #21643 ]

I've been putting some of our underwater photographs to good use by creating wikipedia articles on Sea Tulips and Solitary Ascidians. Both rather rather strange looking sessile filter-feeders, but apparently they're reasonably closely related to each other. To make them extra strange, they use vanadium in the transportation of oxygen.

Normally when I plan for something, I do it at least twice. Once for when things go the way I want, and once for when things don't. Often I'll produce three or more plans for the same scenario, in order to have covered the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This extra planning makes a lot of sense, since I'm involved in many activities that have significant risk, including self-insurance, business planning, system administration, scuba diving, roguelike games, and trying to find the best freebies in breakfast cereal packets.

If the house burns down, or we get last minute bookings or cancellations on courses, or all air-traffic from Melbourne is grounded, or a machine is compromised, or my breathing apparatus stops working 20 metres underwater, then I'd like to have a ready way to deal with that. Preferably two or three. Hence, the planning is important, even for relatively unlikely situations.

I've discovered to my surprise that not everyone thinks this way. Many people will make a single plan, calculate that the alternatives are quite unlikely, and based upon that work with only a single plan. My initial instinct when I see this is to help out by creating contingency plans, or collecting the information needed to do so. However, it seems not everyone wants a fallback.

This utterly confuses me, but it probably makes sense to many people. If you're not always spending time planning for the worst, you have more time to get things done. If your regular activites are not particularly high-risk, then the amount of time spent planning for risk may outweigh the benefit of those plans themselves.

It looks like this may have caused some misunderstandings recently, so I'm going to need to spend a little more time in thought to avoid that in future. I don't think I can stop myself from asking "what's your backup plan?", but I can certainly try to be more understanding when I'm told that no backup plan exists.

Got my first issue of ComputerWorld magazine the other day. It contains a two-part article called Watch your language, that compares a number of software development languages.

Part one has a discussion from David Bullock, the present of the Australian Java Users' Group (talking about Java), and Troy Magennis from Infomedia (talking about C#/.NET). Part two will have yours truly talking about Perl, and I believe a coverage of another open-source language, most likely PHP.

It looks like each language is getting a full page of coverage, which is fantastic. I feel quite glad about providing what I thought was probably too much information during the interview.

The article doesn't look like it's available on-line yet. Should that ever change I'll make sure I post a link to it.

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