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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • This month I've spent a few hours (free) writing a program for a cancer researcher so that he can automate access to genome database's otherwise intractable interface, so that he can spend his time on actual cancer research instead of spending a week or two or twelve mindlessly copying and pasting to and from Netscape. The program I wrote for him uses general-purpose tools that Gisle, Martijn, and me have been working on for years. Remember that the next time someone you know gets cancer and doesn't die of it.

    The problem with toolsmithing is that as you solve metaproblems, it's easy to forget that that translates directly into making people happier -- people you probably will never even know.

    And for almost a decade now, I've been involved with writing software for people that work on documenting endangered languages, so that they can than produce dictionaries almost twice as fast, and at a fraction of the cost, and with inestimable gains in the quality of the finished product. Moreover, the data will be in formats that will be sanely tractable, and not some ghastly  .DOC stew.

    Thought for the day: I bet the guy who wrote CDEX [] doesn't know that I use it to make  .wav/.ogg/.mp3 files of our interviews in Native languages, nor does he know that because his software is free, that means that our grant budget is free to buy that many more blank CDs, pay the Natives for that many more hours of their time, and so on.

    YOW! Am I privileged yet!?

    BTW, code is nice, but sometimes it takes money to get things done. I keep meaning to get around to fixing the whole current mess with the various Pod parsers/renderers, and I think I'll finally find some time soon. But frankly, if people had waved some money at me to do it, it'd have been done a whole lot sooner.

    • The pod parsers problem is fixed. Pod::SAX provides a unified and standardised interface for doing it. Feeding SAX into DOM gives you searchability. Feeding SAX into XSLT gives you renderability.

      I *think* it's fully perlpodspec compliant. If not, most bugs now should be small.