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jarich (4909)

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I run Perl Training Australia [] with pjf [] and do a lot of the course writing and maintenance. I also organise the courses we run, so if you want one, just ask. I hang around a bit on Perlmonks [] and also help run Melbourne Perl Mongers [].

Journal of jarich (4909)

Monday February 23, 2009
04:45 AM

YAPC::NA::2009 Pittsburgh, PA where are you?

9 months ago, brian_d_foy reported that YAPC::NA 2009 was to be held in Pittsburgh. Their bid certainly sounded convincing. So where's the hype for this conference that's supposed to be running 4 months from now?

A search for YAPC::NA::2009 Pittsburgh PA gives the Google calendar event but it points at Oddly that seems to belong to the "Paris Perl Mongueu(r|se)s". The Perl Foundation YAPC page is bare on details and just references the Google calendar event (as above).

Where can I find out more about this conference? I want to go, and if I could find a CFP (and it was still open) I'd submit. Any suggestions? Perhaps YAPCs are run in a shorter timeframe than I'm used to?


Unless the list has changed its address since November, it appears that there hasn't been much chatter on the YAPC::NA Organisers list.

On the other hand, going deeper into search results suggests that Casey West just yesterday (February 22nd) promises the website launch tomorrow (Tuesday 24th February 2009) with the CFP "mid-week" so presumably Wednesday. His promised website is also in use by the Paris Perl folk, but perhaps that's just temporary. I guess YAPC::NAs are run to a shorter time-frame than we do in Australia.

Wednesday January 21, 2009
10:24 PM

The year of travel

Last November, I went to Canberra for a week. That would be unremarkable, but it looks to start the busiest 3.5 months of travel so far in my life. I think this will be the busiest 12 months too.

So week of training in Canberra, week home working on my OSDC talk. Then first week of December in Sydney for OSDC. Week home to recover. Week in Perth for training. 2 weeks off for Christmas and New Years. Another week in Perth for more training (different client). Week home to prepare for LCA. This week and half of next in Hobart for LCA. Home for a week and a half (in time for my birthday). Then off to New Zealand for a week and a half (Wellington, Rotorua, Auckland, Warkworth), home for a day, then to Newcastle/Maitland for a week and a day. I think that gets me back to Melbourne by the 25th February. That's 6.5 weeks home and just over 8 away.

If everything goes well, we'll be off to Sydney for the second week of March too, and so on for at least one week a month until June. From mid-June to late August/early September I hope to be off overseas for more conferences, holiday etc. In particular I hope to get to:

  • YAPC::NA
  • YAPC::EU
  • Any European Perl mini-confs/workshops which are proximate to YAPC::EU


If you will be running something in North America between mid-June and the end of July, and you might like Paul and/or I to speak at it; please contact us. If you will be running something in Europe between early August to early September etc, please contact us.

If you want to host us any nights on our journey, that could be awesome too.

Tuesday December 23, 2008
08:51 AM

I am not "advocating child pornography."

As a bit of background Bernadette McMenamin (chief executive of child protection group Child Wise) seems to be a big supporter of the Australian Senator Conroy's plans for mandatory internet filtering. Back in January this year, McMenamin suggested that no decent person would oppose Conroy's filters to protect the children. A couple of weeks ago she said:

"[T]hose who are aware [of all the facts] are, in effect, advocating child pornography."

I am not advocating child pornography. This is my response.

G'day Bernadette,

I am an IT professional and have been for almost 10 years now. Understanding how computers work, how networks work, how ISPs work and in particular understanding what is and is not possible is an important part of my job. I'm also a member, and an executive member of the System Administrators' Guild of Australia. This guild exists to cater to the needs of the people who manage everything from their company's machines, through to networks, through to ISPs. The members of this guild, collectively, know pretty much all there is to know about how networks, computers and ISPs work in Australia; and are very able to identify what is and is not possible.

I object to Senator Conroy's internet filtering proposals on the following grounds:

  1. It cannot work. It really can't. It's not technologically feasible. If there was some magic way to only filter out the bad stuff and not accidentally filter out good stuff (or instead accidentally let through bad stuff) that magic way would be usable to avoid spam. Filtering will make it harder for innocent people to accidentally find the bad stuff (although I'd contend that it's pretty hard to "accidentally" find it in the first place). On the other hand, those who want to find it, will still find a way. They'll use Tor, or a VPN hosted overseas or some other method not being blocked.
  2. Even if it could work, what would be blocked? Those serving illegal content move their content around. Today it might be on and tomorrow it'll have moved to and the next day it'll be somewhere else. How can a black list possibly keep up?
  3. If we know the sites which need to be blocked, why can't we just spend the money on a) having them taken down and b) prosecuting the people who created them in the first place? Don't we have international treaties for this purpose? Preventing people from seeing child porn doesn't reduce the abuse to the child, although I concede that it might (hopefully) discourage such an interest in the first place.

Having these objections does not mean I'm advocating child pornography and I'm really sick of you and Senator Conroy saying that it does. I understand the technological issues very well and if there was a good, workable solution, I'd be putting it forward. Anyone can see that there's a lot of money in coming up with a good, workable solution, but instead of throwing up hundreds of ideas to solve the issue; the IT community at large is a) asking for more details because what we have so far doesn't look workable or b) criticising the plan because what we've been told so far doesn't look workable. The IT community at large, the ISPs, the systems and network administrators aren't advocating child pornography; they're not arguing for a free internet at any cost; they are giving a consistent message: this cannot work. Any attempt to go ahead with the plan will result in a slower internet for everyone without preventing anyone with any access to a technical professional from obtaining the material they want.

All the best,

Jacinta Richardson

Monday September 08, 2008
11:04 PM

Customer service

It's not that the customer/potential customer/person out on the street is always right. It's just that a little bit of courtesy and faith that they're not trying to mis-represent the situation can go a long way for improving your business reputation. As such, many businesses require a certain amount of professionalism by their staff when that staff is acting in any way which might be viewed as representing the company. This includes responding to emails from those customers/potential customers/persons out on the street. Calling such a person, who tried to alert you to a flaw in your business practices, a liar, isn't really appropriate. Doing so, under the title of "Production Director" is even worse.

So I introduce you to a really odd email exchange I had. I've left it unedited, except I've removed the company's name and John's surname. This is because although I find them guilty; it would be unprofessional for me to name and shame them so publicly. Make sure you read the subject line from the response. I thought it was spam at first.

From: Jacinta Richardson
Sent: Friday, 29 August 2008 8:10 PM
To: John
Subject: Rude event hire driver

G'day John,

At about 1pm today, as I was cycling down Swanston Street, in the Copenhagen style lanes I found myself obstructed by one of your vans completely blocking my way.  I'm not sure if you're aware of these lanes, but they run on the road between the footpath and parked cars with a small, gutter-high built-up pavement separating the lane from those parked cars (and reducing the concerns of opening passenger doors).  This separating pavement is not something a cyclist can easily hop over.

Your driver, today, had stopped his van in the bike lane just where the bike lane merged with the regular road, just north of Victoria Street (although on the eastern, southward bound side).  This completely blocked the exit from the copenhagen lane for all cyclists.  I imagine he did this because there was no parking bays available, although I don't see that as an excuse to park illegally.  Had your driver parked even a metre further forward then cyclists could have easily exited the lane and gone around him.  He would still have been illegally parked, but it would not have required myself and other cyclists to stop their bikes, lift them over the copenhagen divider and then continue onwards.

The driver was heavy set, with pale skin and blonde hair.  He was reading a newspaper and drinking coffee and seemed surprised that anyone would even try to ask him to move his vehicle to a less obstructing place (yet alone somewhere he could legally park), but he had been there for some time, and certainly didn't move while I could see him.  The van should probably also be redecorated with your company details, as it looked a very tatty.

Behaviour like this isn't good for your business.  As it happened, I was on the way to a meeting to arrange hiring of an event company for a product launch for one of my clients.  Unfortunately for you, I encouraged said client to choose someone else.

Su bject: Time you concerned you concerned yourself with real Community issues.Now read on!
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 12:50:45 +1000
From: John
To: Jacinta Richardson

Hi Jacinta, Thank you for your email and I am some what surprised by your comments and there inaccuracy.
Our vehicle had broken down and had stopped 15 metres from that point. Our driver rolled his vehicle into the side of the road to prevent it from blocking traffic and possibly causing an accident.
Sending us an email is your right, but it really appears you should be more concerned and proactive about things in the real world like pollution, hunger, those less fortunate than ourselves and the homeless, we do care about the community and are actively involved in many projects, it shows you
to be a very shallow person, and one who does not contribute to society except by complaining about such a minor issue.
As a role model Company and a leader in this industry you could do well to learn from this very frivolous complaint of yours.
Raise your horizons and contribute to our community.

John ....
Production Director
For the Event Team

Thursday August 07, 2008
07:53 AM

Catalyst vs Jifty

About a month ago I was looking for a good article which summarises the differences between the various Perl MVCs. I asked a few people who'd know about such things better than I, and they told me with certainty that it doesn't exist. I asked Google, and it didn't seem to know either.

So anyway, since I figured I had to find out this information anyway; I decided I'd learn both of them and put together a conference paper and talk on the topic as well. Still I have my concerns about being able to to learn both of them well enough to do them justice before September 15th. So I'm asking the experts as well...

If you are a regular user of either of these systems; have experience with both; or would just like to air your opinion regardless; please feel free to comment! If you want to comment about CGI::App, Maypole, Gantry or any of the other similar options as well your opinions are also welcome.


Wednesday July 23, 2008
08:31 PM

OMG I won a white camel

Unfortunately, despite plans, I wasn't able to attend OSCON this year even though my husband, Paul Fenwick has made it. It would have been my first time out of Australia, but I'll have to wait for that.

Still, I asked him to bring me home a present, and last night he sent me:

You asked me to bring you home a nice present. I'm actually bringing home a present from the entire Perl community for you!

You're the recipient of one of the three White Camel awards!

I struggled at first to take him seriously.


Really, Wow.

I didn't even know I was nominated. Thankyou to the unknown person or persons who nominated me.

Someone asked me what a white camel award was; and I struggled to answer the question to my satisfaction. So I searched and found:

The White Camel reward recognises the Perl community's "unsung heroes"--those who have devoted extraordinary creativity, energy, and time to the non-technical work that supports Perl's active and loyal user community.

I think originally it was divided into three areas: Perl Advocacy, Perl User Groups, and the Perl Community with one award each; but I suspect that distinction has since been dropped.

I join a very short list of very impressive people who've also earned one of these awards and share this year with Gabor Szabo and Tatsuhiko Miyagawa who most certainly deserve their awards.

Thanks again to those who nominated me; to the judges who've honoured me; to Paul for accepting the award on my behalf and to everyone else who's offered me such lovely and sincere congratulations!

Thursday May 08, 2008
11:21 PM

Why People Are Passionate About Perl

This is inspired by brian d foy's post asking why people are passionate about Perl. I can't speak for everyone, but I'll share some things I've picked up from others along the way.

Mainframe programmers. We were invited to present to the Capacity Management Group in Sydney, Australia a couple of years ago. Basically they wanted to know what Perl was, and whether it could be useful. They were completely blown away by the fact that it was free (in their world everything has to be paid for) and had filters for EBDIC systems automatically integrated! The idea that they could download thousands of libraries on demand also for free was an added bonus. With thanks to the passion of at least the organiser we've been given a few more speaking opportunities with them.

Shell programmers. We've had some die-hard shell programmers being sent to our courses, and some of them have fallen in love with Perl. They've been used to everything being much more verbose than shell and were delighted that you can get so much done in so little code in Perl.

I am passionate about Perl because it's an easy language to work with. I first learned it because I needed it for a job, and I was delighted at how powerful, simple and often intuitive it is. I like the english constructs: unless, and, not, or. I like the short-circuiting nature of the operators: my $foo = $a || $b || 0; - that saves me so many lines I always have to do in other languages. I appreciate its variable scoping and I like strict. I love the DBI, and even more so the abstraction classes (DBIx::Class, Class::DBI etc). How could I not mention the CPAN? Perhaps Perl's biggest answer.

I know, and program in, several other languages, but they don't compare well. I do a lot in PHP, but there are so many little things that get in my way and slow me down. I also keep littering my code with mys. I do a little in C, but I think most people would prefer Perl to C when speed wasn't an issue, so that's not saying much. I write bash occasionally, but past a few lines I can't stop myself returning to Perl for better error handling and real lists. I have never encountered anything that compares to Perl's testing frameworks.

We taught a friend of ours Perl, he is a very experienced Java programmer. He still writes a lot of Java but he uses Perl to script all the repetitive stuff. ;) I can still remember the expression on his face when we showed him "Hello world". Where was all the rest of the code? He's not passionate about Perl, but he's not passionate about Java either. Maybe programming doesn't inspire him with passion, but I always smile when I he asks me "so how would I do X in Perl?" and I show him a simple, elegant, and short way of doing it; followed with him showing me the awkward, cumbersome way he's been trying in order to get it to work in Java. Sometimes I'm able to offer better Java solutions, but not as often as he's able to improve my Java code.

09:04 PM

5 things I hate about Perl

This is inspired by brian d foy's post on "What do you hate most about your language?". Of course I love Perl. I program in it and teach it for a living. Still I hate....

  1. eval. Block eval should be spelled "try" and should have a "catch" instead of an ugly unreadable if statement following. Block eval should not be called the same thing as string eval - which is very, very different.
  2. symbolic references. You should have to *turn on* this functionality if you want it, rather than having it on by default. Trying to convince self-taught programmers who refuse to use strict because it breaks their code and don't want to know that hashes are a better solution, is a challenge in self-control every time. In fact, although I hardly ever use strict in my command-line one-liners or my temporary stuff; it shits me that strict isn't on by default.
  3. bad legacy stuff. In particular things like "reset", which makes some sense in the context of lazy programming, but which just screams out to be abused in "job secure" code.
  4. inconsistent whitespace rules.

    print $foo->{blah};  print $foo -> {blah};  print "$foo -> {blah}";

    I get why the last one fails, but why allow the second one to succeed if you can't be consistent?

  5. no way to take a slice through arrow-notation. If it wasn't for this, we could teach our students arrow notation exclusively and they'd never need to know about the uglier form of dereferencing.
Tuesday May 06, 2008
10:49 PM

A single point of contact

I never would have thought it that hard to implement. One issue we've had with one of our vendors, is that it feels like we're always dealing with someone new. And there's never any hand-over of our account between staff.

There were other issues, including a really bad day at their facilities once, followed by an extremely compelling offer from a competitor, so we switched. The competitor is superb at customer service and gave us an account manager straight away. She has been amazingly cool.

Still, the first place wants our custom again, and we're happy to have options, so we talked. I tried to tell them what we didn't like, and after a few emails I think they might have understood some of it. They promised us we'd have an account manager, who'd be our single point of contact. I said that would be lovely.

When I spoke to this account manager for the first time, I discovered that she didn't have any record of the upcoming work we'd scheduled with them. This lack of communication between staff was one of the big reasons we wanted that single point of contact. I informed her of who I'd spoken to and what dates we'd agreed on. Now she was up to speed I figured all would be well...

So why am I getting email about our selected dates from another staff member again? And to a private address, which I've explicitly told them about 10 times not to use? Grr!

If they can't implement something as simple as a single point of contact, and send stuff to the requested address, I think we'll just stay with the competitor.

01:37 AM

Something I'd like to see

Andy Lester's latest article on Perl Buzz lists a bunch of things one can do to help spread the good words about Perl.

But it didn't mention one of my favourites. Run a conference! Or at the very least attend a conference, give a talk and then blog about it. Now I'm not that good about the whole blogging thing. I come up with great ideas to write about when I'm in bed, or in the shower, or walking down the street; but by the time I get to my computer I've forgotten, or they don't seem that great anymore...

Still I do run and attend, and talk at conferences, and I'm convinced that this is good for both Perl and Open source in general. Further, I want to go overseas. I'd *love* to go to YAPC::EU and I'd consider going to YAPC::NA. But I often hear about them much too late. What I'd really like to see is a calendar of Perl events. It'd be cool to have PM meetings on it, conferences etc. If you could choose whether or to see some continents, or all. It'd be even more cool if you could subscribe to ical-style feeds per continent.

Unfortunately I don't think I'll have time to do this myself in the very near future, but at least I've got a starting point.