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merlyn (47)

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Journal of merlyn (47)

Monday September 10, 2007
10:34 AM

Excuse for lack of security

Often, when I warn of security concerns for newbie web programmers, they retort "but I don't have anything of value... it's just my blog, so I don't care".

The point is, they have a server. It's a potential spamming location, or anonymous platform from which to launch more dangerous attacks. What they have is net and CPU. That's useful to someone.

Maybe there should be some sort of license before you're allowed to expose a web server to the public net. {sigh}

Thursday August 09, 2007
09:22 PM

255th Perl article published

I just turned in my 255th Perl print-magazine article (this one for Linux Magazine). As each article has been printed in a magazine with an average of 100,000 circulation, that means my name has appeared in print over 25 million times. Wow. If that was a single book, I'd be somewhere on the NYTimes top sellers, I'm sure. Too bad it's spread over 12 years. {grin}
Saturday June 30, 2007
08:18 AM

YAPC::NA 2007 is over...

My pictures are up on Flickr already, including the early morning "fire drill" at the Hilton on my last day.

I had about 30 people in my 2-day "master class", where I presented "Perl Second Best Practices" (my take on PBP) and "Persistent Perl Data" (a survey of simple persistence, DBI, Class::DBI, and Rose::DB::Object).

I'm beat, heading home, but no rest for the weary, as I'll be on the road for six of the next seven weeks.

Monday June 18, 2007
01:32 PM

Successful fashion choices

Just stumbled across this in the classes distro:

Also around that time I bumped into another Perl guy, Randal. I think I even went to one of his Karaoke haunts with him at least once (although he did not sing, for better or worse). I remember those were dark times for Randal. When the movie "Hackers" came out (you remember that one with a very young Angelina Jolie) we had a saying around the office: "Randal Schwartz never wore silver hot pants."

Hear hear.

Saturday June 16, 2007
11:32 PM

Foreword from "Mastering Perl"

I wrote this for the upcoming Mastering Perl book, but I figured it was worth reprinting it here. Enjoy.

One of the problems we face at Stonehenge as professional trainers is to make sure that we write materials that are reusable in more than one presentation. The development expense of a given set of lecture notes requires us to consider that we'll need roughly two to four hundred people who are all starting in roughly the same place, and who want to end up in the same place, and who we can find in a billable situation.

With our flagship product, the Learning Perl course, the selection of topics was easy: Pick all the things that nearly everyone will need to know to write single-file scripts across the broad range of applications suited for Perl, and that we can teach in the first week of classroom exposure.

When choosing the topics for Intermediate Perl, we faced a slightly more difficult challenge, because the "obvious" path is far less obvious. We concluded that in the second classroom week of exposure to Perl, people will want to know what it takes to write complex data structures and objects, and work in groups (modules, testing, and distributions). Again, we seemed to have hit the nail on the head, as the course and book are very popular as well.

Fresh after having updated our Learning Perl and Intermediate Perl books, brian d foy realized that there was still more to say about Perl just beyond the reach of these two tutorials, although not necessarily an "all things for all people" approach.

In Mastering Perl, brian has captured a number of interesting topics and written them down with lots of examples, all in fairly independently organized chapters. You may not find everything relevant to your particular coding, but this book can be picked up and set back down again as you find time and motivation -- a luxury that we can't afford in a classroom. While you won't have the benefit of our careful in-person elaborations and interactions, brian does a great job of making the topics approachable and complete.

And oddly enough, even though I've been programming Perl for almost two decades, I learned a thing or two going through this book, so brian has really done his homework. I hope you find the book as enjoyable to read as I have.

Wednesday June 13, 2007
12:26 PM

UnixReview/SysAdmin ends; my 12-year column run ends with it

I've just been informed by my editor that the August 2007 issue of UnixReview/SysAdmin will be the last issue. I wrote 71 bimonthly columns from March 1995 to July 2007 for that magazine sequence, covering a wide variety of Perl topics (from web 0.0 to web 2.0 and beyond), and getting my name in print around 10 million times. I will miss the job.

I'm still writing for Linux Magazine (94 articles and climbing), so you can still get a monthly dose of wisdom there.

Tuesday June 05, 2007
06:37 PM

Perl to Python

"Our team has been spearheading the transition from Perl to Python at the facility", says Grant. "There are three primary reasons for this. The creation of Python bindings to a C++ library is very easy and allows us to utilize core R&D libraries in the rest of the pipeline more quickly. The object-oriented nature of Python is very attractive given our new asset model and should allow us to make changes to that asset model much more easily in the future. And, Python is a first-class citizen in many of the third-party software applications that are used in our industry."

from DreamWorks Animation "Shrek the Third": Linux Feeds an Ogre

Wednesday May 09, 2007
09:47 PM

reporting piracy - on a *gopher* site

A "gopher:" link came up as a joke in one of the IRC channels. So I wanted to see if Firefox still groks gopher links. It does. And I found Veronica. And typed Perl. And one of the first three hits has PDFs of Learning Perl, Programming Perl, and Advanced Perl Programming. Hint: those are pirated.

So, now I get to email to request a takedown notice... on a gopher site!

Wednesday April 25, 2007
07:25 AM

Recording news again

I just finished recording the as-yet longest "news" segment. I'm sure Josh will have it up on the site within a day or two (update, at

Josh does a great job getting me a list of things to read. The fun part is that I can do it as time permits, which usually means "late". :) This time, I happened to be finishing up a 11-day stay in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, so I pulled out the laptop and the plantronics folding headset, and got to it.

Before my Macbook Pro, I had to record the audio pieces using Quicktime Player, then bring them in to Garageband to edit. Now I can record directly in Garageband (without getting the dreaded "we ran out of CPU power"), saving me some time.

Once I get the raw audio recorded, I go back and drop in the "stingers" between the segments. One listener wrote in and said they sounded "kitchsy", to which I responded that this means I succeeded, because that was the sound I was going for. In dropping in the stingers, I sometimes have to stretch or shrink the gap, but I usually hit the gap dead-on while I'm recording the news in one take, so the work is minimal.

For this 10-minute news result, I think I spent about an hour on it, but it's an hour I'm happy to spend if it helps the Perl community keep more in touch.

Monday April 16, 2007
05:59 AM

$ instead of \z in regex

Once again, I corrected a posting where someone had used $ instead of \z to anchor a regex "at the end" in a way that would have opened up a potential security hole. (The string would have matched ".foo\n" as well as ".foo", which could have led to some interesting mismatches later.)

I realize that this is a feature, but it's a subtle misfeature. I wish more people were educated about this situation.