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jmcnamara (659)

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'ere I am, J.M.! The ghost in the machine:

perl -MCPAN -e 'install jmcnamara & _ x ord $ ;' | tail -1

Journal of jmcnamara (659)

Friday August 20, 2004
04:27 PM

My brief career as a warez supplier

I received the following, non-spam, email today:

I need the authentication code for MS Office 97 small business edition, can you provide this to me? I have the CD, but not the code. I see on the freshmeat web site that you are an expert in MS Office and thought I would try this as a longshot. Thanks for your time.

I declined.

Friday August 06, 2004
01:40 PM

Module proposal: Your::Momma

People often post module proposals to Perl forums and newsgroups. Usually these proposals will include working code. Occasionally the code will include something genuinely new or innovative or useful. Even when it doesn't it usually represents a significant effort by the author.

However, this effort or innovation or utility is generally ignored. Instead, the most frequent comment to a new module proposal is "I don't like the name of the module".

That isn't surprising. Often the author doesn't like the name of the module either. But having gone to the trouble of writing code, documentation, tests and putting together a distribution they deserve something more insightful than "I don't like the name of the module".

In order to avoid this debate and perhaps generate some useful comments it is recommended that all new module proposals use the working title Your::Momma. Then the dialog can proceed as follows:

Reviewer: I don't like the name of the module.

Author: Your::Momma.

Wednesday August 04, 2004
04:55 PM

The Why Wait Camel awards

So John Orwant, brian d foy and Dave Cross won White Camel awards. That's great and well deserved. But shouldn't they have won those in the year 2000. At this rate I won't receive my White Camel award until 2016. By which time I may be dead or programming in C# or both.

Why can't we have awards more frequently. People are doing great stuff and they are doing it now. We should have an award once a month or once a week.

In fact starting soon I'm going to to start giving awards in Recognition of Unrecognised Excellence in the Field of Perl.*

Stay tuned and dust off your tuxedo.


* Yes, I know which episode of the Simpsons this reminds you of.

Tuesday July 20, 2004
05:31 AM

I Perlisti

I'm at The Perl Workshop in Pisa.

Good fun, good food, good talks. The Perlisti are a nice group of people.

Thursday July 08, 2004
06:02 PM

Patches Unwelcome

The phrase "patches welcome" is often used to mean "put up or shut up" or "if you don't like it fix it". Clearly, however, there are projects, such as perl, that rely heavily on patches from a large number of individuals.

Even smaller module sized projects may welcome patches but that hasn't been my experience. I always get a sinking feeling when I see the word patch in the subject line of an email.

I receive about 700 emails a year in relation to Spreadsheet::WriteExcel. Some of them contain patches.

My main problem with patches is that they come unannounced. The sender almost never starts a dialogue beforehand. If the patch is for a bug-fix then I would prefer to see a bug report first. If the patch is for a new feature then I would prefer a chance to discuss if the feature is worthwhile, or how it should be implemented or what effect it will have on other ongoing development.

However, this doesn't happen and instead I often receive patches for bugs that are already fixed or for features that are already implemented. In one particular case I received a patch for a feature that had been in the CPAN version of the module for over a year.

I can see why this happens. As a programmer our first recourse isn't to report a bug or request a feature but to rip the source code open and start changing things. Without a doubt I have done this myself.

I have other problems with patches as well. One is that while people have no problem dispatching code patches they rarely send documentation or tests or offer help with any of the administrative issues. In other words they do the fun part and blissfully ignore the other not-quite-so-fun parts of the software cycle. Nice work if you can get it.

Another issue is with copyright and attribution but I don't really feel strongly about these, despite the SCO vs. Linux debacle.

Perhaps other people feel like this. Perhaps they don't. All I want is a little dialogue. It would take less time than writing a patch.

Tuesday June 29, 2004
03:39 PM


Jonaanisqatsi: John out of balance.

Sitting in a car at traffic lights listening to Philip Glass is like watching an out-take from a Godfrey Reggio film.

Sunday June 20, 2004
05:48 PM

Bloom versus Baggins

From the Irish Independent:

But perhaps the best contribution to the Bloomsday debate came from a listener on Newstalk 106's City Live programme.

"Why the big fuss over what is, after all, merely the centenary of a fictitious date?

Next year sees the 7,000th anniversary of Middle Earth's victory over the forces of Sauron, but we haven't heard anything about that."

Thursday June 17, 2004
06:04 PM

Thanks for all the (managed) memories.

In the middle of a "Joel on Software" article about How Microsoft Lost the API War is an interesting assertion:

Whenever you hear someone bragging about how productive their language is, they're probably getting most of that productivity from the automated memory management, even if they misattribute it.

I think that this applies very much to Perl. The productivity not the bragging.

Wednesday June 16, 2004
03:17 PM

Bloomsday 2004

Today, June 16th, is Bloomsday. It is the day in which James Joyce's Ulysses takes place and also the day on which he met his future wife. This year is the centenary.

Ulysses isn't as difficult to read as some people would have you believe and it is worthwhile. I recommend reading "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" first. It serves as an introduction to the character of Stephen Dedalus and to Joyce's style. It is a beautiful book in its own right.

Obligatory quote from Ulysses with an Internet theme: "The Mosaic code has replaced the law of the jungle".

Friday May 28, 2004
05:03 PM

The Seven Year Inch

I uploaded a new version of Spreadsheet::WriteExcel to CPAN.

This supports the Excel 97 format (seven years later) and thus long strings and Unicode.

It is the culmination of a long period of work in a difficult year. But I'll leave that story for another time.