February 2008 Archives

Patrick Michaud spreads the word at FOSDEM

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Hooray for spreading the word! Patrick Michaud impressed this attendee at FOSDEM with his talk about Parrot and Rakudo Perl.

The next talk was about Perl 6. Patrick Michaud was a good speaker, and he could convey his enthousiasm about the (many) novelties of Perl 6 as opposed to 5. He also quickly described what they used for their implementation of Perl 6, Rakudo Perl: the Parrot virtual machine. This seemingly allows you to put together your dynamic language in about 4 hours. Might pick up Perl again sometime. (Emphasis mine -- Andy)

This kind of PR is invaluable as we pass the tipping point to getting Perl 6 and Rakudo Perl out the door. Thanks, Patrick.

Addendum: Here's some more good stuff reported:

The talk about Perl 6 was the most interesting for me. I didn’t really like Perl <5 primarily because of having too many ways to do the same in exactly the same way but with a different syntax. I knew that Perl 6 was a total and backwards incompatible redesign of the language, build on top of a generic and good virtual machine called Parrot. Parrot, which I hadn’t given a proper look yet, turned out to be a lot greater than expected. You write support for a new language in Parrot by writing in a subset of Perl 6, which with it’s new Regular Expressions and specializations (tokens: regex without backtracking, etc), was looking very suited for it.

Except for all the new syntactic very very sweet sugar (on which I won’t (yet) elaborate) they added in Perl 6, the greatest one (which is actually more of a Parrot thing) is being able to extend Perl during runtime: writing new parser rules. One application is being able to define ‘!’ as a faculty operator. I’m itching to play with it.

Popular Perl packages in Debian

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Bryan O'Sullivan has a blog entry where he lists popular Perl packages, based on the popularity of the Debian package.

Not surprisingly, it looks a lot like The Phalanx 100 I came up with a few years ago.

Submit talks for YAPC::Asia and Italian Perl Workshop

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YAPC::Asia is fast approaching (May 15-16) as is the deadline for talk submissions, just a week away. Interestingly enough, they're accepting JavaScript talks as well as Perl. I like some good homogenization of the communities! Details at http://yapcasia.org/.

The fourth Italian Perl Workshop will be September 18th and 19th in Pisa. Organizers are calling for talks, but haven't yet set up the website.

Что такое Request Tracker?

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Jesse Vincent announced today that RT, the ticket system written in Perl, has a new community site in Russia.

We're pleased to announce request-tracker.ru, a community dedicated to the Russian- language RT community. request-tracker.ru is run by Ruslan Zakirov, one of Best Practical's senior RT hackers.

I love the worldwide spread of Perl and community, beyond the TPF-sponsored conferences. I know it's out there, but it just makes me happy to see it.

Perl debuts in the Microsoft 3rd Annual Scripting Games


Jan Dubois posted about Microsoft's 3rd Annual Scripting Games, where you can win prizes for writing Perl programs to solve programming problems like "find a word that you can make out of a phone number," and "count the number of characters in a given text file."

I'd enter if there were interesting prizes, but all the prizes for Windows-only software packages. :-(

R.E.M. releases videos under Artistic License 2.0


You may be hearing murmurs about this, so by my reckoning it falls on me to document it. R.E.M. have taken a stand by releasing the videos from their new album under Artistic License 2.0. The Artistic License 2.0 is a product of the Perl Foundation, and is the license under which Perl is released.

Normally creators have turned to Creative Commons for movies & music, so it's interesting to see R.E.M. buck the trend and use Artistic License. This can only help the visibility of open source. I'm glad that of all the licenses out there, they chose the one I love. Maybe there'll be a point in the future when Artistic 2.0 is used everywhere, that it will be automatic for the people who create music to think of TPF's license.

(Please send complaints about R.E.M. references to the dead letter office /dev/null.)

Interviews with Michaud & Dice

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Here are a couple of interviews for your reading enjoyment. Patrick Michaud talks about Perl 6 in advance of FOSDEM '08, a conference in Brussels. The interview is a bit old, pre-dating the naming of Rakudo.

In the second interview, Richard Dice talks about his 14 years with Perl, and current news about the Perl Foundation.

You know, I'm guessing there's other good content in $foo perl magazin, but since Richard's interview is the only thing in English, it's going to have to stay at the guessing stage.

Annoyance-driven development

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"I practice annoyance driven development. I set my threshold of annoyance low such that everytime I feel frustrated by a technical limitation, I notice consciously. My intent is not to find technology endlessly frustrating (though that happens sometimes), but so that I can identify the next most important thing to fix."

-- chromatic, in "What You Test Changes How You Test"

Submit your talks for Chicago and Braga

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Josh McAdams has announced the open call for participation for YAPC::NA in Chicago, June 16-18th, 2008. Talks can be 20, 45, 70 or 95 minutes long, plus the call for lightning talks will open later. The YAPC::NA website has details.

Across the Atlantic in Braga, Portugal, José Alves de Castro has announced the call for participation for the Portuguese Perl Workshop 2008, June 6 & 7th.

rt.cpan.org gets speed improvements

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Jim Brandt announced over in the Perl Foundation's blog that rt.cpan.org got some much-needed speedups. Even though TPF was considering forking over some dough for hardware upgrades, Jesse Vincent and his team managed to speed things up with software only.

Tell us how to do it, Andi!


Andi Gutmans, founder of Zend which drives PHP, takes a swipe at Perl 6 in this interview:

So we are anticipating a long rollout cycle for PHP 6, and we did not want to take the same route that the Perl project did, with project contributors still working on Perl 6 I think six years later. People make fun of Microsoft, but take a look at Perl 6. . . .

Sure, PHP 6 may have a shorter release cycle than Perl 6 has, but at the end of it all, we'll have Perl 6, and you'll still have PHP.

Just sayin'.


Genealogy, web services and Perl

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FamilySearch, the world's largest repository of genealogical resources, announced its 2008 FamilySearch Developers Conference.

The newly released FamilySearch Family Tree API and soon-­to-­be-­released Record Search API will be main topics of discussion. Other popular topics will be how to read, write, combine, separate, and synchronize with new FamilySearch online resources, developer keys, tree cleaning, GEDCOM, and PAF.

Genealogy these days is all about lots of data mangling, web services, big databases: it's an ideal area for Perl to work in. Paul Johnson's Gedcom module has long been used to handle GEDCOM files, the standard interchange format for genealogical data.

I chatted with Pat Eyler about the FamilySearch project, of which he's a member:

"World's largest repository of genealogical resources" only tells part of the story. Imagine this:
  1. all of the microfilmed genealogical records that the LDS church owns made freely available
  2. a framework for indexing these (or any other genealogical images someone wants to donate)
  3. a unified database of individuals and relationships with varying levels of access control, available to anyone through a rich web client or through web services
Billions of names, petabytes of image data, and the tools to access and use all of it.

There's quite a bit of data here for the examining. Even if you're not interested in the conference, check out what's going on with the data. It seems to be an ideal dovetail with the open source community.

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