My stint running the Toronto Perl Mongers is over. Jordan Tam and a couple of others have all the passwords and privileges needed to update the web site and moderate the mailing list.
I am relieved to be stepping down, and a little sad. Since my days in Boston where we had “Boston Area Perl Socials” before the Perl Mongers were formed I have had a deep fondness for Perl and its spectacularly warm, welcoming, and interesting community. The Perl community is my current benchmark of user groups, and I don’t think any other groups come close in their willingness to accept and encourage heretics. The Toronto Ruby scene comes close, but taking a moment to look back the Perl Mongers in Boston, New York, Austin, and Toronto have been an amazing source of friends, jobs, and social life.
Now I look forward to participating in the trenches again, and hope the next 20 or so years of Perl will be as much fun.
Good luck to Jordan, Stuart, and Alex! It’s time for some fresh blood.
A couple of things have happened recently which have highlighted ways I can slim things down a bit in terms of the number of things I need to keep track of and change the way I behave.
Thanks to homebrew, rvm, and MacVim I was well on my way to eliminating my use of VirtualBox for doing some of my own “tinkering” using a recent Ubuntu Linux as a familiar environment (I don’t have anything against Linux, it’s just less hassle for me not to have to start up a virtual machine to do some development…)
Ad a recent Toronto Perl Mongers meeting someone asked me about the modules I mentioned in a talk earlier this year and wondered if he could see the code. This had a cascade of effects:
- I put the code on GitHub so he could see it.
- I installed perlbrew and perl-5.12.1 on my Mac so I could start installing modules without breaking the system perl.
- I started updating some of the things I wanted to fix, but somehow hadn’t got around to fixing.
- I started goofing around with other Perl modules gratuitiously – for example using Moose to add a couple of attributes to a class despite its apparent ugliness, or common::sense rather than strict and warnings.
It’s amazing how the thought of other people’s eyes on my code are better motivators than my own diligence.
As the Toronto Perl Mongers web site generator was the only project of consequence I was doing on mu Linux VM I finally got to delete the old Linux VM and am now working in a pure OS X environment.
Using Moose has started slimming down my modules, as much of the boiler plate code seems to vanish.
My home tinkering environment has slimmed down, but I suspect the pitcher of beer and chicken fingers at the Perl Mongers meeting has caused some equal and opposite reaction in me!
Recently Perl 5.12.0 was announced. There are some great changes in this release, some incremental and some new goodness has been introduced. Looking at the commentary this announcement spawned I suspect there is a disconnect between the Perl developers, the Perl community, and the people who might be interested in Perl.
If you read on-line articles and blogs you could be forgiven for having discounted Perl when considering a language for a new project. The most telling review of the news of perl 5.12.0’s release announcement I have seen was in Ars Technica, and I’ll not link to it because I don’t want to drive any traffic their way. As a poorly researched article which managed to play to the false notion that Perl has in some way stagnated it succeeds, and the article is only redeemed by some of the comments.
A more general thing which I have noticed is that Perl seems to be frequently absent from the list of dynamic languages mentioned in on-line articles, as if it has vanished. In my personal experience Perl is still actively used in loads of places, the Perl community is still active socially, and CPAN is still growing, and the language is still developing – both perl 5.x and perl 6.
There may well be some rough old Perl code out there, the language is twenty years old and has attracted developers of all abilities. I wonder how many of the people who disparage Perl have looked at the tools and techniques which can let a serious developer craft readable, robust, scalable code with ease.
In my opinion modern Perl is a great language to develop in. The more languages you know the more informed your choice will be, but at least let your choice be based on having used the language – don’t take my word for it, don’t take my love of Ruby to mean you should love it too, don’t take some Google fan-boy’s word that some language is good because Google uses it, try some languages out!
I’ve been quite busy the past few weeks, and what strikes me is that most of the activities were driven by the influence of people I find interesting, and my involvement with Perl over the past decade or so has put me in contact with many smart and interesting people, many of them active members of Perl Monger groups.
Now that our daughter has launched herself into real life we are always happy to baby sit for an evening of parental nostalgia, and the other weekend we were lucky enough to baby sit for a Toronto Perl Monger – it was uneventful enough to allow for an evening of Olympic viewing.
On many Monday evenings I substitute for a team in a local trivia league. I was introduced to this group of eclectics by a couple of co-workers who used Perl.
Recently a friend from Boston who wrote one of the first Perl 5 books was in Toronto, and that was a fine excuse to try a new restaurant and catch up for a few hours. Nota Bene was a great place to go and eat, not too noisy and the food and wine were wonderful; had it not been for the visit we probably wouldn’t have checked the restaurant out. Because I wanted to pick our visitor up from the airport I decided to take a day off, and I finally managed to visit the Redpath Sugar Museum which I have been intending to visit for years.
In addition to these occasional pleasures there are monthly meetings of the Toronto Perl Mongers where I get to meet all kinds of people.
On top of all of these Perl has been a useful way of discovering job opportunities where I use Perl development as a litmus test of open minded development processes and the likelihood of working with people with deep interests outside computing.
All in all I think my accidental discovery of Perl 4.019 was one of the most interesting things that has happened in my work life so far, and has had many pleasant and unintended consequences.
“Don’t believe what you read” seems to be this week’s theme.
On Monday I went to my first Rails Pub Nite for a few months, and there were a good forty or fifty people there. Most of them seemed to be doing some fun and interesting stuff with Rails, and there seemed to be lots of activity. Sometimes when I’m looking around various technology sites or blogs it would seem that the bloom is off the Rails rose, bit the Toronto Rails Pub Nites would offer a different perspective.
On Tuesday it was off to Roy Thomson Hall to hear the Cleveland Orchestra. I was pleasantly surprised that my listening to King Crimson for many years had prepared me to enjoy Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. The thing not to believe here is the Toronto Star’s review which seemed to focus on the reviewer’s expectations and not so much on what the Orchestra did.
Nest week it’s the Toronto Perl Mongers, and we’ll see what’s shaking in the local Perl world. There are so many opinions of Perl’s state out there that most of them can’t be true!
Back in 1999 Perl was described as a postmodern language. As the husband of a philosophy professor, and as someone with an instinctive distrust of sophistry, my layman’s understanding of “postmodern” was essentially that it was a term used as shorthand for “vapid, overblown, vacuous intellectual performance masturbation”, especially by the French. Of course there are significant differences between Perl code and, say, Derrida’s writing – they can both be intolerably hard to read and make some sense of, but the Perl can at least be shown to do something useful in most cases.
Imagine my delight in discovering Modern::Perl. I have dealt with chromatic a couple of times, and I rate him as a “good guy” who has a balanced perspective on Perl, Perl boosterism, and things that seem odd coming to Perl from other languages. That gives me a sense of hope and enthusiasm about looking at the module, a sense I’d love to feel again when using Perl.
Now to play with Modern::Perl, or maybe relax and enjoy myself as iTunes has popped up Earthworks Underground Orchestra‘s rendition of Libreville to inject some joy into my day.