Dear Doctor Perl

February 2005 KWMP Meeting

This meeting happened on Thursday, February 17, 2005. See below for notes on proceedings.

How many times have you written code and said to yourself "Wow, that's ugly. There has to be a non-awful way to do this."?

Well, here's your chance to pick each other's brains, share cool solutions, and discuss bad solutions. Bring your ugly, slow, broken or confusing code to the February meeting, and we will brainstorm and discuss. No judgements will be passed, no insults hurled... just advice and ideas from people who have plenty of glass-house code and better not throw the stones of contempt.

How to 'bring' code:

  • Put it online, so that we can point Firefox, etc. at it;
  • email it to, and fishbot will run it through the HTML syntax colour machine, and place it online;
  • bring it on a CD, diskette or USB keyfob; or
  • post it on the wiki with a descriptive name, and link to this article.

What sort of code? How long? What if it has dependancies?

Ideally we don't want to talk about one problem for more than 20 minutes or so. Try to pair down the code so that the problems are easy to understand, if possible. Other than that, anything goes. So long as the solution is > 51% perl!

Discussion examples:

Here are a few examples of code and discussion from KWPM's recent past.

  • GlobWalk - Here is a bit of hacked code that was discussed at the pub in Nov 2004. Shuchit gave fishbot some helpful ideas.
  • NineBlocks - Here is some code that DanielAllen posted for critique, and the discussion that followed. This is a bit too in depth for a 15-20 minute discussion, but the idea of constructive criticism is there.
  • M, MData and MGenerative - LLoydCarr's mystery code, and different ideas for improvement
  • MrFood - code fishbot presented at the Jan 2005 meeting - a few very helpful ideas have yet to make their way into the code.

Dear Doctor Perl,

I have this recurring dream that a camel is eating the quilt off my bed and all these penguins are laughing at me. What should I do?

- sleepless in Waterloo

Dear Sleepless,

Opensource iconography can be intimidating. From the BSD Devil to the Mozilla... dragonsaur... OS projects tend to use humanistic and animate forms to represent a notion of vigor and community. Compare, if you will, with IBM's "big letters", or Microsoft's "flappy window". Or even the famed Nike "swooshtika" - all fairly vacant and faceless.

The point being, iconographic engagement is at best a mixed blessing. You clearly identify with these forms, but your love-hate relationship with OS's hairier corners and non-consumer-complexity-matrices haunts your sleeping hours.

I recommend warm milk before sleeping, and less coffee while programming.

- Dr. Perl

Dear Doctor Perl,

Thankyou Dr. Perl I had my first good nights sleep in weeks, but I don't think the cow enjoyed the late night sauna as much as I did.

- Well Rested in Waterloo

Meeting Adjourned!

Code that was discussed:

I've posted some of the code we discussed here:

Included there is LLoydCarr's code, Simon's, Elbie's, and fishbot's. (I removed the resources and images from Elbie's Monaco code, though, for size and copyright reasons.)

ShuchitVelkar presented code as well, with a full slide set.

The meeting was a success, I think. I've been thinking a lot more about the issues in my 'factor' code, and I have a handful of notes and ideas for other code I am working on.

If anything occurred to anyone about their own or others code after the meeting, please share below!

-- fishbot (edited by DanielAllen to have URL)