All work herein is copyright (c) Stewart Wilson 2001.

Enemy Territory

Being an occasional rambling article from the mind of Stewart Wilson


I met a girl, and her name was Perl...

Or words to that effect. This part of the rant's pretty computer-heavy, for all of you that couldn't give a damn, skip ahead to the second part, it's easier on the mind and includes lots more swearing.

So, Perl. Odds on many of you will never have heard of it. Many of you won't know what I mean when I say Unix either, but that just means you're ignorant bastards. Work, today, finally happenned to hit upon a good thing, I have to learn Perl. To the unenlightened, Perl is just another programming language. To those that know much about it, Perl is the God of Programming Languages. It bridges that gap between shell scripts (that's batch files to the Windoze crowd out there) and hard coding in C or C++. It's programs are small. It has the variable setups that (only) C programmers dream of, and most of the programs can be structured so that if you know the basics of programming, you can read them. You can parse practically anything, from rewriting find and grep scripts to making new DOS commands to emulate those two commands.

Oh, and it's more portable than the "write once, crash anywhere" coding that is Java.

Yes, I like Perl. If you're thinking "Why's he writing about something he likes?" then bugger off. I'll write about whatever the bloody hell I like. It supports the three virtues of programming, laziness, idleness and hubris. And unlike so many other languages out there, there are no code-nazis online telling you how to write your code. The correct syntax for a Perl program is anything that works before your boss fires you. Another reason to like it.

So, if you have much interest in programming, check it out. It's Unix-optimised, but versions exist for MS-DOS and practically any other OS under the sun. This is a blatant plug for the language, but if you'd been looking into it as much as I have, it's hard not to like. Unless you dislike programming, of course.

* * *

This has to be a Tuesday. I never could get the hang of Tuesdays. Yesterday was one of the crappest days since I got here, and today hasn't been that much better. Of coursw, yesterday involved actual work. Having been told how to do something three days ago, I was told yesterday that I was to be tested on it. Xavier's a bastard like that. Or maybe he just wants to park his ass in front of Netscape on his nice, non-net-filtered system while I sweat. Either way, he's a bastard.

Then the bloody tape drive chewed up the sodding backup tape, putting one of the projects at work back another bloody week as we hads to restore from an earlier backup... then the machine crashed on restart, meaning it needed another bloody reinstall (the machine has hasd to be wiped and fixed eight times so far). We get the machine fixed, we're halfway through the reinstall from tape, and it's lunch. All of that crap in the space of a morning. Ugh.

The machine crashed again after lunch, but before we could do anything, we had an idiot on the phone (note to non-system-administrators: An idiot is anyone without the brainpower to fix threir own problems, thus, a user). He couldn't even think to click the "remember password" on his mailer. I had fun, left him hanging for half an hour. Raven knows, I need my fun where I can get it.

Add in trying to code a find script that will help with the weekend's work without taking a weekend to run (For those that know, about 50 GB of drives to search, having to prune 3 root-level directories and then compare every file for uid and gid, then change the uid and gid), and I was knackered. Throw in a cold that copuld have laid an elephant low, and you see why yesterday was so bad. Today was just fucking worse. Turns out they want the find script written in Perl. Sadistic cunts, as if I haven't ebnough to do just trying to get the backup tape to work... oi.

And this weekend we have to work through moving the servers and using this program. Shoot me now.

* * *

Yes, this is shorter than you're used to. But untill you start paying me by word (or indeed, paying me at all), you can all sod off.

Stewart Wilson, the Digital Raven
The eighth circle of Hell, 10th July 2001