23 Dec 2003 shlomif   » (Master)


I now have an extended vacation as I don't have to study tomorrow as part of the Hanukkah vacation, which is nice. Meanwhile, in Statistics I had a difficulty with one of the home exercises. The problem was that we were given several distributions for the case in which there are two populations. And it was not clear from the page when to use which. But I think I can overcome it now.

Private Lesson in Perl

Someone who once drived me away from a Linux event and I later met in others, wanted to learn Perl or other Linux things that I can teach him. Today, we finally held our first session. I first asked him for what his experience was with Linux and programming. It turned out he worked as a sys admin in a company with several Linux installations, and had very little experience in programming (not even from school). Then he told me that he asked people what should he learn first: some said "shells", others "Perl" and others "C". This is without taking Python, Ruby and Tcl into account. :-).

I said I think we will start with Perl. The reasons for it are that it is easier to write shell scripts in Perl, than it is to write many Perl programs in shell, so there will be a faster path to results. Retrospectively, I think there are other reasons: I would not recommend C as a first language, because it's two low-level and as such newbie-unfriendly. Also, learning shell first may have a relatively crippling, because shell programming has a different philosophy than either Perl (and friends) or C.

So I began teaching him Perl by following my Perl for Newbies series. I found out he was quite proficient in vi, and a fast typist, so it was not frustrating to watch him code. During one hour (which was the sesssion length) we covered most of the first lecture (which is originally intended for two hours). I realized that there were many things he did not understand at first, which I had to explain to him verbally. This may indicate a deficiency of the material I prepared as far as people who are complete beginners to Perl are concerned.

During the lecture I made a couple of small comparisons with Python. For instance, I showed that "+=" and friends did not exist in earlier versions of python and "++" still does not.

I ended up receiving 50 NIS for the lecture, but it was fun any way you look at it.

Site about Giving Presentations

Someone read in this weblog that I'm going to give a presentation, so he pointed me to his site which is dedicated on how to give effective presentations. I checked this site and it is very good, so I'm mentioning it here.

Gimp Gradient-Fu Patch

I finished writing the patch, and it even has one more function that was not present in the previous incarnations of it. You can check it out on Gradient-Fu for GIMP 1.3.x page. Now I have to wait until the development of GIMP 2.1.x to start for it to be integrated. Or I can accelerate its accpetance by resolving standing issues with GIMP 1.3.x myself... ;-)


If you remember, I started using WWW::Form in the past for the IGLU Jobs tracker and had to modify it to suit my needs. I haven't heard from its developer for quite some time, after sending a couple of messages, so today I decided to try and reach him again. I emailed him asking if he received my last modifications, and if he'd like us to cooperate somehow on its development more closely. He answered me saying he would gladly accept me as co-developer, and we agreed that we will use a Wiki, and a version control system, and modify the module extensively together.

Hopefully something good will come out, because it's preferable not to fork it and the developer seems very much alive and kicking.

Some Threads of Possible Interest

Check this thread on Linux-IL about the Hurd for some discussion on how good Hurd is, and some speculations if it'll ever be ready for prime time. (taking into account the fact that Linux has been for years) It's quite amusing.

Here is a Hackers-IL post I wrote about the "Great Divide" between Windows and UNIX.

Finally, here are my answers to the recent Microsoft Poll as I posted on the appropriate Newsforge article about it.

Advogato Replies

movement: congratulations for your new job. I know it took you a long time to find it, and I hope you'll enjoy it and make a good living out of it. Solaris should be a very interesting thing to work on.

lindsey: I recall the time I had to convert MikMod (which was originally written in C) to Java. During that time, my code generated a bootload of exceptions because I did not trap some file I/O related exceptions. At first I tried to throw them to oblivion, but then realized it only made the situation worse, so I ended up catching them at the function that did the I/O and returning an error code instead. Doing exceptions logic properly is very hard, and the code already had error handling in the function return values.

I really like the fact that in Perl I don't have to explictly catch any exceptions, because it is very suitable for Perl. I'm not sure it's appropriate for C#/.NET, though, which is much more Java-like.

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