Send-a-Newbie

The Send-a-Newbie project is the Perl community at its best. People with a bit of spare money have donated to a fund to send people to YAPC::Europe. Edmund von der Burg and a team of trusted helpers have counted the money and closely examined the applications that they received. Edmund writes:

First, a quick recap: the Send-a-Newbie program is meant to help people go to YAPC who have never been to a YAPC before, are unable to do so by their own means and already involved in some way in the Perl community.

Applications were submitted, questions were asked, answers were given, difficult choices made and we now have our lucky YAPC Newbies.

We’re delighted to announce that we will be sending the following three to YAPC in Lisbon:

Alan: Based in India, started using Perl about a year and a half ago. Since then, he’s contributed to several CPAN modules, released WWW::Rapidshare::Free and is currently working on the TPF grant “Fixing Bugs in the Archive::Zip Perl Module”. He’s never been to any meetings of the Perl community.

Alistair: Based in Scotland, has just finished university, started using Perl for creating his websites and performing several small tasks. When choosing a placement (for his degree) he chose a Perl shop in London, and became part of London.pm

Rosellyne: Based in England, self-funded university student. Also a grant manager for TPF (past four years), member of London.pm and active on PerlMonks. Keen to meet people she’s worked with for years.

There were other great applications that we will not be able to send. Hopefully they’ll be able to attend a future YAPC.

All of this is possible due to the lovely people who have donated and helped. It’s been a great demonstration of the community that has formed around Perl. Thanks also to the YAPC::EU organizers who have been supportive of this project right from the start.

Thank you to all involved and see you all at YAPC::EU::2009!

The three lucky participants will have their travel, hotel and conference fees paid. They’ll have to pay for their own beer.

Net::Twitter and Iranian Elections

Over the last few days I’ve seen a large number of tweets saying that the Perl module Net::Twitter is being used to post pro-government propaganda from Iran. If it’s true, this is almost certainly a reaction to the large number of people who are using Twitter to get around the Iranian government’s censorship.

It’s disappointing, of course, to see Perl being used as an instrument of propaganda and repression. But that’s one of the dangers you have to face when you release software under an open source licence. I only hope that people realise that Perl is a tool that can be used by anyone and that we don’t run the risk of being linked to Ahmadinejad’s regime just because of the programming language we use.

iransource seems to be one of the pro-Ahmadinejad bots, but it’s been quiet for a couple of days. Has anyone been tracking these bots? And is there any previous evidence of Perl being using by repressive regimes?

New CPAN Releases

I haven’t been particularly prolific in releasing new versions of my CPAN modules recently. But over the last couple of days I finally got my act together and release new versions of three modules.

In all three cases, I’ve fixed pretty obscure bugs, added minor functionality or fixed the documenation. There’s nothing there that is a particularly compelling reason to upgrade.

What is Wrong With this Picture?

I’ve just found a number of subroutines defined this way in the code that I’m working on.

I discovered the problem because I started getting errors about “too many parameters”. I knew what the problem was (the empty prototype) but it took a couple of minutes of head-scratching before I realised why it had been working before my changes.

Then I realised.

I have a dislike of “unnecessary” &s on subroutine calls. So almost without realising, I had removed them from the calls to these functions.

A few lessons have been learned.

Lesson 1 (for the original author of this code): Prototypes will trip you up. Do not use them.

Lesson 2 (for me): Ampersands aren’t always as pointless as they appear. They may be masking bugs in the code.

CPAN Web Feeds

I’m still thinking about adding stuff to this blog. I’d like to add some web feeds to the sidebar. In particular, I’d like a feed of my CPAN uploads. I don’t expect it to be a particularly busy feed (although having such blatant evidence of my laziness might galvanise me into being a bit more productive) but was surprised to see that such a feed doesn’t seem to exist.

CPAN has a “latest uploads” feed, And there are a couple more documented in the FAQ, but none of those do what I want.

It seems a simple enough idea. I can pull down the latest uploads feeds and filter it on my name. But before I do that I thought it was worth invoking the power of the lazyweb and asking if anyone else has already scratched that itch.