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[_] Mark Chitty and his continuing influence in perl and myspace discussions

Steve Roome steve at
Wed May 30 13:58:30 BST 2007

On Wed, May 30, 2007 at 08:14:01AM +0100, Aaron Trevena wrote:
> On 30/05/07, Steve Roome <steve at> wrote:
> > OTOH, Aaron, WHAT*"*&!"£.?! Perl is "almost always the right tool for
> > the job" ? You can't be serious!
> I said :
> "I find Perl to be rather elegant and powerful and almost always the
> right tool for the job, of course the jobs I do tend to be in Perl's
> sweet spot but contrary to popular myth it's actually very good at
> things like large complex systems and scales nicely."

Sorry, I'd meant to say something like "Subjective confirmation bias",
but I am stuck on verbose output.

> For most general computing tasks (say genome research, internet
> applications, data processing, system integration) Perl is the right
> tool, if you know it, equally Python would be the right tool if you
> knew that well.

And in almost all of these examples, at some point, SQL is the best
tool (available) for the job, and you've never done anything like...

my $query="select * from users where user_name like 'steve%'";

> The reason Perl isn't hugely popular like C is that C has decades more
> usage, and is taught at universities and colleges and has historically
> provided more speed - of course there is little benefit in using just
> C for a server, when you can leverage it when needed in Perl using XS
> and SWIG (python and php provide similar ability), C++, Java and .Net
> are also taught at universities and backed by a huge number of vendors
> who make an awful lot of money selling tools to make them productive
> enough to be useful.

IME (limited of course) perl is vastly more popular than C, and just
like popular science/fiction/folklore/singers/etc: popularity does not
always indicate brilliance or fitness for purpose, let alone "best of

Newbie Perl programmers + TMTOWTDI + dumb beleif in perl = more
contracts for me to fix broken, bad and unworkable perl code. 

Woo, cool!

> All of which is beside the point because you're just looking for
> another argument, there are few areas that Perl isn't suited (modulo
> actually knowing it) - which is what you would expect of a modern
> general purpose programming language, and unlike LISP it's actually
> used in popular applications (rather than just emacs ;).

Erm no, you came out in response to a post I'd made on the topic of
myspace with a comment about how perl was the best tool for the
job. To protect my name I replied, I now realise that I was a tool to
bother replying the first time. Especially as you're just accusing me
of being argumentative when I'm merely disagreeing with an absolutely
ridiculous, stupendous and amazingly dumb claim you made that has more
than just me thinking you're trolling. Except you keep backing it up,
or digging.

> Contrary to what you  claim - everybody on the list using the internet
> will almost certainly be affected by perl - whether it's a website
> powered by perl, using a dictionary compiled with the aid of perl, a
> news story about genome research utilising Perl (and C and other
> things), their email being spam filtered, using google or yahoo or
> livejournal, watching the BBC or ITN, or if they have a pension or
> shares, or if they booking a plane or holiday or even actually flying.

That is not contrary to what I claimed and it's going to really nark
me if you try putting words into my mouth again. I'm actually trying
to be polite here, it's hard work when I look at this.

What I claimed is that in order to read these posts (something most
underscore subscribers probably gave up doing long ago at merely the
site of our names on the subject) most people will use almost no perl
at all.

For your claim that perl is almost always the best tool for the job to
hold water I'd expect/like to see perhaps 50% or more of the software
required for any task being written in perl. I stated that I think
we'd see less than 5% or so, assuming of course we were able to
accurately measure it.

Furthermore as someone who's done a fair bit of flying I can tell you
that I've never needed Perl to fly. I also worked for BA for a while
where I was one of two support people running the entire booking
system. We had some perl, and it was broken and didn't work.

Google is mostly python isn't it, they don't like me anyway, I don't
care! As to BBC, ITN and so on.... *sigh*

You're backing it up with a few names of things, but again, no factual
evidence (whereas I did actually calculate the exact %age of running
Perl code on all the computers I used to pick up my email at that time
- zero), I assumed that most of the network devices didn't run perl
but I did check on a couple of them.

Finally Aaron, by now I think we probably *both* appear to be just the
arrogant twats on a mailing list looking for an argument. Not just me
or you. We've all been here before and it's time for us to move on.

I think you can probably join our little club of people who whether we
know it or not, are the laughing stock of underscore, and filtered by

Why I joined in, was because you and a bunch of other people jumped up
and down in that pig-headed X is better than Y way, first about
myspace and now you're doing it about Perl. The world is not black and
white and I don't have time to argue the point and I think it's a
little unfair to underscore to keep our terrible debating skills going
round in circles. I don't think I've bought anything new to the
discussion here really, and if you'd like to criticise any logical
steps I've made someone else who cares can consider your reasoning and
assess wether you have a good claim for perl being x,y or z. Someone
who cares.

In the meantime, "flash is pants", is still my mantra though I
appreciate it can do some pretty cool things.

Perl is pants too, and I feel very releived to finally admit it on
underscore. I feel like I've come out the other side of rehab as new
man now, fresh and clean.

Everyone (*1) should have hugs. (*2) [It's better than sliced bread]


 *1 : Those that want to, not really everyone.
 *2 : Haskell, or whatever else makes you happy.