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A decade in the Monastery

by dws (Chancellor)
on Jul 11, 2010 at 22:35 UTC ( #848891=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Today marks the end of my tenth year here in the Monastery, though it's really been five years active, and five mostly wandering through as a visiting alumnus.

Ten years in internet time means that much has changed: 2000 was before Firefox, GMail, Rails, Ubuntu, LCD displays, dual- and quad-core processors, Amazon S3, WordPress, the iPhone, git, jQuery, and a bunch of other stuff that we now take for granted. My laptop at the time was a 33Mhz Dell with 128Mb of RAM; my new desktop has 12Gb of RAM and an SSD. My daughter, then two, now has her own MacBook.

Ten years back, it looked like Microsoft had a solid lock on the world. Now, for many of us, if Microsoft matters at all, it's because our webapps need to support their quirky browers. This is not quite the future I guessed at back then.

I had two objectives when joining PerlMonks. The first was to get better at Perl, which I'd learned largely in isolation without a lot of feedback. PerlMonks helped me level my Perl fu way up, which helped me land a spot at a neat little startup (Airwave Wireless, since acquired by Aruba) doing Test-Driven, OO Perl with a small group of great developers. I've since moved on, but damn, that was fun.

My other objective was to get better at "short form" writing, the one to five paragraph stuff that much of our lives revolve around, using words to question, convince, clarify, record, and generally to help move things forward. Technical skills have a half-life; writing skills do not. Looking back over ten years of posts, I'd like believe that my ability to work with words has improved, though my spelling remains at a B- level. And I'd like to believe that I've helped some people out along the way.

PerlMonks rewards clear writing. Seize that opportunity.

My thanks to those who got PerlMonks going (vroom, wherever he is now), to those who've kept the wheels turning (tye, the janitorial crew, and doubtless people I'm forgetting), the folks here who've taken the time to set me straight when I've needed it (and those who've caught my typos), and to the fine folks at Pair networks who host PerlMonks.

Onward. There's stuff to build.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: A decade in the Monastery
by talexb (Canon) on Jul 12, 2010 at 18:35 UTC

    This afternoon I finished making a few changes in my code, including changing a temporary filename into a temporary filehandle. Once the caller and the callee were changed, I ran the tests for that chunk of code, and as expected all tests passed. I celebrated for a microsecond, then got on with the next thing.

    Later, a Google searched landed me on PM, and out of habit I read a few nodes, and your post reminded me once again that Perl has an outstanding software engineering framework. Before I became a PM regular, tests were a Software QA thing that didn't involve me. Now, developing code without tests gives me an uneasy feeling, like driving anywhere without my seat-belt fastened.

    I know I owe a lot to this terrific community. I'm a way better developer since going to YAPC and joining this group.

    And ten years ago I was using a Windows 98 box, editing locally and ftp'ing the files to the Debian server I was developing for, so terrified was I of vim. My latest project is a second NFS server with dual 1T drives. Ten years is a yawning chasm of change.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

      Thanks. I missed that part.

      Ten years ago, a project with unit tests was a pleasant anomaly. Now, a project without tests is irresponsible.

      That's a huge step forward, and Perl was out ahead of it.

Re: A decade in the Monastery
by FunkyMonk (Chancellor) on Jul 12, 2010 at 00:02 UTC
    My laptop at the time was a 33Mhz Dell with 128Mb of RAM
    I don't remember what I was running 10 years ago, but 20 years ago I know I had a 40MHz AMD 386, 4MB RAM with a 40MB (I think) disk. Are you sure about the clock speed of your system 10 years ago?
      I'm going from memory, and may well be wrong. It was an old laptop at the time, and was maxed out, or close to it, on (then very expensive) RAM. The point is, by 2010 standards it was incredibly puny.
        The point is, by 2010 standards it was incredibly puny.
        Hey, tell me about it:)

        My first disk based system (mid 80's) was an Amstrad CPC 6128 with 128K RAM, 160KB 3 inch floppies and 4MHz processor.

        /old fart mode

        I remember the Commodore PET, where FOR I=1 to 32767 : NEXT was considered an infinite loop (time wise)

      In the hardware, apart from the faster CPUs, more RAM, and large TFT monitors, there are two more changes that I find important: large hard disks and cheap dvd writing enable easy backing up of data even at home that was not possible ten years ago , and the keyboards getting worse.

        and the keyboards getting worse
        I wish you hadn't written that.

        I'd forgotten about those bloody awesome, built-out-of-tank-armour IBM keyboards.

        /me drools

      That's a lot of RAM. My current laptop is 166Mhz with only 48 Mb of RAM. :)

      (Though I've bought a dual core 1.6Ghz / 2Gb RAM netbook, and will eventually get it configured with an effective load, its going slowly)

      The way I see it is; if I can make the Perl code efficient enough for me to sit through a run on the old laptop, nobody can complain about its performance on modern hardware!

Re: A decade in the Monastery
by PeterPeiGuo (Hermit) on Jul 12, 2010 at 03:21 UTC

    Let's be fair with Microsoft: Microsoft matters in the web world. IE 8 indeed is not that quirky. C# and ASP.Net have their advantages, and gained and still are gaining momentum. You mentioned jQuery... jQuery became popular for two reasons: 1) its own advantages compared to other similar javascript frameworks, and 2) Microsoft's endorsement.

    Peter (Guo) Pei

      IE8 and IE9 are indeed much better. Unfortunately, IE6 still has a presence in much of locked-down Corporate America, and I get hits in my logs from both IE5 (!) and IE7.

      As for ASP.NET, I hear about it, but I've never see it outside of a book or a blog post. I'm in Silicon Valley, so that certainly biases things. I know of people who use it (e.g., the Stack Overflow team are happy using a subset of ASP.NET), but it's always somewhere else. In my world, Nada. Ditto anything else running on IIS. I could reach out and touch boxes running IIS in 2002. Now they're completely gone. That's a huge shift.

      Let's be accurate with Microsoft. IE 8 has some backwards compatibility shims that are evil. IE 6 is the required browser at the Fortune 20 company that employs me. There is no single aspect of the WWW that has poured more time and money down the drain than IE 6. I joke about bringing a class action suit over it but just barely.

      jQuery was very popular before Microsoft started to ship it and their "endorsement" changed little if anything. It was the result of jQuery's utility, license, and footprint.

      That said, and I truly dislike Microsoft for many reasons, IE 9 is shaping up to be the best browser there is and by quite a bit.

Re: A decade in the Monastery
by ChuckularOne (Parson) on Jul 13, 2010 at 13:33 UTC

    Wow! I went back to look at my "User since" date. I've been bouncing around here since March of 2000. Most of that time (Well, almost all) lurking in the shadows. I can't express how much I enjoy the community here. It has always been my goto place when I have a question I need answered. The beauty of perlmonks is that if you know how to phrase a search, almost everything has already been answered.

    Thanks for 10 good years monks!


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