First: you are not alone ... see this
and this remark by our fellow monk Dominus (search for word "pack" to find remark).
Second, I liked the explanation of pages 220-223 of Effective Perl Programming. The rest is about finding good examples.
Third, I think that the declining popularity of pack() and unpack() might
be a consequence of the increasing emphasis on text-based protocols, e.g., XML and friends.
You just don't need pack() and unpack() that often anymore (at least, that's my experience).
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