In the course of my Perl career, I went from complete and awful newbie (think Matt's Script Archive level) to being fairly competent. I was able to write maintainable, modular, and mostly visually appealing code. Unfortunately, being a broke high school student at the time, I couldn't afford PBP, so I never had an opportunity to ponder its advice.
in reply to Perl best practices fanatism
A few years ago, however, I had encouraged a coworker to learn Perl as a good general purpose scripting language. He bought the book during the endeavour, so I finally got my first look at it. I realised that probably something like 75% of the rules were things that I had independently discovered and already been doing, and the other 25% were mostly logical conclusions of the ones I already knew.
My point is, many competent programmers will probably arrive at many of Damien's ``Best Practices''. I personally spent years to get to that point, and would have spent yet more troubling years to arrive at the last 25%. If I had read Conway's book from that start, it would have served as a good bootstrapping process and would have certainly saved me a lot of time and trouble, as it already has.
Like most of you, I use the book as a reference and as sound advice. I don't agree with everything he's written, but most of his rules do have gems embedded in them, even if you don't agree with them.