Thanks for that - note however that in addition to capturing STDOUT/STDERR, I still need to have the STDIN/STDOUT/STDERR of the external program connected to the terminal where the person is running the script, in case the external program requires input from the user, and so that any output is immediately visible to the user, in addition to being saved in the scalar(s).
I'll try your recommendation out though - maybe it does give me what I want.
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