I think he's trying to use Perl 5.8's "stringy filehandles".
From the docs:
An object blessed into IO::Handle or one of its subclasses (such a
+s IO::File), or a reference to a string; if this parameter is not pre
+sent, the module will write to standard output. If a string reference
+ is passed, it will capture the generated XML (as a string; to get by
+tes use the Encode module).
Looks fine to me.
I wonder what version of perl is on the web-server.
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