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Meditations

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If you've discovered something amazing about Perl that you just need to share with everyone, this is the right place.

This section is also used for non-question discussions about Perl, and for any discussions that are not specifically programming related. For example, if you want to share or discuss opinions on hacker culture, the job market, or Perl 6 development, this is the place. (Note, however, that discussions about the PerlMonks web site belong in PerlMonks Discussion.)

Meditations is sometimes used as a sounding-board — a place to post initial drafts of perl tutorials, code modules, book reviews, articles, quizzes, etc. — so that the author can benefit from the collective insight of the monks before publishing the finished item to its proper place (be it Tutorials, Cool Uses for Perl, Reviews, or whatever). If you do this, it is generally considered appropriate to prefix your node title with "RFC:" (for "request for comments").

User Meditations
Goedel's Proof of God in Perl
2 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by Jambo Hamon
on Jul 09, 2017 at 08:38
A meditation on the naming of perl6
4 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by stevieb
on Jul 07, 2017 at 09:38
REFLECTIONS on $_
3 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by Jambo Hamon
on Jul 06, 2017 at 21:21

    SOLIPISM KNOWLEDGE OF $SELF FOR ALL YOUR DEEPEST QUERIES.

    How many meditations does it take to reach ``Knowledge of Self''?

    The following links to the randomly choosing elements from an array node. It is meant to show the reflective nature of $_ and is not an excercise in using or creating a link. Display purposes only. :]

    https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja +&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj0yqChgPbUAhVBeD4KHXnPDJsQFggwMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2 +Fwww.perlmonks.org%2F%3Fnode%3Drandomly%2520choosing%2520elements%252 +0from%2520an%2520array&usg=AFQjCNEYUua_3UVPyzYBRG4ruf_ZfYRTXw

    If you squint a bit you can see the GET string looks a lot like Perl code?

    a) It's a string with lot's of punctuation.

    b) It's lexical in nature, meaning it's value is only apparent inside the context of the page "url", coincidence? :]

    ---

    Note:

    I thought one of the purposes of the meditations page was to have meditations.

    I mean that I could try to explain what I was thinking when i though let's paste this link from google as a meditation, but isn't it better to just meditate on it?

    Having fun if you are,
    Jambo

Mahalo - Thank you in Hawaii
1 direct reply — Read more / Contribute
by Jambo Hamon
on Jul 06, 2017 at 19:00
    I just want to say something publicly; Even though it might be taken a million different ways. I want to say thank you to the culture of Perl for engaging me. Culture has many different contexts, and the many different abilities of Perl is what makes it work.
Contemplating a documentation series for my Raspberry Pi work
5 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by stevieb
on Jul 03, 2017 at 13:53

    So, after over a year of learning, development, implementation and testing, I am very near the point where my Raspberry Pi Perl software is ready for prime-time use by the masses. After a few more tweaks, test additions, documentation updates and one last once-over, I plan on writing a "Howto Pi with Perl" type tutorial, across several articles in a series.

    Trying to put together some sort of sane format, I'm looking to those who have publishing experience or technical writers to give my initial thoughts a once-over and provide me any feedback. Most, if not all portions will include breadboard diagrams of each task, code (of course), pictures if reasonable and in some cases potentially even video clips.

    Initial, broad-view structure:

    • very brief intro to the Pi, its capabilities, and overview of the features/limitations of the software
    • a synopsis of what will be being taught, formats/conventions that will be used
    • basic intro on creating and using a Pi object
    • intro to the most basic part of the Pi, the GPIO
    • examples of creating and using a GPIO pin at the most basic level (INPUT, OUTPUT, HIGH and LOW etc)
    • intro and examples using advanced pin features (interrupts, PWM, pull up/down etc)
    • workshop: using simple pin-based sensors and devices (LEDs, hygrometers, thermo-resistors, distance sensors etc)
    • detailed overview of the communication mechanisms included (I2C, Serial, SPI etc)
    • workshop: detailed overview of using the comms, starting very basic, leading into writing your own device/sensor modules using the software
    • workshop: using an LCD and/or OLED screen to display things on it
    • workshop: intro to and using Analog to Digital converters
    • workshop: intro to and using Digital to Analog converters
    • workshop: intro to and using Digital Potentiometers
    • workshop: intro to and using shift registers (basic through to advanced usage)
    • workshop: using a GPS module
    • workshop: advanced uses: utilizing several ICs and sensors in much larger and more involved projects (probably put together a few of these)
    • workshop: connecting to and using features of an Arduino with the Pi (over varying communication methods, including example Arduino sketches)
    • how this software came about, and some basic information on the underlying parts that allow it to work
    • extensive article on how I ensure the code is fully tested after each commit on a custom hardware test platform
    • possibly some details/photos on some of my real life projects I use at home (my indoor grow room automation system for example)
    • possibly a demo example of writing a web UI with jQuery to automate and provide a GUI of a basic project

    update: I think I'm going to use this as my initial template, so I may periodically update it with feedback and new ideas.../update

    For each element that contains a specific topic, include, where feasible/available a section at the bottom of the doc for advanced users perhaps in <small> or equivalent tags (these are just thoughts, nothing firm):

    • link to datasheet
    • list of issues or possible enhancements
    • link to relevant section in the Pi datasheet
    • link to the specific module that houses the code
    • link to a C/C++ example
    • link to Python equivalent

    Any thoughts on this general first thoughts layout? Anything that I should include that's not already? Anything I should remove? How about any thoughts on the individual elements and the manner in which to present them?

    I think I will create the actual demonstration parts first, then weave in the commentary thereafter. At first thought, this seems like the simplest approach that'll allow me to review all of the actual working parts as I go back through and edit in commentary.

    Thanks,

    -stevieb

Web Crawling using Perl
2 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by ckj
on Jun 24, 2017 at 08:49
    Here, I'm going to discuss all the steps to do a web crawling using any language or technology. Crawler/Scrapper/Spider/Bot/ multiple synonyms for same stuff which is basically meant to copy content from any site. Based on website crawlers need to be configured. Please share your feedback, if it's good then I can post it on a larger platform as well where I'm planning to discuss crawling in java etc as well:

    1. Static Content Crawling: Static content are those which are generated once and doesn’t keeps on changing on their own, they need manual intervention and update to push any changes in content. So, such pages are easy to create but such pages are highly prone to security and their content can be crawled easily. So, in this case your crawler would be very efficient and providing accurate result as they simply have to access a page and get details.

    2. Dynamic Content Crawling: Dynamic content are those which keeps changing dynamically, in this case page contains server-side code which allows the server to generate a unique content whenever the page is loaded. Since, these contents are dynamically generated using different technology hence they are very secure as well as very difficult to crawl. So, in this case the crawler creation would be very difficult and getting accurate data is also not possible as class names etc are generated on load and there is no html code available on page to get that. Hence, you may have to use different functionalities here such as using proxy or creating robot.txt.

    Static Content Crawling
    my $mech = WWW::Mechanize->new(); my $response = $mech->get(URL); if ($response->is_success) { print $mech->content; } else { die $response->status_line; }
    Dynamic Content Crawling
    use WWW::mechanize::Firefox; use Data::Dumper; $mech= WWW::Mechanize::Firefox->new(); $mech->get(URL); %arr_ref = (AL => [1795, 1276, 795, 1719, 1363, 1145, 961, 17, 18, 199 +5, 977, 1910, 1691, 21, 1660, 1768], AK => [1145, 961, 1995, 977, 1781, 1704], AZ => [1873, 872, 1145, 690, 1162, 961, 918, 528, 811, 704, 529, 1983, + 931, 40, 1995, 977, 597, 1157, 530, 598, 886, 782, 42, 691, 1945]); foreach my $key (sort keys %arr_ref) { print "$key :: @{$arr_ref{$key}} \n"; $mech->field( stateUSAId => $key ); foreach (@{$arr_ref{$key}}) { $mech->field(institutionUSAId=>$_); print $mech->content; } }
Tkx - bind - append binding
1 direct reply — Read more / Contribute
by kcott
on Jun 23, 2017 at 16:23

    I'm currently working on a module which uses Tkx. I came across something tricky involving appending bindings. It took a while to work out and, in the process, I ran a lot of tests: the results were quite surprising. I've posted this here in case anyone else finds themselves in a similar position: hopefully, it might save them some time and effort.

    Tkx is a thin wrapper around Tcl. Its documentation is minimal: it just links to the Tcl documentation and leaves you to work out how to use it. In this instance, I was looking at the bind command documentation for information on appending a binding. I've linked to all of it, here's the relevant parts for this specific post:

    NAME

    bind — Arrange for X events to invoke Tcl scripts

    SYNOPSIS

    bind tag ?sequence? ?+??script?

    INTRODUCTION

    ... If script is prefixed with a "+", then it is appended to any existing binding for sequence; ...

    That's all it says about appending bindings. I investigated this; ran some tests; and was somewhat surprised at the outcome. The module I'm currently working on now contains this documentation:

    Appending Bindings

    When appending bindings, using the ?+??script? format, the plus (+) isn't a separate argument. Any of the following syntax variations are valid (subname works for normal named subroutines as well as lexical subroutines).

    See Update below.

    '+' . sub { ... } '+' . \&subname '+' . [\&subname] '+' . [\&subname, @args] ['+' . \&subname] ['+' . \&subname, @args] '+' . $coderef '+' . [$coderef] '+' . [$coderef, @args] ['+' . $coderef] ['+' . $coderef, @args]

    The surprising part was all the different ways of concatenating a string ('+') with an anonymous coderef, a named coderef, and an anonymous arrayref, without the code blowing up in my face.

    This may also be useful to those using related modules, like Tcl::Tk and Tcl::pTk; although, I could be completely wrong on that (I have little knowledge of these beyond knowing of their existence).

    Update: Despite successfully running two dozen or so tests on all those syntax formats, none of them appear to be actually functional. My apologies to anyone who's been trying to get them to work.

    I've spent a bit of time looking into this. I can append one binding using either

    ... '+' . Tkx::i::interp->create_tcl_sub( CODEREF ) ...

    or

    my $interp = Tkx::i::interp(); ... '+' . $interp->create_tcl_sub( CODEREF ) ...

    And that works for CODEREF as any of these three:

    sub { ... } \&subname $coderef

    However, whenever I attempt to append a second (or third) binding, none of the appended bindings work; although, the original binding works as expected. The only feedback I get looks like the following (there's no line numbers or other useful information):

    Error: invalid command name "::perl::CODE(0x7ffef5dd34d8)"

    So again, my apologies to anyone who rushed off to try what I originally posted. I will spend some more time on this: I'll let you know if that proves fruitful.

    — Ken

Spaces vs Tabs
9 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by Tanktalus
on Jun 16, 2017 at 10:14

    Do you use spaces or tabs in your code for indentation?

    Apparently, StackOverflow says you get paid better for spaces than tabs!

    (I'm not sure whether to take this seriously or not, or, if serious, how much salt to consume simultaneously...)

    Me, I just let my editor do my indenting for me, and it produces spaces, so I'm good. :)

Patience is a Monk Virtue
10 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by marinersk
on Jun 14, 2017 at 05:13

    In reviewing recently reaped nodes, I see a disturbing trend.

    I know many of you detest one particular Monk's posts, so badly that you'll downvote them just because it was he who posted them. And at least one of you has already indicated that you'll always vote Reap on anything of his that gets Considered.

    I would encourage my fellow Monks to re-read How do I use the power of consideration responsibly?; it is still considered Required Reading in Nodes to consider. Notably, disagreeing with content or style is not supposed to be a reason to Consider.

    The war against one Monk's perceived incompetence seemed childish when it amounted merely to downvotes and snide comments. Now we're moving solidly into cyberbullying and censorship.

    I find this terribly inconsistent with the spirit of the Monastery.

    Surely we are better than this...

red thread
No replies — Read more | Post response
by Discipulus
on Jun 13, 2017 at 02:57
    
    Wir hören von einer besondern Einrichtung bei der englischen Marine. Sämtliche Tauwerke der königlichen Flotte, vom stärksten bis zum schwächsten, sind dergestalt gesponnen, daß ein roter Faden durch das Ganze durchgeht, den man nicht herauswinden kann, ohne alles aufzulösen, und woran auch die kleinsten Stücke kenntlich sind, daß sie der Krone gehören.
    Ebenso zieht sich durch Ottiliens Tagebuch ein Faden der Neigung und Anhänglichkeit, der alles verbindet und das Ganze bezeichnet.
    ----
    There is, we are told, a curious contrivance in the service of the English marine.
    The ropes in use in the royal navy, from the largest to the smallest, are so twisted that a red thread runs through them from end to end, which cannot be extracted without undoing the whole; and by which the smallest pieces may be recognized as belonging to the crown.
    Similarly a thread of attachment and affection is woven into Ottilie’s diary which connects it all together, and characterizes the whole

    Goethe, Elective Affinities, part two, chapter two

    Dedicated to my 15th anniversary at perlmonks (Happy Monkday!!1! You've been here 15 distressing years. Has it really been that long?), but also to monks who forgot to celebrate their anniversary here; to all my firends at the monastery old and new ones!

    Indeed 5 years (one lustro in eatalien, a word with no translation) are passed since Ten (years) Here. The fact you dont know is that i have spent 1/3 of my life lurking here; no regrets!

    Sincerely perlmonks is still my only online community, as Perl is my only programing language: machines are invading our lives: Perl let me to exercitate my will against them. I know i loose a lot knowing only Perl and not many other interesting technologies, but I have also some real life to attend..

    Can you guess what Perl level i reached after 15 years? I just completed the basics! It is true that ten years are the minimum to achieve a good degree at something. I needed even more because of my classical education and my partime employement (or maybe I'm a bit dumb as my TERM %ENV var.. ).

    Infact I have a lot more to learn and to practice: module creation and testing being on top of the list. Not because I have something important to share in CPAN, but principally because abstracting behaviours to modules is the only easy way I found to test. And good tests are the headcorner stone of any solid building. Web developping with modern Perl tecniques follow very near in the list. Parallel programming and hardware interaction follow as well.

    Perl help me a lot during my daily tasks. I'm a lazy (in a Perl sense..) sysadmin forced by the market to have $^O matching 2 ** 5 most of the times; I use Perl as soon as I can, many times in the darkness of my desktop, just showing results. I activate, fix, automate, report, communicate, summarize, show, backup, retrieve.. using Perl, peppering with some fun a (permit me to say) boring job.

    Utterly astonished by the knoweledge and altruism of many monks here at the monastery I find everyday something interesting to learn or to bookmark in my cell for further investigation. Some good old monk is returned after years to perlmonks, for my joy, and some new, very skilled ones have joined recently. I've learn what to pick and what to discard and every progress I made in my Perl skill is due to this community.

    Let me say that, as five years ago, I still own and ride my wonderful Kawasaki GPZ motorcycles, I still have the same wife (even if motorcycles are easier to handle). I plan to repaint both when I have some money to spend (motorcycles not wife!).

    Using Perl to solve my dilemmas and to expand my action field let me feel the same thrill for the challenge as fifteen years ago. I have some math fascination (having no math background at all) for Tartaglia's (well Pascal's) triangle and for numeric series and some interest in photo manipulation with surprising (to me!) good results: I put them on github and I'll put some other decent old project and new things in the future.

    Serving here at the monastery, helping when I can (and when powerful monks are distracted) is a pleasure and a privilege. Again everything I know in Perl, every progress I made is a gift from perlmonks and the Perl community in general. CPAN is a big sea full of treasures and syrens (even dangers for the unwares) and is worth the navigation: I see there many different way to approach problems, wrong and unmaintained attempts, state of the art by genial ones.

    15th anniversary! I'm still a teenager in Perl programming. As every teenager I have dreams and some destructive luddite will as well: oneliners and evil evals comes from this part of my brains. But sometimes I gave some very wise answer as well. It happens.

    At nigth sometimes I find myself lurking into longtime abandoned cells of monks of the past: you can find there funny nodes and precious insights. Byfar better than watching tv! Surprisingly most of such content is still modern and valuable even after many release of Perl. I suspect I started with 5.6 or 5.8 and I'm still alive during 5.26 days. Looking backward and forward too: (?<=pm) and (?=pm)

    Time is money and this post is already too long, so just some final words:

    Perl and Perlmonks forever!

    Many thanks to perlmonks community for this fun and profiting time and take, as souvenir of the party, a little toy by my part!

    L*

    There are no rules, there are no thumbs..
    Reinvent the wheel, then learn The Wheel; may be one day you reinvent one of THE WHEELS.
Conflict in Teams
2 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by eyepopslikeamosquito
on Jun 12, 2017 at 09:29

    Following on from Working Solo and in a Team, this meditation focuses on conflict in teams.

    Vulnerability and Trust

    I'm a genius and always the smartest person in the room. I also am the greatest expert on every topic ever as soon as I've thought about it for at least five seconds, none of my subordinates could possible know more about anything than me so I should always be micromanaging them and telling them exactly what to do in every situation, and if you think what I said blatantly makes no sense that's just because you are so simple compared to my vast intellect. Well, if we failed in our goals it's obviously the fault of all my various subordinates and not me, because after all, I'm awesome!

    -- perldigious describes a dysfunctional manager he once worked for

    Vulnerability and trust are crucial to good teamwork. Everyone in the team needs to be vulnerable. Everyone. To freely admit: "I don't know the answer", "I need help", "I stuffed up, sorry". Sadly, just one team member with a toxic attitude, like perldigious's dysfunctional manager above, destroys teamwork.

    Reinforcing points made in Psychological Safety, Patrick Lencioni, in a talk on Team Dysfunctions, gives some real-world examples of teams becoming dysfunctional when just one team member could not be vulnerable. And it's worst of all when that one non-vulnerable team member happens to be the team leader.

    How to get everyone in the team to be vulnerable and acknowledge their weaknesses? According to Patrick, there is only one way: The leader must go first!

    Why is vulnerability and trust so important?

    Conflict

    Without trust, conflict is politics. With trust, conflict is the pursuit of truth.

    -- Patrick Lencioni in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

    Conflict is normal. Conflict is expected. Part of the human condition. Handling conflict effectively is the primary reason why trust is so important in teams. Without trust, conflict tends to become personal or political; with trust, conflict is the pursuit of truth, finding the best solution.

    It's vital for the team to not hold back, to disagree passionately when required. To be honest to each other. And respectful. Is arguing a "waste of time"? No! No argument means no commitment! Of course, the arguments must be focused on finding the best solution, never personal or political.

    Disagree and Commit

    Intel has a saying: Disagree and Commit. Curiously, without disagreement it's difficult to get commitment and cohesion. In general, when people have a chance to express their point of view and have its pros and cons heard and appreciated, they are more likely to accept and support a differing approach.

    In contrast, conflict that persists after the group has made a well-examined decision is often harmful. At a certain point in a project, the potential benefit of changing approaches is less than the disruption caused by changing direction. At that stage, commitment is required. Early disagreement is welcome, but then the team must unite behind a shared goal.

    -- Disagree and Commit: The Risk of Conflict to Teams

    Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit. Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.

    -- Amazon 13th Principle

    Though Intel and Amazon share the same "Disagree and Commit" slogan, they appear to have a different emphasis. Intel emphasize teamwork and cohesion (when people have a chance to express their point of view and have its pros and cons heard and appreciated, they are more likely to accept and support a differing approach) while Amazon focus on faster decision making ("I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?") and innovation (for more innovation, you need disagreement, not consensus).

    Accountability

    Peer-to-peer accountability is the best kind of accountability. When people don't commit, they don't hold each other accountable. Leaders must be willing to hold people accountable, not just on quantitative issues (KPIs), but behavioral ones too.

    References

Is what you want available?
6 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by Lady_Aleena
on Jun 08, 2017 at 18:07

    As some of you may know, I am trying to become a better Perl writer. Part of it is finding where I wrote something that can be done better by someone else and using the better way.

    One time I needed to do a numeric comparison of months written as text. So I wrote a module to get the month numbers needed. After I wrote it, I found to my dismay, I had not needed to write it. Date::Calc had a subroutine called Decode_Month that was much better than what I wrote. I am so embarrassed I did not think to look in Date::Calc first before I wrote my silly little module. Date::Calc is far better at date manipulation than anything I could write. So, I dropped the use of my module for Date::Calc. It was a learning experience I took forward to the rest of my code.

    Another part of becoming better is rewriting and renaming the modules I have written. To find names for my modules, I have been crawling CPAN to find what name spaces already exist.

    I was looking for a new name for my Util::Number module. I crawled CPAN and found "Number" is a top name space. Then I found Number::Format. I sighed thinking my little Util::Number's days were numbered. Number::Format has a subroutine called round and so did Util::Number. Both do the same thing. Number::Format has a subroutine called format_number that puts commas in numbers and rounds numbers together, just like commify and my pretty_number. I thought commify and pretty_number were not going to be able to match format_number's power.

    So, I installed Number::Format and was going to discontinue using my Util::Number. Why? Using Number::Format in code that I need help with, you can install it from CPAN without any trouble. Using Util::Number in code that I need help with, you would have to guess at what it does unless I also put Util::Number in the node with my problem code.

    So, I was changing over my code from pretty_number to format_number and making sure it returned what I wanted. Then I got a big surprise. format_number has limitations commify and pretty_number do not have. format_number can not put commas into very big numbers. It outputs an error about the big number and suggests using Math::BigFloat.

    format_number

    perl -e 'use Number::Format qw(format_number); print format_number(123 +45678987654321)."\n";'

    returns...

    round() overflow. Try smaller precision or use Math::BigFloat at -e li +ne 1.

    commify

    perl -e 'use Util::Number qw(commify); print commify(12345678987654321 +)."\n";'

    returns...

    12,345,678,987,654,321

    In the change over from commify and pretty_number to format_number, I got another surprise. format_number does not do ordinal numbers either. I fed it an ordianal number in Happy unbirthday redux! and other birthday stuff, and it returned the following error.

    Argument "16725th" isn't numeric in numeric comparison (<=>) at /home/ +me/perl5/lib/perl5/Number/Format.pm line 599.

    So, I went back to commify in my code and got...

    Happy 16,725th unbirthday, Aleena! You have 32 days until your next bi +rthday on July 10, 2017.

    This was all so surprising to me. Here I was ready to use a module readily available on CPAN instead of my own silly little module, but the CPAN module could not do what mine does. I was thinking "But it's is so much better than mine. It's got all those bells and whistles. And it's on CPAN!"

    This is not a rant against Number::Format. It is on CPAN and is better written than my little Util::Number. I will use Number::Format in code when I need help. Number::Format also has options I do not currently have, so I will be using it whenever one of those options is needed. Util::Number may become a fallback module when Number::Format will not work for what I am doing currently. Util::Number will not be going to CPAN since I did not write commify or round, I just put them together in pretty_number.

    Util::Number

    I am trying to make my modules more useful with better names and code. I am also trying to get better by using what is already available. However, sometimes, what is available is a little less than what is wanted. That does not mean I will stop searching.

    Afterward...

    I cracked opened my now disused month module just to look at it. Then I saw the hash of arrays. What do I do with hashes of arrays of similar data? I randomize it of course. So my Util::MonthNumber is now Random::Month... 8)

    Random::Month

    No matter how hysterical I get, my problems are not time sensitive. So, relax, have a cookie, and a very nice day!
    Lady Aleena
Perl Shields/Badges
3 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by choroba
on Jun 08, 2017 at 08:43
    I've used the Kwalitee and CPAN shields/badges in some of my GitHub/CPAN repositories for years. Recently, though, it seems the badges stopped working—for example, see Syntax::Construct: kwalitee doesn't display at all (but I can view the image directly), the CPAN badge shows the current version as ?.?.?.

    My speculation is it's caused by some changes to CPAN and its infrastructure at the Perl Toolchain Summit this May.

    Does anyone have any idea whom to ask?

    See Re: VERSION section in POD for a previous mention of the shields in the Monastery.

    ($q=q:Sq=~/;[c](.)(.)/;chr(-||-|5+lengthSq)`"S|oS2"`map{chr |+ord }map{substrSq`S_+|`|}3E|-|`7**2-3:)=~y+S|`+$1,++print+eval$q,q,a,
OT: Stupid User Interfaces
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by afoken
on May 30, 2017 at 19:29

    Just a little rant ...

    I came home quite late, after a long day. Some excavator or a poor guy with a spade has cut a major power line. The power network company has fixed that, at least provisionally, so power was already back when I came home. What could be wrong?

    The microwave oven happily told me it was 7:15 am. Oh well. Press the clock button. Oops, that was the timer, better press the other button with a very similar clock symbol. "12h" on the display. No, I'm in Europe, I want 24 h. Turn the wheel button. Wrong. Now I'm adjusting hours in the 12 h system. Press the clock button a few more times, jumping past minutes, back to "12h", then to "24h", then again minutes. Oops. Well, give the clock button a few more cycles. "24h". Yes! Now, rotate the wheel button. "1:", "2:", "3:", ..., "11:". Ok, turn it in reverse: "10:", "9:", ... "23:". OK. Push the wheel button. "BEEEP! Stupid user!". Oops. Push the clock button again. I wonder how many push cycles are left. Adjust the minutes. ":00", ":01", ... ":23". Push the wheel - no "BEEEP!" - ok, I'm tired. Press the clock button once more. Done.

    Home office ISDN system phone: It displays its name and its firmware version. WTF? Maybe power did not come back cleanly? Unplug the combined ISDN and power jack, and fiddle it back in. Nope, does not help. Load the configuration program, adjust a minor setting, write back the configuration, to clean up NVRAM / EEPROM. Also does not help. Maybe the PBX lost its clock? Sure it did. It has no RTC, or at least no battery backup. But thanks to ISDN, it will adjust its clock when I call some external number and establish a connection with someone else. So I called a free hotline, and waited for their answering system. Yepp, it talks to me. Hung up. The PBX should now have adjusted its clock. But wait: The stupid phone still shows name and version, not date and time. Well, let's flash the firmware. It's just a few more mouse clicks. "Firmware is already at 2.3e. Do you still want to update the firmware?" Sure. About a minute later, the phone goes through a little disco mode, slowly flashing almost all LEDs, then comes back with name and version, and is still stuck there. Grrrrrrr! Where is my password for the support forum? It must be something simple. RTFM before posting nonsense. Yeah, right: That stupid phone refuses to switch to date and time until it has fetched the current date and time from the PBX. And the PBX does not have current date and time, despide having made a successful external call. Did some internal calls from and to the office phone. No help. So, dig through the three manuals of the PBX, and yes, there is a way to adjust the PBX's clock manually. Just dial a magic 20+ digit code, put in date and time at the right positions, and it will adjust its clock. So, let's start. Error at the fifth digit or so, PBX beeps "STUPID USER" and refuses any more configuration until I hang up. But hey, I've a smart office phone, I'll enter the magic code before picking up the handset, as I can correct errors there. Well, nice idea, but the phone dials dumb, whereas the PBX expects some delays in the code. Again, it beeps "STUPID USER" and expects me to hang up. And lo and behold, somehow the phone has managed to get date and time from the uncooperative PBX and shows date and time instead of name and version, as if nothing has happened. Why doesn't that *$%§%! phone simply display "Date and time not set in PBX"? And why doesn't that PBX contain a sub-1$ RTC chip and a similarily cheap CR2032?

    Answering machine. No. Not today. It has a display. It blinks "St" = Stellen (adjust time). It has << (rewind) and >> (forward) buttons, and it has + and - buttons. And a set button. + and - do not work for adjusting time, you have to use << and >>. OK, but that stupid machine insists on speaking every single number. "Adjusting time. [Silence] 1 hour. [Silence] 2 hours. [Silence] 3 hours." It's 23:45 or so. Holding down the buttons changes the increment from 1 to 5 after some ages. After some more ages, about at sunrise, I would be finished. No, it will have to wait.

    Other mains-powered clocks have adjusted fine, thanks to DCF77. The clocks in my sat receivers have automatically adjusted to the time broadcasted via satellite. No problem.

    Computers, including firewall? All fine. A nice reboot mail from the server, all subsystems happy, VMs have stopped. Push a few start buttons, and they all come back. No problems. Perhaps I should automate the VM startup, too. But then again, the uptime of the server is usually in the range of 100 to 300 days, interrupted only by hardware upgrades or men with spades. I don't really have to automate, but I could. Maybe someday. RTCs on PC systems have a battery backup. I think the firewall does not, but like all my systems, it adjusts via NTP thanks to pool.ntp.org.


    It seems that today is the official bad user interface day:

    At work, a client wants another prompt for the user interface of the product we've developed. Currently, to switch from simple mode to advanced mode, you have to press the "settings" button, then either enter a code or at least confirm that you are qualified for advanced mode, and then you have to press yet another button to stay in advanced mode. Now, when you press the "settings" button, you first shall have to confirm that you really wanted to press the "settings" button. Aaaaaah!

    OK, to be fair, at the same time, the last button press to stay in advance mode should no longer be required. But still: How often should a user confirm a completely harmless switch from simple to advanced mode? Should the product prompt for social security number of the user and his manager and five fingerprints from each of the two before switching modes?

    And I won't write any more about Qt, QML and the state of its documentation, more than just PITA. Or perhaps just a few sentences more. When do people learn that documentation is the most important part of software? Code examples are good, they can avoid a lot of prose. But examples are stupid if they show only the documented detail, stripped from all required surroundings. How do I use a complex object that requires a lot of setup? Like this:

    simpleObject { id: "foo" magicStuff: complexObject { id: "bar" ... //<-- literally! All setup omitted from the exa +mple. } }

    And not a line more. All setup omitted, you are expected to guess what you may need to set up, and how. You have to dig through the inheritance, and hope for some clues in an unrelated part of the documentation. Or you have to search for the source code. Trace the source code. Find out what hapens in the complex object, and what it expects to have been set up. "If it was easy to use our code, you wouldn't get paid so much!"

    Documentation is the user interface to 3rd party code, and in case of Qt/QML, it sucks. Yes, there is worse documentation. But I spend half a day digging through heaps of this crap and did not get one step further.

    Alexander

    --
    Today I will gladly share my knowledge and experience, for there are no sweeter words than "I told you so". ;-)
Code plagiarism and clueless newbs
3 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by 1nickt
on May 30, 2017 at 08:38

    I imagine many of us have been irritated by the increase in lame questions from Clueless Newbs attempting to get their homework done for free. Well, according to the New York Times, there's a plagiarism plague:

    College students have flooded into computer science courses across the country, recognizing them as an entree to coveted jobs at companies like Facebook and Google, not to mention the big prize: a start-up worth millions.

    The exploding interest in these courses, though, has coincided with an undesirable side effect: a spate of high-tech collegiate plagiarism. Students have been caught borrowing computer code from their friends or cribbing it from the internet.

    ( See "As Computer Coding Classes Swell, So Does Plagiarism", NYT 2017-05-29 )

    So the next time you are about to jump in and answer a Clueless Newb's question because it will show off your skillz, consider choosing the admittedly less satisfying option and point them instead to beginners' doc. You will be better serving not only the questioner, but also Truth and Justice.


    The way forward always starts with a minimal test.

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