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User Meditations
Antiquitates - liber I - In memoriam Robert M. Pirsig
5 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by Discipulus
on Nov 15, 2017 at 04:16

    Antiquitates - liber I - In memoriam Robert M. Pirsig


    This mediation is meant as the first of a short serie about antiquitates: good ancient things, knowledge. The central point of this is to focus on figures and ideas, or better pictures and schemas, that we have in our heads. This Pantheon is something we never speak about but is central in our approach to problems.

    Infact while in our past (i'm speaking of the western colture) this pantheon were very homogeneous (geographically speaking but also between distinct social classes) in the current, global and postmodern world is something very variegated and fragmented and almost each one has a pantheon on his own.

    Another point of this serie will be the importance of ancient wisdom. I totally disagree with the concept of human progress. I'm not speaking, obviously, of material conditions, but I believe the deepness reacheable by human thoughts has not improved over centuries. Only elements we play with have changed. Our fathers already discussed many still actual questions, useful also for us as programmers. I start here with an example in the near past, just to be kind with you, but other meditations will go far backward in time.

    In an era while the organisation of production is even more constrained into fixed binaries, where new methodologies are put in the field to force us to act in a precomputed manner, where technologies too reorganize themselves to be impersonal, becomes even more important to focus on which immaterial bricks are worth to be collected to build the unique construction of our creativity as programmers.

    Pirsig's Chautauquas

    Pirsig's recent death pushed me to ponder again about the importance of his discourse for my life and for my Perl programming activity. Pirsig is the author of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance that I read many lives ago but which never disappeared from the background of my mind. Two central concepts still remain from his book as two rocks after thousand years of erosion.


    The first one is quality. Quality, if memory deserves, was what caused the protagonist's brain short circuit as filosophy professor. The research of quality and implicitly his definition, is something central in our lives. Ok but what this can be related to Perl and to programing? Is not maintainability just an aspect of quality? Readability over a clever jumble of hacks is not just another face of this concept? And why we prefer, well we love, Perl if not for a matter of overall quality? Quality of the programmer's activity while coding, not constrained by the interpreter's laws to double sign with blood the laguage way to code. Quality of the produced code in all it's phases: imagination, drawing, realizing, improving, testing and maintaining.

    Quality is everyday something less. As the programmer hired after he told the interviewer he was able to cut ten lines of code each day. Quality is polishing the diamond.

    But quality cannot be teach. We, well you, can show some incarnation of it. You can cast some light from your own quality and draw a beautiful picture on the white wall of ignorance. You cannot show directly the source of these rays, just the projection. Why? because quality is not a place but a path, a neverending one. Is a driving tension.

    Underlying form

    The second concept is underlying form. This is crucial concept for the programmer. We solve problems. Solutions must be aware of underlying forms. Problems are occurences of the reality in the platonic world of ideas and forms and even if such abstract world does not exists, it heavily concurs in our understanding and approaching of problems.

    Without the perception of something in the background our solution can just be a mere workaround or a color patch. A valid solution to a given, complex problem, can born only from the understanding of underlying forms.

    Here the discourse becomes even more actual. We are living in the end of the firts Internet generation. Most of us have born in a totally analogic world and will die, as late as possible, in a totally different world. What about the next generation? Who knows? An anecdote, inspired by real life, can show different aproaches to the same problem.

    Generational anecdote

    Tizio and Caio are both of the first internet generation. They share the usage of computer at home. Tizio, for fun, put an entry in the file HOSTS for the Caio's preffered website pointing to

    Some hours after Caio points his browser to the preferred website and he notices a connection error. He then issues a ping to the website name and sees it strangely resolves to localhost. He wonders a bit if the provider has blocked the website so he issues an nslookup to the website domain name and he is happy to see that nslookup returns a valid public IP address. He points the browser to this address and he sees his preferred website again. So he realizes the problem must be at level of local name resolution. He opens the HOSTS file and comment the incriminated entry, adding some bad words addressed to Tizio.

    Tizio make the same funny pun in a computer shared with Sempronio, a millennial second internet generation. Sempronio notices the error then tries some other websites and they are ok. Sempronio starts thinking that something is broken within the browser and he installs another browser but, with his big disappoint, the problem persists.
    So he opens the Bag Of All Answers website and searches for "preferred_website blocked" and he discovers a plethora of causes that can make a website to be blocked. He reads superficially a bunch of articles without invastigating why governments block websites. After three minutes he modifies the search: "preferred_website blocked solution" and he happily discovers that some software can circumvent the problem.
    So he installs a program named after the sligthly modified name of an ancient god, let say Marz. Sempronio does not know but this geeky program uses it's own nameservers and redistributes web requests over it's own network in a peer2peer way, Sempronio just complains it's a bit slow but finally the preferred website shows correctly again in the browser.
    So for him it is a happy end (not saying that an international agency intercepts all Marz's traffic and programtically breaks all computers using it, but this is whole another story..).

    With the above i dont mean all young people are stupid and all older ones are wise and spot everytime the rigth solution. I dont mean this at all. Just I want to highlight that if you know the underlying form of a web request probably you'll arrive to correct conclusions if experiencing some weird browsing behaviour.


    Quoting from Pirsig's book: Although motorcycle riding is romantic, motorcycle maintenance is purely classic. Author's work is full of examples of what he called classical and romantic types. I think such dichotomy is even too much stressed. I'm more in favor of the Humanistic Being, even as programmer. I dont want to be just another thooth in the gear not even knowing if I'm part of a clock or of a motorcycle. Knowing the big picture and to perceive underlying forms can make us better programmers.
    An old book by a philosofy professor is worth to read, probably even better to have in the books shelf than an aseptic manual of programing methodology.

    Roma 2770 AB URBE CONDITA / 8644 September 1993


    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.
A small Deity AI class system
4 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by holyghost
on Nov 05, 2017 at 09:49
    ### Copyright (C) The Holy Ghost 2017 ###This program is released under the GPL 3.0 and artistic license 2.0 +. package HollyGameAI::AIInterface; our @ISA = "Interface"; sub AIInterface { my $class = shift; $self = $class->SUPER::Interface(qw(@_)); ### e.g. qw(swim fly +) bless $self, $class; } ### Copyright (C) The Holy Ghost 2017 ###This program is released under the GPL 3.0 and artistic license 2.0 +. package HollyGameAI::Factory; our @ISA = "HollyGameAI::Interface"; sub Factory { my $class = shift; my $self = $class->SUPER::Interface(@_); ### include abstract method names return bless $self, $class; } ### Copyright (C) The Holy Ghost 2017 ###This program is released under the GPL 3.0 and artistic license 2.0 +. ### with thanks to gregorovius from perlmonks package HollyGameAI::Interface; use Carp; sub Interface { my $class = shift; my $self = {inheritors => (), abstract_methods => shift, ### e.g. qw(swim fl +y) }; bless $self, $class; } sub import { my $method = caller; push (@{ $self->{inheritors}}, $method); } sub INIT { my $bad = 0; for my $class ($self->{inheritors}) { for my $meth ($self->{abstract_methods}) { no strict 'refs'; unless (defined &{"${class}::$meth"}) { $bad = 1; warn "HolyGameAI : Class $class should + implement HolyGameAI Interface but does not define $meth.\n"; } } } croak "HollyGameAI : Source compilation aborted at interface b +inding time\n" if $bad; } ### Copyright (C) The Holy Ghost 2017 ###This program is released under the GPL 3.0 and artistic license 2.0 +. package HollyGameAI::MutualExclusiveAI; use lib "../HollyGameAI"; use Factory; sub MutualExclusiveAI { my $class = shift; my $self = { aiclass => HollyGameAI::Factory->Factory(@_) }; bless $self, $class; } ### Copyright (C) The Holy Ghost 2017 ###This program is released under the GPL 3.0 and artistic license 2.0 +. package HollyGameAI::MutualExclusiveDeityAI; our @ISA = "MutualExclusiveAI"; sub MutualExclusiveDeityAI { my $class = shift; my $self = $self->SUPER::MutualExclusiveAI(qw(cast donate swim + fly empower)); bless $self, $class; } ### Copyright (C) The Holy Ghost 2017 ###This program is released under the GPL 3.0 and artistic license 2.0 +. package HollyGameAI::RNG; ### Random Number God, dice class sub RNG { my $class = shift; my $self = { dx => 0 }; return bless $self, $class; } sub set { my ($self, $dxx) = @_; $self->{dx} = $dxx; } sub rollDX { my $self = shift; return rand($dx); } sub rollD1 { my $self = shift; return rand(1); } sub rollD3 { my $self = shift; return rand(3); } sub rollD6 { my $self = shift; return rand(6); } sub rollD10 { my $self = shift; return rand(10); } sub rollD20 { my $self = shift; return rand(20); } sub rollPreviousDX { my $self = shift; return rand($self->{dx}); } sub roll { my ($self, $dxx) = shift; $self->set($dxx); given ($self->{dx}) { when ($_ = 0) { return 0; } when ($_ == 1) { return rollD1; } when ($_ == 3) { return rollD3; } when ($_ == 6) { return rollD6; } when ($_ == 10) { return rollD10; } when ($_ == 20) { return rollD20; } } return 0; }
The Perl Paradox
3 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by reisinge
on Oct 29, 2017 at 07:20

    An interesting meditation by Tom Radcliffe of ActiveState.

    In general, they do what you want, unless you want consistency. -- perlfunc
[Perl 6]: Small discoveries VII, Flattening
2 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by holli
on Oct 28, 2017 at 19:16
    Perl 6 tries to flatten lists. This:
    my $a = [[["hello"]]]; #not a 3d array!, same as: ["hello"]
    is not what you might think it is, as single element lists get flattened. To get what you mean you must write
    my $a = [[["hello"],],]; #now it is!
    Note the trailing comma. See also 2015 The Year of The Great List Refactor.


    You can lead your users to water, but alas, you cannot drown them.
Code Structure Changes
6 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by Anonymous Monk
on Oct 27, 2017 at 15:17
    You are usually hired to change the code to achieve a change in functionality. You begin to think that if the code is written in a different way, this type of problem could easily be solved. Having short of time, you always try to change the code and commit it, but the idea that you have power to change the structure of code and you should do it, keeps bothering you. What you should do?
Variable-Width Lookbehind (hacked via recursion)
1 direct reply — Read more / Contribute
by haukex
on Oct 24, 2017 at 13:43

    Warning: Since this uses recursion it is horribly inefficient and may easily blow up on longer strings. If you think you need this for variable-width lookbehind, then first think about how you might solve this with other techniques like lookahead, which is variable-width out of the box, or simply with multiple regular expressions. /Warning The following is presented as a curiosity as the result of the discussion here - thank you LanX and QM for providing the inspiration :-)

    Zero-width Lookaround Assertions are incredibly useful, but unfortunately the lookbehind assertions (?<=pattern) and (?<!pattern) are restricted to fixed length lookbehinds, and sometimes you just really want to be able to say something like e.g. (?<=ab+.*)c. With the following technique, you can emulate these kinds of variable-width lookbehind assertions.

[Perl 6]: Small discoveries VI, die
2 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by holli
on Oct 19, 2017 at 18:41
    In Perl 6, die still prints an error to STDERR and exits (unless caught), however adding a newline to the end of the error message will produce a stack trace.

    The idiom for printing an error message and stopping the program in Perl 6 is:
    note "Error Message" and exit 42; # or some other number (except 0)


    You can lead your users to water, but alas, you cannot drown them.
[Perl 6]: Small discoveries V, True / False / FileNotFound
1 direct reply — Read more / Contribute
by holli
on Oct 19, 2017 at 13:54
    Omg, I love this. Did you ever have a clear, slick little function that needs to return a boolean, and you also want to communicate an error condition? You basically have the choice of returning two values, reversing the consuming condition (meaning an empty return value be considered true), or using a string reference as an argument to the function.

    Witness Perl 6:
    sub slick() { if do-stuff { return "SomeValue"; } else { return "Some error message" but False; } } if my $result = slick { process( $result ); } else { log-error( $result ); }


    You can lead your users to water, but alas, you cannot drown them.
Be prepared for CSV injections in spreadsheet
3 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by Tux
on Oct 18, 2017 at 07:34

    Read this article to get an idea of how dangerous it can be to blindly accept macro's in spreadsheets. Be it MS Excel or Google spreadsheets, they all suffer.

    You cannot blame CSV for it. CSV is just passive data.

    Once you load or open a CSV file into something dangerous as a spreadsheet program that allows formula's to be execcuted on open, all bets are off. Or are they?

    The upcoming Text::CSV_XS has added a new feature to optional take actions when a field contains a leading =, which to most spreadsheet programs indicates a formula.

    On both parsing and generating CSV, you will be able to specify what you want to do (where "formula" does not go beyond the fact that the field starts with a =):

    • Do nothing special (default behavior) and leave the text as-is
    • Die whenever a formula is seen
    • Croak when a formula is seen
    • Give a warning where a formula is seen
    • Replace all formulas with an empty string
    • Remove all formulas (replace with undef

    Code speaks loader than words ...

    I'm pretty pleased with the diagnostics

    $ cat formula.csv a,b,c 1,=2+3,4 6,,7,=8+9, $ perl -MCSV -e'$_ = dcsv (in => "formula.csv", bom => 1, formula => " +diag")' Field 2 (column: 'b') in record 1 contains formula '=2+3' Field 4 in record 2 contains formula '=8+9'

    Expect this to be available by next week.

    Enjoy, Have FUN! H.Merijn
Perl6 discoveries ó floating-point
2 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by Grimy
on Oct 18, 2017 at 06:59
    Anonymous Monk brought up a really interesting discovery here. Unfortunately, that thread got derailed, so Iím making a separate one, as suggested by Your Mother. One of the first things I found while testing is this really interesting tidbit:
    $ perl6 -e 'say 0.99999999999999999000001' 1.000000000000000073886090 $ perl6 -e 'say 0.99999999999999999000001 > 1' True
    But then I realized I was using an outdated Rakudo (2017.04). So I updated to 2017.09, and now those print 1 and False, respectively. Thereís still some interesting behavior in 2017.09, though:
    $ perl6 -e 'say 0.7777777777777777777770' 0.77777777777777785672697 $ perl6 -e 'say 0.7777777777777777777771' 0.777777777777777767909129
    Note that the second number printed is strictly smaller than the first one, even though the second source number is strictly larger than the first one, spelled in the same fashion and to the same number of significant digits! However, comparison and subtraction still return exact results:
    $ perl6 -e 'say 0.7777777777777777777771 > 0.7777777777777777777770' True $ perl6 -e 'say 0.7777777777777777777771 - 0.7777777777777777777770' 1e-22
    Okay, thatís probably because one is a Num and the other is a Rat, so letís convert everything to Num explicitly:
    $ perl6 -e 'say Num(0.7777777777777777777770)' + 0.777777777777778 $ perl6 -e 'say Num(0.7777777777777777777771)' 0.777777777777778 $ perl6 -e 'say Num(0.7777777777777777777770) > Num(0.7777777777777777 +777771)' True $ perl6 -e 'say Num(0.7777777777777777777770) - Num(0.7777777777777777 +777771)' 1.11022302462516e-16
    Huh. Now they print the same, but theyíre still different numbers when compared. Note that the sign of the difference got switched:
    $ perl6 -e 'my $a = 0.7777777777777777777770; my $b = 0.77777777777777 +77777771; say $a <=> $b; say Num($a) <=> Num($b)' + Less More
    Also interesting is that many Nums donít survive a round-trip to Str:
    $ perl6 -e 'my $a = Num(1/9); say $a == Num(Str($a))' False
    Can anyone point me to the Perl6 specs/docs/whatever that explain those behaviors?
Parsing HTML/XML with Regular Expressions
8 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by haukex
on Oct 16, 2017 at 07:48

    Your employer/interviewer/professor/teacher has given you a task with the following specification:

    Given an XHTML file, find all the <div> tags with the class attribute "data"1 and extract their id attribute as well as their text content, or an empty string if they have no content. The text content is to be stripped of all non-word characters (\W) and tags, text from nested tags is to be included in the output. There may be other divs, other tags, and other attributes present anywhere, but divs with the class data are guaranteed to have an id attribute and not be nested inside each other. The output of your script is to be a single comma-separated list of the form id=text, id=text, .... You are to write your code first, and then you will be given a test file, guaranteed to be valid and standards-conforming, for which the expected output of your program is "Zero=, One=Monday, Two=Tuesday, Three=Wednesday, Four=Thursday, Five=Friday, Six=Saturday, Seven=Sunday"2.

    Updates - Clarifications:
    1 The class attribute should be exactly the string data (that is, ignoring the special treatment given to CSS classes). Examples below updated accordingly.
    2 Your solution should be generic enough to support any arbitrary strings for the id and text content, and be easily modifiable to change the expected class attribute.

    Ok, you think, I know Perl is a powerful text processing language and regexes are great! And you write your code and it works well for the test cases you came up with. ... But did you think of everything? Here's the test file you end up getting:

    I encourage everyone to try and write a parser using your favorite module, be it:

    Honorable mentions: Grimy for a regex solution and RonW for a regex-based parser :-)

    I'll kick things off with Mojo::DOM (compacted somewhat, with potential for a lot more golfing or verboseness):

    Update 2017-10-18: Thank you very much to everyone who has replied and posted their solutions so far, keep em coming! :-)

Orbital starters
2 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by holyghost
on Oct 10, 2017 at 04:50
    I started out on some code for making molecular orbitals, here'sthe beginning for atomic oribtals :
    package orbital2::TimeD; sub new { my ($class,$d) = shift; my $td = $d; bless $self, $class; return $self; } package orbital2::TimeDelta; sub TimeDelta { my ($class) = shift; bless $self, $class; return $self; } sub Tick { my ($class) = shift; my ($seconds, $interval, $milliseconds) = shift; ### 2 args my $hope = undef; bless $self, $class; } sub TickCalculate { my ($self) = shift; return my $self->hope = $self->$seconds / $self->interval } package orbital2::TimeF; sub new { my ($class,$f) = shift; my $tf = $f; bless $self, $class; } package orbital2::TimeP; sub new { my ($class,$p) = shift; my $tp = $p; }
[Perl6] Small 6 discoveries V, Sigils
1 direct reply — Read more / Contribute
by holli
on Oct 08, 2017 at 19:02
    Some people like sigils. Some people don't. In Perl 6 you don't have to use them (as much).
    my $x = 1; say $x; my \y = 1; say y; my @x = 1, 2; say @x; my \y = @ = 1, 2; say y; # also works with signatures sub foo(\x) { say x }; foo(1);
    However you can't use sigilless attributes
    class ThisExplodes { has \.y; #doesnt work has \y; #neiter does this }
    You can use this for example to distinguish normal variables from ones in closures, or lexicals from function arguments or whatever. Or maybe you event want to get rid of all sigils where possible.

    The choice is yours.

    Sigilless variables do not create containers and are always immutable after initialization. They are therefore not a simple replacement with different visuals.

    Edit: Fixed typo as hinted by NetWallah


    You can lead your users to water, but alas, you cannot drown them.
[OT] Slashdot is 20
2 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by 1nickt
on Oct 05, 2017 at 14:45

    If you are of a certain age and have been developing for the web for long enough, you will recognize a lot of the details in CmdrTaco's meditation on the beginnings of Slashdot on its 20th birthday, from watching the output of tailing your Apache referrers log in amazement, to the Kai's Power Tools drop shadow on the logos. Good times! (Too bad he doesn't mention that the whole thing was built in Perl.)

    The way forward always starts with a minimal test.
[Perl6] Perl 6 discoveries IV, hash access
2 direct replies — Read more / Contribute
by holli
on Oct 04, 2017 at 19:41
    Perl 6 has different ways to access hash elements:
    use v6; my %hash = :a<A>, :b<B>; say %hash{'a'}; # says A say %hash<b>; # say B
    This however leads inevitably to
    #most likely not what you want, but prints an undefined warning say %hash<$somekey>;
    which is a hard to spot bug since these: <> do not interpolate. That did just cost me quite a while.

    Edit: Renamed as per advice


    You can lead your users to water, but alas, you cannot drown them.

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