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Re (tilly) 1: Reviewing bad books.

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Jan 04, 2002 at 06:26 UTC ( #136188=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Reviewing bad books.

Schwern used to have a great checklist online called the Perl Book Litmus Test. While rather unscientific, it was an easily taught test which manages to catch a frightening fraction of bad books. Since the site he had it on is now dead, hopefully he won't object to my posting it here. Just open the index and answer the following questions:

  • localtime Does it state that it returns the number of years since 1900? Does it mention that when used in scalar context it returns a nicely formated date?
  • srand Check how it uses srand(). Does it warn you to call it only once in a given program? (If srand is never mentioned, that's okay)
  • Number of elements in an array Does it say that an array will return its number of elements in scalar context, or does it use $num = $#array + 1;
  • flock Does it discuss and use flock instead of lockfiles? (ie. setting some .lock file instead of using flock()) Its okay if file locking is never discussed at all.
Grab a Perl book and try it. Wasn't that easy? It is a useful test, but too easy. It is perfectly possible to pass this test but still suck. However most bad books will fail it.

For a more involved discussion on how to tell good from bad I would recommend reading Choosing a Perl Book by Simon Cozens.


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Re: Re (tilly) 1: Reviewing bad books.
by gmax (Abbot) on Jan 04, 2002 at 13:53 UTC
    I think this is very useful advice.
    It doesn't solve the problem of blindly buying from the net, for which I am entirely at the mercy of the reviewers, but it can make me more proficient at evaluating a book when I can lay my hands on it.
    Thanks.
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Re: Re (tilly) 1: Reviewing bad books.
by Corion (Pope) on Jan 04, 2002 at 17:26 UTC

    Schwern has some parts (but, alas, not all) of his website available via pobox.com/~schwern/, mostly a reference to his latest module, Ima::Moron. The Perl Book Litmus Test is discussed on use Perl;, here by koschei.

    perl -MHTTP::Daemon -MHTTP::Response -MLWP::Simple -e ' ; # The $d = new HTTP::Daemon and fork and getprint $d->url and exit;#spider ($c = $d->accept())->get_request(); $c->send_response( new #in the HTTP::Response(200,$_,$_,qq(Just another Perl hacker\n))); ' # web
The Triumphant Return Of The Perl Book Litmus Test
by schwern (Scribe) on Jan 14, 2003 at 00:18 UTC
    The Perl Book Litmus Test disappeared along with the rest of my original site when my old company, Arena Networks, went out of business and sold off its servers. But thanks to Gnat and The Internet Archive's Way Back Machine IT HAS RETURNED!
    --
    
    Michael G Schwern 	Just Another Stupid Consultant
    schwern@pobox.com	http://www.pobox.com/~schwern/
    

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