There are NO stupid questions! We've all been there ;-) It takes time to become familiar with the different pieces that make up a Perl Database application.
Be aware that using '~*' and '~~*' pattern matching in your queries is most probably a PostgreSQL-specific thingy. Just my personal opinion here, but I try to stay away from database specific functions because if at some point in the future you change your database from Postgresql to Oracle (or whatever), you'll have to redo that code entirely.
I try to stick with "standard" SQL and try to stay away from database specific functions. In this specific instance, the "lower" function will provide a database-independent way of doing a case-insensitive query. IMHO "lower" is a much better solution since it is database-independent.
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