[Pdx-pm] Why go to meetings? was Re: April Meeting

Keith Lofstrom keithl at kl-ic.com
Sun Mar 26 13:05:02 PST 2006

On Sat, Mar 25, 2006 at 06:43:17PM -0800, Eric Wilhelm wrote:
> If the answer is "more than 20", what would it take to get you to 
> freegeek on a regular basis?

I have a pretty full schedule, but I could make time for some Perl
best practices discussions for newbies.  Teach us to have "Perl
mind."  Here's some things I would like to see:

1) Take apart a small piece of well written code, and explain
why it is well written, and point out where mistakes were avoided.
Small examples that do big things, that can be covered thoroughly.
Emphasis on "correct output, permissive input" rather than speed
or size optimization.

2) Repair a small piece of not-so-well written code; this will be
harder, because replacement may be easier than repair, but not so
illuminating.  It will be hard to find suitable examples.

3) Code clinic.  Folks bring in small bits of repairable code,
and subject their code, their thought processes, and their 
personal self-esteem to scrutiny.

4) Explain the architecture of a large piece of well written
code, and why things are divided up the way they are.  Not much
line-by-line stuff.

5) Design techniques for usability - what makes a Perl program more
usable to a non-technical user?  What modules and evaluation aids 
assist in this process?  Pick one or two out of the hundreds 
available that provide the most improvement with a small amount of

6) Objects.  I love Randal's intermediate book, but object methods
remain a follow-the-cookbook abstraction for me.  Teach me to love
objects, too.

More topics along those lines.  The point of any of these exercises
isn't to tell all about any given topic, it is to present a few
simple points in such a crystal clear manner that they stick forever. 
That is harder, because if the presenter has been living and breathing
some topic for months or years, it is hard to extract the essence,
simplify it, and forgo talking about all the nifty (but complicated)
aspects that are fascinating to the experienced programmer.

Thought about in a different way, if you were to have brain surgery
tomorrow, and they were to remove 95% of your Perl knowledge, what
would you preserve, to rebuild upon afterwards?

With a solid core understanding of the "feeling of doing Perl
correctly", all the complicated stuff can be hung on later and
it will tend to align properly.  "Perl Chiropractic" as it were.


Keith Lofstrom          keithl at keithl.com         Voice (503)-520-1993
KLIC --- Keith Lofstrom Integrated Circuits --- "Your Ideas in Silicon"
Design Contracting in Bipolar and CMOS - Analog, Digital, and Scan ICs

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