[Thamesvalley-pm] calling all Perl newbies!

Greg Matthews gmatt at nerc.ac.uk
Tue Aug 21 06:32:41 PDT 2007

Adam Trickett wrote:
> Calling all Perl newbies!
> What do you want from the PM?
> How can we help you?

I subscribed because I have occasion to use perl for scripting as part 
of my job. Unfortunately, that isnt very often so I've never become 
completely comfortable just sitting down in front of a #!/usr/bin/perl 
and getting on with it.

Most of what I do with perl is fix other (much older) scripts, written 
in the dim-and-distant past by some unknown employee, as bit-rot renders 
them less useful. More occasionally, I write my own stuff such as log 
scrapers or tweak projects such as logwatch. Time pressures mean I've 
never built up a solid expertise in perl so I need a forum where I can 
ask dumb questions when the camel and the cookbook let me down.

I have a couple of projects that I turn to when I get a moment but 
haven't made much progress recently:
1. update our password changing script. This was originally written by 
an ex-employee, updated a few years ago by me to reflect a change from 
NIS to LDAP. It now needs a more fundamental rewrite to make it much 
more robust.
2. We have a mailbox that users can send wrongly tagged spam mail to. 
i.e. false positives. Users are asked to send these false positives as 
an attachment in an attempt to keep all the header information intact. 
At the moment I use mutt to read this mailbox and extract all the 
correctly attached false postives to a mbox folder which I can then 
eaily feed through spamassassin to train the Bayes database. The process 
is scripted apart from the sorting the cruft from the genuine using my 
own eyeballs and mutt. I did make an attempt to write something that 
could recognise the correct attachments but it turned out to be much 
harder then I expected. Translating what seems obvious to me while using 
mutt into a robust, scripted algorithm proved too difficult.

project 1 is much simpler and could probably be done in a week. Project 
2 has proved beyond my skills. In my case perl is purely for work so I 
am unable to devote a lot of time to the list. That said, perhaps 
listers would like to share examples of code that they are particularly 
proud of (and presumably be prepared to get shot down in flames!)



If anyone was wondering, I havent had a chance to look at that 
virus-check script yet (post: 14/08) and try out some of the proposed 

Greg Matthews           01491 692445
Head of UNIX/Linux, iTSS Wallingford

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