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  • Is there a name for a testing method where you compare a set of very different designs?

    - by DVK
    "A/B testing" is defined as "a method of marketing testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response rates". The point here, of course, is to know which small single-variable changes are more optimal, with the goal of finding the local optimum. However, one can also envision a somewhat related but different scenario for testing the response rate of major re-designs: take a baseline control design, take one or more completely different designs, and run test samples on those redesigns to compare response rates. As a practical but contrived example, imagine testing a set of designs for the same website, one being minimalist "googly" design, one being cluttered "Amazony" design, and one being an artsy "designy" design (e.g. maximum use of design elements unlike Google but minimal simultaneously presented information, like Google but unlike Amazon) Is there an official name for such testing? It's definitely not A/B testing, since the main component of it (finding local optimum by testing single-variable small changes that can be attributed to response shift) is not present. This is more about trying to compare a set of local optimums, and compare to see which one works better as a global optimum. It's not a multivriable, A/B/N or any other such testing since you don't really have specific variables that can be attributed, just different designs.

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  • What is best practice as far as using perl-isms (idiomatic expressions) in Perl?

    - by DVK
    A couple of years back I participated in writing the best practices/coding style for our (fairly large and often Perl-using) company. It was done by a committee of "senior" Perl developers. As anything done by consensus, it had parts which everyone disagreed with. Duh. The part that rubbed wrong the most was a strong recommendation to NOT use many Perlisms (loosely defined as code idioms not present in, say C++ or Java), such as "Avoid using '... unless X;' constructs". The main rationale posited for such rules as this one was that non-Perl developers would have much harder time with the Perl code base otherwise. The assumption here I guess is that Perl code jockeys are rarer breed overall - and among new hires to the company - than non-Perlers. I was wondering whether SO has any good arguments to support or reject this logic... it is mostly academic curiosity at this point as the company's Perl coding standard is ossified and will never be revised again as far as I'm aware. P.S. Just to be clear, the question is in the context I noted - the answer for an all-Perl smaller development shop is obviously a resounding "use Perl to its maximum capability".

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  • How can I beta test web Perl modules under Apache/mod_perl on production web server?

    - by DVK
    We have a setup where most code, before being promoted to full production, is deployed in BETA mode - meaning, it runs in full production environment (using production database - usually production data; and production web server). We call that stage BETA testing. One of the main requirements is that BETA code promotion to production must be a simple "cp" command from beta to production directory - no code/filename changes. For non-web Perl code, achieving seamless BETA test is quite doable (see details here): Perl programs live in a standard location under production root (/usr/code/scripts) with production perl modules living under the same root (/usr/code/lib/perl) The BETA code has 100% same code paths except under beta root (/usr/code/beta/) A special module manipulates @INC of any script based on whether the script was called from /usr/code/scripts or /usr/code/test/scripts, to include beta libraries for beta scripts. This setup works fine up till we need to beta test our web Perl code (the setup is EmbPerl and Apache/mod_perl). The hang-up is as follows: if both a production Perl module and BETA Perl module have the same name (e.g. /usr/code/lib/perl/MyLib1.pm and /usr/code/beta/lib/perl/MyLib1.pm), then mod_perl will only be able to load ONE of these modules into memory - and there's no way we are aware of for a particular web page to affect which version of the module is currently loaded due to concurrency issues. Leaving aside the obvious non-programming solution (get a bloody BETA web server) which for political/organizational reasons is not feasible, is there any way we can somehow hack around this problem in either Perl or mod_perl? I played around with various approaches to unloading Perl modules that %INC has listed, but the problem remains that another user might load a beta page at just the right (or rather wrong) moment and have the beta module loaded which will be used for my production page.

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  • How do I use beta test Perl modules from test Perl scripts?

    - by DVK
    If my Perl code has a production code location and "beta" code location (e.g. production Perl code us in /usr/code/scripts, BETA Perl code is in /usr/code/beta/scripts; production Perl libraries are in /usr/code/lib/perl and BETA versions of those libraries are in /usr/code/beta/lib/perl, is there an easy way for me to achieve such a setup? The exact requirements are: The code must be THE SAME in production and BETA location. To clarify, to promote any code (library or script) from BETA to production, the ONLY thing which needs to happen is literally issuing cp command from BETA to prod location - both the file name AND file contents must remain identical. BETA versions of scripts must call other BETA scripts and BETA libraries (if exist) or production libraries (if BETA libraries do not exist) The code paths must be the same between BETA and production with the exception of base directory (/usr/code/ vs /usr/code/beta/) I will present how we solved the problem as an answer to this question, but I'd like to know if there's a better way.

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  • How do I use beta Perl modules from beta Perl scripts?

    - by DVK
    If my Perl code has a production code location and "beta" code location (e.g. production Perl code us in /usr/code/scripts, BETA Perl code is in /usr/code/beta/scripts; production Perl libraries are in /usr/code/lib/perl and BETA versions of those libraries are in /usr/code/beta/lib/perl, is there an easy way for me to achieve such a setup? The exact requirements are: The code must be THE SAME in production and BETA location. To clarify, to promote any code (library or script) from BETA to production, the ONLY thing which needs to happen is literally issuing cp command from BETA to prod location - both the file name AND file contents must remain identical. BETA versions of scripts must call other BETA scripts and BETA libraries (if exist) or production libraries (if BETA libraries do not exist) The code paths must be the same between BETA and production with the exception of base directory (/usr/code/ vs /usr/code/beta/) I will present how we solved the problem as an answer to this question, but I'd like to know if there's a better way.

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  • Is this an acceptable UI design decision?

    - by DVK
    OK, while I'm on record as stating that StackExchange UI is pretty much one of the best websites and overall GUIs that I have ever seen as far as usability goes, there's one particular aspect of the trilogy that bugs me. For an example, head on to http://meta.stackoverflow.com . Look at the banner on top (the one that says "reminder -- it's April Fool's Day depending on your time zone!"). Personally, I feel that this is a "make the user do the figuring out work" anti-pattern (whatever it's officially called) - namely, instead of making your app smart enough to only present a certain mode of operations in the conditions when that mode is appropriate, you simply turn on the mode full on and put an explanation to the user of why the mode is on when it should not be (in this particular example, the mode is of course displaying the unicorn gravatars starting with 00:00 in the first timezone, despite the fact that some users still live in March 31st). The Great Recalc was also handled the same way - instead of proactively telling the user "your rep was changed from X to Y" the same nearly invisible banner was displayed on meta. So, the questions are: Is there such an official anti-pattern, and if so,m what the heck do i call it? Do you have any other well-known examples of such design anti-pattern? How would you fix either the SO example I made or you your own example? Is there a pattern of fixing or must it be a case-by-case solution?

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  • Schliemann's method of programming language learning

    - by DVK
    Background: 19th-century German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann was of course famous for his successful quest to find and excavate the city of Troy (an actual archeological site for the Troy of Homer's Iliad). However, he is just as famous for being an astonishing learner of languages - within the space of two years, he taught himself fluent Dutch, English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, and later went on to learn seven more, including both modern and ancient Greek. One of the methods he famously used was comparison of a known text, e.g. take a book in a language one is fluent in, take a good translation of a book in a language you wish to learn, and go over them in parallel. (various sources cited the book used by Schliemann to be the Bible, or, as the link above states, a novel). Now, for the actual question. Has anyone used (or heard of) an equivalent of Schliemann's method for learning a new programming language? E.g. instead of basing the leaning on references and tutorials, take a somewhat comprehensive set of programs known to have high-quality code in both languages implementing similar/identical algorithms and learn by comparing them? I'm curious about either personal experiences of applying such an approach, or references to something published, or existance of codebases which could be used for such an approach? What got me thinking about the idea was Project Euler and some code snippets I saw on SO, in C++, Perl and Lisp.

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  • Can aptitude for learning Programming paradigms be influenced by culture or native language's gramma

    - by DVK
    It is well known that different people have different aptitudes regarding various programming paradigms (e.g. some people have trouble learning non-procedural, especially functional languages. Some people have trouble understanding pointers - see Joel Spolsky's blog for musings on that. Some people have trouble grasping recursion). I was recently reading about a study that looked at how the grammar of someone's native language affected their speed of learning math. Can't find that article now but a quick googling found this reference. That led me to wondering whether someone's native culture or first language might affect their aptitude towards various programming paradigms. I'm more curious about positive influences - e.g. some trait that make it easier/faster for someone to learn a particular paradigm, for example native language grammar being very recursion-oriented. To be clear, I'm looking for how culture/language grammare may affect the difference between aptitude of the same person towards various paradigms as opposed to how it affects overall aptitude towards programming between different persons. Important: the only answers I'm interested in are either references to scientific studies, or personal observations from someone intimately familiar with a particular culture/language, including from their own experience. E.g. I'm not interested in your opinion of how Chinese being your first language affects anything unless you speak Chinese or worked with extremely large set of Chinese-native programmers extensively. I'm OK with your guesstimates not based on scientific studies, but please be sure to supply your reasoning about plausible causes of your observation. I'm not interested in culture-bashing (any such commends will be deleted or flagged for deletion). I'm also not particularly interested in culture-building - we all know Linus is from Finland and Tetris was written in Russia and Larry Wall is an American. Any culture/nation can produce a brilliant mind in any discipline. I'm interested in averages.

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  • Accessing Yahoo realtime stock quotes

    - by DVK
    There's a fairly easy way of retrieving 15-minute delayed quotes off of Yahoo! Finance web site ("quotes.csv" API). However, so far I was unable to find any info on how to access real-time quotes. The hang-ups with real-time quotes are: Only available to logged-in user No API Non-obvious how to scrape the info - I'm somewhat convinced they are placed on the page by some weird Ajax call. So I was wondering if anyone had managed to develop a publically available solution to retrieve real-time quotes for a stock from Yahoo! Finance. Notes: Implementation language/framework need is flexible but Perl or Excel is highly preferred. Assume that security is not an issue - I'm willing to supply yahoo userid and pasword, even in cleartext. I'm not 100% hung up on Yahoo - they are merely the only provider of free realtime stock quotes I'm familiar with. if the same thing can be done with Google Finance, I'd be just as happy. This is for a personal project, so scalability/fault tolerance/etc... are not important. I'm looking for a "do the whole retrieval" library ideally, but if I'm pointed to partial solutions (e.g. how to retrieve info from Yahoo's user-logged-in pages; how to scrape realtime quotes from Yahoo's page) I can fill in the blanks. I saw Finance::YahooQuote but it does not seem to allow you to supply log-in information and appears to use the lagging quotes.csv API Thanks!

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  • What are the reasons to use dos batch programs in Windows?

    - by DVK
    Question What would be a good (ideally, technical) reason to ever program some non-trivial task in dos batch language on a modern Windows system as opposed to downloading either PowerShell, or ActiveState Perl? To be more specific, I make the following two assumptions for the duration of this question: anyone technical enough to be able to write a medium-complexity batch script is technical enough to install either of the scripting interpreters. Neither of those two present enough of a learning curve for basic batch replacement tasks that said curve would outweigh the pain of doing any remotely-non-trivial task in batch. Notes "You need a batch program for autoexec.bat" is not a valid reason. Your autoexec.bat may consist of simply calling non-batch script. If you disagree with either of my 2 assumptions above, that's fine, and I may be wrong. But my question is specifically "assuming those 2 assumptions are correct, what would be the reason to still stick with batch?" If it makes it easier to suspend disbelief (in case you disagree with me), add in a 3rd assumption that the question is limited to people who already posess at least some modicum of PowerShell or Perl experience. To re-iterate - this is not meant to be a subjective question about how easy it is to learn PSh or ASPerl compared to doing advanced batch coding. That is a separate question that is too subjective to be bothered with in this post. Background: I used to do some fairly complicated batch programming back in the elder days, and remember batch as one of the worst possble programming languages I had encountered. The idea for this question came after seeing a bunch of batch questions on SO, and trying to grok the answer of one of them out of sheer curiosity and giving up in pain after a minute, exclaiming mentally "why would anyone go through this pain instead of doing that in 1 line of Perl?" :) My own plausible answer I assume there may be an an likely DOS-compatible system, which has DOS interpreter but has no compatible PowerShell or Perl... I'm not aware of one but not completely impossible.

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  • Looking for programs on audio tape/cassette containing programs for Sinclair Z80 PC?

    - by DVK
    OK, so back before ice age, I recall having a Sinclair ZX80 PC (with TV as a display, and a cassette tape player as storage device). Obviously, the programs on cassette tapes made a very distinct sound (er... noise) when playing the tape... I was wondering if someone still had those tapes? The reason (and the reason this Q is programming related) is that IIRC different languages made somewhat different pitched noises, but I would like to run the tape and listen myself to confirm if that was really the case...

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  • What is a Perl regex for finding the first non-consecutively-repeating character in a string.

    - by DVK
    Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to write a Perl regular expression that for a given string, will return the first occurence of a character that is not consecutively duplicated. In other words, both preceded AND succeeded by characters different from itself (or start/end of string respectively). Example: IN: aabbcdecc OUT: c Please note that "not consecutively duplicated" does not mean "anywhere in the string". NOTE: it must be a pure regex expression. E.g. the solution that obviously comes to mind (clone the string, delete all the duplicates, and print the first remaining character) does not count, although it solves the problem. The question is inspired by my somewhat off-topic answer to this: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2548606/perl-function-to-find-first-non-repeating-character-in-a-string

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  • Is there any performance comparison between Perl web frameworks?

    - by DVK
    I have seen mentions (which sounded like unsubstantiated opinions, and dated ones at that) that Embperl is the fastest Perl web framework. I was wondering if there's a consensus on the relative speed of the major stable Perl web frameworks, or ideally, some sort of fact-based performance comparisons between implementations of the same sample webapps, or individual functionalities (e.g. session handling or form data processing), etc...?

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  • Is "map" a loop?

    - by DVK
    While answering this question, I came to realize that I was not sure whether Perl's map can be considered a loop or not? On one hand, it quacks/walks like a loop (does O(n) work, can be easily re-written by an equivalent loop, and sort of fits the common definition = "a sequence of instructions that is continually repeated"). On the other hand, map is not usually listed among Perl's control structures, of which loops are a subset of. E.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perl_control_structures#Loops So, what i'm looking for is a formal reason to be convinced of one side vs. the other. So far, the former (it is a loop) sounds a lot more convincing to me, but I'm bothered by the fact that I never saw "map" mentioned in a list of Perl loops.

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  • Greenspun's 10th rule in Perl?

    - by DVK
    Greenspun's Tenth Rule of Programming is a common aphorism in computer programming and especially programming language circles. It states: Any sufficiently complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad hoc, informally-specified, bug-ridden, slow implementation of half of Common Lisp. The questions are, 1) Would you consider this to be true of Perl interpreter? Only objective arguments please (e.g. which features of Common Lisp are implemented within the interpreter) 2) Independently, does there exist a Lisp (or at least a n ad hoc, informally-specified, bug-ridden, slow implementation of half of Common Lisp) implemented entirely in Perl?

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  • Nested dereferencing arrows in Perl: to omit or not to omit?

    - by DVK
    In Perl, when you have a nested data structure, it is permissible to omit de-referencing arrows to 2d and more level of nesting. In other words, the following two syntaxes are identical: my $hash_ref = { 1 => [ 11, 12, 13 ], 3 => [31, 32] }; my $elem1 = $hash_ref->{1}->[1]; my $elem2 = $hash_ref->{1}[1]; # exactly the same as above Now, my question is, is there a good reason to choose one style over the other? It seems to be a popular bone of stylistic contention (Just on SO, I accidentally bumped into this and this in the space of 5 minutes). So far, none of the usual suspects says anything definitive: perldoc merely says "you are free to omit the pointer dereferencing arrow". Conway's "Perl Best Practices" says "whenever possible, dereference with arrows", but it appears to only apply to the context of dereferencing the main reference, not optional arrows on 2d level of nested data structures. "MAstering Perl for Bioinfirmatics" author James Tisdall doesn't give very solid preference either: "The sharp-witted reader may have noticed that we seem to be omitting arrow operators between array subscripts. (After all, these are anonymous arrays of anonymous arrays of anonymous arrays, etc., so shouldn't they be written [$array-[$i]-[$j]-[$k]?) Perl allows this; only the arrow operator between the variable name and the first array subscript is required. It make things easier on the eyes and helps avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. On the other hand, you may prefer to keep the dereferencing arrows in place, to make it clear you are dealing with references. Your choice." Personally, i'm on the side of "always put arrows in, since itg's more readable and obvious tiy're dealing with a reference".

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  • Freezing the header of composite report in PowerBuilder 6.5

    - by DVK
    Setup: Using PowerBuilder 6.5. I have a composite report (with a report header) which is created from two unrelated individual DataWindows. Question: In composite presentation style, how can I freeze (lock) composite report header along with the column headers in the top DataWindow? E.g. When you scroll down the composite report, both of the headers should remain visible. Thanks!

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  • How do I use test Perl modules from test Perl scripts?

    - by DVK
    If my Perl code has a production code location and "test" code location (e.g. production Perl code us in /usr/code/scripts, test Perl code is in /usr/code/test/scripts; production Perl libraries are in /usr/code/lib/perl and test versions of those libraries are in /usr/code/test/lib/perl, is there an easy way for me to achieve such a setup? The exact requirements are: The code must be THE SAME in production and test location. To clarify, to promote any code (library or script) from test to production, the ONLY thing which needs to happen is literally issuing cp command from test to prod location - both the file name AND file contents must remain identical. Test versions of scripts must call other test scripts and test libraries (if exist) or production libraries (if test libraries do not exist) The code paths must be the same between test and production with the exception of base directory (/usr/code/ vs /usr/code/test/) I will present how we solved the problem as an answer to this question, but I'd like to know if there's a better way.

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  • Looking for programs on audio tape/cassette containing programs for Sinclair ZX80 PC?

    - by DVK
    OK, so back before ice age, I recall having a Sinclair ZX80 PC (with TV as a display, and a cassette tape player as storage device). Obviously, the programs on cassette tapes made a very distinct sound (er... noise) when playing the tape... I was wondering if someone still had those tapes? The reason (and the reason this Q is programming related) is that IIRC different languages made somewhat different pitched noises, but I would like to run the tape and listen myself to confirm if that was really the case...

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  • Perl XML SAX parser emulating XML::Simple record for record

    - by DVK
    Short Q summary: I am looking a fast XML parser (most likely a wrapper around some standard SAX parser) which will produce per-record data structure 100% identical to those produced by XML::Simple. Details: We have a large code infrastructure which depends on processing records one-by-one and expects the record to be a data structure in a format produced by XML::Simple since it always used XML::Simple since early Jurassic era. An example simple XML is: <root> <rec><f1>v1</f1><f2>v2</f2></rec> <rec><f1>v1b</f1><f2>v2b</f2></rec> <rec><f1>v1c</f1><f2>v2c</f2></rec> </root> And example rough code is: sub process_record { my ($obj, $record_hash) = @_; # do_stuff } my $records = XML::Simple->XMLin(@args)->{root}; foreach my $record (@$records) { $obj->process_record($record) }; As everyone knows XML::Simple is, well, simple. And more importantly, it is very slow and a memory hog - due to being a DOM parser and needing to build/store 100% of data in memory. So, it's not the best tool for parsing an XML file consisting of large amount of small records record-by-record. However, re-writing the entire code (which consist of large amount of "process_record"-like methods) to work with standard SAX parser seems like an big task not worth the resources, even at the cost of living with XML::Simple. What I'm looking for is an existing module which will probably be based on a SAX parser (or anything fast with small memory footprint) which can be used to produce $record hashrefs one by one based on the XML pictured above that can be passed to $obj->process_record($record) and be 100% identical to what XML::Simple's hashrefs would have been. I don't care much what the interface of the new module is - e.g whether I need to call next_record() or give it a callback coderef accepting a record.

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  • What was your the most impressive technical programming achievement performed to impress a romantic

    - by DVK
    OK, so the archetypal human story is for a guy to go out and impress the girl with some wonderful achievement like slaying a dragon or building a monument or conquering neighboring tribe. This being enlightened 21st century on SO, let's morph this into a: StackOverflower performing a feat of programming to impress a romantic interest. There are two ways to do this: Technical achievement: Impressing a person with suitable background/understanding of programming with actual coding powerss you displayed. A dumb movie example would be that kid in "Hackers" move showing off his hacking skills in front of Angeline Jolie. Artistic achievement: Impressing a person with a result of running said code, whether they understand just how incredible the code itself is. An example is the animated ANSI rose (for a guy who actually wrote the ANSI code) This question is only about the first kind (technical achievements) - e.g. the person of interest was presented with impressive code/design that (s)he was able to properly appreciate. Rules (what doesn't qualify): The target audience must have been a person of romantic interest (prospective or present significant other or random hook-up). E.g. showing your program to your sister who's also a software developer doesn't count. The achievement must have been done specifically with the goal to impress such a person. However, it is OK if the achievement was done to impress a generic qualifying person, not someone specific. Although... if you write code to impress girls in general, I'd say "get a better idea of the opposite sex" The achievement must have been done with the goal of impressing the person. In other words, if you would have done it without romantic interest's knowledge anyway, it doesn't count. As examples, the following does not count: programming for your job. Programming for a coding contest. Open Source program that you'd have done anyway. The precise nature of the awesomeness of the achievement is somewhat irrelevant - from learning entire J2EE in 2 days to writing fancy game engine to implementing Python compiler in LOGO. As long as it's programming/software development related. The achievement should preferably be something other people would rank highly as well. If your date was impressed with your skill at calculating Fibonacci sequence without recursive function calls, it doesn't mean most developers will be. But it does mean you need to start finding better things to do on dates ;)

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  • Is it proper to get and especially set Perl module's global variables directly?

    - by DVK
    I was wondering what the best practice in Perl is regarding getting - or, more importantly, setting - a global variable of some module by directly accessing $Module::varName in case the module didn't provide getter/setter method for it. The reason it smells bad to me is the fact that it sort of circumvents encapsulation. Just because I can do it in Perl, I'm not entirely certain I should (assuming there actually is an alternative such as adding a getter/setter to the module). I'm asking this because I'm about to request an addition of a getter/setter for a global variable in one of the core Perl modules, and I would like to avoid it soundly and unanimously rejected on the grounds of "Why the heck do you need one when you can access the variable in the package directly?" - in case doing the latter is actually considered perfectly OK by the community.

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