Sunday, July 4, 2010

Software Freedom Day Singapore 2010 - Call for participants

The Free and Open Source Alliance ( would like to call for participants for Software Freedom Day Singapore 2010. This one-day event, a celebration of the best of the Singaporean open source community, will be held at the National Library Plaza, Bugis, on September 18 this year.

We are looking for individuals, groups, organisations, or companies with an interest in the free and open source movement who would like to set up booths during this exhibition. Your booth can be on any open source related subject, from open content to business ideas, from open hardware to computer gaming. Your booth may also be a part of one of the four pavilions we are organising this year: "entertainment", "mobile computing and telephony", "productivity", and "social networking". If you are interested in showcasing your achievements and promoting open source to a large audience, please sign up now.

We are also looking for volunteers to help us in every stage of the planning and execution of this event. If you would like to help us design posters, manage websites, organise events, handle logistics, or would like to provide any other help whatsoever, please sign up as a volunteer.

As always, you can find out more about the event on our website at or e-mail suggestions, ideas or comments to We hope to hear from you soon.

See you in September!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

An early draft standard for the Test Anything Protocol

The Test Anything Protocol (TAP) is Perl's standard test result communication language, used by tools like prove (1), libraries like Test::More and applications like Smolder. If you you've ever installed a distribution from the CPAN, it almost certainly ran tests which emitting TAP. If any of your own Perl distributions provide the make test or ./Build test capabilities, you're probably using it yourself.

A proposal to formalize the Protocol as an IETF RFC have been circulating since 2008, and - after some work in fits and bursts - there's a pretty decent draft up on the wiki. I'm really excited about this; not only will a formal everything-defined-perfectly specification make it easier for TAP producers and consumers to be written in other programming languages, but a solid standard will form a firm foundation upon which more advanced TAP syntax (such as the many ideas here) could be built.

The draft writing has been happening in fits and bursts, but I think we're getting close to completion now. Please have a look at the RFC draft (either as plain text or on the wiki) and tell us where we should focus our efforts. You can get in touch either directly on the Wiki (be bold!) or on the IETF TAP mailing list, or just leave a comment here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

WWW::Mechanize for uploading files

The WWW::Mechanize::Cookbook doesn't have an example program for file uploads. So - if you need to quickly upload a file to a server with Perl - here's how you do it:

Please let me know if you have any feedback on this example.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Software Freedom Day Singapore 2009 in this weekend!

I'm absolutely overflowing with excitement: Software Freedom Day Singapore 2009 is just around the corner! Come down to any - or all! - of the three events we've organized for your pleasure. The informational day targeting SMEs and system integrators is on Friday; Saturday will see public events at the National Library Building at Bugis, organized by some of the coolest open source groups in Singapore, and the technical sessions, covering a wealth of interesting events and providing the perfect place to geek out of a Saturday afternoon. And thanks to our fantastic sponsors, each and every event is completely free! (You do have to register for the Friday event, though.)

If you're on Facebook, you can let your friends know by sharing our Facebook event! Hope to see you there!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Software Freedom Day Singapore 2009 - you're invited!

The Free and Open Source Alliance, Singapore would like to invite you to take part in Software Freedom Day Singapore 2009. We have a number of events lined up for you next month on September 18 and 19 at the Singapore Management University, Bras Basah and the National Library Building, Bugis, and we hope you'll be able to join in.

We'll have events all day on both days. On Friday (September 18), we'll be organizing a series of talks at the NLB, providing an overview of setting up and using free and open source software in business, government and education, aimed primarily at a non-technical audience. Saturday (September 19) will see two simultaneous events: at SMU, we'll have tutorial sessions on the use of open source tools and techniques, aimed specifically at a technical audience. At the same time, we'll have booths set up at the National Library Building's plaza to introduce members of the public to the benefits of open source, the wide range of powerful, reliable tools available for free, and to the participants, both companies and groups, involved in the open source community in Singapore. Event overviews are available; detailed schedules will online as soon as they're ready.

Please get in touch with us if you'd like to take part. We're especially eager to get open source groups to come down to the NLB plaza on Saturday to present themselves to passerbys, geeks and non-geeks alike, and to advertise your particular area of interest within the open source galaxy to all our visitors. While we'll definitely try to cover as many bases and organize as interesting an event as possible, I'm sure your expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm will make all the difference in turning curious onlookers into interested participants - and maybe the open source users and contributors of tomorrow.

We need all the help we can get, particularly in volunteers, ideas and marketing. If you'd like to help out, cheer us on, promote us to your friends or family, or support us in any other way, you can find out more at the FOSA website and the SFDS website, or on our mailing list. This would also be a great time for you to meet and give us your ideas and suggestions on how we can best work towards the common interests of open source groups and communities in Singapore.

See you in September!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Perl as a subprime language

scrottie wrote in a recent use.perl post that:

[..] the only reason companies hire Perl programmers to write non-trivial programmers beyond the scope of system administration automation is because Perl programmers are inexpensive and submissive. They do what they're told, don't talk back, don't require acknowledgement, don't make a stink about things like testing and security that management doesn't care about nearly as much as deadlines, they don't aggressively negotiate on their salary, they agree to absurd timetables and requirements, and they routine suspend their better judgment to attempt whatever management has proposed.


[..] Writing a thousand times more Perl than Java in the past few years, I'm still more marketable as a Java programmer to a degree that far exceeds the relative demands for Perl or Java programmers. Only fundamental attitudes can account for this.

Reading this along with Iftekhar's suggestion that Perl is perceived as (cheap) glue in the programming market and what renodino wrote way back in 2006 about low wages for Perl jobs got me thinking about Perl's perception in the marketplace, and I think I might've had it wrong all along.

Those of us extolling Perl's virtues on geek websites like Slashdot or Reddit constantly face get the age-old refrains - read-only programming, not sophisticated enough (compared to functional programming languages, for instance), far too sophisticated (compared to Java, for instance), primitive OO facilities, a list a mile long. On pro-Perl websites and blogs, this turns to nervous fretting about our core strengths: TIMTOWTDI, but how many WTDI should there be; we have to change our syntax, we must keep our syntax consistent; we need proper OO systems, we need to stick with the ├╝berpowerful bless system. Many of these suggestions are important, and all the discussions definitely are, but I wonder if they might be hiding the larger issue, rather like the whole "I hate enforced leading whitespace" tends to overshadow other benefits and downsides of Python.

So I've always assumed that it's a feature fight we're losing - we can't give new users a simple OO system, or "class" keywords, or any of the other features people want to see included in Perl core. But let's pull back a second - we've got a language with Ruby's regular expressions, proper closures, Python's terseness and conciseness, a powerful and flexible module system, and a wealth of brilliant features hidden away for when they're needed - AUTOLOAD, heredocs, quote-like operators, sigils (!), and separate operators for strings and numbers (seriously, how brilliant is that? That might be my favourite Perl feature ever.). Forget about CPAN and the Perl testing culture and the community, and we still have something which is plenty useful, incredibly exciting, reasonably cutting edge and ridiculously lovely. Why, then, are we looked down upon?

I have some ideas, but they're far more ridiculous than anything I've proposed here, so I'll stop here for now. Please give me any feedback, suggestions or corrections!

Singapore Perl Mongers Meetup #1 "Adagio"

The first (ever?) Singapore Perl Mongers meetup took place last week at the Mind Cafe, Prinsep Street, Singapore, and later at the cafe/restaurant right next door. Ten Perlers showed up, and despite a few initial problems - no fixed plan, the cafe was too cold and noisy, and the "organizer" (me) was late - we got going quite well, with Patrick Haller giving us off-the-cuff talks on standardizing a Perl runtime and getting Bash to assign to the right. We then moved next door, and the conversations on the table headed towards Repraps, using theremin as user interface devices, the meaning of "well regulated militia" in the US Constitution, and why Canberra is the mail-order porn capital of Australia. Everybody seemed to have fun, and the conversations and Mongers hung around long after the meeting was supposed to have ended; hopefully, this kicked off with a bang!

(A very few) Photographs are up on Flickr.

Thanks to everybody who showed up and made this meetup such a success. I'd like especially to thank the staff at the Mind Cafe, Prinsep Street who valiantly found space to fit everybody who showed up (twice the number I was expecting!). If you're in Singapore or nearby and have any interest in Perl, drop by at our meetups! Notifications go out on our mailing list; all other details are available from the website.