Reflections on Perl and DBI from an Early Contributor

The name Buzz Moschetti probably isn’t familiar to you. Buzz was the author of the Perl 4 database for Interbase known as Interperl.

Back in those days Perl 5 was barely a twinkle in Larry’s eye and database interfaces for Perl 4 required building a custom perl binary.

Buzz was one of the four people to get the email on September 29th 1992 from Ted Lemon that started the perldb-interest project which defined a specification that ultimately lead to the DBI. (The other people were Kurt Andersen re informix, Kevin Stock re oraperl, and Michael Peppler re sybperl. I joined a few days later.)

Update: It turns out that it was actually Buzz who sent that original email, Ted just forwarded it on to others, including me. So Buzz can be said to have started the process that led to the DBI!

I hadn’t heard from Buzz for many years until he sent me an email recently.

This is his story: Continue reading

Looking for a new job? TigerLead is also Hiring in Ann Arbor MI

In addition to the job vacancy in West LA, the company I work for,, has an opening for a “skilled developer” in Ann Arbor, Michigan:

Our work involves manipulating and warehousing external data feeds and developing web interfaces to create home search tools for prospective buyers and lead management tools for real estate agents. We’re looking for a skilled coder to join our small team of talented engineers in Ann Arbor. We hope to find an experienced programmer who is a good fit with our team, well-versed in multiple languages, able to learn quickly and work independently. We work in a Linux environment, and tools and languages we use include Perl, Ruby on Rails, PostgreSQL, and GIT. Perl experience is a significant plus, but your current comfort level with any of these specific tools is less important than overall technical aptitude and ability to learn quickly and fit in well with the current team.

That’s a little thin on details partly because the work is varied. If you think you might be interested, take a look at the full job posting.

TigerLead is a lovely company to work for and this is a great opportunity. Highly recommended.

Looking for a new job? TigerLead is Hiring in West LA

The company I work for,, has an opening for a “skilled coder / database wrangler”.

We’re looking for a skilled coder / database wrangler to play a key role within our Operations and Engineering teams. The various responsibilities of the job include working with the large databases underlying our real estate search tools, setting up services for new clients, communicating with clients to evaluate bug reports, troubleshooting technical issues escalated by our client services team, and interfacing with the engineering team on systems maintenance and development. The scope of work that we do involves managing hundreds of external data feeds that feed into in-house databases totaling several million property listings. These listing databases power hundreds of real estate search sites used by more than a million home-buyer leads, who are tracked and cultivated by the thousands of Realtors using our management software. This position is critical to the robustness of these systems.

If that sounds like interesting work to you then take a look at the full job posting.

TigerLead is a lovely company to work for and this is a great opportunity. Highly recommended.

New lease of life for Yahoo::Search

I’ve recently started looking into geocoding in perl. We’re currently using some old hand-coded logic to query the Yahoo Search API. I wanted to switch to Geo::Coder::Yahoo but I noticed that that depended on Yahoo::Search which hadn’t been updated since March 2007 and had accumulated a number of bug reports (which may well be closed by the time you read this).

Several related to the fact that Yahoo::Search didn’t handle Unicode properly when using its default internal XML parser (instead of the optional XML::Simple which does the right thing, but slowly).

What happened next makes a nice little example of getting things done in the Open Source world… Continue reading

NYTProf v4 – Now with string-eval x-ray vision!

I released Devel::NYTProf v3 on Christmas Eve 2009. Over the next couple of months a few more features were added. The v3 work had involved a complete rewrite of the subroutine profiler and heavy work on much else besides. At that point I felt I’d done enough with NYTProf for now and it was time to focus on other more pressing projects.

Over those months I’d also started working on enhancements for PostgreSQL PL/Perl. That project turned into something of an epic adventure with more than its fair share of highs and lows and twists and turns. The dust is only just settling now. I would have blogged about it but security issues arose that led the PostgreSQL team to consider removing the plperl language entirely. Fortunately I was able to help avoid that by removing entirely! At some point I hope to write a blog post worthy of the journey. Meanwhile, if you’re using PostgreSQL, you really do want to upgrade to the latest point-release.

One of the my goals in enhancing PostgreSQL PL/Perl was improve the integration with NYTProf. I wanted to be able to profile PL/Perl code embedded in the database server. With PostgreSQL 8.4 I could get the profiler to run, with some hackery, but in the report the subroutines were all __ANON__ and you couldn’t see the source code, so there were no statement timings. It was useless.

The key problem was that Devel::NYTProf couldn’t see into string evals properly. To fix that I had to go back spelunking deep in the NYTProf guts again; mostly in the data model and report generation code. With NYTProf v4, string evals are now treated as files, mostly, and a whole new level of insight is opened up!

In the rest of this post I’ll be describing this and other new features.

Continue reading

Relaxed Perl Myths in Ann Arbor

Speaking of belated screencasts, I also haven’t blogged about my visit to the Ann Arbor Perl Mongers in Michigan.

The Ann Arbor Perl Mongers group was being restarted (after a 10 year gap) by the TigerLead tech team. I’m working for TigerLead and was going to be in Ann Arbor for a meeting so they asked me to give a couple of talks: Devel::NYTProf and Perl Myths.

I like giving talks at events like these because there’s no set time limit and the audience is more relaxed (the free pizza probably helped).

I’ve uploaded a screencast of the Perl Myths talk. As usual it covers the Perl jobs market, CPAN, best practices, power tools, community and perl6. At almost 1 hour 20 minutes it’s significantly longer than my usual, more rushed, 40 minute version given at conferences and includes 15 minutes of Q & A at the end.