Perl Testing & Safari Bookshelf

Perl Testing has been a great book.  I felt like I knew more after reading chapter 1.  And that’s practical knowledge.  I’m through with Chapter 4 already, and while that one isn’t the most interesting to me (testing Pods, Distributions, Tests, etc.), it contains information I’ll want when I’m writing CPAN modules (probably never) — I use CPAN and don’t give back.  Except maybe a bugfix.

I’m not happy, however, with the Safari bookshelf format.  It’s a pain.  It’s too limiting, it’s a waste of time, and it requires you to be online — as in logged in to their website, don’t let your session expire or start over and find your book and page again.)  And no note taking.  And cutting and pasting to print out and read on the pot is a pain too.   So, two thumbs down for Safari.

Two thumbs up for “Perl Testing” and so many other books made available by Oreilly.

I’ve given up on Perl 6, however.  I hear Duke Nukem Forever has decided to rewrite their game engine in it.

Microfiction and Perl Testing

I was looking for information on writing tests in perl for Bugzilla, since I’m working on developing for it, and I came across chromatic’s web site. “Chromatic” is the pseudonym of a Perl hacker who co-wrote the book “Perl Testing” and apparently also writes fiction. His website includes a “microfiction” section which seems to generate a random assignment for each day. I decided to complete today’s assignment:

Given the character of a wise monkey, write a story in the steampunk genre, using the subject a character description and the theme a warning. If you feel extra creative, use only conversation.

Your word limit is 250 words.

I went 82 words over the limit, but don’t feel like editing it since I’m not getting credit. Here it is. Kelsey even says she likes it.

The cymbals clanked. The gears ground slowly down and just before halting, disengaged, sending the flywheel spinning. A paper ribbon curled out from the slot beneath the statuette of a monkey; its arms moving together for one last soft touch of the cymbals.

I took the ticker-tape between my fingers and felt the tiny bumps stamped into it.

“It knows!” cooed the old man, leaning forward to crawl on his knees zig-zag across the chipped marble floor.

His rags brushed an angular serpentine trail on the dusty tiles. He lifted himself up, bracing against the machine, until he stood in front of me. Leaning out until his long grey whiskers almost brushed against my face, he cackled again “It knows!”

His smile was sparsely populated with yellow teeth and his breath stunk. His eyes were clouded with cataracts. His large knuckled hands clung tightly to projecting parts of the machine and fumbled for the ribbon.

“Let me feel,” he whined.

His hand found the statuette, and he breathed once again, “It knows…” as his calloused fingers slid down the tape.

Shouts were heard outside. A gunshot followed a bang at the door. His smile disappeared, but his hand still traced the bumps on the ribbon.

I looked for something to bar the door. The high window shattered. The old man knelt down and began to crawl towards the coal bin. He dragged it slowly across the floor as I dragged the table towards the entrance.

Another gunshot outside, and a bullet grazed the wall, shattering plaster. The old man started stoking the furnace. The monkey started clapping. He adjusted valves and lifted himself up once more to pull the lever.

The door fell from its hinges and the table was slowly pushed back. The flywheel engaged and the ribbon spat forth again. Another shot rang out and the old man groaned, slumping over the lever. The monkey’s clapping slowed, then stopped.

I ripped the ticker-tape from the slot beneath the monkey and ran.

p.s. Chromatic wrote a book called “Gravitas.” If you want to read an excerpt about a fight at a comic book convention, follow the link.


I once wanted to be a writer.  I wanted to write short stories and science fiction.  My two writing heros were Roger Zelazny and Ernest Hemingway.  I also loved reading nonfiction history.  And I wanted to travel.

I went into software QA.  I developed a passion for open source software.  It’s been a pretty good career move.  Now I want to write again.  Nothing as glamorous as seeing my name in small print on the cover of sci-fi pulps.

I’d like to write a series of articles, and eventually a book about open source QA tools.  Maybe another on open source Project Management tools — if I learn enough about them.  Maybe about testing techniques as well, though I don’t think I have the authority to speak on it, and researching existing wisdom doesn’t inspire me.