The Perl Journal June 2003
By Shannon Cochran
The home-automation program MisterHouse, which began development in 1998, has been generating buzz with an updated release in April and a Slashdot mention in May. MisterHouse is written in Perl and relies on X10 equipment to regulate things such as household temperature, lighting, or operation of the VCR. The program can also record Caller ID and pager data to a web interface, deliver updates on web stats or daily computer usage, track the location of vehicles by communicating with a ham radio modem, monitor the weather outside, and turn lawn sprinklers on or off. MisterHouse is capable of speech output: for example, "Notice, the sun is bright at 32 percent, and it is cold outside at 24 degrees, so I am opening the curtains at 8:07AM," or "The front door has been left open."
Bruce Winter, the primary author of MisterHouse, makes his house's web interface available at http://www.misterhouse.net/. There, you can read the latest messages from MisterHouse, see who's been calling or e-mailing the Winters, find out where their cars are, or check out the traffic on their web page. There's also a weblog from Ron Klinkien, a MisterHouse user, at http:// mrhousefromscratch.tk/.
A Day at the Links
A new season has begun in IRCNet's #perlgolf's minigolf system, where the "holes" are programming problems and the "golfers" compete to write the smallest script that will solve the problem. About three to five problems are posed every month; each contest lasts for a few days. Teams are allowed to compete as well as individuals. A "leaderboard" reports the current high scores throughout the contest period.
According to the Perl Golf rules, "The program may only use the Perl executable; no other executables on the system are allowed. (In particular, you must not use the programs implementing any other holes. The program may use itself though.) You may use any of the Perl 5.8.0 Standard core modules. Your solution must be portable in the sense that it should work on all official versions of Perl 5.8.0 everywhere. It's perfectly fine to abuse Perl 5.8.0 bugs. For Perl golf, the executable (not the documentation) defines the language."
The Perl Golf homepage is at http://terje.perlgolf.org/.
ActiveState Active Awards 2003
From June 3 to June 30, ActiveState will be accepting votes for this year's Programmers' Choice Active Awards. The awards are given in five categoriesPerl, PHP, Python, XSLT, and Tcland are meant to honor those who have contributed significantly to open-source language programming. (ActiveState suggests authors of useful modules, maintainers of advocacy sites, dedicated bug fixers, "or simply someone who writes really cool code.") Winners of the Programmers' Choice awards are determined by an open vote; ActiveState also sponsors the Activators' Choice prizes, the winners of which are chosen by ActiveState's development team.
Last year, Matt Sergeant won the Programmers' Choice awards in both the Perl and XSLT categories, and Andy Dougherty won the Activators' Choice award for Perl development. This year's nominees for the Programmers' Choice awards were announced June 1 at http://www.activestate.com/Corporate/ActiveAwards/. Winners in all categories except Tcl will be announced at OSCON on July 8; the Tcl awards will be bestowed at the Tcl conference at the end of July.
A Dip in the POOL
Simon Cozens recently posted an article at perl.com describing POOL, "a handy 'little language' I recently created for templating object-oriented modules." POOL itself originally stood for the Perl Object Oriented Language, but after realizing that there's nothing Perl-specific about it, Cozens chose to invoke the recursive naming tradition, and dubbed it the "POOL Object Oriented Language." While Cozens himself describes it as "very, very ad hoc...bizarre and inconsistent," he hopes it will help programmers avoid tedium while writing OO classes in Perl.
The full article is at http://www.perl.com/pub/a/2003/04/22/ pool.html.
VoiceTronix Phones It In
VoiceTronix, an Australian telephony company, has released "a full function, web-enabled small office PBX package" written in Perl, called OpenPBX. (PBX stands for private branch exchange, and refers to a telephone network set up within an organization: If you dial four digits to get a coworker, you're using a PBX.) OpenPBX joins Bayonne and Asterisk in the open-source PBX software arena.
VoiceTronix would like to hear from developers interested in working on new open-source telephony projects, such as porting the CT Library package from Perl to Python, porting the VoiceTronix drivers to new operating systems, or creating an SIP-based VOIP gateway. The company's web site is at http://www.voicetronix.com/.
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