Junk Food for the Brain

Open Source and Awesomesauce :)

Learning Perl by Randal Schwartz

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This video lecture is conducted by Randal Schwartz and focuses on learning to program in Perl for beginners to the language.

When O’Reilly Media first started, one of the books that was synonymous with its name was the Learning Perl series, more commonly known as the ‘Llama Book’. Schwartz authored it, and continues to update it to this day. He actively conducts courses on Perl, and has refined the book through its many iterations based on feedback. In this video lecture, we finally have this privilege of ‘sitting’ live in one of his famed classes.

The course he teaches here is based on the ‘Learning Perl, 5th Edition’ book which focuses on Perl 5.10. In fact, the he encourages his people looking for more in depth detail to refer to it.

If you are a sysadmin looking to learn up Perl, this video lecture is a great way to do it. One thing I’d like to point out is, DO NOT be discouraged by the fact this is Perl 5.10. There may be newer versions out there, but Perl 5.10 is among the most widely used ones. In fact, Red Hat Linux 6 ships with Perl 5.10 out of the box.

The best part of these lectures are that via smart editing and Schwartz’s experience, the sessions have been split into smaller, more manageable chunks. Videos are on average 30 minutes in length, which is just about right. His enthusiasm for Perl clearly shows when he teaches, and is admittedly infectious. There were a few times when I had to pick up my laptop and start trying out some Perl concepts after a hard day’s work, because his excitement caught on.

Overall, this is a great introduction to Perl, conducted by one of the pioneering evangelists of this language. I’d recommend this, especially if you need to pick up a scripting language for Enterprise use. As recommended, you should supplement the videos with the Learning Perl book for ‘offline’ learning.

You can purchase this series here.

Disclaimer: I reviewed this video as a part of Oreilly’s Blogger Review Program. In exchange for my honest opinion on the videos, I received an electronic copy of the video series at no charge.

Installing Python 2.7.2 on Centos 5.2

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Centos / RHEL5 come with Python v2.4.3, which was relased in 2006 and is as ancient as you can get nowdays. Even other application build scripts require Python >= 2.5 for building, e.g node.js & Spidermonkey 1.8.5. :|

This is my attempt at building a base Python distro that sits in /opt/python-2.7.2. My goal is to minimize depending on the installed system developement libraries; As in Enterprise-y environments, ‘polluting’ the standard OS image will result in a visit from the XKCD GOTO Raptor.

How to Program Better in Python

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If you have learnt Python to a certain degree, and can whip up quite a few scripts with it, you will be wondering where to go next.

You have this feeling that yeah, you can program, but you may be doing things the wrong way. Scouring through the Web for Python Tips & Tricks might do, but after haphazardly learning the language, you’re finally ready for a more structured approach.

That’s how I am currently feeling, which is when I found this book: Pro Python

It starts off at Advanced Basics in Chapter 2 and progresses on. I just got this book, and am slowly progressing through Chapter 2.

How to Use a Different SSH Key for a Host

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There are times when you need to use just one different SSH Key for a particular host. And you’re not allowed to add your own public key into the host’s authorized_keys file due to system limitations / policies etc.

This is where the ssh config file comes in handy.

How to Change Passwords in Linux Using a Shell Script

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There are times when you would need to change the local user password for a whole bunch of Linux machines at one go. If they weren’t using the a directory service like NIS or LDAP, you’d be in for a lot of pain.

Fortunately, the passwd command comes with a handy option that allows this relatively insecure method.