Monthly Archives: March 2012

Programming Perl giveway winners

I had eight copies of Programming Perl to giveaway. They were making a mess out of my office and I wanted to get rid of them. I could have just stood on the street handing them out to morning commuters, but who wants to juggle a four pound book and a coffee at the same time? I challenged people to use Twitter to give me a reason they deserved one of these copies. There’s are the winners:

Constantin sent me tourist info

  1. Constantin Tudor, who has submitted programs for the Learning Perl Challenges, and, based on my “Nobody is a good speaker when they start” YAPC::NA guest post, has decided to give some Perl talks. That’s certainly worth a Programming Perl.
  2. @philipstevens wanted a Programming Perl for his birthday, so I sent him one.
  3. Richard from Belgium sent me a nice postcard from Brussels, so I sent him a Programming Perl.
  4. Martin Atukunda from the UK, who has a new flat and empty shelves. Programming Perl gets to be the first new book on that shelf.
  5. Craig, for sending me a postcard from Suriname.
  6. Flavio Poletti, who wrote an “HTTP Transfers with a Soul” for The Perl Review.
  7. Alberto from Torino, who sent me a nice postcard and needs to contact me to give me his mailing address.
  8. Ian from South Africa, who sent me a nice postcard about Louis Lamour paperbacks.
  9. André from Montreal, who sent me a nice postcard of a Montreal city scene.
  10. Anton from Moscow, who sent me an amazing set of Soviet travel postcards from the 30s and 40s.

Yes, I started with eight and gave away 10. I don’t know how I keep getting more books, but they multiply. It’s one of the reasons that I have to get rid of them.

Many more people tweeted and sent me person mail, but, honestly, most people didn’t say anything compelling. They wanted a new Programming Perl because it would help them with Perl, but that’s the same for everyone. That’s not a good enough story for me to spend $35 in postage to send you a free book.

Although I won’t mention names, some people were gracious enough to donate that shipping cost back to the site, which lets me spend more time on writing about Perl. Thanks!

Get one of my 8 free copies of Programming Perl

I have eight print copies of Programming Perl that I want to give away. You can beg explain on Twitter, using my handle @briandfoy_perl, why you think you should get one of these copies for free. If Twitter isn’t your thing, you can enter the drawing by sending me a postcard from your hometown, using the contact info for The Perl Review. If you don’t like postcards, you’ll have to get creative. Maybe that means you post a picture of you with one of my other books somewhere. If you email me, though, you’re likely to get lost in my inbox.

These books take up 17 inches of shelf space and my shelves are already tightly stuffed with many other Perl books. Two of these books are over seven pounds (that’s all I could put on my postal scale without getting the error read-out). With over 1100 pages, I don’t think I could get through all eight copies before the next one comes out (and I don’t think I’d want to. I’ve read the chapter on pack too many times as it is). I have more copies than my nearest Barnes & Noble (I checked).

I don’t have the space for these!

I can only put two of these on my postal scale if I want to get a reading

I’ll ship it anywhere in the world that the US Postal Service will let me, although any customs duties are up to you. You can find out if you’ve won by checking this post where I’ll post the winners and ask you to send me your postal address.

20 years of Programming Perl

The first edition of Programming Perl, published 21 years ago, was actually Programming perl with a lowercase p. It was also before the time before the O’Reilly Perl books shifted to their blue color. The “Pink Camel” is the original, covering up through Perl 4. Tim O’Reilly himself was its editor. How’s that for prestige?

The first three editions were published at about five year intervals, tracking the major changes in Perl. The second edition came out a couple of years after the release of Perl 5 itself and was completely rewritten (just like perl). The latest edition makes up for 12 years of missing updates. Why? In 2005, many people thought Perl 6 would be there by Christmas. It took awhile for people to figure out that Perl 5 wasn’t going away, and then awhile to update the book for everything that’s happened since then.

550 fortnights, 1,720 folios, 6 authors, 4 editors, ≅0.5 light-nanoseconds, ¾ stone

But, let’s get down to numbers. Here’s the physical details, with some deltas. Although the Fourth Edition looks big, it’s bigger at a slower rate than the previous editions except for the thickness. The latest edition has a thicker paper so it has a huge jump in size.

Year (Δ)¹ January 1991 September 1996 (+5.67) July 2000 (+3.83) February 2012 (+11.5)
Perl version² 4.036 5.003 5.6.0 5.16
Authors Wall & Schwartz Wall, Christiansen, Schwartz, & Potter Wall, Christiansen, & Orwant Christiansen, foy, Wall, & Orwant
Editor Tim O’Reilly Steve Talbot Linda Mui Andy Oram
Pages (Δ)³ 482 670. (+188) 1,104 (+434) 1,184 (+80)
Thickness, cm (Δ)⁴ 2.50 3.49 (+0.99) 4.13 (+0.64) 5.71 (+1.58)
Weight, grams (Δ)⁵ 669 1,052 (+383) 1,364 (+312) 1,644 (+280)
Page density, pages/cm (Δ) 193 157 (-36) 267 (+110) 207 (-60)
Linear density, grams/cm (Δ) 268 301 (+33) 330. (+29) 288 (-42) price, USD⁶ 4.46 7.53 41.64 29.19
Catalog page O’Reilly O’Reilly O’Reilly O’Reilly


  1. Official publication month and year, as registered with the Library of Congress. This might be significantly different than the date of its first public availability.
  2. The latest Perl version as mentioned in the preface.
  3. The greatest page number using arabic numerals, ignoring front matter and unnumbered pages.
  4. The width (short dimension) of the spine, measured with an uncalibrated wooden ruler, ignoring expansion for water retention (ruler and book) and damage (ruler and book). I did not bake the ruler or books before measuring. Books and ruler are stored at about 10% relative humidity.
  5. Measured with an uncalibrated US Postal Scale reporting to 0.1 ounces. This also ignores water retention. Books are stored at about 10% relative humidity.
  6. In 2012 dollars, using the lowest price on for books advertised as “New”.