On Sun, Jan 02, 2005 at 02:27:00PM +0200, Gabor Szabo wrote:

> someone asked (as that happens
> always) how could he find out the answer alone to this and
> similar questions.
> I pointed to various sources such as

[snip std docs]

I think the docs have let us down with regards to file copying
(even if it does depend on OS/filesystem more than a
particular programming language).

> I pointed to vairous mailing lists for beginners and even to PerlMonks.

I mention Usenet newsgroups, lists.perl.org and PerlMonks.

> What do you ppl. tell them, 

   Tens of thousands of people have already learned Perl. It is
   not very likely that you are the first person to have your
   question. It has probably been asked and answered already,
   all you have to do is go find out where.

   http://groups.google.com/advanced_group_search is my very top
   bookmark, even ahead of regular google. I use it for many
   things besides Perl too, picked up lots of useful info there
   for my family's trip to DisneyWorld for example.

Do the lists or Monks have useful search functions that I could mention?

> how to learn more 

I spew out these suggestions at the conclusion of the training:

   solve a problem from work

   solve a problem from your personal interests or hobbies

   find an existing Perl program at work to maintain or modify

   find someone already using Perl and ask them what they're doing

   rewrite well-understood commands in Perl, eg. ls, grep

   find questions in some forum, decide what answer you would give,
      monitor what answers others give, when those begin matching
      up often enough, start actually posting your answers  :-)

   watch other people doing any of the above in some forum, by
   participating or by just searching.

> and get answers to such 
> questions ?

I encourage them to email me questions, but they almost never do.

So I present the checklist below (I've injected significant "editorial
bias" starting at step #6).

It could be applied to lists/Monks rather than Usenet as well.

Perl problem resolution checklist:

1) check the Perl FAQs 

   (word search with "perldoc -q". Or better, find where the 
    *.pod's are on your system, and word search (grep) the 
    entire contents of the files)

2) expand the above to _all_ of the standard *.pod files.

3) check a Usenet archive such as:


4) check books, websites, mailing lists (this step is optional)

5) write a Usenet article, but don't post it yet!

   5a) make a small and complete (including data) program that 
       people can execute that shows your problem.

   5b) state how the program's output is not what you want. Describe
       what you do want.

   5c) repeat steps 1-4 using search terms taken from your description
       of the problem or your Subject header (try some synonyms for
       the terms also)

6) Give up on a quick answer. Post to Usenet for a slow answer.

7) wait hours/days/forever for followups with answers rather than
   than the 5 or 10 minutes it would have taken if steps 1-3
   had worked.

8) Wonder at the quality of the answers given, rather than know
   it is a peer-reviewed, validated answer if steps 1-2 had worked.

9) Repeat steps 1-3 many times for many problems. You will seldom
   get past step 3, and even less often get past step 5a.

10) Now that you know so much, go *answer* some questions on Usenet  :-)


To help with 1 and 2 above, I make "headlines" files to grep in,
because sometimes there is Too Much Information when grepping
the entire bodies:

   cd /an/INC/dir/pod/

   grep '^=' perlfaq[1-9].pod >faq.heads

   grep '^=' *.pod >all.heads

It is sometimes helpful to use an Initial Cap on the search term,
under the assumption that headlines and beginnings of sentences
might be most relevant.

    Tad McClellan                          SGML consulting
    [EMAIL PROTECTED]                   Perl programming
    Fort Worth, Texas

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