An old dog learns a new trick

They say necessity is the mother of invention. I had a large project at work these last few months. It involved gathering obscene amounts of data and then mashing it all together into a coherent human readable output.

The data itself wasn’t hard to obtain, but it was tedious and time consuming. FTP this file, merge with this other file, grep out the stuff I want, move the files some more, process again, etc, etc, etc.

Perl to the rescue!

Since I knew how to navigate all of the systems to obtain the data I needed, it seemed silly to waste time doing it manually (did I mention it was tedious?). I talked to one of the most respected programmers in the company and he suggested we start to automate everything we needed using Perl. Sounds great to me! What’s Perl? I’m not much of a programmer, I don’t think my brain works the same way that a computer does. I once took a unix course back in the ’90’s. I failed the course, because I couldn’t write the required shell script needed to pass the course.

Since then, I’ve always considered myself as “programming impaired”. I’ve done some simple ProComm scripts over the years, but nothing fancy. This was way outside my comfort range, but it had to be done.

I went out and purchased “Perl for Dummies” while my developer was putting together the basic framework for me. Once I got the basic program, I took my book and ran with it.

I now have all of the data collection automated and have even gotten to a point where I can spit out reports and mail them to myself.

This basic framework was then sent to some of our professional developers in order to scale it to tens of thousands of nodes. My basic program was converted to Python (as that is their preferred programming language) and is now being deployed by a Tier 1 telecommunications carrier.

See, an old dog CAN learn new tricks!


About kwplat1

World renowned data networking professional affectionately known as The Tick

Posted on October 10, 2012, in Scripting, Tools. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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