New Year, new look, new stuff

So, it’s 2010 (however you like to pronounce it), it’s out with the old and in with the new! I must confess to having lived in a bit of a bubble for a while, not venturing out of my comfort zone, and so things got a little stale. No longer.

First of all, I’ve updated this blog (in terms of the theme and stuff). The old theme was a bit clunky, and there were a couple of (coding) issues with it that, quite frankly, I couldn’t be bothered to fix myself. 🙂

I’ve also starting folding the paltry “personal” site into this blog. I can’t see the point in maintaining two sites, and I can always take locations out of the blog if I want to do custom stuff. I’m also going to sign up for the Iron Man Perl Blogging Challenge to try and give me added incentive to keep writing here.

Tech-wise, it’s all new horizons for me. For a very long time, I’ve been a staunch Apache user, writing mod_perl sites, and pretty much doing evolutionary stuff rather than revolutionary stuff.

First against the wall is the Apache HTTP server. I still have a lot of love for it, but nginx is also starting to catch my eye, especially because of it’s simplicity and small footprint. If I could get post-process output filters for it (especially if it’s running as a reverse proxy) then it’ll be really interesting – another separation between HTTP and application servers (some of the stuff I’m working with is written in PHP but could do with common output like the mod_perl stuff – I’m thinking of custom HTML tags that are expanded by the reverse proxy).

By extension, it means I’ll be leaving mod_perl behind. I don’t think I’m doing anything particularly special with mod_perl (webapps, nothing funky like a new protocol) but the speed increase mod_perl provides is nice. So far, a lot of the apps have been complete homebrew code, which fitted the prototype/evolutionary development model they needed to follow, but now is the time for them to grow up. I freely confess to being no great fan of the MVC model for web stuff (where the M and C need to be created each time, along with the V unless you’re doing AJAX stuff) but the Catalyst framework actually seems like it’s not too bad. I’ve had a couple of real head-scratching incidents with it and my beginner’s code, and have done the obligatory make-a-fool-of-yourself thing on the IRC support channel, but I think I’ve got the hang of it now, and am looking forward to shifting my homebrew code into something that someone else might be able to maintain as well! 😀

Several things all conspire towards the next new (for me) bit of tech I’m looking at/into – FastCGI. nginx supports it, Catalyst comes with it’s own server script for it, it’s supposed to provide the same performance boost as mod_perl (single compilation, multiple execution) and I can also run the PHP stuff through it (rather than use another tech like APC). Having one solution for the two languages would be a real win in terms of simplifying systems.

Not entirely related, but I’ve started doing some work (on one of my own projects) in C++ again. I’m really rusty, but it’s all going quite well – and I certainly appreciate Perl’s regular expression handling a lot more now! 🙂

Another personal project has me doing stuff in LaTeX (the text formatting language, not the material. Although…)

Oh, and I’m trying not to stay up all night working on the laptop, so it’s goodnight from me now! 🙂

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