August 2009 Archives

Perl at pair Networks

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pair Networks has been using Perl for its software infrastructure since it opened back in 1996, and has been supporting Perl-related events, including the Italian Perl Workshop, for many years. In the August 2009 pair Networks Insider Newsletter, developer Alan Ferrency explains some things about the Account Control Center, which is built in Perl.

This excerpt from the August 2009 newsletter (section 4, Developer's Corner: An Introduction ) is republished with permission from pair Networks, Inc.

Hello, and welcome to Developer's Corner. I'm Alan Ferrency, Lead Software Developer of the pair Networks Account Control Center (ACC) team, and I'll be your guide.

In Developer's Corner, I'll present articles on a variety of topics useful for technically oriented pair Networks Web hosting customers. Web site developers, webmasters, and anyone making technical decisions about Web sites will feel at home here.

I'd like to start by describing some of the software we use internally at pair Networks to give you an idea of some topics to expect in future articles.

As many of you know, pair Networks strongly supports the use and development of Open Source Software. Most of our internal systems depend heavily on Open Source Software, and the Account Control Center is no exception.

The ACC Web interface is written in Perl and runs in Apache using mod_perl. We use the Text::MicroMason templating engine and an internally developed application framework. The back end subsystems used by the ACC are also primarily written in Perl.

Unlike other configuration systems, the ACC runs on internal servers to avoid wasting system resources on your Web hosting server. Our developers work on private virtual development servers equivalent to a pair Networks VQS, and our production servers start life as standard QuickServe dedicated servers.

Our customer support systems are also built on Open Source. Our support request tracking system is written in Perl and integrated with the ACC and internal customer support tools. The phone system uses the Asterisk voice over IP (VoIP) telephony system as well as custom Perl and Ruby code.

pair Networks developers have contributed bug reports, patches, and features to a variety of Open Source projects we use here: FreeBSD, Perl, Dovecot, and tcsh to name a few. Some Perl modules developed for internal use are also publicly available and actively maintained on CPAN.

The combination of off-the-shelf Open Source systems and custom code allows us great flexibility in developing internal systems. As a pair Networks customer, you have access to the same hardware and tools we use to build our systems. In future months, I'll describe ways that you can take advantage of this to improve your Web sites and businesses.

By the way, pair Networks is also a great hosting solution for the deployment of Perl applications: I'm a long time customer, so I can tell. :-)

This was the year of the comeback to YAPC::EU for me, after the only one I attended to in 2000 (or, better, in 19100) in London. Since I'll be one of the organizers of next year conference in Pisa, I thought I should really go and take a look (joking, I was going to be there anyhow).

By the way, Pisa was chosen for the 2010 of the YAPC::EU, that is to say I and other (mostly Italian) Perl enthusiasts will organize it. It's a bit scary when I think about it, but it's also an exciting challenge and I'm confident we'll be able to work well. We'll have to make ourself ridiculous enough by performing a part of the Rocky Horror Picture Show just before the Pisa YAPC... this is really scary.

The conference

The YAPC was, put it simple, a great conference. Most of the talks were interesting and enjoyable, with so many important speakers: you can have a look at the conference web site to see who they were.

My favourite talks were the ones related to functional programming (if I only had the time to dig this a bit more...), Moose, Devel::Declare, perl 6 regular expressions, and some other topic I can't remeber right now. I was also quite interested in the Padre editor, even though I'm not using it (yet?): having a good software in this are written in Perl could help the language to be seen as a viable option for areas such as GUI programming - moreover, Padre works well.

As expected, it was very nice and interesting to talk with people around the conference, see "old friends" (including the Italian folks I don't meet that often, after all), meet new ones, speak with the conference sponsors. It was especially nice to meet Dirk from again (after the London Perl Workshop 2008) and to know about Belgian Perl Workshop 2010, an event I unfortunately missed in 2009.

Coffee breaks were great, with file local pastries to choose from; the only thing I can say about that is that the coffee wasn't spectacular(as the one we use to serve at Italian Perl Workshop ;-). Lunches were good as well, with pizza slices and sandwiches: for conferences, I like this "pick up something when you want and" style much better than something like "sit down at 12:30".

As usual I wasn't able to keep my wallet locked: I bought 5 books at O'Reilly table (including a Mercurial one I'll probably never user) and a Shadowcat YAPC-dedicated t-shirt at the auction: wicked design, by Mark Keating - great t-shirt!

Around the conference

Evenings are always an interesting part of these events, as they offer the ideal environment to speak about technical and not technical matters... and they give plenty of opportunities for food and drinks. :-)

First social evening was the pre-meeting. There was supposed to be some early registration process, but there wasn't (or we weren't able to find where it was being done ;-)). The place was a big Irish pub in the Oriente district, a nice and modern part of the town, albeit a bit windy. It was good to be in a place where to drink beers which were more interesting than the local lagers. Too bad a conference attendee sitting next to me (I can't remember his name now) commented against my Talisker t-shirt: he liked Lagavulin better. :-)

The attendees dinner was in downtown Lisbon, in a waterfront restaurant, and it all revolved around very good meat... and also around caiprinhas, which were barely drinkable to say it all. I really have to mention the British-Italian quiz show team (osfameron and polettix), which achieved an honourable second place at the quiz show (hosted by Damian Conway).

I was also invited, as an organizer of next year's YAPC, at the speakers dinner, which was just nearby the Irish pub of the pre-meeting. Good meat to eat there as well. At the end of all of this, I have to say that Portuguese food is quite heavy as far as calories are concerned, but very tasty.


The city was a pleasant surprise for me. I decided not to sleep at the hotel suggested by the conference organizers, which was near the conference but a bit far from the downtown, and chose an hostel (Lisbon Poets Hostel) in Chiado. It proved to be a nice choice, as it allowed me to take a look at the city centre when going to and coming back from the conference or evening meetings.

The hostel had free Wifi, so I could keep in touch and even work a bit. As usual I chose to sleep in a dormitory (4 beds), which is a good way to save some money and to meet people. This time, however, I shared the room with 3 French girls and we didn't catch that much; oh well, no problem.

I had the chance to wander around the city centre and found it to be enjoyable: trams, small alleys, and fine buildings make it a very enjoyable place - and there are really a lot of people around. I also took a night bar crawl in the Bairro Alto with some people at the hostel: it lasted until 5AM and we drank way too many beers. The Bairro is a nice place however: everybody's friend of everybody and it's very easy to meet new people.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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