Interview with Tim Maher

On "Minimal Perl book"
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Interview with Minimal Perl author, Tim Maher

  1. Tell us a little about your background and interests.

    I've worked for U.C. Berkeley as a Sr. Systems Analyst, the Univ. of Utah as a professor of Computer Science, and AT&T; as a UNIX Course Developer/Instructor. In 1986 I started my software training business, Consultix, which is now based in Seattle. I enjoy playing electric guitar and sitar, and hiking, camping, and exploring Asian culture with my wife, who's from Tibet.

  2. What is Minimal Perl's claim to fame?

    First, this book is unique in presenting a strategically designed subset of Perl that was developed through five years of hands-on training classes for corporate software engineers.

    Second, the book caters to two audiences:

    • Part 1 is for those whose UNIX knowledge may be limited to use of grep, but who crave the greater power and OS-portability of Perl
    • Part 2 is for those who additionally know UNIX Shell programming techniques, and want to learn Perl more easily by leveraging that knowledge into the Perl domain

  3. What distinguishes your book from all others in the field?

    • it optimizes learning for UNIX people by capitalizing on their existing knowledge of Perl-related concepts and commands
    • it demonstrates OS-specific techniques for using Perl most effectively on UNIX and related systems (Linux, MacOS/X, FreeBSD, etc.)
    • it makes Perl easy and fun to learn by incorporating enterprise-tested programming examples and amusing case studies
    • it strikes an effective balance between the "tutorial" and "reference" styles of writing

  4. Are there any special features that would make it useful as a required or recommended textbook?

    In many academic computer courses, students are given theoretical information in lectures, and then told to complete a programming assignment using a language of their choosing--which they have to learn on their own. This book would be a logical recommendation for students knowing some UNIX (or Linux, etc.) already, who wish to learn Perl essentials as easily and painlessly as possible.

  5. In closing, what are the key benefits to the reader?

    Minimal Perl: for UNIX and Linux People includes:

    • over 100 reusable programs
    • dozens of tables describing language features and showing usage examples
    • many tips on how to get the most out of Perl on UNIX and related systems
    • a presentation style refined over decades of teaching experience
    • an easy and fun way to learn a practical subset of Perl
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