The Infopackets Gazette -- now 3 times a week!

Dennis Faas's picture

There's a few things to there talk about in this edition of the Gazette.

First of all, you may have noticed that I sent out an issue yesterday for the first time on a Wednesday. I've decided to write the newsletter 3 times a week now. It's just too much fun emailing 30,000 people and seeing the response it generates. Besides that, it's a great way to solve a problem!

Secondly, I wanted to let you all know that I've been working very hard the past two weeks to get some things straightened around on the web site. It was a real pain in in the butt to have to update links for every issue of the newsletter I write, especially when it comes to updating the table of contents of * all * the newsletters.

As silly as this may seem, I dreaded doing it. Of course, the longer I waited to do it, the bigger and uglier the task grew.

Anyway, that problem has been solved because I wrote a PERL script (CGI-BIN) which now retrieves a directory listing from my web server and goes into each Gazette Issue and extracts the appropriate information... and voila! A table of contents for all issues of the Infopackets Gazette newsletter is generated -- and it's done by initiating a single command!

That brings me to my next point.

Did you notice that there was as new section in the Gazette newsletter? It's called On this Day in History. I came across a cool free PERL script written by a guy named Puppet Master (no, that's not his real name). I tweaked it a bit and now the script outputs the appropriate 'today in history' information depending on the URL present in the Gazette Newsletter.

Of course, the fun didn't stop there because I had to modify the email script I wrote (a while ago) to spit out the 'today in history' inside the Gazette emails, too. My email program is another cool PERL script which sends out the Gazette newsletter at a rate of 10,000 an hour from my web server!

Actually, there's a bunch of cool things that I can do with the PERL scripting language that makes my life as a web master easy. Here's a few things that I'm working on right now:

  • Modify the table-of-contents-generating program to make an index for Visitor Feedback questions, and
  • Modify the table-of-contents-generating program to output only the main article into a separate HTML page, and to generate another table of contents for the list of pages generated from this batch.

Got all of that?

All of this requires that each and every one of the past issues of the Gazette newsletter be changed into a generic template so that my program knows what to look for and extract. That takes a long time to do.

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