That’s why they pay me the big bucks

My dad and I have this kind of funny relationship. We really love each other a lot, but neither one of us really understands what the other one does for a living. When people ask me what my father does, I tell them that he’s a capitalist. Because that’s as precise as I can get. He does stuff with money, usually large amounts of it, and people like what he does so he gets to keep some of it. That’s about all I understand.

On Friday, I got to drop the geek smackdown on him. I’m developing a system for his company that will let them automatically populate Adobe Acrobate ™ forms from a central data source. Long story short: they don’t need to re-type the customer’s name ten times. It’ll save them a couple hours for each new account they set up.

Part of setting up this system involved taking a list of form fields and turning it into a set of macros that I could run in Visual Basic ™. Since there are hundreds of fields, it would be really inefficient for me to type up all those macros by hand. So I wrote a script that would do the transformations automatically, and the central feature of that script was a regular expression that looks like this:

s/\(.*\)\t\(.*\)$/t"<</F\(\1\) /V\(+" XXX "+\)>>"/g

My dad came up behind me at one point and asked how it was going. I showed him the expression and said, “This is why you’re paying me the big bucks.”

He later referred to the line as “those heiroglyphs”.

(A regular expression is a formal way of specifying patterns in text. They’re used for searching and replacing in a lot of programs and programming languages. See http://sitescooper.org/tao_regexps.html for some more details.)

No Responses to “That’s why they pay me the big bucks”

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  2. staceyjoy Says:

    :-> Right on.