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26 August 2005 @ 08:40 am
So I tried to read the Data Structures chapter last night, but it didn't work so well ... there wasn't one in Learning Perl (though I'd been convinced there was) so I fished Programming Perl off the shelf. Data Structures is chapter 9 ... so off I went and started to read. Er, what's a reference? So J explained and while the explanation makes perfect sense I couldn't hook it up to what the text was talking about. But never fear! References are the subject of chapter 8, I'll just backtrack a little. Unfortunately, chapter 8 made even less sense ... so I've gone back to the beginning of the book, and hopefully I'll hit chapter 9 at a run sometime soon-ish ;) Interestingly, even the first chapter (which is an overview) tells me things Learning Perl didn't cover.

I spent a largish chunk of the afternoon looking at our insurance stuff - I think we're over-endowed with life insurance. When we got sold it, we were pretty sure we were being over-sold, but we made the decision that we could afford it and it's better to have more insurance than you need rather than find out that you've got too little. Now, however, I've got the time to actually look into it - and I think we could save a non-trivial amount of money by ditching 2 of the policies, as we seem to be covered for critical illness twice each (in different fashions, for differing terms, but still). I need to get J to read through the paper work too, and re-read it myself after a pause to forget any assumptions I made this time, then I'll probably be writing and cancelling some of the stuff. Then we can look into moving the buildings/contents and life insurance policies elsewhere, partly because of the crappy service we got when our kitchen ceiling fell in, and partly coz I think they're more expensive than average policies.

Insurance is a) dull and b) overly complicated.

More icons were made. They collectively and singly suck. The picture I've got as a source irritates me. Dunno why, but that's my reaction. So the icons are particularly sucky.
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: U2 "Vertigo"
jaqjaq on August 26th, 2005 08:27 am (UTC)
perl tutorial
If you want another source to compare, I've found Steve's place Perl tutorial quite handy.
Margaretpling on August 26th, 2005 08:45 am (UTC)
Re: perl tutorial
I've bookmarked that now, ta :) Always good to have multiple explanations of things.

I think I just tried to jump in the deep end a little quickly, and if I actually read from the beginning of the book then I'll be able to understand it when I get there ... really, what would be sensible would be to find something about basic programming concepts, so the explanations which expect you to know how to do what you're trying to do, just not in Perl, would make sense more quickly ... but I rather enjoy the whole bootstrapping process (I learnt HTML by reading a book about CSS, for instance) :)
Johnjarel on August 26th, 2005 08:55 am (UTC)
Re: perl tutorial
There's always the Knuth books! ;)
Margaretpling on August 26th, 2005 09:14 am (UTC)
Re: perl tutorial
Someday one of us should read them ;)
jaqjaq on August 26th, 2005 09:05 am (UTC)
Re: perl tutorial
I think perhaps one of the problems with Perl is that it's so flexible and forgiving that it won't necessarily in itself teach you good programming practice.
Margaretpling on August 26th, 2005 09:15 am (UTC)
Re: perl tutorial
Hmm, yeah, I can see that. Well, that gives me something to do next after Perl ...
magidmagid on August 26th, 2005 11:30 am (UTC)
Life insurance covers critical illnesses? I think over here life insurance only pays out once one is dead, to console the survivors (which is why even the insurance salesman who caught me agreed it's foolish for a single person without dependents to buy).
Margaretpling on August 26th, 2005 11:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, you can get life insurance without critical illness cover, but most that I've seen give you the option. Critical illness is carefully defined though, I can't remember what the various things are off the top of my head though. The sort we have that I think we'll keep is a joint policy that lasts for the term of the mortgage and pays out on the event of the first death or critical illness - the sum paid covers the remainder on the mortgage (it decreases every year in approximately the amount one has paid off) - the point is to remove the major financial burden on the household at a time when it may be too much. Normally one is required to take out life insurance when getting a mortgage - I can't remember if that's a legal requirement, or if it's just that the majority of mortgage companies won't lend to you unless you do.

The other sort which I think we'll ditch is a policy each which lasts for the remainder of our normal working life and pays out to compensate for loss of income/increased costs due to critical illness - it's a fixed payout, and there's no death benefit as that's in the other package they sold us. I had somehow got it in my head that the second policies were our only critical illness cover, but looking at it yesterday we clearly have some cover in the death benefit one, so I was clearly confused (and possibly led to be confused, if you see what I mean, though it's always in the documentation so it's my fault for allowing myself to be confused).
magidmagid on August 26th, 2005 12:07 pm (UTC)
There wasn't any requirement here (official or otherwise) that I get life insurance when I got my mortgage. I suppose the assumption here is that the heirs will deal with any outstanding balance (or not). Hm... I wonder if it's part and parcel of people moving more frequently here. (And frankly, again, it's just me. I'm sure my sibling and parents will be oh-so-focused on my flat if I pop off suddenly. Right.)

I get long-term disability through my workplace (though I think with an option to add extra coverage), which sounds a bit like the critical illness coverage you're ditching, though the payout isn't fixed, I don't think.

So far, I haven't bought any non-possession-based insurance other than what my employer already offers (or sometimes choosing a higher level of coverage).

And it sounds like the insurance docs are just as bad there, almost as bad as tax form explanations! :-)

Margaretpling on August 26th, 2005 12:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it still to me only really makes sense if you've got someone who's hoping to continue living in the place. Though thinking about it, it does solve the problem of your heirs inheriting your negative equity - I don't know if the US housing market has been quite so screwed up as ours has in the last 15 or so years? Back in the early nineties house prices crashed sufficiently that a relatively large number of people had larger balances left on their mortgages than their houses were worth ... obviously if you die in that position then selling the house won't cover the debt so your parents/siblings/whoever would be saddled with the problem. Whereas the life insurance deals with the problem. And that's a reason for the mortgage companies to be bothered about it too - if they might not get the money back, I mean. So I've just convinced myself that it makes sense in terms of the UK housing market ;)

We've got buildings/contents insurance, mortgage payment protection insurance for J (pays out monthly for the first year of (unexpected & not voluntary) unemployment, covers the cost of the mortgage only - doesn't cost much and is nice for peace of mind even though we have savings and could theoretically cover it) and life insurance (some of which we need).

And yeah, I hate insurance docs.
magidmagid on August 26th, 2005 12:40 pm (UTC)
Oops. See comment below for actual reply.
magidmagid on August 26th, 2005 12:39 pm (UTC)
I know that housing prices were high in the late early 90s, and dropped after that; that's why I paid less than the guy downstairs who'd bought a couple of years before me (reasonably equivalent flats), about the same time as you mention. I don't know whether it was only Boston, or more of the US. And I don't know enough about inheritance law to know how personal debt impacts the heirs. I mean, it might be that the bank takes all the proceeds, and they're also insured against sometimes taking losses on mortgages. (Or something like that.)

In general, though, I think the assumption is that non-commercial real estate is a pretty safe, generally increasing, sort of investment. I keep hearing that the housing bubble in Boston will burst, but so far, it hasn't. (It doesn't affect me, as long as I don't want to move; my place will likely never go back to the price I paid for it about a decade ago, which is less than half the currently-assessed value.)
Randal L. Schwartzlivemerlyn on August 27th, 2005 04:22 pm (UTC)
See the followon book
Learning Perl is for your first 40 hours. For complex data structures, see the middle of the sequel book, "Learning Perl Objects References and Modules" for your *second* 40 hours.
Margaretpling on August 28th, 2005 08:07 am (UTC)
Re: See the followon book
Ahha! I'll see how I get on with Programming Perl (as we own it already - instant gratification counts for something ;) ) but if I get too bogged down I'll pick up that book :)
hatter on August 31st, 2005 10:10 pm (UTC)
In learning about references, as you've pretty much alrady found, you only actually use them when you're building complicated data structures.

1) arrays are not the only structures - though an array is the easiest one to understand, if you've experienced them before.
2) because of this, you can have an 'array' where each row has a different length - it's not a matrix, it's a list of lists
3) because each row isn't actually necessarily a row, you need some way of saying "row-like-thing that could be a list/hash/object/other"
4) deep structures get confusing - often the first thing to do once you're iterating over one is convert the reference into an easily typable var (eg my %currenthash = %($struct[$i]{$j}) rather than talking about $struct[$i]{$j}{'this'} and $struct[$i]{$j}{'that'}) Unless you're doing somthing Clever with map().
5) ref() is your friend, as is Data::Dumper in trying to figure out wtf you've done in that structure and why you're getting ARRAY[34563] and REF[45627] when you should be getting "yes" and "17"
6) all this is because a list or a hash can only hold a scalar, but you can refer to anything with the correct sigil ($, %, @, &, etc) and a scalar
7) one day you'll have to look back at 7) When you alter a reference, you alter the thing you're refering to, in all the places it's referred to. Occassionally this is not what you want, and will take you a while to remember it the first few times it bites you.

Don't know if that helps any.

the hatter