I was a little late getting this week's IT Conversations newsletter out because I was trying to finish my tool for building the newsletter. I like building tools because they help me leverage my time.
The newsletter tool is written in Perl. It downloads and parses two different RSS feeds and a zipped CSV file with ratings data. I only want items in the two RSS feeds that haven't been seen before so I have to have a persistent hash to remember the GUIDs of previously seen items. The tool also sorts the shows using the ratings data (which I index by GUID). A template contains the boilerplate. It was a fun little project.
Before this, I've been using a Movabletype template to construct most of the newsletter and then sorting and editing by hand to get the final product. That took about 30 minutes. I just finished using the newletter tool and the total time was less than 5 minutes (I still do some hand editing after the tool does its work). Not bad.