In your second attempt you should use 'sprintf
As it is, you are setting $ymd to the value returned
from actually printing (using printf).
So printf actually
prints the desired value. Then '1' (success) is assigned
to $ymd. Then that '1'
is printed by the line: print "$ymd";
This also explains the result of '1.summary'
in your final trace print.
If you say
my $ymd = sprintf("%04d%02d%02d",$year+1900,$mon+1,$mday);
you should be fine.
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