Welcome to the weekly series “Meet The Champion”.
Last week we spoke to Jaldhar H. Vyas, the winner of Perl Weekly Challenge - 014. Today we are talking to the “Perl Weekly Challenge - 015” winner Joelle Maslak. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.
Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?
Joelle: I started programming, in BASIC on an Apple II compatible computer, when I was a child. I immediately fell in love with the idea that I could tell this machine to do something, and it would do it! I’m the only person I know who is doing what she wanted to do as a child - I always wanted to do computers for a living. In the last 20+ years, I’ve worked on computer networks, in computer security, as a database administrator, in IT management, and as a software engineer. Today, I’m a network engineer at a streaming video company.
Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl5/Perl6?
Joelle: I started using Perl 4, not 5, in 1995 or 1996 - at that time, the distributon I used of Slackware included only Perl 4. At the time, I wrote some basic CGI in Perl 4 and then Perl 5. However, after taking a job with a dotcom company, I had to actually fill in my gaps in my knowledge and learn to use Perl 5 fairly well!
Once Christmas came (well, the Perl 6.c release, anyhow), I started dabbling with Perl 6. I took Damian Conway’s “Transparadigm Programming 101” class at YAPC in 2016, which was fantastic - and as a side-effect taught me a bunch of Perl 6. But it really took Liz’s 2018 tutorial, on how to make Perl 5 modules work with Perl 6, to give me the motivation to actually make a real project in Perl 6. I’ve been hooked ever since!
Mohammad: How did you come to know about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Joelle: I’m not sure - I think I saw it in the Perl 6 Weekly.
Mohammad: What do you like the most about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Joelle: I use the weekly challenge to keep my mind engaged with new challenges. I can lose myself in interesting intellectual problems, and the challenge problems are just the right complexity to command my focus but is able to be completed in one go.
Mohammad: Is there any thing you like to change?
Joelle: I’d love to see more mentoring. The blogging has been fantastic and I’m really excited about that, but I’d also love to see a way to bring the language to people with less experience in Perl.
Mohammad: How much time you dedicate every week to “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Joelle: I probably spend between two and four hours a week on it, although if I write a blog entry that takes at least as long to write as solving all the challenge problems do.
Mohammad: Do you checkout others solutions and who is your favourite?
Joelle: Oh wow, yes, I check out other people’s solutions (after solving them myself, of course!). Honestly, I check out everyone’s because I like seeing the wide variety of ways people solve the problems. Usually someone finds a really elegant way to solve the problem, and usually someone has a new bit of Perl syntax I don’t already know (for instance, Jaime Corchado’s use of “continue” in one of the week 14 solutions was new to me - despite programming in Perl 5 for over 20 years! That’s why I love seeing all the solutions.
Mohammad: What do you suggest someone just started the weekly challenge?
Joelle: Don’t worry about making it “clever” just solve the problem. You can always take your working solution and tune it later, but start by just going for correctness over elegance. In addition to this, treat every problem as a learning opportunity. It’s also okay to skip a problem or skip a week!
Mohammad: Do you find the website user friendly? What do you like most?
Joelle: I can’t use the site on my iPhone, which makes me sad. I love the charts - particularly seeing how many people use Perl 6 to solve the problems.
Mohammad: Anything else you would like share with us?
Joelle: I find these types of problems useful for learning a new programming language. One of the ways I learned Perl 6 was doing Project Euler’s problems in Perl 5, then translating them to Perl 6. Someone who knows Perl 5 could do that with these problems to learn Perl 6.
That brings the end of the conversation with Joelle Maslak. Please do let us know your view. We will come back next week with another champion.