Welcome to the weekly series “Meet The Champion”.
Last week we spoke to Dave Jacoby, the winner of Perl Weekly Challenge - 029.
Today we are talking to the Perl Weekly Challenge - 030 winner Kevin Colyer. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.
Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?
Kevin: This is an interesting question as I am a hobby programmer. I am a self-taught programmer starting as a teenager with an 8-bit Atari computer. I learnt BASIC (perhaps this is where my love of sigils comes from?) then 6520 assembler. I loved writing text adventures. I think the interest in parsing for games has drawn me to Perl. My original direction after school was a Maths/Computer science degree. However, my life has taken a very different direction as I been in church work here and in Belgium for decades and recently become a minister in the church of England! All along I have tinkered and taught myself different computer languages. I have a strong affinity with the ethical roots of free/libre computing. I have written a number of tools that have helped me in my admin work over the years. Recently I have a rather shaky group of Perl 5 scripts that take my essays written in Markdown and process them with Pandoc and Latex. It works for me!
Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl/Raku?
Kevin: I never could get my head around Perl 5 at first. I looked at the listings in magazines and couldn’t make head nor tail of much Perl. What were those functions operating on? The concept of a default variable was a hard one to learn due to its absence! However, I came across one of the early Perl6 Advent calendars and was stunned by some of the concepts, like the reduction operator, map, grep etc. Raku, was well, glacially slow then. So I looked into Perl5 instead, which was somewhat swifter!
As I looked deeper into Perl5 I found all sorts of treasures. The TAP unit-testing was simple, but the culture of testing changed the way I programmed. The multi-paradigm nature of Perl5 has vast amounts to teach. Then I learned RegExps. I had two things to learn now!
I think I love the expressive nature of Perl and the depth of thought that has gone into its development.
Now Perl 6 => Raku is getting fast enough more of my projects are tending towards it. I have written a very bad chess engine in Raku!
Mohammad: How did you come to know about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Kevin: Perl Weekly News I think.
Mohammad: What do you like the most about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Kevin: Programming challenges are great for learning. I enjoy puzzles and having my horizons broadened. When a community shares their solutions there is so much to look at and learn from!
Mohammad: Is there any thing you would like to change?
Kevin: No! I think it is great!
Mohammad: How much time you dedicate every week to “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Kevin: I like to spend a couple of hours or more, mostly on my day off. Great way to unwind.
Mohammad: Do you checkout others solutions and who is your favourite?
Kevin: I look most weeks to see other entries and have a peep. I always read those who blog about their entries.
Mohammad: What do you suggest someone just started the weekly challenge?
Kevin: Read the documentation. I’ve been plundering the Perl 6 documentation site as many of the solutions are hiding in plain site there.
Mohammad: Anything else you would to like share with us?
Kevin: Can I just say a big thank you to everyone who has made Perl(s) what they are today. I include all those who are just members of communities (and lurk a lot like me!) as their contribution is indirect but vital.
That brings the end of the conversation with Kevin Colyer. Please do let us know your view. We will come back next week with another champion.