Meet The Champion: Perl Weekly Challenge - 024

Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019| Tags: Perl, Raku

Welcome to the weekly series “Meet The Champion”.

Last week we spoke to Athanasius, the winner of Perl Weekly Challenge - 023. Today we are talking to the Perl Weekly Challenge - 024 winner Lubos Kolouch. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.

Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?

Lubos: I started coding when I was 10 - at that time using a smart calculator :). My first real code was written in BASIC, Z80 assembler and then in Turbo Pascal.

After graduating I started back in 2001 working for a major US consulting company. My first projects were building virtual marketplace in Java and then doing some integration work.

Afterwards, working at a major Japanese mobile phone manufacturer, I happily used Perl to build tools like market repairs analysis, payment and quality website. It continued to amaze me how few hundreds of Perl code can easily replace many days of manual work.

I continued to work on more and more interesting projects - for example my Perl code still continues to process messages from a car factory, enabling the translation, visualization, processing and finally payment of Just In Sequence deliveries to the production line. I had unbelievable fun with Perl - with every little Kaizen project to improve the solution - for example displaying images of the wheels to be delivered to the line workers. By necessity I also wrote complete HR reporting and analysis tool that the HR SW vendor was not willing or able to do.

I am now responsible to lead IT for EMEA part of a global company and I don’t have time to code as much as I would like to. I genuinely miss it and I am grateful for projects like “Perl Weekly Challenge” to keep my skills fresh. On one hand it is great that cloud technologies are making IT more simple and easier to deploy, on the other hand I am afraid it will drive people away from the fun part of IT - solving (business) problems and delivering solutions.

Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl/Raku?

Lubos: I learned Perl back in 1999/2000 when I started to learn Linux. I needed to automate some parts of the deployment and also - I admit it was not so honest - to help me play an online game (I had a bug in the script and they caught me and banned me by the way).

I had already some Java experience and I was amazed by Perl. Finally I felt I was coding the same way I was talking (programming language following the way I was thinking). It was so great relief compared to “gluing classes and methods” like I was doing in Java.

The coding speed amazed me and the more I have written in Perl, the more the language had me. Learning about the Schwartzian transformation was like from another planet.

Then I discovered CPAN and I felt like in paradise.

Perl has been my go-to language since then for every project.

Unfortunately something happened in the recent years and I am not sure this will still be the case. I think that the Perl6 naming was really unfortunate and the “Perl Leadership” focused on wrong things.

It seems to me that the Perl 6 name brought unfortunately only confusion. First of all, it might have caused many projects to switch - first - to “let’s wait for the new Perl version” - and then - “let’s move to another language until P6 is delivered”.

Perl 6 is also bringing many strange things that some people really seem to be proud of. For example Grammars. I don’t want to write and don’t care about some “Grammars” - it may be the next best fantastic thing after inventing the alphabet, but I just want to write code solving my problem! Give me break with a “Grammar”… Apologies for not being as smart as the others.

Also, I realized that Perl 5 got a bad name as being “Write only” language. I wish the Leadership spent the time to promote the Best practices in the meantime and showing the world how great, nice and clean the Perl 5 code can be.

Oh well… the world will move on and I can only hope Perl 5 will raise again like a Phoenix. Until then I am doing the Perl Weekly exercises parallel also in the serpent language.

Mohammad: How did you come to know about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?

Lubos: I am not really sure, most likely somebody mentioned it on Twitter. I did “Project Euler” and “Advent of Code” excercises before, so it immediately jumped to my attention.

Mohammad: What do you like the most about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?

Lubos: I really like that it is released every week and that the exercises are taking about the time I have for them in the evening.

They are also very interesting and fun, for example the LZW or the full text search indexes are bringing me many “aha” moments.

Mohammad: Is there any thing you would like to change?

Lubos: Yes, I wish that Perl 5 would regain the space it deserves.

Mohammad: How much time you dedicate every week to “Perl Weekly Challenge”?

Lubos: It depends, but on the average a couple of hours. Usually the excercises are done pretty fast and then I spend some time reading about the background of the problem.

Mohammad: Do you checkout others solutions and who is your favourite?

Lubos: When I have time I go through the Git tree backwards and read the code. My favourite has been E.Choroba, another Czech in the game.

Mohammad: What do you suggest someone just started the weekly challenge?

Lubos: Just do it :)

Mohammad: Do you find the website user friendly? What do you like most?

Lubos: The website is extremely nice and easy to use. I like that it brings to my attention directly the text that I need - quite the opposite of the “modern” tablet-optimized endless-pages web design I tend to see in recent years.

Mohammad: Anything else you would to like share with us?

Lubos: Thank you for the great challenge. I really appreciate that you are taking concrete steps to promote the Perl language.

That brings the end of the conversation with Lubos Kolouch. Please do let us know your view. We will come back next week with another champion.


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