Welcome to the monthly series “Meet The Champion”.
Last time we spoke to Noud Aldenhoven, the winner of Perl Weekly Challenge - 040.
Today we are talking to Wanderdoc, the winner of January 2020 of “Perl Weekly Challenge”. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.
Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?
Wanderdoc: Actually I am an amateur in the world of programming. I graduated in 1985 and worked as a surgeon. It ran in the family - I am a son and a grandson of a surgeon. I had been interested with mathematics all the time however. My thesis dealt with the modelling of the outcomes of various treatments. It was of course merely using statistics software, not the real programming. After 20+ years in the operation room I moved to the hospital statistics and audit department. You have a lot of data here, from databases to csv files, lately xml as well. There are standard tools to work with this data of course. However they are not flexible. If you want to do something special as advanced data simulation or text parsing you are on your own. I made many attempts of starting programming with VBA but was knocked down by the syntax. And then by chance I discovered Perl.
Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl/Raku?
Wanderdoc: It was 2011. After a dental surgery I was unable to work (and properly speak) for some time. That was a time to meditate. I thought that it was also a good point for the next attempt with starting programming. In the local book shop I found two books on Perl. I have heard the name of the language already. One book was very heavy and thick and was written by one local author. The other book was smaller and this was the Llama book. They hat cost about the same so I could get more pages for the money with the first book. I have chosen the second one and this was a lucky strike. Everything was just right - beginning with the spirit of the language. The main thing was that I was able to understand the logic and did not just copy-paste the snippets. Two months later I discovered PerlMonks. That was the second stroke of luck. Since then I am there too - only under another nickname :-) The journey begun with the portable Strawberry Perl at work and at home. Of course I am still an amateur. But it is much fun to develop the new possibilities. Using Perl is a part of my daily work now (not that it was possible without some convincing). With Perl I can better understand the programming in general (at least I hope so). I can a little bit more now but Perl is and always will be my main and favourite language.
Mohammad: How did you come to know about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Wanderdoc: I have read about the Challenge in PerlMonks. It sounded very inspiring. One do not have challenging tasks in the job every day. They help to make progress however. I tried myself on Project Euler but with the tasks after fiftyish it became too hard for me with my background :-) There was an interesting competition on Contest Coding but it was over quickly. Therefore I was very glad to hear about the new competition.
Mohammad: What do you like the most about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Wanderdoc: The Perl Weekly Challenge provides a very broad range of tasks, it’s what I like the best. Furthermore one can compare own solutions with the solutions of the real experts. And of course the code reviews are very informative. This is a happy combination of competition and discussion.
Mohammad: How much time you dedicate every week to “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Wanderdoc: I would like to have more time for this (as I would also like to work more with Perl in general as I do now). Usually it takes several hours a week, as a rule at weekend, however the task with the smallest multiple consisting of digits 0 and 1 was on my mind for the whole week. I take advantage of joing the Early Bird Club so that I can reduce the time pressure.
Mohammad: Do you checkout others solutions and who is your favourite?
Wanderdoc: After I submit my solutions I look at others, of course. I learn a lot from Choroba, Athanasius, Laurent Rosenfeld and many others. The code reviews of Ryan Thompson have great educational value for me too.
Mohammad: What do you suggest someone just started the weekly challenge?
Wanderdoc: I am not up to the task of giving advices to the real programmers :-) I feel very much at home here and what I would say to the people like me is - just do it. Try your own ways, do not feel embarrassed, you are welcome here and you can learn and progress.
Mohammad: Anything else you would to like share with us?
Wanderdoc: Thank you very much for choosing me as a winner, this was a big surprise for me. And thank you very much for running this project, Mohammad! Please keep up the good work.
That brings the end of the conversation with Wanderdoc. Please do let us know your view. We will come back next month with another champion.