Welcome to the monthly series “Meet The Champion”.
Today we are talking to Walt Mankowski, the winner of July 2020 of “Perl Weekly Challenge”. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.
Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?
Walt: Well, it’s pretty varied. My first real programming job was working for the Philadelphia Stock Exchange in the late 1980s. I spent most of the 1990s working at a cable home shopping station called QVC. I started out there as a COBOL programmer and eventually got to use Perl and C as well.
I took a big career change in the mid-2000s when I decided to enroll in grad school at Drexel University in Philadelphia, eventually getting a PhD in Computer Science. I currently work at the Center for Biomedical Image Computing and Analytics in the Radiology Department at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. In my lab we do computational analysis of breast and lung images in hopes of better understanding diseases such as breast cancer, COPD and COVID-19.
Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl?
Walt: It was in the mid-1990s when I was working at QVC. When the internet started to take off we built a system to let customers order over the web instead of calling our order entry operators. I wrote and maintained all of the CGI scripts (using cgi-lib.pl!) that talked to our back-end COBOL code.
Mohammad: How did you come to know about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Walt: I don’t recall. I vaguely remember reading about it when it started, but it looks like the first one where I submitted any code wasn’t until Challenge 13. Since then I read through the challenges every week, but it wasn’t until the pandemic and the lockdown that I had time to devote to working on them every week.
Mohammad: What do you like the most about “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Walt: For the last month or two I’ve been trying to solve them in both Perl and Python. Each language has its strengths and weaknesses and it’s a fun challenge to try to come up with an idiomatic solution in each. I’ve also done some challenges in C and C++. Maybe one of these weeks I’ll do a solution in COBOL!
Mohammad: How much time you dedicate every week to “Perl Weekly Challenge”?
Walt: Maybe an hour or two. The last 2 weeks I’ve written blog posts about my solutions, and that probably takes another hour to write.
Mohammad: Do you checkout others solutions and who is your favourite?
Walt: The only person whose solutions I’ve ever checked out is Dave Jacoby. We met at YAPC and we follow each other on Twitter. He also blogs his solutions and tweets when he posts them. He inspired me to start blogging as well.
That brings the end of the conversation with Walt Mankowski. Please do let us know your view. We will come back next month with another champion.