Meet The Champion: July 2021

Friday, Aug 20, 2021| Tags: Perl, Raku

Get to know about Flavio Poletti

Welcome to the monthly series Meet The Champion.

Today we are talking to Flavio Poletti, the winner of July 2021 of The Weekly Challenge. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.

Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?

Flavio: As a kid, I loved my C64 for programming, most because I was really bad at games. Probably little patience and poor coordination skills! This got me started into programming.

I didn’t do much until university though, where I took Electronics Engineering and got (re)started using technology and falled in love with programming again. I had a few phases: Pascal, C, Matlab, C++… I liked a lot to solve problems with programming.

After the university I started working as a consultant in the telecommunications field, so programming was part of my spare time and, from time to time, to support some analysis. I discovered Linux and started dabbling with Perl, initially to solve a few problems but doing a lot of copy-and-paste. I’m not proud to say that I once thought that the one-parameter form of open was the only one available… I’m not sure what I was using at the time, I sort of remember something like Perl by Example but I couldn’t find it again online.

At work my role evolved into that of a solution architect, mainly in the telecommunications world (I worked for and later at Ericsson for about 20 years). I had the luck to touch a lot of different technologies, living in the “cloud explosion” which later led to the widespread use of containers and container orchestration platforms.

Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl?

Flavio: I would say that I started dabbling with Perl around 1999, but it was not until 2005 that I really got into it and learned to use it (more) properly. I have to thank Perl Monks for being such an amazing resource for learning, and also the Italian community for being so welcoming.

Mohammad: How did you come to know about The Weekly Challenge?

Flavio: I read the Perl Weekly newsletter since some time and I read about it there. It took me some time to join because at the time I was doing a lot of exercise programming in CodinGame and I honestly didn’t have time for other challenges. Then I started blogging daily… and The Weekly Challenge was both interesting and amazingly useful to fill two posts per week!

Mohammad: What was the inspiration behind your Raku contributions?

Flavio: I’ve been intrigued by Perl 6 when it existed, and by Raku now since quite a bit of time, but due to time and maturity I didn’t do anything to really learn it. I think that now it’s a box full of surprises and I like finding out them; I have to admit that I only use it for The Weekly Challenge, though. By the way, I like it very much that both languages are considered “at home” in The Weekly Challenge.

Mohammad: What do you like the most about The Weekly Challenge?

Flavio: The challenges usually hit a sweet spot between being too easy and too demanding. With some exceptions, of course. I also like that the challenges can usually be addressed with brute force, so that it’s really something for everyone.

But this is only the technical side. The thing I like most is the crew: I think you do an amazing job at keeping it alive, and I also enjoy Colin Crain’s reviews, which provide a lot of useful feedback and insights.

Mohammad: How much time you dedicate every week to The Weekly Challenge?

Flavio: I would say that it’s about 4 hours on average, between writing the solutions and writing the blog posts.

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

Flavio: I have to admit that I don’t usually read other’s solutions, except in what Colin points out. I love Abigail’s solutions anyway, both in the code and in the blogs.

Mohammad: What do you suggest someone just started The Weekly Challenge?

Flavio: Well, first of all I’d say that this is not like many sites where there is some kind of “judge” for solutions. Nor this is Advent of Code, where you have to provide the right answer for your puzzle. This is an occasion to do some coding, leaving out a lot of details to imagination. So my suggestion would be: don’t take things too literally and take shortcuts that allow you to get a proof of concept of your solution.

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

Flavio: I think I already thanked you for keeping this alive, but doubling down will not harm. Thanks!

The thanks of course extend to the whole crew, including Pete Sergeant that provides sponsorship to the challenge, as well as all participants! Without them… I could not enjoy Colin’s reviews. So a special thank to Colin too.

Last, if anyone is interested into having some feedback or help with their code, I can provide some help - I guess it’s not difficult to find me. I cannot guarantee on the results though!

That brings the end of the conversation with Flavio Poletti. Please do let us know your view. We will come back next month with another champion.


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