Meet The Champion: January 2022

Thursday, Feb 17, 2022| Tags: Perl

Get to know about Alexander Pankoff.

Welcome to the monthly series Meet The Champion.

Last month we spoke to Peter Campbell Smith, the winner of December 2021.

Today we are talking to Alexander Pankoff, the winner of January 2022 of The Weekly Challenge. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.

Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?

Alexander: I got interested in computers early in my childhood. My first programming experiences where around the year 2007, where I got my feet wet with Python. A little later I got introduced to my first Linux (SUSE) system at school. Having the whole system waiting for me to play around with, and being able to customize every aspect of the system got me hooked immediately. Since then, I’ve sticked with Linux as my daily driver, picked up a few other programming languages and finally became a professional software developer.

Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl?

Alexander: Besides from the occasional Perl script you tend to come along in Linuxland, I started using Perl seriously in 2015. I got my first job as a software developer at a hosting company with a big stack of In-house developed Perl software. I received a copy of Modern Perl from a colleague and mentor, which turned out to be an excellent introduction into the language for me. I quickly became a fan of the language, it’s expressiveness and the concept of TIMTOWDI. At my current company we don’t use Perl, so my usage of it is mostly limited to the challenges here, and occasionally for some glorified bash scripts.

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

Alexander: In mid 2020 Kai Burgdorf (also a member of the Team), at that time a coworker of me, told me about The Weekly Challenge. I checked it out, submitted my first solution in Week 75 of the challenges and got infected with the virus. ;)

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

Alexander: At the moment it is probably a mix of the kind of tasks we are given, and that I get to use Perl to solve the challenges. I’m also very happy with the scope and frequency of the challenges. Checking out the new challenges has become a fixed part of my Monday morning routine, and my motivation is not burned up by to many tasks that I can’t or don’t want to keep up with.

Another personal highlight for me are the reviews by Colin Crain which I can hardly wait to be published each week.

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

Alexander: I don’t have a fixed time slot dedicated to the Challenge. Most weeks I find some time during breaks, evenings or on the weekend to solve the task. So far I’ve spent about 1 to 4 hours on most weeks. Recently I started writing Blog posts about my solutions, which will, if I keep up with it, probably add one or two hours to that average.

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

Alexander: Usually I finish my own implementation before looking at other solutions or checking any other resources. At the time I create my PR I check out some other PRs for the current challenge and then wait for Colin’s Review to look at the other solutions in Perl and read some Blog posts by other members.

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

Alexander: Even if you’re new to Perl or Raku - don’t shy away from sharing your solutions publicly with the Team. I think we are a really friendly community and the feedback you receive if you’re lucky enough to make it into the review is really valuable.

If you need help or suggestions for your solutions, feel free to drop me a mail. I will do my best to help out. You can find my mail on my GitHub

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

Alexander: First of all a BIG thanks to you for initiating and keeping this amazing project up for almost three years now. I also want to thank Colin for the immense effort he spends on the reviews each week. They are a big part of what keeps me motivated doing these tasks. And of course thank you to all the other contributors - without all of YOU this would be a much more boring place.

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


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