Meet The Champion: April 2022

Sunday, May 15, 2022| Tags: Perl

Get to know about Matthew Neleigh.

Welcome to the monthly series Meet The Champion.

Last month we spoke to Eric Cheung, the winner of March 2022.

Today we are talking to Matthew Neleigh, the winner of April 2022 of The Weekly Challenge. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.

Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?

Matthew: I’ve programmed in BASIC, Pascal, Java, C, Perl, and the Bourne shell, targeting everything from 8-bit microcontrollers to UNIX minicomputers. From personal projects to solving problems related to my degree program (Mechanical Engineering) when I was in school, it’s all been a wonderful learning experience.

Mohammad: How/When did you get into coding?

Matthew: I first started programming in BASIC on 8-bit computers in the early to mid 1980s. At one point we had TI-99/4A, an Atari 400, and a Commodore 64 in the house, with an Apple IIc+ joining the fold by the late ’80s. At first I typed in programs from listings printed in books and magazines, then started modifying them to see what effect the changes would have, or to make them work in different dialects of BASIC on different machines. After that, I got into more structured programming with Pascal in high school, where I learned a lot of my present habits, then taught myself Java and C while learning to work with UNIX and Linux in my college days.

Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl?

Matthew: I first heard about it at university, but I didn’t really try using it myself until early 2001, about a year or so after graduation. I’d wanted to use it for a few simple dynamic web pages, so I got a copy of the Camel and started learning. I didn’t do much more with web coding, but Perl quickly become a favorite language for systems programming and prototyping, and I’m happy to say that most of my C projects begin life in Perl, and a few of the first things I wrote in Perl are still in use today.

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

Matthew: I saw posts about the Challenge from Mohammad and others in the Perl Programmers group on Facebook, and after a while I decided to give it a try myself. I’ve been hooked ever since.

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

Matthew: I like that it provides a set of problems outside the ones I usually work with. Besides being a nice break from other tasks, finding solutions to new problems such as these will often lead to new methods or approaches that I can apply elsewhere later on- with a working solution already coded and ready to employ or adapt.

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

Matthew: It depends on the particular challenges to be solved, of course, but on average it takes around three hours total. Most often that is spread throughout the week, but occasionally I’ll get a chunk of time in which I can solve them in one sitting.

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

Matthew: Usually I just read the weekly reviews when they’re posted after each challenge is complete, so I get a random selection of others’ solutions, with Colin's commentary. Abigail's solutions are some of my favorites as they’re much more efficient and concise than my own, while still being readable.

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

Matthew: Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see how to solve a problem right away- see if it can be broken down into smaller chunks, or if it sounds similar to something else you’ve done or read about. Research what you haven’t seen before, put that together with what you already know, and then building up from there (one piece at a time if need be) you’ll come up with the solution.

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

Matthew: I’d just like to thank Mohammad, Colin, all the sponsors, and all participants for making The Weekly Challenge a success.

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


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