Meet The Champion: April 2023

Tuesday, May 2, 2023| Tags: Perl

Get to know about Thomas Kohler

Welcome to the monthly series Meet The Champion.

Last month we declared David Ferrone, the winner of March 2023.

Today we are talking to Thomas Kohler, the winner of April 2023 of The Weekly Challenge. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.

Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?

Thomas: Growing up on a farm, I learned a lot to improvise: When a machine was broken, we fixed it with whatever was available. When I finished school and finally went to University to study in 1994, I bought my first computer, a 486-DX2 with 66 MHz. I started by studying Mathematics, with Computer Science as the second topic. Shortly after starting my studies, I installed Slackware Linux in parallel to the pre-installed Windows 3.11 (which I barely used anyway). A modem connected me to the internet shortly after, and in the course of the following years, I switched to studying Computer Science as my main subject. I used all kinds of programming languages - dependent on what the corresponding professors preferred: CAML light, C/C++, Java, Prolog and a few others. I finished my studies when I got my Diploma in early 2000. During that time, I also had some contact to a few people that had a complete dial-in infrastructure and a 2 MBit uplink to the internet and also helped a bit with system administration there. Since 2000 I have worked for multiple companies - as a consultant, a programmer, or a system administrator (my current job title is system development engineer). In all these jobs I had all kinds of possibilities to write tons of smaller or bigger scripts - mostly in Perl or Bash, and in some rare cases I also did some C, Java or Ruby programming.

Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl?

Thomas: In 1995, I read quite a bit about web programming and decided I would like to look into that. After some research it looked like Perl could be a good choice, so I bought a copy of the German translation of Randal L. Schwartz“Learning Perl”. While reading that book and writing a few first little programs I decided Perl would be a good fit not only for web programming, but also a lot of the other scripting I did on a regular basis, so I started to write longer more serious scripts in Perl instead of Bash.

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

Thomas: I’ve been reading Perl Weekly newsletter for a while, which always mentions The Weekly Challenge, but since I don’t have too much time at my hands being a father to two little kids, I took quite some time before I actually decided to give it a go.

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

Thomas: I’m not sure which I like more: Having a short little challenge to write a script to solve it, or later looking at some of the other participant’s solutions. Sometimes, I learn about a few neat tricks doing the latter.

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

Thomas: I don’t know exactly, but I would think about 5 to 30 minutes per programming task, then another 5 to 10 minutes to put up a blog about it and create the CR for my solution. How much time I put into reading other people’s solution completely depends on how much time I can find in that particular week - in some weeks, I don’t find any time at all, in some weeks, I might take two hours for this.

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

Thomas: When I have time, I check some of the other solutions. I don’t have a favorite though - some people not only have neat solutions, but also write much more detailled blog articles than I can find the time for, and I enjoy following their thought processes. Sometimes I wish I would have had more time for polishing my own blog posts, especially when reading some of the really good ones, but my current schedule won’t let me do that, so I will live with that limitation for now.

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

Thomas: Have fun with the challenges, but also read as many other solutions as you find the time for. And don’t only read the first two or three solutions all the time: Read solutions by different people. You can learn much more when you see different people tackle the same problem. And if you happen to be in a situation where you want to learn another programming language, you could also profit a lot by reading the corresponding guest contributions as well.

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

Thomas: Everyone who does some programming as part of either their job or in their free time should give The Weekly Challenge a go. It’s not only fun to do it, it also helps you to learn a lot more, especially when reading other people’s solutions. Thanks to everyone who is involved in The Weekly Challenge, especially to you, Mohammad.

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


If you have any suggestions or ideas then please do share with us.

Contact with me