Meet The Champion: September 2023

Tuesday, Oct 10, 2023| Tags: Perl

Get to know about Robbie Hatley

Welcome to the monthly series Meet The Champion.

Last month we declared BarrOff, the winner of August 2023.

Today we are talking to Robbie Hatley, the winner of September 2023 of The Weekly Challenge. I hope you are going to enjoy the interview.

Mohammad: Tell us about your technical background?

Robbie: I’m a Computer Programmer and Electronics Engineer, among other things. I started programming as a college student in 1973 on the twin IBM-370 Computers at Orange Coast College (Costa Mesa, California), using APL, Fortran, JCL, and BASIC. I transitioned to C and C++ when I got my first actual paid programming job in 2002.

Mohammad: How/When did you start using Perl?

Robbie: At work I’ve mostly been doing embedded programming (2002 to present), so I mostly use C and C++. And I used to use those languages at home for data-management programming (finding files, bulk file renaming, removing duplicate files, cloning directory structures, etc). But C and C++ suck at those tasks. So I starting writing such programs in AWK instead. But then an engineer friend of mine told me "You should write that in Perl instead!". So I started learning Perl in 2005, and in 2015 I transitioned all programs related to text, files, and directories to Perl, primarily due to its excellent support for Unicode and regular expressions.

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

Robbie: After I started making heavy use of Perl in 2015, I looked for Perl groups on Facebook and found the "Perl Programmers" group. On joining that, I was exposed to The Weekly Challenge. I submitted my first entry in January 2021 (#97), and I’ve become a regular participant starting in September 2022 (#183 and onward).

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

Robbie: It’s a chance to practice Perl programming regularly, with challenges ranging from easy to hard.

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

Robbie: I’ve spent anything from 30 minutes to 8 hours, but typically I’ll spend 30 mins on ch-1 and 60 mins on ch-2. That includes writing and debugging the scripts, pushing to my own Github repository, writing a blog post, pushing to the main PWCC repo, and sending pull requests.

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

Robbie: I don’t check-out others solutions as much as I should, because of time constraints, but I do from time to time. One PWCC member I’ve recently enjoyed reading is Matthew Neleigh: well-organized and well-commented code; no guessing "what does THIS do?", because it’s clear what each piece of code is doing.

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

Robbie: Learning Github and git is going to be your biggest hurdle, so dive right in and learn and practice git as much as you can. Tip: install the “micro” text editor then set git to use THAT for commit messages instead of vi (its default); that will make things much easier.

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

Robbie: Two words of advice to all Perl programmers: Be grateful. Imagine if Larry Wall had never invented Perl? And you had to rewrite all your Perl code in C? The horror! One-liners become 5 pages of code! Ewww. So be grateful that we have this concise, flexible language and don’t take it for granted.

That brings the end of the conversation with Robbie Hatley. 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