Interview with Adrian Ettlinger

Posted 30 Sep 2003 at 18:40 UTC by shlomif Share This

An interview with Adrian Ettlinger can now be found online. Adrian Ettlinger is an experienced Electrical Engineer-turned-Software Engineer who is best known for his work on Freecell Pro and other contributions to Freecell-related research.

The interview was conducted over IRC in August 21, 2003 and was later edited and corrected by E-mail correspondence. Among the highlights of the interview are dealings with old computers and processors that are underpowered in today's standards, the history of his work on Freecell Pro, and his work on AniMap (as well as answers to several other random questions that were thrown at him).

This is the first interview in a series of interviews with open source developers I'm conducting. One of my intentions is to interview some off-the-spotlights developers whom I came to know.

Ah, those electrical engineers, posted 1 Oct 2003 at 05:48 UTC by exa » (Master)

I wish they all learnt how to code!

It doesn't take an engineer to be a programmer. On the contrary, it's necessary not to think like the design-automaton that most engineers are indoctrinated into for becoming a creative programmer!!!

I learnt the best of my programming skills not in course assignments but in long hacking sessions of my own. If it weren't for the Amiga, I would never be a programmer.

Now I'm a computer scientist, but I must say that only 1% of all computer scientists I've known were hackers, the rest wrote junk. And they thought the junk they wrote was worth the effort.

One's Quality of Code, posted 1 Oct 2003 at 18:30 UTC by shlomif » (Master)

exa: well, I agree with you that many (or most?) software professionals write very bad code. However, it is not particularily specific to one's background. There are Electrical Engineers who make good programmers, or even Biologists or people without any high education. On the other hand there are many people who are software engineering Doctorates and write very poor code.

There is an essay here title "The Programmer's Stone" which aims to capture the root of good programming. It mentions at the beginning that there does not seem to be a direct correspondence between one's education, experience or other factors on one's code quality.

That put aside, I also feel that I learned more from things I experienced on my own, than from working on assignments. Still, going to the Technion was not a total waste, because I still learned a lot from what I was taught in class, and from working on my assignments.

I once told my friend that some people are better programmers after one year of experience than many are after ten. It's sad, but true.

Still, what does this has to do with the article? And FYI, Ken Thompson (of UNIX fame) studied Electrical Engineering as well and I think one can safely say he is a great programmer.

freecell solver?, posted 1 Oct 2003 at 20:39 UTC by ncm » (Master)

Can somebody post a very short exposition of why anybody who doesn't write freecell solvers should care about them or about the people who write them? Are you wasting our time, or is there really something subtly but deeply hackish about the whole endeavor?

I didn't really say something specific about EE, posted 1 Oct 2003 at 22:34 UTC by exa » (Master)

shlomif: I said only 1% all CS grads write good code. That's probably the same as EE grads.

I can imagine that there are CS PhDs who don't write good code. It's quite possible, hopefully I won't be one of them :)

Otherwise, I agree with you.


Re: freecell solver?, posted 2 Oct 2003 at 07:44 UTC by shlomif » (Master)

ncm: the interview with Adrian covers many other things he has done besides just Freecell. Note that Adrian did not only work on a Freecell solver (that was originated by Don Woods, of Adventure, Intercal and the Jargon File fame), but also created a sophisticated Freecell game named Freecell Pro.

As for your question: people who like to play Freecell may be interested in Freecell solvers; not only that but people who are interested in game AI may be interested in them as well. Not only that, but Freecell solvers eventually tend to incoroprate many interesting algorithms, so people who are interested in such algorithms may be interested to take a look.

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