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Name: Dylan Northrup
Member since: 2000-06-16 14:03:35
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Dylan Northrup is a systems administrator and part-time Perl Hacker. He's written code and given it away, but not much he's done is useful to more than a few other people . . . so he languishes in relative geek obscurity . . . which allows him to actually have a real life :-)

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I survived the layoffs at Loudcloud. I'm hoping this is an indication that I'm a valuable member of the team and they want to keep me around because of my great contributions. However, it's always possible that they kept me around because it's always nice to have someone around who you can say "Gee, I'm glad I'm not in his shoes!"

Ruby coding goes well. It is so nice to have a language where I don't have to jump through hoops to get things done. I had thought Perl was the best thing since sliced bread, but (to quote an acquaintance of mine) "My head has stopped hurting." Being able to use objects to get rid of iterators (to a very large extent) and just using code blocks wherever I need to is an incredibly cool thing. Perhaps I just didn't know what OOP was until now, but if this is it, I'm sold. You had me from myArray.each {|x| do_some_cool_stuff_with(x)}. Using end instead of braces to denote code blocks is a little wierd at first, but I've gotten used to it pretty quickly.

I made the analogy the other day to my co-workers that doing a new project in a new programming language is like writing a dissertation on a topic you don't know in a foreign language you don't really know. Not only are you struggling with figuring out what you want to do with the project, but you're also having problems expressing yourself to the compiler/interpreter in the new syntax.

That was a lead in to the fact that my irritation with python has reached its breaking point. I originally started using python because it was billed as an "Object Oriented Programming Language". After reading through the first seven chapters of ORA's Learning Python, it looks to me like python is simply a procedural language with some objects bolted on. Most of the examples from the first chapters were procedural statements with only passing lip service to actually using objects. Classes aren't introduced until chapter 8 and, when they are presented they're presented in a ship-shot manner with little practical application. If I wanted no practical application for my code, there are a thousand OOP books out there to tell me how to create a generic Shape object and subclass a Square, Circle and Triangle from that, then override the Shape.compute_area() method in Square, Circle and Triangle to calculate the area appropriate for each. Is it too fucking much to ask for a reasonable example to use for coding!?!?!

Well, apparently not. The Practical Programmers in their Ruby book A) use a concrete example (that of coding a jukebox) for their discussions and B) talk about and show objects from the first chapter. Perhaps I'll give python another chance a little later, but for now, I think I'll use ruby to make my new project. The documentation is clearer and the pureness of the Object Orientation is much more appealing.

3 Apr 2001 (updated 21 Apr 2001 at 00:16 UTC) »

I'm simultaneously reading Learning Python, Programming Ruby and Java in a Nutshell (though it's the first edition, not the third, but that's the only link I could find on their site. . . *sigh*). I'm in a sort of OOP Boot Camp. I've got folks at work telling me that Python is pretty cool, friends saying that Java is the one true way and a little voice in the back of my head that tells me "Ruby, it's the Perl of the new millenium."

I'm not a big fan of typed languages. . . This and garbage collection are the major reasons I use perl instead of C. Variables and functions being sprung to life fully formed from the head of Zeus is much easier for me than having to predeclare var types, function params and return values. . . If it's important enough and not patently obvious from the name sort_by_name that it's going to take an array of hashes (which all have a name key) and return an array of hashes all sorted by the name, then I'll put a nice comment above the code to spell this out for whoever happens to want to re-use my code after me. Besides, I've always thought making things easier for the user is what computers were supposed to do. From an aesthetic perspective, I don't like a language or compiler making me do work it should be able to do. Java annoys me because of this.

Python is nice, but has some irritants to it as well (all variables are class variables, not instance variables, unless declared inside a method. . . what's up with that!?!?!? I realise I can get around this with an __init__ method, but why do I need that?) I guess it just doesn't do things in the way I think it should (which isn't necessarily a bad thing if it does it better, but from what I see right now, it just does it differently). Oh well.

Ruby just seems right at the moment. The only bad thing about it is . . . it's new and is fewer places than Python. There isn't the wealth of software examples out there that there are for Java and Python (though I believe that will change).

Who will win. Who's language will reign supreme!?!?!?

The bad thing about taking the train into work is, while I have lots of time to read, I don't have a laptop so that I can actually use the time creatively (programming, writing, editing, etc). Pen and paper are somewhat useful, but it's not so good on the really bumpy parts of the tracks (which there are quire a few stretches of). Oh well.

So things finally blew up between me and PHB. The net result being I don't have to deal with her, but I had to find another place to work. Suits me. Things are better off this way.

In the meantime, I've been working on some movies. They're short right now, but I'm working on my Premiere skills to prepare for the time when I get a real video editing machine.

Anyway, back to reading proprietary and confidential information at my new company. . . I'm not a big fan of IP nazis, but at least these guys give me free snacks and soda :-)

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