The interview meme

1 PM June 2, 2005

I asked Richard to interview me. Responses are below. Instructions for furthering the meme:

  1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
  1. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  1. You will update your weblog with the answers to the questions.
  1. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  1. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

1. Java or Python? I jest. Done any Python coding lately?

I got paid to write Python code earlier this year. We needed to call the Windows Speech API (SAPI) from our Java application. SAPI is an ActiveX API, and I couldn’t find a Java-ActiveX bridge that looked to be up to the job. However, Java can call native executables, so I coded up the SAPI calls in a short win32 Python program and then turned that into a standalone Windows executable with py2exe. Underscoring Python’s brevity, the Java code needed to reliably call native executables is longer than the Python program it calls.

Aside from that, I have just been coding the odd script, and I am up to question 10 in the Python Challenge. (By “am up to”, I mean “am stuck on”.)

On the question of “Java or Python”, I’m hoping that Groovy will grow up to be nearly as programmer-friendly as Python, while still being acceptable to the Java crowd. Time will tell.

2. How neat are your children?

‘Neat’ as in cool? Mitchell (10) is in the Australian Youth Choir which will perform with the Vienna Boys Choir at the Sydney Town Hall in July. That’s pretty neat. Connor (age 7) said to me the other day, “If I grow up to be a computer nerd like you, I’m going to write a program that is a game.” That was pretty neat too.

‘Neat’ as in tidy? I’d say average. On the plus side, they clean away their own plates after meals, don’t drop crumbs on the floor and almost always take uneaten bananas out of their school bags. On the minus side, they have inherited their father’s handwriting and I despair of ever seeing the walls of their room again (although the floor now makes regular guest appearances).1

3. What’s the coolest sci-fi you’ve seen or read recently?

Battlestar Galactica, because:

  • The sets are big, solid and dirty. Just like a real spaceship.
  • Generally speaking, the scripts respect the laws of physics. (The main exception being that, in the Battlestar Galactica universe, you will probably survive if your spaceship is shot up several hundred kilometers over a planet, provided you have a Major Character on board.)
  • Acting, direction, lighting and camera work are more than competent. Better than most police dramas, and light years ahead of Star Trek TNG.
  • Best TV series space battles so far. I was in awe of the hundreds of ships, thousands of missiles and detailed smoke, but then I realised the ships having moving parts too. Also, whoever directs the battle sequences deserves an award for the way they direct the viewer’s attention – it’s like being on a theme-park ride at times. (Coming off an ad-break, Channel 10 once showed a title graphic indicating the show was broadcast in 1080i resolution – almost reason enough to buy a digital TV tuner before the next season starts.)
  • The characters are well thought out and balanced. They each started neatly pigeon-holed as standard sci-fi cliches, but over the course of the season we got to see all kinds of strengths and weaknesses, some quite subtle. I’m now pretty sure that Commander Adama is the wrong person to be in charge of humanity’s reserve of nuclear weapons.
  • Best of all, the over-arching plot is a good yarn. You know they’ll make it Earth, but you don’t know who will die along the way, you don’t know which Major Characters are actually bad guys in disguise and you certainly don’t know what the Cylons really want from mankind.

Mind you, if you had asked, “What are the ten coolest sci-fi’s you’ve seen or read recently?” I could have answered that too.

4. Are you coming to OSDC this year?

Yes, I plan to. Last year I came back to work bristling with ideas and enthusiasm. Partly that was from the great programme, but mostly from trading ideas with the people there.

This last week I started thinking about what I might submit. Perhaps something short on Groovy or Java. I’m definitely interested in doing a lightning talk this year.

5. What excites you about programming?

Programming gives me a buzz in three ways. First, I enjoy discovering how to make computers do things. The more tricks I can make a computer do, the happier I am. One reason I get a kick from Python is its ability to glue together all kinds of bits in new and interesting ways.

Second, I love the process of meeting people’s needs, from sitting down with them to understand their requirements, figuring out a solution that works for everybody, and – especially – delivering finished product that makes people’s lives better.

Third, I get warm, fuzzy feelings from expressing complex problems in simple code. The programming efforts I remember most fondly are those that took several days to produce a few dozen lines of really easy to read code. Reading other people’s simple-code-to-do-complex-things is just as enjoyable.

Thanks to Richard Jones for taking the time to think up five good questions.

1 Mum, I know you’re reading this. Before you comment, I would just like to remind you that Richard asked if my children were neat. He did not ask if I was neat as a child.

By alang | # | Comments (8)
(Posted to javablogs, Python and Java)


At 23:13, 02 Jun 2005 Chris wrote:

Cool. Interview me...

At 02:29, 03 Jun 2005 Alan Green wrote:


1. What are your hopes and dreams for Jeyanth?

2. Last year, you worked part time for a while. Aside from the obvious benefit to your family and personal life, did working part-time in office of full-timers have other advantages?

3. What are your hobbies?

4. According the USPTO website, you are named as inventor on 9 patent applications. Which is the best one?

5. Which living person do you most admire?

At 08:28, 12 Jun 2005 Kate wrote:

Interview me! I am very dull, but also bored. :)

At 08:24, 14 Jun 2005 Alan wrote:

So pleased you asked, Kate!

1. It's 2060 and you're looking back on what you consider to be a very good life, thus far. What made it good?

2. Harry or Frodo?

3. Are you an Aussie or a Pom?

4. Is voluntary student unionism a good thing?

5. Of all the food you've cooked, what's your favourite?

At 10:40, 16 Jun 2005 Alan Green wrote:
At 18:48, 22 Jun 2005 Nick Christy wrote:

Interview Me

At 02:14, 07 Jul 2005 Laurence Green wrote:

Looks so interesting, but after finding the little Pausie sister i had to ask her ^_^;;


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