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Interviews | January 6, 2014 2 comments
If everyone got to talk to Richard Powers for 45 minutes, humanity might go ahead and evolve to its next level. Unfailingly kind and generous,... Continue »
Mark Jason DominusDescribe your latest project.
I'm writing a book about code review and refactoring in Perl. In each chapter, I'll take one real program or module, written by someone else, and go over it carefully, making gradual changes, and explaining why I'm making each one. The end result in each chapter is a program that does the same things, perhaps a little faster, with fewer bugs, and code that's easier to understand and maintain, but is 30% smaller.
I'm also finishing up "linogram," which is a program for making line drawings and diagrams. You give the program a rather vague description of what boxes are connected to what, and it figures out where everything goes and draws it for you. Unlike a WYSIWIG drawing program, if you later decide that all the 3x5 rectangles should be 2x2 triangles instead, you can make one simple change to the input specification, and the program will recalculate and redraw everything instantly.
What inspires you to sit down and write?
Chess or video games?
I like video games that involve killing monsters. A few years ago I hacked DOOM so that the monsters would explode when you shot them. Often this resulted in a very satisfying chain reaction of exploding monsters.
What's your favorite blog right now?
What was your best subject in high school? Your worst?
Describe your favorite childhood teacher and how that teacher influenced you.
Describe the best museum of science and/or industry you've ever
visited and what made it great.
The National Science Museum in Taichung is awesome, too. After I went there in 1991 I waited thirteen years to be able to go back. It's great because everything in it is so Chinese. For example, there's a room with exhibits about different parts of the human body. Each exhibit is accompanied by a little figure of a person with the relevant part highlighted in red. In one of the exhibits the little figure has a red yin-yang symbol. That's the exhibit that's about your yin-yang. You wouldn't see that in a science museum in the U.S.
My favorite exhibit in the London Science Museum is the one with the forty different designs for steamboat paddlewheels. When you push the button, you can see them all going around.