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Payday Loan Blog - Reflections on 2006 and a New Language

 
 Monday, 08 January 2007

I know. I'm a little late to the New Year's post game, but I'm going to do it anyway.

It's been an interesting year for me. I got hired on full time (woohoo!). Back in January of last year, I was doing content writing (normal site stuff, not blogs), link building, and putting together the occasional site. Now my job's completely different. I still do some content writing: this blog. I don't do any site design work, and I don't link build much. I train the new hires, but that's not common enough to be counted in my day to day activities. I do some server administration work, but those are on autopilot for the most part. Mostly I do our open source programming – Perl and PHP. I'm kind of amazed considering my only previous programming experience was a couple of classes in middle school using BASIC. Not Visual Basic. Not QBASIC. BASIC on Apple IIe's with line numbers and all.


10 CLEAR

20 PRINT "Hello, World. PHP hasn't been invented yet, and Perl's only 3 years old."

30 GOTO 20

40 REM We'll never end! Muahahahaha!

50 END

I guess I did have that one class in college that involved VBA in Excel, but I don't really count that.

In February, Joe handed me a few books on Perl and PHP, and basically said "here, learn to program". So I did some reading. My first task was getting a pre-built PHP script working. It should've been easier than it was, but I was new to PHP and the script had some issues. Naturally, the tasks got more complex and involved, and now I'm building multithreaded, multi-process Perl programs and doing all sorts of PHP stuff on the web. Not exactly what I thought I'd be doing with a Philosophy degree. It worked for Paul Graham, I guess it can work for me too.

Enough with the reflections, time to look forward. Over the past year, I've learned a fair amount about programming, and run into my fair share of limits and problems. Some of them were normal learning to program issues, and some were limits of the language. There was the long running Perl program that ate all of my memory because Perl doesn't free the memory used by lexically scoped variables when the fall out of scope because they might come back into scope. PHP's great for the web, but it's lacking some features that come in handy when I'm doing stuff that's not going to be on the web. I think it's time to pick up a new language. I've been reading a book about Ruby programming since Ruby on Rails is popular right now. I'm not sure Rails will fit in with how we do things, but Ruby seems like a good language and would have the added benefit of forcing me to learn object oriented programming. I've also heard good things about Python. It seems to be quite versatile and it supports threads. It's being used in everything from content management systems for the web to graphical solitaire games. However, the idea that white space matters seems a bit odd to me. Once I figure out which one I'm going to learn, I'll let you know. Then I'll let you know how you can use it to help you build your payday loan sites.

JonK



Monday, 08 January 2007 00:04:49 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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