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My first Python programme?

I interviewed with a large multi-national who does great projects and has a quirky style. During the interview I was asked to write code in my favourite language. That caught me off guard - I had anticipated just pseudo-code, so I hadn't brushed up on non-IDE programming (yes, yes I used to be quite a manager type).

Suddenly I had to think very fast and hard about what was my favourite programming language. My answer, "I have no favourite programming language - the declarative/OO ones are all the same." That was an honest and considered answer, with 20 years of programming experience and a break of a year to get some distance, what other people have been saying for a while also appeared obvious to me. The interviewer was suspicious. He thought I was dodging the issue and asked for an elaboration. My response was: "Libraries and frameworks are what is steep about the learning curve when you start a new job. Learning a language takes minutes iwth a good book and IDE." And this IS true: if you understand Java and C#, C++ and C-pointers, Prolog backtracking, ASM jumps, stack frames etc. you have enough of an overview of mem management issues and algorithmics to avoid nasty traps in almost any language. You just KNOW where to ask how the language is interpreting your code.

I had to think of that interview recently, when I was under pressure to finish an OpenOffice.org BASIC script. I knew what I was looking for and found an example doing the same thing in Python. I cut and pasted the python code into my basic file - it worked without any further editting and I could go to sleep.

(P.S. I didn't make it into that company - luckily - I don't think I'd have been happy there. The moral of the story: don't challenge the interviewer if you want the job, but stay philosophical if you want to be happy.)

Posted: June 3rd 2007 11:17
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