Monthly Archives: July 2011

A functional language

Listened to the latest This Developer’s Life yesterday. “Education“. I enjoyed especially the Seth Juarez interview.

Along with a bunch of useful advice and insight on how to think about school, Seth recommends every programmer should learn 3 languages: a strongly-typed compiled language, a dynamic language and a functional language.

I’ve got the first two well covered with multiple languages for each, but besides a bit of Scheme in school (nothing more than the usual trivial toy problems they give you to supposedly learn anything), I’ve never really delved into functional languages.

So learning one might be a good goal to set for myself. That leaves me with two questions to get started: what language? and what project?

I can kinda learn a language by reading books or whatever, but that’s a pretty shallow surface understanding. I need a project to really get into it. Now I don’t particularly need more projects to get into, but maybe it’s something I can putter around with when I’m just hanging out at Kwartzlab making myself accessible to people.

The problem is what project? I actually understand why and how functional languages are useful these days, but none of the half-dozen or so project ideas I have backburnered jump out as screaming for a functional implementation. So what to do will require a bit of thought.

The more fun problem is picking a language. I can hear Eric‘s voice screaming “Haskell!” right about now. I’ve also heard good things about Scala. And Erlang. Then there’s OCaml and Lua and good ol’ Lisp.

Have to think about it. I have a Python project I’ve been slowly getting started on that would really help me out at work when it’s done. After that, I’ll look at functional a bit more, I think.

Inaugural Address

During our AGM last month, Kwartzlab elected a new Board of Directors for 2011-2012. The new Board begins its term today. I figure it’s a good time to look forward on the year ahead, so I gave my “inaugural address” to the Kwartzlab mailing list this morning as the Board’s new President. (Reposted from

Hi, Kwartzlabbers!

It is a great honour to have been elected to the Board of this fine and noble institution, and it is also humbling and a teensy bit terrifying to be appointed President. I am told by previous presidents, however, that the job is a doddle and that I have nothing to worry about. The fact that you are all awesome leads me to believe this is almost certainly true. But I do feel there’s a certain weightiness and austerity that comes with a title like “President” that means I really ought to get better at making speeches.

Speeches aside, I’d like to see the Board do a better job involving the membership in what’s going on. It’s the board’s responsibility to make sure we stay solvent and nobody gets killed, but after that, we all have a stake in making Kwartzlab better. When there’s something that needs to get done, any one of us can and should do it. The Board can, I think, do a better job letting people know what needs to be done so that those with the time, skill or enthusiasm can see it through. Continue reading