- Dave and Gill, sitting in a tree... How did you two meet? Love at first sight?
It's a good story. And one that Gill tells far better than I do. September 20th 1995. I'm about six months into my first contract (Sybase, C, never heard of Perl at that point). We have a monthly Sybase contractors pub meet - like london.pm but more suits. This month we're at the Coal Hole on the Strand. My cow-orker invites his sister in law along. The sister in law is Gill. Something definitely clicks instantly. By the end of the evening we're snogging in the taxi as I take her back to Euston where she gets a train to Milton Keynes (where she lives, with a boyfriend). Within a week I've given her my doorkey. Within two weeks she has moved in. We marry just over a year later.
- Voting Labour. What, if any, regrets this time round? An anarcho liberal asks.
I left the Labour Party just before the last General Election because of their behaviour over Ken Livingstone and the Mayoral nomination. I still voted Labour in 2001. It was a no-brainer. Sure I disagree with a lot (and I mean a lot) of what they have done since 1997 but in my constituency the only alternative is the Tories and I disagree with them even more. In the London Assembly elections we had Socialist Alliance candidates and I spread my votes between them and Labour, but in the General Election they didn't put up a candidate. I probably wouldn't have voted for them anyway as a General Election vote that isn't for one of the main three parties is wasted in my opinion. So I don't regret the vote, but I really wish there was another alternative. The LibDems are looking more and more tempting to me. Many of their policies are far closer to my views that New (spit) Labour. It's my fervent hope that the Tories will self-destruct in the near future and the LibDems replace them as the opposition - thus bringing the tone of British political debate back towards the left.
- Data Munging. Dude! You wrote the book on this subject! What would you take out? What would you add? Who would you publish it through?
I don't think I'd take anything out. Maybe some of the stuff on modules like Number::Format. The XML chapter needs a rewrite. It looks terribly out of date. This is because a) the Perl XML world moves so quickly (XML::LibXML and XML::SAX weren't around, for example) and b) I didn't really know much about XML processing with Perl when I wrote it (I didn't even mention XML::Simple). I'd add a chapter on the Template Toolkit as a great tool for generating data output files. I knew that I wanted to cover it as I was finishing the book, but I didn't have time. So I compromised by writing an article for perl.com. I'm still grateful for Manning for taking a chance on publishing my first book, but you can't escape the fact that there are large numbers of people out there who only buy Perl books if they are from O'Reilly. I'm not concerned about selling more copies (well, maybe a little) but about more people seeing (and hopefully benefitting from) the book.
- It's right at the end of Desert Island Discs, which of your records would you keep? What's your book? What's your luxury?
Hate questions like this. With a passion. My favourites vary so much. All the time. The book might surprise you. I'd be tempted to go for the Bible. Not for any of the reasons that some other people might choose it. To me it's just a book. But it's one of the most varied and interesting books that I know of. For a record it would have to be some sort of compilation I think. I've got a great compilation of Stiff records from the 70s and 80s. I might well go for that. If I had to go for something by one artist it would probably be David Bowie's Diamond Dogs. Or Leonard Cohen's Death of a Ladies Man. Or maybe Highway 51 Revisited. Sooo hard to choose. A luxury item is easier. If it's allowed in the rules I'll have a laptop with an Internet connection please (thereby rendering the previous two choices moot!) If, as I suspect, that's not allowed I'll take an acoustic guitar please. I'm miles from anyone on a desert island so it doesn't matter that I sing like tortured cats - I'll still enjoy myself :)
- When is the Perl contracting market going to pick up? Justify your answer, do not attempt to write on both sides of the paper at once.
You know, I have this horrible suspicion that it might not. Ever. Everywhere I look I see more and more people turning to Java or Microsoft fuckwittage. And whilst I'm now a firm convert to the "Perl 6 is cool" club I'm far from convinced that the new version will do anything to improve Perl's image among the people who decide what technologies are used. We need whole page adverts in Fortune and Forbes. We need Perl success stories discussed on the golf course. And I don't see how that is going to happen. On the other hand, I do see one small opportunity for Open Source software in general. When this recession starts to ease off (maybe later this year, but probably next year) companies will want to start building new systems. If we can get a number of Open Source consultancies to implement cheap, robust and successful systems for these companies then we might just get enough of a critical mass to keep going. But I prefer being a pessimist to being an optimist as it's more fun when you're wrong.
Let me know if you'd like me to interview you.