The second guy interviewed in Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming is Brad Fitzpatrick. Here is a small reflection on this chapter.
I had the feeling from the very beginning that this guy is a real badass. Someone who will hack the companies to get what they really offer. Not that they wanted to offer, but that they really do through the holes in their rules. I can relate ourselves to him, I think we often do something like that with Mummy Sherpa.
AOL was sending free CDs to those who asked for them. Of course only one per person. Well, he used all the variations of his name he could imagine - and much more I think. He received uncountable quantity of CDs and in the end it was AOL apologizing… Just for the record: we wouldn’t do anything like that. We don’t need so much crap in our flat, we already have.
He also made more money a month with banner ads during high school than a lot of adults do a year. Amazing guy, amizing ideas.
I would mention two of his interesting ideas here. He really likes Perl, because it lets him write in basically any stlye he wants. He can use it for static typing, dynamic typing, functional style, etc. But if he could get something he really wants, it would be optional static typing. He would like to give the runtime hints in certain parts of the code and declare types. But at some points he would like to just mock around and don’t care with that.
I would like to finish this short post with one his idea I really appreciated. A developer told him about something that “Java takes care of that; we don’t have to deal with that.”. He got frustrated because that was not true on that specific kernel version. Nowadays you don’t have to know all the low level programming that was inevitable a few decades ago, but you should at least “understand at least the surface of the whole stack”.
So take your time and look under the hoods. I think not a lot of people do it these days. If you do, you’ll certainly stand out from the crowd.