Fata Morgana (chimerically) wrote,
Fata Morgana

Asperger's, code maintainability, etc.

After meeting Bram at a party last Saturday, I saw his face on the cover of a magazine at our place today (probably one dag29580863 picked up from CodeCon). So I decided to poke around the web a bit and learn what there is to learn about him. He says he suffers from mild Asperger's (Wired claims that Asperger's "gives him almost superhuman powers of concentration"), which I've seen a couple of times before in family friends. In one place it says he's self-diagnosed. I don't like it when people self-diagnose mental illness, because often they're wrong (sometimes even confusing one mental illness with another) and they undermine the credibility of real mental illness by doing so. In addition, self-diagnosed Asperger's seems to be a somewhat popular excuse among some geeks to explain their lack of social skills, though I've read that Asperger's is actually no more common among engineers than the general populace.

Anyway, he seems like a typical hacker (and I mean that as a compliment). I'm happy that he likes python too:
My favorite language for maintainability is Python. It has simple, clean syntax, object encapsulation, good library support, and optional named parameters. An example of a language which is terrible for maintainability is Perl. Yes, I said it. No, I'm not going to back down.
One commenter responded: "However, Perl has CPAN. With CPAN, you have complexity out of a can, enabling you to write even smaller programs." Like many perl programmers, he misses the point. Smaller is not necessarily better, especially when it comes to code maintainability. While it's good to be succinct, the fact that you can do what may take dozens of lines of other code in one line of perl code doesn't mean that that one line is at all intelligible, especially if your code must be maintained by anyone other than you (or even if the code is only for you, judging by the frequency with which my resident perl expert curses his so-clean, so-clever perl code over a few months old). Perl can be written semi-decently - the TWiki source code is pretty readable, even if practically every other line is a comment - but when it is, it looks a lot like python or other more structured languages anyway! Okay, enough hacker ranting. (Don't even get me started on VI ...)

Anyway, it's cool to have friends and friends of friends doing such interesting things, even if I don't have much to talk about with them at parties. :~)
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