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I have enjoyed writing software for many years. I am way short of good at it by any standards but I have a lot of fun. I haven't written much recently, to the relief of Jim Chapman our Technical Director I suspect. He, Joe and Al are the main Eigenlabs developers and they are very 'elite', very scary looking C++ and lovely looking Python. So I've been staying away from that code in fear of damaging my own project.

I used to write quite a lot of C and C++ years ago. I wrote many of the original foundation classes for Hyperlink when we used to build great big web sites all in CGI programs. I wrote all the code for one of the first ecommerce sites in the UK, the Waterstones online bookstore, C++ backed by the Illustra ORDBS. You can tell just how good my C++ is by the fact that Jim Chapman rewrote all of my original base classes within six months after I had tempted him back from New York to be Hyperlink's Technical Director.

I am probably somewhere in the league table of 'most money made in shortest time whilst programming' though. Sometime in 1995 a chap called John Langford contacted us. He was Chairman of a recruitment advertising company TCS and wanted to know if we were interested in a joint venture to build a recruitment website. Sure we said. I left the software for the site until the last minute then went to stay with my mother at her house outside Colchester in Essex for the weekend. She didn't see much of me because I started writing (in Perl) on my laptop that Friday evening and didn't finish until 3 am on Sunday night. I did sleep in between, just not very much. I had actually pretty much finished it by then, it needed a little work after, but not a lot. It had a CV database (Gnu DBM files and a bespoke HTML and plain text templating system for output), searching, email alerts, matching, and a load of of other features. It was quite well featured and was my first introduction to the power of scripting languages and the speed at which one can work in them. We eventually rewrote it in C++, a decision I had much cause to regret later in terms of how long it took, how much it cost, how reliable it was and how easy it was to maintain.

We sold later and our share of the proceeds was 2.5 million pounds, so I always think that weekend, although I didn't see much of the lovely spring, was probably the most lucrative I'm ever going to see. Thank you Larry Wall.

Recently I've eschewed C++ as only for mad people, and fallen in love with Python. Perl became very ugly to me when they shoehorned all the OO stuff into it, and it never was great for anything large, but Python is elegant, nice to write and can be very succinct. We use a mixture of C++ and Python at Eigenlabs, C++ for all the stuff that has to run fast and Python for anything where speed of execution is less of an issue. It works very well.

I've now started offering Programming Bounties for improvements to open source software. I often get irritated by shortcomings of applications on Linux, and I thought it was time to put a little money where my mouth is. If you have the skills and interest please make me happy and have a go at one.

Go to Programming Bounties For Ubuntu/Linux

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