Last night I finally had a chance to meet up with Thomas and Irene. They drove down from Louisville (near Boulder), picked me up and went to eat at Maggiano’s. Surprisingly, Matt and Nicole came all the way down from Boulder to eat with us, too. Thomas and I did most of the talking, but I guess I don’t feel too bad about it. One of Matt’s main motivations in coming was that he was really looking forward to Thomas and I having a knock-down drag-out fight about the relative merits of programming in Java.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to oblige him. As most people who know me know, I’m not much of a fan of Java. For small pieces of code that must be executed many times, such as game 3D engines I use to work on, I like C. For code that must be written very quickly or for most large, complex projects, I advocate more powerful languages such as Perl, Python, or Lisp. I’m also strongly opposed to “all Java” CS programs at various colleges. Pointers and recursion are two of the hardest, but also most important things CS students have to figure out in school. At “all Java” programs, they can graduate without really grokking either one.
Matt had heard that Thomas been trying to get his group at to switch from using C++ to Java. Considering what he’d heard, I guess it was reasonable to expect an argument between us. Here was Thomas’s line of reasoning though:
- Most of his old co-workers don’t understand pointers or recursion.
- Letting them code their own garbage collection is a disaster.
- Java’s pretty good for cross-platform GUIs that aren’t web-based.
- Java just might save bad programmers from themselves.
I couldn’t really disagree with any of that, so the conversation went on to other topics, such as Matt’s mathematical model for NCAA basketball tournaments that have led him to win 2 consecutive office pools (and soon a third), investment ideas, Thomas’s new company he started, etc… All in all it was pretty interesting. I don’t know too many other people who have such a range of technical interests. Heck, Thomas literally built a spaceship in his garage for the X-prize competition. Naturally, enough the conversation turned to the Russian’s plans for mining He3, which will be the topic of my next post…