Meeting some of the programming gods

Last Friday I attended a Siemens event in Brasov, called Curious Minds. There I had the fortunate chance of meeting some of the programming gods.

The event was focused on introducing the D language to the masses and the main speakers were Andrei Alexandrescu and Walter Bright with a guest appearance from Scott Meyers.

Who might those gods be, you ask?

Walter is the creator of the D language and to be honest I didn’t hear about him until this event. But by simply observing his talk you could plainly see how awesomely knowledgeable he is in compiler technologies and low level stuff. His talk was about Interfacing D to legacy C++ code and he did a wonderful job presenting the hurdles that D overcome in doing so. Did I mention he also wrote a fully compliant C++ compiler back in the days? A true humble and elite old-school geek!

Andrei is something more of a curious case. He used to write for C++ columns and wrote some books on C++ like Modern C++ Design and C++ Coding Standards (co-author) yet after a while he gave up C++ and switched to D. He was an important contributor to the language and has since become a co-founder. He used to work at Facebook as a research scientist but quit that too and focused his entire resources on D.

A few cool things about D was the title of the keynote in which he presented some interesting features of the language constantly comparing them with other languages, both interpreted as well as compiled. This one really nailed it for me and made me curious in finding out more about D.

The title of the second talk he held, Writing quick code, quickly led me to believe it’s about how D can help you write code quickly, but boy was I wrong; it was all about low level stuff and performance optimisation, guidelines that every programmer should know, regardless of the language.

Andrei’s talks were full of energy revealing his intrinsic nature. That guy is one cool guy!

Scott is an author and consultant on C++ software development. If you happened to read any of his Effective series books (Effective C++, More Effective C++, Effective STL) then you definitely know his unforgettable style. This guy is a brilliant speaker, a very humble person and a fountain of wisdom. I totally loved his style!

As it usually happens, it was impossible to stick to the schedule so at the end they had to drop some talk and replace it with a book-winning-contest in which one would have to ask the panel questions that would yield the most embarassing answer in order to win a book from the authors. There were 8 books per total and 400 people so the chances were slim. Walter had two Programming in D copies, Andrei had one each The D Programming Language, Modern C++ Design and Scott had three Effective Modern C++ copies. Needless to say I wanted them all :)

I launched my questions to the panel and both Scott and Andrei came forward with a book in their hand. Alas I could only take one book so I received the Effective Modern C++ that Scott so gracefully offered. Snap! I would have wanted the D book too, so bad, since who knows whenever I’ll get the chance of meeting the guys again in order to ask for an autograph.

All in all it was a wonderful evening. When the event finished I went to Scott to sign the book and asked him if he minds if Andrei and Walter sign on it. Turns out he didn’t, so now I have an Effective Modern C++ copy signed by the three gods. Yey! While I asked Andrei to sign it, he told me that I had the best questions and answers in the whole conference (the performance talk comes to mind, when after answering a mantissa related question, Andrei said “me and this guy are going to have a beer after this talk”). Needless to say that the impostor syndrome was gone for the rest of the night.

As an aftermath, I started learning D and I’m constantly amazed by the beauty and convenience of the language. Thanks, guys!

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