August 14th, 2008

it's the monkey in the pants


In the programmer communities I frequent, there's a recommendation, a bit like "get enough calcium", that goes, "you should learn a new programming language every year." These days there are so many new ones coming out that it's easy to find the languages, it's just a question of how much time, energy and attention you want to throw at the problem.

I decided to sit down and count. And you know, if I decide that I started my programming career in 5th grade (that's about where I started to get serious, I think), then I have actually done that. In rough chronological order...

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So it looks like I was a slacker in my early work years, but made up for it recently :-)

I'm also not counting a lot of language-like complex things like file formats (RenderMan Shading Language comes to mind), language-like tools (Make, Jam, XiLinx FPGA design language) or protocols (TCP/IP, simple cryptographic protocols), though one certainly could. I believe it's a fairly similar kind of healthily mind-expanding. With those, as with programming languages, you don't learn much from the part that's mostly like the languages you already know. The healthy part is learning the parts of the language that *aren't* already familiar. Which is why I'm going to learn Haskell one of these years :-)