Charlie McMackin

I, Charlie McMackin, do solemnly offer these my responses to The Road to Lisp Survey:

When did you first try Lisp (meaning here and throughout the survey "any member of the Lisp family") seriously, and which Lisp family member was it?

The first time I tried Lisp was about July 2002 using CMUCL on linux. I can't say it's been real serious trial yet because I'm still wrapping my head around some of the theory.

What led you to try Lisp?

Interestingly enough the only background I've had in programming in general is two semesters of C++ in college. My main field of study is 3D graphics and animation. A couple of SIGGRAPH's ago a buddy of mine was expounding on the power of Mirai, a 3D modeling/animation software used at his work and it sounded fascinating. It became almost unbelieveable when my buddy stated that this piece of software which hadn't been updated in 2 years (at the time) met and sometimes outclassed the current day software known in the industry. It took several months before I got around to researching Mirai but when I found out it was written in Lisp. My Linux background then kicked in and my knee-jerk reaction thought was "oh that must be slow" and the second thought was "why the h@ll did they write in lisp?" I left that question unanswered for quite a while because my head was swimming with most of the common misconceptions of Lisp.

The question was revived one day when someone some where claimed that Lisp was better than Unix. At that point, for me, Unix was supposed to be the 'holy grail' of OSs...the most secure, speedy, etc. At that point I remember thinking "How the h@ll can this guy be comparing a /programming language/ to an /operating system/ !!" So the Lisp research began.

Now I am another lispnik dreaming of what a lisp machine would be capable of using modern day manufacturing techniques. Or even a better first step for my graphically oriented mind -- a lisp native GUI and windowing system. Furthermore, as a direct relation to my 3D applications, I can't help but see that almost all the current day popular 3D apps are "Greenspuns" Especially the ones that have some kind of "tightly integrated scripting" facility. So I also join the ranks of others longing to see Mirai comeback and kick some butt.

I hope you were in the mood for a longer story :)

If you were trying Lisp out of unhappiness with another language, what was that other language and what did you not like about it, or what were you hoping to find different in Lisp?

I really had no expectations as you can see above I really had no idea what I was getting into was going to be better than C++ or MEL (Maya Embedded Language--very c++ like)

How far have you gotten in your study of Lisp? (I know, that is hard to measure)

I have worked through the online tutorial linked from which evaluates your code and tries to correct it. Currently I'm working my way through SICP and the two Paul Graham books as time permits.

What do you think of Lisp so far?

Right now I could just be having the "googly eyes" from something new (well to me anyway), but looking at the history I doubt that's the case...but I love it! All the mess aka flaming I see about message passing this, and CORBA that on some of linux news sites / mailing lists seem like they would all be non-existent/resolved had Lisp "won" At the very least now, I'm hoping Lisp can come back before C# hell is inflicted.

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