There was a point during those early months of our startup when we tried something radical. Steve had been single-handedly building and administering reddit until this point and I wanted to help. Sure, we could discuss the site functionality together and I could whip up some mockups in Photoshop, but when it came time to write the software -- I was back to drawing aliens.
One day, Paul suggested I give Lisp a try.
First, some background:
Hopefully you've caught your breath now and cleaned off the coffee/soda you've sprayed on your monitor. Don't let it get in your keyboard.
So, it was with this background that I agreed to give Lisp a try. I wanted to help Steve. And how hard it could it be? You should have seen what a Pascal master I was -- a semicolon-wielding god.
And Paul was quite enthusiastic about it. His confidence was inspiring. Only later did I learn that he was doing it because of a John McCarthy-funded recruitment program. Convert twenty people to Lisp and you get a gold watch.
Anyway, I pulled out my trusty notebook (typically reserved for doodles and bad poetry) and started taking notes.
Steve insisted I use Emacs and he set up my Lisp environment for me. I liked the GNU icon.
To his credit, Steve was uncharacteristically patient ;-) with me as he explained all the keyboard shortcuts that would make my life more efficient -- once I memorized them. In the meantime, it was going to be a frustrated series of sweaty and frantic finger pokes. By the end of that first day, I had filled my first page of notes.
If you look carefully, you can see how that day ended for me.
Needless to say, I didn't become the Lisp superstar (or even mediocre Lisper) I'd hoped to be.
In fact, I gave up quite soon thereafter. But it was for the best; Steve wouldn't have been very productive if he'd been answering my inane Lisp/Emacs questions every ten minutes.
program LIFE_OF_ALEXIS (input, output);
to_do : string;
writeln('What what would like to do today?');
readln( to_do );
if to_do = 'learn Lisp' then
writeln('Just quit now.')
writeln('Don't you have some aliens to be drawing?');