Programmer of the Month for October ’09: Stephen Merriman

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This time, our Programmer of the Month is Stephen Merriman – this New Zealander is absolutely passionate about programming. He’s been a regular fixture on our leaderboard since July and stood 1st in the September Challenge. Some tidbits about Stephen– he makes websites for a living, loves the Harry Potter series and Roast Chicken is his meal of choice.

More from the Programmer of the month himself:

Stephen Merriman

Name: Stephen Merriman
Age: 23
Institute: none, though I can throw in a shameless plug for my work:
Userid: TripleM

Brief introduction about yourself (under 140 characters): Having not discovered programming contests until university, I now love them, and was very excited when I found a new one in CodeChef.

How/When did you start programming?
It’s quite hard to remember, actually. I remember making games in BASIC on an old Acorn Archimedes when I was very young, and then when my sister took some computing papers at university I would watch/read her textbooks. So maybe somewhere from 7 to 10? After competing in the IMO throughout high school, I never discovered programming contests until part way through university where I competed in the ICPC and found Topcoder among others.

What do you do when you’re not programming?
What do you mean not programming? Oh yeah, I do find time to play soccer during the summer, and attend a weekly pub quiz (sadly, there aren’t enough questions about programming for me to be any good).

What do you like most about CodeChef?
The contests, of course; I love entering any contest I can find online. Plus the fact that all those crazy targets at TopCoder don’t compete, so I actually have a chance of winning 🙂

How many hours a day do you program?
Seeing as my job involves programming all day, let alone the time I spend solving problems on SPOJ, CodeChef or competitions like the Codejam, it’s probably too large for me to want to think about!

What’s your favourite book and why?
This is going to sound a bit repetitive after Anshuman and Varun, but make that three in a row for Harry Potter; maybe there’s a connection between programming and magic? 😉 I’ve always found novels about magic enjoyable. Plus, I have read all 80 something Agatha Christie murder mysteries (the link is more obvious there, problem solving <-> whodunit).

If you could eat dinner with any famous person (past or present), who would it be and what dish would you have?
Boy, that’s a tough one.. the dish would be roast chicken just because it’s my favourite meal. I’d have to think more about this but for now let’s say Fermat, just to see if he really did have a solution to Fermat’s Last Theorem.

What are your plans for the future?
Currently I’m perfectly happy with my job; I get to work from home for my sister, sleep in a bit, and make websites all day. I can’t see this changing any time in the foreseeable future, but we’ll see how things go. Competition wise, I’m hoping to get through to the Codejam finals this year as I did last year.

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