The Double Entendre of Regular Expressions

Since I am a gamer, I have a tendency to switch between gamer mode and developer mode sometimes without thinking. I’d like to introduce you to a few regular expressions that I may let slip when I accidentally switch between modes.

FTW, 4tw – “for the win” : This is a good thing. Basically if something good is happening or if we think something is really awesome, then we say “4tw”. For example, if out of the blue, a friend surprises me with one of my favorite treats at this time of year, I may say something like “Peeps 4tw!”.

FTL, 4tl – “for the lose”: Yes, I know that’s not grammatically correct. However, that’s what the kids kept telling me it stood for. This is the opposite of “4tw”. So, if I don’t want to do something but I have to do it, it’s usually “chores 4tl”.

IRL – “in real life”: This is as opposed to the life we live online. When you’re offline and dealing with people in a face-to-face setting (and not chatting with them online while you’re sitting right next to them), that’s considered being IRL. Sometimes IRL can be a harsh reality.

There’s a bigger list of gaming things at Rei’s Random Guide to MMP Gaming Terms.

Now the other reason for this post (and hence the title) was because I was thinking of regular expressions, of the pattern matching kind. When I first ran into regular expressions, I was writing in Perl. While looking at sample Perl scripts, I had a few head explosions along the way. Most of those were due to funny looking symbols that looked quite cryptic, syntax used in this thing called “regular expressions” (regex, for short). There’s definitely nothing regular looking about it, so I understand many people’s frustrations with it.

For me, after the initial head explosions, I realized that I must be a sick and twisted individual – I was starting to get the hang of regular expressions and fell quickly for them. I felt just how powerful they could be and what they could do for me.

To reaffirm my love for regular expressions… my very first C# program was not a “Hello world” program or some demo. I figured out how to write a script to read files from a directory, find certain patterns (regex!), and store all the data in one flat file to eventually be used in a database. That was almost 11 months ago, and it was a windows app that did what I needed. It got the base for my app, and it gave me a lot of self-confidence in learning a new language. If I could fit the screwiness of regular expressions into a language I wasn’t familiar with, I knew I’d be fine.

If you’re one of those people who can notice patterns well, then regular expressions is definitely a very powerful tool for putting your pattern matching abilities to work. Once you learn how to “speak” it, it’s one wicked (in a New England sense) tool.

A couple resources for regular expressions of the pattern matching kind include:

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