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A word about _why, #whyday , and Hackety Hack (steveklabnik.com)
133 points by icey on Aug 19, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

Hey, thanks for posting this.

I didn't put a link to the new release yet because I'm actually still throwing together the _massive_ update to the website and builds. Fela (the Ruby Summer of Code intern) was burning the midnight oil last night, we didn't finish the builds until this morning.

Expect more news later! As always, you can follow @hacketyhack on twitter to get the latest.

Happy Whyday everybody!

I've amended the blog post, the release is out. Get it from http://hackety-hack.com

Can someone give a quick backstory to this?

After _why disappeared, everyone decided to pick up his projects. I watched as people stood up left and right, saying "I'll take over hpricot," "I'll work on Shoes," "I've got Camping," and I thought, man, this would be a great time to step up and really give back. My only real open source contributions were my own projects, that nobody really uses. I could never seem to find anything useful to contribute elsewhere.

My favorite project of _why's was Hackety Hack. I _was_ that kid who learned to program with GW-BASIC when I was seven, and the world is totally different now. So I checked out who had stood up to work on Hackety... and nobody did.

As the day progressed, I expected someone to. It was _why's masterpiece, after all. Lots of the other libraries he wrote are part of Hackety. I didn't want the responsibility of taking charge of such a well-known project, since I'm just a nobody. I figured that someone better than me would step up, and then I could just help them.

But nobody did.

Finally, after lots of thinking about it, I gave a small little "I will." Bam. I'm in charge. Sweet! ...

Oh God, this is scary! This is a huge responsibility. What if I do poorly? Everybody on the internet will see. Can I really do this? I haven't even been coding in Ruby all that long!

Then, to complicate things, I had some personal stuff come up, and I couldn't really find the time in my schedule to actually write some code. There were also upstream issues; Hackety needed Shoes 3, which was in development still, and really unstable and an absolute motherfucker to compile. So I got frustrated when I even did try to work on it.

By Christmas last year, I had made some small modifications, and released it as 0.9, hoping to get some people interested to give me some support. But that didn't really happen. So, I trucked along, doing little bits here and there.

Finally, I had a serious breakthrough with my Shoes development. I got it to work with Snow Leopard. That's a whole other story. But the momentum and high off of doing that got me to put a bunch more work into Hackety, and I made some decent progress. Also, around this time, I got an email from Fela, who wanted to work on Ruby Summer of Code. And he wanted to do it with Hackety. Between he, myself, the Shoes team, and some of my friends, we've made really great strides with the project over the summer, and I couldn't be happier. 1.0-final should be out within a month, once we polish up some more things, and sort out a few issues. I still occasionally grapple with "not being _why", if that makes any sense. It's hard to be respectful of a legacy and yet make something your own at the same time.

That wasn't really quick, but there you go.

Thanks for picking it up and running with it, even when you hit some unexpected hurdles along the way. Sounds like you're doing a perfectly fine job of keeping the project alive.

And, BTW: "80% of success is showing up." - Woody Allen

Thank you. Someone just linked me to this video, I think the first few minutes describe perfectly how I feel right about now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hidvElQ0xE

I saw this today and wished I'd heard about it sooner. I learned to program way back when I was 4, using PET BASIC. Why did great work in the community, really encouraging people to learn and get over their fears about programming. I first ran into him while hanging out on Invisible IRC, chatting (and doing things here and there with) Freenet. Later, he got famous after his (Poignant) Guide. That only cemented my impression of him as an incredible hacker.

If there's one person I'd absolutely have to meet (and probably never will) in the programming community, it's Why. I'm sure you're out there somewhere doing great things. Good luck!

Great story, Steve. What's really sad is that because of _why's disappearance, I was introduced to Ruby and programming in general. At least something good came out of a bad situation.


> If anything, there's more Getting Started stuff available today, for free, online, than there was back then.

This is actually the problem, as I see it. Too much choice. It's paralyzing. So... creating Yet Another Thing is an ironic thing to do.

Many thanks, steve.

Thanks. :)

It's not clear to me yet if this is a "programming-pusher-for-non-programmers" or "helps-you-learn-ruby" app? Should I try it if I am interested in Ruby but am OK writing simple code?

Some background info: I am into finance and am comfortable with basic PHP, write lots of VBA macros and also code for a propriety software used by my employer (its very basic, something like C).

Hackety Hack may or may not be for you. It depends.

One of the core problems that the app solves is a toolchain problem. Instead of choosing between 1.8 or 1.9 or JRuby or Rubinius, and Textmate or vim or BBEdit or Eclipse, and then figuring out how to use them together, Hackety Hack lets you just install it and start coding. When you're teaching somebody from the ground up, they don't know _anything_, so it's best to give them something that's all wrapped up in one package.

However, all of the tutorials are just simply Ruby code, so it _will_ teach you Ruby... but you also might find that it moves more slowly than you'd like.

Really, I'd say give it a try, what's the worst that can happen? (I'm a bit biased, though...)

Anyone heard from _why since?

I remember hearing that a few of the people who run RubyConf had his real info, and found out that he's okay, just gone.

And so everyone is leaving him alone.

I don't think so. As day pass, I'm losing hope we will ever see him again as _why. I think if he's still hacking, he's hacking under a new pseudonym.

I bet it's something like _because or _whynot

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