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It is a freakin' blast watching people work through these. The pleasure is ours.

Regarding time commitments: it is hugely variable, mostly I think because different people put different priorities on finishing. The first set should go very quickly.

I would love it if these took a month of work, but people have gotten through them in a couple days, and there's some delay built in there because of email.

The bit about priorities is spot on. I got the first set done with Ruby in a week's spare hours. The execution speed (and some of your other posts) have me motivated to learn Go, so set two is on hold until I get comfortable with brute forcing ciphers in a statically typed language. If I were European I'd probably be done by now :)

If you already know ruby, have you considered using JRuby for this? I wouldn't besmirch anyone trying to pick up a new language, but I am curious to hear if there were any technical reasons for going with something else.

Just for the fun of it, really. I'm sure MRI or JRuby would suffice given properly considered execution strategies. Optimizations have been half the fun for me so far with MRI 1.9.

With kids, client work and generally having a life, I'm getting about one or two hours a week tops to work through them.

If I were working on them full time I'm confident I could get as far as I am now (mostly finished the third set) in about a week.

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