i make beer, music, and code. sometimes in that order. @aberant on twitter

a letter from _why

because of his disappearance, i thought i would share a letter i had received from _why in 2005.  i had just started learning ruby after a year or so break from development and emailed him because i was trying to figure out the path to enlightenment. i’ve learned from this email to put less importance on what is right and instead try to learn from everything, including times when i’m completely wrong.

I’ve shortened the email slightly to keep focus.

I do not write tests for my code.  I do not write very many comments.  I change styles very frequently.  And, most of all, I shun the predominant styles of coding because that would go against the very essence of experimentation.  In short: all I do is muck around.

So my way of measuring a great programmer is different from some prevailing thought on the subject.  I would like to hear what Matz would say about this.  You should ask him, seriously.

I admire programmers who take risks.  They aren’t afraid to write dangerous or “crappy” code.  If you worry too much about being clean and tidy, you can’t push the boundaries.  (I don’t think!)  I also admire programmers who refuse to stick with one idea about the “way the world is.”  These programmers ignore protocol and procedure.  I really like Autrijus Tang because he embraces all languages and all procedures.  There is no wrong way in his world.

Anyway, you say you want to become better.  I mean that’s really all you need.  You feel driven, so stick with it.  I would also start writing short scripts to share with people on the web.  Little Ruby scripts or Rails programs or MouseHole scripts to show off.  Twenty lines here and there and soon people will be beating you up and you’ll be scrambling to build on to those scripts and figure our your style and newer innovations and so on.

Until an asteroid,

_why
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