I am Zed A. Shaw and I write for fun and profit.  I am the author of Learn Python The Hard Way, Learn Ruby The Hard Way, and many open source projects. I am also a musician and recently an artist, although I don’t really call myself either of those. I tend to hate most technology and most technologists despite being an old school hacker of technology.

I block comments on my writing because I believe you should go say what you think of my words on your own site instead of shitting all over mine.

19 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello Zed Shaw,

    I just read your essay on flow. As a scientist who has always been intrigued by art and had many artist friends I have often preoccupied myself with the question of what defines art. I liked your perspective on it. I just wanted to comment on flow (something that my writing lacks). I took a break from studying for a few years to work as a bike messenger in Switzerland, and we bike messengers always talked about our flow, we used that exact term, even in german. When you are moving through heavy traffic at full speed for hours on end, you also find a flow just as you described it. Your mind and body mesh completely as you constantly plan and replan the next move in a rapidly changing environment while pushing physical abilities and also planning the best way to manage all the drop offs and pick ups you have on your docket. It was a surprisingly complex job, and the flow was incredibly satisfying. It was the reason some of those guys continued to do the job until they reached 50, despite the physical and fiscal difficulties. In fact, I have also experienced something similar while doing complex sports such as backcountry skiing and climbing, and would argue, perhaps as you just did, that any sufficiently complex activity can yield a flow like sensation.

    Anyways, cool essay. I enjoyed it.



  2. Zed,

    I would love to read your article on boot camps, but I can only find “The Coming Boot Camp Destruction.” Could you please send me a link to the main article you promise in that one? I am considering doing a boot camp and want to hear what you have to say.


  3. Hey Zed, I’m new to programming. I started a rails course for beginners last week (OneMonth.com). I came here from the Code Newbie interview you did this year in about January.
    I work as a janitor at the moment, I want to make programming my profession.

    I liked how you said that you teach coding by making people write it out first and then you explain the concepts behind it.
    This mirrors how I’ve been learning German with a bit of Japanese and Polish on the side for about 6 months, it’s true that it’s easier to practice reading, listening, writing and speaking in the language first and then try to understand the grammar. It doesn’t work the other way around even if you already understand complicated concepts like the Instrumental case and the subjunctive mood (I already speak 3 languages).

    Funny that you mentioned in the interview having to program old software and dealing with company politics as though they’re terrible things to deal with, try throwing dead cats into trash cans a few days in a row (that was a past job).

    Thank you,


      • Basically it was a job cleaning sidewalks, I worked there there to help support my parents while they struggled to get their alternative medicine business.

        By the way, is getting a computer science degree really necessary for getting a good programming job?


      • It depends on where you want to work, but in general skill and ability to get shit done trumps education nearly every time. A degree plus skill is usually the very best. Also, if you want to immigrate to another country to work then you’ll need a degree.


      • Zed, I don’t know where to ask this but I’m stuck. I’m on lesson 48 of the lrthw course, I’ve been banging my head against it for a few weeks, I managed to finish ruby on code academy during this time, and am having a lot of trouble with figuring out what to write there.
        The test worked first when I just wrote the functions but as soon as I write a portion of the first line of code from within the directions function I have no idea what to write. Maybe I missed something. I tried with the whole code of the first function in the test file but nothing worked.
        The games that I wrote in a few previous lessons worked but now I’m completely lost, no idea what to write. I’m considering giving up on the course and moving on to Michael Hartl’s Rails course..


  4. I started to learn python with Udacity and Codecademy, although I don’t deny they are useful enough, they made me confused and tired sometimes. But since I came to your book, Learn Python The Hard Way, I am enjoying learning. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey Zed, I have been following up with your new, Projects The Hard Way, site and I haven’t seen any updates in a while. I was just wondering if you are still working on that? I completed the logfind project and have been waiting for the code reviews, videos and whatnot.


  6. Zed, I haven’t read any of your code (but I have started looking at your SQL The Hard Way proto-book), but I gravitate directly to the words, “The Hard Way,” which is (in my experience) The Only Way. And, I can’t wait to qualify as a Motherfucker Programmer! (I’ve been programming for 35+ years, so, I’ve seen ’em come and go. I’m pretty sure I’ve achieved at least the motherfucking part.) My wife just happened to notice your manifesto. I’m a Rails guy these days, so, yeah, I remember Mongrel. And, of course, I remember Donald Knuth. I’m looking forward to trolling through your extensive–and, it is very impressive–on-line collection of books and blogs. Please consider me to be a motherfucker-in-spirit with you!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s