Barry Hess, hacker

Barry Hess

Hi There!

You've arrived at my website and are probably wondering what I do. For the moment I am mostly being a husband, dad, brother, son, and friend. That's quite a big thing! In the past 20 years I have spent my time building software using everything from COBOL to Ruby. Most of the projects you see below are of the Ruby variety, of course. I have been fortunate to build a lot of awesome software being used by lots of awesome people. I am very thankful. The coming months and years will provide new opportunities, whether inside or outside of the world of software. I'm excited to see what they will be!


I have been blogging since 2004. Initially the posts were banal, but over time it became a way for me to share the things I was learning as I left enterprise programming for independent and start-up development. More recent topics are general to career and lifestyle, taking on a short essay format.


From 2007 to 2019 I was part of an elite team at Harvest building the best time tracking and invoicing software on the planet. I developed new features as well as fine-tuned all kinds of existing functionality. In a small dynamic organization I worked on many different things from helping our support team provide the best customer experience on the web to building out entirely new sections of Harvest to leading the entire engineering team.


Retired. A private online discussion area for your team to share short messages. We developed Co-op at Harvest to give our distributed team a bit of a watercooler to gather around. An interesting shared cache solution was built to integrate with Harvest at as high a speed as possible.


Retired. I enjoy playing softball in the summer and I found managing the bits and pieces tedious. Scorebooker is an elegant way to quickly enter stats and schedules for your team. Rails has helped me build this site quickly, and jQuery provides fine-tuning for user interactions.


Retired. For a long time I have wanted a photo blog with a single focus: large pictures. Inspired by The Big Picture, I started with the excellent Scanty blog engine and built this focused engine to address my needs. Snapped, my photo blog, is now online. And the software has been open sourced.

Time Warp

When writing Ruby tests, it is often desirable to bend time in order to test limits and edges of the day. It is especially useful to warp time to test results across the timezones of the world. Manipulating time is also useful to assure a day of the week, month or year every time the test runs. Time Warp seeks to make this edge-case testing more bearable.

World Clock Project

Retired. Working at Harvest, time becomes a passion. So we put together a tight little Rails app with crowd-sourced photos of clocks from around the world. World Clock Project seeks to have a timepiece for every minute of the day. It comes close!

Magic Lunch Ball

It's silly. Every week you have a standing lunch date with three indecisive people. Being one of those indecisive people, I whipped up a little JavaScript app to randomize our lunchtime decisions. It's out in the open for you to use with your lunch group.


Early on at Harvest we were still doing client work, and in 2007 I spent a lot of time with the excellent AFS Intercultural Programs. I mostly worked on enhancements and bug fixes to the custom-built Rails CMS. The CMS managed many sites, in multiple laguages, around the world.


Another outstanding organization from Harvest's client days was Teachers & Writers Collaborative. I helped build the Radiant CMS site, including a shopping cart extension and PGP encryption extension.

Follow Cost

Retired. Built with Luke Francl, Follow Cost measured how frequently people tweet. This helped you make informed choices about who to follow on Twitter. Fun not only due to its usefulness, but also my first chance to experiment with Sinatra. I also created a userscript to bring Follow Cost into the Twitter web UI.


Retired. My first Rails app, Scrawlers was built as a combination learning project and personal passion. I partnered with Nate Melcher to build this online writing workshop focused on 100-word stories. It was a great way to learn Rails. Though the business-side of things failed, it was also useful to experience running an app with real customers and real usage demands.

Hai to the Ku

Retired. Inspired by the sheer quantity of haiku on Twitter, I built Hai to the Ku to display a babbling stream of Haiku in a more friendly interface. Using jQuery, JSONP and the Twitter API, Hai to the Ku was a great experiment in building a bodyless app.

Paste Forward

Retired. Early in the lifetime of many apps, bug tracking amounts to automated emails. As a team grows greater than one, discussing these bugs becomes tedious. Paste Forward is a general purpose service that takes the content of an email and turns it into a Pastie paste.


Retired. Ventorium was inspired by the claim early on that Twitter was the killer app for bitching. If you mentioned Ventorium in a tweet, Ventorium would bitch at you. The interesting feature of Ventorium is that its bitching was crowd sourced, being taken and repurposed from the complaining of other Twitter users.

Crush It!

Gary Vaynerchuk is an inspiration to many. One day I got inspired and created a little bookmark that would bring his trademark phrase "Crush It!" to any site on the web. Not my most useful project.

Get Hoffed

Another retired project, Get Hoffed arose from my desire to build something in one day. For some oddball reason I decided a single page to see all the latest in Hoff would be a worthwhile use of my time. A simple integration with the Twitter and Flickr API's followed, using some Ruby scripts and the StaticMatic static website generator. · vcard