In those texts, they talk about 'old friends' like boost, SDL, Xcode, Objective-C, never-ending-toolchains, and supercomplex interfaces to third party software (APIs, security layers, etc.).
In my opinion, and without having spent as many years as those guys (or commenters at HN) on computers, it's true that the starting barrier to any new environment seems overly complex for the functionality we get. Most of the times, external tools solve deficiences of languages. Being a tool geek myself (probably, I have spent more hours than you trying and configuring window managers and editors), I have the feeling that entering most of new environments is more complex than it should be.
Want to do a rails app? no problem, you just have to handle a few technologies/tools:
ruby, rails, cucumber, rspec, rack, passenger, bundler, rvm, gems, html, js, ajax, css. Then, keeping compatibility with Chrome, firefox, safari, opera and, God forbid, IE.
Not bad, eh?
Well, if you want to write the views in a more confortable way, you can use haml, sass, compass, coffescript, that will compile to their ancestors, and will make you a happier person.
You see? (I hope you get the sarcasm)
Every now and then I think about Dan Ingalls quote:
"An operating system is a collection of things that don't fit into a language. There shouldn't be one"
And drool when thinking about smalltalk.