[ I took over editing the SAGE-AU journal for a while ]
Well, this is my first go at being SAGE Advice’s editor; so hopefully, I won’t screw up too badly. Thanks to Donna Ashelford for all her efforts these past couple of years and Lee Monette who continues assembling the copy and doing all the hard yards in pre-press.
You may be shocked, but occasionally I make mistakes. However, in striving for perfection, … oh yes, I made a mistake. Simon Hancock of Praxa wrote to me after the publication of the last newsletter and pointed out a mistake that I’d made in my previous article in SAGE-Advice. Instead of each regional office having three class A’s, as stated, it was one class B subnetted from the 10.0.0.0/8 CIDR network. Just the facts ma’am.
W. Richard Stevens 1951-1999
William Richard Stevens died on September 1, 1999. He wrote or co-authored seven books, three RFCs, and other papers, including the seminal “Unix Network Programming” and of course the “TCP/IP Illustrated” series. He contributed immensely to the ‘net, bootstrapping knowledge of arcane networking to computing professionals everywhere. It’s sad to see the passing of yet another “great” in the Internet world, with Jon Postel passing on last year.
However, it’s also especially sad to see the deterioration of social grace in online communities, such as slashdot. It might surprise you to know that Slashdot used to be a firm favorite of mine. But a substantial minority of the slashdot “community” reacted to Richard Stevens’ death in a way that just shocked me. I think I’ll quote Tom Christansen, a noted perl hacker:
Good bye, Rich. Good Riddance, Slashdot
In my nearly two decades of habitation upon the Arpanet and its descendents, never before have I ever had the misfortune to witness so distressing a thread of messages as these. This unspeakably sickening invective against so kind a man, a man whom most of you never even knew, can have no other effect than to boggle the mind, wound the heart, and taint the soul with a nauseous stench.
Rich was always gentleman: pleasant, helpful, and courteous. Despite his fame and his skill, no prima donna was he. He was never bitter nor spiteful, never arrogant nor condescending. His humor and his insights inspired many of us, and not merely in our programming.
In the last few years that I came to know Rich a bit better as we shared a meal at random conferences scattered about the globe, I was always impressed by his irrepentantly positive attitude. Whatever the tale he told, whether a personal one relating to his children or his delightful rediscovery of the piano, a professional one related to programming and computers, or simply some incidental anecdote, that tale he presented with a childlike delight and glee. Rich displayed a perpetually positive attitude rare in a man even half his age. He was uplifting merely to be around.
Never was I so honored as on that day when Rich lamented not bringing his Perl Cookbook with him so he could get my autograph on it. I was deeply touched and completely surprised. Rich is acknowledged in the credits for his indirect help in preparing that book from our discussions of troff and systems programming matters. Despite his good taste and obvious skill, he had been for some time using Perl for various daily jobs. It’s true that Rich had minor issues with Perl’s cleanliness, but these were subsumed by the practical concerns of simply getting a job done easily and quickly. In short, it worked and he used it, and he was thankful it saved him time. The very things that the HTML crowd find hardest with Perl — its Unix roots and proclivities — Rich found immediately familiar and obvious. I am proud that I had ever so small a part in helping out a man who had tremendously helped me and thousands of others.
It is with nothing less than complete shock and surpassing shame that I have read here what so many insensitive malcontents have cruelly and unjustly scrawled. Doubtless these are the same twisted perverts who torture kittens and kick pregnant mothers, a sickness upon this medium and this planet. I hope these sociopaths find help soon, or at least remove themselves from the company of men and the gene pool.
Forget not this one inescapable fact: that where Rich has gone, so too inexorably goes each and every one of you walking shadows, and tragically sooner than you dare fathom. May you be remembered in the same measure as have you remembered those who preceded you down that lonesome path to dusty death.
It does not take a particularly compassionate and sensitive person to be sickened and hurt by these inexpressibly horrible postings. It takes nothing but a decent and caring human being, the sort of which we seem to have so few of these days–and today, to our loss, one fewer.
I’m happy to receive feedback on how I’m going, or just to have a whinge at the world in general. Please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The good stuff will be printed in the next SAGE Advice.
On a personal note, I truly wish you, your friends and family a merry Christmas and a happy new year. For the cynics among you, this can be read as: I hope you can stand your family, and have a good time despite the impending Christmas/New Year’s consumer splurge^W^W holidays. Happy shopping at the sales and try not to work on New Year’s Eve unless you’re doing it to avoid boring parties elsewhere. May all your toy dreams come true and there’s a big bag of Lego MindStorms waiting in your Christmas stocking*.
Happy holidays, stay safe and see you next year!
Andrew van der Stock
* Links the Office Cat tells me that it is traditional not to be so cynical about the Christmas holidays. I’ll stop being cynical when the churches are full, shops aren’t open 24 hours a day the week prior to Christmas eve and pre-Christmas promotions aren’t available in August.