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It Is Them

Posted by evanx on October 28, 2006 at 9:43 PM PDT

Of my heroes, i've seen some of them in real life. In order of appearance, Bill Joy, Eric Raymond, and Richard Stallman.

I've emailed a few heroes as well, a few years ago - and they even replied, a few times! Like Bjarne and Alex - the C++ guys. I'm not on first-name-terms with these guys - it's just that i can't remember and/or certainly can't spell their surnames right now!

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They are very special technologists and academians and people, as i have witnessed. That they deigned to chat to some arbitrary geek on the other side of the world (me), really impressed me, and still impresses me, when i think of it.

Bill Joy i saw on a stage at JavaOne only, but it counts! The man that started it all. A living legend. From BSD to Java. The softly-spoken giant amongst us. No, not in the "tall" sense! At least that's how i remember him (being softly spoken).

Years ago i saw an email from Mr Joy, where everything was in lowercase, and i've imitated him ever since. He is my original hero! I shouldn't meet him, because then i'll realise he is just a human being. D'Oh!

Hey you young 'uns!

And if any of you young whippersnappers are wondering why i switch to "Mr," listen up! The best advice i can give to you, is the exact same advice you would've got two thousand years ago from the Romans, two hundred years ago from the English, and are getting today from an aging African (me)... which is, don't swear on the frikkin school bus! Actually that's not it. The best advice i can give you is... "Greet on your feet"! But since you aren't gonna take my advice, you know what? Shuddup! ;)

Light and Dark

Mr Raymond and Mr Stallman visited Cape Town, so i met them for real. I enjoyed Mr Raymond the most, i mean he is the quintessential "light-being," a fountain of light, a well of knowledge. When you are around him, it's like someone turned the sunlight up.

Mr Stallman is the original icon. But he is worried and tense, that the sun is gonna darken. I'm also worried about that, so i like being around people that
make me believe that heaven on earth is a done deal, like Mr Raymond.

That doesn't mean i don't respect Mr Stallman more or less than Mr Raymond. They uphold the spectrum that refracts light into our lives from different angles. They crystalise our
view of the world.

Beginnings

To complete my journey of heroes, I need to meet Mr Kernigan and Mr Richie. And you know what, i just decided i'm gonna darn well try to! I'm gonna plan a whirlwind tour, where the check-list includes campuses where i might bump into Messrs Kernigan and Richie, and Messrs Knuth and Lamport.

Cos in addition to C, I consider LaTeX to be monumental. I can't explain why. Ok, lemme try. My first introduction to tremendously useful, technically awesome, free and open
software, was LaTeX. Running on DOS - D'oh!

So here's to our heroes. What would we be without them!? But enough about me - who are your heroes, and why?