So life does this sort of strange balancing act. Yesterday, around 6:00pm, a fine fellow I worked with at Loki named Andy Mecham walked down an aisle and married his fiancee. About three hours later, another fine fellow I worked with at Loki named John Hall died from endstage Melanoma. I have mentioned John before, about his fundraiser for cancer research...he put up one hell of a fight, as anyone who read his blog could see, but it finally got the better of him yesterday evening. In the meantime, he was busy writing video games, flying airplanes, and training for marathons. John was hardcore, period: cancer had to actually kill him to slow him down at all. I first met John at LokiHack in 1999, but to be honest, I didn't really remember him from there. In my defense, the whole point was to not sleep for two days, so everything from that time at the Atlanta Linux Showcase is a little vague now. When he showed up at Loki's California offices some time after I had, someone reminded me that I had run into him before. John had arrived in Tustin for a summer internship with Loki. Now please remember that most interns at any kind of company fetch coffee and get farted on by the QA guys, in hopes that this nonsense will pad their future resume', but John was there with other plans; on summer break from his undergrad studies at Georgia Tech, he arrived in Tustin, CA to write a book on the sort of techniques we were trying to make a living at. I think we were all a little awed by this person, so young, that was doing something so ambitious on what was probably a vacation for everyone else in his class, and he seemed perfectly natural doing it. Okay, to be fair, he did get farted on by the QA guy, but I believe that was viewed as required hazing at the time. And the book, of course, was published: http://www.nostarch.com/frameset.php?startat=plg The book is credited to "Loki Software, with John R. Hall" but really, it was the other way around...John wrote the whole thing, every word, and the Loki guys occasionally grunted approval. I believe he was 19 when he finished it. His book, called "Programming Linux Games" hit the shelves around the same time as a completely different publisher's book, "Linux Game Programming." This would have been a disheartening turn of events had the critics not universally favored John's text, and declared it leaps and bounds better than the competitor's. The last time I saw John in person was at LinuxWorld in New York in 2003, where he was helping out the Emperor Linux guys. Since then, I've only spoken to him over IRC and such, and probably not as much as I should have...it came as one hell of a surprise when someone casually mentioned to me that he was blogging about his fight with melanoma, and I spent a very long time trying to read his webpage through my tears. Later, when he joined the Relay For Life, the crew from icculus.org evangelized, harassed, and even downright begged people to donate to the American Cancer Society on his behalf. I'm not sure how much we helped, but John was aiming to raise one thousand dollars...when it finally levelled out, he was sitting at a little over five thousand. I believe you can actually still donate money through that site, if you are so inclined: http://www.acsevents.org/faf/r.asp?t=4&i=99915&u=99915-86454580 As time went on, and his blog detailed more and more bad news, I couldn't believe his personal strength...no new development, no nasty medical treatment side effect, no soul-crushing turn for the worse phased him at all, and he approached his condition with the same analytical intensity that he normally dedicated to software development. Any one else I know that might find themselves in his position would have curled up in a fetal position and given up months ago. John, on the other hand, looked Melanoma in the eyes, smiled, and told it to fuck off. His courage overwhelms me. But what will be missed most was his mind...John was just on fire all the time, and every idea that came out of his mouth was both brilliant and insane. He had his share of that's-cool-but-no-one-would-ever-write-that software ideas that he would go off and write, usually in no time flat, sometimes I think just to prove it could be done. Brilliant ideas and beautiful designs were sublime, a fine music to him, and you can tell he gave himself entirely to them, diving in and splashing around. He was the Hacker's Ethic Incarnate, and he will be missed. --ryan.