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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:

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 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
 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:

As time went on, and his blog detailed more and more bad news, I couldn't
 believe his personal 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.


When this .plan was written: 2005-09-19 00:48:01
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