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2012 August 3 [Friday]

Rest in peace Lawgon

Am breaking a long hiatus from blogging to report a really sad news :: Kenneth Gonsalves, (lawgon on IRC), a long time Free/Libre software (especially INPycon) contributor is no more. When I first saw this mail in my inbox, I could not believe it was true.

My first interaction with Lawgon was via the LinuxChix mailing lists. Back then, I was surprised to see posts from a "nilgiris" domain name and I assumed he was an USA-NRI actively posting on their lists. Later, the Mumbai-LUG list when I had tried to install his "avsap" accounting software ~ it would not work on my machine and I wrote him a mail with the gory error details. Finally, in 2007, I met "lawgon" on IRC, ##linux-india. I was never an IRC person but when he got banned from the channel, I had a long argument with Devdas (f3ew on IRC) about it - mostly because I felt that the rules were not clear, and even more importantly, felt that rules ought to be implemented uniformly, sans cronyism.

A few moons later, I met him IRL for the first time at the first formation meet for Fosscomm and sat next to him through the whole meeting. In my eyes, he was like a father-figure, a person you can talk to freely, someone who didnt see IT and FLOSS as the road to self-publicity, fame and riches. Rather, he saw Libre software as I did - of, for and by the people. It was nice talking to him and hear the stories via the work he had done at NRC-Foss/AU-KBC.

He was someone I respected because unlike some FOSS people, he actually wrote and released his code publicly: https://bitbucket.org/lawgon, and worked within the community, had no illusions or superiority complex about himself. Most of us in the FLOSS community were his kids age and in my interactions I didnt find him patronizing nor elitist in "demanding" we respect his age. Quite the opposite, he never hesitated to ask for technical help from people younger than him, quite ego less. His fiery rants on his blog (http://lawgon.livejournal.com/) always made me chuckle. There are very few blogs I follow and thusfar, I've read every post of his - strong opinions peppered with character. His own.

In his list communication, he could be quite blunt in his comments, and I've had my moments sparring with him on the lists, but if you take a moment to look behind the scenes, his honesty and sincerity towards Libre software showed. I remember his mail asking me not to leave the Mumbai LUG list and my response on the kind of Libre community (the lack thereof) we foster, which, to my surprise, found an echo with him. I remember his long email rant (about someone which I wont get into in public) where he mentioned "...and I'm scared of you" ~ yeah, I too scrubbed my eyes and smiled at his droll sense of humor, as I typed out an apology.

I remember his IRC comment that he wanted his daughter to meet me and my curiosity piqued ~ this was before I had met him in real life and going by the stereotypical Indian fathers attitude, I very much doubted if they would want their daughters to be like me. Or maybe it was his sense of humor - I'll never know!? Some moons later an email asking for some information on "legal rights of women in India" for her coursework, IRC discussions on virtualenvwrapper (he asked me why I wanted to use it and for a moment I thought he was testing me -- I could not imagine a longtime Python developer (atleast a lot longer than me) asking me that, unless he was pulling my leg or if it was an interview question), discussing a recent Python workshop he held at Kerala, and so many other interactions... {Edit1:: His recent mail on the open source business model has some excellent advice for wannabe entrepreneurs.}

I was hoping to meet him at InPycon this year but now the conference wont be the same without him. I hope and pray his family finds the strength to carry on without him and may his soul rest in peace! You will be missed Lawgon..and try not to kickstart a "GPL Vs. BSD" argument in heaven!

2008 July 28 [Monday]

RIP Randy Pausch

Today morning I was told "check out the 'the last lecture' by Randy, its inspiring" and I asked "do you mean Randy Pausch? hey ..................". So I dug out the mail he wrote to me some years ago :

Yes, the Alice system is completely free, and you can download it from www.alice.org . The version using the characters from "the Sims" will also be completely free, as a public service from Carnegie Mellon University.

Rest In Peace Randy !!