Friday, September 05, 2008

RIP: Kevin Martin :(

Kevin Martin, a funny, nice, knowledgeable, tolerant and smart person, passed away today from a heart attack while being treated for colon cancer.

In this post I will share some of my thoughts, and some of his text. Please feel free, if you knew him, to share some more of the things he said and wrote in the comments section below.

He was an anti-spam community member, a science fiction fan, and an inspiration. I did not know him very closely, but I am truly sad. Our interactions over the last several years were always a pleasure, and when I heard of this my only thought, for at least 10 seconds, was:

But I couldn't reply to the message which told me of his passing with NO!
I wouldn't convey my soaring emotions, with NO!
I could only convey them in a proper fashion, saying it is sad news and a bad day. Bugger that.

That's not enough. For those of you who read this post, I searched for and quoted some of Kevin's email interactions of the past couple of years, to give you a taste of the sort of guy he was.
I don't think he'd mind, but I have no way to find out.

I will mostly quote discussions on public mailing lists where I was involved, or directly with me, although there are a few snippets out of other discussions, which I believe are OKAY.

Kevin, you will be missed.

On a personal note, Kevin is the second person to be linked to me in a social network, whose profile is active, but is no longer there. These Empty Spaces, as a friend of mine described so well, are sad. Messages in the middle of threads no longer being there, tags disappearing out of photos, accounts which sleep, and yet are there.

Memories of Kevin
In response to an email thread about spam, I once saw him say the following:
"That there are people who forgive is good, because it gives people who spam a reason to stop.

"That there are people who don't forgive is also good, because it gives people who have never spammed a reason to not start."
-- der Mouse
Speaking of himself:

Subject: Who, me?
Was one of the people clogging the Usenet moderators list that Chris Lewis mentioned, circa 1998, when someone tipped me off that the spam discussion was taking place elsewhere. And so it was, and so it is.

I'm now somewhere in the gray area between self-employed and semi-retired.
First message sent to the SF-hackers mailing list (a mailing list for old computer geeks who are science fiction fans):
[SF-hackers] Who Goes There?
Kevin Martin
Sat Apr 14 19:49:42 CDT 2007

I suppose you're wondering why Gadi called you all here tonight.
You're welcome to blame me.

Gadi Evron wrote:

>> I am unsure, but I think I never read anything with [John W.
>> Campbell's] name on it... what a shock.

To which I replied:

Okay... Have you ever read anything by Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, or Spider Robinson? Lester Del Rey? Theodore Sturgeon?
A. E. van Vogt?

We were speaking of the best-known story by John W. Campbell the author, but he's much better known as the editor who discovered, polished, and published just about every well-known science fiction author of the forties, fifties, sixties, and early seventies.

If you like any of those, they're Campbell, one step removed.

... and things just sort of got out of hand. Enjoy.
Speaking of blog comment spam:
> Is there some other software I should be looking at?

The Akismet plugin for Wordpress has been kicking butt and taking names since I turned it on. It only asks me to intervene if it's not sure, which has been twice so far. When I log in, there's a cheerful little note waiting for me:

"Akismet has caught 200 spam for you since you first installed it.
You have no spam currently in the queue. Must be your lucky day. :)"
Random quote:
And of course if you were to go proactive about warning your customers, you'd probably get sued.
On Spider Robinson and his parody of Johnny Cash's song "A Boy Named Sue", from SF-hackers:
> Dianetics/Scientology was L. Ron Hubbard, not Campbell.

Actually, JWC was a big supporter of Elron, embarrassingly so;
Wikipedia has the whole sordid tale.

Spider is most definitely a 'he', as he makes clear in his tribute
to Shel Silverstein, "A Boy Named Spider."

"Some girl would giggle and I'd get flustered,
Then smack her in the face with a coconut custard
(Though later on I'd try to get inside her...)"

Unlike the boy named Sue, who was given a name that would make him "tough" in "a world that's rough," the youth in Spider's parody is the son of an aging hippie who wanted him to stay "hip" 'cause "this world's a trip."
<voice class="Kosh">'Yes.'</voice>
On trust in leaky mailing lists:
Gadi Evron wrote:
> I made it clear [] is not a trust environment but rather a friends
> environment, with some very weird uncles.

Been waiting for someone to *ahem* comment on this remark.

We have had Threads That Will Not Die about "leaks," Andy, but please be aware that the policy of the list remains that A) you are here as an individual first, rather than a representative of any organization, and B) unless a poster waives it regarding a specific message, the default here is supposed to be "Fight Club"-style confidentiality.

Perhaps "trust environment" is a term of art that means something special to you, Andy, or to you, Gadi; the fact we weren't individually vetted by the Mossad doesn't keep me from trusting the folks here, or feeling upset at the prospect of that trust being casually betrayed.
On email practices:
+1 on the EVIL of giving one's passwords to random third parties. That needs to suffer a Firestorm of Withering Scorn whenever it pops up.
On adding new folks to a mailing list:
Private contact only, but I can ask...
Should I bring one of them to []?

If it's someone you'd trust to load magazines for your Galil.
Subject: Forum post: "Getting owned by spamhaus..."
A"naive user" story to share. The good news is that more than one
person on the board piped up with the correct answer, which I find
encouraging. You might want to skip to the punchline below.


Anyone know how the hell to fix this?

Spamhaus is flagging the ip's for any email sent on the company emails.

[snip text]

And now Outlook is going all JH1 on me and smtp relays
are not working for any accounts.

On another note, how the hell did I become an IT guy? I have been
hitting the computer with a pipe wrench and that doesn't seem to help.

End Quote.

The punchline? /This is on a weight-lifting/body builders board./
Sad, but happy to remember,
Gadi Evron.

Follow me on twitter!


Anonymous said...

Kevin's wife Laura here. Gadi, thank you so much for the fine tribute. For a few moments, it was like having Kevin here in the room again. You guys were his friends and his family and his town square, and your kind words mean a lot to me.

gimley said...

Laura, I searched for this email in the archives after you commented:

[SF-hackers] Welcome to the 21st Century
Kevin Martin
Sat Apr 14 20:06:20 CDT 2007

Early last week, my wife rescued a discard from the local library: a
reprint of the first half-dozen issues of DC Showcase, the comic
book that introduced Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash; Challengers
of the Unknown; my personal favorites Space Ranger and Rip Hunter -
Time Master, as well as one other really famous character. (I love
my wife.)

Late last week, I saw a fellow in his mid-thirties crossing the
street, and suddenly realized that Gardner Fox had nailed one aspect
of our life today. Okay, we don't have our flying belts, but that
gentleman had just biked to work, and in his Spandex and helmet he
was the living image of Adam Strange.