My former TruffleRuby teammate Chris Seaton passed away.
Mike’s announcement said all the important things, and the rest has been covered well by Aaron, Justin, Brandon, Benoit, Joel and Denis, so I’m not sure what I can add.
Self-indulgent personal recollections? Okay then.
Although we ended up working closely together from 2020 until 2022, and appeared from our North American teammates’ perspective to be immediate geographical neighbours, Chris & I lived hours apart and didn’t know each other that well outside of work.
And yet for years before we were employed by the same company, or had even met in person, he went out of his way to champion me and my projects. He extended an open invitation to work with him at Oracle Labs and later was enthusiastic about me joining the TruffleRuby team at Shopify despite me not knowing much about it. I remember him telling other people it was a real coup that they’d hired me; having grown up in Britain I was basically always confused about why someone was being so encouraging.
He was dedicated to his open source work and put a huge amount of effort into explaining its ideas — his ideas — and mentoring others onto the project. He was incredibly generous with his time & attention and always assumed the best of the person he was sharing them with, which rightly seems to be the main thing that everyone remembers.
But also, as someone who was a stickler for accuracy and detail, I think Chris would’ve appreciated me mentioning that he was a stickler for accuracy and detail. It could sometimes be a source of friction but his goal was unwaveringly an academic, scientific one: marshal the facts, set the record straight (or agree to disagree), shake hands and move on.
I found it… I don’t know… amusing? Infuriating? Some combination of both. And, me being the annoying person I am, it made me determined to needle him in the opposite direction: I’d ask him to weigh in on absurdly inconsequential topics — which shop sells the best sausage rolls? — and see where the conversation took us. Over time I think he resigned himself to having to tolerate these stupid interjections, and he regularly trumped me by producing some horrendous artefact he’d found in Marks & Spencer (a jar of Percy Pig cake? a “love sausage”?) and brought along to our team meeting.
So while he knew how to be blunt and literalist, and maintained an absolute commitment to an industry-changing agenda of optimising the idiomatic code that people actually write instead of expecting them to change their behaviour to appease the runtime, he also knew exactly how to placate some arsehole who kept asking him about Colin the Caterpillar, and I think that’s what I’ll remember the most.
I never did manage to take a non-awkward selfie of us.
Seeya Chris. Cheers.
I wasn’t in the mood to stream this week, which I think is okay. In the meantime, Aaron fixed the Ruby bug I discovered last time.
Now the fix is in the Ruby 3.2.0 release candidate, so that’s still progress of a sort.
I’ve used the downtime to clear my backlog of missing video transcripts by using
whisper.cppto run the Whisper
largemodel on my laptop’s M2 CPU instead of spinning up a GPU instance. It’s a bit slower but still fast enough to be practical, and more importantly I’m much more relaxed about just leaving it to run for hours without feeling like I need to check up on it all the time, so I’ll probably keep doing it this way instead of burning cloud pennies.
Last night I went to a party in south London and met someone who turned out to have done the same job as me at the same company as me. Nice to branch out and meet new kinds of people.