His neuralkinetics are way above normal…

My friend and colleague Christian has been doing some performance optimizations for WebGate’s XPages Toolkit. And he’s found some interesting results revealing the exceptional performance of NoteCollection.

But being the obsessive that I am, I wanted to take the idea a bit further, so I thought of a few ways that the process might be faster. First, instead of walking the NoteCollection in the traditional way using .getFirstNoteID()/.getNextNoteID(), I decided to try it with .getNoteIDs(), which simply outputs the array of ints from the NoteCollection in the most direct way possible. Second, I thought it would be useful if the XPT’s DominoStorageService could create an object instance from just a Document’s metadata rather than the Document itself. That way actually accessing the source data could be deferred until properties and methods are actually called.

Of course, this would require some significant code on Christian’s part, so I decided to grab a shower while waiting to hear back from him…

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Me. Me me me. Me too.

Me... me... me...

Agent Smith was very good at multitasking

One of the best things about computers is that they can do more than one thing at a time. This is such a useful capability that we have a dizzying array of descriptiors for it: multitasking, multiprocessor, multiuser, multiplexing, multithreading — the list goes on. Unfortunately, along with being one of the most useful things about computers, it’s also one of the hardest to get right. This difficulty means that, for many platforms, doing things at the same time is simply not presented as an option.

Our beloved Domino is much like this. Yes, the server can do more than one thing at a time by using distinct processes and threads, but you and I as developers aren’t generally in control of this multithreading and concurrency. And that’s not surprising, since concurrent programming is hard.

It’s particularly tricky in Java and Domino because of something called “thread affinity.” That probably sounds like some kind of knitting technique, so let me elaborate…

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The Last Word

When I first got the news about Tim, I wrote the following that night. I’ve wanted to share it every day since then, but also wanted to let his family get through their memorial process, so I’ve left it in draft mode. Some people might find it too specific or visual, and if you’re one of them, then I apologize in advance. I also realize I’ve been (as the man himself would have pointed out) a bit of a one-trick pony lately. I do have some interesting and exciting technical stuff coming up. But for now, here’s my last word about the true impact Tim’s life and death have had for me…

It’s the first night of our Tim-less world, and my family is asleep after a torturous and cathartic day. I’ve had more than a bit of tequila as I processed the sorrow and hot regret of losing my best friend. And I type this, doubting whether I’ll ever click “Publish” because so many people need to agree to discuss it that, at the moment, it seems impossible. But I hope they will agree, because all of the people that knew and loved and admired Tim need to understand the truth of what happened. Or at least as near to the truth as we can ever know about anyone.

Sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, Tim locked his apartment door, got in his red Mini Cooper, and drove to a secluded boat ramp on Lake Allatoona. Tomorrow was no longer for him.

When they found his car, he was parked facing the water and the battery was dead. I imagine he made sure that the last image he saw was light bouncing off the shimmering waves reflecting the spring trees. I imagine he listened to music while he drifted first to sleep and then…. to sleep. I imagine it was Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, but it might also have been Peter Gabriel or Ben Folds Five or Dream Theater — Tim’s taste in music was more impeccable than his code.

As of this writing, no note has been found. He did not leave us a message. I believe this is because he was the message. Everyone that knew Tim has shared stories of his generosity, his laughter, his gentleness, his humility, his brilliance. And these are the things for which he should and will always be revered.

But beneath this he carried a dark and heavy passenger. He struggled to form intimate relationships. He struggled to find new ways to stimulate his incredible mind. He struggled to separate his fantasies about how the world should be from how it really is. Even his Twitter byline “I laugh in the face of the impossible” underscores an abiding contempt for reality over the world he wanted.

There is no evading reality, not even for an intellect as powerful as Tim’s. And the reality is that Tim could not figure out how to be happy. He tried all the remedies he could think of by being talented and hard-working and generous and kind and open. And when that didn’t work he tried being closed and cynical and lazy and dismissive. And when that still didn’t work, he tried them all again. And again. And again.

Strangely, we praised him for this. We called him a great contributor, a brilliant programmer and a gifted writer when he shared. And we called him introspective, quiet and “a geek” when he shut out the world — because this is the cultural idol that we sacrifice to in our nerd chic revolution.

I am more guilty of this than anyone; than everyone really. I saw the road he was heading down on the day he resigned from Red Pill, cutting off a collaboration that had spanned over half a decade and rocketed us both into stardom. I saw it so clearly that I wrote it down and then sent it to all the people from whom I wanted empathy and understanding, but not to the one person who needed it most.

I failed my best friend, because I was scared to be as honest with him as he needed me to be. And on that day when I was too furious and fearful to even say goodbye, I let him drive away in his pin-striped coffin; too stubborn to throw myself on the hood and beg him to stay. Too angry to confess how much he really meant to me. Too frightened of failure to express my fears to the only people that might have helped prevent it.

Weeks and months later, I told myself I’d accepted his choice and that being his friend was the best thing for him. We broke bread together again. We laughed. We shared ideas. We collaborated. And it was brilliant. And he did great work in his new job, even though he admitted that some days he never bothered to climb out of out bed. But it was never the same. In those moments that we opened up our hearts about the things that truly moved us, I never grabbed him and hugged him and pleaded with him to please PLEASE let us find virtue together so that he could discover purpose and joy in his life beyond the facade of being smart and popular.

I didn’t demand virtue from him. I accepted his tale of the introverted and enigmatic geek tragedy, not bothering to look behind his eyes to find the veiled, private hell he was suffering. And when he found that tale couldn’t shape the world into what he wanted, he seized control of the one thing he knew he could shape for himself. He couldn’t control good and evil; he couldn’t control who loved him or why or how; he couldn’t control whether tomorrow he would be treasured like he was today. But he could control whether tomorrow ever came.

And so he did.

So this is the message he has for us all: fight for the people you love. Don’t just accept them. Don’t just let them breeze through their days. If you love them, help them raise their standards not just in words but IN LIFE. Because if you keep accepting someone’s fantasy of virtue, you’re just daring them to keep the story going while ignoring reality.

Tim’s story ended far too soon. I wish I’d acted when I saw that end. I wish I’d been truthful with him. I wish I had given him more time. I wish he had given me more time. I wish I could see my friend again. I wish I’d said goodbye a thousand times.

I wish.

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Meta just came into the bedroom, tears streaming down her face to share this with me and Lisa.

My daughter is beyond amazing.

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A eulogy

Vincent van Gogh
Virginia Woolf
Ernest Hemingway
Alan Turing
Hunter S. Thompson
Sylvia Plath
Kurt Cobain
David Foster Wallace
Aaron Schwartz
Tim Tripcony

Genius that changes the world yet cannot change itself is a tale as old as civilization. Those of us that look on in tearful awe feel stranded in a sea of inevitability. We can no more predict their personal choices as we can their creative ones. Those could only be foreseen by a matching genius, and alas, there is no such thing in this world.

Our friend Tim cast more light than heat, so no matter how bright he blazed, he could not stay warm. I should have known how cold it was for you, my friend. I should have burned and raved with you ’til close of day.


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A note for those coming to Tim’s dedication tomorrow…

This is a dedication for Tim Tripcony. So if you want to know how to dress, ask yourself “What Would Tim Wear?”

You don’t HAVE to dress like Tim, of course. There’s certainly good reason not to. 🙂 But friends and family will all be welcoming of anyone who dresses like the man we’re going to honor.

And — sneak preview — this will be a Thing (TM) at the gathering.

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From our friend and colleague, Matt Smith

Matt Smith worked with Tim and me and the team at GBS for several years. He doesn’t have a blog, so he asked me to share his thoughts concerning Tim’s passing.

I feel very inadequately prepared for sudden shocking news, and when something like yesterday happens, where I learned of Tim’s passing, it can be very troubling to try to come to grips with it.

When I first saw the news…I guess I just did not want to believe what it was saying could possibly be true. When that feeling changed to one of “this is really true”, it took my breath away, a huge kick in the stomach.

To people I worked with at GBS, it may be obvious, but most likely the furthest from obvious, that Tim’s loss has been a personal blow to me (as others). So many days after work, when I should have been on my way home, I stuck around to chat it up for another hour with Tim about all kinds of things, and most of the time not about Xpages or Java or anything like that, but about his singing in a barbershop quartet, about time-travel movies we have admired, brainstorming at a high level of some cool app and how it would make the world a better or easier place, or just some random political or social issue that came up in conversation.

He had a way of making you feel like you were his very close friend, when that might have been presumptuous at that point in time. Friend and colleague, yes….very close friend (like Nathan)….well, he made you feel like that. Good God, he was genuine. I just realized all of the adjectives describing him that seem like they have a common source:

Genuine, Genius, Gentle, Generous.

Nathan alluded to the fact that many people were going to be relating that Tim was selfless, and he was spot on. This was a trait of Tim’s that was impossible to not appreciate. It wasn’t just the time and effort that he spent, it was the way he did it. He was never condescending, never made you feel like you were stupid or uninformed. At times he surely had reason to, but that wasn’t his way. He truly wanted to impart knowledge to you no matter where you were in the techy food-chain. If you injected an idea that to observers would be obviously misguided, he had a way of gingerly letting you out of the embarrassment by telling you the good part of what you just said, or how that could be looked at another way that was correct or wise. I do not know if I am doing that skill of his justice in how I am explaining it, but hopefully you either experienced it, or at least can imagine how that could be done, and how it could be appreciated. He was a teacher at heart.

I don’t have a blog. I am not an IBM Champion. I can only aspire to get near to that level of skill and participation, and when I came onto the team at GBS, I was immediately immersed in tall Redwoods of the type, and it soon became clear that Tim stood as tall or taller than them all. I had not known him before then, but I can say now that it was my immense privilege to be in the midst of such a talent’s presence, and not only be there, but actually get a chance to be taught by him, to ask him questions one-on-one where I had all of his attention. That kind of opportunity just doesn’t present itself to me on a daily basis. And the fact is that even if Tim didn’t know the first thing about programming languages, his genuine non-assuming and generous spirit would have been as impressive. It’s just that his technical prowess, and eagerness to explain it, were overwhelming and infectious. The analogy I have is something that might make it clearer, it was like I was at baseball camp with some of the game’s legends, and getting a chance to play catch with an eager-to-help Stan Musial.

Even in recent months, on a couple of occasions, when I would be stuck on something that seemed to me to be an ‘advanced’ feature or item technically, I would reach out to him, and as always, he would stop and help. We even would just Skype call, so it was more than a chat, it was a real connect, and that is something that working from home all of the time, you learn to miss, especially when it is someone so engaging as Tim. I would always say I wanted to drive over to go to a Lunch SCRUM, but never got that done. That is someting of a loss, a missed opportunity, that is bothering me today.

In closing, I need to say that it hits me that the cumulative accolades, anecdotes, remembrances, and condolences that have streamed around the net, while each being seriously heart-felt, just do not seem to be enough. I don’t know if there could be enough.

I want everyone I know to know Tim, and now it is too late. For that, I feel especially sad.

Rest in peace Tim. We are all going to miss you terribly. You impacted more people than you could have known. We could all wish that we might have someone say the same about us when we are gone.

I can only hope and pray that all of the words written about him in these past days will provide some comfort to his parents and anyone else that cared for him.


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