OT: Time for a little inspiration

Subject: OT: Time for a little inspiration
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2011 09:52:30 +0300

One of the reasons I am so passionate about the free software/open source movement is the passion and commitment of the developers. One story that recently surfaced, though, is truly exceptional and may serve as an example for people in many walks of life.

A gentleman named Adrian Hands was both a coder (a "hacker" in the best meaning of that term) and a man with peerless commitment and dedication. He submitted an extension to the Gnome software people that fixed a needed element in the menu code.

That may not be so unusual, but there is far more to the story. He worked on it during the last days of his life, and it was accepted by the project about two days before he passed away. In itself, that is both unusual and laudable. But there's still more.

You see, Adrian Hands died of ALS -- aka Lou Gehrig's disease. During his last years, he had lost the power of movement in his hands, so his coding was done with a specially-modified two-pedal device that accepted Morse code and converted it to text or computer commands. With the little remaining strength and control of his legs, he persisted until his fix was complete, tested, and submitted.

Fortunately, he lived long enough to see its adoption, which pleased him greatly.

You can see a photo of him working at his computer during those last days at https://picasaweb.google.com/HandsAdrian/ShotwellConnect#5549467460761802914

The discussion about this particular fix was contained in the bug tracking database of the Gnome project, which includes a letter from his son about it all: https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=78514#c19

The next time I think about giving up on something I'm working on, I hope I think of the dedication and commitment of Adrian Hands to give me that extra impetus I need.

I hope you find this story as moving and worthwhile as I did.


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