Originally Published: Tuesday, 6 June 2000 Author: Matt Michie
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Std View]

Diary of a Madman

Today was a rough day. I was up late once again. The hell if I remember when I finally crashed, but I do remember watching the LED flashing on the alarm clock. Like everything else in my life, the alarm clock seemed to be mocking me, the mortal man. Sometimes I hate the machines.

Today was a rough day. I was up late once again. The hell if I remember when I finally crashed, but I do remember watching the LED flashing on the alarm clock. Like everything else in my life, the alarm clock seemed to be mocking me, the mortal man. Sometimes I hate the machines.

I train hard everyday. My life consists of living inside that square beige box sitting in the corner of my desk. Occasionally, the gods look favorably upon me and I become the box.

The gut that is beginning to spill over my belt is making me look like a cheap bronze Buddha. I suppose the body has to pay tribute after spending 12 hours crouched like a praying mantis in front of the keyboard. I probably should be burning incense before I start my kernel debugging sessions.

I was 16 when Linus first released some software that would later spawn billion-dollar companies and hordes of devout hackers. It took me a couple years before I started using an early version of Slackware. Microsoft was still in its prime, before the breakup. Looking back, there is no way I could have predicted the way events tumbled into place, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

How does a kid develop the mental tools needed to perform brain surgery on an operating system? Lego. Lots of Lego. If I was like any normal kid. I should have been outside frolicking in the mud. Instead, I was on the floor of my room engineering the designs that stormed through my mind. Psychologists today would probably frown at such introverted behavior, but I felt the compulsion to build.

To realize my desires, I was found myself with the drive to learn. At times this took me into those esoteric corners of the public library. To this day, the smell of a musty book that no one has bothered to open in 15 years gives me shivers. My name is probably still the only one emblazoned on the due slip on most of those precious books.

The trail eventually led me to stuff like Goedel, assembly programming, ham radio, and crypto. It was always a challenge finding kids who wanted to talk about the same things I was interested in. The only good memories I have of junior high are inventing new crypto systems in Honors History class so I could pass notes to the only other person who not only knew what a Caesar cipher and modulo arithmetic was, but could break it in his head.

Somewhere along the way I was introduced to computers. It took my family until the i8088 came out before we finally purchased one, so I spent many hours anyplace I could find someone willing to let me play with one.

Now I'm 35, recently divorced and still hacking. I'm not quite sure why I'm writing this journal other than to help me sort out some of the things I'm feeling. I still have my doubts about all of this. Working in secret after so many years doing open source doesn't help the whole insomnia thing. I'd feel better if this decision was more clear cut.

Forking the Linux kernel isn't something that happens everyday.

Matt Michie is a Computer Science student living in New Mexico. He maintains a small web site at http://daimyo.org. He is anxious to hear feedback from readers on whether they enjoy this sort of material on Linux.com and whether he should continue the serial.