Evi Nemeth: We Hardly Knew Ye

It's one of those moments that stays with you. Where you were when you heard Evi Nemeth, one of the original Unix Graybeards (she didn't actually have a beard, but the honorific still seems appropriate) being declared "lost at sea." I was, as I usually am in the mornings, at a computer. It was an especially bittersweet moment for me, being one of the few technical women in a landscape dominated by men.

I first became aware of Evi Nemeth through her contributions to that Bible of Unix that most sysadmins knew as the Red Book. I remember when I first saw it, the bright, crimson cover with those silly Tyler Curtain illustrations.  I thought, "This is a technical manual?!" But all the cool Unix people I sought to emulate seemed to have a copy, so I needed one too. But in 1999, when I was first starting with Unix, it was pretty expensive for a junior sysadmin on a budget. But in a truly nerdy turn of events, a classmate in a programming class gave me a copy as a token of his affection. Best gift I ever received from a potential suitor. That book served me well over the years and it was with confusion and disappointment when I saw the next version had a purple cover. Why toy with perfection?

So on that Saturday morning when I read the article about the search being called off for the missing schooner off the coast of New Zealand, I felt sadness and loss. Mostly, because I never had the opportunity to meet or work with this talented and accomplished woman. Dear Evi, I hope you're in a better place. Where everyone speaks in regex, the systems are always patched, uptime is high and the load is low.