I've told this story so much that my kids hear me start it and go "is that
the Unix guy? Yeah, we've heard this". And I think many of you have heard
it as well so you can hit delete, but for the newbies to the list here goes.
Decades ago I was a grad student at UWisc and pretty active on comp.arch
and comp.unix-wizards (I was not a wizard but I've lived through, and
written up, the process of restoring a Masscomp after having done some
variant of rm -rf / so a stupid wizard wanna be?)
From time to time, some Unix kernel thing would come up
and I'd email
...!research!dmr and ask him how that worked.
He *always* replied. To me, a nobody. All he cared was that the question
wasn't retarded (and I bet to him some of mine were but the questions showed
that I was thinking and that was good enough for him). I remember a long
discussion about something, I think PIPEBUF but not sure, and at some point
he sent me his phone number and said "call me". Email was too slow.
So yeah, one of the inventors of Unix was cool enough to take some young
nobody and educate him. That's Dennis.
I've tried to pass some of that energy forward to my kids, telling them
that if you want to learn, smart people like that and they will help you.
Dennis was a humble man, a smart man, and a dude willing to pass on what
I miss him and cherish the interactions I had with him.