Who the hell...?

Resumé (HTML) (Word)

(herewith what you'd find on a resumé if it didn't have to be so formal)

Computer Geek since nineteen eighty-something. Qualified Computer Geek since 1994 (B.Eng (Computers) II.1 Hons, University of Limerick). Several random qualifications since then, mostly down to on-the-job training. Apparently I know something about GSM, Java and Time Management, and enough about Checkpoint's manuals to be a CCSE.

Hardware/Software/Operating Systems: more versions of Unix than most people can name, more by accident than anything else, and besides it doesn't matter. I worked with Solaris systems for about a decade, and Linux systems for going on twenty years, and those are the ones that really matter. I can find my way around administering Windows systems if I have to, but I'm really all about the Unix and the Microsoft stuff is just down to on-the-job necessity. I've worked with VMS and Netware, too, but I'd not claim anything more than user-level familiarity.

My own systems get a mention, although that page is NEVER up to date for more than a week, because I tinker constantly.

I've done the usual Unix stuff - shell scripting, awk, sed and all that, emacs 'til I die. Or vi.

That's VEE-EYE, not VYE. Or 'six'.

You can take your Pico, Eine, Zwei, Joe, Jed, and whatever the hell else and shove them. Why settle for "the editor that's like emacs/vi" when you can have the editor that is emacs/vi?

Languages: perl is by far my favourite, followed by python, C and Java. I also do Pascal when necessary, although mostly read-only. I can do pretty good conversions of most Algol-derived languages into C, perl, python, or Java, which is what I've done for a living from time to time. I looked at COBOL for 48 hours but I'm still not sure what a PIC is. I spent two years hacking Java for money, and got fed up with it - it was too slow, too incomplete, too insecure, and too nonportable at the time (Ted T'so: "Write once, run screaming"); these days I know a bit more about it and it's gotten better, and between those two changes it's what I spend a lot of my time doing for work. I can cope with C++, but templates make my head hurt, and don't get me started on STL. SQL makes me alternately go, "wow, this is neat" and "my EYES! what is this mess?", but I have a reasonable handle on it either way. PHP? Poor (Hu)man's Perl, if you ask me. Like I said about editors: if you're going to use a Perl-like language, why not use Perl? I got subjected to Ruby as a "flavour of the month" language, and also as a result of inheriting a Rails project that someone wrote, put in a critical position, and then abandoned; neither experience is a good way of approaching a language, and much less so one with Rails' fascinating "here, let me guess what you meant" philosophy. I've not looked at Haskell beyond a cursory glance, so I think that about covers the "cool kids" languages.

I've played with Mono, which is the free version of the .NET suite, and I like that I can build toys on Linux and then run them unchanged on Windows. I can't say I'm competent with it, though - there's a massive API to learn to get the most trivial of tasks done, coupled with the pain of trying to build a UI. Yes, I know about Glade. No, I can't say I've ever had it work satisfactorily. In fact, I'm hard pushed to find a GUI design tool that beats the XDesigner program I used in Motorola in 1992.

I came at Javascript through random hacking, so I've never learned it properly. I was pretty impressed with the end-user experience of Ajax; I've long been convinced that most real applications aren't suited to web front-ends, but Ajax changes that a lot. Things like jquery address a lot of the misgivings I've had, too, but I still find myself muttering at things that don't work the way I expect.

I used be a BASIC programmer but I am no longer, mostly out of choice but also because Perl has taken over the instant-geek-gratification role that BASIC used occupy. Still, I wrote a 68000 assembler in SuperBASIC while I was in secondary school - that's about 7th grade or so if you're American - which had free-format input and things like that. On relocating version 2 of it, written in college, I discovered that this was written long before I appreciated the usefulness of commenting your code. Some people say that BASIC destroys programmers because there's no need to deal with memory management (need to concatenate strings? Just glom them together!), but these days it's hard to find a language other than the C family and Assembly that require you to deal with that. And no matter what Djkstra said, goto is a perfectly useful keyword.

I also used speak fluent Z80, 68000 and x86 assembly, but I've been out of practise for a while. I got out of x86 before I learned about GDTs and LDTs and that sort of stuff - I come from the era of fitting it all into a 64K block and LIKING it that way. I once hand-optimised an algorithm for rotating points in three dimensions by using the GNU assembler and a stack of index cards. That sort of thing is just silly, though.

As if this isn't enough blatant self-promotion, I have a page of net stuff I've hacked on. I also try to maintain a rough diary of what I'm hacking on right now, although lately it's been more just details of what movies I've been watching.

Post-college, I worked in telecommunications for two years. I then worked in the banking industry for two years doing foreign exchange stuff. After that, I worked in the publishing industry with a side-order of online recruitment. Then I took some time off to hack, followed by a stint working for the banking industry again, this time in the credit card end of things. After that I spent a few years sort of back in the telecommunications arena, working on transaction systems that sell mobile phone top-ups among other things, followed by my current stint in the online retail / cloud computing space. I've also done stints for an ISP, a home appliance maker, and a bookshop. Diversity is the best defence against the future.

I've never had a job that stayed within its description: any time I've been hired as a sysadmin, I've ended up doing developer work, and vice versa. The second-last office I was in that hired me as a sysadmin, I ended up programming Java again somehow, and doing DBA work on Oracle. The last office that hired me as a sysadmin, I ended up writing a vending machine. And for some inexplicable reason, most of my jobs have seen me write a helpdesk of one sort or another.

While not working, I hack all manner of nonsense. Probably the most public occurrence of this is my reverse-engineering of the filesystem on Sony's network walkman so I could load and unload it from Linux; this little gem got me on Slashdot and BoingBoing and a bunch of other flag-waving anti-DRM sites. I also maintained a free software project - the BBDB - for a while, and I contribute to a wide variety of other open source projects, usually because something's broken or otherwise annoying me.

After over a decade of dealing with other people's code, I'm both opinionated and cranky, and have a very strong affinity for my own coding standards which are derived from the various places I've worked in over the years. When I'm not in a hurry or mucking about, I can turn out extremely readable code that behaves as you'd expect and passes lint checks and whatnot. I've also got very strong feelings on user interaction; I believe in the Principle of Least User Astonishment, and also that the user should constantly feel that the application is responding, even if it's busy. Unfortunately, most non-trivial programs fail one or both of these basic guidelines.

I'm much better at finding and fixing bugs than most of the other stuff I do; in particular, I've got a very reliable intuitive streak that frequently allows me to find bugs in code I don't (fully) understand. I'm also good at getting computers to "do stuff", for assorted values of stuff, and indeed this is one of the things that constantly draws me to hacking. I'm particularly interested in source-code generators and magic text parsers, like my favourite Perl hack and the evil code that built 90% of Micromail's website from two datafiles.

I also have the classic hacker aptitude for storing millions of little bits of dissimilar and unassociated data for later recall when someone asks me the startup parameters for program X or which part of what routine just produced that error message. Or stupid trivia. Or film quotes.

      headSome people have offered their opinions or assessments of me.

From Nerdsholm...

TomF says to waider, "wow, you look like an extremely young, very happy german panzer captain"
TomF says to waider, "This picture is unnerving. I wouldn't want to meet you in North Africa."

And another one, from an unidentified Nerdsholmer:

you're a sensible guy. you're not obviously fucked up. i can't see anything wrong with you.

This one's a first impression from Frost Bob II:

and this guy who appears to be drunk who wanders in. that's waider. no, he's not drunk yet. he's just LIKE that.


eamon and waider and kludge are WD-40 and silicones and dry, dry graphite to lubricate the rest of us sticky gears. i imagine any of the three of them could make friends with their firing squad.

Dave's got an amusing turn of phrase:

dhalgren says to merde, "dude, remember this is waider you're talking to, he'd be mellow if you dropped an anvil on his nuts and forgot to apologize."

And this one came from troc's latest hack, a 'bot which defines things using google and some hairy logic:

com says to waider, "no one can ever convince me that waider is not actually bonhomme's secret identity. Waider is strapped into the driver's seat for another round of Fun, or else! Waider is looking for us calling my mobile but I discover that tomorrow via email. digger grins waider is falling asleep at the keyboard. reference in the opinion which Babb relies upon is when Fritz Waider is. This project has the following developers: waider is a Lead Developer."

Nerdsholm is Tom Boutell's contribution to the talk.bizarre community.

Entirely Random IRC comment

you are crass and disturbing.

Waider? He's just this guy, y'know?

(unknown, probably Bren)

The canonical answer, strangely enough. With apologies to DNA.


(unknown, someone on the DSPsrv I guess)

I apparently have - or perhaps used have, when the net was a smaller and less indexed place - a ridiculously broad knowledge of the 'net, which I discovered in 1990/1991 (the 'net, not the knowledge); this knowledge is largely of the "Where To Find Stuff" nature. This is how/why I got the "waiderserver" tag in college, and occasionally my friends still make jokes about "querying the waiderserver" - which was, for a while, a real live (i.e. computer-based) server.

As if this wasn't funny enough, James sent me this email (warning: large images). A few days later a purple envelope covered in runes and sigils turned up in my letterbox, containing some sort of pot-pourri and a floppy disk, mangled as described in the email.

The workings of the waidersrv are poorly understood and somewhat arcane:

    Yes, I remember the story. If you're interested in relocating it, it's
    on the web pages of someone called lisa, who once was a goth, and is
    also a friend or associate of jwz. The link between her site and
    jwz's is something to do with eating too much wasabe. She's also
    the author of some sort of web book and has a diary of the writing
    of said book.  

    That should be enough information for you to feed to a web search
Turns out the name was Laura, not Lisa! I eventually relocated it by recalling that she was the person who told jwz to go chasing coots in his Netscape Diary; here's the wasabe story, and the story that the above mail was a response to is Laura's short geek fiction, Exit Strategy. Oh, and here's the goth thing.

The Waider Bird

(John Mac)

bullet hole in left chest and bruised left shoulder. likes to cuddle 'Melinda'. reputed to speak whilst snoring. sleeps rear in air and face on floor. is a crap shot with anything loose lying around a pub but a black belt in origami. can be used as a melee weapon if required. does not fear the 'Queen of the Geeks' and is likely to verb you if you're not careful.

Melinda is, in fact, Bob. The rest of it, well, it's based on a weekend drinking excursion in Limerick.

College Yearbook Entry (proposed)


In the beginning was the word, and the word was "Man!! this program *sux*!!". From this first innocuous utterance, a new breed was born, the first generation of impish Hackers (not to be confused with the devlish Crackers!) who would dedicate their lives to wiggling around niggly problems and coming up with artistically illogical solutions to irrationally logical problems with all the deftness of a magician pulling a jumbo jet out of a hat.

Enter one Ronan Waide, aka "Qaz", "Qaz (deceased)" (and for a brief and unhappy period of time, "Qaz (diseased)" :>), Nonar the insane and offtimes "Hey!, he's just, like, this guy, y'know!". These and assorted other virtual psuedonyms would catalogue his infamous career from Fresher Newbie to Maestro Netrunner as he whirlwinded his way into Cyberspacial history! He has netsurfed, netploughed, warlorded and generally phreaked out with the best of them, clad only in a mischevious grin and a florally challenged Silly-Green-Hat[tm]

Outside of computers, the legend continued! A social animal, his talent as a musician (it is common folklore that his favourite band are The Pixies, but I personally have never seen him get off on them :>) and his unique wit (which earned him the voters choice as "Most Likely To Do, Y'know, Whatever!") have made the Waidersrv a hard experience to forget! A longterm DSP (a dyslexic Dead Poets Society?? }:>) with an amazing ability to balance a stereo on his head, he will always be fondly remembered as he rides off into the sunset in a cloud of shredded DOS manuals, leather, hair and Turtles...Big Green Turtles.....

As full of "in" references as you'd expect. It was largely uncut by the yearbook editors, although a less-than-flattering remark was added. Additionally, I was voted second most likely to cause a nuclear war and second in line for class nerd.

For the record:

Pheromone Boy

(Unknown, probably Bob)

Eh. Yeah. Go figure. Has an inexplicable degree of accuracy. The Nerdsholm posit is "cuterons" or elementary particles of cuteness. YMMV.

The following snippet of email may shed some light on the subject:

    > On October 7, JAMES COLEMAN said:
    > > Waider's still paryting, I won't mention Aisling or Emer or Gloria or ...
    > > all those other people whose names I haven't got.  >;)
    > I think "Tricia" and "Maria" completes the set, since I /don't/ know
    > the name of the nice girl from the picture framing shop.
    > Yet.
    Yes, well I can see nonar is coming along just fine!


fiocco theorises that waider's pheromones break into the bodies attacking the immune system. Then the pheromones keep up a low level attack affecting neural networks in various parts of the body, (mainly the head), modifying them in places. Sickness sets in, accompanied in part by miserableness which leaves the subject ripe for maximum effect of kindness and comfort .... and MORE pheromones.
(from Baked, the DSP mud.)

...and more...

    Um, no. The whole pheromone thing is an independant process, so to
    speak, in fact to extend the metaphor beyond the point of breaking
    it's a separate process on a separate CPU with fully redundant
    backups of memory and power, capable of working away happily when
    the rest of the system has shut down completely.


(My drinking buddies and one of the barstaff in The Oval, Cork)

I have absolutely no idea where this came from, and only recently rediscovered it while going through some old emails. All I can determine is that it happened at a party, and I've a very vague recollection of said party.

Flash Gordon

(An ex-grilf, about when I started going out with her.)

Again, no idea, although I have suspicions, and they're not flattering! Just discovered this in email while cleaning out an old mailbox.


Just like Dfan, I can't see anything when I close my eyes. And no, that's not as obvious as it sounds.

Actually, I have an amount of visual weirdness. My left eye is non-functional, to all intents and purposes, and I have serious peripheral vision.

Take it from the top.

Waider I don't have an attitude problem.
You have a perception problem.