Monthly Archives: September 2015

Rosyna Keller

By now, many of you have no doubt heard of Rosyna Keller and the problems that he’s suffered. He wrote about them today; the full post can be found on Medium at https://medium.com/@rosyna/the-horrors-of-extended-stay-debilitating-depression-and-a-plea-for-help-c450425fb9ec. (If you can help him, please take a moment to go to Paypal and send what you can spare.)

As Michael Tsai’s blog post on the subject shows, there are many of us who know Rosyna and what he’s done for the Mac developer community. But there are also many who don’t, so I’d like to explore it for a moment from my own perspective.

Michael Tsai writes that Rosyna is “an enigma”, and that’s certainly true. I was only barely aware of him at the time when I benefited most from his work. He was the brilliant mind behind APplication Enhancer (known in the dev community as APE) and the outstanding haxies made by Unsanity. (He was not, to my knowledge, the sole person involved in the development of those projects, but his role was considerable.) My personal favorite had to have been ShapeShifter, a tool which allowed users of Mac OS X back in the 10.5 and earlier days to heavily theme their installations. WindowShadeX, Xounds, and Mighty Mouse were also staples of any Mac install I used. I credit the availability of these haxies with keeping me from souring entirely on development in general at that time in my life- they allowed me the chance to get used to OS X, without losing the sense of flexibility that the older MacOS had.

Those of you who were around for the pre-OSX era are probably scratching your heads about now and wondering what I’m talking about. The truth is, I was simply much younger, and the ability to make my screen change to the colors I wanted after getting stuck with the stupid that was Aqua was really important to me!

Even more than that, the very existence of APE grabbed hold of my imagination – and let me remind you that I would never have known what it was if not for the haxies and all the work Rosyna put into Unsanity. At the time, I was a great amateur as a developer; I knew very little about what was really going on in the system. Many who know me may find that surprising, given the study I’ve made of exactly that subject and in light of my work on OS X Internals, but it was things like APE which put me truly on that track.

In short, while Rosyna can’t be said to be solely responsible for my career, his work was a major factor in making what I’ve accomplished so far possible.

Of course, all I knew about this “Rosyna” back then was that it was a name associated with Unsanity. I never really read the blog, I had no knowledge of the history of the person or the company, and when the haxies stopped coming, a lot of it all faded from my memory. It wasn’t until several years after that I ran into him.

And even then, I didn’t know who he was for a long time yet. All I saw was someone who, despite his obvious misery, reminded me a lot of myself in many ways. It’d be a lie to say I’ve ever been through what he has, but he was a person who made sense to me on a personal level. There aren’t a great many of those; the majority of my relationships are largely or entirely professional.

Imagine my amazement when I finally learned he was the (to me, at least) legendary Rosyna of Unsanity! The symbol of the magic that could be wrought within the machines before me, if you’ll allow me the conceit. Again, while he wasn’t the only inspiration I ever had, he was certainly an important and memorable one, even if I didn’t realize it for a long time.

I learned in that time that it wasn’t just Unsanity that Rosyna was known for. He is a diligent researcher, a person of great insight into the workings of these machines. He has solved problems no one else could. He has helped any number of fellow developers and fellow people when he could, and with more patience and compassion than some of the most famous minds of our generation.

And for this, he has ended up with the burdens he’s described.

In the time that followed, I lost touch with him for a while. When I was lucky enough to connect again, I found him in the precursors to the troubles he described in the Medium post.

Through everything, Rosyna has remained a person who keeps hold of the things that, to my limited knowledge, fascinate and cheer him. He has his eyes on the things that are happening, and while his choices of what matter may seem strange to some, he has rarely if ever Tweeted or otherwise remarked on something that I didn’t find at least momentarily worth my attention. And for me, that’s saying a lot.

In depression, he’s never lost hope. In turmoil, he’s reached out for help, a strength that I’ve failed to find in myself many times over. In the extremity of fear and oppression, he’s spoken out for himself and risked asking the kindness of a community infamous for narcissism and elitism, and in doing so, proven that that very infamity is undeserved.

I can only hope I would have half the strength in me that he does if ever I found myself in his position.

If you are reading this, I ask you to reach out to Rosyna and help him. Even if all you have is a kind word – they do not fall on deaf ears.

Musings

It’s been a long time since I wrote here – well over a year, in fact. I imagine most of those who still follow this feed are expecting the answers to some pretty obvious questions. I’m not here today to talk about those, but at the same time, I think it would be unfair to leave them unacknowledged. Therefore:

  • Yes, I’m still working on the OS X Internals book. For various reasons there have been some delays (to say the least!), but the project is not dead or forgotten. More will be said on this subject soon.
  • Yes, I’m also still intending to finish my port of Missions of the Reliant. For several of the same reasons, that got very back-burnered, but I haven’t left that project behind either.

With that in mind, I turn to the subject that first inspired this post: C.S. Lewis’ famous Chronicles of Narnia. WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW! If you are one of the unlucky souls who hasn’t read the books but wishes to, don’t continue!

I had occasion of late to run across the debate regarding whether the original Narnia books should be published in story-chronological order (based on the timeline of events in the novels) or original publication order (based on the order in which Lewis wrote them). I therefore did a little research on C.S. Lewis’ own opinion on the subject, and it seems to be generally accepted that he said they should be read in chronological order.

That, as close as I can understand the information I’ve found, is not what he said.

What he said (again, limited to what information I’ve found with my lackadaisical efforts) was that he personally liked that order, but that it doesn’t really matter. That it’s a matter of preference on the part of the reader. There’s also some mention that the idea of putting a numbering on the books in the first place was based on the demands of American publishers, and never intended by him at all.

I like that point of view. Personally, I’m ecstatic that my first copies of the books were presented to me in publication order, and that I read them in that way. It is my opinion that everyone should read the novels that way the first time, so that they can experience the gradual sense of revelation that culminates only in The Magician’s Nephew, rather than coming into it (as one Amazon reviewer quite astutely put it) already knowing about the lamppost and the Professor and the manner in which Narnia began. After you’ve seen it that way, you can read it after that however you like – I’ve gone back and read it both ways, and I’d be hard-pressed to decide which I prefer now that I already know the secrets.

But then that brought me to another point of contention I find often with Narnia. This is one that I encounter in many other series as well (Wheel of Time, in particular, comes to mine), and it’s another one to which any answer must be considered subjective at best: How to interpret the story.

It’s largely accepted as fact that Narnia is an allegory for various events described in the Christian faith – that Aslan, the magical lion, the Son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea and the one who both calls Narnia into being and sinks it into its final eternal night, is meant to represent Jesus. That the progression described of how the children experience that world is representative of growing up, and there’s a whole separate debate as to what’s intended by Susan’s absence in The Last Battle.

I am not here to stir up a religious debate. I have no interest at all in questioning the allegory, any meaning it might carry, or anything of the kind. What I do want to comment upon is the oft-seeming requirement that the existence of that allegory be acknowledged by all readers.

As a child, one who was not raised in the Christian faith, I had no understanding of the allusions made in the text. Aslan was to me simply a kindly, if often stern, magical creature. The mysterious Emperor-Over-the-Sea was only a name, one about which we never learned anything. And when Aslan closes the door at the end, what I saw was a world whose time had come, and that they’d gone to another. In short, I accepted the universe of Narnia on its own terms, without reference to anything else at all. It had never occurred to me to consider that it was similar to any other story. Indeed, even now, many years later, I only barely understand a very few of the references!

No one has forced me to accept that this was not C.S. Lewis’ intention. It’s not, in fact, clear to me what his intention was! But nonetheless, it’s cited so often that I tend to feel like the idea of enjoying it by itself is lost in the noise, and I find this disappointing. I think there’s great value in both ways of seeing the story, and I only hope that the people who speak so much about its likening to Christianity feel the same. I prefer – and remember, this is my own opinion, with which no one else has to agree – to see Edmund’s betrayal and redemption stand on their own, to see the coming of Father Christmas as simply a manifest of the joyful spirits that come with such a world. For Susan’s absence to be simply a matter of luck (good or bad), and not say anything about who she was or what she did (am I the only one who spared a thought for the pain she’d end up living through, back in the so-called “real” world?). And for Aslan’s description of the relation between him and the vulture-like Tash to be significant only of a particular way of working magic.

That’s not to say I want to set aside the meaning of the story, or sidestep the issues it raises. It just means I want to be able to appreciate it for itself in addition, and I hope that there are others who agree.

This has been my rant about Narnia. I hope you will find it not entirely foolish.

Addendum: I always adored the Wood Between The Worlds. I’ve yet to ever encounter a more appealing representation of the concept of a De Sitter Space.