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.