I had read Phil Katz's story before and I read it again today - it wasn't any less painful the second time around. I think if we were to debug it - there doesn't seem to be any one unmistakable conclusion, rather a combination. It would all depend on how severely one reacts to their emotional trauma. Some people are numbed, some are able to move on, some find healthy diversions in hobbies, people, achievements and some like Phil just plain fail to function well and have to resort to drugs and alcohol in order to run away from the living nightmare. I think at some point existence becomes rather more painful than death for some - that's the only way you're able to kill yourself without regard.
Humans are puzzling as a species - all the years of conditioning, the everyday conflicts and contradictions we have to face, the constant need for asserting our existence through external means, the need for relations, the child/parent and then spouse systems and all the things that can go wrong with them, all the other uncertainties - amazingly many live through this but some just can't escape the dread.
>I am as puzzled and frustrated by the above records, and by the rest of my psychiatric file, as any casual reader could be. So much earnest effort, so much expert knowledge, so little success. The world’s most common disease is still this opaque.
Having read half a dozen compelling depression memoirs—Styron, Jamison, Millett, Solomon, Kaysen, McMurtry—I was skeptical, when The Baffler proposed publishing extracts from my file, that there was much more to say. Maybe there isn’t, at least not in that register. But maybe it’s enough just to keep talking.
Reading this gives me immediate anxiety. I have times during the day where just seeing things and being alive is almost unreal, like I can't deal with, and the thought of doing this for N number of years more is overwhelming. As I'm getting older life is just even more surreal, I sometimes wonder if I have the mental fortitude to make it to old age. This isn't a cry for help, you just touched a nerve with that sentence.
One old saw has it that when a man is starving he forgets even the urgent promptings of a full bladder. A newer old saw claims that religion is the opiate of the masses (with its uncoined analog regarding fetishism & the ruling classes).
The quoted OP railed against wasted time and effort, but his views on the despiritualization of the modern man are not clear. A non contemporary would likely diagnose a 'spiritual crisis' for the existential angst of the uncommon non-aristocratic unbelieving modern man.
It is no wonder then that so many find a life of ultimately meaningless toil and distraction so dreadful, and akin to those words by OP.
Until I experienced the emotionless emotions/feelings I couldn't have imagined it. We take for granted that our brain functions properly, even depression and other ailments are comprehensible, it's the incomprehensible emotions that can't be lived through.
Alcoholism is beyond thought and emotion. It operates at another level. It takes Kings and Queens. It takes happy family men, while often skipping abused children who grow up to be unhappy adults that can't hold a family together. It takes spiritual and religious leaders such as Alan Watts. The list of great, productive and seemingly happy people who are destroyed by alcohol is a long one.
My theory is that is a genetic glitch that allows alcohol to get hooked into the autonomic nervous system. It's telling in "Leaving Las Vegas" a woman tells Cage's character to quit drinking and he replies "why don't you tell me to stop breathing?" Carl Sagan liked to talk about our reptilian brain. That's the way I look at it. When the lizard brain wants a drink, it's going to get a drink. Luckily for me, it's not all the time. The urge comes and goes (sometimes for years.) The gene seems to run in families. If it is cured, my bet it will be through genetic therapy.
I'm not saying that resolving emotional issues doesn't make it easier to stay sober. Many things make it easier to stay sober. Sometimes I just go somewhere where I can't get it. That helps. It's why a lot of guys stay in the Navy. They have productive sober time at sea. Finding other activities and diversions certainly help. I like to program. I've often stayed sober by programming.
My last relapse almost killed me because I'm finding as I have become older, my ability to fight it is greatly weakened. On top of that, I go into a trance-like state where I stay I will stay drunk for days and weeks at a time unless someone who knows me intervenes. That is terrible on the body and as the body weakens, the ability to resist weakens. The downward spiral can be quick and brutal.
I don't have it all, though I have a lot, but I still find myself continuously drawn to a side that defies my own logic. I both glad and saddened to hear that I'm not alone.
This also lends credence to the idea that it is genetic.
I think it's more productive to ask if alcohol is having a serious negative effect on your life or others. If so, you've got a serious problem.
If you've tried to deal with the problem on your own and failed, then you need help.
I admit that I've always wondered what a dramatic film based on this story would look like. It has all of the highs and lows of a movie, and it would be worth retelling for both the lessons it has to teach but also the important role in computer history Katz held.
I still remember running the self-extracting pkz204g.exe on MS-DOS, and never heard of SEA or encountered their software. That's really unfortunate.
I don't think what Katz did in SEA saga is worth defending, but I think we have to delineate the two formats. As Phil Becker of eSoft says in the clip, the reason that Katz's software ultimately won out was that he was more adept as a businessman—and the open nature of the ZIP format was a good example of that.
Also, remember that PKarc was popular because it was faster than Arc. The feeling in the BBS community at the time were feeling a bit of rage, that a superior product was being killed through the courts. So when PKzip came out, which was not only faster, but had a better compression ratio, combined with the general sentiment in the community that were fed up with look-and-feel lawsuits, doing a mass conversion from arc to zip was also a form of public protest.
Low barriers to entry make software easy to get into... and easy for your replacement to get into. It seems software businesses aren't common any more for that reason (excepting MS).
And games, games developers are still software companies, albeit in the entertainment space.
The difficult programming in games seems mostly deferred to engines (which are becoming cheaper and nore commoditized), and the game is mostly "content" - more akin to a movie than software. But you're right, games are software, and are thriving.
I got two games as a gift recently, and at least one of them require a big download to even function. And both require that i register them with steam before i can play them at all.
Effectively even "offline" games have just become a client to a "service" running in the clouds.
Even in the BBC's account, the tone of the writing seems to present a lot of warning signs and developing problems as just a genius' wacky eccentricities. If you require substances in order to function, can't maintain social relationships or struggle with harmful lifestyles, these aren't mere character traits, they're symptoms of real and treatable illnesses. Presenting these things as "the dark side of being smart" is a popular story, but its harmful in the long run.
Should have wondered why a BBC documentary was being presented in plaintext format, anyway...
The lawsuit was extremely unpopular given that they were both shareware products and the older, more established company was suing the company with a better product.
It wasn't clear now or then what else SEA could have done.
"The leaked agreement document revealed that under the settlement terms, the defendants had paid the plaintiff $22,500 for past royalty payments and $40,000 for expense reimbursements."
To put it in perspective, the royalty payment that constitutes the settlement is less than what the most people pay for a new car or the average cost of a wedding in the U.S.
Given the leaked documents about the settlement (per Wikipedia) and knowing what most people pay for shareware (which is zero), I doubt the article's claim that Katz had a "multimillion-dollar company". This makes his struggles and story even sadder.
When Katz died people asked the ARC people what they thought about him:
>So now Phil Katz is dead. He drank himself to death, alone in a motel room, a bottle of booze in his hand and five empties in the room. One can only guess what drove him to such a tragic end, but it is a fitting demise for a man whose professional reputation is based entirely on a lie.
What a heartless asshole.
I get where you're coming from, but Katz basically stole Henderson's work, lied about it, and destroyed Henderson's business and, for many years, his reputation. I don't think I can really blame him for not having been terribly diplomatic about the man's death.
>I can think of no more fitting epitath than the final clause of the original ARC copyright statement:
>"If you fail to abide by the terms of this license, then your conscience will haunt you for the rest of your life."
Agreed. Most of us have either experienced ourselves or seen someone suffer from an illness or condition we wouldn't "wish on our worst enemy".
Most of us.
I'm p7r on twitter and reddit. If you ever want to chat, let me know, I'll follow you back, we can DM, or just PM me on reddit. It's a sincere offer: I hope in the morning you're feeling more optimistic and know you're not alone and there are people who give a fuck.
The things that make us able to do amazing things are also the things that make us do terrible things to ourselves. We should talk about that more as a community.
My psychiatrist told me flat out, "Don't even try to stop on you're own. It's just too f---ing dangerous." I used that terrible advice for years. I kept on drinking.
I went to A.A., and just coudn't stomach it, on so many levels.
I wasen't going to spend my last $15 grand on a expensive rehab.
I did taper off around ten years ago. It took a few weeks. I knew it would be dangerous to just stop. I did everything the experts told me not to do; like have alcohol around the house, and hang around people who drink.
We all drink for different reasons. I felt I was drinking to control my anxiety; and much of the time I was self-medicating. I tapered down to a few drinks a day--I finally got down to one, or no drinks.
My point is if anyone reading this is trying to stop drinking, and the status quo advice just isn't working, if I could taped down, I honestly think most people can.
(Try not to drink hard alcohol. That really did a number on my body. When I went back to wine, and beer; It was only then could I begin to even think about tapering down to no drinks. I'm not giving advice. I'm just stating what worked for me. I really thought I was hopeless. My father, and grandfather both died from liver tumors that metastasized into cancer. Both were big drinkers. I didn't think I had a chance in hell. Plus--I had a nervous breakdown in graduate school, which turned into generalized anxiety. I still drink, but it's not much. I'm not the bloated mess I used to be. My life is still not great, but it's not due to alcohol.)
The drink has ruined my relationship with them.
When I was a teenager, me and my sister suffered from psychosis. They blamed their drinking on that. When we got better, they continued and found a different scapegoat.
My sister is going through children's mental health services. My parents don't seem to understand that wrestling tablets from my mother attempting suicide is traumatic for a child. This is really messing up my sister.
When I spoke to my dad about my sister's problems, his response was "I'm not giving up my life for some 15 year old"
Over the years, I'd get nasty text messages. Anything from long essays on why my birthday gift wasn't adequate to how my choice of partner isn't adequate (my partner demands that the kids don't have cordial - my mother disagrees). Years of that plus childhood has made me feel inadequate.
Alcoholism doesn't just screw over the drinker but the family too. Sometimes it's not just the pain of watching them fall.
Based on what I've seen, those who wait to start drinking until well into adulthood have brains that are MUCH more resistant to alcoholism.
The implication for you, then, is that if you can't get your sister to just join you in being a non-drinker, then at least persuade her to procrastinate her drinking as many years as possible and use the language-learning analogy if it helps: the LAST thing you want to do is become a "native drinker". You want it to be something always a little foreign and unnatural to your brain so you can push it away entirely should you ever choose to do so.
Again, this might be of no use to you in your personal situation (and sorry I can't be more useful), but if there's any way you can get her to wait until after college/university age, she won't be completely safe (no drinker is), but she will have MUCH more power than she has now.
Unfortunately too late. My sister has had her first drink a year or so ago. She was 14 iirc. I had mine at 11 - 12.
We can shun alcohol. I have a bottle of Jaeger in the fridge untouched. I got it last Christmas.
In effect, being stupid with it when I was a kid made me realise I have a point where it isn't pleasant at all. It also made me realise that I hate the idea of me under the influence - I hate feeling like a fucking idiot.
That plus the damage it has done through other means has left me a non-drinker. If alcohol became a class A substance tomorrow and the day after consuming it was punishable by summary death, I would not care (except maybe about a right wing govt). I wouldn't give a shit about losing booze.
I also have young children. If I won't jump in a car after 1 drink, how can I look after my kids? What if one wakes up?
An interesting read, and recommended for one very talented person's view on alcoholism.
 - https://librivox.org/john-barleycorn-or-alcoholic-memoirs-by...
As hard as it gets, you can only save yourself. You can throw as many lifelines as there are stars in the sky, but it doesn't guarantee they will be caught or even acknowledged. I sometimes wonder how much growing up on sitcoms and their solved in 30 minutes solutions have given us unrealistic expectations in real life.
As a friend who watched too much British TV in college said to me: save yourself if for no other reason so you're not a selfish twat who caused everyone else pain.
1) college where students learn about Monty Python and Pink Floyd.
0x50 0x4b 0x03 0x04
Note also that every Java JAR file is also a ZIP file, so they all begin with the same magic number.
Edit: fixed the name
#define FS_UFS2_MAGIC 0x19540119
I don't remember computers without pkzip/pkunzip. They've always been around, many copies on floppies containing games and other software, maybe just in case someone ever found a computer without them.
My school computers also had them, and we quickly learned there wasn't any benifit of compressing a compressed file. We had pointless discussions about comparisons with arj and rar without even knowing how they worked.
I've been suicidal myself. It is something not talked out, but it needs to be talked about eventually. Suicide is taking some of the best out of this industry and stress and depression and anxiety mixed with drugs and/or alcohol can lead to these weird behaviors and then suicide unless they are lucky enough to get professional help and the right psychiatrist and medicine and therapy.
I'm on disability and can't work yet, and I have to learn how to program all over again with different languages as what I know is so outdated except for theories.
Anyone remember Niko Mak? I heard whisper numbers back in the late 90s of high six figure monthly licensing revenue from companies that were desperate to remain BSA legal (their employees downloaded WinZip for personal use and exposed businesses to legal liability for using unlicensed software). He seems to have disappeared, as he rightly deserves. I assume he changed his name and lives on a private island. I still get WinZip marketing spam on my old email account. Last I remember, they were at version 67...
- You could update an archive in place. Not incredibly useful, but certainly nifty.
- It had support for multi-disk archives. Again, big deal in the 90s.
Finally, last but not least: it existed in the PC world. Ports of software between UNIX and PC systems were rare back then, and were made more difficult by the fact that the software would have to run in a segmented (16-bit) x86 environment.
My older sibling exposed me to tar indirectly by granting me access to their university-provided dialup UNIX account where they ran `elm` for email access, and this happened long after I had been using BBSs for years with my PC.
Never saw a tar file in all my years of PC-based BBS usage. GNU/Linux and Freebsd are largely responsible for the general public accessing *NIX-like systems. BBSs (and their file sharing) were a thing before those existed.
XENIX is too often forgotten, as is the fact that the Unix world had its "archiver wars", too. In this case it was tar versus cpio, with the POSIX standardization effort settling on "pax", the pun in whose name is reportedly not a coincidence.
There was for a good while a bit of a "compression arms race" with folks looking to find the most optimal compression to save precious time on BBS dial-up. For a while 'ZIP' won, then 'ARJ' managed to squeeze out a bit more, and so on -- though I think diminishing returns kept things from going too far beyond ZIP/ARJ on many BBSes.
I don't want to see the idea of the loner computer hacker be idealized any longer. Mr Robot, while a clever and more accurate representation of tech than its predecessors, still leans on the troubled genius trope. My main gripe is how software developers are dehumanized into masochistic agents of hyper productivity. It's unhealthy, it's exploitive, and it's simply not true.
Silicon Valley loves stories like Phil Katz because it gives them a pass to treat up-and-coming coders horribly. 90+ hour workweeks, death marches, and insane deadlines not only leads to burnout, it results in poor work.
Longevity and balance and much more noble pursuits in the tech world. As DHH used to say, put away the Superman cape. We don't need heroics, we need sane, well-rested creatives who enjoy their work. If you want real heroes, look at men & women who are in their 70's and 80's who are still banging out lines of code.
What's interesting for me is that many geeks I've worked with have real issues in some regard, in a way that non-geeks seem to find a way to make entertaining (IT Crowd, Big Bang Theory), or simply think is disturbingly sad (the loner in the basement stereotype).
The truth is the things that make us great geeks can also make us a little self-destructive, and we should probably as a community talk about that some more.
Spending your formative years as an outsider and then finding yourself as an adult a highly in-demand insider is potentially damaging. It's compounded when - as many of us do - we realise that social anxiety can dissipate with alcohol and use of other drugs.
We've all watched it. Some of us have done it. We need to be a bit more open about discussing it, I think.
Thinking about going first and writing a blog this weekend, but man, it'll be emotionally raw for me, and possibly cringe-inducing for others...
Reading between the lines, it sounds like he had been pent up, and when an effectively unlimited budget reared its head, it open the floodgates for so many bottled up urges.
By the time he had graduated to drunk driving convictions, other habits had been so firmly established that he was never going back to his old life.
It reads like a medical study of addiction models in animals. When granted unlimited push-button access to an addictive stimulus they push the button compulsively, without stopping and kill themselves from sheer lack of self control.
And about that writing of the tell-all cringe blog. I'd reconsider if I were you. Definitely do some writing. Write on paper. Not on a computer. Not on the internet. Lock it away, and then proof read it when you're in the best possible mood, and try to imagine how it would change your mood to realize others had read it, and cringed over it.
In seems a person's whole life can be summed up by the one thing that killed them. I never really thought of it that way before. Interesting insight.
"It tore him up inside when his father died. One
time we went to his grave," Fischer says. "He'd always
say that when his father was alive they'd go fishing
and do man things."
Of course you speculate whether he would have been an alcoholic if he hadn't had a lonely childhood and hadn't
had someone so close to him that died.
That's what my second sentence alludes to.
(and thus completely miss the point)