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In Memory Of Malcolm

Last night, I received the news that Malcolm Tredinnick had passed away. I was at the hotel bar, concluding the first night of sprints at PyCon 2013. It took everything I had not to spontaneously start crying on the spot.

Malcolm was a friend, a mentor, a valued community mentor, a leader and a wonderful human being. He gave freely of himself to so very many people & causes. He made himself available to others, even when he was so busy he could barely keep things on track as it was.

He answered countless mailing list posts, questions on IRC, code reviews. He took time & diligence in all things, never one to rush a patch or to reject someone else's work wholesale, instead trying to take the time to guide them & improve their work.

Malcolm was perhaps best known for his involvement within the Django community. Very early on, he latched onto the project & contributed back many great works. Perhaps best known for his work on the ORM, he also worked hard to make sure Django handled Unicode. He also worked on the autoescaping within the Django template language, things that every single programmer or designer has benefitted from while using Django.

Beyond that, he was a long-time Pythonista, a member of the Gnome community for decades and as of late, active in the Blender community. Each was made richer for his work.

He spoke at a number of conferences, sharing his ideas & experiences. Many/most were recorded & they're well worth your time to watch. You'll find a brilliant, humble & gracious mind delivering each. His humor, dry & sharp yet friendly, were welcome in every social setting.

He loved the community & tried to nuture it, even when the community failed him when he needed them. He spent more than one round of unemployment hunting for a Django-related job that no one could grant him. I regret that he'd become less involved with Django & had found a place by the time I had started Toast Driven, or I would've hired him immediately.

If it weren't for Malcolm, I suspect I never would have been as involved with Django as I am, nor would I be known (for small values of known) as I am. Haystack has never more than a poor rip-off of Malcolm's ORM work & Tastypie benefitted greatly from an early review he took the time to do for me. I learned so much from Malcolm, both in how to be a better developer as well as be a better community member.

I was never as close to Malcolm as I would have liked, but I have so many good memories of him:

  • My first real interaction with him was when he shepherded in my request.is_ajax patch in. I had been heavily working with Rails at the time while moonlighting with Django. He gave me good feedback on the patch, tiny as it was & made me feel even more at home within the Django community.
  • He visited Lawrence several times while I lived, even working in the Mediaphormedia offices briefly. His code reviews & in-person discussions made the resulting code much better. I also scared the shit out of him by yelling "HEY MALCOLM" while his back was turned. You've never seen an Aussie jump so high out of their seat.
  • On another visit to Lawrence, during winter, we all participated in some "sidewalk ice skating" after an overnight snowstorm. Malcolm was in full-on grumble mode, which was a joy to behold.
  • Trolling Malcolm during his talk at DjangoCon 2012 just by heading to the mic first (thanks Russ) & getting a resounding "Daniel Lindsley, sit down!" was a definite high-point.
  • We tried grabbed lunch once to discuss some of the finer points of Tastypie's documentation & approach. We managed to not be served for almost 45 minutes before giving up, walking out & heading to Encore (a fantastic Asian restaurant in Lawrence). He spent the entire ending of the meal grumbling about how stupidly large the portions are in American restaurants.
  • The birth of Alex Gaynor's nickname ("MiniMalcolm") and watching the verbal sparring that sometimes occured on IRC/tickets between the two.

Thank you Malcolm, for these things & all the other wonderful things you did. You left behind a legacy that we will all try to live up to. I can only hope to be 1/10th of the person you were. I'll never forget you. Rest in peace, my friend.

Toast Driven