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ada lovelace day and a short tribute to evi nemeth



tomorrow is ada lovelace day, and i’ve committed to write about a woman in technology who i find inspiring.

my background isn’t computer science, it’s physics. i was languishing in an phd program at unc when i first got introduced to networking, systems administration and databases. but, i wasn’t sure i wanted to make the switch. ultimately, instead of changing paths in school, i decided to leave and work at amazon.

it took me a long time to not see that diversion as a failing.

all that said, one of the first books i acquired to investigate this computer operations bent was “the red book” by evi nemeth. here was a super smart academic who was interested in and writing about things i was interested in (i’d had my full share of scattering papers).  i was so moved by someone who had achieved success (i.e. academic success) in this field, that i decided to explore more.   i pressed hard to move out of the group that was maintaining tools for amazon’s customer service group and be given an opportunity in infrastructure.

with that single opportunity and the fascination with evi’s book, i laid the foundation for my subsequent career path development. i took a leap into a world of books and computers. 

maslow not withstanding, of course. does anyone need more to sustain them?

“the red book” has been released twice more since i first laid hands on it and it’s now “the purple book” and evi has retired, but i still credit her with being a beacon for me in a fog of indecision as i was trying to understand what to do with a dream (of being a physicist) that hadn’t ever been examined closely.


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  1. March 23, 2009

    When I started in the UNIX game 20 years ago (Eeeeeek) the then Yellow book that Evi Nemeth co-authored was one of the first books that I read to learn about this UNIX systems administration thing that I suddenly found myself doing. Evi Nemeth has probably done more to educate systems administrators than every single CS department in the US.

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