Ah Crap

Filling in a dead link


So, as those of you on various Mac OS X tech lists know, Michael Bartosh, one of a very few people who deserved the name “Mac Genius” died rather suddenly.

This, to put a point on it, sucks. Not just for those who were close to him, but for everyone in the Mac community, whether they knew him or not. He was one of the loudest voices prodding, encouraging, and sometimes just beating Apple to do the right thing. I may not have always agreed with him on everything, but he was always trying to do the right thing as he saw it, and he was pretty damned uncompromising about it. That is worthy of respect and admiration alone.

Even more, he knew his shit especially about Open Directory, Kerberos, Active Directory, and integrating all of it. Totally, he knew it, and he knew it better than damned near anyone else who wasn’t writing the code. At the real-world integration level, he may have understood it better than the people writing the code.

Lemme put it another way. I don’t take anything at face value, not tech — wise. It’s rather hard for me to not be cynical about people’s reasons for saying things. I’m more than a little argumentative. I didn’t argue much with Michael. Over the years, Michael was so constantly right, that I got to the “If Michael said it, it must be so” level, with regard to Open Directory and the like. As I said, he knew his shit, and he was always right. I don’t know how else to put how much I respected his work and knowledge.

I also liked the guy. I didn’t necessarily agree with him on a lot of things, but I liked him, in a kind of paternal way. Then again, Michael was easy to like.

Damn, I hate that I have to refer to him in the past tense.

One other thing.

Because it’s human nature, there will likely be people who will start to talk about him, and even think about him as a saint. That would be wrong, and Michael would have been the first one to say so. I know the impulse, (having outlived both parents, I’ve had to deal with it personally), and I know that people mean well when they do it. But it would still be wrong, and a disservice to him.

There wasn’t a “Saint Bartosh”. Michael was, as we all are, human. He was neither angel, nor devil, as anyone who had dealt with him can tell you. He had a really good side, a really wild side, a really funny side, and a dozen other sides. So when you remember him, and talk about him, give him the respect of remembering all of him. Don’t turn him into a caricature, don’t bury the stories that may not show him in a flattering light. To do that is to minimize him to even trivialize him, and whatever you think or say about Michael, he was never, ever, trivial or minimal.

When I found out he’d died, the following quote from Mel Brooks popped into my head, and it refuses to let me come up with any other way to describe him:

Look, I don’t want to wax philosophic, but I will say that if you’re alive you’ve got to flap your arms and legs, you’ve got to jump around a lot, for life is the very opposite of death, and therefore you must at [the] very least think noisy and colorfully, or you’re not alive.

To my knowledge, Mel Brooks and Michael Bartosh never met. But that quote describes Michael so well. He was a lot of things while he was alive, but he was most definitely alive.

So long Mike.