See, I have “known” him for about 15-20 years (I am not sure, however long he’s been coming to cons). Now, when I say, “known,” I mean, “I knew he went to cons, had several lobby chats, and generally knew his name was Eric, and went around carrying a large black bag on a hand cart behind him.” He was a convention staple in my world, much like Hal Clement, Nancy Lebovitz, or Filthy Pierre (Irwin Strauss). I doubt he knew much about me except I was probably on some panel he saw, or got in some discussion with him with a group of people about convention subculture. About 4 years ago, I was watching a program on the Discovery Channel about hackers, and I saw he was being interviewed. I nearly did a spit-take with my soda. It was then, that I realized that the Eric I had known was THE Eric Raymond of one of my favorite books, “The Art of Unix Programming.”
Imagine if one of your friendlier neighbors in your apartment building, the one you exchanged greetings with and saw from time to time at neighborhood meetings, turned out to be one of your favorite actors from an old TV series you loved as a kid.
So, last year, I saw him at Balticon, and said, “Hey, all these years I have known you, I didn’t know you created Fetchmail and wrote those books.” I told him I saw him on the Discovery Channel, and he said DC had never given him any of those tapes, and was a bit put off by this, because people said they saw him, but he didn’t know how he was finally edited into the program. He also saw that I was doing computer talks, and so I told daecabhir to invite him, and then there followed a less-than-amusing and completely embarrassing series of miscommunication caused almost entirely by me, but all that seems to have been sorted out.
So, now, having been a programmer and Unix sysadmin for a while, I have ALL sorts of questions, and I am sure the kind he gets all the time. I have to remember the golden rule about convention guests, and that’s they often don’t walk to talk about what they are famous for, but do like to talk about their hobbies and such. But with Eric, both are almost the same. So I’ll just let him talk.
I don’t know what panels he’s going to be on, and what ones I’ll share with him. I just hope I don’t make an ass out of myself, not so much by being dumb, but by being star-struck. I know sometimes people do that to me (the best had to be, "I am at a party... with Christine from the FanTek art show and her husband... in their house!"). How awkward.