Today, the sad news has reached us that Jim Weirich has passed away. We’re incredibly sad about this as Jim was one of the nicest people we’ve got to know in the Ruby/Rails community when we first started Phusion. In keeping his memory alive, I’d like to reflect on a particular anecdote that made Jim especially awesome to us and most likely to you as well. I’m sure many of you who were fortunate enough to get to know him can relate to his kindness.
Back in 2008 when Hongli, Tinco and I set out to go to RailsConf to give our very first talk abroad, we met Jim in the lobby of the conference space. We had just attended a talk of his where he had gone through a myriad of valuable do’s and don’ts one should be aware of when giving a talk. These tips proved to be incredibly valuable to us in years to come, and we hope Jim knows how grateful we are for this.
Our talk was scheduled to be held the day after, and seeing Jim’s do’s and don’ts, we were suddenly confronted with how many embarassing “don’ts” we had in our slides. As Jim told the audience that it’s generally a good idea to avoid cliches such as having bulletpoint hell, stock images of “the world” and “business people shaking hands”, we felt more and more uncomfortable. Not only did we have a lot of bulletpoints, we even had an image of “business people shaking hands”… in front of “the world”. We basically tripped over every possible cliche in the book!
But hey, we still had 24 hours, surely we’d be able to fix this right? Luckily, Jim had the demeanor of a big kind cuddly bear, so we felt compelled to walk up to him after his talk to ask for some help with our slides. Instead of brushing us off, Jim graciously sat down with us for about 2 hours in pointing out the things that could use improvement in the delivery of our talk. And understandibly laughed out loud at our slide with the business people shaking hands in front of the world.
The next day, after giving our talk, we had people walking up to us saying that we killed it. In reality, it was Jim’s tips and kindness in sharing these tips that “killed it”.
We will miss you buddy.
Your friends, Tinco, Hongli and Ninh.