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Supercomputing News

Roland Piquepaille Dies 288

overheardinpdx writes "I'm sad to report that longtime HPC technology pundit Roland Piquepaille (rpiquepa) died this past Tuesday. Many of you may know of him through his blog, his submissions to Slashdot, and his many years of software visualization work at SGI and Cray Research. I worked with Roland 20 years ago at Cray, where we both wrote tech stories for the company newsletter. With his focus on how new technologies modify our way of life, Roland was really doing Slashdot-type reporting before there was a World Wide Web. Rest in peace, Roland. You will be missed." The notice of Roland's passing was posted on the Cray Research alumni group on Linked-In by Matthias Fouquet-Lapar. There will be a ceremony on Monday Jan. 12, at 10:30 am Paris time, at Père Lachaise.
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Roland Piquepaille Dies

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:33PM (#26389637) Journal
    While I often found his stories and comments to be far reaching, overstated, overly optimistic & sometimes bordered on religious zealotry [], I will miss his contributions and wish his family and friends well. I hope they know that Roland was a man committed to the proliferation of technology and advancements has done great things for both our community & society.

    It is also comforting to see a soul survive and prosper in a technological field and end up where they want to live blogging peacefully. I hope my own retirement and passing are similar instead of some of the mindless inane existences I know my ancestors have lived out in nursing homes and/or in front of a TV.
  • Rest in peace (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChienAndalu ( 1293930 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:36PM (#26389685)
    I have read some interesting stories from Roland here. Most of them were tagged "ohnoitsroland", the meaning of which I still don't fully understand.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      All of his submissions (minus one or two) were simply links to his blog to generate traffic/revenue, rather than passing us directly to the news source.
    • Re:Rest in peace (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:40PM (#26389763) Homepage

      There was a period when it was common to see 1/3 to 1/2 of the stories on the front page from Roland, and the stories linking to brief summaries on his own blog rather than to the original article. I can only assume it was a comment on that period.

    • Re:Rest in peace (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:42PM (#26389799) Homepage Journal
      I always enjoyed the irony of Slashdotters accusing him of aggregating multiple articles just to whore his blog :D

      It's very fitting that news of his passing is in the Meta catagory because his submissions were like a Slashdot within a Slashdot. I like the fact that he, like NYCL, wasn't above actually kickin' it with us and participating in discussions. He also made the occasional funnie as well. RIP RP!
    • Re:Rest in peace (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GameMaster ( 148118 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:47PM (#26389869)

      Originally, most of the posts attributed to him provided links directly to his blog rather than to the original source. Once there, you were greeted by a summary that bordered very closely on, what many people considered, outright plagiarism. This, along with the sheer number of times the slashdot editors posted his submissions, caused a lot of slashdot readers to conclude that he was "stealing" stories to generate hits so he could profit from advertising. There was also question of whether there was some kind of improper favoritism going on between Roland and the Slashdot editors.

      Personally, I doubt there was any overt quid-pro-quo between Roland and Slashdot. I think he was just a conveniently consistent source of new stories for the editors. As far as the supposed stealing of stories went, he responded relatively quickly by not linking to his own blog most of the time and by providing the summaries in more of his own words. This resolved any potential I, personally, might have had.

      However, since then, there has always been a decent amount of eye rolling every time a story was posted with Roland as the source. This is why you see the "ohnoitsroland" meta tag. I think it's probably in jest, though maybe not the most tactful joke.

      I would also like to join the people offering condolences to Roland's friends and family for his loss. Regardless of what some people may have thought of his posting style, it's a tragedy when a loved one is lost and my sympathy is with them.

  • What happens to... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vexler ( 127353 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:39PM (#26389731) Journal

    ...his blog? Or for that matter, his email account?

  • by dsginter ( 104154 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:39PM (#26389735)

    Roland was really doing Slashdot-type reporting before there was a World Wide Web.

    Now, Now... there's no need to insult the guy at this point.

  • Hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by brian0918 ( 638904 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (8190nairb)> on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:40PM (#26389753)
    Well you know what they say... you never know how much you miss something until it's gone. For me, I find that is definitely the case here - I will truly miss the use of ohnoitsroland, boycottroland, and dierolanddie tags!
  • He will be missed.
  • by EWAdams ( 953502 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:40PM (#26389761) Homepage

    ... than all the slashdotcynicalwhining that pervades the board.

    He'll definitely be missed by some of us.

  • Oi. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:41PM (#26389779)

    You know, over the years I've read Slashdot, I got the impression Roland was one of those stereotypical "needs a life" /. posters from all the people complaining about him. Then this happens and I find out that, well, he had a life, and worked at some interesting companies back in the day.

    Best wishes to all Roland's people, and at the same time I'm glad that complaining about him from the other basement dwellers is going to stop before too long.

  • slashdot^2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FonkiE ( 28352 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:42PM (#26389801)

    i'll miss his blog. biotech, computers, physics ... it was slashdot^2 ... to bad he had to close down comments a few years ago due to abuse.

    he was thinking ahead of his time. i would like to be that anticipating at that age.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apparently its not just his blog links that resulted in a DEAD END.
    Too soon?

  • Wikipedia (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:00PM (#26390071)

    Articles about him have been deleted over and over again most recently in 2007.

    Is he really just "A french blogger known for frequently posting articles to the technical website Slashdot that primarily linked back to his own technica" or "a fellow who makes a lot of money on ads by getting his crappy stories linked constantly on Slashdot" [link] [] or is he notable enough outside of the blogger/Slashdot community to make an article?

    I know it's tempting, but please don't go making an article about him before you read Wikipedia's notability requirements for people [].

    Anonymous Coward Wikipedian

  • by mfh ( 56 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:09PM (#26390225) Homepage Journal

    I liked his whit, and charming methods of describing things to the readers of this website. He truly embodied what can best be described one of the pioneers of the Slashdot effect. Some people trolled him pretty hard, but he was and will always be remembered as interesting, insightful, funny and underrated.

    Roland, may the god(s) of whatever religion you believed in, forever mod you up.

    RIP, bro.

    • by rhizome ( 115711 )

      True to form, even the announcement of his passing has a link to his blog.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by brarrr ( 99867 )

      I know this is off topic but it's worth mentioning... this is the first time in several years where I've seen a post by any of you sub 1000 (non-rob) UID folks that has content and isn't about the ahem size of your UID.

      (not that I mean to rip on you guys or say that you don't make posts that I just don't see, but it is just such an infrequent occurrence in my view to be worth noting) ... and I will wait patiently for some 56 user to make a non-witty, meaningful post to prove me wrong :)

  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:14PM (#26390301)
    Is there a named cognitive bias (or something similar) for suddenly liking and missing someone who was universally considered a git prior to his passing? Because that's what happening to Slashdot right now, including me a bit.
    • Yeah, parent post sums up my feelings.

      Is there a named cognitive bias (or something similar) for suddenly liking and missing someone who was universally considered a git prior to his passing?

      If there is not a name for this, there should be. Maybe call it the Roland Effect, in honor of a man who may well have been less of a git and more important to my world than I had realized before.

    • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:44PM (#26390737)

      Well, there's always the old Latin saw: De mortuis nisi nil bonum "Of the dead [say] nothing but good"

    • by NiteShaed ( 315799 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @04:20PM (#26391223)

      I don't know about a named condition, but to paraphrase the (alleged) F.D.R. quote, he may have been a git, but he was our git.

      R.I.P. Roland.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Is there a named cognitive bias (or something similar) for suddenly liking and missing someone who was universally considered a git prior to his passing? Because that's what happening to Slashdot right now, including me a bit.


      De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

      Latin for: Speak nothing but good of the dead.

  • Isn't it ironic that the Slashdot submission itself has a bunch of links to other websites in it, Roland style? /RIP and all that, click-harvester

  • Jon Katz (Score:5, Funny)

    by Profane MuthaFucka ( 574406 ) <> on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:19PM (#26390377) Homepage Journal

    Is breathing a sigh of relief that he escaped Slashdot alive.

  • Maybe the "ohnoitsroland" tag should be retired in his honor?

  • In clear violation of standard posting practice I think the Slashdot editors should have posted it as if by him.
    A certain amount of symmetry.

  • Oh, woe...woe! The Grim Click-Harvester has claimed yet another life.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All the advertising I usually see on a /. story is coming up with a "404 - Not Found".

    RIP, Roland.

  • who knew that was his real name?

  • R.I.P, Roland. You will be missed, even if I didn't agree with you on everything.

  • Not once in the summary or in any of the comments did it mention what he died from. Cancer? Heart attack? Eaten by a grue? OD huffing kittens?

    How did the man die, anyway?

  • No offense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by citylivin ( 1250770 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @04:17PM (#26391189)

    But pretty much everyone here hated his linkjacking ass, even threatening to boycott the site. I can remember threads calling him the worst of the worst, and for a time, he was. To steal others content and pass it off as your own is real intellectual property theft. Especially when you make advertising money from it!! To see everyone get all two faced and misty eyed now that he has died is pretty unreal. Its like everyone feels guilty somewhat. He linkjacked all his content, and everybody dies. I really dont see what saying RIP does for anyone except the person that says it. My guess is that people are trying to say "im sorry".

    Whats next, jon katz found dead and we build him a monument?

    Hopefully I dont get bitchslapped for insulting a slashdot "celebrity", but someone has to tell it like it was

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I read his posts for the content, some I enjoyed, some not so much. I know a few people are saying "I'm Sorry" but I'm sure others would grudgingly agree Roland was a changed man from the early days, all under the bridge and history. Sure he was in it to earn a living, no problems there, but I think it safe to say that in the end he was doing it better.

      RIP: I guess you are just young to colour everything in such simple black and white concepts. In 5, 10, 20, 100 years, his kids, his grandkids, his descendan

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @05:05PM (#26391723)

    There were submissions from Roland that I thought pointless and absurd, but he also submitted some fascinating stuff.

    It occurs to me now that Roland was "in love" ( in a manner of speaking) with science. And this is probably why he behaved as he did. He wanted to share that which he loved with the rest of us.

    Whether the guy is dead or not, it's hard to hold someone's essentially harmless passion against them. If anything, the world would be a better place if there were more curious and passionate people.

    Finally, I remain utterly amazed that he could manage to assimilate and pass on so much information, and if he really did do it all by himself ( I used to suspect he had a few interns or something ) then he must have been quite a guy.

  • Truly (Score:5, Funny)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @05:12PM (#26391841) Journal

    He'll be missed.

    But honestly, his death should have been reported via a link to his blog that would THEN link to the page discussing his death.

    Only a fitting tribute.

  • by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:47PM (#26393101) Homepage

    I checked to see who submitted and it wasn't Roland. I would think that this being Slashdot he would have set up a dead-man-switch to make that submission himself.

    It would be only fitting.

    RIP Roland.

  • It's a bit like (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bertie ( 87778 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @09:41PM (#26394797)

    The old guy in your local bar. You'd be in there regularly, and there he'd be, holding forth at anybody who'd give him the time of day. You'd make for the other side of the bar, grateful that he'd collared some wet-behind-the-ears Johnny-come-lately rather than yourself, because you'd been there enough times before. He'd be chuntering on in the background and you'd pay him little heed.

    And then one day you come into the bar and he isn't there, and you hear he'd passed away, and you realise that you'd miss the old bastard. Because people like that add colour to the world, and what is this life without characters to enrich it, whether you actually like them or not?

    That was Roland for me - I'd come here and I'd see an article submitted by him and there'd be some generally good-natured muttering about his modus operandi. Some people clearly didn't like him, but the truth is I couldn't tell you who any of those people are. But if you asked me to name five people who post on Slashdot, he'd be one of them.

    So by that measure alone, I for one will miss him, and I think Slashdot will be the poorer for his passing.

    Here's to Roland, and to making a difference in any way you can.

  • by Starker_Kull ( 896770 ) on Saturday January 10, 2009 @01:51AM (#26396101)
    I always wondered about the following question:

    Why is it we only show up for peoples' weddings and funerals? Do they have to hook up psuedo-permanently with a gal/guy or be in a casket before we'll take the time out of our busy lives to see them?

    So, for all those who miss him in requiem - treat the living, give them as much charity, forgive their trespasses, and appreciate their good qualities while they are still around to hear it.

    R.I.P. anyway.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas