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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 AT gmail DOT 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.
  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:In memoriam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brian0918 ( 638904 ) <> on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:42PM (#26389797)
    Let's not forget about the prophetic dierolanddie [].
  • 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.

  • Know your limits (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:54PM (#26389993)
    I too agree that it is sad to see the passing of a Great One. He certainly contributed greatly and built a mighty pedestal. Unfortunately he also chose to dilute his high quality work with quite a lot of trite, enough to earn his own derogatory tag.

    While it is important to speak when you have something useful to say, it is as important to Shut The Fuck Up when you haven't.

  • 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 MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:02PM (#26390101)

    Agree. While I didn't always like his choice of articles, he was one of us and I'm sorry to see him leave.

  • Re:Oi. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:13PM (#26390271)

    Just goes to show, live life well until the end because odds are you'll be remembered for the last thing you did, not the first.

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

    by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:23PM (#26390439) Journal
    True, I believe. It seems he learned from the criticism. That alone put him in the top 10% of humanity.
  • Re:In memoriam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jalefkowit ( 101585 ) <`jason' `at' `'> on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:31PM (#26390539) Homepage

    News flash: you're going to die someday too.

  • by BlackPignouf ( 1017012 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:34PM (#26390587)

    Hey rude boy, you might try "Vaya con dios" next time.

    You'll still sound like an asshole, but at least like an educated asshole!

  • Re:Wait a second (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:45PM (#26390757)
    You're expecting me to believe that not only did the /. editors start editing, but that it started with kdawson?
  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) * on Friday January 09, 2009 @05:23PM (#26391979) Journal

    by lowering reader's estimation of how much Slashdot editors can be trusted.

    Story submitters can't do that. It is the editors' jobs to separate the wheat from the chaff. Failure to do so is what reflects badly on the editors.

  • Re:Rest in peace (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BenBoy ( 615230 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @05:49PM (#26392309)
    Just doing something, whether subject to criticism or praise, puts him in the top 10%.
  • Slashdot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:37PM (#26392979) Homepage Journal
    I think whoever happens to have moderation points today should work hard on pushing the disrespectful comments in this article to -1.

    I don't have them, and I'm not looking at this story again, because I'm grossed out by some of the folks here.

  • by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @06:39PM (#26393019)

    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.

  • Re:Slashdot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:49PM (#26393789) Homepage Journal

    Come on, Bruce.
    Its slashdot for God's sake. If you can't laugh at someone's death here where can you?

    Oh, anywhere that it's fashionable to have absolutely no taste or sense of the appropriate, and where flaunting your a sense of bankruptcy is in style.

  • Re:Slashdot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by muridae ( 966931 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @07:50PM (#26393807)

    Its slashdot for God's sake. If you can't laugh at someone's death here where can you?

    On Fark, Digg, and many other sites.

  • Perhaps that was right, but Roland has earned a place in the slashdot community.

    I had a good time tagging all of Roland's articles as "ohnoitsroland". It made my days more bearable, and everytime I saw his stories tagged already, I chuckled.

    Roland was a traditional part of Slashdot (for good or bad), and even if only in the form of a meme, I will miss him.

  • by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @08:12PM (#26394083) Homepage

    Roland might have been short on netiquette when he first started submitting stories to /., but once the community started to speak out against his copy-and-paste blog entries and use of other people's content to earn ad revenue, he stopped doing all that. all of his submissions of late have linked directly to the source article.

    if anything, Roland has contributed greatly to the /. community by submitting a ton of excellent stories--even after he stopped earning ad revenue from submissions--and starting many interesting discussions. so he clearly cared more about /. as a thriving community with a rich online culture than just another business to be monetized. and if you're more worried about Slashdot's value as a business than its usefulness to its users (which is primarily from the discussions that follow each submission), then you clearly don't understand /. as well as Roland did.

    your blatant hyperboles and baseless accusations are more dishonest than Roland has ever been. and i doubt you will ever make as great of a contribution to the /. community as he has.

  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Friday January 09, 2009 @08:42PM (#26394331) Homepage Journal
    Funny, you write the basic truth while his corpse is still warm and are modded Troll.
    Wait a few weeks after they plant him and you'd be modded Insightful
  • 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.

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

    by MikeURL ( 890801 ) on Friday January 09, 2009 @10:58PM (#26395249) Journal
    As I get older the years are blending together but I think the Roland blogspam height was when I quit visiting /. It was plainly obvious that it was slashvertising and that is fine, I guess, but taco's strenuous denials were insulting.

    I transmitted, perhaps unfairly, that anger to Roland and I always tagged his articles with something derogatory. Every post by him was a little pinprick into a wound that had never really healed. Over the years I came to HATE seeing his name atop front page items. I know I'm not alone and lets face it--there has been a love-hate relationship between editors and readers here for quite a while.

    But really Roland never did anything that most of us would not do--if given the opportunity. The way some people are posting to this thread you'd think the man had hacked slashcode and figured out how to bypass the editors.
  • Re:Slashdot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cecil ( 37810 ) on Saturday January 10, 2009 @12:14AM (#26395651) Homepage

    Its slashdot for God's sake. If you can't laugh at someone's death here where can you?

    You can't, and 4chan.

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 10, 2009 @02:37AM (#26396259)

    I have no idea why everyone thought the world would collapse when he linked to a blog with ads from a site that amounts to a blog with ads. I found it quaint and charming, but then again I'm not one to RTFA. Which is another point, if no one reads TFA why make such a fuss about the links? I think it's just weak people trying to feel bigger by insulting people, just like the schoolyard any excuse will do.

  • by FuturePastNow ( 836765 ) on Saturday January 10, 2009 @04:10AM (#26396599)

    This makes me sad. OK, I know that a lot of people on Slashdot didn't like rpiquepa, and I understand why. But truthfully, I never paid much attention to who submitted what, so I probably read hundreds of his articles. Am I a better person for being a little bit more informed? I think so.

    And so are you. We're all just names on the internet to each other. Some of those names, like mine, are more or less anonymous. And some people, like Roland, use their real names on the internet. Are we mortal or not? Obviously, we are. One (more) of us is dead now.

    What about our words, our ideas? When the checks to the hosting companies stop and their servers shut down, will our words- all that we really are to each other- not disappear? I'm just rambling. Good night, Slashdot. My condolences to Roland's family.

  • Re:Rest in peace (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 10, 2009 @04:24AM (#26396651)

    Slashdotters act like schoolyard children and become the bullies that victimised them. Once you're branded fattie, you could win the cross country marathon and still be known as fattie.

  • by abuelos84 ( 1340505 ) on Saturday January 10, 2009 @11:56AM (#26398633)
    Because there is something called "respect"... nobody will force you to speak beauty of a man you didn't like, but it'd be "respectful" not to throw shit in a post dedicated to his death... Peace. Drx

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"