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On a somewhat related issue, I once ran into Bruce at a bar in Minnesota when I just arrived in the Twin Cities (late 2000). I couldn't tell if it was him at first, but when he left his table to go to the bathroom (which required him to walk by me) I knew it was him. Now, I really hate people who treat other human beings like they're gods or some other kind of superior being by fawning over them, asking for autographs, duplicating their web sites, giving them 5-star reviews on their books before they're released, etc., etc. But I really liked Bruce's "Applied Cryptography" and I just wanted to shake his hand and tell him that I enjoyed his book - that's all. Unfortunately, I think I scared him a bit when he came out of the bathroom and walked by me as I stopped him and said, "Bruce Schneier?" He had a look on his face of concern - I don't know, maybe he thought I wanted to try and kick the shit out of him for some unknown reason. But he said, "Yes", to which I responded, "Just wanted to let you know I liked your cryptography book." Well, he shook my hand and...that was about it.

I've had other somewhat awkward "conversations" with other developers at conferences. One guy (I'll leave his name out of it) wouldn't respond at all (at least Bruce was nice about my inqusition). I just wanted to make small talk, like, "I liked your (book title deleted to protect the guilty)." No response other than a shrug and, "Um, thanks." OK...let's try this one, "I didn't know you also played (instrument type withheld to not drop any clues that might reveal the guilty party)." "Um, yeah." And then he just stood there. Didn't say anything else, just...looked at me. So, not knowing what else to say, I walked away, feeling embarrased, but why should I have?

And my wife wonders why I just don't go up to people and strike up a conversation. Now, her family is completely different - they'll talk to anyone. In a store, at the sidewalk - doesn't matter. I didn't mind this when I met them as I let them do the talking, but it's not my style to just talk to strangers like that.

And don't ask me how a post about Bruce's RSS feed led to its' eventual (and merciful) conclusion.

* Posted at 08.19.2004 03:54:57 PM CST | Link *

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