John R. Hall
1980 - 2005
My good friend John "overcode" Hall has just lost his courageous fight with melanoma. He was 24. Friend, co-worker, writer, pilot, programmer, hacker, musician, geek extraordinaire. He will be dearly missed. My condolences go to his relatives and friends who are affected by his loss.
There are no words to express my deep sadness right now. Ever since he was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma about a year ago, he had managed to keep an upbeat and positive attitude as he entered the very aggressive treatments for the tumors that had spread throughout his body. He kept a highly-detailed blog about the progress of his disease, that he kept updating till the end.
I first met John about 5 years ago when he was contracted by my employer at the time, the now defunct Loki Software, to write a book on Linux games programming. I remember that it made the rest of us smile to see that 19-year old kid being dropped off at our Tustin, California office by his parents, coming straight from Texas. He spent a summer internship working for us, picking our brains for the contents of his book, which would be released about a year later. I still remember the many games of Uno we played at my boss's house at the time, constantly calling him "inteeeern!!" loudly at any occasion we got. He took it pretty well.
While completing his book, he resumed his computer science studies at Georgia Tech in Atlanta for a couple of years. While he was still a student, and after the demise of Loki, our paths crossed again as my current employer, Codehost, contracted him for some embedded systems programming on the side, namely PalmOS drivers for some hand-held printers.
After he finally graduated, he was hired by Treyarch in Santa Monica, a video game studio where many ex-Loki employees ended up finding jobs, and moved back to Southern California. Most of us kept in touch, at least online.
He made his way back inside my circle of friends a couple of years ago. I knew that we shared some interest in musical tastes, and I knew he also liked the band Dream Theater. I happened to have an extra ticket for their tour with Queensryche, and we ended up going to that concert together. He quickly turned into a DT fan, and we went to see them together in almost all their following performances in LA. The last one was just a few weeks ago, at the end of July. I know he enjoyed it a lot, and I was actually looking forward to go see them again with him on their upcoming winter tour. After that we started hanging out together more frequently.
We never were very close friends, and yet I always thought of him like of a little brother, and not just because he happened to have roughly the same age as my actual younger brother. We just had very similar backgrounds and a lot of interests in common. Many of my friends here on LJ got to know him and appreciate him as well. Just last year he flew some of us to his birthday dinner in San Diego in one of these planes he loved to pilot.
He had recently taken a renewed interest in music, having acquired both a guitar and a bass and starting to learn how to play these instruments. I wish we would have had time to jam together at least once...
I was absolutely shocked when I heard news of the rapid deterioration of his health earlier this week. I cried on that day. I had sensed from the lack of updates on his site that something was up, but couldn't imagine that things would get this bad so quickly.
The last time I saw him, he appeared tired but still very much functional. He was able to withstand the 7 hours of heavy-metal music at the Gigantour in July. We were all optimistic that he would eventually overcome this, and that much was apparent throughout his blog. He was in perfect health when he was diagnosed just a year ago, having just prepared to run the Long Beach marathon. I was sincerely not expecting him to go so soon, after all the advanced treatments he had gone through.
Please help us all to find a cure for this terrible disease by donating to the American Cancer Society. I made a substantial donation when I first heard of his agonizing condition. I suggest you do the same, in the memory of a good friend that was taken too soon.
EDIT: Ryan Gordon has posted his own memories of John, as well as a page of links on his site.