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Hans Reiser Interview from Prison 611

JLester writes "Wired Magazine has an interview this month with Hans Reiser (of the ReiserFS journaling file system for Linux) from prison. It contains more details about the murder case against him. Some of the questions still go unanswered though."
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Hans Reiser Interview from Prison

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  • Crazy Shit (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @08:55AM (#19661777)

    Reiser thinks of Sturgeon as a brother but is concerned about his friend's taste for bondage and sadomasochism. Reiser once watched Sturgeon carve the letters R-A-G-E into his arm, and was alarmed when his friend told him he went to the ER after an S&M experience led to a burst blood vessel in his chest. Reiser is worried that Sturgeon is trying to teach Rory and Niorline that pain can be fun and is furious when Sturgeon gives them what Reiser refers to in a sworn court filing as "gender confused alternative sexuality dolls."
    WTF!? What kind of lives are file system authors leading these days?
  • by defile ( 1059 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @08:58AM (#19661789) Homepage Journal

    Isn't it weird how his gothy best friend who has had some kind of twisted sexual relationship with his wife is an admitted mass-murderer?

    I'm just saying.

  • by Idaho ( 12907 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @09:14AM (#19661939)
    The story about Hans Reiser gets weirder every time I read about it. It's like you're reading some surrealistic novel, or maybe a plot by Grisham.

    For one, there is the question whether he is being framed (by a former friend, russian mafia, ... ?)
    Also there is the problem of (suspected) murder, but no body has been found. So, all evidence will be circumstantial and therefore open to lots of discussion/interpretation. "The brothers Karamazov" by Dostojevski has some very nice examples of how wide apart such interpretations can be (without the reader being able to tell which interpretation is true). Probably someone could write an interesting novel based on this story as well. It's getting so weird, you just can't make such stuff up.

    It could become an interesting case to follow, so I'm hoping groklaw might pay some attention to it (if such hearings are even public - I don't have much clue about the US judicial system, but it seems unlikely).
  • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @09:19AM (#19661965)
    Yeah but you can see why people get the wrong idea about Hans /ff_hansreiser?currentPage=5 []
    Reiser delves into this "culture of manhood" in a 32-page filing he submits to the court after Nina accuses him of hurting her. In it, he explains the difference between appropriate and inappropriate violence. Grand Theft Auto, for instance, demonstrates inappropriate violence because players can get away with killing innocent people. "Many other computer games heavily penalize shooting the wrong person, and I prefer those," Reiser says.

  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @09:22AM (#19661987) Homepage
    From what I've read, he doesn't come off as very innocent. I read the article in the paper magazine last weekend, and he just seems like a really weird guy. Despite the fact that they picked this interviewer because they thought he would understand Reiser, because he is a misunderstood geek, he still came off as quite a weird guy. The whole part about playing battlefield vietnam with his 6 year old so he could "become a man" was just kind of weird, and really made me question his values. Not that I'm against kids playing violent games, but his whole reasoning behind it was just kind of creepy.
  • by Mark_Uplanguage ( 444809 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @09:26AM (#19662015)
    Agreed, by the time I was done reading this, I couldn't decide if it was real or not. Kudos to the author for piecing together a lot of information in a compelling format. I especially enjoyed the code fragments related to the story - rather spooky.
  • Re:obHumor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @09:37AM (#19662129)
    You are quite possibly the only person on Slashdot (Or at least, the only person who posts under their real name) who has a personal connection to Hans & Nina Reiser. You shouldn't be too surprised that the vast majority of posters arn't going to take it as seriously.
  • by goarilla ( 908067 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:25AM (#19662729)
    this story has everything:
    intrigue, mystery, a freak that makes charlie manson clap, russian mob, sex, drugs ...
    fuck it when is the movie coming out. ray liota would be perfect for the role of hans reiser, i can see it now

    as far as i can remember
    i always wanted to be a geek programmer
    those guys were someone
    they programmed in front of hydrants
    and if someone complained
    they were hacked so bad they would fear electronics for the rest of their lives

    anyhow there are enough oddities in the story that unreasonable doubt is pretty certain, if this is all there is to it anyway
    i hope he gets out tho because let's face it the OSS community has dropped him like a stone, and that's just not right imho
    and it doesn't change the fact that reiserfs is pretty revolutionary although i have had experiences with it
  • Re:I tend to ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GiMP ( 10923 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @10:58AM (#19663175)

    When they served the search warrant on him he was carrying about 9 grand in cash and his passport. You don't think he may be a flight risk?

    There could be good reasons for having these things on him, other than flight risk. If he was expecting arrest, having the $9k in cash on him would keep that money locked away as "personal effects" until his release. That would be a place, I suspect, legally protected in some ways that a bank might not protect him -- such as protection from creditors. (and he did have major financial issues, so that would be a very likely reason) Of course, there is now the potential for thievery by prison employees.

    As for having a passport, there might be similar reasons. If you might go to jail for even a year, for purposes of trial, you might not want to leave your most important documents lying around for your family to scour through, burn, or box up. I personally know that my mother would throw everything into a box in her wet basement, to be subsequently damaged come the first rain. Suspicious? Perhaps. Beyond a reasonable doubt? No.

    Buying books? If you thought that you were being suspected of a murder, would you buy such books? Its a tough call. The smart thing to do is to research, the dumb thing to do is cast suspicion. Unfortunately, these things can conflict quite severely. Regardless, there is reasonable doubt here.

    Blood? Thats more serious, but also not that unusual. Some people have history of undiagnosed chronic nosebleeds, women have periods, and heck, its not that hard to cut yourself. Blood doesn't mean murder, it can mean an (honest-to-goodness) non-fatal accident, non-fatal domestic abuse, even a paper cut. Personally, I think that unless there is a significant amount of blood found, there isn't much to go on, and even then, it isn't conclusive. The important thing here is quantity (5 pints would be a problem!) and age. For instance, if there are 5 pints of blood but there is a severe difference in the *age* of the blood that could indicate storage -- what if someone drew a pint of blood every 3 months for the last year? That would be enough blood to make it look like they died.

    Washing the car? Some people find washing their car a great way to relieve stress, which I'm sure he was having plenty of -- with a missing wife. This is really inconclusive.

    The point is, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence, that without a body, makes it hard to prove that there was any crime at all. No single thing here can prove that Hans murdered Nina. Yeah, you've got some dots, and you can connect them to make Hans look guilty, but you can also connect them to make him look innocent. Of course, thats what lawyers are for.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:04AM (#19663253)
    It's "Death is complex process" without article (in znode.c). Actually, it wasn't Hans who wrote that.
  • Shady Lawyer? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Joe Snipe ( 224958 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:21AM (#19663529) Homepage Journal
    Reiser is being represented by Daniel Horowitz, who's wife was killed a month after Nina went missing. A young goth kid (Scott Dyleski) was eventually found to have committed the murder. That seems another bizarre coincidence in an already intriguing mystery...
  • Re:Crazy Shit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:27AM (#19663625) Homepage

    What kind of lives are file system authors leading these days?

    Well, I'm much more disturbed by Reiser playing graphically violent video games with his young son - to the point where the kids has nightmares - in order to "teach the culture of manhood", than by the fact he has a friend into BDSM and cutting. (Of course, Sturgeon's claim later on that he killed a bunch of people is more disturbing than either, and certainly throws dobut into the case against Reiser.)

    BDSM? Body mod? Somebody you know is into it or something equally "strange", but hasn't told you. That normal-looking coder in the next office has a pierced penis; your brother's art history professor used to be a professional dominatrix. In every day "normal" society you're never going to find out.

    Spend some time in the "alternative" cultures, though, and you'll find out how gloriously weird your neighbors are.

  • by ElleyKitten ( 715519 ) <kittensunrise@gmail . c om> on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:39AM (#19663809) Journal

    If you ever serve jury duty. That way they can dismiss you and choose jurors who can do the job correctly.
    Violence against your wife is inappropriate and illegal (unless of course it's to protect yourself from her). If it was self-defense or didn't happen or was an accident then you'd expect someone to start out saying that. A rant about inappropriate and appropriate violence in this context is only going to end in him trying to explain that it was somehow appropriate to hit his wife outside of self-defense, which means he's guilty and should go to jail.

    Do you have a problem with domestic abusers going to jail?
  • Guilty (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Captain_Chaos ( 103843 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @11:53AM (#19664039)
    I must say, the article describes some very damning evidence: "Police search the CRX and find that the front passenger seat has recently been removed. The floor is soaked, as if it had been washed. There are heavy-duty garbage bags, cloth towels, masking tape, and two books: Masterpieces of Murder and Homicide. Police also find another drop of blood and match it to Nina." This is after the police have (surreptitiously) followed Hans to the car and observed him moving it to a different location. What other explanation could there be for this than that Hans did indeed murder Nina, especially since (as far as I can tell from the article) Hans has offered no other explanation for the state of the car? Some of the rest of his interview sounds pretty creepy and paranoid too. For example, Hans says: "Male geeks, such as myself, are one of America's most hated cultural minorities," he writes. "Unlike racial hatred, it is considered socially acceptable to indulge in such hatred." This is obviously completely ridiculous. He then proceeds to use this as an excuse for a lot of strange behavior, such as wanting to "teach the culture of manhood to little boys, with all of its inherent opposition to wallowing in wimpiness" (talking about playing hours and hours of Battlefield Vietnam with his six year old son). None of that is evidence of murder of course, but it does make Hans seem unstable and paranoid and his explanations suspect. All in all it seems likely to me that Hans did indeed murder Nina. Of course in theory I suppose it's possible that he's the victim of some extremely elaborate setup (which I fully expect many people who watch too much CSI to claim), but in reality I think that's an very unlikely option. Having said that, this is just what I currently personally believe. If I was a juror I would vote "not guilty" on this evidence. I'm a big believer in "proven beyond all reasonable doubt." As long as there isn't even any evidence that Nina is actually dead, let alone hard evidence that Hans did it, I would have give him the benefit of the doubt, even though personally I find it more likely that he did it than not. To let off a murderer would be very bad, but in my opinion it would be much worse to wrongly convict an innocent man.
  • Re:obHumor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbadolato ( 105588 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @12:17PM (#19664335)
    There's also the 3 guys that were accused, when they were teenagers, of killing three eight year-old boys, and were placed in jail (one on death row). The evidence is absolute crap, and the "investigation" into the murders was bumbled and shoddy. The key evidence against the "leader" was that he wore black a lot and liked to read about Wicca and other "satanic" and "demonic" things... like heavy metal music. Oh no!

    HBO has played two documentaries on this case (Paradise Lost and Paradise Lost 2) and they are enraging. Granted you're seeing edited information, but if you can, I'd really recommned seeing these two DVDs. Amazon is selling them DVD 1 [] and DVD 2 []

    There's also a web site dedicate to the cause of helping the guys (Known as The West Memphis Three) get a fair trial and have real evidence shown (which there doesn't seem to be any of). Visit [] for details.

    I've been fascinated with this case for 10+ years and check out the wm3 site a few times a year to see what's new with the case. It's an absolute tragedy that three children were killed, and it's another tragedy that three other lives (teenagers) were destroyed as well if in fact they are innocent, as it would seem they may be.

  • Re:obHumor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @12:19PM (#19664369) Journal

    It should be in the journal somewhere.

    Yes, you're prolly gonna burn in hell for that one.

    OTOH, (damn your hide...) this is one of the few times when I really wish they had a special occasion mod limit of "6". Damned near bit my tongue in half in trying not to wake up my part of the cube farm this morning.


  • personal theory (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phrostie ( 121428 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @12:20PM (#19664387)
    they won't find a body because she's not dead.

    she's been taking the money and gave it to her boy friend who loanded it back to hans.
    the interview never says how the friend came into that much money. did no one else notice this?

    they fake her death and frame hans.

    the friend can pass a polygraph because he "didn't kill her".

    as for the seat, i think they drugged him(yes, both the wife and boyfriend have a history of experimentation/use), drove the car to where they left it and let him wake up there.

    he knew where the car was, but has no way to explain how it got there. this would freak out most people.

    yes he could have done it, but this no more unrealistic than anything else i've read.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @01:06PM (#19665033)
    I think the first possibility, that she is still alive, is fairly plausible and shouldn't be considered unlikely. Assuming that Reiser's father was correct and she was stealing money from the company she may very well have moved a good chunk of money out of the country, dumped Reiser for his mass-murderer friend, realized he didn't have any money (or was a mass-murderer) and life with the kids and divorce proceedings was shit, and thus decided to take off for Mother Russia. The minivan with groceries can be explained by her wanting her disappearance to be mysterious. The blood drops in the car and house are easily explained by any number of normal things. You could find traces of blood from me, my wife, and even one of our neighbors in our car and/or house. None of us are dead. The missing seat in the car and the wet floor isn't that unusual. A guy I work with has a car in similar condition because his kid puked all over it and it's a crappy old car. Reiser is a weird geeky guy who does weird geeky things, missing a seat in a car with books about murder isn't really evidence of anything.

    The last possibility, that someone else killed her, is also fairly plausible and shouldn't be considered unlikely. If she was involved with the Russian mafia they may have killed her, or may be holding her. If she was stealing money from the company previously and then couldn't once she dumped Reiser for his mass-murderer friend then her handler from the Russian mob may have decided to punish her.

  • Re:I tend to ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @01:22PM (#19665301) Journal

    There could be good reasons for having these things on him, other than flight risk. If he was expecting arrest, having the $9k in cash on him would keep that money locked away as "personal effects" until his release. That would be a place, I suspect, legally protected in some ways that a bank might not protect him -- such as protection from creditors. (and he did have major financial issues, so that would be a very likely reason) Of course, there is now the potential for thievery by prison employees.
    This is a very sane peice of analysis. It totally makes sense and for some reason rings true to reiser behaviour so far. Since everything here is speculation, I'll speculate.

    A close friend of mine's had his girlfriend usurped from him in the same way. A "friend" fed her drugs, got her addicted and then moved in on her. It was bad, and there were no kids or money involved. When is that ever appropriate? "Stergeon" has admitted to killing before, S&M, carving things into his arm, HELLO *Freak-alert*, once that line has been crossed once and he has gotten away with it what's to stop him doing it again. Do you think a guy like this would give a fuck about code, how many of you coders out there have dived so deeply into a project that it absorbs all attention. This is what's happened to reiser, he couldn't see what was going on around him, his focus was elsewhere, he was a target.

    No this reeks of set-up, I don't know why, but my guts are saying that reiser didn't do it.

    If any of you encountered people addicted to MMDH? they don't process emotions very well, they forget who/what is important in thier lives - they can be manipulated, especially if Stergeon was in a position of trust. What sort of drugs was he into? Born again, my ass. I've met people like this - they will do or say anything.

    I know some bikers and they say, fuck with thier head, then fuck with thier finances, then fuck with thier life.

    What if that last conversation reiser had with nina was "I don't give a flying fuck what you do anymore, just stay away from me and my kids and get out of my life.

    No, I think reiser realised to late he was being set-up,betrayed/used/manipulated and went into damage control mode, maybe he didn't want to beleive his friend was that much of a freak and when the police followed him it fed his paranoia/confusion even more, he visits russia for god sake, maybe he borrowed money from the russian mafia, it's common knowledge they have access to former KGB infrastrusture/contacts.

    What if Stergeon set Reiser up for nina's murder and reiser realised to late what was going on, but not late enough for to get rid of the suspicion, but just enough to mess up thier plans. What if reisers kids were being threatened - and reiser knows?

    And when asked about the car seat reiser talked about the FS source code, what sort of frame of mode was this guy when he wrote these comments... I mean some of them seem superflous..

    my 2 cents.

  • Re:obHumor (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @01:55PM (#19665773) Homepage Journal
    so what's your POV? I don't mean who did what, but what kind of people they are?

    For several years before this happened, Hans built a record of being really abusive of the Linux kernel developers on public mailing lists. I thought upon occassion of asking him "Do you know you are completely screwing up all of your business hopes for nothing?", but what I read from him also put me off enough that I just stayed away from him.

    Nina Reiser doesn't seem to be around to defend her reputation. I won't make a judgement about her because of that. I have managed to get almost to age 50 without ever having any friends or even frequent associates like the two other people described in the article. And I consider that I've been really lucky that way.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @02:52PM (#19666603)
    The kids promptly shipped in Russia never to be seen again, by a mother in law, also impossible to find reminded me of a case here in Canada.

    A man uses one of these "mail order brides" from Russia. Took several life insurances for a total around 1 Million. 6 to 18 months later the man claims the insurance providing a death certificate, police reports cremation papers, and a lot more. All papers from Poland, some accident occurred on a trip over there. He cremated the body because it was simpler to ship to her family in Russia.

    The insurance investigators tipped the cops; the main issue is "way too much official stamps on all received papers". All papers being officials insurance are paid about a year later.

    The investigator unsatisfied then tips off a reporter. In a few days in Poland the reporter get matching official papers, death certificate, police report, and all for a few hundred bucks each. Hidden camera shows exchanges with the head of police and city officials.

    The reporter then goes to the women's mother address and find the mother living with another women who does not have the same family name. That woman also has kids. A picture was taken and compared to the passport photo of the 'victim'. Yep, it's the "dead lady" all fine and well.

    I cannot help and wonder if Reiser's Nina is not living n Russia with her kids, enjoying all that "mysteriously disappeared" money from when she was VP of the business.

    What is strange here is the fact that Reiser went to his "disappeared" car a few days later and drove it to a wooden area. The front passenger seat missing. Tape, heavy duty garbage bags in the car.
  • Re:personal theory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hackus ( 159037 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @04:26PM (#19667943) Homepage
    I would like to add here that:

    1) Hans doesn't appear to have a history of violence. Going from no violence to murder, without a shred of real evidence beyond the circumstantial appears too good to be true. He would have had to screw something up. Unlike his friend who might I add is an accomplished assassin.

    2) He seems very gullible to me, and wasn't taking the advice of people who knew him.
    (Father calls him up to tell him the money is disappearing and he thinks the chix is soaking him.)

    3) Marries the chix after a cheap one nighter. Obviously exhibit 2b.
    (How many stories of woe must we post because of what happens between the legs? I feel pity for Hans.)

    4) I concur that Russia is a mighty big place, and I could retire in some small village in Siberia quite nicely after knocking off a couple of hundred K in American dollars from my X.

    Honestly though, I vote not guilty...

    For now.

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning@netzero. n e t> on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @05:54PM (#19668921) Homepage Journal
    First of all, do you believe everything that is written by a sensationalist magazine like Wired? While they have been fairly neutral about the whole affair, they do tend to write their pieces with a bit of a flair, just as you have pointed out. And being a bit sensationalist. By going on and on about how she may be a mail order bride or not is besides the point.

    I know Hans in a very deep and personal way, so this isn't based on the story but rather from personal experience and first hand knowledge of both working with Hans and spending huge amounts of time with his father (who I actually know much better, to be honest). Hans' father, Ramon, was throughally against the marriage from the get go and even said so before the nuptials. He warned that there was nothing good that would come from the marriage and suggested that Hans leave before it ever got started. It is too bad that Hans didn't listen to this bit of parental advise.

    Your quote here did trigger some thought I had, however, about how Nina really had one huge goal in mind when she met Hans: To get American citizenship. And she decided to do that on her back . Seriously, with her medical training and a strong desire to get the big prize, it seems very reasonable that she deliberately timed the nuptials and her first night with Hans at her peak fertility so she could become pregnant.

    The photos of Hans that have been sent around the internet since his arrest don't do him justice. He is the ultimate geek's geek, as much as you would expect if you would be involved with designing core elements of the Linux kernel. And he knows how to put on a show but also avoids conformity, particularly when it comes to dressing the part of being a hardcore geek.

    As far as if he really did the murder or not, I don't really know. It certainly isn't as easy of a case to prove as OJ Simpson's case, and it appears as though Hans did some real stupid things right after the disappearance of Nina. That he did piss off some Russian businessmen while running his team in Moscow is certain as well, and Nina didn't help out in smoothing things over... in fact tended to add to the problems. His "friend" also was involved in some financial manipulations that actually got far worse than is publicized.

    The truly unfortunate part right now is that Hans will never get to see his kids again... or his parents be able to see their grandchildren. That last part is particularly galling because although they are recognized as native-born Americans by the U.S. Government, Russia is claiming Russian citizenship for the two kids and refusing to return them to America. Regardless of who did what, these two kids are the ultimate victims of being denied the ability to see either parent, extended family, or even being able to grow up in the land of their birth. And the State of California is directly to blame on this point, where allowing the kids to leave the USA was even against state law and established child custody guidelines... not to mention that the oldest child is a material witness on behalf of the defense. His leaving the USA could perhaps even be considered tampering with the evidence, and certainly by itself is grounds for an appeal of any guilty verdict.

    As for the question about the car.... it seems weird and will to a jury, but what did he do "wrong"? There is nothing he did there that was illegal, and nothing found in or on the car can reasonably be used to demonstrate guilt other than through a very loose "circumstantial evidence". Not even the blood found supposedly in the carpet of the car in trace amounts that seems to match Nina's DNA. That just means she was in the car sometime in the past, and that point is not in dispute. There are photos of her next to the car.
  • by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2007 @06:59PM (#19669559) Homepage

    Perhaps. But putting it together like this, it fits nicely with the back-to-Russia story: A) she's a mail-order bride and these services are known to often be scams, B) she almost immediately engaged in embezzlement the moment she had access to large sums of money, C) she's disappeared and there's no body, and finally, as you said, D) her kids were sent to her mother in Russia, and now are mysteriously "terrified" at coming back to the US.

  • Re:obHumor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by try_anything ( 880404 ) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @05:07AM (#19673349)
    If you choked to death eating an orange, and someone found a months-old shopping list in your office containing the item "oranges," would that be ironic? No. It would be completely unremarkable.

    It is not surprising that filesystem code would contain tree terminology such as "parent," "child," and "sibling," and lifecycle terminology such as "death." In fact, it's predictable. That's how the damn lazy reporter found those code snippets in the first place. He knew they were there; anyone who knows a damn thing about programming would know they were there. The reporter just grepped them out and presented them in such a way as to suggest to people who don't know better that a) they have some significance, and b) that they represent some real research on his part.

    It makes me angry when journalists abuse their audience's ignorance like that.
  • Re:Guilty (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Captain_Chaos ( 103843 ) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @05:09AM (#19673367)

    If I was a juror I would vote "not guilty" on this evidence. I'm a big believer in "proven beyond all reasonable doubt."
    Quite, but I have serious problems trusting a selection of my "peers" to be quite so impartial and clear thinking.

    Actually I agree. By "if I was a juror" it didn't mean to imply that I approve of the jury system... I am actually strongly against it. In my own country professional (as opposed to elected or appointed) judges determine guilt and punishment, and while we have our share of miscarriages of justice on the whole I think it's a much better system.

  • by tytso ( 63275 ) * on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:21AM (#19676349) Homepage

    If you look at Joshua Davis' past articles on Hans (here [] and here [], you'll see that he has been quite sympathetic to Hans' plight. Yet this particular article is much more ambivalent. I suspect the explanation for why this most recent story seems a bit confusing, and the author some what ambivalent, is that his sympathies and opinions about Hans' guilt or innocent have shifted over time.

    I was contacted by the author in late March to give background information on the technical facts in the article, and he has never claimed that he was a technical person or in possession of a geek badge. My input into the story was solely on things like "what is a b-tree", and to eliminate the really embarrassing technical errors and misconceptions that the author might have had. At one point I believe the Joshua Davies wanted to put a spin on the "geek tragedy" that Reiser4 was this ground-breaking filesystem with great ideas that was languishing because its author/architect was languishing in fail. So I was given entire paragraphs of technical detail where I had to say, "no that's wrong," and "no, not quite", etc., etc. As far as whether or not Reiser4 was great, ground-breaking filesystem, I tried very hard to give both sides of the story --- that some people would say it was great, and other people would say that Hans had a tendency to fudge benchmarks ---- and I made it very clear that some people might consider that my views were biased, due to my past and continuing work on the ext2/3/4 filesystem, and that the author should definitely contact other people and get their opinions. So I disclosed all, which in my opinion was the only responsible thing to do, and I tried to be very, very careful about labelling what was fact and what was opinion.

    (I'm of the opinion that if you want better technical understanding by journalists, if someone approaches you requesting background information and promises that you won't be quoted, you should spend time educating them about technical details, since that's the only way we can improve technical accuracy in reporting. Another interesting thing which I learned is that while Wired rights about subjects at are of interests to geeks, they do not assume that their articles will be written by geeks and they pitch their articles to be understandable by the general public; also, that most of their writers are not geeks themselves. All not surprising if you think about it a little, and especially if you reflect that the intersection of strong technical clue and strong writing skills is pretty rare.)

    In the end, the story was about as good as you might expect. The facts of the story are confusing, as there were and there are no clear heroes and several suspicions and deeply flawed human beings that could possibly be villains but for which we can't really say for sure. There are no obvious technical errors in the story, except for one that I noticed, where the word registry is misused and should have been replaced with "data structure" instead: "It contains a single registry -- known as a balanced tree -- to organize every piece of data in the operating system". A lot of the details about reiserfs and reiser4 was ultimately cut out, as being not very relevant to the storyline that Joshua ultimately chose to tell.

    I have to say that having spent several hours talking to Joshua Davies, and talking to his editor who spent a lot of time doing fact checking on the technical details and background, that both he and his editor have my respect seekers of truth. He went into this with point of view that I believe was very, very sympathetic to Hans, and it would have been very easy to turn this into a stock storybook story with the police cast as the cardboard, clueless villians, and Hans the hero languishing in jail, the victim of said clueless Keystone Kops. But he didn't do that. He

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 29, 2007 @01:52AM (#19686131)
    On his blog, Nikita Danilov claims that he (NOT REISER) wrote the birth to death story of a znode. See to-subject-of-death.html []

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner