Ralph Seberry memorial

Danny Yee's memories

I met Ralph playing chess in the early 1980s -- he was three years older than me, but we played against one another a few times, and we used to team up for transfer competitions. Ralph also used to spend a lot of time with my family, in Roseville.

At uni he was two years ahead of me but encouraged me to go along to his maths classes anyway, which is how I ended up doing most of third year Pure Maths in first year. It was that year he got into trouble for breaking into the computer science system: I can remember him turning up to a maths lecture once with a huge printout of passwords, obtained I think by modifying /bin/login -- that was my first introduction to just how poorly people chose passwords!

When I got access to the Unix system in second year, he taught me enough C to write a wrapper to set the special "EK" environment variable so we could send email outside the department. He was in some kind of limbo then, as the university had started disciplinary proceedings against him but never proceeded with them, and wouldn't give him his degree. I remember he used to hang out with Kat and Nick Comenos and others on the top floor of Wentworth.

When we got in touch again after quite a few years, he had two children and was settled in the upper North Shore. I remember Ralph as a teenager once spent twenty minutes earnestly explaining to a happy toddler all about nuclear weapons and the fact that the planet was doomed... I could never have pictured him as a father at all, until he came over once with his daughter Alexandra and we saw how good at it he was.

We kept in contact by email, discussing computers and IT politics. I was amazed when he took up chess again and won the State Championship. And he had also got involved in organising tournaments and talked to me about reforming the ratings system.

I still can't believe he's gone, just like that. Heck, it's hard to believe he was ever 37 -- I still think of him as a rebellious student.