Russ Allbery

"Everyone is normal until you get to know them."

Dave Sim, Cerebus: Women


If you're reading this page, you're apparently interested in learning who I am. If I knew that for certain, I wouldn't need to be here, and who I am changes over time as I learn more about who I want to be.

Listed here, however, are a few things about myself that I currently consider important. If you're interested in them for whatever reason, read on. If you're trying to find more mundane information, you may be looking for my contact information. If you're curious about what interests me, you may be looking for my projects list, since I get involved in almost anything I'm interested in.

Statement of Identity

I'm a system administrator (who happens to be employed by the Authentication and Collaboration Solutions group in the Administrative Systems department of Stanford University). The short definition of a system administrator is "someone who makes computers work for other people." My goal is to help create computing services that simply work as expected, with particular focus on how to automate and scale systems management techniques to large numbers of different services running on a variety of systems.

I'm a software developer. There is a moderate collection of packages and scripts I've written here in these web pages. Being a software developer is similar to being a system administrator in many ways; one is simply solving larger problems and doing less routine maintenance.

I'm a hacker. I am most often Just Another Perl Hacker, but I occasionally use other languages as well. I believe in gift cultures. I believe that having one's ego involved in one's work results in some of the best work being done. I believe in cooperative projects, giving my software away free, contributing to communities, and enjoying the intricacies of computers.

I'm a reader. Novels, technical books, short stories, Usenet posts, mailing lists, private e-mail, song lyrics, magazines, web pages, and a wide variety of other media too varied to mention. More fundamentally, I'm a listener, and a student. I want to learn, and in order to learn I have to both listen and think. A very incomplete list of some things I've found worth reading is available.

I'm a writer. I have characters, voices, and stories in my mind that I shape and design, and that occasionally shape and design me in return. Some of them have deigned to be expressed in short story form, and you will find those stories elsewhere in my web pages. Others haven't, or have chosen other forms that I cannot or will not make available. The nature of writing for me is entirely orthogonal to the nature of publishing, and the sort of writing that one does for publication is usually not the sort of writing that I want to do.

I'm a gamer. I play video games when I can find the time, primarily RPGs, tactical RPGs, platformers, and extreme sports games. I play volleyball and table tennis, with varying degrees of skill. I read RPG sourcebooks and enjoy the occasional board game, and used to enjoy playing bridge. I always wish I had more time to play games than I do.

I'm political. I believe that all labels have been confused, co-opted, or spun beyond the point of usefulness. I believe that politics should consist of more than treating elections like sporting events. I have no patience with people who analyze political processes without attempting to determine which position is actually correct. I believe in personal responsibility and personal accountability, and I believe that, given human nature, both have to be enforced by the government. I believe we have a responsibility to our fellow human beings to provide medical and economic safety nets to everyone. I believe that ethics must be an internal matter before they can be an external matter, and that dealing with democracies, societies, and voters rather than individuals, no matter how necessary or important, is fundamentally a distraction.

And finally, and most fundamentally, I'm a builder. I construct and maintain things. Systems, stories, computers, social structures, documentation, characters, software programs — the fundamental aspect of building is the same. I like to build a lot of different things. I like to try a lot of different things. I think one of the best ways of testing ideas, including ideas I don't agree with, is to build the systems they describe and see how well they function. I respect builders, maintainers, contributors, collaborators, and constructive critics.

Welcome. The rest of this web site describes a number of things I've built. I hope you find some of them useful, informative, or enjoyable.

Last modified and spun 2014-07-02