Dedication to Adam Douglas Conrad

I, Jeremy Chandler Van Doren, hereby dedicate this and all future work to the loving memory of Adam Douglas Conrad (1977 – 2021) aka infinity.

Adam and I formed a friendship over IRC when I was a high school student living in Miami, Florida, U.S.A and he was a systems administrator in Calgary, B.C., Canada. Our online chats represent uncountable hours of wisecracking, storytelling, mentoring, and arguing across decades. After all that time, he felt like family more than an internet friend.

Adam hosted my first website – – on an Atari Amiga, and taught me how to use the scripting language PHP to hand-write a simple CMS and admin panel from scratch. This crash course in web development, database administration, and the Model-View-Controller model formed the foundation of everything else I would go on to learn. Combined with my creative writing skills, I became a one-man powerhouse of web publishing years before the maturation of Web 2.0 platforms (I mostly posted humor articles, trip reports, and other shenanigans). All of my knowledge was – and still is – a minuscule sliver compared to the vastness of Adam’s intellect. I will be forever grateful for the time he spent communicating with me while he was traveling the world, passionately working on his hobbies (Free Software and Debian), and contributing to thriving Free Software projects like Ubuntu Linux.

When Adam died in January 2021 from Lymphoma, I learned the harsh lesson that time is precious, and time spent with those close to you is the most valuable. Despite the existence of thousands of hours of our chat logs, my vital memories of Adam are not of our online conversations or projects. I most fondly remember his occasional visits to Austin, TX, where we would eat tacos (at his vehement request) and wander to a downtown dive bar to catch up on all the life that happens when you’re AFK (Away From Keyboard). The lesson learned is this: Even the quiet or mundane times spent in meatspace with the people you love are more precious than gold.

On one such taco-licious visit to ATX, while discussing our lives as adults with tech jobs, Adam casually asked why I hadn’t become a “real nerd.” Startled, I asked what he meant. To Adam, real nerd meant a software developer, computer engineer, or possibly a grumpy systems administrator as he’d been when we met decades earlier. His question stunned me because he was right – I had been on a path to true nerdery, but something had gone wrong. Or… not wrong, just… different in ways that were mildly unsettling at the time.

To make a long story long, I couldn’t answer Adam’s question, nor could I forget it. Unpacking how and why I’d ended up in a customer support role for a large corporation instead of any number of other nerdy (or geeky, or freaky) possibilities inevitably led me to where I am now–a stay at home dad with a Master’s Degree in Systems Engineering. I owe Adam an immense debt of gratitude. I miss him every day. Sometimes I still talk to him, but the quiet voice that answers is my own. Yet I find that I am not afraid of death or its unknowable afterward because I’m confident that when I finally arrive at that station, Adam will be there to greet me with a hug and a very long list of everything I need to know to not suck at being dead.

Since I can no longer repay him for the attention, wit, and wisdom he bestowed on me as a budding young nerd, I shall pay it forward by promoting and supporting free software in his name.