Jeff Sirois (last name sounds like "sir
Jeff's and my friendship goes all the way back to a friendly intradepartmental rivalry in the Computer Science Department at the University of Missouri - Rolla. We never really talked during our freshman year since I was holed up in TJ Residence Hall while Jeff was a Quadling. However, we had heard of each other repeatedly and by our second semester sophomore year still hadn't conversed but mutually extended a small nod of recognition to the other on the first day of CS-284 - Operating Systems. CS-284 was one of the more programming intensive classes and the professor encouraged "working in groups" since that's how the "real world" supposedly works.
Sometime later in that class Jeff and I paired up together to work on a one of the class assignments. Now the assigned program was basically supposed to be 100 lines of C/C++ that demonstrated some amount of proficiency with threads. Well, I had been reading ahead and knew a thing or three about threads and Jeff had been reading ahead and knew a bit about TCP/IP sockets. I remember standing in the hallway after class with Brad (I forget his last name) who was looking for a partner and Jeff suggesting that we should write something really cool. I do not remember who suggested it first but eventually Jeff and I came to the conclusion that we should write a web server. Brad's eyes just got huge and I looked at Jeff and said, "Yeah, how hard could it be?" Did I mention that was Monday afternoon and the assignment was due by midnight Friday?
That was a whirlwind week. Jeff started by finding the RFC for HTTP and I started putting together the base of the server while Brad was tasked with doing the logging. We decided to start a thread for each connection which, of course, is not a very scalable design. We just didn't know that yet and the assignment was just to show we knew how threads worked not to create a highly scalable web application platform.
I think Jeff and I logged about twenty hours of sleep collectively the four days in that week. So much liquid sleep was consumed we started one of the many small towers that would become common in any area that Jeff and I worked on. Fortunately, progress was solid and we finally hit a major breakthrough on Friday morning when we finally had text HTML pages rendering in Netscape. I remember sitting in CS-284 class when the professor paused somewhere in the middle of lecture to look into my drooping eyelids, wave the chalk at me and ask, "So how's that little project of yours going?" I remember slowly glancing over at Jeff (who sat in the back of class) and Brad then turning to him and grinning, "Well, as of approximately 4:20 AM this morning we're serving up web pages." He had been sort of waving the chalk at me with a slight grin on his face. After my statement the chalk was immobile and the grin gone. A few moments later he turned back to the chalk board and continued with the lecture.
By 10:50 PM that Friday we had images and Java applets downloading. Basically, we had a truly functional multi-threaded web server and just needed a name. I came up with the idea of calling it WebSTEFANI2E. The name kinda' came to me since I had been dumped by a girl named Stephanie the previous semester and had figured out how to get the letters to all mean something: Web Server Two Eighty Four And Nothing Is Too Excessive.
The grader/teaching assistant for the classes was a complete hardass and never gave extra credit. I remember when Jeff showed up early next week with our graded program. Brad and I just looked at him expectantly until he finally blurted out, "101%. We got over a hundred percent!!!" Jeff and I were just beaming until we realized Brad looked just shell shocked. Finally, we got him to speak, "All of the guys in my fraternity told me this thing was never going to work. The seniors last year tried getting a simple one working for their last senior design project and it all just fell apart. WebSTEF actually worked, I can't believe it."
I looked at Brad and grinned, "Sure, how hard could it be?"
Later, Jeff and I would become very good friends, then roommates (although he basically lived with his girlfriend), and eventually I ended up as the best man in his wedding (to the girlfriend he lived with in college). Sometimes, we'll just get together and reminisce about the good ol' days writing code like there was no tomorrow. Sometimes, I miss those days.
Welcome to the blogsphere, Jeff. Glad to have you here.
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