SGML: Memory of Yuri Rubinsky (1952-1996)

SGML: Memory of Yuri Rubinsky (1952-1996)

Article: 12430 of comp.text.sgml
From: (Jesse Kaysen)
Newsgroups: comp.text.sgml
Subject: Blessed Memories of Yuri
Date: Thu, 01 Feb 1996 15:37:27 -0600
Organization: OK Ideas
Message-ID: <>

I met Yuri in Fall 1988, over the phone, out of the blue. I was the doc
writer and producer for Raised Dot Computing, a mom-&-pop software
designer; our products included voice output and braille translation. I'd
written a mildly inaccurate article called "Let's Play Tag: The Promise of
SGML," based on several misunderstandings of the AAP's guidebook and some
SoftQuad product literature. Even though our company newsletter was under
1000 -- and half of that in audio tape -- Yuri found that article and
called to talk.

Typically, Yuri didn't point out the errors I'd made: instead, he
skillfully pumped me for several hours about exactly why SGML would be
useful for braille production. As many have attested, Yuri was a brilliant
teacher; he was also a brilliant student. Yuri grasped both the technical
details and the politics of the braille world more quickly than any other
uninitiate I've encountered.

Within a month he'd given us Author/Editor and some sample data (the A/E
User Manual and Cat's Eye). I was delighted to supply an "SGML to braille"
example for SoftQuad's West Coast appearances in Spring 89. This kind of
geeky, detailed work was easy for me, but when Yuri urged me to present my
method at SGML '89 in October, I was flattered but terrified.

Yuri was a world-travelling, well-schooled, totally over-scheduled
executive, who made time to coach a ex-typesetter with no college degree.
For every question or hesitation, Yuri was there to recommend an outline,
review a draft, offer a snappy title, and encourage me. When I did give
that Atlanta speech, Yuri was literally at my side, shuffling the
transparencies. The next year, he even tried to hire me -- a Unix idiot
and C illiterate -- to work on Author/Editor documentation. In this and
all the subsequent contacts -- the happy interruption of a phone call from
Kaslo or Toronto or an airport somewhere -- Yuri was amusing and
supportive and thought-provoking. 

Yuri found and encouraged the possibilities of every person -- female,
male, blind, sighted -- and actively shared the power his keen
intelligence and charisma brought him. I am blessed to have known him, and
will forever carry his memory.

Jesse Kaysen
Madison Wisconsin USA

Jesse the K -- Madison Wisconsin USA -- <>
The road to enlightenment is long and difficult...bring snacks and a magazine.