Where Are They Now: Quentin Stafford-Fraser

I've looked up to a lot of people in my day, and sometime in the middle of 1998, I was really looking up to the guys at the Olivetti & Oracle Research Laboratory (ORL for short) because they made something that at the time I considered truly groundbreaking and now, more than a decade later, I can't see living without it. If you've been around a while (or you're paying attention to my coffee mug in the photo) you may have guessed I'm talking about VNC, which now has quite a few forks, most of which surprisingly play very nicely with one another.

In 1998, I actually wrote an article about VNC in HiR's old text-zine format. Shortly after that, AT&T Swooped in and bought ORL. I contacted the team to ask if they had any of the cool VNC Mugs I saw on their Windows CE page (Archived here) and I actually was told by the team that "they shouldn't, because they had the old contact information on them" but they shipped me a pair of them anyways. Now, some 9 years later they're still some of my favorite mugs from which to quaff my morning coffee: I've got one at work and one at home.

QSF wasn't the sole inventor of VNC, but he put quite a bit of work into it and was one of the authors of the initial VNC whitepaper, first published in IEEE Internet Computing. When poring through mailing lists in my early days of using FreeBSD and OpenBSD on the desktop, I'd often run into QSF's helpful tips when dealing with compiling or troubleshooting issues.

QSF's also one of the creators behind first Internet meme I ever experienced (in early '94): the coffee-pot web-cam.

A few months ago, Frogman pointed me to Status-Q, QSF's blog (via shared articles in Google Reader) and I must say I've been hooked ever since. His blog content offers little in the way of what he's up to for a living these days (hint: the About Quentin link has those details), but it's full of sage advice, useful quotes, and fascinating observations. I'm happy to have run into him again!

The entire team of VNC people were and are, in my opinion, "real hackers" and visionaries. They might not be penetration testers or security researchers. They're certainly anything but cyber-terrorists. The team saw a need, filled it elegantly, and built something extensible and open-source that to this day is relied on by more people than I could count.

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