|"We reject your configuration rules and substitute our own."
Frankendate: 01.31.2010: Entry 00bh
Craig Johnson 1958 - 2010
Much has been made of first impressions as they often quite accurate. We attach adjectives such as boring, clueless, quiet,
dull, stiff, shy. At first impressions of Craig Johnson however, none of those words came to mind, well except for that last
one: shy. I heard it more than once when folks were describing their first impressions of Craig and I remember thinking that
myself. OK So we don't always get our first impressions completely correct. We were right about the rest of those words
though: None of them applied.
The first time I saw Craig was many years ago and he was doing a presentation. I can't be positive about what any more but it
was something about Linux or perhaps windoze integration. He brought candy to throw for people who asked questions. It kept
people awake because he didn't always hit his target. Truth be known though, he didn't need candy to keep people awake. From
that time forward every time I heard him present, or lead a meeting, I think he got better. His smile got wider, his face
brighter and if possible, his hair grayer.
Over the past years 15 years as a business partner I've met a large number of people from IBM. At IBM partner training, COMMON,
and other users group events I've had the opportunity to relax with many over dinner or a drink. To stay sane we don't always
talk about computers, rather we talk about family and travel and sports and friends. It seemed Craig was often part of the fun
described during those times. I did not have the privilege of traveling with him but given the chance I'm certain I would have
In the Champions class in Rochester January 19-21 he was as animated and enthusiastic as ever, truly on top of his game.
Throughout the event he picked on nearly every presenter for one thing or another. Of Mark 'Drawers and Doors' Olson Craig
frequently cracked: "I'll bet Mark has a chart on that!" He also picked on the lab services guys repeatedly "I'll bet they have
an offering for that!" until they started handing out $2 bills to everyone who plugged their services, including Craig!
And he took it as well as he gave it. In that same class Alison Butterill announced a whole new (nondisclosed) interface.
Instead of starting with the proper slides however she faked up a handful of charts and bullet points which of course Craig
hadn't seen. The charts included a photo of the supposed hardware to support this new feature that Fant Steele had created from
20 pieces of ancient computer gear. Poor Craig could barely stay on his seat with laughter.
His mind was a sharp as his wit. I must have asked him hundreds of questions over the years and he never forgot them. He
couldn't always provide the answer I wanted but he always had one. Those who know him remember that he wasn't a 'hardware guy'
but he still enjoyed the crazy things we did with Frankie and friends. At Champions he even claimed my systems didn't work the
way I want them to because they are held together with duct tape. Proves he wasn't a hardware guy. :-)
More than just a top notch presenter though Craig had a reputation for getting things done. At his memorial service Ian Jarman
said: "Whenever a problem arose, or a project presented itself that no-one even knew how to begin to complete, the same phrase
was often spoken: 'We'll get Craig right on that!'"
At Craig's memorial I met some folks for the first time including his wife, daughters, and brother. Many others I had seen
before. What impressed me was the breadth of those who were there. Many colleagues there hadn't worked with him in years. Some
came from near and many from far. A testament to the friendships he made so easily. While the tears did flow, the smiles and
the laughter outnumbered them.
When I left the class on Thursday at noon, I shook his hand and thanked him for everything. His last words to me were in
character: "Thank you for coming!" Craig, while we as so very sad you are gone, you were indeed one of the good guys and we are
better having known you. Goodbye friend.