It's with great sadness that I have to share the passing of Bill Zeller, known as
He leaves behind a ton of pretty amazing computer science work
. He wrote an original hack for iTunes (MyTunes
) that let you share your library of music with anyone and I used it myself in cafes and college campuses to get new music (when I'd open my laptop at a college, 5-10 people would connect to my iTunes library and download songs using this). He wrote the SQL web front-end to the MetaFilter infodump (among many other projects
) and he wrote papers in the CS dept at Princeton on security, including one where he exploited the sites of NYT, ING, YouTube, and MetaFilter
(we fixed soon after he notified us of it). He was also wickedly funny on twitter
He was a nice kid who used to IM with me often, sharing links and asking if they were ok for MetaFilter. Over the years we'd chat about once a week for a few minutes. Sometimes I was busy and would try to brush him off. I remember one time he was asking about graduate schools and I was up to my neck in work and I thought as a way to blow him off, I'd mention the most prestigious possible CS program I could think of "You want to do computer security, why don't you try working with Ed Felten, the guy from the freedom-to-tinker
blog?" I was impressed and a bit amazed when he IMed a couple months later saying he was accepted into the lab and moving to Princeton.
From what I can piece together, it seems he went online early Sunday morning, checked MeFi until about 4am EST, went to facebook an hour later and wiped out his entire profile, just leaving his suicide note
(warning, it's intense and describes abuse but it is really well written). He then emailed a copy of the note to a large number of friends and acquaintances at 6:57am EST (that's when I got it and first found out what happened), then he began to hang himself.
From what I can gather, ten minutes later someone found him and he was rushed to the hospital but ten minutes is a long time to go without oxygen to the brain. He suffered damage and his brain was showing very little involuntary activity and no voluntary activity. He was induced into a coma to prevent swelling but eventually it was declared he'd be in a permanent vegetative state and tonight at 8pm his respirator was removed and he passed on.
I'm sorry Bill never got the help he needed, if I'd known what he had suffered through in his life I could have connected him with abuse survivors I know. He was a great contributor here, a fantastic CS student, and did good work. RIP Bill Zeller. You will be missed.
Friends and family are encouraged to post remembrances here as well