As a reviewer, I work with a lot of different press contacts at various companies. Having a good contact in a key position can be very helpful when you're trying to pick your way through a complex mix of tech facts, hardware quirks, and marketing ambiguities. One of the best contacts I've had in recent years has been Greg Wagnon of the Xeon group at Intel. With a certain admiration, I've watched Greg navigate his way through what has to be some of the most, er, interesting jobs of that type one could have.
Let's just say that the folks who review server CPU hardware are an unusual mix, mostly of full-time IT professionals who have limited time to commit to their reviews. Others, like me, are full-time media but have other commitments pulling us in multiple directions. All of us are grade-A geeks, so social interactions can be hilarious yet frustrating, especially in a large groups. Getting a room full of us to stay on task and push through a day and a half of briefings about a new CPU architecture and then getting everyone to return home, focus, and produce reviews in a timely manner is, I have observed, a shockingly difficult job.
Yet Greg has handled the task with remarkable grace, always calm and grinning, no matter how crazy the situation. I have generally been pretty prompt, as a full-time media type, in producing those reviews, but I slipped mightily this year due to overcommitment. I'm quite self-motivated, so this situation weighed heavily on me. When I told Greg that my already months-delayed Westmere-EP review would have to wait another week due to some family obligations, he didn't bat an eye and encouraged me to prioritize time with my family, even though it ran counter to his job interests.
Then again, working with someone whose priorities were so well-ordered only motivated me to get that review out ASAP.
Yesterday, I was working on testing for an even further delayed Nehalem-EX review when I got word that Greg passed away on Monday, apparently due to a fast-moving form of cancer. This man was a tall, outdoorsy type, in his mid-30s, the apparent picture of health and vitality. I had hoped to meet with him at IDF a couple of weeks ago, but he told me via email he'd gotten sick and had to go home early. I had no idea of the gravity of the situation.
Greg leaves behind a wife and kids and a legacy of a life well lived. For those who knew him, there's info posted here about a memorial for him on Sunday in Portland, and his family is accepting donations to his kids' college funds. Greg, you were one of the best and will be missed.