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Thinking about Tom Negrino

The saddest part of having published TidBITS for almost 27 years now is watching people in our peer group ebb away. It’s depressing enough when the reason is professional, as when Macworld laid off many of its staffers after shuttering the print edition (see “Macworld Lays Off Staffers, Closes Print Edition,” 10 September 2014). But even more gut wrenching is when someone in our extended circle dies.

In the case of veteran Mac writer Tom Negrino, that hasn’t happened yet, although it will in the very near future. Tom was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2010, and despite surgery, the cancer reappeared in 2014, having metastasized all over his body. A few years ago, Tom and his wife Dori Smith told us and other colleagues about it, and the inevitable outcome, and Tom went public with the news on his blog last May. His health has continued to decline since, to the point where he’s now sleeping about 20 hours per day, and he plans to take advantage of California’s physician-assisted dying law, the End of Life Option Act. Ray Holley of the Healdsburg Tribune has written a good story about Tom and Dori and how they’ve dealt with the situation.

In 1996, Tom wrote me an email message about my article “But You Didn’t Mention...” (23 September 1996) and I published his response in “And You Still Forgot...” (14 October 1996). It’s possible that we had been introduced at Macworld Expo before then, but that was my first email from him, and after that, we often met up with him and Dori at industry events. The best of those was the Mac Mania Geek Cruise in 2002, on which we were both speakers. Since we live 2400 miles away from them, we last saw Tom and Dori in March 2014 at the Ink-Stained Wretches dinner that we organized for fellow writers at Macworld/iWorld during the last few years of that show — Tom particularly enjoyed those informal gatherings.

Although Tom never wrote any articles for TidBITS, he and I once collaborated on a sidebar for an article about email clients I was writing for Macworld. Tom was an unabashed fan of Microsoft Entourage, whereas I was devoted to Eudora. So at the urging of our editor, Scholle McFarland, we wrote the E-Mail Grudge Match: Entourage Versus Eudora. I later took advantage of one of my digs against Entourage — that Microsoft didn’t provide a manual — to lure Tom into writing “Take Control of What’s New in Entourage 2004” for our fledgling Take Control series. That was in a career of writing about Apple and the Mac that spanned some 30 years, during which Tom wrote innumerable articles and some 50 books.

I’m impressed with Tom’s fortitude in sticking with his convictions and choosing to end his life with dignity, on his own terms. And Dori’s staunch support through what has been an agonizing few years is truly splendid.

Tom, those of us who know you will miss your humor, skill, professionalism, and courage. And to echo our mutual friend and colleague, Jason Snell and the sentiments of Andy Ihnatko, the world will be an appreciably worse place without you in it.


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Comments about Thinking about Tom Negrino
(Comments are closed.)

My condolences to you and all those dear to Tom. It is a blow to lose anyone related to us, whether by blood or acquaintance.
Lewis Butler  2017-03-10 19:07
It is hard to lose someone you've known for years, especially someone you've liked, but I am glad that Tom is able to have control and choice at the end, something that is denied to most people.

He will be missed.
Michael E. Cohen  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-03-10 19:12
I have nothing to add to this but my tears. The world will be poorer when Tom leaves it.
This is a sad story, but nevertheless Tom's decision to go public will help to remove some of the stigma around euthanasia. It's cruel to expect anyone to live knowing that he's an objective burden on society; and the community should take this and every opportunity to applaud people with serious illness or hereditary disability who do the right thing.
Lisa Spangenberg  2017-03-12 11:42
The world will be much poorer for Tom's absence, Tom (and Dori) have always been incredibly kind and thoughtful to both other writers, and to fans of the Mac and SF/F and wine. Tom was incredibly helpful when I first began writing full time, generous with time and advice both.

He will be missed.
Dennis B. Swaney  2017-03-13 22:55
I'm very sorry to hear this. I remember Tom and Dori coming and speaking at meetings of the local user group, Macintosh CHico Users Group (MacCHUG).
drSteve  2017-03-13 22:58
Man is still analog; May Tom rest in peace. We also pray for his spouse, family, and friends who selflessly must bid farewell.
Tom Burton  2017-03-14 17:45
I don't think I ever met Tom, but I know of him. He will be missed.

Life sucks sometimes.
Andrew Eisen  2017-03-15 15:55
I send you my condolences. I am so sorry to hear of this and given the situation, happy for the clarity that Tom and Dori apparently possess. It is inspiring to me. Thank you for writing about them.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-03-16 09:28
Tom held to his convictions and took his own life yesterday. You can read more tributes to him and his work on his Facebook page:

In lieu of flowers, Tom and Dori have asked that donations be made to App Camp for Girls.
Matt Darlow  2017-03-24 21:35
As a person born with Spina Bifida your comments on MacBreak were uninformed and without knowledge of the 1000s of people that live long productive and enjoyable lives, with struggles that are difficult but not impossible or a burden on others. I am sorry I didn't know the work of Tom Negrino but I wish you would have given some thought before you spoke about things you know little about.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-03-25 16:16
My apologies if my words caused anyone distress. I wasn't prepared to talk about Tom at all, and I know essentially nothing about spina bifida other than what I remembered from him saying in these blog posts: