Jamie Frater has a rebellious streak.
The 26-year-old has gone from writing IRC “attack” scripts to training for the priesthood in a controversial Catholic order.
In the mid-1990s Frater put up a satirical web page parodying the government and was asked by Internal Affairs to take it down. However, because the page was hosted in the US, there was nothing the government could do and the page remained. Around the same time he developed the notorious IRC (Internet Relay Chat) script Killer Pro, which allowed users to “nuke” other people, or kick them off the network.
Frater says he and fellow Killer Pro users were “young and silly” at the time, but he recently redeemed himself by releasing a free Windows-based IRC client called Bersirc. The client, which provides an alternative to the dominant Windows client mIRC, has caused ripples throughout the IRC world, with the website www.bersirc.com getting more than 1000 hits a day.
Reviews have been positive, focusing on the user interface, scripting, plug-in capabilities and multi-server functionality. A Linux version is also in development.
Frater, known as WraithX on IRC, developed Bersirc because he wanted a client that was more attractive and customisable than mIRC. After tossing up between whether to develop in Delphi and Visual Basic, he chose the former and learned the programming language from the Delphi channel (or chat group) on the IRC network Efnet.
A lapsed Catholic, Frater also began frequenting Catholic channels which were instrumental in rekindling his interest in the church.
For the past few years Frater has earned a living as a Delphi contractor but this week he enters a Catholic seminary in Australia. The order he has chosen is controversial in the Catholic world because it wants to return to traditions such as celebrating mass in Latin and has an uneasy relationship with the church hierarchy.
It takes six years to train for the priesthood, during which there is no access to computers. Frater doesn’t envisage using information technology at any time in the future but he doesn’t think he’ll miss it. “I’ll miss the friends I have made on IRC but I won’t miss computers.”
He has left Bersirc in the hands of his brother Stewart (a day-trader) who will administer the website, and development will be carried on by Kiwi Darryl Hamilton, Australian Leslie Nassar and Canadian Adam Laforge.