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Letters-General Questions Answered  


Comment From e-mail: Now, I look across Silicon Valley with it's traffic and pollution and super-speed pace. There must be a better way. Have you given any thought as how to reshape the business society so that people no longer have to drive to work? I'm talking about a virtual business with no central office location.
I am about to embark on a startup with this workplace in mind. And I would like to know what you think.

Woz: It's surely coming. It may take decades. What do we drive at all for? To take vacations, to shop, to get gas, to go to work. Once enough of these needs are gone, we may stop using cars and only have mass transportation to get to interesting places. Just in time, since we won't have that much choice someday, when gas runs out.

Comment From e-mail: Dear Woz, How old are your boys? Maybe if they are around my age we can talk or something, you can give them my e-mail address? Why don't you have any spare time? Is there any assistant work you want me to do for you? I am very trust worthy and I have references; and for you I will work for free anytime. I have a Power Mac 6100; actually I am the only person I know with such an old computer. If I get a chance to sell my $1000-$1500 clarinet at a pawn shop or whatever I may be able to get an upgrade; but that is the most I can afford. As you can see my parents aren't very cooperative in my computing.

Woz: My boys are 12 and 17 but I'm careful not to ever have them bothered with all the things that come to me, like this. I have no spare time because I get about 100 emails a day like yours, and I get maybe 100 more of other types. This is after I cut down on some Macintosh email lists because it got to the point that I had no family life at all.

My style is to be as direct as possible. I had assistants for years but that often cost me time in getting what I wanted or getting said what I wanted said. I now have almost no such assistance.

Comment From e-mail: My uncles and cousins all have peecees!! I can't take it anymore and they are planning to buy new ones. My sister wants a Compaq and so do my parents ( they say it's cheaper to maintain upgrade and all that stuff), they know nothing!!! My sister is comparing the newest Compaq to my old Mac. What am I going to do? Last thing I want to mention today: I want to write some type of novel, I don't understand how they make their books so thick? (as in coming up with content) I might be able to write about myself If I concentrated I could get anywhere from 300-800 pages maybe, but is my life interesting enough that people would want to read about it, I mean I can't even write a grammatically correct e-mail, not to mention all the fancy words that authors use. What are your views on this?

Woz: If your stories are interesting, an editor can help the grammar.

Comment From e-mail: When is your birthday? Do you want to be pen pals? (I promise not to take up too much of your time)

Woz: My birthday is August 11, 1950. Sorry, but I don't have time enough for a few close friends to have any pen pals too. Just once in a very long while would be about right for me. It doesn't mean that I don't like you or want a pen pal, just that I haven't the time.

Comment From e-mail: P.S. If there is anything I can do to help you lighten your work load, feel free to ask me, I am very capable of many things.

Woz: Thank you very much. I'm sure that you'd be worth a try but I have strong commitments against assistants.

Comment From e-mail: I just want you to know that you helped inspire me to get involved with computers and electronics.  Reading articles in Popular Science, and a computer hobbyist magazine that I can't remember, I do remember the articles featured tinkering with the Osborne, Mac and the computer I was going to get.. The Ohio Scientific. I never got the Ohio Scientific, but I did build my own kit computer when I was 15, the Ace 2000, it was a clone of the old Sinclair boxes.

I later went to college to get an Electronic Engineering Degree. I designed access control systems for a while and started to write interface programs in C for the PCs. Later I picked up Unix and now I work as a "Systems Engineer" basically I design networks, program routers, unix system admin, perl scripts.. stuff like that.

I'd like to get your opinion of the Open Software movement. I run Linux on a G3 and have been very impressed with it's robustness.

Woz: You clearly came from the early computer days.

You can basically find lots of jobs but there's always way to much to know and learn to do it all in your field.

I like the motivations of the Open Software movement. It is probably the only way things can change in the OS world nowadays. No company could do what this movement is doing. I'm told that many many companies are developing hardware based on Linux (I have a TIVO) and are telling Microsoft that they are concentrating on Windows versions of software when they are really putting their main efforts into Linux versions. It makes sense.

One of my current woes is that I only get free time slots long enough to start reading my Linux installation manuals, and by the time I get back it's too late for that version, and I've never quite gotten there. Of course, 10 hours of email a day and lots of other normal human tasks get in the way of many things like that.

Comment From e-mail: Thanks for answering my previous questions *so* quickly. I've never expected someone as famous as you to be so quick and personal when replying to people. This really isn't related to anything with computers but I'm curious as to when you believe the new millennium was/is. 2000 or 2001?

Woz: 2001.

We learn in computers to start numbering things at 0. Like addresses and indexes. When we try to fight it our programs tell us that things work out the most efficiently when starting with 0. It's like a sign from nature (or God) that it's right. I wouldn't expect the world to do the right thing very often. Look at times (12 is not after 11 on a clock, it's before) for example. A very good book touching on such matters is "Shades of Reality" by Bob Bishop. It's as entertaining as it is enlightening.

Comment From e-mail: Hello, Woz. It is such an honor to get an e-mail from a living legend. You are my ideal human. If everyone was like you there would be no wars no nothing. Well, anyway on one of your letters you said the imacs make good servers. How do you use imacs as servers? How do they perform? I was thinking of getting a imac dv special edition. The reason I want something for dv. Also I want to learn the Mac OS I have never used it and never owned a Mac. Also what is Mac os x and Mac os x server and how do they differ from Mac os 9? Thanks. I kind of funny talking to a living god. :) Gosh I wish I could meet you once in my life before I die. I pray. You or Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates. Thanks.

Woz: The reason that I said iMacs make good servers is because they make good web servers for myself. An iMac is complete and needs almost no software added. They are even very convenient to set up as file servers on our LAN. As for performance, Apple's G3 and G4 processors are always the highest performing ones, matching pentiums at twice the clock speed in many cases. But the real performance answer is that you're only feeding data to a single T1 line, 1.5 Mbps, in my case, with a light, nonprofessional, user base.  One client of mine uses an iMac for his web server with clients in many countries as far away as India. No other machine would have better throughput for him. He runs DNS, ftp, web server and also Timbuktu which allows him to control his server from far away.

I bought a copy of MacOS X server but didn't have time to set it up. A friend is using mine right now to serve some web pages for a company he's trying to start. I don't have any familiarity at all with MacOS X client. I really don't like to know all the upcoming things in advance--it takes too much time and has too many disappointments.

I hope that we do meet some day. My appearances are much rarer than those of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs so you may meet them first. But if you're ever in my area (San Jose area) maybe we can have a coffee. I do that on occasion with people just like yourself. Just don't expect me to remember their names. Well, in your case I might!

Comment From e-mail: Macs suck. Linux is better and its faster than your unstable Macs. On a last note, MACS SUCK. Get a life get a PC and get a good OS and so on. Macs are crap they aren't compatible with other OS's. ha ha.

Woz: To some extent, an OS that does a lot for you becomes unstable and slower.

I have a lot of Linux servers at my site and they crash on occasion, as do the Macintosh servers. But for the most part you have good points. It's just that you'd be better heard by everyone if you avoided statements like "Macs suck." In saying that you instantly get most people (not myself necessarily) thinking that you just want to be critical and not contributory.

A good OS is like your friend. Personal computer users like to use their computers a lot and spend virtually no time upkeeping them or installing them. They aren't very technical either. The requirement of the technical ability to install Linux is out of the question for most PC users. Having to have a Linux expert around to fix and install and setup and explain things is unrealistic to most people that don't want to do it themselves.

Perhaps there will be local shops that maintain Linux machines someday and then we'll all have a better world.

Comment From e-mail: Do you think Apple would Now be in a much stronger position [in the market place] if someone had allowed the cloning of machines earlier than the decision was taken to do so .... and would allowing the deals set in place in the late 90s to be brought to fruition have helped the numbers out there?

Woz: I think that Apple would be primarily a software company now and would be the size of Microsoft, which would be greatly diminished. I'm not sure that cloning would have given businesses the incentive to pass on IBM but we would have owned the consumer market.

Comment From e-mail: I have heard that you are teaching computers to kids in schools.

I do not know to what extent you are going with this, but are you thinking about or doing anything with microcontrollers for robotics. I know that in my museum projects, the kids go nuts over the robotics.

Comment From e-mail: Sadly, I've missed out on robotics, although I appreciate it and have some friends that are totally into it. I had a couple of early ones, including TOPO. I do have an AIBO at present. There's never enough time for everything for one person.

Comment From e-mail: When I was about 6, My dad brought home an Apple ][c. (Actually, he bought a "PCjr", but I made him take it back.) It gave me a chance to make sense in life when nobody else knew what to do with me.

Woz: Excellent start!

Comment From e-mail:
Long story short
Throughout the years, I've stuck with Apple, and am glad I have. My father and I now own a small "web solutions" firm near Akron, OH. Were run 100% Mac hardware (about 26 now), and are always proud of that fact. I love being a die-hard Apple guy, and am especially glad to see that you are doing well.

Woz: Good for you. I had to hope and struggle and fight to keep my own operation all Macintosh as the internet came in (finally succeeding in getting rid of a Sun) and I even saw a lot of my Macintosh friends give in a lot more. They were right in their own ways, but a lot of us have too much loyalties.

Woz: Thanks for your contribution to my life. The world is truly a better place. Virtual Regards, -D. H.
P.S. Here's a look at my Apple tattoo (in case you care).

Woz: I have a couple of friends, one in Apple and one formerly of Apple, that have the multicolored Apple tattoos on their ankles. I wanted to have it done but my wife wouldn't go for it. I suppose I could find a place that she wouldn't see it!

Comment From e-mail: When I hit your website today, I noticed in the "letter of the day" someone had already sent practically the exact email that I would have sent. You are probably being deluged with email after Pirates and after appearing on Slashdot today, but for the record:

1. my first computer experience: Black Bell & Howell Apple ][ in grade school (started learning Basic - I had full access, as the teachers were mostly fascinated to watch someone else play around with it).

Woz: So many of us just fell in love with computers for no explainable reason.

2. Learned BASIC on a Bally/Astrocade game console with Bally Basic cartridge
3. Finally got an Apple / / e in Jr. High
4. Got my first 300 baud Hayes modem at 14. Got my own phoneline shortly thereafter (thanks to my parents, who really just wanted their phone back).
5. Started my first BBS at 14

Woz: It seems that lots of cool young computer people went through the BBS phase in those days.

6. Got a "Woz" Apple IIgs
7. Still ran BBS but it was down most of the time as I did a ton of graphics/audio/assembly programming on the GS for sheer fun
8. Got a degree in CS from University of Illinois

Woz: Congratulations. So many don't bother to finish college. At least you can tell others that you did.

9. Started a game company with another guy, released 15 titles in 6 years
10. Left that to follow other dreams - working on smaller, possibly less competitive software projects now. Doing games for Palm Pilot. They're fun to write :) and hopefully fun to play. I have a few fans, anyway :)

Woz: One game that I hope to see again in a PDA is one that I had on my Magic Link. An array of characters was presented and you had a fixed amount of time to swoop out connected letters that formed words, with longer words counting more. The key to a good score was to look for batches of common word endings and suffixes and to work on that.

Comment From e-mail: My years on my Apple II's provide me with incredible memories and a sense of community and belonging. If personal computers didn't exist, I don't know what I would be doing. With all the excitement in technology now, I just hope I have the strength to do things that are worthwhile, and that make me happy - and hopefully make others happy too.

Woz: The new millennium started early for many, like yourself...


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