28 Apr 2003 Ilan   » (Master)

Woz Day

Yesterday, the Woz event at NCSU happened. I finally got to meet Woz!!! He was really cool, and for someone who started the whole personal computer revolution, he was surprisingly keen on interacting with people, and also on the difficulties that most normal people have using their computers, too.

His speech was really good. I'll just leave it at that.

Later, at the party after his speech, he gave out to each person two two-dollar bills ripped from this tablet of two-dollar bills he had with him. The two two-dollar bills that everyone got were still stuck together along a perforated line. I had no idea how the hell he managed to get a hold of that stuff, but apparently it was real. He told some interesting stories about things he did with those bills, like folding two to look like one and then paying with it. And the trouble he got into as a result (like being interrogated by casino owners). Woz, while being a technical genius, is also a great storyteller.

I even got to show him one of the programs I'm writing. I figured that if the computer science department can show off their stuff, why the hell can't I show off mine? For the last several weeks I've been working on this piece of software that makes it easier for NCSU students to look over the course options for registering for courses. I already had the downloading and searching options written (in keeping with my "design the UI before you ever write the code" philosophy, I had done a lot of sketches of the UI beforehand). But the code for the UI hadn't yet been written. So on friday after I say "f*ck this, I'm never going to get this crap done with WxWindows" and fell back to gtk/glade. I spent from 6PM friday until 11AM saturday writing the UI and attaching it to the search code, with absolutely no sleep and way too much caffeine in my system. Sometimes I thought I should just give up and go to sleep. But I kept at it.

Anyhow, fast forward to 9PM at the after-speech party, I finally show my program to Woz just as he's about to leave. I had tested it a few times at the party, and it worked perfectly. I finally bring Woz (and the 6-8 other onlookers who followed him) to see my app in action. And it doesn't work! I was horrified. Here's the guy who invented the freaking personal computer, I show him my program, and the damn thing doesn't work! He was like "I know the feeling" and all cool about it, so I didn't feel that bad. But at the last minute, after twiddling with the search parameters, something kicked in and the window came up! Success. He thought the program was cool and shook my hand. That made my weekend. Incidentally, someone had told me that there was already a program called x-tracs that sort of did the same thing (which made me feel sheepish), but mine looked more refined (which made me feel less sheepish).

At 10PM saturday night, I finally get home, after not sleeping for around 32 hours.

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