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Apple Businesses

Listen To Woz, And Perhaps Type Madly 170

Shawn King of The Mac Show Live talked a few days ago with Apple co-founder and knowledge-omnivore Steve (The Woz) Wozniak. Shawn graciously agreed to post the interview, formerly Quicktime only (downloadable or streaming), as an MP3 file -- so now most anyone can listen. This is an interview worth listening to: Woz talks about his lifelong motivations, his years with Apple (up to the present), OS X, the Newton, and what the future holds for him. He also talks about building TV jammers and the only prank he got caught for in high school, one which might not fly so well right now. (The interview starts about 55 minutes into the show, and lasts for nearly an hour.) What's this got to do with typing madly? Well, since Shawn's program is all-audio (no pictures, and only the barest explanitory text), it's a lot less useful to those on text-only or just-plain-slow links than it could be. Read on below for your chance to change that with just a few minutes of your time. Update: 10/20 20:43 GMT by T : Thanks to everyone who's volunteered to transcribe, and to the several alternates who are already in line! No need for more voluneers right now :)

Transcribing an hour of text takes a long time. But if you (yes, you!) are willing to transcribe a 3-minute (well. 3:15) chunk of this interview, I will spend my putative day off gluing chunks of interview together. Shoot me an email with "WozScript" in the subject if you'd like to participate, and I'll give the first volunteers (it shouldn't take that many) a randomly-drawn three-minute segment to type up, as well as more instructions on how to format it. No compensation except your name in lights, and the knowledge that lynx users everywhere appreciate your efforts. I'll update this story if and when the transcription is complete. (And if anyone can suggest a good Quicktime audio --> .ogg converter, Shawn and I would both appreciate it.)

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Listen To Woz, And Perhaps Type Madly

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  • Suggestions (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 20, 2001 @02:05PM (#2454963)

    A) Go from the mp3 to a high-quality ogg file. There are plenty of mp3-->ogg converters. And don't bitch about the quality, it's a freaking interview, notMozart.

    B) On a related note, this would be a fascinating job for a text-to-speech editor. I say, slap the
    entire interview through one, and then just edit. I'll bet it takes less than half the time.
  • This guy has vision (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CmdrTroll ( 412504 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @02:26PM (#2455004) Homepage
    I've always been impressed with Steve Wozniak - ever since I was a kid. I remember reading his autobiography several years ago, and he was frighteningly accurate in predicting many of the trends that have since hit the PC industry.

    I found it interesting that in this interview, he acknowledges that the industry has shifted to cheap, commodity hardware and that Apple continues to suffer from it - but he was absolutely correct in pointing out that blind brand loyalty by "artsy types" was keeping them in business. Though Steve's strengths are obviously technical in nature, he possesses an innate understanding of a lot of issues on the business side of things that helped to keep him ahead of the curve.


    • I find it annoying that you think that just because a person is "artsy" that he doesn't know which computer is best for him/her. The reason Apple sells computers to these folks, (the people who write your books and movies, and design your graphics and webpages) is because they know that there time is better spent being creative and not dealing with upgrades and diagnostics and all the things Windows and Linux users have to deal with. Just because people are "artsy" doesn't mean that they're stupid.
      • by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @04:15PM (#2455250) Homepage Journal
        The guy never said that only artsy people buy macs. Nor did he say that that artsy people don't know about computers. You are putting words in his mouth. The truth is that Macintosh comptuers and their operating system are extremely pretty. The one thing that macs do better than every other computer is 2d graphics and audio/video editing. Those are the things that artsy beatnik type people do with their computers. They buy macs not because they are stupid but because they know that this computer excels at the applications they use the most.
        And the fact of the matter is that the mac is only still alive because it is really good at 2d graphics and audio/video editing. If it wasn't, then it wouldn't be around.
    • ...but he was absolutely correct in pointing out that blind brand loyalty by "artsy types" was keeping them in business.

      I'm not an "artsy" type in the least. I'm a system integrator. After a long day of work fixing the piece of shit that is Windows, for unappreciative clients that get mad at me because the software they chose is constantly getting fucked up, I want to come home, sit down, and use a computer that works right all the time. As long as Apple continues to make computers that fit that criteria, I will be loyal to them.

      Once a month I rebuild my desktop, and I run Norton Disk Doctor quarterly as preventative maintenance. A virus? What's that? I saw one once on my Mac, in 1992. (MDEF, IIRC, a non-malicious virus that could be removed by a desktop rebuild).

      Being artsy or not has little to do with why people choose Macs.

      • I second this... I am a student (not for long, though... done in December! hell yeah) and for years I've been a PC guy, but then one day last year I just got sick of dealing with Windows crap after my PC died. (I have and still do use Linux but that can be a pain too) and bought a G4 tower and put OS X on it. (I never would have gone to the Other Side if it wasn't for OS X... I'm not a a huge fan of Mac OS < OSX, I need/prefer UNIX) I now also have a PowerBook G4 (bought a few weeks before Apple introduced the new PBG4s... should have checked those Mac rumor sites more carefully... D'oh! Oh well, not a big deal) and I love how everything "Just Works", even X windows when installed via fink and combined with OroborOSX windowmanager... Just my 2 cents, sorry if this is a little incomprehensible, I haven't had enough coffee yet today :-)
      • I agree with Philly. I'm a Win2K MCSE, and I put up with Microsoft shit all day to earn a paycheck. The last thing I want to do when I get home is use Windows again. At home I have a dual 800 G4 that kicks ass. Sure, I have Virtual PC and a cheap PC clone as well, but I rarely need to use them. With OS X, my Mac never crashes and is a truly multi-processor system. Oh, and I'm not an "artsy" type, I just like to see computing innovation...not much of that going on in the Microsoft world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 20, 2001 @02:29PM (#2455009)
    Woz was on Digital Village [] last week for the full hour. A good interview, especially his thoughts about M$.
  • by Spootnik ( 518145 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @02:29PM (#2455010)
    "Transcribing an hour of text takes a long time. But if you (yes, you!) are willing to transcribe a 3-minute (well. 3:15) chunk of this interview, I will spend my putative day off gluing chunks of interview together."

    Which bring the question. What are the alternatives for a voice recognition application that sould take a sound sample and convert it to text? Sort of like OCR (Optical Character Recognition) softwares does with a scanned image?
  • by cDarwin ( 161053 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @02:43PM (#2455034) Homepage
    The interview with Woz starts at T = 55:27
  • by Knobby ( 71829 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @02:50PM (#2455060)

    I thought we were suppsed to be geeks? Come on guys. Transcribing an hour of audio into text should take one line to fire up a voice recognition code, and no more time than the wall time required to listen to the interview..

    There's a huge group of people hear who would love to see a free variant of *NIX that can compete with windows for the desktop market. I think that before this happens you're going to need to sit down, spend some time in your local technical library researching voice, image, pattern recognition algorithms.. I'd love to be able to type:

    voice2text -mp3 woz.mp3 woz_interview.text
    and get a transcribed version of a speech, or lecture notes.. How about combining this with an answering machine app to record and transcribe messages then send those messages to the IMAP server or atleast place them in a searchable database for future reference..

    This is way off-topic but it's something I started thinking about when rumors bagan floating around concerning Apple's iPhoto app.. I thought it would be pretty incredible if Apple could piece together an app to project photos onto an empirical basis set and then use the coefficients from that projection to sort images.. Think of it like a generalized face recognition routine only more useful..

    I guess the point I'm trying to make is that gnome and kde are nice, but to take over the desktop market you we really need to crawl out of the box, and burn it to the ground!

    • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @03:44PM (#2455189)
      Just 4 easy steps:

      1) Pick up your phone and dial the voice transcription service (any number will do)

      2) Give the transcription start command: "bin laden"

      3) Play the sample to be transcribed

      4) E-mail to receive your free transcript!
    • I think that before this happens you're going to need to sit down, spend some time in your local technical library researching voice, image, pattern recognition algorithms.. I'd love to be able to type:

      I'd love to be able to type:

      voice2text -mp3 woz.mp3 woz_interview.text and get a transcribed version of a speech, or lecture notes..

      I'd love that too, but I also think that it's going to take a *lot* of time and reasearch before voice2text even gets to the alpha stage...the last time I checked, speech recognition was still a buggy proposition at the best of times. Most solutions required a significant amount of "training" with the user who's speech they are to recognize -- a pretty large step away from recognizing, interpreting, and correctly attributing the speech of two (or more) people during a recorded interview.

      When you add in the editing issues (on the most basic level, is your program even smart enough to consistently determine from context whether the speaker said "there," their," or "they're"), you've got a project that is rather chunky to say the least.

      Very interesting, yes, but it reminds me a lot of the meetings with my CEO that start with the words "I've had a really exciting new idea, and your guys are all going to be really excited about it..."

    • The best trick for this I have heard is to get yourself a copy of IBM ViaVoice and train it carefully for your voice. then, mike youself up, and play back the sound you want transcribed, and repeat it into the viavoice mike. It gets transcribed beautifully, becasue it is in your voice. This lets you do near real-time transcription This process is called 'Hullfishing' after its creator, Steve Hullfish
  • by Anton Anatopopov ( 529711 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @02:56PM (#2455079)
    The fact that he was shafted by Jobs, and doesn't lead a multi-millionaire lifestyle is testament to this. He did it for the love.

    He is almost the exact opposite of William Gates III. He is the Anti-Gates! :-)

    Its good to see he's still around.

  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @02:57PM (#2455081) Homepage

    OK, I'll tpye. ;-)

    How long do I have, BTW?


  • by paulywog ( 114255 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @03:00PM (#2455092)
    OK. So someone explain why the MP3 file is 20MB of audio only, where as the QuickTime is 17MB of audio AND video...

    a) Quick Time quality sucks.
    b) MP3 compression sucks.
    c) Cowboy Neal sucks.
    • The MacShow Live does not contain video, but I guess QT compresses audio a little better in this case? This is mostly voice. I would say probably a lower bit rate.

    • I didn't get the quicktime file, but my guess is that it is audio only as well. I don't think the mac show broadcasts video, just audio quicktime. Besides, a phone interview doesn't make for compelling video, know what I mean?
    • You're jumping to conclusion. Quicktime can be just audio, it doesn't need to be audio and video. In this case, it is just audio, no video.

    • The quicktime has no video.
    • Oops.

      There I go jumping the gun...

      (Thanks for not flaming my butt.)
    • OK, i'll byte. The correct answer is:

      d) The offered mp3 file was arbitrarily encoded at a higher bitrate than the offered quicktime file was.

      Just in case someone would like me to continue stating the obvious: According to the "Movie Info" dialog in my copy of Quicktime Player, the quicktime file used the QDesign Music 2 codec and was encoded at 22.05 kHz and a bitrate of 2.4 kilobytes per second of sound (19.2 Kbps), and the mp3 file was encoded at 11.025 kHz and a bitrate of 2.9 kilobytes per second of sound (23.2 Kbps). Also for some unclear reason the mp3 version is about a minute longer, although given they're both just over two hours that probably wouldn't have much effect on the file size.

      I personally think the (smaller) QDesign encoding sounds much clearer, but i'd definitely rather listen to the mp3 version-- the QDesign version seems kind of higher-pitched and grating for some reason. That, however, doesn't really reflect much on either codec, since the quality of files of this sort tends to vary wildly depending on how good a job the specific encoder program does of, um, encoding, and different formats have different ranges of bitrates where they perform better than other ranges..

      And of course it probably isn't quite fair to compare QDesign directly to mp3, seeing as as far as i can gather QDesign was designed much more as a format for being flexibly streamed than it was as a format for good storage quality. The QDesign codec, for the record, is probably a more advanced codec than mp3 (if i remember correctly, it's a couple years newer than mp3 is), but i've no idea how it would stack up against mp3pro or ogg.

      Hey, you asked.
      • You're forgetting the most important aspect is whether or not it was transcoded. e.g., take the source audio and encode as follows:
        original --> QDesign --> mp3 --> ogg --> repeat

        You'll find that the artifacts introduced at each stage make it harder for the next encoder to encode. Resulting in an output file that will increase in size after each stage while simultaneously decreasing in quality.


      • Oops, one more rant: the newness of QDesign is irrelevant. Why I could come up with a brand spanking new audio codec. It'll be newer than anything else but I guarantee you it will fscking suck balls! Now if the QDesign people actually learned from history that would be different, but chances are all they did was look at what was patented by mp3 and said we can't use those algorithms. That's right patents fsck future technology. It would not be a suprise if an older method works better because they had a patent free workspace to implement in.


    • The Quicktime clip was encoded using the QDesign Music 2 codec as a16 bit Mono recording at 22.05kHz.

      Note: the sound is a little hollow.. I imagine the mp3 file sounds about the same, and the compression could probably be better if the signal had not been compressed on the fly, i.e. off-line compression can be better because the whole track is known and the optimization routine could be tuned to minimize the file size.

    • It's probably also worth noting that QuickTime can use mp3 as it's sound encoding format. QuickTime itself isn't actually a codec, it's just like avi in that it stores a collection of tracks which are individually encoded. So the quality of QuickTime is entirely dependant on which codecs you choose and the options you give to those codecs.
  • The Woz (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ace905 ( 163071 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @03:05PM (#2455100) Homepage
    I actually found some info on the Woz [] just the other day. I thought it was kinda cool, but the same thing he discusses on his website.

    Eggplants! []

  • I can't help but wonder about the people in CBM and Atari - who probably did not have someone like Woz who was a sole engineer in the development of the first two Apple boxen.

    I know that Nolan Bushnell [] was a key player in Atari's early years, and that the Amiga and Atari ST were actually "swapped" between companies where execs "jumped ship" - but what about Commodore's early years?

    I took a quick look for historical links, and came up pretty much empty-handed. Anyone have better resources?

    • Did you look here []?

      • Just did look. Thanks.
      • The closest to a Woz that Commodore had was Chuck Peddle, who designed the 6502 which Apple, Atari, Commodore et al all used. He also built the PET.
 omits quite a few useful details - for example, it talks about the Amiga and AmigaDOS but is silent on Dr. Tim King, whose team was responsible for the upper layers of AmigaDOS, and who was later involved in the Great Amiga Transputer Experiment. There's plenty of data out there, though.

    • Re:As I Listen... (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hardware-wise, Commodore's VIC-20 and C64 were mostly the effort of Bob Yannes. He left CBM soon after that to found Ensoniq, to implement the audio hardware that because of time constraints he only partially managed to cram in the C64's SID (which at the time was anyway the best audio processor for a home computer, making a lot of memorable music possible). Ensoniq was recently bought by Creative.
  • Another Interview (Score:4, Informative)

    by dbCooper0 ( 398528 ) <> on Saturday October 20, 2001 @03:25PM (#2455136) Journal
    can be found at The Guardian's Article [] that I got off Woz' site [].

    Plenty of other references on Steve's site, as well...

  • On Listening (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Saturday October 20, 2001 @03:31PM (#2455150)
    I'm listening to the interview right now, and I can assure you that much will be lost if you convert it to text. You can't hear Woz's tone, as he gets excited about some things, and his serious tone on others. Come on, listen to the man's words, this is a guy who is talking about his youth when he could barely stand to speak to people from sheer shyness, and now millions of people can listen to his voice all across the world through the personal computers that he popularized. It's worth hearing his voice.
    • Yeah, assuming you *can* hear.
    • Very interesting. I volunteered to transcribe some of this interview, and was assigned my segment. I did the whole shebang, stuttering, laughs, ers and ahs. It certainly won't bring Woz to life on your screen, but I thought it would be neat, and I kinda enjoyed it. But Timothy told me he was going to edit out the stuttering for readability. I don't mind having my 'extra detail' edited out, but I'm reassured to know that some people are thinking along the same line (well...kinda.) as I am.
  • Thanks for the opportunity to transcribe, Tim! Here is to hoping no one finds any glaring problems with my section!!
  • by rbeattie ( 43187 ) <> on Saturday October 20, 2001 @05:32PM (#2455360) Homepage

    If a hundred Slashdotters spend a thousand minutes typing out 20 million bytes worth of audio, will it be Shakespeare?

    Or something like that...

  • if they offered a trade in program for those who are interested. I mean, not everyone is going to want a computer, but those who do can trade up their computer and Ford can give those unwanted computers to charity. That gives Ford a nice tax write off. Furthermore, you look good to everyone. I mean, you are give to charity, you are upgrading your workforce's computers, and you make a little money back in the form of tax savings. Seems a little smarter to me. I wish my employer at least made the effort that Ford did.
  • Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the founders of the Apple Computer, worked for Atari in 1974 (phrasing corrected by me)

    See for yourself in this article []. (You'll have to search for "Steve" or something...) In the famous words of Johnny Carson: "I did not know that!" ;-p

    • Steve and Steve wrote the game "Breakout" for Atari. Versions of the game have been hidden as easter eggs in one or two Apple softwares, including either System 6 or 7.

      They offered the Apple II to both Atari and HP and were laughed at. So they sold it themselves and now we have home computers.
      • wouldn't have laughed - or was he still there?
      • "Steve and Steve wrote the game "Breakout" for Atari."

        This is a nit, but I'm not sure that "wrote" is the right verb. I think arcade games of that era didn't use microprocessors. They had to create it using digital logic.
  • I record weekly speeches to post on a website. The best format for recording speech I found was Windows Media format. However, due to my aversion to MS, I switched to RealAudio, which was still good, but not quite as good as WMA. I use RealAudio 16KB/s, which is perfect quality for my needs. Is there an open-source alternative that offers comparable voice compression?
  • what Woz thinks the "new thingy" by apple is going to be?

    MP3 player (enuf of those) is one thought, but I personally think the kickin ass device would be a Portable DivX player...Imagine an iBook screen, with a (DPg3?), ffmpeg codec ( for you X.1 users and get the "old player" to "doctor" the .avi).

    DivX, maybe DVD, to go and music... Stripped down OS X...drool.

    On a G4-400 DivX is *flawless* videowise.
    Sound, depends on the datarate, it seems.

    I liked when he called "Dr. Mac" an hourse' d'ourve..heh, cute...and Dr. Mac's comment about X.1 of "it's safe now. He recommend for 10.1 don't pay 129 bucks to beta test.


    ps. Does the lack of slash dot posts mean there is no enthusiams about these topics, or are all the LOTR /. fans camping out for tickets?

    pps. See my rant in the LOTR topic if you feel the need to mod ppl down for joking around.
    Get a grip/clue/BJ/sense of humor, something...if you can't appreciate my sense of humor...dammit, that is *your* problem.
    • ... but don't you think there is a slight chance they'd use Quicktime instead of DivX;)?

      A portable quicktime (and mp3) player would be interesting, with a case shaped like the software QT player.
  • In the interview he was asked about os X.

    The response was he was "burned" pretty badly by the pre X.1, but Mail, utilities and such (with mention to Office for X, too) everything in X.1 "seemed 'good enough'".

    Correct me if I am wrong, please, but is that not a statement normally associated with Microsoft's applications? Even in the Microsoft, Linux, Unix and Mac camp's I've heard this so much it stood out as if shouted from a rooftop.

    Tell me honestly; Is that comment a compliment or a slap in the face?
    I'm still mulling it over.
  • Anyone have a non-Fraunhofer conversion? The one they have out there is not working very well.

  • I scoured all the comments, and if the link to the transcribed text is there, I missed it.
    • Well, here's my chunk - about 10 minutes in to the conversation:

      SJ - "And the last one being one year at Berkeley that the bluebox here at Steve Jobs. I wouldn't have traded Apple for that whole year"

      SK - "Explain to the audience what that Blue Box year is."

      SJ - "Blue Boxes, you know, I don't even think they worked the year that I left. But the year I was there, it's like, you could put the right tones into a telephone and just control all the switching circuits of the phone network of the world and make free calls anywhere and talk to operators in other countries and reroute signals back to the phone next to you."

      SK - "Completely illegal by the way."

      SJ - "Pardon?"

      SK - "Completely illegal by the way."

      SJ - "Completely Illegal and I kind of thought of myself as an ethical hacker. I won't make these calls. I wouldn't make bluebox calls. Any call I made to like friends, relatives, I paid for. I developed that thinking about it early on. I only used the bluebox to experiment with the system and explore it. But, I have helped other people build blueboxes, redboxes, blackboxes and pass out information to them and doing that - that I feel badly about looking back. Like that was really kind of illegal. I was helping other people cheat the system and, you know, not pay for things they should pay for."

      SK - "Well, at that time, that was kind of a, uh, don't you see that as part of the experimentation of youth, that, and granted, we're both probably just justifying our past indiscretions, but isn't it, because nobody really got hurt, isn't it...serve"

      SJ - "Well, very close. Young people will often, if they have these abilities to do this - almost nobody has the ability - they make up blueboxes, you know, just their technical and engineering ability and stumbling onto it and being interested in certain articles, but, you know, you mentioned my shyness earlier? This was the first time in my life that, for that one year, I was also out of my shyness because I was master of ceremonies. I could talk for an hour describing the bluebox stories, the technology, how it worked, giving demos, talking about famouse phone phreaks, and wierd stories of strange things they've done and how they beat the system and that basically was the first time in my life I could kind of talk and be the MC."

      SK - "It's sort of a hacker ethic that you're talking about is, and that's obviously still to a certain degree has a great deal of effect in your life at Apple and your life after Apple, correct?"

      SJ - "Ummm, I would say just all my life I guess that the way I operate then is probably still, it's still the same now.I'm sure if you had heard some of the things I've done in the recent years you'd say, 'He's still doing it.' But, ummm, the best thing came out the bluebox for Apple was just a chance to experiment, trying to get my designs as tiny as possible with the perfect set of chips, and I did some designs in the bluebox that I never did anything that good, even at Apple. But at least the timing circuits were the exact same chip structure of the synchronous counter chips that I used for the TV counting signals of the Apple 1 and 2."

      SK - "Mm hmm"

      SJ - "So it's carried over a little."

      SK - "That's something we'll definately get into in the next segment we're going to talk about your life at Apple. But in the meantime folks I would go to []. He's got a very extensive FAQ there that has all kinds of letters, all kinds of answers to questions that you can find out what he's doing now, what he was doing in the past, what his thoughts are about various things including sounds like the much hated A&E Billionaire Biography, right?"

      SJ - "Uhh, repeat that?"

      SK - "It sounds like you weren't a big fan of the A&E Billionaire biography about you?"

People are always available for work in the past tense.