September 11th, 2005, 12:46
In case you missed this, PBS is releasing a Creative Commons licensed set of essentially television shows, one hour each, where Robert X Cringely interviews "nerds". The first one is on Andy Hertzfeld and is a fascinating discussion on his life, his new book (on the creation of the Mac), music technology, the Microsoft monopoly, his work with Gnome code (Nautilus, etc.) and much more.

Well worth your time, and much better than 100% of what's on the tube these days.

NerdTV is MPEG-4 video. You can download the shows and play them with any MPEG-4 player you like, most likely QuickTime. Still in development but coming soon is a Mediaframe Open Source Java applet player, which will play NerdTV video right in your browser without any plug-ins.
There are two versions of the complete show -- one with subtitles and one without -- and three audio-only versions for those who prefer to compute by radio. Yes, NerdTV will be a Podcast, too. Ogg Vorbis plays in WinAmp or Sonique with a special plugin. AAC plays on an iPod or in iTunes. MP3s play in most media players.
And for those who remember books, we have included a written transcript of each show. Enjoy. (

NerdTV home page ... (

September 20th, 2005, 07:50
New episode up: Max Levchin, a co-founder of PayPal, successful entrepeneur-hacker with four other companies to his credit, and a twenty-something (just about to turn 30).

His description of the engineering approach to getting a haircut is classic:

Max Levchin: ... So this haircut is perfect. This is - you basically tell the hairstylist a number, and the person just applies that number all around your head in equal proportion. There's no interaction involved. You sort of sit there as they shave your head down to a number that you choose. And I've been experimenting with the - by documenting the look on my girlfriend's face as I change the number. So I've experimentally determined that 2 is exactly the right number. So now when I go into a hair salon, I sit down and I say please shave me all the way around to a number 2. And seven and a half minutes I'm out. And it costs me something like $12.00. So therein lies an engineering approach. Very carefully -

Bob: But if you change girlfriends, you have to start over.

Max Levchin: You're right. I have not accounted for that. But I suspect I'll just go through the process again. There are only so many numbers.