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A Day with The Woz

by Waseef Akhtar

Copyright 2013 Waseef Akhtar All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher or a license permitting restricted copying.


I have been blessed with a great friend and a superlative editor, Ali Sahibzada. Despite of all the busy schedules we had and not been able to discuss the experience a smidgen in person with each other, his charm in this book greatly enhanced the manuscript.His painstaking scrutiny and astute comments about structure, clarity, and ow have helped me present my message as simply and clearly as possible. Basim Ali has been a lucky guy for me. Hehas always been a wonderful source of professional advice on dealing with different situations. He is totally an A-player and he has this gift where he intelligently and instantly nd alternatives for various circumstances. Assaf Asif has been the most encouraging friend. He might've been busy all this time with his academics, but he was the rst reader of the book and when I had second thoughts about anything related to the book, he not only gave me a push, buthis smart and honest response after reading the book also inuenced it greatly. Rashid Khan is as tech-savvy as I am, making me believe that I could actually meet Woz and shouldn't miss the chance, thinking as silly that something might be possible or not possibly as I do.

Additional thanks: To Twitter, SaudiMac, Foursquare, Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh, National Center for e-Learning & Distance Learning, Aali TV.

And a sincere and a wholehearted thanks to all you readers out there around the world.




I am Waseef Akhtar, a diehard Apple fan living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. What you are about to read here is an account of the exhilarating experience I had on the day I met (actually, hanged out with) Steve Wozniak! Yes, THE Steve Wozniak! This is the rst book Ive ever written. So, I hope youre going to be merciful to the newbie! It's just a short one day story, more like a story I'd be telling to a friend in a regular conversation. The driving force behind this book was none other than Woz himself ! Before meeting him Id never even thought of writing a book about the whole thing. He was the inspiration. Id never been so motivated than on that day and that's when I had written almost three-fourth of the book! The rest was completed in a month's time.



About Woz
Stephen Gary "Steve" Wozniak, known as Woz, is an American computer engineer and programmer who co-founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne. Wozniak single-handedly invented the Apple I computer and the Apple II computer in the 1970s.Wikipedia

The Woz built the rst [personal computer]by hand, by himself.USA Today

A Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist for the past three decades, Steve Wozniak helped shape the computing industry with his design of Apples rst line of products the Apple I and II and inuenced the popular Macintosh. In 1976, Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Computer Inc. with Wozniak's Apple I personal computer. The following year, he introduced his Apple II personal computer, featuring a central processing unit, a keyboard, color graphics, and a oppy disk drive. The Apple II was integral in launching the personal computer industry. In 1981, he went back to UC Berkeley and nished his degree in electrical engineering/computer science. For his achievements at Apple Computer, Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States in 1985, the highest honor bestowed on Americas leading innovators. In 2000, he was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame and was awarded the prestigious Heinz Award for Technology, The Economy and Employment for singlehandedly designing the rst personal computer and for then redirecting his lifelong passion for mathematics and electronics toward lighting the res of excitement for education in grade school students and their teachers. After leaving Apple in 1985, Wozniak was involved in various business and philanthropic ventures, focusing primarily on computer capabilities in schools and stressing hands-on learning and encouraging creativity for students. Making signicant investments

of both his time and resources in education, he adopted the Los Gatos School District, providing students and teachers with hands-on teaching and donations of state-of-the-art technology equipment. He founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and was the founding sponsor of the Tech Museum, Silicon Valley Ballet and Childrens Discovery Museum of San Jose. Wozniak currently serves as Chief Scientist for Fusion-io and is a published author with the release of his New York Times Best Selling autobiography, iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon, in September 2006 by Norton Publishing. His television appearances include reality show Kathy Grifn: My Life on the D-List and season eight of ABCs Dancing with the


Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

The story begins Sunday, February 3rd, 2013. It was around 5 p.m. in the evening and I was surng the web on my iPhone charging on the desk. It buzzed with a tweet from one of the local Apple blogs, SaudiMac, retweeting a check-in from Steve Wozniak. He was at London Heathrow Airports Terminal 5 at the time to board a ight for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I couldnt believe what my eyes were reading on the screen! Woz is coming to Riyadh? Hell, this cant be true! I gasped in amazement! I was over the moon just by the fact that WOZ was going to come to my city although I wasn't yet sure if it was a connecting ight he was taking or actually visiting Riyadh for a few days.

Wasting no time I started digging in. It didn't take me long to learn that he is supposed to attend The Third International Conference on eLearning and Distance Learning here where great educational thinkers of the world would gather and share ideas.

Something clicked in and I started to feel I could actually meet him. Still in doubt, I started looking harder into the site of the conference and reached the registration page where they said the registrations have been closed. I was disappointed. Now it just felt like going to the airport might be the only chance to meet him.

I started tracking his ight and asked my brother if it's worth a shot. When I later showed my brother the time and the terminal of the ight, we got mistaken with terminals thinking that terminal 5 would be where the ight would land and as far as we had guessed, terminal 5 wasn't there opened for public. So the only chance I thought I had was missed. I started tweeting to people who tweeted about the conference asking them if they know any way where we could still register for the conference or just go in anyway. They were helpless.

At about 10 p.m., I received a Foursquare notication of Woz checking in at King Khalid International Airport. To have a living legend arrive in my city, it was a little nervous and uneasy for me, and curious and happy at the same time! I mean it's a little rare for such personalities and celebrities come and stay here. Or Id rather say it's even rarer to get to know about them coming here. So you know what I mean.


After almost half an hour, he checked in at the Kingdom Center . The whole time I was sending the screenshots of his check-ins to my friends I was texting to at the time. One of them, Basim Ali, said he must be staying at the Four Seasons at the tower. And it hit my mind immediately what I was supposed to do.


So later that night, I just planned to give it a shot next day, emailing Woz or just simply calling Four Seasons asking them if I could talk to him. I had three reasons that night which motivated me to try my luck out: I. The rst was knowing how easy people say it is to meet him, saying how approachable he is. II. The second was because I didn't know when he was going to leave. So I was in hurry. III. The third was a story of Steve Jobs he has told about himself that I always remember in such situations. The story of how he called Bill Hewlett when he was 12 years old and Bill answered the phone and he asked him if he had any spare parts he could have to build a frequency counter and he gave them to him and also gave him a summer job. I mean how he always got what he asked for.

Here I was joking with my cousins and friends all night long about how I have a lunch and a meeting setup with Woz tomorrow and when I read my horoscope that night for the next day, I couldn't nd a sign anywhere that any such rendezvous would be possible tomorrow. And the fact that youre reading this book right now obviously proves it was not right!



Monday, February 4th, 2013

The rst thing I did the next day, before even brushing my teeth, was google Four Seasons number. I called them up asking them if there's any Room with number 3003 and they asked me to name the person who's in the room. I named him and they just simply transferred my call! He picked it immediately and I talked to him introducing myself, asking him if he there's any possible way to meet him. He asked if I was a part of the conference. I said no.

He told me how tired he was at the moment. And the next thing I knew he was telling me the whole schedule of his day which included a TV interview at noon and then dinner later at evening, and then he'd be coming to his room at 8 p.m. to prepare himself for the speech tomorrow. I mean with the exact timings of his schedule! You do not ever hear that from such a person. A person like Woz, the legendary co-founder of one of the worlds best computer companies, telling his exact schedule to an unknown fan, in an unknown place! That was when it hit me how honest he said he was, even to this day, in his book "iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon". He'd said, "My dad believed in honesty. Extreme honesty. Extreme ethics, really. That's the biggest thing he taught me. He used to tell me it was worse to lie about doing something bad under oath than it was to actually do something bad, even like murdering someone. That really sunk in. I never lie, even to this day, not even a little."


I asked him when would he be leaving and he replied, "Right after the speech tomorrow, I'll be on board to Munich." So he suggested that I come to the lobby at 4 p.m. that day and I might nd him there or just later after 8 p.m. I was confused but dang sure I had to take this chance. Soon after the call I was bragging to my friends and siblings about how awesomely Id just personally spoke to STEVE WOZ! I had my breakfast, took a shower and got ready, and jokingly said to my sister, "I'm getting dressed up like he's really called me up to hangout with him!"

I was in a hurry as I wanted to reach half an hour prior to the time he gave me, so that I could nd his room well in time and meet him there. So, I got to Kingdom Center and asked people around for the entrance to Four Seasons. Following the directions, I reached the lobby but I didn't know yet what to do! And just when I was about to head to the reception, I saw Woz walking from the opposite side. He seemed to be a little confused and was about to approach this man standing there to ask him about something when I interrupted and greeted him saying, "Steve! Hey! I'm Waseef. I called you earlier on the phone. I'm your fan." and he went like, "Oh yea, I remember. Thanks for meeting up ... Well, I'm supposed to be on my way for the interview right now and I don't know if the driver has arrived yet."

Losing no time I quickly asked him if he could give an autograph on my iPhone and on a few post-its for my friends. I also requested him to take some pictures with me. He was like, "Yea sure, why not?" While he was executing the signing rituals, I narrated my tale of how I tracked down his ight all day long the day before. I told him how Id just missed going to the airport to meet him there, how I felt as if that was the only chance to ever meet him! And then how it took me hours to make it up to him there nally and now that he was in front of me, I could just cry of joy!

Steve Wozniak signed his autograph on my phone! His typical signature in beautiful calligraphy-like letters, reading Woz. And as soon as he did, my ordinary

black iPhone 5 instantly turned into a priceless phone one could ever have! We then called a receptionist to take a few photos of us. There he was, turning from a celebrity I thought I'd never meet, to just someone I felt like I long knew. Or well maybe I just instantly wasn't on earth that moment! That's how fascinating it is to meet him, to talk to him.

Immediately after the photograph session Woz says to me, "Well I think you might actually come along with us for the interview". That's what Id made up my mind to ask him on my way an hour before. But this, right now? It was happening! That was one unbelievable invitation and before I could realize my mouth just threw out the words, "Oh, can I? That'll be GREAT!" and followed him. We went out of the lobby to search for his driver or the car. He said he did meet the driver yesterday but couldn't recall his face. So I asked if he knows which car is it and he named it and I helped him look for his car.


We came back to where two security guards, and his attendant, probably one of the team members from the conference who mightve been Woz guide turned up. He greeted us. Woz tried to recall his name as "Masoor" and he corrected him by "Mansour". Woz later claim that it sounded more like a French name, perhaps referring to Monsieur! He explained how it was difcult for him to recall faces and remember names due to the anterograde amnesia he was suffering with after his plane crash 1981 saying, "it's very serious". It was then he asked Mansour if I could come along with him. Mansour was on the phone with the TV crew at the moment and asked Woz what to tell them exactly. Woz said, "Tell them it's just a fan who'd like to come along". He knew it wasn't very right to bring along someone, but he was trying to be polite to me too. Mansour sought permission from the TV channel crew and they agreed.

Here I was standing beside him on the same oor under the same roof he was! The thought of it still sends a shill through my spine. We stood there waiting for the car. He told me how some great people are coming for the conference tomorrow and I agreed.

I asked him if this was his rst visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He replied yes. I asked how he did like the city so far and he laughed, "Well I've been sleeping pretty much whole day since I came. So I can't really say much!" I enquired if there was any other Apple fanboy he has met so far in the city and he said, "Not yet. But I might see some at the conference tomorrow." I agreed and told him how the news of him coming here has already spread around Twitter and how they can't wait to meet him in the conference tomorrow. Meanwhile his chauffeur arrived. He entered the car rst and I followed. The guards just guided him to his car and me to a security car in front of it. It didn't take much to reach National Center for e-Learning & Distance Learning.

We entered the hall where they were setting up for the show. So we were headed to a private room for a while where we found the two interviewers. While

waiting for the interview, Woz (and I) tried to get ourselves comfortable and acquainted with the interviewers to ensure it was a very heart warming, friendly environment. We greeted them and sat down. He passed on this coolest business card of his. We discussed just his business card for almost 3 minutes, discussing the material and how he put his number there like an encrypted data. One of the interview jokingly said, "So you want just the geeks to call you, nobody else, eh?". And he laughed and agreed but said, "Well, plenty of people just use email for communication these days".


We sat there as the interviewers introduced themselves. They explained how the interview is going to be and what would some of the questions they're going to ask be like. We discussed early days of his, you know, school, college, working at Hewlett Packard, co-founding Apple alone with Jobs, plane crash, internal passion and driving yourself to it and achieving your inner goals and whatnot. Suddenly, in the middle of the conversation it hit me to just record the whole thing into a memorable voice memo. It was a good 30-minute chat. Here's a part of the interview you can listen to:

We discussing early days of his, you know, school, college, working at Hew- lett Packard, co-founding Apple alone with Steve Jobs, plane crash, internal passion and driving yourself to it and achieving your inner goals and whatnot.

Then a guy enters the room and inform us that the stage is ready. We head to the hall and they sit down. Everything is set, the director says theyre ready and starts the countdown. Theyre on camera. The show is recorded. They mostly talked about e-Learning, but the Steve Jobs life and the recently-released movie based about him, "jOBS (2013)", wasn't forgotten. He said he hasn't watched the movie yet but as far as he's been shown the trailers, one of them shows Jobs and Woz discussing drugs. And he said he has never done drugs in his whole life. He was a geek who never did girlfriends and parties and all. So he just hoped that as good as the reviewers talked about Ashton Kutcher (taking time trying to pronounce Kutcher, stating he's not much into TV and movies, so he doesn't know much about them) performing Steve Jobs, his character performs the same way he has lived his life.


He was also eager to learn a few words of Arabic hearing the interviews were speaking with the crew, asking them how to pronounce certain words and their meaning.

The show was recorded in about 45 minutes. I stood there throughout not missing a moment, taking picture, recording videos and voice memos and whatnot. At one point, my phone notied me that I'm out of storage space and stopped recording the video. So I just quickly deleted some heavy apps I had at the moment and continued with recording the voice memos.

When the interview was over they recorded the prelude introducing Woz and giving a short report about him. And in the end, was just a non-smiling shoot of the two interviewers. But as funny as Woz is with his skilful pranks, he wouldn't let them, making funny faces towards them!

The interview ended and we took a group photo with him and then each one taking separately. He looked happy and said, "Cool cameras! ... Now that if you know, if you hold your iPhone like this (horizontally), you can take pictures with the volume-up button. It's so cool." He was so geeky and passionate. He passed on his business card to each one of the TV crew and joked that he has his number on the card but they've to kind of gure it out.

We headed out of the center and rode back to Four Seasons, where he said to me, "I think I'll just call it a day. It was nice meeting you, hope you enjoyed. I'll just go to the room to take some rest before going out for the dinner". And my mouth threw out the words, "It was such an honor to meet a personality like you today. I hope we meet soon again. Thank you so much!"


He advanced towards the lobby and I started walking slowly towards the road opposite to search for a cab. They were the same roads I usually pass by. But that extraordinary day, it just didn't feel like I was on this planet. When I woke up the next morning with a wide smile on my face, I thought to just email him a short thank you message:

Dear Woz, It was really really awesome to meet and hang out with you in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as a fan yesterday. I'm so honored. You're really a down-to-earth and inspiring personality. I felt like I was on cloud 9 when I was standing beside you on the same oor under the same roof waiting for your driver. And then hearing you speak in the private room, as well as in the interview, I don't know how much more inspiring of a person one can be. I just so wish we meet sometime soon again if I ever get a chance to visit Silicon Valley haha. I'll never forget this day of mine. And I'm actually working on an article right now this day deserved. Thank you so much for everything! Regards, Waseef Akhtar Sent from my iPhone


He replied to the email later that evening, also forwarding it to his wife, Janet Wozniak: I'm so glad to be able to meet fans like yourself, to whom it all means so much. It's really easy for me. Thanks, Woz

That day, just in a few hours, I saw plenty of his sides that I've always read about him around the web on blogs and books and watched documentaries and movies: I saw his honesty when he, talking to a fan on a phone, informed me of the whole schedule of his day with exact timings. His geeky side where he just got excited almost every time he had to answer a question about technology and computers. He said he was the sort of person who could design a computer in two days. He has a great mind to have still remembered what model calculator of HP he owned and after which model, he started designing calculators for them. I guess thats the excitement is his passion toward computers but the geeky-ness was when he, before the show and in the breaks, started teaching us how the iPhone has got cool new features like Do Not Disturb and taking photos with the volume-up button. The fun and prankish side of him, well a bit of that when I saw him making faces towards the interviewer when the director asked the interviewer to not smile for the shoot he's shooting.

I also got to know about his plane crash as he spoke to me personally about how it had affected him with anterograde amnesia and how he can't recall faces and names for long. Plenty of things about Jobs and computers in 70s and 80s also

came out. It didn't take much time for me to realize that the day deserved a short book as I was hearing those genuine stories from the guy who was right there the whole time, whod lived it all and contributed big time in creating the Silicon Valley.

.That day I came to know the real meaning of inspiration. Every single day since, I feel my neurons have been stimulated in a way that makes me want to put in my ding in the universe. I'm a freelance stock photographer and inspiration for creative photos for me was mainly from the web, movies, even a few songs and travelling through the city. But the real meaning behind the word in my opinion reveals that its really walking in the shoes of your heroes. I was in awe by every side of Woz that day. Of course, I didn't feel it so much there, but now when I think about the day, I think it was all an inspiration. Inspiration for life.

I realize it was all beyond expectations and a part of me still thinks I haven't had enough of him, but that's actually how long of a story it deserved. The one when I was on cloud 9.




Steve Wozniak signed his autograph on my phone! His typical signature in beautiful calligraphy-like letters, reading Woz. And as soon as he did, my ordinary black iPhone 5 instantly turned into a priceless phone one could ever have!


While he was executing the sign- ing rituals, I narrated my tale of how I tracked down his ight all day long the day before.


We entered the hall where they were setting up for the show. So we were headed to a private room...


We head to the hall and they sit down. Everything is set, the director says theyre ready and starts the countdown. Theyre on camera.


He looked happy and said, "Cool cameras! ... Now that if you know, if you hold your iPhone like this (horizontally), you can take pictures with the volumeup button. It's so cool."


He passed on his business card to each one of the TV crew and joked that he has his number on the card but they've to kind of gure it out.


Thank you.