Michael Lopp (a.k.a. rands)

Selling Michael is not hard, some of the companies he's worked for are: Netscape, Borland, Apple and Palantir. He's also a profilic writer, and I first came across him through his weblog, Rands in Repose. He's written two books, Being Geek and Managing Humans. You can follow @rands on Twitter.

Are you still using your Tom Bihn bag? Could you update us on your current bag situation?

I use my Tom Bihn Smart Alec backpack every single day. It's my go-to bag for both daily use as well as when I'm traveling. It's sturdy, it has tons of space when I need it, and it keeps my hands free when I'm wrangling whatever random thing as I travel from here to there. I keep checking out new bags, but I haven't left my Smart Alec.

On your recent PeepCode video you mention that although everyone has a superpower, it's probably boring since you're so good at it that you can do it in your sleep. If you pursue a career based on your superpower, how do you stay motivated?

For me, I've got to have some work on my plate that is novel. When that doesn't happen, as I'll explain in the answer to your next question, I bail. You need to achieve a balance. You likely create amazing value performing your superpower, but since it's your superpower, because it's seemingly trivial to you, it isn't a challenge, but given the value you create, you've gotta do it. I've usually got two or three gnarly projects on my plate where I am totally unqualified to complete the task. I likely take twice as long to complete them and my guess is that the output is half as good as that of someone who is qualified, but the experience of learning keeps my brain engaged.

You left Apple when they were at one of their highest points to go to work at Palantir, a company that at the time was not as popular as it is today. What made you change companies?

While there is always amazing work going on at Apple, after over eight years, I was ready for a completely different domain. At Palantir I work with some of the smartest people around, and our mission to "help solve the world's hardest problems" isn't marketing, it's our rallying cry.

What were you going through when you published The Nerd Handbook? To this day it's the first (and only) item in the reading list (yes, there is a reading list) for a proper relationship with yours truly.

I wish I had a better origin story for The Nerd Handbook, but it's similar to the origin of most of the articles I write. I was talking to random person at Apple and someone said, "There should be, like, a handbook for nerds." My thought was, "Definitely", and I started scribbling.

I think an important part of the piece was that it wasn't written for my usual audience, but for their significant others. This was my wife's idea who read an early version of the piece and added some critical insights including the fact that when I say "Cool" it means that I'm not listening.

What's the place to go play in Vegas now that the Barbary Coast/Bill's is gone?

Well, they're rebuilding Barbary Coast/Bill's and I'm curious to see what they build, but I think your question is "Where's a good cheap place to play random games." My advice is to start where Bill was and head north. There are a lot of great, cheap places between Bally's and the Wynn that meet this criteria. I tend to end up at O'Shea's quite a bit, but I think that's because they have a Subway and there is nothing more delicious than a Subway sandwich at 4AM after losing a lot of money at craps.