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Pretty Good Hat

Not Catching Up

All week I crib things into pinboard, instapaper, and left-open browser tabs, thinking “oh, this is good — I’ll use|blog|THINK about it later.” Seeing as how it’s not actually my job to do those things, and I have an active life of making lunches, making dinners, and pre-schooler lecturing at home, it feels like I never get to give any of those things the attention that I want.

Baby steps though, right?

Stack this

Reading this about management at Valve I was struck by the difference in tone between discussions of stack ranking at Valve versus at Microsoft — the latter being one off the things said to doom the company:

In the end, the stack-ranking system crippled the ability to innovate at Microsoft, executives said. “I wanted to build a team of people who would work together and whose only focus would be on making great software,” said Bill Hill, the former manager. “But you can’t do that at Microsoft.”

To be sure, the implementation matters a great deal, and the actual ranking practices and cultures at Valve and Microsoft differ, but the public perception of each company undoubtedly shapes our view, too. At Valve this practice is daring and egalitarian (also anarchic and nigh socialism, we are told by internet commenters) while at Microsoft it’s stifling and bureaucratic.

If you haven’t seen it, the “leaked” Valve employee handbook originally circulated about a year ago and is an interesting depiction of a company culture.

Point and click

I spent a lot of time playing games from Lucasarts back in the day. So How LucasArts Fell Apart is an intriguing read. We can on only daydream about all those projects that never made it out the door.

Relatedly, I am eager to see how Steam’s new adventure in living room gaming will work out. I’m interested in being able to move away from requiring a high-specced desktop or laptop machine for gaming, while maintaining the library of stuff on Steam that I really enjoy. For that reason, the streaming to the TV route isn’t ideal at all for me, but with a new Mac on my roadmap it could be a nice intermediate step.

(The most recent game I have really enjoyed is Mark of the Ninja, which recently launched for the Mac. It hits the sweet spot for sneaking around in the dark action.)