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Patrick Hoefler
235 followers -
All-around Geek
All-around Geek

235 followers
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Welcome to Flatland

In March, Valve – the company that gave us Half-Life, Team Fortress, Counter-Strike, Portal, and Steam – finished its "Handbook for New Employees". Yesterday, the PDF version was leaked (published?) onto the interwebs. I just finished reading it in its entirety, from the title page to the glossary, and it's jaw-droppingly amazing.

Some highlights:

* Valve's internal company structure is completely flat. There is no hierarchy. There's no management at all! (Mind you, they currently employ around 300 people, and their revenue is estimated at more than 1 billion USD.) There are no appointed team leaders, product managers, or anything like it. Cave Johnson would not agree.

* All desks have wheels. If you'd like to relocate, unplug your computer, push your desk to the desired location, and plug it in again. That's it. They even have a page on their intranet that lets you look up where your colleagues are currently plugged in. If they're not working from home, that is.

* Compensation is determined by your peers and their assessment of your skill level, output, group contribution, and product contribution. How cool is that? Just think about it: If you're a mean, selfish bastard, you automatically get paid less! I still need to bend my head around this one.

To summarize, Valve's corporate philosophy is absolutely inspiring. There's a lot that other companies could learn from them, and in my opinion, sooner would be better.

And now, please go and read Valve's employee handbook. You won't regret it.

Update: Valve has published the official version of its employee handbook at http://media.steampowered.com/apps/valve/Valve_NewEmployeeHandbook.pdf

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The Self-Driving Car

Can't wait to get me one of those! :)
I loved Wired's article on self driving cars. This technology has been a passion of mine for years because it will help save lives, help lots of people who have difficulty driving, and reduce congestion on our roads. In 2006, Stanford's driverless car (named Stanley!) won a DARPA challenge, and $2M in prize money, when it successfully drove solo for hours through the desert. I was lucky enough to watch that race, and not the previous year, where none of the cars had been able to finish -- quite a fast technological improvement. Fast forward to today -- Google's self-driving cars have now clocked up over 200K miles, and they can easily navigate the freeway in rush hour at highway speeds. According to the article nearly 370,000 people lost their lives on American roads between 2001 and 2009--93% due to human error. Using technology to improve safety on our roads will make the world a better place.

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/01/ff_autonomouscars/all/1

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Brain Teaser
I found this on my office chalkboard this morning, thanks to +Ryan Grover. Attempt to reason through it if you must. #mathed
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Words to Live By

/via +Jeri Ryan

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Simplicity

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Words of Wisdom

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Raising the Bar

/via +Eric Coffman

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He Truly Was One Influential Man

Rest in Peace, Steve!
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Floppy DJ

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Ethereal
Emerald Sea
A stunning video of the Aurora Australis taken by the crew of Expedition 29 on the ISS on September 17, 2011 as they pass from south of Madagascar to just north of Australia over the Indian ocean. Hope you all enjoy the show, I think +Ron Garan would approve ;)
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