GX notes - January, 2000monday, 31 january
Message from Chris our IT/System Administrator:
He figured out how to use some Windows2K toolkit to selectively end programs running on anyone's computer. oh joy oh bliss, oh rapture.watch this.. i can see u'r running winamp.. watch this
friday, 28 january
Yesterday, the mother of the CEO and CTO came by to examine the Feng Shui of our new office. Lots of dead spirits, I was told. Now 4000 monks in Tibet are praying for us for 20 days in order to send the spirits on home. Wow!
More tangibly noticeable, she recommended that we move certain offices out of the way of the windows. So senior people don't have their own view, but everyone can enjoy the windows. Seems smart to me!
Bjorn turned me onto my.mp3.com. Basically, you log on. Push one of your CDs into your computer, "Beam-It" checks it with the server. They have hundreds of music files on their system, and they register you as "owning" the MP3s on that album. So now in your account, whereever you are, whichever your computer, you can download copies of those songs to listen to. Their selection of albums ain't all bad - they did better with Monk than with Ellington, and they had some Zappa and William Orbit. They list Public Enemy as "Pop & Rock."
It's a great, but it might not fly if I wasn't sitting at my desk at the office, with a fast, constant T1 connectino to the internet. I guess by telling you folks about this, I'm doing what Michael Robertson wants me to, ahh well. Reading his screed on digital music freedom makes me think we're growing closer to the point where I can easily do the electric eclectic online with my existing PC hardware.
At least until that time, I'm happy to earmark these CDs online from work so I can bring them home and still enjoy them here.
Nat bought a gallon of Mountain Dew Fountain Syrup (concentrated Mountain Dew) from here. He's taken the office obsession with this anti-freeze colored, absolutely caffeinated sugar beverage to a new height by doubling the sugar in his regular can serving of Dew with a helping of the pee-colored viscious liquid.
thursday, 27 january
I brought "Ogenki Clinic" to the office because I thought some of these folks might appreciate it. Then, I'm sequel hunting on KittyMedia.com, and I find "Bondage Queen Kate" which is described as: "Dune meets La Femme Nikita with a bondage twist!"
Today a few of us got to talking with the ex-DEA, ex-Military, ex-Cop wargames editor here, Jim. Crazy stories of being an Oakland cop! Mostly him telling a few gruesome stories, uzi shooting at the park near where Amy and I live, some old corpses, young perps, and us asking him questions about how the system works. Chris and him had a long dialog about traffic tickets - it was funny to see guys who like to race their cars gettin' the straight scoop from this guy. He dislocated his knee 9 times, lost all the cartiledge in it, and then retired with disability - at 33! Now he's 36, "double-dipping" as his friend called it - looking for something to do with his time. He's one of the largest people I've ever been near - physically thick, in addition to being tall. Says he bought a Great Dane, it weighs 140 lbs and it's so heavy that it leans on him at times and knocks him over. That must be a sight! So while on one hand I'm not used to being around someone who's had that kind of authority, I'm glad he's so easy going and fun to talk to.
wednesday, 26 january
Today, I called the WebbyAwards switchboard and had to wait through a massive number of rings to get through to anyone. They explained there had been a power outage today. I was imagining the havoc there - we'd had our own power outage back in Berkeley so it wasn't hard to picture. People milling about in the quiet darkness, strange laughter, total inability to entertain oneself and provide productivity for the company.
Then the video card on our internet gateway machine blew out and we were all violently thrown offline. That wasn't so bad, except it broke the concentration of half the company, which proceeded to mill about between the desks of the other half of the company. Tim gave a tour of Billy's sketchbook for a few people, Kenn took goofy pictures of Kohn and Derek wrestling, Matt Gabe Rik James and Nao went to play Chrono Cross, fresh from Japan where Nao had bought it. I played darts in the Dev chamber. Chris Nick Matt and Dre argued about servers. Joel and Allan had a conversation.
It's funny - there's always a fallback activity, but productivity in itself is such a myth. I was talking to Howard about his work, he says he really only does two hours a day of actual writing. The rest is all prep. We all do so much prep here, regardless of Internet or none. I'm reading about Andrew Carnegie, because the life of the proto-tycoon seems like relevant knowledge in today's society. In the industrial era, perhaps they didn't have so much prep time. Or maybe the steam engine would blow out, or the coal delivery would be late, or the machines would break down. Enough to prevent the feeling of prolonged concerted work.
tuesday, 25 january
Grr - in this morning, went to get myself some water, found my vessel missing. The first day I went to work at Gamers.com, I went to the EZStop deli, bought a wide mouthed, 2 litre bottle of water, and since that day I've been rinsing and refilling it from the water cooler. If I drink one or two of those a day, I know I'm hydrated. And I don't waste cups that way.
But this morning, it's gone from off my desk! Grrr! It had a Gamers's sticker on it too - clearly a keeper.
But as I figured, the world was at work in mysterious ways - you lose one thing for another thing, perhaps greater, always greater if you manage to look at it with enough hindsight.
In this case, today my monitor quest came to a dramatic climax. First, a little background:
Here at Gamers.com, every programmer and artistic person has a 19" monitor (Sony 420GS, primarily). Joel has one, Dennis has one, and PC Editor Terence has one somehow too (seniority, most likely). A few months ago, when a new shipment came and some of the Firing Squad editorial upgraded, I asked Joel if I could get a new monitor. I wasn't senior enough, and I didn't have a good reason.
Then a few weeks ago, Chris our MIS fixit guy came by my computer to help with my Quake settings. He noticed that I was running 1280x1024 - making everything smaller to fit maximum information onscreen. But at that resolution I could only run my monitor at 60hrz. The more hrz you can run (like 75 instead of 60) the more often the image on your screen refreshes: it looks better refreshing more often, and your eyes feel better.
So eventually between complaining of eye pain (only occasional, but still noticable) and wanting to layout the company newsletter on a larger screen, I got permission from Joel to get a monitor upgrade. Chris had Joel sign off, it was in the works for weeks.
Then today, the new shipment of monitors arrives. Chris and Sunny are dragging them by, installing them here and there. I go to ask if my monitor is a part of that shipment, and Chris pops back a reply "Yes, we have this new Sony 17 inch that does 1280x1024 at 75 hrz." Darn! Not 19 inches, foiled by his effective conservation of resources.
So Nat helps me drag one of them back to my desk, but before I commence installation I feel the urge to argumentation:
Justin: Hey Chris, I requested a monitor upgrade.Then Joel said "okay" a little bit overwhelmed perhaps by Chris and I stating our cases in his presence - Chris adds another layer to the negociations:
Chris: You got an upgrade.
Justin: I wanted 19 inches.
Chris: Well you'll have to get permission from Joel for that.
Justin: Joel approved the upgrade.
Chris: Well he said you could get a monitor upgrade, but not the 19 inch.
Justin: When I requested the upgrade, the only option available was the 19 inch. [strange corporate logic judo].
Chris: Well if Joel says you can have the 19 inch, then it's okay. [retaliatory judo logic backflip]
Justin: Joel already says it's okay. [rudimentary heel digging]
Chris: Let's ask him again now. [delay and delegate tactic]
Justin: Okay I'll find him and see what he says. [optimistic persistence]
Chris: We'll have to ask Lyle if there are any new dev people that need monitors.So I followed him into Lyle's office and they were very nice to me and let me have a bigger monitor (once it was established that I wouldn't really be upsetting any of the monitor pecking order/heirarchy).
It's wild to see the hoops you have to jump through to get special treatment around here. I guess it's mostly about persistence and believing in yourself (Amy likes to say "a sense of entitlement").
During a meeting today with Artistic people and Dev people here, six people and myself, I realized I was the most veteran employee there. Completely mindblowing - I've been here since August.
After arguing with enough people on some issues, I was invited into some higher level meetings today and yesterday - brainstorming ideas for improving the site. Fun stuff - great minds, fun meetings, stimulating conversation. I look around the table and I see everyone is a member of the "Internet Generation" - if we don't get too distracted we have the potential to really build something for ourselves to use.
Anyhow, I realized that being in meetings a lot changes your entire workday - meeting after meeting, talking to people, taking pages of notes, and only having 10 minutes here and there to sit at your computer. Is that to be preferred? It's probably better for one's wrists perhaps, although I did feel a bit worn out from writing (I was serving as secretary at times - a role my father played for corporations in his lifetime as well).
Yesterday, I installed Contact.com and today I installed HotLine and Odigo. I figure part of my job, at this company, in life, it's to play around with the internet, see what's going on out there and use that to inform my site suggestions.
I went to Howard's this weekend for the first time in a while. Back when I was unemployed, "freelance," I would hang out there regularly, once a week or two. Now it's once a month, maybe. Hanging out there is great - we walk, paint, sculpt, do yoga, meditate, drink, cook, and take a sauna together. All the while talking and shooting the shit. It's great fun!
And then today, we were trying to figure out how to share the ideas for new features with people inside the company, and I remembered that a while back Howard had told me about an article he was writing on "Knowledge Engineering" and it occured to me that we need is an internal knowledge engine of sorts. So hanging out with Howard is not only fun, but educational too!
friday, 21 january
I work as an editorial/community person for Gamers.com. Gamers.com is part of GX Media - we have another site Thresh's Firing Squad (computer hardware and software reviews), and we run a gaming web site network the GX Network, meaning that we run ad banners on fan sites and news sites for different games, and we split the profits with them.
So, after digesting that, Ying sends this along:
GXNetwork, which includes Gamers.com, FiringSquad, GX and our affiliates, is ranked #1 in the 1999 November Media Metrix report as the aggregate with the highest Male 12-17 composition among other networks!Males from 12-17. We've got access to many young minds.
GXNetwork is measured to have 22.7% of its readers from the Male 12-17 demographic group. IGN (the network), which is ranked 2nd, only has 17.9%. WWF, Game Fan, GameSpy and UGO respectively rank 3rd to 6th with compositions in the 14-15% range.
Binky (ICQ) Wrote:
wow, link on weather channel's site to "chat with weather fans"
thursday, 20 january
I finally hooked up my favourite breakfast from the wired era: yogurt with granola. I can just eat that all morning long, and with yogurt and Post Great Grains at my desk, I can!
Moving the old message boards from gamersx.com to gamers.com has added 1200 constant users to our site, and counting.
Carl and I are discussing office life, I'm taking a moment to reflect on workplace details:
monitor placement: screen placement is a big deal - is your back to a hallway so people coming back from the bathroom see that you've been looking at napster, or porn, or slashdot? Some guys here have angled their monitor and crowded it with personal effects to afford some privacy. The lucky ones, like Wilda, sit in the far back corner where management fear to tread anyhow.from GameDaily.com:
chat: AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ are the best conduits for non-work releted communication, because as long as you're typing, how do they know you're not working? AOL can cause trouble tho, because it pops up windows when people want to strike up communication. So if you're talking to your boss at your desk and "Did you score the green buds?" comes up on screen, it could be bad.
dual email: besides the obligatory Outlook Express (or Eudora, or Netscape in my case), people have a telnet window open to their home mail, or a HotMail or YahooMail browser window open to send and receive correspondence with people you knew before you got this job.
Ziff-Davis Publishing announced today that it has changed the name of its publication, PC Computing, to Smart Business for the New Economy. The newly named magazine will arrive in stores in May of 2000.It sound like a practical joke. so Gamers.com = "Good Games for Good Times" ?
wednesday, 19 january
Trish sends JapanKnees Engrish.
More fun web toys! Allan/Sven sent me this Conspiracy Generator hit reload after you receive your conspiracy to get more.
Today they delivered some vending machines, so the soda will no longer be free. The sodas will be sold at cost, and they got a vending machine for candy bars and stuff like that. At first I was indignant, they don't pay us too highly, and now they're making us pay to drink. But I drink mostly water (and that will still be free Alice promises), and Alice reports that we were spending $1000 a month on soda. So I guess I admie the company for trying to save money, so we have more money to hire more people to build a better site. I hope that's what they're doing - I've never seen the executive payroll. But at this point I'm not inclined to believe that the upper-echelon is making off like bandits while we got nuttin'. Everybody seems pretty hard working and toy purchasing here, regardless of role in the heirarchy, and financial solvency.
I've begun to realize that as I've transitioned out of straightforward PlayStation editing, I've lost having a clear task and a direct boss telling me what to do. Part of why I took this job is because I was spinning my wheels in circles being my own boss at home, now I've got to avoid that here. Either I gotta find a boss, or I gotta be good at being my own boss. Which means avoiding blaming the company for understimulating me, and finding ways to stimulate myself doing useful things for Gamers.com. I've never done that before! I'm starting to remember a lot of hours spent in my own world at former jobs. Here, keeping on track, it means doing interface mockups and building editorial tools because I want to and being unattached to whether they're used. Either that or persistently pestering the beseiged developers to implement my suggestions, which I've been officially dissuaded from by Joel. I like working at a small company because you can be direct in that way. I get more of what I want done. Now my ideas have to go through the art department before they go to the engineering department. It's not like I don't have other things to do, but to finish an idea and send it off to a committee confounds the my usual headlong rush production technique.
I really want to go to A National Conference to Explore the State of an Emerging Entertainment Medium! Thanks Sooz for pointing that out to me!
tuesday, 18 january
Last night I went home, Amy and I reheated some beans 'n greens and watched "The Thomas Crown Affair"
While at the office, Mikey's pads for Dance Dance Revolution were hooked up to the PlayStation and Joel and Dennis, amongst others, wore out their calves jumping up and down to match the patterns.
After lunch, Allan and Matt pour over 5 broken Commodore 64s while Kirk and Pat Dance Dance Revolution in their socks. It's a strange place, this office.
Hank sends me a pretty woman . com. He and Nat and I trade Russian Bride URLs between less important business.
The first Tae Bodup workout was tonight. An alternative to the miliary-style calesthenics (hup, two, three, four) - this had mindless techno music pumping constantly as me John Alice and organizer Angela bounced and punched to the beats. It was constant motion - a whole different kind of workout from the pushups and squats of yesterday. It's mostly the constant motion that really works you, that and the five different ways to crunch your abs that left me sobbing on the floor. If we keep this up, I will be in the best shape of my life in a matter of weeks. So far I've taken up every opportunity afforded here to workout. It's strange having a one stop company workplace/lunchplace/workoutplace, but the people are nice and challenging, and I certainly save money this way. I can even feel my scrawny body starting to tighten and harden. I did a yoga position that I'm normally afraid of - lifting myself, belly towards the sky, on my arms and legs, and I did it because I felt more muscled and that gave me confidence.
I spent most of today customizing something like mindex for Gamers.com internal use. People seemed to think it was useful, if they weren't overwhelmed by the number of links and searchboxes.
I applied to speak on a panel at SXSW Interactive Festival - I'm addressing Creating Community online with Misty West. That's nice - I had fun there last year and I met some nice folks. I look forward to thrusting myself forward as a witness to game culture and a mouthpiece for gamers.com. Now I have to get gamers.com to sign off on it (ie, buy my plane ticket).
monday, 17 january
Martin Luther King day. Even Maurice, our second African American employee, is here, art directing next to me. So that makes me feel less like we're a bunch of disrespectful heathens. Amy seemed to think we were, in part because she had to wake up before 1pm to drive me to work. (her web company has the day off).
Found two other gaming portals: gamezportal and gamesup. Neither encompasses the massive amount of stuff we have - 20,000 games, links, community, ratings, membership. Do people think we're cool? I'm feeling the vacuum here...
Terence sends two URLs about this mouse -
"Terence, what's your fascination with this chrome mouse?"Face to face conversation with Chris:
"Chris, What's the ETA on the VPN?Now our calesthenics classes (MWF) have been matched by a Cardio Kick Boxing class taught Tuesdays by Angela, our office manager. This is great! I gotta remember to cancel my membership at the Berkeley Y.
sunday, 16 january
I wrote a letter applying to speak at a conference, it summed up where my public mind is at:
I'd be honored and excited to attend - let me tell you what I'm working on.
I'm an editor full time at Gamers.com - a web site that's indexed 20,000 games ranging from darts and chess to PlayStation and Nintendo. So I'm immersed in games, and the online communities surrounding games. I interview a member of our community each of five days a week so I know about the demographics and use patterns of online gaming enthusiasts and moreover I'm doing research for the company into user contribution tools and overall community use of the site.
It seems that much of the web these days is merging videogames and information - the hyperactive gaming 15 year olds I talk to, and that our site is designed for, they are the power user audience of the future.
At the Digital Storytelling Festival late last year I presented a talk about the new Sega Dreamcast videogame console - it ships with a web browser built in, so for $200 people can use their TV and this game machine to get online and browse the net. I argued that videogamers coming online through their TVs have different expectations, and I talked about how the visual design of video games might begin to inform the visual design of web pages.
So anything along those lines is fresh on my mind - online community, youth and the web, video games, online gaming, you name it, let's go!
saturday, 15 january
If half of all advice is hearing yourself phrase your situation, then my Mom is my best career advisor. Of all the people in my life, she is the most in touch with the comings and goings of my work, the projects I'm working on at Gamers.com, my ambitions here, the people I work with, and my outside speaking gigs and other opportunities. We talk at least once a week or more often. She keeps track of my different priorities and advises me well while respecting my opinion. For all that I missed her as a child, she is very present and helpful in my life now. Thanks Ma.
In to work on a Saturday while Amy and friends go through Napa. I have a view from my desk past my monitor, through an open door, into Dennis's (CEO's) office, where Joel, John, Kenn and Lyle are feverishly debating some of the features of the site. Unfortunately, a vent working overtime to cool the server room obscures my hearing the nuances of the issues at hand - stuff about our priorities and direction as they are demarked by features on the site. I would like to be in there, if only because I like to argue and I care about the issues. I don't have the courage to step to the doorway and invite myself in - that would likely be foolhearty. But I'm also a little restless sitting around while these decisions are made in my presence without me.
I still have hours of transcribing a John Carmack interview ahead of me - on one hand I want to honor the process of typing this up, to keep in touch with the material, and on the other hand I think my skills and experience could be better used. I would like to better use them. grrr.
So I finally worked up my courage and want to the door and asked if I could listen in. Maybe it was bad timing or something, Lyle said, I'd rather you didn't, or something like that, and I said what I could hear over the ventilation system was tantalizing enough. And then heading back to my desk, rejected, I start to feel a little bit uppity, like if my job here is going to be to transcribe interviews, perhaps I should take my overweening Internet opinions elsewhere. But where else would I want to take them? So I guess I'll keep biding my time, and try to act more civilized or something.
I'm trying both to honor my sense of self-importance, and a reverence for the people and the system in which I work. If I'm all that smart and valuable, they would want me in those meetings, right? So maybe I haven't proven myself yet. Or maybe I wasn't there three years ago when the company started so they don't trust me yet. When I think about this, I get impatient. Why do I want to be in there so bad? Attraction to power? Curiosity? Entitlement?
And then I settle back down to my duties, and continue typing this interview, and I find John Carmack is speaking to me through this tape, he's telling me to focus on what's before me, and what I enjoy. I like working here, and I like communicating with people. So focus on that and try to pour some patient libations on my flaming ego.
joel helps a lot. He listens to me and tells me what's up. He's honest and straightfoward. I get the feeling he's on my side. Maybe he's on everybody's side. That's alright too, because every company needs someone like that.
Okay as illuminating and even comforting as John Carmack's focus was before, I'm now swimming in detail; I just found myself typing this sentence:
"But I did do an analysis of what the memory access patterns would be and everything; you could do a voxel ray-tracer in hardware with drastically less hardware than what we're actually using right now for all the triangle rasterizers and I think it could be a much more compelling visual representation in a lot of cases."
Holy Deep Geekery. At that point, we're like scribes for the wisdom of the savant sorcerer. As I'm typing up his musings on "necessary and sufficient rendering primitives" I find myself wondering who in the world could really argue with this guy? Who is mentally equipped and knowledgable in the right ways to challenge his authority and provoke deeper insights? Not I.
Funny, last night, watching Jay and Stephen, Amy's houseguests, all excited to play Bust-A-Groove, I found myself professionally tainted - I was thinking about sequels and framerates and competitors, upcoming platforms and developers, things of that nature. I found myself starting some brainy commentary, putting the game in context, and it was clear that this was not the right audience. So I shut up and sang along with the cheesy music, "Blah, la la, I am Kell-ley"
By 5.45pm, there are more people here than there were at 1pm. At first I'm suprised, but then I realized that people spend the daylight hours doing laundry, shopping, doing those things they can't do during the week, then when lifestyle stuff is out of the way, they return back here to watch more videos of people dancing in Dance Dance Revolution competitions and plug into their electronic lives on our new T1.
friday, 14 january
Pokemon is good television. we watched it with Zachary's pizza at lunch today. life is pretty good here, you know?
Today an enormous fellow, tall and wide, came in to interview as Wargames editor. He's an ex-cop and 20 year veteran of wargames - he once designed a map of little hexagons covering historically accurate Luxembourg to a 2.5 mile scale. I don't remember geeky enormous ex-cops interviewing for jobs at hotwired.
I spent all day working on this super-dense interview with Dogstar. He was fun to talk to.
I discovered that The Entire What's New on the Web - NCSA Archives is online. This was like my first tool for searching out weird links in the days of my Underground Links days. Strange reading the first flashes of online journalism that I haven't seen in 6 years, exactly the same words glowing out at me from another screen thousands of miles and three VC backed companies later.
thursday, 13 january
I notice many new cars in the parking lot, mostly Jettas, a Mustang. I began wondering how I could afford a $15-$20k car, and how my coworkers could. I realize they all have leases. I decide I don't want to be an American debt slave. I realize that my legs are severely cramped in my tiny aging Japanese tin can. I am perplexed. I consider becoming an American debt slave.
Now Hank is showing videos (from Kirk and Mikey)
videos of people playing competative Dance Dance Revolution. In this game, directional arrows fly up towards the top of the screen and you've got to hit one of four buttons accordingly to match each arrow. There's a pad with four directions on it, on the floor in front of the game, and to a soundtrack, you dance on these pads to match these arrows.
So now it's 6.45pm and there are six or seven people watching downloaded movies of Korean TV showing young guys in baggy jeans dancing intricate patterns on plastic pads up on stages. Sometimes there's two of them dancing in time, like synchronized swimming, except it's video games.
wednesday, 12 january
More Air Force calesthenics today. Rik is breaking us. Monkey Squats, Butterfly Kicks, Cherry Pickers, Windmills, Diamond Pushups. 8 Count Body Builds. Hurt my quads deeply. We count them armed services style, 1-2-3-1, 1-2-3-2, etc - it's a big military cover up. He says "let's do a ten count" and we're doing twenty pushups.
Speaking of quads - I'm both excited by the fact that I've gone out each of the last two nights to verifiable social events (a night with April and her Joe) and now Joolee's bday. But I'm missing late night office violence! Tonight is the Soldier of Fortune multiplayer beta square off. I forgot how much fun those FiringSquad guys have cussing and fighting!
tuesday, 11 january
people are being hired like nuts. Mostly young men, but with interesting hairstyles - one with two prehensile-style pigtails and another with a turban.
maybe it has something to do with the $3000 promised if you get a programmer hired for the company. I even sent out a few notes to people, but I was doing it before the money was promised - I think some people would be happier working here. It's like a party, right, so you want to stack it with your friends.
otherwise Nat returned from Ireland. There's a lot of birthday's around this time, Good to remember the The Cake Gallery.
I'm studying how people interact with websites - working as a sort of in-house researcher a little bit, trying to make a place for myself in the feature specification department. I'm too restless and nosy to remain content in just editorial - I want to know what's up all over the site. If you're not a department head or a really rich guy, you gotta ask a lot of questions and put a lot of time in at the office. Still not too sure what my job is, but I'm keeping myself entertained.
Between Howard, Don, Kathleen, Wayne, Brian, Jon, Carl - there's so many people to have lunch with. Unfortunately a lunch trip from my offices here in Richmond is a full half day idea so I feel more socially isolated that I have before working here - now I'm not just in a separate and distinct tribe, I'm a fuckin' eskimo. Come out to the artic to hang out some time - it's on your way to the North Pole.
But actually my commute is like 15 miles, and takes about 20 minutes, as long as I leave after 9.30am and after 6.30pm. This morning I cooked a chicken soup from Sunday's carcass and listened to Fresh Air - Terri Gross is a wonderful interviewer to listen to, especially when Hurricane is giving her a hard time.
Since I have Windows 2000 I can log into my work computer from home, and that's nice. But also, my office network administrator Ozy logs in and changes my IE startup screen and reconfigures my stuff. Hah hah welcome to the networked future.
monday 10 january
First of our corporate calesthenics programs today. Air Force Ordnance Disposal Expert Reservist Rik lead us in a 25 minute session of armed services exercises. He likes pushups, we did diamonds, wide hands.
friday 7 january
Kirk has officially shortened his usual "wtf" (what the fuck) in icq to "wt" for "what the"
we rented a bunch of chairs and I took a moment today to distribute a few around editorial so that people are more likely to find themselves sitting together and being neighborly.
thursday 6 January
Another commerce loophole frenzy here.
10 minutes after 6pm, the sounds of shooting violent mayhem and hearty chortling.
I switched to an even larger desk today - to sustain my PlayStation, old stereo, small TV, books, magazines, newspapers, Lions club pen holder (from Grampa), computer, and piles of CDs. It's an "executive size" and hah hah it seems like some backhanded way of climbing the corporate ladder.
wednesday 5 January
nice to come back here, I love joshing around with these people. Everyone ribs the new rules, the socks and the like.
ThumP sends around a bandwidth speed test and we come up at 14.2 kbps, 1.8 bytes/sec. Until we get our T1 next week, we have strung together 8 modems for 30 people. That means we get about a 2400 baud modem apiece.
Hong Kong has crazy PlayStation stuff cheap, thanks Mikey. Now-Taboo business-day adventures in ecommerce.
I'm transcribing parts of my interview with Bob and John Carmack. Oy! What a lot of work. I remember paying Becky to type up 39 pages of yammering with Dr. Robert E. Markison for Electric Minds - my second column that never was because the transcript was something even Spoon didn't want to touch. I think this one is shorter, and Carmack is entertaining, when he's not deep into a PC graphics hardware driver engine tangent.
"JimmyShot" - John invented a spectator sport involving Vortex rubber band guns. Facing each other fifty feet apart, two players shoot at each other's groins. If they miss, the player takes a step closer. From great distances, it's nearly impossible, and the players grow closer, the possibility for a stinging shot to the nuts grows, as does the crowd's enthusiasm for the game. John boasts of it's crowd pleasing abilities. John and Allan begin playing it as the cleaning staff is attending to the trash cans. It's 8.30pm, safe time for hijinks. When I leave the building, John, Matt and Hank are coasting around the parking lot on roller blades.tuesday, 4 january
I come back after being away too long, and I'm reading office mail from home before returning to new year's new work tomorrow. Dennis is gearing us up for another pre-launch type of intensity and attitude. Accordingly, these new rules go into effect:General:
No scooters/bikes/skateboards/etc. in office
No defacing office/others property (including stickers, labels, etc.)
Shut off monitors and personal equipment when not in use (save electricity)
Proper attire - socks, shirt, pants, etc. (no barefoot, sandals w/ socks are okay)
Keep your area clean
No vacation days unless approved two weeks in advance by manager (actual vacation accruement guidelines will be posted shortly.)
No pets without supervisor's approval
No watching DVDs/movies/music videos while at work
No shooting toy guns/projectiles/etc.
No RC cars (esp. hamsters on RC cars)
No recreational gaming before 6pm or when it distracts others from working
No excessive non-work related internet usage (shopping, browsing, irc, etc.)
No loud music (use close-ended headphones)
If people can't deface property and ride around on scooters shooting projectiles to loud music, why go into the office? I might as well stay home and work on my DSL - (thanks to dslnetworks).
(anyone reading the past few months worth of notes will stand reminded that much of my joy working at gamers.com has stemmed in large part from watching my coworkers breaking just about all of these rules on a daily basis).
I was on my flight from Boston to SFo today talking with a young woman who works for another internet company. It seems that as companies become more professional, they lose the direct honesty in corporate communication, and of course some of the ribald fun of the breakneck early days. Of course few truly fun companies go public - most companies that go public have a "no bare feet" policy.
but jeezus - as long as we do our jobs, can't we be those wacky innovative fun creative young gamers? Maybe some vulture capitalists came in during the holidays and noticed the britney spears doll in a compromising position with a stuffed hamster and told dennis to get his 22 year old CEO act together. Maybe he's jealous that he has to spend all day making decisions for his Dilberts while they cavort in a barely post-hormonal playland. Maybe we haven't been getting our work done and some people thought Patton was right for slapping that wanna-be-deserter.
It's a sad note for the New Years. I was invited to speak again in Sweden, which reminds me that I can make money outside of having this job and with the new extended commute to the new office, I'm feeling curmudgeonly about commuting to a place where my workdays are comprised of silent toil in the midst of restrained young men. The whole point of working there is the culture and the people - and it looks like we are to keep culture and people to a minimum, at least before 6pm. But I'm kinda burnt out on 5 days a week of staying until 9pm, there's actually some books I want to read and some dinners I want to cook with my girl. So either I become a rule-breaker and fuck around with my workmates during the day or I become a clockpuncher or a telecommuter and miss out on the late night fun. Or maybe there won't be any fun and we'll be rich. yee-hah.
or maybe I should just keep my head down and work on and remember that people always find a way to make joy in the midst of oppression and especially the wily gamers. And siding with the "it used to be fun here" naysayers is ignoring the bold path of progress that requires seriousness and sacrifice in order to accomplish something so noble as building the world's greatest gaming portal. excuse me while I kiss this guy.