Why Valve is not a publicly traded company

Valve is a very successful company. They make more money per employee than Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

Gabe says being privately owned is a huge part of what makes Valve so successful:

There’s the customer… the person that you’re trying to make happy. From the time that you make a change in a product, it’s fifteen minutes – worst case – before a customer is actually using that. There’s no approval process…

You don’t go to board meetings where the board argues about what the third series of venture capitalists are worried about, dilution and hitting certain targets…

The whole point of being a privately held company is to eliminate another source of noise in the signal between the consumers and producers of a good.

See the full quote here: http://youtu.be/Td_PGkfIdIQ?t=14m51s

The whole talk (http://youtu.be/Td_PGkfIdIQ) this is from is extremely eye-opening. Must-watch for anyone even slightly interested in gaming – or technology, or business, at all – in the 21st century.

Bioshock 2 – xPadder profile – for xbox 360 controller

Edit: Most people won’t need this anymore, as Bioshock 2 now finally includes native controller support! Steam versions of the game should already be updated. Existing versions also include Minerva’s Den free!



xPadder allows you to use controllers with games that only support keyboard and mouse. You can share profiles for games and controller.

Here’s the best one I’ve found for Bioshock 2, with some minor improvements:


(NOTE: This is just a .xpadderprofile with a dummy extension to get around some silly upload restrictions. Remove the .docx extension from this file and open it in xpadder to use it.)

This will work with Bioshock 2’s default key bindings, so no fiddling needed.

It improves on one I found online, it’s about as good, and intuitive, as possible.

Your safety line

Let’s say you get a job washing windows on skyscrapers. During training you’re shown your safety line, a new type of super-strong wire that attaches your personal harness to a hook far above you… but looks exactly like a single human hair.

It’s going to be the only thing between you and falling hundreds of feet to your death.

Despite your trainer seeming trustworthy, and other employees assuring you it’s safe, you doubt. The stakes are too high, and the appearance of the wire too uncertain, for you to believe completely enough to trust the safety line. Your life is on the line (literally) and you’ve never seen something so thin that was that strong. At this point, you can choose to disbelieve the trainer, and walk out. But if you do want this job, listening to others isn’t enough. You have to try it out.

First you pull as hard as you can on the wire. Surprised at it’s strength, you gain confidence to tether yourself to practice hooks only a few feet from the ground. When that holds, you try throwing your whole weight on it, jumping around, hooking it to higher hooks.

After a day of this, you realise the wire is exactly as strong as you were told, and you try it from a skyscraper 200 feet up. Your mind still fears, but the evidence seen so far helps you choose to do what you want to anyway. After a month on the job, you trust your life to that wire without hesitation.

Your friends may be shocked when you describe your safety line to them, but you can’t doubt it’s strength anymore. You have too much evidence.

This is how faith in God works. If you accept the possibility that scripture is true, and try out what it tells you, you gain confidence in it.

The seed analogy in Alma 32:26-43 explains it well.

Like any principle of the gospel, there’s nothing magical or mysterious about faith. It’s just understanding how fickle the human mind is about accepting some facts and building your confidence in the truth of something by testing it out over and over.

Brandon Sanderson – First Australian Book Tour

Mark your calendars: Brandon Sanderson is coming to Australia for the first time in April 2012 to attend some conventions and do some book signings! No word yet on whether he’ll make it to Sydney.

Details so far (check his calendar for updates between now and then):

Doom-Con, Swancon 37, Perth, Australia

Date: 05.04.12 Time: 3:00 pm-7:00 pm
Place: Doom-Con, Swancon 37
Address: TBD, Perth, Australia
Type: Convention

schedule: April 5–9, 2012 (Easter weekend)

Notes: Brandon is International Guest of Honor.

Supanova Melbourne 2012, Australia

Date: 13.04.12 Time: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Place: Supanova Melbourne 2012
Address: Melbourne Showgrounds
Epsom Road
Ascot Vale
Victoria 3032 Australia
Type: Convention

schedule: April 13–15, 2012

Supanova Gold Coast 2012, Australia

Date: 20.04.12 Time: 11:00 am-5:00 pm
Place: Supanova Gold Coast 2012
Address: Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre
2684 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach
QLD 4218, Australia
Type: Convention

Paternity leave

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while, just had a baby!

Booktopia free shipping code

Booktopia has another free shipping deal, enter the code SMILE (expires midnight Sunday 20th March, 2011 AEST). Don’t forget to compare prices with Booko.

Life is too short; don’t waste your commute

I’m always amazed at the amount of people who are doing absolutely nothing on the train.

Occasionally you’ll see an ipod or a laptop playing movies – maybe even a book – but an astounding number of people spend an hour or two on a train every day staring into space.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s healthy to sit and do nothing occasionally. Just not for an hour or two every day.

I recently ran into a person who actually reads MX (a catalogue of ads with second-hand gossip about reality TV, mostly copy-pasted from Twitter, that pretends to be a newspaper, and is handed out for free in the afternoon at some major train stations here in Sydney). I’ve seen these creatures of course, there are lots of them, but I’ve never tried to actually talk to one. When I asked them why on earth they did it, they said “it helps pass the time” as if there was nothing else to do.

How can so many people never once consider what to do with the hours they spend on the train each week?

There are loads of worthwhile things you can do on a train. Here are a couple of suggestions, if you or anyone you know needs them:


Don’t have any good books? Rubbish. Your local library (yes they’re still around!) is full of them. Don’t know which ones to read? Google “top ten” “all time” and the name of your favourite genre. Here are a couple of my own suggestions:

Non-fiction: A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

Fantasy: The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

Modern “literature”: Life of Pi – Yann Martel

Don’t want to buy/borrow/carry a real book? Your phone can display ebooks. Even if you don’t have a smartphone, your phone has (or can have, if you install it) a usable e-reader (as long as it’s less than 5 years old):

iPhone: eReader

Android: Aldiko

Any phone that can view text or html files or run Java games/apps: ManyBooks

Many of the best novels ever written in (or translated into) the English language are old enough that copyright has expired, and you can legitimately read them for free. I’d recommed the following authors (I tried reading them years ago in school, but find I understand and enjoy them much more as an adult):

Charles Dickens (Great Expectations, David Copperfield, etc)

H. G. Wells (The War of the Worlds, etc)

Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Christo, The Three Musketeers, etc)

calling old friends

… you never see these days (or otherwise only see on facebook!). They might be sitting on a train doing nothing too!

studying something

Find something you like. It’s healthy for your brain, and the knowledge is usually useful. I’m currently studying for a technical certification for work. (In fact, my boss has agreed to pay for my study time for this qualification, as he needs certified staff for licensing purposes – maybe your boss would be interested in something like this?).


I write original fiction on the train, on my laptop (when I’m not being paid to study). Good fun, and the distractions an amateur writer faces at home don’t interrupt me on  the train.


… and that’s just the most useful stuff – if you have the right gadgets (mostly just a phone less than 5 years old), you could also: watch movies and/or TV; listen to music (with headphones of course!); play video games; surf the web; the list goes on.

All can be done on the train.

All are much better than doing nothing.

(And honestly, even doing nothing is probably better than reading MX).