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Ballpits as office furniture
January 16, 2008 2:09 PM   Subscribe

The Last.fm guys really wanted a ballpit, inspired by the xkcd blog. Pictures.
posted by nthdegx (33 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
On one hand, I think this is really cool. On the other hand, I think it's going to be easy to buy ball pit balls cheap on ebay in a few years.
posted by drezdn at 2:34 PM on January 16, 2008


Now we know why their customer support is so terrible. They're all goofing off in the ball pit.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:40 PM on January 16, 2008


I'd prefer the guys on Last.fm work on simplifying their UI design so it makes some sense.
posted by srboisvert at 2:41 PM on January 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's awesome, I love the shot of someone somersaulting into it.
posted by mathowie at 2:42 PM on January 16, 2008


Ball pit pit bulls?

Ball pit pulpit?

Papal Bull from the Ball Pit - that's it!


Now I'm 337 tired.
posted by mmrtnt at 2:43 PM on January 16, 2008


Something about seeing such unrestrained joy really makes me feel warm and mushy. It reminded me of a story I would like to tell.

Professional athletes get to jump and holler and cry and hug each other when they win, but poor stodgy regular office workers never do. Microsoft once had a series of ads showing office-types celebrating wildly in super-slow motion, and it was kind of charming, but also a little off because it looked so stupid. Who would ever jump up and down upon completion of a software deployment? But is that a function of corporate culture and what it means to be grown up, or is it simply that software deployments lack the tension and excitement of a sporting event?

So anyway, when I was working at Honeywell I saw a video about the development of the Joint Strike Fighter. Two test planes were commissioned and built, one from Boeing and one from Lockheed Martin. The two radically different designs competed head to head in a dramatic series of test flights over the course of a month. The winner would win the lucrative contract to develop the JSF. The loser gets nothing.

The two test programs were analyzed exhaustively, with the results sent to an evaluation team with company names removed to make it a fair evaluation. Finally, the moment of truth came. The camera cuts between a spokesman making an announcement, a Boeing exec sitting nervously at his desk, and a team of Lockheed engineers standing nervously on a factory floor. The announcement comes:
"Both test programs were very good...
... cost effectiveness, both very good...
... overall performance, both, very good ... " (pregnant pause)
"... but on the basis of the overall evaluation, it is the recommendation of this committee that Lockheed Martin be awarded --"

and pandemonium breaks out on the factory floor. Lockheed engineers wearing their slacks and button-down shirts are throwing clipboards in the air, leaping and hugging each other, and even crying. They just won the superbowl. What a moment. They'll probably remember it for the rest of their lives. Just like I remember winning the city softball championship when I was 13. And I bet the last.fm people will remember the ball pit, too.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:44 PM on January 16, 2008 [15 favorites]


Sooo -- No-Beverages rule in the ball pit then? Because clean-up would not be fun.
posted by Shotgun Shakespeare at 2:45 PM on January 16, 2008


Yeah, this is another nail in the coffin which is my despisement of last.fm's developers. They took a wonderfuly simple product, and have made it less and less useful with every change.
It used to scrobble internet radio tracks just fine, but they disabled that, because they want you to only use their radio system.
It used to scrobble tracks you played off of network drives, but not anymore. They used to have a working plugin for itunes, but they replaced it with one that crashed itunes, then just gave up and said they weren't going to bother with itunes. Don't get me wrong, I hate itunes too, but it's insanely popular, and not that hard to write plugins for....what's hard is figuring out how you can force people to see your ads, if you don't force them to use a craptastic piece of junk.
posted by nomisxid at 2:46 PM on January 16, 2008


Matt, we need to have a talk about our HQ facilities.
posted by cortex at 2:47 PM on January 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ah web 2.0, just like web 1 but with balls!
posted by gwildar at 2:48 PM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


This ought to greatly reduce the spread of respiratory and intestinal viruses at LastFM.
posted by docpops at 2:51 PM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eeeennnnnnnnvvvvvvvvvvvvyyyyyy...
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:54 PM on January 16, 2008


I've always wanted to do this. Well, this or packing popcorn, a big fan and a strobe light.

They used to have a working plugin for itunes, but they replaced it with one that crashed itunes, then just gave up and said they weren't going to bother with itunes

And yet I've been using it with iTunes-- 30,577 tracks and counting.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:55 PM on January 16, 2008


The CEO of my former company did this to his entire office in 2000. Where every single ball was printed with the company logo. He also dutched his office door about 1/3rd of the way down, so that the balls would not escape.

I remember walking past one morning at 10 AM and seeing the CEO, CTO, a couple of directors and two clients up to their chests in balls while going through a presentation.
posted by xthlc at 3:09 PM on January 16, 2008 [10 favorites]


The best thing about this story was that it introduced me to Euro-Matic, one of the largest manufacturers of hollow plastic balls, and their parent company Weener Plastics. I never knew there were so many things you could do with hollow plastic balls!
posted by grouse at 3:19 PM on January 16, 2008


Christ, forget about xkcd's ball pit. He solved Ghost!
warning: if you ever want to play Ghost (the word game where you take turns spelling words one letter at a time) again, don't read that article.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:19 PM on January 16, 2008


eyeballkid, not to hijack this into my own tech support thread, but how? Are you on a mac?
posted by nomisxid at 3:36 PM on January 16, 2008


oh wait, nvm, it's mp3tunes.com that wrote the itunes crashing plugin, it was the refusing-to-scrobble tracks from a network drive bug that made me give up last.fm, and that was a windows media player plugin issue. d'oh.
posted by nomisxid at 3:39 PM on January 16, 2008


RIGHT THEN. Trying this another goddamned time, THIS time in the right post:

This is the greatest thing I have ever seen (today). Sadly, I do not suspect this will at all help me convince my girlfriend that we TOTALLY NEED ONE.
posted by Stunt at 3:40 PM on January 16, 2008


Microsoft once had a series of ads showing office-types celebrating wildly in super-slow motion, and it was kind of charming, but also a little off because it looked so stupid.

My sis did some contract work for Microsoft, and one day there was this huge ruckus outside, so she looks out her window. They had just finished some major project, so they brought out all the office chairs, the ones with wheels on the bottoms, and were having chair races up and down the street.

[Not MICROSOFTIST. I am all about the Mac.]
posted by misha at 3:42 PM on January 16, 2008


cortex: Matt, we need to have a talk about our HQ facilities.

I understood that the cafeteria at One MetaFilter Plaza served a mean plate of beans; what more would you want?
posted by hangashore at 3:42 PM on January 16, 2008


Some beans with tenderness in their hearts, mostly.
posted by cortex at 3:43 PM on January 16, 2008


The best thing about this story was that it introduced me to Euro-Matic, one of the largest manufacturers of hollow plastic balls, and their parent company Weener Plastics. I never knew there were so many things you could do with hollow plastic balls!

"With a name like Weener, we've gotta know balls!"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:11 PM on January 16, 2008


I was actually talking about this xkcd strip with a friend last night. She works at Google. I swear to god this conversation was true:

Me: So I suppose you guys have tried this, right?
Her: Yeah, a lot of Google people read xkcd.
Me: So you've built the ball pit in a cubicle?
Her: Well, we already have one.
Me: (pause)
Me: You already have a ball pit.
Her: yeah.
Me: (pause)
Me: you fuckers are spoiled rotten. You know that, right?
Her: (pause)
Her: yeah.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:15 PM on January 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


Thanks for the pictures of the cute nerdy guys!

Ballpits are overrated. My kids seem to think so at least.
posted by artifarce at 4:26 PM on January 16, 2008


And the comments on the last.fm page are just awesome. And slightly creepy.
posted by artifarce at 4:34 PM on January 16, 2008


How does this relate to Ron Paul?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:34 PM on January 16, 2008


posted by Pope Guilty How does this relate to Ron Paul?

Ron Paul would write an essay accusing the green balls of being responsible for more crime and violence in the pit, and then he'd deny writing it, and then he'd insist that ball pits are unconstitutional and that every state should have its own ball.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:27 PM on January 16, 2008


[Not MICROSOFTIST. I am all about the Mac.]

Hate on their products and anti-competitive practices all you want (and I've done my share), but all indications are that MS is one hella good company to work for. My wife has a friend who works for them who has a very young autistic child. Their doctor recommended therapy for the boy to help him become a more responsive and normal kid. This therapy would cost five figures a year (I recall it being at least $20,000 a year, but don't hold me to that).

MS's corporate health insurance? Covered it. Standard policy. Their out-of-pocket was a bare fraction of the total cost. Still a few grand, but nothing like the full cost. And their child is becoming a much more interactive, responsive, and well-adjusted kid as a result.

If it weren't for my lack of coding chops (curse you, laziness) and desire to be near family, I'd be trying like hell to go work for them. Or Apple or Google, but of course they've got a bit more hipster geek cred than MS, so everyone wants to go there.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:37 PM on January 16, 2008


I once filled my dorm room with three feet of fresh autumn leaves. PROTIP: unlike balls, leaves quickly turn into a dry, fine dust which you will hack out every morning from your sinuses and upper bronchi in a brownish pancake of mucus.
posted by monocyte at 10:00 PM on January 16, 2008


"I remember walking past one morning at 10 AM and seeing the CEO, CTO, a couple of directors and two clients up to their chests in balls while going through a presentation."

How long before they were out of business? ;-) That fits right in with the now-defunct "spend it while you've got it" mentality of 1999.
posted by drstein at 6:36 AM on January 17, 2008


Very cool. Best quote:
"It’s been decided, in future, all interviews will be held in the ballpit."
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:46 AM on January 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Re: Microsoft; I think a lot of "un hip" companies compensate by being particularly good to their employees in other ways. I know some folks who work at IBM because of the really excellent family health benefits (one of them also has an autistic child).

A lot of small companies are started by young people who don't make extensive use of their health plans and to whom one plan is basically as good as another; I've watched a lot of companies whose founders have gotten older change their benefits/cash-compensation ratio dramatically. In the beginning it's all cash and stock coupled with the cheapest health plan available; then suddenly it'll change to being all about fully-funded dependent healthcare and retirement plans.

Oh, and the ball pit story was pretty cool (I'm neither here nor there on ball pits in general); every once in a while it's fun to just go all-out on a project for the hell of it. I admit to occasionally pulling an all-nighter on some personal project just because I like knowing that I can.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:09 AM on January 17, 2008


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