Our new football table and how we got it

Monday, 21 May 2012
by sven
filed under Lunch Table
Comments: 14

We work hard at Last.fm to give you and millions of users the services you have learned to love and to come up with new ideas. To keep the spirit high it’s sometimes helpful to break out of the zone for a moment, get some distance between you and the problem you try to crack, have a short break and then come back to your desk with fresh ideas. Many of us at Last.fm like to enjoy a game of table football to fill those moments.

Now our football table has seen better times. The pitch is anything but level, and the last time we moved it to a new place we almost broke it. Twice. So it was time for something different.

Back in April three of us (DavW, marekventur and I) took part in the London Realtime hack day. We managed to impress the jury with YouChoose, a collaborative YouTube playlisting web site. We won a prize and walked away with a brand new iPad… between the three of us.

Rather than complain we sold the iPad to another member of staff and decided to put it towards a new football table. I added my half of the Spotify award of last year’s London Music Hackday to the stock, but it still wasn’t quite enough for a good table.

It would be a shamelessly hubristic act to believe that we would keep winning prizes, but we gave it a try. Two weeks after London Realtime we went to the Buckinghamshire countryside and took part at Game Hack. The three of us were joined by tdhooper. Within 24 hours of hacking and very little sleep, we created a little browser game and we won the prize for the best HTML5 browser game, awarded by Mozilla and Turbulenz.

That gave us a good budget for a shiny new table, funded solely with money we won at hackdays.

And now it is here. We ordered it from Kicker Klaus, a German mail order shop that specialises in all things table football. The Vector III weighs 125kg and we got it in Last.fm red, with red and black players, just as you would expect. I would like to tell you more about it, but I have been challenged to a game, and then it’s back to work: the database doesn’t code itself.


  1. RJ
    21 May, 10:41

    Sven: I’ll be round to challenge you later this week :)

    RJ – 21 May, 10:41
  2. cms
    21 May, 11:18

    the database does code itself, more often than you’d suppose.

    cms – 21 May, 11:18
  3. Closedmouth
    21 May, 11:26

    It’s called foosball, foo’s

    Closedmouth – 21 May, 11:26
  4. afonso
    21 May, 11:39

    What are you doing with the old table?

    afonso – 21 May, 11:39
  5. workbench1.3
    21 May, 11:52

    I notice it’s not a Bonzini style table… shame.

    workbench1.3 – 21 May, 11:52
  6. Zach Millman
    21 May, 16:51

    Do you guys also keep track of in-office rankings? (I suspect that’s what the computer in the background is for)

    I wrote a little web app for that purpose recently, which has been surprisingly effective at increasing the amount of foosball played (800 games!) and decreasing productivity. But, hey, You really can’t put a price on competitive spirit.

    Shameless plug: It’s open source too

    Zach Millman – 21 May, 16:51
  7. Gilda Maurice
    21 May, 17:02

    @Zach: oh, we do, we do. It’s ELO-based and the results are displayed in a lovely pyramid shape when you query the interface :-)

    Gilda Maurice – 21 May, 17:02
  8. Zach Millman
    21 May, 17:47

    @Gilda: good, good.

    How do you guys handle scoring of doubles matches with players of different skills on the same team? I thought ELO was only good for singles or teams with a static roster

    Zach Millman – 21 May, 17:47
  9. Marek
    22 May, 11:38

    @Zach: You can find our version here: https://github.com/hackfm/Foos.fm

    Regarding doubles: Theoretically we can score them (have a look at the “FoosTeam” class), but most of the time we choose not to because some of us are not convinced that’s a good idea to mix those two types.

    Marek – 22 May, 11:38
  10. snyde
    24 May, 03:17

    Cool foosball table. Congratulations for “winning” it.

    Electric Light Orchestra scores matches?

    snyde – 24 May, 03:17
  11. Gilda Maurice
    24 May, 17:07

    It’s a little-know fact that Jeff Lynne was one of Birmingham’s premier table football champions during the late Fifties and early Sixties. He was frustrated however by the lack of a reliable, workable scoring standard, and in 1955 he set about designing the ELO rating system, named after his cat.
    Arpad Elo, on a visit to a Birmingham community centre where the sport was being played, heard about the cat and the rating system, and promptly set about stealing the rating’s basic idea. This was unknown to Lynne who by that time was already on his way to musical stardom and had anyway abandoned the development of the system after facing crushing indifference from the Table Football Association. In the end Arpad Elo took all the mathematical glory, and Lynne went on to lead Electric Light Orchestra, so it all worked out ok really.
    So, snyde, to answer you: yes.

    Gilda Maurice – 24 May, 17:07
  12. asdfghjkl;
    26 May, 14:34

    the Last.fm website SUCKS ASS.

    asdfghjkl; – 26 May, 14:34
  13. Ken Kennedy
    29 May, 04:48

    Huzzah. I’d love to hear more about your “coding of databases”, since that stuff ain’t nearly as trivial as tweaking a webservice is (as I’m sure you’re aware). I totally dig you guys OpDev orientation, but the more info about real DDL changes you share, the more I’d be happy (I’m working with a lot of developers that don’t have really good notions of how to that that!) Nevertheless, love the info! Thanks.

    Ken Kennedy – 29 May, 04:48
  14. Sewa Mobil
    29 May, 05:24

    Yeah, euro cup

    Sewa Mobil – 29 May, 05:24

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