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Apple CEO Tim Cook seen at Valve HQ, sending rumor mill spinning

The Apple head is rumored to have had a meeting at the gaming company, which recently posted a job opening for some hardware people. Hmm...

Tim Cook reportedly visits Valve headquarters in Washington state the same week that the gaming company posted a help wanted ad for someone with serious hardware skills? Holy conjecture, Batman!

Reports that Tim Cook was seen at Valve HQ have yet to be confirmed, even though they're flying all around the inform-ether today. What's definitely true, though, is that Valve is looking for a couple of hardware geeks for an unknown project, as the job description itself indicates:

For years, Valve has been all about writing software that provides great gameplay experiences. Now we're developing hardware to enhance those experiences, and you can be a key part of making that happen...We're not talking about me-too mice and gamepads here -- help us invent whole new gaming experiences.

So the head of the world's most famous hardware maker visited a popular gaming software maker that's got a secret hardware project in the works. Hmm.... There's a few ways to deal with the rumor mill that springs up around these kinds of things: 1) ignore it all -- deals fall through all the time, projects get shelved, it's tough to know what's really going on until it's arrived, 2) get ahead of it, and then turn it up to 11, get really crazy with the speculation.

The first option is safer, but the second option is more fun. Since it's a Saturday, let's go for Option 2. I'll lay out some of the guesses I've seen that seem to be the most educated and advance some insane theories of my own that are part fact, part fantasy.

First up, Cult of Mac says the whispers it listens to are telling it the long-awaited Apple television will include a gaming console similar to a Microsoft Kinect that relies heavily on motion and voice-recognition technology. Could Apple partner with Steam to develop that part of the platform? Perhaps.

Then there's the case of the Valve employee's blog that mentions R&D the company is engaging in around "wearable computing." Forbes speculates this could mean that Tim Cook wanted to talk to some of the folks about a possible fall line that could compete with Google's recently confirmed "Project Glass" eyewear with the heads-up display. Seems as good a guess as any -- except for that last one, I think I like the Apple gaming platform better.

But we could certainly get a little more crazy with the theories. Why bother working with a company that you've gotta go all the way through Oregon to get to when you've got enough money to buy the whole outfit and have it shipped back to Cupertino? Or perhaps, given Steam head Gabe Newell's past disdain for Apple, his people finally scheduled an arm-wrestling match with Cook, and because Cook did a trillion reps on the stress balls while working under Steve Jobs, he's totally ripped in the forearm area and easily bested Newell to win himself a gaming company.

Then again, maybe we'll soon be seeing a whole new line of games on Steam exclusively designed for the iPad. Or maybe not.

Whatever the conversation was that took place in the Evergreen State yesterday, two things are for sure: 1) nobody writing about it in the inform-ether was in the room, and 2) I'm going to keep using the phrase inform-ether until it's in a dictionary somewhere.