TITLE: Google Impressions AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: May 31, 2008 1:21 AM DESC: ----- BODY: I have already mentioned a couple of my first impressions of being a guest on the Google campus: Here are a few other things I noticed. Calling it the "Google campus" is just right. It looks and feels like a college campus. Dining service, gym facilities, a small goodies store, laundry, sand volleyball courts... and lots of employees who look college-aged because they recently were. Everywhere we walked outdoors, we saw numerous blue bicycles. They are free for the use of employees, presumably to move between buildings. But there appeared to be bike trails across the road where the bikes could be used for recreation, too. The quad area between Buildings 40 and 43 had a dinosaur skeleton with pink flamingos in its mouth. Either someone forgot to tell the dinosaur "don't be evil", or the dinosaur has volunteered to serve as aviary for kitsch. The same area included a neat little vegetable garden. How's that for eating local? (Maybe the dinosaur just wanted to fit in.) As we entered Building 43 for breakfast, we were greeted with a rolling display of search terms that Google was processing, presumably in real time. I wondered if we were seeing a filtered list, but we did see a "paris hilton" in there somewhere. The dining rooms served Google-branded ice cream sandwiches, IT's IT, "a San Francisco tradition since 1928". In typical Google fashion, the tasty treat (I verified its tastiness empirically with a trial of size N=2) has been improved, into "a natural, locally sourced, trans-fat-free rendition of their excellent treat". So there. I don't usually comment on my experience in the restroom, but... The men's rooms at Google do more than simply provide relief; they also provide opportunities for professional development. Testing on the Toilet consists of flyers over the urinal with stories and questions about software testing. (But what's a "C.L.", as in "one conceptual change per C.L."?) I cannot confirm that female engineers at Google have the same opportunities to learn while taking the requisite breaks from their work. I earlier commented that we visitors had to stay within sight of a Google employee. After a few more hours on campus, it became clear that security is a major industry at Google. Security guards were everywhere. My fellow guests and I couldn't decide whether they were guarding against intellectual property theft by brazen Microsoft or Yahoo! employees or souvenir theft by Google groupies. But I did decide that the Google security force far outnumbers the police force in my metro area. All in all, an interesting and enjoyable experience. -----