Friday, June 29, 2012

What I learned from our visit to Google....

Last night, to finish day one of the Duel Down Under, all teams were invited to Google's Sydney office where Google Maps and lots of other cool stuff has been developed.

After a presentation that included a Q&A with one of their software engineers, we were divided into groups and taken on tours around their offices. On the way I learned that....
  • Google is just as awesome at marketing as they are at making cool stuff. They understand that the way to a teenager's heart is through giving them free stuff, including food!
  • The software engineers joke that employees at Google can be divided into two main groups: software engineers and everybody else. (But I don't think they're joking...).
  • The Google offices look like a fun place to work... the walls are pretty colours, there are nice meeting rooms everywhere, and lots of neat places to enjoy the views. There's also a tyre swing in the foyer, scooters for getting to their other set of offices 100m down the road, and kitchens with snacks you can help yourself to whenever you like (including visitors apparently).
  • When employees need computer hardware, they can just go and get it! The idea is that they would rather their employees just have what they need so that they can get on with their work... what an obvious, but rarely enacted, idea!
  • Google developers use Mac OS X more than Windows. It's not uncommon to have a team where there's only one Windows computer - and that's so that they can test Internet Explorer.
  • Although they do most of their coding in Java, they don't employ people for their knowledge of a particular programming language. They're much more interested things like a demonstrated commitment to open source projects.
  • Our guide was asked what subjects were most relevant for someone wanting to become a software engineer. He was fairly dismissive of most of the currently available computer science courses and instead stressed the importance of mathematics. He said that if you're not enjoying mathematics, then maybe you've got a bad teacher (!), and emphasised that learning how to solve problems is more important that learning facts. Sounds familiar!!  (-:


  1. Interesting info in last paragraph - though it's a bit like the artists/javelin throwers/dancers/novelists who also can't comprehend that not everyone in the world is as obsessed as they are with their particular passion.

  2. I'm sure there's a bit of that bias in there - I'll freely admit that I'm prone to it as well - but to be fair, this was in the context of what you would need to become a software engineer at Google. He wasn't saying that this is what everyone needs - I might be prepared to say that though... (-: