Look, Google is a magical work environment, when everyone isn’t staying home due to COVID-19, and there are marvelous people you will find no other place, when they aren’t staying home due to COVID-19.
But it’s also kind of a big playground, rather than a place of business, with a lot of the monkey bars and other things funded from advertising money which has no other outlet.
It’s a great place to be paid to work on Open Source, in the same way that Open Source gets worked on the outside: you fix things that bother you, and ignore the bug reports from everyone else.
There is a reason it gets called “The Chocolate Factory”.
I went to Google from Apple.
At Apple, including servers, iPhones, Macbooks, iPads, and desktops, my work was being used by about 2 billion people, or just over a quarter of the population of Earth.
I went into the Chromebook kernel team.
Very few people there, except a few old hands like myself, wanted to work on “unfun stuff”. That meant that projects never got completed, before someone moved onto a new project.
Further, it meant that you were doing the team lead’s job — taking up the slack where the rest of the team dropped the ball — without actually being the team lead.
I negotiated an agreement on an engineering design between Synapics, the trackpad vendor, and Samsung.
The teams from each company had their management with them, they were in separate conference rooms (on the other side of the wall from each other).
But the executives with them would not allow them to talk to each other.
So I was walking around the wall every 5–8 minutes or so, trading design points, and designing my ass off on the whiteboards in each room, and while walking between rooms.
It was a lot of grueling systems engineering.
In the end, we ended up with a design where it was possible to wake the first Samsung Chromebook up, by touching the trackpad. Which was one of our (Google’s) main design goals for the Chromebook.
I took the task upon myself, because it simply was not going to happen otherwise.
I also solved other systems engineering problems with Samsung’s EC’s — for example, they prioritized physical PS/2 events over the PS/2 events from the synthetic keyboard matrix, and a resting palm on the touch pad meant dropped keystrokes when you were typing.
To my knowledge, every Samsung Chromebook and every Samsung laptop subsequent to that incorporated my design changes.
I know that HP and Acer both incorporated my changes for the wake on trackpad touch.
Unless you count some movie tickets and a $100 Visa voucher, this was mostly thankless work.
And in the end, by the time I left, there were perhaps 1,000,000 Chromebooks out there.
This was after being at Apple and touching the lives of billions of people.
Unless you are working on search or advertising or GMail, you just don’t have that reach anywhere at Google.
And if you are on one of those teams, they are so meticulously afraid of making a mistake, and then fixing it, that it takes forever to get anything into production.
It’s like working in molasses.
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