Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Death Star suddenly makes sense to me -- it's what you get when you build a skyscraper in zero gravity:

On EarthIn Space
So, now I work at Google. It's pretty great.

When I told my boss I was leaving, the first thing she said was, "you are making a BIG mistake". I was aghast, since we had had a good relationship during the four years I was there.

She went on to give a few vague reasons, but nothing that really explained the reaction. It kind of freaked me out, because I was already nervous about making such a big decision.

The next two weeks were rather bad. She told the other programmers, and it seemed like she convinced them, too, that it was a "big mistake". With one exception, no one congratulated me at first, and when they did, they sounded mournful, like I was leaving to live in an iron lung.

The same day, or maybe the next day, another programmer quit -- he'd been there for a long time, and was well-liked and essential. My boss announced that he was leaving, that they would really miss him, that he had done great work, that he was just so wonderful, that she would give him a 'quitting bonus' if she were allowed to. He was going to love his new job where they did things the way he liked, and so on.

Not a word about me, nothing. It continued to freak me out. My former boss is quite charismatic, and it doesn't really surprise me that she was able to turn their feelings against me.

It's not like I left in the middle of a project. I mean, you're always in the middle of a project, that's true for everyone, and everyone who had quit before had been sent off with the best wishes. It was even company policy that people are encouraged to grow and improve, etc. etc., and if that meant moving on to a new place, that's fine.

But not, apparently, for me.

Anyway, my code was working, it was mostly complete, it was in a usable state, etc. What did I do wrong? I know that they didn't really like my code, since it used lots of functions and had unit tests and all that annoying stuff, but so did the other guy who quit.

I was nervous about coming to Google, but I just wanted a change of pace, and Google certainly seemed like that. I've never worked at a big company (except for some contract work), and I didn't know if I would like it. I didn't really look forward to writing C++. I had once been a C++ pusher, but now I'm a die-hard functional programming pusher. What would become of me?

My wife and other family members were excited, because everyone's heard of Google and it's a big deal and all that. I felt some pressure, so I tried to play it off like it wasn't a big deal, what's all the fuss. But after about a day here, I must say, it's pretty great.

Before I decided to come here, I looked around on the web for blogs or mailing lists for disgruntled former Google employes. Those can tell you a lot about a company. I would have taken it with a grain of salt, because I know how they are biased and bitter, but there's still useful information to be gotten.

I couldn't find one. I think I found something someone said about working on something that never got used, but that's it. I was amazed. Nearly every place I had ever worked at, or even contracted for, had some place you could laugh about your former company. But not Google.

Now, I can tell why. There's just not that much to complain about. It's eerie.

I could go on about this place, but the highlights: it's good for programmers; it's casual; people are smart; there's free, high-quality, healthy vegetarian food every day.

So, let's all feel terrible about my