Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Hey! I Wrote That!

Now that it's shipped you can see a little bit of what I've been working on.

All that operator stuff? Ahem, me :-) Enjoy.

Actually though, most of what I've been working on is behind the scenes and hard to actually point to, but the operator stuff? Yup, me.

Google really is cool. I've been working on backend infrastructure stuff, but had the idea to take advantage of some of it and add the operator stuff to the docs UI - the team that owned the docs UI loved the idea, so I built it and out it goes. This is just a little part of what they're up to. As the docs blog post says, expect more soon.

Google Seattle/Kirkland Is Hiring!

Well, we've always been hiring, but we're kicking it into high gear right now. We're looking for dev and test, so if you're interested send me some email (or give me a call).

Google Seattle/Kirkland. (Btw, I took most of the photos on that site…)

However, if you're a “sourcer” or “representing a high quality candidate”, please don't call me :-)

Santa Monica Is Pretty Nice…

The last time I was in Santa Monica visiting some colleagues at the local Google office, I stayed at the Sheraton and never got down to the waterfront.

This time is a little different. I'm staying at the Georgian and can see the pier from my hotel room.

Even more fun was that I wandered out of the hotel looking for something to eat, turned a corner and stumbled into the local British Pub: The Kings Head.

Result! I'm supping on a Kronenbourg 1664 as I write this!

Chrome Rocks…

Chrome quite literally rocks. If you're a Windows user, please give it a try.

It's pretty snappy, but something that I find quite amusing is that ten years ago I worked on another cool and snappy browser called Chrome.


Anyhow, I've been using it on XP at work and today tried it on Vista for the first time. On Vista, Chrome looks quite minimalist and beautiful.

And no, Robert, I didn't work on this one…

Photos From Google I/O

I've uploaded some photos from Google I/O to your favourite photo sites. I can't believe I took so few pictures…

You can find them here, here and here. All identical. Randomly pick one.

In The Seattle Business Monthy

A couple of months ago I was interviewed by the Seattle Business Monthly magazine for an article on Google. The author was trying to write an article that focussed more on the eccentric side of the company and I believe he succeeded :-)

The article shipped this month and we got the cover story:

Huge data streams. Snoring canines. Gourmet food. Secret projects—even unspoken team names. How do you describe such a workplace?

“Random,” says software engineer Steve Lacey. “Non-repeatable.”

OK, so what is the statistical probability that a better engineering workplace exists than Google? “Zero percent,” says software engineer Poorva Arankalle.

“Square root of minus 1,” says Lacey, in the classic nerd argot that is considered cool at the mega-search giant. “It's an imaginary number.”

Lacey, transported Brit, and Arankalle, transplanted from India, are part of the Google engineering team in Kirkland, where most of the company's troops are located; by Q4 of this year, the Eastside employees are slated to move to new Kirkland digs. Last year, Google opened new sales and engineering offices in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood.

Nerd? I prefer geek… Anyhow, check out the rest over here (scroll down to the bottom).

On Camera at Google I/O Party

I was wandering around the birds of a feather tables last night at the Google I/O party when I bumped into Robert Scoble who was, as usual, filming people with his cellphone.

I just wanted to say hi, but ended up in the video doing my usual “Sorry Robert, can't tell you a thing about what I'm working on!” - I can't wait to finally let him know what I'm working on… soon.. soon…

Anyhow, it's not often that I appear in the same frames of video with luminaries such as Steve Gilmor and Mark Lucovsky.

You can see me at around the 4:40 mark:


Google Treasure Hunt

I love programming puzzles - you get to stretch your coder muscles :-) Anyhow I really liked the first question in the 2008 Google Treasure Hunt - the Robot puzzle. Writing code to solve it was an nice little challenge as there's a couple of interesting real-world problems in there - especially if you write the code in C/C++…

I thought I'd done pretty well until a collegue of mine pointed out that there was a, ahem, tangential way of solving it…

Google Treasure Hunt.

Googling Kirkland

The Seattle Times ran a story on Google Kirkland this morning and our new, upcoming, office.

By early next year, some 195,000 square feet of offices along Sixth Street South, on the site of a former Navy depot and door company, will be occupied by Googleites. They will move into three office buildings in a campuslike setting near downtown Kirkland between Lake Washington and Interstate 405.


Chatback - Talk To Me Directly From This Blog

You'll notice over on the right hand side of the blog (if you're reading this on “the website”:, rather than through RSS) a little widget that will let you chat to me, even if you don't have a Google Talk account!

Sweet or what?

This new feature of Talk, Chatback, just shipped - developed by the Google Talk team right here in Kirkland.

My Second 20% Project Is Now Live

My latest 20% project at Google shipped today and as a result the blogroll on this site is now powered by Google Reader! That's right folks, get them while they're hot! Easy blogroll creation for everyone. Well, assuming you use Reader as your RSS aggregator…

Check out the post over on the Official Google Reader blog for all the juicy details:

As a blogger I like to include a blogroll on my site so that friends, family and other readers can take a look at what I like to read. It's also a nice way to give a shout out to the authors of the blogs that I like. However, maintaining a blogroll can be a bit of a pain as your subscriptions ebb and flow.

20% time is such a wonderful thing. As well as being able to actually implement my own wishlist in another Google product, I get to play around with technologies that I might not use day-to-day. As a backend engineer, mucking around in frontend code can be refreshing…

And welcome to all you readers that came here from said blog. Kick back and stay a while.

Andy Summers - Live @Google

What a great way to start the week. Andy Summers was at Google in NYC this morning to talk about his new book I'll Be Watching You - Inside The Police 1980-83 and his photography. We video conferenced into the talk.

This was a double treat for me - first, I'm a huge fan of Andy Summers the guitarist and second, I had no idea that he was such a great photographer.


The talk was very amusing too - with lots of small anecdotes about life on the road.

Anyhow, just one more great thing about working at Google :-)

The talk should be up on YouTube later - I'll update this post when it's available.

Update: The video is now available.

Intern One Heads Back To College…

Our second intern of the summer, Julia, headed back to college this week. She rocked quite hard - we'll miss her…

Gayle has all the details…

Oh, and Ming, yes you were our first intern, but Gayle forced us to promote Julia… Or something like that…

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Flight Simulator In Google Earth

Before you ask, no. I had nothing to do with this.

There is a hidden easter egg in the latest revision of Google Earth, the formula for access to which is currently making the rounds.

Basically, to quote TechCrunch

To access the hidden feature, open Google Earth and hit Command+Option+A (note it must be capital A) or Ctrl+Alt+A if you're using a Windows Machine.

However, given my obvious conflict of interest, I'll just take exception to TechCrunch's final statement:

…It wasn't perfect, but it was as good visually as the paid Microsoft Flight Simulator, and in terms of actually presenting real objects it was better…

Obviously they haven't looked at FSX. The two products have both different visual focusses and merits. How does the terrain and imagery look outside of major cities? How do those airports compare? How are the flight systems? ATC?

I'll just stop now before I dig myself into a hole :-)

I have to say though, as easter eggs go, it's a goody. It's up their with the shooter in Excel 95. Btw, Excel 97 had a flight sim based easter egg too…

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.