Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle


A couple of weeks ago I left Facebook and returned to Google. I enjoyed working with the engineers there on fun and interesting stuff but for a number of reasons, mostly personal, I decided that the best place for me is Google. And here I am!

It's great to be back at Google - it's amazing how much can change when you're away for a even just a couple of months.

So what am I working on? Interestingly, this time I can actually talk about it! On rejoining Google, I had the chance to look around at a number of projects (there's lots of great stuff going on up here in Seattle/Kirkland), and I'm happy to say that I'm now working on Chrome and specifically on the video stack. It's going to be fun working on Open Source stuff as my day job!

So after a four year break, it's back to client-land for me!

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 :-)

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…

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:


In San Francisco

I'm downtown in San Francisco for the Google I/O conference, staying at the Marriot on 4th Street (the cool one with the 39th floor bar) and realizing that I haven't been here since the 2005 Game Developer Conference.

That's a long time.

Right next door is the Metreon, which is kinda cool and the hotel is handily very close to the conference center.

I recognize this is old hat for most folks, but it's actually kinda nice hanging out in a real city, with things like public transport that work. The BART (which whisked me from the airport to the hotel) is fast, clean and comfortable - if a bit loud. My noise cancelling headphones went into overdrive. I'd been watching Cloverfield (highly recommended btw) on the short flight down, but we landed with 15 minutes of the movie to go. I attempted to watch the rest on the train, but the noise cancelling gubbins was going wild with the ever-changing track/tunnel noise and driving me insane…

Oh, and yes. You need to watch Cloverfield. It's quite excellent :-)

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.

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.