Tuesday, June 3, 2008

From Google with Love

After a grueling 17 hour flight from Stockholm, bouncing once in Chicago, we (me and my family) arrived at SFO and shortly after, Hotel Triton at Grant Avenue and Bush. The kids started hopping around between the beds like grasshoppers while the poor parents attempted some sort of controlled landing. The room was very nice, if a bit on the small side.

After a couple of obligatory days of spending on the obvious tourist activities (having a great time all the same, especially the kids. I really recommend SF as a place to go for vacation) I went to the Dojo Dinner that was arranged the day before Google I/O.


It was really cool to meet people I've only had e-mail contact with before, like Alex Russel and Dylan Schieman, among others. We had a great Vietnamese dinner which sort of turned into a vehicle for party-crashing the Wordpress release party a few blocks away. At the Dinner were also three really nice Dojo specialists all the way from Bògota (Sorry, I have to type this in at lunch and don't remember everyones names atm).





Nice room (The Pókemon pillow was ours).

Kids grasshoppering.

Having acquired the secret password for the WordPress bar left me in a lot of interesting conversations, listening in on the FLickr guy, the Wordpress guy and also Rohit Khare who had something new up his sleeve, more of which probably later.

Next morning it was time to get to the Moscone center for some serious Googling. I was at the right place sort of) with twenty minutes to spare. This was Moscone center;

Hmm. No Google logos there, eh? OK, this was a really _big_ affair. The entrance might just as well be on the other side, right? I started to walk around the center, keeping a brisk pace, looking out for sign of any convention, Google or no.

As it turned out, the next side of the building was clearly a 'side' with no real official entrances, turning up the hopes for the 'other end', as it were.

Much to my chagrin, the other side was just that, leaving me in an even worse spot. Each side of the building was perhaps 400-500 meters, and the only thing I could do now was to go back to the side where I started. There again I noticed that the building _way_ over the other side of the street also had "Moscone" signs. After managing the street, I finally got hold of a person who directed me to yet another building, Moscone "West", which was barely visible from where we were standing. It was pure luck Google had not set up shop in Moscone South, Egypt.

I was not alone in attending Google I/O;


The keynote was good, except for the GWT guys trying to bash on JavaScript and only managing an empty clapping sound. It's about 55 minutes in. I have liked GWT a bit on general principles before and I still think it is a great solution. Unfortunately it is a solution to a problem the doesn't exist.

Then I went to get an introduction to Python by Guide himself! Is that cool or what? He's like me European, well built (...), humorous and wonderfully opinionated. Most things I've read up on before, but he got in a lot of history, examples, et.c. between the lines so it was really great.

Also, I managed to meet up with Kirk Wilson, CEO of World Change Network, to plan the next release of the system. The general idea is to create a reputation-based project store and exchange, focusing on solving problems for people in developing countries. The reason for this is that there might in many cases exist tried-out processes for certain problems (donating blood, managing around corrupt officials, seeking legal help, et.c.) that the people in need of them are not aware about.

Also, the system will contain basic project management, supporting coaching and helping from all of over the world. I think of it as aid by donating project management rather than money. I'm sure Kirk can put it more eloquently, but that's a fair summary from my point of view, I suppose :)

The party was a smash hit of Olympic proportions. Dozens of linked arcade games, chocolate fountains, Googlers somersaulting in dragged together heaps of bean bags, beer, wine and ale of exotic brands (and Steam ale, yes :), Sushi, pastas, mashed potatoes and gravy.. and the flight of the Concords. I didn't think I would find them funny, but they were. They were also very good musicians.

I think I went to an English pub after that, with some people in the real-estate business (those cards left at home again, sorry!) with Swedish ancestries.

The next day went by in a blur, finally coalescing into the acquisition of a Google Gears Beta T-shirt! Yay! And also the devastating wit and vehemence of Steve Yegge.



He gave a good rundown on his server-side (SSJS) JavaScript work at Google, and on his plans to release the Ruby on Rails in JavaScript framework Rhino's Not Ruby (RnR) Real Soon Now. For all those present who still hasn't got it, he gave ample examples and conjecture for why dynamic beats static when it comes to choosing language, and why late binding and JIT's beats the living daylight out of static compiling. In all a wonderful talk, if too short.

If you read this, Steve, remember that you've _almost_ promised to come to Stockholm and give a (longer) speech later this year :) Just so you don't forget.

After Google I/O wound down, Kirk was the perfect host, giving us a truly great tour of San Francisco; the Golden gate, the Yacht club, the park, height-ashbury, et.c. After we very deposited, light as feathers in the restaurant Viva!, recommended by Mats Henricsson, devouring the Pescatore pasta and then enjoying a quiet walk home to the hotel through Chinatown.

Being a mentor for Dojo in the Google Summer of Code 2008 program, I was invited to a lunch at the googleplex by the indefatigable Leslie Hawthorn, of Google Open Source Programs Office. I must really thank her for being able to acquiesce to my request to bring the whole family. They actually had T-shirts in the kids sizes.


When we got home to Sweden again, we found out that our daughter had been collecting gravel from the path outside building 43 and put in the jacket pocket of my wife, so now we have four very precious Google Stones at home, possibly with the same effects upon basic charateristics as AD&D IOUN stones.


Also, the food was indeed great, and Leslie had this great T-shirt in commemoration of the day when they had the author of xkcd on a Tech Talk. They had baked him a cake the shape of the internet! :)

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