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Xooglers - Google Discussed by Ex-Googlers

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the insiders-looking-back dept.

Google 211

perler writes to tell us that Xooglers, a relatively new website created so that ex-Google employees could reminisce and share, has been gaining a great deal of popularity recently. The website shares what went wrong, what went right, and all of the funny happenings in between. Quite an interesting piece of Google history.

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Why "ex" googlers? (4, Interesting)

cytoman (792326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231257)

I assume that being a Google employee represents the highpoint of your career and you would never want to leave...like one of the xooglers says, why become a boring specialized cell when you can be a stem-cell and take on any and every challenge thrown at you?

If *I* get a Google job, I am never leaving!

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231306)

If *I* get a Google job, I am never leaving!

So easy to say about a company until you have actually worked there. Not saying that working at Google wouldn't be cool, but you never know what little things here or there might be a frustration at your job. What about an annoying boss? Hard schedule? Your employers aren't always going to accommodate you to fix a problem, no matter where you work.

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (0)

Erchie (103202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231334)

Nitpicker. Can't you find something else to niggle to death?

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (2, Informative)

adpowers (153922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231362)

Or because you live in LA and work in Mountain View, as one of the bloggers did. I've been reading this site for a while now and it is very good. One of the guys worked there for a year, flying in on Mondays, working until Thursday, flying home, and then telecommuting on Friday. That's one hell of a commute.

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (1)

Criliric (879949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231315)

Exactally... Google could one day make history, and to be part of that would be an awesome story to tell one day to your kids or grandchildren

"....You know that thing on the internet you look at, I helped make that...."

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (1)

Pneuma ROCKS (906002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231370)

Agreed. Google is a HUGE company with a lot going on, but this can be very polarizing. You may be part of something really cool, or you may be part of something very infamous. Google is rapidly gaining on Microsoft, both in a good way and in a bad way. Would you say a Microsoft employee has the same amount amount of pride to show their kids/grandkids what he/she did?

It's not like your kids listen to you anyway.

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (0)

Erchie (103202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231820)

Google gaining on Microsoft? Crap. Microsoft will never even see the faint glow of Google's taillights on a clear night. Gaining on Microsoft, in the bad way? Google is not running on the same track. Let's face it: Microsoft, the overfunded, undertalented monster-- the always 'wannabe' to whoever comes up with a really original idea (the kind of idea that never happens at One Redmond Way)-- is green with envy at Google's success, and it galls Bill Win-At-Any-Cost-Including-Your-Soul Gates. Microsoft will never come near Google: It's not in their genes, nor in their heart-- oh,fsck, I forgot, Microsoft doesn't have any heart. They only have rabid pit bulls that will tear out anybody else's heart, so they can get at their success.

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (4, Funny)

moorcito (529567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231528)

"....You know that thing on the internet you look at, I helped make that...."

I don't think just ex-google employees will be the ones telling their kids/grandkids that. Just think about all the porn stars.

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (4, Interesting)

nandu_prahlad (706343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231324)

If *I* get a Google job, I am never leaving!
Never say never. As Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". Suddenly, working for Google (or some other great company) may not seem like great idea as before because your interests have shifted, or you may wanna spend more time with your family.

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (5, Interesting)

hyeh (89792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231377)

I'm a Xoogler myself, and personally, I find my current job more fulfilling from a personal/learning/growth standpoint. Just my two cents.

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (5, Informative)

roach2002 (77772) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231383)

From the blog (Ron's first post [blogspot.com] )

I guess the #1 FAQ for people who have left Google is why did you leave. My main reason for leaving was that I was commuting from Los Angeles. I'd fly up on Southwest early Monday morning, fly back on Thursday evening, and telecommute on Fridays and weekends. That regimen was pretty stressful even under the best of circumstances, but when 9/11 happened it became completely untenable. I had already given my notice before 9/11, but I don't think I could have stayed on after that even if I had wanted to. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So that's why Ron left, I'm not sure if Doug's said why he left yet.

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (1)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231410)

Perhaps they were sacked?

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231474)

They have to be ex-googlers, because Google, like many other companies, see's people talking about their employer on their own time as a sackable offense. The First Ammendment is only for the government, so there's no way to stop employers from sacking people who dare to exercise their first ammendment rights during non-working hours.

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (1)

Alascom (95042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231817)

I work for Google...

Google does not discourage employees from talking about their employer or blogging... The company is extremely open with their employees and gives them a lot more freedom than you would expect from your employer... But still, I am sure a lot of Googlers (myself included) are still a little gun-shy about what they post on websites simply because Google is so 'in the spotlight'...

   

Re:Why "ex" googlers? (3, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231869)

Unless they've had a recent policy change, that's completely untrue. At least one guy has been fired [com.com] (the article itself is a bit iffy on if he was fired for that reason but this blog clears up any ambiguity [zawodny.com] ).

Or perhaps Google simply censors those who don't say good things about google (and if you don't think firing people for speaking has a censoring effect on free speech I've got a bridge to sell to you).

Guess waht? (-1, Offtopic)

setzman (541053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231259)

Who gives a flying fuck?! Huh? Not I!!

First post, bitches!!

Re:Guess waht? (-1, Troll)

setzman (541053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231266)

I could really give a fucking rip about some dudes whining about how things were at their old job. Why don't they get off their fucking asses and get a new job?

Re:Guess waht? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231281)

You could at least look for key words in the summery...

Re:Guess waht? (-1, Offtopic)

ProstheticSwan (754025) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231285)

Actually, I believe the gentleman above you had the first post.

Re:Guess what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231288)

Since we are in that mood, apparently, my first impression was that a website for ex-employees for "where I work" would be full of all kinds of stories of the bad treatment, dishonest boss and employees, etc.
For those of us who work there, it is an uphill battle every day to serve the customers.
Would tell where this place is, but I still work there.

Richard Pryor, dead at 65 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231262)

I just heard on NPR that Richard Pryor has died of a heart attack. Of course he is most famous for appearing as wisecracking, jive-talking criminal "Leeroy Jenkins" in the critically acclaimed hit movie "Superman II." He is also well-known for starring in "Bustin' Loose", a movie about a wisecracking, jive-talking bus driver transporting a group of retarded kids across the country. Whether or not you enjoy his many groundbreaking movie roles or not, there is no denying his contributions to our modern-day stereotypical black comedic actors. Truly an American icon.

One line ... (4, Funny)

RebelWithoutAClue (578771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231270)

"How long does it take the sauna to get hot? You think it's okay to go in the women's locker room to get some towels since we're out in here?"

Re:One line ... (1)

SuperQ (431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231355)

Damn, I didn't know we had a sauna at work.

Re:One line ... (1)

eosp (885380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231417)

Speaking from the expert: Those plastic boxes with flashlight bulbs inside don't count as saunas.

Re:One line ... (1)

SuperQ (431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231578)

haha, my girlfriend is a Finn, so I atleast know how to say Sau-na properly.

Also.. your website is awesome.

Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan

Re:One line ... (1)

eosp (885380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231816)

1. First line same for me. 2. Not my site.

hrm (2, Interesting)

know1 (854868) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231271)

post only mentions the good things, in fact he seems wistfull of his time there, although he does allude to bad things in a previous post. wonder if the tone of this website will change in a few years time

Opening a Window to Google.... (3, Informative)

Cherita Chen (936355) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231278)

For those who didn't see this before...

http://www.intuitive.com/blog/google_fires_blogger _and_the_evils_of_gossip_and_innuendo.html [intuitive.com]

I'm not suprised there's now a Blog completely dedicated to ex-Google employees. It seems that they (Big G) don't take kindly to outsiders looking in... And God help you if you try to open the window and give others a peek.

Re:Opening a Window to Google.... (1)

Chris Bradshaw (933608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231308)

It is probably important to note that this was covered earlier this year on /.

http://slashdot.org/articles/05/02/09/1418233.shtm [slashdot.org] l?tid=217

This does provide an interesting perspective from which to read xoogle blogs though...

Re:Opening a Window to Google.... (1)

nastro (32421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231321)

Borked link, mate.

Re:Opening a Window to Google.... (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231340)

And God help you if you try to open the window and give others a peek.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Re:Opening a Window to Google.... (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231356)

Last time I checked I was feeding myself.

Re:Opening a Window to Google.... (1)

teknomage1 (854522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231472)

I'm not suprised there's now a Blog completely dedicated to ex-Google employees. It seems that they (Big G) don't take kindly to outsiders looking in... And God help you if you try to open the window and give others a peek.

Of course you can't open Windows to to Google! Google runs FreeBSD and Linux.

Re:Opening a Window to Google.... (4, Insightful)

Drakonian (518722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231763)

Get real. That guy signed an NDA and posted sensitive financial information on his blog that was cleary marked as confidential. He deserved everything he got. This wasn't typical "my free latte was so great this morning", this was material information.

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231304)

maybe there's some information of use in there, some pointers for novice entrepenuers so that some obsticles can be avoided...

News? (4, Insightful)

logik3x (872368) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231335)

So how is this news? this is just publicity for a blog. It's not because there is the word google in the story that you have to post it. You can mod me down if you want but this is true... maybe if the blog was something new ok but it's old... it's been around for a while...

Re:News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231358)

Dude, there is the POSSIBILITY that something negative might be said about google in a blog by ex-employees. This makes this a rather shocking turn of events for the permaastroturfing /. google obsession.

Re:News? (4, Funny)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231517)

This is slashdot. Anything with google in the title is published - often before anyone's even bothered to read it.

Future slashdot titles:
Google to buy microsoft
Google to buy AOL
Google finds cure for cancer
Google starts space programme

Re:News? (1)

Swaffs (470184) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231793)

Hey now... the last two might actually happen.

Re:News? (1)

daliman (626662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231553)

You are violating a patent my friend, specifically claim 8.

http://features.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=8112& cid=718601 [slashdot.org]

Re:News? (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231669)

What the hell kind of patent is that? Every patent I've ever seen has had 100+ claims, and most of them will link back to a previous claim (usually a common claim or the one previous to it).

Re:News? (1)

shoffsta (905698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231601)

wait a sec... you seriously expected a _new_ blog to be posted on slashdot?

Scroll down (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231338)

to the "Let's get a real database" comment. It's nice to see such a good comment over MySQL by pros. Back in 2001/2, when I was considering to start a DB project for my own amusement, I heard almost nothing but bad things over MySQL by PostSQLers or Oraclers due to missing features though I went with it anyway.

BTW, it's not a slam on those others systems, but I feel the missing feautures debate usually gets out of proportion to actual use of said feautures by the average project by a small/mid-size business.

Re:Scroll down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231367)

Last time the subject of MySQL came up on Slashdot, soembody remarked that MySQL just gives a "best guess" when you execute a count(*) query. Can any MySQL users confirm this? I just find that to be absolutely mind-boggling.

Re:Scroll down (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231487)

MySQL keeps a row count and optimizes select count(*) from table (no wheres, joins, etc), so that will always be correct (barring db corruption, transactions, etc). For more complex queries, the count(*) is not atomic, so other queries could affect the total.

Re:Scroll down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231648)

Yes, but what about in the most common instance, where 'where' is used?

Re:Scroll down (3, Interesting)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231629)

Context is everything. MySQL originated as a flat file backed database. Something quick and dirty that got picked up by a few php coders. Naturally its SQL syntax was incompatible and the implementation lacking. By 2000 it had grown up somewhat but was still somewhat scary; fast but not what I'd call safe or transaction oriented. You'll note in the post that they claim they never got it as fast as MySQL. Probably because they went with something "Real" (Oracle's a good a guess as any) that did transactions and considered recovery from failure.

If you dig further, you'll find a post [sitereservation.com] about a multithreading race condition that boggles my mind. Maybe I've no imagination, but I'm having trouble imagining a scenario where that's a good idea. It's not even something you can do unconciously! The explaination is also unsatisfactory, which leads me to believe that perhaps the fog of time is clouding the whole story somewhat?

Did you actually read it? (2, Insightful)

Some Random Username (873177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231742)

Comment by the pros? Ron isn't a database guru by any stretch, and in the comments he even ignorantly states that mysql not having transactions (it didn't at that time) didn't matter because you can easily "roll you own".

This isn't a small business using mysql because they don't need features, this is google, and they needed features that mysql didn't have. They used stupid and unsafe hacks to partly work around it instead of simply using a real database.

Of course it was a pain to move to a real DB after the fact, that's why you shouldn't do things wrong in the first place.

obvious question (3, Insightful)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231343)

How did these people become ex-employees? Were they fired or did they leave on their own accord?

I've been browsing some of their early entires (and the one guy's profile that's not empty) but that detail of their google experience is never addressed. I would think that if you wanted attention for being an ex-anything, you'd at least be upfront about what brought about that "ex-" status.

So I'll reserve my trust regarding this site... for the same reason that I can't imagine a blog site of my ex-wives to be perfectly honest about me.

Re:obvious question (4, Funny)

greginnj (891863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231510)

So I'll reserve my trust regarding this site... for the same reason that I can't imagine a blog site of my ex-wives to be perfectly honest about me.
I find your ideas intriguing and I would like to Subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:obvious question (4, Informative)

roach2002 (77772) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231576)

FTFB:

From the blog (Ron's first post [blogspot.com] [blogspot.com])

I guess the #1 FAQ for people who have left Google is why did you leave. My main reason for leaving was that I was commuting from Los Angeles. I'd fly up on Southwest early Monday morning, fly back on Thursday evening, and telecommute on Fridays and weekends. That regimen was pretty stressful even under the best of circumstances, but when 9/11 happened it became completely untenable. I had already given my notice before 9/11, but I don't think I could have stayed on after that even if I had wanted to. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So that's why Ron left, I'm pretty sure Doug hasn't said why he left yet. So no, Ron wasn't fired.

Ahh can someone mod the parent up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231837)

He answers the question to a +5 modded post, shouldn't someone of modded his answer up?

Consumed (3, Insightful)

Tufriast (824996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231344)

Ok, I was worried about one thing, and I was right. The leaders of Google are consumed with a vision, and ulitmatley, that's a very dangerous thing. While wanting it is ok...consuming an entire population around it...I don't know. At this point, I'm not so comfy-cozy about Google any longer. That's not to say I'm comfortable with Apple, M$, or the folks any other large company. I am worried in the end. Worried that age will take hold of these people at Google, and wring them out to dry. I surely hope that in the end they appreciate people. I mean that - appreciate them. Not use them, and cater to them b/c they are laborers. Drawing in brilliant people only to use them...seems caustically dangerous. From this blog, it seems like they did that at least somewhat to the author.

Re:Consumed (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231785)

"That's not to say I'm comfortable with Apple, M$, or the folks any other large company. I am worried in the end."

Hmm. Know what I think? I think that even if Google has a flawless Slashdot record, in 6 months others will feel the way you do. They'll get bigger, more people will become dependent on them, then it'll become fashionable to not need Google. Within a year, Slashdot will be putting on a negative spin on every move Google makes. Within two years, people will start realizing that the anti-Google basis is largely without merit. Then, on the third year, Google will become popular again.

Well, I'm not Nostradamus, but I wonder if things will play out that way.

Re:Consumed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231922)

Put you mind at rest, as Google can't do evil. It's against their philosophy [google.com] .

Not quite (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231345)

The website shares what went wrong, what went right, and all of the funny happenings in between.

No ScuttleMonkey- it's what a bunch (more specifically: TWO. "Doug" and Ron") of ex-employees think went wrong, think went right. I've seen ex-employee websites/mailing lists and been on them. They're petty, rarely accurate (I saw wild claims made I knew were false) and so on.

I am no fan of Google, but why is anyone giving ANY credence to what two guys have to say? I see nothing to verify they are who they say they are.

Why I'm giving credence to what 2 guys have to say (3, Interesting)

terpri (853344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231445)

"Ron" is Ron Garrett [flownet.com] , nee Erann Gat. He used to work at JPL, [flownet.com] where he created an autonomous spacecraft control system which was named NASA Software of the Year. His homepage has a list of his publications, and you can find his Usenet postings with Google Groups, if you like (he used to post quite frequently in comp.lang.lisp).

His Blogger profile even links to his homepage. Xooglers is not some anonymous blog; it's written by people using their real names and at least one of them has a decent track record as a software developer. I haven't even seen any particularly negative remarks in Xooglers posts, except for self-deprecating remarks by the authors! Why don't you actually try reading TFB instead of spewing bile?

Re:Not quite (2, Insightful)

jsight (8987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231453)


No ScuttleMonkey- it's what a bunch (more specifically: TWO. "Doug" and Ron") of ex-employees think went wrong, think went right. I've seen ex-employee websites/mailing lists and been on them. They're petty, rarely accurate (I saw wild claims made I knew were false) and so on.


I've seen plenty of that from ex-employees as well (esp disgruntled ones, but really all of them to some extent or another).

However, the Google X'ers at that site actually seemed fairly level headed. Honestly, for the most part their descriptions make the place sound like a pretty nice place to work!

again, who are they? What proof is there? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231461)

However, the Google X'ers at that site actually seemed fairly level headed. Honestly, for the most part their descriptions make the place sound like a pretty nice place to work!

Again, what evidence do we have that they are who they say they are? Or that anything they're saying is true?

Why they quit... (5, Informative)

satchmodian (657710) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231351)

I browsed through the whole damn blog trying to figure out why each of the two guys that write the blog quit. One said "I guess the #1 FAQ for people who have left Google is why did you leave. My main reason for leaving was that I was commuting from Los Angeles. I'd fly up on Southwest early Monday morning, fly back on Thursday evening, and telecommute on Fridays and weekends. That regimen was pretty stressful even under the best of circumstances, but when 9/11 happened it became completely untenable. I had already given my notice before 9/11, but I don't think I could have stayed on after that even if I had wanted to. But I'm getting ahead of myself." From what I could tell, the other one, "Doug", made a decent chunk of change in stock options and doesn't have to work anymore. Probably the same is true for the first guy also.

I'm sorry, I must have missed something here. (4, Insightful)

radiotyler (819474) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231352)

I understand Google is a seemingly great company to work for and a pioneer in the search engine world. But why did I even waste the time to read though that "Back in ought one when I was still at Google.." garbage? I think I was hoping for some juicy tidbit that only blog readers would be privvy to, something secretive that I would never expect to happen to the employees of Google. Instead, I got a nice voyage down memory lane - getting to listen to people reminisce about things I was never there for in the first place.

I don't know if this qualifys as either "News for Nerds." or "Stuff that Matters."

well then (5, Funny)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231369)

I am an engineer at heart. I get a real kick out of watching something that I've built work. And the 'plex was the perfect environment, filled with smart, friendly people, state-of-the-art equipement, and half a dozen different kinds of coffee machines. (I actually had some interesting conversations about the finer points of espresso making, and at one point someone even brought in a book that was entirely devoted to the topic.)

Well LAAA-DEEE-DAAAAA. Excuse the rest of us who couldn't get past the 3rd round of interviews! We'll just continue in our windowless labs/cubicles here, sucking down on 35 cent coffee from a vending machine perpetually on the fritz.

Stock option dropouts (3, Insightful)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231550)

Tech startup stock option millionaire dropouts engineers are a rarity these days. One of their tendencies is to cement their genius reputation by publishing a personal account of their heroics and lamenting the sad decline of the company - after cashing out ofcourse. Good examples are Mark Andreesen, Jamie Zewinski, and Andy Hertzfeld? Any others?

x-googlers on google blogspot (2, Funny)

mumrah (911931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231372)

It seems to be teeming with irony.

Re:x-googlers on google blogspot (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231467)

It seems to be teeming with irony.

It seems to be teaming with irony.

Fixed that for ya, cause those google folks stick together.
Teamwork right?

Re:x-googlers on google blogspot (0, Offtopic)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231525)

teeming is correct.

teaming with irony doesn't make sense, unless you have someone on your team called irony.

Re:x-googlers on google blogspot (1)

Rayaru (898516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231583)

Humor, this is Tony Hoyle. Tony, this is humor.

I'll leave you two alone now.

ACcidental (0, Flamebait)

char1iecha1k (888756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231385)

Ooooh dont you just love reading about someone accidentally pressing the wrong send button....

God I hate blogs. Most of the time they are mindless rants frome someone insignificant.

And how exactly is this news?

a deja vu? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231402)

there was this website in the distant y2k, fucking company
dot com or whatever, where ex-employees of failed dot-coms
would pull out loads of crap (real and imagined) about their
companies, as the VC capital dried out and they lost the jobs.
nice to see the google guys copying it.

let's see if it'll get out of beta soon ;)

If you read the stuff (4, Interesting)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231406)

You'll see there's a lisper who left JPL because managers decided to follow "best practices" of industry and move to C++. This is despite the fact that programming a space mission isn't a "standard" problem -- it is, in fact, a problem that a language like LISP is excellently suited, because people can deal with unclear/dynamic requirements as a project evolves.

So he goes to Google because they have some LISP guys there (not using LISP -- just smart guys) -- and then he gets told to do the first Java project. And later he gets told that LISP is out of the question.

And in fact, he details how a race condition in the C++ memory management leads to them billing clients nonsense amounts -- a problem that simply couldn't happen if they'd used a language like LISP (or Java) -- because the GC wouldn't reclaim something if the thing was still in use.

So Google can yet be beat -- they are not perfect. Of course, that doesn't mean there is anyone to beat them, yet.

Re:If you read the stuff (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231671)

Not that I have an axe to grind against LISP'ers, but I'm not sure how better memory management would have prevented one thread from accessing another's now defunct stack data aside from not allowing it in the first place.

Re:If you read the stuff (1)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231787)

"Not that I have an axe to grind against LISP'ers, but I'm not sure how better memory management would have prevented one thread from accessing another's now defunct stack data aside from not allowing it in the first place."

The basic idea is that the programmer doesn't manage the memory, so that problem just can't occur. You aren't supposed to be able to tell where the storage is (heap, stack, etc).

Were there to be a problem, it would be the fault of the LISP implementor.

The implementation of lexical closures (a Common LISP feature) requires keeping around the free variables associated with a procedure. So the implementation has to be able to routinely and efficiently do the sort of thing that a C program can't do, due to how it stores things. If you have a multi-threaded lisp, and the implementation is correct, you simply can't have the problem that Ron ran into.

Re:If you read the stuff (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231843)

I haven't used LISP, but I do have experience with a functional language (OCaml). Praytell how do you permit multithreaded access local variables of a function without severely destroying things? "Stack variables" in C are variables local to the function (and parameters). To access the local variables within another thread you'd have to perform some very specific kludges to obtain a reference into another thread's stack, either by knowing presciently where the compiler will place the thread or some communciation thereafter. Leaking pointers to stack data is a fast way to wind up with exactly that sort of race condition.

If I understand your language correctly, what I understand to be happening in their C++ multithreaded system was bluntly impossible to do in LISP. You can't have the problem, because you can't solve it that way. The typical C++ solution is to use shared globals and accurately protect them. I suppose there could be a kludge workaround to what I'm saying, but the general point I was making was that it's a kludge in C/C++ too. Trying something like that in a multithreaded LISP environment isn't something on my todo list, however.

Re:If you read the stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231716)

According the blog, AdWords was written in Java, not C++. I didn't find the author said it's caused by race condition.

Re:If you read the stuff (4, Informative)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231794)

"According the blog, AdWords was written in Java, not C++. I didn't find the author said it's caused by race condition."

I guess you missed this [blogspot.com] :

Ron sez... oh wait, don't need that any more.

OK, time to wrap up this little soap opera.

The problem turned out to be something called a race condition, which is one of the most pernicious and difficult kinds of bugs to find. (Those of you who are technically savvy can skip to the end.)

Most modern server code is multi-threaded, which means that it does more than one computation at once. This is important because computers do more than just compute. They also store and retrieve information from hard disks, which are much, much slower than the computers. Every time the computer has to access the disk things come to a screeching halt. To give you some idea, most modern computers run at clock speed measured in gigahertz, or billions of cycles per second. The fastest hard disks have seek times (that is, the time it takes the drive to move the read/write head into the proper position) of several milliseconds. So a computer can perform tens of millions of computations in the time it takes a hard disk just to get into position to read or write data.

In order to keep things from bogging down, when one computation has to access the disk, it suspends itself, and another computation takes over. This way, one computer sort of "pretends" that it is really multiple computers all running at the same time, even though in reality what is happening is that one computer is just time-slicing lots of simultaneous computations.

The ad server, the machine that actually served up ads in response to search terms, ran multi-threaded code written in C++, which is more or less the industry standard nowadays for high-performance applications. C++ is byzantine, one of the most complex programming languages ever invented. I've been studying C++ off and on for ten years and I'm still far from being an expert. Its designers didn't really set out to make it that complicated, it just sort of accreted more and more cruft over the years until it turned into this hulking behemoth.

C++ has a lot of features, but one feature that it lacks that Lisp and Java have is automatic memory management. Lisp and Java (and most other modern programming langauges) use a technique called garbage collection to automatically figure out when a piece of memory is no longer being used and put it back in the pool of available memory. In C++ you have to do this manually.

Memory management in multi-threaded applications is one of the biggest challenges C++ programmers face. It's a nightmare. All kinds of techniques and protocols have been developed to help make the task easier, but none of them work very well. At the very least they all require a certain discipline on the part of the programmer that is very difficult to maintain. And for complex pieces of code that are being worked on by more than one person it is very, very hard to get it right.

What happened, it turned out, was this: the ad server kept a count of all the ads that it served, which it periodically wrote out to the database. (For those of you wondering what database we were using, it was MySQL, which leads to another story, but that will have to wait for another post.) It also had a feature where, if it was shut down for any reason, it would write out the final served ads count before it actually quit. The ad counts were stored in a block of memory that was stack allocated by one thread. The final ad counts were written out by code running in a different thread. So when the ad server was shut down, the first thread would exit and free up the memory holding the ad counts, which would then be reused by some other process, which would write essentially random data there. In the meantime, the thread writing out the final ad counts would still be reading that memory. This is why it's called a race condition, because the two threads were racing each other, with the ad-count-writer trying to finish before the main thread freed up the memory it was using to get those counts. And because the ad-count-writer was writing those counts to a database, which is to say, to disk, it always lost the race.

Now, here is the supreme irony: remember the meeting with Larry where he wanted to make a change to the billing model that I said would be hard and everyone else in the room thought would be easy? The bug was introduced when the ad server code was changed to accommodate that new billing model. On top of that, this kind of bug is actually impossible to introduce except in a language with manual memory management like C++. In a language with automatic memory management like Java or Lisp the system automatically notices that the memory is still in use and prevent it from being reused until all threads were actually done with it.

By the time this bug was found and fixed (by Ed) I was a mental wreck, and well on my way to becoming a physical wreck as well. My relationship with my wife was beginning to strain. My manager and I were barely on speaking terms. And I was getting a crick in my neck from the chip I was carrying around on my shoulder from feeling that I had been vindicated in my assessment of the potential difficulties of changing the billing model.

So I went to my manager and offered to resign from the ads group. To my utter astonishment, she did not accept.

Google Got Cooties (2, Insightful)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231423)

Google has had cooties for years. While I was a very early user of Google and had it up on my then site, I would give up Google now in a heart beat if there were a viable alternative.

'Do no evil' does not jive with 'IPO'. Once a company goes public it's doomed to image control in order to keep it's stock price looking pretty.

Re:Google Got Cooties (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231495)

Viable alternative for what part of google?

Want to replace G-Mail? Try Yahoo
Want to replace Google Maps? Try MSN's http://local.live.com/ [live.com]
Replace Google Search? Try MSN live.com

MSN has been really trying to make up for lost ground recently, especially in relation to Google's services.

There are lots of alternatives to Google, it's just that Google has become the 800lb gorilla and nobody really wants to 'make the switch' away from something they're comfortable with. Kinda like the whole Windows vs Mac/linux thing.

P.S. Hotmail still sucks in comparison to Yahoo/Gmail. I only keep it around because I've had the same address for at least 8~10+ years.

Want to hurt Google? (3, Interesting)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231624)

nobody really wants to 'make the switch' away from something they're comfortable with.

Early adopters of Google may have, for the most part being looking for a better search engine, but what sold Google to the masses was far simpler.

The masses seek simplicity.

(1)Google, the name is as simple as baby talk. The name, Google, while carrying its math connotations, is friendly in a silly, simple way. MicroSoft, like a cowboy wanting to see his brand everwhere, would do well to let go of MSN and brand its search engine with something akin to Google. Yahoo has some similarity in simple, attractive terms, but Google is bunny cute.

(2)The colours Google employs are engaging in a primitive simple way as is the name Google. If I were competing against Google I would go with simple attracting colours that held out a similarity to finger painting. Again, Google employs simple, childlike colours that are reminescent of kindergarden and hold out a process of searching that is as simple and fun as fingerpainting. Google's cartoon representations of Christmas, Easter and other notable days again are made to make the Google search experience childlike in simplicity. It's Google's eye candy that pulls in the common searcher.

If I went up against Google I'd start out by licensing something like Paddington Bear [paddingtonbear.co.uk] to signify a safe site for children. Paddinton's raingear suggests safety and what's more child safe than a teddy bear? I'd employ other brightly coloured images, say a red rose for personals, etc..

Icon's dominate windows on the desktop, the same iconographic point and click simplicity would do more to drive inroads into Google's domain than better tech.

Unfortunately Google's competitors, like Google itself is driven by wringing every penny from every resource to support stock price. Public companies can only do evil, like the wicked witch in Snow White, they stand before the mirror and ask "mirror, mirror, on the wall, whose stock price is the prettiest of them all", and, what they offer to their users is a bright, rosy, red poisoned apple to put them to sleep.

Re:Google Got Cooties (1)

i'm not cool (740106) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231567)

When you can't find it on Google: altavista

Re:Google Got Cooties (1)

thentzel (708616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231618)

Try the clusty search engine. Seriously.

Re:Google Got Cooties (1)

DocOmega (876655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231853)

Clusty is here. [clusty.com]

Providing easy one-click access since 2005.

Re:Google Got Cooties (1)

DocOmega (876655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231900)

I forgot to mention there's a MyCroft plugin [mozdev.org] for using Clutsy from FireFox.

Yeah.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231425)

I dugg it.

Get with the times boys (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231431)

From the blog: '..when I left Google in October of 2001..'

What reason other than to ride on the crest of Google's success can there be to wait until now to write this? Sure, some of the things are interesting, but something a bit more current would be more newsworthy - this is 'News for Nerds' maybe in 2002, but history now.

How Much you wanna bet... (1)

zigziggityzoo (915650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231479)

How much you wanna bet some exec at Google submitted it so that the Xoogle blog would get /.ed?

Most retarded Slashdot comment ever? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231568)

Is this some kind of horrible joke? Google owns Blogger.

Re:How Much you wanna bet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231593)

Doubt it... The blog is on Blogger, which is owned by Google...

Re:How Much you wanna bet... (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231700)

I doubt Google would try to /. their own servers...

Besides, Slashdot is more likely to be /.ed than Google ever would be.

Where's the Beef? (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231499)

Sounds like a rather dull place to work.

To quote Steve Jobs when he interviewed an ex-VP of Sun to work at Apple after the NeXT merger, "Sun's no Apple." From what I read, "Google's no Sun."

More info about the blog (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231533)

Doug Edwards, Google's Director of Consumer Marketing and Brand Management from 1999-2005, has started blogging as Xoogler

you can find more information about here-
http://www.addict3d.org/index.php?page=viewarticle &type=news&ID=13483 [addict3d.org]

Blogger (2, Interesting)

sloths (909607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231536)

Does anyone else find it ironic that this blog is hosted on Google owned Blogger.com?

Re:Blogger (1)

DocOmega (876655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231801)

That was my first thought. If you're looking for the low-down from ex-google employees, it would seem to me that using a Google-owned site might cause some problmes. I mean sure, they can do no evil. /me waits to see if there's censorship @ blogger. Oh, I don't see any censorship. Maybe it was censored out?

I'm going to start SATooglers.com (2, Insightful)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231538)

Slashdot readers who are Sick And Tired of pointless Google stories.

Xooglers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231542)

So....

Who cares again?

(didn't bother to RTFA...... Who cares again?)

RTFB (5, Interesting)

vectorian798 (792613) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231625)

A lot of you are pointing out that these are just random ex-Google people (or even that we have no proof they ever worked there) but there are some good points brought out in the articles. I think the majority of posters who are complaining about the blog or the accuracy of a blog are just randomly posting in hopes of points/Google-whoring rather than actually reading what was linked to. That being said,...

While those outside Google might disagree with the ultimate decisions the company has made, they should know that those decisions were not made without reflection on the consequences. One of my goals with Xooglers is to expose the nature of that debate. I agree with Matt that providing more transparency into how difficult decisions get made within the Googleplex can only enhance the brand. It's not enough to say you're not evil; you need to show the world how you define evil and how you choose to avoid it.

Well put don't you think? Indeed a large portion of slashdotters tend to believe Google is the messiah and that they are not an 'evil' company. But let's face it, 'evil' is different from person to person and to vaguely portray one company as evil and another as not is ridiculous. To many, MS won't seem evil - after all, a lot of people use their products and are damn satisfied with them. To still others, the fact that Google supports OSS means nothing and they want only excellence of product (BTW don't start a tangential reply about MS products not being excellent blah blah).

The moral of the story is that sometimes, and in particular with free software, you get more than what you pay for. There are a lot of companies out there paying dearly for commercial databases (and operating systems for that matter). As far as I'm concerned they might as well be flushing that money down the toilet. Actually, they might be better off. We certainly would have been. As an aside, there is a raging debate in the hacker community about the overall economic merit of the open source model. (Making money producing free software is quite a challenge.) I am not taking sides in that debate here. All I am saying is that from the end user's point of view free software is often much better than the producers of commercial software would like people to think.

Again, a good point - there are some OSS that are good, others that aren't. But what I want to point out is that Google did go for non-OSS software at one point - suddenly, it seems like Google was making a decision from the standpoint of "What would be best for us?" (the fact that the ACTUAL decision they made was wrong and they returned to OSS later is irrelevant BTW) correct? Indeed, they are a business. While no one here can likely say for certain, we certainly shouldn't assume that because of Summer of Code or other opened material that Google is supporting OSS (btw I am not an advocate of OSS nor am I an opponent, so please don't think I am being biased) or that it is "not evil".

My 2 cents

PS: When people bring up databases and talk about MySQL, PostgreSQL, or Oracle, they often ignore some other big players: MS's SQL Server and IBM's DB2. Don't start a thread about the different relational databases half-assedly plz.

Still on Google's Payroll! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14231779)

Interestingly enough, the Ex-Googlers are still being payed by Google for the ads on their page. I guess being a former employee does not exclude you from qualifying for the Google AdSense program.

The trouble with Google: they're an ad agency (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231809)

Sadly, what Google really is an ad agency that uses a search engine as a traffic builder. It's a very good search engine, but fundamentally, Google is an advertising-delivery system.

If they'd gone private instead of going public, they could have been a very profitable near-monopoly, sustained by the fact that it doesn't really cost that much to run a search engine, and thus, their ad content can be minimal. But now they have to produce a reasonable return on investment for their overblown market cap. So they have to add more and more advertising-oriented services, from catalogs to classifieds. This dooms them to become more like their competitors in those spaces.

It's not going to be fun to work there as the profitabilty vise closes.

What is it with the Google obsession? (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231857)

As a non-IT person, I find it amazing the IT types seems to have an amazing fetish regarding everything Google. I mean, this is obviously a flash in the pan company to anyone even slightly familiar with what it takes to be successful in any industry. Really -- I'm just asking -- why? Search -- big deal! Are the hiring options in IT that bad?

shout out (1)

DanTheLewis (742271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14231905)

I started reading Xooglers and it is mesmerizing. I'm an MS CS in artificial intelligence (with OpenCyc [opencyc.com] and ResearchCyc [cyc.com] if you're interested; I want to make my computer talk to me). I always say I want to go work at Google after I finish my thesis, but now that goal (hubris?) is getting a much-needed reality check. Not that it's cooled my infatuation with the world's coolest company (soooo dreamy!), just glad to know.

Fascinating reading.
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