Yes. That’s right. I did it. I used a sed expression as post title.

I’ve been very quiet as of late, though in my defence I’ve been very busy for a few months. In the middle of that I had a potentially life changing decision to make, and then I was dealing with the ramifications of the choice I made.

As you may have gathered from the post title (even if it mostly looks like crazy speak to you), the choice was whether I should accept a job at Google or not. Believe it or not, it was a choice, and a fairly hard one. There are various reasons for this. I’m not going to go into all of them, though I will go into some, but let’s start with a little bit of background.

It started with the receipt of a LinkedIn message with the subject “Hello from Google.” and ended with me standing in a car park being offered a very good job. Regarding what happened in between: the Google interview process is lengthy and pretty hardcore. Reputedly the most hardcore in the entire of the tech industry. But having a gruelling four and a half hour viva a little over a week before your main interview can make it seem like a walk in the park, albeit a mentally tiring one.

So then I was left with a choice. I could stay at my good job at a small but growing company with a lot of potential, at which I knew I had some prospects. I’d still be working in an industry which I know, and which to some extent knows me. I’d stay in a city I love (and have loved since the moment I set eyes upon it ten years ago), surrounded by a wonderful group of friends.

Alternatively I could accept an incredible opportunity to work at one of the most exciting companies in the world, which is famous for treating it’s employees incredibly well, and has projects which excite me more than I can adequately express in words. But I’d be changing industries and I good portion of my existing knowledge might be useless (or more useless, as the case may be). I’d have to move to London, a city I like but don’t know that well, and feel slightly intimidated by. As luck would have it, though, I do have a group of close friends living in London, who are also awesome.

It was a very hard choice, and it came down to a couple of things:

  • A former colleague put it to me that if I turned this offer down I’d hate myself for it every time I had a bad day (or spent a year putting my life on hold for a field trip which was consistently two weeks away from happening);
  • Another colleague suggested that I would be swallowed up by Google. A tiny cog in a huge machine. Which is potentially true… and a little scary. But… the other analogy people use here is “small fish in a big pond.” There’s a distinction to be made: fish grow, cogs don’t. Unless you put yourself in a bigger pond, you’ll never find out if you have the potential to get any bigger.
  • It would be nice to not work for the oil companies and the military. Not necessarily because either party is evil, but because of the shear amount of red tape involved.
  • I’d been feeling as though I’d been stuck in a rut for a while, and really wanted to shake things up somehow.
  • It’s frickin’ GOOGLE!

So. Here I am. In London. Staying in wicked temporary accommodation. Tomorrow is my first day at my shiny new Google job, and right now I should really go to bed!

PS More updates coming soon I swear, though it may be a month before I can get back to my Clockwork Aphid project, for logistical reasons.


…beside the seaside, beside the sea.

Preamble: This was actually written yesterday afternoon.

This is nice.

Today is nominally the SeeByte outing, to the watersports centre at Elie, east of Fife. Most of the crew are wetsuited up and out on the water in one way or another, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to have a bit of a wander around. The sight of a light house on a small peninsula drew me in and so here I am: sitting in the shade* of what from a distance appeared to be a derelict lookout and taking a bit of time to record my thoughts. These cheifly revolve around:

The sounds of the sea really is very calming. On another day I might have jumped at the chance to have another go at windsurfing (the last time I tried it did not end well) or get hurled into the sea at high speed from the back of a banana boat. Today I am content to wander around, look and listen. Of course it helps that this might be the most gorgeous day we’ve had all year. It’s also very nice to be surrounded by space and alone with my thoughts for a while. Living in the city I often forget how enjoyable this can be.

I’m thinking more and more that I might find myself in America somewhere down the line.

Random aside: two extremely posh ladies of a certain age just entered the lookout. Listening to their conversation is quite enjoyable. Apparently this is a castle, not a lookout. Silly me. I should also point out that on closer inspection it turned out to be not that derelict at all, really.

Back on point: It seems I’m not geared to the dating culture here. I keep asking girls if they’d like to get a cup of coffee. Apparently this is the American way and not the British. The British way amounts more to asking “Would you like to get completely wasted, shag, get together out of shear politeness and embarrassment, and then hope for the best?” and I hate this. Really not my style. I’d prefer to start with the coffee and conversation. Perhaps I’ll go to California, or Phoenix, Arizona and some other such place. 

I want my PhD done and out of the way (I have been saying this for some time now). It’s crippled my chat, because I always feel that I should be thinking about it and nothing else, and especially not that my grant has stopped I’m starting to tangibly feel the stress.

But hey, the sea is so damn pretty today. I think perhaps I’ll walk around the bay to the other side.

*Nope, the screen on the AA1 does not cope well with sunlight.

Epilogue: I went on the speedboat for a while.