Friday, August 16, 2013

Interlude - Silicon Valley through my brown eyes

Interlude - Silicon Valley through my brown eyes

In my last post, I promised a Guest Blogger and here he is. It is my husband David, proud Google employee.  Hope you enjoy his Interlude. Do not forget to leave your comments, suggestions or questions when you visit. Thank you.

As a guest and first time blogger I decided to talk about my least favorite subject. Me. Ok, not about me per se, but how a small town french Canadian bumpkin, as Lorraine likes to refer to me, came to work for the best company in Silicon Valley.

My IT trip began in 1978, when I was 8 and my father bought his first computer, a Tandy TRS 80, 4k. Although quite limited, I still wonder to this day how someone was able to write a Chess program in 4k that would beat the 8 year old me every time. (Turns out I stink at chess and any program can beat the 43 year old me).

The passion really started 5 years later when we upgraded to a Commodore 64. The deal was sealed. I then became addicted to those wonderful Compute! And Compute!'s gazette magazines, which is where I first read about a mythical place called Silicon Valley. It's also where I learned English. That and by watching the A-team, but I digress.  Silicon Valley?! in a place called California, half a world away and probably in another, parallel universe. Some would argue that the Valley actually is a parallel universe.

Growing up in rural Quebec, even in the 70's, you could feel the remnant of the Catholic Church oppressiveness, where everybody is raised to believe they are born for small bread (a bad translation on 'né pour un petit pain', which means no great expectations in your future). This would be the total opposite of the American Dream, where you are told that working hard can give you 'the life'. When you are told either too many times you may start to believe it.

The next 10 years were easy, high school, college, university for a BSC, then to push the real world away for a few more years, a Master. In the end, in 1994, I temporarily gave up on my Master to go see the real world, finishing it in my spare time, between two games of Sherlock.

The first job was fun, I got to learn GIS (geographical information systems) which I ended doing for the next 17 years both in Montreal and in Vancouver (job tip: don't paint yourself in a corner by doing the same thing for too long). Along the way I got to solve some amazing problems, like gps-less submarine navigation. But when you grow up, you end up forgetting about your childhood dreams and Silicon Valley went the way of Teddy bear, Miami Vice and Disco. We even came to San Francisco a few times and I never realized how close I was to this place. Just a few more miles south...

Then 6 years ago, the company I worked for at the time, got some sub-contracting from the big G. in Mountain View. I got to travel to the Campus and see a bit of San Jose and all in-between. Every second building posted the name of an IT giant. The other buildings were of giants to be (or not be). That was real?! Those companies did exist somewhere, they were not just logos and names on software and hardware boxes. There were all in that place, that Silicon Valley?!

I dedicated the next few years to build a good resume, with less GIS, and applied to many Silicon Valley's company, even though my heart was beating for G. It's even a verb now?! In the end between Amazon and G, the choice was easy.

So remember your forgotten dreams and investigate those mythical places. Sometimes they exists and dreams do come true.

Now instead of a recipe, let me tell you G. biggest secrets. Here we go... Wait, I am being called to the Teleporter's room; the Unicorn has escaped again...

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