The thing of stuff just stagnating and no care to scrub the rough corners is crazy.
They have some things they keep on improving. I think youtube is there (after the dumped plus thank goodness). Chrome seems to be moving along nicely.
I used to push google chat / video hard, including to external business partners. Then - yoink, google duo was hot, then yoing, hangouts? then yoink, hangouts meet? Then yoink, meet. It's honestly mind blowing. So now we are stuck on zoom.
We were making the move to docs and sheets, but it's basically stuck. Now it looks like office 365 is going to be the cloud editing future for word / excel type needs. For those of us who are older this is totally incredible - Office was so anti-linux / cloud it was incredible, and now word in the cloud kinda works!
And yes - when you get locked out of even a paying account because some state machine gets screwed up (looking at you gsuite admin onboarding flow with some kind of zombie state issues) you CANNOT get an actual person who can help.
Android / Chrome are amazing - why not put the execs like this in charge of shipping everything? Instead i keep hearing that google engineers are going on "strike" (ie, getting company paid days off).
On the outset, you might think with such ridiculously high compensation there would be an expectation of quality, but I think that's an error.
Google operates as an ad-company that happens to employ ridiculous amounts of exhorbitantly compensated individuals to engage in market and technological research, particularly to open or expand markets for their ads.
They didn't create mail, docs, drive et al in order to create productivity apps, they created them to _open a new market_ for advertising, and to gather data for the same. They don't really care what content is in the browser so long as it is browser-based content the user consumes and not native apps. The more browser time spent, the higher the likelihood of being served Google ads, or providing Google with data, and similar.
This seems obviously false. Google clearly monetizes gsuite as a paid service, and "everyone uses the same service at home that they do at work" has clear advantages, whether or not there is advertising in your gmail. Advertising in (consumer) gmail came long after paid gsuite (or "google apps for domains", as they called it then - horrible).
This is clearly false. The screenshots in this Time article show gmail having advertising from day one.
IMO ads were a distraction to enable the data harvesting, which drove Adsense targeting. Even today, the ads I see on GMail are pretty low quality. Some lovelorn guy used my email address unintentionally to sign up for a 55+ dating site 3 years ago. The most targeted ads I get are for similar sites.
Of course YMMV.
It's not obviously false when advertising makes up something like 80%+ of their revenue:
GSuite exists, at least in part, to break down the model of the walled corporate intranet. There are just too many people behind the corporate veil to ignore; and as a bonus, the browsing and cloud app usage habits they develop at work will tend to translate to their usage habits at home.
Also, as noted by another responder, GMail has had ads since launch. I was a beta user from day 1, and I recall the ads.
Edit: worth noting the historical difficulty of getting open source software into the business environment because corporate purchasers were wary of anything that was "free"; putting a price on something makes it more palatable to corporate adoption.
This was before other GSuite components even existed.
Their lack of customer support is border line criminal.
IBM has 352,600 which is about 3x the number of employees that Google has.
Give it time. My guess is Google will be well over 300,000 by 2030.
Yes, thank you. "When something is free then you are the product". And for the case of Google, someone pays Google shitloads of money to buy YOUR data.
This applies to many companies, but to Google most of all.
Also, the further they keep users away from Win10 (where MS siphons everything) and they keep them locked in Android/Chrome operating systems, then it's +1 for them and -1 for the competition.
I am a vocal Google critic, but I have yet to see any evidence of them selling my data. Unlike a number of other companies and organizations Google serms to have realized long ago that they are totally dependent on user trust.
I'm not saying they are smart (judging by the ads they have sent me the last 13 years, the killing off of Reader, the nymwars and then killing off Google+ after it turned out to be nice) or nice (the way they keep trying to crush the open web, the "embrace, extend, extinguish" model of pushing Chrome relentlessly until they almost have monopoly, then try to remove the possibility to run adblockers etc etc)
So, when I am using Libreoffice, who sees me as their product ?
StarOffice was developed by a company that was trying to sell it the old fashioned way but became Open Source because Sun was trying to keep its Unix workstations viable (no way we'd see "Office for SPARC") and also challenging Microsoft with Java.
Oracle bought Sun. Oracle kept Sun products alive because they know one reason people $$$ for Oracle is support.
Once it got renamed and spun out of Oracle, LibreOffice has been kept alive by various stakeholders such as companies that have big fleets of heavily hacked instances, Eurocrats who wish they could break the hold of American software monopolies, linux distros who want another piece of shovelware to list on the box, etc.
A typical end user might not perceive that leaving an issue on GitHub is not good customer service, even if some people enjoy the liberty of fixing things for themselves.
More seriously, Libreoffice is software you run on a computer you control (e.g. your desktop, a cloud server, whatever, ...) Since you are paying for the computer, you don't have conflicts about how generously to provision hardware.
Libreoffice is a ship in a bottle. 1000 years from now somebody might dig up an optical disk from a landfill and boot Libreoffice, but it is hard to believe Google Docs will last that long.
So the idea was you were the product, "sold" to the non-MS-Windows/Intel companies in te hopes of you being retained or transferred to a non-MS stack.
LibreOffice is post Oracle's acquisition of Sun, but the idea is still the same.
I worked on a Sun at NOAA in the 90s in Hawaii and the computer we used for bathymetry imaging was a Sun and the ships used Suns.
Most of that equipment was replaced with a little Linux and Windows Servers.
Latex still had it's place in academia, and would continue to dominate academic publishing for quite some time, but for 'ordinary' daily productivity needs first MacWrite and MacDraw, WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and later Word and Excel were becoming the staples.
With both software being ported to the PC/Mac platforms, and Linux starting to make inroads into the Unix compute workloads, Sun needed an answer fast to stop the bleeding.
Their inability to transform their high tough / high margin business model would do them in eventually as the commodity / thin margin model of the PC ecosystem grinded them into dust. But before that, they would try several things one of which was an attempt to 'complete' the offering of a single box solution which would have to include an 'office' package so as to keep the Mac / PC of the desks.
In the case of web-based tools that are owned and operated by big advertising companies, I think it's a fairly safe bet. As always, think critically about each instance and consider the implications of the software and products you use.
On the other hand, looking at the coin from the other side you could also argue you’re paying with your time and effort and not your money.
The quote is pithy but assumes some context - the [something] is being provided below the marginal cost to produce and therefore being provided with an expectation of benefit for the provider.
Acquiring LibreOffice is not $0 marginal cost but they have a big "DONATE" button top-right corner of the website and The Document Foundation turns a small profit from donations.
That's silly. Paid office suites use just as many computing resources, and Google docs use plenty resources through your browser as well.
I think the "if you don't pay for it, you're the product" quote is fine. You just have to exclude free and open source software.
But yeah, good point that my argument didn't make sense.
It is still about stuff other than open source software.
You can't expect some Internet quote to apply universally. Just know the exceptions and use it when it applies.
And they are quite public about scanning documents written using the free drive service, as they are proud that they take down documents with content they or the government consider inappropriate, as discussed on HN recently.
Or are you saying they don't actually share any data learned from docs and drive
This might not be a good look for me to be confused by this as a web dev/programmer, but I does that mean they are securely or otherwise hashing everything they store on all users? Drive, Gmail and other Google services have tons of data. After THats they are also still only checking hashes?
I think the complaint was they scan your entire doc, for all it's content.
This is ~super common with things like copyright violations and child porn. You store a database of hashes of copyrighted or pornographic data. And specifically you can use visual-similarity hashing to detect even somewhat perturbed documents.
No, I think they wanted to make money from it directly via Enterprise sales.
MS Office is the #1 source of profit for MS for a long while.
In the 2000's it seemed 'everything was going cloud', naturally Google thought they could leapfrog MS into that space.
But it didn't work out.
Chrome has been deteriorating in performance and power usage - on OSX at least, I recently switched back to Firefox because it was that bad (Safari is a step too far as I want to work on non-Apple platforms). Firefox has slipped from the mainstream and it's very obvious - so many sites I use on a daily basis have almost unusable bugs on FF (I have to hack CSS because token auth popup from my bank is broken, a game related website has half of the scrolling on the page broken, in general so many sites have broken scrolling on FF) - the situation with Chrome seems to be similar to IE.
And the small exposure I had with Android SDK I was shocked at the API design quality, poor documentation. Implementation is ridiculously inconsistent across OS versions and HW vendors - I was trying to create a WiFi management API for some industrial application that would connect to controller specific networks - Android has 2 layers of terrible and depricated API with documentation that was misleading at best, a new API that only worked on 10+ without backcompat, and the actual implementation was inconsistent across four Android devices we tested. We gave up on the project as the Matrix of features missing and hacks needed for every platform we could find was just not practical to maintain.
I've been preaching this for a while:
- Chrome is dominant line IE was.
- Chrome - like IE - doesn't care about the standards because they know developers will adapt to them.
- Chrome - like IE - is starting to fail.
Unfortunately, meanwhile Mozilla has been busy tearing apart a number of the things that made Firefox shine, especially the extension API. They've also been busy trying to destroy the massive trust many of us had in them by doing stupid things like injecting a silly ad extension and lying (IIRC) about the Pocket thing (nothing against Pocket, they just shouldn't have lied about it, many of us are looking for ways to fund FF development.)
Edit: I still use and recommend Firefox. For me it is still the best browser out there in more than one way, I just feel it could have been so much better.
Ho ho ho. You haven't even touched the worst that Android has to offer.
- The bluetooth stack. My god the bluetooth stack. A mix of absolutely awful APIs trying to disguise state machines, APIs trying to simplify GATT (but awfully failing at it), the Android lifecycle making you tear your hair out when you want any kind of long lived connection.
- Camera. Thankfully, CameraX from the AndroidX team makes it much easier. But a few years back? I'll just let Google's very own Camera2BasicFragment speak for itself. https://github.com/googlearchive/android-Camera2Basic/blob/m... . 1100 lines of basicness.
- Well, speaking of lifecycle, here's the Fragment lolcycle: http://boloorian.free.fr/_Media/complete_android_fragment_l_...
- The java.io.File API is basically gone. The reasons themselves are "good". The replacement, SAF is a horrible, slow, inconvenient API that breaks pretty much every file manager.
- Looking at the bug tracker is a whole other level of sadness. What's that, You'd need your testing library to ba able to instantiate a Fragment in an arbitrary Activity ? radio silence since 2019
You can report sites that are broken in Firefox at https://webcompat.com/. Mozilla engineers will debug the broken site and try to contact the site's developers. Firefox also ships some site-specific workarounds (such as spoofing Chrome's User-Agent string or tweaking some CSS). You can see the current list of site workarounds in Firefox's about:compat page.
I find this really interesting, and would like to hear more. I've been a Firefox ESR user for almost a decade, and apart from some breakage on some videoconferencing sites, and sometimes having to disable uBlock Origin, I've not faced an unusable site. And this is on ESR!
This drove me nuts with my Nest Minis until I tried out Apple's Homepod.
People hate on Apple for moving slow in the "connected home" space, but my Homepod sounds great, can distinguish between my wife and I, and can handle BOTH personal and work calendars for the two of us. I'll take the polish over my actual use cases, rather than rough edges around a wider set of uses, most of which I never will use.
And neither of us use iCloud for email! It blows my mind that a Google can offer email/calendars for both personal and work use can tie both to you as an individual, but _somehow_ can't make your "smart" speaker do the same.
I mostly chose the homepod because of privacy and better sound. If the privacy story was the same on google or amazon, I'd probably be using that right now instead.
You are in for a surprise. Office 365 (at least Excel and Word) looks like a toy compared to the desktop versions. I'm not talking about niche features or VBA, I'm talking about things like naming a table, which is explicitly only supported in the desktop version. Ah, of course! You need the table's name to use it in their Power Automate platform. Microsoft 365 is a mess right now. I hope it improves.
All told, it's pretty good.
Here's another Office 365 Web surprise. Last week we had 5 team members working in a shared Word document with track-changes; A) There is no "view final markup" option, and B) after a while the web-app crawled to a halt.
The web version is intended for basic/common use cases, not power user functions.
They did. Sundar ran both Android and Chrome, and now he's CEO.
I mostly use YouTube to watch series - PBS Space Time, World War Two, Crash Course etc. YouTube is absolutely horrible at navigating through these series - it is difficult to find where you left, it is difficult to find the next episode, there is absolutely no user comfort.
But then if I quit a video _that I played from a playlist_ and check my history _the playlist itself is listed, and not the actual video_
It is, indeed, a mess
That is a really strange false equivalency. Not even the slightest bit relevant, yet it reads as if you believe that protesting for social change is a bad thing.
It's like this was a low hanging fruit of finally cleaning up some old mess in Chromium, Google ignored it for years, and MS team just did it.
I don't work at Google these days so I can't offer the exact reasons why, but it shouldn't be surprising then that the two don't play well.
Amazon, on the other hand is not contractually obligated to create this silo. For it, your GSuite account is just another third party account, no different from your GMail account.
Yes this is an undesirable outcome, but when business users choose to buy GSuite services with the assurance that the data won't be available to Google for general purpose learning, this is the price they pay for that privacy.
It's like they develop products just enough to get people using them so they can squeeze out some more meta-data and connect the dots back to a Google account, and then they stop development because it's not going to add more revenue.
And if they can't figure out how to push advertising with it, they drop it.
Absolutely. Just look at Google Maps these days. Google Maps used to be the only map app I'd use for everything. Now it is so littered with ads once you zoom in that I find it useless for anything other than directions.
This is not a new trend for Google, the advertising company that occasionally builds things.
For example: About a third of the streets that show on GMaps for my previous town don't actually exist - they're paddocks. Every other map is correct: HERE, Apple Maps, OSM, TomTom, etc. As Google notoriously has no support, there's no way to get it fixed, so I simply had to instruct everyone coming to visit me that they needed to download and use a different map software in order to find me.
Our general sense is that whatever MS is using for autoscaling the Sharepoint instances that run the service doesn't work. During busy work days Word loses its connection to the service constantly.
This is totally unnecessary. Striking is a serious matter and not just getting company paid days off for some lazy egineers.
It uses a pseudo-compatible Java 8 subset, with no official roadmap to ever move beyond that, everyone is supposed to move to Kotlin, while they keep fixing the slower developer experience and broken tooling introduced by adding Kotlin support.
NDK requires a great resistance to pain with a development experience that occasionally still makes me miss Carbide/Symbian C++. It took them 10 years to introduce any kind of packaging support for NDK dependencies, there are still no tools to improve the developer experience calling Android APIs, one has to manually write JNI wrappers, or use their unsafe C bindings to APIs that are actually written in somehow safer C++.
I lost count how many stuff introduced as one year amazing IO stuff, is already deprecated the following year. Latest example, all the GUI layout editing tools still being worked on, which will be eventually deprecated when JetPack Composer hits stable.
Critical libraries like Oboe, that are just dumped into Github, instead of having first class support on the SDK and project templates.
Team that puts critical information everywhere on the Internet except on Android's official documentation.
Very small rant, 10 years have a lot of stuff to rant on, so amazing? Not really.
> now word in the cloud kinda works!
is the overstatement of the century. I am stuck with this horrendous product, with its unbelievably bad live collaboration which constantly overwrites what other people are doing, its terrible SSO implementation, its penchant for presenting the least navigable UI I have ever had the misfortune to experience...
Google Docs has stagnated, I agree, Office is light years away from having its seamless sync.
Glad you brought this one up. I had an issue with an enterprise account where I was attempting to access work and code I had contained in a doc I created for the client. I was the owner and creator of the doc, but somehow I got stuck in a loop where I had to request permission from myself.
Google "Support" was basically nonexistent - I had to ask our company adminstrator, who told me only they could get access to speak with a human, and even that wouldn't be able to be done immediately.
I ended up redoing all the work. AWS and Microsoft, in comparison, have had excellent enterprise support.
I get it for free, but g suite is valuable enough to me that I'd pay for it. The thread implies that paying for it wouldn't help.
Which led me to experimenting with migrating off my legacy gsuite, and with the API rate limiting, it seems it would take upwards of 30 days. I can download that data in 10 minutes if it's unhindered.
Personally, I think web based office is something Microsoft wants to drive subscription revenue, but isn’t something customers want. Office is probably the best and most complex fat client app in the world, why sacrifice that?
IMO, Office will embrace add on supplementation and value add to the Office apps.
Like why even doesn't sheets and docs have the exact same table cell formatting options?
Following that, why can't a sheet seamlessly embed to a google doc.
The Google Calendar app from my Google Pixel merges all my accounts but yet, the assistant is linked to my Google Account instead of my device.
It's useless because I'm using multiple calandars on multiple accounts.
The Hangouts move is still one of the most infuriating things I've seen in tech anytime in the last decade. Remember how Google was actively contributing to an open and interoperable spec for chat, and then just proceeded to go full Ayn Rand about it?
There's a pretty strong argument to be made that if any major players were still backing XMPP as a standard, we wouldn't all have a bunch of people in our lives who have said some variation of "I would quit Facebook right now if I didn't need Messenger"
Namely, the things that directly contribute to the ads business.
What's that got to do with it? Are you suggesting this is the reason things aren't shipping? I saw the "strikes" as another symptom of a company that is now deaf. Employees can't get their voices heard as individuals anymore.
Android / Chrome are providing what is primarily a platform, not a product. That's a very different mindset and way of working.
Mmmmmm, Wave. (drooling dead-eyes Homer impression).
So tell me again why I would use google products when they are all so interlinked that one affects the other? No thanks
An old gmail account being noisy is probably more a function of it being old than it being a gmail account. I suspect he'd see a great improvement just starting a new email address.
Airtable has some nice functionality, but I don't think it's head-and-shoulders above sheets and this article doesn't give me any reason to change my mind.
Same things goes for Meet vs Zoom.
Honestly, despite Google's history of trashing projects I'd put my money on gmail/docs outliving hey/notion and so he might just be planting the seeds of a painful switch later. When I switched my email I did it with a domain I own so that I can avoid the same fate.
That's not to say google doesn't have problems. Privacy aside, ads as a primary source of revenue can have a negative effect on usability of their products (like search), but I wouldn't call that "squandering a 10-year lead", it's more like "failure to find a second golden goose"
* It's a constant struggle to keep documents in folders so that you can find them easily.
* Yeah I get that I can do google search and find docs wherever they live. But I can't find docs if I don't know that they exist.
* Moreover, I can't ensure that important documents are reliably stored in folders where everyone else can find them easily as well.
I don't understand why Google does not get how important this is for business documents. It's a breath of fresh air to use Dropbox or Box at this point.
To illustrate this point more. I used to work in a company where everyone had to submit their timesheet via docs. And if you did not keep a link or copy or whatever they call it of your own sheet, it's essentially impossible to search for it, because now there are 1000s of identically named documents.
It also happens when legal tries to share a generically named file with you and you lose the link, so you search for it and find a file that looks like it, only to realise that is HR's own special copy.
We have service agreements that go through revisions. We copy the whole directory when there's a new release to ensure we don't lose old templates. At that point search on service agreements brings up a bunch of identically named documents in a listing that does not distinguish the directory location. It's actually caused us to send the wrong doc on several occasions.
Google if you are listening please fix this. Just do what everyone else does. You don't have to be creative.
For several of the concerns listed, I'm surprised to see how people are using the app.
Similar for asking every employee of a company to track their time in same name documents?
Perhaps poor processes and poor tool-to-solution matches contribute?
Sometimes you don't have a choice - we are a small team, and we're pretty good about using a shared drive and a shared folder. But sometimes you have to share a document with an external collaborator (or someone in another firm shares a document with you). And if you forgot how that document was shared, then google makes it practically impossible to find the original.
Tell me about it! The local Scout troop uses google docs for routine stuff like flyers, sign up sheets etc. I continue to routinely see unrelated material there: kids’ homework, doctor’s patient records, once a marketing plan for $BIG_SV_COMPANY etc. It’s not like there are one or two clueless souls: several documents a week show ip from all sorts of different people.
Google Docs has so much potential. Google should just spin it off into a separate company and let it find its own way. Making it conform to Google notions of search has crippled the design.
They work when highly managed (e.g., our training team for sales org) but not for product development teams in my experience.
The expanding symlink functionality makes everything worse, because people think they're moving folders, but they're not, and permissions don't get rationalized. Ugh.
does your drive look significantly different from this?
My personal G Drive looks similar to yours. It looks like your Drive is mostly used by you, and not many (if any) other collaborators. The problem is that my work G Drive is an utter clusterfuck because of the numerous different ways that documents can be shared between people/teams. There are shared folders, shared drives, individually shared documents, and probably more. And each one of them shows up in a completely different place than the others.
If you're working with one specific team, you can likely get that entire team to conform to one way of doing things (everyone puts documents in this shared folder). But once you start involving 10s/100s of teams, thousands of individuals, etc... some teams use "Shared drives" (which show up on the left panel under "Shared drives"), some teams use shared folders (which show up in your folders list), some teams use individually shared documents (which show up in any number of random places, with the only reliable way of getting back to it is to find the email where they shared it with you). Some teams use shared drives internally within their team, but because they don't want to share the entire drive with an outside collaborator, they will share only a specific folder/file. The entire sharing mechanism becomes a mess and impossible to track and keep organized.
G drive is nice in many aspects, but the sharing is one in which IMO it allows far too much flexibility. The nice thing about file systems of yesteryear like Sharepoint (ugh, ew) is that they at least said "this is the folder tree. use it, because you don't have any choice" which at least encouraged some modicum of structure. G Drive instead says "here's a sandbox, do what you want" which sounds nice in theory, but in practical use is a mess when you have 1000+ people building their own personal sandcastle.
Thankfully we use Box and regular office at my workplace, so I have not had to experience that side of Drive.
Would it be fair to say Drive is very well suited for small organisations, but has trouble scaling?
We have a project slated for late this year or early next to audit the file server and shares then permission to begin migrating shares my team doesn't own to other servers. I'm so ready for that.
Hey's screener feature shows there's a lot of room to innovate on giving users control of their attention beyond the filters and labels that Gmail has deemed sufficient for more than a decade now. Setting up forwarding to use Hey as a read client for my incoming gmail email has shown me that my address being old and public is not the problem.
Inbox had bundling that was a promising direction, but that seems to have been scrapped when they shut that client down. I'm not a tinfoil hat person and don't really mind being tracked, but it doesn't surprise me that a company that makes its living off monetizing attention would never lead on giving control of it back to users.
In addition to the simple whitelist behavior, on the initial Hey screening you can (with a single click) route second-tier messages into Feed and Paper Trail, which is a much better UX than what you can build in gmail by creating a filter for every sender that labels + autoarchives.
If that's HEY's value proposition, then they're in for a rude awakening. Personally, I think the proposition is simply using something other than Gmail, which is a fine enough reason without needing to put any marketing spin on it. $99 for an alternative though is a difficult ask.
If you think this is just "marketing spin", I think you're simply not part of the target demographic, which is people that have currently have issues with e-mail.
There are a lot of features I like, but I don't really get all the fuss about the screener. You're still getting those emails, they're not getting in your "imbox" but you still have to review them.
In practice it doesn't seem to make a big difference with gmail "mark as spam".
Sure, but the point is that you can do this only occasionally (e.g. once a day), whereas with gmail they take up space and attention in your inbox until you get to them.
There are a lot of newsletters I like, though.. for things related to fitness and outdooring, that are wholly in the "sign up for this virtual version of the event you were interested in!" and I've simply resigned myself to unsubscribing from all of them. I'll figure all this out later, but so much email feels like the parts of the web and RSS I work hard to avoid.
So, unsubscribe it is...
(That said, I've been trying HEY, and I don't like it [Such. Big. Fonts.] but I do like their "bundle" feature, and I wish I could set tags in Gmail to auto-delete after //n// days... that would make some things nicer to live with.)
Zoom does some kind of active noise-cancelling where it will avoid picking up whatever the person on the other end just said, preventing the echo effect. Meet doesn't, it picks up everything. So if you use a speaker, everything the other person says gets repeated back at them.
When Meet recently announced noise-cancelling, we got really excited, only to be disappointed when they were referring to cancelling of background noises and not of participants.
Really? Is that restriction on desktop or mobile? I've been using speaker mode on meet(mobile) for a while now. Or is it implicitly imposed by you due to lack of noise cancelling features?
I might migrate, but honestly I don't go through old emails almost ever, so I'll prob just export an .mbox and deal with importing it sometime in the future if I ever need it.
The "trick" to successful L5 and L6 promos (and above) for this sort of work is to have credible estimates of the actual impact of your work. Way too many engineers spend quarters or years refactoring or rewriting systems, and then go for promo with a case that's basically: "System X was kludgy, crufty, and engineers complained about it. I designed and lead implementation of a clean-up effort, and now people say it's nicer."
That's generally not going to cut it. You might get lucky, or you might get bailed out by a peer reviewer that provides solid data about the impact of your work, but you can't count on this, and you should be doing the legwork yourself.
You need impact estimates. That generally means you need some measurements, although the measurements don't have to be perfect. What metrics measure the pain that the existing system is causing? Some examples might be:
- Average # of hours required to push a release
- Average SWE-days/SWE-quarters/etc. required to develop a representative feature change
- Average monthly user-reported bugs
Spend some time actually measuring this stuff. Write some queries, run an internal survey of the developers on affected teams, etc. Take it seriously. Ideally, do all this before you've actually started work on the cleanup you want to do. Write a proposal doc, get it reviewed by others, and make sure they find your estimates credible. If the numbers are smaller than you expected, reconsider whether the clean-up is worth the time you're considering investing in it.
After you've completed your project, measure again. If your project is amenable to an experiment-style launch, that's ideal, but pre- and post- measurements are fine too. Share the stats - advertise your team's success! Package them up in a nice doc you can link to in your promo case.
"How am I supposed to find the time to do this while I'm doing my normal job?" This is your normal job. The opportunity cost of your time is $XXXk/quarter. The opportunity cost of your team's time is $X million-$XX million/quarter. The single most important thing you can do is make sure that time is being invested in a high value way. In your personal life, you would look for a lot of data before you invested that kind of money - you should be doing the same at work.
In general, as you move up you should expect to spend a higher percentage of your time figuring out what problems you're going to work on. As a result, the fraction of your time that you spend actually designing and implementing the solutions to those problems will decrease, but it's still a net win because you and your team will be focused on tackling the really important problems.
In summary, it's possible to be really successful and quickly move up the ladder by doing "sustaining work". The catch is that you have to be rigorous about choosing the specific "sustaining work" to spend your time on.
> Write some queries, run an internal survey
> Write a proposal doc, get it reviewed by others
Even if one could convincingly claim a causal effect on those noisy metrics, that sounds like quite a bit of overhead. IMO the majority of cleanup or bug fixing work shouldn't require any sort of formal planning or justification. At other companies, we would just go ahead and do the work. Then if an IC's work shows a pattern of code quality improvements, the manager should take notice and make sure it's considered in any promotion decisions.
Moreover, the strategy you mention requires a concerted effort to improve the quality of a particular component in a short period of time. Ideally one should evaluate bugs and quality issues as they arise, and most of them should be fixed promptly. But if a Googler is optimizing for promotions, it seems better to let code rot for months or years, then fix many issues in a short sprint to create a nice dip in the metrics.
The team rushes at the problem, has a honeymoon period where things look nice and progress is fast but... it all then goes to shit. If your reaction is to blame technologies or the previous generation of staff, dump the code and repeat the cycle, you end up in the same place.
They just got onto a growth tear and bought a bunch of things they shouldn’t, and eventually rounded up all of the vaguely similar ones and divested.
I wonder sometimes if Google would be better off having a system set up for spinning off ideas that are complementary to their business model but distracting, or not high volume enough. Not every idea has to be a billion dollar idea, and a one time cash infusion to five $200M ideas would be a pretty small opportunity cost for them.
The fact that such ideas are not a direct competitor also achieves another goal of overly large employee pools, which is to choke off the supply of talent to upstarts.
Is that not what Alphabet is?
> or not high volume enough
Kind of a let-down
If the latter, then good for them but another thing they should have done ten years ago.
Attributed to Alexander the Great.
But because he couldn’t convince corporate to adopt it and when it became a feature it fell under the reliability guidelines, they canned it even though customers liked it.
1) A 'cost calculator' will be a hugely sensitive product, that is absolutely in the domain of sales, it has nothing to do with dev. So many sales issues around that - this will be the primary issue with such a product.
2) Just because some people like it doesn't mean it's worth maintaining. Maybe it is, maybe it's not. Paradoxically, because it was such a marketing/sales focused product, it's possible the Eng. driven culture didn't really understand it's value and thought it was maybe to simple of a product. Arguably, it's hardly a product, more of a marketing feature.
I suspect if sales was pushing hard for it it would have happened.
AWS has a number of services that have been deprecated for years but it still supports like SimpleDB and running an EC2 instance outside of a VPC. Heck they still support transferring files from S3 over BitTorrent in older regions.
I can't tell what you're alluding to with "hugely sensitive", and "many sales issues around it". Could you clarify a concrete example these fuzzy expressions describe?
In fact, I can hardly think of a serious product or service quite like this. Not even cars are like this. You have maintenance, resale, insurance and financing to consider.
This idea of an easy, objective way to 'calculate costs' is never really quite possible.
There are usually going to be some degree of Apples-to-Oranges comparisons, situations wherein small issues make a big difference. You want a sales person to be there to make sure that your potential customer is aware of the options.
In addition, there is of course the 'Total Cost of Ownership' - meaning that much of the 'cost' of something is not apparent in the calculation. Training, support, etc.. On the far end of that spectrum you have the strategic issues such as vendor lock-in etc..
So, even just trying to establish a fairly objective 'true cost' calculation will be hard.
Next, you have the fact that most enterprise sales are not 'off-the-shelf' - pricing is subject to negotiation, which can vary a lot. This makes it difficult to set price.
Then, you have communications issues around a sale - these are complicated products, the last thing you ever want is for customers inputting some information, and getting the wrong numbers back, or the wrong impression. If there is any money involved, it's worth the time to talk to a sales person to smooth over issues.
Finally, is of course the sales organisations ability to pitch, sell and spin. Of course this includes the shifty areas wherein the team will want to sell a service even when they know they are not the best option.
So a 'raw cost calculator' is possibly just a big, risky bit of possible misinformation and lost opportunity to make a sale.
The 'technical' aspect of making a 'cost calculator' is completely mundane to the point of being irrelevant. In fact, Google Engineers might be too overqualified to even do such a thing.
I see a 'cost calculator' has having two completely different roles:
1) As a 'sales lead' - something new customers can input information into, which is going to almost assuredly give them a good perspective, but wherein the true and only purpose of the calculator is to generate a lead, so that a sales person can chime in.
2) A customer-centric calculator, for established customers that is tuned to their account status and discounts and let's the IT manager or business lead do projections on the service.
I'd be surprised if this tendency had anything to do with Google exporting its culture.
What I also hear about Amazon is that the experience varies wildly from group to group. That's not a gamble I'd be willing to take. Google is not nearly so balkanized; there are fairly consistent expectations across the company in terms of what is acceptable manager behaviour.
I am not happy at Google. But if I were to jump ship it would be to a small or medium sized company that is more agile and internally cohesive and where things move quickly, not to another BigCo with all the excessive bureaucracy and politics that goes with that.
I miss the teams I worked on where there were less than 30 or so engineers in the company.
The only reason that you don’t hear as much about labor practices with the other tech companies is because they outsource all of the low skill employees that make their products to China. Google has a lot fewer physical products but the people who make their few hardware products are treated worse than any Amazon employee. Yes the same applies to Apple.
I’m not making a value judgement. Just calling a spade a spade.
The era of Hawaii offsites at Google is long over.
“Wouldn’t consider Amazon when planning a move” seems to have the same tenor as “Wouldn’t consider moving to a less white neighborhood”
I'm not so sure that's the case. It seems like historically certain products are starved of feautures and resources while other products are made a priority, and it also seems like these priorities can shift pretty rapidly.
In the Google+ era for example there was the concept of "more wood behind fewer arrows" and a ton of money and resources went into plus to the detriment of other products (some of which were outright cancelled) and now obviously plus is no longer a priority.
Hangouts was developed (iirc) for plus to attract users for a social network then eventually became Meets which seems to be attached to Google Apps as a business offering to attract paying subscribers. Which on some level makes sense but from the vantage of the actual product leads to some wasted effort and changes that seem arbitrary to users. There doesn't seem to have been a clear incentive to put features into Hangouts/Meet; instead the incentive seems to have been to grow the distinct platforms the product was attached to as a feature of those platforms. (Hence Duo as a separate product, it is attached to yet another platform, Android). Meanwhile Zoom, by staying focused on just the actual product of videoconferencing software, left Google's offering in the dust.
Are there as many people working on features at say Blogger as there were 10 years ago? I doubt it. I'm not even saying that's wrong just that it contradicts the idea that Google can be said to incentivize features in the arbitrary case. I think it's clearly only for blessed products and that set of products that are blessed will change over time.
Outside Google, I've seen plenty of terrible code by people who would fail FizzBuzz.
Within Google, I've seen way more attention paid to code quality and system design than at any other place I've worked at.
Business users want focused things like accurate budget vs. actuals reports where you can flag and fix deviations quickly. There's an overall design--of course--but great enterprise software is the result of attention to very granular features related to specific work practices.
In this case the devil really is in the details.
>It is used by monopolists to discourage entry into a market, and is illegal in many countries. The quantity produced by the incumbent firm to act as a deterrent to entry is usually larger than would be optimal for a monopolist, but might still produce higher economic profits than would be earned under perfect competition.
as always govt has failed everyone by failing to prosecute these big behemoths where the only 'innovation' they do is centralize and capitalize on an already emerging solution from the rise of internet and computing.
what we need is a philanthropic fund that funds startups like craigslist & does it completely open sourced from the getgo.
Let’s imagine a firm, and let’s call it Adobe. Adobe makes Photoshop. Photoshop has a full set of features and is sold for a high price to a market segment comprised of professional users who need the features provided by Photoshop, and are happy to pay the price since it enables them to make a decent living even once the cost of the tool is deducted. Adobe gets a decent revenue that allows it to cover expenses, capital costs, and develop future versions.
On the other side of the spectrum, you have Microsoft. Microsoft ships Paint for free. Paint has very few features, but it covers some (mainly ironic) usage cases, and it gets used by those who wish to manipulate images but have no need for the complex features of Photoshop. Sure, some people who wish to do high-level image manipulation but cannot afford Adobe’s asking price for Photoshop are not well-served by this arrangement, but hardly anybody would argue that Microsoft’s inclusion of Paint would be anti-competitive towards Adobe: it’s not worth adding all the features of Photoshop to Paint only to give it away for free (and the argument that you would give it away for free only long enough to bankrupt Adobe and then start charging for Mega-Paint might be profitable, but it’s uncertain and depends on costs of capital and expected rates or return, plus the costs of an almost certain lawsuit).
Nor can Adobe be anti-competitive against Microsoft: dropping the price of Photoshop to zero just to stop people from using Microsoft’s own free product would be... pointless as it would zero their revenue.
These are two extreme cases, and it’s easy to just think in these dualistic terms and come to the wrong conclusion (or wonder what I’m getting at with this bizarre and apparently off-topic rant).
Now to tie it all together, introduce a middle-ground player such as Affinity. Affinity makes Photo, a product that is midway between Paint and Photoshop both in terms of price and features. People who need the full features of Photoshop (including those not present in Photo) will still choose Photoshop, which might slightly dip Adobe’s revenue. Microsoft’s will however remain stationary at zero. Affinity has captured the market of those who are defined by Paint being unsuitable but who do not wish to pay Photoshop’s full price (because Photos contains all the features they need).
Now, finally, the final step: say Adobe turns a blind eye to piracy of Photoshop. It still gets paid by its professional customers so it’s revenue remains unchanged. However, people who found Paint to be frustrating are now faced with an interesting choice: steal Photoshop (which has all the functions they could possibly want, and is free) or buy Photos (which has all the functions they want, albeit a subset of those offered by Photoshop, but does so for a higher price).
This is one obvious case that comes under the broad rubric of ‘dumping’ (selling at prices that damage one’s own short-term interest in order to damage one’s competitor and increase one’s net long-term advantage) but there’s plenty others where that came from. The tech industry is rife with them. Mainly, lack of successful prosecution is probably due to regulatory capture by way of lobbying.
A better way to respond to that one might be by saying something about all the people who can't afford to pay for email, who benefit from the free services we're talking about.
When you payed your ISP for internet service it used to include an email account with it.
You're better off paying for your email - if you don't want, or can't, you just have to pay with your privacy.
One of my colleagues working for Netflix tells me that they don’t have any fancy titles except senior SDE there. They pay you more if you’re that worthy, though. I can’t stop wondering what if tech companies follow this practice. Then, people would just focus on making stuff better instead of chasing the carrots waved in front of them.
And yet, Netflix had autoplaying videos at full volume that didn't even show trailers, but some random snippet from the movie/show
However, Netflix is full of smart people, so I have to assume that they've tested it and it increases engagement. Perhaps we're the outliers.
For example, Netflix selects the "optimal" categories to display on your home screen. For several years, "My List" and "Continue Watching" were part of those categories, meaning they would change position and sometimes not show up at all, with no way to access them. It drove me crazy that I specifically chose shows I wanted to watch and Netflix would sometimes choose not to show me them.
That's the key: engagement. Which is basically "how many times a user interacts with objects on screen". This says nothing about whether a product is good or bad. In case of Netflix, no doubt, engagement was through the roof as users scrambled to mute, pause, or move to the next screen.
It's absolutely insane, blows GT right out of the water with its accuracy.
For general vocabulary, very likely. I believe Google Translate's competitive edge comes in the form of figuring out translations for jargon, slang, etc. from equivalent-corpus context.
I like to think of Google Translate as a keyword extractor on steroids. It doesn't necessarily give you the right prose, but it does better than anything I know of at giving you the right bag-of-words for indexing a foreign-language document in English.
(I hypothesize this to be Google Translate's real driving purpose, and the reason it still sees regular updates after all these years: it's used to index foreign-language web pages, books, and videos so that there can be a single TF-IDF token in Google's backend for each language-neutral conceptual category rather than distinct token for each language-specific word.)
Edit: thanks for the link though, I'm saving it and trying from time to time, we use translation a ton in my household (everyone is learning English after moving abroad)
- It has only a handful of languages
- No OCR / photo support
- No speech / conversation support.
IMO, as is, it is way inferior to GT. But it is good to have competition in this area as there is still a lot of room for improvement.
I've often seen GT get the basics dead wrong - for example formal greetings Japanese people have been using in formal correspondence for hundreds of years. When it gets things right it's often fleeting, a week later it gives you something different.
It probably will be like Maps where the first year or two were just a joke and then Maps became faster, easier to use, and just as good as Google Maps.
Translation to a single language back and forth seems to be really really good.
Although quite impressive, it still suffers from the same problem that most other translator service have if you keep translating the same text between random languages.
The original text is
The final English text is
I wonder if the test they gave me was biased? I guess being an elf, there is a bias in the question. I'm sure the water gnomes would have no problem answering the question of whether the unicorn is wet. ? But the elves.
Notice how drarfs became gnomes. The last sentence is not a sentence. Various other problems like a "?" by itself etc.
Translation to a single language back and forth seems to be really really good.
It would be interesting to see the same tasks with professional translators. I'm guessing some of the errors might still be there at the end, like the gnome one, whereas the last sentence would probably be folded in the previous sentences.
Do you remember which 6 languages you went through before going back to English?