Spinning Socks in the Cloud

One of the fun things about working at Google is that you get to work with smart and creative people. The photo below was created with Cloud Spin, a demo project that shows how to use Google Cloud Platform to build services for mobile apps.

The folks running the demo at the GDG conference were bemused when I showed up with my sock and a ball of yarn.

This is my representation of juggling a craft-filled life.


It would have been even more fun if I’d had several unfinished projects to juggle, but I had to work with what I had on hand.

The way the technology works is that you have a set of mobile phones arranged in a half-circle. You jump, and each phone takes a wee bit of video. The app controlling the phones inserts an audio “beep” as a marker when you jump. Then the phones upload the videos to code running in the cloud, which extracts the frame corresponding to the audio marker from each video and compiles it into a single animated GIF.



The team that created this demo did it on a nearly nonexistent budget, in three weeks. I edited the blog posts they wrote about the project. If you’re interested in the technical details and/or building your own version check them out:

Cloud Spin Part 1: 180-degree animations on Google Cloud Platform

Cloud Spin, Part 2: Building mobile apps to orchestrate video recording

Cloud Spin, Part 3: processing video using Google Cloud Platform service

And yes, seeing this photo does make me want to eat better and get more serious about exercising regularly. But you know what, if I wait until I’m thin to do fun things, that might be a long time… and I’d miss out on adventures in the meantime.

P.S. I have totally fallen down on my NaWriDaMo pledge. Epic fail. I blame the wool fumes at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival.


In February of this year, I joined Google as a technical writer for Google Cloud Platform. People who work at Google refer to themselves as Googlers. Newbies are called Nooglers.

And yes, they issue every single one of us our own beanie cap.


When you join Google they send you to orientation. It’s a week long, which is daunting. But what they’re doing there is orienting you to your new job, but also Google culture, which is a bit different than any other company I’ve worked for. 


One thing I enjoy about Google is the sense of whimsy. On the Mountain View campus you can find fun touches, like this giant Android statue, everywhere.


After my interview, I’d dyed my hair in red, yellow, blue, and free (Google colors) for good luck. When I told my friend David this, his grinned at me and then said affectionately, “Dork.” Yep. Guilty.

When I got to the orientation, I worried about being a fish out of water. Tech companies aren’t known for hiring middle-aged women. I imagined myself the oldest person in a sea of twenty-something guys—with odd hair besides.

So I bonded quickly with Laura, who also showed up with rainbow-colored hair. We later had adventures that involved a photo booth, and gleefully sneaking around Google offices looking for a mythical slide you can ride between floors.


See my face? That’s what I look like after I’ve stayed up late the night before, packing, and have only had two hours of sleep. An since we took our employee photos about 30 minutes before this, it’s pretty much what my badge photo looks like: ouch.

Oh, and more good news about orientation. Google hires for diversity. And that includes age diversity in addition to gender and race. They have the perspective that many varied viewpoints make for better decisions. They even have an internal affinity group, Greyglers, for folks of a certain age.

One of the exciting things I saw when I was down in Mountain View was one of Google’s self-driving cars. It’s there, at the front of the stop-light line, with the funny cone on top.


By happy coincidence, my friend Cicilie, that I’d worked with at Amazon, was also attending orientation that same week. In this photo, we’re riding in the top of a double-decker bus to lunch. 


I also found time to ride one of the famous Google bikes. To cut down on shuttles, and because the Mountain View campus is sprawling, Google provides bikes outside the buildings. When you need a bike, you hop on one and pedal it to the next building and leave it out front. There’s no reservation or check-out, just everyone sharing. Very Googley.


As I said, there are many whimsical touches around the campus, and many places to lounge and enjoy a moment. I think the idea is that you work hard and take brain breaks so you stay fresh and happy. Pretty smart if you ask me.


At the orientation, there was a wall-mounted board and boxes of legos that you could play with between classes and during the lunch break. On the last day, I added my contribution.


The last night I went out to teppanyaki with Soma, another Noogler, and her husband, Mike, who is tall and of european descent. An awkward moment ensued when we walked in. Soma is about four feet tall, with an adorable face. They asked if we would need a kid’s menu. Soma said, “What am I supposed to be, your adopted daughter?” Apparently this has happened to them before.

Don’t let the sweet face fool you, folks. That is one lethally smart, 30-something, corporate lawyer sitting beside me. The teppanyaki place is lucky she took it easy on them.


In closing, I’ll leave with this photo, taken in an ice cream shop that specializes in unique and unusual flavors.

I call this: geek’s dilemma.