Google and YouTube

November 3, 2011 at 11:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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So in my last post I sort of glossed over the exciting fact that Blake just got a job at Google. We were sort of sad to leave Amazon because Blake really liked his manager and his coworkers there. And furthermore, Blake really likes Amazon itself — how it makes decisions and solves problems and accomplishes things. So in a way we were sad to leave.

But this is Google. How can you pass that up?

We were a little wary of California’s infamous taxes, of which there are many. (Washington, like Texas, has no state income tax.) Fortunately, the salary they offered him accounts for that and still gives him a pay increase on top of that, which helped make the decision very easy. And of course the weather here is only about a million times better than Seattle’s weather, which will be wonderful. I really will miss the rain in Seattle — honestly, I’m not being sarcastic — but I just couldn’t take Seattle’s cold any more.

Blake will actually be working on YouTube, which is a part of Google. He’ll be working on the front-end user interface, which means that he’ll be directly dealing with what you see when you go to YouTube to watch a video. Everything except the actual video itself — the video player belongs to another team. His team works on everything else on the site.

Google’s global headquarters is in Mountain View, but YouTube actually has a separate campus in San Bruno. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, here is a quick primer:

Silicon Valley

In the map above, you can see San Francisco at the top of the peninsula in the upper-left corner. (That water to the left of it is the Pacific ocean.) In the lower right corner of the map is San Jose, and the area between the two is what’s known as Silicon Valley. (Silicon Valley is not an official place, it’s more like a colloquial term for this region.) On a day with no traffic, you can get from San Jose to San Francisco in about an hour.

Mountain View (where Google’s headquarters is) is outlined in blue, and San Bruno (where Blake works at the YouTube campus) is outlined in red. We will probably end up living in Foster City, which I’ve outlined in green, but I’ll talk more about that in another post. For the next few weeks we’re staying in San Bruno just a couple blocks from YouTube.

Though Blake will probably spend most of his time working in the YouTube office, he will sometimes need to go down to Mountain View for events. Conveniently, Google operates a spiderweb of shuttles that go all over this map, and so when Blake needs to do that he’ll take a comfy bus on the 35-minute drive instead of having to fight traffic himself.

Here’s a little video Google made about working at the YouTube office:

Or if you’d rather look at a bunch of photos instead, there are some nice ones here: YouTube Office in San Bruno.

It really seems like a nice place to work. They have a great cafeteria that provides free food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so I don’t make Hot Pockets for Blake in the morning anymore. The other day he had red velvet pancakes with cream cheese. For lunch it was a kobe beef burger, and all day long there is an endless supply of snacks and drinks in little bins all around the office. They even color code them — the red bins for things like Reese’s and Snickers, yellow bins for medium-healthy snacks, and green bins for low-calorie crackers or granola bars or fruit. Also we’re going to save like $60 per month because we won’t have to buy boxes and boxes of Diet Mountain Dew for Blake anymore. (He used to bring three to work every day, but now he’ll just get free ones from YouTube whenever he wants.)

In addition to the food, there’s also a nice big gym and a three-lane 25 meter pool. It sounds like a lot of the people on Blake’s team work out and swim regularly, so it’ll be easy for him to get into a healthy routine.

All in all, it sounds really great. We’re excited.

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AmazonTote: a spiffy free service for Seattleites

October 4, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Yesterday as I was making a purchase on Amazon, I noticed this little box for the first time:

AmazonTote boxI’m not sure how long it has been there, but I certainly hadn’t seen it before. I asked Blake about it — since he’s usually pretty up-to-date on Amazon’s many, many services — but he’d never heard of it. So I clicked the Learn More link and here’s what I found:

Amazon Tote explanationApparently this nifty service is available in only twenty-one Seattle zip codes (and nowhere else in the world), and we’re among them! Upon further reading, I learned that AmazonTote operates via the same infrastructure as AmazonFresh. Here’s how it works: rather than me paying for shipping, our zip code has a weekly delivery day when there will be an AmazonFresh truck in our area already. As long as I’m willing to wait until that day to receive my items, I can add items to my tote bag and they’ll all be delivered to my doorstep. (Though at the moment we have a lobby and door where we buzz people in instead of a doorstep.) Not only that, then I get a cute AmazonTote tote bag for free. =)

Since we would like a tote bag and this service isn’t offered in our new house’s zip code, we decided that this was the time to try out AmazonTote. So I ordered a paperback I’ve been wanting and it will be delivered for free on Saturday. Neat.

What am I doing while Blake’s at work all day?

August 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Pico is oblivious to my toiling

Pico slumbers, oblivious to my toiling

I get this question a lot, actually. (I sort of wonder if a few people think I’m sitting at home watching TV and eating bon bons, but I can assure you most wholeheartedly that I am not!) In fact, since Blake’s gone all day I’m working primarily on the many things that need to be done to sell our house in Texas, arrange a home loan for a new house here, shop for a new house here, and take care of regular stuff around the apartment that needs to be done. Here’s what I did today*:

  • Got up at 7:40 a.m.
  • Took Pico for a walk and made Blake’s breakfast while he showered before work.
  • Drove Blake to work (about thirteen minutes away) and came back home.**
  • Spent 45 minutes calling painters’ references, returning calls to painters, leaving voicemails for painters, and answering painters’ emails. We need to check their references to make sure they’re trustworthy enough to go into our house in Texas and give an estimate even though there’s nobody there.***
  • Had a few back-and-forth emails with a lender to talk about getting a home loan for a new house.
  • Called the company in Austin that will be doing our carpeting there to let them know that yes, we still want them to do our carpet, but we’re waiting to have the house painted.
  • Sat down with a cup of coffee for five minutes and read the documentation the dog breeder gave us about the new puppy. (I got about 25% of the way through.)
  • Met with the lender and dug up records and dates and addresses to plug in to her magic lender app on her laptop.
  • Had a quick lunch of ramen while reading BoingBoing.
  • Took Pico on a brief bathroom-themed walk in the Walgreen’s parking lot next door.
  • Walked to Amazon — a different location than the one where Blake works — to meet with an HR rep so I could ask some questions for determining which health plan to choose. (Parking there is impossible and it was only a 30-minute walk roundtrip.)
  • Came home, answered more emails and phone calls to painters and lenders and realtors.
  • Went down to the leasing office to use their fax machine to send the lender a copy of Blake’s offer letter from Amazon.
  • Read more info from the breeder (almost finished it).
  • Set up an appointment with a realtor to look at houses later in the week.
  • Straightened up the kitchen and ran the dishwasher.
  • Went down to the car to pick up Blake from Amazon at 5 p.m.

Most of my days have been like this since we arrived, though I’m not complaining at all! Other frequent parts of my day include meeting with realtors and looking at houses, going to the grocery store, working out, and going on a quest to shop for some needed item that we forgot to put in the boxes for the temporary housing (and is therefore practically irretrievable in storage until we move to a permanent home). Usually this is something pretty necessary like dog food or a screwdriver or a phone battery car charger or a hands-free headset (they’re the law for Seattle drivers).

So it’s been pretty busy for both me and Blake. It’s really nice, though, and I’m enjoying being busy quite a lot. I guess it’s sort of like wedding planning: when you’re busy with something you care about a lot, it makes it a lot more pleasant to deal with. Also being home makes it pleasant too. I am getting a little bit tired of dealing with painters, but soon that’ll be done and most of what I’ll be doing will be puppy-related (yay!) or buying-a-house-related (also yay!).

Footnotes:

* This post was written on Tuesday, August 10.

** I have to drop off and pick up Blake because we only have a rental car right now until our cars are delivered. After they’re delivered, though, we still may do this, because parking at Amazon (which is in the heart of downtown and next to the baseball stadium) costs thousands of dollars per year. We might also start looking into the oft-recommended public transportation, but we haven’t really had time to research it yet.

Our old house in Texas

"Help!" says our old house in Texas, "I'm thirsty for paint!"

*** Observant readers may recall that I had several painters come by several weeks ago while we were still in Texas. We thought we had a deal going with one from that round of estimates, but she required a big deposit that we weren’t willing to pay up front. (With us out of state, it would be really difficult for us to enforce justice if she never finished the job.) She was both indignant that we didn’t trust her and absolutely unwilling to negotiate on the point, so now we’re looking for someone else. (Happily, I’ve since found several painters willing to consider other payment options that are low-risk for both of us — not just the contractor.)

Amazon!

August 4, 2010 at 8:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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On Monday Blake officially started working at Amazon! It’s pretty exciting. His title is lengthy: Software Design Engineer – Gift Cards User Experience. He’ll be writing the code for some of the pages you see when you go to amazon.com/giftcards. His office is in Union Station, which is primarily leased by Amazon.com (though I think there may be a few other businesses working there as well). More info on Union Station here.

Amazon Fresh truck

Amazon Fresh truck

The other day on our walk we also saw an Amazon Fresh truck. Amazon Fresh is a spiffy service whereby you can buy all your groceries from Amazon and have them delivered to your door at a pre-specified time. (Much like the Webvan of yore.) They only deliver to certain areas, however, but I’ve just learned that our apartment is inside the borders! Perhaps I shall do that for groceries next time instead of trekking over to Fred Meyer.

Update: It turns out that Amazon actually bought Webvan for their Amazon Fresh business! I found that out by looking at the Wikipedia page when I went to add the above link. Neat. I predict Amazon will be more successful at it than Webvan was. (I certainly hope so!)

What’s keeping us busy?

July 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The front room

The front room after painting. (The color doesn't look exactly right in this photo, but it's close.)

A lot of things! Apparently late July is moving season: parents want to get to their destinations while the kids are out of school. So although we had originally planned for Blake to start work at Amazon today, all the Amazon-provided moving services were so swamped that they couldn’t get that stuff done in time and we were forced to push back his start date to next Monday, August 2.

It’s a good thing, too, because there sure is a lot to do! It’s like Grand Central Station in here with all the comings and goings. Last week we had our listing agent, Sean McCormack, come  by and make recommendations for how best to  improve the house in the short amount of remaining time that we’re in Texas. He recommended painting the front room and the kitchen, which is basically how we spent last weekend. 20 hours and a lot of sore muscles later, the front room and kitchen are now a nice, bright, neutral “toasted oatmeal” (read: pale pale beige) instead of the god-awful dusty rose that was there before. Since then, we’ve had carpet people come in and give us an estimate, five painters stop by to give estimates for doing the rest of the interior, our listing agent visiting a few more times, a guy who tells the movers how much stuff we have, and all the hustle and bustle of Tom moving out. (He started looking for apartments once we received the offer from Amazon.)

The kitchen

The kitchen after painting - extra messy, but at least no pink. :D

Happily, the movers Amazon provides are full service — that is, they will be packing items in boxes and packing boxes in a truck while we recline on chaise lounges and sip cocktails with little umbrellas sticking out. Or, at least, we’ll be able to stand around and oversee and instruct and label while they’re doing the hard stuff. We were hoping they’d be able to start packing today (Monday) so we could get the carpet and painting done before we leave town, but due to their busy season the soonest they can start is this Thursday — just 48 hours before we leave Texas for good. They’ll do one day of packing and one day of loading, and then we’ll get on the plane Saturday morning with Pico in tow. (Our contractors will be working with Sean to arrange getting in and out after we leave.)

When we arrive in Seattle we’ll be staying in some nice corporate housing that’s just two blocks from the Space Needle! It’s pretty exciting and looks like a really nice spot. We’ll also get twice-monthly maid service and the place is fully furnished. We’re also really excited about having a 24-hour gym to use there. (I suspect Blake will have access to one actually at Amazon, but we don’t really know for sure.) With all the stuff keeping us busy since the honeymoon, we’ve both been a little bit less diligent about exercising lately. I’ve also gotten a little burned out on DDRing as my workout recently (DDR is Dance Dance Revolution), so I’m excited to have access to a stationary bike for a while and take a little DDR break. And although Blake hasn’t mentioned it, I’m sure he’ll be really happy to jog in a city where the temperature can be displayed with only two digits.

Well, I’m off to go separate things that will be packed from things that will be going on the plane with us. There’s a lot of work left to be done!

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