I recently read and reviewed Googled: The End of the World As We Know It. One of the things that stood out was Google's tough vetting process for engineers. Supposedly only people at the top of their game need apply.
(link dead, sorry)
Jobs page for engineers confirms that, saying things like "Our search for the world's best engineers", and that they want people who "Have broad knowledge and expertise" and "world-class programming skills ". No slouches need apply.
I call B.S.
Oh, don't misunderstand: I'm a big fan. I love Gmail, I'm eagerly looking forward to Google Wave and all that. I'm no Google hater.
But if Google has been hiring the best programmers in the world, they sure as heck aren't getting their money's worth.
Let's just look at some recent examples. I use Google Calendar. I love it because I set it to remind me of things I need to do regularly, like dust or wash the floors. Getting an email reminder makes these chores much harder to ignore than a "Honey-Do" list.
Recently, those reminders just stopped. Google's advice on public message boards where other people were complaining of the same thing? Redo your reminders.
Are they kidding? Is reading an XML file to send reminders a difficult programming task? Is there any imaginable reason why this should just stop working AND need end-user intervention to correct? I sure don't think so.
How about Gmail? Gosh, I love Gmail. My wife likes it too, especially Labels. Except suddenly she can't apply Labels directly. She's not the only person with this problem; Google knows all about it, but doesn't yet know how to fix it. Doesn't know how to fix it? World class programmers don't know how to fix this? Wow!
Let's not forget that Gmail crashed hard recently and that there were rumors of cross-site scripting exploits back in April. If true, that's not world-class either.
And then we have my MacBook Pro sleep problem. Like an overactive child, my MacBook doesn't want to go to sleep when I tell it to. The culprit is Google Toolbar in Firefox. With that disabled, I can put my machine to sleep quickly. With it in place, no. Now really, I can't imagine why a toolbar is so badly programmed that it should interfere with my putting my computer to bed, but there it is. World class? I think not.
Or maybe this IS the best we can get. Maybe programming still is so hellishly difficult that even the best and brightest are as befuddled and helpless as the rest of us.
Isn't THAT a scary thought?
Got something to add? Send me email.
More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2012-07-15 Anthony Lawrence
The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he, by peddling second rate technology, led them into it in the first place, and continues to do so today. (Douglas Adams)