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Dawn Chen
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183 followers
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Dawn's posts

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Trump terrifies me because he has many of the qualities of a demagogue and a tyrant. He is narcissistic, nationalistic, stirs up hatred by using scapegoats, goes after those who oppose him, admires Putin, and even hinted that he would not have accepted a Hillary win. Would he allow a peaceful transfer of power when his term ends? I really hope that the predictions in this article are wrong, but they are too horrifying and not unlikely enough to be ignored.

Ph.D. dissertation successfully defended!

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Hyperbolas! In my own home!

+Trevor Standley explained that the window blinds are letting in vertical sheets of sunlight, which hit the cylindrical metal bars obliquely and reflect off them in cone shapes. The intersection of each cone of light with the plane of the window blinds traces out a hyperbola (which, if you remember, is one of those conic sections you learned about in school). Isn't that cool?!

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Found this squirrel sleeping outside our window this morning.
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The movie “The Internship” is out. What the movie depicts is nothing like a real Google internship. 

Google has an extremely selective hiring process, including for internships. The questions that potential interns are asked during their interview are related to their prospective positions. In the case of software engineering positions, candidates are asked extremely challenging technical questions that usually involve writing code. Someone who doesn’t know the computational complexity of a hash table operation would not be selected.

Interns are hired for specific departments within Google. Not every Google employee or intern is expected to write code. A large proportion of employees at Google are not engineers. There are sales representatives, product managers, linguists, and a ton of other non-engineer and even non-technical positions. As such, an intern is often one of these other types.

Google wants interns to have a good time. Google intends for the internship to be educational and productive. The highly skilled people that come to intern at Google will have a lot of options when they graduate and enter the job market. Google wants to be their first choice.

Interns are assigned to a single full-time employee or team. The hosting employee thinks hard about what projects to give their intern. They work on real Google products with a high likelihood of their project being used internally or even publicly, even after they leave. They collaborate with their team of full-time employees, who actively help them to succeed.

Once at Google, interns are treated almost exactly like their full-time counterparts, and a high proportion are offered full-time employment once they graduate. It is not a competition. However, interns are being evaluated. Google is able to learn a lot about a person during their internship, and since Google’s goal is to hire only the best, performance is measured and recorded for each intern. The people that evaluate an intern are those who worked closest with them, and are typically very forgiving of their mistakes and setbacks. Since software engineering is a constant fight with complexity, the intern hosts themselves are often responsible for these setbacks, and it is not expected for an intern to be able to effortlessly navigate this complexity. Even the most brilliant of them will fail to create something useful every now and then. This is expected and doesn’t necessarily lead to a bad evaluation. 

The pool of interns is diverse. Not every intern is in their 20s. For example, my current intern is 30 (I only know this because we are friends outside of work). Since many engineers go to graduate school and receive PhDs (which takes 9+ years of higher education), interns in their 40s who worked in other industries before going for a PhD in computer science are not too uncommon.

Google employees and interns are intelligent. This doesn’t mean they are dweebs. Most are sophisticated and practical, and love to poke fun at anything and everything, usually with a lot more taste than the movie. They have a diverse set of interests. They are caring, passionate people. They are internally motivated to change the world for the better. They all have enough opportunities in life that they are not intimidated by the success of others. I would be extremely surprised to overhear an intern taunting another intern mean-spiritedly, and if this did happen, that intern would almost surely be reprimanded and rejected if they later apply for a full-time job. They would likely get fired on the spot, certainly if they kept behaving that way.

In no way is “having a beer with your boss” against the rules (none of those rules were actual Google rules). In fact, Google holds a weekly meeting where beer is on tap. That’s right, almost every Thursday, people elect to have a beer (often with their boss) while learning about something awesome that Google is doing. We then ask questions and provide input. All of us have the opportunity to ask questions and potentially change the course of the company with our ideas and input. It really is an amazing place to work, and the movie didn’t even attempt to exaggerate when it came to the perks.

Also, somehow the writers of some of the movie’s reviews that I saw got the impression that these internships were unpaid. This was not in the movie, and as far as I know, Google doesn’t have unpaid internships. I believe that typically Google interns get paid nearly as much as the base salary of full-time employees. To put this in perspective, the amount of money that a well-funded grad student makes for the entire school year is less than what they would make during their summer internship at Google.

The movie portrays a terribly misguided caricature of Google, but the main reason I didn’t enjoy it had nothing to do with its inaccuracies. The movie creators just have one stale formula for comedy and they jammed Google into the premise in order to exploit society’s curiosity about the familiar but enigmatic company. Google got involved. At Google IO, Larry Page himself said he didn't know if Google had a choice but to participate. Unfortunately, the movie still became one of those tasteless comedies in which the protagonists have no emotional depth, but the audience is supposed to think they do. Just keep in mind that you’re not watching a movie about how things work at Google.

#theinternshipmovie   #theinternship  

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion and I do not speak on behalf of Google in any way.
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The question is not "why?" but "what?" "Why?" presupposes too much.

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I just signed up for this. Anyone want to join me? Starts on August 20th!

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I was walking on campus when THIS fell out of the sky/the tree above and almost hit the guy in front of me. WAT happened to this bird?!
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Crowdsourcing: MapReduce for people.

One of the biggest reasons I was drawn to Google+ in its early days was Circles. I know that nowadays, Hangouts are beloved by many (I look forward to exploring them more), photographers dig the high-quality photo uploading, and What’s Hot is a daily digest of news and other interesting stuff online for many people, myself included. However, I like to write many different kinds of posts and need the ability to choose the appropriate audience for each, so I’m disappointed that Circles has not been developed further. I would be very happy if the following Circles-related features were added to Google+ (in order of importance):

1. The ability to edit who a post is shared with after it’s been shared. I’ve noticed this missing ever since my first post on Google+. Even Facebook has this feature!

2. The ability to share a post with “these people/circles, except....” Once again, even Facebook has this feature.

3. Personally, I wouldn’t mind having the full set of set-algebraic operations (union, intersection, and complementation) and their combinations (like set difference in #2 above) at my disposal, but I understand that it wouldn’t make for a very intuitive user interface for everyone. Maybe only a few simple options could be available to everyone, and more complex combinations could be created through an “advanced” menu.

4. The ability to create a circle that is a superset of another one, such that when the user adds people to the smaller circle (e.g., “close friends”), the larger circle (e.g., “friends”) automatically grows to include those people. The UI for this could have circles as objects you can drag and drop into other circles. Hierarchies like “family” includes “immediate family” and “extended family,” “immediate family” includes “parents,” “siblings,” and “children,” etc., could be visualized as trees or as circles you could zoom into to see their component circles. Finally, the user should not be allowed to create cycles (e.g, A contains B and B contains A), which I don’t think would come up very often. Although this might sound complicated, I think the UI could turn out to be very intuitive and the feature itself would be very useful. I’m certainly tired of manually maintaining all the inclusion relations among my circles.

Do you have other ideas for improving Circles and post sharing? Please share them in the comments. Also, please +1 and reshare this post so that we can be heard!
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