Continuing from last post, my trip to CA.
I visited Google and gave the CAM talk there also, where it also seemed to find a receptive crowd. (Some challenging questions arose as to whether cuckoo hashing is the right approach for hashing in software, as opposed to hardware.) Visiting Google is now like visiting a college campus, or maybe a small city. I was greeted at the parking lot by someone who directed me to valet parking. (The valet didn't seem to be there, though, so I parked myself.) I passed the volleyball courts, cafes and other places to eat, and that dinosaur on the way in; saw the gym, laundry room, doctor's office, massage area, and many many coffee-soft drink-snack bar areas; and ate at the amazing cafeteria. (The sushi line was too long, so I had to skip it. However, they did have an entire freezer full of It's It ice cream sandwiches, packaged specially with the Google logo. It's It alone is worth coming to they Bay Area for.)
I find myself without envy for the Google campus and its well-publicized perks. My limited impression was that it's too crowded and busy for me; it seems like it would be a hard place for me to concentrate get work done. I'd surely balloon up in size surrounded by open larders of food, even with the gym. I suppose I'm now just too old to enjoy the place properly, though I imagine it's fantastic for recent graduates!
The last stop on my tour was Yahoo! Research. It's always great to catch up with my "mentor" Andrei Broder, who these days always seems to be running at 110% or more. Their research group (like Google's) seems focused on Web-related algorithmics, machine learning, and this new subfield of computational advertising (I believe Andrei coined the term, in any case I like it). I talked with people about some compression-related problems, and perhaps something further will come of that.
As usual, I find myself wishing these trips could last longer. There's always too much to do and too many people to see on these visits, although that's what makes the trip interesting and fun.