Regrets, I've had a few

Fifth in a series of "An update on David" retrospectives, looking back on the last 11 years at Google: "Regrets, I've had a few." (Don't worry; tomorrow's entry will be "Things I'm proud of")

"Live life with no regrets". Sorry, brain don't work that way. I've had quite a few regrets during my life, and during my time at Google. Some are mundane and some are profound.

I regret that I wasn't able to stay on the Docs team longer. It's a really awesome product and they've built and use awesome technologies. Kix ("Google Docs") was revolutionary at the time of its launch - "collaborative editing -- whaaa?" and I was proud to be part of the launch. I kinda fucked up the relationship and it was suggested I find another team. I regret what I did (and didn't do) and it turned out to be a bit of a turning point in my career (not for the better). Lesson learned: don't be a jerk, even if you don't know you're being a jerk.

I regret not learning more Google tech more faster. I'm a creature of habit, so there have been lots of languages, technologies, systems, etc., that could have helped but which I just couldn't grok or get into. MSS, TypeScript, go, all come to mind. Instead, I stick with what I know - Java, JavaScript, App Engine, AngularJS, Apps Framework. Lesson learned: pick a 20% project that is completely different from what you already do. I tried this for a little while (hello g3doc team!) and it was interesting.

I regret not keeping in touch with the "real world" of software development. I'm Brooks in Shawshank Redemption: institutionalized. "These walls are kind of funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them." In my case, the walls are the development tools we've got here. (But see also entry #3 "Things I'll miss at Google."). When I got to Google, the "state of the art" for Java builds was ant+maven and sometimes make. For deployment, you built a war and copied it to Tomcat on your server and bounced it. Now, I have no idea, at all, what is out there. Blaze/BUILD, Borg, Apps Framework, GSLB, GFE, Stubby, are all that I can see. They're the walls that have surrounded me here. I regret that I wasn't able to find the time or energy to "look over the walls" to keep up to date with the real world. Lesson learned.

I regret not making closer friends at Google. At a previous job I got confused between work friends and family, and my priorities got inverted. I got burned (really, I burned myself) and since then I've mostly kept away from getting close to people at work. So because reasons I almost never grab a drink or go to dinner outside work. I'm a creature of habit (see above) and after getting burned I got onto a fairly strict schedule to keep work separate from home. I hereby thank my managers and co-workers for respecting that. Lesson learned: TBD.

That's all I can think of for now. Thanks for listening.


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