Meetings and Presentations

Sure sounds awful right? Nope! Last weekend Jens (from Gallery and Germany) was in Mountain View, so we figured we should do something. Friday night Ben (my roommate) and I showed Jens the most important things American: Malt Liquor and In-N-Out Burger. Good times! On Saturday, Bharat had a cookout at his place (another American experience that Jens needed before heading back to Germany on Sunday) and Bharat (+family), Robert, Alan(+Family), Jens, and I ate burgers and drank beer. Jens picked up a 12-pack of PBR to give to Bharat with a Stein from Germany and much hilarity ensued for the whole afternoon. Jens apparently thinks that Bharat's dog only speaks German and Bharat's kids apparently do not have an off switch. Bharat, Jens, Robert, and I ended up at a bar playing pool for the late evening and I ended up sleeping on Bharat's couch. (Robert was on another and Jens was on an air-mattress). Good Times. But on to presentations... Google has these things called "Tech Talks." Sometimes it's internal Google things that I can't really talk about but they're really neat, but other times it's people from the outside talking about things that they think are cool and that Googlers will likely find interesting. I managed to go to three of them today and they were all definitely worth going to!
  • A guy from the Rentrak came and talked about how they use custom scalable database solutions to manage all of the video viewing data they can get their hands on. Movie theatres, Movie rentals, video on demand downloads, etc. Think several billion records generated a day..
  • A researcher from University of California Santa Barbara came and talked about fiber optic switching technologies. His lab has come up with actual working switching devices that can do things like switch 10GB/s of traffic in a single completely optical path using mere Watts of power dissipation. Compare this to the current optoelectronic that often require hundreds or thousands of Watts and can't even begin to work at wire speed for higher speeds without taking up lots of space. This guy's fully optical switch for a large amount of bandwidth will take up the space of one line card in a router and have the same capacity of a router that takes up two entire racks (~64 line cards) and uses _lots_ of power.
  • Carolyn Porco, the imaging team lead from the Cassini mission to Saturn. Her presentation was all pictures (you can see lots of images at, which she runs) with very interesting narration. The thing I found most interesting is that one of Saturn's moons has jets of particles shooting into space that are likely the result of liquid water on the surface. There could be life because there is plenty of organic matter and liquid water would do the trick! She gave the example that all a probe would need to do to detect things would be to land and just look up and stick out it's tongue. Interestingly, even though her involvement with NASA is tied up in robotic exploration, she is still a supporter of human space flight and things we should work on getting people further into space instead of just "flying around in circles." Her suggestion that NASA could use a lot more funding gets my vote!.
More tech talks to come in the following weeks!

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