Cloud Spanner launch!

aka, my day job :)

For gory details see the Introducing Cloud Spanner post (plus the obligatory CAP theorem discussion).

Or here's my much shorter and less jargony version: Google has used Spanner internally for years. It has all the things relational SQL database folks love, scales to huge sizes like bigtable and other NoSQL systems, has replication and high-availability, and is now in Beta for Google Cloud Platform customers to use. Oh, and I work in an office with a giant spanner wrench and a fluffy white cloud.


Work, etc.

I haven't written much about work recently, so here are a few brief updates. I now have a fully-staffed team, having recently hired 2 new people. Last quarter I wrote an informal doc about disability aimed at managers, which now has me becoming more involved in that area. And this week I went to NYC for a summit.

And while it's not quite work, Google campuses (like those of some other tech companies) have been the site of "No Ban, No Wall" rallies.


Ordinary life stuff.

I've altered my swim routine, so I'm only swimming 5-6 days a week, but many of my swims are now at least an hour long. I'm hanging out at home, reading a lot and making ice cream. I've also been getting out and seeing people. I went to D's engagement party, where I met her family and saw some coworkers. I had tea with C, who loaned me a wheelchair, and brunch with K. I braved a rainy drive to visit my former Finnish classmates, who loaded me up with tangerines, which was especially good because our tangerine didn't produce this year. Otherwise, the garden is doing well for this time of year. We returned from our travels to the surprise of ripe peas, as well as the last of the lemons that we hadn't yet picked. The parsley is thriving, some of the indoor herbs are surviving, and the beets and garlic are growing aboveground, so presumably they are doing something underground too.


Week one.

On this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as many remember Holocaust victims (including refugees the U.S. turned away), President Trump signed an executive order limiting refugees into the U.S. and barring entry by citizens of 7 Muslim-majority countries (including those currently legally residing in the US). And that's only one of this week's actions that I find troubling.


Rather not say.

So... there was this thing 6+ years ago where Google, like other companies, was requiring "real names" to use some of its services (specifically, Google Plus). This was widely criticized as a bad idea for a variety of reasons. I advocated for supporting pseudonyms, and I even quit working at Google because I was finding work far more frustrating than fulfilling. Fast forward a bit: G+ iterated and relaxed (and subsequently completely dropped) the names requirements, and I rejoined Google. Yay!

But there was a parallel -- though less contentious -- issue involving requiring gender to sign up for a Google account. I didn't see why I had to disclose my gender in order to use GMail or Calendar or various other Google services. Sure, I could lie. Who would know? I could even select "Other", an option Google included because for some people gender is nonbinary. But I really wanted another option which was more like "Irrelevant" or, to put it bluntly, "None of your business".

So I'm super-excited that I can now create a Google account and select "Rather not say" when asked for my gender. It may not seem like a big deal to most people, but I see it as an important step in respecting user choice and asking for a minimal set of personal data.


Google infrastructure security design overview.

I'm pleased to see the publication of this comprehensive overview of Google's security systems, which demystifies security practices and gives users insight into how their data is kept secure. Karl and I have both worked on multiple systems outlined here, so on a personal note, it's also nice to be able to point to something about our past work.


Virgin Islands nice.

I had a long relaxing holiday with minimal walking. As expected, I spent much of my time in the water, swimming Magens 1-2 hours a day. I saw turtles most days (including 17 sightings one morning when there was spectacularly good visibility), lobsters, pelicans and other sea birds, conch, and once an octopus (unfortunately I didn't have my camera). I did a long swim on St John, courtesy of a suggestion from a friend I caught up with while I was visiting. I swam a few other beaches, snorkeled, and kayaked. Mostly, I went to Magens.

There were many dinners, including celebrating Christmas, Hannukah, New Year's, and my mom's birthday with my parents and their friends. I had some excellent pinochle hands. I did physical therapy and took many naps. I did end up working about two days of my vacation, but it was so much more relaxing than actually being at the office.

Coincidentally, C, one of my former teammates from Zurich, was in the Virgin Islands part of the time Karl and I were there. We ended up spending quite a bit of time together: a couple of hours together at Maho, a day sail to the BVI with her parents, and ringing in the new year at Magens.

It seems my trips to the Virgin Islands center around animals. This year's animal highlights were monitoring a turtle nesting site (we didn't see the hatchlings, but we did see tracks and egg shell fragments) and a pizza-eating mongoose. Other animal events included a frog which had hopped its way inside (I'm guessing based on this site that it's a Puerto Rican ditch frog, but I am not a frog expert), donkeys wandering in the road, and ducks and iguanas. There was a relative absence of mosquitoes, which was a quite pleasant surprise.

More photos and videos.


Never again.

From "We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies. We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable."

I think it's extraordinarily unlikely that I'll be in a situation where I'd have to put this pledge to the test, but I'd certainly quit my job if I thought I was gathering this kind of data and making it available to the US (or any other) government.


It's far from peak garden season. Nonetheless, we're still harvesting Thai hot peppers and a few cherry tomatoes and dozens of limes and lemons. The tangerine tree blossomed, and the lime tree even has a few blossoms already. We planted garlic and beets, and the peas finally have a few pods. I also decided to try some windowsill gardening this year. In addition to mint cuttings that we moved inside and the ginger that sprouted on its own, we now have tarragon, marjoram, thyme, cilantro, and basil. Plus piles of parsley, sage, and rosemary outside.

We stayed home for Thanksgiving, and had a quiet meal with lots of leftovers. As for other cooking, K has been experimenting with the slow cooker, and I've been making batches of chocolate, lemon, and lime ice creams and sorbets. And when I'm too cold for ice cream, I bake. I made quite tasty brownies (recipe) for National Brownie Day.

I've been social most weekends, attending a Women in Ops brunch, seeing a performance of The Diary of Anne Frank with D, playing games at P's, having dinner and lunch with O, lunch with V, and going to a Rockers alumni event at G's.

I'm swimming every day (well, usually night). So far this year has been generally warmer than last year; I've only used my vest once, and I really didn't need it. Overall, I think my foot has been improving since my last two injections, although some days are worse, so it's hard to tell. I'm doing lots of physical therapy.

Work keeps me busy, as always. In between my many meetings, I've made progress on one of my projects, and in the last few weeks I've consistently carved out (a very little bit of) dedicated learning time. It's less time than I'd like, but it's a start. Mostly I've been busy with staffing and my own "20% projects".



Worried about this emboldening some who hold hateful views. Uncertain what the next four years will bring.

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