Thursday, December 13, 2007

Set your Google Talk picture from your webcam

Check out the official Google Talk Blog - this week we launched a feature that allows you to set your Google Talk picture from your webcam.

I wrote this as a small side project to teach myself Flash/Actionscript, which was quite, um, interesting, given my C++ background (I miss static type checking). It was a lot of fun though, and I owe many thanks to our UX designers who helped supply the necessary "Googley" factor.

You can try it out here in the Google Talk gadget - simply click on your Google Talk picture in the upper right hand corner, and choose the "Take Photo..." option (you'll need a webcam to see this option). You can also see how it works (in Japanese) in this unofficial video.

There are a few undocumented keyboard shortcuts for this feature:
  • SPACE will take a picture
  • ESC will discard the taken picture
  • ENTER will save it as your Google Talk picture
Have fun, and feel free to post feedback.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Google Talk + AIM = Now!

It's been almost two whole years (and a new job and hometown) since I first blogged about Google Talk and AIM getting together, but today, it's ready to go! Starting this morning, we're rolling out AIM support to all Gmail accounts. You'll be able to link your AIM name to your Gmail account, and contact any of your AIM buddies directly from the Talk client inside Gmail.

As a longtime resident of the AIM universe, I never thought that I would give up my favorite AIM Lite for a web client. But the AIM integration in Gmail is that good. It's fast, easy to set up and use, and works on any computer. Best of all, it saves your IM sessions in Gmail, which makes it easy to remember a conversation from months ago. Bottom line: if you use Gmail and use AIM, you'll probably really enjoy the combined experience.

Some answers on what are likely to be FAQs:
  • By default, your AIM buddies are displayed in the "most popular" order typically used in Gmail and Google Talk. To view them in alphabetical order (and enable the scrollbar), click on "Options" at the bottom of the contact list on the left side and choose "Top 250".
  • You can also adjust the size of your contact list by clicking on "Options" and selecting between "Tiny", "Small", "Medium", and "Large".
  • AIM users that are away or idle show up as yellow dots. The away message, if present, is displayed in the contact list.
  • Your Gmail status message carries over to AIM, and vice versa.
  • You can see AIM users' buddy icons, but setting your Gmail user avatar does not currently affect your own AIM icon.
  • If you log into Gmail using HTTPS (as I mentioned here), your AIM session will be secured as well.
  • This integration is not XMPP Federation. This was a contractual limitation. On the plus side, this means Gmail users don't need to manually add all their AIM friends to their Gmail contact list.
  • The AIM implementation was developed on top of the Open AIM libraries. (It's a little weird knowing that the code my team wrote at AOL is now running in Google datacenters.)
Like it? Hate it? Favorite feature missing? Wish something was a little bit different? Send me a note, or drop a comment in the Gmail suggestion box.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Mount Si in the Snow

From Mount Si in t...

They say there is no such thing as a Seattle hiker who hasn't been to the top of Mount Si. With that in mind, I hiked the 4,167 foot mountain a few weeks ago with my brother, hoping a great view of the Snoqualmie valley would be waiting for us at the summit.

Well, not exactly. Above 3500 feet, the temperature dropped below freezing, the Seattle rain turned into snow, and there was little protection from the wind. We scrambled over snowy, slippery rocks to arrive at the first summit, where we found that the view was indeed terrific... for about 100 feet.

Regardless, the snow added a fun twist on what was already a great hike. If you ever have the chance to hit Mount Si when the conditions are right for snow, I highly recommend trying it.

Monday, October 08, 2007

1 Year at Google!

Tuesday marks a year for me at Google. Woohoo! I think that means I'm no longer a Noogler. I still can't disclose what I'm working on (although it is extra-awesome).

But my AOL non-recruit agreement has expired. Now accepting resumes!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Google expanding in Kirkland

As mentioned today in the Seattle Times, Google has signed a lease to occupy a new three-building office campus in Kirkland just down the street from our current offices. At 180,000 square feet, this will provide a lot of much-needed space as we grow our staff from the current 400+ employees to the goal of "several thousand". No word yet on whether the Kirkland campus will feature a Tyrannosaurus skeleton.

Update: Another story, with pictures, in the Seattle P-I.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lessons Learned: Google Tech Talk on Building Scalable Systems

Reza Behforooz, tech lead for the Google Talk service, recently gave a presentation at a Google-sponsored scalability conference in Seattle. In his talk, Reza discussed many of the challenges involved with running a large-scale service, and how Google Talk has addressed these problems. While it doesn't give away all the secrets, the presentation does provide valuable insight into the Google Talk service architecture.

It's also interesting to note that many of the methods used to scale the Google Talk service to millions of online users were the same ones used at AOL to scale up the AIM service. There are a number of minor architectural differences between the two systems (XML vs binary protocol, gatewayed connection to presence server vs direct, for starters), but the essentials are very similar.

You can watch the full talk with Q&A below, or if you'd rather just read the highlights, check out Dare Obasanjo's notes from the conference.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Random IM of the Week

In my work on AIM and Google Talk, I get a lot of random people sending me messages. Some of the IMs are funny, some are bizarre, and more than a few are social engineering attempts. But one conversation I had last week was sufficiently random to be worth sharing.
sender: sir
sender: please cancel your hamburger
sender: ive asked you twice sir
me: cancel
sender: sir
sender: dont play games with me
sender: have you cancelled your hamburger?
me: it was a cheeseburger
sender: sir that will not do
sender: cancel your hamburger now
me: can it be a double hamburger?
sender: yes sir the more the merrier
sender: sir cancel it
me: ok cancel my double hamburger then.
sender: ASAP
sender: sir i cannot cancel it for you
sender: it is YOUR hamburger
sender: you must do it
me: ok. cancelled.
sender: sir you and i both know much more effort is required a double hamburger
sender: please refrain from playing games
sender: sir
me: right. my mistake. cancelled cancelled.
sender: sir
sender: please refrain
sender: control yourself
sender: no need to yell
sender: calm down
sender: im willing to negotiate
sender: sir?
sender: sir if you do not respond your are terminated i hope you realize
sender: terminated sir
me: my hamburger will be terminated?
sender: no you sir will be terminated
sender: sir
sender: you are terminated due to lack of balls
sender has signed off.
me: but what about the hamburger?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Google Tips and Tweaks

Saw a couple interesting blog posts recently with tips for Google web search and Gmail.

From Marc and Angel: 7 Clever Google Tricks Worth Knowing

My favorite tip is #1, using Google Image search to search for faces. Try it!

From Trendplex: Top 10 Gmail Tweaks

Here I like the Gmail conversation preview plugin - right click on a conversation to quickly view the conversation in a popup, as shown here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

iPhone in a Blender

Ever wonder what would happen if you put an iPhone in a blender? Me neither. But it's pretty amazing to watch anyway. Check this and other interesting blendings out over at

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Google NYC

Just got back from 3 weeks on the East Coast. After 8 months in Seattle, I had completely forgotten what hot & humid feels like! (For those unfamiliar with East Coast summers: like walking through a warm marshmallow.)

I spent a week of that time at the Google office in New York City. It's an incredible facility - the building takes up an entire Manhattan city block, and the view from the cafeteria on the 8th floor is truly remarkable.

The culture is definitely different than either the Kirkland or Mountain View offices - still Googley, but with much more of an urban feel. If this sounds interesting to you, you can find out more about Google NYC here.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Seattle Times: The lure of great Google perks

Brier Dudley, columnist from the Seattle Times, visited our Kirkland office earlier this week to check out the Google culture and see where we're heading. His story about his visit contains some great quotes from Kirkland engineers on what it's like to work here:

"My theory is none of this is real and we all went to programmer heaven," [Google engineer Steve] Yegge said.

"I think that every 10 years there's a place to work," he explained. "It was Microsoft in the 1990s, arguably Apple in the '80s. ... Google is that Mecca right now."

Being such a great place to work has definitely helped with recruiting. We've grown substantially since I started 8 months ago, and it looks like this trend is expected to continue.

Managers said they haven't seen a drop in applications and they have authority to hire as many smart people as they can find [...] Google's local engineering group is up to 400; within five years it should have "a couple of thousand employees" in the area.

Brier also enjoyed his Google lunch so much that he wrote a separate column with a review of the food.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Instant messaging: feature or product?

From VentureBeat: Instant messaging: feature or product?:

An interesting article about how instant messaging is increasingly being integrated into web applications. Just like web email largely replaced desktop email clients, a similar shift is starting to happen with instant messaging. Here's what the article has to say about Google Talk:
Gmail has already successfully integrated the company’s IM platform, GTalk, so that its users can chat while emailing. We’ve also heard rumors that GTalk will be integrated with applications such as Google Docs. AOL and Google also agreed to make their IMs interoperable, albeit in a roundabout way — and it looks like this will happen soon. Like [Microsoft software architect Ray] Ozzie, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been stressing the importance of mobile — like Microsoft, Google is integrating apps across platforms. What’s more, 3rd party sites such as Joost are integrating GTalk into their offerings.

Friday, May 11, 2007

NES Nostalgia

A co-worker mentioned this little gem to me this week: 100 of the top NES games, playable in your browser with no download. It's implemented as a Java applet, and the games play pretty well, with only an occasional framerate stutter.

In addition to Super Mario, there's Zelda, 1942, Double Dragon, Tecmo Super Bowl, and 95 other ways to trigger a late 80's flashback.

If you find yourself addicted, many of these games are available from the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Windows Live Messenger Customer Study

From Inside Windows Live Messenger: "RESULTS: What is your favorite messenger feature?"
What is your one favorite Messenger Feature?
* IM
* Video Call
* Sharing Folders
* Voice clips
* Emoticons
* Games and Activities
* OIM - Offline IM
* Nudge
* Display Picture and Personal Status Message that follow you
* Ability to log into Messenger with any email address
At first, I was surprised by some of these features near the top of the list. Turns out though that they aren't in any particular order.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Where did April go?

When you're heads down and cranking, time sort of seems to disappear. All of us have been pretty busy lately working on some great new features and integrations, but we always enjoy the speculation on exactly what it is we might be working on. Google's recent purchase of videoconferencing technology from the startup Marratech definitely started the rumor mill cranking. Some opposing views on what's in store:

InformationWeek: "Could An Enhanced Google Talk Spell The End For Skype?"

IP Telephony, VoIP, Broadband: "Google Talk is headed to Google's corporate backwater..."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Commodore Nostalgia

Just got done reading "On The Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore", by Brian Bagnall. As someone who grew up right outside Commodore headquarters and learned to write code for both the C64 and Amiga computers, it brought back a lot of memories. If you ever read a copy of COMPUTE!, played a game by Epyx, or experienced a Guru Meditation Error, you'll get a kick out of this book.

The book paints a detailed picture of the various eras of Commodore technology, but it also provides compelling portraits of the engineers and executives responsible for Commodore's successes and missteps. You can really feel for the engineers who invested so much of their lives into the company with seemingly so little in return.

Some interesting factoids are revealed as well. The stories behind why C64 games took so long to load, how the Amiga chips got their names, and why so many Commodore computers were DOA are all covered in the book.

One particular thing that jogged my memory was the descriptions of the various marketing campaigns. I can still recall the strains of J.S. Bach's Invention #13, which was featured in one of the early Commodore commercials. So after finishing the book, I checked to see if any of these commercials could be found on YouTube. YouTube did not disappoint - enjoy the VIC-20, C64, and Amiga commercials in all their 80's glory...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Embedding the Google Talk Gadget

As an embeddable module, the Google Talk Gadget can be put in a number of interesting places. It works great in the Google Personalized Homepage, but here are a few other places where it can be handy:
  • Bookmarklet: Drag Google Talk to your Bookmarks Bar for 1-click access to a floating version of Google Talk.
  • Firefox Sidebar: go to, bookmark it, and check the "Load this bookmark in the Sidebar" checkbox in the dialog that pops up:
    Hit OK, click the bookmark, and it will open in Firefox's sidebar panel.

  • Netvibes: Check it out in your Netvibes Homepage.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Google Talk Gadget

Today, we're releasing the Google Talk Gadget - a embeddable component that provides a rich IM experience anywhere on the web! It's Flash-based, so it's nice and snappy, requires no download, and works anywhere Flash 8 is supported, including Mac OS X and Linux. It's got the same look and feel as the downloadable Google Talk client, along with some cool new features, including integration with YouTube and Picasa - if you add a video as your status message, your friends can watch the video directly from Google Talk!

See it in action, or check it out in this YouTube video. If you're using the Google Personalized homepage, you can add the gadget to your page. Or, if you'd like to add it to your own page, learn how here.

More coverage on the Google Talk Blog and Official Google Blog.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Matt Cutts on "Not trapping users' data"

Matt Cutts had a great post the other day about how Google is making good on Eric Schmidt's promise to not trap user data. Eric had spoken out at last year's Web 2.0 conference against web companies locking users in by preventing them from taking their personal data somewhere else.
Schmidt was asked if users could get all of their search history and export it to Yahoo. “We would like to do that, as long as it is authenticated….If users can switch it keeps us honest.”
Matt looks at various Google products and finds that most of them do allow you to export your data, including Search, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Reader, Blogger, Google AdWords, Google Groups, and a few others.

Matt also mentions Google Talk, noting that the service supports the open XMPP protocol and therefore can be accessed by any XMPP client. That's definitely a big positive; in addition, you can export your contacts as a CSV file from Gmail (go to "All Contacts", click on "Export"). However, there's no easy way right now to get at your saved chat history; Gmail's POP access doesn't include chats. Clearly, that's something we'll want to address in the future.

Update 3:25 PM: added explanation on how to export contacts.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Lessons Learned: Google Report on Hard Drives

The other day, several Googlers released a white paper detailing the experiences they have had with hard drive failures in our datacenter machines. According to the report, there hasn't been a good study on hard disk lifespans in a really large population, so the decision was made to collect this data from the large number of machines that Google has in service. The study reached several conclusions, some of them surprising:
  • There was no consistent pattern of disk failure associated with high temperature or increased disk activity.
  • Some SMART error signals are well-correlated with impending drive failure, including scan errors, reallocation errors, and probational counts; drives that reported a scan error were 39 times more likely to fail within 60 days.
  • However, other SMART error signals have only weak correlations with failure, namely seek errors and CRC errors; over 72% of all drives reported at least one seek error.
  • A majority of the failed drives (56%) reported none of the aforementioned well-correlated errors, and a large fraction (36%) reported no SMART errors whatsoever.
As someone who has had a few drives go bad over the years, I found this very interesting. My key takeaway: certain SMART error signals (not all) serve as a valuable warning, but you can't count on SMART to tell you when your drive is about to fail.

Lots more data and details in the full paper.

Crunch Time...

Haven't had a post for the past two weeks - like some other Googlers, I've been pretty busy lately. Reminds me of a joke I heard before joining Google: "Your 20% time? That's hours 80 to 100 in the workweek". Fortunately, it's not quite as bad as that. I've got a number of (hopefully interesting) posts queued up which I'll be putting up this week.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tivo Series 3

I'm not usually a super-early adopter of home electronics. After spending all day thinking about code, I don't want to come home and have to debug my TV setup. But when I heard about the Tivo Series 3, I was instantly interested.

I've had a Tivo Series 2 for years. Before I got it, people would tell me, "it will change the way you watch TV". I found this hard to believe at the time, but after using Tivo for a few weeks, it quickly became hard to remember the pre-Tivo days. Watching TV on my own schedule + Tivo suggestions + instant replay + 30 second skip = a truly better TV experience.

Until the local cable company started offering HD programming. I then found myself having to choose between HD content the old-fashioned way, or the now-inferior SD picture on Tivo. Additionally, I now had both the Tivo and the cable box sucking power 24/7. In an attempt to resolve this, I tried the cable company HD DVR, which seemed like a reasonable solution, but it just couldn't match Tivo. Awful UI + no 30 second skip + massive power consumption + lockups = a very unsatisfactory product.

So the notion of a Tivo, with all its goodness, that could display/record HD seemed like the perfect solution. And when I found out that I could transfer my lifetime membership from my Series 2, I was sold. Having now spent about two months with the Tivo Series 3, I can say it has lived up to my (high) expectations. The high points:
  • Same great Tivo UI
  • HD recording/playback
  • THX certified
  • Dual tuners (works for HD, too)
  • Internal format conversion (essential when your TV only does 1080i)
  • Lifetime membership transfer
  • Great remote (even better than the Series 2)
  • 30 second skip still works!
Power consumption is quite reasonable too - even while recording HD, the Series 3 only draws 34 watts, compared to 28 watts for the Series 2. (Both of which are way better than the cable company DVR, which could be used to heat a small room). Of course, not everything is perfect. Some (minor) lowlights:
  • Tivo to Go is currently disabled
  • No HD display for Music/Photos
  • Music/Photos does not support DLNA media servers
Hopefully these can be rectified in a future firmware upgrade, but they're really just minor complaints. Overall, I've been very satisfied with the Series 3. It just works, and works great.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gmail Theater: Why Use Gmail?

Why you should use Gmail... in four acts.

And now that you're convinced you should use Gmail, you can sign up for an account at As of yesterday, we've dropped the invitation requirement for new accounts, so anyone can use Gmail.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Google Talk URLs

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but was holding off until all the pieces were in place. But now that CustomizeTalk has scooped me on this topic, I figure I ought to publish it ASAP...

Did you know that Google Talk has its own URL scheme? These "gtalk" URLs can be embedded in web pages or desktop shortcuts to make it easy to message or call someone from Talk. Right now, the two supported URLs are:

gtalk:chat? (starts a chat)


(starts a call)

Simply replace "" with the XMPP ID of the person you want to chat with/call and you're all set.

If you use multiple accounts, you can also add the "from_jid" parameter to the URL to control which account the message is sent from. Here's an example of a URL using from_jid:


As mentioned above, "call" and "chat" are the only URL commands currently supported. If you specify any other string, invoking it will simply cause the Talk client to come to the foreground.

Update: previously I had mentioned that you could use these links to put a "contact me with Gtalk" button on a web page. I goofed; the currently released version of Google Talk won't bring up the invitation UI when these URLs are invoked, so you can't do this quite yet.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Usage Stats From the Major IM Networks

Yesterday I saw a post from the Windows Live Messenger team where they said that they recently went over 30 million simultaneous users. Now, lots of statistics are offered up by the major IM networks when referring to their respective audiences, but the two that I like to focus on are simultaneous online users and IMs/day. Claims about "active users" or "total users" can be hard to compare, since it all depends on how you count. Simultaneous users and IMs are clear indications of how many users are stressing the system on a daily basis.

The WLM post got me interested on whether I could determine these numbers for all the major messaging services. A little Googling, and I was able to come up with numbers or reasonable estimates for most of the major services; I've included links to the sources I used. (Google does not release user numbers, so Gtalk is absent from this chart.) Here's the breakdown:

ServiceActive UsersMax Simultaneous Users
Total IMs/dayDominant Regions
Windows Live
Europe, Latin America, East Asia
China, South Africa
US, Israel

India, ?
East Asia, Europe

I couldn't find exact data for some of these numbers, so extrapolated from what I did have. Readers, if you have recent public data for the estimated values (especially Yahoo), I'd be interested to see it.

Nevertheless, from these numbers, it looks like WLM is about as big as Yahoo+AOL+Skype combined. That's a formidable lead in a space that is fairly mature.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Secure Access to Gmail and Gtalk

Did you know that Gmail and Google Talk both support TLS encryption (aka SSL), rendering the data you send to and from Google secure and inaccessible to would-be eavesdroppers? Google Talk uses TLS by default, and Gmail will use it if you point your browser at (note the "https" instead of "http").

The use of TLS/HTTPS creates a secure channel between your computer and Google's data centers. This is especially important when your computer is connected to a public network, such as a Wi-Fi hotspot; I have been to conferences where people were known to use packet capture software to spy on competitors who were careless enough to communicate over cleartext channels.

I'm glad to see that Google has made security a priority. Moore's Law has made support for TLS fairly cheap from a operational standpoint, so there's really no good reason to not feature it. Let's hope TLS becomes more common in the web world.

Update: I didn't have time to check extensively, but I noticed Google Calendar and Google Docs & Spreadsheets both support TLS access as well.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I've been tagged

I've been tagged by Greg, from his AIM Info blog. The rules of blog tag are simple - tell 5 things that people might not know about you, and then tag 5 other bloggers to continue the chain.

So, here are 5 things you might not know about me:
  1. My first computer was a TI 99/4A, circa 1981. I saved my BASIC programs on a tape recorder.
  2. At college I studied Mathematics and Physics. I learned C++ after a friend gave me the book "Learn C++ in 21 days".
  3. I used the same keyboard, a Microsoft Natural Keyboard, for over 10 years, including my entire tenure at AOL. The Natural Keyboards are the only keyboards I have been able to use for an extended period of time without discomfort.
  4. I am a Philadelphia sports fan, whose teams, combined, have gone 92 consecutive seasons (since 1983) without a championship. That is longer than the drought suffered by the Boston Red Sox.
  5. I am a b-boying (breakdancing) fan. Doing the worm at a company party is always a crowd-pleaser.
And my 5 tagees? I've picked 5 other bloggers from the Kirkland office:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The snow returns!

The latest episode in a Seattle winter already replete with ice, snow, rain, floods, and wind added the new wrinkle of pea-sized hail, pouring down from the heavens and skittering across the ground as if from an overturned semi full of Tic Tacs. In just fifteen minutes on Thursday night over an inch of these crunchy bits coated our yard. The hail then turned to snow and continued to accumulate for the next several hours.

Once again, this happened right at the evening rush hour, with typical results. Fortunately, I had elected to work from home, but the Google Talk status messages of my coworkers told of their multi-hour commuting pain. Apparently, in Seattle, if snow starts to fall while you are driving, you must immediately abandon your car on the side of the road.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Google Talk + AIM = When?

I've seen a number of comments on the web regarding the previously announced interoperability plans between AIM and Google Talk, especially as the one-year anniversary of the announcement came up at the end of December. Nothing yet has made it into the hands of users, leading some to wonder whether it is actually going to happen. Having followed this effort closely both at AOL and now at Google, it's very interesting to read the various opinions from the outside.

On the Google side, I can simply refer to our official statement, and our stock answer, "We are working actively on integrating AIM access in Google Talk."

And as for a version of AIM that talks to Google users? There has been no comment whatsoever from AOL regarding such a client, so I guess we'll have to wait and see how important this is to AOL's new management team.

However, AOL also appears to be working on an XMPP gateway for AIM, which would allow XMPP/Jabber clients to access the AIM network using AIM screen names. Based on the public information, it seems that this should be available in the near future.

One way
or another, looks like many believe 2007 is shaping up to be an exciting year.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Google Kirkland in the News

A couple nice mentions of the Google Kirkland office in the news in the past few weeks:

Google Blog, 1/3/07, "Kirkland Calling"
When we set up an R&D shop in downtown Kirkland, Washington two years ago, we hoped to attract the best talent in the Pacific Northwest -- folks who are serious about their coffee and don't especially want to move to Silicon Valley. Since then we've attracted many engineers who were tickled silly about working on large clusters of several thousands of machines, not to mention shipping web and client-based consumer apps used by millions of people.
Seattle Times, 12/22/06, "Google exec heaps praise on local office"
It's such a great office we have here. Google's unusual in a couple of ways. We open engineering offices where the talent is, rather than bringing talent to a location. ... [In Kirkland] we have north of 250 employees, and we're approaching 200 engineers. It's just an incredible growth rate in two years.
One of the things we're increasingly trying to do is to export Mountain View work to the really incredibly successful non-Mountain View offices. It's clear the Kirkland office is hugely successful. We've got great engineers, great growth rate and incredible delivery. It's clear this is amongst our most successful offices worldwide.
Seattle Times, 12/15/06, "Google retreats from deal in Bellevue, may shop for office space in Seattle"
Oscar Oliveira, a broker at Colliers International in Bellevue, said he believes Google has turned its attention to parts of Seattle, such as Belltown and South Lake Union, which tend to be popular with young technology workers.
Google has been advertising for workers to fill a range of engineering-related jobs in the Seattle area. About two years ago, Google opened an engineering center in Kirkland, where it has about 250 employees, up 100 from June. Also, Google in May moved its Seattle sales staff of about 30 from South Lake Union to Fremont, saying the staff could expand to 75.
Google is expanding in Kirkland, where it occupies two floors at Central Way Plaza, and recently took an additional floor at a nearby building, said engineering director Peter Wilson.
New York Times, 12/9/06, "Looking for a Gambit to Win at Google's Game"

“[Microsoft] had a lot of new initiatives, and people ran fast out of the gate,” said Niall Kennedy, an expert on Internet publishing who joined Microsoft last spring but quickly became disillusioned and quit in August. After the stock fell, he said, “I wasn’t able to hire anybody for my group.”

Mr. Kennedy says this culture is inhospitable for talented engineers.

“Microsoft is no longer the primary place for technical talent,” he said. “If there is a superstar, Google will be on their minds.” (Indeed, Google has set up shop in Kirkland, Wash., six miles from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, specifically to welcome Microsoft refugees.)