I've recently received another invitation to Google's Foobar challenges.

A while ago someone here on devRant (which I believe works at Google, and whose support I deeply appreciate) sent me a couple of links to it too. Unfortunately back then I didn't take the time to learn the programming languages (Python or Java) that Google requires for these challenges. This time I'm putting everything on Python, as it's the easiest language to learn when coming from Bash.

But at the end of the day.. I am a sysadmin, not a developer. I don't know a single thing about either of these languages. Yet I can't take these challenges as the sysadmin I am. Instead, I have to learn a new language which chances are I'll never need again outside of some HR dickhead's interview with lateral thinking questions and whiteboard programming, probably prohibited from using Google search like every sane programmer and/or sysadmin would for practical challenges that actually occur in real life.

I don't want to do that. Google is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I get that. Many people would probably even steal that foobar link from me if they could. But I don't think that for me it's the right thing to do. Google has made a serious difference by actually challenging developers with practical scenarios, and that's vastly superior to whatever a HR person at any other company could cobble together for an interview. But there's one thing that they don't seem to realize. A company like Google consists of more than just developers. Not only that, it probably consists - even within their developer circles - of more than just Python and Java developers. If any company would know about languages that are more optimized such as C, it would be Google that has to leverage this performance in order to be able to deliver their services.

I'll be frank here. Foobar has its own issues that I don't like. But if Google were a nice company, I'd go for it all the way nonetheless - after all, they are arguably the single biggest tech company in the world, and the tech industry itself is one of the biggest ones in the world nowadays. It's safe to say that there's likely no opportunity like working at Google. But I don't think it's the right thing. Even if I did know Python or Java... Even if I did. I don't like Google's business decisions.

I've recently flashed my OnePlus 6T with LineageOS. It's now completely Google-free, except for a stock Yalp account (that I'm too afraid to replace with my actual Google account because oh dear, third-party app stores, oh dear that could damage our business and has to be made highly illegal!1!). My contacts on that phone are are all gone. They're all stored on a Google server somewhere (except for some like @linuxxx' that I consciously stored on device storage and thus lost a while back), waiting for me to log back in and sync them back. I've never asked for this. If Google explicitly told me that they'd sync all my contacts to my Google account and offer feasible alternatives, I'd probably given more priority to building a CalDAV and CardDAV server of my own. Because I do have the skills and desire to maintain that myself. I don't want Google to do this for me.

Move fast and break things. I've even got a special Termux script on my home screen, aptly named Unfuck-Google-Play. Every other day I have to use it. Google Search. When I open it on my Nexus 6P, which was Google's foray into hardware and in which they failed quite spectacularly - I've even almost bent and killed it tonight, after cursing at that piece of shit every goddamn day - the Google app opens, I type some text into it.. and then it just jumps back to the beginning of whatever I was typing. A preloader of sorts. The app is a fucking web page parser, or heck probably even just an API parser. How does that in any way justify such shitty preloaders? How does that in any way justify such crappy performance on anything but the most recent flagships? I could go on about this all day... I used to run modern Linux on a 15 year old laptop, smoothly. So don't you Google tell me that a - probably trillion dollar - company can't do that shit right. When there's (commercialized) community projects like DuckDuckGo that do things a million times better than you do - yet they can't compete with you due to your shit being preloaded on every phone and tablet and impossible to remove without rooting - that you Google can't do that and a lot more. You've got fucking Google Assistant for fucks sake! Yet you can't make a decent search app - the goddamn thing that your company started with in the first place!?

I'm sorry. I'd love to work at Google and taste the diversity that this company has to offer. But there's *a lot* wrong with it at the business end too. That is something that - in that state - I don't think I want to contribute to, despite it being pretty much a lottery ticket that I've been fortunate enough to draw twice.

Maybe I should just start my own company.

  • 1
    what even is Google Foobar

    @rutee07 you passed up GOOGLE... for who???
  • 1
    Can we also get an invitation to Google Foobar Challenge??
  • 2
    I'd pass up Google, no question. I'm never ever working there. Even if I quickly ignore my gripes with Google as a company, it's plain too big. The stories coming from employees are equal parts horror and wonder. Google can take whoever they want, but not me. They don't even seem trustworthy towards their employees, and that's enough for me to turn my back, whatever the interviewing process.
  • 1
    I'm not a sysadmin but I feel like even for sysadmins, knowing at least some programming language other than command line seems to me like ... the basics.

    I know you shouldn't require it, but there so many case where you get some shitty bugs that can be understood and solved quicker by yourself if your can read the app code.

    Especially with java and python that are not compiled and very common.

    So yes you do not absolutely require this skill but I'm confident having it is still usefull and if you are google you can expect you candidates to be better than average. In addition as google hold the sysadmins and the devs, i guess the devs will be happier if a sysadmin can already analyse a bug and make better feedback on his own.
  • 1
    For the language choice: a long as you know one complete programming language, I consider you can do almost all of them (in the same field, here, general purpose programming language) with a little bit of additional time.

    So it's not surprising that google only focus on java and python: well known by most candidates and supervisors, quick to write and quick to read
  • 0
    @Kasonnara I can read code in pretty much all languages, and get a general grasp of what it's trying to do. I mean I pretty much have to - can't go blindly execute any script on a server that I can't afford to be nuked or infected. What I do not know however - and am not really willing to learn either because there's already *a lot* of subjects to learn in the sysadmin field - is how to write in it. That is not my job and I will likely never need it.

    Additionally, my field is not one in which I keep devs happy by being their QA or to give them bug reports with information other than whatever relevant information the system logs give me (usually my bug reports / support requests are fairly well-received so I believe I'm good there). What I do to keep the devs happy is keeping their servers up and running, healthily. What I do when a piece of server software consistently fails on a server I control, is indeed sending out a bug report with relevant error messages and if applicable, steps to reproduce. However, that's a troubleshooting skill, not a programming one. I am not going to look into the code of a program I use, just to make it as easy as possible to the dev by telling "here, this line here is where you're wrong". That's up to the dev to find out. I am not interested in the internals of their programs any more than I have to. I am not their QA team.
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