After a few rescheduling events, I was finally contacted by Google for a phone screening.
A phone screen interview is where you answer a bunch of involved technical questions, usually related to computer science algorithms or general thought problems.
I got to bed quite late last night and was woken up early (I was talked into some sort of Nintendo Wii testing) and was busily working up until the call. And Rei (the cat) was running around screaming his head off. So, perhaps due to my poor preparation I might get passed up. I didn't really understand what sort of CPU scheduling issues would result in starvation, if there wasn't a resource lock of some sort. Jessica sort of through out a bunch of CS questions which you wouldn't really parse unless you were recently out of CS or a domain expert. (That's my excuse if I fail.)
One question on code reviewing I sort of blandly answered: As long as I understand what is being fixed (bug number or requirement), and there is a test, I don't really give them too much thought. Here's basically why: (some I mentioned) If the purpose of a code review is to catch stupid errors or logic errors, then the tests should catch those. If the purpose is to cover style issues, the next person to edit the code can more easily fix them. Humans might provide some help if something is sub-optimal (a better algorithm exists), but premature optimization being the source of evil, I don't really care. I guess they get into the way of getting things done and don't really add too much value compared to the ceremony level they have. I've found "developer focused" companies such as JBoss don't have code reviews, though the code changes are sent out to the list.
At the end, I asked about "why no shuttle service for Kirkland" and if their company culture was anything like Microsoft's. (Microsoft being some sort of lord-of-the flies haven for immature nerd boys who spend all their life at work. Steve "chair throwing" Ballmer being their leader.) The answer to the first question was that only a few people took the shuttle, so they dropped it. Jessica said that crossing the bridge was no problem, I pointed out that it wasn't the crossing, it was the exiting and entering and there was no bus solution from North Seattle. The second answer for me was "of course we aren't like that" — which is what you would expect to hear.
Assuming they continue talking to me, I actually don't think I will pursue them. First of all, I don't want to drive and I don't see myself taking a bus regularly to Kirkland downtown (two buses, or a bike to Montlake and bus trip) every single day. Secondly, for some reason I don't think they have the salary or other incentives (bonus, stock options, gourmet food, etc.) at my level. Lastly, I don't know how I would fit in there. It feels very lonely being a grunt in a large company; perhaps as a technical manager or something I might not feel as oppressed. We'll see.
I walked away from an Amazon offer in 2002 and had their VP call me. I wonder what happens to people who turn down Google's offers? Do they follow you in a black van and eventually haul you away?