Remote Access

Friday, December 01, 2006 at 12:50 PM

Posted by: Amanda Walker, Member of Technical Staff, Mac Team

I started my career working on Mac networking products way back in the '80s and '90s, well before the Internet was in everybody's living room. For example, I wrote SLIP and PPP packages to get Mac users online over dialup connections, pitched in on efforts to standardize things so that everyone's gear would actually work with everyone else's, and so on. In those days, "Internet client software" meant Telnet and FTP, not web browsers and streaming video. We could see the potential, but it would take years for reality to catch up to the vision.

About a year ago, I got a phone call out of the blue from a recruiter, asking if I was interested in talking to Google about its incipient Mac team. This was quite a surprise: Until that point, while I was an avid Google user, I hadn't noticed Google paying any special attention to Mac users, beyond delivering a Mac version of Google Earth.

By the time I got the recruiting call, I had not worked on insanely great Mac software for awhile. The idea of a Google Mac team was very intriguing, and things snowballed from there. As Greg Robbins noted, Google was quietly recruiting a top-notch Mac development group, and the search wasn't limited to just Silicon Valley. I live near Washington D.C., where Google does not have an engineering office, so I mostly work at home. This has its downside -- there's no excellent, free Google food, and I sometimes feel like I'm living at work (hmm, maybe I am: check out the picture).

However, it all works surprisingly well, at least for our team. VPN, high-speed Internet service, and flat-rate long distance make it a lot easier than it used to be, but I also spend about 20% of my time working from Mountain View and other Google offices. Of course, there are worse things than having to leave D.C. for California during the winter.

In the '80s, I chose to develop Mac networking software because I wanted to change the world. Here in the future, it's a much taller order. Technology is moving faster than ever, and Apple and Google are both very careful not to tip their hands in advance about future products. So instead of questions like "the Inter-what?", I get questions like "will I be able to watch YouTube on my iPhone?" Unfortunately, they don't tell me the answer to that. But I'm ready for anything: one thing my home office has in common with the Googleplex is an espresso machine, available 24/7.