I’m hanging out in an airport restaurant waiting for a flight. Seems like something I do fairly frequently. While I’m not exactly “Up in the Air”, I do enjoy travel quite a bit.
My first week at Google was extremely busy. On my first day everyone was encouraging me to take the courses for newbies that they have all week – it sure seemed like a good idea on Monday. But after midday Tuesday, all bets were off, as my schedule filled with people to meet and things to work on. With so many interesting things going on, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in a newbie class! (The good news is that they have them all recorded, so I’ll watch the videos later. 🙂 )
One thing that has been incredibly marked for me has been the change in my productivity tools. I’ve gotten used to using Exchange, Outlook, and the suite of Office products. I really, really like the system I have down for file organization. And I’ve got a laptop with Windows XP and desktops with Windows 7. My first day at Google I got a Linux desktop and a Mac laptop. Beautiful pieces of hardware, but – woah! So different. And of course we’re using the suite of Google Apps products. I felt like not only did I need to learn a new environment and new job, but my productivity habits now also all needed to change. Yikes!
At first it felt a bit painful. As the week has gone on, however, I’ve realized just how valuable it is to have my data in the cloud. Mid-week, I converted my Nexus One over from my Gmail account to my corporate Google account, and suddenly all my business information – calendar and email in particular – was in my pocket. My manager was probably pretty happy, as I suddenly stopped missing meetings and messages. 🙂 Then Thursday I started really using Google Docs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am still having a hard time getting used to popping open a web browser to edit my documents, and I have yet to come up with an alternative for my trusty hierarchical file system. But the moment of epiphany came when, in the span of an hour, I had taken some notes in a meeting on the Mac, booted up my Linux box and made some edits, and then over a coffee meeting later I brought the doc up on my phone to review what I had written. Totally seamlessly, without worrying about copying files around or anything. Holy smokes! This whole cloud thing is pretty great. 🙂 But it is definitely a shift in mindframe.
Right now I’m at the airport, as I mentioned earlier. Today I did a bunch of work in the Mac’s Text Edit program. When I got home, I suddenly realized I needed to copy all that stuff onto a USB stick, since I was bringing my personal laptop (my Windows XP one) on the trip with me. It wasn’t a big deal, but one point I lost the USB stick and couldn’t remember if I had packed it. What if I forgot it? After a few moments of argh, once again the idea of the cloud really sunk home for me.
So it’s been an interesting week to be sure (and that’s leaving out all of the most interesting parts!) But the idea of the cloud, which sounded good in theory but I hadn’t put into full practice, is really growing on me. I’ve loved my Android phone for months and months… but when I embraced Gmail, Google Docs and Google Voice, all the sudden my cell phone became so much more useful. It’s a very interesting transformation.