Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Keep on Googling

I stopped by yesterday to speak at Google’s main campus at Mountain View, California. The free food is every bit as good as advertised. It is a funny place. It feels and looks a lot of like a college, with most of the people around dressed in t-shirts and in their 20s, but apparently is ...

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - JULY 17: A sign is displayed outside of the Google headquarters July 17, 2008 in Mountain View, California. Google Inc. is expected to announce an increase in quarterly profits when it reports its quarterly earnings today after the closing bell. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

I stopped by yesterday to speak at Google's main campus at Mountain View, California. The free food is every bit as good as advertised. It is a funny place. It feels and looks a lot of like a college, with most of the people around dressed in t-shirts and in their 20s, but apparently is full of millionaires.

The talk about my book itself was kind of flat. I felt like I was speaking to a convention of people with Asperger's. But that might be what makes good software engineers -- an ability to follow intricate repeated patterns and to focus intensely, but also limited verbal communications skills, lack of empathy, and a physical awkwardness...

I stopped by yesterday to speak at Google’s main campus at Mountain View, California. The free food is every bit as good as advertised. It is a funny place. It feels and looks a lot of like a college, with most of the people around dressed in t-shirts and in their 20s, but apparently is full of millionaires.

The talk about my book itself was kind of flat. I felt like I was speaking to a convention of people with Asperger’s. But that might be what makes good software engineers — an ability to follow intricate repeated patterns and to focus intensely, but also limited verbal communications skills, lack of empathy, and a physical awkwardness…

Two fun facts I learned:

1. The locations of some of Google’s server camps, which tend to be sited where electricity is abundant and cheap, is a big secret. And no, I was informed, they can’t be detected by thermal imaging satellitesl.

2. Google uses so much copper wiring that it hedges its purchasing costs on the futures market.

Unfortunately, for personal reasons, I’ve had to curtail the LA leg of this book tour.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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