The Internship

I’m currently hosting my first Google intern. Coincidentally, there’s a new movie currently in theaters about Google interns. I saw the film last Saturday with another Googler at a theater across the street from Google. I even spotted a Google VP in the audience, watching the movie about Google with the author of the book about—you guessed it—Google.

While I knew that The Internship isn’t a documentary (unlike this), my main curiosity going into the movie was how Google (and Googlers!) would be portrayed. Overall, movie Google looks a lot like real Google. You could probably take pictures of most of the sets, show them to real-world Googlers, and easily have them believe that the pictures were from a real office that they hadn’t visited yet. Some of the movie was actually shot at Google. If you want to know what was shot where, here’s a tip: If you see brick buildings, they’re not in California.

I’m tempted go into great detail about the plot and characters in terms of what is realistic vs. what is only in the movie, but as I said before, it’s not a documentary, so I’ll skip that and keep my review brief: I enjoyed the movie. I laughed out loud a few times, and I couldn’t help associating some of the Googler characters with Googlers I know. My favorite part was a scene with Billy and “Headphones.” It’s a fun movie, and I assume that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson had fun making it. The most surprising part for me was that of the scenes really resonated with me. Okay, maybe two scenes, but I’ll just talk about one. I don’t want to give too much away, but it involved trying to teach a small business owner the value and opportunity of the Internet. As someone who has had the pleasure of helping many businesses get online, I can attest that it’s an extremely challenging and rewarding experience.

As I mentioned earlier, some of the film was shot at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California. The fun part about these shots is that in addition to featuring a real Google campus, they show real Googlers! During shooting, I got to spend a day on the set as an extra, and it was a fun experience. One of the first tasks was to be reviewed by someone in the wardrobe department. She loved my shoes, but said that I looked “too hip,” which is totally understandable. She asked me to tuck in my shirt, and then gave me a belt to “dorkify” me. I was also issued a fake Google badge. The name on mine was “Shaady Kamal.” Other than those adjustments to my appearance, I pretty much played myself. I wore my normal work clothes (jeans, a colorful shirt, and Google-colored shoes), and even had my real work backpack and laptops with me. It wasn’t hard to get into character; in all of my scenes I was working on my laptop, where I was literally just doing work at work. The only difference is that occasionally a couple of celebrities would walk by. Actually, that’s not different than real work. But this time there was a camera crew. Hmm, that’s not different either. I only “acted” in in a few shots, and each time was given a simple direction, such as to sit and work on a laptop or talk to some people for a little bit and then walk away. While it was easy to pretend to be me, I will still proudly note that I nailed it. In one shot, when I turned around and started walking right on cue, one of the crew members hiding in the bushes whispered to me, “Good job.” The funny part about shooting that scene was that I was supposed to walk away from a group of people as if leaving for a meeting. We were far enough from the action that we could talk, so we had a real-life conversation. My cue was when Vince and Owen hit a certain mark, and not any particular point in our conversation, so I kept having to walk away abruptly and randomly in the middle of the conversation. I almost felt rude, but that’s how Shaady rolls. The set was much more relaxed than I expected, and I think the crew was enjoying the location. I overheard the “good job” guy say on the phone, “This is the best week of work in my life. Yeah, I’m shooting a movie up at Google.”

As for a Wysz cameo? When I saw it in the theater, I didn’t see myself in the movie. They completely cut one of the scenes I was in. There are a couple of shots that I’m potentially in, but I think they each ended before the camera got to me. I’d need to step through them frame-by-frame to be sure, and you can bet that I’ll do that as well as check for deleted scenes when the movie comes out on video. I did spot Mike Leotta and Sergey Brin in one of the scenes.

Tesla Model S

I visited the Tesla Store on Santana Row back in April when they opened and took a ride in the Roadster Sport. I returned to the store yesterday to pick up my order check out the Model S, Tesla’s first sedan. They’re saying that deliveries will begin next summer.

It’s a good-looking car, and more comfortable to sit in (and get in and out of) than the Roadster. The interesting part for me was hearing about the electronics system. Some of my mental notes, which may or may not be accurate:

  • 3G provider unannounced, but “probably Verizon or AT&T, because who else is there?”
  • You can create a WiFi hotspot from the 3G connection
  • Navigation maps are from Google, and the data is live from the Internet
  • 4 USB ports for hooking up your various devices
  • System is Linux-based, and there will be apps available. One example: Netflix, so you can “watch while the car charges.”
  • Remote control/monitoring features will be available via an iPhone app. Other platforms could be supported as well via the API that will be released.


This has been a sad time. Steve Jobs passed away on Wednesday. Tonight, I learned that a friend, also an Apple employee, was killed in an accident a month ago. I was just talking about him at lunch today.

Skip Haughay and I met at the opening of the Apple Store in the Christiana Mall in Delaware in 2004.  In the summer of 2006, Skip and I coincidentally both began contract work at Apple and Google, respectively. He told me about when he first passed Steve Jobs in the hallway. Steve had a tray of food. Skip’s boss noticed that he was in shock from the sighting of his idol, and simply explained, “He needs to eat too.” A few months after Skip started working with Apple on a project basis, I got this email:

Hey Wysz:

Call me.  You need to talk to Apple's newest iPod software engineer.


We began our full-time positions with the companies on the same day. We didn’t hang out much, but we’d occasionally email each other extremely dorky messages whenever Apple or Google was in the news. He continued to be a complete Apple fan, and would excitedly send me quick notes with pictures from launch parties or even the latest poster in the main lobby. One subject line read, “Look at this new t-shirt! This company rocks!” He hosted me for a couple of lunches at Apple, and I had him over to lunch at Google. He was excited to see the dogs that people brought to work.

He absolutely loved horses and Apple, so I’m pretty sure he was living his dream. I took this picture of Skip and Woz when we went to a Segway Polo match in San Francisco.

Steve Wozniak and Skip Haughay

If you were close to Skip, feel free to send me an email. I have a couple more pictures I can share.

How Wysz does parties

Last week, I had a typical Wysz experience.

I was invited to a party that attracts the startup crowd, including founders and investors. Being in the tech business, I figured it would be fun to attend. Plus, I had this funny idea that if anyone asked for my card, I could hand them an business card. I didn’t expect anyone to believe that it was a legitimate business, but it could be a good ice breaker. So, at the last minute I ordered some business cards from MOO. Of course, being a party in San Francisco with people I don’t know, I was still lacking a true reason to want to go there, other than the fact that I thought it might lead to some interesting conversations. But, since I had already told people I was going, I got in my car and drove up to the city on the night of the party. Traffic wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible. Once in the city, I got to play the fun driving game of wondering whether or not it’s safe to go at a green light, since there’s a good chance that the light will turn red again before the car in front of me lets me clear the intersection. I ended up doing pretty well. After miraculously ending up in the right lanes at the right times, which can require looking ahead a turn or two on the GPS, I found myself outside the venue. All I had to do at that point was find parking. I started looking around for a garage. I didn’t see any, so I just kept driving. I came across some parking signs, and followed the arrows. After several blocks, I still didn’t see any parking. At this point, I started grumbling about how I don’t like driving in the city, and I should have parked in San Bruno and had Uber drive me from there, and I don’t really like parties anyway, so maybe I shouldn’t go, but I guess I have to go since I told people I was going, but no, I’m an adult now and I can do what I want, but maybe to avoid embarrassment I will just imply that I went, kind of like that time I was invited to a high school graduation party and I went but only stayed for ten minutes and then got lost on purpose so it would take me a long time to get back home. Eventually, I got far enough from the venue that I was able to safely justify to myself that it was too far away to park, and that I should switch the destination in my phone back to my apartment. I did that, and of course on my way out of the city I ended up in traffic in the wrong lane, and, not being an aggressive driver or the type who minds getting lost, went ahead and kept going in the wrong lane, which eventually took me to Treasure Island, where I turned around in a parking lot and got back on my way. This was my second time driving up to San Francisco and back without getting out of my car. Once back in Sunnyvale, I got a meatball sub at Subway and went to bed early. That may not sound exciting to some people, but for me, it was a pretty awesome evening.


I’ve only used it once, but I am already a fan of Uber. In fact, I liked it before I tried it. The way it works is first you register for an account and install the Uber app on your phone. When you want to go somewhere, simply open up the app, which finds your location via GPS, and request a driver. A comfortable town car will then be dispatched to your location, and you can watch the driver’s progress in real-time on the app, and even call them if necessary. Once in the car, you let the driver know where you want to go, and they take you there. When you arrive at your destination, simply get out of the car. No cash or tipping; the fare is automatically charged to your credit card. You can then use the app to rate your driver. (And they can rate you.)

If you’ve ever heard me talk about the unpredictable experience of riding an American taxi before, you will see why I like Uber. The first time I tried it was on a trip to the airport. I pulled out my phone, and set my location. This part of the UI needs a little work; it kept choosing an address on the other side of the street, and if I moved the marker too far, trying to force it to be on my side of the street, it would snap to a side street. I then requested a ride, and was told that Ronaldo, the driver, would arrive in six minutes. I was able to track the driver via GPS, and six minutes later, he arrived on the wrong side of the street. He didn’t see me, but that was no problem as I just tapped on the “call driver” button and let him know to do a quick U-turn. After that, it was a quick and friendly trip to the airport, and my receipt was emailed to me. A cool line item on the receipt was “Rounding Down” as they round down the fare to the nearest dollar. I saved 96 cents.

When I returned from my trip, I got in the regular taxi line at the airport. I was treated to a ride with a driver who was on the phone the entire time, communicating with me via hand motions to ask where to go, and a handwritten sign on the meter that simply said “CASH.” What a contrast.

Of course if you look at their site, you’ll see that the main reason you would go with a more traditional form of transportation over Uber is the raw price. But remember, the lowest price doesn’t always mean the best value, depending on what you value. Since I need a ride infrequently, using Uber isn’t going to make me go broke, and the last time I called for a regular cab they never showed up. Uber’s customer service is pretty sweet too. They noticed that I was once unable to find an available car in my area, and proactively contacted me to make sure we were still cool.

I’ll be spending some time in San Francisco this week, and while I don’t expect to have any transportation needs, if I do, I think I’ll choose Uber. Oh, and in case you came across this post looking for a pre-arranged pickup solution in the San Francisco area, Uber doesn’t offer that (that I know of), but PlanetTran is good.

Test ride: Tesla Roadster Sport

On Saturday, I visited the newly-opened Tesla Store on Santana Row, where I got to take a test ride in the Roadster Sport.

Here’s what the storefront looks like:

Tesla storefront

It looks pretty similar to an Apple Store, and that comes as no surprise as it was created by George Blankenship, a veteran of the Apple Retail team. In the store when I visited was a single orange Roadster Sport, with the hood open. GigaOM offers a video tour if you want to see more of the inside.

Behind the store, Tesla has taken over a small section of the Santana Row parking garage, with signage and a couple of charging stations.

Tesla sign on parking garage

While Tesla sightings for me are a very common experience, I only sat in one for the first time in 2009, and until Saturday had never been in one that was moving. As we were pulling out of the garage, the brakes squeaked a bit. Once on the road, the driver noted the squeaky brakes and warned me that he was going to jam on the brakes to clean them off. This was fun, because without a lot of road to work with, he had to accelerate pretty quickly to get up to a jam-on-the-brakes kind of speed. I love the feel of acceleration, of actually being pushed back into the seat, and (perhaps fortunately), this is not a thrill that my current car can offer. Despite the driver’s best efforts, the squeaking didn’t go away, and he explained that a better way to clean them is to brake while in reverse. We didn’t have a chance to try that out. One part of the driving that I noticed was that even in performance mode, the vehicle tries to recapture energy as soon as you let off the accelerator, allowing you to slow down without even using the brakes. While I had noted during my test drive of the Nissan Leaf that the lack of this effect was a positive, as it made it feel more like a “normal” car, I now think that it’s something I could easily get used to, and even appreciate, as using traditional brakes is a total waste of energy. The driver noted that you can train yourself to figure out when to let off of the accelerator when approaching a stop, and end up stopping in just the right place without having to rely on the brakes.

Roadster Sport insignia on the rear of a Tesla Roadster Sport

I don’t know which car it will be, but I really hope my next car is electric. I’m addicted.

Wysz resorts

One week this summer, Mike was visiting California while I was visiting Pennsylvania, so I let him stay in my apartment. Mike can’t just leave things as they were like a normal person, so here’s what I found on my table when I returned:

Fake hotel invoice for Wysz Resorts

Yes, he created his own invoice. Click on it for a larger view.

But that’s not all.

Andes mint sitting on a pillow

I had mints on my pillows, like you’d find in a hotel.

Andes mint sitting on a towel

And then surprisingly, a mint on my towels.

Andes mint on a roll of toilet paper

I’m still finding mints.

Wilted plant

I need to take a second look at that plant watering credit.

Caramel apple FAIL

Last week, we had a small apple festival at work, complete with a barbecue lunch:

Corn, apples, and bqq.

and apple pies:

Table full of apple pies

… and caramel apples. I didn’t plan on eating a carmel apple when I first saw them, because I don’t like food that is difficult to eat, especially if I risk getting sticky. On my way out, however, I turned around and decided that it’s been a long time since I’ve had a carmel apple, and I should take advantage of this rare opportunity. So, I grabbed an apple, got it coated in carmel, and then filled my cup with some nuts and chocolate chips and raisins and stuff. It was going to be delicious.

Caramel apple

I sat myself down on a bench in the shade, and went for my first bite. My teeth slipped (hey, it’s an apple on a stick!), and all I got was some caramel. Didn’t even break the skin. So, I tried again, this time holding the stick firmly and pushing the apple into my mouth. *Snap!* — the stick broke, the apple hit my chin and then landed on my phone (sitting on the bench), which then fell onto the ground, where phone, apple, and phone’s battery cover then lay in a triangle of defeat. Fortunately, I don’t think anyone saw me, but it must have been pretty sad sight, like the time on Reading Rainbow when LeVar Burton got an ice cream cone and it fell on his shoe. Here’s what my apple looked like afterward:

Caramel apple covered in dirt

I would have shown you my phone’s screen covered in caramel, but as Beah has noted, it cannot take a picture of itself.