When most people go to California, they visit Disney Land or Hollywood, tour the wine regions of Napa, or the national parks in Death Valley. When Rebecca Salkeld arrived in San Francisco earlier this year, the Golden Gates Bridge was clearly a must-see, however, as someone who has spent her whole career in tech, Silicon Valley held many other attractions for her bucket list.
At the start of 2020, Rebecca began a three-month sabbatical from her role as a Web Application Developer with Nexus Technology. Her trip would take her from Jersey to the USA, Australia, and New Zealand, before being cut short because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rebecca said: “I was only going to be in California for 10 days, which would disappear quickly travelling between places using public transport so we decided to base ourselves in San Francisco, where we could enjoy seeing the city, and visit key ‘Tech Tourism’ places such as Stanford University and the Googleplex.
“Being one of the major contributors to the big names in tech such as Google, Netflix and Snapchat it was a great privilege to walk around the campus. Computer Science is a big player within university life with many buildings dedicated to STEM subjects.
“During our tour we walked past the Hewlett and Packard Teaching Centre and saw the first Google server where we picked up of interesting facts about the birth of Google. Did you know Google colours are from the Lego bricks used to build their first server?”
From Stanford, Rebecca was able to take the train to Mountain View, then connect by bus to Googleplex – the Google HQ named as an amalgamation of Google and Complex, and as a reference to a googolplex, one of the world’s largest numbers.
“As we approached the Google HQ, we began to see self-driving cars.” Rebecca said, “When we arrived at the campus, I couldn’t believe the size of the complex, it even has its own road, named after the company. Unfortunately, Google do not provide tours but allow visitors to walk freely outside the campus, so we wandered around, taking in the sculptures.”
You might not expect a giant KitKat to last long under the Californian sun, but in Silicon Valley, even chocolate bars have more to do with chips. The KitKat was part of a collection of Android Lawn Statues on the Google Campus, with each statue representing a version of an Android software release.
The first Android version to be given a public name was Cupcake, in 2009. This was followed by Donut, Éclair, and other sweet treats in alphabetical order. KitKat was version 4.4 and it’s accompanied by sculptures all the way through to version 10, which is called Queen Cake, a small cupcake with flat icing.
As someone who works at the user-face of software development, and on the operational side, seeing the birthplace of Google, and the site where some of the world’s biggest developments in tech are created, helped give Rebecca a new perspective to working in tech.
“I have used different Google services over the years, including most recently a Google Cloud Console for a Kubernetes environment, however, visiting the campus helped me appreciate the scale and variety of what Google does.
“As a developer, you are often focused on the details with a project, however, this trip gave me an opportunity to see the bigger picture of how software impact everything. It was a brilliant learning experience and made me leave California even more motivated to take the software we create to the next level.”