Take the Google Line To Work

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Gman
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Take the Google Line To Work

Take the Google Line To Work
by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 03.11.07
Cars & Transportation

Google gets hugs for its solar panels, if less so then for their giant jet, but you know they are the real thing when they do the less obvious, more expensive and really effective things. They essentially have built a private transit system of 32 buses with leather seats, wireless internet and bicycle racks. “It’s the most useful Google fringe benefit,” said Wiltse Carpenter, a 45-year-old software engineer. It’s changed my quality of life” Riders can sign up to receive alerts on their computers and cellphones when buses run late and to top it off, they use biodiesel.

According to the Times, They pick up workers as far away as Concord, 54 miles northeast of the Googleplex, as the company’s sprawling Mountain View headquarters are known, and Santa Cruz, 38 miles to the south. The system’s routes cover in excess of 230 miles of freeways, more than twice the extent of the region’s BART commuter train system, which has 104 miles of tracks. ::New York Times

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reikiman
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Re: Take the Google Line To Work

Google's campus is about a mile from where I live ..so...

This is more a symptom of the horrible mass transit system in the south bay (a.k.a. Silicon Valley) than anything else. If the mass transit system were in good shape then the people in Concord could just take that ... they can, today, take BART down to Fremont ... but Fremont is pretty far from Google's campus.

- David Heron, http://davidherron.com/

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Gman
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Re: Take the Google Line To Work

Hey reikiman,
So would you consider Google as a Green Company other than there pockets?
Where do they use Solar Panels?

Peace Out,
Gman

Now that we have clarified our beliefs, your invited to join us as we begin building on them to define our Community Mission Statement

Peace Out, <img src="http://tinyurl.com/ysafbn">
Gman

reikiman
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Re: Take the Google Line To Work

Sure... Some points are:-

They're building solar panels in their parking lots at the Googleplex (their main campus; the one a mile from where I live) .. I should probably swing by there and take some pictures. The solar panels should be enough to power most of their campus.

They know one of their biggest cost areas is the power to run their server farms. They study ways to optimize power use in these systems, to reduce the amount of power. While that's spun as a business cost equation, it's also a green consideration as they're reducing their power use. The solar panel system (so far as I know) doesn't cover most of their server farms ... because while they probably have a server farm in the googleplex, they have others elsewhere such as the pacific northwest (cheap hydro power).

A minor point .. but the last time I visited the googleplex I saw some scooters scattered around campus. Most of them were bladez models. Seems they're provided by Google for employees to scoot around campus -- rather than to drive a car or take a shuttle, why not scoot...?

But ... does that make them 'green'? Not entirely, but I think it helps them rank highly in the scale of green-ness. Truly green companies make even stronger efforts like taking the steps to become carbon neutral, or are directly engaged in environmental business. But.. consider this, that last fall I talked a few times with the admissions advisor for a 'green MBA' program at the Presidio School of Management ... he was impressed with the company I work for, Sun Microsystems, because we sell nowadays some servers that offer a huge performance improvement with a huge reduction in power use. These servers have Energy Star ratings and have approval for power rebates from some power companies. That perked the ears of green business types ...

- David Heron, http://davidherron.com/

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PJD
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Re: Take the Google Line To Work

Considering Google's line of business, I thought this was going to be an article on home office telecommuting. With a high speed internet connection, should most of Google's employees have to regularly go to the office at all?

Crusher300
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Re: Take the Google Line To Work

David,

actually, you can take BART from Concord to Milbrae, transfer to Caltrain, ride to Mountain View, and ride an electric scooter the rest of the way to the Google headquarters, It might take a couple of hours each way, but can be done on public transit. I used to drive from Pescadero to the Daily City BART station (before they built the SFO extension to Milbrae) then ride to Concord. It saved gas and avoided some nasty traffic. It was great to speed past the gridlock on the freeway looking out of the window of an electric train.

-Crusher300
Silver EVT 4000e (60 volt) San Mateo, CA

-Crusher300
Silver EVT 4000e (60 volt) San Mateo, CA

reikiman
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Re: Take the Google Line To Work

Right, there's enough connections for that to work. My experience every time I try to use multiple transit connections in the same commute is that the commute can be badly thrown off once you miss one of the connections. e.g. I can do my 10 mile commute to work totally with mass transit .. there's a bus that drives in front of my house, if I catch it at 8:09 AM I can get to the light rail station, ride that to the Lick Mill station, and from there get the #59 bus and ride it to Sun's campus. But if I miss that 8:09 bus I can't make the rest of the connections and end up at the far end walking for 40 minutes because the #59 bus only runs during commute hours.

The good thing about BART and Caltrain is they both run regularly all day long ...but... caltrain doesn't run at high frequency during the day, so if they were to miss the right BART train they could get to Caltrain during the period when it's running once an hour and that will delay their commute.

There's a related idea I've been bubbling on for quite awhile...

There's several companies which are doing what Google is doing. Sun Microsystems, where I work, has shuttle busses that go to the Fremont BART and to the Caltrain stations. I've seen similar shuttles from other companies .. Intel, Yahoo, NASA, etc. (side note: NASA used to have a bus labeled "NASA Shuttle" going between the Mt View Caltrain and their Ames facility) These companies all have the same issue .. plenty of employees who are facing bad commutes and there is a desire to help these people avoid driving on the highway during commute hours.

I think it's redundant for each of the companies to operate shuttle services on their own. I think these companies should band together and pool resources .. ideally to subsidize the transit agencies to operate busses or trains that actually help the situation.

On the other hand technology may, over time, make this a little redundant. Already at Sun we have a wide ranging program of letting people work from home. Some do this full time, others do it part time. One result is more and more of our people are choosing where they want to live, and moving there, rather than having them cluster in the same urban areas. But the problem with this is technological, that during group meetings you are "on the phone" and the way telephone conference calls work means you have less ability to be heard in the meeting than the people who are in the room. The ones who are in the room with each other can see all the body movements etc and get better communication, the people on the phone have none of that, etc.

But as the technology improves .. we'll start seeing video conferencing happening more regularly, which will help. But it does mean the work-from-home people can't attend meetings in their underwear.

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
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reikiman
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Re: Take the Google Line To Work

Considering Google's line of business, I thought this was going to be an article on home office telecommuting. With a high speed internet connection, should most of Google's employees have to regularly go to the office at all?

I partly answered this already .. The company I work for does this sort of thing, and many of my colleagues work remotely from us. Heck, today my manager, the guy I report to, lives in Bangalore India. He has people reporting to him from St. Petersburg Russia, from Bangalore, and from Santa Clara CA. The issue isn't just telecommuting, because all the people reporting to him come to a centralized office to work. The issue is the quality of communication over wide areas.

We do teleconference meetings all the time. Sometimes we can do these with video conferencing, but usually it's voice teleconferencing. The setup is usually that a group of people are "in the room" with some others "on the phone". The "in the room" people have advantages over the "on the phone" people. The teleconferencing units run in a half duplex mode where if someone in the room is speaking the people on the phone are completely unable to have their voice heard no matter how loudly they yell. Plus it's easy to forget that the people on the phone are in the meeting, because you can't see them.

There's a research project at Sun Labs I read of recently .. the idea was to have some presence for the "on the phone" people by putting a video monitor in a chair for them, and putting their video image on that monitor. Or at the minimum if they cannot put a video image in that monitor, to have a still picture. That would give a visual representation of the people in the meeting.

- David Herron, http://davidherron.com/

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Electrified Electra To

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