Google Invites You to Crack the Code

Silicon Valley "Code Jam" brings out the geeks

By Scott Budman
|  Monday, Nov 16, 2009  |  Updated 12:52 PM PDT
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Geeks Jam Google

Cracking the code at Google.

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Geeks Jam Google

For several hours, you could hear a pin drop at Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters, as geeks from around the world worked to solve complex problems with computer code.
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For all of its loudly trumpeted innovation, Google on Friday became one of the quietest places on Earth. For several hours, you could hear a pin drop. Or, at least, you could hear fingers swiftly typing on keyboards, and not much else. 

Google's annual "Code Jam" begins by inviting applicants from around the world to solve complex problems with computer code.  From close to 20,000 initial applicants, Google gradually whittled the field down to 23 finalists, invited them to company headquarters, and let them loose. The video below gives you a peek at what it was like.

Several hours and gallons of Pepsi later, these coders had made new friends, figured out what they had done right and wrong, and maybe even impressed HR enough to get a job.

Just ask Bartholomew Furrow.  A veteran of past Google Code Jams, Furrow got hired at the search giant , he admits, on his coding prowess.  "I essentially learned to program through these competitions," he says. "And now I'm a computer scientist at Google."

It's always fun to see what coders do for good luck.  Some have special hats.  Many take off their shoes.  One had a "lucky" chocolate bar.  Bruce Merry, who codes under the, um, code name "BMerry," brings his own keyboard to the event.  It looks like a relic from the Commodore 64 days, but Bruce says it brings him luck.  "You never know at a contest what you'll find," when it comes to gear.

As we left campus, Googlers were still tallying up the complex scoresheet after the Jam.  Will today's efforts lead someone to a job, like "Hoop Dreams?"  We'll keep you posted.

 
Scott Budman, for his part, was content being the dumbest person in the room - by a longshot.
 
 
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