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Liquid Galaxy at Doodle 4 Google

Last week I went to Google’s New York Office on 8th Ave with Ben, intern Ben, and hired hand Linton. For those who have not experienced this wonderful place, Google’s building takes up an entire city block, is very colorful, and is probably one of the coolest places I have ever been to in the Big Apple. Walking through the huge building is an experience in itself, with people riding Razor Scooters by you as you pass by street signs marking different areas in the office (It was explained to me that each floor is themed after a different place in the city. For example, the 10th floor, the main floor we were working on, is based on Queens). And of course they have the best break rooms. Free food EVERYWHERE!

Also they have ball pits. You know you are awesome when you have ball pits.

Anyway, the reason we were at Google in the first place was to move the Liquid Galaxy on the 10th floor down to the 5th floor. It was great to see how many people came up to us and told how much they enjoyed using the system, and they all wanted to know when and if it would ever be back. Moving the Liquid Galaxy went smoothly, and setting it back up on the 5th floor (at the “Water Tower”) went even smoother, if possible. With everyone’s help we were able to get into the office and out in about four and a half hours with the Liquid Galaxy all set up, cleaned off, and in good working condition.

The move was made for the Doodle 4 Google event, an awards ceremony where 50 student finalists (Kindergarten to 12th grade, one from each state) are awarded for their interpretation of the Google homepage logo. The theme this year was “If I could go back in time, I would…” The national finalist won a $30,000 college scholarship, $50,000 for their school, a Chromebook, a Wacom Digital Design tablet, and their design printed on a t-shirt, though all finalists received some sort of scholarship and a t-shirt printed with their design. Also, if you checked Google's homepage last Friday (2012-05-18), you would have seen the winner’s drawing in place of the normal logo. The winner, a 2nd grader from Wisconsin, visited the golden era of pirates in his drawing. I did not know it at the time, but he was also the first kid to wander over to the Liquid Galaxy to find out what it was. He was a little intimidated at first, but after some friendly encouragement he decided to check it out. It turned out later that we would have to take him to the side and explain that he could not hit the top of the 3D Space Navigator and yell “SMASH” while other people were using the Liquid Galaxy (and completely disorienting all the surrounding parents in the process).

National winner’s drawing

Regardless, staffing the booth and talking to people was a great experience. Nearly everyone at the event (including the staff!) wanted to come over and fly around, and I heard many funny stories from children and adults alike as people went to different places that meant something to them. However, as an anonymous Internet user once said: “It’s amazing… with Google Earth you can fly anywhere in the world, but all anyone wants to see is their house,” and this was certainly true at Doodle 4 Google.

Linton and Jandro with some people checking out the LG

Doodle 4 Google lasted from 12:30 to 2:30, and after the event ended, Ben, Ben, Linton and I packed up the Liquid Galaxy once more and brought it back upstairs to the 10th floor. The second packing up and re-installation went even better than the first day, and Ben took the opportunity to show us some Linux System Administration and how to operate the Switched PDU (Power Distribution Unit) which controls the outlets that provide power to the computers on the Liquid Galaxy.

The two days at Google were very busy, but helping out at Google's office was a great experience, and one which I hope to enjoy again sometime in the future.

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