A about six and a half years ago, I was in Mountain View, California . I’d started working for Google Inc, and was there with a number of other Australians.
We had a good time, enjoying the random things that happen only in America, so we decided to find an Outback Steakhouse, and behave like drunken Aussies. I still remember the great night with 4 other friends there, getting totally drunk and being the only real Australians for miles and miles around.
We had such a good time, that our waitress loved serving us, and hung out with my friends and I for a while. We drank the beer and read the poorly written signs, and the incorrect Australian flag, until late into the night.
As a coincidence, I ran into the same waitress at a sushi restaurant days later, and she mentioned that her manager had let her go for neglecting the other tables that night. Great sushi, restaurant, too;
The above is what I usually tell my friends, when we talk about Outback Steakhouse. It turns out that it comes up in conversation not too infrequently at the time.
In terms of the change in Tech, this is actually a more interesting memory. We, as Australians, had only heard of Outback Steakhouse. We were still getting used to finding results using Google Maps, so we ended up finding the nearest one while in our offices, right in sunny Cupertino. Great, except there was no such thing as a smart phone at the time, all our phones were fairly dumb.
My father had visited California before, So I had a big set of Rand Mcnally paper maps. These were gigantic, fold out things, and in total I had about 20 of them. amazingly, they’re still for sale . We weren’t sure if we had the right maps with us, so one of my colleagues became clever, pulled out his digital camera, and took a photo of the computer monitor, with Cupertino and the highways on it. That’s how he navigated me to that place, by zooming in and out on a small screen on an early 2000s digital camera.
When we got to the restaurant, I amazed my friends by being able to find out the capital of Arizona by sending an SMS to 46645 (Googles SMS number), and getting a response. This was a state of the art interface at the time, and Google still maintains an SMS service. I feel as if it’s antiquated for most of us with smartphones though, but there is that big half of people that don’t own these things.
To me, the stark difference is huge now. Today, I could drive to that branch in Cupertino using Voice Navigation from my phone, recalculating as I made a wrong turn, and have a completely functional computer in my hands during Dinner. What’s more amazing, is that many of us take this for granted, forgetting how recently we didn’t have this, and how we made do with hacked solutions.