04. Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? by William Poundstone
There’s a really long tagline appended to that title as well, but I thought I would leave it out because I felt like it. I had kind of high hopes for this book, but it was kind of meh. The first 50ish% of it (by Kindle measurements) is divided into chapters, each of which is roughly about a type of tricky interview question (algorithm vs. Fermi vs. creative thought experiments etc.). The latter half is the question/answer portion which restates the questions found at the end of each chapter and provides an explanation and best approximate solution. The questions were generally pretty interesting and thought-provoking (especially the balloon one – the Boy and I both had to think about that for a while), and it was fun to read some of the solutions and stories with that. I felt like less effort was put into the rest of the book. When I first bought it, I thought that it was just a book of interesting logic puzzles and questions, but the first half spends a lot of time to basically say this: it’s hard to find jobs and job interviews are kind of tricky now sometimes because people like to ask harder questions because there are SO MANY people looking for jobs that the market is inundated, so try to be creative and unique and original kthxbai. MEH is how I felt about that first half, which I mostly just slogged through to read more questions. Some of the anecdotes and histories were interesting, but the questions are really what you would read this for.
And because I think it is an awesome question, here is the balloon thought experiment:
You’re in a car with a helium balloon tied to the floor. The windows are closed. When you step on the gas pedal, what happens to the balloon – does it move forward, move backward, or stay put?
Unrelated sidenote: I’m loving the Kindle Paperwhite that I got for xmas from the MIL. IT IS SUPS AWESOME. The interface is very snappy and the light is a very pleasant white glow. The other night, I couldn’t fall asleep so I read for a little bit, and on the lowest setting, the Paperwhite still has a nice dim glow, obviating the need for any sort of lamp, so I didn’t have to bother the Boy. And the glow doesn’t really spread very much – it’s pretty focused on the screen. I don’t think that it’ll get rid of my need to have physical, paper books, but it’s pretty awesome to have a little portable library to carry around.