Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Last day

Our last day in Melbourne and we are strangely subdued.  Last night we went out to our favorite dumpling place (Hu Tong) and tooled around the city a bit.  Today we went to our favorite lunch place and all around favorite restaurant, Moroccan Deli-cacy.  Both were good, but we're not feeling as anxious, upset, or sentimental as I was expecting.  I guess it must be time to leave.

The whole thing has been such a slow burn that maybe it still hasn't sunk in.  We got everything done rather efficiently, on time, and mostly without incident.  Even now, we're sitting around with not much to do, and we're (surreally) two days into a work week that will have us in England by the end of it.  Is this all real?

I also got my (hopefully) last call from a Melbourne recruiter.  This is the second one who heard it through the grapevine that the company I just quit has been laying people off.  I've yet to hear it first hand though.  What's going on over there?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Home stretch

When we first decided to do this UK move last 30th of January, we anticipated it would take a year.  Looks like we'll be coming in just under the wire.  We're now in the home stretch.

The car's been sold.  That's a HUGE relief -- when time is running out, it's tempting to take a lousy offer just to be done, but we stuck it out and got a decent offer just before it started getting seriously time-critical.  Nerve-wracking to be sure.

Today the movers came and packed all our things (at least, the things we have left after four carloads taken to the tip, multiple items sold on eBay, and lots of other stuff freecycled or given away to friends or passing strangers) into 112 boxes.  That still feels like too much stuff, and there's every chance our UK home will be smaller.  We did a lot of the house cleaning after the movers left, and tomorrow we go back and hopefully finish the job.

After that, there's a bunch of small tasks to take care of (it never stops), plus we'll be trying to meet up with friends to say our goodbyes.

We're now staying at a friend's place; it's our friend that we trade dog-sitting duties with, and she's out of town, so it works out well.  Getting on a plane in a week's time.  We've been so busy that I've hardly had time to fret about life and work on the other side.  Guess I can start that now!

Sunday, December 18, 2016


So, back on the 9th, I was playing hallway fetch with Hamish, as I often do.  Suddenly he just sat down and started whimpering.  We had to take him to the emergency vet, who gave him pain relief and kept him overnight, and referred us to a specialist.  Turns out it was a herniated disk in his back.  No surgery required unless it recurs or gets worse, but he is now on strict rest, which he is not happy about.  He seems mostly fine now, which makes it worse, but we know we have to be tough.  Only short walks, and no jumping up on the couch or beds.  And we now have a crate we've locked him in while we're away at work, which he hates the most of course.

We'll do what we have to do, but the expense part of it really sucks.  Seems we can't go a week without some or other unexpected multi-hundred or -thousand dollar expense.  Just found our front bumper has been mysteriously crunched and broken underneath (neither of us remember an incident that would have caused it).  So I'll be getting that, and the side ding, and (Uber driver-caused) rear bumper fixed, so we can sell it.  This comes right on the heels of the repairs we had to do after someone tried to steal our car (smashed steering column, broken door lock, and door frame dings from where they pried the window open.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


It's official, or at least closer to: we're going.  We've both put in notice at our jobs, and we have appointments at the UK consulate on Monday to get our visas.  (We won't know a date to fly over until we get the visas processed -- as the consulate is closed over Christmas, this could be variable.)  Since it's general knowledge now, I've restored all the earlier posts that I had hidden.

So now it's all about getting ready in earnest.  Today was mostly about listing things on Ebay and getting rid of junk.  I disassembled a dog house, an Ikea cabinet, a CD rack, and a wooden table.  Our trash can is full, and I'm taking a carload to the tip tomorrow.  I think we might have another load or two to follow.  It's a shame it takes moving to take care of this stuff, but being able to pare down excess stuff is a decided advantage of a big move like this.

We also took passport photos for the visa, which both look about as good as you'd expect.  Now we'll always remember how bedraggled we were on this day.

Sunday, December 04, 2016


Obviously we were disappointed by the election results.  I haven't even been able to write about it until now.

But it goes deeper than mere disappointment that my candidate lost.  I can only see it as the most grossly stupid thing that America has ever done.  I'm horrified at the result, and terrified for the future.  I find myself frequently just staring off into space, slowly shaking my head.

I can't get my head around how anyone could have voted for this blatantly dishonest, dangerously idiotic, horrifyingly sexist, substance-free huckster.  Whatever problems you might be experiencing, Donald Trump is NOT the solution.  I don't buy the "At least he's not Hillary" argument.  The Republicans had a whole host of candidates who were not Hillary.

I keep coming back to this chart, and coming away terrified that we elected a leader who thinks it's all a big hoax.

More than the national disgrace and international embarrassment.  More than the effects of his science- and reason-defying policies.  More than his already-demonstrated propensity for diplomatic blundering.  This result will echo down the centuries: America will always be remembered as the country that elected him.

Comments blocked on this post, because I want to keep liking the people that I like.

Friday, December 02, 2016


I'm generally a fairly messy person, but I do love organising a bunch of data.  So I've been kind of ashamed of how I've had my digital photos organised down through the years.

My pictures are all safe -- I did subscribe to the pay version of a web-based file hosting service a couple of years back, and it's some of the best money I've ever spent.  All my pictures reside there and are replicated across all my systems as a result (along with all my other key projects and documents).  But my Pictures directory has been a jumbled mess for years in terms of organisation.

I've looked at a few file organising programs, but they never seem to do exactly what I want.  So now I'm writing my own.  Features:

  1. The main pictures directory will be organised into folders by year, then month.  Other organisers seem to frequently break it down into day folders, but I've always found that annoyingly granular.
  2. It will be able to suck up other folders (such as dumps of camera memory cards), read the metadata off the pictures, and automatically file them correctly into this file structure.
  3. It will remove duplicates, of course.
  4. I've done a partial job of tagging my photos and videos using TagSpaces, which seems to me to be a pretty good standard.  Their UI is a bit clunky though, so instead I'll create a separate directory for each TagSpaces tag, containing soft links to all photos with that tag.  So I'll easily be able to, say, see all my Hamish pictures just by looking in this directory.
It's a pretty straightforward program; I knocked off probably half of it tonight, though I know I'll want to add features as I go.

I have a big box of actual prints, too, that I really should digitise, but of course they won't have the date they were taken in their metadata, so I'm not looking forward to organising them afterwards.

Monday, October 31, 2016

UK? No, I'm not 'kay.

So the roller coaster that has been climbing the hill for three weeks, going chk-chk-chk, is about to go over the top. I'm on a plane tomorrow, and it still doesn't seem real. Though I've been studying and practicing so much that I'm pretty much just ready to get things over with.

There's still a number of likely questions that I'm just dreading being asked. The potential for humiliation just seems massive, and their generosity just seems to make it worse (I don't think they'd ever actually say, "We flew you all the way up here and you don't even know what a websocket is?" but that's what a missed question will feel like.) (Note to self: look up websockets.)

As terrifying as the interview is looking, getting an offer would be almost as terrifying. You know how dolphins can "walk" on top of the water by kicking their tail back and forth really hard? I was thinking recently that that's what my career feels like a lot of the time. I've developed a strong tail from it over the years but a few months back I was thinking how nice it would be to just swim about in the water for a bit. If I get in at Big Company, I'll not only continue the water-walking thing, but I'll have a ball balanced on my nose to boot.

I just had prep phone interview number 3, which contained detailed feedback about the tech phone interview I did last week, and a more detailed breakdown of what I'll be asked about. It did nothing to relieve my stress levels; in fact, after things seeming so surreal all week (especially, going into the office as if everything's normal), this brought reality crashing home. I'll be having five one-hour sessions, each involving at least two of the leadership questions I'm dreading (E.g. "Tell me about a time you took a risk and it failed"). One of the sessions will be entirely that. My "down time" will be a one-hour lunch interview with the managing director of their development centre (boss of 110 people).

I really think they're considering me for too high of a position, as I've barely done much in the way of leading, and I'll be considered for what they call an SD3 (software developer level 3), which they need just a few of, instead of an SD2, which they need a lot of. The day before the interview I'll be getting prep call number four (!) that will at least inform me in fairly specific detail what leadership questions each group will be asking me. But there won't be a lot I can fix at that point, or even now.

Marjorie has been great about trying to buck up my spirits. But I'm pretty sure my concerns are reality-based as opposed to just beating myself up out of a lack of confidence. (This is not to be construed as further beating up of myself, either, please.)

Still, I wrote up something that's a little long to be called a mantra, but which I'll try to keep in mind during the process: “Above all, don’t be intimidated. Especially, no nervous jokes about the pressure of the interview situation, the scale of the company, the surroundings, or the prospective role, or my lack of experience with this or that. Act like this is all natural and fine and expected. Be serious and calm, even if you flub a question, or even if you ace a question. Don't be overly relieved at the end. Don’t speak at all if your voice is breaking out of nervousness (this is a major concern of mine), or if you don't know how you're going to finish a sentence. Don't talk just to fill up space. And remember everyone’s goddamn name for once.”

So at least it'll be all over Tuesday evening, yeah? No. To further complicate things, I had an interview last night with a company in Cambridge, who now wants to see me while I'm up there. They're more of a startup with much shallower pockets - but it could be an alright thing. I'll have next to no spare time while I'm up there, and from what I can tell, you can't really get to Cambridge from Edinburgh. I'm also not keen to take advantage of Big Company's hospitality. (I laid this all out for them, and they just now emailed me back, offering to fly me Edinburgh to Stansted (the London airport everyone forgets is there), then up to their office, during one of the two days I was planning on checking out Edinburgh with Marjorie. Sure. Fine. What else can I say?)

Increasingly, sleep has been just an occasional visitor, who leaves abruptly in the wee hours as if he has an early train to catch. I suspect to see him only here and there in the coming week.

It's all a helluva thing. I don't have any category to put the whole experience into.