Diary of a geek

June 2007
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Andrew Pollock

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Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Phase 2 of E-3 visa application in Dublin complete

Hooray! My passport came back in today's mail. That was pretty quick, and quite a relief.

Can't wait to go home.

[05:40] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 25 June 2007

Phase I of E-3 visa application in Dublin complete

Okay, so that happened. Now all I have to stress about is getting my passport back in the mail successfully before I want to depart on Saturday.

My appointment was at 9:30am, which Id foolishly made without considering that arriving on a Sunday, I'd still need to get to a post office on Monday morning to get a postal money order and a stamp. Given that you're not supposed to arrive any earlier than 15 minutes prior to your appointment, that didn't leave me a lot of time.

Post offices here open at 9:00am, but I'd managed to locate one within a fairly short distance of the US Consulate. Last night, I went for a recce to figure out how to walk to Consulate from the hotel, and where the post office was in relation to the Consulate. I was relieved to discover that the post office was literally about a minute's walk around the corner. That made me feel much more comfortable about pulling everything off on time.

So this morning, I arose early, and walked to the post office, arriving there at about 8:30am. There was already a considerable queue outside the Consulate, something I hadn't considered. Not long after I arrived at the post office, a postal employee was coming in and she told me that they weren't opening until 10:30am for some reason. Damn. My well-laid plans were shot to pieces. She told me the nearest post office that opened at 9am was on Baggot Street, and pointed at my Google Maps printout to something labeled as Baggot Lane. It didn't look that far away, and I still had about 25 minutes up my sleeve, so I scurried off.

I walked the length of Baggot Lane, no post office. Then I realised there was an Upper and Lower Baggot Street one street over, tacked on the end of another street (they seem to like spontaneously changing street names on straight bits of road around here). So I scurried off over there, but couldn't see any sign of a post office. It was now a bit after 9am, so I didn't want to waste more time just finding the post office, and so I jumped into a taxi, and I'm glad I did, because it turns out the post office was in the back of a newly renovated convenience store, and there was no external signage whatsoever, so I wouldn't have stood a snowflake's chance in hell of finding it on my own.

The taxi then dropped me back at the Consulate at bang on 9:15am by my watch, and I jumped on the end of the queue.

The process was a bit unusual in that the Consulate is on the corner of the intersection of a couple of fairly busy roads, and there's a guardhouse on the perimeter of the boundary, where you have to line up and talk to someone through a speaker-box (contending with all of the traffic noise) and they verify you have an appointment, and have all the prerequisites, then you get in another line to go through the guardhouse and get your stuff x-ray-ed and yourself metal-detected.

Then you get to walk across the yard, into the building itself and wait. I must suck when it's raining, because you queue outside on the street for a little while.

The Consular processing went perfectly smoothly. They weren't interested in any of my supporting paperwork, or my updated resume that I'd prepared. I was only asked why I was applying in Dublin (rather than Australia) and that was it. They reckon I should have my stuff back in a couple of days.

So the take-away from all of this is don't make the appointment so bloody early in the morning if you still have to run around and collect prerequisite items. Duh. Colour me dumb.

Now off to work after a cup of tea to recover.

[04:02] [life] [permalink]

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Huzzah for Debconf 7

So Debconf 7 has been good. Very good. I suck at writing up such events, but I found it a great opportunity to hack on my packages. I got my laptop setup so I could work moderately effectively offline (there's still more I can do), and I was able to work on the DHCP 3 packages fairly heavily.

I'm particularly pleased that I fixed two long-standing bug-bears: the fact that the package only complied with a Standards-Version from about 5 years ago, and that the DHCP client udeb for the installer didn't work. I've fixed both of those issues, and done a pile of bug triage. Very happy.

Due to various talks about git, I've also gotten over my fear of it, and had a play. It still fries my brane big time, but at least I've had a play.

Onward to Dublin. Let's see if I can successfully reapply for my visa.

[12:15] [debian] [permalink]

Monday, 18 June 2007

So close and yet so far...

I went out drinking last night, and got fairly plastered in process.

I staggered back to the hostel at about 10pm, and amazingly, had the presence of mind to plug my laptop in to charge - to mean feat, given I had to assemble the three bits of the iGo charger.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty pleased with myself (albeit in a seedy kind of way), until I discovered that I'd either failed to plug the cable into the laptop, or it fell out overnight, so it was all for nothing in the end.

Oh well.

It gets light here extremely early, and I woke up at about 4:30am and couldn't get back to sleep, so after a few more hours of lying around being seedy, I headed out for a brief reconnoitre before heading in to the morning sessions.

I love this city! It's just so old. Edinburgh Castle looks really cool. I'm looking forward to checking it out.

[09:14] [life] [permalink]

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Huzzah!

09:26 < DC7schedule> New arrivals: Andrew Pollock

(the time is PDT)

The backpacker's seems nice enough. There's an Australian themed pub a few doors down that sells Twisties and Burger Rings! Heaven!

I'm in the hacklab at the moment, playing "put the face to the name".

I can't believe I've been a DD for 4 years and this is my first Debconf.

[09:36] [debian] [permalink]

En route to EDI

I'm currently sitting in the first class carriage of a GNER train from Kings Cross station to Edinburgh Waverley.

I'm travelling first class not because I'm a yuppie, but because GNER's website sucked and I couldn't book a ticket with a non-UK address. I had to get a co-worker in the London office to book it for me, and by the time he remembered and got around to doing it, there were only first class tickets left.

That said, it is very nice, and apparently 40 pounds is a bargain. Whatever. Everything's expensive over here. It's bad enough exchanging US dollars. I'd hate to try and do it with Australian dollars. The free wireless will help pass the 4 hours. The latency is pretty bad though.

I went out for a wander around this morning and had so much fun seeing some of the sights. I didn't realise that today was the Queen's birthday, and there were a few road closures, and a police officer standing on guard every 100 metres in the Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey areas. I'm not sure if that's standard practice, or just because of the Queen's birthday stuff going on today. So in my couple of hours I saw Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Nelson's Column, Trafalgar Square and a glimpse of the London Eye. If I never make it back to London, I'll be happy enough with what I saw this morning.

The view from the train is beautiful. Green English countryside with the occasional quaint little village. I'm going to stop writing and look out the window for a while...

[04:17] [life] [permalink]

Friday, 15 June 2007

In the Mother Country

So I'm off travelling again. I've done way too much lately, and I'm looking forward to getting home and staying there for a while.

I flew from San Francisco to London yesterday for my first ever business class trip. United business class is whole different experience to United economy, that's for sure.

Aside from getting ridiculous amounts of legroom, and much better cabin service, the thing I like best about the whole experience was the preferential treatment.

I arrived at SFO, and there was an unholy amount of people at the economy check-in counters, so it was really nice to breeze around to the business check-in counters and wait in a much more manageable line.

At Heathrow, I got to used the priority immigration line, and my bag came out pretty quickly, so I'd breezed through Heathrow and onto the tube faster than you could say "Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?". Very happy with all of that.

I caught a Piccadilly line tube from Heathrow to Acton Town, then changed to the District line to Victoria station. The tube (particularly the first one) was smaller than I expected. The ceiling was pretty low, the aisle narrow, and it just felt pretty squishy. The second one seemed a bit wider and taller. It didn't feel like it could really deal with peak-hour commuting, but I guess maybe the frequency makes up for the capacity...

Buckingham Palace Road turns out to have pretty wacky numbering. Just because you're opposite number 80, doesn't mean the odd numbered 80's are anywhere near you. So it took me longer than it should have to find the hotel, and I wandered up and down Buckingham Palace Road for a while before I'd managed to calibrate myself to the numbering. More frequent numbers on the buildings would have helped immensely.

So I've hardly seen anything, I'm really just passing through on the way to Edinburgh for Debconf, but I love what I've seen so far. The red double-decker buses. The taxis. The post boxes. The phone booth's. It all feels really really old, but still really really alive. We've got to come back and do the place properly.

The office is really nice as well. Very modern looking. Very open-plan like the Sydney one.

I wasn't able to sleep on the plane unfortunately (I couldn't convince my brain to switch off), so I was pretty zonked by the end of the day (got into the office shortly after 9am). I had a fairly productive day, and went to the hotel and crashed at about 6:30pm, woke up at about 2:30am and couldn't get back to sleep. Hopefully if I just soldier on through today, I'll get to sleep a bit later this evening and do something closer to a normal night's sleep.

I'm catching the train to Edinburgh today (I blame Mark (who doesn't appear to believe in permalinks) for putting the idea in my head). Looking forward to another tube ride and seeing some of the countryside.

I've been really apprehensive about this trip ever since I booked it. Mainly because I'm going over to Dublin after Debconf to try and apply for a new visa. For some reason, I'm just really worried that's all going to go pear-shaped. I'm feeling better now that I'm here, but I'll feel even better once the trip to the consulate is behind me. Even better still when I get my passport back successfully. Best still when I'm home again.

[19:36] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Back to being a SINK (for ~17 weeks anyway)

Sarah's approaching the 23 week mark. So far the pregnancy has been going swimmingly. The obstetricians are still freaking out (although a bit less), but nothing's happened to warrant it.

We went to see the cardiologist today, and Sarah's aortic root is no bigger than it was prior to conception.

He did indicate that he didn't think having any further children was a good idea (despite there being no problems to date). He was saying that we should probably expect to not have a choice, and have to have a Caesarean section delivery. If we did have a "natural" birth, it wouldn't be all that natural - he'd be wanting for an assisted delivery (probably involving suction) after the first stage of labour. None of this is really the way I'd envisaged or wanted my child to come into the world, but you can't really argue with the doctors, and I'm not the one having the baby, so my personal preferences are really just that.

Young PJ, (Pollock Junior) as we've been calling him, is proving to be very active. He's doing lots of kicking, and I can feel some of them as well now.

Sarah's employment contract was up for renewal, and they wanted to renew it for another 6 months rather than try to convert her to full-time. Given that she'd have to take some time off mid-way through the new contract to have the baby, we thought that it made more sense for her to just cease working now and take it easy for the remainder of the pregnancy. So she's now a lady of leisure (and loving it) again as of Monday.

[21:40] [life] [permalink]

Marfan's Syndrome

Ever since Sarah started seeing Dr Liang at the Stanford Marfan Syndrome and Related Aortic Disorders Clinic for her aortic aneurysm, I've been meaning to write something about them and the condition to try and get them onto the first page of Google when doing a search for the disorder.

So here it is.

Whilst Sarah doesn't have Marfan's Syndrome, one of the symptoms is aortic aneurysm/dissection, which Sarah has a family history of. So that makes cardiologists that specialise in this field the best people to talk to.

[21:14] [life] [permalink]