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osfameron (3135)

osfameron
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http://greenokapi.net/blog/

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Journal of osfameron (3135)

Wednesday November 23, 2005
09:29 AM

Dancing lessons from $god

I go to an internet point some evenings to im/skypeout beloved about flathunting progress etc. I've become a regular at the phone centre opposite the point I thought was going to be my local. This one is a) cheaper, b) cheaper (I get regular's rate, same as the student rate), c) open till midnight even on Sunday, and d) friendlier. A Frenchman and an Algerian french speaker come in to discuss Italian politics (slightly too loudly for convenient skypeing admittedly), an Indian/Pakistani comes to pray at one of the computers, kissing his hands and touching the screen - when the owner was staffing he kindly provided incense. I got chatting to the Spanish technician installing printer drivers, and got to help him with my 5-year old WinNT support skillz. And I often get to chat with the Algerian couple who usually staff it (and occasionally bring their kids to play war on the sofa). Because the husband is interested in Linux, I gave him a splendid present of the Ubuntu CDs that they ship out for free. When you're relocating and don't know people having a social network is vital, it never occurred to me that I'd build one up at a phone center. Yesterday, I got invited to spend the August holidays in Algeria at their family home at the sea - I'm still boggling at their generosity and openness. And rather tempted too, as it sounds lovely, though I do have to check that they haven't assumed we are Muslim, if only to avoid any embarassment.

(And also need to think about stuff like the Foreign Office travel advice for Algeria, which may be out of date or cautious, but is worth considering.

08:33 AM

Coffee key

Yay! I now have a chiavetta, a charge key for the coffee machine.

Instead of, say, human resources giving you a key when you start, they are dispensed by the company that owns the machine. As the omino from the coffee company comes to restock the machine once a week, you have to wait till you bitched about it enough to enough colleagues that one of them remembers when they see him (thanks Maura!) and hope they find you quickly quickly enough for you to run, catch him, and buy the key for 5 euros before he disappears.

Tuesday November 22, 2005
12:42 PM

svk talks in Tuscany

clkao pinged me to ask where was good for holidaying in le Cinque Terre. After giving some tourist advice, I had a cunning plan, and after some discussion with bepi, the leader of Pisa.pm, he's going to be guest of honour at the inaugural technical meet on 1st December. And he's also kindly agreed to come to Florence on the morning of the 2nd to talk to $work, before flying off into the sunset. clkao++ for his generosity in presenting svk while off duty, and Pisa.pm++ for the speed at which they organized this!

The moral of this story may be not to get in touch with me if you're looking to have a relaxing time in Italy :-) Er, actually, the moral is that perl.it really seems to be getting off the ground, with projects like POD2IT and the Pisa.pm tech meet, and so if you're coming to Italy, check it out!

I'll update this post with a link to the official announcement from Pisa.pm when it comes through.

12:32 PM

Out of the borg...

In the heady circles of London perl programmers, Fotango is occasionally called the Borg, as it has assimilated many. $work (Dada in Florence) already have a couple of mongers (valdez) and LUGgers on their books, and now Mattia Barbon the wxPerl guy, and larsen, who I know from IPW 2005 and perl.it's #nordest.pm channel will be starting next Monday, yay!

Oh, and we're still hiring, as I understand it.

I would like to welcome our new Borg overlords.

10:39 AM

I want my money back!

To get my permesso di soggiorno, I queued at 7:45 in the morning (the right morning) with 4 photos, a 16 Euro stamp (which they then didn't want) and have to go back again one month later (next week) to pick it up. Today, I went to the INPS, to get myself registered for State national insurance contributions. Despite arriving 15 minutes later than planned, I queued for a derisory 5 minutes, before filling in a simple form with a pleasant official who then gave me a receipt and said "that's it". Is this really Italy? ;-)

Monday November 21, 2005
12:26 PM

Sunday lunch

On Sunday I invited some of the local Italian perlmongers for lunch. mirod, who moved to Lucca last year came with his wife ( http://mytuscanwedding.com/ ) and very sweet 4-yr old; dakkar - one of the main IPW organizers, and ludan - a comp.sci. student at Pisa uni, about to transfer to Delft for his tesi.

I didn't get to inflict my spaghetti sk1llz on my victims, um, guests as I'd wildly misunderestimated the amount of tasty French duck that mirod had brought, which we ate fried with potatoes. Yum!

We chatted pleasantly about Perl, life, TV, food and other stuff in Italy, France, US and UK.

(I don't think this is a very good writeup, partly 'coz I'm tired, and partly because I don't like writing about real stuff about real people - note the "nicks only policy"... I may update this later, in the mean time, and in flagrant violation of privacy, I post some photos for those who might be interested http://greenokapi.net/perl/20Nov/ ).

Wednesday November 16, 2005
03:19 PM

spaghetti al nero di seppia

I had some rather stunning looking black spaghetti, flavoured with squid ink, which I bought at Milan airport some years ago and never got around to cooking. I took them with me to Florence to get some more travel experience, and cooked part tonight with garlic, tuna, and runner beans from the mercato di Ambrogio (cooked in juice from last night's artichokes). That's it, just olive oil, salt, pepper, a little peperoncino (spicy paprika), Simple, but rather tasty.
Sunday October 30, 2005
04:28 PM

Day 8: It seemed like a good idea at the time

It's a holiday on Tuesday, and given I'm relocating I thought it'd be a good chance to do a "ponte" (a bridge) on Monday, getting back to work Wednesday lunchtime. Only problem is, the Pisa flight home leaves early, 11am ish, and was expensive. So I checked and found that the flight from "Milan" Orio al Serio (actually in Bergamo) was cheaper and later. So instead of a 1hr direct train, I took a 2h30 train to Milan, followed by a bus for 1h15 (most of which was spent getting out of Milan of course), thus being able to work till 1:30pm, then picking up bags and grabbing a quick lunch before heading to Santa Maria Novella.

As my Intercity was late and the Eurostar before it, I, like many others jumped onto the "Cisalpino" headed to Zurich. Though this is a reservations only train, the rather confused ticket inspector eventually let a pile of people on, though it wasn't clear if the capotreno had authorized it. People muttered that we'd have to stand as we didn't have reservation, and others that there'd be a supplement to pay. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I a) wasn't kicked off, b) got to sit the whole journey (only moving once to let someone into their reserved seat) and c) only had to pay a rather reasonable 3 Euro supplement. Apparently this train has a great restaurant car, and great views as it crosses the alps, worth a try sometime.

At Bergamo airport there were signs saying "Vodafone: Wireless hotspot" but the only access point I scanned was encrypted, and there was noone to ask about how to connect. I should really get a UMTS mobile in Italy (and then work out how to get it to work with Ubuntu...)

01:35 PM

Day 8: skype, irc, imagemagick

$work is into skype in a big way. Rather than getting my own interno, I got given a headset. Then I cursed as Skype telephony failed to work on ubuntu hoary at work and on my laptop.
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/SkypeHowto gave some clues, either configure your sound card or just brutally killall esd, preventing sound from working in anything else.

Work isn't however into irc, and irc and ssh ports are blocked. Asking around on various perl channels about ssh tunneling, gelly and castaway eventually pointed me in the right direction: sshd -p 443, and my box listens to ssh traffic on the https port. Yay! We mused how many servers listen on 443 to get around corporate firewalls: "probably lots".

I'm still being too stingy to play for flickr premium, and already used monthly download limit with flathunting photos. So I uploaded pictures to webhosting, and then had gf complain that they were too big. (Safari doesn't just sanely resize the picture like Firefox). Luckily imagemagick was a simple apt-get away, and the incantation

for filen in `ls *`; do convert $filen -resize 800x640 $filen; done

did the trick.

Thursday October 27, 2005
03:35 PM

Day 7: bank account

I arrived at the bank this morning at the opening time of 8:20, despite which I got into work after 10. Still, having my codice fiscale, passport, work contract, and stub proving I've requested the Permesso di Soggiorno present and correct made the procedure relatively painless.

I have a "conto per non residenti", which means I have to fill in a form every time I pay any money in, but is otherwise the same as a normal account at the Banca CR Firenze (other banks I spoke to wouldn't open a current account for me till I got full residence). It's free till Jan 2007, after which you have to pay banking charges of EUR 6.50 a month in addition to the 8 EUR that the Italian state taxes you for the privilege of having an account every 3 months.

There are some oddities compared to UK system - you can pay in money at any branch of the bank, but you can only withdraw at the branch you opened the account at. (I now ask myself - why did I open the account at the brance nearest my temporary flat rather than, say, the one on Piazza Beccaria next to work? Still, it's only 5 minutes walk). Withdrawal from cash machines costs, even ones of the bank and group. There are so many little banks (they haven't all swallowed each other like in UK) - the group I'm with has banks covering "most of central Italy" and Rome, making travel to, say, Milan no more convenient than travelling abroad. Also, I love the fact that I won't get a Bancomat card till I've had the account for 3 months, instead having to use a 'prepay' card.