Unnecessary, but required

In the past year, I’ve hard to learn quite a few different lessons, some harder than others, some more gratifying than others. One of the main (but far from the only) source of these lessons was learning to live with someone else — save for my mother, and a few months with Luca, I have never really shared an apartment, a flat, or a house with someone else for more than a few days. But now that I’m happily married, there’s no going back to solitude. And it’s a feeling I’m really happy about, despite the eventual challenges that this has brought to both of us.

One of the differences that we realised early on is that we have different tolerances to chaos and trinkets. I’m not particularly organised when it comes to sorting out my stuff, but I’m also not a total slob — but I don’t mind having items spread across three rooms, and I was not particularly well known for having ironed t-shirts. My wife’s much less… chaotic, but at the same time has a fairly short patience for technology for the sake of technology.

This pretty much makes a dent in the amount of random gadgets I end up buying for the sake of trying out, because they might just end up not being used, or even not being welcome if they somehow get in the way. I think my most impressive achievement has been making her accept we have an electric cheese grater. I’m still trying to convince her it’s a good idea for me to disassemble the battery charger to replace the current plug-in adapter with an micro-USB port. Which is honestly not necessary at all: the plug is an AC-DC adapter, europlug with one of those europlug-to-british screw-in adapters, which means if we decide to leave London for the Continent, we won’t be needing to replace it — it would only become an issue if we moved to a different part of the world, and we can address it then.

But at the same time, this is the type of modification that in my eyes is… well, required. Why would I not make my electric cheese grater into an USB-powered electric cheese grater?

This reminded me of what Adam Savage (of Mythbuster fame) says in his biography Every Tool’s A Hammer (which, incidentally, is an awesome read that I would recommend everyone who has even a passing interest in creating stuff):

I often describe myself as a serial skill collector. I’ve had so many different jobs over my lifetime […] that my virtual tool chest is overflowing. Still I love learning new ways of thinking and organizing, new technqiues, new ways of solving old problems. […] The skills I have, all of them, are simply arrows in my mental quiver, tools in my problem-solving tool chest, to achieve that thing. […] And I learned each of them specifically for that reason. […] Eventually, […] I came to realise this was the ONLY way I could successfully learn a skill—by doing something with it, by applying it in my real world.

Adam Savage, Every Tool’s A Hammer

This is pretty much my life. I have pretty clearly failed at learning things “academically”, lasting only a few weeks at University of Venice, and instead building up my knowledge by working on different projects, both opensource and for customers, and by trying things out for myself. This has been a blessing and a curse at same time: while it meant that I have been collecting a bunch of skills, just like Adam is saying above, for the most part I have superficial skills: I’ve only rarely had to go deep-dive into a technology or a problem in my dayjob, and the amount of time I have to spend on side projects has been fairly low, and shrinking.

Long are the the days gone when I could sit down to write a stupid IRC bot in Qt, just because I could, and not just for the lack of time. It’s also because, for the most part, I keep telling myself it’s a bad idea to work on something low level, when someone else already did it better than I could possibly do — which is likely true, but it fails to meet my requirement to add the skill to my repertoire. And that’s by itself a career-limiting move, comparable to to the bubble problem.

With these issues in mind, I’m definitely glad my wife is understanding on why I sometimes spend money, time, effort (or most likely, all three) just to get something done because I want to, and not because there’s much need for it. It’s unnecessary, but required for me to keep up to scratch. And being able to do that, without upsetting my partner despite the chaos it creates, is a significant privilege.

As well as privilege is being able to afford the time, space, and money for all these projects. I think this is, for the most part, something that is not quite clear out there yet: being able to contribute to opensource, to write up tips and tricks, to document how to do things are privileges. And I think it’s important to share this privilege, even in form of tips, tricks, videos, and blogs — which is why this blog is still existing, and even with ever-shortening spare time I try to write updates.

Whether it is Bigclive on YouTube, with sometimes off-colour comments that make me uncomfortable, or Adam Savage’s own Tested, that can rely on a real, professional shop, or Micah’s most awesome electronics reverse engineering channel, or Foone’s Twitter feed, I am very glad for those who do their best to share knowledge — and I don’t really need to know why they are doing it. Even when it doesn’t really help me directly (because I can’t learn something if I don’t try myself), I know it can help someone else. Or inspire someone else (or in some cases, me) to go and try something, that will make them learn more.

Ten Years Ago

At the time this entry is going to post, it would have been ten years since that fateful night, when I asked to be brought to the hospital, afraid of an ulcer. Instead of an ulcer (which I thought of because I vomited red — it turned out to be ketchup, rather than blood), they found I was nearly dying from pancreatitis.

It’s ten years, and I would say I’m still surprised I made it up to this point. As I already recounted years ago I spent the following year almost sure that I would not survive it – and indeed, an year later I ended up at the hospital again. I have been surprised two years ago that I turned 30, and decided to spend that day in Paris with my best friend. And now I’m surprised that I already survived 10 years, and thinking back to it, I would not expect I’ll be risking my life ever again, just as long as I keep away from alcohol.

It does not mean that those events ten years ago didn’t leave any sign. I don’t have a gallbladder, and my pancreas is connected to my stomach rather than intestine, that makes for an interesting acid reflux situation when I eat too much or eat something that disagrees with me. And the not-quite-clear-cut diabetes that sometimes confuses my doctors just as much as me. But all of these are now survivable problems, and I don’t live in fear of dying as much as I did.

I still haven’t managed to save up much money — I no longer spend everything I get and live day-to-day as I used to, but that’s mostly because I’m paid much better, rather than me acting like the proverbial ant. I just don’t want to plan for a future I’m not going to have, though I don’t want to go into the future with nothing.

The last ten years have been a different life for me. Before, and for the first couple of years after that, I could easily be classified as one of those “nerds in their mother’s basement” — although living in Italy my home office was in the upper floor instead. But soon after, friends who’ve been with me during the ordeal, or that I met afterwards, effectively helped me out of my shell, and out of my office.

A short, and obviously non-comprehensive list of things I did since leaving the hospital:

  • I legally changed my name — which is why you see me referenced earlier as “Diego Pettenò” rather than “Diego Elio Pettenò”. The name change had little to do with the hospital, and more to do with the the fact that three other people shared my old name just in my city.
  • I attended a number of different gaming cons in Italy, thanks to a friend who’s been trying to sell his game, including the one in Parma where I finally managed to meet Enrico.
  • I started (and closed), my own company. This may or may not have been a mistake, given the amount of taxes I ended up paying for it, but it was definitely an experience.
  • I started flying. Oh my if I did. And that was a huge change! I now live outside of Italy, attend conferences, meet my fellow developers. I spend a third of the year on the road, and can actually learn even more from people!

I have definitely not let my second chance go to waste, at least for what concerns professional opportunities and my career. From this point of view, it has also been very important, as it allowed for some other changes in my family life, but those don’t relate to me and so I don’t want to go much down that road.

My social life instead, well, that has not really changed much since those days. It clearly improved, as I’m no longer spending all my time in my home office, but the last few years while in Dublin it also shrunk down again. Which is why I’ll be moving to London in just a couple of months, hoping to find more people to share time with, whether it is playing board games or watching movies or anime at home.

The feeling I get now is realizing that I wasted a significant amount of my adult life without a social life, and without caring for my health enough to avoid these situations. So if I were to give a suggestion to other geeks who may now be in their teens, and think that it’s cool to be a shut-in, is to try to find some friends. You don’t have to be an extrovert for that. You can still be an introvert and like some people. And the people who you get around yourself are the people who will sustain you when you fall. And everybody will fall at some point.

As for the future. As I said previously, I’m moving to London in a couple of months. I hope there, between a number of people I already know, and the different scale that the city has, compare to Dublin, I will manage to build another group of friends to go around with. I would be a hypocrite to not admit that I also would like to meet someone special to share life with — but I’m also not counting on that to happen, as I probably am still too socially awkward for that to be possible.

Growing up, or why I don’t really feel part of the community

I have said that I’ve been wrong multiple times in the past. Some of it has been buying too much into the BOFH myth. With this I mean that between reading UserFriendly and the Italian language Storie dalla Sala Macchine, I bought into the story that system administrators (which now you may want to call “ops people”) are the only smart set of eyes in an organization, and that most of other people have absolutely no idea what they are doing.

But over time I have worn many hats: I left high school with some basic understanding of system administration, and I proceeded working as a translator, a developer for autonomous apps in an embedded environment, I taught courses on debugging and development under Linux, and worked on even more embedded systems. While I have been self-employed as a sysadmin for hire (or to use a more buzzword-compliant term, as a MSP, a Managed Service Provider), I ended up working on media streaming software, as well as media players and entire services. I worked as a web developer, even in PHP for a very brief time, I wrote software for proprietary environment as well as Linux and other open source systems. In addition to my random musings on this blog, I wrote for more reputable publications. And I’m currently a so-called Site Reliability Engineer, and “look after” (but not really) highly distributed systems.

This possibly abnormal list of tasks, if not really occupations, has a clear upside: I can pass for a member of different groups relatively easily. For months I had people think that I was an EE student, at work a bunch of people thought I had previous experience with distributed systems, and of course at LISA I can talk my way around as if I was still a system administrator. Somehow I also manage to pass for a security person, because I have a personal interest in the topic and so I learnt a bunch of things about it, even though I have not worked or researched that officially.

On the other hand, this gives me a downside that, personally, is much heavier: impostor syndrome. In all those crowds, while I can probably hide within for a while, I’ll feel out of place. I have not used a soldering iron (or a breadboard) for years by now (although I’m working to fix that), and I have not really worked on much on the small discrete electronics for years — the last time I worked as a firmware engineer, it was for a system that had 8GB of RAM and an i7 Xeon. I don’t have the calculus skills to be an actual multimedia developer: I know my way through container formats, but I need someone else to write the codecs as I have no clue how to go to decode even the simplest encoding, well maybe except Huffman codes at this point.

So while I can camouflage in these groups, I can’t really find myself feeling as a real member of them.

You could say that the free software community should be something I’m more at my ease with, given I’ve been a developer for over fifteen years at this point, but there is are two big problems with it: the first is that I’m not a purist, I use proprietary software any time I feel it’s the best tool to do the task, and the second is that free software and privacy advocacy mix up too much nowadays, and my concept of privacy does not match that of the activists.

While at 33C3 I realized I don’t really match up to this crowd either, and not just for the privacy topic. I somehow have more respect for the rules than most of the people I see around here, though I still enjoy the hacking and breaking, so when the Twitter people starts complaining that Nintendo and PS4 exploits are not released, I find that a perfectly reasonable approach. After all, hiding behind outrage for blocking Linux on PS3 was the intention to pirate games, and that’s not something I’m happy to condone.

I have hang around a few of my previous acquaintances, and friends of theirs, while they were working on the CTF — and that was kind of cool, but that’s also not something I’m very interested in: while I can work m way around security problems, and know what to look out for, I don’t really like that kind of puzzle. Just like I don’t enjoy logic puzzles, or sudoku. I much enjoy Scrabble, though.

The evenings were the least interesting to me, too. Most of them included parties that revolve around alcohol, and you know I don’t care for it. Given that this is C3, I’m sure a number of other drugs involved too — I’m not an expert, but I can at this point tell the smell of weed quite clearly, and the conference centre was smelling more than Seattle. So effectively the only night I left after 10pm was the first, that only because Hector was talking at 11pm. (On the bright side, Hamburg makes procuring sugar free fritz-kola very easy.)

To stray away a bit from technology, I should add that even when going to non-software related conventions, such as EasterCon and Nine Worlds, I feel as an outsider there too. Much as I’m a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, and a would-be avid reader, I don’t have the time to read as much as I would like, and I’m clearly not tailored to be a cosplayer or a fanzine writer. And most of these events also involve a disproportionate amount of alcohol.

So why did I title this post “Growing up”? The answer is that acceptance comes with growing up. For some of the subcultures and groups I get myself sometimes in, but I know I won’t. For some of them it’s because I don’t have the time to invest to join them properly, for instance while I would love to actually be an EE, I did not really go to university (two weeks don’t count) and going right now is not an option, I’m too old for this. And I would not be ready to compromise my ethics with regard to piracy or legality.

And, much as I understand people do enjoy those “responsibly”, I don’t really think that weed or any other drug would be something I care about using. I know how I feel when I’m not in control, and though that may be able to “relax” me enough to not be afraid of every single social interaction, it is not a pretty feeling afterwards. Even though there is a chance I’ll always feel isolated without one of those “social lubricants”.

Unfortunately this does mean that for many things, I’ll always be an outsider looking in, rather than an insider, which makes it difficult to drive change, for instance. But again, accepting that is part of growing up. So be it.

Looking Back: oh, how much I’ve been wrong in the past

I’m starting to write this blog post while sitting in a room full of system administrators and system engineers, at the opening talk of the the 30th LISA conference by USENIX. This is one of my “usual” conferences at this point, since I started building a routine of conference-going a few years ago — having stable employments helps a lot with that.

A few days ago, I was sitting in front of people after out tutorial session, at an open table answering questions from the attendees, with no preparation. And one thing I realized is that, sitting next to colleagues that have much more experience than me – if not at our current company, overall – is that I have grown since I started being active in the open source ecosystem and in particular since I started blogging, just about 12 years ago.

And with growth, and time, I changed my mind, because that’s what growing up means. And this meant at the same time softening my views in some cases, and hardening them in other. The end result is that when I read back some of the things I wrote in 2006, I really feel ashamed. It would be all too easy to go back and delete those posts. After all some of it I don’t even have a copy of, because the migration of Planet Gentoo from Serendipity (someone remembers that?) to WordPress lost anything that came after a non-ASCII character — and I use non-ASCII a lot. But on the other hand, I don’t think that denying that I wrote something is a good idea. I made mistakes and will keep making them over time. Being able to read how bad I was wrong, and realizing it, is a good thing, I think.

What I have been doing, is that I have been making notes in the posts that I did have to go back and read, and made notes on the posts when the (technical) content was out of date. I may do a little more of that, but I may also go through some of my older opinion pieces and write new posts, on the same topic, and pointing out why I think I was wrong, and what I would do to make up for it, and cross-reference them.

It is a cathartic feeling to realize how much my point of view changed. Even before I started blogging, I’ve been the “16-years old son of a friend that can do a better job” — and even at this point in time I think I did a good job at that, but I think that had less to do with the age of the people who I was trying to replace, and more with the fact that good support is expensive, particularly so in Italy as most of the people who have a clue would probably not be doing the MSP (sysadmin-for-hire) dance.

And having gone back to Venice just last month and finding so many things stashed away from my youth made things interesting, realized how much magazines made me try things out that I would not otherwise look out for myself. With Internet being at your fingertips at every time now, there is not much space to get to know things just because there is one part of the magazine that I’m interested in. It’s another viewport on the “bubble” that everybody seems to talk about in politics.

I may write a couple more entries talking about my past, so if you find them boring feel free to skip them. If you’re using NewsBlur you can filter them out with the Intelligence Trainer feature, by ignoring the life tag. This is possible because of my fix to Hugo, just so you know.

Finding a better blog workflow

I have been ranting about editors in the past few months, an year after considering shutting the blog down. After some more thinking out and fighting, I have now a better plan and the blog is not going away.

First of all, I decided to switch my editing to Draft and started paying for a subscription at $3.99/month. It’s a simple-as-it-can-be editor, with no pretence. It provides the kind of “spaced out” editing that is so trendy nowadays and it provides a so-called “Hemingway” mode that does not allow you to delete. I don’t really care for it, but it’s not so bad.

More importantly it gets the saving right: if the same content is being edited in two different browsers, one gets locked (so I can’t overwrite the content), and a big red message telling me that it can’t save appears the moment I try to edit something and the Internet connection goes away or I get logged out. It has no fancy HTML editor, and instead is designed around Markdown, which is what I’m using nowadays to post on my blog as well. It supports C-i and C-b with it just fine.

As for the blog engine I decided not to change it. Yet. But I also decided that upgrading it to Publify is not an option. Among other things, as I went digging trying to fix a few of the problems I’ve been having I’ve discovered just how spaghetti-code it was to begin with, and I lost any trust in the developers. Continuing to build upon Typo without taking time to rewrite it from scratch is in my opinion time wasted. Upstream’s direction has been building more and more features to support Heroku, CDNs, and so on so forth — my target is to make it slimmer so I started deleting good chunks of code.

The results have been positive, and after some database cleanup and removing support for structures that never were implemented to begin with (like primary and hierarchical categories), browsing the blog should be much faster and less of a pain. Among the features I dropped altogether is the theming, as the code is now very specific to my setup, and that allowed me to use the Rails asset pipeline to compile the stylesheets and javascripts; this should lead to faster load time for all (even though it also caused a global cache invalidation, sorry about that!)

My current plan is to not spend too much time on the blog engine in the next few weeks, as it reached a point where it’s stable enough, but rather fix a few things in the UI itself, such as the Amazon ads loading that are currently causing some things to jump across the page a little too much. I also need to find a new, better way to deal with image lightboxes — I don’t have many in use, but right now they are implemented with a mixture of Typo magic and JavaScript — ideally I’d like for the JavaScript to take care of everything, attaching itself to data-fullsize-url attributes or something like that. But I have not looked into replacements explicitly yet, suggestions welcome. Similarly, if anybody knows a good JavaScript syntax highligher to replace coderay, I’m all ears.

Ideally, I’ll be able to move to Rails 4 (and thus Passenger 4) pretty soon. Although I’m not sure how well that works with PostgreSQL. Adding (manually) some indexes to the tables and especially making sure that the diamond-tables for tags and categories did not include NULL entries and had a proper primary key being the full row made quite the difference in the development environment (less so in production as more data is cached there, but it should still be good if you’re jumping around my old blog posts!)

Coincidentally, among the features I dropped off the codebase I included the update checks and inbound links (that used the Google Blog Search service that does not exist any more), making the webapp network free — Akismet stopped working some time ago and that is one of the things I want to re-introduce actually, but then again I need to make sure that the connection can be filtered correctly.

By the way, for those who are curious why I spend so much time on this blog: I have been able to preserve all the content I could, from my first post on Planet Gentoo in April 2005, on b2evolution. Just a few months shorts of ten years now. I also was able to recover some posts from my previous KDEDevelopers blog from February that years and a few (older) posts in Italian that I originally sent to the Venice Free Software User Group in 2004. Which essentially means, for me, over ten years of memories and words. It is dear to me and most of you won’t have any idea how much — it probably also says something about priorities in my life, but who cares.

I’m only bothered that I can’t remember where I put the backup from blogspot I made of what I was writing when I was in high school. Sure it’s not exactly the most pleasant writing (and it was all in Italian), but I really would like for it to be part of this single base. Oh and this is also the reason why you won’t see me write more on G+ or Facebook — those two and Twitter are essentially just a rant platform to me, but this blog is part of my life.

Life in the new city

Okay so now it’s over a month I’ve been staying in Dublin, it’s actually over a month I’m at my new job, and it is shaping up as a very good new experience for me. But even more than the job, the new experiences come with having an apartment. Last year I was leaving within the office where I was working, and before that I’ve been living with my mother, so finally having a place of mine is a new world entirely. Well, I’ll admit it: only partially.

Even though I’ve been living with my mother, like the stereotype of Italian guys suggests, it’s not like I’ve bee a parasite. Indeed, I’ve been paying all the bills for the past four years, and still I’m paying them from here. I’ve also been doing my share of grocery shopping, cleaning and maintenance tasks, but at least I did avoid the washing machine most of the time. So yeah, it wasn’t a complete revolution for my life, but it was a partial one. So right now I do feel slightly worse for wear, especially because I had a very bad experience with the kitchen, which was not cleaned before I moved in.

Thankfully, Ikea exists everywhere. And their plastic mats for drawers and cabinets are a lifesaver. Too bad I already finished the roll and I’ve not completed half the kitchen yet. I think I’ll go back to Ikea in two weeks (not next week because my sister’s visiting). With this time I bought the same identical lamp three times. Originally in Italy, then again in Los Angeles, and now in Dublin — only difference is that the American version has a loop to be able to orient it, probably because health and safety does not require having enough common sense as to not touch the hot cone…

The end line is that I’m very happy about having moved to Dublin. I love the place, and I love the people. My new job is also quite interesting, even if not as open-source focused as my previous ones (which does not mean it is completely out of the way of open source anyway), and the colleagues are terrific… hey some even read my blog before, thanks guys!

While settling down took most of my time and left me no time to do real Gentoo contributions or blogging (luckily Sven seems to have taken my place on Planet Gentoo), things are getting much better (among others I finally have a desk in the apartment, and tomorrow I’m going to get a TV as well, which I know will boost my ability to keep the house clean — because it won’t require me to stick to the monitor to watch something). So expect more presence from me soon enough!

So it starts my time in Ireland

With today it makes a full week I survived my move to Dublin. Word’s out on who my new employer is (but as usual, since this blog is personal and should not be tied to my employer, I’m not even going to name it), and I started the introductory courses. One thing I can be sure of: I will be eating healthily and compatibly with my taste — thankfully, chicken, especially spicy chicken, seems to be available everywhere in Ireland, yai!

I have spent almost all my life in Venice, never stayed for long periods of time away from it, with the exception of last year, which I spent for the most time, as you probably know, in Los Angeles — 2012 was a funny year like that: I never partied for the new year, but at 31st December 2011 I was at a friend’s place with friends, after which some of us ended up leaving at around 3am… for the first time in my life I ended up sleeping on a friend’s couch. Then it was time for my first week-long vacation since ever with the same group of friends in the Venetian Alps.

With this premise, it’s obvious that Dublin is looking a bit alien to me. It helps I’ve spent a few weeks over the past years in London, so that at least a few customs that are shared between the British and the Irish I already was used to — they probably don’t like to be remembered that they share some customs with the British, but there it goes. But it’s definitely more similar to Italy than Los Angeles.

Funny episode of the day was me going to Boots, and after searching the aisle for a while asking one of the workers if they kept hydrogen peroxide, which I used almost daily both in Italy and the US as a disinfectant – I cut or scrape very easily – and after being looked at in a very strange way I was informed that is not possible to sell it anymore in Ireland…. I’d guess it has something to do with the use of it in the London bombings of ‘05. Luckily they didn’t call the police.

I have to confess though that I like the restaurants better on the touristy, commercial areas than those in the upscale modern new districts — I love Nando’s for instance, which is nowhere Irish, but I love its spiciness (and this time around I could buy the freaking salt!). But also most pubs have very good chicken.

I still don’t have a permanent place though. I need to look into one soonish I suppose, but the job introduction took the priority for the moment. Even though, if the guests in the next apartment are going to throw another party at 4.30am I might decide to find something sooner, rather than later.

I’m moving!

Okay so last time I wrote about my personal status I noted that I had something on the balance, as a new job. Now that I signed the contract I can say that I do have a new job.

This means among other things that I’ll finally be leaving Italy. My new home is going to be Dublin, Ireland. At the time of writing I’m still fretting about stuff I need to finish in Italy, in particular digitizing as many documents as possible so that my mother can search through them easily, and I can reach them if needed, contacting my doctor for a whole blood panel, and the accountant to get all the taxes straightened up.

What does this mean for my Gentoo involvement? Probably quite a bit. My new job does not involve Gentoo, which means I won’t be maintaining it any longer on paid time like I used to before. You can also probably guess that with the stress of actually having a house to take care of, I’ll end up with much less time than I have now. Which means I’ll have to scale down my involvement considerably. My GSoC project might very well be the height of my involvement from now till the end of the year.

On the personal side of things, while I’m elated to leave Italy, especially with the current political climate, I’m also quite a bit scared. I know next to nobody (Enrico excluded) in Dublin, and I know very little of Irish traditions as well. I’ve spent the past week or so reading the Irish Times just to be able to catch a glimpse of what is being discussed up there, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to be enough.

I’m scared also because this would be the first time I actually leave alone and have to cater for everything by myself, even though with the situation it feels like I might be quite a lot more lucky than most of my peers here in Clownland Italy. I have no idea of what will actually sap away my time, although I’m pretty sure that if it turns out to be cleaning, I’ll just pay somebody to do that for me.

We’ll see what the future brings, I suppose!

The problem with eBooks

If you follow my blog, you know already I generally like eBooks, although I have found some technical issues with many of them (beside the obvious problem with DRM). But in general I keep preferring them over the dead-tree variant; if anything because they don’t require me to choose between leaving them in Italy, or spending a vast amount of money to have them back here.

But what I have here is probably more of a social problem than a technical one. I’m currently in the outskirts of Los Angeles, knowing almost nobody outside of the office in this area (Pesa is far enough), and too shy to go out the night alone. What I have spent most of my weekends doing here is reading: on the Pier and in the local Starbucks. Which is good, to be honest, as I like to read, and I used not to find enough time to. This is the part I like about travelling: I find time to read.

Anyway, I wouldn’t mind meeting people around here, and with people I don’t necessarily mean girls, to be clear. I would just prefer not to feel so … isolated in the crowd as I feel now. I guess being a geek in the surfer’s paradise is not that great a situation. But what has this to do with eBooks? Well, one thing that seemed to help for me the few weeks I spent in university was greeting people who were going around with books that I read before (and the other way around).. but it’s hard to do so when you move around with an Amazon Kindle, as it shows no book cover!

Okay, it’s true I did talk for a little while with a guy who was curious about the reader itself, but it still takes away all the people who know already the Kindle, and who might already have one. Maybe eBook readers should have two screens, one on the backside where it can keep displaying the cover of the book you’re reading, so that you can break the ice with new people. But most likely I guess this is one less thing people can rely upon to break the ice.

I guess it’ll take me quite longer to actually get to meet people around here then. Next thing to try? Getting a real deck of Magic: The Gathering and finding out where the nearest place to play is.

Am I ready to move?

Sometimes I think about my future, especially when it comes to my job. What I have up to now are a bunch of temporary jobs, nice ones most of the times, but temporary. Finding a stable job is another story, and would probably help me in a few ways, although disrupting my actual lifestyle, which I don’t really dislike too much.

In Italy, I wonder how many possibilities I’d end up having, And especially, how many possibilities I’d end up having in the Venice area. Most of the IT-related jobs in this area are around Padua, and while this is quite fine as long as I keep working from home, it would become an issue if I had to find a stable job, especially given that I don’t have a driving license.

One option that I could have chosen already would be to leave Italy, like many others in this and other fields did before me. Option for that aren’t that rare actually, but the problem is… I don’t feel like I’m ready to move yet, and last summer only made me less ready.

There is, first, the problem of airplanes: I still have a huge fear of flying on one of them. Which is not the same as having fear of the airplane for what it is, or just of flying. Most opportunities to leave would require me to take a plane to reach the new place, and it would require one to come back.

But then there is the problem of actually me being ready to move. I’m not sure if I am; luckily for me, I don’t usually have to take care of stuff like lunch and dinner, washing clothes and other “mundane” tasks. Sure I do know how to do them, but… would I be able to keep on doing it on a daily basis?

Another extra problem is the language, of course. While I should be able to get going with English, after all I do write in it every day, with the exception of my hospitalization, for the best part of three years, none of the English-speaking countries are in the train-reachable area. Sometimes I wish I knew German, as Austria and Switzerland are quite near, and would be reachable easily via train.

So there it goes, am I ready to move? I don’t think so for now, I suppose I’ll have to keep my temporary jobs, which ain’t that bad most of the times, just sometimes feel like they are a bit too temporary.