I will be going to ApacheCon conference, held in Stuttgart during July 19-23. That will be a nice occasion to meet great people such as Stefan Bodewig, Steve Loughran and James Strachan and a load of other Apache committers I've only known via email or IRC for the last 4 years. Sylvain Wallez and the Cocoon gang will be there too trying to take the conference by storm.
That will be nice to have some time away from work. These conferences are always a fertile ground for technical ideas and you've got some amazingly skilled and experienced people. It is especially important to me as since I'm working in an opensource company I basically consider my contributions exceptionally low.
I'm stuck in France during august.
My company has its traditional forced vacations from august 1-15. I was brilliant enough to lose my passport a couple of weeks ago (I've never been able to figure how, when and where) which I'm pretty disappointed of since it was holding all my visas stamped during my round the world trip and I wanted to keep it as a souvenir.
Anyway, I went to the mayor house to have my passport made after having been to the police to declare my old passport lost (I actually had a scan of it, which is always handy). It will take them 3 weeks to process my request... which I find absolutely amazing considering I had my old passport made in 30 minutes in front of my eyes when I was living in Paris. I believe it is due to the new machine that is only available in a few places to make the new passport model. Oh and I'm actually not sure to receive it in 3 weeks time, since my proof of birth will maybe be considered too old since it was issued in 1998.
I find it amazing that I need myself to give a proof of birth not older than 3 months coming from the place I was born more than 30 years ago..in France. Is there any backup of these papers ? Otherwise I will maybe not be able to proove my identity all the archives are lost.
So basically I'm stuck in France unless I manage to get my passport in time and jump on a flight going somewhere far far away.
You're in France or you're not.
St-Leu Fishers apparently decided on friday evening (after a few beers) to get on strike and are preventing boats from going to sea, therefore it is not possible to dive on saturday and sunday. Cherry on the cake, Abyss is closed on monday...fortunately Ben (one of the key staff) told me to checkout Atlantis Plongée. That means that the plan has to be changed as I was initially considering to slowly go hiking from thursday to saturday.
I'm back from La Réunion, after a week of work and a week of vacation. I will post pictures asap but the result do not live up to expectations. This is simply not the place to go for underwater photography.
I'm now diving with Abyss Plongee, nothing against Atlantis Plongee as they have been extremely cool and friendly. From a photographic point of view the first dive was a disaster, I was realizing during the first dive that something was wrong with the camera flash settings as everything was desynchronized from time to time and every wide angle shot was...err..without light, until I realized some time later that the camera was apparently reset after I changed the batteries. The fact that there's a bit of a rush underwater does not help much to have a clear mind.
I left St Denis in the morning and had to go back to St André to get things fixed about the car rental company as I'm keeping the car the next week. Yep, it's a local company called 'Regis Location' so you actually need to find yourself the location of the office to pay.
I'm leaving to the island of La Réunion tonight. About 10,000km from Paris. I will be giving some J2EE training the first week at the University of St Denis. I will take advantage of the trip to take a week off the
and go diving the surroundings. I'm taking the whole diving and photo gear with me.
Alberic and his friends published their book from their round-the-world trip. They came back on July 16 and its already there. I'm going tonight to their arrival party in Paris. It can be bought directly from Ecritures for only 17EUR. For the record, I met Alberic while diving in Koh Tao, Thailand, in august 2003 while on my round the world trip, a few weeks before he left for his adventure. We exchanged a lot of emails while on the road as he was going on my track in a few places and I could give him some handy tips. He also managed to stop in Bora-Bora to dive with François, a dive instructor I met in Dahab in january 2003 and who left shortly after to work at Bora Dive.
All this courtesy of Dr Bob Whorton, of course.
Komodo might be nice (for topside photography as well, with the dragons opportunities) but still, it is in september and negociations with my company are difficult.
I'm thinking of selling my underwater strobe kit and change it. This can be split in strobe and arms/tray kit.
- Ikelite DS50 + diffuser
- Ikelite Manual controler
- Adapter ULCS/Ikelite (#AD-MS)
- 2 arms ULCS 5" (#DB-05)
- 1 3x clamp ULCS (#AC-TS)
- 1 2x clamp ULCS (#AC-CS)
- 1 tray + handle ULCS (#TR-NKS)
Email me if you are interested.
I just contacted Mark, at World Diving where I was staying last year in september, they are fully book from August 30, they had sightings of sunfish in May and early June but none since then as the water has been very warm.
This could be a possibility in August but air fares are atrocious, I went to Thomas Cook and we had massive problems to find the return flight as well, it would have been on a waiting list.
I have to find where to go for my forced vacation. As expected my company wants me to take vacation during summer. Of course I have a seminar on July 22 meaning: August or nothing.
The rational behind this is simple. The government basically stop working during july and august. We are doing most of our business with the government, so it's better financially speaking for the company to have us going away during that period.
I don't really have that much ideas, the season basically sucks because air fares are extremely high. I was thinking of going to Bali to take advantage of the Mola Mola season but air fares reach an astonishing 2000EUR while the 'normal' price is around 600EUR.
I tried to put my vacations on september and maybe try to go to Wakatobi, with Heather, Bob and al. But I was refused those dates.
I finally found a reasonable apartment to share. It's a 80sq meter located 5min away from the center of Paris by train, in Asnieres. There are some work to be done inside (mainly floor), but that's cool. It's conveniently situated, calm.. but there are no parking (I still did not get my car though as I don't need it).
I expect to stay around here about a year, time for me to save a bit of money and probably buy an apartment despite the atrocious price going up up up up while salaries are going steady steady down.
Nice, long and busy week end. I managed however to meet Heather who was staying the week end in Paris (she's living in Germany far from her native kariboo land ) with long time friends of her visiting from Canada. I met Heather during the crazy diving trip in Indonesia with Bob, Todd, Craig and co. How cool to see her again, we just had a quick brunch and sushi (albeit bad) lunch and had to run to do my stuff and see Fabrice to give him my housing for his next day trip to the Seychelles.
She's going to Wakatobi in september and then back to Lembeh. Lucky her ! Wakatobi is on my todo list but that's a bit pricey for me right now considering I haven't been working for very long ( $2500 for 11 days, not including flight of course, which might be around $700). But hey.. we only live once and wakatobi is apparently THE spot, so who knows.. maybe by then there will be a last minute available spot and I will be able to go as well and all will be perfect in a perfect world
I'm still not settled and having my own space. It's not that I was looking too much recently as I had my head buried into the sand because of work issues living little time but late evenings to look for it (and go out) Hopefully this should be better now, and I'd better off finding an appartment and some people to share it (or vice versa). I'm not too keen on spending 1KEUR/month on some appartment, especially if I plan to buy one some day (read, in a year or two as I would need to save some money for that first !) to avoid throwing out money through the windows.
I just cannot believe that at this time one year ago I was just arriving in South Africa after having spent some time in Egypt, Jordan, Seychelles, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. That's shocking ! ONE YEAR ! And I feel at the same time that it was yesterday and 10 years ago !
The Kilimanjaro expedition is building itself slowly. We are already 4 (maybe 5) to be interested in it. Ideally I would like the expedition to be split in two weeks. One week for the Kilimanjaro itself and another week to take advantage of national parks and do some 'photo safari'.
Budget still to be defined but I expect it to be around $2000. A 2-way flight is about $700, a kilimanjaro trek is also about $700. In Tanzania it's hard to have a safari at less than $80/day due to the very high park fees, in Kenya it's a bit less but the road is often miserable.
No date defined, but common sense will try to avoid end of rainy season and beginning of dry one. This will be more comfortable for the summit and it's better to be able to see animals in the bush when it is not fully grown.
Just saw a documentary where Anna Netrebko was performing. She is absolutely amazing in musicality and theatricality, no wonders that everyone is fascinated when she is on stage. I have to get a CD.
I just bought yesterday the book 'Travellers' from Alexandre Kauffmann, a 28 year old french author. The book supposedly talks about the new generation backpackers/travellers. I just read a few pages and it is a pile of unverified, undocumented facts and is a total non-sense. He obviouslly wrote that quickly after a sponsored trip in Thailand from the Foreign Ministry (how can these guys have that is still a mistery).
The worse part is that this guy got some litterary prizes before.
The revolting part in the first few pages, despite his condescending analysis of undocumented behaviors is the diving part (mentionned as a favorite sport for backpackers). When writing about a 'Miko shark', he obviouslly confused the Miko ice cream and the Mako shark. He then continues his nonsense with a reference to a whale-shark bite, which considering his status as plankton-eater, would be quite a performance.
Then he goes on supposedly trying to find what is the rationale behind so-called backpackers by 'investigating' (it is laughable) Khao San Road in Bangkok.
Don't buy this book. There is not an ounce of work inside and it makes me think of a whole farce à la Jack Kelley, the USA Today reporter that wrote a number of fake articles over the years.
I nearly feel obliged to write to the editor to ask for my money back and kick this guy out of the publishing industry. A shame considering that more talented and honest people are banging at the door to be published.
I did not mention it for unknown reasons, but check out yassalaba.com. I met Alberic while diving in Koh Tao, Thailand. At this time, he was working on his rtw trip, he has been on the road now for a while. So far he has been to India, Nepal, Thailand. Cambodia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Bora Bora, etc.. and he is currently in South America.
We have been exchanging tips since then, and I'm glad he enjoyed his diving in Bora Bora as I pointed him to Francois, a dive instructor I met in Dahab, Egypt and that is now working at Bora Diving Center.
On a side note, Alberic is interested about the Kilimanjaro trip (no schedule yet). He's got quite a trekking experience after Nepal, Indonesia, New Zealand and South America.
I started running again this week. I felt a bit miserable about not doing any exercise and was curious to see what was the result of barely doing nothing at all during a year. Ok, this is not exactly true as I was somewhat in a good shape during all my trip. I was sleeping a lot (very often something like 10PM-6AM) and eating reasonably (in Asia, for instance I was eating most of the time once a day a small plater of noodles or rice and did not even manage to lose too much weight).
Finding an appartment in Paris is a real mission and next to impossible for several years now. To give you an idea those days the average price is around 900EUR/month for a decent 50 square meter in a recent good standing building with a parking. Generally, they are asking you to earn 4 times (net) the monthly rent. That makes your salary reaching 3600EUR net, which makes about 4450EUR gross, that is: 53500EUR annually. Shop well to find this salary in Paris, even with 10 years of experience as a software engineer, it is unlikely. But wait ! this is not finished...
To give some news. Well, I have been working officially since February 9 as a J2EE architect at Linagora, an IT company specialized in open source solutions. I have been working quite a lot since then and I'm still looking (albeit passively) for an appartment. My best bet for now is to move to the building where I was living before. It's would be way easier. It's France so to keep it short about all the documents you have to give to proove that you are a good person that will be able to pay, you need to provide your last 3 receipts of your last apartment rental, your IRS copy, your last 3 salary receipts (your net salary must be 4 times the amount of the rental), an employer attestation, a bank certified check for a sum equivalent to 2-month rental, a check for the real estate agency and a morale person as a caution. Now imagine what's like when you have only been working for less than a month ?
It's depressing but seems to be consistent with the feedback I have had in various places. It looks like I'd better go diving now before we all see a different ecosystem and a totally empty sea. I also saw on TV yesterday how US aquariophily is depleting the ecosystem in the Vanuatu islands where tens of thousands of fishes and tons of coral are being delivered to the US by air cargos.
I went to see Blue Planet, currently in the theaters and I must say that it is awesome. The movie is based on shots from the series and it is a BBC/Discovery Channel co-production. When I was in South Africa, I wanted to buy the DVD as Fred Richardson showed me some amazing samples of it. The 3 DVD box-set is currently at £19.99 at Amazon UK. You will see a bait ball (feeding frenzy with whales, sharks, dolphins and albatros) obviouslly filmed during the sardine run in South Africa. I also believe the stingray school was filmed in the Poor Knights islands in New Zealand as it felt somewhat familiar.
I'm not expecting to have many vacations this year, but I was thinking I may attempt to climb kilimanjaro before 2005. Anyone interested ?
As my aunt is generously hosting me until I get a job and an appartment and that I need to use as well her internet cable connection, I run into a dilemna. I realized shortly that the RCA cable modem is using MAC address authentication, meaning that the damn thing will only work with the ethernet card plugged into her PC (a MAC address is hardware specific). Switching the connection between computers does not work and the reset button is simply ineffective.
What I have been doing recently ? Well, if you have been reading the lasts posts between the lines, you figured out that I was working temporarily for a 10 days mission. I was supposed to provide some Java technical backup about an offer bid for a J2EE application server. A J2EE application was provided by the client, as well as the hardware (load balancer, servers, ...) and the team had to solve technical problems on the application and demonstrate features of the server.
Since monday, because of the MyDoom virus, I have been under attack by mail servers from all over the world that kindly send me hundred of bounced emails like:
This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.
Delivery to the following recipients failed.
because of various reasons like exceeded quota, unknown recipient, virus detected.
14500 is about the number of pictures I took during my trip. This is more than I did in my 30 existing years on Earth. I just finished burning the latest CDs with them. I stupidely did not do any backup since Singapore and now that I'm desperately trying to work hard with my laptop with some server side application and it shows some worrying signs of mechanical troubles. I feel like the hard disk will blow up soon, so I'd better backup right now than feel sorry and smash my head against the wall because I lost all my data.
Things are getting crazy for me right now. I already spent some time visiting family and friends, went to lunch and dinner here and there, got various proposals, and I'm already working on a J2EE related project for a couple of days while I still did not have time to update my resume and post it on the web. All this means that I did not get much sleep since last friday. This is positive since it put me right on the track again.
I arrived in Paris a few hours ago. The flight from Miami with American Airlines was a nightmare and a complete mess. My flight audio system was again not working properly (I'm very lucky with this each time I'm taking the train or a flight), fortunately there was no one next to me so that problem was solved quickly despite the fact the choice was atrocious. Shortly after, the flight attendant announce us that the movie will be Finding Nemo. This seems perfectly normal to me when the movie happened to be Radio with Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding Jr. The rest of the flight happened to be just like travelling in a shaker, courtesy of the bad weather above the atlantic. We start our descent toward Paris when the crew decide to serve us the breakfast in a hurry. I'm unsure if they 'forgot' it, or if it was done on purpose to let people sleep more. Fact is that we had to eat breakfast quickly !