Niall’s virtual diary archives – Thursday 23rd July 2009

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Thursday 23rd July 2009: 9.04am. Another month passes, yet once again I sit here wondering what the hell have I actually accomplished? Where does the time go? I have especially been wishing for forty hours in day of late because there is such a long list of things to do which never seems to shrink no matter how hard I work nor how many hours I invest. With such thoughts, I would be the first to counsel others to instigate a re-evaluation of one's efficiency: where is one wasting the hours? Can a reorganisation of sequencing one's actions better improve the rate of accomplishment?

Megan's brother visited for a week which had us drive around much of West Cork and Kerry - very pretty, but it cost a lot in time and petrol. It took many more bounces of the Memoranda between me and the Companies Registration Office, but eventually they incorporated the firms which allowed me to get started on drafting the bank account mandates and the tax registration forms - I haven't even begun yet on the central accounts server because the only spare computer I have available running 24/7 is the mediacentre, and its 1.6Ghz Atom isn't really up to running SQL Server 2005 (it actually works surprisingly well, but if and only if no one is watching TV or it is recording something at the same time). I also need a business phone line which really means a VoIP system - for this I have acquired a second hand Utstarcom F1000 which is a Wifi SIP VoIP phone, so it works very nicely as a cordless phone. Of course this means I need a full VoIP PBX also running on the mediacentre in order to avoid NAT routing issues and to provide an answering machine or call rerouting - preferably in Linux rather than the Windows that the fast h.264 hidef decoders prefer - which suggested that the time had come for an upgrade of the mediacentre.

Hence despite our extremely restricted budget I spent €200 on higher end but very low power parts (the special energy efficient AMD ones which cost slightly more but draw only half the wattage) which I only found time to assemble yesterday. It'll run Windows 7 with a virtualised Linux, and I may even make use of Microsoft's upcoming customised Linux kernel which just goes to show how much Microsoft has changed now that Bill has retired. Ultimately the techies in Microsoft are just as ardent open source types as anywhere else, and of course in recent years MS has made a big point of hiring top Linux guys simply because good programmers are good at whatever system. After I have this system installed and running, I'll get the accounting software onto it and we'll finally be operational.

Meanwhile, and in parallel, I have been sending any spare hours that I have at working on designing a really cheap ZEO cluster (based on the OVH servers I mentioned last entry) which operates a fairly high end Plone installation and I have been writing up my experiences here. The idea is to move my VPS install over to this and to add a new site called which is going to host the collaborative development of a new pedagogy for Neo-Classical Economics, and upon which I'll be writing a one hundred page cheat sheet book for Economics students writing essays which will probably have to be a FSF venture given that the Irish government probably won't approve such a book as a creative work (and hence exempt from income tax). I'll also be renting out space on that Plone ZEO cluster to small businesses around Ireland as currently there is no one in Ireland who provides Plone services. I have never understood receiving a once off €250 for a fairly copy & paste Drupal or Joomla based website which is so common - both, or indeed anything PHP based, require constant maintenance which everyone always forgets about until their site gets hacked or they lose data or even their site simply fails. Lots of SME's pay the once off and ignore the consequences - equally, there are plenty of eager undergraduates or graduates too quick to take the money and run despite knowing better. I reckon that there might be a market opportunity here.

So, with a bit of luck, I'll be able to support us financially by 2010 if everything goes to plan, plus lay great foundation stones for enabling both of our careers in the future by making a nice big splash by upsetting important people internationally . Megan has her driving test in about fifteen minutes - I have been writing this while she takes her pre-test lesson, and another significant time and money destroyer has been the very frequent drives to Mallow for her to practice driving and take lessons - an opportunity my cunning sister took to have me complete various things for her like a wipe & reinstall of her computer, though in fairness her hubby also replaced our braking pads last night which was long overdue - one of the pads was quite literally falling apart from heat damage caused by mismatched wear. And lastly UCC's BIS have been dicks and gave me a very high 2.2 just short of the 2.1 - it was fascinating reading the comments that the spiteful fuckers wrote on the exam scripts, they are astonishingly ignorant of their own disciplines, and their arrogance that this is not so is breathtaking. I guess that's another big distinction between the elite universities and the average ones: the elite universities are better at recognising what they don't know or might not know.

So far so good! I hope that everyone reading is keeping well, and that all remains good in kin and kith. Be happy everybody!

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