Niall’s virtual diary archives – Wednesday 27th April 2011

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Wednesday 27th April 2011: 1.26am. My, my, twas five months since the previous entry last time and this time it's like ... is it nearly seven months? Doesn't time just fly! What on earth could I have been up to for seven months? Didn't even bother with my traditional January birthday review of the past year ... I did think of it at the time, but I couldn't really think of much to say about 2010. It was the year that wasn't, and I can't say much more about it than that other than it was exactly what the Doctor ordered as far as my health and internal well being is concerned. If my life was fairly boring before I went to St. Andrews, and St. Andrews was like hyper activity on steroids with a whole load of amphetamines and cocaine thrown on top for extra speed, it certainly is only right and proper that life should be pretty deadly boring right now so equilibrium can become restored. But time just keeps passing, so much so that one is just getting older and older and one increasingly worries about going nowhere ... one cannot save human civilisation when no one knows you exist and certainly takes absolutely no notice of oneself whatsoever.

I can't think of much to report between October and Christmas 2010 - I mainly tipped away on my third Masters degree with the IoE which was consistently great all the way through until the UoL silently booted me out after the first module (I have since got myself readmitted, god damn it are the admin in UoL more useless than a waterproof teabag). Unfortunately, I also got booted out of the PGCert teaching qualification due to insufficient teaching hours, so instead I quickly signed up for a distance online UK NQF Level 5 Cert in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) which I'm about half way through. That certificate has been surprisingly tough to do - not just that the assignments are hard enough, but also that it's very hard to make oneself sit down and just do it, so it's a bit like having teeth pulled. Still, I'll get there eventually, and it's definitely been worth the money so far (see my guide on choosing a distance TESOL provider!)

Just after Christmas myself and Megan took a very short break abroad - we did a whistle stop visit to Brussels to see Natasja also seeing Ghent and Antwerp, and got a day or so just the two of us in Bruges where we had a surprising amount of fun especially with the triple Belgian beer. We then whisked through Madrid staying with Ruth in her very impressive new flat and before one would know it one was back in Ireland and our holiday was over. Despite sleeping in friends' houses rather than hotels, it cost us €1400 which is some holiday considering how incredibly short it was. Still, I saw a whole load of people I haven't seen in many years. It was interesting to see how they had aged, how some had become bitter and some had not, and where they had ended up - or rather - found themselves to be in the majority of cases.

Coming back from this holiday myself and Megan suddenly found our boring little life here in Cork not so half bad. Here we might be too poor to do much, but we do have free time, we choose what we do for the most part and we have actively chosen to be doing what we're doing. Most of the people we met have had none of those luxuries - generally, but not universally, one had to choose between income and happiness. In that, certainly, we fit the trend precisely - we have not found that rare elixir of wealth and happiness as yet either. Still working on that one!

At the end of January I started teaching French undergraduate Business students from IDRAC Lyon on their semester abroad to learn English, and for the next three months that "part time" job consumed pretty much my life. Because of the necessities of squeezing parts of a critical (i.e. Masters level) Business syllabus into fifteen hour weeks, and with the language limitation problem especially at the start, I found I had to wake at 4am to prepare the teaching materials as I was plainly just too zonked after teaching four hours each day (I have placed these teaching materials online here). Certainly at the start it was tough going, but after a while I figured out a handle on the class and I began to experiment by performing some action research on teaching the first half of Carol Springer's experimental Critical Thinking Business Scenario syllabus and see what happened. I have to admit, I was rather surprised with myself on how well I did actually - certainly the students seemed pleased, and they did an awful lot better on Springer's syllabus than the students she reported on in her 2004 study. I'm aiming to write the results of this mini-research up into an academic paper actually.

So that brings us up to two weeks ago now, much of the time since when I have spent doing all the miscellany I shelved during the teaching (I am not a good multitasker!). During the teaching I did manage to get in an attendance to the ISO C1X committee meeting in London in March to argue for my N1527 latency reducing malloc proposal, and while there I combined it with having dinner with two friends I hadn't seen since Hull days along with doing some market research on a new business idea I have had which is (for now) a secret R&D project provisionally entitled Luxubrations Oxyderkés (really a classic Latin-Greek combo Lucubrations Οξυδερκές) which I hope will be worth US$1bn a year within five years.

This is yet another idea from my book Freeing Growth actually. I originally tried a Maximum Entropy Production Principle (MEPP) analysis of organisational behaviour with Prof. Anilla of Helsinki University as supervisor, but that failed to get any interest and therefore funding so since around August I had been pushing a different idea from my book around various Economics PhD programmes since October - one developing non-conventional monetary instruments as a superior and long term sustainable method of valuing capital - but none have bit unfortunately with universal rejections all round due to the supervisors claiming themselves insufficiently competent to supervise such a thesis (sigh! There are no risk takers left in academia nowadays!). So having tried my best with that one, by mid-March I reluctantly decided to give up on attempting to obtain doctoral funding altogether. Which is a real shame in my opinion, I'm a great researcher with grades in applied research to prove it, but the academic system doesn't encourage game changers at all, especially so since the 1970s - indeed here's yet another very recent article by someone eminent about how the PhD system is going to implode sooner rather than later, this time published in Nature of all things and that follows on from a recent article in The Economist and several books from eminent academics which blast what the doctoral model has become in Western academia.

On top of the PhD applications, I have been applying furiously for any kind of teaching or research post for which I think I might make it past shortlisting - perhaps a hundred and fifty job applications in total, and each of these require their own separate forms to be filled in and their statements written specially for them which can easily consume entire working days. To date, I have obtained not even a single interview which clearly shows I am wasting my time, so, for the past month or so, I tried applying to various multinational companies and once again, to date not even a reply.

One kinds wonders if my email system is working, but every test I've run on it works fine and additionally I receive plenty of email each day, not least concerning the high end Android phones I am currently selling at a loss (which is an arse!). That suggests email is indeed working, so basically neither the universities nor the multinationals are at all interested - even at an international level - which rather leaves one in a bind. After all, I do have several years of industry experience as well as two undergraduate degrees and one and a half postgraduate degrees. You would have thought me rather desirable as a highly skilled and experienced employee with a very ample set of easily googleable evidence proving it so, especially given the repeated articles recently in The Economist about the bidding war going on in the IT industry for "talent" which apparently is scarcer than hen's teeth,  but apparently I am no longer rated as talent. Strange how things can change - I used to have to fend IT recruiters off with sticks, most recently Google itself in 2008, but I guess as the IT bubble reinflates I look old and past it nowadays ...

Yet in fact that couldn't be further from the truth. Thanks to plenty of rest, I feel more on my game this past year than at any stage since my second year of St. Andrews in 2005/2006. Additionally I have recently massively expanded and modernised my technological skill set as is very obvious from recent additions to my CV, so in addition to a whole load of business and research skills and I have a whole load of technological capability too. I guess they dislike none of this experience being in a paid context, but I think it's more likely that I'm looking a bit too old and too diversely educated to fit easily into some recruiter's mental map of what they're looking for. And besides, after all I could either be making it all up or be no good at putting any of this into practice, and even one alarm bell does drive away HR types much like plague ...

Anyway, I'd like to get having kiddies and getting married sooner rather than later, and with a sufficient amount of money to give them half a chance in a world most of which shortly is going to be starving, so I had been looking for a new business idea for the past year - something to tip away at which could generate billions of euro per year and appear so essential to the future of human civilisation that I and my family will be protected when the inevitable culling begins, or even better that I might finally be able to resource the development and deployment of Tn into its fullest form - as a new human written and spoken language which enables orders of productivity improvement, thus saving human civilisation from itself. And hence, after much thought, reflection and market research, I formulated Luxubrations Oxyderkés as my billion dollar ticket to getting "started" with my life. Much more on that with hopefully working software coming around September 2011 ... I'm going to need me a whole load of alpha testers anyway as this software needs to scale with data quantity very rapidly, so right now I'm teaching myself cloud deployment technologies. It should scale happily across Amazon's and Google's clouds anyway, in fact I'll be using a python library which is agnostic about the cloud provider used so it makes little difference.

So, all in all so far so good. I ain't dead nor suicidally depressed from lack of life purpose quite yet anyway, and Megan is too busy with her MEd which finishes this summer to complain or even think about her lot too much. I'd daresay after the summer she'll get right fidgety though, and who'd blame her - we've been here in Cork now for nearly three years, hardly an insubstantial time, and we're getting so over qualified that why we aren't "top talent" yet is beyond both of us.

Anyway, it's nearly 4am, so I really ought to be off to bed. In May the thirteenth birthday of this virtual diary will occur, I might post some photos of some "Made to Measure" clothes I had made for myself recently - they may be cheap for what they are, but results can be a little hit and miss trust me. Anyway more on that hopefully in a few weeks time. Until then, be happy!

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