The first weeks

2013-05-14

So last time I wrote that the next update would probably be sooner. It probably would have been, but it wasn't... Or something. Anyway, there's an update now. :-)

So I ask myself: what would you want to see here. I've had a request for a comment area, where you can write things and read what others have written. I didn't want to do that at first, but I'll probably implement it at some point. For my writing, I'll split it up in three categories: work, living, and friends.

I also try to add some photos for anything that might be of interest. Please let me know if you have specific requests for photos or things that I should write about.

Work

My work here is considered a study, which means I have all the administrative problems of a student. It's probably still better than those of an employee, though. So what troubles are this?

One of the first things that I noticed when I came here, is that Americans ask money for everything. When I played rollercoaster tycoon, a long time ago, I was suprised that I should charge money for people entering the park, en charge them again for entering a roller coaster in the park. Here, that is just how things work. In the same way, students don't just pay for being in university. They pay again for each course they take. This isn't a problem for me, because I'm a supported student, meaning the university pays for me. But I still see it anyway. And I have to fill out forms and confirm things about it. But all that seems to be done now.

What hasn't been done is the form to get some tax money back. I've tried filling it out twice now, and I gave up both times. I might try again. I'm pretty sure I should be able to do it. I always found the slogan of the Dutch tax office (we can't make it nicer, but we can make it easier) nonsense, because I think they can, and should, make it nicer (by explaining what good things they do with the money). But when I see how they do it here, I sure am happy that the Dutch are at least trying to make things easier. They don't seem to be trying that at all, here.

So what about the work itself? It's great! I'm currently building printers; I've just managed to get one working with two extruders. I've tested a print with two colors with it, and it worked. I'm going to try and print with two materials tomorrow. I hope to be able to print gearboxes in one piece, using one material that can dissolve in water as a spacer between the gears, to stop them from being melted together. I'll post pictures when I have them.

I'm also working on a colorimeter. Our current problem is that the reading seems to drift during the first 30 seconds or so. Appearantly the LED changes color or deforms or something. We have one sensor looking at its side and one at its front; they both show a drift, but in different directions (the intensity of one goes up, the other down). Very weird. If anyone has ideas, don't hesitate to send me an e-mail about it. :-)

Living

The next thing, which I guess you will be more interested in than my work, is what I do here all day, and how I like it. And what it looks like!

To start with the latter, here's a photo of my house from the front door. and here's one of the kitchen my bedroom my bed

In the past weeks, I've been shopping a lot, so now my house is mostly usable. I have food, cleaning stuff, sheets on my bed and shampoo in my shower. I have a bike and a bank account. I'm still considering if I should buy a telephone. I don't think I'll buy a SIM-card. But I might buy a smartphone or tablet anyway, because I'd like to have a device with gps, and I don't have a real laptop here (the thing on the photo last time is not real; it's for testing my kernel, see below).

Now that most of the shopping is done, I'm doing some other things in my free time. I'm making a computer game, and I'm writing an operating system. I've been working on that operating system for years, but I hadn't done anything for a long time, because I was blocked by a problem I couldn't solve. Now I just had an idea, and it worked, so I can continue with it again. It's currently targeting the small laptop from the photo of last time, and an even smaller computer. It's not much yet: I hope to make a working alarm clock from it in the next few weeks.

Here's a photo of the smaller computer next to my normal sized one:

With all the hills here, I'm not traveling much. It takes quite some effort to go up the hill every day after work, especially if I have two gallons (about 7.5 liters) of milk on my back (unfortunately, the shop is down near the university). But I do like it that they sell milk per gallon. :-) I think I'm going to buy a motorcycle, so I can travel around the area a bit. However, I'll wait with that until I have seen my first pay. I'm not sure when that's supposed to happen, but it won't be before I receive my social security card, which still takes about three weeks.

I tried to make a picture of how steep the road to my house is, but on the picture it doesn't look as steep as it feels. When I ride up there, it feels like my front wheel is losing contact with the ground, and I might fall over backwards.

The weather is slowly getting better. When I arrived, it was snowing. There was also snow everywhere. Now, most of the snow is gone, and there is no more ice in the river.

Here's a photo, taken last week, when there was ice in the river. It was taken from the seventh floor of the building, where I work. I usually enter the building on the sixth floor. How do I do that? Well, the building is built inside a pretty steep hill. On the side of the photo, the entrance is on the first floor (because Americans count weird), but on the other side, the ground is a lot higher, and the entrance is on the sixth floor.

Here's another photo, with also a car on it, to give you a better idea of the size of the ice chunks.

There used to be huge piles of snow next to the road, but when it started to melt I noticed that they were actually piles of sand with a bit of snow on them. I was wondering why they had those piles of sand everywhere. But I was mistaken: they really were piles of snow, but there was some sand in them. When the snow melted, the sand remained there, and it would look like a pile of sand. But by now, most of those "sand piles" have also melted, so I'm pretty sure there was mostly snow under a thin layer of sand.

Here's a photo, taken from my living room, which shows such a snow pile.

Saturday, the weather was bad, so Jerry (who I work with) and I decided to go work on my printer. It was raining most of the day. However, when I went home in the evening, it was snowing again. As someone posted on facebook: "What a lovely winter we're having this spring". :-P

But I think that was the last snow of the season. Temperatures are now around 60°F (16°C), and still increasing on average. I think I'll wear short sleeved shirts soon. (People do that for some time already, but I think they are just refusing to accept that it still isn't warm.)

Friends

I've been trying to meet new people, so I can make some friends here. That hasn't really worked so far, though. The summer semester is really a holiday, when most students are gone. All the student associations stop having their meetings during the summer. So I only know some of the students who work in my group, but haven't really met many people based on interests yet. That will probably have to wait until september. I will try some more things, though, which I hope will work.

But if any of you wants to chat with me sometimes, that's very welcome as well. :-) I might go on facebook sometimes, but I really don't like it, and I try not to; if only because the entire chat history is stored on their computers.

I prefer to have it stored at my own computer instead, so I have set up a jabber server. If you have a jabber client (such as Pidgin or Empathy), feel free to create an account on d9795346.cm-3-2b.dynamic.ziggo.nl, using the xmpp protocol (I prefer Empathy; it also allows audio and video chat, but it isn't able to create the account, so use pidgin for that, or e-mail me and I'll do it for you; pidgin is fine but I'm having trouble with the video chat). I think you should also be able to contact me from any other jabber server without an account on my system. In any case, once you have an xmpp account, call me with it at shevek@d9795346.cm-3-2b.dynamic.ziggo.nl . I'm best reachable from 18:00 local time, that's midnight in the Netherlands. If you want to sleep during your night, please suggest a different time and I'll probably be able to be there for you.

If you're having trouble setting it up, please let me know as well. I'd even go on Facebook for helping you with that. :-)

Oh, and finally, one thing. Before I left I told many people that they could be notified whenever I posted something here. But I was also quite busy getting ready to leave. I'm pretty sure I forgot to put one person on the list, but I really can't remember who it was. Could that person please ask again? And if you're not that person, but want to be on the list anyway, you're also welcome to ask. :-)

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