Ring in a new one

First things first, I hope that everyone had an enjoyable and safe holiday break, or if you weren't taking a break, I hope that the past couple of weeks were good ones. For me, it was a great chance to get back home and see friends and family. For the most part the weather cooperated, and I was able to get everywhere I needed to go. I didn't spend a lot of time on my computer which is a nice rest since I suspect that I will living on it for the next couple months once I get back. However, I thought I'd take some time and say goodbye to 2006, and welcome 2007 with some vague premonitions for the year ahead.

Memories from 2006

This past year has really been a landmark year for me, considering that I spent over 96% of the year not living in my native country. Pretty much everything I did was a new experience and the memories I have of this year will likely last a very long time. There were a number of events though that stick out from the rest, some for obvious reasons, others for reasons that I may never even myself understand. Here is a sample:

  • Long afternoons/evenings in our “hallway” lab in Thessaloniki.
  • Eating bifteki at Nik with Daniel.
  • The Athens trip.
  • Preparing dinner at Nenad's place.
  • Being pickpocketed on the metro in Madrid
  • My birthday dinner with Pablo, Nenad and Daniel.
  • Mini wine parties in Nenad's room.
  • The epic journey back to Reading in July with Daniel.
  • My amazing trip to Germany to visit Marie.
  • Too many memories to mention from the tour of Europe with my family.
  • Visiting Oostende and Brugge with Ken and Delphine.
  • Thrice weekly gym sessions with Pablo and Nenad.
  • The Barcelona trip.

Notice that not one of those things mentions doing an assignment, or studying for an exam. That is because in 10 years, the times I spent with my friends are the only things that I will really remember or care about. Not that academics aren't important, they very much are — but sometimes you need to make sure you don't loose perspective.

The potential of 2007

It is this new year that is the tricky part. Last year was easy, I knew roughly what I would be doing the whole time. I knew that I had three months in Greece and then three or so more in Spain. Summer break was uncertain initially, but then I would be working on my dissertation. Not so much this time. I know where I will be until March, but after that I haven't a clue. Oh sure, I have some inclinations, perhaps you could call them preferences, but I'm sure that each time someone asks a question about my plans after I'm finished, I give a different answer. There are a couple of things I plan to get done this year, but as usual details are uncertain as to when. So without further ado, I present my new year resolutions:

  • Visit Hercig Novi, Montenegro.
  • Visit Vienna (perhaps Prague as well).
  • Look for work in Australia and/or New Zealand.
  • Continue going to the gym and swimming.
  • Write a dissertation on Web Services for Small Business :)
  • Improve my oral Spanish until I can at least hold a basic conversation.
  • Find a place to live that I like.
  • Find a job that I enjoy and hopefully pays the bills.

These are a bit more ambitious and meaningful perhaps than some of my previous year's predictions, but I guess I've crossed that line in life that tells me that I have to start paying more attention to where I'm going. Literally.

3Jan
Location: Durham, NS, Canada @ 20:31

Unusual

When I arrived in Spain today (safe and sound for those wondering), what was the first thing I did?

I went to the gym.

Before turning on my computer, before resting, before eating, I went to the gym. For me... that is unusual. ;)

10Jan
Location: FAM, Leganés, Spain @ 15:23

The small things

The small things

The family cat, Spessel, enjoying the heat and vibrations from my brother's computer.
It is funny that no matter how old you get, you are always looking forward to the small things in life that bring you some vestige of comfort. If not comfort, then at least contentment. Perhaps it is a light at the end of the tunnel sort of thing... like when in elementary school the end of each day was a small victory. Nevermind that you have to go back tomorrow, today you are done, and that is what is important. I guess some people still view their life through that lens when they are older as well, just replace school with work. Or in some people's case, more school.

Sometimes one will put aside these smaller moments in the quest of a larger goal. And there is definitely merit in doing that as well. Just be careful not to forsake all the little victories in favour of the big kill, because sometimes the prey is more elusive than you think. Properly distilled into an appropriate English idiomatic expression: Don't forget to stop and smell the roses.

My rose in this case, in fact the entire reason that I decided to pen this, is hamburger night. Here I am, a few months shy of a quarter century, a world traveller, and still I am childishly excited about the fact that the cafeteria will be serving hamburgers for dinner. Hamburguesas completas. They aren't the best burgers in the world, certainly nothing to write home about (as the expression goes) but it would seem that is exactly what I am doing. But I do enjoy them, and they are certainly better than some of the dishes they serve here. But if I liked everything, then it would become boring... I wouldn't have hamburger night as a small victory then. That would mean I would have to find something else to write about, like the 750 meters I swam today. Or my trip to the supermarket to buy air freshener — my last one dried up over the break.

Must go now... I have a small victory to eat. ;)

13Jan
Location: FAM, Leganés @ 14:46

Font Quest

Font Quest

The Inconsolata font in use within TextMate.
Recently I have been on a quest to find the best font to use while programming. This is one of those things that a lot of developers overlook when setting up their workspace, but it can make a significant difference. We will tweak key bindings, and colour schemes for hours to get the perfect mix, but then we will continue to use the default font for the editor. In windows this means Courier New or Lucida Console maybe. On a Mac, the usual suspect is Monaco — which in all fairness is a very nice font, but is it the best one for you?

I certainly can't tell you which font you should use... that is clearly a personal choice, but I can point you to a couple of ones which I have enjoyed using in the past. I also realize that this isn't really about Europe per se, but I am over here working on a dissertation project, staring at a lot of code and therefore this becomes an important issue. As important possibly as a comfortable chair and a proper desk for ones personal well-being.

  • Inconsolata — this is my current choice. Apparently this one looks very nice printed as well which may well be important when it comes to preparing my dissertation paper. The only drawback as a screen programming font is that the digit zero isn't slashed or dotted. Some people require this... so far I'm OK with it.
  • Consolas — a Windows Vista font that is designed for use with their ClearType rendering system. It seems to work quite well on a Mac, and it has a nice italic version as well. I haven't used it but I compared it recently to Inconsolata and chose the latter.
  • Anonymous — A modern incarnation of a font developed 10+ years ago. This is the font that I used prior to now, for a number of months, without any problems. Nice slashed zeros, the lowercase 'a' is the format that can look a bit like an oh (o). The largest hang-up I had with it was the tilde (~) — it was set very high and looked awkward sitting next to a forward slash (/) which is where it usually appeared. Otherwise, well worth a look.
  • Bitstream Vera — these are open-source fonts that have a lot of appeal. There is more than just a monospaced font available, this is more like a package of fonts, but they are free and well worth a look.
  • Pragmata — this is one nice looking font. The only catch is that it costs 90€, otherwise I may be using it now. I'm seriously considering this font anyway, but I suspect I'll hold off until I have more disposable income. If you don't find a free alternative that suits your needs, this one may. Take a look.
  • Proggy Fonts — again, this is more of a collection rather than a single font. These fonts are more compatible with Windows than with Macs, and aren't meant to be anti-aliased. They are also quite small and if you like to work with larger fonts, this isn't going to be much use. But they are popular with a number of people so I thought I'd mention them.

There are more available, some pretty nice, some quite ugly, but again that is a personal taste decision and I hope that you find something that is as pleasing as possible for you to work with.

24Jan
Location: FAM, Leganés @ 10:24

Valencia

Valencia
Camera
Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
Taken
2007-01-27 11:37:27
Exposure
1/100
Aperture
f/6.3
ISO
100

The Catedral de Santa María de Valencia as seen from the Plaza de la Reina.
This past weekend was perhaps a bit more lavish than my usual routine of sleeping in and going swimming. Despite having too much work piled in front of me I took off for a three night excursion to Valencia on the east coast of Spain. The trip was originally conceived about three months prior by my aunt and uncle who wanted to take a trip into Spain while I was here studying and they chose Valencia — which worked for me as I'd never been there previously.
more ↓
29Jan
Location: FAM, Leganés @ 20:44

What Now?

Well, it would seem that for the most part, my Europe Adventure is over. It has been an amazing time. Now, I am reviving the ailing colinbate.com and going to make a go of it over there. All the best.

Times

Nova Scotia, Canada
4:38 (Dec 2, 2020)
Reading/London, United Kindom
8:38 (Dec 2, 2020)
Thessaloniki, Greece
10:38 (Dec 2, 2020)
Madrid, Spain
9:38 (Dec 2, 2020)
Guatemala, Guatemala
1:38 (Dec 2, 2020)

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Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
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