luckykaa: (Robot)
So, second week of work;

The first week, I spent a day waiting for a PC and another trying to get the software to build. Spent the rest of the time trying to understand how everyhing fits together. It's not a terrible structure, (which is something I say quite rarely). Hotel was horrible. Shitty location, grim, gloomy, no breakfast, and a terrible hard bed. Moving to the Ibis Budget was actually an improvement.

This week I actually have some work to do. Spent some time doing some graphics stuff. Now they want a widget. I can do widgets.

Still staying in hotels, and effectively this means I'm probably paying to work here. Still, the one I found is decidedly average. I have never stayed in a more average hotel. Everything about it is okay really. The room is reasonably sized. The wardrobe has no doors. It's clean. It includes an adequate breakfast and there's an adequate restaurant for dinner. The internet is just about fast enough for reasonable quality Netflix. It has a adequate number of power sockets but they're a bit far from where I want to put equipment (it's a stretch to plug a PC into the TV).

The office is in a shitty location, near a bingo hall, various furniture shops and a major national team's football stadium. Essentially all the places that are typically found in areas that are essentially wastelands. Traffic in Manchester is horrible, but at least Holly the Evil satnav mostly guides me around the worst congestion.

Currently flat hunting. Seemed to be only a handful of flats available now in the areas I want. Decided it would be easier to rent a room for a month, and at least have a kitchen and somewhere to stay at weekends. Tried lots of places on Spareroom.co.uk. Either got no resposne or the place was gone. Eventually gave up and went for airBnB. It's more expensive but I can't be bothered with the hassle. I'm tired and stressed out! At least I have somewhere as a base for a couple of weeks where I can cook my own meals, and I have the weekends to find a flat.
luckykaa: (Wolf)
I had a technical test with a company. Cocked up on it. Got confused with what the sameple was doing.

For some inexplicable reason they still wanted to interview me. I had an interview today at 2pm. I got an interview at 11:25 saying it should have been at 11, and asking if I could get there by 12. No I couldn't but we compromised on 12:30. And I took a wrong turn so was still late. We were teleconference with another colleague but the TV lost its network connection. Didn't really get the technical questions, and did badly at answering them. Although they were after a specific answer so partly their fault.

So I did terribly. On the plus side, I don't really want the job and I was offered the one in Manchester.
luckykaa: (Wolf)
I had an interview yesterday with a company in Manchester. It went fairly well, and the work I'd be doing looks interesting. I think it pretty likely they'll offer me the job.

I'm also looking at a job with a certain multinational based in Dublin. That's something that really excites me!

Problem - I will probably get an offer with Manchester in the next couple of days. Most likely tomorrow. I'd really like to see how the Dublin job goes though. They'll take at least a couple of days to get back to me with an interview date. That isn't going to be immediate, and they'll take a while after that to get back to me with an offer.

So there's the bird in the hand and a very juicy tasty looking one in the bush. I need to work out my options.

What are my option here?

I can't tell Manchester to hold off for that long.

I can say no and be hopeful. I can accept and tell the Dublin company that they snoozed and losed. That seems like missing out on something that I've been realy excited over. I can accept and then change my mind last minute. That seems like I'd be messing Manchester around a bit. Plus I need to spend time getting myself sorted. Any other options?
luckykaa: (Wolf)
I've got a bit bored with not getting contracts. I decided instead I'd spend some time not getting permanent jobs instead.

I applied to a company in Oxford. They do scientific equipment. Pretty cool stuff (literally - nanotech requires helium cooling). My issue here is that it may be a little dry... I think I'll meet intreresting quirkly people in Oxford, and it's a nice place. On the other hand, it's such an expensive location. I want to buy property! I've also applied to a company in Manchester. They do audio equipment. Manchester might suit me. They have a university and it's a vibrant city. I can actually afford to live there. Seems okay, but I'm not sure either are my preferred choice.

Next on the application list was a company doing 3D laser sscanning based in Nottingham. Now, I'm really keen on this one! They seem to like me! So much that I was invited for an interview even though the position I applied for had been filled. As it turned out I completely failed the interview. I didn't know my C#. On the other hand, the boss guy still seemed impressed generally and recommended me to the company they have a part ownership of. So I went there and chatted to them. Also looks exciting. This is something I think I'd really enjoy doing. I know my 3D maths reasonably well. I want to work with cool tech.

But I'm also quite keen on a position with Microsoft. This is in Dublin. I'd really like to work overseas again. The main issues I had in the past were language and avialability of tea, but I gather the Irish speak English reasonably well, and they sell tea. Working on the Havok engine sounds like it might be my cup of tea. Escaping the UK also seems promising at the moment.

The thing is, the probability of getting a job seems to be inverseley proportional to how much I want it. Also I think I'll hear about the Oxford one before I know anything about the others. I have no idea if I want it but I reallty don't if I do get any of the others. It's manly about Oxford. It's so damn expensive. I can easily afford a nice place in Nottingham, or in Machester, or even in Dublin.

Dilemmas. Got to love 'em.
luckykaa: (Robot)
Work. Or more precisely job-hunting.

I have an interview in Oxford tomorrow. It's sort of promising, and it's a nice place. Office itself is out in the middle of nowhere though. Literally surrounded by trees.

I would like a job. And while it's probably a bit early to worry about this; how the hell can anyone afford to live in Oxford!? The place costs a fortune! There's no way I could afford to buy a place, and even renting is expensive. Living elsewhere and commuting makes the job a lot less attractive. Honestly, for the cost of a 2 bed flat in Oxford, I can get a 3 bedroom semi detached house in Sheffield (and have change left over).

What I guess I really want is a job or long term contract in Sheffield. It means I can be close to [livejournal.com profile] flickums. It also means I could actually buy myself a place. And sure it's probably a little soon to be doing that what with current uncertainty in everything.

Nothing seems a particularly good option. Nothing good is available anyway. I really would like the perfect opportunity to fall into my lap.
luckykaa: (Wolf)

A couple of weeks back, I had an interview in Bristol. Company did fanatic stuff with "haptics" - ultrasound based touch simulation. You could wave your hand over the emitter and feel it. I loved what the company did, and I really felt I was back home visiting Bristol.

I didn't get the job. I was quite disappointed.

I had another interview today. In Aztec West, where I used to work. I apparently did quite well. They want to give me a second interview.

I don't know how I feel about this though. It's not as interesting a company. They do circuitboard design software. I sort of like the idea of Bristol still. Not so sure of this is the job for me. It's not just the job. I can quit if I hate it. But proximity to Flickums is a factor I need to consider. An hour and a bit by train or car is fine. Bristol to Sheffield is at least 3 hours. Makes visiting tougher.

I'm not sure I want to keep contracting. It's nice that I can quit really, but it's taking forever to find something new. But I don't want to do a preemie job unless it's something I love.

There had to be an ideal job. No idea what that is.

luckykaa: (Wolf)
Had my first actual interview since I started looking for work again.

The company is in Ashford, which is a pain. I was hopeful when the agent said this would be in Lewes since that means I could at least find people I know nearby. Turns out that no, actually it is in Ashford.

It's a decent enough contract. Doing GUI stuff in Qt for custom equipment. Interview went okayish. I can do the job. Interviewer didn't really seem to be all that experienced at interviewing. But my main issue is the Ashfordness of it all. I was hoping I'd be done with those 3 hour drives.

Will have to see. May not even get this contract. New opportunities seem very thin on the ground recently though.
luckykaa: (Exterminate)
There are three weeks left on this contract. Apparently my contract renewal is tied up because it's close to the end of the year.

Given they normally deal with this 6 weeks before contract ends, the "end of the year" seems to last a hell of a long time. I guess this is de-riguer for big business.

To be honest, this is one of the reasons I miss the games industry. The work was stressful, but there was a strong attitude of "get shit done". Smaller more competitivie industries are lie this. Not because of any particular magic. Simple Darwinian evolution. The inefficient companies run out of money and die.

Bigger companies are harder to kill. As long as they're marginally profitable, they continue based on inertia. But there's no mechanism to weed out inefficiency. So inept departments carry on chugging away, bringing the cost of the whole company own. Most of these don't even have cost and profit of their own, so unprofitable departments can't be removed.

Small companies have their own issues. The lack of weight means they get pushed around by their clients. Games studios are always pushed by their publishers to commit to release dates. And startups are even worse because they're constantly reacting and fighting fires.

Clearly I need to look for a medium sized company.
luckykaa: (Car)
I'm considering a mortgage. As a contractor, things are a bit complicated, but there are specialists advisors in this area. The advisor wants an updated CV. I also need to actually work out whethere there's a signed contract here.

Also my contract is coming to an end. That means I need an updated CV.

Other stuff I need to deal with on a regular basis is my expenses.

All this stuff piles up. I have other things to do that feel so much more fun! And is it really worth my while claiming for a Sainsbury's £3 meal deal?

And because I neglect it, even more piles up!

I have a whole month of receipts to plough through! Which is actually probably only about 20-30 bits of paper. It feel like so much more though.
luckykaa: (Robot)
So I started. We had this insane mess of Qml and C++. I was stuck in a large office on the opposite sode of the room from the rest of the team. Design, such as it is, consists of a few screens indicating flow, and some data types.

What do we do with the data? That's something that was left until later. As were details about how everything was hooked together. We still don't have any detial of what to do with it. I ask explicit questions. I get vague answers. Nothing is written down. Tasks are assigned and estmated with no idea behind them. They really don't get Scrum methodology here.

One part was completed and working pretty well, except the data lacked the key information. I spent several weeks trying to get this information. he solution - completely change it all. Get a new guy in to do a bunch of work without really understanding it. Scrap everything we already have. Meanwhile I rewrite the UI side of things with no real idea of how this works, so I re-rewrite it. We still don't have all the data. I keep pushing for it. I'm told to hard code it. Which is stupid, bad design and takes more sodding time!

I have no idea why they got a new guy in. He's fine but he's no C++ expert, and adding more resources at this late stage doesn't really help much.

And the lead dveloper keeps changing Class names and stuff. Seriously, let it settle down! There's a whole bunch of files with the name matching "delete-me*.cpp"

And now we've moved to new offices. The expectation was we'd have a single large room. We instead have several small rooms. People keep clustering around the doorway! I do not like crowds!

So I'm a bit irked with this contract.

Ennui

Sep. 5th, 2014 10:18 pm
luckykaa: (Car)
For the past couple of years, I've been milling around Europe, enjoying the experience of living in other countries. It's been fun. For some reason Since coming back to Berlin I'm feeling a little listless.

I like Berlin. It's a cool place with lots to do. Lots of events and meetup things that give me options. Live comedy, live music, parks and places to see, and plenty of entertainments, and random trips to lakes and things.

But... I feel like I'm just passing through. My job is just there to pay the bills. I don't hate it. I also don't love it. what I really want to do is development rather than maintenance. My apartment is okay. the location, size and internet access are great, and it has a fitted kitchen (very important to me and not as common as I'd expect in German apartments). Downside is it's all a bit scruffy with a lot of hand me down furniture, and not a lot of storage space. It just seems odd to have a bunch of mismatched kitchen utensils. I have about 20 knives and forks none of which match; a huge pile of plates and a lot of mismatched glasses.

I do miss a lot of things from home. I miss being able to understand the culture and language intuitively. I miss roleplaying and I miss costuming. I kinda miss having a car. I miss seeing my friends. And I kinda miss having a lot of my stuff.

So I need to decide what to do. Do I want to return home? I have the slight probem that I have no idea where I want to go. England appeals in an abstract way but no particular town or city does. Perhaps I need to find somewhere else to live. Perhaps I should find another job. Perhaps I should move on.

I'm here until the end of November at least. I'll probably stay at lest a little longer. Getting a new contract in December is too unlikely so will probably stay a little further after that. After that I have no idea what I want to do.
luckykaa: (Wolf)
Well, it's been a pretty irritating couple of weeks at work.

Started of with almost everyone in training. Always difficult when you're pretty new and there's nobody to ask. Long weekend means people take additional days off to make it even longer. So it's been difficult getting input. And I find it a little difficult to really grasp what needs to be done.

Was unable to submit to revision control until today. And the web server that I was relying on stopped working at about the time I had access.

I was really hoping to get all this done today. I don't want to make excuses.

It is frustrating how slow everything is though. Also there seems to be way too little actual development. I mean tests are useful but I feel something's wrong when all the work is writing tests.

Also suffering from my usual minor cold that I always seem to get when the weather improves.

Ah well. Weekend now. Hopefully things will be better on Monday.
luckykaa: (Exterminate)
Work preparation plans continue. This includes printing off about 20 sheets of paper and initialling them or singing them, scanning them and sending them back to the management company. I don't have access to my scanner or printer right now so this involves a trip up into the loft each time I forget something.

Still have the crazy plan to drive there. Really should stop off in Belgium. The whole thing has been a hassle. Insurance company can't give full coverage to me in Germany so had to find another. Through misunderstanding or miscommunication I seem to have been charged £25 for failing to realise cancelling during cooling off period had a fee. Have complained about that one.

Bought a European travel kit from Halfords. Red triangle, hi-vis, first aid kit. No breathalysers (technically a legal requirement in France but the actual fine for them has been delayed indefinitely).

Still not totally sure driving is a good idea. On the plus side, it does increase my luggage capacity hugely. Main issue is a level of fear over driving in another country. I have no idea about parking, slightly anxious about the emissions permit I need. I think this is my general fear of risk that I need to approach head on.

Have booked somewhere to live for the first month. Berlin is a lot cheaper than Amsterdam or Brussels. Airbnb is useful.

Remaining tasks:

  • Print, sign, scan and return NDA
  • Find out who I should be asking for at Tomtom.
  • Cancel old insurance.
  • Get maps for Germany on satnav.
  • Sort out health insurance
  • Plan when to leave.
  • Arrange goodbye drinks.
Wondering if I've missed anything.
luckykaa: (Travel)
I have a contract in Germany, starting on the 24th March  I now have too much to deal with and too many decisions to decide.

Issue 1: Payroll Management. One of the issues with freelancing is that you actually need to deal with tax. Permanent employment is dealt with by PAYE. A chunk of money is taken from your salary each month to pay tax and NI. Some contractors set up a limited company and work as employees of that. Alternatively you can just join an umbrella company which is a bit of a fudge of the tax system but is a nice low hassle way of doing things.

These solutions don't really fit the German tax system. Ideally I need to be classified as a freelancer. The umbrella company that I was with had a solution that seems to be incompatible with the client.

Issue 2: Car. I like my car!!! Could take it with me of course but that involves finding out what the rules are with taking it with me. Or I could sell it. Seems a shame since I've had it for just 2 months. Driving does allow me to take more luggage of course, and owning a car has been so nice.

Issue 3: Storage. I have heaps of stuff in a storage locker in Hollingbury. It's not all that easy to access though because it's crammed to the rafters and up a flight of steps. I asked about getting a larger one at ground level. They offered me a reduced rate because I'd been with them a long time. I could do that or I could go to a different storage centre for even less but don't get weekend access and would have to have my stuff moved.

Issue 4: Somewhere to live. Actually Berlin seems a lot more affordable than Amsterdam. Or even Brighton for that matter. Still, will probably AirB&B it for the first month. Sick of hotels.

I think that's all I really need to consider. Although am pondering whether to get a better PC. Does anyone know who makes laptops with 1080p or better screens? Might get myself a credit card to pay for it as well since if I get an Avios Amex card just for the frequent flyer points.
luckykaa: (Exterminate)
So, didn't get the job in London.

Had interview with Swedish company. Don't think I quite wowed them enough to get past the C++ test thing.

Agent called suggesting Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre. Temp to perm, and I'm not sure I can really cope with the flatness that is Cambridge, but it seems like they do really exciting stuff.

Another agent called suggesting Tomtom again, but this time in Berlin.

It's nice to feel popular
luckykaa: (Wolf)
Because I feel I should post more. The more I post the more I have to talk about, and since I haven't posted for over a week I have next to nothing. Of course a large part of this is because I'm cruising. Of course not having any obligation to get up in the morning means I'm actually enjoying January more than I usually do. Usually get really miserable in the winter. No real movement on the job front. Want to carry on contracting. Stavanger appeals still because I actually sort of know someone there (Friend of a friend) who I seem to get on well with at least over facebook.

Spending my time writing Android apps. Wrote a playlist editor. Currently has 2 installs including me... Not surprising - there are hundreds of the things. I wrote this because it was more interesting to do so than to dig though all the available editors to find one that works the way I want it to.

Still living with my parents. Finding the living with parents a little frustrating for various reasons mainly related to clashing levels of control freakery. Have offered to cook once a week (or more if my parents head away for the day) so at least I have that under my control. Also get to experiment. Today I discovered that wine in my stew works better than beer.

Keep feeling like I just can't be bothered going dancing. I'd probably enjoy it if I went, but it's such a hassle - I have to park if I drive. Bus just takes so long to get there especiallty if I include the wait.

Car has been fully tested. Driven with roof up. Driven with roof down. Almost lost control at one point so am being a little more careful. Still enjoying it and its wonderful impracticality. Now has a new radio with bluetooth, mp3 and line-in, and no tape player or CD changer. Need something to fill the gap. This car is a lot of fun! Nice runner for a 12 year old as well.
luckykaa: (Car)
Drinks with colleagues today. A few of them are off tomorrow so for those it was goodbye drinks. They got me a card and a couple of books about being Dutch, which was thoughtful and touching, (and more than I ever received when I left a permanent job).

I really am sad to be going.

It's that whole "last day of school" thing. A month ago, the idea of staying for another 5 months filled me with dread. I never developed a social life here. It's been way too lonely. But I rather enjoyed the job. Nice bunch at Tomtom, and a genuine belief that they are out to make the best possible product.

I wouldn't have been happy if I stayed but that doesn't mean I'm all that happy to leave.
luckykaa: (Travel)
I have just 2 weeks left in Amsterdam.

Funny thing is, I always consider myself to be risk-averse. A few years ago I would never have thought I'd get a job outside of the UK. In fact I was reluctant to even travel on my own for a holiday. But a couple of years ago I got the offer for a job in Brussels. After much soul searching, I decided I'd really regret it if I didn't take it.

As it turns out, I didn't enjoy the job. Something about it seemed frustrating and confusing. I felt at the time I wasn't enjoying Brussels, but in hindsight, I remember having a lot of good times there. Did find the lack of a geek-life something of a problem though. I definitely had some wonderful times with some wonderful people drinking wonderful beers. When I finished, it was nice to return home, but when I got back it didn't take long for me to find Britain a little confining somehow. So when I got a job offer in Norway, I leapt at it! Then that failed to happen so I went for Amsterdam. Nice enough but I haven't really gotten on well with the city. I suspect there will be a lot of things I'll miss about the place when I leave.

I do miss so many things from home - mainly friends, but also and Sunday roasts and proximity to conventions, and actually speaking the language. Plus there's my stuff, and owning a car. I am a materialist at heart. But while I'm really looking forward to returning home, I can't help get the feeling I'll get itchy feet and want to get a job somewhere else.
luckykaa: (Exterminate)
So, since I was in Britain for Vampire Ball, and Sharpe wanted to interview me the following week, I arranged the interview the day after.

Hired a car. Picked it up on the Sunday.  Headache free apart from the usual issue of navigating Heathrow Airport. The place is a maze! Avis (and Budget) do have an office in T5 though which helps. Ended up with a Corsa. Tried driving back to the hotel. Nobody involved in Terminal 5 seemed to consider the possibility that perhaps you might want to drive from the airport to a hotal less than a mile away. ended up taking a roundabout route onto the M25, M4 and A4.

Breakfast included poached eggs. This was a good start to the day.

Had a presentation to give. Had been working at it during spare moments. Was okay, although I can't quite pronounce Mahalanobis.

So I arrived. Got the the business park. Realised I needed the science park. Got to the science park. Had a short informal interview and gave a presentation. Then had to do the usual jump through hoops of showing I can do C++. Had a short tour of the facility and learned that Sharp does have some cool tech. Seemed to get on with the people quite well. Was disappointed that they're looking at consumer tech rather than medical tech, but they are looking at funky ideas. Had another couple of interviews (HR and senior manager). Apparently everyone wants to know why I want to leave cnacting (answered honestly. Not sure if I do. I thougt this particular job looked interesting enough to consider it).

So that was that. T5 is easier to get to than from but I was hoping there would be somewhere to fill up with petrol a bit closer to the terminal. Flew home business class because BA were offering the upgrade for a song and I felt it was worth it to be able to relax in the BA lounge and to have food provided. Could get used to this.

Job lot.

Oct. 30th, 2013 01:00 pm
luckykaa: (Exterminate)
Told manager that I won't be renewing. It's a shame really. I quite like the company and the work I do. I just found Amsterdam a little bit lonely for me. I just don't fit.

I have a second interview with Sharp Labs in Oxford. There is the issue of when. This does require probably taking a day off work, although I have suggested a time when I am in the country and have a day off work anyway. That is a problem with being a contractor. Days off are expensive.

Still not sure if I want to be permanent. Probably a bit too soon to worry about this yet since I've yet to get past the interview. But then why not? so the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Getting a mortgage is easier.
  • Working in a useful field. Okay, Satnav is decent enough, but I really like the idea of med-tech. Especially if there's a path into robotics or something.
  • Would be nice to settle down and have a decent social life. I do know some people and I don't think I've said anything to offend every one of them.
Cons:
  • I will have less money and less time off. Of course time between contracts isn't exactly relaxing since I have no idea when the next one will come. But earning big bucks is quite nice.
  • Returning to England seems like a bit of a step backwards. I've been angling for a contract in Scandinavia for a while. It just seems like a cool region, and I always get on well with the Norse. (Am somewhat envious of [livejournal.com profile] beermat on this score). I feel there's more adventuring to be done.

As a chronically indecisive person I'll end up angsting over this for far too long, I'm sure.

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