Those out of office autoreply things really bug me - so instead I'll just let people know through my blog. That probably will cover very few people who contact me in my 'professional' role - but if they google I'm sure they'll find me in the end.

So yeah, the end of my first stint as a full/part time professional came to a nice close today with a trip up to the datacentre in Manchester to install a few machines for a client. I've been setting up the servers for the past few weeks so that the client can pass the PCI regulations (Payment Card Industry) and it's been a very steep learning curve. I only started working professionally with linux just over 12 months ago, and that was from scratch so to be (semi-) responsible for the installation of such an important system is either credit to my abilities, or reckless. I like to think the former :).

In all honesty it has gone very well, and I've had fantastic support from my boss. It's nice to be able to contact someone to overcome a problem and be shown the easy way through thinks. I think it's this sort of experience that there isn't enough of in academia. Sure, I love finding my own way of doing something, but sometimes (especially when there's a deadline) it can be far better to be taught the correct way, and to then know it right away, rather than having to research many 'wrong' ways only for the right way to be presented by someone who knew the answer a week ago. </rant>

I'm quite enjoying the job too, which I think is a major bonus. The next major hurdle is to bite the bullet and to move up to Manchester and away from the comfort of the family home in Birmingham. There are a few complications with that at the moment that I'm having to try and sort out in my head, nothing to do with other people. The first issue is the obvious one about where I want to live. I spent a couple of weeks at the beginning of July living with a friend in Manchester, who I'd hoped to have moved in permanently with. I had a fantastic time, really enjoyed their company, but it opened my eyes to what I can expect when I move up to Manchester. Many people advise don't live with a friend (or don't have a friend as a flatmate) and I can see why. The main problem was with me working in the lounge. As I work from home (and the flatmate has a 42" plasma) I decided to work from the lounge (also because there was no desk in the room) and to be honest my presence make the flatmate a bit claustrophobic. I don't blame him for this, because had it been the other way round, I'm sure I'd have felt exactly the same way. And credit to him as despite me working back in my room for a token 'single day' he didn't moan at all.

Yeah, so my direction is going to be an interesting one. I'm hoping against hope that I'll move back up to full time hours when I get back from holiday and then move in with him in Manchester (providing he still wants to after reading this blog).

My only other concern is location. The flat has 24MBps broadband - so that's a great thing. It's also a five minute walk from the Printworks - which is also fantastic. And it's very nice inside (for those with facebook - check out my "Manchester Flat" photo album). The negative is that all this comes at a price. Unless I can be sure to keep my job on full time - signing up to this flat could be a mistake. However, the good news is that I'll probably sign a 3 month release clause in the contract, so at least I can give huge notice if I have to move out.

So now, back to the holiday. I'm heading down to the middle of France (, the Dordogne,) to stay near the town of Perigueux in what will probably be my last family holiday (take III). I'll have definately moved out of home by this time next year though, so I'm hoping it'll be a fantastic holiday. As always I'll remember to take a load of pictures, and to be even nicer, I may even open myself a flickr account and get a plugin for wordpress so that people outside of facebook can see the pictures (a facebook album/wordpress application would also be welcome from anyone with spare time).

The other "incredibly frustrating thing" is that my openmoko neo1973 is due to arrive next week, and I can track it's progress online to watch it get delivered 1000 miles from when I am. Well... when I get back I'll make sure to get my hands on it. And guys at the SBLUG - if I make it to the meeting on the 16th August - this is a fantastic excuse for why I won't have yet created a killer application for it. If you are writing any programs for the neo (and would know how to upload it to my phone to test) then please get writing and I'll let anyone with an ounce of knowledge have a little hack.

As I'm going to be away from the blog for the next three weeks - I've changed the comments to a free for all. I really hope I don't get much spam - but if it's getting out of control - can someone drop me an email to andy at zrmt dot com with the subject line of "camels are amazing creatures" and I'll get to a PC to turn the SPAM settings back to what they are currently.

Well take care, and I'll hopefully be back blogging soon!