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Free vs. open presentation and comparison by Lawrence Lessig

Soviet blocks

Today I was doing the free vs. open presentation and comparison by Lawrence Lessig came up, that having computers governing your live in cyberspace without access to the rules along which you are being governed (essentially the source code) is like living in a society where some or most laws are secret any only know to the law enforcement agencies. Like it was sometimes the case in USSR. So photo for today's photoblog entry comes from last day of 2003 that I spent in the city of Liepaja. It was a semi-military port town in the USSR times, but today it is a city of peaceful engineers and tinkerers with nice beaches and a very distinct and proud stance for the future. A free future.

Now that I have had time to consider my ...

Now that I have had time to consider my reactions, I will write down, what was my experience in Dublin, when I went for a on-site interview for a job in Google. First of all, I had to sign an NDA before entering the office, so I can not tell you about anything that I learnt there. Still this is a huge post, to save my first impression, so that I can look back on it in the future (like tomorrow morning) and see how naive I was. :)

The first thing I noticed after arrival to Dublin was that the highway from the airport to the city was under repair. I was lucky though as I arrive at night and there was almost no traffic. The highway looked strange compared to highways in Belgium, Germany or UK - it had all those strange twists and turns and splits and merges - it looked like the highway was build adapting it into the space between other roads and buildings, like it was some kind of a country road. Oh and that driving on the left side - freaks me out every time.

After I arrived to the hotel and checked in, I discovered that executive suites of 3 star hotel look much like regular suites of five star hotels I've been accommodated earlier in my life. One more fun fact found me soon - the power plugs are all wrong :) When I was in UK some time ago, all homes that I went to used usual EU type plugs, so this was the first time I saw a UK plug in action. Needing power (a computer geek always needs power) I searched for a solution. I thought that I found one, when in the bathroom I found three round holes marked "for shavers only". I responded - "but this is an emergency" and tried to plug my notebook in anyway. Unfortunately they have thought about that - shaver plugs are thinner and just a tiny bit closer, so the regular power plug does not fit in shaver socket. Damn! Oh well, then I'll have to sleep.

Next morning I walked around the area of Google EU Headquarters scouting the surroundings. I found that the building, where the headquarters are, is still under construction - I am sure Google advised the builders on some minor adjustments ;). Just across the street there is a large block of residential houses. Small residential houses. I've seen apartments bigger then some of those houses. I also found several nice apartment houses: from the common "windows that Cappuletti will not climb trough" to modern housing with large windows and modern decor. I also saw the first backyard street in my life - a street less then half a meter wide between two lines of backyards. Diverse life. And that was only one neighbourhood - less then 5 minutes from Google office.

After the interviews were over, I planned to go to see the city center. Unfortunately looking on the map of the city did not provide any clue to discovering any such place. No central building, no central square, no central monument or park. Nothing - just a maze of streets. Well, I hit the maze. What I saw was a flood of people, just like in Riga on Friday night (it was Friday). The difference was that because of the lack of clear centre, the mass of people floated in a larger area. I noticed lots of very special shops that would have not survived in Riga (belt buckle shop?) and a general lack of big supermarkets that we are used to here. Also the people seam to be much more ignorant to traffic rules - it is easy to see people streaming across a street despite a red streetlight.

I can also touch a bit on food, as I tried the food in hotel and in a local fast-food place. Well, the situation in Ireland is much more positive towards fast-food. In Latvia the regular food is both much better and a bit cheaper then fast-food. In Ireland the quality level of regular food seams similar to the fast-food while the price of fast-food is lower. I rated the quality by the taste of meat, where perfect meat is from a wild animal shot in a forest and prepared straight without any additives, and worst meat is slice of fast-food hamburger meat with all the salt and additives they put there. Of course I couldn't get a clear sample within my short stay, but I tried to be as objective as I could.

The conclusion? In my mind, moving from Riga to Dublin will be a downgrade in life quality. Google's offer must be good enough to compensate this, if they want me in. We'll see soon enough. I should have the answer before next week.

P.S. The level of spam in my mail has reached 11 000 per month. Yay! :P

Finally. I got the reply from Google - t...

Finally. I got the reply from Google - they want me to fly-in for an on-site interview. They will handle the flights, hotels, eating and other relevant issues and all I will have to care about is providing good answers to the questions that their engineers will be bombarding me thorough the day.

Unfortunately this silver lining has a little cloud in the middle - USA is out of H1b visas 'till Oct 2006, so I am asked to work at the Dublin office.

When I analysed the locations they gave me in the beginning, the Dublin office scored just below the Mountain View office. The good things were: being closer to Latvia and being inside EU (no visas, easier to travel), and the bad things were: weather and Irish terrorism.

Well ... let's see what they'll offer me in the end and maybe I will go to the Dublin office and then in a year or two transfer to the new Moffet Field facility or to the Chinese office :D

UPD: I am told that my gut feeling about IRA being a threat in Dublin is very far from reality. I must find out more about this city.

THE day of socializing

Yesterday, the 13th of July was the one day that all (or at least most) of Debconf hackers were forcefully disconnected from the Net and thrown into the socializing, sun and nature. It worked pretty well.

First of all we all woke up early this morning - a lot of people even made it to the breakfast after a warning that today's lunch will be comparable to our regular breakfasts. Two boats were organized to bring all the hackers over to the Finnish Fort islands. (Some, like aj, escaped and went sightseeing to the Helsinki)

There was an interesting moment on the way as the boat passed under a bridge that was so low that you could just touch the bridge with your hand without much of a trouble. We also went throughout the jachts of the Baltic Sea regatta and were overtaken by the superseacat ship.

After arriving on the islands, we had to wait almost for half an hour for the second boat to arrive. To our surprise Holger was on top of it weaving a Jolly Rodger (more about it later).

After being divided into 6 groups, we were lead to see the Fort - walls, cannons, parks, and sand barriers were up for our inspection and admiration. In the tradition that is well known to any software developer, the project manager promised to his king to complete the fort in 4 years. It took 40. Now that is a slight delay none of us would want to experience. This project manager even managed to die in the process of construction, but the king ordered him to stay in the place anyway and designed a monument for the grave with his own hands as a compensation. You can also see our guide in one of the pictures here.
It is worth mentioning that there was an interesting guiding system in this place - every guide constructed his excursion from a set of checkpoints taken in order based on his/her preference and on what checkpoints the other guides are now.
Also you can see a couple of photographs that include me - this is a rear occurrence.

After the excursions, we had lunch in a truly Debian fashion - pieces of bread, butter, meat, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples and small drink packs. Then everyone went around and assembled his own lunch. The Debian party was occupying most part of the biggest lawn of the islands - that looked pretty strange.

In the progress I discovered that the not only shoes of Andreas Tille have a logo with a swirl, but that it is also extremely similar to the logo of Lithuaninan Open Source Association. That is fun.

On the way back I was on the small boat that went first. Amaya and Holger were here too. The made quite a team - Holger waived the pirate flag, Amaya waved her hand. Noone could resist that - everyone waived back :).

We went a bit more quiet after the military showed their interest.

One more fun thing - that is a really bad way to choose a name for a ship :P

And here you can see my selfportrait attempt. Looks quite ok to me :)

Return from BXL

When I came back from Brussels, my bag went missing in the airport. It seams that BXL airport folks lost a trolley or something, as I was not alone in this. The airport people took my phone number, home address, tag and ticket numbers and a description of the bag.
The next day they called in to say that they found it. In a half an hour a delivery man from the airport came to my house to bring my bag.
All well what ends well.

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