Dear USA, my data has left your building.

NSA, GCHQ, Prism, FISA, Project Bullrun, Sigint. After Edward Snowden, former CIA and NSA employee, started revealing how massively, intensely and easily we are all being spied upon by the intelligence agencies of various governments, the terms above have suddenly been spending a great deal more time in the media.Image by BLOGGING via TYPEWRITER It turns out that government agencies are allowed to extract, at a whim, your and my data from service providers, such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

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5 months as an independent engineer: lessons learnt.

In February of this year, I left academia (read more about my reasons in the accompanying blog post) to start a new life as an independent engineer, or simply freelancer, if you will. In this post, I would like to summarise the lessons I’ve learnt so far. Also, because of my strong nerdtastic tendencies, I will write a separate post talking about the various tools of the trade, software and hardware, that I’ve found useful.

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Don’t dream big.

For months I’ve been walking around with this idea in my head. I was planning to turn it into a blog post titled “On not scaling”. It was going to be about deliberately choosing focus over bandwidth in one’s activities. One is often faced with the choice between scaling up (more work, more people, more things, more turnover, more for the sake of more) on the one hand, and simply not scaling on the other, instead holding on to one’s simple and linear way of doing a few things well.

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Just start.

We’ve all been there. Faced with a daunting and complicated project (thesis, book, building a house, the list goes on), or a whole bunch of projects, you start suffering from an acute sort of brain deadlock, freezing like an antelope in the headlights of the rapidly approaching deadline pick-up truck, yeehawing redneck behind the steering wheel. Perhaps even worse than the freezing, is the procrastination. You somehow manage to start moving, except that you’re pouring all your energy into everything but the work that you actually need to do.

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Dear Academia, I hope we can still be friends.

After many great years in academia, I finally decided in October of last year to resign from my position as tenured assistant professor. As of February of this year, I proudly walk the earth as an independent engineer. It has taken me two years of thinking to reach this decision. I started re-evaluating my life in academia two years ago after a review-for-promotion process that resulted in a “not quite yet” judgement.

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Please update your email and RSS subscriptions (cpbotha.net)

Dear readers, I will soon be starting a new life adventure. In fact, maybe even two of them. Hence, there is a significant probability that this weblog will again be updated more frequently in 2013. Also, I have just changed the email and RSS subscription system: If you were subscribed via email, please subscribe anew via the subscribe button to the right. If you still receive emails from feedburner concerning this blog, please unsubscribe using the instructions in those emails.

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Startups vs. Academic Research Groups: FIGHT!

There are many similarities between startups, defined here as (relatively) young and agile companies with a few bright people trying to change the world by working on some cool idea(s), and academic research groups, defined here as (relatively) young and agile units within academic institutes with a few bright people trying to change the world by working on some cool idea(s). Err, yes. Fortunately there are also many differences, so I have something to write about here.

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Nerd-alert: Ubuntu Linux 12.04 on my NVIDIA Optimus Samsung NP300V3A laptop

When I acquired my pre-ultrabook-era but still pretty Samsung NP300V3A laptop some nine months ago, I lamented that I’d probably never be able to put Linux on there due to the NVIDIA Optimus graphics switching thingamagoo. Well, yesterday I ate my hat. If you have nerdy tendencies, head on over to VXLabs, my nerd blog, to read all about it.

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Google Drive: Not reliable yet, but potential.

I’ve been a Dropbox Pro (50G) user for more than two years now, and in this time it has never let me down, not even by a little bit. Still, when Google announced its new Google Drive syncing service, I had to take it for a spin. For those of you with short attention spans, my conclusion is: Google Drive has great promise due to its price-point, Google’s great infrastructure and the integration with Google Docs, but you shouldn’t yet trust this service with your critical files.

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Rhythm of the Night. [Weekly Head Voices #66]

(This post has an extremely high slightly-insane-rambling index (SIRI). You have been warned.) The rhythm of life I love Unkle. Here’s the introduction to their song Back and Forth: The only life you can get is one made up of ups and downs. The trick is in learning how to deal with the downs, increasing the number and duration of the ups, and enjoying every last drop out of them.

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