Noeska’s new weekly status update blog posts inspired me to get mine back on the road again. To be more precise, the observation that I really enjoyed being updated in this fashion with a far-away friend’s exploits hints at the possibility that, somewhere out there, there might be someone who finds it similarly enjoyable to read mine! (Long ago I learnt the trick from Swimgeek, who is still going strong with his weekly updates.
(I was supposed to publish this around the start of February, but then life happened, and I didn’t get to quite finish it.) For the first time in the three weeks after having arrived back on South African soil, we find ourselves in something that we’re going to call home for the coming months. Until now we have been living out of our suitcases, spending time with various grandpas and grandmas somewhere in the Boerewors Gordyn (the Northern ‘burbs of Cape Town, to those of you not in the know), The Oven (I just made that up.
For the past 2.5 years, I have been helping my friend Prof. Bernhard Preim to write the new Medical Visualization textbook. A crazy number of hours of studying scientific literature (a quick count in the bbl file yields 1880 cited references!!), trying to fit everything into a coherent conceptual framework and then trying to write all of it down as a more or less readable story has finally led to more than 1000 pages of Medical Visualization reading pleasure.
Moving consists of leaving one place and going to another. This post is about the first part. It’s really not easy to write, but I would like for people to understand that the leaving part of this decision is one of the more difficult things I have ever had to do. So after 13 beautiful years in this great little country, we are leaving the Netherlands. Our life here has been exceptionally happy and fulfilling.
Dear two people reading this blog on a good day: Spread the word, the Weekly Head Voices is making a comeback! In the process of dealing with recent(ish) life-changing decisions, but probably more due to the preceding time of introspection, I was unable to enter the right state of mind for producing the weekly WHV episodes. However, because exciting new events have been scheduled for the coming months and I really look forward to writing about them, and because I’ve decided that, yes, I shouldn’t worry too much about the actual literary impact of this here blog (I wrote “bog” first, I hope that it wasn’t a Freudian slip; what I was actually intending to say between these parentheses is that I will continue to do my best to entertain and/or edify!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (See the “oral defence” bullet. :)) process that resulted in a “not quite yet” judgement.