What’s in a Name?

Very soon I shall be making a deed poll change to my last name. After 11 years of marriage I will be taking on my wife’s current double-barrel surname, and adding her maiden name to my own – henceforth my full last name will be Moskal-Fitzpatrick.

As someone who’s never truly been comfortable with my name, the concept of identity has always been an interesting one to me. It’s not the first time I have changed my last name, in fact from around age 7 to 15 I was known as Woods. Before that my last name was Randle – and perhaps for a few months immediately after I was born I was a Fitzpatrick. In fact I seem to have a birth certificates for all 3, coming from my mother’s divorce, single status and subsequent remarriage.

At 15 I changed to back to Fitzpatrick, looking to undermine school bullies and reinvent myself to a degree. Name changes in order to reinvent yourself are nothing new. In fact there are many incidents in the bible of God handing out new names for those who he has anointed and called out for specific purposes. It’s not uncommon for people to do the same nowadays. Had I been bolder when I was younger, I may have chosen to go by my middle name over my first name – but my feeling now is that it would just cause too much annoyance and confusion to go through that… who knows maybe later when I’m older and bolder?

But right now I’m taking on my wife’s name. Why? I guess there’s a number of reasons:

1) My wife has it – seems logical enough – why should women be the only one’s to change their names after marriage?

2) I don’t really know the father who gave me my genes and name, I don’t have any connection to that side of my family – and by changing my name and taking his – I kind of disassociated myself from the family that I do know… as I’ve gotten older I had a little guilt over that. I guess adopting my wife’s families name doubles down on that – but in a way it makes it into something truly unique.

3) It sounds kind of cool, to me at least.

The interesting thing about names is that you don’t really need a deed poll. You can start referring to yourself as something else whenever you want – there is no legal requirement to go by your given, or family name. The deed poll is so that institutions like banks, councils etc.. will recognise it and accept it on documentation.

Another interesting thing. Your marriage certificate acts like a kind of deed poll. My wife legally changed here name to “Moskal Fitzpatrick” (no dash”-“) when we married.

Realising her mistake, she enquired as to whether she could change it to a “Moskal-Fitzpatrick” and was informed that she has to write it exactly like it is on the marriage certificate. If that’s the case, you could probably change your name to anything using a marriage certificate. Knowing that now gives me a lot of ideas – however I don’t really have the opportunity or desire to try it out for obvious reasons!

However the dash is so minimal, I said to my wife she could probably just start using it anyway and no-one would notice… because it’s so unusual not to have dash that people wouldn’t question it. Also when you don’t have a dash, people tend to assume it’s a middle name in some cases.

I will be using a dash.

So that’s why I’m changing my name. It may not be the last time I do so.

Confessions of a Procrastinator

Got the Boost, but not the Bottle

Many years ago, someone relayed a story to me of a friend of theirs who had fitted their Vauxhall Nova with an Nitro boost – this was back in the 80’s when Vauxhall Nova’s were the car of choice for boy racers and modders before the Corsa. He explained to me that the boost worked through plugging in a nitrous bottle, and that once you pressed the button you could get maybe 10-12 seconds before the boost ran out (or so that is what I recall). Either way, it was very easy to use up a full bottle very quickly and apparently the bottles were prohibitively expensive, therefore this friend hardly ever used the boost. Instead he got a sticker made for his car – “Got the boost, but not the bottle”.

Perhaps I’m not unique in this, but I feel like I squandered my 20’s on self-indulgence and FOMO.

I’m probably at the most productive time in my life right now, I’m doing a lot of self-study and implementation too. In the last 10 years a massive amount of opportunities through technology have opened up that never existed before. Many jobs of the past have been lost to automation, yes, and there’s no such thing as a job for life anymore, but the jobs of the future haven’t even been invented yet. The work I do now barely existed at the time I started university almost 20 years ago.

That said, I still look back on the last 20 years with a taste of bitter-sweet. Perhaps I’m not unique in this, but I feel like I squandered my 20’s on self-indulgence and FOMO. I had some of the best events of my life – I travelled, got married, started as a consultant – but at the same time many of the ideas I had in my head, and the opportunities to make money, passed me by. I had ‘the boost but not the bottle’ as it were.

Achieving Nirvana

Part of me blames my upbringing, I was given too much freedom growing up – not enough discipline or structure… I wasn’t made to do household chores and I outside a being sent to bed early on occasion, I was never grounded. These things I was proud of as a punk teenager… now all I see it tragedy and missed opportunity. However, I also firmly believe in revelation and mind-renewal, or brain rewiring. You can’t be blamed for where you’ve come from, and you can’t change that fact, but you can change your future. Once you have a realisation and reach the point of understanding, you realise it’s your responsibility from there, you can no longer lump it on your family, your friends, your school, your work. For me, it’s just that the realisations came long before the call to action.

One of the things I’ve come to understand about myself is that I’m a bit of a ‘big-picture’ thinker – I have many ideas – books, applications, occupations, games, political actions – but don’t necessarily like to bog myself down in the details. Consequently lot’s of ideas, for projects, for starting businesses, for investments, but the moment I sat down to plan on starting just one of those things, and doing some research into what it would take – I lost interest. Towards my late 20’s I started to force myself to focus on an idea and actually begin to work on it, but this developed into another problem. Once I got over the initial research and planning, I found I could focus intensely on a project for a great period of time, continuously working on it in all my spare hours… and then what would happen is I would become slowly seduced by other new interesting ideas, and it would only take one missed evening of productivity and bang, production would stop.

So I had put a major amount of effort into something, I had gotten to about 25% or 50% of the way through and then completely lost interest – it was back to the doldrums and lack of motivation. Too many ideas in my head, not knowing where to start, and not wanting to go back to this other thing I’d started. It’s thoroughly demotivating – if you’re a perfectionist, like my wife, you may understand the feeling of not wanting to start something because of your fear of not being able to complete it. But I did find a way out.

Working with Seasons

You’re probably familiar with the term ‘creature of habit’ – humans are creatures of habit. I notice that most people like to have routines, they form habits around things without even realising it – the way they eat, drive a car, what they do on their weekends. I think I may be broken in some way (being raised by a diagnosed bipolar schizophrenic can do that) and I can’t stand routines or habits. Once I start feeling comfortable in something, it kind of makes me uncomfortable – like when you’ve been sitting in one position for too long. I constantly seek new things.

Then another amazing thing happened, I realised that my mind is like a seasonal worker.

Part of my problem was that I recognised this as unconventional, I hated that I couldn’t focus on just one thing to completion. I thought for the a long that it was a problem that needed fixing (I just didn’t have a clue how), but instead I started to come to another realisation about myself -and it started with acceptance of how my mind works.

Once I had accepted that this massive burst of focus was a thing, and that the next project I start I was going to work as much as I could, but accept the fact that I will eventually lose interest – I could in a way plan for it. I could ensure that whatever I’m working on, I build in plenty of notes and break points so that if I decide to come back again and pick it up – it would be easier to do as I had prepared myself.

Then another amazing thing happened, I realised that my mind is like a seasonal worker. I haven’t quite figured out the logistics yet – but like a farm, or tourist destination – I started to refer to see projects as seasonal of intense bursts of activity. Not only did that free me from the guilt of abandoning a project (instead it’s just the end of the season) it gave me the motivation I needed to pick up a new project and continue to do something. It also meant that I found myself returning to older projects that were once abandoned, because I’d given myself permission to return to that project from ‘last season’.

Teaching myself Discipline

If we were to view the journey of my own self improvement as kind of a project in itself – this last section would be the bit that I haven’t quite finished. I did intend to write one post which would go into some of the methods and tools I use to avoid procrastination and inject some discipline, but I guess the writing took a different direction and I’ll have to do a follow up.

It is of course no good simply just to give oneself permission to engage all kind of projects and abandon them willy-nilly – all that will produce is clutter in your life and in your thoughts. So along with the freedom of treating my mind like a seasonal worker, it also means understanding seasons are cyclical. I give myself a break to leave a project for a season – but that means that I will come back to it. I haven’t got this perfected yet, but in the case of writing books for example (I have written a whole library of 1st chapters), the season is ‘writing’ and therefore rather than start a new book, a new story – I must return to the old one. By forcing myself into this seasonal mindset – I did manage to publish one book, I managed to self study and certify in ITIL Foundation, and I managed to start a company. I am currently the closest to finishing a new fictional novel than I have ever been and the company will be bringing out an online text editing platform soon.

So it’s like a bargain I’ve made with my grey matter – it gets to be a seasonal worker –  I get to determine the seasons in a way. In the next post I’ll follow up with some of the methods and tools that I use to keep myself on track.

The Ultimate Coffee Shop

One day I’d like to open a coffee shop, this would be the killer 3rd place, the 3rd place to put Starbucks, Costa, Nero et al to shame…

Here’s what I think would make an ultimate coffee shop for people like me. If this is a good idea, then perhaps someone will take it and make it for me?

  • All the aesthetics and design of the furniture cater to the the individual with laptop (hear-after referred to as IWL)
  • Tables have locking/docking features that enable IWL to leave their laptop in place for quick toilet breaks
  • IWL can pay up front for a bottomless filter coffee refill and 2 meals (breakfast/brunch) lunch for the day – including rent of a space for their laptop.
  • No shitty background music, if someone wants some background music they can plug in their headphones – those that need to conference call can do so with minimal background noise…. speaking of which…
  • Quiet zone is in force… like a library. Quiet chit-chat is ok, take your screaming kids to Costa.
  • Plenty of power points, charging stations and ethernet cables.
  • Along with coffees, pastries and sandwiches, tech accessories are on sale.
  • Open 24/7
  • VPN, Scanning, Printing available
  • Payments taken and orders made at table as well as counter
  • No crappy forms to tick on connection. A new wifi password issued daily for casual IWLs, premium wifi for registered IWLs.

New Startup – Traversys

I once asked a friend who had ran a few businesses in his spare time how easy it was to start up a company. He told me it was very easy, cost as little as £10. I was a bit taken aback. I’d always wanted to start a business, and had a few ideas here and there, but I was held back by my thoughts and fears about all the costs, the legal mumbo jumbo and how to market.

For many years I’ve had ideas for solutions, integrations that I’ve developed for my employers (sometimes in my own time) in order to solve a specific problem I was having. I wasn’t asked to do it, I wasn’t sponsored to do it – I did it because I needed something. The problem is that once you build something for your employer – the intellectual property becomes theirs – despite the fact they never commissioned it (and in some cases they don’t even care).

The best I got for my contributions was sometimes a pat on the head, the worst, would be that it was completely ignored or not understood. I can’t say what’s more frustrating but what I can say is that I’m ready to end those frustrations.

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve decided to partner with a long-time friend and start Traversys.

From now on, the tools that I need are going to be built on our own time, with our own hardware, and with free license for us to use them in our employment. Crucially, the IP will be owned by Traversys – and in many cases will be Open Sourced.

My friend was right. Starting your company is actually very easy, but starting a company when your business partner lives overseas, and you intend to keep working the day job (which influences and funds your ideas) is not.

The chance of success is there, but more importantly this is about finding a place for our ideas to become tangible products, that others may find useful, and be prepared to pay for.

Mixing history, food and drink in London

If you enjoy discoverying little known historic locations and also places to eat and drink, Etain attempts to combine the two by creating a directory of London bars and restaurants where historic events took place.

I recently did some work for the owner of Etain using data taken from English Heritage and cross referencing it with Foursquares venue data.

Shall definitely be using this site next time I have to entertain friends in London!

Spooning with Pentaho Data Integrator

Pentaho Data Integrator is a neat open source, cross-platform tool for making light work of ETL. I have it set up on my Ubuntu laptop and can run it directly from the command line, or as part of a chron job.

However I found a couple of annoyances when running it from CLI, one was in having to keep a terminal window open, the other was having to run it from it’s install directory – particularly when it comes to relative path names for kettle jobs.

So I created an alias that runs PDI in an interactive shell allowing you to run it from one a word command, and it occurred to me that this might be useful to share. Here you go:

alias spoon='sh -c '\''cd /opt/pentaho/data-integration; ./spoon.sh&'\'''

 

New BMC ADDM tpl pattern writing as a service

I’ve noticed a small amount of demand recently from businesses seeking a specific technical requirement, such as some database integration. Normally they will shy away from hiring a consultant as the price for this small requirement is difficult to justify.

As a freelance senior certified ADDM consultant I’m offering one-off TPL pattern authoring for any of the following:

  • 1 Deep-dive database integration
  • 1 Application model – no additional discovery elements other than what is discovered OOTB.
  • 1 Fix or enhancment of an OOTB discovery pattern.

This is intended to be an express service with straightforward problem-solving where the problem is already identified.

If you have such a requirement and don’t need full professional services, please visit my profile at http://pph.me/wafitz and see details.

Copy Files to Pogoplug Without The Pogo Software (using scp)

I recently picked up a Pogoplug on sale from John Lewis and thought I’d give it a whirl with my media.

Although it is a neat little device, one of it’s biggest benefits is also it’s biggest flaw in terms of design – and that is how it requires you to sign into pogoplug.com and maintain an account there. It also requires you to mount the pogoplug with their software for transferring and viewing files, rather than acting as a NAS.

Whilst it’s nice to have easy access to media outside of home (without having to fiddle with setting up port forwarding on your firewall and whatnot) it’s a bit of a drag when you’re on your own network. I noticed a severe performance degradation copying media to my pogoplug device using pogoplugfs rather than through a standard means. So I learned that Pogoplug does appear to have a Busybox install and along with that SSH access. In order to enable SSH access, Cloud Engines have been gracious enough to allow this through your my.pogoplug.com portal. You simply go to Security options and enable SSH, and change the password. From there it’s just a simple,

ssh root@<pogoplugIpAddress>

The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any support for sftp and therefore I couldn’t use ssh in a file manager. Thankfully however ssh provides scp protocol and from there it was just as short script in order to zap files across over local lan without worrying about signing in.

When you attach an external harddrive to the Pogoplug, your files will be installed in a directory similar to ‘/tmp/.cemnt/mnt_sda2/’ where ‘mnt_sda2’ will be the mount point of your media device.

Be aware this script utilises “expect”, but you could use private keys instead.

ppsend.sh:
#!/bin/bash
#set -x
# Provide a list of media extensions to send to pogoplug
extensions=("mp4" "avi" "mkv" "jpg");
ppip="192.168.1.10" # The local ip address of your pogoplug
echo ""
echo "Sending video files to PogoPlug ($ppip) for the following extensions..."
for ext in "${extensions[@]}"; do
echo ${ext}
done
echo ""
for ext in "${extensions[@]}"; do
 expect -c "spawn bash -c \"scp -p *.$ext root@$ppip:/tmp/.cemnt/mnt_sda2/\"
 expect assword ; send \"mysshpassword\r\"; interact"
done

I think the next step for this is to translate it to another language and wrap it up in a GUI for easy access. So watch this space perhaps.

Live Backup of Minecraft

I use Minecraft on Linux, occasionally I find java crashes whilst I’m playing and I lose my world save. I think it has more to do with some buggy hardware currently than the OS after a discussion I had with someone in meatspace.

Anyway, yeah, no matter what’s at fault, losing a Minecraft world is no pleasant thing, so I created the following script to incrementally backup whilst I’m playing. I run it from my home directory:

#!/bin/bash

# Live backup of the game for java crashes
# Author: Wes Fitzpatrick

if ! [ -d .minecraft_live_backup ]; then
 cp -pr .minecraft .minecraft_live_backup
fi
if ! [ -d .minecraft_current_session ]; then
 cp -pr .minecraft .minecraft_current_session
fi
mv .minecraft_live_backup .mc_last_session`date | awk '{ print $1 $2 $3 $4 }'`
while true; do
 rm -fr .minecraft_current_session && cp -pr .minecraft .minecraft_current_session
 sleep 120
 rm -fr .minecraft_live_backup && mv .minecraft_current_session .minecraft_live_backup
done

What this does is first backups up your current .minecraft folder, so your last game is preserved, then creates two alternate backups. One is your current (minecraft_current_session) up to the last 2 minutes of play, the second is the previous current (minecraft_live_backup) in case the failure occurs during backup.

I’ve tested the backup copies and both work in event of a crash. This means rather than losing the entire castle, I’ve only lost the last few block placed.

The Patent Proof Tablet

A patent proof tablet design

I’ve uploaded an image to G+ here. I drew it on my EeePad Transformer and it pretty much sums up what I think to the whole “rounded corners” design patent crap that Apple is flogging

.