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.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to any faithful readers left.

Apologies for the long absence, if you’ve been following the tweet summaries you will see I’ve been doing a fair bit of travel for my job and haven’t really had time to focus on or update the blog – so much so that I forgot to renew the domain and for a few days the url pointed at some advertising page.

I’m back now, with some new toys recently so I’m hoping to do another homebaked tutorial for connecting PC to TV for media playback.

Also, Happy New Year!

Hacked Again…!

A short while ago this site was hacked in the backend by a script kiddie exploiting a vulnerability through swapping out the default theme. Harmless, but I spent a good while figuring out what they’d done and how, to be able to block it and prevent it happening again.

This time I’ve been hacked by some pro-Palestinian group or something – weird as I’m heading out to Saudi Arabia in a few days time and no-where does this blog mention anything about the Middle-East or politics. I didn’t spend half as much time fixing this one. In fact I must thank the previous hacker for enlightening me – and each subsequent hack makes me analyse my security more.

These cyber-jihadi’s were more capable, in that they had changed my password and default email. Thankfully I googled and quickly found a useful blogpost from Mahesh Kukreja for restoring my login. It seems that the hacker had exploited a known vulnerability in WordPress that had not been fixed in my implementation (despite being the latest version).

I’ve blocked the IP address, and the exploit (using security logs plugin), as well as employing the fix in my login php.

Once I was into my dashboard, I quickly checked nothing else had been touched, reset my password, updated the current theme which purged their changes and modified my security settings and htaccess file.

Since he had been kind enough to leave his email address I also pinged a quick email to inform him he was twat. Probably stepped over the line – I’ll learn one day.

Posting from Android

I’m posting this from my Android phone with the WordPress app. Neat huh?

Normal posting will resume as soon as I can find time to sit down and focus.

Geocaching Log Feed Added

Since I am limited to Blogger for publishing our “My Finds” PQ, I’ve used a WordPress widget to add a link to the latest posts here.

You can find them on the Geocaching page.

Blog Your Geocaching Found Logs with Blogger

You may or may not be aware that Google have recently released a command line tool called Google CL which allows limited updating of some of it’s primary services from the command line – including Blogger.

I have been working on a script and looking for a utility to parse the “My Finds” pocket query for uploading to a blog for a while now so on hearing this news I set to work to see if I could create an automated script. You can see the results on my old blogger account, which I have now renamed _TeamFitz_ and repurposed for publishing our Geocaching adventures.

It’s a little bit clunky and could be improved, but the script is now complete and ready for ‘beta’. I’m publishing it here and releasing it under GPL for others to download, copy and modify for their own Geocaching blogs.

A few snags:

  • It will only work with one “Find” per cache – if you found twice it may screw up the parser.
  • Google have an arbitrary limit of 30-40 auto-posts per day, which is entirely fair, it will then turn on word verification which will prevent CL updates. I have limited the script to parse only 30 posts at a time.

You will need to download and install Google CL, it goes without saying the script is Linux only but if someone wants to adapt it to Windows they are welcome.

I have commented out the “google” upload line for test runs, remove # to make it active.

Either cut n’ paste the code below, or download the script from YourFileLink. Please comment and post links to your own blogs if you use it, also let me know if there are any bugs I haven’t addressed.

#!/bin/bash
# Script to unzip, parse and publish
# Pocket Queries from Geocaching.com to Blogger
# Created by Wes Fitzpatrick (http://wafitz.net)
# 30-Nov-2009. Please distribute freely under GPL.
#
# Change History
# ==============
# 24-07/2010 - Added integration with Blogger CL
#
# Notes
# =====
# Setup variables before use.
# Blogger has a limit on posts per day, if it
# exceeds this limit then word verification
# will be turned on. This script has been limited
# to parse 30 logs.
# Blogger does not accept date args from Google CL,
# consequently posts will be dated as current time.
#
# Bugs
# ====
# * Will break if more than one found log
# * Will break on undeclared "found" types
#   e.g. "Attended"
# * If the script breaks then all temporary files
#   will need to be deleted before rerunning:
#	.out
#	.tmp
#	new
#	all files in /export/pub
#####     Use entirely at your own risk!      #####
##### Do not run more than twice in 24 hours! #####
set -e
clear
PQDIR="/YOUR/PQ/ZIP/DIR"
PUBLISH="$PQDIR/export/pub"
EXPORT="$PQDIR/export"
EXCLUDES="$EXPORT/excludes.log"
GCLIST="gccodes.tmp"
LOGLIST="logs.tmp"
PQZIP=$1
PQ=`echo $PQZIP | cut -f1 -d.`
PQGPX="$PQ.gpx"
BLOG="YOUR BLOG TITLE"
USER="YOUR USER ID"
TAGS="Geocaching, Pocket Query, Found Logs"
COUNTER=30
if [ ! $PQZIP ];then
echo ""
echo "Please supply a PQ zip file!"
echo ""
exit 0
fi
if [ ! -f "$EXCLUDES" ];then
touch "$EXCLUDES"
fi
# Unzip Pocket Query
echo "Unzipping PQ..."
unzip $PQZIP
# Delete header tag
echo "		...Deleting Header"
sed -i '/My Finds Pocket Query/d' $PQGPX
sed -i 's/'"$(printf '\015')"'$//g' $PQGPX
# Create list of GC Codes for removing duplicates
echo "		...Creating list of GC Codes"
grep "<name>GC.*</name>" $PQGPX | perl -ne 'm/>([^<>]+?)<\// && print$1."\n"' >  $GCLIST
# Make individual gpx files
echo ""
echo "Splitting gpx file..."
echo "	New GC Codes:"
cat  $GCLIST | while read GCCODE; do
#Test if the GC code has already been published
if [ ! `egrep "$GCCODE$" "$EXCLUDES"` ]; then
if [ ! "$COUNTER" = "0" ]; then
echo "      	$GCCODE"
TMPFILE="$EXPORT/$GCCODE.tmp"
GCFILE="$EXPORT/$GCCODE"
sed -n "/<name>${GCCODE}<\/name>/,/<\/wpt>/p" "$PQGPX" >> "$TMPFILE"
grep "<groundspeak:log id=" "$TMPFILE" | cut -f2 -d'"' | sort | uniq > "$LOGLIST"
cat $LOGLIST | while read LOGID; do
sed -n "/<groundspeak:log id=\"$LOGID\">/,/<\/groundspeak:log>/p" "$TMPFILE" >> "$LOGID.out"
done
FOUNDIT=`egrep -H "<groundspeak:type>(Attended|Found it|Webcam Photo Taken)" *.out | cut -f1 -d: | sort | uniq`
mv $FOUNDIT " $GCFILE"
rm -f *.out
URLNAME=`grep "<urlname>.*</urlname>" "$TMPFILE" | perl -ne 'm/>([^<>]+?)<\// && print$1."\n"'`
echo "      	$URLNAME"
# Replace some of the XML tags in the temporary split file
echo "      		...Converting XML labels"
sed -i '/<groundspeak:short_description/,/groundspeak:short_description>/d' "$TMPFILE"
sed -i '/<groundspeak:long_description/,/groundspeak:long_description>/d' "$TMPFILE"
sed -i '/<groundspeak:encoded_hints/,/groundspeak:encoded_hints>/d' "$TMPFILE"
sed -i 's/<url>/<a href="/g' "$TMPFILE"
sed -i "s/<\/url>/\">$GCCODE<\/a>/g" "$TMPFILE"
LINK=`grep "http://www.geocaching.com/seek/" "$TMPFILE"`
OWNER=`grep "groundspeak:placed_by" "$TMPFILE" | cut -f2 -d">" | cut -f1 -d"<"`
TYPE=`grep "groundspeak:type" "$TMPFILE" | cut -f2 -d">" | cut -f1 -d"<"`
SIZE=`grep "groundspeak:container" "$TMPFILE" | cut -f2 -d">" | cut -f1 -d"<"`
DIFF=`grep "groundspeak:difficulty" "$TMPFILE" | cut -f2 -d">" | cut -f1 -d"<"`
TERR=`grep "groundspeak:terrain" "$TMPFILE" | cut -f2 -d">" | cut -f1 -d"<"`
COUNTRY=`grep "groundspeak:country" "$TMPFILE" | cut -f2 -d">" | cut -f1 -d"<"`
STATE=`grep "<groundspeak:state>.*<\/groundspeak:state>" "$TMPFILE" | perl -ne 'm/>([^<>]+?)<\// && print$1."\n"'`
# Now remove XML from the GC file
DATE=`grep "groundspeak:date" " $GCFILE" | cut -f2 -d">" | cut -f1 -d"<" | cut -f1 -dT`
TIME=`grep "groundspeak:date" " $GCFILE" | cut -f2 -d">" | cut -f1 -d"<" | cut -f2 -dT | cut -f1 -dZ`
sed -i '/groundspeak:log/d' " $GCFILE"
sed -i '/groundspeak:date/d' " $GCFILE"
sed -i '/groundspeak:type/d' " $GCFILE"
sed -i '/groundspeak:finder/d' " $GCFILE"
sed -i 's/<groundspeak:text encoded="False">//g' " $GCFILE"
sed -i 's/<groundspeak:text encoded="True">//g' " $GCFILE"
sed -i 's/<\/groundspeak:text>//g' " $GCFILE"
# Insert variables into the new GC file
echo "      		...Converting File"
sed -i "1i\Listing Name: $URLNAME" " $GCFILE"
sed -i "2i\GCCODE: $GCCODE" " $GCFILE"
sed -i "3i\Found on $DATE at $TIME" " $GCFILE"
sed -i "4i\Placed by: $OWNER" " $GCFILE"
sed -i "5i\Size: $SIZE (Difficulty: $DIFF / Terrain: $TERR)" " $GCFILE"
sed -i "6i\Location: $STATE, $COUNTRY" " $GCFILE"
sed -i "7i\Geocaching.com:$LINK" " $GCFILE"
sed -i "8i\ " " $GCFILE"
mv " $GCFILE" "$PUBLISH"
touch new
COUNTER=$((COUNTER-1))
fi
fi
done
echo ""
echo "			Reached 30 post limit!"
echo ""
# Pubish the new GC logs to Blogger
if [ -f new ]; then
echo ""
echo -n "Do you want to publish to Blogger (y/n)? "
read ANSWER
if [ $ANSWER = "y" ]; then
echo ""
echo "	Publishing to Blogger..."
echo ""
egrep -H "Found on [12][0-9][0-9][0-9]-" "$PUBLISH"/* | sort -k 3 | cut -f1 -d: | while read CODE; do
CACHE=`grep "Listing Name: " "$CODE" | cut -f2 -d:`
GC=`grep "GCCODE: " "$CODE" | cut -f2 -d:`
sed -i '/Listing Name: /d' "$CODE"
sed -i '/GCCODE: /d' "$CODE"
#google blogger post --blog "$BLOG" --title "$GC: $CACHE" --user "$USER" --tags "$TAGS" "$CODE"
echo "blogger post --blog $BLOG --title $GC: $CACHE --user $USER --tags $TAGS $CODE"
mv "$CODE" "$EXPORT"
echo "		Published: $CODE"
echo "$GC" >> "$EXCLUDES"
done
echo ""
echo "                  New logs published!"
else
echo ""
echo "                  Not published!"
fi
echo ""
else
echo "			No new logs."
fi
echo ""
rm -f *.out
rm -f *.tmp
rm -f "$EXPORT"/*.tmp
rm -f new

Solve my Mystery Geocache

I’m headed to Cork, Ireland for a week and a half, so there’ll be little or no posts, check twitter @wafitz for updates.

Currently I’m sitting on a car ferry from Fishguard using wifi@sea – via satellite, pretty cool.

In the meantime, we just published a new mystery/puzzle geocache. To be solved at home then searched for at night following a trail of firetacks.

See if you can solve it here:
GC2A3MP">geocacing.com listing
Mystery journal