Blog

On my blog I used to write about all the interesting things I came across since I immigrated to Moscow in December 2009. And believe me, there were lots of them :)

In September 2012 we moved to Prague, which was nice :), but interesting, not so much. I therefore already then decided to refocus my blog on our many travels. Especially now that we've moved back to the Netherlands this will remain the main focus.

Enjoy reading!

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Explore vs. exploit

Added on Monday, 2017-08-14 22:52 CEST in category Programming
For my birthday I was gifted the book Algorithms To Live By, which talks about several computer algorithms and how they can be applied in real life. The topics included selling real estate, sorting the papers on your desk in least recently used order, and how to make auctions fairer. The algorithm that inspired this blog post deals with exploration vs. exploitation. Suppose you go out for ...

Salzburg

Added on Monday, 2017-07-24 16:12 CEST in category Traveling
As by tradition, every anniversary my wife and I visit a different country. This year, the honor went to Austria, or more specifically: Salzburg, where as it just so happened the Salzburg festival was being held. This was our first trip with our daughter, traveling with whom turned out to be quite OK. Of course we needed some more time for feeding, changing diapers, etc., but overall she ...

Samba and Bash on Ubuntu on Windows

Added on Saturday, 2017-06-17 20:14 CEST in category Programming
Besides being able to open remote Mutt attachments locally, it would be handy to be able to access all the files on my server locally. I could of course use FTPS/SFTP or smth. similar, but I would have to connect every time, and file timestamps may not be kept the same when copying files over. Instead I put some work into tunneling Samba over SSH, so that my server is accessible via a locally ...

Mutt and Bash on Ubuntu on Windows

Added on Wednesday, 2017-05-17 22:25 CEST in category Programming
For many, many years now I've been running my own email server, with Mutt as my email client, running in Screen on that same server. This setup gives me a lot of flexibility and programmability, but as efficient as it is, there had always been one big issue: attachments. Attachments, be they HTML, PDF, audio/video, etc., just don't work well in a text-based UI. You can imagine my reaction ...

Bash on Ubuntu on Windows

Added on Saturday, 2017-04-22 11:06 CEST in category Programming
With Windows 10's Creators Update came installed the Windows Subsystem for Linux, which allows Linux binaries to run natively on Windows 10. I'd been considering for a while to set up dual booting with Ubuntu, but since there I mainly use the console anyway, I figured I'd instead give Bash on Ubuntu on Windows a go. My goal was to make Bash on Windows run as much as possible like Bash on ...

Mauritius

Added on Saturday, 2017-03-04 16:51 CET in category Traveling
Over the years we've visited many of our friends abroad, but this time my wife and I felt like something completely new and unknown. She was set on a sun-sea-beach vacation, which around this time of year is hard to come by in Europe. Instead, we flew over to the southern hemisphere, to Mauritius! Mauritius, once first inhabited, but later abandoned by the Dutch, is a small island some 1000 ...

Singapore, Taipei & Kenting

Added on Thursday, 2016-11-10 08:52 CET in category Traveling
In 2014 my wife and I visited our good friends Jeremy & Rebecca in Taiwan. We'd seen each other a few short times in between, but we all thought it'd be a good idea to properly come visit again :) Moreover, a few months ago, Rebecca gave birth to their son Bram, so even the more reason to come visit! Meanwhile, our friends Liuba & Anton had moved to Singapore, whom we got to visit on our ...

How to save on your mortgage

Added on Friday, 2016-09-30 18:06 CEST in category Netherlands
My wife and I recently restructured our mortgage in the Netherlands, and had our apartment revalued to get to a lower risk class. This saves us hundreds of euros per month, and maybe so it can for you! ;) Getting a mortgage About three years ago my wife and I moved to the Netherlands, and shortly thereafter, in March 2014, bought our very own apartment. We took out a mortgage at ABN Amro ...

Minsk (7 year wedding anniversary)

Added on Wednesday, 2016-07-27 09:15 CEST in category Traveling
Backstory When my wife and I got married in 2009 we were still living in the Netherlands, hadn't moved to Moscow yet (this blog didn't exist), let alone to Prague and back to the Netherlands. But a year later, as we moved to Moscow and started traveling more, we celebrated our first wedding anniversary back in the Netherlands, which marked the start of our anniversary tradition: every year we ...

Ireland

Added on Thursday, 2016-05-12 23:02 CEST in category Traveling
I won't beat around the bush: our trip to Ireland didn't go very well for me: the weather was (mostly) nasty, I got food poisoning on the second day, which drained my energy for days, Ireland was a lot more expensive than I thought it'd be, the cities just weren't that interesting, and there were a plethora of other small annoyances :( Ireland's mercurial weather showed as soon as we landed ...

Istanbul

Added on Friday, 2016-03-25 20:42 CET in category Traveling
The birthdays of my wife and I aren't far apart, and this year we thought we'd give each other a (long-)weekend trip to some city. We've visited a lot of cities in Europe already, so that narrowed the choices down, but then we realized our friends Paul & Natasha had just moved to Istanbul. Neither of us had been there yet, and with all the good things we heard about Istanbul and visiting our ...

Hello plant, how are you?

Added on Sunday, 2016-02-28 22:00 CET in categories Netherlands, Programming
After last year's home improvement I felt it was time for something new. A good home is never done, after all, so after browsing amperka.ru (in Russian only) I stumbled upon their soil moisture sensor and instructions on how to automatically water plants (also in Russian only). Pretty neat :) I figured I could do something similar, but didn't feel like having a water tank and pump next to ...

Dubai

Added on Saturday, 2016-02-06 22:11 CET in category Traveling
Having friends abroad isn't always easy when you don't see each other very often, so we try to meet when we can: in Europe, Taiwan, Moscow or New Zealand. This time, we visited my wife's colleagues Irina & Fausto in Dubai. Neither my wife nor I had ever been to the Middle East, which made the trip pretty exciting. At the airport the first thing that stood out were the locals: pretty much ...

Google Maps shortcuts on iOS

Added on Sunday, 2016-01-03 22:55 CET in categories Programming, Traveling
Since I started driving to work, I found myself regularly inputting the same data into the Google Maps app, which became tedious. Instead of using Apple Maps through Siri, I decided to figure out how to launch routes in Google Maps more effectively. It's possible to launch native iOS applications using URL schemes, e.g. using Google's comgooglemaps://. I thought about creating a bookmark in ...

Through Europe with Lee

Added on Monday, 2015-11-02 20:49 CET in category Traveling
Last year when we were visiting New Zealand we met up with my friend Lee and his girlfriend for Christmas, but besides having a great time, we were wondering when we'd see each other again; after all, whereas we once both lived in Moscow, we now live on opposite parts of the planet. The answer came a few months later, when Lee told me he'd be visiting Europe in autumn. He had never been to ...

The Dutch islands: Terschelling

Added on Sunday, 2015-10-04 12:55 CEST in categories Netherlands, Traveling
Way up in the north of the Netherlands lie the Wadden Islands, enclosing the Wadden Sea. My mom regularly visits one of the islands, Terschelling, and this time invited us to come too. On the map the Netherlands look like quite a small country, but it still took us about 5 hours to get there: first by train, then by ferry. (It's faster to drive to Paris :P) We hired bikes and off we were: ...

Russian crisis, going part-time, and back to Paragin

Added on Monday, 2015-09-28 17:39 CEST in categories Netherlands, Programming
After the global financial crisis in 2008, Russia was hit by another financial crisis in 2014: international sanctions hit after Russia annexed Crimea and the oil price went down. Subsequently so did the Russian ruble, which lost about 50% of its value against major currencies. It also started to fluctuate wildly: from a high of almost 100, to a low of 53 ruble to the euro only three months ...

Mass exporting iTunes playlists

Added on Wednesday, 2015-08-26 23:00 CEST in category Programming
After finally getting iTunes to import my playlists a while back, I thought it'd be a good idea to tackle the problem of exporting them. It's possible to export them one by one, but with ~60 playlists this quickly gets tedious… I found a few solutions online, but they were either Mac only, or required Java or Adobe AIR. Instead of searching further, I thought I'd write something myself. ...

Europe: Germany, Italy, Spain, France & Monaco

Added on Saturday, 2015-07-04 01:19 CEST in category Traveling
For our vacation this year we decided to keep it a bit simpler than usual: simply get in the car, and go! I'd been craving a road trip for a while, and did we get one! We hadn't planned anything in advance, and only knew friends of ours would already be in northern Italy at the time, and other friends in Barcelona. This led us to visit southern Germany, northern Italy, northern Spain, southern ...

Hacking into my car radio

Added on Sunday, 2015-05-24 13:15 CEST in category Programming
When we bought our car a few years ago in Prague it came fitted with a standard BMW radio. Because of its age it didn't have an auxiliary in port, or a USB port, or support Bluetooth. It didn't really have anything, really, except for a cassette player, meaning the only way to hook up anything external was through a cassette adapter. Ours kinda worked, but the sound quality was bad, the ...

Home improvement

Added on Saturday, 2015-05-02 19:11 CEST in category Netherlands
Last year my wife and I bought a flat in Rotterdam. The flat was a model apartment, so we were lucky we didn't have to do any repairs whatsoever before we moved in. And although we enjoy our flat a lot, there's always room for improvement: home improvement! Bathroom: dimmer and socket When we had repairs in Prague, we decided to install dimmers everywhere: they're a great and easy way to ...

Milan

Added on Friday, 2015-04-10 00:34 CEST in category Traveling
My wife's mom still lives in Prague, so to keep seeing each other they regularly go somewhere together. This time we decided me and my mom would join for a long weekend in Milan :) The reason for Milan was simple: plane tickets were very cheap, none of us had been there yet, and Italian cuisine is amazing! Milan we were told is kind of the Rotterdam of Italy: its 2nd biggest city, greatly ...

Barcelona

Added on Thursday, 2015-02-12 10:32 CET in category Traveling
On our way back from New Zealand we visited Jeremy & Rebecca in Taipei, where Jeremy mentioned he had a business trip to Europe coming up in a few weeks, a.o. to Barcelona. We thought it'd be nice to join him for the weekend, and see beautiful Barcelona again :) The cheapest flight we could find was at 7:00 in the morning, so to make the maximum of our weekend we decided to fly in a day ...

New Zealand (part 4)

Added on Monday, 2015-02-09 22:18 CET in category Traveling
(This blog post is part 4 of a series. You can start with part 1.) Glaciers and helicopter flight After another long drive (go cruise control!) we had reached Fox Glacier, which we'd be visiting by helicopter! Unfortunately due to heavy clouds our trip was canceled :(, so we decided to walk up to it, as far as we could. As you can see from the meltwater the glacier is not particularly ...

New Zealand (part 3)

Added on Tuesday, 2015-02-03 19:44 CET in category Traveling
(This blog post is part 3 of a series. You can start with part 1.) South Island On New Year's day we took the ferry to Picton, from where we drove to Blenheim, in the Marlborough region, now famous for its wines. Now, indeed, because it has been so only for the last decades. Despite their young history, New Zealand wines are great! I'm not too avid a wine drinker, but my wife is becoming ...

New Zealand (part 2)

Added on Thursday, 2015-01-29 00:35 CET in category Traveling
(This blog post is part 2 of a series. You can start with part 1.) Christmas in New Zealand By the time evening fell we were making our way up north to Gisborne, where we would be spending Christmas with Lee and his family. Although New Zealand is not particularly large (similar to Italy or the United Kingdom), it is quite mountainous, and the roads are often anything but straight. This ...

New Zealand (part 1)

Added on Thursday, 2015-01-22 19:39 CET in category Traveling
Last year for New Year's I called my friend Lee, who used to live in Moscow, but is now back in his home country of New Zealand. Since New Zealand was then 9 hours ahead of Moscow he had already gotten up, and had greeted one of the first sunrises in the new year. We hadn't seen each other in person after he had left Moscow a year and a half before that, so we decided to meet up, in a year, ...

Switzerland

Added on Thursday, 2014-12-04 09:34 CET in category Traveling
A few weeks ago our good friend Jeremy (from Taiwan) got married to Rebecca. They planned their honeymoon to Switzerland and Greece, and invited us to join for a few days in Switzerland. Geneva We arrived a day early to Geneva, where we strolled around the city center and of course visited the Jet d'Eau, one of the highest fountains in the world, with water at the base coming out at 200 km ...

Back to the USSR

Added on Wednesday, 2014-08-27 22:25 CEST in category Moscow
As you've undoubtedly noticed (or where have you been hiding?), Russia and "the West" aren't on the best of terms right now. It's sanctions left, sanctions right, sanctions everywhere. The Russian food sanctions seem bizarre: a lot of produce was imported from Europe, and now it's simply not there anymore (well, almost). These aren't so much sanctions against the West (in Finland people are ...

ABC islands & Curaçaon wedding

Added on Sunday, 2014-08-10 15:30 CEST in category Traveling
A while back a friend of mine got engaged, after having been together pretty much for as long as I've known him, and we got invited to their wedding :) Hoorah! Hooray! Congratulations once more ;) Since his wife (by now ;) is originally from Curaçao, the wedding took place there, which for us was a good opportunity to visit the Dutch ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao). As they're part ...

Trips to Moscow

Added on Monday, 2014-07-14 23:09 CEST in categories Moscow, Traveling
A few years ago I started working at Yandex, when we still lived in Moscow. We then moved to Prague, but I was lucky enough to be able to keep my job and work from home. Some time later we moved to Rotterdam, and I got hired by the Dutch Yandex office. For those familiar with the Moscow office, the Dutch one is very similar, but much, much smaller. We do regularly see planes catch fire, ...

Skiing (2)

Added on Wednesday, 2014-03-05 22:51 CET in category Traveling
Another winter, another chance to ski! :) After our move to Rotterdam last autumn we still had a few loose ends to take care of: because of all the moving and traveling we could only take our cat with now, the car still had to be exported and we had to cancel our Czech health insurance. (Of course it's always nice to meet up with our friends in the Czech Republic as well :) Since we had to go ...

Taiwan

Added on Monday, 2014-02-17 09:37 CET in category Traveling
For years and years now my wife and I have had a good friend in Taiwan: Jeremy. Because he lives all the way in Taiwan (not quite the other side of the world, but still…) we had only visited him once, back in 2009. We were way overdue for another trip :) Republic Of China (ROC, Taiwan) But first, some history. What exactly is Taiwan? Most people think of it as a country, but most countries ...

Rescuing Ubuntu after upgrade 11.10 => 12.04 LTS (fixed boot, network, USB)

Added on Thursday, 2014-01-23 20:15 CET in category Programming
Prelude: XBMC and karaoke For a few years now I've been running XBMC on our HTPC, with great results: it supports pretty much all video formats, and it has handy plugins for YouTube, Dumpert and Transmission. For New Year's my wife requested I get karaoke running on it as well, the setup of which I had some problems with: XBMC sent its audio signals to our receiver over S/PDIF (i.e., ...

Reverse culture shock

Added on Tuesday, 2013-12-10 11:01 CET in category Netherlands
When moving abroad, especially far abroad, a culture shock is often unavoidable: I e.g. just couldn't get used to Muscovites' apathy, or to the Czech language (sorry :P). But now that, after having lived abroad for a while, we've moved back home, I'm starting to somewhat feel the effects of a reverse culture shock. The overall feeling I get now that we're living in the Netherlands again is ...

Rotterdam

Added on Tuesday, 2013-11-26 23:44 CET in category Netherlands
The adventure About four years ago the adventure started: my wife and I moved to Moscow. She's Russian, so for her it was simply moving back home. But for me Moscow had been, still was, and still is, a completely different world. I loved it, I hated it, I loved it some more, and even had my 5 minutes of fame. But then we wanted to leave, and we moved to Prague. Prague was nice (although ...

Reflecting on Prague

Added on Friday, 2013-10-11 17:25 CEST in category Prague
My wife and I have been living in Prague for about a year now, and although in general life here's nice, and sometimes even great, there's still a lot of "culture shock". Whereas with Moscow I simply vented my frustration, with Prague I'd like to draw a bit more balanced picture. The Good Life in Prague is pretty cheap :) Dinner for two at La Casa Argentina - € 20, trip by public transport ...

Accelerated FreeFall course (parachuting/skydiving)

Added on Sunday, 2013-09-29 20:12 CEST in category Prague
A few months ago we had our friend Darek over, and while talking about the interesting things in life we stumbled upon a long and latent wish of mine to go parachute jumping. As it so happened, Darek had found an Accelerated FreeFall (AFF) course here in Prague, which includes not only parachute jumping, but skydiving as well! He'd been looking for someone to join him for a while, so we agreed ...

Hungarian wedding & Lake Balaton

Added on Monday, 2013-09-09 19:55 CEST in category Traveling
The wedding Last weekend we had the honor of attending our friends' wedding in Szeged, Hungary. We both like Hungary quite a lot, so decided to make a mini vacation out of it :) We left Prague quite early, but had to drop off a bike we lent, pick up another guest from the airport, fill up on petrol, eat, etc., so that by the time we approached Szeged we were running late, and I wasn't even ...

U.S., East Coast

Added on Wednesday, 2013-08-28 23:50 CEST in category Traveling
For many years now my wife and I'd been wanting to go to the U.S., but didn't have the time or the money. So we saved and planned, then saved and planned some more, and finally, we were off! Getting there We flew Virgin, which was great, but by far the coolest was it getting lighter outside as we flew north west! :D U.S. border control was, as expected, quite inquisitive: where do you ...

My News

Added on Thursday, 2013-07-25 17:41 CEST in categories Moscow, Programming
When I started working at Yandex I become responsible for the development of a whole new project within Yandex.News, about which I couldn't tell too much. We developed, developed, developed some more, and yesterday launched My News! (Unfortunately it's only available in Russian and Turkish.) My News is Yandex' first step to personalization of Yandex.News: it shows you news from the news ...

Styria

Added on Wednesday, 2013-07-10 23:08 CEST in category Traveling
In June 2012, when we still lived in Moscow, my brother-in-law got married in Prague, so we took the opportunity to travel around a bit. We decided to go to Styria, in the south of Austria. When we were visiting, we found out it's possible to dive in the Grüner See, and to make use of the isolation tank in the Museum of Perception in Graz. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to either… A ...

Refocusing my blog

Added on Tuesday, 2013-07-09 23:50 CEST in category Traveling
End of 2009 we moved to Moscow, a city where I'd been many times before. But mainly when I really started living there did I notice more and more interesting situations (both good and bad), so I decided to start writing this blog. Moscow is an incredibly interesting city, so I had plenty to write about. But all things come to an end: in 2012 we moved to Prague. It's great to have a home ...

Harz (Germany)

Added on Monday, 2013-07-01 20:00 CEST in category Traveling
Every once in a while me and my friends from university go on a trip to somewhere. In 2009, when my wife and I got married, they all came along to Moscow: Two years later they went on a mountain biking trip to West Germany, which I unfortunately couldn't make it to… This year, though, I could :) We chose a spot right in between the Netherlands and Prague, namely the Harz, ...

Slovenia & Croatia

Added on Monday, 2013-05-20 20:00 CEST in category Traveling
For our May vacations, we decided to go down south: Slovenia and Croatia. Our own car But first, our new car! :) We'd been to Budapest in a '99 Alfa Romeo 156, which was awful... The driver's door wouldn't close by itself, it leaked steering fluid, devoured petrol like there was no tomorrow, revved by itself, had a faulty clutch, and that's just the start of it. Making it there and back ...

The ride home

Added on Saturday, 2013-04-27 05:34 CEST in categories Moscow, Prague
After a long road of bureaucracy in Moscow, it was finally time to go home, to Prague. When a few years ago we moved to Moscow, we did so by car, which we had fully loaded up. Over the years we amassed more and more stuff, and we sold our car, so that by the time we moved to Prague in September, we couldn't possibly take with all our belongings in one go. Thus, whenever we'd visit Moscow ...

International passport

Added on Thursday, 2013-04-25 09:30 CEST in category Moscow
Internal passport I've had my Russian passport for about a month now, but like I wrote there, this wouldn't be Russia if that was that. Unlike most passports, my Russian passport is not a valid travel document (well, mostly anyway), but merely my primary identity document. Besides my name, date of birth etc., it also mentions my place of registration, my marital status, my military status, ...

Military ticket

Added on Monday, 2013-04-15 19:14 CEST in category Moscow
Military service Every Russian male age 18-27 is in principle obliged to serve a 12 month draft in the army. There are some much sought-after ways around it, the army is not a popular place, but that can be quite a hassle, up to the point of hiding from the authorities and not being able to leave the country. Lucky for me, around the time when I was granted Russian citizenship, I turned 29 ...

Registration

Added on Thursday, 2013-03-28 20:59 CET in category Moscow
Place of registration and place of actual residence Like in most countries, government services are offered by place of registration. I live in Moscow, so I get my passport in Moscow, not in, say, Novosibirsk. Although…, in Russia the system is just a little bit different :) Place of registration and place of actual residence can, and quite often do, differ. This is seen as completely ...

Citizenship (3)

Added on Thursday, 2013-03-14 15:16 CET in category Moscow
Nope, not just yet… When I managed to apply for citizenship last August, I did so at "big UFMS" - the migration services office for my administrative division of over 1.7 million people. Every foreigner there who wants to apply for a residence permit or for citizenship, has to go to this one small office. That does explain the lines, doesn't it? They told me that under the short track the ...

Skiing

Added on Monday, 2013-01-28 22:11 CET in category Traveling
Living in the very center of Europe has its perks: a lot of interesting destinations are pretty close by, so we travel a lot. Since that post a month ago, we've been to Budapest twice (thermal baths in winter are awesome!), and almost made it to Austria. Almost, indeed, which brings me to the topic of this blog post, skiing :) In the very south of the Czech Republic we find the town of ...

Budapest

Added on Friday, 2013-01-11 20:00 CET in category Traveling
My wife works for Unilever, where she's responsible for the marketing and development of Axe in Central and Eastern Europe. She has to regularly supervise the creation of new promotional material, check how the brand is doing in the stores, and occasionally supervise a photo shoot :) Last week was such a photo shoot, for Axe's latest campaign Axe Apollo Space Academy, in Budapest :) ...

The holidays

Added on Monday, 2013-01-07 00:00 CET in categories Moscow, Netherlands, Prague
I already wrote about Russian New Year's last year, but thought it'd be nice to give a bit more perspective. We recently moved to Prague, and this year celebrated the holidays in Moscow, Prague and the Netherlands. Moscow First off, Moscow. Besides the New Year's celebration itself, most companies throw a New Year's party somewhere end of December. They may book an entire nightclub, or, like ...

Moscow winter

Added on Saturday, 2012-12-22 15:38 CET in category Moscow
How come I never wrote about Moscow winter before, I don't know. If there's one season people talk (but mainly complain) about the most, it must be winter, during which it gets cold. Very cold. And with that cold come a lot of "interesting side effects". Moscow winter lasts quite long, from October through April more or less. Temperatures vary, but it pretty much freezes the entire time, ...

Traveling

Added on Wednesday, 2012-12-19 19:42 CET in category Traveling
It's great having a home again, and we love living in Prague, but our home town it is not. We don't speak the language, and have little affinity to it as such. Fortunately, because I work remotely, I can work from wherever I want. (And so can my wife, to a certain extent.) These last four months since we moved I'll have been in the Netherlands twice, and in Moscow twice. The Netherlands, ...

Home!

Added on Monday, 2012-11-12 09:08 CET in category Prague
The Netherlands When my wife and I first met, I lived in the Netherlands, and she lived in Moscow. We saw each other a few times a year, with intervals of up to 3-4 months. It was hard… Imagine our happiness when summer 2008 she moved to the Netherlands as an exchange student :) We rented a nice, spacious flat, I had a job, she studied, … and we were always short on money :P But at least we ...

Public transport

Added on Thursday, 2012-09-27 20:03 CEST in category Prague
Being used to Russian petrol prices (about € 0.65/liter) and suddenly having to fork over more than double that in Prague, we thought it'd be better to make use of public transport as much as we can. And does public transport work well here! Buses, trams and subway trains work like clockwork. If the schedule says 17:21, it's gonna be 17:21, not seldomly to the second. And although public ...

London

Added on Monday, 2012-09-24 20:00 CEST in category Traveling
Because of her work at Unilever, my wife regularly has to go to London. I had only been there once, well over 10 years ago, so I grabbed the opportunity to tag along :) We of course visited some of the famous landmarks like the Tower of Londen, Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square, but also Borough market (goat cheese ice cream and licorice!) and of course the world's largest candy ...

Prague

Added on Thursday, 2012-09-06 14:06 CEST in category Prague
A few months ago my wife, who had been working on Axe at Unilever for Central and Eastern Europe, was offered the possibility to relocate to Prague. She had already lived there earlier in her life, and the last few years we both have been there quite regularly. Although I like my life in Moscow, we decided that moving back to Europe would be better for us. Prague is of course a lot closer ...

Citizenship (2)

Added on Saturday, 2012-08-11 11:43 CEST in category Moscow
For a while now I've been preparing the documents for my naturalization application. One of the requirements is having been married to a Russian citizen for over three years. It was only two weeks ago that we celebrated our three year anniversary at a lovely hotel/castle in Germany (go us! :), and when we came back I once again went to immigration services to try and apply. Try, indeed. ...

English practice in Moscow

Added on Tuesday, 2012-06-26 20:55 CEST in category Moscow
As in most countries, students in Russia learn English in school. But with exposure being minimal, and teachers' English often being shabby as well because of that, students' already-not-so-great English often deteriorates quickly over time. Most people seem to be perfectly fine with that, since only about 5% of the population indicates they can speak English. But a small group is not, and ...

Citizenship

Added on Sunday, 2012-05-20 22:19 CEST in category Moscow
Currently I live in Moscow with a permanent residence permit (PRP). Although it's a great improvement over the temporary residence permit (TRP) I had before (no more exit visa or work permit needed), there are still a few drawbacks compared to citizenship: I'm not allowed to vote; It's still quite hard to get a mortgage or loan; I have to check in every year and "re-register" ...

Spring

Added on Sunday, 2012-04-22 17:55 CEST in category Moscow
I'm one of the very few people in Moscow who enjoy winter. I like the snow, the ice, the cold. I even cycle in winter. (Most Russians at first don't even believe me when I tell them that.) But after about four months of snow, even I've sort of had it with it. It's interesting to see how Russians really long for spring to finally come, making it the most looked forward to season of the year. ...

Apathy

Added on Sunday, 2012-04-08 21:37 CEST in category Moscow
In general, I like my life here in Moscow. But as any place, Moscow has its share of problems, with which I also have to deal. I don't want to talk about corruption, poverty or human rights, which to be honest don't touch me all that much, but instead I want to talk about apathy. To put it bluntly, I have never seen a population more apathetic than the Muscovites. Have I got your attention? ...

Random oddness and coolness (2)

Added on Tuesday, 2012-03-20 17:13 CET in category Moscow
Continuing my post on random oddness and coolness: Transport Moscow has one of the best and beautiful subways in the world, but especially during rush hour the commuters, packed like sardines in a can, don't really care much about that. This is one of the reasons most people who can afford a car, go by car instead. And thus get stuck in traffic jams. It's not uncommon for those living in the ...

Russian driver's license

Added on Wednesday, 2012-02-29 20:47 CET in category Moscow
Just after I recently acquired my permanent residence permit, I found out my Dutch driver's license would lose its validity in Russia 60 days after, and that I would be needing to get a Russian one instead. Now I'd of course heard plenty of horror stories about passing the driver's exam in Russia, which without bribing is pretty much impossible, or so I'm told. It's also no secret a lot of ...

Defender of the Motherland Day

Added on Saturday, 2012-02-25 11:16 CET in category Moscow
One of Russia's public holidays is Defender of the Motherland Day. Although the idea is to honor those (that were) in the Russian Armed Forces, in practice it's celebrated as Men's Day, the counterpart to International Women's Day. The idea to me feels somewhat like a unidirectional Valentine's Day, with the exception that it's also celebrated at work. At Yandex e.g., the women got us tasty ...

On TV with my bike!

Added on Saturday, 2012-02-25 10:28 CET in category Moscow
Back in October I was contacted by TV channel Russia 2, who were making an item about people who commute using alternative means of transport, i.e. not by subway or by car. They found me via Yandex, to where I commute by bike :) First there was a small interview, a la: How are you liking Moscow? So why exactly do you cycle? Wow, you cycle in winter too?! And so on. For ...

World Allround Speed Skating Championships

Added on Monday, 2012-02-20 21:12 CET in category Moscow
Last weekend the World Allround Speed Skating Championships were being held right here in Moscow, at Krylatskoye ice palace: The Dutch Club in Moscow managed to get free tickets, which, with speed skating being immensely popular in the Netherlands, made for a nice turnout among the Dutch Muscovites: (Despite all the orange, I managed to get spotted on TV in the ...

Permanent residence permit! (3)

Added on Monday, 2012-01-16 19:31 CET in category Moscow
Half an hour it took me. Just half an hour. I'm spotting a trend here :) This morning I went to pick up my long-awaited permanent residence permit (PRP). I'd been there in December, about 5 months after having handed in the application, and was told it wouldn't be done any sooner than 6 months after I had handed in the application. By law it's not supposed to take any longer than that ...

Darn you, total absence of cycling culture!

Added on Thursday, 2012-01-12 19:44 CET in category Moscow
So there I was, cycling in Moscow, minding my own business, when a group of pedestrians was blocking my way, as usual. So I ring my bell and ask "May I?" "No, you may not, sidewalks are for pedestrians, go on the main road." "Seriously? I'd rather not die…"(I'm referring here to the fact that people in Moscow drive like maniacs, and everybody knows it. Not that anyone cares, ...

New Year's

Added on Saturday, 2011-12-31 21:00 CET in category Moscow
For lack of Sinterklaas and a proper commercial/family oriented, Coca-Cola-backed Christmas (it's mainly a religious event), New Year's is Russia's main, going-all-out holiday of the year. (Btw., Christmas takes place January 7th, because for some reason the church still uses the Julian calendar.) It is widely and intensely celebrated, leading till up to 10 days off in January, giving ...

Sinterklaas (2)

Added on Sunday, 2011-12-04 14:22 CET in category Moscow
Before our annual Sinterklaas celebration at home, this year I was asked to help out with the Sinterklaas celebration of the Dutch Club in Moscow by playing the role of Zwarte Piet. I'd never done so before, but thought it might prove interesting for once :) The preparation consisted of me putting on an apparently Moorish costume and a wig, and having any bare skin painted dark brown ...

Web toolkit

Added on Sunday, 2011-11-13 19:46 CET in category Programming
Lately I noticed how I was often using snippets like: <?php print urlencode('https://nieko.net/blog/'); ?> In order to make all that a bit faster, I set up my own small little toolkit. It's mainly for my own personal use, but if you find it handy, then do feel free to use it. Update 2011-11-14: I forgot to make it publicly available, oops :P

Russian language

Added on Sunday, 2011-11-06 11:38 CET in category Moscow
In Russia, people speak Russian. No big surprise there :) But learning and eventually actively partaking in society speaking Russian yourself is quite a long and interesting endeavor. Speaking Russian In order to properly function in Russia, it's really important to be able to speak Russian. Whereas I try to get by with English whenever I feel I can, with only 5% of the population indicating ...

Random oddness and coolness

Added on Monday, 2011-10-03 18:04 CEST in category Moscow
Ever since I moved to Russia over a year and a half ago, I've come across countless little oddities (some of them pretty cool, others not so much), which weren't noteworthy enough for an entire blog post, but were still a shame to ignore. In this blog post I'll talk about a few. Money The Russian currency is the Russian ruble. Since I've lived here, you get about 40 rubles for a euro and ...

Vacation in Crimea

Added on Sunday, 2011-09-18 14:35 CEST in category Moscow
Already in Soviet times, and probably before that, the peninsula of Crimea, in the very south of Ukraine, has been a very popular vacation destination. Crimea lies next to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and has a climate comparable to the French Riviera, making for a perfect sun-sea-beach-vacation: Now we're especially in luck, as my parents-in-law actually run a hotel in ...

A weekend out in Moscow

Added on Monday, 2011-09-05 22:04 CEST in category Moscow
Moscow, never being boring, offers plenty of opportunity to keep yourself busy the entire weekend through. Last weekend was such a weekend, involving a football match in a Dutch pub, going to a dacha and "enjoying" the Alfabank 4D show. On Friday evening, the Dutch national football team played a match against San Marino. OK, perhaps "played" is not the best description. They pretty much ...

Work permit! (2)

Added on Monday, 2011-08-22 17:36 CEST in category Moscow
I got my new work permit! :) For some silly reason, while a temporary residence permit is issued for three years, work permits are still issued for one year only. After remembering the horrible lines when getting it the first time last year (standing in line at 5:00 in the morning, a cramped office with too many people pushing, unhelpful staff, the usual), I dreaded having to go prolong it ...

Hospitalization

Added on Sunday, 2011-07-31 10:05 CEST in category Moscow
A few weeks ago I started having an unexplicable lasting slight fever, so in order to get diagnosed properly, I was hospitalized. I was brought to the hospital by ambulance, with sirens and this typical Russian governmental car horn that means as much as "you'd better get out of the way". (No wonder people don't let ambulances go, if they in turn turn their sirens on, just to not to have to ...

Importing M3U playlists in iTunes :'(

Added on Sunday, 2011-07-31 09:46 CEST in category Programming
A few days ago, after a laptop format, I had the pleasure of reinstalling iTunes (version 10.4.0.80). It had somehow remembered my apps, podcasts and playlists, except the playlists were all empty… I fortunately had a backup, but for one reason or another, iTunes decided upon importing the playlists (standard .m3u format), that they were in fact all empty. Now this seems to be a common, ...

Permanent residence permit (2)

Added on Thursday, 2011-07-21 15:55 CEST in category Moscow
One day it took me. Just one day. My mom-in-law "reserved" a spot in the line for me in the very early morning, and a few hours later I actually managed to hand in all the documents for my application for my permanent residence permit! (This may be more surprising if you've read my previous posts on residence permits.) Thanks to a thorough preparation I had all the documents I needed, and I ...

Traffic accident (2)

Added on Sunday, 2011-07-17 22:36 CEST in category Moscow
It's been well over a year, but of course it had to happen again: today we had another traffic accident… As is common in Russia, if a lane is a bit wide, or has an emergency lane next to it, then that extra space is pretty much always used, especially when traffic is a bit denser. It is also often used by people who don't want to wait for everyone else and who cut off whomever they can. ...

New bike

Added on Thursday, 2011-07-07 21:28 CEST in category Moscow
So my bike got stolen… I used to park it in the hallway, to which only our neighbors and their guests have access; one of them then cut the cable and took off… Since I use my bike to get to work I needed a replacement, and a proper one at that. I've always found derailleur gears clumsy and uncomfortable, so I insisted on getting a bike with a hub gear. This proved to be quite the adventure, ...

Yearly re-registration

Added on Thursday, 2011-06-16 18:50 CEST in category Moscow
It must be said, I do get pleasantly surprised every once in a while here in Moscow. Today I went to the immigration services for my yearly re-registration. There was no line, the lady helping me out was friendly, I had all the required documents, didn't need the entire list of documents I decided to prepare "just in case", actually got back all the original documents and was done in just half ...

No hot water

Added on Friday, 2011-05-20 21:16 CEST in category Moscow
Unlike in most western countries, most buildings in Moscow receive hot water from outside from a series of plants. This is a relic of the Soviet times, which also means regular maintenance on the pipes. Now in order to do this, the hot water needs be switched off, meaning area by area in Moscow will see no hot water for about three weeks somewhere in summer. We've just had these three weeks ...

Permanent residence permit

Added on Thursday, 2011-05-19 18:35 CEST in category Moscow
First off, I know this is a long post. But I'm the one actually doing all this, so bear with me ;) Almost a year ago I received my temporary residence permit. A year after that you can apply for a permanent residence permit, the process of attaining of which I've just started. Now, a temporary residence permit is valid for three years, so there's no direct need, but a permanent one has a ...

PSP Tone Generator v0.3

Added on Sunday, 2011-03-27 14:43 CEST in category Programming
A few weeks ago I was suggested a few improvements to v0.2 of the PSP Tone Generator: Assign a button to slow down the changing of the frequency, for more fine-grained control; Assign different frequencies for the left and right output channel, making possible binaural beats. Both these options are available in version 0.3 of the PSP Tone Generator. Thanks to Rin Ishak for ...

An evening out in Moscow

Added on Sunday, 2011-02-27 22:19 CET in category Moscow
Moscow may be a lot, but if anything, it's never boring. There's always something going on, like during our evening out tonight. We first went to a small underground art club, where the story of The Little Prince was not only told, but also shown by drawing images in sand. (The sand box was filmed and projected onto the wall, so that's what you see on the pictures.) A few examples: ...

Unox Nieuwjaarsduik (winter swimming)

Added on Saturday, 2011-01-22 21:37 CET in category Moscow
Every year on January 1st, thousands and thousands of Dutchmen take a dive into the North Sea. This year, the event was held in Moscow as well, and as in the Netherlands, was sponsored by Unox, who supplied the infamous orange hats as well as smoked sausage and pea soup. Below are some pictures of the event.   Your browser does not support the video tag.

First impressions at Yandex

Added on Wednesday, 2011-01-12 17:15 CET in categories Moscow, Programming
Yesterday was my first day at Yandex, where I will be working on Yandex News. My first impressions are very positive, I'm part of a very nice team, with lots of Vim users ;) The office is very reminiscent of all those Google offices you see articles about, with hammocks, a massage room, bean bags, sporting room, high-up balconies with a view over Moscow, etc. See also pictures of the office ...

Oh my goodness no, snow (and ice)!

Added on Friday, 2010-12-31 15:47 CET in category Moscow
Last week on my flight from Moscow to Germany, Lufthansa managed to lose the luggage of everybody on board. The apparent cause was "snow". Looking around at the airport seeing the hundreds of suitcases, it is really quite amazing how such a relatively small amount of precipitation (there was 15 cm of snow on average) can cause such chaos. But things got worse than just a lost suitcase. ...

Exit Parallels, enter Yandex

Added on Thursday, 2010-12-23 10:42 CET in categories Moscow, Programming
Yesterday was my last working day at Parallels. Even though I like the people there and all the extras, the very work itself was unfortunately not what I had been looking for. I'd hereby like to thank my former colleagues for the good time I've had, and I appreciate both your patience with my sometimes somewhat lacking Russian, and your efforts in talking English :) While I was looking ...

MooTabs 1.3

Added on Tuesday, 2010-12-07 21:50 CET in category Programming
For a project I'm working on I wanted to use tabs in the browser. The pure CSS option has nowhere near enough browser support, so I looked around and found MooTabs. Because MooTabs 1.2 (the latest version) requires the somewhat dated MooTools 1.1, I upgraded it to reflect the rather drastic changes from MooTools 1.1 to MooTools 1.3. You can find MooTabs 1.3 in the downloads section. (I ...

Sinterklaas

Added on Monday, 2010-12-06 19:19 CET in category Moscow
Usually it's me adapting to all the strange and peculiar things in Moscow, but for once I thought it'd be nice to have it the other way around, by bringing a Dutch tradition/holiday to Moscow: Sinterklaas! For those not in the know, Sinterklaas is the both the name of the person and the most popular Dutch holiday, celebrated on the evening of December 5th. "Legend has it" that Sinterklaas ...

Vacation and holidays

Added on Sunday, 2010-11-14 09:18 CET in category Moscow
Russia has an at first sight somewhat peculiar, but at second sight rather nice system of holidays and vacations. Like any country it has its share of public holidays, with particularly New Year's standing out. January 1st through 10th a lot of people drink till they drop, and a lot of stores are simply closed. Whenever a public holiday falls in the weekend, it is moved to the next ...

Medical insurance

Added on Wednesday, 2010-10-06 21:13 CEST in category Moscow
When I got hired by the Moscow office of Parallels, one of the perks was the so-called Доброволбное Медицинское Страхование ("DMS", or "voluntary medical insurance"). Everyone registered in Russia, even if only temporarily on a visa, has the right for free healthcare, called Обязательное Медицинское Страхование ("OMS", or "obligatory medical insurance"), but usually the lines are long and ...

Russian milk

Added on Saturday, 2010-09-11 22:59 CEST in category Moscow
Ever since I got to Moscow I've been on a quest to find decent milk, because that just happens to be what the Dutch drink a lot. I must've tried 20 different brands, if not more, and all of them have this typical aftertaste from ultra heat treatment (UHT)… Dutch milk on the other hand is usually processed using flash pasteurization (HTST), which maintains flavor a lot better. (Like my cousin ...

Work permit!

Added on Tuesday, 2010-08-31 19:40 CEST in category Moscow
I got my work permit! It's finally over! :) I'm finished with all this bureaucratic mess and long lines till next summer :D (That's when I'll go take care of my permanent residence permit.) Also, tomorrow I'll be signing my contract with Parallels at their Moscow office :) Things are looking bright :)

Russian culinary habits

Added on Thursday, 2010-08-19 18:12 CEST in category Moscow
Vodka and caviar, those are probably the most well-known Russian drink and food. But there are so many more, both originally from CIS or purely Russian, but in any case practically unknown in the West. Drinks Contrary to popular belief, not all Russians drink vodka, far from that. Vodka is mainly used for cocktails, and you'd want to stay away from those who only drink it pure. More ...

Oh this terrible heat…

Added on Wednesday, 2010-08-04 18:22 CEST in category Moscow
Here in Moscow it's been over 30°C for about a month now, and lately temperatures have climbed to about 40°C… Although there is some thunder every once in a while, there's hardly any rain. There is one thing in abundance though: smog. There are a lot of people going to the forest for the weekend to prepare "shashlyk" (meat on a skewer), on an open fire of course. And sometimes that goes ...

Got a job!

Added on Wednesday, 2010-07-14 19:21 CEST in categories Moscow, Programming
The interview I had at Parallels went well enough for them to offer me a job :) I'll be working on Parallels Business Automation - Standard (PBA-S), a billing and hosting automation solution for hosting providers. Very enterprisy :) But while I received my residence permit, I now also need to take care of my work permit… So I'll have to wait a bit to get hired by the Moscow office.

Phrases about Russia

Added on Wednesday, 2010-07-14 19:18 CEST in category Moscow
Following up on my previous posts about the bureaucratic mess in Russia, I thought it'd be interesting to share two phrases about Russia, which everyone here knows: Надо благодарно принимать (you need to gratefully accept it); Умом Россию не понять (you can't understand Russia with your mind). The first one originally comes from a song titled "Nature does not know bad weather", but ...

Residence permit (3)!

Added on Wednesday, 2010-07-07 20:09 CEST in category Moscow
Yesterday I received my temporary residence permit! You might think picking up a residence permit is as easy as going by, picking it up, saying "thanks!" and going home. Not in Russia of course… First time I came around to pick it up I was told they don't hand out residence permits on Fridays. Second time turned out I showed up "late", because while the entire building closes at 20:00 ...

PSPlanets

Added on Monday, 2010-06-21 20:00 CEST in category Programming
PSPlanets is a crude simulator of Newtonian gravity. You can add planets and give them a mass, a position and a speed. And then gravity takes over :) You can add a planet by pressing X. The analog stick moves the planet around, and the L/R triggers change its mass. The lighter an object, the redder it becomes, the heavier, the bluer. Of course, heavier planets have more ...

Higher Order Perl - recursion vs. iterators

Added on Tuesday, 2010-06-15 13:48 CEST in category Programming
Lately I've been reading a lot of Higher Order Perl, which introduces a lot of really nice Perl programming techniques. So far my favorite technique is the use of iterators instead of recursion. A program that may possibly recurse a lot, e.g. if calculating permutations, may well run out of memory before it's done calculating everything. It may also take a lot of time to recurse through the ...

PSP Tone Generator v0.2

Added on Wednesday, 2010-06-09 20:42 CEST in category Programming
For frequencies above about 2.5kHz, version 0.1 of the PSP Tone Generator experienced a rapid tick, caused by timing issues when filling the sound buffer. Seems that, although the mutex works better than the PSP's semaphores, it still wasn't quite enough. Although technically this mutual exclusion between writing to the buffer and reading from it is a good idea, in practice it works well ...

PSP Guitar

Added on Tuesday, 2010-06-08 11:52 CEST in category Programming
Besides the PSP Tone Generator, you can now also find PSP Guitar in the downloads section. PSP Guitar is a guitar synthesizer that supports notes from octave 2 till 6 (inclusive), with support for flat (♭) and sharp (♯) notes. See the projects page for key bindings. If you don't have a PSP, you can also check out a short sample. PSP Guitar uses the Karplus-Strong algorithm for emulating ...

Parallels interview

Added on Monday, 2010-06-07 17:35 CEST in categories Moscow, Programming
Last Friday I got an email from Parallels (known from a.o. Plesk), asking if I was interested in their Perl programmer vacancy, and if so, if I would complete a small test to see if I'm suitable. I've been looking for such a job for a while, so I completed the test, got a response within a few hours, and was invited to an interview today! I had interviews with three people. The first person ...

Summer snow

Added on Wednesday, 2010-06-02 16:46 CEST in category Moscow
Every year around end of May/early June Moscow experiences "summer snow": the pollen of thousands and thousands of poplar trees floating around in the air. Quite a beautiful sight: Your browser does not support the video tag.

Google aftermath

Added on Wednesday, 2010-05-26 15:47 CEST in categories Moscow, Programming
The promised additional feedback from Google was: "You don't know Java and C++. Technically, you're on the right level, but we need someone with more experience in those languages. When you do, we'd be happy to interview you again." Good to hear that it's just knowledge and experience that's missing, that I can work on. There's a C++ compiler for the PSP e.g., so C++ is covered. Now what to ...

PSP Tone Generator

Added on Tuesday, 2010-05-25 13:49 CEST in category Programming
I've just released the first version of my PSP Tone Generator (source included). It can create up till five simultaneous tones ranging from 20Hz to 10kHz. It also shows a visualization of the sound waves: Technically the most interesting part was the mutual exclusion between writing to the sound buffer and reading from it. 43 times per second, the sound buffer has to be copied to ...

Traffic impressions

Added on Sunday, 2010-05-16 20:00 CEST in category Moscow
After five months of driving in Moscow I thought I'd share some more insight into Moscow traffic. First off, the "me first!" attitude still holds, meaning crosswalks are mainly there for decoration, ambulances are not let past and speed limits can easily be stretched by about 40%. And that's the situation created by the average driver. There're also Jeeps and the like, with the obligatory ...

Writing HTML and CSS faster with SparkUp and Sass

Added on Friday, 2010-05-14 20:00 CEST in category Programming
While working on my new website I came across two nifty tools for web development: SparkUp and Sass. SparkUp lets you write something like html > head > title{My title} + link[href=style.css] < body > div#container > div#menu > a.item$[href=/page$]*5 < + div#main and with a single press of the button you get <html>     <head>         <title>My title</title>         <link href= ...

Victory parade

Added on Thursday, 2010-05-06 20:00 CEST in category Moscow
May 9th in Russia is victory day over Nazi Germany. For this year, 65 years after 1945, Russia decided to once again make a grande parade to show the world it should still be considered a world power. And I had the privilege to attend the final rehearsal! Below you can find a few pictures of the parade.

Thank you from Google…

Added on Tuesday, 2010-04-27 20:00 CEST in categories Moscow, Programming
Today I got an email from my recruiter at Google that I would not be hired :( Even though "the interview team was impressed with your background and accomplishments", "we do not have a position that is a strong match with your qualifications at this time". I will still be receiving a call with addditional feedback, but for now it looks like I'll have to go find something else.

I got a bike!

Added on Friday, 2010-04-02 20:00 CEST in category Moscow
One of the very typical Dutch things I've been missing in Moscow is cycling. Russia just isn't a cycling country. Cyclists are seen as idiots with a deathwish when they go on the streets (it's not uncommon to drive 70-80km/h within city limits), and as scary horrors when they go on the sidewalks. Bicycle lanes don't exist, of course. But I don't let any of that scare me :) Today I drove to ...

Bloom filters

Added on Tuesday, 2010-03-30 20:00 CEST in category Programming
Lately I've been learning C and decided it'd be a good idea to combine this with some programming exercises, like on CodeKata. One of the exercises was about Bloom filters. A Bloom filter is a probabilistic data structure. Say what? Wikipedia explains it best of course, but it comes down to this: testing if an item exists in a Bloom filter may give a false positive. (False negatives ...

Google interview, on-site

Added on Monday, 2010-03-29 20:00 CEST in categories Moscow, Programming
Apparently my first interview went well, because today I had my on-site interviews at Google Moscow! I was interviewed by five different employees, including one from Zürich. Their video conferencing setup is quite nice :) The office is as you would expect, with the obligatory Wii, Google pillows, gadgets everywhere and free food and drinks. They don't have their own restaurant though. ...

Residence permit (2)

Added on Tuesday, 2010-03-23 20:00 CET in category Moscow
Today I handed in the documents for my temporary residence permit! After we started this entire process, we found out it wasn't quite as doable as we thought… Since I have an EU passport, my passport contains text in 22 languages ("European Union", "Kingdom of the Netherlands" and "Passport"). The woman at the Federal Migration Service (FMS) dryly told us that that page would then have ...

Swimming

Added on Sunday, 2010-03-21 20:00 CET in category Moscow
During my full health check, doctors found out my knees are worse off than I thought they were, and they recommended I started swimming. Now I don't like swimming much, cause it's slow. And I don't like slow. I can outwalk the fastest swimmer ever. So that was pretty much my attitude, till I found out they got flippers at the swimming pool next door :) And flippers make you fast :) Also, I ...

Google interview

Added on Tuesday, 2010-03-16 20:00 CET in categories Moscow, Programming
Today I had my first Google interview! (Thanks to Wilmer, who made the process go a bit faster.) This morning I got a call from Google Zürich, and got pretty much what I expected. There were some questions about complexity, algorithms, tree structures (red black trees e.g.), and I got to write some code. For that we used Google Docs, so with a delay of a few seconds the interviewer could ...

Snow!

Added on Tuesday, 2010-02-23 20:00 CET in category Moscow
This winter has seen some of the most snow in recent history, some days 20cm of snow fell, and for me always complaining about too little snow in the Netherlands, the timing was perfect :) The following pictures were taken in Kolomenskoe park.

Something different

Added on Monday, 2010-02-22 20:00 CET in categories Moscow, Programming
After quitting my job as a web application developer in the Netherlands, I found it time to reflect on my career path, and figure out what I want from my next job. Web application development can be great fun (like creating my new site), but I want more than that now. I took a look at the projects I'd been working on in my spare time, and at those parts of my previous job I really liked, ...

Full health check

Added on Tuesday, 2010-01-26 20:00 CET in category Moscow
In Russia healthcare is free for all persons registered in Russia. Since every person staying in Russia for longer than three days is required to be registered, I get free healthcare too :) The Russian government encourages people to have a yearly full health check. This includes about any check you would want to have performed, like echo scans of internal organs, X-ray scans of joints, ...

Traffic accident

Added on Saturday, 2010-01-16 20:00 CET in category Moscow
And the inevitable has happened: today I was involved in a, albeit minor, traffic accident. After finally getting through the 1km long line to the parking lot (not kidding, seriously 1km) some guy on the left lane decided he had to turn right first (the typical "me first!" mentality from my post about Moscow). And then things just didn't fit, and he scraped along the bumper. So the guy ...

Residence permit

Added on Monday, 2010-01-11 20:00 CET in category Moscow
Today my wife and I started the process of obtaining my temporary residence permit. Hello bureaucracy :) I need: Passport; Copy of immigration card and registration paper; A health certificate; Marriage certificate; Statement of conduct; Request form, two copies; 400 rubles (about € 10). Doesn't sound like too much. But then: A health certificate ...

Moscow

Added on Tuesday, 2009-12-29 20:00 CET in category Moscow
So here I am, in Moscow! It sure was a long trip. An exciting one too :) After spending Christmas in the Netherlands, dropping off my wife and the cat at Düsseldorf Airport, and picking up my dad-in-law, our road trip to Moscow had started! On the way we visited my dad, who left me some rations of typical Dutch food I'd be missing. We continued into Poland, and then at about 5:30 the car ...

A blog!

Added on Saturday, 2009-12-26 20:00 CET in category Other
As I'm writing this here in Moscow, there's a thunderstorm going on outside and it's still 20°C. … Doesn't quite match with the timestamp, huh? :) That's cause it's actually May 17th now. Ever since I moved to Moscow last Christmas, my life has changed so much, and I felt it would indeed be nice to keep a blog. So here it is :) But I didn't want to just skip all the interesting things ...