Archive for September, 2007

Change of server

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Circumstances have necessitated a move from my hosting provider to my home server.

If any of you have the misfortune to use Shieldhost as a provider, I suggest you move away quickly. I’ve been trying to contact their technical support team for some time now and get someone telling me that they’ve forwarded the message to another department and then nothing.

Multiple follow-ups later, there is no response.

Nothing from the sales department. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

So, I’m taking my $5.99 a month and doing something constructive with it.

Cut loose and drifting

Friday, September 21st, 2007

First the big news….

Today is my last day with Scalix. I take a week’s holiday and then start with Cloudmark, an anti-spam vendor based in San Francisco.

The US has different types of visa for different types of person. The most common, for getting to the US quickly, are the L1 and H1 visas.With Scalix, I got a L1 visa. It’s an intra-company transfer that requires me to have worked for the company in my home country for at least a year. However, it’s tied to the continued operation of the company which is why my future here was a lot less certain earlier this year.

Cloudmark paid for my application for a H1 visa. It’s not tied to a specific company but I do have to have a company to work for. It doesn’t grant permanent residency and lasts for up to 5 years. After that, I either have to go home or apply for the green card.

Because of the “flexibility” it offers, the number of H1 visas issued each year is capped. This year it was capped at around 65,000.

H1 visas do not come into force until October 1st of each year but applications are received 6 months prior to that. This means there’s a complete melee as companies get their applications in as soon as this window opens. Reports suggest that there were 133,000 individual applications for the H1 visa this year.

When the applications exceed the cap, a random draw is made. Luckily I was one of those picked.

It did mean, however, that I needed to wait out the time until October 1st. With the events that transpired earlier this year, it was touch and go whether we’d need to move back to the UK for a short period and come back again. This, in itself, has logistical problems: What do we do with the house here, where do we stay in the UK for a couple of months, can I work in the UK for Cloudmark, etc. etc.

As it turned out, Scalix was able to continue operating during the transition with Xandros so that I could stay here until my time came.

Now it’s here and I’m ready to face new challenges. I’m sorry to leave, it’s difficult to turn away from something that’s consumed your life for a large number of years ( since 1996 ).

In other news, the girls went back to school for another year. It’s all old hat to them now. We have a 2nd grader and a 4th grader.

4th grade is a lot harder than 3rd grade was. We butted heads a little with the new teacher because she insisted on sending pink slips home with Rachel for some reason or another. This is usually a warning and Rachel has to sit out playtime (recess). Rachel brought home a pink slip each night for the first 2 weeks. Some of these warnings are because we forgot to sign the pink slip from the previous night.

Sam spoke to the teacher and the school’s take on this is that the child is responsible for everything that they are supposed to get signed etc.  The teacher explained that this is the reason why we need to go to the “Back To School” night so that we can understand how this all works.

It was at this point that Sam explained that maybe the “Back To School” night happened *before* the kids go back to school and not 2 weeks after the fact like it is at the moment. It would mean that we wouldn’t be going through the issues we are.

It turns out that we are not the only parents who have the same concern so hopefully we can do something about the misconception that we’re all born with the knowledge of how every school works.

My cousin came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. We said goodbye to her last week after taking her to all the tourist traps we could remember. This time was the first time that I *didn’t* go on the cable cars or Alcatraz but it *was* the first time that I drove down Lombard Street ( the famous zig zag street ). It’s a one-way street and there are queues of cars waiting to go down there. Once you are embedded in the queue, there’s no escape but down and you have to hope that your brakes are good enough. It’s also the case that tourists want to take photos. My cousin leapt out of the car before we descended but failed to establish a meeting place after she finished her photo session. This meant that I had to circle the block and keep going down Lombard Street until we made eye contact and she could leap back into the car.

We did the usual Pier 39 but we ate at the Bubba Gump shrimp restaurant. If you go there, order the 2-pound bucket of shrimp in garlic butter. Drooolll !!!!

I was able to introduce her to Jagermeister shots. She’s definitely my drinking buddy 🙂