Sunday, August 29, 2010

Unemployment doesn't look cheap

Aside from expenses like the aforementioned vacation we'd scheduled, there are many other little things that I'd come to take for granted and I now have to think about. Clothing, for instance; I've basically never worn shoes, a consequence of growing up in what was at the time a rural area, and a habit which I'd been able to continue into adult life by virtue of being something of a prodigy and working for people who happily accepted such a minor eccentricity in trade for my ability to make them money.

My standards of deportment have declined further since Symantec closed it's Auckland development facility early last year, and since then I've been working at home. I think I have one pair of jeans that doesn't have large holes, and maybe two very old shirts with collars, but nothing in the way of formalwear or anything else suitable for, say, interviewing.

Thoughtfully, my home PC (used pretty much only for gaming) decided to have its power supply expire the day before we were notified of our layoff, and since it was just a collection of mismatched parts some of which were very old, it really needs replacing. And a laptop would be kinda crucial too, preferably one that I can actually do at least some development on without it melting. A decent phone too would be nice - at least something I can tether for back-up internet access when the DSL goes down, as it regularly does here, so probably a Nokia with the most basic plan I can get.

By the way, anyone who reads this from somewhere like the U.S. may not be aware that almost any piece of technology here in New Zealand, from a TV to a phone, normally costs between two and three times what it does in the U.S. on a PPP-adjusted basis. PPP adjustment also doesn't speak to affordability differences based on median incomes. Telecommunications are ruinously expensive here too, although at least on that point cruise ships are even more extortionate than we Kiwis are used to.

Perhaps the only device that doesn't come with that kind of price premium is one I had mostly forgotten about, until the e-mail arrived yesterday to tell me it's on the way here - since we were going on the cruise and it was just announced, I decided to splurge on a Kindle, just the basic model. Amazingly enough, to get one costs the same as anyone else in the world pays, modulo a reasonable USD$20 for shipping.

Of course, even though this version is actually sold as supported in NZ, buying things for it is not quite seamless; Kindle editions of books are caught up in territorial rights and so it remains to be seen what, other than Project Gutenburg freeware, I can actually get for it. Even so I'm still looking forward to the device; unlike the iPhone, it's a kind of device that I'd at least like to think about developing for, even if just for fun.

Unfortunately the 6" Kindle isn't really suited for the kind of thing I might like to get back into if I do have time to enrich my mind a little before having to prostitute myself to naked commerce once again. Textbooks on things like metric spaces or the Zeta Function, or one of my favourites from an earlier edition I read some 15 years ago, Forecasting: Methods and Applications, don't just tend to be eyewateringly expensive - none of that kind of thing even has a Kindle edition, and even if it did they'd really only work on the larger DX form factor.

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