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The left side to the right way

Feeling bored? Come to Ireland, rent a car, and make your way from Dublin to the University of Limerick. Yes, there is Shannon airport, but not at short notice, and you'd miss out on all the excitement. So it turns out that it's quite easy to convince your mind that it was replaced by its own mirror image when driving on the left side of the road. The only difference I (vigorously) discovered is the shifting. In normal cars, you push the rod away from you to the far upper corner for the fifth gear; here, you don't. It is, and trust me on this, unpleasant to figure this out at 100 kph. Anyway, traffic sucks, the roads stink, but the people seem so much more relaxed than those German Deathmatch Drivers. Kinda refreshing.

My meeting with Prof. Brian Fitzgerald was a full success. Several details have to be worked out yet (and all the bureaucracy), but it looks as if the fall of 2005 will see me in a new field, pursuing a Ph.D. in open source development, and more specifically: workflow and productivity management in distributed (open source) projects. You can guess which project will be the main focus.

I am not yet clear on what exactly this means for me. I will likely get to stay in Zurich, which has become my favourite city and with which I'd rather not part (not to mention Aline), but what exact academic arrangements will have to be made -- time will tell.

After finishing my Honours Bachelor in Computer Science and Psychology at Swarthmore College, I really wanted to do research (and not a masters degree). Se Dschermans would require me to do another 4 semesters to get a diploma (despite the 99% overlap in syllabus and other requirements, but regulations are regulations, and they get even better if people can cling to them as an excuse to turn off their brains), which is why I ended up at the AILab under the provision to complete some extra coursework (which I did). Whether or not I can get that accredited in Limerick, or whether I have to actually enroll for a master's programme and convince people after a year that I could in fact just do a Ph.D. straight away, I don't know yet. Fact is that I'd be willing to climb if it means to be able to devote myself to Debian and research in open source full-time. Nevertheless, given that I see certain aspects of new artificial intelligence as an integral part of the direction in which I would like to go, I might even be able to sell this endeavour as a continuation and skip all the requirements.

What exactly drove (or rather kept) me in the field of artificial intelligence, I don't know. It sounded cool, and it was fascinating for a while, but quickly I discovered that my true interests were elsewhere. But all the time I found myself doing other things instead, and that's no basis for a Ph.D., now is it?

Finally it seems I can merge my Ph.D. with my true interest. And boy, am I excited! Sipping on my Smithwick's, I let the day pass revue. I'd be travelling to Limerick on a regular basis to keep up with the folks at the Computer Science Department, but that seems alright (if done via Shannon). Ireland is a most beautiful country, so differently green than Switzerland, and I enjoy the people very much. I had dinner with two old gents in some bar food place in the middle of nowhere and it was lovely. I think they were speaking English, but without the fish in my ear, it was hard to keep a conversation going. Nod and smile... that works almost everywhere.

With tired eyes I now surrender to the pillow, hoping that the fifth part of the definitive guide won't keep me awake too long. But there's a baby screaming next door in this blood awful Dublin Airport Holiday Inn, which must have paper for walls. Flight's at 6:50. Yawn.

PS: Happy birthday, bubbles! I can't sing for you.