Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

A flock of evening IT seminars

Not so long ago, the only IT seminars put on locally were those by the BCS and usually only about once a month over the winter months with very much the same faces seen at every one.

Roll that on a decade or so and there seem to be seminars coming out of the woodwork everywhere. This week there were two quite different but equally good ones.

First off was a very interesting perspective of how agile methods are used in CME. Although broadly aimed at the development community, it had enough background for others in the IT community to pick up on it. This was one of those from the BCS series and oddly, despite there being hundreds if not thousands more IT jobs locally now, the number attending was much the same as it has always been for BCS events. That unchanging number is a bit sad really as some other non-BCS events can have hundreds of people at them these days, so why not the BCS ones?

The next day was something of a marathon ISACA one on COBIT that ran on for around two hours. That’s something of a specialist field so it wasn’t surprising to see just a handful of attendees for what turned out to be a surprisingly comprehensive overview of the COBIT methodology. The ISACA events are quite frequently attended by a hundred or more people but it does vary from topic to topic and speaker to speaker.

Over the course of a year there are quite a number of such talks. By far the best attended are generally the ISACA and BASH ones representing the IT security and IT development communities with a continual stream of niche ones at Farset Labs.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Finally starting to work on the book: Living in France without a TV crew

We’ve been meaning to settle down to write our book for years now but have only just gotten going properly on the initial stages of it over the last week or so.

Our working title is that of the original incarnation of this blog: Living in France without a TV crew. We figured that we needed at least a working title to focus our attention on what material would go into the book and what wasn’t really that relevant.

We’ve even got a very broad provisional structure:

  1. Choosing a place in France, of which we’ve nothing formally written yet;
  2. Moving in which’ll likely draw mainly on the articles here from 2004-2005;
  3. Some chapters looking in more detail at various aspects eg learning the language, education, etc.;
  4. Moving back, which raised more issues than you’d expect.

To see what we’d already written, I’ve been pulling together the relevant posts from 2004 through to 2009 which, even after loads of deleting, amounts to 322 pages and 180,000 words ie we’ve loads to work with.


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Publishing on Amazon

I’ve a few things that I’ve been toying with pulling together into book shape so last week I thought I’d see what was involved in putting them on Amazon. As I’d James’ school project sitting on the computer in good shape, that turned out to be the easiest thing as our first attempt in publishing.

So, step 1, get the book into an appropriate format. They accept a whole range of formats including the normal wordprocessing (e.g. DOC) ones, ebook formats and PDF. I list PDF separately as it’s probably the worst format to use if you’re publishing to Kindle since they have to run their OCR software on it to pick out the words which is asking for trouble as they don’t need to do that for any of the other formats. In theory, your best bet is an ebook format as that’ll let you add the appropriate chapter and section headings to be included in the table of contents but I think you can do that via the DOC format too. For our first attempt, I took the lazy approach and used DOC and didn’t bother with a clickable table of contents, though I will add one later.

Step 2, is to register with the Amazon publishing platform for which you can use your existing Amazon account. A related stage to that is to register for tax which you may as well do upfront though you could wait until the payments start rolling in.

Once you’ve registered, you’re set to upload your first book. The first step asks you to create a cover for it and they’ve a rudimentary cover creation application to do that online which was certainly good enough for our first attempt but you’d want to put more effort into it if you were publishing a more serious book. Next, you upload your book and finally you set the price and format. Everything’s priced in dollars by default but you can set prices for individual countries. If the price is above £2.99 you can set a 70% commission rate but otherwise you get 35%. You can even add an optional print on demand option which will let you produce a paperback version when someone orders it but they charge $2.50 for that so obviously your price needs to be more than that; in practice I just ran with the Kindle version as it’s just a trial.

Finally, you click on “save and publish”, wait a few seconds and you’re away. Well, it puts your book in the system but it takes about 12 hours before it appears on the site.

So, if you want to buy James’ book, just click on Une Année en France.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Open Farm Day in Northern Ireland

Actually, it’s Open Farm Weekend here and it’s on a different day. That’s kind of confusing as it means that when you look up the open farm day website, you find that Northern Ireland doesn’t have any farms open which I’m sure must drop the numbers attending somewhat.

Seeing as it was a lovely sunny day, we set off for Gordonall Farm near Greyabbey. which was open to schools on the 13th of June and to everybody on the 14th. It’s quite a mixed farm with some livestock (sheep and cows), some biomass plantations, cereals and even a guy demonstrating some country crafts. You don’t really appreciate the size of the farm ’til you go on their tractor ride which seems to go on forever and certainly much further than any we’ve paid for.

Sunday was another lovely day so it was off to Armagh Apple Farm which was quite a different experience. The farm itself seemed somewhat smaller though it’s hard to judge the scale of a farm as you don’t know where one ends and another begins. In their shed they’d a whole range of apple based products. This time of year, the apples themselves are tiny and there are apple festivals on later in the year around the time of the apple harvest.

Worth going to for sure but I’m not so sure we’d have enjoyed the days if the weather had been poor as most things are obviously outside.


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

How long will it take to get out of the French tax system?

We sometimes despair of ever getting completely out of the French tax system.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they even acknowledged our letters to them but we have only once ever received a direct reply from them and even that place has started writing to us once again. That’s the basic problem really: all correspondence we send just seems to be ignored.

We’ve been trying for over six years to get a tax refund from them. The tax people we spoke to in France agree that we’re due the refund yet nobody seems able to process it. In fact, they even sent a bailiff once who also agreed and helpfully pointed out that the tax in question was now centralised and that we should be writing to the office in Clermont Ferrand. We wrote to them and they said that it’s actually dealt with in the office in Montepellier who we’d been writing to for the previous couple of years, forwarded our letter to them and, of course, that’s the last we heard about that.

Most laughably is the habitation tax and TV license who are quite content to send their letters to us in the UK yet neglect to take on board that the change of address letter also quite clearly said that we don’t live in France.

Mind you we did read some years ago that to really move out we need to provide a document from our local mairie to say that we now live in their commune. Since there isn’t a local mairie (and, no, the city council doesn’t count) and we don’t live in a commune, it’s not possible to provide said document and the advice to the lady enquiring about it was to just let her mail redirection run out.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.