So You Want To Work In Italy? Bring Lots Of Money

I am constantly amused (or perhaps I mean dismayed) by how costly it is to start the whole process of working in Italy.

There are, of course, the costs associated with getting both yourself and your stuff to Italy. Note: the dog was the most expensive thing to ship.

And then there are the costs of getting the necessary permits and visas all lined up. Not only did we have to pay for a work visa before I left from Canada, but now that I am in Italy, I had to pay for a completely different work visa. Then we had to pay to get our marriage certificate translated so that André could come with me. Since I am still in the middle of the process of getting everything completed in order to be a legal alien in Trento, I expect that there will be other costs that will come up.

And then there are the apartments. Did you know that, in Italy, they typically ask for three months security deposit? At about 500-700 a month for typical apartments here, that’s a lot of Euros. We haven’t found a good apartment yet and are still looking.

But the main problem is that they only pay once a month here. So whenever my contract finally begins (hopefully next week), it will be a month before I actually see any money from the university. In the meantime, we have to take care of daily needs. So it will have been about a month and a half since our arrival before we see a single Euro.…

E Readers And The Amazon Kindle

Since I’ve been stuck at home for the past week, I’ve been using André’s Kindle to read Project Gutenberg free books. I must admit, it’s a pleasant experience: fairly easy to manipulate and easy on the eyes.
Now let me start by saying that I am a bibliophile. I don’t just enjoy the words part of a book. I love the whole experience: the feel of the book’s textures, its heft, the art on the cover page, the very smell of the pages themselves. So I’m not a huge fan of eReaders. My dream is to have a room where all the walls are covered in books.
However, I don’t reject eReaders off-hand. When I was a university student, I would have loved to get electronic versions of all those heavy books that the professors wanted us to read. In addition, they seem perfect for traveling, whether it’s having light reading, or carrying a translation dictionary and a tour book with you at all times.

But there are various things about the Kindle I don’t like. I don’t like the DRM. I don’t like how the cheaper version won’t read PDFs. I read a lot of PDFs for work and if I can’t download them easily to an eReader, then it isn’t much use to me.. I don’t like the fact that you can’t loan a book to a friend or resell a book you no longer want.

So maybe one of these days I’ll get myself an eReader but it won’t one of the eReaders that are available right now. Maybe down the road, there’ll be a version that I actually want. In the meantime, I’ll just borrow André’s Kindle.…

Via Preference: It’s Not Usable If You Can’t Access It

I was looking at how expensive it would be to go to Toronto by train for the upcoming GI PC meeting and discovered that Via Rail has a reward program called Via Preference. Since I love train travel, I thought I might as well sign up.

The sign-up process itself was simple enough: fill out the form, bla bla bla, nothing new there. With these kinds of online sign-up systems, there is usually a step in which the information that will let you sign up is sent to the email address you provide. To my surprise, though, Via Preference presented me with a page giving me my membership number and eschewing the whole “wait until we send you an email so that you can officially sign up” rigmarole. Which would be great, except that the membership number I copied/pasted doesn’t work.

Now usually this wouldn’t be a major problem. Click on “forget password?” and expect them to send the information to the email address you gave them, right? Nope. Via wants me to enter my membership number. Except that the number is wrong. And since they didn’t send me an email with the correct membership number, I have no way of recuperating the correct number. Which leaves me up the proverbial creek paddle-less.

Yes, I tried using the back button on my browser. No, I couldn’t reach the page where the number was displayed.

I am going to try emailing them. Maybe I’ll be able to get the information back.…