Tax returns (by )

Many years ago, around 2000, I formed a limited company. A bunch of us wanted to rent a rack in a data centre and host our servers there, and it seemed wise to have a separate legal entity to sign the contract with the ISP for the rack.

This cost me some money here and there in fees, and I had to take the time to keep books and file annual reports and accounts, but it was bearable.

Then a few years later, I became a freelance software engineer, and as the company already existed, it made sense to operate through that. Making a profit rather than being propped up by cash loans from me meant the company's tax returns became more complex, so I paid an accountant to do those, and that was fine as the saved money in using the company paid for his fees.

So all was fine until 2007, when a flood destroyed our home (and my placed of work).

I had to keep working to support my family, so I went to London to borrow space to work and sleep in, and did what I could to keep cash flowing. But this meant I wasn't spending much time at home where my paperwork was, and had little time to deal with book keeping, and my post was arriving into a building site back home.

A year later we were able to move back in, to try and pick up the pieces. But life was harder than it had been, and Sarah was sicker, and it's taken me until 2012 to catch up.

But last week I submitted my last personal tax returns. Towards the end of last year, my last corporation tax returns. Earlier that year, my last VAT returns. And the good news is, I seem to be eligible for some tax back. I'm happy about that as a friend leant me a thousand pounds in 2007, and I've still yet to pay him back; my tax repayment will cover that, plus some interest and a little left over... I'll pop it into the savings account and wait a few months in case HMRC change their mind, however.

But having all this done is a huge weight off my mind, one that had hung over me for about for years. Right now I seem to be in a phase of shedding burdens and finishing things; the only big thing I have left hanging over me now is migrating my servers, then I can start relaxing a bit and get on with my projects for the year!

Moving house (by )

I hate moving house. It's a lot of work, for a start. It's a period during which all your stuff is packed away so you have to make do continually. And you have to tear apart the home you spent years building, while remembering all the fun times you had in the cold, empty, rooms you are carrying boxes out of. It feels a bit like burning your own wedding photos...

...but soon, it will be over, leaving just the mild frustration of living in a home where many of your possessions are still "in a box somewhere", but at least then you're on the upward path of things continually getting better as you unpack things and find them new homes, slowly customising your new space.

I'm looking forward to sorting out my workshop. It's currently just full of things all over the floor. I'm taking a week off of work to recuperate from the moving, and to sort it out. I'm going to pile everything at one end so I can paint the floor and finish painting the wall, then move everything to the nice end so I can finish the floor and walls in the other end. I'm going to set up my desk, my electronics workbench, and my welding bench. I'm going to run Ethernet into the house so I can get network connectivity. I'm going to set up a 12v power distribution system for fun stuff, such as a Raspberry Pi in a box driving an LED matrix display and a USB hard disk (as a Ugarit distributed storage node) and crazy future home automation experiments and LED lighting in the nearby shed (it's hard finding stuff in there in the dark). I'm going to fix the leaky roof and the draughty eaves so it's warmer and dryer in there. I'm going to rebuild my furnace and experiment with casting aluminium bronze. I'm going to build my wife a radio telescope. I'm going to build my wearable computer and continue my project to bring about my own technological singularity. I'm going to make time for myself to turn some of my unrealised ideas into beautiful things.

Alaric’s projects for this year (by )

This year's going to be pretty busy with settling into the new home, but I have a few projects.

  1. Finish the ring casting I nearly finished before the move. That's a priority.
  2. Resurrect my aluminium foundry. In particular, it's our bronze wedding anniversary, so Sarah's going to design a pattern for a sundial, which I will cast in Aluminium bronze, a nice alloy that I can make myself from my scrap aluminium and bits of old plumbing...
  3. Continue with minor stuff on Ugarit, but as a milestone, build the distributed storage backend, which will rock.
  4. Work on my wearable computer project. No specific milestone for this, as it's currently a long drawn out research/prototyping phase as I sort out many details.

Wish me luck... I usually suffer from "all my weekends getting eaten up", but as my New Year's Resolution has been to spend at least one day every two weeks doing something fun with my children, I'm going to be booking weekend days in my calendar in advance through the year for that and my own projects. Before they get filled up!

Mary’s First Word (by )

Mary has been imitating sounds for months but as expected of a bilingual baby she hasn't really produced words with meaning they are just copies of what we are saying. She like Jean has been raised with baby sign as well so there is no real incentive to talk early.

But as we home in on her 1st birthday she has started to point at the cats and say yip! we'd say cat, she'd say yap. And then today she came out with "There's a cat!" no a word but a sentence - true she does not pronounce a hard T on the end of cat but it doesn't stop there - she then went on to say "Oh dear!" when she dropped her bottle.

Then we got the classic "NoNoNoNooooooono!" and so forth - so I have a baby that has gone from just babbling and copying sound (though in fairness she does 'sing' alot) to on that is stringing words together! I have no idea if this is advance or not - Jean did something similiar after her initial imatation of the word hurrah! She then didn't say anything until the January after her first birthday when I bought my red glittery shoes home - but again she went for a dramatic no talking - babbling sense.

So we are very proud of little Mary 🙂

The Emperors New Cupboard Under The Stairs (by )

The Emperors New Cupboard

We are going to build a cupboard under the stairs so the area where the cupboard is going to be is now referred to as The Cupboard Under The Stairs which was fine until my brother came to vist and pointed out that there was no cupboard under the stairs!

So it has now become known as The Emperors New Cupboard Under The Stairs after the story of the Emperors New Cloths.

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