A Quick Look At Taxes...

by Rob 9. May 2012 11:51

A lot of people have asked me about living in Ireland.  "What's the work like?" "What are the people like?"  Sooner or later, everyone seems to bring up the taxes.  'But dude, aren't taxes like 50% in Europe!?!'  Before I got here, that was my impression as well.  I'd heard it, so it must be true.  It was probably even on a TV show or something.

After paying taxes in both countries, I can say the 50% tax rate is a bit misleading.  The maximum tax rate in Ireland is 51%.  But what does that really mean?  Sure, as you approach an infite income, your tax rate approaches 51%.  That's the upperbound.  It's not really representative of what people are actually paying.  Only a small percentage of their total income is taxed at 51%.

Here's what I've found, for someone in my situation (no children, part-time student, etc, etc...) using the numbers and values in 2011 (as given by TaxACT and Deloitte)

 

 

Very interesting and not at all what I would have expected.

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A Farmer With Four Stones.....

by Rob 20. January 2012 12:08

A farmer had a stone that he used to measure grain on his scale. One day his neighbor borrowed the stone; and when he returned; it was broken into four pieces. The neighbor was very apologetic; but the farmer thanked the neighbor for doing him a big favor. The farmer said that now he can measure his grain in one pound increments starting at one pound all the way to forty pounds (1; 2; 3; 17; 29; 37; etc.) using these four stones. How much do the four stones weigh?

Solution with LINQ...

 var a = ((from myA in Enumerable.Range(1, 40)
		 from myB in Enumerable.Range(1, 40)
		 from myC in Enumerable.Range(1, 40)
		 from myD in Enumerable.Range(1, 40)
			 where myA + myB + myC + myD == 40
				 && myA <= myB
				 && myB <= myC
				 && myC <= myD
		 select new[] {myA, myB, myC, myD}).Where(
					   myNum => Enumerable.Range(1, 40).All(
								target => ((from myn1 in new[] { 0, 1, -1 }
											from myn2 in new[] { 0, 1, -1 }
											from myn3 in new[] { 0, 1, -1 }
											from myn4 in new[] { 0, 1, -1 }
											select myn1*myNum[0]
												   + myn2*myNum[1]
												   + myn3*myNum[2]
												   + myn4*myNum[3]).
											  Any
											  (x => x == target))))).ToList();
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President And CEO Of An International Software Company....

by Rob 20. December 2011 12:17

Well, not exactly.  Still, I had all but forgotten about my silly fishbot program I wrote a few years back and then put online last year.  On the one hand, it's a trival application that I threw together for my own personal use.  On the other hand, it's kind of cool to think that people all over the world are actually using something I wrote myself.  

This chart shows the traffic the site recieves from people who have run the application three times or more.  I figure, if you run the darn thing for the forth time, you must find it useful (and so I spam you with ads).

 

That's 93 different countries and some 2500 unique users over the past six months - if we assume it's all legitamate traffic.  In terms of income - I'm sitting around the 75 cents per hour of work.  But it was fun nonetheless.

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Checking Gmail Messages With C#

by Rob 11. December 2011 00:06

 

I used OpenPop.NET for the first time yesterday.  I highly recommend it; it's free, open-source, really simple and it seems to work.

    List<Message> myMail = FetchAllMessages("pop.gmail.com", 995, true, "MyEmail@gmail.com", "mysupersecretpasswordshhhhh!");
    public static List<Message> FetchAllMessages(string hostname, int port, bool useSsl, string username, string password)
    {
        // The client disconnects from the server when being disposed
        using (Pop3Client client = new Pop3Client())
        {
            // Connect to the server
            client.Connect(hostname, port, useSsl);

            // Authenticate ourselves towards the server
            client.Authenticate(username, password);

            // Get the number of messages in the inbox
            int messageCount = client.GetMessageCount();

            // We want to download all messages
            List<Message> allMessages = new List<Message>(messageCount);

            // Messages are numbered in the interval: [1, messageCount]
            // Ergo: message numbers are 1-based.
            // Most servers give the latest message the highest number
            for (int i = messageCount; i > 0; i--)
            {
                allMessages.Add(client.GetMessage(i));
            }

            // Now return the fetched messages
            return allMessages;
        }
    }
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There, I Fixed It!

by Rob 10. December 2011 11:01

I don't consider myself 'cheap'...but I do take a certain satisfaction in achieving a particular goal efficiently (and sometimes that appears the same as cheap.  But whatever...)  For example....

During the first day in the apartment; the landlord pointed to a phone-like device on the wall and said, 'That is the intercomm'.  Fair enough....at the building's main door there is a series of buttons you can press to 'buzz' the alarm/phone in a given apartment.  It's pretty much exactly what I remember seeing in countless buildings in the United States.

It wasn't until some poor guy looking for the bed & breakfast next door rang the apartment at 2am by mistake, did I realize there was no way to turn it off (I also feel bad for the poor guy who accidently pressed the wrong button and was greeted by an angry, half-dressed, barefoot, yelling American...but that's another story).  The second time it happened (only a week or two later, but a different person) it was time to take slightly more drastic measures....

 

The new and improved, 'Silent Buzzer' resolves the noise problem


A hard 'slap and pull' and I had discovered the 'silent mode' previously undocumented on the intercom system.  Arguably, the only down side to this approach is that it worked exactly the same as having no intercom system at all.  Leaving it broken wasn't too bad of an idea, but I like to get the occassional delivery (so long as it's not at 2am).  I took a quick look online to see what it would cost to replace the whole unit with one that has an 'off' switch.  Not cheap.  So, off I went, in search of a switch.  And this is what I came up with....for less than 1 euro.

 

Left: Off position
Right:  On position 

 

I think it's a fix worthy of an entry on There, I Fixed It

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The New Office...*

by Rob 19. October 2011 12:24

* Pending the successful completion of the background check and Green Card application approval....

It looks like I've found a new job in Dublin.  The green card application is being submitted and, as long as everything checks out, I should start in January (giving me time to finish my semester at CSU).  I'm now a 'Software Engineer' as opposed to a 'Software Developer' and I'll be working in the financial industry for a US based company with offices all over the world.  Exciting stuff.

Here's some pictures of and around the office.  If Chicago was too big, and Fort Collins was too small....this place should be just right.

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A Little Piece & Quiet...(Part 1)

by Rob 2. October 2011 14:50

It's been a few weeks now and I feel like I'm largely adjusted to life here in Ireland.  I love the weather, the location of the apartment, and even the 'feel' of Dublin....there are a lot of things to like.  And really, things aren't very different here than in the US.  I've even had a few promising job interviews.  

The only thing that continues to bother me is how loud the people above us are.  It's not so much that they are being loud, it's that the building wasn't built with sound control in mind.  They are just doing normal things that normal college students do; like walking into the kitchen and opening a cabinet.  But I can *hear* them doing it.  And, they keep 'college hours' which means a bedtime between 2am and 4am.  Still, it's not unreasonable to use your kitchen.  So, what to do?  The walls are too thin, the room is poorly constructed.  What can *I* do about that?  Build a better room?  

Exactly!

I'll just build an *awesome* room, inside of my room.  I call it, 'The Superbed'.  

With the help of Google Sketchup I was able to recreate a 3d model of the bedroom, the furniture and play with the dimensions of the 'Super Bed'...these were the top three layouts.  I went with the one on the right.  It felt, 'Most Super'.

 

The Super Bed (v0.1)

I'll admit, I miss my pick-up truck and being able to drive down to a Home Depot large enough to contain several football fields.  The nearest hardware store is about .5 miles from home and that's a long walk when you are trying to carry home lumber. 

The frame is roughly 5 feet wide, 6 feet tall, and 8 feet long.

After that I used cardboard from the many Amazon.co.uk deliveries we'd received.  And lots and lots of tape.  

Once the initial frame was in place, it was time to make a headboard.

 

And, a place for the TV/Playstation 3.  You can't see it in the photo but I also attached four bolts that would be used to mount the TV to the wall and attached fishing line.  That TV isn't going anywhere.

 

Then it was just a simple matter of applying the sound-proofing tiles.  Truthfully, I think sheets of drywall would have worked just as well, but it was much easier to work with these.

 

 

It's still a work in progress; but you get the idea.  I'm wiring up the lights (I want a light switch on each side), installing a heater/fan (again, I want a switch for this on each side of the bed too), and am waiting on the surround sound speakers to arrive.  The side walls will be expanded and more sound foam will go on the inside.  I'll also add an overhang making the opening on either side another 12" lower and covering that with the foam.  Then I'll install a curtain rod/nice heavy curtain (I think it'll do the trick, the setup I've got now is already significantly better than what it was before.  I'm also going to incorporate a shelf/night table to place an alarm clock on.

At first glance, this might seem silly.  But stop and think about how much time you spend in bed.  It's a lot of time.  Nearly 1/3 of your life.  Think of how important sleep is to your day-to-day well being.  How many times have you been woken up by some external noise you don't want to hear?  The Superbed is the answer!  Sound proof, climate controlled, complete with HDTV, PS3, Internet access, streaming movies and TV, a 2 terrabyte harddrive filled with content, video games, blu-ray player, surround sound speakers *perfectly* symetrically aligned, light controlled....at this point, I might even install a mini-fridge.

Stay tuned for Part #2....the conclusion of the Super Bed.

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Mandelbrot In HTML5...

by Rob 30. September 2011 11:52

I was talking to a former co-worker on Google+ about some pretty cool fractal images he had posted.  I decided to take (another) stab at making one, this time in Javascript.

The performance is pretty bad, I'd recommend using Chrome to view it. Below are some images I've generated.

Check out the website

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HTML5 and Homework...

by Rob 27. September 2011 09:48

Don't you hate when you need to draw a box plot but none of the free tools already online will draw it how you want? Me too! So I made this.

Of course, it probably won't draw a blox plot the way you want either.

Check it out Here

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Greetings From Ireland

by Rob 8. September 2011 03:40

Having never left the US, I didn't know what to expect when traveling to Ireland.  It was more like a trip to the DMV than some exciting adventure.  I think this picture captures the spirit of our trip.

Go to the Airport.  Wait in line.  Keep waiting.  Wait some more.  Check bags.  Go to security.  Wait.  Wait in line.  Step forward.  Wait some more.  Go to your gate.  Sit down.  Wait.  Wait some more.  Listen to announcements while waiting.  Get on board.  Wait in your seat.  We were told to arrive *six hours* before our flight and the flight itself was another six or seven hours....and after all that, when you finally get to leave the plane....You get back in line.  And wait some more.  

Eventually we made it.  We were in Dublin's airport, with our baggage, on the other side of customs.  We just need to 'simply' get a car, drive to pick up the dog, and get to the hotel.

 

Here's an interesting fact...

If you have a US driver's license you can drive in Ireland provided you are here temporarily.  Here's another interesting fact...

ALL OF THE DRIVING RULES ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! 

Even the most fundamental aspects of driving are different.  The steering wheel is on the right.  The cars drive on the left.  I have no idea whether or not you can turn on red or who yields to who when approaching a stop sign.  Or how to property enter a roundabout and when to change lanes prior to exiting the roundabout.  And countless other things I'm not even aware of.

Now, imagine you are 15 again and you want to learn how to drive a car.  Where would you go to practice?  Maybe you'd drive around the block or have your parents take you to an empty parking lot.  You probably WOULD NOT GO TO THE AIRPORT!  You probably wouldn't immediately drive on the interstate or in a city with a higher population density than New York.  You probably wouldn't stay up for 26 hours before taking the car out for a spin either.

Did I mention we neglected to bring directions to the kennel where we were supposed to pick up the dog?  All of the above *and* we don't know where we are or where we are trying to go.  AND half of the streets lack street signs.  Yes, that's right, Ireland's history dates back to 8000 B.C. AND THEY HAVEN'T HAD TIME TO PRINT ROAD SIGNS!!!

Needless to say, it was less than fun.  

It took a few days; but we managed to find a place to live....

Compared to US standards (or at least suburban US standards) it's pretty minimalistic.  Yes, that is a washing machine in the kitchen.  Yes, that thing next to it is the smallest stove I've ever seen.  Still, the place is fully furnished and in a great location.  And I don't really need all of that extra space.  Best of all, is the internet access.  This is, by far, the fastest internet access I've ever had; and if I were so inclined, I could up the speed to 100Mb/s for a small increase in price.

I'm sure it violates some law or treaty or something; but I've setup a VPN back in the states so I can still access things like Netflix and use Google to make free calls to the US.

The biggest difference I've noticed between here and the US is the food.  It's *similar* but different in weird and unappealing ways (at least, to my American tastes).  They have hotdogs here....but they are sold in cans.  Weird!.  They seem to use a lot less artificial colors as well, so a red Starburst is more like a whiteish pink color.  Still, it's mostly the same; and there are a lot of US chains out here too.  I'm sure I'll adjust in no time.

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