My new life in Belgium is going pretty much according to plan so far. I’m busy, which stops me finding things to complain about, to the detriment of my blog but to the benefit of my mental health, I’m sure. I’m still not sure where I’m happier: Belgium, Japan, or the UK. The truth is, I’d probably feel a bit outside anywhere. At least in a place as schizophrenic as Brussels, with two language groups—and that’s before you include all the ethnic groups with their various levels of (dis)integration—I don’t feel that far out.

I’m enjoying my job, which, considering I do it every day, is a good thing. I’m still waiting for my first pay packet; once I’ve got that I’ll be even happier. The job suits me well. I’m doing something I enjoy, messing around with computers and programming all day. I can wear anything I like. I don’t have to get up at stupid o’clock in the morning. My office has a nice atmosphere.

We also have a new programmer joining us. At first, I was worried that he might be my replacement, but since my boss asked for my opinions about him when he came for an interview, I think I’m safe for now! He seems a nice guy and graduated in the same year as me, so I’m looking forward to working with him.

The only downside at the moment is the difficulty of carrying out my DRM research assignment. DRM, by the way, means “Digital Rights Management,” although I’m inclined to agree with the wags who expand it as “Digital Restrictions Management.” Broadly speaking, it’s an anti-copying measure for media files. I’m instinctively somewhat opposed to DRM, mainly because of its reliance on black boxes to explicitly prevent users from having control over their own computers. I wouldn’t welcome it on my computer, but it doesn’t stop me doing my job and it’s quite interesting from a technical standpoint.

What does stop me doing my job is the vast number of hurdles placed in the way. First, you have to get a licence from Microsoft to even test DRM. In order to get the licence, you have to get a code-signing certificate from Verisign. You also have to send a paper agreement to Microsoft in Seattle. When you’ve got the licence, you can download the kit. Then you can start testing...

The difficulty is that each one of these steps is painfully slow. It’s taken three weeks so far, and I still haven’t even got as far as being able to install and start programming something. And I think that my boss wants it working by October!

I miss N——. With me being online all day, and her having broadband at home and a mobile phone that can send and receive email it’s easy to send each other messages throughout the day. It’s amazing how far a little “I’m thinking of you” message can go. But I’m getting soppy.

N—— is working hard towards getting a job over in this corner of the world. She has applied for a job in London that comes with visa sponsorship, and I’ve spent a lot of time today checking her CV and giving her suggestions. If she gets it, I’ll still be in the wrong city, but it’s only a cheap three-hour train ride which, compared to twelve hours in a plane at vast expense, is nothing really.

I’m optimistic that it will all work out for the best.