Mining in a Blockchain


Short introduction to Blockchain

In real-life, tangible things and commodities can be tracked physical. Either one has possession of a certain thing, or they do not. This entails that there cannot be a copy of the commodity with both the sender and the receiver. However, in an online network, when currency, media, emails, votes, IP rights are shared, both the sender and the receiver end up with their copies of the commodity. For example, a video shared among two people cannot be tracked openly by the network. The question, therefore, is Who owns the property if you cannot trust the sender or receiver? Classically, this is known as the double spending problem, which was a vulnerability of online transactions.

In 2009, an author by the pseudo name Satoshi Nakamoto solved the double spending problem and published a white paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” which describes an ingenious solution to the double-spending problem. He called the technology as Blockchain.  I highly recommend you watch the Ted Talk from Don Tapscott, in which he describes the theory and applications of the blockchain.

Blockchain

Figure 1 Example of a Blockchain transaction adapted from “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”

In summary, the four cornerstones of a blockchain network are

  1. Transparency/Immutable: All transactions are open for scrutiny by the entire network and cannot be manipulated
  2. Trust: Historical proof of transactions cannot be hidden, delete, edited (can be edited if the majority of the network agree 51%). Transactions can only be added to the block.
  3. Security: For a rogue to infiltrate a massive network and edit, delete, hijack a transaction history is currently impossible
  4. Distributed network: There are no centralized nodes controlling the transactions

Cryptocurrencies

As seen in Figure 1, Block 2 contains all the information forwarded by Block 1. However, to decrypt the message sent from Block 1, the node (computer) handling Block 2 needs to validate the earlier transactions. This task is called proof of work. Simply put, a proof of work is the work (decryption) the computer has to perform. Once the computer does the proof, it is ready to transmit the information to the network by forming a new block and attaching a signature from node 2. Now information from all previous blocks is contained in the new block. Hence the name BlockChain

As nodes (computers) process blocks and are successful to show the proof of work, they get rewarded with an overall share of block size and their proof of work abilities.  This activity is called mining. A miner is part of the blockchain network, his computer the tool to capture the previous block and validate the earlier transactions of the blockchain. For the effort, the computer gets a small fraction of the overall block value.

There are different kinds of proof of work system. Proof of stake, proof of space, etc. Some are CPU intensive, some are GPU intensive and some HDD intensive. Some require high-performance and specialized hardware e.g., Bitcoin.

Why is BitCoin mining not profitable for small miners?

In 2013, a new kind of chip was introduced called the Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips.  ASIC outperform any modern GPU in solutions/second and therefore are fine-tuned to mining BitCoin. As more of the BitCoin blockchain network converted to ASIC chip based mining, the mining difficulty raised sharply. This killed the aspirations of many small-scale enthusiast miners as their hardware could not complete with ASIC chips and the profitability of mining bitcoin tanked.

Development of Altcoins, i.e., alternative coins started to grow, and investors started to diversify their portfolios to ensure safe investments in cryptocurrencies.

Hint: research for coins which are resistant to ASIC chips. It ensures all miners in the network are relatively well balanced with either CPU or GPUs. This means that your rig may compete with other miners. Leveling the playing field so to speak.

How to select a suitable cryptocurrency to mine?

  • A strong community-based blockchain network is primary. This is because there will be forums, which can help you understand the mining process and more developers to maintain the network.
  • Type of proof-of-work system used. Is the mining resource intensive? For example, CPU and GPU intensive?
  • Market cap of the cryptocurrency. How many coins are available to be mined and how many are already in circulation and what is their current and historic value?
  • Initial investment. Do you want to be a miner or trade in exchanges? How much would a high-end rig cost?
  • Exchange availability: Is the currency listed in any of the major cryptocurrency exchanges? If not, you will have to wait until an exchange accepts the currency to get a payout in dollars or other nationalized currencies.
  • Current difficulty of the network: higher the difficult, lesser the chances of winning blocks. The difficulty of the network fluctuates depending on the block sizes and block generation frequencies.
  • Legality: is the cryptocurrency mining legal in your country?

Difference between pool mining and solo mining

Pool mining is mining with other miners in a pool. If you win a particular block, you share your earnings in the pool and vice-versa. In the long-term, this will payout because you will have a steady income.

Solo mining, on the other hand, is dependent on your hardware capabilities. Mainly, you compete with all the miners in the network to have the best possible and fastest solution to validate a transaction/block. Winning blocks in solo mining may be very hard and rare to come by, but if you do win, you get to keep the total payout for that block to yourself.

The process to mine any cryptocurrency

Step 1 Wallet: You first need to register a wallet in the homepage of the cryptocurrency you are interested. A wallet is similar to a bank account. It mainly contains three essential things

  1. Your public key: The one used during Hashing
  2. Your public account: Your wallet address which can be shared online similar to your bank account number

Your passphrase (password) Keep it very safe even an offline backup is recommended

Process

Figure 2 Process of mining cryptocurrency

Step 2 Mining Software: A mining software links you to the blockchain as a node and also links your wallet to the mining instance. It links you to the pool as well. Usually developed by third parties. Do research in the forums to find out a reliable mining software for your mining setup.

Step 3 Pool or Solo mining: If you choose to pool mine, you have to research, which pools offer you the best return considering your hardware capability. More miners in the pool equate to lesser payout (more people claim block winnings). Again, official forums should help you identify a suitable pool. If you decide to pool mine, the pool may have a dedicated pool website where you need to register and link your wallet so that the winnings can be transferred automatically as you continue to mine. Pool payout schemes also vary. While some pay you instantly, others wait for 24 hours or more before payout. Pools may also ask you to register the name of the worker. A computer doing the mining is called a “Worker”. Registering workers in the pool ensures you can run multiple workers if you intend to and all workers can be linked to a single wallet.

Solo mining is easier to setup, but payouts are rare and high.

 

References and useful links

Exchanges

Most popular exchange, but has had some issues in the recent past https://www.coinbase.com/?locale=en
Up and coming exchange https://bittrex.com/
Probably the least reliable exchange as of now https://poloniex.com/

Market cap

Shows an overview of all the cryptocurrencies https://coinmarketcap.com/

Profitability Calculator

Is mining an option considering power supply cost? These calculators can help you decide.

Calculator showing payoffs for different decryption algorithms https://www.nicehash.com/?p=calc
A calculator for many Cryptocurrencies https://www.cryptocompare.com/mining/calculator/btc?HashingPower=4&HashingUnit=MH%2Fs&PowerConsumption=9&CostPerkWh=0

YouTube how-to videos

Imineblocks is an ideal channel to follow if you want to setup a mining rig. He covers a broad variety of Cryptocurrencies and gives walkthroughs https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjYHcWGAjUVqU49D2JOKD3w
Guntis Vitolins is a hardware expert and helps build high performing mining rigs https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkYCnjVcFJDN6Cp_uP0pv_A
Ameer Rosic is good at analyzing cryptocurrencies and provides valuable advice to build a portfolio https://www.youtube.com/user/AmeerRosic

 

I end this post by adapting a famous quote from Benjamin Franklin:

“An investment in a hobby pays the best interest.”

Advertisements
Posted in Hobbies, Procedures | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My funny encounters with the police


It has been a very long time since I wrote something, which people laugh over. So here it goes. Six instances in my life when the Police taught me a lesson!

1. The chain snatchers

The first instance has to be the most funny one, but till today, I remember the incident quite vividly. I was in my 6th semester, or 3rd year of my engineering studies. I lived with three of the most versatile, quirky, extremely intelligent and friendly roommates I will ever have.

I was also very close friends with one of my friends, who later moved inn with my roommates, lets call him Shashi! So, back to story, it was one of those random nights, were we all wanted to eat out. We wanted to eat at a south Indian restaurant near bell road. Before we left, one of my roommates drank a glass of wine or two, lets call him Abhi (by the way the names are real!). According to him, he was not tipsy (which none of us believed later that night).

We reached the restaurant, had a wonderful dinner and I do remember over eating that night. As we came out of the restaurant, we realized that we had two vehicles and 5 people, a Hero-Honda Splender and a Honda Deo. Needless to say, as a student riding triples (3 people on one motorcycle) was second nature! So, Jess and Shashi took off on the Deo and Krish, Abhi, and I chose to ride on the Splender.

This is where the fun started. Krish and I realized that Abhi seemed to be suddenly full of energy and we kind of started thinking that it should be the wine in him. We ignored the signs, so as we were getting ready to ride the bike, Krish and I thought it would be safer to sandwich Abhi between us on the bike.

As we started moving, we reached a long inner road, usually only frequented by students from the hostels nearby. Krish was known to ride the bike recklessly (although very precise). On the way home, Abhi suddenly started to wave his hands out like he was flying. At the same time, Krish could not negotiate a pot-hole, as we hit the pot-hole, we hopped up not too violently.

That sudden jerk, made Abhi shout out loud while still waving his hands like a bird. There I was, at the back trying to control an overly excited roommate and a roommate keen on riding his bike fast! I suddenly noticed two police officers going the opposite way. I did not think much about them, as it was late night. I thought the Police had better things to do than trouble three college students (Technically, two students, Krish was working for a software company).

Along the way, after about half a kilometer, someone grabs my orange shirt from behind. Mind you, we were still on a moving bike, at an intersection (near MSRIT boys hostel). I asked Krish to slow down the bike, which he did.

To our surprise it was those two police constables we saw passing us some 2 or 3 minutes ago. We were sure that they wanted a bribe or that they will fine us for riding the bike with an extra pillion rider. Again, none of us was worried. But then came a shocking reason for the abrupt stop.

The two constables shouted, “HEY CHAIN SNATCHERS” with an aggressive tone. We did not understand what they meant. We told them that we were on our way back from  dinner.

They did not believe us. Meanwhile, Shashi and Jess met us at the intersection. The constables asked us to get down, and use the other vehicle to follow them. Jess went back home, Shashi came with us on the Deo. The constables split up into two groups, I was asked to sit on the police bike. We were taken to this place where a woman was robbed earlier that night. Someone had stolen her gold necklace. This is what the constable told me on our way to the woman place. As we reached, we were asked to line up! The three of us stood there waiting for the woman to identify us.

Out comes the woman and after taking a look at us said “ No, these are not the robbers, they were fatter and older. They also were on a bigger bike.. It was a Pulsar” and returned back to her house. We thought that the constables had no illegal right to keep us in custody and should allow us to go back home. Only traffic police can fine us for traffic offenses in India, at-least that is what we thought!

I think the constables were agitated for not finding the real robbers, the constables wanted to hustle us. They said, “You now have to come to the police station”. At that moment, we thought it is just a wise decision to not question their authority and followed them to the station.

We asked Shashi to stay outside, since he was not on the bike when we were stopped. Krish, Abhi, and I went into the station. It was a small police station, but had many officers on duty. We were nervous because the whole station looked dark and dirty, possibly because of the power-cut.

So we were asked to wait for the circle inspector (the head of the police station) to finish his work, who was sitting next door. As we were three young men standing in a police station, we attracted attention from other police officers, who asked what did we do to be there. For a while, they seemed to understand that it’s a case of mistaken identity. But then, there was this very tall police officer, in my estimate about 6 feet 6 inches.

He seemed a little irritated with us being there. So he asked us where we are originally from, we said Mangalore. Then something snapped, the police officers asked us “why get in trouble like this and waste parents money by traveling to Bangalore for studies?” We did not respond. This went on for a minute or two. Abhi, the excited one among us, by mistake said “Sorry Sir”. One thing you never do in a Karnataka State Police Station is to speak in English with a hasty tone. It is just a cultural divide and no more. The officers did not like being said sorry to in English.

Nevertheless, when Abhi said “Sorry Sir”, the 6 feet 6 inch behemoth of a Police Officer, seemed to taken offense. Suddenly, about 10 police officers surrounded us, correction, hounded us! They started to verbally abuse us with whatever curses they could think of in Kannada (local language). Imagine this happening to you. 10 people cursing you at a same time and all of them are Police Officers.

Abhi got a little annoyed, and Krish and I knew he has a short temper when people push him. We kept telling him to keep his cool. When he again said Sorry, the monster slapped Abhis back. I thought, this is not good. Things are getting bad to worse. But thankfully,  things started to get to better

Remember the power cut? Turns out that saved us. How you ask?

Earlier, as we entered the police station, we had observed a scrawny looking man who was under police custody sitting on the floor. While the officers were at it cursing us and the monster giving us his attention, the thief thought of making a run into the dark. One of the police officers saw him escaping. All their attention went to catching the thief and bashing him while we were stood there hoping they don’t return their attention to us.

Meanwhile, the circle inspector asked us to come to his office and threatened us that he would file a case and inform the college Principal, if we did not pay him. At this moment, we were tired of all the harassment we received for the last 1.5 hours. We apologized  and said we will not repeat our mistakes and that we will pay the fine.

If it was only us (Abhi and I), it would have been a lot difficult to get out that night. Since Krish worked for a software-company the officers were quite liberal to let us go if we paid.

We returned home that night filled with discussions on what could have been if we were still stuck in the Police Station. I remember going to sleep early morning at 4 am the next day thanking my stars.

Till today, when we talk about that night we share a laugh. I am sure my roommates will laugh their hearts out when they read this post.

Mistaken identity is a terrifying experience.

2. Not a lounge

In India, when you have to order a Passport, there is a process called Police Verification. This process is to ensure that the person applying for a passport can be vetted by a Police Officers review of his/her background.

When I had my Passport Verification the Police Officer came to my house and cross checked the details I listed in my application. However, to finish the process, one needs to visit the Police Station in charge of the application and sign their initials.

The day I went to get my clearance, as a 22-year-old, I was naive about etiquette required in an Indian Police Station. As I was waiting for my turn to sign, I sat on the chair provided but crossed my legs. That was a mistake.

Two officers did not like the way I sat and shouted at me for crossing my legs in a government office. Needless to say, I was scared that a simple thing of crossing you legs can make Police Officers mad. They however did not trouble me more, I said “Sorry” in Kannada and everything went as planned.

Pro tip: Do not cross your legs in an Indian Government Office!

3. You are transferred

This happened on my second trip to India from Norway. As a fairly less traveled person, I was unaware of some flying etiquette.

The Lufthansa route I was traveling had one stoppage at Frankfurt. As the flight landed in Frankfurt the shuttle bus dropped at the arrival gate. I made my way to the arrival corridor and saw the transfers gate is to the right some 200 meters far. Since I had a long wait for the next departure, I thought I can just sit in the seats at the corridor.

Two Police Officers came to me and asked me what I was doing. They did not seem to like where I was sitting, but were quite calm about it. They first asked me where I was traveling and from where. They then asked me for my passport and boarding passes.

They said, you have to move from here. This area is not for the transfer and you cannot sit here. In hindsight, I understand why they said so. It is just a security protocol to keep people in their intended regions.

So next time.. you land in an airport, continue  walking to the transfers area.

4. The 07:00 am drug dealer

So in 2014, I was moving back to Trondheim after my stay at Kongsberg. To shift my belongings, I had planned to make two trips to Trondheim. On my second trip, I had with me, one suitcase and two rucksack. I boarded a late night train from Oslo to Trondheim. So, the next morning, the train reached the Trondheim station at around 6:45 am. As I was trying to haul my bags, it took me some time. At the underpass of the railway tracks, there was a slim looking person, who gave me a strong stare.

I don’t trust people in a public place, so I ignored him at first. As I approached towards the exit of the underpass, his stare grew a tad stronger. With a flick of his head, he asked me to come over to him. I shrugged my shoulders and tried to avoid going towards him. Now as every person in the world does, I started to stereotype him as a someone shady person. He had Addidas tracks on him and watching his move, I assumed he must be one of those drug dealers I heard exist in Trondheim.

Then he tried to show me a badge, I was not sure, I still hesitated. He insisted, and asked me to step aside. He then showed his badge clearly. On it, was the bold text which read “POLITI”.

Ouch!!! I told myself I am stopped by a Police Officer once again. Turns out, he was an undercover Police Officer. He started getting my general details, why I was traveling?, from where was I traveling?, what work will I be doing in Trondheim?… so on and so forth.

I complied. He then said, “You can go now”. So next time someone wearing a week old beard and pair of lousy sports trainers stops you in Norway, it may well be an undercover cop!

Not every person is a slim shady!

5. The local goon

So about 1.5 years ago, I used to stay near a place called Solsiden in Trondheim. Quiet a happening place. Ok, I am drifting out of topic. One evening, as I was engrossed watching Netflix, someone knocks on the door, real hard.

Such knocks seldom occur in Trondheim/Norway so my anxiety shot up. I rushed to the door, and I see three well-built vikings AKA Police Officers. Even the woman officer was above 6 feet. An intimidating site for anyone. They spoke to me in Norwegian with a rather intimidating tone.

I was scared, but knew I had not done anything illegal. The officer asked me my details, what my name was?, what I was doing in Trondheim?, was I alone in the house?

I kept answering all his questions. After about what seemed like 10 minutes of interrogation, the officer in the front asked my name again. So, turns out they were looking for someone else who has been booked before for some violence. That person used to stay in the same apartment block.

“Ufff. That was a close call, again”, I said.

6. Lost and found

This last encounter was more of a coincidence than anything else. So in Norway there is this noble routine people do called gis bort (give away). These are items and things, which people give away for various reasons, for free. As I was moving to a new place, I was in need for some furniture and getting some things for free is never a bad deal!

During one of these pick-ups, I noticed a key bunch beside the parking spot. The key bunch had a dog-tag attached to it with a message, which read “if found, please hand it over to the Police”. It also had a serial number through, which I guess the police can get in touch with the real owners.

All this happened late in the evening, and I knew the police station is closed. Yes, there are working hours for Police Stations in Norway. So, I was wondering what to do. As I turned to my right, I saw another person getting out of his car.

I ran to him, he looked Norwegian, so I asked him, “what do I do when I get a key-bunch like this and the police station may be closed?” He looked at me and said, give it to me. I am a off-duty Police Officer!

Mamma mia! what are the chances to come across a police officer getting out of his car?, with what looked like his trip back from the gym carrying a duffel bag! Anyway, I hope the key found its right owner in the end. I would not know if it did, ask the Police!

A quote to end this post:

“Do not judge people by what they are wearing, saying, looking,  feeling, or doing. Let them surprise you, which they will.”

Posted in Life lessons, Norway Diaries | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How to Get a Car Driving License in Norway?


Obtaining a car drivers license in Norway is a time-consuming process. There are a lot of different requirements for individuals from different age groups, and nationalities. For all matters related to driving licenses http://www.atl.no/ is the parent site which gives you an overview of requirements to obtain a driving license while, http://www.vegvesen.no/ is the official website of Norway’s road administration. The above two offices collaborate with the certified driving schools to issue drivers licenses to all classes of vehicles in Norway.

Step 1: Register yourself as an applicant

Fill the application form online (http://www.vegvesen.no/) using your national ID number or by sending in filled hard copy of application form to the nearest traffic station (Statens Vegvesen).

Link to online application

Link to the application form (January 2015)

Link to find the nearest traffic station

After you register your application, the police performs a background check to ensure you are eligible for this license. A reference number is provided to your application via email immediately after submit the online application. You can log in to vegvesen’s website to check the status of your application using your national ID number. The police verification is valid for 6 months, before which you need to start with step 2 or step 3.

Step 2: Buy or loan the theory book

The road to your driving license and read it entirely from start to finish. You will also find copies of this book in the kommune library in the city you live. (community library) This step can be quiet a struggle for people who despise reading theory books, but it is a very well written book to learn how a cars function and what is required to be a good driver in Norway.

Once you have finished reading the book it is time to practice theory questions by either buying a second workbook, which can also be purchased from http://www.atl.no/ or loaned from the nearest kommune library. This book covers basic questions that you will be answering in the theory exam.

OR

Register and buy access to theory questions at https://teoritentamen.no . (I highly recommend this site) This website provides a huge collection of theory questions. The questions are objective type questions and highly resemble the questions asked in the theory exam. They have online access as well as an app on which you can practice. You chose the package you like (one day, one week, monthly access pass)

The theory exam is drop-in exam, meaning you just have to go to the traffic station in your city, register yourself for the test, and write it on the same day. Remember that all local traffic stations have fixed one weekday when they offer theory exam slots. All you need to write the theory exam is your identity card (Norwegian 11 digit number or Norwegian bank card with photo or your passport) and successful validated online application (validated by the police as mentioned above). Take your unique application reference number just in case.

When you pass the theory test, the test supervisor will give you a printout of your mark sheet and further processing information. The test results are valid for 3 years from the passed date.

Thoeryexam

Step 3: Contact the nearest authorized driving school.

The driving schools in Norway use a centralized system with cooperation of ATL to follow the progress of a student. It is the driving schools responsibility to register you as a student at their school and convey this to the city traffic station (Vegvesen). All course fees is payable via the login details provided by the driving school.

When you contact the driving school, the instructors want to assess your current driving skills. Hence, they will normally ask you to register for an assessment class where you drive for about 45 minutes and they assess the amount of training required to prepare you for the practical driving test. If they feel you have good control, they will probably only ask you to take the mandatory courses. This is individualistic based on your driving skills and experience.

The whole process of obtaining a license is based on approval from the driving school; the driving instructor has authority to sign-off at the end of each stage. If he/she feels that you have not gained enough skills, they can ask you to take extra courses or ask you to practice with your friends who have a car and are over 25 years. (See below for private driving rules)

All the mandatory courses and theory exams should be completed before taking a practical test. However, one can choose to take the theory test during any of the four stages as illustrated below.

The mandatory course requirements are different for adults below the age of 25 and above the age of 25. The below table shows the difference.

RulesDrivinglicense

There are totally four stages to complete before attaining a Norwegian Driving License.

DrivingNorwaytest

Stage 1- Basic traffic course

If you are below 25 years old- Basic traffic course 10 hours (Learners permit) + 4 hours first aid course + 3 hours night driving demonstration.

If you are above 25 years old-  4 hours first aid course (First aid and measures in traffic accidents) + 3 hours night driving demonstration.

Majority of the 4 hours first aid course is a theoretical but it also consists of practical accident scenario training with dummies. While, the night demonstration course as the name suggest is a demonstration of hazards during night driving, use of headlights during normal driving and during overtaking etc.

Stage 2 – Basic driving and driving skills

Consists of classes with focus on basic driving skills. These skills consist of, making yourself ready before driving, looking long way forward, driver posture while driving, positioning the car, gear shifting, acceleration, steering and braking, reversing, waiting and parking, knowing important tools used in the car (opening hood, screen cleaner fluid etc.)

At the end of stage two, a 45-minute driving lesson with feedback from the instructor and a self-assessment of your driving is scheduled. After approval from the instructor for stage 2, you can continue to stage 3.

Stage 3 – Road traffic skills

Consists of lessons on traffic systems, group of traffic users and their use of roads, driving your car in an economical perspective, traffic regulations, traffic signboards, reading road signs, absorbing and processing road information, and driving in residential areas, tight/narrow roads in light to medium traffic.

Mandatory Driving course Safety Course in Closed circuit 3 hours

Stage 3 also consist of an important piece of training – Slippery (Glattkjøring/sikkerhets kurs på bane) road training. NAF is the Norway’s Automobile Association who provide slippery circuits to rent. The lanes in the circuits contain a mixture of oil and water to make them slippery. This course gives exposure to driving in slippery conditions and is one of the most exciting yet important courses in the process.

This stage also consists of a course (45 to 90 minutes) on driving in semi-motorways with multiple lanes.

At the end of stage three, a 45-minute driving lesson with feedback from the instructor and a self-assessment of your driving is scheduled. After approval from the instructor for stage 4, you can continue to stage 4.

Stage 4- The final training

Mandatory Theory course Risks of driving 2 hours

Stage 4 starts with a theory course on driving risks for a duration of 90 minutes. This course provides examples of risky situations and tricks to avoid them while driving on the road.

Mandatory Driving course Safety Course on roads Long Distance driving 5 hours

The second course in stage 4 is the long-distance driving safety course. In this course, the student drives for close two 4 hours with continued instructions from the instructors. The course also consists of practical emergency procedures followed in case of a car malfunction. This is the longest course in the whole process but one, which is entirely fun. You will get to see parts of your city you never seen before!

Mandatory Driving course Tour Planning course Long distance 4 hours

The third course in stage 4 is Tour Planning course. The instructor provides the starting and the finishing destinations and you have to make the plan to go from A to B. For example, I had in total seven destinations within Trondheim to cover and 30 minutes to plan the best route to cover all the destinations in 3 hours.

Use the GPS in the car or any other navigational aids while driving and while planning the tour is permitted. However, during this course, the instructor does not give any planning input. The student is the driver and the instructor will not help in planning the overall trip. The course is for 3 hours.

The tip in this course is to plan your travel based on ROAD NUMBERS and EXIT NUMBERS. These two are the easiest way to remember the European highways or motorways.

At the end of the tour planning course, the student is asked to evaluate mistakes and opportunities where he/she can improve.

———————————————————————————————————————–

Registration of practical test in Statens Vegvesen

Recently, there has been a change in the process. Earlier, the driving school had powers to register the student to a practical driving test by its own. However, now the student can choose to change powers or give powers  to a specific driving school.

To do this, log in to your page at Statens Vegvesen website and choose to give full authority to your driving school. The page is accessible both in Norwegian and English languages. The new system also allows you to cross check all your courses taken at the driving school.

Once you had over the authority to the driving school, they will register you for the final test at the local traffic station.

Remember – You also need to have passed the theory exam before taking the practical test.

Finally, you are ready for……

The practical test

The practical test takes place at your local traffic station. The driving school will ask you to take an optional 45 minutes class while driving from the driving school to the traffic station. This class is very beneficial to take because it helps you clam your nerves before the real test. A certified car is required for the driving test. In most cases, it is best to loan the car from the driving school.

In this link you will find details on how the practical test is designed from the traffic regulators perspective. It also describes clearly, expectations of the sensor during the driving test from you. According to the rules, the assessor should take into consideration the overall driving and cannot look for mistakes in your driving. This means that even if you make mistakes it is OK. You can correct your mistakes in a safe way on the road without obstructing other motorists and pedestrians.

There are set of theory questions, which are asked during the practical test. The driver is expected to be proficient to answer them. Thankfully, there is a power point presentation from one of the driving schools from Northern Norway (Traffikskolen in Harstad). You will find the power-point presentation here.

 After the test

After finishing the practical test you drive back to the traffic station and the test sensor will inform you if you have passed or failed the test.

If you passed the practical test, you will need to continue to the traffic station and wait to receive a temporary printout of your driver’s license. The temporary license is valid for a month within Norway. The license card will be printed and sent you to your address within 4 to 5 working days.

If you failed the practical test, an explanation to you will be given by the sensor with reasons for the result. The rules state that, you can re-take the practical test only after 4 weeks from the last test and that you shall have a two driving lessons from the driving school.

To register to the second attempt, you will have to give the driving school the authority to book the next available test date.

————————————————————————————————————-

Overview of courses and tests I took

It took me from June 2014 until January 2015 to get my driving license in Norway. 7  long months to get an automatic car driving license. It is no doubt a time-consuming and an expensive investment. Hopefully, it will be worth the effort.  For people who are planning to take up a driving license this below table should give a clear overview of courses and an approximate cost of the whole process.

Rows in green font are mandatory courses, which need to be taken. Rest are optional.

Drivinglicensecostnorway

  Thanks to the driving instructors

I am grateful to my driving instructors, Ingri and Camilla at Ole Bil og MC (Kongsberg) and Traffisikker (Trondheim). I highly recommend these schools for people who are living in Kongsberg or Trondheim.

I wanted to get a driving license because I could not show my friends some great places when they visited me. Before then, I always thought investing my energy in getting a license is a waste of time and money. I will like to finish this post with a quote-

 “Somethings in life seem unnecessary for now, but when the necessity comes, regret of not planning follows with it.”

 

Posted in Norway Diaries, Procedures | Tagged , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

The Fare


“This short story is dedicated to all rickshaw drivers in India who lead their everyday life with an attitude for gratitude.”

 

Prologue

How many of us in our lives feel the need to give? Many quiet often and few sadly, never. For those who get a chance to share something with the needy, the feeling of sharing comforts them with heartwarming blissful smiles. Smiles, which can sooth any suffering, smiles, which can make them forget the hardships of the past, current, or future life. For some this blissful feeling is a daily occurrence.

This story is about a self-respecting rickshaw driver named Manju who lives in the city of Bangalore, India. During a trip to Bangalore in the year 2012, I met Manju and was interested to know more about his life experiences as a rickshaw driver.

Manju continues to be committed to his profession and is determined to make a good living from it. The three life events depicted in this short story are highly contrasting past experiences of his. Experiences which would leave you with a feeling of gratitude for fellow strangers, display the constant harassment of society and one which would outrage the demon inside you. In short, this story is about the good, bad, and ugly side of a rickshaw driver’s life.

Bangalore, an ever growing south Indian city has seen rapid growth in the last few decades. However, this city for years has faced serious limitation in mass transportation. This situation has fueled demand for the infamous three wheelers of Indian streets, locally known as the rickshaws. Rickshaws provide residents of Bangalore a quick mode of private transport to get around one part of the city to another. Hence, in the recent years the numbers of rental rickshaws have transcended far beyond the government estimates.

As the city grew, the need for rickshaw drivers increased. Some chose the profession since it provided for all the basic life necessities, while others chose it as a stepping-stone to jobs with better rewards. Even with increasing number of rickshaws, the outskirts of the city lacked reliable and quick transport modes.

Manju was one such rickshaw driver who saw this opportunity as a stepping-stone. His life during the initially years in the city was harsh. He was not comfortable with the city lifestyle.

Adding to his uneasiness the rash and cold emotions of city dwellers did not help either. His childhood and youth years were spent at his family farm in the calm country-town of Mandya. Soon after moving to the city of Bangalore, Manju realized that he was not able to make ends meet for his family. Manju was only able to study till class 10 after which he helped his father in cultivating the farm. This was also one of the reasons that why Manju was not able to find a stable job in the city. Keshav, a close aide and a friend of Manju from the city had earlier discussed the growing demographic of Bangalore and that his boss was looking to lease a rickshaw to someone who was trustworthy.

“Manju, why don’t you try this line of work? You can earn enough to sustain your family. If you want to work as a rickshaw driver, I can recommend you to my boss.” Keshav said. Manju in the following weeks contemplated on both the opportunities and challenges his decision would bring in the future. His determination to make a good living was rock solid, he could not let go, but give this opportunity a try. That is how he decided to work as a rickshaw driver. Quietly he murmured to himself. “Someday, I do not have to ask people for directions!” Manju sure knew how to make a scuttle humor of such situations!

Compulsive yet cautious, that is how Manju was brought up. His father, Chinappa once told him, “If you are ever going to succeed in life you have to take tough decisions, but never forget the importance of cautious thinking.” Perhaps, Manju still remembered his father’s wise words and had developed these traits into his personality. Manju was a quick learner and was therefore able to adjust to his new occupation. As days turned to months and months to years, he grew confident and content with his choice to work as rickshaw driver. After three years of being an ideal rickshaw driver he had seen both the good and bad things the city had to offer. Or so he thought. The city had more surprises to offer him.

——

The Good

Manju remembers one night shift vividly. It was a night in November 2007. Bangalore’s early winter chill was starting to be felt by late evenings. Manju had leased a new rickshaw and to pay back the loan, he worked night shifts. The night fares usually earned him a profit of one and half times the normal hours. That evening was no different.

At around 10:30 P.M. on his way to Shivajinagar, he spotted a customer. The customer asked Manju if he could drop him to Hebbal; a city outskirt during those years. Manju complied but soon realized that he was running low on petrol. As a display of honesty, Manju informed the customer that he is running low on fuel and that he would need to stop at the fuel station on route to Hebbal. The customer agreed on the condition.

Unfortunately for Manju, the rickshaw ran out of petrol and came to a complete stop six to seven kilometers from the passenger’s destination. Manju was forced into a dilemma. He either had to leave the vehicle and get some petrol or had to sleep in the rickshaw for the night. He was also unsure what to tell the passenger. Meanwhile, the customer suddenly left the rickshaw without any notice. When the customer reached a few meters away from the rickshaw he shouted, “I will be back”.

The passenger found a passing by vehicle and requested a lift. Manju was happy that the customer found a transport to reach home. Manju tried to figure out a solution to the situation. After thinking for twenty minutes, he decided to park the rickshaw in the shoulders of the sub-urban road and planned to spend the night in the vehicle. As he slowly dozed to sleep, Manju heard a feeble noise of a two-wheeler from some distance away. He woke up and to his astonishment it was the customer who left earlier. Manju was not sure why the customer came back. The customer removed a bottle full of petrol from his bag-pack and said, “Here you go, and I hope this would be sufficient for you to reach the petrol station, but perhaps, it is not enough to reach your home” Manju was awestruck after experiencing the generosity of the customer. The customer told him. “I found a petrol station just about four kilometers away.”

An emotional Manju continued saying “I think he was surely one with a golden soul.” According to Manju, this incident is an epitome of warm friendly gesture from a total stranger. It is not often that we get to meet people who can understand others pain. Some, who understand, fail by not making an effort to involve their selves to be a solution. Manju continued to say, “To see someone be this supportive was entirely one in a million!”

“Next time you see someone in need of a helping hand, do not think twice just get involved. Helping out a stranger always feels great.”

 

——

The Bad

As we passed through busy city streets, we witnessed a makeshift office of a traffic inspector. Manju for some reason turned red in anger. In the little time I spent with Manju, I had not noticed such strong feeling of contempt. Seeing him in anger I wondered, someone must have wronged him in a very personal way. My wait to know the reason for his anger was very short-lived.

Manju said, “Many things have hurt me as a rickshaw driver, but none can surpass the continuous harassment from the traffic police in this city.” He told me that once on his way to drop a customer he accidentally bumped into a white SUV. This incident had occurred very close from the area we were passing. Unluckily for Manju, the SUV was owned by a traffic inspector. Other than a small dent on the bumper, the hit did not damage the SUV badly, but Manju was unaware that he would have to pay heavily for his puny mistake.

The traffic inspector on duty summoned his subordinates to the scene and Manju was first booked for driving under the influence of alcohol, which Manju told me was a lie. Manju told me that he was a non-alcoholic; “It was his word against mine; A police inspector vs. a pity rickshaw driver.”
The high-handed police officer also stripped Manju of his driver’s license for two months. There were no courts, no witnesses. The sole intention of that police inspector was to make Manju’s life miserable. I doubt if he really thought for a second the suffering he was about to impose on poor man like Manju and not to forget his dependent family. “They say we are here to serve and protect. The day all this happened they did not serve me justice, nor did the other officers protect me from the inspector’s fury.”

At the end of it all, the owner of his rickshaw was the only person who came to Manju’s aid and negotiated with the police. Manju with a dry throat said, “When all this subsided, I was left with a five thousand rupee debt to my rickshaw’s owner. That is my one month’s salary bribed away to some police officer because his car accidentally got a dent from my rickshaw!”

Reflecting on what Manju said, I remembered some of my first hand experiences with the traffic police in Bangalore and I felt his pain and helplessness as the only breadwinner of his family. I can only imagine the tough times Manju has faced in his life as a rickshaw driver. Not everyone is strong enough to do what he does day in, day out.

“Bad things happen to everyone, but good friends will lift you back to your feet, each time, every time.”

——

The Ugly

After venting out his dire experiences with the traffic police, Manju continued to another grim tale of his life as a rickshaw driver. An experience, which made him contemplate the decision to continue to drive a rickshaw. The incident, which seeded in him a thought of suspicion and caution towards every customer he would serve in the future.

Like any other day, Manju was finishing his morning chores at his home. Helping his wife ready the kids to school, cleaning the rickshaw, making sure his mobile was charged etc. Manju planned to open a new bank account on that day, so he carried two thousand rupees with him. Manju left for work at 8:00 A.M. and decided to take few fares before going to the bank in the afternoon. It was around eleven in the morning when he came across three people waving for a pickup. Manju drove to the customers and asked where they would like to go.

The three men asked Manju to drive to a city outskirt. Manju politely told them that it was very far away for a usual fare and that he would have to return back without any customers from that area. As he was about to drive away, one of the men told Manju that it was an emergency at his house and they did not want to waste valuable time waiting for another rickshaw. They requested Manju to increase the fare to two times the normal charge.

Manju thought for a moment and decided that he would like to serve the men and would drop them as quickly as he could. The rickshaw slowly passed the outskirt of the city, soon the traffic density on the roads decreased drastically. The roads in the area were entirely alien to Manju and he was depending on the three customers to give him directions.

As they reached a long stretch of road, one of the men asked Manju to turn left at the next junction and said, “I know a shortcut.” Manju complied and started driving on a narrow undeveloped road. After a kilometer into the narrow road, one of the men asked Manju to stop the rickshaw for a minute, “I have a cramp in my leg; I want to stretch my muscles.” Manju did what the customer requested and stopped at the road shoulder. Meanwhile, a second passenger also left for his toilet break. There was only one passenger left in the rickshaw along with Manju.
As the two men returned somewhat in a rush, Manju felt some-thing was wrong. The three men shouted at him in unison. “GET OUT OF THE RICKSHAW, NOW.”

Manju saw three sharp knives in their hands. That is when he realized that the three men were not genuine passengers rather they were seasoned thieves. It was one of Manju’s worst nightmares coming true; being robbed while working.

They ordered Manju to give them all the money he had. Two thousand rupees, which was destined to be saved in the bank, were now in the pockets of those thieves. The looters also took his mobile phone, the only communication device Manju owned. They bagged his radio in the rickshaw as well. During all this time the only thing Manju was afraid was that the burglars might also rob his rickshaw. He said to me “That day if those thieves had done anything to my rickshaw or robbed it, I do not know how I would have sustained my life. They only took things, which I can replace.”

When he ended his talk, I felt that this man has seen it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly that this world had to offer. But impressively one thing he continued embracing from all these experiences was his attitude for gratitude. He was grateful for whatever little he had left with him.

“What you have with you, a million people do not. Appreciate whatever you have, treasure it and believe more will follow with this attitude.”

——

Epilogue

Next time you see a rickshaw driver or any hardworking human remember that as you he too has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly side of this world. The perception you make about him may not be mutual. You are his customer and you are his breadwinner. My simple message to the reader is to be open and think about your worst nightmare. My guess is that the people around you have experienced worse situations and live to tell a story if you ever asked them.

We Indians are well known for our tolerating culture, but sadly the discrimination sect within the society in the form of personal stature keeps provoking this innate culture. “Kaliyug” as the Vedas say, are the times of evil. When I asked Manju how it feels after all these experiences, Manju replied with a content smile, “What experience are you talking about; this auto is my life and my family’s only security.”

I thought to myself, that this undoubtedly was an epitome for an attitude for gratitude. Not everyone can say I am happy even during the worst of their adversities. The best we can do as commuters is to be happy and sport a smile on our face and quit the nature to judge a book by its cover.

“Next time you hire a rickshaw, remember; the rickshaw driver too lives in this earth to get by his time. Share the time with mutual respect and admiration. He is also one in a billion like you!”

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Minimalism update


It is soon close to a year since I adopted a minimalist lifestyle. While starting off with this lifestyle, I did not set out with extreme goals like the pro-minimalist out there who live life with as less as 50 to 100 things in their possession.

That is quite impractical in my opinion, I suppose it works well for them, but I did not want to live such an extreme lifestyle. Nevertheless, I met some personal goals and have tried to maintain them in the 1st year. I would like to share some good and some challenging experiences with minimalism in this update post.

Minimalism to me is a lifestyle which has made me realize that things don’t make me happy anymore; I can make myself happy with what I already have. I have drastically reduced on my spending by detaching myself from greed of wanting more things.

This lifestyle has given me more time to improve on my hobbies, talk more often with friends, go workout or just do nothing for the evening! Doing nothing also is a great pleasure in this fast paced life where we are constantly bombarded with information and seduced with advertisements at every corner.

I will start with four good experiences of following a minimalist regime.

Not easily impressed by things people own

One thing interesting about this lifestyle is that sooner or later you realize that it helps you recognize people who value life more than their things.

It helps you connect with people in a deeper sense than just on the basis of the kind of house, car or gadgets they own. I have nothing against people who want to own things, what I mean to say is, I value their gestures or actions more than their things and this sense has only grown stronger along the months.

I think this is one of the best advantages of this lifestyle. You want to be around people who see life as gift in itself.

Focused on hobbies

As you relieve yourself from unwanted things and their thoughts, you start to explore your own talents. Instead of sitting with a joystick and playing PS3 it was time for me to improve on what I had in me; my voice.

I took upon singing after a long break, but this time focused on practicing a lot and recording karaoke covers of my favorite songs. Doing this regularly during weekends has been a great boast to my mood and moral. Learning new recording techniques has been a fantastic experience as well.

I don’t think I would have taken up recording seriously if I still had all the distractions around me. So I credit this positive change to the minimalist lifestyle.

Always at peace at home

As I described in the last post, having too many things around me made me feel very guilty for buying them and not using them to the fullest. After the change, I have observed that my mood at home is always nice and calm.

I have started using all the things I own very frequently, which meant that they were serving their purpose in my life and not the other way around.

Simple diet

In these eleven months, I have ensured to adopt the principle of minimalism in my diet as well. Eating simple good food was my aim. The intake of sugary treats and processed foods have decreased drastically. Instead of these junk food, simple whole foods like fruits, oats, brown rice, brown bread and fresh vegetables have replaced them. I also started making fresh juices by mixing 5 different vegetables (carrot, capsicum, tomatoes, spinach, celery) for breakfast, though it tastes bad I have come to realize it gives good nutrition. This combined with a good workout regime has helped me reach the best physical shape of my life.

A famous quote goes; “You are what you eat.” I realize what it is to eat well and good food now. Again, this simplistic diet was the result of the minimalist lifestyle. I still do let myself have some pieces of desert during social occasions, but the quantity is way less compared what I used to eat before.

Wait!

There are always two faces to a coin.

It was not all easy sailing. I want to acknowledge the challenges I faced during this year as well. I am sure everyone following such lifestyle has gone through these challenges.

Selling, giving away or throwing away stuff

Both the feeling of not being able to have something you yearned some years ago and the associated backlash of letting things go were the main challenges I faced. I had emotional attachment to many of the things I had to give away. Be it gifts from my family or that thing I gifted myself after my first salary.

Those are very strong emotions to control. But amazingly the feeling of losing these things only lasts so long. After the initial de-cluttering, I did not miss those things anymore.

The mind is a strange thing; it tells you “See, you really did not need it” and starts to console you right away!

Conscience policing

Constantly telling yourself to control your spending can be an irritating feeling especially when you know that it is your own conscience trying to convince you all the time.

“You do not need this now!”

I experienced this whenever I was in a mall. Sarcastically, it reminded me of a parent-child relationship. Conscience, being the parent and constantly minding the child who wants that shiny little thing!

This constant advice can get to your nerves, but after a good night’s sleep or asking a friend’s opinion, I always realized that the conscience was right; I did not need something which I already had.

One such situation was my wish to buy a new cycle when I already had a decent working cycle. I avoided unnecessary hassle and spending after a good friendly talk with my apartment mate and asking him for his opinion.

Smartphone off, basic phone on

One area which I thought minimalism could help me was to limit my online presence. Recently, I have boycotted the use of a smartphone.

The utility of a phone is to be able to call and receive messages. Any additional feature is just a bonus. All the other services are always easily accessible through a laptop.

The constant messages, emails, social networking not only wasted my time but also disrupted my focus.

I am currently on a one month experiment to see if I can continue living without a smartphone. I plan to write about this experiment in a separate post, soon.

I realize that this is a lifestyle, which will be looked as a weird choice by many. It is definetly not an easy journey, but unless you try it for yourself, you really won’t know how good it feels. I would highly recommend this lifestyle to those people who are looking for simplifying their personal lives or ones who are tired of taking care of their things. I want to finish this post with a quote the meaning of which I have experienced first hand.

 

“The greed of wanting something can be strong, but so is the strength of your conscience to resist that greed.”

Posted in Life lessons, Norway Diaries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Job Applications in Norway


It has been a while since I last wrote a “how to” post. Many of my friends and acquaintances have asked me questions like “How to search for a job in Norway”? or “How to apply for a job in Norway?” In this post, I will try to document all the information I know on the topic of job applications in Norway. I have tried to keep the information as generic as possible to suit a wide range of job applicants.

During 2010 to 2012, I had applied to 40 job listings. 27 of which were for the summer job as a student and 13 for job listings during the last semester of my master’s. Even with so many applications, I cannot answer everything on this topic, so be wise and proactive by improvising on the information provided in this post as best suited for you.

Hyperlinks to relevant websites are embedded in the text and relevant formats of supporting documents are also available below.

Okay, lets start this!

1. Job Search

Main Industries in Norway: First and foremost, you need to know which industry do you want to work. As of today, the four main industries (engineering/finance/natural science) in Norway are

Once you know which industry matches your profile, next step is to search job vacancies. Be it full time, part time jobs, research jobs or summer jobs you will be able to find it in Norway.

2. Job listings in Norway

I presume that you do not know which websites provide job listings in Norway. In that case, I have listed key Norwegian job listing websites with a short description on each one of them below.

NOTE: Most of these sites require you to upload a CV or register as an user and make a CV as per their own format.

  • http://www.finn.no/jobb/    (Norwegian page)
    Finn.no is the go-to site for Norwegians because it also is the largest online second hand market site (Norwegian equivalent to e-bay). Among the services offered in this website, listing of job vacancies is one of them. Almost all job vacancies in Norway are listed in this website.
  • https://tjenester.nav.no/stillinger/forside  (Norwegian and English pages)
    NAV is the social security network in Norway, and hence both engineering/non-engineering skilled and non-skilled jobs vacancies are listed in this website and you can narrow your search to respective county offices. After finn.no NAV is the second biggest job listing site in Norway.
  • https://www.tu.no/jobb/stilling/jobs/  (Norwegian and English pages)
    This listing site is sponsored by the main student/professional union: Tekna. The site has close cooperation with all the above mentioned industries. If you work or study as an engineer then this is the go-to site to find relevant job vacancies.
  • http://www.jobb24.no/   (Norwegian page)
    Another job listing site which forays into a wide variety of industry in Norway.
  • http://www.statsjobb.no/  (Norwegian page)
    A job listing site which specializes in posting vacancies in county administrative offices and state offices.
  • http://www.medrec.no/ (Norwegian page)
    This website specializes in job listings on medical staff job vacancies. They also collaborate with “Manpower.no” so it is a good idea to follow-up the vacancy through the nearest manpower office.
  • https://www.jobbnorge.no/ (Norwegian and English pages)
    Jobbnorge.no provides vacancies listings on nursing, academia, engineering and vacancies in various county administration offices.
  • http://www.universitetstillinger.no/ (Norwegian page)
    This website specializes in job listings in academia in and around the Nordic region and Europe. So, if you are looking for an academic position this site should be in your to-search list.
  • https://www.trainee.no/ (Norwegian and English page)
    If you have graduated recently from a school, then this site will provide you with job listings on trainee vacancies in Norway.
  • http://www.karrierestart.no/ (Norwegian page)
    This website provides large array of job listings for both recently graduated students and experienced professionals.
  • https://www.jobzone.no/ (Norwegian page)
    In most cities of Norway, you will find a local office of Job Zone. Job Zone mainly deal with part-time job vacancies and some full-time jobs. To find jobs such as cleaning, waiting tables, and other part-time jobs this is the best alternative. You can narrow your search to respective county offices. This can be a useful platform to search for part-time work as a student in Norway.
  • http://www.manpower.no/ (Norwegian and English page)
    Manpower is the multinational recruiting firm which also has a strong base in Norway. Similar to jobzone.no manpower specializes in part-time work and also deal with full-time work possibilities. Manpower has a great deal of expertise in recruiting and hence companies also outsource head-hunting consultants from manpower. In other words they can be a bridge between you and a possible unlisted job vacancy.  You can narrow your search to respective county offices. It is always a good idea to visit the nearest office of manpower and have a chat with one of their recruitment consultant. The contact details of the recruiting consultants are public and are always mentioned on their website.
  • http://www.adecco.no (Norwegian page)
    A swiss multinational recruiting firm which also has similar offerings as manpower. Adecco, is as popular as manpower in Norway. So, it is a good idea to also visit the nearest Adecco office and talk to the relevant recruiting consultant (Full-time or part-time).  You can narrow your search to respective county offices. The contact details of the recruiting consultants are public and are always mentioned on their website.
  • http://www.ecn.as/(Norwegian page)
    As high number of immigrant work force is utilized in engineering companies, Norway has its own share of consultant companies one among the biggest consultant companies is ECN.
  • https://www.linkedin.com/ (English)
    Currently, having a profile in Linkedin is see as a positive attribute by Norwegian head-hunters and Human Resource departments. And number of job listings posted in Linkedin will only grow with time. So, it can be the a good idea to explore your options on this platform as well.

NOTE: Ensure to Google “Konsulent” and you will find many more Norwegian consultant companies.

3. Application preparation

Let us now assume you have found a job vacancy which suits your profile. The next step is to get your application documents in order. In Norway, companies expect you to have certain application documents along with the CV, but do not often inform which documents you need to provide.

Application documents

1. Cover Letter (Template below)

In Norway, a cover letter with a CV is a requirement which goes without asking. Recruiters in Norway like in most countries, like to know the applicant’s reasons for applying to the job. A cover letter gives them a clear idea on your motivation to apply and your background. But don’t not drag the contents to more than one page. Norwegian’s like things which are written in simple words and short.

————————————————Cover Letter Template————————————————–

Feel free to edit the GREEN text as required. Delete RED text. Try to limit the letter to one page.

XXX Applicant                                      01.03.2014
Address
Tlf:

To “Contact Person (listed in the job listing)”
Application: “Job listing heading/reference”

Intro Paragraph 1: Reference to the job and your motivation in one sentence.
After citing your requirement for XXX Position in your website and discussions I had with XXX Person, I would like to apply for “job listing heading/reference”. I found that this particular vacancy suits ideally to my current interest and my long-term career plan.

Body Paragraph 2: Try to answer the following question in this paragraph. What are you doing currently? What educational background do you have? Which subjects field interests you? What experience motivated you to apply to this position?

Body Paragraph 3: Try to answer the following question in this paragraph. Short details on your experience with a field or previous work. What affiliations have you had and what were you achievements previously? Your CV will give more details on this. So, keep it short and simple.  

Conclusion Paragraph 4: Try to answer the following question in this paragraph. Give 3 reasons why you are best suited for this job? Make this paragraph as a lasting impression of you. Think out of the box and keep it to the point.

I am interested in applying at ABC Company for three main reasons. Firstly, ………….. Secondly,……………… Thirdly,……………………..

Thank you for the opportunity given to express myself.

Warm regards,

XXX

———————————————————End————————————————————-

2. Curriculum Vitae  

There is no hard and fast rule of using a certain CV format. All formats have their own advantages. In most Norwegian company websites, you will have to prepare a CV as per the company format, which might be cumbersome and repetitive if you want to apply to multiple vacancies, but there is no other alternative.

“DO NOT WRITE: References will be provided if requested” in your CV. Try to include references, HR advisors in Norway, always I mean always contact your references before offering you the job.

Norwegians usually differentiate between simple and detailed CV formats

Simple CV format
In Norway, CV’s are ought to be simple and short but if you wish to have a detailed CV that is acceptable too. To know more about “Norwegian way of preparing CV’s” check this well written article by Aftenposten (They have attached a sample Norwegian CV for readers to use)

Detailed CV format
The Europass CV format is also used by many applicants and this format a standard format which is used all across the EU states. You can also use any other format, which best suits your profile.

3. Transcripts
All across Norway you are required to provide a copy of your latest educational Transcripts with the job applications. This will include all educational certificates from your High School and upwards. For example, In my applications, I included:

  • Intermediate transcripts (10+2 class from India, is country specific)

  • Bachelors transcripts

  • Masters transcripts

4. Attest/ Recommendation Letter
“Attest” is a term used in Norway for a document, which validates your work in a company where you previously worked. This document is similar to recommendation letter.

Recommendation letters in Norway are also a very important document as everywhere else in the world. HR advisor will contact the reference. You should remember to inform the person who is recommending, so that he knows that you have applied to this position and he is supposed to stay inline with his letter.

5. Relevant additional documents
It is advisable to add additional documents to support your application such as language proficiency, personal certification etc., However, if the CV is prepared in company websites, there may be limitations on the number of application documents you can upload. In that case, you can carry these certifications when you attend the formal interviews.

4. Application process and interview formalities

Application process for some job positions in Norway can be long. especially if you are a new graduate you can expect rounds such as:

  • General aptitude test (including language)

  • Personality test

  • Group task

  • Business case presentation

  • Questionnaire on ethics

  • Personal interview

  • Technical interview

  • Personality interview

  • Etc.,

If you are experienced professional, you will only have parts of the above mentioned rounds.

Informal HR/Technical
The main personality trait companies in Norway look for is HONESTY and DRIVE. In some interviews you can expect consultants who are experts in human psychology, so you need to be as open and truthful as possible during such interviews.

Your personality to socialize and be good to other employees while being able to deliver on your tasks will be deal maker or breaker. This process is very individualistic and company specific in nature. All you can do after the interview process is to look for a positive outcome.

Congratulations! That is all there is to it.

You are now ready to search and apply to Norwegian job listings. I have gathered some additional information, which you can refer.

Good to know

1. Student, Professional, and Trade Unions in Norway

LO
LO is Landsorganisasjonen aka Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (find other unions affiliated to Lo in this link). This union has its reach in blue and white-collar workers covering both private and public sectors.

TEKNA
Tekna is the union for Technical and Scientific professionals in Norway. Students and professionals with a master’s degree or above form the demographic of this union. If you become a member of Tekna you are entitled to certain union benefits. Tekna offers services such as salary negotiations, free legal assistance, salary negotiations, providing housing loans at better interest rates, offering career improvement courses/hobby courses and conferences etc., Every technology company has a Tekna representative in Norway and this result in a very close collaboration between company management and the union.

NITO
NITO: The Norwegian Society of Engineers and Technologies is another union of students, and professionals. NITO also provides the same number of services as Tekna. One can apply to be a NITO member if he or she has a bachelor’s degree and is not required to finish a master’s degree unlike Tekna.

You will also find NITO representatives in most technical companies in Norway.

FLT – affiliated to LO
FLT: Norwegian Engineers and Managers Association (FLT) is a professional union similar to Tekna and NITO but provides a forum for further education to its members in form of subsidized or free part time degree studies. Anyone in a technical field can apply to be a member as this is affiliated to Landsorganisasjonen also known as Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions.

2. Work laws in Norway (For Employers and employees)
Norwegian society gives very high importance to work environment, employee benefits and rights. All work laws and rules are described in this website in Norwegian called the Lovdata

3. Recognizing foreign degrees
NOKUT provides opportunity to recognize your degree from different countries. There is a formal process to be followed. The website provides more details on this process.

4. New in Norway guide
This website is one of the well written websites to understand the systems followed in Norway. It will be useful to both migrants and labour migrants to read through this website before or after coming to Norway.

5. Work visa procedure and requirements

  •  To know the process of work visa and application to work visa, please visit: Work and residence

Each type of work visa requires a different set of supporting documentation. Hence, it is a wise idea to check the above links in UDI to be sure. I will not list the supporting documents since the visa requirements might change from one year to the other. Only rely on the information provided in UDI website.

6. Norwegian Language

  •  Is Norwegian language proficiency a requirement to work in Norway?

No, not for all jobs. If the company has international base, it usually will not require you to have any kind of Norwegian proficiency. Only job vacancies which require you to speak in Norwegian will need certifications showing that you are competent. For example working as school teachers, working in the municipality, working as nurse or doctors and other local jobs will require Norwegian proficiency

  • Is it an advantage to have Norwegian proficiency even if the official working language in the company is English?

Yes, it is a huge advantage. If you know the language of the country you are living in, you make more connections. Similarly, if you know Norwegian language, companies see it as an advantage to recruit you over other applicants who do not have Norwegian proficiency. As I said before “Your personality to socialize and be good to other employees while being able to deliver on your tasks will be deal maker or breaker.”  and knowing the language adds to your social acceptance by other Norwegian employees.

I would like to end this post by a quote I wrote for self-motivation: If you are having troubles do not crib, just keep working hard and if you are successful, do not stop, keep the hunger alive.

“When you fail, look down and dig deeper. When you succeed, look up and  fly higher”

Posted in Life lessons, Norway Diaries, Procedures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Quest Towards Minimalism


Do you like a clean slate or a slate scribbled with random chalk marks?

 I chose to have a clean slate.

In the month of October 2013, I started contemplating on the way I wanted to live my life. One gaze around my apartment and I realized something very troubling. I had many material things, which I bought consciously, which I hardly put to use. Some I bought for fun, while others to improve my personality. I might have appreciated having them when I first bought them, but as time passed their utility in my life faded away.

 Every day I returned from office, these things lying around my apartment started to make me feel guilty. Guilty for buying something I did not really need. Guilty for putting up with all the anxiety before buying them. This constant guilt started to bother me deeply. So, I started questioning the value these things added into my life. Sadly the answer was “they were not important anymore”, in-fact they only made me feel more as a materialist, trying to hold on to things.

 Some days later, I came across a term called “minimalism”. I started researching and studying this topic/way of life. As I read about the people practicing this lifestyle, it started making sense to me. “Less is more” is the gist of the minimalist lifestyle movement. I visualized the benefits such a lifestyle can bring: simple yet fulfilling and that is when I decided I should try this lifestyle. I knew it was not going to be a fairy tale ride. However, the notion of freeing myself from getting attached to things was far more rewarding.

Time to De-clutter

The first exercise to start practicing minimalism is to de-clutter what you already own. Doing this was both tough and challenging, I had to let go of things to which I was emotionally attached. For example, I had a PSP gaming console gifted by my brother on my 22nd birthday. It was not easy to just let go of all the emotional attachment that gift had. But I knew, deep down in my heart that I never used it to its potential and that I had to let it go.

 So, by the end of November 2nd week, I had sold most of my gadgets (PS3, PSP, External hardrive, G-shock watch, electric guitar, heart-rate monitor, and digital camera), given away (ipod, movie dvd’s and 2nd laptop) and thrown (old clothes and groceries). When I started doing this (listing items to sell), some colleagues in the office started asking “Are you leaving work”! Is it not ironic, how we relate to people with their things? I continued to politely answer “No, I am not leaving”. I now own only five main gadgets (laptop, led tv, android phone, home recording studio and a DAB radio).

Benefits of a minimalist lifestyle

The feeling of letting go, is indeed very liberating. It feels as if a huge burden is off my shoulders. When I am at my apartment, I do not feel the guilt of owning unused things anymore. I have come to realize that I can be happy with the least of what I have and use them to their fullest. Sure, I do realize that I might miss some of the things for example, playing on a game console, but I think I can still do it at a friend’s place.

 Other benefits of a minimalist life are that you stop worrying about things you do not have, and start embracing what you have. Things wont own you, rather you choose the things you want to own in your life. Next time when I move, I don’t have to pack many things, I will know exactly what I own and planning to move will be much easier. Minimalism also helps clear your mind and motivates you to concentrate on the things you love doing the most. Minimalist lifestyle also begs you to be honest with yourself and tests your resolve against shopping urges.

The way forward

My next aim is to continue this lifestyle and see where it takes me. I would also like to apply the minimalist idea into maintaining my virtual world presence be it on my personal computer, at work and online networking profiles. For example, deleting files which I don’t really need to backup etc., Minimalism in such facets of life will allow me to be more effective at my professional work by helping me focus on that crucial 20% work which provides 80% of the results. 

If you wish to know more about Minimalism, these references will provide you a good head-start. (With hyperlinks)

  1. Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus Minimalism Journey

  2. Collin Wright’s exile lifestyle 

  3. Joshua Becker 

  4. Graham Hill: Less stuff, more happiness 

  5. Adam Baker: Sell your crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love.

  6. Grant Blakeman: Minimalism- For a more Full Life

As always, I would like to end this post with a quote

Live not to impress others with the things you own, rather impress yourself by being who you really are.” 

Posted in Life lessons, Norway Diaries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments