Big Changes Again

My life has seen some big changes this year with getting a new job, moving to Berlin, etc. Well, the changes haven’t stopped yet.

Before I applied to Red Hat, at the beginning of the year, I had applied to a position at CERN (if you don’t know what CERN is, look it up, but part of the reason you’re addicted to the internet is because of it). CERN has two periods throughout the year where it accepts applications, I knew it wasn’t easy to be accepted and I had to move on with my life so I was happily living in Berlin and working for Red Hat.
Turns out I was accepted and I had a decision to make.

On one hand, I was very happy to finally be living in Berlin, Helena was enrolled in an intensive German course (and doing great), we were living in the nice neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg and of course, I don’t need to tell you how great Red Hat is if you consider yourself a Free Software developer. On the other hand, I knew this opportunity with CERN would be hard to get again. So in the end I took the tough decision of leaving Red Hat and I have been working at CERN since last week. I am working on a project out of my comfort zone (and yes, it’s Free Software), but that’s part of the challenge.

I changed a unique company for a unique research center and I changed one of the cheapest, coolest cities in Europe for one of the most expensive in the world.

Regarding work and GNOME in particular, I will keep involved in it, even though my projects have been neglected with all the moving: I hope to finish the port of OCRFeeder to GI and to give some love to Skeltrack once I have time (and conditions: no internet at home yet…).

Even Bigger Changes

Oh, yeah, there’s something else I would like to share. I am in the first steps of what will surely be the biggest project I will ever develop: Helena and I are expecting a baby!
We just found out one week before moving out of Berlin. It surely doesn’t make all the moving easier but we can’t describe how happy we are with these news! It’s curious that we had to live in the “babyboom neighborhood” of Berlin to get a baby ourselves… there must be something in the water! :)

And that is all for now, let’s see what the next months bring!

Upcoming Wacom Features in GNOME

I had previously mentioned that, as part of my job at Red Hat, I was taking care of the Wacom tablets support in GNOME.
To show you a bit of this, straight from the nice Atopia Kaffeehaus in Prenzlauer berg, Berlin, I have cooked a little video with some of the upcoming features:

These are not, of course, the only new features but I had to pick the ones that are actually usable right now.

The tablets shown in the video are a Cintiq 12WX and an Intuos 5 M touch.

I am usually around #control-center on irc.gnome.org so if you got some cool idea for the Wacom tablets in GNOME, drop by and let me know!

Working for Red Hat

Since last week I have been working for Red Hat!

After I started looking for a new job, I had two intense months full of interviews and travelling (I traveled to different countries, including the US for the first time) where I met great people and learned a lot.
It was all very new to me because it had been a while since I had looked for a job and I had never had so many interviews.

After deciding to join Red Hat, Helena and I also started the process of moving from A Coruña to Berlin which involved packing a lot of boxes and storing them in my parents’ attic in Brotas, Portugal where they will remain for a little while. This required a few car trips (13 hours driving, each return trip) but my parents are very kind people and they love me so they helped us with all the logistics.

Leaving Coruña was something we wanted but it was still very sad. We made many good friends during these 4 years in there and saying good-bye was hard, even if in this modern world good-bye actually means “see you later”. They are very good and fantastic people and we miss them already.
It actually felt like leaving my country again because as of now, I know more of the reality (political situation, finances, etc.) in Galicia/Spain then I know of my own country.

We’re still sorting out some of the last details of setting up in Germany. Berlin is very multicultural and it’s fairly easy to get around using English but we are lucky and thankful to have our friend Chris here who is helping us a lot.
Helena is already taking German classes and I will start soon so I hope I will be able to shout “Ich bin ein Berliner” as funnily as this guy did.

Regarding Red Hat, I am part of the desktop team, composed by well known names in the community, where I will keep hacking on GNOME related stuff. It is great to be able to continue working on Free Software and for such a nice company full of great developers. Working remotely will be a new challenge but Berlin is full of lovely places like St. Gaudy Café where I can get inspiration and work quietly.
As for my other FOSS projects, I hope I can dedicate a bit of my free time to them — between German classes and my personal life affairs.

I would like to thank all the people who contacted me during these months with great projects. I wish you the best of luck.
Last but not least, I would also like to thank Mike Fabian for having recommended me inside Red Hat.

Salutations Interactive Installation: Making of

Since the post about the Salutations Interactive Installation in the Museum für Kommunikation in Berlin, many people asked me for videos of the installation so we, the Igalia Interactivity team, came up with a better idea — a making of.

The video shows the an early test application that was created from the one shipped with Skeltrack, then some testing with colleagues at Igalia’s office and finally the installation in Berlin and the final result:


(link to original video in YouTube)

You can get the source code for the application from Igalia’s GitHub.

The world’s 1st interactive installation to use Open Source skeleton tracking

Edu and I, proud members of the Igalia Interactivity team, spent the last week in Berlin for the culmination of an interesting project: an interactive installation in the Museum für Kommunikation.

The museum commissioned the Berlin’s interaction/design Studio Kaiser Matthies to create an installation so the studio created the concept and teamed up with us to develop the technical part.
The installation’s purpose is to show different forms of communication and the concept is very simple:
When a user is detected in the “action zone”, an actor shows up in a screen and performs a salutation; the user is supposed to do the same salutation and receives a positive feedback if it was performed well or a negative feedback otherwise.
Examples of gestures are the Japanese bow or waving a kiss.

Pictures of the salutations installation in the Museum für Kommunikation, Berlin

Salutations installation in the Museum für Kommunikation, Berlin

The screen in the right side shows a live video of users so they can compare their gestures with the ones expected from another person’s perspective.

For user detection and to know where their skeleton’s joints are, we used Skeltrack. We also used OpenCV on top of it in order to track more complex salutations, such as the US East Coast hand’s sign.
As for the rest of the stack, we used a minimal Debian, Clutter and GStreamer with many mechanisms to make it robust in case of failure and all this running from a USB stick.

This means that the software used in this installation is completely Open Source and more importantly, it is the world’s first interactive installation that uses Open Source skeleton tracking. We are also going to release the very application’s source code once we have time to release it.

We would like to thank Studio Kaiser Matthies for the opportunity of having such an important project in one of the world’s art capitals. Be sure to visit the museum the next time you’re in Berlin and, if you want us to help you do awesome interactive installations using Open Source software, let me know.