Killer Climate

This past weekend a big wildfire in the center of Portugal (Pedrógão Grande area) killed 62 people, left the same number of people injured, and around 150 families lost their homes.
Every year the country has a number of wildfires, many of them caused directly by people. However, according to the Portuguese authorities this fire has been caused by a lightening together with the record high temperatures.

One thing that caused a big impression on me is that the majority of the dead were not people that had their homes surrounded by the forest but they were just drivers who were caught by the fire while on the road. So something like this can happen to anyone, not only to the people who lived in the affected areas.

The firefighters have been tireless and are still trying to control a big fire that spawned from the one in Pedrógão Grande. While Spain, France, and Italy have deployed more resources to help fight the fire, the majority of the Portuguese firefighters are actually volunteers who risk their lives every year.
The 150 families who lost their homes come from a rural area and many lost not only their homes but also their cattle and, needless to say, will struggle to start over. So they could use everyone’s help.

There is a number of local initiatives to bring food and supplies to the area, and also a couple of bank accounts set up for donations. You can find the details for those in this Público’s article. Google Translator should be good enough if you don’t speak Portuguese. As a reference, I have donated to the account in the Caixa Geral de Depósitos bank that is listed in the article.

Surely many things will be said about the fire, that the forests could have been properly cleaned (in order to better contain the fire), that the roads could have been closed sooner (saving anyone from getting trapped), that it was “just” a tragedy. However, when every year the news talk about higher temperature records, it’s not crazy to think that Global Warming contributed to these deadly conditions. So when a man says he’s for Pittsburgh, not Paris, that’s not only a stupid argument and stance, it may also very well be a deadly one.

First presentation of Skeltrack

I spent the first half of this week in the beautiful city of Évora, where I was born. The occasion was the Semana da Ciência e Técnologia (Science and Technology Week) of the University of Évora to which I was invited.
I also ended up giving the organization a hand by asking Thomas Perl (the restless mind behind gPodder) and Lucas Rocha (well known GNOME developer now using his powers in Mozilla) who kindly accepted.

Having participated in the organization of events during the University, I’m always happy to see these initiatives taking place.
It was also great to spend a couple of days with the folks at my University and meet with old friends.

About the talks, Thomas gave an overview of gPodder and the infrastructure used to manage the project. Lucas gave a really nice talk about what Mozilla is, what it does and why you should care; because of it, I ended up installing Firefox Mobile nightly build for Android and it has improved a LOT.
My friend Luís Rodrigues (no blog because he’s a badass) talked about CERN, where he works. What an amazing place! He talked about how much CERN uses Python and Django to manage their data. As a Python lover, this makes me really happy.

This was also the first time I presented Skeltrack, my latest creation inside Igalia. Presenting such an algorithm is not an easy job so I took mental notes about what to improve the next time (which will be at LinuxTag) but I was happy that people made good questions about it.

I’d like to thank to the AAUE (Students Association) for the great time we all spent in there.

Presentation slides :

Another year has passed

Today is the last day of 2011 and it is once again when people look back in time and realize what they have done throughout the year and if they stuck to their promises. I don’t give that much importance to events like new year’s eve or even my birthday but I decided to write a blog post and to think about what happened on 2011.

December is also the month I’ve joined Igalia, I have been in the company for 3 year and the changes seem to have been quite some.
I feel 2011 was not a very productive year from the point of view of side projects. I have been working on the toolkit that powers the MeeGo Harmattan (Nokia N9) for a year and a half and that, together with other tasks in Igalia and in my personal life didn’t leave me much time for creating new projects. Still, I released 5 new versions of OCRFeeder; 4 versions of SeriesFinale and ported it for the Nokia N9. Also I have given once again presentations in some nice events like FOSDEM and LinuxTag.

On the personal side of things the big event this year was my wedding with Helena. After that we had a nice time travelling in Turkey after having cancelled the plans to visit Japan due to the earthquake.
We also spent 10 days in Berlin, we are still in love with the city and we wish one day we’ll experience living in there (could it be 2012?).
After 3 years living in Spain, I feel comfortable here, I recognize its virtues and flaws but I want to know more cultures, more languages and thus more ways of seeing life. As for Portugal, it is part of what defines me but Helena and I are not planning on living in there for the foreseeable future, especially these times when the government(s) is(are) making things difficult for everybody.
Related to this and the economic crisis that is going on, this year I joined a demo and a strike for the first time and I keep hoping that things get better for everyone.
I also realized I am now used to donate to some institutions throughout the year and it is something that makes me feel good.

As book counting is something often present in this kind of year’s review, in 2011 I read 10 books and a short story. The most important ones, in case you’re interested are: The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins), Through the Language Glass (Guy Deutscher) and Citações e Pensamentos de Agostinho da Silva (“Quotes and Thoughts of Agostinho da Silva” by the philosopher).

The future

People often say “next year is gonna be a year of change” but things do change and some situations that happened this year have made me think about my life so I really feel there are going to be changes in 2012. Hopefully they will be good ones.

I wish you all a happy 2012.

The day I married my best friend

As announced in last year’s Summer, I proposed to Helena and we got married in Portugal, last June.

Planning a wedding almost 900 Km away is not easy so you can imagine the busy first half of the year we had.
Still, it could have been much harder if it wasn’t for our families and for Mr. João Patameira, manager of Boavista Golf Resort, the little paradise where we had the wedding. He knows how to plan a wedding, he was nice and professional and always made us relax, saying everything was gonna be okay and it was. At least to us, it was perfect!

Sight 
from the Boavista Golf Resort
(Sight from the Boavista Golf Resort)

This wedding had no religion implied, instead we had a little ceremony with a lady from the government (from the registry office). She gave a little speech apart from reading a bunch of laws but “that’s a recent thing that is mandatory by the government”, she said.
My friend Seco (who takes cool photos of beautiful places) was really nice to propose himself to be the photographer of the wedding and he did a great job! Thank you man!

Of course we couldn’t invite all the people we thought of but we had people coming from Portugal, Spain, Finland, Angola, The Netherlands and The UK!
It was especially nice also to get together again with some of our best friends from the University.

Casamento Joaquim & Helena

In the end of the night, having had already live music and karaoke, we had live performances by some guests and myself.
In what wedding do you have a Cuban and a Mexican singing “Gimme tha power” (by Molotov)? I had it in mine thanks to my dear friends Edu and Victor. As for me, I played “Bad Things” (by Jace Everett) which I can never do completely well normally, let alone when already half-drunk 🙂

And that was it, I am now married to my best friend and got the best wedding I have ever attended.

I would like to thank our friends (especially those who were so far away but came for us), our families and the restaurant staff and entertainers.
Thank you!

Casamento Joaquim & Helena

Merry Christmas

Yesterday I drove down to Portugal to spend Christmas with my family.
Once again I couldn’t make it to Igalia‘s Xmas dinner which was last night. 🙁 (maybe next year…)

And that’s all, I wish a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays or simply a fine weekend to anyone who reads this.

PS: For a more detailed description on how I might spend Christmas, check out the “last year’s edition” of this post.