X Hispalinux Congress Review

From last Thursday to Saturday (technically Sunday 03:00AM) I was in Cáceres – Spain.

I drove there with my friend Valério on Thursday morning – we left Portugal at about 07:00 AM to be in Spain at 10:00 AM because it’s one hour later in there and we had about 3 hours of sleep – and got on Cáceres on time. The problem was finding the University campus… we drove and drove and then decided to ask someone… yes we were in Cáceres, yes we were in the opposite side of the city! Lucky us, we took about 45 minutes to find the damn campus.

In the good Portuguese way of doing stuff as late as we can, I hadn’t managed to get my presentation on OCRFeeder done!
OCRFeeder’s presentation was at 06:00 PM and I finished it 30 minutes earlier! Yes, we Portuguese are hardcore like that; but at the end of the day what matters is that stuff get done and we get a sense of accomplishment.

It was the first time I presented OCRFeeder to the world (it hasn’t yet been released) and I presented University of Évora’s R&D Center (CITI) as well as the way I built the program. I referred it’d be “LIBRE” and this Stallman worshiper who hanged around all the event with his arrogance and funny/stupid haircut asks me in an arrogant Spanish:
“Well, if it’s gonna be free software it means it’s not yet free software right!!!!????”
Me (in a not-so arrogant Spanish): “Well, it hasn’t yet been released because it’s being tested… so…”
And after this he just got off his seat and went out the room… “Gracias por la educación!” – I thought.
It was a very technical presentation but you know what? There were girls attending it! Yes, I go as a speaker to a Linux conf abroad and there are girls at my presentation!

Cáceres is a very beautiful city with it’s mix of Islamic, Roman and Gothic old buildings. As my own dear city of Évora is, Cáceres is World Heritage by UNESCO.

One of the things we Portuguese find more curious about Spain is the difference in what comes to the culture of embracing something from abroad. In Portugal most of the people on my age speak English and you almost can only listen to English-sang music. Well, in the second night in Cáceres, me and Valério heard some metal music coming from a bar nearby and when we approached… yes, they were singing in Spanish. In Portugal, for example, the only movies dubbed are the ones for children, in Spain, everything is dubbed and it gotta have something to do with them not understanding very well the English language. I’d like to highlight this is NOT a bad thing, we just find it very curious because things are so different here.

In the first day we met a very nice guy from Venezuela called Gustavo Narea. Gustavo is a Computer Science student at Madrid and also works for GNULinuxMatters – a non-profit organization which does an amazing job on bringing FOSS and non-tech people together. He’s a strong believer in FOSS but unlike many of us in the Linux world, he understands that GNU/Linux also needs marketing to win! And he’s right.

BluePad‘s presentation really went well on the second day – Friday. I think people liked that we gave it in Spanish – as I had done in the previous day. In the end we got many questions and people came to complement us and ask more things… oh, and you know what?? YES! There were also girls in BluePad’s presentations! It was really nice. 🙂

On the last day – Saturday – we attended Gustavo’s great conference and some others. Hispalinux Congress was ending but not until we had the last dinner with all the speakers and main staff. Drink was free until midnight and it was 10:00 PM. We rapidly declared one of the tables to ourselves (me, Valério and Gustavo) and later some other nice people joined in for the “Iberian-LatinAmerica” table. We ate until there were no more cheese and smoked ham in the dish, then we just switched it with another table’s dish… no, seriously, we did!
It was really nice to see that after hundreds of years of fighting and decades of “not-getting-along-with-them”, Portuguese and Spanish were now so happy drinking together and talking about our neighbor countries. I was astonished that all of the Spanish guys within the conversation were asking us our opinion about Portugal and Spain joining to form Iberia!! Yes, they like the idea! It’d be cool and Iberia is a beautiful name for a country.

In our way home we did a mistake and were heading to Portugal alright but not towards our city… plus, we couldn’t find an opened gas station and my car was low on it. So we just turned back to Cáceres and drove around until we found a gas station.
We had a nice time in Cáceres, I am looking forward to the next time! 😉

X Hispalinux Congress

Me and Valério are presenting BluePad at the 10th Hispalinux Congress.

The event takes place at Cáceres – Spain – in December 13th, 14th and 15th.
BluePad’s presentation is on the second day by 06:00 PM but we’re staying for the whole event.

Among the keynotes there will be Mark Shuttleworth, the man behind Ubuntu!
Hispalinux is Spain’s biggest association of Linux users and companies counting more than 8500 members.
It’ll be a great event for all FOSS lovers.

Codebits Review + BluePad Video

I realized I didn’t write anything about how the event Codebits was. So here it goes.

We (me, Valério Valério and Patrício Fernandes) went only on the second day and arrived at the building to receive the goodies (a great backpack with advisory papers, a pen, a t-shirt… that sort of things).

We readily proclaimed a round table for ourselves, we’d spend many ours on that table.

We got to know the place better and attended a few conferences, talked to people, etc. The mood was really cool.
In the beginning of the night we had dinner and watched a mini-concert by F.E.V.E.R., a Portuguese metal/electronic band. OK, I am a fan of death metal but I really like one of F.E.V.E.R.’s songs when I first heard about them and I was really looking forward to enjoy the concert. I even had the expectation of them being heavier in a live show but these expectations weren’t fulfilled at all. The music simply didn’t caught me, from the simple riffs to the pointless vocals performed by a “modern cliche” vocalist.
The only thing I liked about them was the drummer, he was completely crazy! His energy and skills made me forgot the rest of his crew in the show.

Back to the computer things, after the concert we went on with our idea and started to create BluePad’s mouse module. A few schemes drawn up in some large paper sheets and we were ready to do it.
We were chilled, sometimes we simply dropped the programming and brain burning things and moved on to the Wii consoles and played for a little while.
Yes, it was NOT a trivial thing to develop this module and too add a cherry on top we had a big problem with the bluetooth connection. Usually BluePad takes about 10 seconds to find the nearby devices in our University but in the event’s room it took minutes!
We thought the problem was the number of folks with the bluetooth mobiles and laptops so we managed to get some of them to turn it off (thanks to the staff). The problem continued. We summoned plagues to the ones who didn’t turn of their mobiles but after talking with the staff we were told that the WiFi routers were really powerful and that should be the source of our problem. WiFi works in the same bandwith as bluetooth and their NASA like routers were taking advantage of the whole spectrum. And I’m talking about more than 4 of these nuclear routers only in our room.
No solution, everytime we needed to test BluePad we had to: move it on to my mobile, uninstall the previous version, install the new version and wait, wait, wait until we had the search results. Fun fun fun…!

At about 7:00 AM we decided it was time to get some sleep and so we went and laid down in some poofs. I thought four poofs would replace my bed but nope… the damn things slipped under my body.

Anyways, we all slept about 2 hours or so and woke up to finish the project. This was at 10:00 AM and half of my team was ill – Valério got food poisoned! Yes, we all ate pizza until we smelled like it, yes we all drank sodas, lemon flavored waters, cokes and non-alcoholic beers until our tongues tasted like it but Valério was the only one who took the adventure of eating a “chick’s chocolate” (a chocolate bar with fruits and milk and whatever…) and the result was…. FOOD POISONING!
But he’s a though guy and he got a way of getting himself fine (and I won’t explain how…).

After more than 20 hours of programming with only 2 hours of sleep we finally finished the mouse module. It was working in an acceptable way.

On to the presentations! We tested Valério’s laptop with the projector before lunch and guess what, we had problems with it… mine didn’t work as well… we solved it by installing some graphic card drivers but we had to do the presentation with a resolution of 400×600 or something like this. Yes, we’re lucky guys…

After lunch we went to the climax of the event – the presentations – and since we were number 19 we decided to start trying to connect BluePad on presentation 10 (each presentation was 90 seconds only) .
So, on project #11 we ran BluePad… ran it again… and again… until project #14 and the search didn’t finish. A little bit of panic and we moved to plan B: to go to the parking lot and connect BluePad away of the spacial routers. We ran down the 2 sets of stairs and connected BluePad in the middle of the parking lot and it functioned! Hooray! Next mission: get to the presentations room before our time to start while pressing BluePad’s keys so the connection wouldn’t finish.

We did it. Project #17 was being presented. Right on time!
We presented it as you can watch in the video and got a great feedback from the audience. There were a “Yes I Like It / No I Don’t Like It” for each project and we had about 50 YES and 7 NO and it was one of the greatest feedbacks according to our friend Patrício. This votes didn’t count to elect the winners as there was a jury composed of many people from SAPO to other Portuguese companies.

In the closing session where the winners would be revealed. There were several categories and we were faithful, I confess.
First winner, category best game (or something like this)… The guy steps to the stage, thanks the jury and everybody and says something like: “Well, I’d like to thank my boss, Paulo Laureano, we have great fun with stuff like this in the company…”. Paulo Laureano is the president of the company Mr. NET and announced earlier in the event that he would give a prize to the quicker developed game… and his employee won it.

Some SAPO employees also participated in the contest and guess what? Yes, some of them also won!

Some PT (which can be considered as the same company as SAPO) employees also participated in the contest and guess what? Yes, some of them also won!

But the best part of it, to prove that Codebits is not a regular contest… a MEMBER OF THE JURY participated and won too! Yes! They chose one of the juries to win one category against regular participants.

I want to make it clear that I am not complaining because we didn’t won anything, we didn’t even know there’d be prizes in the first place but as events and contests organizers ourselves, we think that a situation like this can really destroy and event’s image. In every contest rules there might be a clause that doesn’t let people close to or in the organization to participate in it, even when the jury is outside of the organization…

And that was it, with lack of sleep, code still running as a daemon in our brains we watched the final concert of the event by Wraygunn (only to please Patrício) and drove back to Évora (about 120 Km) for a deserved night of sleep.