That year we’ll all remember

So we’ve made it through 2020, a year where everyone’s “wrap-up writings” will likely be more similar than ever.

The Virus

Let’s first address the microscopic elephant in the unventilated rooms. This section requires no introduction, though.
Looking back, going to FOSDEM in the first weekend of Fedruary now seems completely crazy, especially knowing now that the virus was already in Europe then. I wonder how many of us got it with mild symptoms back then, and assumed we were having the infamous “FOSDEM flu”.

I am lucky that the confinement didn’t apparently affect me too much. Prior to Kinvolk, I had been working remotely for several years, so I was already used to the loneliness of this way of working. Besides, in Berlin we were living in a house with a small backyard where the kids could play, so we were lucky in that regard as well.
Of course working with the kids at home is never the same as working alone, and it was not great for the kids to be for such a long time away from their friends. Like everyone, I do have many stories related to the confinement rules, but I will refrain from writing those in this post.

Two Fladenbrot (a Turkish flat brad). They're a bit more flat as expected than normal bread, and have dark and light sesame seeds on top.
I became a world renown baker, as everybody else, during the pandemic. Behold my delicious Fladenbrot.

The return

After our son was born (almost 4 years ago), we started entertaining the idea of moving back to Portugal. There were several reasons for this: our daughter was starting school (which means moving later would be more complicated for her); we grew up with our grandparents around and would like our children to experience the same; a somewhat frustration with Berlin sometimes, and the different look we take at our own country after more than 10 years living abroad.
Of course, Helena’s getting sick last year was also made harder by being away from family, and put things into perspective.
So this summer we actually moved back!

As with all the moves we’ve done (we have lived in 4 european countries), the most difficult thing is leaving our friends. Berlin has been the place where we stayed the longest (after University), and despite any of the love/hate feelings towards Berlin, it will always be a special place for us, and the birth place of our son.

The move was stressful as any international move, with a special extra concern of crossing 3 EU inner borders that had been closed a not long before our departure date.
Leaving an apartment in Berlin is a whole ordeal (of rules, repairs, and sometimes pettiness), and like many other people will tell you about their experience, we did have some problems with the renting company. It all got solved thanks to the tireless help of our great neighbors, so I must give a heartwarm shout out to Ilka, Martin, Fernando, and Stefan/Susie, who are simply the best! I hope 2021 will allow us to travel back there at some point (without it being the unrecommended quest it is at the moment).

Portugal

A good friend of mine once told me this: all places are the same.
I realize now that it means that when you move to a different place, there are always better things and worse things in comparison, but there is some kind of balance after one adapts (and thus it means all places can feel the same in the end).

Besides the whole country, language, and culture, we’ve also changed to a much smaller city (Lagos) where we have my wife’s family around, and that has many advantages for us as parents. But I can leave more details about this for some dedicated post later in the year.

Work

I continue to proudly work on Kinvolk’s great products, and indeed, I am thankful that Kinvolk is a remote first company.
Where I initially had some concerns regarding working with friends and moving into such different projects from what I had been doing in recent years, those feelings are gone and I just honestly feel very lucky, excited, and proud to be contributing to an amazing company with nice people.

Like most companies this year, Kinvolk also had to adapt its plans, but finished the year very positively. Some highlights from Kinvolk are the new company website, the consolidation of Flatcar as the continuation of CoreOS’s original vision, Headlamp (a new Kubernetes UI project), and the great Volks who joined the company in 2020.

Community

As I wrote last year, I didn’t expect to have any time to devote to tech stuff outside of work and that was certainly true. I even let the GNOME Foundation membership expire during the preparations for the move… But let’s see how the year develops.

Wrap up

I will be cautious with the traditional great expectations for the new year this time, so see you later (in some Zoom call I guess)!

A couple seating on a bench and hugging each other in front of a landscape of great mountains resembling the Alps a bit during summer.
Here’s a picture of an old couple in 2020 enjoying the beautiful views in Hornberg, Germany. Taken during our trip to Portugal.

FOSDEM 2020

It’s that time of the year, and I need to thank my company Kinvolk for sponsoring this waffle-gobbling-presentation-hopping event we all love.

Hoping to meet all those people I usually see at this time of the year, and new ones too.

If you are interested in Kinvolk and our products, let’s have a beer (or a coffee) and talk about it!

Wrapping Up 2019

It’s the last night of the year and the decade, and here is the mandatory End of Year’s post.

Family

This year was without a doubt the most difficult in my (still young) life. Things were setting up to be a great year at the beginning, there were big plans for the Hack project I was working on at Endless with my colleagues, and my wife Helena was going to start an illustration course after our son finally started at the kindergarten (in Germany it’s common for kids to enter it when they’re already 2 years old…), besides other personal projects we were preparing.
However, in a visit to the dentist by my wife in order to check something bothering her, she ended up being disagnosed with mouth cancer.
As would happen with anyone, the news really shook us and made us go through all the common wonderings of why would such thing happen to someone who has no family history of such sicknesses, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, etc.

Still this is a positive post! Everything moved very quickly and neatly on the doctors side after the diagnostic. The tests and surgery happened as fast as they could possibly be done, and since apparently it was disagnosed at a very early stage, Helena “only” needed two surgeries and no aggressive treatments.
In the end, we are very thankful to all the doctors, nurses, and staff. It couldn’t have been better, from the great quality of the services, to the friendliness of the people involved. A big and honest thank you again to the great people who dealt with us at Berlin’s Unfallkrankenhaus.

We are extremely lucky to have universal healthcare coverage. Besides the normal (and public) insurance we have, we only had to pay very little extra costs that are even neglegible. I cannot imagine having to worry with the sickness and also with the costs of treatments.

Being away from our family when this happened also made it more difficult as we had to juggle the hospital trips with taking care of our son (who was not yet in the kindergarten when this started) and my work. On the work side, I need to thank Cosimo and Endless, who made it clear I’d have all the time I needed to organize things on my side; that was extremely important. And we also need to thank our neighbor Ilka, who took care of our son a few times while we both were away. Of course, many more people offered their support, and we had Helena’s mother over for a couple of weeks in the second surgery. All the support and nice words was important and we’re grateful to have such great people in our lives.

One last thing to end this subject. I really need to emphasize Helena’s attitude towards her situation. We have been together for a long time, and I knew she was a positive person, but her positive attitude in the face of such a serious case was mind-blowing even for the doctors (one even said “Do you know what this means? …. Yes? Okay, this is weird, I had never had anyone behaving like this after the news…”). I feel like the drama was all mine and she had to recomfort me, even though she was the one who had to endure the initial uncertainty, the surgeries, the recovery…
After so much time together and so many experiences we shared, this problem made me admire even more the person I love. I wish our kids get that attitude to life and not my traditional-and-very-Portuguese fatality 🙂

Work

On the work side things also had a twist. At about the same time Helena was having her second surgery, my work at Endless was about to change too, and I joined Kinvolk for a temporary position, as explained in this post, since I wasn’t sure about mixing friendship and work.
Well, it turns out that I liked the work, the people, and the possibilities at Kinvolk so much that (in November) I accepted the proposal to make it permanent!

Technically, coming from the Linux desktop world, it felt “foreign” to take over a Go + React project like Nebraska, but I already feel very comfortable with this “ecosystem”.

I am genuinely excited about what is coming from Kinvolk, and I will keep working on the company’s existing and new products. We are also looking for great people to help deliver great & 100% Open Source solutions, so check out our open positions.

Community

About GNOME/community work. It’s difficult to find the time and energy to do anything tech-related outside of work, so I cannot realistically think I will be an active contributor in my spare time.
Still, I keep my eye and interest in the GNOME and flatpak communities. Last year (2018) I “flatpaked” two old games (noiz2sa and rRootage) and added them to Flathub, and now I am in the process of getting Robocode into flathub (more on that soon).

That’s it!

And that’s all for this year’s wrap-up! Despite a very difficult situation, we end the decade feeling very happy and fortunate. I wish everybody a great new decade! Love.