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.

Ready for 2019

This blog has not had many posts in 2018 but the “new year’s post” is almost mandatory, so here it goes.

Family

December was similar to last year,┬áspending most of the time in Portugal with the family and coming back to Berlin right before the New Year’s eve.
After 3 years in Berlin, I think I am finally reconciled with the oddities/particularities of the city, my German is improving, and I do enjoy living in here more than last year. We do miss our friends in Geneva and other places, and of course it’s ever more and more difficult to leave our family in Portugal after seeing how much our son and our daughter enjoy being with the grandparents and cousins.

A picture of Lagos in Portugal, showing a landscape with big rocks and a cliff by the sea.
Lagos, Portugal, where I spent part of my vacation

Still on the personal side, the biggest event this year has been my daughter’s surgery. She needed a throat surgery to remove part of her tonsils, in order to breath and sleep better, among other things that would improve as a result (having more energy, eating and growing more, etc.). It was a “simple” throat surgery, but not without risks (we spent 5 days in the hospital for the post-surgery recovery and observation). I tried to explain it to her as if it were a special sleep-over at the hospital where the folks there would help her breath and sleep better, so much that she was disappointed when we had to reschedule the surgery 3 times (2 times because she was sick, 1 time because the hospital organization is not the best and they lost our appointment!). She faced the event like the brave girl she is and she was always patient too. In the end, the results were amazing and could be seen almost immediately: she now has much more energy, sleeps well, eats and speaks better… like night and day!
I hope my son doesn’t have the same condition, but judging on how much energy, strength, and overall physical agility he has, I’d say he’s fine ­čÖé

I cannot emphasize enough though, that even if the surgery scheduling was a mess, the surgery and post-surgery care could not have been better. From the doctors, to the nurses, and other assistants, everybody was really nice, patient, and professional. Having any surgery on your child is always something very delicate and challenging to deal with, and the staff did make me feel like my daughter was in the best hands possible. Of course, this care was the same anyone would get with a normal/public coverage in Germany, and thus it’s even more remarkable. Even though in the EU we sometimes take Universal Health Coverage for granted, it’s good to remind ourselves how precious it is.

Work

2018 also meant some changes in my daily work at Endless as I joined a new team to help deliver a new project with a different type of users. This project is called Hack, and aims to deliver a desktop computer experience that integrates elements to teach programming and computing concepts to users from age 8 and up. This also meant that I traveled twice to work with the rest of the team from the San Francisco office, and it’s always nice to hang out with my colleagues directly.
We have already shipped the first computers around Christmas in a great effort from everyone involved (in this team and others), and I am proud of what we’ve achieved! There is still a lot of work to be done, so be sure to follow the news about the project.

With this new project and being a father of two means I didn’t really have much more time/energy left for side projects but I still managed to give a presentation about ostree and Flatpak at CERN, and at the Linux Technologies Berlin meetup, which I really enjoyed and hope to have the opportunity of giving more presentations this new year too.

I guess that’s already a good enough summary for the small attention span we all have in this decade, so I will leave it here.

Have a great 2019, everyone!