Technology and Internet

Pixels Camp v3

Like I did in previous years/versions, this year I participated again on, a kind of conference plus hackathon. For those who aren’t aware, it is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) technology event in Portugal (from a technical perspective not counting with the Web Summit).

So, as I did in previous editions, I’m gonna leave here a small list with the nicest talks I was able to attend.

Lockpicking versus IT security

This one was super interesting, Walter Belgers showed the audience a set of problems in make locks and compared those mistakes with the ones regularly done by software developers.

Al least for me the more impressive parts of the whole presentation were the demonstrations of the flaws on regular (and high security) locks.

Talk description here.

Containers 101

“Everybody” uses containers nowadays, on this talk the speaker took a step back and went through the history and the major details behind this technology. Then he shows how you could implement a part of it yourself using common Linux features and tools.

Talk description here.

Static and dynamic analysis of events for threat detection

This one was a nice overview about Siemens infrastructure for threat detection, their approaches and used tools. It was also possible to understand some of the obstacles and challenges a company must address to protect a global infrastructure.

Talk description here.

Protecting Crypto exchanges from a new wave of man-in-the-browser attacks

This presentation used the theme of protecting crypto-currency exchanges but gave lots of good hints on how to improve security of any website or web application. The second half of the talk focused on a kind of attack called man-in-the-browser and focused on a demonstration of it. In my opinion, this last part was weaker and I left with the impression it lacked details about the most crucial part of the attack while spending a lot of time on less important stuff.

Talk description here.

Movies Portugal

Capitão Falcão

Last week was (finally) the premiere of the film “Capitão Falcão“, the first Portuguese super-hero. Since I was one of the “few” that saw the pilot, when this project was supposed to be some kind of TV show, I had high expectations for it (believe me, the pilot was good).

The film is supposed to be a gross satire of the Portuguese regime before the 25th of April of 1974, where everyone that opposes the government is portrayed as a villain.

So this weekend i didn’t lose the chance and went to see it. In the remaining of this post i will make a tiny review of the movie without any spoilers.

Overall it was a good movie, it has its funny moments, hilarious portraits of real life characters and it mocks some political views. The argument is good enough for you to not lose interest in whats going on and the making is within of what is expectable for this kind of movie, without an astronomical budget.

It is good but could be better, as one of my friends said, the movie recycles lots of great jokes and funny content from the 30 minute pilot across the film, without enough new content to maintain the needed density and rhythm. This way there are some moments in the film where that void is filled with longer and repetitive fighting scenes.

Summing up, “Capitão Falcão” is a breath of fresh air in the Portuguese cinema, that I recommend and hope that it leads the way for more good and original movies made in this country.

Note: There might be surprises after the credits


Raw Open Data

Last month I attended an interesting event here in Coimbra, about the concept of Open Data, which is described in Wikipedia like this:

Open data is the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.

During the event several topics were discussed around this issue, but the ones that caught my attention were focused on the European directives about this subject, the Portuguese case (our government approach on this issue), licenses that should be used on this kind of content and data visualizations.

The major arguments used to incite companies, public entities and essentially governments to release their data in an open format, so it can be used by the general public and other entities were:

  • it fosters innovation
  • gives the ability to improve existing products and services
  • increases the transparency of the organization
  • raises the quality of the citizen’s participation in a democracy

In the morning Cristiana Sappa, argued that all this data should have a license that gives permission to the users to reuse it for both commercial and non-commercial purposes, allows the creation of derivative works and doesn’t have any “Share alike” condition. One good example is Creative Commons Zero (CC0).

In the afternoon, the Portuguese case was presented, where several initiatives were explained like, Portal de Transparência Municipal and Portal do Software Público. Despite all the effort, at the end of this talk i was left with the impression that there is still much to be done and that the quantity and quality of the released data is not there yet.

The day ended with a talk given by Paolo Ciuccarelli about data visualizations. In this talk he defended the need to turn the raw data into something that people could perceive what was being shown to them and reason about it. He then gave many excellent examples of amazing work that he and his team had done in the past. I would like to leave one reference to a tool, called RAW, that was presented which, helps the common user in the creation of nice visualizations for his data. You should check it out.

Concluding this post, i would like to leave here some useful links that were shared during the event and where interesting public data is published. Here they are:

Personal Portugal

RubyConf Portugal

In the beginning of last week, during the days 13 and 14, I and some guys from Whitesmith went to Braga for the first RubyConf Portugal. I’m not a huge fan of Ruby but since i work with it from time to time, i took the chance to learn a little bit more about it and improve my understanding of the language.

The event was pretty cool and if you go through the agenda in the site you can see that the speakers that gave the talks are well known individuals in this community. The good stuff about this conference started with the choice of the city of Braga to host the event, since this kind of stuff in Portugal always happens in Lisbon or Oporto.

The venue was in an amazing spot, called “Bom Jesus”, that has a nice view over the city as you can see in the photo below:

Photo from Braga
Venue Location: Braga

I liked some of the talks, essentially the ones that are related with my work, the rest didn’t said much to me but this is normal and it happens in every event. The funny part was that in this event we spent more time hearing about other languages (Javascript, Go, Rust, C) than ruby even though they were related with the ruby ecosystem.

The host of the event was Jeremy Walker, and he did a great job from the start where he showed up dressed as a roman guy (seems it was the theme of the event) until the end of the last talk.

Regarding the contents of the conference, in the first day i really enjoyed the talks “Building better web APIS with rails” and “Writing fast ruby“, this last one was already available online (video, slides).

Talk photo
Carlos Sousa’s talk in the first day

In the second day the two presentations that i liked the most were: “TBA” (according to the speaker that was exactly the name of the talk) and “Search Your Feelings: Multi-Table Full Text Search in Postgres“, both without too much ruby. One addressed Rust and the other Postgres, two topics I’m really interested in improving my skills at the moment.

Photo of TBA talk
Steve Klabnik’s Talk

Aside from the talks the rest of the event (food, party, etc) was great. The only complain that I have is about the conditions of the room where the talks were given, since those who were unfortunate (or late) to stay in the back of the room had some issues to properly see the slides (as you can see in the last photo, I was in the middle of the room).

Finally I must congratulate the guys at Group Buddies for the organization of this conference. I hope this kind of events become more common here in Portugal and happen outside Lisbon, so more regions of the country can benefit from them.

Edit: For those unable to be there, the organization just released some photos and videos taken during the event. You can find them here and here.

Personal Portugal

Codebits 2014

The 3 days passed so fast that i got the sensation that the event took place in only one day. The only regret I felt in this year’s event was related with the fact that our team was unable to get the project ready for the presentation in 48h.

We were developing a service that would  pay developers (using MEO Wallet) who contribute to open source projects, with bounties associated to specific issues, as soon as their pull request is merged in Github.

The rest of the event was awesome as always and all the speakers of the talks i was able to attend (Christian Heilmann, Miguel Duarte, Miguel Mota Veiga, …) were up to the job.

So next year the organization can count with my application to the event again.


Open to new project ideas


Cheap, Safe and Friendly

As a Portuguese citizen, after i come across an article named “Top 15 Cheap, Safe and Friendly Countries” and saw my country in this list, i have to leave here my two cents about the subject. I’m not gonna evaluate or judge the process and the origin of the data that led the author to his conclusion, but reinforce the raking given to Portugal and even argue why it should have been placed in a even better position.

For those who dismiss reading the full article here is the final score given by the author (data available here):

top15 ranking

As you can see, despite of being in the list, the country ranks far behind the top ones in these 3 categories. Based on the hacker news discussion, i will add some aspects that people claimed as important when moving/traveling to a foreign country:

  • Health Care
  • Quality of the food
  • Racial/Sexual/Religious discrimination

For the first aspect, the last World Health Organization ranking of health systems can give you a hint even though it’s relatively old and it’s methodology had been criticized. The second aspect depends on individual tastes but based on comments around the web, it seems fairly well appreciated. Finally, according to this document from the European commission, Portugal is relatively in line with the rest of the European union regarding any kind of discrimination (which i suppose it’s not bad at all).

After that i will leave two opinions, that i found in the discussion and thought that are extremely positive:

I’ve spent significant time in #3 (Morocco) and #4 (UAE) and would be hesitant to return. As a solo female these places are hostile once you leave the confines of the westernized areas. If you are just hanging out the business districts and make heavy use of taxis you’re fine but what’s the point..
#15 Portugal on the other hand? If you can work remotely and can get a visa, I’d put it at the top. Amazing country, affordable, fantastic people and the language isn’t complicated to pick up if you have any Romance knowledge. (by marquis)

I have lived in Portugal (Lisbon) for about two years. One of the cheapest countries in Europe, friendly, people are warm towards foreigners. Country itself is very beautiful and great food (one of the best fish cuisine).However, there are not many tech startups. (by morazow)

In response to the second one, it’s true that there isn’t many but we are working on it.

And for those interested, the better part of the country isn’t attached to it, just fly a little bit further south and west and you will find Madeira island. Meanwhile i will leave you with a short introduction to Portugal.

Old Posts

The King’s Speech

Some time ago i wrote about a guy who showed up in a TV Show talking about a new mentality that is needed here in Portugal. Today I’m gonna return to that subject and post here one video (yes one more, this is starting to look like a video channel) of his speech at TEDx Youth Braga, that i have no words to describe. Once again it’s only for readers who speak Portuguese.

Old Posts

Coimbra on the move

These are difficult times for every student in Portugal, the amount of jobs available, for those who are finishing their studies in the next few years, is limited and in some areas rare is the appropriate word. So most of the graduating students already are looking for opportunities, not in our country but in many others around the world.

This article has one simple objective, that is show other vision and attitude. What I am about to say, you are probably sick of hearing or reading trough the Internet, Television or even on those boring talks about how great entrepreneurship is, but I simply have to share what I’ve been seeing in this student oriented city called Coimbra.

Some days ago, I and some colleagues of mine, managed to organize a little Hackathon called “Exception Handled”,  and we were surprised with the quality of the ideas and prototypes, that the few teams present at the event were able to do in just 48h. So I’ve been wondering why I don’t see in this city that “startup fever” that lots of other places in other countries have (or at least is what I read all over the Internet).

Students with ideas and will to create something new , groups of specialized people that are in the ground giving advice and support to the “creators” like GAPI 2.0 and nothing more and nothing less than the best technology based incubator in the world, are things that you can find in this city and a little bit all around the country.

So what is missing? In my own opinion, is just that spark that starts an engine and puts the machine on the move. This little spark is about making the students realize that they can do it. Yes, start a company isn’t for everybody but we have to make sure that the ones that have what it takes, find out that they are able to do it.

Is in this context that events like “Startup Weekend“, “Ineo Weekend” or even some hackathons (this one is more focused for tech students) have a great role, because, there people learn about the steps to create a successful company, students try it themselves without the commitment or the risk of actually starting a company, they have the help of more experienced people and can have the taste of  the excitement produced by the creation of something brand new, that came from their ideas.

Luckily this kind of events are becoming more and more frequent, every year I see new ones and for me that is a really good sign because if they are coming back is because people are signing for them.

For example in the beginning of the next year,a team inside jeKnowledge has already scheduled the first “3 Day Startupin Portugal and it will realized in Coimbra. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, you can find more information at their website. The already interested students can apply here. Just to show the output from the last editions of this event, below you can find a quote from 3DS website:

12 events in the US and Europe have given rise to 14 companies receiving $4 million in funding. 7 companies from 3DS have been accepted to accelerators such as Y Combinator, 500 Startups, and Dreamit Ventures.

The signups for the interview will stay open until the first day of 2012 (less than 1 month).
I’m sure it will be a great event and lets hope that the accepted participants, are able to add one more company to the “3 Day Startup” statistics. The country needs it!

Old Posts

Show what you can do

Well, this time i bring a video from a TV discussion (on the Portuguese show “Prós e Contras”) where this young man, talks about a new mentality that is needed for the young men and women that finish their college degree and are about to enter the job market.

I was surprised because it isn’t common to find someone here in Portugal that thinks the same way I do, about this subject. So I will leave you with Miguel and I can assure you that the video will worth the 15 minutes that you will spend to watch it.

Note: The video is in Portuguese and there is no subtitles. So it isn’t for everybody