Sun, 15 Jul 2012

Season of change

It feels like I'm sitting in a roller-coaster wagon. There's probably too much change going on for me to assimilate naturally. In particular:

I just wrapped up (well, mostly) one of the toughest Uni semestres. I had to deal with lots of very time consuming assignments, and then the usual round of final exams. Even if this semester I got the best marks in my journey (or shall we say Via Crucis) through University, I still managed to fail one exam, for the Advanced Networks subject, which is quite annoying, given I got high marks (even the highest in one case) in other subjects I really don't master at all. In any case, this is the end of the pain. The only thing that's left is just one exam and a project based on GNU/Linux technologies which will basically mean formatting for prettyness the sysadmin docs we've been collecting at the office during the last few years. This effort will be nothing to what I've been doing during the past 18 months, so I'm really relieved to have it past me already.

Getting rid of studies comes just two weeks before a big change in my professional career. Friday was my last day at the Institut Tecnològic d'Informàtica, after five and a half fantastic years working with awesome people in a very friendly atmosphere. I've learned a great deal, and taking this decision wasn't easy at all. I leave lots of good friends behind, people I really love, and tomorrow will be difficult to not have them around me. I wish my ITI ex-workmates the best of luck in these difficult times for everyone in Spain and specially in the Valencian Country with the massive cuts going on. I feel the timing for this jump couldn't be better.

Tomorrow, when I get ready to go for work, I won't be leaving home at all, instead I will just sit where I am right now, at home, and log into some corporate IRC server. Tomorrow I'll be joining Collabora, and I'm a mix of excited, curious and happy about this incredible opportunity. Thanks to Sjoerd for nags, I might not be writing this if it wasn't for you!


When I was first approached about this, I thought Collabora was a small company. But as I looked more into it, I discovered that's not longer the case, there's many more people than I imagined working there (here!), and was delighted to see I knew many of them, and many other are well known members of the major Free Sofware communities. I'll be joining the sysadmin team to work closely with Jo Shields. See you tomorrow, folks. :)

This opportunity to work from home is godsend, given the third bit of change that'll be happening soon: sometime in late September, Maria and I should join the ranks of first-time parents, following the baby boom wave surrounding us. While you can imagine we're really happy about this, we're also freaking out because this is going to happen in just two months and a half, and weeks go by really fast lately. So yeah, being able to be at home with this really small baby will be a big bonus for the incredible experience we're about to enjoy. We've been both busy with other stuff, but during the summer we should be focusing on preparing the baby's arrival. There's a whole lot to do!

Expect my Debian and other Free Software activities to get a hit, of course. :) If I am normally sleep-deprived, this is going to be the next level.

Tue, 31 May 2011

Quinze de maig

Two weeks ago, I was lucky to celebrate my 33th birthday with my closest friends in l'Alqueria. When asked to wish something before blowing the candles on Victor's delicious apple cake, I thought I have basically everything I'd want, but it'd be cool if some real changes happened in this world.

Not long after, big demonstrations asking for “Real Democracy Now” happened throughout the Spanish state, and today, that Sunday seems to be an eternity away. Huge assemblies, thousands of strangers working together, more demonstrations, an election campaign eclipsed by #15m, hundreds of well thought, plausible claims published, the movement crossing the Spanish borders and leaking into France and Greece, the feeling that this is the good one, the basis for a fresh start that can make our lives better, our society a fair one and the possibility to stand in front of the fuckers who have made our lives a lot harder, to tell them it's not going to work like that anymore. All of this in 15 days.

Unfortunately, revolution came when I'm in a crucial month to finish my studies and swamped with other little things, so I've been unable to be in the Valencian camp site for more than 3 days. Hopefully when I'm done on the 22nd people will still be taking the square, because Mako and Mika will be visiting then. Yay!

Thu, 31 Mar 2011

A tale of Tristània and its Quadrennial Royal Ball

In one of the corners of what is now know as Europa, there was a rich, prosperous and beautiful kingdom known as Tristània. In the past, not that long ago, it had been a number of smaller kingdoms and caliphates, all with their own cultures, religions and ways of life. Wars, and series of marriages of convenience eventually configured what ended up being the united kingdom of Tristània. Throughout the years, some of the unified cultures grew and flourished, while others struggled to survive in their ever-shrinking areas of influence.

A required introduction

Sometimes, the minor cultures would suffer due to oppression coming from the delegates of the King, who would ban any expression of these cultures, as they were seen as a potential threat to the kingdom's stability and unity. For example, just a few decades before the main subject of this tale, the predecessor of the incumbent King took power by force, after crushing everyone who opposed his uprise during a bloody and hard civil war. His reign was ruthless and he imposed draconian laws uppon his people: usage and teaching of the minor languages was banned, and everyone was forced to use the language of the Centràlia region, in public or private.

After four decades, the majority of the Tristanian people were sick enough of the situation to consider standing against their fear of the regime and demand freedom, but repression prevailed until the old general died. His place was taken by the King's grandson even if the people had expressed, just before the Great War, that they had had enough kings and demanded a ruler they could choose directly. Of course, the new King seemed a lot nicer than who they had been suffering for ages, so when asked if they accepted the new situation, an overwhelming majority said “yes”.

However, there was a region, Verdàlia, where the majority said “no”. Things were actually more complicated. Verdalians formed a traditional, proud society, and while the years of oppression had undoubtedly weakened it, they had managed to preserve their very unique culture, language and traditions healthy. The Verdal language was really weird to the ears of Centràlians and even other minor cultures of the Kingdom, and erudites struggled to find its real origins, not being able to reach plausible conclusions.

Verdanians, as we already know, were a traditional society, living in a land of deep and poorly connected valleys. Little they knew or cared about the complicated matters of Centràlia and other regions. What made them happy was to take care their sheep and cows, keep a good fire in their living room and, every now and then, enjoy one of their log cutting contests. The impositions of the former dictator were too much for them, and some of them started sabotaging, assaulting and killing some of the dictator's soldiers, agents and officers. This was a huge risk at the time; getting caught meant death penalty for sure, and at first, even people from other regions were in favour of these actions. However, this popular support greatly diminished when the new King took the throne, as these minority continued with the killings, while most of the people saw it was no longer justified.

The Royal Ball

One of the very first measures the young King introduced was to organise the “Royal Ball of Tristània”, a major event through which the people of the different regions would be able to elect their delegates to the Crown. Every four years, a Great Ball contest would happen in Centràlia, and the winners would be able to decide by their own on some of the matters that affected their region. Verdanians would send a few teams of dancers, each of which came from different towns or areas. Some Verdanian teams were happy about the King and the new political situation, but other teams weren't so much. And some others, while being simple non-violent dancers, were known to be supporters of the violent minority who kept on harassing, assaulting and even killing in their struggle for “freedom of Verdània”.

The Verdanian groups aligned with the “different” culture of Verdània (including those who were said to support the violent) tended to get a lot more points in the dancing contest, and a majority of the elected delegates were appointed by them, making it easier to pass laws and edicts that favoured protection of their ways, traditions and language.

No matter how hard they tried, the dancing groups closer to Centràlia kept losing to the majority. After many years of dance contests, these groups used their closeness to the King's court to pass the Ball Law of Tristanian, that would ban any dancing group which didn't condemn the assaults and killings that kept happening in Verdània. The unsurprising result was that, with less dancing groups participating in the following Royal Ball, the Verdanian majority was broken and new delegates, friendly of the Centralian officers, were elected.

Many people who had been in favour of assaults and killings began to question this strategy, and this political movement's unity started to break. In the end, the dancers decided to part ways with the violent; they wanted to dance in the next ball, and to do so, they wrote a letter to the King, in which they explicitly expressed their rejection of violent ways, and their embracing of dancing as the only means to drive their political agenda. An objective reading of the new Ball Law clearly showed that this was enough: the text only said the requisite for a dancing group was to disavow all kinds of violence.

This wasn't really expected in Centràlia, so they started to add new requirements in an attempt to keep this group from the contest: their decisive majority in Verdània was at stake.

The Royal Ball was nearing and registrations for the contest would soon close. The Centralian government first argued that the dancing group should reject the violence coming from the Verdanian extremists in particular. The dancers did it. Then they argued that the dancers were the same people who had been supporting violence in Verdània for years, and “obviously” their violence rejection statement was a lie. The dancers struggled to find new dancers who had not been involved in past dances. But it was not enough. They then claimed that this dance group should be quarantined for four years, until they could prove they really were serious about their new non-violent ideas.

The dance group made a plea to the Tristànian Supreme Counsel, a group of sixteen experts in law of the Kingdom, and argued that all of these draconian requirements were not part of the law that was being enforced by the King. Their appeal to the elder counselors was in vain, though. They ruled this dancing group was as criminal as the violent minority they had once supported, and should by no means take part in the Royal Ball.

As a last, desperate measure, the dancing group reached an agreement with other Verdanian dancers to join forces. They would adopt a new name and new dancing costume colours. Many feared this would only end up in the ban of the other dancing group.

Unfortunately, the end of this story has not been written yet, but it will be completed very soon. Only time will tell if things continue being very sad and unfair in Tristània, or if the dance contest will once again be impartial, with legitimate results.

Mon, 28 Feb 2011


This past weekend I've had the pleasure to join our friends from Valls, in the Camp de Tarragona, for our annual Calçotada in Picamoixon's countryside. This was the fourth time in a row I attend, and as always, it's been a blast, even if Enric and Clara weren't there, and the Valencian group was reduced to just 5 of us.

Unfortunately I had my share of alcohol on Friday evening/night while partying with my workmates so when we got to Tarragona I was basically wasted. This made me not want to take a single sip of any kind of beverage not consisting of a 100% of water during the two days, but that didn't, of course, spoil a single moment of fun.

Again, we've had the full traditional pack: prepare, cook and enjoy the delicious calçots; our share of mayhem just after eating them, during the calçot war, which this time resulted in a really filthy face and hair; our little walk around the area, including a visit to the “chapel of the altar boy”; play in the metres tall mountains of gravel in the quarry and a brief visit to the ruins of an abandoned house, to discover none of its floors have colapsed yet.

A great finish for a great weekend is getting to visit Jordi and Anna, after 3 years of no luck, and finally meeting their lovely 2.5 years old daughter Martina.

This weekend just rocks, and I'm already looking forward to next year's!

Fri, 31 Dec 2010


Last night was the last time I came back from a pub with my clothes stinking due to tobacco smoke. The Spanish congress has finally approved a real anti-smoking law which will ban smoking on public areas, with no exceptions or ways to workaround the ban. Starting on January 2nd, the Spanish state will be a smoke-free region (or mostly, it seems it'll be permitted in open-air events like football stadiums or bullrings, and I don't think that will be a great problem for me, specially the latter).

For years, my intolerance to smoke has been increasing and I'm really expectant to see the benefits of this law in my habits. After more than 30 years dealing with smoke around us, it's our turn now. I've been speaking to a few barmans. In general they seem worried this will affect their business, but I can't see how it will. Spain has a big culture for having mid-morning almuerzos in bars, and people are not going to give that up due to not being able to smoke. They will just do it after they get out, not during the coffee, and that's it. The barmans of the two bars I visit most are non-smokers, but have to breath the smoke of hundreds of cigarretes every day, and can't do anything about it. Until tomorrow, when this will end and everyone will have a right to breath better air. I hope this kind of legislation continues to be adopted throughout Europe, because the FOSDEM welcome party is probably the next smoke horror I'll have to face soonish. :)

Thu, 20 May 2010


On Saturday I turned 32. I haven't been able to sit down for ten minutes and scribble the “mandatory” blog entry, a sign that I'm extremely busy (luckily not only due to academic and professional reasons; the social part of the problem is very significant). This year I was gifted with a costumes Festa de l'Horta being held on the very same day as my birthday, and it was memorable (in many ways).

Add an unexpected climbing evening on Friday, and getting to see my fantastic 2 year old niece Vida, who came from Norwich for a visit, made a great birthday weekend. I feel I'm going through a very, very sweet stage of my life; I really can't remember the last time I generally had no big worries or black clouds all over my head. I hope it stays like this for a while...

Sun, 31 Jan 2010


Today, I was glad to attend the biggest demonstration ever in favour of the Cabanyal neighbourhood of València, a traditional district populated by the sea people of the city. After decades of oblivion, the Valencian right-wing government is trying to execute an old plan to “open Valencia to the sea”, which means demolishing around 450 traditional houses, many of them under protection for their cultural and architectural value, to extend a big avenue until the beach. Patrimonial loss aside, neighbours would be forced to other areas in the city (sadly, this has been happening for a decade already), making Cabanyal-Canyamelar the new posh neighbourhood for the richer class, destroying its identity and replacing it with a new set of skyscrapers.

The local government of PP, led by the infamous Rita Barberá, knows that getting the anti-riot police in the neighbourhood and forcing very old men and women out of the houses where they were born isn't what many people like to see in the evening news. They also know time is their ally; this plan is many decades old, and there's no need to hurry now, so it's better to apply silent mafia tactics on the problem. It's very easy.

First, stop investing a single euro in the area and monitor the slow but effective results of the degradation. Have a bit of patience, and after quite a few years, start promoting the illegal occupation of the increasing number of empty houses by marginal collectives which will bring the associated introduction of drug dealing in the area. This will surely make even more people leave or accelerate their decease. Keep repeating this process, until the Cabanyal is really fucked up. Now, start promoting the “rehabilitation plan”, which unavoidably includes splitting the neighbourhood in two pieces, and destroying a substantial part of it. Hopefully, many of the neighbours not directly affected by the demolitions will back the plan, they can't be blamed for being really fed up after all. Do all you can to confront those in favour to those against. In the meanwhile, start harrassing owners, make them end up selling their property at ridiculous prices and as soon as this happens, demolish it very quickly. Don't even bother with cleaning up the rubble: an increasing number of sites like this all over the place may be what makes a few more families give up and leave.

In the end, you either have an empty neighbourhood, or you've managed to demolish all the annoying houses that block your shiny avenue. However, if a Supreme Court argues that the remaining houses still have some cultural value, you might want to consider changing your local law to unprotect those architectural elements.

Today, many thousands of Valencians marched around Cabanyal to say “enough!”. From the street, I saw several old women out on the balconies of their beautiful houses, their eyes wet with tears, while they observed in silence all that many people who were fighting for them. There's still a long way to go in the courts until this is all over, but at least these people have a little more hope today than those in el Carme or La Punta, who ended up losing similar battles, years ago.

Fri, 30 Oct 2009

Dead PowerBook G4

A few weeks ago I was trying to get GRUB2 for PowerPC back to work on my PowerBook G4 15", and had some problems getting OF doing the right thing. Not being an OF expert at all, I found myself making things a bit worse, ending up with an unbootable laptop and, what a classic, unable to boot my old rescue CD to get yaboot back in its place.

So I googled a bit and ended up deciding that, given the boot parametres and some other stuff like the system's clock were doing strange stuff, reset-nvram would help getting things in a better shape that would at least permit CD booting. So there, reset-nvram, followed by reset-all, as found in all the OpenFirmware cheatsheets I found all over the web, and damn it, nothing changed and I was back into the OpenFirmware prompt. I used the power button to reset the laptop once again, and that was the last time I saw something functional on the PowerBook.

Now, when I start the computer, all I hear is the Apple startup sound, followed by the sound of the CD drive (which has eaten an Ubuntu 5.10 CD) trying to spin up for a pair of seconds, and then nothing. There's nothing displayed on the LCD, or any other sign of “life”. My searches in Google indicate this is a logic board failure and you can imagine that is not cheap to get fixed by Apple support.

I've tried numerous keyboard combo tricks I didn't even know about, and none seem to work. The computer doesn't seem to be responding to the builtin keyboard, an Apple USB keyboard I borrowed, or an external display. I'm annoyed because I've looked after this laptop really well and it was in a really good condition, so I'm going to see if it can be fixed for a reasonable amount.

Apple care in València is not an option. They say a logic board (if this is really what is causing trouble) costs around 500€, so I'll have to explore other ways. The first one is trying to find out if these symptoms (nothing on the display, key combos don't appear to work, etc.) really point to a fried logic board or could be something else. I've tried removing the RAM and replacing it with my old one, but that didn't work either. So, if anyone reading this has some Apple PowerPC hardware experience and can share some of their knowledge and suggestions, I'd be really, really grateful.

Plan B involves hiring a coworker, who I believe is the son of McGyver, to try to get it repaired for me. This would involve buying spare parts in eBay or some other place to try to get the replaced. Again, suggestions, donations and ideas are welcome in this front too. :)

Jose Vicente loves fixing stuff, and right before the Summer he already showed what he can do with a screwdriver and some patience. Some weeks before, I had managed to shatter the LCD screen of my Nokia 6500s when I lost my grip while climbing down a mountain in El Cadí, and the phone in my pocket hit a big rock. The phone worked, but I all I could see in the screen were some cracks in random colours. People suggested I should get a new phone, but I really don't want to generate even more polluting waste when all that was needed was replacing a cheap component.

My phone during its stay in McGyver's hideout

Mon, 07 Sep 2009

Flags and outrages

A bit more than two years ago, two young Spaniards on vacation in Latvia maybe went a bit too far during one of their night parties and decided to remove some Latvian flags that hanged from a post in the streets of Riga. They spent 1 month in prison, with charges for outraging the Latvian flag.

The Spanish media talked about the disproportionate charges, the ridiculous and “medieval” laws in Latvia and so on.

Today, we learn that Jaume d'Urgell will go to prison due to the “outraging” crime of substituting the current Spanish flag with the Republican flag of 1931 on the facade of a public building.

So much for medieval laws and institutions like the Spanish monarchy.

Fri, 29 May 2009


Last weekend I finally managed to travel to Barcelona to visit my family and some friends. As my agenda was quite packed with stuff to do, I was unable to find out if any of the Ubunteros had arrived early for UDS, and I left just after lunch on Sunday.

Unfortunately, I had totally missed that before UDS, Canonical held their allhands meeting, and it would have been easy to meet them on Friday night after I got in the city. What a pitty, and sorry about this, mdz, I would have loved to meet... :(

In other Barcelona news, I'm sure that UDS attendees will be astonished (or fed up!) by the football crazyness going on right now. Last night I went to a culer bar near Woody and enjoyed watching how Barça claimed brilliantly their 3rd Champions Cup. For someone who normally doesn't care that much about football, the last few weeks have been incredible.

Today I visited my 96 year old grandfather, and even if he has lost much of his expressiveness and energy since the last few months, today he was visibly happy and proud of what his Barça has managed to accomplish this season. Three titles, plus literally going over Real Madrid in Santiago Bernabeu. Barça is definitely més que un club, and I'm happy that my grandfather was able to enjoy it.

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