2008 comes to a conclusion

It's been a long year.

In economical terms it has surely been a nightmare. If in 2007 I was worried about the downfall of the economy and the security of my personal savings. At the present day as I look back, I see that my fears had a reason to exist and that I ignored all the red stop lights.

Lost a lot of money in 2007. Eventually thought it would be safe to return to investments at mid 2008 but the shark speculators hadn't yet reached their desired bottom and ended up dragging down the value on my stock portfolio to 50% of what they were worth a few months ago.

Now, I'm starting a humble 2009.

My daytime job provides a generous salary at the end of each month but my expenses have increased dramatically with the need to sustain our kid and afford frequent travel expenses back to mainland Portugal.

Still need to account for the expenses with the university tuition and give my best to try save enough money to keep in case of an emergency. So I'm kind of living from one month's salary to the next without affording as many things as before but at least I have no debts and my family is healthy and well.


In academical terms, can't say I studied much to finish my university degree. At the beginning of the year I saw my civil right to attend exams and classes being denied because of my status as a professional worker, this decision restricted me from taking days off work to properly prepare myself for the exams or even attending them.

After talking with a lawyer and promoting a lawsuit together with a few other friends in the same situation, the case was settled in court and got my rights just as before but it was already too late to save the lective year 2007/2008.

On the lective year of 2008/2009 a lot of things changed at the university that I attend and some of these changes are simply nuts.

For example, I have a class of Linear Algebra to which I should submit by email two work subjects and then attend a final exam. The combined grade of these three evaluations will dictate the grade you get at the end of the semester.

What isn't my surprise that the first work subject was so difficult to interpret that after a few days trying to solve on my own, I had to resort at professional help.

Went on to talk with a Doctor in maths and asked her to help me with the work subject. To my surprise, even she had difficulty solving the questions even thought she had been a teacher of the same class at another university.

The ironic part is that she solved this exam for me and the exam score was 2.5 out of 4.

It's not fair for a computer sciences student to be forced onto a linear Algebra level that is beyond the reasonable amount of difficulty and I've became extremely disappointed because 94% of the students didn't passed at that specific exam and the teacher just doesn't care.

So it seems that I'll have to delay my dream of completing a degree a few more years.


But not all is so bad, during the summer I've enrolled at ENTA (Escola de Novas Tecnologias dos A├žores) and attended the CCNA classes. Our government is sponsoring these classes to some extent so the cost per semester is far below the average on mainland and the teacher has far more competence than any other IT related teacher that I've ever met. He is capable of explaining in human terms the flow of network engineering in a brilliant manner.

Got the CCNA qualification and learnt a lot more about internetworking.


In programming developments, Peter has offered his time to help me on the development of winbuilder.exe

His help has truly helped to make wb a lot more perfect and tuned, if the car industry in germany has a reputation for quality and efficiency, Peter has surely demonstrated the reason why while working at the winbuilder engine.

A few months later, he also suggested to invite another german developer, booty#1.

So, our development team has quickly rised from a one man project to a team of developers.

Unfortunately we didn't ended up releasing a stable winbuilder 076 as expected before the end of the year but I'm crossing my fingers to see this happen very soon within 2009.


In social networking terms, the boot land community has grown so much that it's simple wonderful.

We've got a friendly sponsoring from R1Soft that provided us with a much necessary dedicated server and we've got ourselves a new clean face with a total redesign of the site look.

In 2009 I'm expecting to see it grow even more, I've been spending more time with the coding of site and I'm also crossing my fingers in the hope that this helps everyone enjoying a better work space.


And last but no least, my family.

This is a term that I can finally apply.

Earlier this year my wife got pregnant so we needed to decide where to have this baby. She was brave and decided to live with me on the islands even knowing that she'd be very far from her family (to which she is very close).

The pregnancy went fine and Miguel (my son) was born in late October.

Eventually I tried to smooth the lack of family by inviting her mother and younger sister to come visit us for a few weeks.

My kid is healty and very active, which is of course all that I desired in world.

He inherited her mother's eyes so I'm also guessing he'll be a success with the ladies.. ;)

At January or perhaps February, she'll go back to mainland since the kid will be grown enough to endure the flight conditions and I'll likely join her to introduce the new member of the family to my parents.


In conclusion.

2009 is going to be a very bumpy year from my perspective.

I was planning to change onto a better university and start working somewhere else in Europe to provide better conditions to my family but it isn't certainly going to be an easy task.

Nevertheless, one has the right to work hard to make it possible and I'll surely try my best.


http://boot-land.net moving to new server

Today began the transfer of boot land to the new server.

It's not an easy assignment, the site is responsible for ensuring several services to other members of the community like hosting, SVN and the forums.

The whole transfer process will take about a week to be finished. It's not just a matter of moving everything from one side to another, it's also an opportunity to use a much needed fresh version of the forum since our current install has been subjected to a lot of wear over these last two years.

Let's see how things go, wish me luck!


Winbuilder on c't german magazine

WinBuilder is featured this month on a popular German magazine called C'T,

It's the result of a project that took a year to be developed by Markus Debus in cooperation with other members of boot land.

The project is based on VistaPE and is built from Windows PE 2.x that comes available from both the MS WAIK and Windows Vista Install DVD's.


These are also good news for those who support and help winbuilder to grow at each day, the project is getting more help to move forward and the available projects are a proof that boot disk building can be considered as an art in the true sense of the word.


CCNA part 2 - Completed!

Yesterday completed the final round of exams for this portion of the CISCO certification.

It was no easy deal, the written exams took 2 hours to be completed and was composed with 56 questions that ranged from the first chapter exams all the way up to the 11th exam. Ranged expertise questions about RIP, OSPF, EIGRP and all sort of routing hazards that might occur on everyday WAN activity.

The other part took 4 hours and was composed with two laboratory examinations where one needs to setup a network from scratch. Well, not scratch in the sense of building from the ground up since the equipment and the connections are already in place, but you still need to do all the calculations for the network ranges and then implement these calculations where they belong.

It wasn't easy, I'm mentally exhausted.

Over this week with the nerves of getting a good grade I've tried to study as much as possible about everything that could be related to networking until I could reach a point of confidence regarding what I needed to know.

Is CCNA worth all this trouble?

Yes it is, no doubt about it.


At each part that is completed I evaluate what I knew before and after the classes begin and let me tell you that it's an enjoyable condition to look back and know that networking makes a lot more of sense now.

Some time ago I wondered about the possibility of working full time as a WAN administrator for CISCO equipment at some company but the idea was a bit frightening once I got around to consider the scale, impact and costs that solely depend on the network engineer.

It's a job to be taken quite seriously with little permission to mistakes and that is likely the reason why I see my teacher so committed in constantly refreshing his own knowledge about routers.

A good professional will always need to keep studying in order to keep track of the changes and how to get things done.

I might indeed follow a career as network engineer one day since it is a quite interesting lifestyle, but for the moment I prefer to gather more knowledge, experience and confidence before I look for another employer.


These have been a quite a few very interesting weeks, will certainly be looking forward for Part 3 in the future.


Improvements after changing to new server

Since the last few months that it got really difficult to work on either winbuilder.net or boot-land.net mostly because of the constant "Error 500" messages that were outputed everytime too many users (or bots) accessed the server.

Lately it had even become way too much frustating to do any web developing since it was way too difficult to work on anything, no mySQL, no PHP and sometimes no SSH or FTP made our life quite hard to support our goals.

The site is growing, more people are coming and our efforts to optimize all sites seemed quite hopeless as the server kept growing out of resources.


Now, the transfer to the new server has begun.

The first step was moving nunobrito.eu (my personal site) because it was small sized and wouldn't impact the mass of users that visit winbuilder.net or boot-land.net

The transfer was less than elegant as a lot of new things that I hadn't ever tried before needed to be debugged and learnt.

This was a good decision as it allowed a much quicker transfer of winbuilder.net

At the moment I'm still wrestling with the support of all the subdomains that were available from winbuilder.net and the introduction of SVN as before.


The final step is without doubt the most complicated and necessary - moving boot-land.net

boot-land.net has dozens of subdomains attached and the forums from boot-land also require some debugging before everything can function at 100% as before.

A long road ahead since I have to share my available time with other important tasks like family and school but one of my worries remains the goal of solving all our server troubles and finally start dedicating my free time to have some fun with boot disks again.