The MSE: at last!

Today started the official MSE classes. (hooorray!!)

The whole computer department with room for thousands is empty as we're still on the middle of the summer, and we, the proud 14 students along with a few hand picked teachers fill these halls with the classes that will later on build and shape my personal view of the software world. (crossing my fingers)

So far, so good. Having classes exclusively in english language when all students are portuguese is not something new as I've spent last year passing through a similar experience with the CCNA.

The biggest difference is the fact that studying become (finally) a full time experience to me.

Over the past decade it wasn't nowhere easy to consolidate new knowledge while fighting with professional constraints or hostile study environments.

This time I'm really having fun while living a long waited goal and yet quite nervous to some extent about the quality of my work as everyone is reviewed constantly by people that are beyond doubt experts on this craft.

The MSE is seen as the crown jewel that represents the people who teach computer science in Coimbra's University and they uphold the professionalism and devotion to this goal at an incredibly impressive level. Students are expected no less commitment and I'm really happy to work in this environment.


At this moment I'm not so worried about the complexity or costs of this demanding course but my mind is troubled because of my contract work terms with the military.

If I cut my ties, then I'll breach the permanent staff contract terms that expect a minimum of 8 years under their roof. I still had 3 more years to reach this timeline, and breaking early gives them legal basis to request a compensatory indemnization for the 3 missing years.

Guess that some negotiation needs to take place or at least a (significant) source of income needs to be retrieved as the penalty can easily reach between 10k~20k euros. Perhaps a new bank loan can be drafted or the some distributed payments be agreed but freedom comes with a price.

The question that bothers my sleep: What is the price tag to gain back my freedom?

Ninja pendisk site update

Recently I've began playing more often with Wordpress and it has become a good tool to deploy new websites.

So, I picked a small popular site that would be easy to play with - ninja - because it is the right tool for simplicity sake and the website should also be made as simple as possible.

One of the advantages that I like the most at wordpress is the integrated plugin system. Very neat. You simply look for plugins with particular features and click to install.

On the ninja site, I've decided to replace the old plain html pages with a wordpress CMS. The transition went smoothly and took less than a day to complete.

The biggest obstacle was finding a proper new visual theme and then adding back the text present on the old pages. One sad thing that could not be ported are the posts that were made on the old forum system.

I've decided to use the integrated forum simple:press inside the CMS to ensure that everything fall well together. This new forum system also brings some other neat features that might help make it more appealing for other ninja users.

For example, it's not necessary to register on the forums as it is using OpenID, people on participate on a given topic get email warnings whenever someone replies to their threads and so on.

Also, this is a good homework practice for larger projects. My next goal is to also port the from the e107 CMS onto wordpress.

Next would be turn of and this would complete the round of site conversions. Why converting to wordpress?

Well, the main reason is flexibility to change things around. With e107 or static html pages is a real bothersome to add changes on the website or make it look exactly as you want.

Besides, the available plugins are really cool and I'm just scratching the surface.

I don't really like the fact that it's dependent to MySQL but for the moment there is still no other alternative.

If you have the time, don't forget to visit the new ninja site at and tell me what you think.


Hardware limits

I'm tired.

Spent the last three days working around the clock to ensure that all my matters with this azorean island were solved. This involved in going back, forth and around the city on foot several times just to get all the required documents and trying to change my new residence whenever possible.

Also, I needed to return my rented flat back to the owner and you wouldn't believe on the amount of things still missing to pack and bring back to mainland. Many other good things could not fit my luggage and I either gave them to friends or plain left them on the garbage.

It was somewhat difficult to put our own stuff on the garbage, especially when you paid good money for them and attached some emotional links over the years as you used them and raised happy and good memories.

Certainly not easy and I'm glad my wife didn't come with me as she wouldn't certainly bear to see some of the things that went out with with trash cleanup - I won't even tell her the details.

I've spent a lot of money and time repairing small details in the house, fixing electrical light-switches, changing bulbs and other equipment that I had replaced since the originals weren't in good state.

I'm taking most of this stuff with me and my personal luggage is so, so, so heavy that my only hope is that they'll be nice and don't charge me the extra weight. I can carry 20 kilograms but my bags weight around 60 kilograms and they demand an extra 5 euros per extra kilogram if they're in a bad mood.

As if my bank account was not already in a bad state, an excess of weight overcharge penalization would only do wonders - but I need to bring these things back home.

Guess the human limits of my hardware are really starting to show some wear. I've slept too little over these days and gave no rest between the effort of getting things done.

Mostly due to my fault. I always tend to think that sleep is secondary and prefer to go out see some music concert somewhere and have fun even knowing that I'll have to wake soon in the morning.

At least things are going on track, with the student's bank loan it should become easier to balance the bank account back into positive state thought I'm still worried about the future but I'm drawing some good plans to keep things running under schedule as expected.

I'm not worried about life in general, just plain sad at this moment. Leaving the Azores for good was not easy. Life is good around here and I've built a lot a good memories from this place.

After living for two months in mainland one can note the difference in lifestyle, but this is a new important step and better things will certainly come along.


Just got myself re-baptized

Two months ago when I went to the airport to collect my ticket after shipping all my things in the container, I noticed that my identification was missing - it has been mistakenly placed inside the ship container and I had no way to retrieve it.

Being late (almost 10:00 pm), I rushed onto a shopping mall where a citizen's office was still open. 15 minutes later, I had signed a declaration mentioning I had lost my identification and they gave me a temporary citizenship certificate to allow me flight back home.

I thought things had gone smooth as silk and this was indeed what happened then.

But today I went to pick the new citizen's card at the mall and a mistake was made - one of my middle names (Garcia) was mistakenly placed as one of my first names.

My mother only gave me one first name as "Nuno" but I was instantly re-baptized under a new name as "Nuno Garcia"

Oh well. I'm too tired today to fight the ID system and I've spent the whole day and night going from one place to another, so, guess I'll have to make some use of my new freshly reassigned first name and get used to it.

Go ahead and call me either Nuno or Garcia - for some unquestionable reason that I won't even bother to ask, both are now the same on my ID card.


Back to the Azorean spirit

I've returned one last time to the place that I called home for the last 5 years.

Very strange feeling. I moved out of my house at Coimbra and did everything on the expected schedule to get the bus ticket, the airplane reservation, to arrive on time, to wait the necessary time, to endure the time between trips but something was not the same.

This was likely the very last time that I see my house the way has it had been for the past few years and will also be the last time I'll probably ever be here.

And my feelings are crossed. I miss the azores.

Life around here is indeed different. People talk about quality of life but after some time you kind of forget that there are places where life is not so pleasant.

Looking back, this seems like another life in a distant time but it has only passed little over two months, guess life in mainland can also change you.

So, to celebrate a new beginning I started out by going to dinner at one of my favorite spots. I didn't go out at night as I need to get up really early in the morning but I'm afraid that I'm not also being able to catch much sleep as it's 03:00 AM and no rest has yet come my way.

Well, I'll try to get some work done and perhaps get tired enough to sleep for a couple of hours.


Google Social Network

Maybe old news for some but I've just tried out Google Social Network and it's impressive.

It allows to literally port a social network onto your website without the need to ask people to re-register themselves on your site.

One other cool feature is the fact that wordpress and phpbb already come prepared for google connect which means a lot less worries about integration and more free time to work out the gimmicks of the site.

This is a very approach to the same concept implemented by Microsoft (and others) over a decade ago when Passport was first introduced but with the twist that you have so much more control over the login registrations and are allowed to do a lot more.

At the moment I don't see myself using often this tool but it's certainly something to keep in memory for future projects.

Very good google, keep it up.

Remote posting to wordpress using Gmail

Wordpress is a really cool tool for running blogs but one of my favorite features (remote posting) was not working correctly with gmail.

This happened because wordpress itself has no support for secure connections. So, after googling for a good while, the solution presented itself in the form of a new script that is capable of handling gmail.

The article where this approach is explained is available here:

Fairly simple approach. Just copy the two files onto the installation folder of wordpress, rename the extension of both files from .phps to .php and you're ready to go.

As mentioned on the instructions, you still need to automate the calling of the wp-gmail.php script but that is the easy part.

As for setting up wordpress itself, don't forget that the pop address is "" and that it will use port 995.

Last but not least, the username should be as "" where "example" is your real username to log inside your gmail account.

That's it, good luck!