Articles

The Magic of Fractal Snowflakes

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The winter ❄️ has finally come. I have been wishing for snow for a long time. Coming from a warm country such as Portugal, snow is not the most common thing to see. In fact, I only saw snow in Portugal once when I was a kid when I went to Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain in continental Portugal.

Since then, I’ve only seen snow a few other times when traveling, but never that experience of being outside while it is actually snowing. That has changed! The Netherlands has been suffering from low temperatures, reaching even -15°C where I’m living. It’s been over a week without positive temperatures!

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Is It Time To Build My Own CMS?

Today I have been thinking about the possibility of writing my own CMS. A very simple CMS. I even hinted that on a small micro post today. This is not a new idea. I’m not going to look at the previous posts where I talked about this, but it’s definitely at least 2 or 3.

“But why?”, you ask. Well, the answer is more complicated than I would like it to be. There is a number of features that I want to implement that will just make my website inherently more dynamic. And as @jlelse once said “it’s almost questionable why I use a static page generator at all”.

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Moving Abroad During a Pandemic

It’s been quite a while since I sent my last newsletter. And now the ferocious winter winds are storming outside. I’m looking at my screen wondering what to write and why write. Since August, I have been living in the Netherlands and I thought it would be a great ideas to talk a bit about the experience of moving during a pandemic.

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Recently in December '20

2020 has come to an end. It was a very troublesome year regarding worldwide events. However, I must say that it was quite a fantastic year personally.

I am definitely not going to cover everything in this post - which is going to be rather quick - but I must say that 2020 has allowed me to grow in ways that I did not expect.

From the lockdown to moving to a different country, all this experiences changed me in some special way. The Covid-19 pandemic just made everything slightly more difficult. Sometimes we need to pass through some difficulties to see the light ahead.

I am hoping that the vaccines will have a long lasting effect in most people so that we can surpass this challenge together. The pandemic is far from its end. It’s just the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end!

I wish you all a fantastic 2021 and hope great things will happen this year!

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Recently in November '20

Hello y’all! Yet another month has passed. November was quite full of good things in my opinion. It’s been quite a long month so I’ll probably skip some parts because I simply don’t remember.

So, first of all and most importantly, I moved! I moved out of The Student Hotel and all the problems that I had with it to my own studio. I really enjoy the place and the location. I might not have a view from the 10th floor as I had before, but I still have a view from the 4th.

We’re almost half-way our second quarter of university and there’s things to do every day. It’s been very very very busy. I don’t think I can even compare to my Bachelor’s. I managed to work 50% of the time during my Bachelor’s, but I’m struggling with 25% with my Master’s.

It’s much more intensive in my opinion. I think the fact that we use a quartile system is the main culprit. It makes deadlines tight, not much time between quarters (only two weeks, with exams…). Nevertheless, everything seems to be coming up together!

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to use my camera as much as I hoped but I count on going to a few virtual photography workshops this month. In two weeks I’m flyinng back to Portugal for my Christmas break.

Enjoy your Holidays, enjoy Sinterklaas, enjoy Christmas!

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Wireguard VPN to Network Behind a CGNAT

I recently moved from the place where I was staying at to my own studio. In addition, since I was building a computer, I wanted to be able to access remotely to its capabitities, as well as any other device I have at home. Thus, I thought: let’s set up a VPN!

The problem arised when I went to the configuration of my router and saw that my WAN IP was in the format 172.xxx.xxx.xxx. I immediately knew that that was a private IP. On my ignorance, I decided to search why I didn’t have an actual public IP.

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Find Visible Segments by Sweeping Lines

After two months of classes and two weeks of exams, the first quarter of my Master’s is finally complete. I can say that 1/8th of my degree is complete. With a new quarter comes new courses. It’s been just a week but there is one specific topic that I found quite intriguing: geometric algorithms, specifically sweep line algorithms.

Before getting deeper into the subject, what are geometric algorithms? Well, they are used to solve geometric problems! Now you may be thinking “why is he stating the obvious?”. Since geometric problems usually deal with an enormous amount of diverse data, the computational complexity is very important. A difference between the running time of a bad algorithm compared to an efficient one can be in the order of days, or even months and years.

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How to Effectively Backup Your Emails

For quite some time, I have been setting up systems to backup my data of my computer, as well as fetching data from services, such as Trakt, Last.fm or GoodReads. There’s always one kind of service that has been on the back of my mind for a while to backup, but I’ve never got the time, nor the will to do so: email!

Email is fundamental nowadays and it is the basis of Internet communication. Almost all online services require an email, and even though we use it virtually every day for the most varied services and uses, it is not the easiest thing to backup.

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Recently in October '20

Here we are again, one more month has passed. Today - or tomorrow because I’m writing this yesetday - is the first day of November! So here comes another “Recently” post. Even though October was packed with joyfullness, happiness, adventures and some stress, this post will be rather short.

The autumn has set and the streets are finally getting filled with reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Different trees, different colors. It’s actually very different than what I am used to in Portugal. There we don’t have many reds or oranges: it’s mainly yellows and browns.

I had the opportunity to go for a bike ride for a few kilometers in the south of Eindhoven and the sights were absolutely incredible: sun, then a little bit of rain, clear sky, pine trees, forest paths… For someone that lived all his life on a place were vegetation is rather scarse, this is really pretty for me.

On other news, the first quarter of university if finally finished. The exams ended on Friday and we’re now just waiting for the exams results. Quarter two will start in two weeks, so I now have one week to rest and get ready for new adventures!

Happy November!

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Why Should You Have Your Own Website?

Hello 👋

Today’s newsletter is a bit different (and smaller) than most. I have been quite busy during the past week and this week as well. Starting tomorrow, I’m having three three hour exams this week that count 100% towards my final grade. I don’t even know if this should be allowed.

Besides that, I’m also trying to find a place to move in during November. The place where I am at has a variety of issues, and the fact that they use hotel contracts and not regular rental contracts puts us, students, in vulnerable positions.

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Testing Peer-to-Peer Systems With Testground

“Test, test, test” is a well known sentence right now due to the current circumstances. However, it does not apply only to Covid-19 or other diseases. Testing is one word that all of us have dreamt - or had nightmares - about in the past. It is also one crucial part and step in the Software Engineering and Development process, as it allows to verify and ensure that a certain system behaves as expected. At least, for known cases!

As such, all kinds of systems should be able to be easily tested, regardless of what they do. Nevertheless, both you and I know that that is not the case. There are certain systems that are much easy to test than others, in many orders of magnitude. For example, a library that converts between different times formats is much easier to test than an app to upload and download files.

Furthermore, any system that involves peer-to-peer communication or any other kind of distribution gets much harder to test! At Protocol Labs, we wanted to know and measure how changes to the IPFS and libp2p codebase would affect the performance of the network, but we couldn’t find any reliable platform to help us with that. And then… Testground was born! 🚀

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Rebuilding Eagle, My Website’s CMS

My website is growing, not in terms of views, because I’m not aware of that. Maybe I should add some non-intrusive analytics. Anyways, it’s growing in terms of functionality. However, since I’m using a static website generator, it makes it complicated to add some interactive functionalities.

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Thinking Out Loud About My Future Master’s Project

I’m now in my first year of my Master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering which means that next year I am supposed to start (and hopefully finish) my Master’s project and thesis. As a consequence of that, I have been thinking a lot about it lately. I don’t want to make a rushed choice that will make me work on something I don’t enjoy for over half an year.

You may be thinking “of course he has some topics he would like to work on” and that is completely true. The issue is that I feel I don’t have any highly specific topic to work on and they’re all very superficial. On this post, I am going to write a bit about some topics I’m curious about or some questions that I would like to see answered. Hopefully, by writing, it will also help me to settle down some ideas.

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Recently in September '20

Today’s the first day of a new month, so here’s a new “recently” post. Since I decided to start this series after mid-september, there’s not that many news since. However, I’m more than happy to write a few words about what’s been happening lately.

First of all, I decided to create a newsletter even though all posts I will send through it will be available on my website since day 1. Then, why did I choose to create a newsletter? I always wanted to publish articles regularly, but sometimes it’s difficult to keep going when we don’t feel obligation for it. After talking to Alfonso, I decided to give it a try.

Darkroom

Regarding photography I have two updates. The first one is related to this website. I decided to give my photography its own beautiful page instead of just a tag (remember #lifethroughlenses?). From now on, you can visit my photography in the darkroom. It’s obviously not a darkroom, but I thought it would be a great name for that page.

Over the years I have had many photos pages on this website but always ended up removing them in order to simplify the website. However, I’m in that point where I no longer think that “less is more” regarding this website. Not saying more is better though! I don’t want to solely relay on Instagram for my photography and this way I have flexibility over its presentation.

The second update is as simple as this: I decided to join the Eindhoven Film and Photography association. It’s called Dekate Mousa and there’s activities all Tuesdays at night related to either photography or film.

Thesis?

Since I’m already in the first year of my Master’s degree, which is just two years, I have been reading, investigating and thinking a lot more what’s going to happen next year: the project/thesis. I should pick an area and a specific topic soon and try to contact a professor regarding this. Or just see what the professors at my uni are looking for, but that might not be as exciting. Next Monday I will be bringing a post specifically about this. So… if you’re curious, please wait for it!

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A Take on Approximation Algorithms

I recently started my Master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering (MSCE) and one of the first courses I am following is Advanced Algorithms. It is actually the only single course that is mandatory for all MSCE students, independently of the track/stream they chose. I chose the Web Stream.

The Advanced Algorithms course is divided into three main topics and we recently finished the first one: approximation algorithms. As a way of consolidating my knowledge and also reading a bit more than the notes given by my professor, I decided to write this essay. But first, what is an approximation algorithm and why is it important?

Some of the most well-known problems within Computer Science are virtually impossible to solve optimally at scale in a useful time. One of the most important known problems is the Traveling Salesmen problem. This problem boils down to: given a list of cities and the distances between each pair of them, what’s the shortest possible route to go from a certain city to itself, visiting all of the other cities. This is problem has many more applications that its literal sense, hence its importance.

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