After some well deserved relaxing time, I am glad to announce that, since last Tuesday, I am a happy member of the Xamarin crew, where I’ll be working on the awesome cross-platform development tools the company makes.

This is indeed a change from what I have been doing in the last years, as I will be focusing on platforms other than Linux, as has been the case for the last 15 years, but to be honest, and after thinking a lot about it during my “well deserved relaxing time”, this is something that I really needed to boost my career. Not working on other platforms, but moving out of my comfort zone and find something new and exciting to work on. And Xamarin really seems to be the perfect place for this: the company is full of ex-Ximianites (Ximian is, till now, the best company I have ever worked for), lead by great people and focused on making great development tools/APIs, which is something that I have always liked but haven’t had the chance to work on as much as I would have wanted.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I will stop caring/using/developing GNOME. On the contrary, I think, and based on what I have been working on during my vacation, this will help me in making a better contribution to the project, as a lot of things I have been/will be learning, I think, are great for making GNOME better. But will talk about all that in separate blog posts, as things progress.

Many thanks to my girlfriend Yolanda and my friend Ismael Olea, who were the ones to pinpoint what I needed, which was to look for some exciting new stuff, rather than only wanting to stay on my comfort zone, and to Miguel, for the great coding challenge he got me to do, which made me learn exciting stuff and convince me finally that Xamarin was the best place for me.

Farewell Collabora

Today has been my last day at Collabora, where I’ve spent the last 2 years having a great time and working on some very cool and some not that cool projects, but always with great people as teammates. On the cool projects front, AF_BUS wins. Even though it didn’t gain upstream acceptance, at least it opened the race to bring D-Bus into the kernel, which I think is a great thing (based on real numbers :-D ).

A big hug to all collaborans I’ve met in these 2 years!

Not sure yet what’s coming up next, but first thing I will do, for the first time in aeons, is to get a few weeks of well deserved relax, work on some personal stuff I haven’t had much time to work on lately, and have fun!

Leaving Canonical

Today marks the beginning of my last week at Canonical, where I’ve been working for the last 2.5 years. Because of the conflicts between the direction the company is driving to and my personal interests (GNOME), I have decided it is time for me to move on.

Since I am a positive person, I would just remember the good things of these 2.5 years, which have been, mainly, the nice people I’ve been working with, with a special mention to the Ubuntu Desktop team, composed of very great people. Also, some good projects I’ve worked on, like the Ubuntu One music store or the work at the Desktop team.

I can’t say yet publically where I’ll be working next, but I’ll continue being around GNOME.

Facebook account disabled

Last night, I was writing a message to a friend’s wall on Facebook, about telescopes, and when submitting the message, I got a message saying that the content of my message had been reported to be abusive by some Facebook users ?? After that, I couldn’t log in back again, it just said my account was disabled.

So, if you rely on Facebook for contacting me, please don’t, send me mail, which is still enabled, and even allows all sorts of abusive content (you can write me about telescopes if you want, no ultra-paranoid filters there :-D ).

I already wrote to the Facebook staff about the issue, but I’m not sure what they will decide.

The dream comes true

Two years ago I started dreaming about driving a Yamaha XT660Z Teneré. At that time, the motorbike had just been announced, getting to shops a few months later. Then, when available, I started trying to sell my previous motorbike (Aprilia Pegaso 650 Trail), which was hard because of the crisis, but some weeks ago, a nice guy from Coruña came here and got it (quite cheaper than what I could have got if there was no crisis though), so right after that, I went to the Yamaha shop and, finally, ordered one. After 3 weeks waiting (I wanted the 2008 model, which has that khakhi color as an option, not available in the 2009 model, so it took a bit to get it from another Yamaha shop), a few weeks ago I could finally get it.

After 1200 kms with it, I can only say it’s the best motorbike I could have bought, since it’s perfect for daily usage as well as for off-road, specially after having changed its tyres yesterday:

Now all the mud, snow and tracks around here are nothing I can’t deal with :-)

Valley of Benasque

A couple of weeks ago I was in the Valley of Benasque (Huesca, Spain), for some trekking, and just had some time to upload the photos, so here they are for your pleasure, since it is a very nice place. It was the first time I was there not in winter, so had the chance to visit some places that, in winter, are almost impossible to visit (unless you want to take the risk of an avalanche).

Specially nice was the Glacier of the Aneto peak, the highest peak in the Pyrenees (from the distance, we didn’t have time to get to the top, since it takes many, many hours):

Also nice to see was the water from the Glacier disappearing into the rocks (and appearing again, by magic, in the Valley of Arán, on the other side of the mountains):

I took more photos, so go here to see the rest.

Skiing in Cervinia

The week before Christmas I went in vacation for the first time to the Alps for some skiing, to Cervinia, a wonderful village below the famous Cervino/Matterhorn, in the Valley of Aosta, in Italy.

The week of vacation started on Friday 12th, in the evening, when we (Cristina, Yolanda, Nicolás and myself) started a 15 hour drive from Peralta to Cervinia, crossing to France via La Junquera, the South East of France through Grenoble (where Vincent and I couldn’t coordinate a short visit), and from there, crossing part of the Alps, still in France, through many ski resorts (Megève, Saint Gervais, Houches Blanches, etc), along with (at least we could see the traffic signs) some Tour de France mytical places (Alpe d’Huez, Bourg d’Oisans, Mont Ventoux, etc), up to the Mont Blanc tunnel entrance.

Crossing that tunnel was a bit uncomfortable, after a few minutes you could feel the hot (22ºC compared to the -4ºC outside), but it was worth it, since as you cross it, you get to Italy and to Courmayeur, another ski resort (it’s plenty of them around there :-) ) and then through the valley of Aosta up to Cervinia.

Cervinia is just part of a huge ski resort, composed of the Italian Breuil Cervinia and Valtournenche, connected to the Swiss resort of Zermatt, with the Cervino/Matterhorn mountain in the middle, all of this making up to 350 kms of pistes to enjoy. Unfortunately for skiing, the weather was quite bad the whole week (lots of snow the first few days, then avalanches danger, then huge winds), which forced the resort to be closed fully one day and have most of the pistes and lifts closed the rest of the days. Specially bad was that the connection to Zermatt was closed the whole week, so we couldn’t visit it unfortunately.

We could neither visit the glacier in the Plateau Rosa and the Swiss part of it, nor the nice Swiss village of Fury, where you pass skiing through the village streets. And, of course, we couldn’t see the best face of the Cervino/Matterhorn, but at least we could see it one day (it was covered with fog most of the week). But the worst was that, just in the 2nd hour of the 1st day of ski, Cristina fell down and broke a bone in her arm. This made her not ski at all for a couple of days, and ski just in the beginners area in the sunny days. For the rest of us, we could just use 3/4 different pistes for the whole week. Fortunately they were long enough and with very good snow as to enjoy them a lot, and since we were skiing slowly for Cristina, we visited some bars that are in the middle of the pistes, for some good food and drinks.

But the bad weather gave us the chance to enjoy being at 2000 meters above the sea level, surrounded by mountains with 3/4 meters of snow, and the whole village being covered by snow all the time, despite the work being done by lots of people the whole day to clean it. I know this may sound a bad thing for some people, but really, I wouldn’t mind having been isolated there for a few weeks more :-)

But it’s not all about skiing and snow, since, being in Italy, eating was a priority on this trip, and the stuff we tasted was just wonderful every day at dinner, at the hotel, quite ellaborated cuisine, with very nice decorations (like some soar ham being served in the form of a rose and that kind of things). And in the bars and restaurants of the village and ski resort, we could try lots of nice local cuisine, like the Crespella (like a French Crêpe), the Goulash (beef stew), different kinds of cheese, pasta, red wines, and, of course, the pizzas (I love them, so I couldn’t be in Italy and not try them).

Overall, despite not having skied as much as we wanted and Cristina’s injury, we had a lot of fun, and are already willing to come back as soon as possible. The Pyrennes, where I ski usually, are great, but the Alps are just a bigger dimension, better prepared and with much better pistes/snow, so now that I know them, more visits are mandatory.

For all photos, see here.


I started a few months ago training Taijiquan, a Chinese martial art, most known in the Western World by its non-martial derivative Taichi. As with other martial arts, the learning process doesn’t involve just ways for hitting your opponent or defending yourself from an attack (I wouldn’t really be interested in it if it only offered that, given that the last time I had a fight I was a teenager, many years ago), but some other things. And one of them is the theory of Qi, which is the Chinese term for energy, which is supposed to be flowing on your body and, via an intensive training, can be driven to whatever part of your body by your mind. The idea is to, for instance, direct the flow of Qi to your hands right when you hit your opponent, multiplying the strength of the punch, or, also, to get more strength on some part of your body when you receive a kick/punch to not get injured, or, even more interesting, to heal some injuries. All this sounded to me quite strange, being a science person, until recently, when I read Dr Yang, Jwing Ming’s book that explains it very well, in a scientific way. So, to not keep this post too long, and given my still limited knowledge on this, I’ll try to summarize:

Human body’s Qi can be what we call biolectricity, which is just electricity flowing around the body. It is very easy to experiment it, just rub your hands and after a few seconds doing it, pass your hands over your head, without touching the hair: you will see your hair being attracted by the electricity in your hands. And this biolectricity flows all over the body because the body is plenty of tissues that conduct it. And, interestingly, there are organs that are made of non-conductive tissue which store the electricity (a battery!). So, with Taijiquan (and Qigong) techniques, you are supposed to control the flow of this electricity through your body, sending it to the batteries for storage or to other parts of the body for reactivation of tissues and other things, all done with the mind and breathing. That is why Taichi (the non-martial derivative well known in the Western World) has such popularity, given it helps a lot in keeping your body healthy. Does it still sound strange? Maybe, the last part of driving it with your mind is still beyond my knowledge, so can’t say it’s true, but at least the rest of the theory about the electricity circulation not only sounds convincing, but it is indeed scientifically confirmed AFAIK.

This theory makes a lot of sense in Taijiquan, where brute force is not used against your opponent (only in very rare occasions), the idea being to just use the force from your oponent and, via accompanying movements, reduce it completely, making your opponent fell down or just hit the air. And when in trouble, you just use your Qi :-)

For a nice demo of what Taijiquan looks like, see this video. And for some Qi force stuff see this.

Asturias patria querida

I was out last week on vacation in Asturias, in the North-West of Spain. Asturias is one of the few regions in Spain I had never visited, so it was time, and what a good idea indeed. Asturias (or at least the East part of it, where I’ve been) is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life. With the sea in the North, and a land full of huge mountains (totally covered with forests or with land full of cows and horses), it is indeed a paradise (that’s what they say when you get into Asturias, ‘Welcome to Asturias, a nature paradise’).

We went to Cangas de Onís, a very nice village close to the river Sella (the real reason we came here, more later), just a few kms close to the Picos de Europa national park, and with lots of things to do around.

First mandatory thing to do was to visit the Lagos de Covadonga, mytical finish of lots of stages of the Vuelta a España (cyclism’ Tour of Spain), with the sanctuary of Covadonga in the way to it:

The road to the lakes, which goes from less than 200 meters to more than 1000 meters above the sea level, is indeed perfect for a cycling race, except for the cows, which just hang around the road and the mountains around without caring about the cars, just laying down in the middle of the road :-)

At the top of the road, the landscape is really wonderful:

But as I said, we came to Cangas de Onís because we wanted to do some canoieng in the river Sella, famous because of the International Descent of the River Sella, a race, to take place on August 9th, where 1000s of people participate, racing and in the different celebrations in all the villages and towns along the river bank. I don’t have many photos of this, since I didn’t want to ruin my camera if my canoe got sinked :-) So the first day we did it, I didn’t take any photos, the 2nd one, I took my cell phone with me and just got a few photos.

You just need to pay 25 € per person, and you are given a single/double/triple canoe, and then you can go on your own, stop in any of the many beaches around the river to eat the snadwiches you are given, or just relax. And then there are different places where you can stop, at 7, 10 or 12 kms. We got, although quite tired, both days to the last exit, and, believe me, we would have continued for more time, since just being in the river, surrounded by mountains, without seeing any civilization apart from the (lots of) people canoeing also and the few bars around the river bank is indeed a very funny thing to do, which, hopefully, I’ll be doing again around here, if I can find a place to do it (there are lots of rivers around here, but not sure if you are allowed to navigate them, and also, I wouldn’t like going on my own without knowing if a place is safe or not).

Also, while I don’t fancy much going to the beach in summer (I love it in winter), I have to confess I’ve changed a bit my mind after being in some beaches in Asturias. First of all, the weather is ok, not too hot (as in the Mediterranean, where I’ve almost always been when going to the beach in Summer), and there are just a few people, and finally, but most important, the beaches are just spectacular. We found one, called Playa de las Cuevas del Mar, which was a perfect place to just sit down and contemplate.

We also did lots of walking around the countryside, some tourism sightseeing, and, every day, we ate wonderful stuff like Chorizos a la Sidra, Escalopines al Cabrales, etc, and, specially, Fabada:

I’ll be back to Asturias soon for sure.

Back home / debugging

I’m now back home after a couple of weeks of lots of traveling. I first was 4 days in London, visiting my sister, then was 5 days at home, sick with a flu most of the family got while in London, then last weekend to beautiful Salamanca for a conference at the University. Back home on Sunday, still a bit sick, and on Monday flied back to Stansted for a 2 days visit to Michael, for some debugging and bug fixing fun.

So, in this 1.5 days of fun action at Michael’s, I’ve learnt a few useful bits:

  • Some useful tools, like LD_DEBUG, pmap, fuser, c++filt
  • Technique: this was the best part of it, since Michael is what we could call a superhacker, so watching him debugging stuff to look for a problem’s cause is very helpful (even though you can’t read everything he writes, since he does it so quickly :-) ), and he has some nice habits in his technique that should help me a lot, now that I’ve learnt them, in my bug hunting work.
  • I had an idea about writing scripts using lots of these tools for our users to use them for reporting super-useful bug reports, so will be writing a little bit about that as soon as I start looking at it.

While visiting Michael and his wonderful wife and daughters, I had the opportunity to meet my sister and family on Tuesday for dinner, since they were visiting Cambridge that day, where they will be moving soon, so I will have the opportunity to visit both my family and Michael (for more debugging and technique learning fun) more often.