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17 July 2018

Message to FOSS4G-Europe 2018

This is a message sent to the plenary of the FOSS4G-Europe 2018 conference. This conference took shape largely from my initiative and I was part of the Local Organisation Committee. Click on the logo for the conference web site.

Dear all,

The history of this conference dates back to August of 2016, when the international FOSS4G was held in Bonn. Seven Portuguese attendants gathered in that conference, most of which are OSGeo charter members. However, only one of those actually lived in Portugal at the time. The financial crisis sent many professionals abroad and our community seemed particularly affected.

Slowly the idea formed in the back of my mind: why not turn the issue on its head and bring FOSS4G to Portugal? As the conference moved on from presentations to code sprint, me and Jorge Gustavo were left as the last Portuguese at the BaseCamp in Bonn. The discussion started: while the international conference would possibly be too much for the modest OSGeo-Portugal, the European edition looked feasible. And with the international conference taking place outside of Europe in 2018, there seemed to be a nice gap for OSGeo-Portugal to fill in.

17 December 2017

Interview to Ames Radio

Weeks ago I concede an interviewed to the programme Vivirmos nun mundo finito (Galician for To live in a finite world) broadcast by Ames Radio. The programme is produced by Ames Pospetróleo an organisation dedicated to steer the transition of the city of Ames in Galicia to the post-petroleum era.

Galician and Portuguese are two languages that evolved from Romance (the language spoken in Europe during the Roman Empire); geography kept them close enough for broad mutual understanding. Galician sounds crystal clear to a Portuguese person, but for a Galician the Portuguese intonation becomes more challenging towards the south, where vowels are half muted and the Arabic influence is heavier. Still, I could address the listeners in Portuguese, opening my vowels and slowing down my speech. Hop below the fold for a digest in English with some additional reflections.

19 November 2017

A good example of how Brits were mislead on the EU

Days ago I was embroiled in a closed mail-list discussion on Brexit regarding the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and wild life protection programmes. The subject was a reportage by a famed British euro-sceptic journalist, aired just days before the referendum:

I attempted to show my colleagues the dimension of the falsehoods in this reportage, but George Monbiot seems to be a holy cow of sorts in environmentalist circles, thus my argumentation was not welcome. Under the coat of a left-leaning environmentalist George Monbiot engages in unconstrained bashing the EU, sowing unwarranted mistrust and scepticism. This makes for a good example on how the British public has been mislead, that must be fully understood. Therefore I leave here my reasoning for future reference.

31 October 2017

The new Nissan Leaf and the future of electric cars

The new Nissan Leaf is finally here. This was one of the most anticipated cars of 2017, and with good reason, since it is the most successful electric vehicle in the auto industry history. Over 300&nbsp000 units have been sold worldwide so far, with certainly more to come, the new Leaf platform giving shape to other vehicles later to be marketed by Nissan and Renault.

What is the exact significance of this car? What is it telling of the future of electric cars vis à vis conventional internal combustion engines? This note approaches these and other questions from a mostly numeric based perspective.

22 September 2017

Dismissing misunderstandings on the EEA Agreement

Much confusion - or outright misinformation - continues to circulate in the UK media regarding the exit of the country from the EU. Particularly inflicted is the difference and relationship between the EU, the political union, presently governed by the Lisbon Treaty, and the European Economic Area (EEA), the trade union, ruled by the EEA Agreement.

Days ago The Independent newspaper published an enigmatic article in which it is claimed, among other oddities, that article 127 of the EEA Agreement can stop the current process of exit from the EU. Reproduced below is a short note I sent the editors of The Independent clarifying some of the misunderstandings in the article.

20 August 2017

What the fall of the Sterling really means

Last Friday the Sterling closed at 1.094 to the Euro. Not only is it a remarkable figure for crossing below 1.1, it is the lowest weekly close since 2009. In effect, since the common currency was introduced to currency markets in 1993, the Sterling closed against it below this level only in eleven other weeks. They all took place between December of 2008 and October of 2009, at the height of the housing crisis, when European institutions failed to address financial markets with the haste seen in grown-up economies.

This brief note puts this monetary devaluation into a broader perspective, within the context of the UK's exit from the EU. Sterling is just a visible facet of an overall economic setting deteriorating in anticipation of the UK's shift into a new - and largely unknown - economic paradigm.

17 July 2017

How BP is detracting renewable energy in its Statistical Review

Every June it happens more or less the same way. British Petroleum (BP) publishes its Statistical Review of World Energy, venting out a few catchy phrases that the mainstream media mindlessly repeats. This time the catch-phrase was: "overall energy consumption is growing faster than renewable energies put together". This discourse is naturally convenient to those set on promoting fossil fuels and/or detracting renewable energy. But is BP really a trustworthy source on the matter?

BP's statistics are a rare source of energy data available for free to the public. For that reason I used it to study fossil fuels for several years. However, its quality visibly degraded with time, and by 2010, as it become impossible to reconcile consumption and extraction figures, I stopped using it. If the BP's data is unreliable regarding fossil fuels, should it be taken as such on renewable energy? That is what this short note tries to find out.