Martian dawn. Photo taken August 13, 1977 by the Viking 1 Lander. (via Pruned)

Twenty twelve, thirteen

I’m late to write about my impressions of the year 2012, not because I’ve been busy but because I should be busy and somehow a sense of guilt about it prevents me from doing something as egotistical and pedestrian as writing my personal thoughts about those 366 days filed under 2012. Or perhaps I just feel that writing on my blog is just low-priority work disguised as leisure. Or perhaps I feel only twelve people will actually read this, and none of them will be any of the persons I enjoy imagining doing so.

And I’m annoyed I’m writing on my old netbook because my home computer died last weekend. Not a good moment because my PhD requires stuff done. The fucker.

But I digress. Even though it had its moments, 2012 was a shitty year. Even though I try not to mention it to my international readers, lest I be interpreted as belligerant and/or depressing, know this: the Long Depression — that is, structural socio-economical Crisis — got real here in Portugal. I’m actually lucky to have a part-time teaching job which requires me to take a PhD I’ll have to pay for. I’m lucky to be able to pay for a small studio where I can work and study, and that my parents can help with the other things I can’t afford. I’m 33, and like most of my friends my age I’m stuck with little perspectives. And the fear of unemployment and the little money due to frozen wages and rising taxation and the feeling one’s work became an auction won by the lowest bidder while empathy is rarer as selfishness, not selflessness, is generated by and feeds The Crisis, all that is on my mind as I wake up every morning. Lonely mornings. 366 of those don’t make a good year.

And why? Because of turbo-capitalism, because of Euro-banksters, and because of what can only be Northern/Central European governments’ climate envy and racism (an ugly word, I know, but how else to explain the beautifully orchestrated media campaign to convince Southern Europeans they brought this on themselves because they are lazy, when they actually work more hours for less pay, less perks and more taxes?). And obviously, because of those among ourselves (starting with our turbo-liberal — that is, Social Darwinist — government) who honestly or cynically believe such bullshit, that we must suffer for our sins, however factually unspecified those sins are. And there are lots of shit-believers, because The Crisis is actually a Cold Civil War, with external interferences and profiteering like all civil wars, therefore a Civil War indeed. Ongoing in 2013.

Fuck it.

In 2012 I fell in love; things didn’t work out but I loved!

I feel I’m a wiser person. Not always a good thing, but its own reward neverthless.

I made cool stuff: directed a film, released two shorts to the Public Domain. And I learned enough technical stuff to make my geeky self happy.

My friends were my friends and were my friends. That is incredibly important. And even though at my age it is getting difficult, I think I made new friends — and I’m not talking about Facebook.

In 2012 I watched some great, great films: Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, Miguel Gomes’ Tabu, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist and what must have been my favourite Bond movie, Sam Mendes’ Skyfall. But my two favourite movies of the year came right at the end of the year: the powerful Detachment by Tony Kaye and Leos Carax’s fantastically charming weirdfest Holy Motors. Holy Something, indeed!

2012 was also the year I rediscovered music thanks to (advertising alert), a radio station I got in the habit of listening to while driving and manages to have a playlist that doesn’t prompt me to switch channels every other song (something we in Porto had lost in the late 1990s and I thought would never come back). Here’s a beautiful automated medley of my favourite songs of the year, courtesy of This is My Jam.

And in 2012 I read David Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. That book is a keeper.

A few hours ago I went to the movies for the first time in 2013. I watched Michael Haneke’s Amour, the 2012 Palme d’Or at Cannes and a wonderful film — one of the saddest I have ever seen. And yet another item that underscores my growing realization that being a busy person is worthless, working a lot on stuff is worthless, if you prioritize that over the people in your life, if you value the bustle above the building of relationships and friendship and love (and if you don’t want to just take it from me, go read Tim Kreidler’s The Busy Trap, who puts it a lot better than I do). I do want my PhD and I am driven to do stuff. But if I’m going to choose a future regret, between failing a deadline for a paper and failing to accept a coffee date, I know which regret I’ll choose. If this makes me a lazy Southern European, so be it: I choose love.

Costumava brincar ali. O escorrega é feito em cimento. Dec 22nd

Caos. Dec 22nd

ACME. Dec 22nd

Equilíbrio. Dec 22nd

Face detection. Dec 22nd

Gestão (num shopping). Dec 22nd

Antena. Dec 22nd

O edifício da CMP parece doente. Dec 22nd

Usando um produto Apple. Dec 22nd

Telhas. Dec 22nd

Noite fria. Dec 22nd

Imagina o Porto. Dec 22nd

Windows com austeridade. Transparências e gradientes são caros. Dec 22nd

Django. Dec 22nd

Asprela. Dec 22nd

Hoje. Dec 22nd

Testing. Dec 22nd

Prestes a colocar um rolo cujo prazo de validade acabou há mais de 10 anos. That's entertainment. Dec 22nd

Andamento nisso! Dec 22nd

Computadores dos anos 90. Dec 22nd

While I'm not really eager to jump off the Instagram bandwagon after its Terms of Service debacle, as I slowly became fond of the Facebook-owned app, I came to realize that sometimes it's better to just be a costumer and pay for a service. Hence my decision to start syncing my Instagram photos to my Flickr account, copying all past photos in the process using Free the Photos. Since I auto-sync everything I have on Flickr to this little spot on the Web of mine, this means I'll have to rethink how I operate this very website, since I think the Tumblr / Flickr / Twitter / &etc. aggregation thing is starting to get a bit boring... and I really don't have the time for it now.

Apropos of all this, a friend showed me a good-looking Instagram alternative called EyeEm and we both tried it. And we found that it was such a privacy disaster (putting a big map on the WEB of your photos locations even after you explicitly turned that shit off and the mobile app acquiesced) that makes Facebook truly seem like a Johnny Tightlips. Just say no!

As the World Continues (but now with gradually improving sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere), spare a thought for all the pointless posing and bullshit and ineptitude at communication that would have been such a sad summation of human History had the Mayan calendar actually been the territory rather than the map. Just go and call someone you like.

And let’s try not to scale honesty back too much, shall we? (via xkcd, obviously)

A Short History of the GIF. I remember when I was a teenager ‘gifs’ was slang for digitized porno imagery (was this a portuguese thing or did the video authors gloss over that?). That this was followed by annoying Web 1.0 animations and banner ads didn’t do wonders to rehabilitate people’s view of the Graphics Interchange Format. That day only came a quarter of a century after the format’s introduction, when we got enough bandwidth to start doing all kinds of awesome things with it.

I wonder what goodness may come if we just insist on certain technologies rather than eagerly adopting shiny new things whenever they appear. (via Ideas Repository)

The More Pixels Law: Gigapixel Cameras and the 21st Century Reality Effect is an interesting read, but the above graph forgets about the 41 megapixel Nokia 808 cameraphone which completely closes the high-end/low-end megapixel gap. Anyway, I shudder to think of smartphones with gigapixel sensors running something like PlaceRaider (by then bought by Facebook and turned into the ultimate 3D augmented reality chat app or whatever kids will do in the 2030s). Will future society think there’s something wrong with people who keep their lenses covered with pieces of black electrical tape? (via New Aesthetic)

The last few days have been a bit crazy as I tackled some Murphy Law technical issues in order to have Caos finished today. After a failed first render (my bad actually, in all haste I accidentally unsynced the sound in a couple of scenes), yesterday I had two computers rendering and compressing the film simultaneously. It seems such redundancy kept Murphy at bay, as both finished without any trouble. I just watched a compressed MPEG, and it’s allright. And that is just as well, as the avant-premiere is scheduled for… today.

So if you’re in the Porto or whereabouts, you’re invited to drop by Teatro Nacional S. João at 6.30pm. See you there.