Bem-vindo ao Porto

You might have some ideas of what to expect from visiting Porto for now, but the next video might even illustrate it better. At least, for me it does, it reminds me of the many nice moments I had until now… Bem-vindo ao Porto, cidade de oportunidades!


Portugal and its Fado music

As a tourist Fado is one of the things you should definitely try to see once. Fado?

Fado (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈfaðu], “destiny, fate”) is a music genre which can be traced to the 1820s in Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. Fado historian and scholar Rui Vieira Nery states that “the only reliable information on the history of Fado was orally transmitted and goes back to the 1820s and 1830s at best. But even that information was frequently modified within the generational transmission process that made it reach us today.”[1] In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia (loosely captured by the word saudade, or “longing”). However, although the origins are difficult to trace, today fado is regarded, by many, as simply a form of song which can be about anything, but must follow a certain structure. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade which symbolizes the feeling of loss (a permanent, irreparable loss and its consequent lifelong damage). Famous singers of fado include Amália Rodrigues, Carlos do Carmo, Mariza, Mafalda Arnauth, Ana Moura and Cristina Branco.

Thank you Wikipedia. For myself, I can appreciate this kind of music… once in a while 😉 In Porto, there are many places where you can find it, we found it in the ‘restaurante típico o fado porto’. E agora, musica!

Migrating to the Raspberry-Pi, part 2

Like I said, I was getting closer to my end-goal. What I have so far is a Java application which launches two service threads: one which handles TCP/IP requests and one which handles the IO. There is also a database connected to this server application and in case IO samples are received they will be saved in this database. I also made a JSP website which is capable of displaying the database data and should soon also be capable of sending TCP/IP requests to the TCP/IP service.

HOWEVER! It seems that the glassfish webserver is quite a burden to run on the Raspberry-Pi, the pages are showing but launching the service takes roughly 5 minutes. I have to find some lightweight service which offers the same functionality. But, this is something I’ll do later: as my deadline is coming nearer and nearer I’ll have to wrap up my work and put it into a test environment where I simulate a real life scenario. My next goal will be to make the service flexible in a way that once the application is running the user can dynamically adjust the configuration and stuff like this. I’ll have to program a console function which will allow the user to set up the XBee network and later on I can add the a more user friendly interface by using the JSP website as frontend.

Anyway, this week we have the Queima Das Fitas, a week full of ‘festivalitis’, and later on I have 3 more weeks to finish so I’m not sure if I’ll get all of  this working before the deadline (because in the meantime I also need to write up the thesis).


fotos maravilhosas

As promised, a more visual introduction to the city of Porto, I hope you like the analog film effect as this is how them come out of the Canon AT-1 camera 😉

Something about Porto

porto_karte     Porto_kart
Porto (sometimes referred to as Oporto in English) is the second-largest city of Portugal and is located more to the north of the country. It’s build near the Douro river estuary and it is one of Europe’s oldest cities.

Porto dates back many centuries, first traces of civilization were found many even before the birth of Christ. During Roman occupation the city become an important commercial port but become later in occupied by the Moors in the 9th century. Later Porto was recaptured and a military alliance with England was set up. In the 14th and 15th century Porto contributed to the development of Portuguese shipbuilding. Building these ships the age of Portuguese discovery began. During the 18th century the first English trading posts for port wine was established, it was also during this century that Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni designed the beautiful baroque Clérigos tower. It was during the 18th and 19 the century that Porto become an important industrial center and also its population grew a lot. In the 19th century Napoleon captured the city but it was later on recaptured by the 1st Duke of Wellington. It was also then when the first bridges across the Douro river were build (for example the Ponte D. Maria which was designed by Gustave Eiffel) and when the marvelous stock exchange (Bolsa do Porto) was build. During the 20th century Porto was the capital of Monarchy of the North, a 1 month during kingdom in the year 1919, but it is Lisbon which has been the capital of Portugal since the middle ages. In recent years UNESCO recognized the historical Porto center as a World Heritage Site.

Palacio da Bolsa-(69)-Salao Arabe
As for me, when I first arrived here I found the city kind of dirty, degenerated, neglected compared to Gent, the city where I used to study in Belgium. Many buildings are painted over with ugly graffiti while others collapsed on the inside or are about to collapse anywhere soon. For sure all the many rain and the lack of money for repairing leaks must have something to do with it. But living the everyday live I really started to appreciate Oporto, as there are still many nice places to be at or to visit. The city has much potential to become even prettier, if all classic buildings were to be returned to their original state Porto would for sure be one of the nicest cities in the world that you would love from day 1. At night one should really visit the riverside at Ribeira or the big avenue Aliados in the city centre. During the day one could visit many of Oporto’s churches and historical buildings in the old city center, or go to the ‘Nuovo Ville de Gaia ‘ at the other side of the Douro river to try the port wine in the many port houses. On sunny days the beach is always an option as by bus it takes less than half an hour to get to the Praia do Matishinhos, or you can walk there alongside the Douro river which is also very nice to do. The airport is only half an hour by metro, at the other side of the city there is the big football stadium of football club FC Porto which may sometimes play in the Uefa Champions League and near the city center the is also the ultramodern opera house ‘Casa Da Musica’ which I will visit next week when attending a Buraka Som Sistema performance. I also like the many ‘confeitarias’ where you can get ‘um café e um pastel de nata’ for very cheap prices, and off course there is also the bruising nightlife where I always tend to end up in. I might have more pictures soon, I  really got to know the analog camera by now, I only have to scan some of the pictures I took last few weeks…

So as you can see, I’m very happy to have chosen Porto for my Erasmus, até logo!

From the sunny side of things…

The weather in Porto can be really shitty sometimes, and until now we may have gotten as much rain as we had sunny days. But then again, summer is coming so it will only get better from here on. I’m looking forward for the Brazilian BBQ’s!! Us in the garden for the whole day, nice food and good drink, perfect! Speaking of the garden, even now it can get pretty hot here, it’s  March and we’re already sunbathing!!!


Ambient Assisted Living 4 All


It is no secret to you that the group of people at the age of at least 65 is continuously growing. We live longer, but this also has its impact on assisted living and retirement homes: people never required so much help from nurses and other educated people to support them in their live. The Ambient Assisted Living for All project I’ll be working on is an IT system which aim is to support people who can still live more or less on their own but require additional help for some of their daily tasks. My exact objective is to set up a gateway device which collects data from remote sensors. Once the data is collected it can be interpreted and/or be send to remote servers and services in the local LAN and internet. The data which could be collected by the gateway could be for example is simple as monitoring the pressence of someone through a radar detector or monitoring the health of a person through his heartbeat. As gateway device I’ll be using a Raspberry-Pi computer, communication between the Pi and the difference sensors will be done via the ZigBee protocol (wireless radio frequency) and XBee modules. Depending on how fast I get through this project I can try to implement different types of sensors and for example make a  web interface around all the attached sensors (display the data).

Aside of that, assisted living is actually a lot more than just monitoring some stuff:

It can not only help elderly people but also people with disabilities like those who are for example in a wheelchair, or in general people who just need some extra help living on their own. AAL can help them not to forget taking their medicine, it can monitor the lifestyle and health but it can also add make sure the people feel less isolated by offering social services and entertainment. The AAL4ALL system is also aiming to connect the AAL4ALL gateway to remote medical services and patient files in order to automate and aid when medical assistance should be provided.

The picture below shows how, not AAL4ALL precisely, but IT in general can help in the daily tasks of people:

However, my main task will be to set up the sensor gateway and to set up the ZigBee communication. Later you learn more on how I did this and how this is done precisely.