Terça-feira, 7 de Dezembro de 2010
Achievement Unlocked


Segunda-feira, 6 de Dezembro de 2010
In Memoriam, Part 2

 26th June, 2010.


It was the most well kept secret.

Nobody told me anything. I still have no idea how they managed to endure this until the end. Instead, they began preparing me, slowly, for the inevitable truth.

I began suspecting something was wrong around May but they still kept the facts hidden. Even my coordinator learned the truth and vowed to not tell me a word during her trip to Trikala to see how we're doing. They didn't want to tell me because they knew I would either drop everything and return to Portugal, or lose what was left of my concentration and will to work on my dissertation without anybody to support me in that faraway land. 




I'm in the backseat while my mother is driving. An hour ago I was exiting the airplane that took me from Rome back to Portugal. My family brought me back home. And now I'm going somewhere else.

I think I already knew this would happen. In May I began doubting my family's words and I consulted with the folks from the IRC channel I occasionally visit. They told me this was, indeed, suspicious and considered the worst had probably happened. 

She stopped the car near the church. I looked around, making sure there was nobody in sight. I didn't want to be recognized, I didn't want to be bothered. I was going to visit someone, and I even had a flower to offer her.

The cemetery. No living soul in sight besides us. We went down the small street adorned with graves until the small little tomb. There are several of those distributed around the graveyard, built to keep an entire family's mortal remains.

My mother has a golden key with which she opened the glass door. The interior of the little tomb has seen better days and is decaying thanks to humidity. There are six coffins, three on the left, three on the right. Old candles decorate the marble floor.

My flower is used to decorate the one coffin sitting on the top of the left row. It's the latest coffin to make it to the tomb. 

After sharing a few words with me, my mother asks if I want to stay alone for a while. I said yes, and she left, leaving me alone inside the tomb with the past remains of ancients I never knew in my life. Except her.

They say she asked for me every day. She wanted me to return back to Portugal when I called my family almost crying after seeing the conditions of the apartment I was going to stay in for four months. She bugged my mother to not punish my cat. She wanted to make sure I would not starve or be forbidden of comfort while I was far away. She even asked if it was necessary to buy a new ring for my master degree like she did for my licentiate. 

The last time I saw her was through a webcam. She smiled and waved at me. I waved back. I was later told she praised God for the existence of such marvelous technology that allows us to see our dear ones while we're so far away. 


And then she departed on her own journey on the 29th of March, 2010.


I know. Neither this post nor the previous one are fitting for an academic platform where students post about their projects, not their lives. I apologize for that. But they say she was proud of me. They didn't tell me anything because of my dissertation. Because she would feel sad if she was to blame for delaying my projects. They knew I would stop everything to come back to my country. 

This is the least I can do. For you, for everyone who endured the pain while I was away.


Grandma, tomorrow, if the judges say so, I'll walk out of the building as a Master. 

Segunda-feira, 29 de Novembro de 2010
In Memoriam, Part 1


 29th March, 2010.


The sounds of the train in movement and the music from my old mp3 player forbid me from falling into a deep sleep. Another short nap and I'm awake once more and ready to inspect the environment. The seat has the same touch of an aged couch and the carriage has seen better days. The tray isn't big enough to allow me to draw something decent on my notebook. An old man snores behind me. I'm traveling in first class, which is the equivalent to the second class in my country if we're talking about quality. 

But outside, there's a beautiful landscape.


Greece is a country with multiple biomes, from arid plains to green and cold mountains. The view fascinates me and I began my photo collection for the day with fitting music coming from my MP3. The harmony from the mountains made me forget about all the problems I had faced so far and the ones I had yet to face.

I see some people getting up and moving to the carriage's exit. I stood in my seat, knowing it was not the time yet for me to get going. But instead of stopping at the next station the train kept moving forward and immediately I hear a lot of people complaining. I didn't understand what they're saying, but it was easy to tell they're upset. I had been told this was something frequent.

The mountains are soon replaced with villages, and from villages we move on to tall buildings and metropolis. And the train makes its final stop in Athens. 


From the train station to the metro. There's no time for me to stop until I get to the hotel. Compared with the metro stations of Lisboa and London, most stations in Athens are visually boring. While some have expositions of ancient artifacts for the tourists to see, others are made of plain white walls and nothing else. Something told me those stations were built on rush for the Olympic games in 2004, but I could be wrong.

It's in the first metro station where I saw him and my mind snapped. No, it wasn't love at first sight but artist senses tingling at that one individual's appearance. Tall, simple shirt and pants, probably same age as I, hair's height by his neck, probably shorter, well trimmed beard and glasses. You see, character design is one of my passions, and that guy's profile resembled too much as one of the characters I used to draw frequently. 

I couldn't help it. I had my camera ready, but I had no possibility of taking a decent photo of him inside and outside the train. We got out in the same station; I swallowed in dry and called for him.

"Ey! Do you speak English?"

He says yes, but his phone rings. I'm told to hold on as he answers it, and I wait patiently. 

"May I ask something?"

"... Yes?"

"... Can I take a photo of you?"

He blinked at me, speechless. I explained why: I told him I was into character design and wanted to take a photo of him so I could draw it in a near future. He was still speechless. I told him it was ok if he didn't want to be photographed, and I would get going. He said he was in a hurry and was sorry. I apologized and saw him go away forever before I could hand over one of my portfolio cards.

I went downstairs calling myself stupid and pathetic. To ask a stranger if I could take a photo of him, what was I thinking? 


I finally get to the Monasteraki's station. I had been given instructions to not stop at the square, but keep moving forward to the hotel, I would have time later to inspect the square at later hours. It's tempting to stop and take a look around the square because it's flowing with activity. The sky's cloudless and the temperature is just fine. Another cheerful day in the Monasteraki square with the Acropolis and the hidden merchant streets of Plaka standing behind it.

Going up the main street, I find my hotel's entrance hidden between shops. The hallway looks charming and well kept, with a host behind the counter ready to attend me. His English is flawless with a hint of Greek accent mixed in it, and our interaction is brief. Minutes later I'm in the 6th floor opening the door to my bedroom.

It's much smaller than I expected. The view from the window isn't exciting either, just a simple Greek street with traffic overload. There's a bottle of ouzo and a small bag of nuts as a complementary welcome gift sitting in the counter. I was satisfied, the room wasn't expensive, and it had a good bathtub in the bathroom and a bed with a real mattress, something I hadn't seen in over a month. 

But I wasn't going to stay three whole days inside the hotel. I consulted the tourism pamphlet I fetched from the hallway to check for available tours around Athens. There's too much to see in so little time, but a tour around Athens for the following morning would cover the major landmarks, like the Parthenon. And in the day after that, I would go visit the Temple of Poseidon. I would have a busy schedule but I would also still have enough time to buy souvenirs for my family and friends.

I sent a couple of SMS to my mother to reassure her I had arrived safe and sound to the hotel, and went back to Monasteraki. Before going out for lunch, I brought a pair of sunglasses from a street kiosk (the same sunglasses I would later lose in Delphi). I went to this restaurant right around the corner which seemed to be less busy at the time compared with all others. After a satisfactory meal with gemitas as the main course, I went for a walk.

During the weak tourism season, the monuments close way too early. Almost everything in Greece closes early and they may or not reopen during the afternoon. It was past 14h and the entrance to Hadrian's Library was already closed. But it didn't stop me from taking photos around the structure. I walked around, explored, for that day I had no predefined path to follow, and the map was only to check where I was based on the name streets and landmarks. After Hadrian's Library, I went to a roman agora (also closed) and returned to Plaka and the merchant streets.

Gift stores after souvenir stores. One step closer to any store and the merchant would be right behind you and inquiring about your nationality. A couple will attempt to speak in Portuguese and talk about how beautiful my country is. Others will offer a discount based on my nationality, but I suspect they do discounts for everyone regardless from where they come from. While navigating across the streets and taking photos of some interesting buildings (and dogs & cats) I brought what I call of "adventure hat" in one of those stores. It was barely spring, but it felt like it was summer, and I knew I would need a decent hat for the following day's tour.

After a long walk, I arrive to the end of a street with a high traffic road separating me from the Temple of Zeus' entrance. Like all other monuments, this one was closed at the time. More photos, more walking. I decided to cross the street north of the temple and head for the Zappion, a building where Olympic athletes would live in. Around the building there are beautiful natural parks decorated with hidden statues and a fountain.

I was going to get something to drink from the bar next to the Zappion, but the prices were ridiculously high. I was going to return to Plaka by taking a different route from the one I used before when I noticed people going in and out of the Zappion without restrictions. Curious, I decided to go see what the commotion was about, and I hit the jackpot.

They're holding a kiosk fair inside the building. With free snacks and beverages. Anyone was welcome to come in. They're exposing new types of kiosks to be implemented in the streets in a near future and there were companies advertising their products to be sold in those kiosks with free samples for the audience. 

I came out from the Zappion with a bag full of snacks, flyers and a book with Greek publicity to add to my collection of design references and mementos, and a hot chocolate from Cadbury. It was time to retreat, but I still went for a different path. And when I noticed, I was near the Parliament and in front of it, an avenue filled with hotels and cloth stores. Around the square there were fast-food restaurants from McDonalds to Everest. I still visited this one store nearby, similar to Fnac. But I told myself I could come back in another time, and went down the avenue to go back to the hotel. All I could think about was how my mother would love to come to this street and inspect every single fashion store.

I returned to my hotel, dumped my loot in the closet, and after a quick rest I changed my clothes and went for dinner. It was already night but the Monasteraki Square was still glittering with activity, and I decided to go for a simple choose-your-ingredients salad from the Everest. And back to the hotel.

I choose this hotel for another particular reason besides the tourism tours they provide: it has a bar set in the rooftop with a nice view over the Acropolis. But before I went up there, I went to the lobby instead. Why? Computers with Internet, that's why. I didn't bring my laptop, but the hotel had free Internet available. The bad news? Old computers with less than 512Mb of memory, no admin protection and Internet Explorer 6 as the main we browser. It was a good thing that I brought a small pen drive with me, and ten minutes later, I had a portable Chrome and Digsby installed in my drive and I was ready to check my email and contact my family. If I'm not mistaken, I talked with my brother over MSN/Digsby, and later sent an email to my mother telling her about my busy day.

Finally, the bar. And the reviews from booking.com weren't mistaken: the hotel did have an elegant view over Athens and the Acropolis, beautifully illuminated. I looked down at the buildings, and I could see inside this particular room. It looked like a badly kept workshop with people working past 10 PM. 

It was getting colder and I went back inside the bar, where I ordered a tea. I sat down, pulling out my red mole cover notebook and a pencil. And I began scribbling. I end up drawing a small comic of the meeting I had with that young man, and how I felt like an idiot after it. I went meta and drew myself sitting in the bar, with the functional mascot and cat next to me, one is yawning, and the other is finishing off with the cup of tea. 

I don't know how to describe how I felt at the time. I just had a unique day with enough memories to make my trip to Athens worth it. But I was still feeling blue. Sadness? Loneliness?

I could go on describing my feelings for that night, but it would be pointless, just like it was back then. Because compared with the events of that day, my self indulged melodramatic blueness meant absolutely nothing.


Sábado, 9 de Outubro de 2010
The end is nigh

 Data collection is over. Yet there's still a lot to do until November 10th.


During my breaks I find myself asking what will be off me after this is over. And what's going to happen to the "Warfare Arts" blog?

I know I'll stay around SAPO Campus just for a little longer. There're photos to be uploaded after all, and they will show up, eventually. But this blog will eventually bite the dust just like most dissertation blogs from my partners.

But in December, I can officially say good bye to my academic life. Unlike others I have no interest in pursuing a PhD. I might write another article like the one I did for Videojogos2010 with the results from this project, but I'm tired of studying and it's time for me to finally perk into the harsh world of job seeking and employment. I had a taste of it during my short internship at PT Inovação, and I'll be ready for more.

My curriculum needs to be updated and refined. My online portfolio is going to move to a different webhost and receive a much necessary makeover, along with my prime blog Level 7. And soon you'll see me pulling various tricks to get the attention of potential employers and nail a job as a designer/web designer/game artist/illustrator/politician (wait, what?).

Even without a job, there's always the freelance path. Last time things did not go as well as I wanted, but you have to learn from your mistakes and keep trying, they say.


Aah, I don't want to get too mellowed here. There're still a couple of blog posts I want to publish. But for now, I have work to do. Or else they'll pull my ears.


Quinta-feira, 30 de Setembro de 2010
Oh look, new dissertation blogs.

 That time again, uh?

I still remember when I set up this blog last year. Sapo Campus had just been introduced to us and I was eager to poke around its settings and obliterate their CSS stylesheets.


Well, first and foremost, I'm going to DeCA tomorrow invade a certain classroom at 11 am.

Which one?

It's a seekrit!


... no, actually, I forgot the classroom's number. Ahem.

I'm going to kidnap a couple of students from Prof. Óscar Mealha and force invite them to test my game demo. They'll also answer a quick questionnaire about the game. Don't worry, this should all be done before lunch time.


Now, a couple of updates from my side:


- Videojogos2010 was worth it. I was extremely nervous because this was my first conference, but I successfully went throught it even with some video technicalities (pfft, Macs.). My paper sparkled much interest from the audience to my surprise. 


- The game demo was tested this week in TEFAA with my Greek coordinator Dra. Marina Papastergiou handling the tests and questionnaires. Because the students' affluence with the English language wasn't as advanced as ours, she accompanied them as a translator. But so far, so good, and I'm waiting on the results.


- We're entering October, the final countdown until the deadline for the submission of my dissertation. I want to have everything ready before 31st October/ 3rd November with enough time for my coordinator to review the final document before submission. The defense should occur in December. 

If all goes well, you'll see me celebrating the end of a chapter in this Codebits'10.


- Because no Panic Rush season is complete without a couple of disasters, my not-so-faithful-anymore Toshiba P100-400 decided to die. Then I took it to the repair should and it revived. But the LCD screen has to be replaced. Again. This time the contrast and brightness settings were broken, black shades turned to red and white was made of blue stripes.

Note to self: don't buy 17' sized laptops, their screens crack way too easily.

I'm currently using my father's laptop to get some work done. All thesis material is safe and I kept the internal HD from my laptop in an appropriate enclosure. Yeah, the remaining photos from Greece are still inside it, and I'm not sure when will I have enough time to sort through thousands of photos to post in Sapo Campus.


- I was going to post some game screenshots right now, but I'll save those for the weekend + the video I did for the presentation in Videojogos2010. 




Sexta-feira, 13 de Agosto de 2010
Meanwhile, from the deeps of Flash CS4 and ActionScript 3.0 code...

You probably have some questions to ask me.


Well, let's assume you do have some questions.


So... how's that game prototype going?

Something like this.


"That's nothing", you say? Sure, each function looks like it was copy n pasted from the previous one with minor alterations.

Did I mention I have around 20 .as actionscript script files, and I work in at least three at the same time?



I picked up the worst time possible to learn ActionScript 3.0 from scratch, but it was necessary in order to make most of the stuff in the game work as they should, from a RPG text box adapted from a tutorial to a inventory that does work, and interactive elements in the scene backgrounds.

No wonder Steve Jobs doesn't like Flash.

I ended up not doing as much artwork as I wanted, and the background images differ from each other because I used different styles. I could refine them, but at the moment the most important thing to do is having a functional prototype. So far the first puzzle is complete, and I'm deciding if I should throw in the second and third puzzle (which shouldn't take as much work as the first one) or limit myself to the first puzzle and rework on the appearence. This is something I'll decide with my coordinators, since the prototype is going to be tested in September. Speaking of September...


I heard you're going to participate in VideoJogos 2010...


You heard well. There's not much I can say about it for now. Just to think I'll need to present my paper to an audience without stuttering leaves me nervous enough.


Are you going to show screenshots of the game prototype?


Most likely in September, before the conferences.

What about your photos from Greece?


I feel like I own you more photos. For reasons I have yet to understand, the eight slots from the "Most voted" photos in the SAPO Campus Fotos page are filled with my own photos, including one I took while I was inside the airplane over the clouds, and another from a chamber in Meteora filled with skulls (What's wrong with you people?!)

The things is, I have more than 1500 photos from Greece to select and choose the ones I'll upload to SAPO Campus. It's a task for an entire weekend. But don't worry, they'll show up eventually.




In b4 "What happened in Greece?"

While I was preparing my departure for a "epic" journey to Greece, my intention was to write posts on a regular basis so all those interested back in Portugal and UA could follow my dissertation progress and relevant shenanigans.

And if you have been paying attention to the blog, you know that's not really what happened.


I did write a couple of posts during my first months in Trikala and uploaded photos until our trip to Meteora. And then, there was silence. No more photos, no more blog posts until the very last one describing my daily life in Trikala.

You may be wondering what happened during that period from the end of March to the end of June.


I can tell you this much: if I were to write a blog entry inside that time span, it would not be pretty. Instead of the cheerful and informative posts I take pride in writing, you would be greeted with depressive laments against everything and everyone colored with cussing words that would make green frogs turn red.

It wasn't just the dissertation project that had its ups and downs. That was probably the least of my concerns compared with everything else. And to tell you the truth, I was a little ashamed of the progress at the time, and I only wanted to post about it once I had something decent and worth of being part of a master degree dissertation.


I had to face unnecessary drama inside the apartment because of a water heater. We had problems with someone who refused to pay part of his bill and planned on taking financial advantage from us under the excuse of "lessons of responsibility". I returned to Trikala every evening in a bus filled with obnoxious students who didn't know how to keep their mouths shut. Spoiled with UA's meals quality, there were times I could barely endure what they gave us to eat in the canteen (there was one night where there was only green peas for dinner. Nothing else.). I kept myself updated with the current riots from Athens, including the one where three people were killed in a bank fire, and avoided Trikala's central square everytime there was a strike. And my family, so far away from me, was in distress as well but for different reasons. Reasons they only told me once I returned to my hometown in Portugal, and it still amazes me how they managed to keep everything hidden for me during months.

A miracle happened to me when I lost the train that would take me to another station from where I could take a new train to Athens, only to learn later than if I had taken that first train I missed, I would be stuck in a station in the middle of nowhere because there was a strike and there were no trains for Athens at all.


As a ERASMUS student, I could have given better use to my free time and go meet new friends and party all night. The other ERASMUS students besides us were Spanish, and we spent some good quality time in their house. But I ended up not joining them every time they went out to the bars. Because everything disturbed me, from the excessive tobacco scent to the loud music and screams. I'm unable to get drunk like them and I hate beer. I went to cybercafes in hopes I could possibly meet other geeks/nerds like me, but all I found were Facebook whores, MMO addicts and kids playing Modern Warfare 2. It got to a point were I didn't care if I spent all night in my bedroom with a poor Internet connection as long I was able to type away in IRC chatrooms. I tried to be social, but I was unable to fit in.


A lot happened. Minor stuff, but all events together were enough to drive me to something similar to a depression combined with rage. I knew this was not going to be easy, and I could have found myself with worse conditions, but I never expected to see a country with such rich ancient history and legacy fall down like this, with its current young generation more concerned about football, religion and long weekends thanks to strikes, more concerned about excessive makeup and cloth trends than ancient philosophy, culture and history.


Don't get me wrong. Greece has beautiful monuments and landscapes, but I couldn't fit myself in its society. Even my mother says she wants to go visit Greece, but only when its situation stabilizes, least we risk being stuck in Athens with monuments and metro stations closed thanks to riots.

Enough with the bawwing. I have a project to finalize.

Quarta-feira, 16 de Junho de 2010

My eyes open. As it is usual, it takes about one minute to complete the transition from the dream world to reality. And my hands reach for the cellphone hidden under the pillow to check the current time.

It's still about ten minutes before the alarm sets off. 9 AM, it's the usual time I wake up, sometimes earlier, sometimes later, depends of the time I went to bed during the previous night. I burrow my face back into my pillow, and listen to the the familiar sounds coming from the kitchen. Someone else is already awaken and getting ready to go. I tell myself I still have time, and dwell back to my laziness.

The alarm rings. It's a little orchestral melody that brings me back to my senses. I turn the alarm off, and unconsciously fall back into my pillow, thinking I still have just a little bit of time.


I regain my senses 20 minutes later. This happens almost everyday, and I never learn my lesson. Rush time. Bath, followed by stuffing all my equipment inside my bag, including my laptop, and if there's time, do my bed. I may or not have breakfast before going out, depends if I have the available ingredients, which isn't happening today, but this doesn't worry me as I have a backup plan. I check my cellphone again, which doubles as a watch, and confirm the time. 10 minutes to get to the destination with a mid-stop by the bakery.

The old lady who works in the bakery already recognizes me. We don't share much words due to obvious reasons, but smiles are enough. After picking up a bottle of fresh water, I point at one particular bread with fetta cheese melted over it and say "Ena". She nods, and takes one from the stand. I have yet to pronounce correctly the name of this particular pastry, and I think I never will.


After the bakery, it's the kiosk's turn, which happens to be right next to the bus stop. Asklepios street has several kiosks, most of them stay open for 24h per day. They sell a little of everything: newspapers, magazines, bus tickets, candies and chocolates, snacks, cigarettes, drinks, some little plastic toys, and recently they restarted selling ice creams for the summer season. The guy with glasses sitting inside the kiosk all day also recognizes me, and is already picking up the bus tickets as soon he sees me. He knows what I want.

"Dio tickets tefaa, porokalon"

It's a poorly misconstrued phrase in broken Greek, but it gets what I want. He hands me the blue tickets, and soon enough I see the bus turning around the corner. The bus has to stop in the middle of the road because there's no parking space for it, with all the cars parked in front of the bus stop. Other students climb aboard along with the elder folks, who immediately start chatting with the bus driver. I should also say, bus drivers around here treat their bus with special care, hanging little souvenirs in the windows and photos of their kids above them.


20 minutes later, I'm in TEFAA, the sports department isolated in the middle of fields and rural houses. There's nothing but green pasture around the buildings, and the mountains in the distance, a sight worth seeing.

The department where I work is smaller than DeCA, but rather quiet. A favorable condition. And I finally arrive to the office, with my coordinator already inside it. She's been busy with what looks like a basketball e-learning program, recording her speech to tag along the texts and images in the screen. We exchange a few words while I install myself in this desk which isn't even mine, but the original owner has been away. As I turn on the laptop, she wants to see what I have done so far. She likes the work so far, unlike me, who's always thinking "I could have done better".


After that, the first minutes with the laptop on are spent in the series of tubes, consulting my RSS feeds, and then work starts. Adobe Flash and Photoshop are loaded in my desktop, and the fun begins. Events are thrown away between Actionscript 3.0 documents classes, my Greader tabs in Firefox are exchanged for tutorial websites, because there's always a new problem to solve. Photoshop remains open, trolling around my RAM memory until I need to create or update a graphic component. Sometimes Illustrator makes him company, Uncle Macromedia Freehand may perk around the corner. Winamp rocks the house with either orchestral awesomeness or techno epicness until I turn it off because I was distracted by a video, and half hour later, I realize the house has been silent because I forgot to turn Winamp back on.

And of course, as soon I turn on MSN, first person who comes greet me is my mother. If she's not around, she'll leave offline messages for me. Because like any good mother, she wants to know how I am, how's my work going.


Between 13h30 and 14h30, it's lunch time for me. The canteen is next to this building, a simple white block with cozy wood structures in front of it for when it's sunny and people prefer to have lunch outside. On my way, I see some familiar faces. We greet each other, ask how are things, but the conversations don't evolve much more besides that point due to the obvious language barriers.

The lunch's contents vary according the day of the week, they serve macaroni on Monday or Thursday, there's beans for Wednesday, and fish for either Thursday or Friday. Sometimes there's cake or a special kind of salad. We're served in metallic plates with various forms to fit in a selection of ingredients, and I have always to be careful to not let them overload my plate with food like they do with the other athlete students, because I do not require as much food as they do. Unless I get to sit besides someone familiar, my lunch time is brief.

Back to the office, and back to the Flash mess, who joins Photoshop in making troll faces at me. My coordinator usually leaves earlier than me: she has two adorable kids at home demanding her attention and care, whose photos hang in the wall in front of her desk.


Sometimes, I'll take a break. And I go to the other department across this one. It's in this particular computer room that I find one of the most friendly Greek students I have meet around, working alone on his PhD project. He's also the one who got me addicted to frappes, the reason why I went to that computer room in the first place. There's a fridge, a coffee machine and a drink mixer in the corner, and I even brought my own tall glass for the homemade frappes. The students and teachers are the ones who bring in sugar, coffee and milk whenever it's necessary, and yes, I have contributed for it as well. The frappe addiction was strong enough to tempt me into buying a portable drink mixer, which will soon be taken to Portugal, and I have hopes I'll spread the frappe plague across DeCA.

18h30. I decide whatever or not I should go for dinner, or take the next bus to town. The dinner served in the canteen is not as fulfilling as the lunch usually is, but sometimes they make pizza. On the other hand, catching the last bus of the day also means having to deal with a large group of obnoxious student girls who do not know how to be quiet, lowering my patience levels and increasing the urge of shouting Portuguese obscenities at them. For today, I take the early bus. It's another 20 minute trip back to the center of Trikala.


Back in town, I walk down Asklepios street looking for a place to meet. If it's Tuesday or Thursday, most shops are already closed, but the pubs and restaurants remain open. Like Jimmy's, a fast food restaurant which stays open for 24h per day, much convenient. They have pitas, burritos, sandwiches, good cheap food and healthier than most fast food chains. Luckily for me, most of the fine folks working there know some words in English, making it easier for me to ask for ingredients.

I do not always have my dinner inside fast food restaurants, sometimes I cook at home, but it depends in my mood and my budget. I began trying some fun simple recipes like rice with some sort of stir-fried vegetables, or omurice (rice with a egg omelette and ketchup). Simple stuff, because I'm a dangerous disaster inside kitchens. Seriously.


After dinner, I return "home". It's weird to call it "home", because certain events corrupted the already apathetic environment inside the apartment. My bedroom, however, once white and depressing, is more colorful and has junk everywhere. A recently acquired plastic table is being used has my desk, because the other table was too small for my papers and gadgets. The laptop is turned on and connected to a wifi cantenna built outside in the balcony, which received the odd glaring from the neighbors everyday, but it gets its job done. There are at least about 15 networks around the zone and most of them are protected. It's a gamble, you don't know to which network you're going to connect today. Or you could go for the fun path, and play with WEP decryption.


Unless I'm distracted by the events occurring in the series of tubes, I try to work for a little longer. Mostly drawings, there are scenarios to be completed. Character drawings too. But you see, I'm a bit too perfectionist at times, my art style isn't the same as the grand artist's from major video game companies, yet I attempt to give a polished look to the game art, especially the characters. The same can't be said about scenarios.

Meanwhile, I chat with my family once more. My mom continues to keep me updated about the latest events, and how the pets have been doing, especially Hades, my Siamese cat who's water tolerant and enjoys stealing from the kitchen. And when I less notice, the clock hits midnight, or 1 a.m.. It's time to go sleep and bid them a good night as well. Or not. Because sometimes I need to sacrifice my sleep time in order to guide one out of four survivors across a city infected with zombies.




This has been my routine for the past four months.


And it ends today. Tomorrow I'm going to Athens, and Tuesday I'm taking the airplane back to Portugal.


I didn't end up writing as many posts as I wanted. Did I make a good project at least? In all honesty? I don't know. There's still much to be done when I return to Portugal. Some events delayed the progress of this project, but that is a rant for another time.

 I'll leave that decision to the judges during the next semester.

Sexta-feira, 26 de Março de 2010
Where the heck have you been?

As days grow into weeks, and weeks grow into months, I start missing a lot of things. Regulation and anti-tobaco rules being part of them. The smoke is what is keeping me from enjoying a calm afternoon inside the darkness of the netcafe with a fresh frappe. I could be outside, enjoying the early sunny days of springs, but I'm more attracted to the shadowed and cold enviroments like a bat, and the brightness of LCD screens like a moth.


There're lots of photos yet to be sorted, named and described in my album, still a lot more to be uploaded. It needs to be fixed, yes, especially when you find out at least six of your photos are the most voted ones in the front pages, being beaten by a single photo of a cat.


The thesis project keeps moving on. Slower than I had hoped for, but that's something I need to deal with by myself, since it's way too easy for my mind to drift to Wonderland every now and then. My game design document is incomplete, yet satisfatory so far. A game interface is being arranged, along with some sketches. Soon, I may introduce you to one of the characters found ingame.


Meanwhile, sharing the house with a brazilian wannabe singer and a asian-british guy who insists in annihilating my american english accent (NEVER!) has proven to be an interesting experiment. Also interesting were my attempts to acquire slowpoke styled and free internet from unware neighbours using a wifi antenna, 5m long USB cable, duct-tape and tin foil cake forms. I could go further and get better quality Internet by cracking down the poor WEP protected networks, but I'm not a penguim.

Equally interesting was my first try at making a real cake using a oven, and not a microwave (remember the 5 minute chocolate cake fad?), with the asian-british gentleman supervising me:


Me: "Ok, flour, sugar... I think I'm forgetting something, but I'm not sure what..."


Him: ":D"


Me: "Seriously, I can't remember. It was... oil, I think?"


Him: ":D"


Me: "I think it was oil, but I don't know how much. Help?"


Him: ":D"


Me: "I hate you."



My greek vocabulary grows slowly everyday. At the lack of words, I avoid resorting to the english language, and use drawings. It's been a slightly successful process. And I need to learn how to say "Please, SHUT UP you little wh*@$&" whenever I'm taking the bus.


Meanwhile, Spring Break has begun around these parts, and they say Athens will be invaded by a short malicious personage next week. Beware.

Quinta-feira, 25 de Fevereiro de 2010
Trikala's room

If you're have been keeping track of this blog, then you'll recall about my initial shock when I first entered the this bedroom.


I may show you pictures of the house later, but for now, this is what my bedroom looked like when I arrived:



I'll let you take your own conclusions. Personally, I thought I had just arrived to a prison' cell, except more spacious and white. I lived in Aveiro for around, what, six years, and if you compare the photos from my old bedroom found in Level 7 with this... yeah, let's keep it at that.


And more than a week later, and this is what my bedroom looks like now:




Amazing what a new kit of colorful blankets, a small carpet, and things pasted on the walls can do to a bedroom, right? The bedroom itself had the bed, a small table + two chairs, and a closet not seen in the pictures (it's in front of the bed). I added to it the sheets + bed cover + carpet + scent candles, for a cheap price. Also, in the second photo, those are the photos of my family and house pets.


The thing is, this is an investment that won't last long, and I don't know if I'll take this stuff with me to Portugal. I'll most likely leave this stuff behind for exclusive use of the following Erasmus students.


Anyway, back to work. Oh, what am I doing right now, you ask?



Geesh, I don't know, what does it look like to you, Sherlock?




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