The 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine

2023/04/14 - Random

Back in 2003 when the U.S. invaded Iraq[a], my father told me about him watching the start of the Gulf War[a] live on television. Apparently my parents were watching the news and later on they started showing what I believe was the CNN live feed from Baghdad. This wouldn’t surprise anyone today, but in 1991 for a guy in a rural part of Portugal, it was something very different. In the area where they lived, most only had two TV channels available, a colour TV if they were lucky (many were still black and white), and after a day of work many would watch the Telejornal[a] at 20:00 and maybe one of the (bland) programs before going to bed. Watching war live wasn’t something that people were used to, so like many they stayed up until late.

I don’t remember much of the 2003 Iraq war even though it was broadcasted live too (12 year old me didn’t pay attention to wars or followed the news). The only memories I have from what I think was the start of the war was an American tank shooting by mistake at the hotel where some journalists were staying, a statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled, and weirdly some technology that RTP[a] was using to do live broadcasts from there… I think it involved sending the video (low quality) via satellite and the audio via a normal phone call or something like that? I was into mobile phones back then, 2.5G/3G services were being introduced, we could make (expensive) video calls, etc… maybe that’s why I still remember this.

In February 2022 I had a similar experience to that of my father back in 1991. Russia invaded Ukraine[a] and I was about to follow the start of this new stage of the war in a very different way.

This won’t be an interesting post for most, but it has been a year since the start of the invasion and I’m starting to forget some of the details, so this is me writing it down in case I want to refer to it later on. Some of the content and descriptions might be too much for some, so here’s your warning to stop reading. The dates should be more or less correct, but keep in mind that it has been a year since it happened. My time zone is UTC. Some of the links also have an archived version “[a]” saved when I was writing this in case the original source changes or disappears.

Ukraine War

Less News

2020/06/28 - Random

BBC News

Reading the news isn’t a new thing. People have been reading daily or weekly newspapers since before radio, tv, or even the internet existed but with each technological advancement, the news became more available. Radio allowed for news/talk radio stations. TV allowed many to be entertained, but also to be informed with their once a day news program.

Today we have 24/7 radio and dedicated TV news channels. On the internet, you can get news from social networks, assistant/feed apps, news aggregator apps or apps from each newspaper/organisation, each one with their notifications for “breaking news”. Even many browsers now have news on their “new tab” page. It’s hard not to be up-to-date.

While I think it’s important to be aware of what’s happening around us and in the world (major events at least), I’m not sure if the average person is ready to deal with the amount of information we consume daily. Many can’t filter the content their app shows them or perform a little bit of critical thinking before taking what they read or watch as truth.

It can also be addictive. How many times have you closed the app or site where you get your news from, just to find yourself on the same app/site a few seconds or minutes later?

Then there’s what’s considered to be “news”. Maybe it’s just me, but most news aren’t really news. When I open aggregator apps like Google News, I’ll see gossip about the UK’s royal family, twisted and one sided articles from tabloids about serious matters, articles about something that happened in a place so far away that I couldn’t point to it on a map, what person X said about matter Y, right party vs left party, etc. Is this important information? I guess I should be aware about the protests in my city or political issues in my country, but should I worry or even obsess about something happening in a different place?

The way I consumed the news was having some negative side effects on me. Sometimes it was overwhelming, distracting, usually a waste of time, depressing, and energy draining. So I changed a few things.

Voto Postal: URL Shortner gratuito usado em documento que acompanha o boletim de voto

2019/09/09 - Random

Como vivo fora de Portugal, registei-me para votar via correio. Hoje recebi uma carta registada com o meu boletim de voto.

Como esta é a primeira vez que vou votar via correio, comecei a ler a carta com as instruções e reparei que no fim colocam um link e QR Code “para mais informações”. Este link chamou-me à atenção por ser de um serviço que encurta endereços e não um endereço de um site do estado/governo.

Voto Postal URL

Link na carta/envelope com as instruções para votar corretamente.

Alguns problemas com isto:

  • É um serviço gratuito, brasileiro, com servers nos EUA, operado por privados. Não há nenhuma garantia se vai estar online até as eleições, se vai encerrar ou se vão passar a servir, sei lá, malware.
  • Guardam informação sobre o número de visualizações, IPs e no caso de seguirmos o link a partir de outro site, o site/página de referencia. Qualquer pessoa tem acesso a esta informação, basta adicionar um “-” ao final do endereço.
  • Podem mudar o endereço da página de destino se quisessem (ex: redirecionar para página de um candidato/partido). Num momento em que cada vez mais vários países se intrometem nas eleições especialmente na internet, parece-me ser uma péssima ideia usar um serviço destes.

A razão para terem encurtado o endereço é fácil de perceber. É um URL grande, difícil para copiar:

Deviam ter usado um site/serviço do estado que permitisse criar endereços curtos que redirecionam para o conteúdo original (mais ou menos o que o GOV.UK faz…) mas usaram um serviço gratuito. ?


  • O link foi removido do PDF. Espero que não aconteça novamente no futuro.
  • Embora o envelope tenha um “selo” pré-pago e a carta explique que não devemos pagar pelo envio, o Royal Mail (Reino Unido) não reconhece e acaba por devolver a carta. Tive de ir ao correio e pagar para enviar. Segundo o podcast “Revista da Semana” da RTP, o mesmo problema está a acontecer na Austrália.

Five Simple Rules of Exploration and Discovery

2017/03/12 - Random

How did we, tiny creatures living on that spec of dust, ever manage to figure out how to send spacecraft outer among the stars of the Milky Way?

Only a few centuries ago, a mere second in cosmic time, we knew nothing of where or when we were. Oblivious to the rest of the cosmos, we inhabited a kind of prison, a tiny universe bounded by a nutshell.

How did we escape from the prison? It was the work of generations of searchers who took five simple rules to heart.

1. Question authority. No idea is true just because someone says so, including me.

2. Think for yourself. Question yourself. Don’t believe anything just because you want to. Believing something doesn’t make it so.

3. Test ideas by the evidence gained from observation and experiment. If a favorite idea fails a well-designed test, it’s wrong. Get over it.

4. Follow the evidence wherever it leads. If you have no evidence, reserve judgment.

And perhaps the most important rule of all:

5. Remember: you could be wrong. Even the best scientists have been wrong about some things. Newton, Einstein, and every other great scientist in history. They all made mistakes. Of course they did. They were human.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos S01E13