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07 October 2015

Begone Mail... Not!!

There she goes

Yesterday evening I was writing a lengthy mail, explaining a nice little idea. The mail was written in English and Greek, spellchecked, re-read, corrected a bit, and then... the battery on the laptop suddenly ran out of steam and the laptop shut down unexpectedly. I didn't feel a single moment of anxiousness. I'm using mutt to handle my mails, and mutt hands off to vim to actually write my stuff. As I know quite well, vim saves temporary copies of my files, so in case of a crash, I'm often asked to recover files. Works quite well.

mutt saves unfinished mails in a "folder" called postponed. Since I had closed and re-opened the draft mail a couple of time, I expected find the unfinished mail there. But it wasn't. Lesson learned: mutt saves those mails there only when you close the message and postpone it. OK, so far, but no problem, since definitely vim had saved my message.

But I couldn't find it. It was gone. It started to take the wind out of my sails, since I had spend some time to make a beautiful little piece of mail, and the thought to do it all again demotivated me. I started going through my disk with a fine comb. I found the path where my files had been. I checked where vim is supposed to save temporary files (the "dir" setting directive), and the documentation gave me a strong hint to what had happened, for that setting the documentation suggested:

"Using "/tmp" on Unix is discouraged: When the system crashes
you lose the swap file"

Explanation: If you save your "swap" backup files in the /tmp directory, when you restart after your crash, the OS will go through /tmp and throw your carefully saved backup file away. This is what had happened to my mail. But why?

In my .vimrc, I hadn't changed the dir setting, and the default is to store files in a list of directories that are reasonably safe: ".,~/tmp,/var/tmp,/tmp". For a moment I was pointing fingers at vim, but it just doesn't make sense.

In fact the culprit is mutt: The mail program tells vim to "edit this file" and to store the needed temporary swap file in /tmp. There is a settings directive to change the place, but the default is the very unsafe /tmp directory. So my suggestion: if you use mutt, check your config to set the "tmpdir" directive to something safe, something where your OS will not clean up at restart time, e.g. on OpenBSD /tmp/vi.recover is spared from the knife.

Posted by betabug at 10:57 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
24 September 2015

The Big Move

Technically, it's not ch-athens any more

Man, almost a month without posts on this lazy weblog. In the meantime, early September, I emptied my appartment in Athens and moved finally to Naxos. So technically, this blog should not be called "ch-athens" any more, but I don't think I'll rename it anyway.

It would be nice if I could describe the move as uneventful, but that wasn't what happened. Since I'm moving to an island, ships are involved. Which means that you can't just rent any old van and carry your stuff over. Doing so would mean to pay a lot of money for bringing a car over on the ferry boat and then bringing it back. So what I did is hire a mover.

That was necessary for another reason: I'm still recovering from that broken leg, and therefore I shouldn't lift stuff. So they did all the lifting. But this is also the point where the "eventful" part of the move happened for me. Even if I didn't lift heavy stuff, I put a lot of stress on the leg. Push something over here, lift a box on top of another box there. Put lots of stuff into boxes. Carry the garbage downstairs. I had a very tired leg.

Towards the 3rd day, I was completely exhausted. I had problems going up the stairs, even without carrying anything. At some point I was sitting somewhere, and I saw a picture frame that I had to take down. I must have looked at it for 15 minutes, trying to gather the strength to get up and do that task too. What saved me was my friend Panos, who came over on the last day and did the last "heavy" jobs, like carrying down the last garbage.

At the end of it all, I went to the port and took the boat back to my new home. The tourist season was still in almost full swing, so the boat was pretty much full. I got myself a cabin, laid down and slept till Paros (1 hour before Naxos). Then I had a shower and got myself ready to arrive. It cost some extra money, but I already started to feel a bit better.

It took the leg some time to recover though. I guess it threw me back 2 or 3 weeks. On the next day I started with my regular swimming routine again, and as soon as I was floating in the water, I felt as if the recovery process in the leg was starting again.

Posted by betabug at 08:12 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 August 2015

Full Moon over the Temple of Dimitra

The full moon starts to come out over the mountains

Yesterday our friend Hariklia had the wonderful idea to go see the full moon come out over the Temple of Dimitra here on Naxos. We went there with friends and family, just missing the last rays of sunlight on the temple.

Still the scene was quite beautiful. As the sun had gone down, we waited for the moon to come out over the mountains. We hadn't looked up the exact time, so guesses were from "right now" to "we'll have to wait here for more than an hour". In the end it was maybe 15 minutes after sunset.

When the moon finally came out, its speed was surprising. It was as if the moon had been held back in the thick fluid of the mountains, and as it got free, it sped up until it plopped out like a cork held under water.

The little toy digicam didn't hold up all so well photographing that shiny object in the sky. Lack of a tripod didn't help either. Anyway, here are some attempts at photography for your pleasure.

Full moon over temple of Dimitra on Naxos, little church
Posted by betabug at 11:42 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 August 2015

Three Times per Week

It's all up and down

While writing on the weblog has taken a backseat to everything else again, I'm more or less back to regular cycling. Which is very nice, since I really like cycling in the countryside here. Basically I'm trying to do 3 rides per week. The plan is to build back my base fitness. So I'm doing shorter rides, about 2 hours each. Since this is Naxos, there is no way to do that without some climbing, but I'm trying to take it easy.

Slowly, slowly my leg starts to feal more "normal". Whatever that means. Basically that pushing, pulsing sensation where the operation was is getting less, especially while riding. Walking is still a bit more difficult. So I'm moving forward in that respect.

At the same time I have the impression that I'm moving backwards in respect to my endurance. I seem to be able to do less and less. Having to stop and take a long break to recover on a climb I've never ever had to stop before (going up the Potamia valley). Never mind, that's probably how building your endurance back should feel, for all I know of such things. I guess I will need yet a bit more patience. I'm not really complaining though, what I've already reached is wonderful compared to where I was a couple of months ago.

Posted by betabug at 18:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
16 August 2015

Transporting by Bike

Getting a new kitchen stove delivered
Transporting the new kitchen stove by bike

My old kitchen stove gave up its purpose in life lately. It started to short circuit whenever I turned it on. I'm not a huge fan of "throw it away", but this thing was beyond the trouble for me. So I bought a new one. But then... no car, and I needed the thing urgently, as we would be without anything to cook for the weekend. So the shop put the box on the bus (!) and we picked it up at the bus stop.

From the bus stop, it's about 600m to my place. The box isn't so big (it's one of those small stoves), but it's way to heavy to carry all the way. So that led to my trusty cyclocross bike (which currently features a rear rack for shopping runs) to serve as a cart. The setup was way too unstable to ride. Pushing it along was more or less ok, with some short moments of wobbling and threatening to fall. It reminded me a lot of what lots of people in African and Asian countries do: load up a bike full up, and push it along. The stove arrived home in one piece in the end, and cooking warm food resumed.

Posted by betabug at 11:47 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
23 July 2015

Back in the Mountains

It's been 6 Months
The road going down from Moni

It's been 6 Months and 1 day yesterday, and for the first time I was back with the bike in the mountains. I've been doing a slightly shorter variant of my usual loop of Halki - Apeirantho - Stavros Keramotis - Moni.

I've been doing shorter rides since one month ago, even some with some uphill parts and I had a lot of headwind. But going up to Apeiranthos yesterday was a hard task. I had to take it easy and measure out what strength I had. Which wasn't much. The result of my downtime is that most of my power and endurance is gone. To be built up again.

On the way down, I was starting to get afraid. So I started to hug the brakes. Not the best thing to do, but I was not going to bomb down the mountain road that particular day. Better take it easy. That way I could see more of the landscape and the wonderful evening anyway.

While going up, I wondered if I enjoyed myself. If I would enjoy cycling again the way I had before the accident. I concluded that, yes, I enjoyed myself. The views, the smell, even the exercise and feeling of exhaustion in my body, I enjoyed all that. It took some time to pass away some negative thoughts, but it was still possible. The enjoyment of being strong in the mountains, of going up at a decent speed with ease... that is obviously not there yet, but there is enough already to enjoy. Now the plan is to continue slowly to build back my form. There is no need and no use to hurry in this. And in the end the strength and ease might come back again.

Posted by betabug at 18:36 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
20 July 2015

Power Failure Fooling Me

I didn't get the memo

This morning, just as I was hooking up the laptop to the big monitor, the power went out. Since the big monitor had displayed a problem with a power cord some days ago (or was it the cord that had the problem?), my first thought was "oh no, the monitor finally broke!" So I tried another cord. I tried another outlet. I moved it around, trying to set the power cord better, where it plugs into the monitor. No luck.

So I unplugged everything from the monitor, and moved it aside. Went to work on the laptop. Turns out, "the Internet" isn't working either. After a few tries and not connecting to the wifi, I finally look at the router: no blinkenlights. Here I must admit, my first thought was: "Oh noes! There was some power spike during the night, and both the monitor and router are fried!" In my defense, all I can say is that it was quite early in the morning.

In fact the power outage was no accident. According to our neighbors, there was an announcement for it. Well, I didn't get the memo, in more than one sense.

Posted by betabug at 13:18 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
13 July 2015

Some Links to Facts on the Greek Debt Crisis

Always useful information

Here are some standard links that I keep coming back to refer people for facts about the Greek debt crisis.

Let's start with this Reuters article that shows how much the German state (and the Finish state, etc.) actually earns and saves from the crisis: Analysis: What taxpayer bailouts? Euro crisis saves Germany money

Then we have some arguments like "but one has to pay back ones debt!" and "if I owe money to my bank I can't either...". Basically it poses the example of Germany's handling of debt: How Europe cancelled Germany’s debt in 1953

And of course it is based on the London Agreement on German External Debts as described here at Wikipedia. It's very interesting that in any discussion I had with Germans, as soon as I point this out, they will do anything they can to change the topic.

But then of course, Greeks are just corrupt and lazy. Right? Right? Come on, admit it, no? Well, the numbers (from reliable source) don't agree: Corrupt, lazy Greeks? Debunking Ethnic Stereotyping substituting Economics

I should add some links about the corruption on the German side, about the so called CDU donations scandal (nice mis-nomer, it was simply a bribery scandal), about the bribes given by Siemens, HDW, Thyssen, etc. etc., in Greece and how much money that has cost the Greek people, but I haven't yet found a good comprehensive link. Suffice to say, the main reason why there is never any corruption or bribery proven in German courts is that the German law states that you have to prove that the politician being bribed actually changed policy because of that. As long as he says "I would have ruled like that anyway", no bribery. That was basically the Helmut Kohl defence. But I have to re-find the link for the analysis on that law again.

Posted by betabug at 13:03 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
09 July 2015

La drôle de guerre economique - the Phoney Economical War

Some quiet days in Greece under capital controls

We are living in strange times. The news about this country boils up all around this world. A total breakdown is imminent every one or two days. Or some kind of solution. Most of the time it's just another postponement, for another day or two. So, how is life right now in Greece? I think it resembles the phoney war.

Yesterday I went to town to buy some stuff and see some friends. I passed by a furniture shop. There weren't any other customers, but then this is a small shop, so that's quite normal. The owner wasn't falling all over himself to have a customer or sell something, he didn't offer me any special prices or the like. On the other hand, he basically said: "Whatever I have is in the shop right now, to order something will mean we have to pay up front, and there will be a long delay."

In some other shop it was the same story: "We can order it, but it's a bit complicated."

I then went on to visit my friend in his bike shop. He was out paying some bills, and I knew this would take some time. He would either be at the post office or do the payment at an ATM, because, you know, banks are closed due to capital controls. Both options would involve some waiting time.

So I went on to have a milkshake at my favorite cafe and pastry shop "Aktaion". Normally in July, this would be quite busy, but it was just the waiter sitting there. I chatted a bit with him, and of course he wasn't delighted by the situation. To put it a bit ironic, he is the worst example of the "lazy Greek": When the tourist season is on, he works 7 days a week. From morning till mid-afternoon - I would guess probably 10 hours. As a waiter, he is very attentive and speedy. He doesn't have much work in winter, but on a tourist island, that is to be expected, you have to earn in summer to survive the winter.

Why is the cafe so quiet? In fact, the tourists are here. There are a few cancellations, but not many. And soon after I had gotten my delicious sugar bomb, they arrived to occupy some tables. But the ones missing are the Greek customers. When the capital constrols restrict you to 60 Euros per day, going out for coffee is an easy candidate to cut something. In the super market you can pay with your bank card, while in the cafe you want the cash. It takes no genius to see that this is a brake to the economy.

Even more a brake is the general feeling of "wait what will happen". Even when people have the money to do some investment, a lot of them will wait right now, to see around the next corner. "What will happen till Thurday, when they say xy should happen?" "Let's wait till Monday, to see what goes down on the weekend." It's always another few days off. People remain calm. There is no panic.

We are in an economic war. But right now it resembles the "phoney war", before the Germans moved into France. As the French put it "la drôle de guerre". A lot of diplomatic discussions are held, a lot of back and forth. Some shots are exchanged, some fortresses are probed. A Maginot line of democracy is set up, but nobody knows if it will hold. A few people are dying, already, unfortunate to be poor and sick, or unfortunate to be refugees. The capital controls are the declaration of war, the blocking of ports and throwing up of siege lines by the ECB. But will the full war break out? Are we to be slaughtered soon?

There are positive stories too: My friend in the bike shop had ordered some stuff from his supplier. At first they told him: "Don't take it personal, but we now need the money up front." But when he called them two days later to extend the order with some more stuff, they said: "Your box is already on the way." In two days they had reversed their policy, for their dealers who they never had payment problems with them, and who never extended their line of credit, they will now continue as normal.

What I ask myself mostly is, how can we get from this phoney war straight to the London conference of 1953. Preferably without killing anybody and without putting this continent on fire in between.

Posted by betabug at 18:43 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
05 July 2015

Gefälschte Meinungsumfragen in Griechenland

Manipulationen in den Umfragen zum Referendum durch die Nea Dimokratia
Ausschnitt aus dem Strategie-Dokument

Wie ein Strategie-Dokument zeigt, das von der Partei Nea Dimokratia an ihre Funktionäre verteilt wurde (und das vor einigen Tagen geleakt wurde), kann die Partei ND Meinungsumfragen manipulieren und tut dies gezielt um beim Referendum ein besseres Resultat zu erzielen. Meine quelle ist hier bei Kouti tis pandoras.

Schauen wir doch einmal den rot unterstrichenen Text im Ausschnitt an (Übersetzung von mir):

Daher, im Masse wie das möglich ist, sollte die Meinungsumfrage / soziale Dynamik der Umfrage-Institute für das JA einen Anstieg abbilden, es soll also so aussehen, dass es eine Dynamik - eine Strömung zum JA gibt, die stabil ist. Aber nicht mit gleichen Zahlen, weil die Leute weiterhin misstrauisch gegenüber solchen Umfragen sind. Sie glauben, dass diese Teil des Systems sind.

Auf der anderen Seite, am Freitag 3.7., was auch der letzte Tag ist, an dem laut Gesetz Umfragen veröffentlicht werden dürfen, muss eine allumfassende Prädominanz des JA abgebildet werden, die keine Zweifel offenlässt, ohne aber Selbstzufriedenheit aufkommen zu lassen. Ein Vorsprung der sich um 5 bis 10 Prozent bewegt, je nach Umfrage-Institut. Wir merken an, dass bei entsprechenden Referenden im Ausland das JA üblicherweise unterrepräsentiert ist.

Es gibt also einen genauen Plan, was bitteschön die Meinungsumfragen von Tag zu Tag bis zum Finale zu zeigen haben. Eingeschränkt wird das ganze nur durch das "in dem Masse wie das möglich ist" am Anfang. Wenn man aber die Detail-Anweisungen liest, scheint da eine Menge möglich zu sein.

Wer gibt also auf diese Meinungsumfragen noch irgend etwas? Ich nicht, und ich empfehle als Alternative meine eigene Voraussage von gestern.

Posted by betabug at 17:17 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

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