24 May 2015
Weblog Technical Status
What can we clean up?
There are currently some problems with the technical platform that this weblog runs on. Aparently once every while, the process runs out of memory, and then the blog is stuck. Funny, since with the new server, there is more memory available now. I'll have to check if there is some kind of memory leak or refcount leak happening. In the meantime, I've reduced some cache settings, and well, sometimes the blog might be unavailable till I "unstuck" it.
While playing around with the cache settings, I also cleaned up some of the other blogs I'm subscribed to in the sidebar. Sadly, some of them are offline now. Some others moved, and I've adjusted the feeds. I've also removed the links to the Zope planet (does not exist any more), and to the expat blogs site (can't identify with that any more).
22 May 2015
Doing My Swimming Lessons
Teach your self how to... blubb blubb blubb
I can't really swim. I admit that much. OK, I won't just drown when you
throw me into the water, and I'm ready enough to jump in. But anything
more than a few tens of meters, and I'm pretty lost. Given calm seas, I
can manage to go a short distance, by going slowly, taking lots of rest.
Now that I'm supposed to swim, I decided it's time to change that, at
least for a bit. So I looked up what I'm actually supposed to do. Went
through a couple of How-To guides, saw a couple of videos. I'm the kind
of guy who is better able to learn this kind of thing by "understanding"
it technically first, with my head. No intuitive learning for me there.
Right now I'm concentrating on breaststroke, but later maybe I'll go for
the freestyle too.
So far there seems to be a tiny bit of progress. At todays swim, I
thought that I was a bit more relaxed. I have to be calm and remember
what to do and then the movements seem to work out a bit better.
Definitely makes it more enjoyable. Having a very calm see today helped
too. Still in bicycle terms, I feel often like a kid going up a hill, all he
can do is stand on the pedals and stomp as far as his lungs will take
him. I'll have to learn to get a rhythm into my breathing, take it
calmer, and go there in my good time.
18 May 2015
520... Quality of Life
At the coffice
It took some while for them to open this year, but finally the cafe /
bar "520" is open again. Seems that they did some remodelling. Good for
me neither the character nor the athmosphere has changed. So today the 520
is my "coffice" for some hours.
The 520 is a cafe during the day, bar during the night. There are two
terraces, with great views over the harbour. Inside it's decorated nice
and relaxed. What with the name? Barcodes of Greek products start with the
numbers "520...", so in here they try to have as much as possible good
Greek products. In my case, I'll just have a homemade lemonade to go with
07 May 2015
Catching up with coverage... and finding some bugs
Bebu looking at things
Yesterday I noticed again that on one of my projects the test coverage
is slipping. Now test coverage isn't everything, and hey, we're not that
bad since lots of projects have no tests at all... but still I'd prefer
the coverage to be at 100%. So in a moment of not wanting to touch any
new tasks ("just give me something small to hax0r, a few lines"), I looked at
the coverage report, trying to fill a few small holes.
A few of those small one or two line holes were quickly filled. A
one line function without a test? Tchak, done! Some others were more
mysterious. And then there was one that should have been easy to plug,
but it evaded me. An if x not in some_list that should raise an
exception was not covered. But once I wrote a test with assertRaises,
that part of the code was not reached any more. You start to test for
something and then it disappears? That would be a new one.
It took me some gazing at the code to discover that a (hidden) similar
check a few lines above was already raising the exception. So that
part of the code was essentially duplicated and useless. That's the morale of the
story: Bringing the test coverage back to 100% might not make your code
foolproof, but sometimes it just makes you look at the code again and
spot a bug here and there.
04 May 2015
First Swim of the Season
Last Thursday I had my last after-surgery checkup at the Orthopedist.
Everything fine, apparently the bone has healed and it's time to build
up the muscles again. So the Doctor wants me to go and swim. Right. It's
still May, but I'm a good boy, and I do what I'm told, so I went to my
first swim this afternoon. It was pleasant enough outside (at the Mikri
Vigla beach), but the water was "a bit fresh".
Interesting how much easier it is to go into the cold water, when you're
supposed to go in and swim. The inner dialog wasn't about "should I go in
or shouldn't I" or about "will anybody see me when I give up?", it was
more along the lines of "ok, let's get inside and get this done". It
wasn't so cold that my life or health would be at risk (not by far),
so any reluctance is just psychological, in short a sign of weakness.
Can't have that!
So I went and swam a bit up and down, which felt good in the leg. It
wasn't enough to get the muscles tired, but after some time I just let
it be enough. I'll go again soon, now that it's in the program.
(Oh, and I totally forgot to take a pic, left the phone in the car and
didn't have the digicam with me. Next time.)
27 April 2015
What I've missed in cycling these months
Can't have it all
There is something about cycling that I missed those last 3 months.
I'm not prone to complain in this "broken leg" story. Things are going
fine and they could have been a lot worse in all this. Since the broken
leg is from a fall in cycling, the first few days I was very reluctant
to even think about cycling again. Then it slowly came back, and I
contemplated cycling again, taking it easy, no stress. I have nothing to
win, and nothing to hurry. I started doing indoor trainer rides, which
I'm enjoying a lot. I'll be probably out there on the roads again in two
more months. I will indeed take it slowly, especially going downhill.
"Para el que quiera condiciones meteorológicas perfectas ya existe el ciclismo en pista"
—Juan Antonio Flecha
As Juan Antonio Flecha puts it, for those who want perfect meterological
conditions, there is track cycling. For me, when I think about it now,
there is one thing I actually miss from this winter/spring without
cycling: I really enjoy being out there in "not so nice" weather. When
it's grey and cold and drizzling. When the wind is freezing a bit as it
gets dark out there. When there are large clouds over the mountains, and
you're heading just that way.
Hubris, I know, since evening fog in the mountains is just the thing
that brought me down. Also since I would be the first to complain if I
had to cycle all year long in those conditions. But here in Greece, I'll
miss those short few months of having had the pleasure to show off what
a hard man I can be.
26 April 2015
No more Captain Ahab
Getting rid of the crutches
So, starting on last Thursday (2 days ago now), I got rid of the crutches.
Actually, 3 weeks ago already, the doctor had instructed me to jettison
the one crutch, and walk only with one, opposite from the weak leg. That
was already an improvement, as I had one hand free: At least now I could
carry a glass of water to the table!
Now without crutches, life is sooo much nicer. No more walking with
tack-tack-tack sounds. Those sounds had prompted me to call myself
"Captain Ahab". I still walk pretty weird, the body tries to shift the
weight to the other leg. I'm practicing walking straight up and not
swerving wildly all the time. Each time I get up from sitting and notice
that I don't have to fetch around for the crutches, I sigh a breath of
relief. This is so nice.
23 April 2015
Bazar des Tierschutzvereins Naxos
Helfen mit Kaufen
Letzte Woche Samstag/Sonntag veranstaltete der Tierschutzverein Naxos
(Website, Partner-Website auf Deutsch), einen Bazar, bei dem alle
Einnahmen der Tierschutzarbeit zugute kamen. In einem kleinen Laden gab
es auf zwei Stockwerken, Bücher, CDs, DVDs, Spielzeug, Kleidung, und
noch viel mehr. Die Preise zeichneten sich durch absoluten Minimalismus
aus: Fast alles kostet einfach einen Euro. Wir haben vor allem bei
Büchern und Kleidung zugeschlagen. Da mir die Preise etwas gar niedrig
vorkamen, haben wir ordentlich aufgerundet.
Am Schluss haben wir uns noch darüber unterhalten, was wir bei
uns in der direkten Umgebung machen könnten, um die Situation der
Katzenpopulation etwas zu stabilisieren. Wir haben noch nicht alle
Vorraussetzungen, aber vielleicht fällt uns da ja noch etwas sein. Der
Tierschutzverein würde uns "Katzenfallen" ausleihen, so dass wir die
Strassentiger zum Impfen und Sterilisieren bringen können. Das Problem
ist, dass wir einen Raum brauchen, in dem die weiblichen Tiere nach der
Operation Ruhe haben können.
21 April 2015
Langer, nasser Winter
Endlich ist es Frühling, der Winter war dieses Jahr lang und nass.
Auf Naxos hat es drei mal geschneit - was sonst nur so alle 6-10 Jahre
vorkommt. Gut für die Insel, die Wasser-Reservoire sind voll, die Erde
hat viel Wasser gespeichert, die Insel ist grün.
Diesen Winter war der Plan eigentlich so oft und lange wie möglich auf
Naxos zu bleiben. Athen geht mir momentan auf den Keks. Das Problem
dabei war einerseits, dass unsere Unterkunft nicht geheizt ist (und es
zieht), also ist das ganze vom Wetter abhängig. Das andere Problem war
dann natürlich der Beinbruch.
Also waren wir lange nicht so oft hier wie wir wollten. Und als wir Ende
März hier ankamen, war es noch sehr winterlich: Windig, regnerisch,
kalt. Vielleicht nicht "Winter in der Schweiz"-kalt, aber kalt genug
wenn das Haus nicht geheizt ist. Noch am (griechischen) Karfreitag
stürmte es so stark, dass der Schiffsverkehr eingestellt wurde.
Am Oster-Sonntag war dann alles anders: Wir sassen mit Freunden beim
Mittagessen und bevorzugt im Schatten, in der Sonne war es schon
zu heiss. Für ein paar Tage war es richtig warm. Die Insulaner
beschwerten sich schon wieder, "vom Winter gleich zum Sommer, wo ist
unser Frühling?" Der Frühling ist schon da, es ist wieder etwas
kühler geworden und überall blüht es. Für mich gibt es da keinen
Grund zu jammern.
20 April 2015
Going Nowhere Fast
Getting and using a static bike trainer
Did I mention I broke my leg in January? Right, I did. Well, I'm still
in the process of recovery, and (as I also mentioned already) to help
with that, I bought a bike trainer (aka "turbo trainer"). This is a
device you enter your bicycle into, to turn it into a static bike. When
I went out to buy this thing, I spent an awefull long time to consider
all the options. There are a lot of options, at least in theory.
There are bike trainers with different mechanisms to produce the
resistance to your wheel (magnetic, fluid, air/ventilator), each with
their own advantages and disadvantages. There are very simple systems
that do not allow to vary the resistance, some that you vary it in
a mechanical way, and some that do it electronically (and the fluid
trainers vary it with the speed of your wheel. And then there are those
that vary it electronically, while being connected to a computer (or
tablet computer), which gives way to all kind of funny games, like
showing a video that will change speed as you pedal faster, and increase
the resistance if you're going uphill in the video.
OK to buying one, but... buying one in Greece?
So what should I buy? I had another problem to that: Since I am living
in a far, far away place, on the end of the map (so to speak), in
Greece where shops have only a limited choice of products, and often
these products are more expensive and a bit outdated... a lot of the
stuff reviewed on the Interwebz is not available. It is a tiny bit
understandable, given the good weather here, a trainer is not that
So my choices came down to buy something simple here and now, or order
something fancy over the Internet. A trainer is a heavy and big item
though, so ordering it would have taken a long time. I went for the
simple and as-cheap-as-possible choice. I got the cheapest magnetic
trainer I could find readily in a shop near me. The result is that I
have a trainer that not even the company that made it lists on their
website. In Greek there is an expression "not even its mother knows it",
pretty fitting here.
It does the job so far. For now, all I'm doing is 30 minutes of riding
two or three times a week. I tried watching some cycling videos on the
laptop, but most of the time it doesn't inspire me. It detracts from the
riding and it detracts from the cycling video. Maybe if I would be doing
2 hour rides I would be more tempted to try something that works like a
game. Right now spinning away on the bike and feeling my legs move is