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The bug travelling around in Greece (and maybe even further sometimes?)
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18 November 2006

Server Downtime, EU Security Measure Casualty

Or "Crash Bum Bang" if you prefer

On Friday I was preparing some things for the upgrade of to OpenBSD 4.0. Due to pilot error, I managed to crash the machine and bring it into a state where accessing it wasn't possible any more. I'm sorry if the downtime has caused any problems, especially to the witch users (the witch being the Zope/apache rewrite rule generator, which is about the only really useful service I provide). There will be another (hopefully brief) downtime on Tuesday evening, when the actual server upgrade should happen.

The problem with that upgrade is of course that I am in Greece, while the server is in Germany. So on Saturday I took the plane to Munich (well, not only for the swerver upgrade). I carried a HD with OpenBSD 4.0 installed on it with me. Given the new EU security craze^H^H^H^H^Hmeasures, I wasn't too sure if that would be trouble. We called the airline and asked. They had a bit of a problem finding someone who knew what a Hard Disk was, but in the end I was able to transport the HD safely in my hand luggage.

The EU Casualty

The EU security guidelines caused a different casualty though: Since one can not bring liquids into the cabin any more, the bottles of greek Ouzo I was bringing for presents had to go into my bag. When the luggage came out on the baggage claim, I noticed the outside of my bag being wet. I had a faint hope that it was due to the rain in Munich. Not really. One of the bottles hadn't survived. Most of my clothes had a distinct anis and alcohol smell and there were shards of glass all over the contents of the bag. I managed to get my winter jacket out of there without cutting myself. The Ouzo didn't penetrate the security barrier of the second compartment of the bag, so things weren't that bad. A run of the washing machine cured most of the other problem cases.

Posted by betabug at 13:14 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Kulturschock Deutschland

Ein ganz leichter Hauch von Unwirklichkeit

Also erstmal hat es geregnet,als ich mit dem Flieger ankam. Dann war (im riesigen und leeren) FJS Flughafen von München alles auf Deutsch ausgeschildert. Das gleiche auf den Strassen. Dort hat es wieder geregnet. Man muss als Fussgänger an roten Ampeln stehen bleiben. Wenn sich die Autos stauhen, fahren keine 15 Motorräden pro Minute dazwischen durch. Samstag abends um 11 sind die Strassen leer, ausser im Ausgehviertel. Samstag nacht um 2 sind sie noch leerer. Ich bin leicht kulturgeschockt.

Es sind keine grossen Sachen, aber viele kleine Ungewohnheiten. In München drückt man bei der Strassenbahn auf den Knopf damit die Tür aufgeht. Alles ist sehr sauber im ÖV, dafür gibt es abends im Bus Leute die Bier trinken, was man sich zuhause in Athen überhaupt nicht vorstellen könnte. Überhaupt ist vieles anders als in bei uns in Athen, was vielleicht der Grund ist, warum deutschsprechenden Lesern die Feststellungen eben nicht so besonders vorkamen. Wenn ich bei uns am Samstag um 10 Souvlaki holen will, dann muss ich in Zografou Schlange stehen (weil alle anderen auch ausgehen und noch schnell was zu essen holen). Es sind überall Leute auf der Strasse. Alles anders eben.

In München waren wir heute im Augustiner Bräustüberl, zum Schweinebraten essen. Danach ging es zum Karl-Valentin- und Liesl-Karlstadt-Museum. Witzig und unterhaltsam, zum Glück nicht zu gross, den meine Aufnahmefähigkeit wird schon so ausgeschöpft. Danach ein Spaziergang durch die Innenstadt, wie es sich für einen Touristen in München gehört. Vorbei am alten und neuen Rathaus, an der Marienkirche und diversen anderen Sehenswürdigkeiten.

Posted by betabug at 22:22 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
13 December 2006

Past Travels to Germany and Switzerland

Memories of a memorable journey
On the german Autobahn

It's almost a month ago that I travelled to Germany and Switzerland, but the rain of the last days here made me remember that memorable trip. I'll attempt to sum it up. It's been a while, but some of the very "interesting" moments stay well in my memory, so let's see how well I can bring it back. It all started a few days before I left, when I tried to prepare my server for the upgrade I would do when in Germany. In the process I managed to crash the poor box, and had to ask someone to go by there and reboot it. It seems that wasn't such a good omen. I set out on Saturday morning (18.11.) for my flight to Munich. When I arrived in Munich, it was raining...

In my memory it continued raining for days on end. That possibly isn't very far from the truth either, and I vividly recall my shock upon landing in Munich and discovering that the world outside was wet. Eleni and her friend Jutta picked me up from the airport. The first evening was spent cleaning up after the EU security measures, home cooking and going out to drink in a typical bavarian student beer place. Everybody was having large beers, while I drank a campari and some weird, but good bavarian schnapps.

Munich Tourism

On Sunday we visited the museum of bavarian comedians Karl Valentin and Liesl Karlstadt. We also walked through the city, visiting some of the better known tourist places. At noon we went with Jutta and her boyfriend to eat a genuine bavarian "Schweinsbraten", in a restaurant where the waiters wear leatherpants. That's how a vacation in Munich is supposed to be. The evening was spent with more drinking.

Monday morning I picked up a rental car and hit the Autobahn. Now, if you haven't been there and dream of driving as fast as you can (no speed limit), then yes, it's fantastic. In theory there is no speed limit. Usually that just means that you are stuck in traffic anyway (the first picture shows no traffic on my side, everything closed on the opposite lane). And then you have to look out for all the areas where due to circumstances they put up a speed limit anyway. In my case I wouldn't have wanted to drive too fast in the rented car and it was raining all the time anyway. The first leg of my drive was to Bayreuth. That city is most renown for the Richard Wagner Opera Festival, but I got spared that. I came for a business meeting to talk about a software we are evaluating to use at the office.

From there I went to some place near Karlsruhe/Mannheim, on family business. More Autobahn driving there. Yes, there are a lot of Autobahns in Germany, and a lot of cars too. Tuesday morning I went on (even more Autobahn) to Ulm, where the PowerMac G3 was awaiting its well deserved upgrade and new harddisk. I arrived well too early for the doors to open to the computer club where the machine was housed. When I got in, I went straight to the machine. The big cycle of moving disks in and out would begin, so I could copy data around till everything was on the new disk.

the street with red carpet in St.Gallen

The machine gone

At some point in the moving in, restarting, moving out, restarting, repeat circle, the machine wouldn't boot any more. I can still feel my desperation in that moment. I had travelled so far, had prepared in advance. Now I had a few hours to try to get the machine back alive, then I would have to move on with my travel schedule. In the end the G3 didn't move any more and I had to. I packed up and drove through the late, late evening back to Munich.

For the first time in years I was without my own server. That may sound funny and unimportant to many people. But I got accustomed to having my own server, a machine that on the one hand serves me (holds my mails, notes, writings, etc. so I can access them from wherever I am) and on the other hand gives something to every visitor who comes by to visit my online place. For the moment I adapted by forgetting about it all, pretending that nothing had happened and that the broken machine wasn't there at all.

Starting off to Switzerland

On Wednesday morning, still very early we went to give back the rental car. After that we went to the University, where Eleni had some meetings and courses. While she was busy I went to the Internet room and wrote some mails, informing the office about my successes and troubles. In a break we went to a student cafe/restaurant and had some breakfast. German cafes are famous (at least in my opinion) for serving fancy variations of breakfast, in student cities often long into the day. The cafe "Puck" in Munich has breakfast till 18:00, on the weekend till 20:00. Makes getting up late easier.

Chocolaterie in St.Gallen

After breakfast Eleni had another class, an advanced Greek course for translating texts. I was bored waiting, so we asked her teacher if I could crash the class. I received a stern talking to ("this is Germany, everything has to go with order, we can't allow non-students to class"), then I was allowed to sit in. I actually took part and helped out with my superb knowledge of Greek (which I have acquired in a motorcycle repair shop, not in a university). Never mind what the students say, university is fun.

behind the Drahtseilbahn in St.Gallen

Then our time came to pack up and go to the train station. We went by train to St.Gallen in Switzerland, to arrive there in early evening. It was stone cold when we came there. The thing is, I'm not used to cold any more, I have now lived for 2.5 years in Greece. We went straight to Ruth's (my father's partner) restaurant "Drahtseilbahn" - a bit unfortunate, as my father was just a few minutes late to pick us up at the train station. But in the end we were all united, to eat the famous "Chäschnöpfli" that are one speciality of her restaurant(Chnöpfli are something similar to Spätzle and in this case served with melted cheese). For the night we stayed at my fathers place.

Next morning we slept longer, then went to my fathers foto studio. I had some boxes with old things there that needed sorting out. We took our time to get there by train and bus, but this way Eleni got to see a bit more about the boring countryside in Switzerland. In the studio I was then busy digging through things and sorting things out in what could go, what would stay there and what I would take with me home to Greece. In the evening we went around St.Gallen, where we saw that funny street that is "carpeted" with some red material (at some point it looks like they put the "carpet" over a parked car), see pic.

Friday had us visiting the cathedral in St.Gallen, then take the train to Zurich. We went on to Oerlikon, the town and namesake of the famous weapons factory (the one that managed to sell antiaircraft guns to both sides in the second world war). Nowadays there is also SF, the swiss Senioren Fernsehen - national TV station. I had talked with Pat from the pimpsNhosis (ex-Start TV people network), he was working there. We met him for lunch and along was Jeanne, another friend from Start TV times.

Then we went to look at Zurich itself. This time I was doing the guide and Eleni was the tourist. We saw a lot of the Zurich tourist places, and walked a bit along the lake. We went to a supermarket and bought a lot of chocolate. Then we took the bus along the lake to visit Stefan, another friend from pimpsNhosis. He's working at a film production company and they probably have the most beautiful offices in the world. They are in an old factory office building (restored it to useful state themselves) directly overlooking the lake.

Back we took the train to St.Gallen, where we arrived in time for the "Nachrichten", my father's monthly stand up comedy program. He appears as a slightly slimy news speaker, who goes through the month's news with witty remarks and a good joke about everything serious. Chance had it that an uncle and aunt of mine were also in the audience. Saturday morning we met them again when we all had a big breakfast at my fathers and Ruth's place.

We went to shop for some more chocolate, first at a "chocolaterie" belonging to two local chocolate factories (pic), then (because there was one chocolate that Eleni had missed in previous shops) we went to a supermarket to buy some more. Over there they had a special cashier only for customers who buy chocolate (pic of the german sign). We said goodby and were escorted to the train that took us back to Munich. On the train we were a bit scared that the customs would search us, since 7 kilos of chocolate are most likely more than one can take with you without paying customs taxes.

Nymphenburg Palace and park

Nymphenburg Palace

Munich held some more relaxing time for me. On Sunday we went to visit the Nymphenburg Palace, with accompanying park. Especially the park is terrific. It's very big. It even has a small village in there. There is a very long channel (which makes for some great pictures, as it is aligned straight to the palace). Sadly Athens has nothing comparable. Over here when there is a bit of green larger than (say) 10 parking spaces, it gets labeled "park" right away, we'd probably make the park of Nymphenburg Palace into its own agricultural province (or build it over with apartment blocks).

Nymphenburg Palace and park

Monday morning I ran around town, trying to find a bag big enough to transport my longboard to Greece. It really took some persistence, in the end I got a 2nd hand army bag. That's what you get for buying a skateboard almost a meter long. With that thing I took the plane home where it was much warmer, but also a lot lonelier without Eleni.

Posted by betabug at 21:14 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (1)
03 January 2007

Shipping News... and Party in Patras

How I spent New Years Eve
Patras Harbour

We were in Patras to party into 2007 with my ex-flatmate Haralambos. He and his gang had rented a cafeteria and transfered it into a bar for the night. We danced and partied and got to sleep at about 7:30 in the morning. I seem to be at a party whenever I go to Patras. (Remember how we went there for the carnival?)

We went home by train, which was easy and relaxed. The train is a bit slower than the bus, but the bus terminal in Athens is a bit outside town, so we have to take another bus to get to Omonia square and from there the train/metro home. The train station in Athens is easier, with direct access to the metro system.

Still in Patras, while we waited for our train, we took a little stroll around the harbour area (which is right next to the train station). It seems that due to New Year, a lot of the big ferry boats weren't travelling, there was a meeting of the sleeping elephants. The view was phantastic in the evening light, so I snapped two panoramas, giving you here the bigger (and better) of them. As usual, click on the image for a bigger view. There were far more of the huge ferryboats, but they didn't fit all on one picture, even a panorama!

Posted by betabug at 12:57 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
06 January 2007

Blimp at Athens Airport

Pic taken from bus

While bringing Eleni to the airport I spotted this blimp next to the road on the fenced off airport area. According to the markings it belongs to "" "". It was tethered down, and I didn't see anyone near.

Makes me wonder if they fly it over the mediterranean to the arab emirates. Would be an impressive tripp.

Posted by betabug at 15:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
19 January 2007

Vroom, vroom!

Up north we go

We are on our way. The Graphics Garage team is on the road to northern Greece, where we will spend the weekend at Plastira lake.

I'm sitting in the backseat of a small Opel, meditating about german car makers and their inability to produce a backseat where one can sit on. In other annoyances the keyboard of my p910 is not lit and the ride is too jumpy for the 'toothpick and onscreen keyboard' routine.

But life is fun, as is travelling!

Posted by betabug at 18:50 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
20 January 2007

Waking Up To a Summerish Lake

Beauty and warmth

It's incredible that this is January. I woke up to strong sunshine on my bed.

It's warm outside, like spring. The climate change is upon us. Out of the house where I slept there is this view of the lake of Plastira.

Now I'm drinking mountain tea with everybody from the garage sitting around chatting. Next thing should be a fine walk somewhere in the forrest or to the lake.

Posted by betabug at 12:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)


Frische Luft und grün

Nach dem Frühstück gings los zum Spaziergang. Eine Gruppe ging zum See runter in Richtung Staudamm, während ich mit einer kleineren Gruppe nach oben Richtung Aussichtspunkt loszogen.

Der Aussichtspunkt wird im Sommer zur Feuerwacht benutzt. Wir bogen irgendwo falsch ab und weil nicht alle wandergewohnt waren schafften wir es nicht bis ganz oben.

Trotzdem hatten wir Aussicht bis zum Olymp und Pilion. Es war shön mit frischer Luft im Wald zu laufen. Ich war froh meine Wanderschuhe aus der Schweiz mitgebracht zu haben. Morgen hoffe ich, dass wir noch zum See runter gehen.

Posted by betabug at 16:35 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 January 2007

Lake Sunday

Evening games, another walk, coming home

I'm back home, a bit tired, but happy for a well spent weekend. Saturday evening we stayed at the hotel, occupied the restaurant and played silly games. This morning I wanted to go down to the lake, so after breakfast I asked around for people to join me. Everybody was tired or uninterested, but Debbie (who had gone up to the mountain group with me the day before). So the two of us went on, found the path to the lake and walked a good length on the shore line. If I hadn't gone down to see the lake I would have missed something. Lake pictures coming tomorrow.

We came back to everybody packing up and leaving. Most of us went for another long lunch, then we went on the road back to Athens. The ride was fast and uneventful, traffic not as thick as I had feared. Went home the last hop with the Metro, back in the thick crowds of the city.

Posted by betabug at 23:18 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
27 January 2007

Two Days in the Cold

What happened so far

Thursday morning my friend Panos had given me a lift to the airport, where I boarded the flight to Munich. With me I carried a big cardboard box (provided by my friend Thanassis), which sheltered my "new" PowerMac G4 server on the way to his new home. I expected lots of trouble with taking this on as luggage, but neither the Airport, nor Lufthansa had any problems. In Munich we transported the box through snow and ice to Eleni's place, where I had some time to relax, before we went on the next adventure: Getting the box to Ulm, and seeing if it would start up...

As a sidenote I should mention that in Germany winter has arrived (a bit late) with snow and cold. We had to carry the box through lots of snow and half-melted snow. When we went to the central train station we noticed with an uneasy feeling that almost all the trains were delayed (up to 50 minutes), some even cancelled. Our schedule was to go to Ulm, where we would have about 2 hours to get to the location of (the club who would house my machine for a small fee), install it, then get back to the train station. A 50 minute delay would have made that timeplane hard to impossilbe to keep.

In the end we were lucky that our train departed with only 5 minutes delay (and gathered a total of 15 minutes delay on the way). Took a taxi to avoid carrying the box for half an hour, and then we were at the place. The buildings entrance door was open, but then we got stuck. We couldn't find Herby, the clubs cashier who had told us he would be there. Turns out he had sent me a mail right before I left, stating that he would be rehearsing with his country band in the next room and we should bang on the window. I did not get that mail because at the time I had already packed up the server.

Right about when I was going into full panic mode, the group's practice room door opened and Herby emerged. Things started to turn around. It didn't take me long to get the machine set up and run the script that set up the network settings. In the club's social room I sat at a Linux box and did the further setup from a more comfortable position. I was feeling much more easy and we went back through the cold to return to Munich. It was about 3 in the morning when we got to sleep.

The next day (Friday) we slept late, no wonder. Somewhere about midday, I did some further setup on the server, amongst other things I reset the clock one hour back (from Athens time to Zurich time). That might have been the reason for the next adventure: We then went on for some shopping and eating out at a bavarian restaurant, and when we came back the server couldn't be reached any more. It had lost all connectivity. I checked various theories and came to the conclusion that only my machine had a problem. Lucky me Paul from happened to be in the club room and he rebooted the G4 (thanks!). After last November's trouble I had a little shock from that episode. But so far it seems things have worked out.

In the evening we met some friends of Eleni at a small greek restaurant. I'm not too much after greek food in Germany (most of those places are just terrible), but it was a nice evening, because some people where playing music. With a guitar, a bouzouki, and a baglama they were playing old rembetika songs. The place was small, seating maybe 25 people with no room to spare. The atmosphere was very familiale, and I enjoyed the evening. Again we came home late and I almost froze my butt off on the way home, but the music was worth it.

Posted by betabug at 16:18 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
29 January 2007

Back from Munich

A few pix

Now that I'm back from Munich, I got some pix from my phone cam for your pleasure, two of them show my server, while the third one show's Munich with the snow already melting...

Thanks to Thanasis the G4 was properly packaged and ruggedized in the original packaging. But even then it got heavy to carry between stops. It also took up a lot of space, for example here in the train from Munich to Ulm.

Here we see the server happily in his new home, next to all the boring PC hardware. I think it makes a good figure. I've marked it with a red arrow, in case some of my readers don't know the looks of a G4 :-)

This is a street scene from Munich (you can see the Olympia Tower in the background). As this was on Sunday, the snow that tormented me for those 4 days was already melting away. It had started to snow a few days before I arrived and started to melt away the day I left, so I have every right to take this personally!


Posted by betabug at 23:47 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
30 January 2007

Lake Plastira Pictures

A view on the water

Last weekend the Graphics Garage Team went on an excursion to Lake Plastira (Λίμνη Πλαστήρα) in northern Greece. I took some pictures (with my usual crappy phone camera) and made some of my (again usual) panorama pictures...

Saturday we went into the wood. It looks like we met some wood elves in the enchanted forrests around the lake.

A view on the lake from outside the bungalows of our Hotel "Ktima Alonaki". This was taken on Saturday (if I recall correctly) - it's hard to tell because the weather was great all the weekend. The lake is artifical, as can be seen from the dam in the picture below.

On Sunday I went with a walk down to the lake together with Debbie. There is a place like a beach where we rested and took some pictures.

Another montage shot taken from the same place, a bit closer to the waterline. The waterline is low this year, not much rain or snow. The weather wasn't like winter at all either, I had taken a warm jacket with me, and was still sweating while carrying it over my arm.

Towards the end of Sunday's excursion we had a good view of the dam. Later that day on the way home we drove over the dam.

We met some shepherds with goats and big barking dogs on the Sunday walk. The goats (and few sheep) roamed through the trees on the lake shore.


Posted by betabug at 12:23 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
03 February 2007

North Bound Again

...Larissa ...Thessaloniki

HelMUG weekend now. Saturday is a board meeting in Larissa, so I'm sitting in the car with fellow Mac people theogood, argp, and stefanos. It rained in Athens this morning, but we drove into the sun and blue sky.

Driving on the national road reminds me of childhood vacations, driving through a landscape flooded with light. Watching the olive trees by the side of the road, spotting a glimpse of the sea from time to time.

Posted by betabug at 12:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
05 February 2007

Wieder zuhause in Athen

Streik, Regen, ... alles da!

Heute morgen um 6:30 kam ich mit dem Schlafwagenzug aus Thessaloniki wieder hier in Athen an. Geschlafen habe ich zwar schon, aber als kleines Mitbringsel einen Krampf im Genick mitgebebracht, so eine Zugliege hat halt schon nicht den nötigen Bewegungsraum. Ansonsten funktioniert der Nachtzug wirklich gut, fährt pünklich ab, kommt pünktlich an, sauberes Bettzeug. Und mit Ohrenstöpseln kann ich dann auch halbwegs schlafen.

Am Bahnhof in Athen war grosser Markt der Taxifahrer. Ein Pulk von denen wartete wie die Geier auf die Zugspassagiere. Ich dachte "was soll denn das, jeder der sich halbwegs auskennt nimmt doch die Metro" und stiefelte mit einem übernächtigten Grinsen Richtung U-Bahn. Pustekuchen: Streik von 6 bis 9 Uhr, heute morgen keine U-Bahn. Also weiter zu Plan B, denn einen gierigen Taxifahrer der 3 oder 4 Fahrten in seine Taxe presst und dann auch noch ein "Extra-Trinkgeld" rauszuschinden versucht, das muss ich mir nicht freiwillig antun.

Zum Glück kenne ich mich aus, hab ja schliesslich mal ganz in der Nähe des Bahnhofs gewohnt. Abmarsch durch den Regen in Richtung Patision-Strasse. Nach 5 leicht feuchten Minuten bin ich an der grossen Strasse die sowohl am Politechnion als auch an der Athener Wirtschafts-Uni vorbeiführt und auf der die Linie eines (heute nicht streikenden) Busses verkehrt, der mich direkt nach Hause kutschiert. An solchen Kleinigkeiten merke ich dann schon, dass ich hier inzwischen zuhause bin. War auch mal wieder schön meine alte "Nachbarschaft" zu sehen. Jetzt bin ich - nach einer heissen Dusche und einer weiteren Busfahrt - wieder an der Arbeit.

Posted by betabug at 11:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
17 February 2007

Saturday Night Parade

Patras Carnival

It's time for the carnival! Here I am, dancing right through all the Saturday parade.

We're dressed as white and red clowns, very stylish complete with white gloves and umbrellas. (I balanced my umbrella whenever I needed a break from dancing).

Now we're out to party!

Posted by betabug at 18:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 February 2007

Send in the Clowns

Patras Carnival Day 2

We're getting ready for Sunday's parade. A few minutes and we will be dancing an even longer course than yesterday.

Party here we come!

Posted by betabug at 13:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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