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30 April 2006

A Short Work Week After Easter

Back to work after traveling
 

It's been a short work week since I came back from my trip to Limnos. I came home Tuesday morning around 7. After traveling over night on the ship and not sleeping well this time, I was too dizzy and tired to go to work as planned. So I took another day off and stayed in bed. Good decision, since when I came to work on Wednesday I was able to dig into the job again.

It seems it had done me good being away for a few days, exercising in the fresh air, seeing the sea, seeing my friends from the village. Also I wasn't so long away as to loose my general train of thought at work. Despite having something of a turmoil in my personal life, I managed to get forward in our project. We are getting real close to reach our next milestone and that feels good.

This weekend is a three day weekend too, since May 1st is a day off work. Would be nice to make a short excursion too, but the weather isn't like that at all. It's cloudy and at times rainy. So time to stay home, relax, write a bit of something and maybe read a good book.


Posted by betabug at 11:20 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 May 2006

Walking Home From Thission

First of May strike - no busses
 

Just walked home from Thission (in the center of Athens), because due to today being the first of May, busses and subways have had strikes for some hours. It's been quite a walk, almost an hour. Could have taken a taxi, but it was nice to walk.


Posted by betabug at 23:06 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
12 May 2006

Papakonstantinou und Mozart

Musik im Ohr
 

Heute morgen extra früh aufgestanden, um beim Steueramt vorbeizufahren. Mein Steueramt ist in einer komplett anderen Gegend als die, in der ich wohne. Die anderthalb Stunden Fahrt hätte ich mir aber auch sparen können, den das Formular hätte ich bei jedem Steueramt bekommen können. Nach dem Generve brauchte ich eine klassische Ersatzbefriedigung und so gings in einen Mega-CD-Laden. Dort fragte ich nach der CD mit dem Konzert von Βασίλης Παπακωνσταντίνου (Vasilis Papakonstantinou) im Ηρώδειο (Herodeion) 2005.


Die CD hab ich dann während der Arbeit rauf und runter gehört. ( Link auf Griechisch - englische "Übersetzung", vielleicht sind wenigstens die Songtitel dank lateinischer Schrift etwas zugänglicher.) Zu der Musik sage ich jetzt einfach mal gar nichts, da komme ich mit ein paar hingekritzelten Sätzen im Weblog nicht dran ran. Nötig hatte ichs aber, denn diese Woche war von der Arbeit her eine der schlimmsten, wenn nicht gar die schlimmste seit ich hier bin. Ich komme seit einer Woche nicht vom Fleck, muss einen Teil der Applikation umschreiben und habe dann heute festgestellt, dass der grösste Teil der Umschreiberei für die Katz war.

Von der Arbeit dann gleich ins Zentrum gefahren und mit Ελένη in ein Chorkonzert in der evangelischen, deutschen Kirche Athens. Mozart mit Papakonstantinou noch im Ohr. Habs doch noch gut geniessen können, vor allem nachdem ich die Gedanken abschalten konnte und einfach nur die Musik hab fliessen lassen.

Posted by betabug at 22:17 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 May 2006

pimps'N'hosis Besuch

Welcome Pat-Meister!
 

Gestern trudelte der Meister Pat von den international PimpsNHosis hier in Athen ein. Den ganzen Tag werkelte er für das Schweizer Senioren Fernsehen (SF) und den Concours de l'Eurovision am Schnittplatz. Das war natürlich nicht das gleiche als sein letzter Besuch, den er grösstenteils auf der hübschen Insel Hydra verbrachte. Hydra ist sicher mehr relaxend als Einspieler für den Song-Contest zu schnippseln.

Eigentlich wollte er an die Eurovisions-Party gehen, doch dank wildem Arbeitseinsatz in den letzten Wochen (gerüchteweise wird ihm demnächst der Titel "Held der Arbeit" verliehen), war er dann doch zu müde. Als Alternativ-Programm gingen wir zum Μπάρμα Γιάννη (Barba Gianni) nach Εξάρχεια (dem Stadtteil Exarchia). Dort gibt es gekochte Speisen und eine Atmospäre gemischt aus altmodisch und alternativ bis anarchisch. Der richtige Start in die nächsten zwei Wochen und die reichen ja dann auch noch für einen Inselbesuch.

Zeit für Klatsch und Tratsch war auch wieder mal. Leicht babylonisch mit einem Gemisch aus Schweizerdeutsch, Hochdeutsch (tjaja, Ελένη musste feststellen, dass Schweizerdeutsch gar nicht so einfach zu verstehen ist :-) und natürlich Griechisch. Kreuz und quer, am Ende rauchte mir der Kopf.


Posted by betabug at 11:21 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
04 June 2006

First Swim this Year

Splish, splash, I was taking a bath...
 

After the very interesting HelMUG meeting this morning, Panos "libero" (vice-president of HelMUG) invited me over to go for a swim on a beach near the place where he lives. We hopped into his car and drove to Porto Rafti on the other side of Attica, same place where I've been just a few days ago. This time we went right down to the beach. There were people there, but it wasn't too crowded. It's a family beach with shallow water. I went for my first swim this year - I'm late! - enjoyed it very much, even though the water was very cold. Usually it's warmer at that place, but occasionally the sea currents carry colder waters. A good sunbath afterwards was the proper remedy.


Posted by betabug at 21:37 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
07 June 2006

Scribbling and Handwriting at Work

Thinking Instruments
 
Paper notes and headphones on the betabug's desk

In Writing the old way Rodolfo writes about how good it feels to write on old fashioned paper. Which today reminded me to tell you about one of my work habits. My work as a programmer involves some thinking time. This may be in big chunks of time when I sit there and think about how to design a big piece of my work. Or I might be in the middle of coding and having to think a particular small problem through. Writing and scribbling on a piece of paper is one of my preferred tools at that point.

My notes might be complete writeups with diagrams, or they might be just some words and reminders. Sometimes I just knock some method names on the paper. But I never really throw those notes away.

You see, keeping it all is part of my strategy. Next to my desk I have two small piles of these note papers. They are vaguely in historic order. Normally I never look at them, but it happens that I have to think about an old idea and then you can find me leafing through those old notes, looking for that scribbled diagram I remember I once made.

Those piles aren't too big (I don't need so many notes). It all looks kind of neat, especially since my desk is almost empty - everything but those notes is inside the computer. Interesting enough I'm a "messy desk" person usually, dunno how I manage at work to have a clean desk.


Posted by betabug at 10:01 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
14 June 2006

Breaking Down of the Cell Walls

A window to the soul, even if you don't want to see
 

Everybody likes watching people in the bus. You came in a couple of stops after me, dressed up nice and decent, ready for the office. You sat down next to another girl, not far from me, with the telephone already on the ear.

Πως είσαι, μπαμπά;
...
Όχι καλά;
...
Τι εννοείς όχι καλά;


(How are you papa?
...
Not good?
...
What do you mean, not good?)


You listened for a long time. When you talked again, I made a conscious effort to not listen any more. I started to listen to the lady on my other side who talked with her husband about taxi drivers or shopping or something. When I looked in your direction again a while later, you had put the phone down. You were sitting there with a little line between your eyes, very upright and still you seemed to be hunched down. You looked out of the window, probably you were wondering what you could do now, here, sitting in the bus. No line of movement, nothing you can do now, even if there was something you could do. I felt so sorry, but there was no way I could have helped either. There are those moments when we are glued into it, caught in this life. Ισόβια (lifetime, I'd seen this word printed on a leaflet from the bank where I was this morning, they were referring to pension funds).

There are so many people in the tight space of this city, too close together. Everybody is developing a thick skin, many are getting aggressive once you get too close to them (and then many get very friendly once you get close to them). Sometimes there is something in the air that makes these borders between the minds easier to break down, at least for a short see-through. Yesterday evening I had the feeling that one of those short windows was coming.

Looks like a geek to me

This morning on the way to the bus, I passed by a little street with a very narrow sidewalk. There was a painter, putting white paint all over a freshly renovated shop. I left the sidewalk, walked around the parked cars and continued on the street to avoid getting paint on me. When I was passing on the height of the shop, the painter called out to me, can I ask you a question? I sometimes get asked for the road (strange enough), so I stopped and went closer. He showed me his mobile phone and said: "There was this strange message about the SIM card on the phone, and now look what it does." He gave me the phone, it read "Please insert SIM card." I couldn't really help him, but it struck me as funny that he spotted me as a geek from 10 meters far. (This part is what I was planning to post till I came into the bus. See, the tissue between the entities living in this city sometimes breaks down in multiple ways. It was in the air this morning I would say.)

Posted by betabug at 09:41 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
19 June 2006

Schweizer Zaubertrank

Rivella in der griechischen Hitze

Als kleine Überraschung hat Ελένη aus Deutschland[1] zwei Flaschen Rivella mitgebracht. Das Zeug wird scheints gerade in Deutschland eingeführt und da ich mal davon erzählt hatte, wollte sie es probieren. Für mich ist Rivella eine Kindheitserinnerung, nicht unbedingt was, was ich jeden Tag trinken würde. Das dann hier in Athen in der momentanen Hitze zu trinken war schon etwas seltsam.

Ach ja, und bevor mir alle Nordlichter erzählen, wie heiss es bei Euch ist, hier ist es wirklich heiss. Die Temperatur fällt auch Nachts nicht weit unter 30 Grad, und tagsüber wird man in der Sonne schlicht und einfach gebraten. Bei meinen Mitbewohnerinnen ist der Schweizer Zaubertrank denn vielleicht auch dank Hitze gut angekommen. Nächster Exportmarkt Griechenland?

1: Sie war an der Fussballweltmeisterschaft. Als freiwillige Helferin, ups, "Volunteer" heisst das ja jetzt. Sozusagen das Ein-Frau-Expeditionscorps von Zografou. Ist jetzt wieder hier, weil der Griechisch Intensiv-Sommerkurs wieder losgeht. Ich halte den Ausflug ja für Blödsinn, auch wenn sie es geschafft hat, beim Eröffnungsspiel im Stadium zu sein. Bah, Fussball.


Posted by betabug at 21:47 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 June 2006

Άκουα φόρτε στην παραλία

Βραδινή βόλτα στο Φάληρο
Chessplayers in a pavillion on the Palaio Faliron Sewalk

Σάββατο βράδυ, ζεστούλα, γιαυτό βόλτα κοντά στην θάλασσα. Το λεωφορείο που πάει στο Φάληρο μας βολεύει, και ο περίπατος διπλά στην θάλασσα είναι πολύ ωραίος εκεί. Σε μία φάση περνάμε από ένα παβιλιόν με σκακιστές. Πολλοί θεατές παρακολουθούν την παρτίδα στην πρώτη σκακιέρα, την "μεγάλη σκηνή". Ανάμεσα στους θεατές και ένας σκύλος, που φαίνεται είχε τις δικές του ιδέες τι έπρεπε να γίνει με τις ξύλινες φιγούρες. Σε κάτι τραπέζια δίπλα άλλες παρτίδες, πάνω σε σκακιέρες με πιο νορμάλ μέγεθος.

Λίγο ποιο πέρα περνάμε από έναν μπάρμπα πωλητή που πουλάει καπέλα, μπλούζες, πετσέτες, βερμούδες κτλ. καλοκαιρινά. Ο τύπος τά'λεγε με κάτι άλλους γέρους που καθότανε σε ένα παγκάκι. (Καλή φάση και αυτή, να κάθεσαι σε ένα παγκάκι το βράδυ δίπλα από την θάλασσα.) Ακούω πως λέει κάτι για ούζο και σταματάω για να μην χάσω ένα μάθημα. Λέει:

"Καλά, άμα πίνεις ούζο "12", ... [εδώ σταματάει λίγο να βρει την σωστή έκφραση] ...καλύτερα να πίνεις ένα μπουκάλι άκουα φόρτε!"
Όπως καταλαβαίνουμε χάθηκε ένας καθηγητής στο πανεπιστήμιο τον οινοπνευματωδών. Ο μπάρμπας ξέρει το ούζο του (και ποιο δεν είναι το ούζο του) και εγώ συμφωνώ απολύτως.


Posted by betabug at 10:18 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 June 2006

World Refugee Day

Being down and out
 

Yesterday was World Refugee Day, of which I learned through DeviousDiva. I missed writing about it on time, but better late than never. Myself I'm living in a "foreign" country - which is, in a country whose passport I don't have and where I wasn't born or have a direct cultural background in. But I'm not here as a refugee (no, running away from the shitty weather in northern Europe doesn't count). I have papers (lots of them), an official job, a work permit for the next five years, I pay taxes. It's quite a difference and still it fuels my thoughts...


I see other foreigners here, whose status I sometimes doubt (at least the ones hanging outside the office for asylum seekers are pretty obvious). Frankly I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. Neither when they arrived here, nor back in the situations they had to go away from, nor on the road they had to take.

Leaving your surroundings (a familiar country, friends, family) is hard enough sometimes, even if it is due to your own wish. If ever you are forced to, it sure must be a mean experience. Most people I know don't like calling complete strangers on the phone, asking for something as simple as some information or to order something. Now imagine being thrown out and having to rely on strangers for your every step. (I'm leaving out the stuff about plain threats for your life here for brevity.) Being down and out isn't fun.

In our city's streets, looking at people who do shitty jobs on lowest pay to get by, who sell trinkets while watching out for the cops, because they don't really have papers... sometimes I meditate about what would happen to us well off "westerners" thrown into such a situation. We definitely are not used to that lifestyle. We are used to having lots of things we can rely on, services we take for granted. There are examples of "westerners" who by accident ended up in situations like these (hippies stranded in India, people who've lost their papers in a big city while on vacation). Some cope very well, but most of them are all too happy to get a ticket back to their normal life.

Looking a bit further back in time, just two generations ago, it was quite common for western europeans to be refugees. We've had our share of displacement and political refugees, of pain and suffering. Even if we did well since the second world war, we shouldn't forget that we too could be on the wrong side of the office where one has to prove identity and reason. A little awareness (as the World Refugee Day asks from us) goes a long way then.

Posted by betabug at 23:56 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 June 2006

Ablenkungen, Pläne und das Leben

Was mach ich denn mal als nächstes?
 

Vor etwas mehr als einer Woche habe ich mich mal hingesetzt und aufgeschrieben, was mir so an Projekten einfällt, die ich für mich gerne machen würde. Schön und gut, jetzt habe ich also so eine Liste in meinem Notizbuch. Da sind Sachen dabei, dich ich schon länger als wichtig einstufe und anderes, das mir in letzter Zeit so eingefallen ist. Die Idee dahinter wäre ja, jetzt zu sehen, welches von diesen Projekten mich wirklich genug interessieren, dass ich meine freie Zeit darauf konzentriere. Oder so...


Denn was habe ich daraus gelernt? Tatsächlich habe ich mich seither vor allem mit den Projekten beschäftigt, die mir im Moment gerade als interessant erschienen und bei denen ich vor allem in halbwegs brauchbarer Zeit ein Resultat erwarten könnte. Sich zum Beispiel vorzunehmen, mal ein richtig gutes Tutorial (z.B. für etwas mit Zope) zu schreiben, das ist ja gut und schön. Aber wenn ich sonst schon müde bin von der Arbeit (und die Hitze hier macht das nicht einfacher), dann lockt es eben nicht so, etwas anzufangen, was dann noch über einige Tage oder Wochen meine freien Stunden frisst. Lieber eine schnelle Bestätigung bekommen, auch wenn die Befriedigung dabei am Ende doch nicht so gross ist.

Schlussfolgerung für mich: Erholung muss sein. Erst mal gar nichts neues Anfangen, ausspannen und es locker nehmen. Keine Schnellschüsse, einfach weil ich eine Abwechslung suche. Und dann gaaaanz langsam mal rantasten, welche von den Projekten sich lohnen und mir wirklich wichtig sind.

Posted by betabug at 21:41 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
02 July 2006

Why Crappy Music is on the Radio

...and confidential emails on line
 

I'm reading some of these emails with the nice disclaimer like "the information in this transmission may contain privileged and confidential information. It is intended only for the person(s) named above..." - The messages have not been mailed to me, but it's perfectly legal for me to read them. They are also interesting to read, though I get a bit stirred up by them. How comes? They are published as part of a court decision, where Sony was ordered to pay ten million dollars (pocket money to them). Sony got caught bribing radio stations to play "their" artists, to get those records into the mainstream feeding frenzy. Some thoughts come up with this...


First of all, like this post titled Sony Busted In Payola Scandal points out,

"Is it any wonder why that fantastic fantastic fantastic band you love that is on a small indie label doesn't get airplay on the radio? How can it compete when big labels are bribing with computers, flights to concerts, digital cameras, and let's not forget CASH."
To me there is another spin to that. There is some music on the radio that is so bad, so sugary cheap, one wonders how it ever came to peoples attention. The answer is in quotes like these:
"...it cost us over 4000.0 to get Franz on WKSE..."
"You have room for a money record this week?"
"In return for this promotion Donnie Michaels will put Kelly's "Stole" into a subpower rotation 5-6 spins a day..."
(Oh and in case you wondered, that reference to "Franz" means "Franz Ferdinand", one of the bands that are in the hype right now. So how did they get into the hype? Just by making good music...? Or do 4000$ to a single radio station make any difference?)

Next thought: Dear company people, if you pull off stuff like that which you *know* is illegal[1] and or against any decent sense of moral[2], why don't you at least *try* and show some sense? At least make a bit of an effort to encrypt at least the company internal mails. I don't think it would have gotten very far, since those mails probably would have been subpoenaed at some point (or leaked out unencrypted through stupidity etc.), but when you marketroids look at your sloppy orthography and grammar exposed in a publicly hosted pdf file, it should give you some thoughts. Hey, lots of companies use S/MIME nowadays, it fits in with the corporate thought-police. Who could resist a phrase like "centrally controlled certification authority"?

Another afterthought: Some of the mails come from a blackberry account. Maybe just maybe this isn't such a good thing for doing unlawful things, as it stores your mails on a server which you and your corporate lawyers don't have direct control over. Try GMail next for extra laughs.

The link to the PDF file in that post is wrong, the proper address is: http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2005/jul/payola2.pdf

[1]: It's not the first time a record company has been busted for stuff like that.
[2]: I know, I know, at this point (after stuff like the root kit), nobody expects to find any morals in relation to Sony.

Posted by betabug at 11:39 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
05 July 2006

This Months Meaty Calendar Sheet

Another month, another souvlaki!
The famous souvlaki calendar - July

At the end of last year (right on time) here at the office we got sent a special calendar for the new year 2006. It came from one of the many Souvlaki shops of the area and it depicts for each month one of their foods. No, I don't know if there is any person who hangs a picture of meat and chips on their wall and flips it over every month.

But in order to share this beauty with you, I scanned in the sheet for July and posted it here. Yeah, I know, the scanner cut off some of the borders, but that can be considered part of the act of creating true art.

You can click on the image to view a bigger image... and even spot the phone number so you could order if this beauty triggers your appetite!


18 July 2006

Juli-Stimmung in Athen

Endspurt
 

Jetzt im Juli ist in Athen eine besondere Stimmung. Es ist natürlich so heiss, dass jede Abkühlung gesucht wird. Wer die Möglichkeit hat verzieht sich aus der Stadt, zum Beispiel Schüler und Studenten die nach Hause "aufs Dorf" fahren können. Wer arbeiten muss zählt die wenigen Wochen, bis der Jahresurlaub losgeht. Die grosse Jahresermüdung setzt bis dahin schon mal ein. Im Arbeitsleben gibt es dafür den grossen Endspurt, was gemacht werden muss, muss noch vor dem August gemacht werden, denn im August läuft sowieso nichts mehr.


Posted by betabug at 11:37 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 July 2006

Outdoor Party for Eleni's Greek Classes

Dancing in the night
The big view of the party

Went to a big student party, the last evening of Elenis Greek summer course (THYESPA). Students of Greek from all over the world. Had lots of fun, was even dancing and took some pix. Of course I'm shot today, and the file server failing this morning didn't help. Click on the montage pic for a bigger view and look inside for two more pictures...


Dancers

People had a fun time dancing. The music was very diverse, but not really ecclectic. Sometimes the DJ made a big break in the music styles. Occasionally it threw people off. From light techno, passing R&B, Pop, slightly Rock, to Tsiftetelia, Syrtaki, ...

Before we went dancing ourselves we had some food and drink. Then we sat some more and chatted and had a view on the dancing scene taking off. Before the dance music started for real, there were some people singing.

More of the dancers

Posted by betabug at 17:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
22 July 2006

Sunset and Concert at Faliron

Simple pleasures
 



We're at the coast in Faliron [1], watching the last bit of the sunset. The sea is reflecting the dark blue sky.

Next to the beach where we sit, is a concert. Right now we hear the first notes of Alkisti Protopsalti singing.

We'll sit on the beach a bit more where we can hear. Later we will walk up a bit to catch a view of the stage. The sound of the surf mixes with the music.

[1] a coastal quarter of greater Athens


Posted by betabug at 21:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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