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20 July 2007

NZZ Online: Kommentare und PR

Wer traut sich was?

Vor kurzem hat sich NZZ Online eine neue Version der Website online geschaltet. Die gute alte "Züri-Tante" im neuen Gewand. Interessant dabei ist, dass man die einzelnen Artikel auch kommentieren kann. Mehr Blog als Leserbrief, denn die Kommentare erscheinen direkt unter den Artikeln, man muss sie nur ausklappen. Ein mutiger Schritt auf Seiten der NZZ. Wie mutig wirklich, damit durfte ich dann auch schon meine Erfahrung machen...

Natürlich werden die Kommentare moderiert. Ich habs gleich mal probiert auf einem Artikel mit Titel Eine Art Acrobat für Programmcodes. Schöner Kommentar, oder? Was denn, kein Kommentar zu sehen? Mit einem Mail wurde ich informiert dass "Beiträge mit ehrverletzenden oder rassistischen Äusserungen [...] nicht publiziert werden." Allzu kritische wohl auch nicht... hier ist mein zugehöriger Kommentar, der die Moderation nicht überstanden hat:

Die Adobe PR-Abteilung dankt

Gutes Rezept: Man nehme einen normalen PR-Waschzettel, fülle ihn mit einem Haufen "buzzwords" (technische Modebegriffe) wie "AJAX" und sende das ganze an die NZZ, die das ganze wohl unbesehen veröffentlicht.

Der eigentliche Inhalt des Artikels lässt sich mit einem Satz zusammenfassen: "Adobe hat Macromedia gekauft und hat deshalb jetzt auch Flash im Angebot." Das ist noch nicht mal eine Neuigkeit.

War das jetzt "ehrverletzend" oder "rassistisch"? Oder hat sich der Redakteur ob der Kritik halt einfach auf den Schwanz getreten in seiner Ehre verletzt gefühlt? Wir werden es wohl nie erfahren, denn wie auch in meinem Notification-Mail stand: "Der Korrespondenzweg ist ausgeschlossen." Gewinner werden per Post benachrichtigt, gell Adobe?

Posted by betabug at 12:58 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 August 2007

Kαθρέφτης της πόλης το Διαδίκτυο - e-tipos

We're in Eleftheros Tipos today

Όπως αναφέρει σε σχόλιο η Kat, σήμερα "εμείς" (οι ξένοι μπλόγκερς στην Αθήνα, καλά μερικοί τουλάχιστον) είμαστε στον Ελεύθερο Τύπο σε ένα κείμενο στην κατηγορία "ψυχαγωγία". Για μένα αναφέρει ένα κείμενο που είχα γράψει τον Σεπτέμβριο του 2005 Big City Syndrome in Athens? οπού γράφω για την ατμόσφαιρα στο μετρό και γενικά την συμπεριφορά τον ανθρώπων στην πόλη μας. Μου φαίνεται όμως ότι ο Μάριος Ροζάκος μπέρδεψε την Μαδρίτη με το Παρίσι στο κείμενο. Never mind :-), αυτό που λέει το κείμενο εκφράζει κάτι καλό.

Η επιλογή τον blogs που αναφέρει μου έδειξε κάποια καινούρια στην μικρή γωνία της μπλογογειτονιάς μας. Στα τέσσερα blogs το δικό μου είναι ο "παππούς", οι άλλοι είναι στο παιχνίδι λίγες μήνες (ενώ με πολύ πνεύμα, όπως η Kat που γράφει πια σε σχεδόν καθημερινό ρυθμό, και με πολύ περιεχόμενο). Θέλω βεβαίως να αναφέρω και αυτούς που είναι στην λίστα τον "Other Weblogs" μου (δεξιά κάτω στην σελίδα) και στο Expat Blogs directory για την Ελλάδα. Τι λένε οι Mikro; ...δεν κοιμότανε ποτέ αυτή η πόλη!

Posted by betabug at 10:20 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
29 August 2007

Green Ribbon for the Greek Forest

Show your support
Show your support for the Greek forest

Show your support for the Greek forest, for the people and animals that suffered and died, for nature in this beautiful country. Higher resolution PNG here. Original comes from wikipedia, Greek flag generously added by Stratos from Graphics Garage. (Please don't "hotlink", copy the image to your site!)

And no mistakes this has nothing to do with any political colors in Greece!

Posted by betabug at 11:31 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 August 2007

Greece on Fire... what happened so far

My personal account

For those tuning in late or having only heard some information on international news media, I'd like to give a little bit of overview and background information about the fires in Greece in the summer of 2007. As far as we got right now, because some of the fires are still burning. Let's start in chronological order. I'm following my own experience here, if you want dates and exact places, have a look at 2007_Greek_forest_fires on wikipedia. If you want to read how I (and the people here around me) experienced things here in Athens, read on...

First big fire in Parnitha, first series of fires

One evening at the end of June I came home to see a large cloud towering in the clear blue sky. It looked a bit like the cumulus clouds before large thunderstorms, but it was alone and it was somehow "laying on its side". I couldn't place it. In the evening my flatmate was sitting outside on the balcony, studying and being showered in tiny flakes: Ashes were coming down. Remarkably it took me a while to find out what was happening: The forest of Parnitha was on fire, the largest forest area on the Attika peninsula, the lungs of Athens. In fact the fire was reported for days, not being taken serious by the fire brigade, and of course not extinguished while it still was small. Instead it turned into a firestorm that ate through almost all of that huge forest area. Even when the size of the catastrophe underway was clear, fire brigade forces were diverted to the casino/hotel in the area, instead of being deployed to work on saving as much forest as possible.

Athenians were shocked. But we were shocked and couldn't believe it. We were aware that we had lost so much, but couldn't really place that information. The fire had burned *what*?

The first demonstration

Some people started to understand what was going on. A handful of Greek bloggers called out and called everybody to protest on the main square of Athens (Syntagma square), outside the parliament. This was not going to be something organized by political parties, this was the people going to show their concern. The "invitation" travelled by mobile phone text message, e-mail, and on blogs. An estimated 2500 people assembled outside the parliament and cursed the politicians for their negligence, for their uselessness, and the damage they had done. Most TV stations and major newspapers ignored the protests. They didn't fit in with the usual party politics.

I called some friends and found out they were going too. We arrived by Metro and noticed others arriving. All age groups were there, including families with small children. We went right up to the memorial for the unknown soldier, where tourists usually take pictures of the traditional "Evzones" guards. The guards weren't very confortable, they were surrounded by demonstrators who were shouting at the parliament. Each of them was protected by four army officers, since they had to stand still themselves.

About a week later hand copied posters showed up in my neighborhood: "Now we have to watch over Ymittos!" Ymittos are the forested hills on our side of Athens, just a short hike from where I live, up the slopes that go almost all around Athens. But it didn't take long for the fires to start again.

When Ymittos was set on fire (reports by nearby residents point to arsonists), the police was ordered to facilitate the approach of the firetrucks. The result was a traffic chaos that even our already traffic plagued metropolis hasn't seen very often. Firetrucks arrived often an hour after they woud normally have been expected. It took a while and more than necessary burned down, but the fire was in check after some time. Thiswasn't the only fire though: In more than a few places all over Greece fires had started up. They seemed large at the time, some of them causing adjacent national roads to be temporarily blocked.

Second fires, planes over the roof

That series of fires came to an end and it seemed that this was the usual summer fire spectacle, a bit larger than usual, but still well in the normal range. Things quieted down. My vacations started and since my girlfriend had to leave for a few days on family business for Germany, I visited a friend near Patras. I came by some of the burned forests there. Quiet days followed, We travelled some more, visited a few Greek islands that were under alert for fires, but so far have been spared.

We came home at the end of last week (on August 23rd), relaxing in Athens, buying some furniture for my room. On Saturday we were having our typical Greek siesta, when we heard planes overhead. Those weren't jet planes, and they were flying low. We went up to the roof of our building to have a look. A couple of Canadair fire fighting planes and a russian Beriev (in the same role) were repeatedly flying over to a patch of dark smoke coming from Ymittos forest at the outskirts of the city. So Ymittos was buring again, and this time the fire fighting planes were droning directly over our house. I took a picture. It took them three hours to control that fire.

Fire near Athens, fires on Peloponnese, Evia, other places

What we also saw on the roof was another source of smoke, coming from a more northern direction, and not with a so readily identifiable source. Where was it coming from? We didn't know, but it was a huge brownish, blackish cloud. It almost blotted out the sun, leaving it shine yellow and faint, painting the like as if it was sundown. There are spectacular pictures of this out there, for example at thrilOS website.

We went down to check the news. All hell was coming down. Greece was burning in Evia, on Peloponnese, in some other areas. News reported rumours about fires in Athens parks. A mess was going on. Soon the reports of the first deaths arrived. From this moment on, all of Greece has either been glued to their TV sets for news... unless they were defending their fields and villages with whatever means they had. We followed the news like people follow the news of a war.

The air started to become thick. It got hard to breathe. It wasn't only that there was "stuff" in the air, ashes, particles. It was also that there was oxygen missing. I felt short-breathed. I didn't feel like I had the power to do much, even if I wasn't being told to stay inside and close all windows by the news. It was hot (I don't have air condition at home), but we closed all windows. Ashes started to come down like snow. The ashes got everywhere, even days later we found ashes in unexpected places like closed wardrobes. And the smell: It smelled like burned wood, constantly. The thick air and the burned wood small plagued us for all of Sunday and were noticeable even on Monday. It helped to remind us on the catastrophe, in our wall of civilization and concrete.

Days and days

The following days were an avalanche of bad news raining down on us. Fires seemed to be everywhere. The pictures of flames and scorched earth were indeed everywhere. Most tv channels did not have anything but endless news reports. Again we were reminded of a war, with different fronts where we tried to follow on the progress of the good (the firemen, the villagers fighting for their homes) and the bad (the flames, the new fire herds coming up).

The really bad news started to come in too. People who had died. People who had to evacuate their villages. The ever growing destruction. The wall of fire that did not seem to be stoppable. The wind, always working for the fire, always re-igniting what seemed already to have been saved. It also often hindered the fire planes from doing their work, along with the night. I remember the first nights of that period, when I would lie awake at night, thinking about all the destruction, all the struggle.

How did these fires start?

Another thing started to be discussed very much in these days: How did the fires start? With the first fires and especially with the fires close to Athens, arson was invariably the primary suspicion. And rightly so, since unscrupulous people have been burning down woods to get their greedy hands on land to build on and sell. The police, the courts, and the politicians don't seem to care about this. Recent studies showed that convicted arsonists received very little punishment. The profiting from burned forests was tolerated almost publicly.

In the past these people were considered (by everybody but environmentalists) like minor criminals who destroyed public property for their personal advantage. Now they should be considered manslaughers: The firefighting planes that took three hours to make noise over my home and control the fire near Athens would have been desperately needed in the Peleponnese, where people were dying in the flames.

But arson isn't responsible for all of these fires. Negligence is another big factor. People are not acting responsible. In two weeks of my vacation time I've seen twice people burn dry leaves in their garden, something that should not be done at all in the fire season. Do these people believe it can't happen to them? Do they think they are in any way different from the construction workers who ignited one of the deadly fires by grinding ironworks or the old woman who didn't think of the sparks coming out of her wood oven? Those were just two cases where we read about people being arrested by the police.

What made the fires so big?

There are a couple of intertwined reasons for the fires getting out of hand. The start can be searched after the last elections (but of course the roots go even farther back). With the change of the ruling party, parlamentarians from the "new" party in government started to push people from their voters and supporters into key roles in the fire department. Older and more experienced fire brigade officers had to leave to make room for "party line" people. Victims of some of the first fires reported that the fire brigade people ran up and down, with no idea what to do. The fire brigade was neglected on a longer scale already though: I've read reports of their manuals being from the 1970's, and other reports of volunteers not even being given gloves (not talking about the farmers and townspeople who try to fight the flames with whatever they have, even with branches). Fire protection of the forests is in the dead center of control of four government agencies, where one agency makes the emergency plans and another agency is in charge of bringing them into action (often without knowing the plans at all).

There are other, more natural reasons though. I already mentioned the wind, and the night. We also had a very dry winter, and a very hot spring and summer. The underbrush is dried out. A fire that sprang up near a village on Peloponnese was reported to have reached a width of 1km within one hour (still it was reported to have been checked very fast, likely because it was spotted early enough).

A lot of fires were rekindled, because the weight of the fire brigade operations were put on the planes. Once the planes had managed to check a big fire, attention of the fire fighters moved on. Instead it would have been important to go by foot through the destroyed forest and extinguish all the smoking, lingering flames.

Who is to blame? What should have been done?

The politicians, the leadership of the country carries a very, very heavy part of the responsibility for the catastrophe. Their ongoing sabotage of the fire brigade service, something as vital and necessary for the country, can not be excused.

The politicians have become weary of the fires. The fires have lessened, but they are still raging, with this evening four more villages having to be evacuated. The media and the politicians have enough of this though. The government is running forward with giving money to the victims of the fires. Or rather to everybody who comes along: The 3000 Euro emergency funds for fire victims are given to everybody who shows up at a bank and fills out a form, signing it and showing an ID card. The politicians are fighting on a different front from the rest of the country: In a couple of weeks we have elections. They want to be remembered for having given money, not for having f* up when they should have helped their people.

The silver bullet and the terrorism scare

One of the first actions of the prime minister was to get more fire fighting airplanes into the country. This has been considered as a good move, but it is only partially so. Other important steps (like rounding up support from forest workers and the armed forces) have been neglected. The politicians are looking for the silver bullet: "Where can we spend some money, show off and solve it all at once?" But fires don't get put out only with airplanes, see above.

Next line of defense of the politicians were a conspiracy theory hunt of terrorists and foreign agents responsible for the fires. Nobody has ever seen any trace of foreign agents and no terrorists have come forward. In the same line goes the expression of "asymetric warfare" that is toted around by the government. There is no such thing happening. In fact the term was laid into the mouth of the minister of public safetey by the suggestive question of a journalist. Minister Polidoras, way beyond his mental capacity and with the back to the wall, grabbed the phrase as if someone had handed him a gun in a swordfight and he is shooting around with it ever since.

The demonstration in black

Last Monday, in the midst of the news storm, a mail reached me from a co-worker. A flyer for another demonstration, quite similar to the first one I had described. This one was going to be a demonstration in silence, dressed in black. We were going to express our sadness, our grief, our shame, and silently our anger. Again we would assemble on Syntagma square in front of the parliament, but this time we would not shout out our anger, we would rather shut up and let the silence speak.

The demonstration was scheduled for Wednesday evening. I arrived that morning at work, already dressed in black. I noticed several of my co-workers wearing black too. After work we left for the city center. In the Metro, more people dressed in black. On the way up it started to get thicker. The place was already swarming with the "blacks", but people were late in arriving. But they came and came. Even an hour after the "official" start of the demonstration, the exit stairs from the Metro were choked full. There were much more people than in the last demonstration (which was back then estimated at 2500 people). The square was overflowing into the side streets. Again, word of mouth, sms, emails, blogs had alerted the people.

The police was more prepared this time. A line of riot police with shields and batons was "protecting" the grave of the unknown soldier and the "Evzone" guards this time. Maybe they were expecting the little children in the demonstration to do some damage? We stood there in the crowd, adding our silent voices to the silent choir. Again people of all age groups were there. 70 to 80% of all attendants were wearing black.

I've read reports about the end of the demonstration not having been as friendly as it should. Apparently at some point the police started to shoot lightning grenades into the people, wounding some people.

What will happen to the people who lost their homes?

People who are victims of the fire receive an emergency amount of 3000Euro right now. People who have lost their home can get 10000Euro. The politicians are fast in showering out some money - it's not their money and if they get reelected, then they consider it well spent - if they don't get reelected, then they don't get to pay the bill as the next party will have its turn. Help is also coming in from private and public companies and persons and from donors from all around the world. This help is very important and the people are very thankful for it.

There isn't only the question of money. A lot of the people who have been uprooted were living for generations on their land. Their olive trees were often 400 to 600 years old. Their land, their animals, their houses... that was their life. They will survive, but their heart is broken. Some of the people who died were those who denied being evacuated from their soil, because they said they would be nothing with their world destroyed.

How will Greece recover?

Yes, Greece will live through this (remember, at the time of writing the fires are still raging, and the summer is not over yet). Greece will be around afterwards too. There may be negligence leading to such a tragedy here, there may be irresponsible and corrupt politicians. But there are also very human and strong people here. These people have survived occupation by foreign powers for centuries. They may be currently confused by the clash of their traditional ways with modern life, but in the end they will come back up.

The forests will come back, even if it takes, long, even if it takes a hundred years as some experts claim. A lot of Greece is still there, the fires destroyed much, but still a large part of the country remains intact. The wounds will heal.

Should you still travel to Greece?

Yes, certainly. I am a foreigner here, I came here because I like it here. I intend to stay here, and in my free time from work I intend to continue travelling through this country. If you planned to come to Greece, my message to you is to still come here, now even more than ever! Tourists failing to come and visit the beautiful and still intact parts of the country would be another economic blow to the people. The hospitality of Greece did not falter, you are still very much welcome here.

Posted by betabug at 00:49 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Betabug on TV

A few words about the fires

Yesterday I was contacted for an interview by AmberMac, a journalist working for the Toronto / Canadian CityNews TV station. In the evening (Athens time, noon Toronto time) she interviewed me via Skype video call. It took some patience, as the connection frequently dropped and even more often I had to ask her to repeat questions. They selected about three quotes from me, mixed in some footage and you can see the result online at the site (flash required).

There isn't much to say about the content, a few seconds of news coverage does not leave much room. I think they chose adequately relevant pieces from what I'd said. It's a pity that I'm talking about Canadair fire fighting planes and the pictures show helicopters though :-).

Posted by betabug at 10:28 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
03 September 2007

Quoted in the EC's "Open Source News"

Talk the talk

Going through my referer logs, I found an article from the European Commission's very own "Open Source News" (no I've never heard of that thing either) quoting an older post of mine (Greece Moves Forward To the Past in Informatics). The article is here under GR: 'Piracy and lack of developers Open Source's biggest obstacles'. I'm in the good company of a few fellow Greek bloggers. Followed the links and discovered more interesting reading (already had "Past Midnight" in my reading list, but Thanasis' lixtetrax blog is new) and the other two having discovered the quote already too.

On a sidenote, it seems they made a bit of a mess with the date of the article: On the top it says "28 August 2008" (more likely 2007). But below it says "European Communities 2006". I guess it's August 2007, freshly arrived.

Posted by betabug at 09:37 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
04 November 2007

Greek what?

What are these people searching for?

Could anybody explain to me what "Greek Moves" are? There seem to a good number of people searching Google for this term and finding the Greece Moves Forward To the Past in Informatics post - which is a nice and important enough post in itself, but I guess has nothing whatever to do with that term. Looking at this term in my logs for some months now, it spiked my curiosity. What do they mean?

Of course now this post will pop right to the top of the results for that Google term. Maybe I should have obfuscated the term in question to avoid Google picking it up. Or if you came here searching for that term, could you post a comment and explain what it is you're looking for?

Posted by betabug at 10:01 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
03 December 2007

Nach gerichtet

Hubertus Huber, alias Urs Welter

Schon wieder habe ich letzten Freitag die Nachrichten verpasst. Ich entschuldige mich mit der geographischen Distanz, das Drahtseilbähnli ist halt nicht grad hier um die Ecke. Glücklicherweise ist Hubertus Huber (alias Urs Welter) aber internet-versiert und so konnte ich heute den Text nachlesen, siehe Nach gerichtet im Restaurant Drahtseilbahn.

Die Pointen sind diesen Monat wieder mal bissig. Ich kann mir gut vorstellen, wie das Publikum zwischen Unglauben und Gelächter geschwankt hat bei Schlagzeilen wie diesen:

In Bezug auf den Vorwurf, bezahlte Sterbehilfe sei fragwürdig, meinte Dignitas Chef Minelli, wenn man im Voraus abrechne, gebe es im Nachhinein keine Reklamationen.

Einige der Nachrichten brauchen etwas Schweizerisches Hintergrundwissen, aber davon sollte man sich nicht abhalten lassen, den grössten Teil kapiert man auch so. Das Archiv der Texte aus diesem Jahr ist übrigens ebenfalls online, ansonsten empfehle ich die Life-Version ((Fast) jeden letzten Freitag im Monat, Termine siehe schöne Aussichten).

Posted by betabug at 12:44 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
01 January 2008

Happy New Year with Three Years of ch-athens

Happy New Year! Guet's Neus! Καλή χρονιά!
Bang! The Fireworks!

This weblog has turned three. Three years of more or less lazy or busy "blogging". There's again more visitors, but not as dramatic an increase as I had in 2006. There's also me slacking a bit more, with the post frequency sometimes going down to a post every 3 or 4 days. I think the passing December was the worst month in that respect. I'm not going to worry or put pressure on myself there, when I have something to write, I'll unslack enough. But let's have a look at the passing year...

The last two years I've posted about the year that passed from the point of view of the weblog, this has turned into some kind of mini-tradition for me. You can compare to the January 2006 and 2007 posts if you want.

Number crunching

While I reported about 97571 pageviews and "almost 40000" visits for 2005, in 2006 I had roughly 243000 pageviews and 107000 visits. The 2006 numbers were a bit rough, because there was some downtime and some time where the stats weren't updated. And 2007? In 2007 my site clocked in at 342704 pageviews and 172383 visits. That means about 3-4 times what I had in 2005, or about a 40 - 60% increase compared to the last year. It's also almost 1000 pageviews per day.

All those numbers are just statistics, there's a certain amount of error in there, as some spammers and scrapers manage to get themselves counted, but it does not count in search engines like googlebot or most of the known spambots. It's also not counting just the weblog, there's a lot of traffic on the rest of my site too. While the weblog just turned 3, my site exists since 2002 as and since about 1997 or 1998 in some other incarnations on a providers site and on the Super Dimension Fortress.

Crowd watching the fireworks in Munich

Thinking back to 2007

Again there were some stories about little travels in 2007, but it was the first year in a long time that I didn't go to Limnos :-( still can't believe it. I also moved to a new appartment. Waited an incredible 4 months to get ADSL (for that waiting time I have to thank the state telecoms monopoly OTE and the "new telecoms biz" Vivodi in a joint fuckup). I finally got ADSL in the new appartment. In related news, I've got new flatmates too. Again we have an international mix, which makes for really good company.

On the computer and community side, this year I was trying to get a foot on the ground with HelMUG (the Greek Mac user group), where I'm a member of the board. It hasn't always been fun and there certainly wasn't happening very much, biggest exception for me was probably my PGP talk. I had much more joy with my contributions to Zwiki (a wiki software for the Zope application server). Since February I started to contribute little bits and pieces, which is very rewarding. Lots of little posts on the blog about that. Speaking of Zope: A few people doing Zope in Greece gathered during the year, with me occasionally dropping a post about these events.

One Zope related change to this weblog is the "Other Weblogs" list in the sidebar, it changed to the new MiniPlanet format. I'm enjoying this very much, as I can use my own blog as a feedreader now and maybe some other people (like Wu) find it useful too.

For a long time I had switched the blogs comments to being moderated. Finally I did some changes and amongst others I incorporated the use of the Akismet and Project Honeypot (using HoneyPotBL) services, so now I can leave comments open for a much nicer commenting experience if you as a visitor here feel inclined to say a word.

What are they looking for?

People come to my site looking for stuff (most often through Google, the other search engines are marginal). Some of the prevalent searches are people with stuck iPods, and people looking for dirty words in Greek. A new trend is people looking for "Greek Moves". The guess is that they are looking for "Greek Movies" and both fail to spell properly and find anything on my site.

The news... bad news

2007 was of course the year of big summer forest fires here in Greece. I wrote about what little I saw and little about all that I felt during the hard time when it happened. I was very quiet for some time afterwards. But unlike the news and the politicians, I will not forget.

As for the news: I was featured twice there. Once a paper here wrote about a bunch of foreign bloggers in Greece, then a Canadian TV station interviewed me (by webcam) about the fires.

Some dudes working the fireworks in Munich

Going on to 2008

I've spent new years eve together with the gf in Germany. We went to a friends place, where I showed off my l33t swiss Fondue skillz by melting 1kg of cheese and fooling the others to drip bread into it. After being well fed (and some people being overfed, those German's can't really eat very much it seems) we went out to drink with some more friends and then on to see the fireworks from a bridge. They do a lot of noise and fireworks here. I'm not such a big fan of fireworks, ever since I've experienced how much it scared my dog and cats. But being there in the midst of it and looking at it was impressive.

Posted by betabug at 12:37 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
10 January 2008

Night Pictures

It's dark

The days are already getting longer, but when I get out of work it's still dark outside. Time to try out my new camera in low light or night situations. I planned to make these pictures for my (yet to be published) review of my new camera (coming Real Soon Now™). Anyway, as I've got nothing to write, here are the pictures...

First I passed by the theater of Mimi Denissi, a famous Greek actor (θέατρο Ιλίσια Ντενίση). I liked the lights, so I snapped a shot. With all the lights shortening the exposure time it wasn't hard to hold the camera steady - 1/20s F2.8 400ISO.

Theatro Ilisia Denisi in Athens by night.

I had taken a few street scenes before, but they didn't turn out so nice. (Isn't it cool to be able to see the results immediately with a digital camera?) It took me a while to find out why: The camera measures the light of the overall scene and tries to adjust the exposure for an average day scene. But night pictures should reflect the darker mood with lots of black. Therefore I corrected the exposure down by 1.5 to 2 F-stops.

The next picture isn't really special, but I think it illustrates this point quite nice.

Cars waiting at Athens traffic light by night.

Considering the camera, the nice part about this picture is how well it copes with the contrast of the street and car lamps and the black shadows. Not much of a halo around the lights. (1/20s, F3.6, 400ISO).

Pedestrians waiting at Athens traffic light by night.

I made some other pictures that weren't up to the standard to show around. But I like this shot, of a lady waiting at the traffic light. I think the yellowish reflection of the natrium street lamps on the asphalt works well to remind me of the atmosphere.

The streak of the cars lights and the blur of the cars motion constrasts well with how static the figure of the lady waits.

I would have liked the faces of the pedestrians on the opposite side to come out bigger (they look cool behind the cars blur when enlarged), but you can't have it all in a wide angle picture.

1/8s, F3.0, 400ISO - talking about exposure times and F-stops: I haven't quite understood the logic behind the exposure calculations in my camera. It sometimes puts a lot of importance on the F-stop, even when it announces an exposure time that might lead to shaky pictures.

Posted by betabug at 22:24 | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)
22 January 2008

Do I Get To Keep My New Camera?

Should it stay or should it go now?

After yesterdays camera review post, there was a flurry of comments (not something I'm that much used to). So far most of them remarked on the cake in one of the pictures, bummer. One little bit more drastic reaction came from saad, who posted a blog answer Ditch The Camera, Your Phone Roxx! and even went as far as to set up an online petition to get the old style eerie, crappy camera pixx back... what can I say? Do I get to keep my new toy^Wcamera? Should I go back to taking blurry, otherworldly phonecam shots? Maybe you can decide!

Posted by betabug at 09:33 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
02 February 2008

Χαμός στο παζάρι βιβλίου

Έχει και βιβλία
παζάρι βιβλίου πλατεία Κλαυθμώνος

Είναι πάλι η εποχή για το παζάρι βιβλίου στην πλατεία Κλαυθμώνος. Όλοι οι εκδότες (εντάξει, δεν ξέρω αν είναι όντως όλοι) βάζουν τα βιβλία που "ξέμειναν" σε ένα μεγάλο παζάρι σε τραπέζια. Οι τιμές ξεκινάνε από 1 Ευρώ. Δεν βρήκαμε βιβλία για 1 Ευρώ όπως έλεγαν, πήραμε άλλα από 1.5€ και βρήκαμε αρκετά ενδιαφέροντα βιβλία στα 4-6€, και ένα που άξιζε τα 14€ που κόστισε.

Οι τιμές δεν ήτανε το πρόβλημά μου, πιο πολύ - βασικά, πολύ περισσότερο - με ενοχλούσε ο χαμός που γινόταν από τον πολύ κόσμο που είχε. Δεν νομίζω ότι υπολόγισαν να έρθει τόση πελατεία. Δεν μπορούσες να κουνηθείς. Κάποια στιγμή βαρέθηκα και ήθελα να φύγω. Όμως για να βγεις, περιμένεις σε μεγάλη ουρά, πολύ σπρώξιμο. Κουραστικό πράγμα.

Posted by betabug at 21:37 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
24 February 2008

Literary meme

Too lazy to write something real

Just saw this meme at Kat's blog and saw graffic following it. As I was just reading a book and got lazily up to check on everybody's blog, it's too easy to follow this one for me. Here are the instructions:

  1. Pick up the nearest book.
  2. Open it to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence/phrase.
  4. Write the next four sentences/phrases together with these instructions.
  5. Don't dig through your shelves for that very special or intellectual book.
  6. Pass it to six friends.

The book I'm reading at the moment is "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" by Haruki Murakami. It's long enough, and as I'm just reading it there is no need to chose anything or any temptation to violate rule 5. It's also the closest book even physically, as I carried it over to the computer table. I'm also into "The Difference Engine" by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, but I'm bored by it - I'm a Gibson fan and this one just isn't a Gibson. "The Difference Engine" is physically about 5cm from the "Chronicle". So the strange japanese book it is.

Let's see what Mr. Murakami has to tell us on page 123:

"He's thinking of running for office. In fact he's just about decided to do it"

"Running for office?!" This came as such a shock to me, I could hardly speak for a moment.

I don't know what these sentences are about, as I haven't read that far yet. I can sense who they are talking about, and get the general spirit from the buildup I've read through, but that's about it. It's interesting though, like when you read through a book and come across that passage you had read while flipping through the book in the book store.

I'll follow both Kat and graffic in passing up on step 6 though. If anybody wants to, just pick this meme up.

Posted by betabug at 15:45 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
17 March 2008

Happy 1 Year American In Athens!

A salute to great work by Kat

Today with a post simply called One, Kat from American in Athens celebrated one year of that most useful blog. When I saw the post, I honestly couldn't believe that it's been only one year. There is so much useful information on her weblog, that I had assumed it to have been around for a much longer time.

"American in Athens" is filled with posts providing information to people living here, wanting to live here, or simply curious about what's it like to live here. There are also personal stories from the life of Kat, something I find quite touching and interesting - but I sometimes get a shiver about revealing so much (I might be revealing almost as much between the lines sometimes, just not noticing it myself so much). There weren't so many people who said "Thank you!" in that time, which reminds me that it's always good to say an extra "Thank you Kat!" here. It's good to have you around!

Posted by betabug at 09:04 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
04 January 2010

5 Years and 1000 Posts of ch-athens - Happy New Year!

It's been some time

For the first three years of ch-athens I was writing combined new years and aniversary posts (2006, 2007, 2008), as ch-athens was started as a new years resolution. Last year I didn't, because I wasn't feeling like it. This year I'll revive the tradition. Along with wishing you all a happy new year, I'm celebrating 5 years of ch-athens and... the 1000th post of this weblog.

Over the last two years, the rate of me writing has changed. I wrote a lot less. Where I was writing a post every one to two days in the beginning, I'm getting closer to once or twice per week. The focus has changed a bit too: I'm less exploring Athens and living here, more directionless recording some things that cross my mind. This somehow mirrors my focus in life too, living in Athens has become less important. Biggest new theme was photography picking up.

I don't know if my enthousiasm will pick up again or what direction it could take. I'm not going in any direction of whatever is fashionable now... I abhore "twitter" and "facebook", I see them as yet another step in mindlessly commercialising the web and the net. Heck, the thought that all these people publish their "creativity" through the site of just one or the other company makes me feel sick. Where is the decentrality, the uncontrollability, the independence of the net gone?

Year Visits Pageviews
2005 40000 97571
2006 107000 243000
2007 172383 342704
2008 170805 347055
2009 128536 192952

From the statistics front, it's difficult to get a coherent picture, as I'm comparing apples and oranges. I've changed my stats, in that I don't record accesses to my various RSS feeds any more. They were too much skewing the numbers. The result is that the numbers went down.

I think there are a few reasons why they went down: One, the stats changed. Two, I did not write so much any more. Three, I've eliminated some sources for Google sending misdirected visitors to some of my pages.

Ah, Google. I've started to think these guys have gotten fat and bored and lost all sense of doing something useful. They have stopped to be a search engine for sure, instead occupying themselves with selling hot air and attempting to take over the world. For years a lot of the traffic on my weblog has been people Google mistakenly sent here. For example to a page where visitors expected to find greek pr0n, or a page where they sought answers to german grammar questions and other mistakes. I've changed the titles and spelling of one word in one case, to get rid of that useless traffic. There a few cases where people find useful stuff on my site, and I truly like those!

There's an overlap of my stats, my loss of enthousiasm, and the rate of posts I see from my "other weblogs" links. Has "blogging" slowly gone out of fashion? Yes, but the sure thing is that I don't care, I'm just looking for my own reason to do something or not. It's terrific to have done something for 5 years, ups and downs, about 200 posts per year, through all these times.

Posted by betabug at 12:36 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
08 January 2010

Gaddafi in St.Gallen

Wer hätte das gedacht?

Der bekannte News-Anchorman Hubertus Huber hat es geschafft Gaddafi in die Schweiz einzuladen.

Posted by betabug at 10:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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