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18 March 2016

Going to Paris

Just jump over
Leaving Naxos

So there I was, climbing into the little plane (Dash 8) on the little airport on Naxos. Heading for Athens... and then on to Paris. The airport in Naxos is really kind of a family affair. Also you see that road in the picture? It has the only traffic lights on the island. They turn red when a plane is starting or landing.

Continue reading "Going to Paris"
Posted by betabug at 21:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
28 February 2016

Attention, Dangerous Curve Ahead

You're in a maze of twisty little curves
Warning: Dangerous Curve Ahead, Behind You, and ever on!

You're in a maze of twisty little island roads, winding and curving through the mountaineous island landscape for kilometers and kilometers. There's a curve to the left, one to the right, to the left, and so on forever. But then, you arrive at one curve that is special: It has a warning sign in front of it.

All the other curves before or after don't have a fancy warning sign. This one has. I've been wondering for a while now, what's so special about the 1-in-a-100 (just guessing, I don't keep stats) curve that gets a sign. I very much doubt that someone checked it and deemed it more dangerous than others - I know some scary curves on this island, and they don't have signs. The one in the picture is even easy to see ahead.

Also I doubt that it's the curves where accidents had once happened. Not that I know that, but I don't think it makes sense. My current theory is that there was a budget for warnings signs, x number of signs for y square kilometers. So basically someone loaded a bunch of signs on a truck and started planting them here and there.

What seems to be put to much better use are warning arrows on the side of the road. They too aren't everywhere, but when they are there, usually there is a good reason.

Posted by betabug at 21:24 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
21 February 2016

Pfannkuchen - Breakfast of the champions!

Somewhere between a crêpe and a pancake
Pfannkuchen in the pan

This morning I managed to treat ourselves with a real nice breakfast. I made up some german-style "Pfannkuchen". These are something in the middle of american pancakes and french crêpes. Not as thick as pancakes, but also not as thin as crêpes. Their width is somewhere inbetween too. I think similar things are made in many countries, under various names.

Preparing the dough

Probably it's one of the simplest ways to make a dough (flour, eggs, milk), that doesn't need to raise, and then it just gets fried. Personally I don't use an electric mixer. I just mix things up with a fork. If you start with the flour and the eggs, and mix up these already well, there aren't too many clumps of flour in the dough usually. I haven't got the exact mix down well, each time I do this it's experimentation to get the consistence right.

Going to fry the pancake now

Years ago a friend of mine told me that he was dreaming of some Pfannkuchen, but since he didn't know how to do them, he went to the super market and bought some ready-made dough in a bottle. It was horrible. Of course I told him how simple it is to make pancake dough yourself. I don't think it took me more than 5 - 10 minutes. Today they turned out nice. Only mistake: I made way too little dough. I could have eaten twice as many as I did, and I also like to keep some around to eat them cold in the evening, mjam.

Posted by betabug at 19:36 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
20 February 2016

Katzenklappe, inklusive Lernfaktor


Zwecks Erweiterung der Katerfreiheit und Zwecks der Minimierung der Türöffnertätigkeiten wurder hiernorts eine Katzenklappe angeschafft. Die Dinger sind ja inzwischen ganz modern. Früher gab es entweder die Variante "Bring deine Freunde mit" oder die Variante "Katze hat ein Halsband mit einem dicken Magneten". Neu gibt es die RFID-Variante, die mit dem Chip im Nacken der Katze erkennt wer rein darf und wer nicht. Chip hat die Katze ja sowieso schon, denn auch so eine Katze kann ja mal verlegt werden.

Der Probleme gab es jetzt aber zwei oder drei: Erstmal sind ebendiese modernen Katzenklappen hier in Griechenland nicht erhältlich. Kenn wa nicht, ham wa nicht. Also hat sie uns jemand aus dem Ausland geschickt. Der zweite Punkt war der Einbau. Da gab es diverse lustige Vorschläge, wo das Teil reinpassen würde. Nicht gefallen gefunden hatte das Fenster im Badezimmer, wenn man da auf dem Ôrtchen sitzt, wäre es unpassend wenn der Kater versucht an einem vorbei sein Wegerecht wahrzunehmen. Ein Loch in einer Holztür war dann doch einfacher.

Der letzte Punkt, der hatte es dann aber in sich. Von damals in der Schweiz hatte ich das nicht so in Erinnerung, aber so ein Katzentier muss das erstmal lernen wie man so eine Katzentür benutzt. Das Problem ist einerseits, dass Katzen es vermeiden, Dinge mit dem Kopf zu bewegen oder zu drücken. Andererseits hat der Kater in der Praxis gelernt gehabt, dass er Türen und Fenster nicht aufmachen kann und ihm auf Zuruf geöffnet wird. Also sitzt er grundsätzlich erstmal da und wartet, dass man ihm aufmacht. Eine unserer Katzen in der Schweiz konnte auch Zimmertüren aufmachen, ich denke, das hat den Lernprozess beschleunigt.

Wie lernt er es also? In ganz kleinen Schritten. Erstmal Klappe aufbinden und ihn entdecken lassen, dass er da rein und rauskommt. Dann Klappe Stück für Stück weiter zu machen, so dass er sich dran gewöhnt, die Klappe zu schieben. Irgendwann ist sie dann zu, aber dann hat er schon gemerkt, dass er sie aufdrücken kann. So weit so gut, mit dem kleinen Zusatz-Spassfaktor hier, dass wir im Dorf eine kleine Bande von mehr oder weniger "herrenlosen" Katzen haben, die von verschiedenen Nachbarn und uns durchgefüttert werden, und die liebend gerne reinkommen um zu schauen, ob unsrer vielleicht nicht alles aufgegessen hat. Also Katzenklappe aufbinden geht nur, wenn jemand da ist und aufpasst. Das macht das ganze etwas langwieriger und aufwendiger. Schlussendlich ging es dann doch, ungefähr eine Woche hats gedauert, zur allgemeinen Zufriedenheit.

Posted by betabug at 22:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
16 February 2016

I'll not remove my mudguards till summer is here for good

It's a matter of style
Fausto Coppi on a training ride, mudguards and all.

Both my road bikes currently have fenders / mudguards mounted. I've sometimes received negative feedback about this. It doesn't seem to fit with some modern schools of bike aesthetics. Too which I reply: "Who cares?" I'm not going to remove my mudguards till summer is here for good. Even a bit of wet roads here and there will make my bike (and me) look bad. And I'm not that fond of cleaning my bike. Not gonna happen.

Even the greatest cyclists of all times put mudguards on their bikes for training rides. Do you think il campionissimo Fausto Coppi would want a brown stripe down his stylish clothes on his back? It was something different in a race (where the rules disallow mudguards and every bit counts), but on training rides? You think that sweet Bianchi sweater looks good with road grime on the backside? Not likely.

Posted by betabug at 20:39 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
14 February 2016

Legs, Sunday Group Rides, and the Mystery of Gorgorr

Left, Right, Left, Right

Early this week I noticed that my legs still have a big inbalance of strength. I've been back on the bike for months now, well, not exactly training, but riding regularly. When you look at my legs, there is no difference in width to be noticed (as the doctors had thought there would). I had assumed the inbalance would even itself out over time. But it didn't...

Continue reading "Legs, Sunday Group Rides, and the Mystery of Gorgorr"
Posted by betabug at 17:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
10 February 2016

How I Clean My Bike

I'm not an expert, but at least I'm swiss!

So, yesterday I cleaned my road bike. Since it has decent mudguards (aka fenders), there isn't that much dirt all over the bike, but the gears and chain had a lot of gunk on them. I'm not much into cleaning my bike, I ususally put it off way too long. Now I certainly wouldn't say I'm an expert at bike cleaning. Also there are tons of descriptions what to do around. But this is the procedure I use:

  • Spray WD-40 (see below for note) on gears and chain, and on the pedals.
  • Let soak in, meanwhile prepare a bucket with very hot water and soap.
  • Clean bike with hot water, using car cleaning sponge. At some point I also take the wheels out and clean each in turn. Don't forget the braking surfaces. I use one sponge for the really oily parts, one (cleaner one) for the clean parts of the bike.
  • Flush with clean water.
  • Dry with some pieces of old cloth.
  • Put lots of oil on the chain, some oil on gear derailleurs and pedals.
  • After some hours (better overnight), remove as much excess oil as possible from the chain, it should be pretty dry from the outside, oil is only needed inside the chain. At the end, If there is too much oil on the outside of the chain, it will collect dirt real fast and it will spray oil on the bike, especially on the braking surfaces.

Note on use of WD-40

Keep in mind that WD-40 is considered the devil's stuff on a bike, it is meant only for cleaning, as a degreaser. It's not a good lubricant and it should not stay on. Some people say citrus cleaner is better anyway.

Religious considerations

How to clean a bike is kind of a religious topic. It seems everybody does it a bit different (which is quite ok with me), but it also seems some people feel very strong about it. I'm open to ideas for improvement, tips, warnings about something I do wrong in the comments, but I'm glad if people keep it calm :-)

Posted by betabug at 12:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
09 February 2016

Is Technical Diversity a Good Thing?

Not everything is equal
Not all gummibears are equal

Speaking to someone who is interested to work for our team, he was surprised that we don't have a standard virtual machine image with all the tools and setup ready. Well... we don't have that. We have a couple of README.txt files, and a setup that each time it's attempted causes a few scratched heads and curses.

But what it also does is ferret out a bunch of problems and bugs each time it happens. "Oh, this library was updated." Usually this is not nice stuff. Stuff that should have been taken care of. Stuff that should have been documented, or even automated. Probably with a bigger team, you'd assign someone to look after this stuff, but we're not a big team. So yes, the procedure to install a new environment can be tedious and time consuming.

But the other reason I like our diversity is that it's basically following the philosophy of what OpenBSD does in developing for a bunch of obscure, strange, and old platforms. It brings out to the light the kind of thing that "works on this platform", but in reality it's just an ugly hack or an -ism of that platform. Making your environment work on a couple of platforms will make things more robust.

(At one point we even tried to go as far as having someone being able to develop on Windows. That simply didn't work out, that "platform" is simply too complicated and needs too many special fixes.)

Posted by betabug at 10:59 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
08 February 2016

Am I Lazy?

Let me lay under a tree for a couple of hours and ponder the question
Lying under a tree

In a discussion with a friend over lunch, he told me: "The way you describe your work, one could get the idea that you are lazy!" Indeed I am. Being lazy is a key ingredient to a good programmer. It's what makes us automate tedious, repetitive tasks.

On a further scale, I like things like riding my bike and then sitting somewhere under a tree, pondering all and nothing... and then churr churr my subconscious starts working on those work problems that keep holding the work up.

Being lazy makes me write automated tests for my program code, because a couple of hours writing those tests will save me many, many hours of searching when a problem in that program code appears in a few months. There are many more practical things like that.

Posted by betabug at 22:30 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
07 February 2016


Weiss wie Schnee

Seit ein paar Tagen sind die Mandelbäume hier am blühen. Zuerst war noch nichts, dann hatten wir ein paar wärmere Tage, plötzlich sieht man die Mandelbäume überall. Ich kann Mandelbäume sonst schwer erkennen, aber gerade sieht man wo es überall welche gibt, als ob sie sich melden.

Soweit ich mich erinnern kann, ist es das erste Mal, dass ich die Mandelbäume auf Naxos blühen sehe. Früher waren wir erst ab dem Frühjahr hier, da haben wir sie immer verpasst. Dann wäre ich letztes Jahr wohl hier gewesen, aber mit dem Beinbruch habe ich den Februar zuhause in Athen im Bett verbracht.

Als es gestern so stürmte, wurden viele der Mandelblüten schon wieder ausgerissen. Wer seinen Mandelbaum mit etwas Windschutz gepflanzt hatte, ist klar im Vorteil. Zum Teil sind an den Bäumen nur noch auf der einen Seite Blüten dran. Aber bis jetzt gibt es noch genug Blüten zu sehen, und der Wind ist auch schon von Tag zu Tag am abflauen.

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

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