02 December 2005
First Time Takeaway Macs in Greece
Big news I almost overlooked
The last few days news reached me from a few sides about Macs being sold through new channels here. First there was a post about Mediamarkt (a german electronics chain that just arrived in Greece) carrying the i*-range of Macs. Then meLiS posted at HelMUG again about fnac (a french bookstore and electronics outlet that too just arrived in Greece) carrying the same range of Macintosh computers.
And then my boss sent me a MMS with a pic of some white Macs at display. Apparently Multirama (a subsidiary of the greek electronics store Germanos) is carrying iMacs, iBooks, and Mac minis too now. Their website has no info about that though. Great news, but somehow I thought, what's the big deal? They sell Macs, so what.
The point that gets everybody excited is that like the first time you can walk into a store here in Athens, look at Macs on display, buy a Macintosh and walk out with the box. Not just order it and wait till the cows come home. Not having to supply photocopies of ID documents. It also gives a lot more exposure to Macs in a country where you had to be an insider to know where the Mac dealers were. That is what makes people say "oh". Buying a Mac in Greece just got a lot easier.
The Lady in the Peugeot 403
As I went to the Metro station I saw an old Peugeot 403 parked in
front of a hospital. Inside behind the wheel was a lady whose looks
suggested that she had bought the car new from the dealer. One used to
see these things all the time in Athens till maybe ten years ago. Then
the laws about customs and taxes on new cars changed, programs to pull
old cars of the road were launched and banks started handing out
credits. The result is streets filled with uniformly boring new
cars. I prefer to say hello to that beautyfull oldtimer with its steady
03 December 2005
Lucky Weather, nice Chocolate
Sitting in the sun
Todays excursion took us to the Πάρκο Ελευθερίας (Parko Eleftherias) where we hoped to find the christmas bazaar of the local animal protection society. We had been there last year and I had picked up a warm sweater and some used books. No such luck this year, the bazaar had already been last weekend.
So we went to the cafeteria named after the same park "Πάρκο Ελευθερίας" and enjoyed the sun and the wonderfull warm weather. 20°Celsius on December 3rd, really acceptable. The prices are the usual athenian road robbery, but the selection of drinking chocolates is excellent. The one with white chocolate, lemon and pine seeds was out. We tasted white chocolate with pistacchio, creamy, not too sweet, wonderfull. And I'm no big fan of white chocolate.
The menu lists a range of chocolate fondues too. If those are of the same quality as the drinking chocolate, then the place is a real recommendation for chocolate lovers in Athens. But then my "fresh" orange juice was a mix of fresh and boxed juice, a pitty. The cafeteria is situated real nice, right next to the park, almost in the park. Our table with the white sofas invited us to sit a long time and enjoy the sun.
04 December 2005
A Sunday Walk and a... Flight Plan
Pedio tou Ares and cinema
This sunday was too nice to stay inside, blue sky, warm air and sun. We went for a stroll in the park Πεδιό του Άρες (Pedio tou Ares) in my old neighbourhood near the Victoria subway station. (Picture of a particular beautiful spot in the park.) On sundays you can see people play football and cricket there. The football players are from almost everywhere, the cricket players are from India or Pakistan (I haven't asked).
In the evening we went to see the movie "Flight Plan" with Jodie Foster. Suspense, lots of suspense. Lots of dark, blue images. I enjoyed it, but it didn't help my paranoia much. I almost waited for terrorists to capture the trolley bus on the way home.
It reminded me a lot of Bruce Schneier and the term "movie plot threats". The action in that big, new plane with one of the engineers on board definitely fits that label. Plus it's a nice example of the human factor being often the weak spot. But I guess now by the time it is shown here in Greece and by the time I went to see it, everybody has already seen it. The next thing is some US politicians will come and demand all single mothers to be handcuffed on all flights.
06 December 2005
Not matching settings name in M$ Knowledge Base
Typing is random
In the post "IE Bug Bitten" I wrote about a stupid IE bug that causes us and our customers trouble. Even though I used a workaround on our Server, today the bug bit me again, as likely customers have the setting that produces the bug again, even after the workaround is on the server. So I looked up that Knowledge Base article again.
Isn't it funny how badly confusing the M$ Knowledge base article is? The error description somehow matches what our customers experience, but not exactly. The error message is slightly different. Our customers get an error message that says something about not being able to save to cache. And I don't get the feeling that the difference is due to different Windows / IE versions. I think the Microserf in question was just too lazy to type it all in properly.
Even the name of the setting that has to be unchecked at the customers is not the same as on my test machine (IE 6.0.2600.000 - yes, you have to have 2600 in your IE version number to be truly 31337): The KB says to uncheck "Do Not Save Encrypted Files" while IE here has "Do not save encrypted pages to disk". A small difference, but if you can't even get this one right, how might the code look?
08 December 2005
Weihnachtsbeleuchtung, volle Dröhnung
Ihr Lichterlein leuchtet und so
Athen zeigt sich so langsam in Weihnachtspracht. Mit Schnee ist natürlich nicht zu rechnen, aber dafür fängt es überall zu glühen und zu leuchten an. Das Bild zeigt den Ausblick auf die Βασιλίσσης Σοφίας (Vassilissis Sofias) Strasse, gleich neben Syntagma Platz und Parlament.
Auch bei mir zu Hause leuchtet und glüht es, mit WG-Weihnachtsbaum, aufblasbarem Weihnachtsmann und Lichterkette. Und zu meinem Geburtstag (grad vorbei, uff, wiedermal überstanden!) gab es hausgemachte Nudeln, Bücher und eine flasche feinen Wodka. Was will man mehr?
11 December 2005
What a Weekend
Party on Saturday, still tired
This Saturday there was a nice party at my place. My birthday was
some days ago and my flatmates birthday is in a few days so we met in
the middle and threw a party, which also worked as a housewarming
But the result is that I did not doo much all weekend, except help in
getting everything for the party ready and then chat, eat, and drink
with our guests. The evening was real nice, thank you all for coming!
Special Thank-You and Kisses to Mary for cooking. Now I need a good
nights sleep to get back to speed on Monday.
On Wednesday there will be another challenge. Public transport will
be on strike and I will have to find a very alternative way to go to
work. Still thinking about that one.
13 December 2005
Where Does That New iChat Window Go?
The small nuisances of iWorking
Can anyone please explain to me how iChat calculates where it opens new chat windows? It's a major mess for me. I'm sitting here, trying to work with a Firefox window, a Safari window, 3 to 5 Terminal.app windows and... iChat. We use iChat via Bonjour (née Rendezvous ) to communicate inhouse. But everytime I open a new chat window it will open somewhere, anywhere on my big screen. I've chatted with that same person 5 minutes ago, why can't the window position be remembered? It messes up my workarea.
From what I see windows are just placed quasi random around, more or less a few pixels to the right and down from where iChat last opened a window. Not in any relation to where I last placed a window.
 Having to rename an already rolled out product is not fun. Not even when it's for trademark reasons and the company itself is big time int he trademark game. They should have asked me, I'd have suggested "Καλημέρα" (Kalimera), which nobody would have understood and thus they couldn't have been sued.
14 December 2005
This smells of a fishy translation
This weeks Αθηνόραμα (Athinorama) has an advertising brochure bundled for a catering company called... (drumroll) l'Odeur. Don't believe me? Look at the scanned brochure (click on the image for the complete view). My french is not *that* good, but when I saw it I thought something smelled of a fishy translation. Either I was off or they don't have a good nose for the nuances of anything french. So I asked the experts at #bsdcow who assured me (repeating here for those of my readers - out of all three of them - who don't speak french too well) that l'Odeur can indeed be something that smells good (meaning smell in general then), but normally it is something that stinks. Ups. Catering "the stink" anyone. Also note the subtle use of french colors in the "waves" of smell going up. Vive la tricolore or something.
 Αθηνόραμα is the Athenian "going-out" paper, which lists cinemas, theaters, restaurants, clubs, etc.
17 December 2005
Streik - Mit dem Auto zur Arbeit
...und dann endlich wieder mit dem Bus
Mittwoch und Donnerstag war hier in Athen grosser Streik. Unter anderem
hat der öffentliche Verkehr gestreikt, Mittwochs funktionierte nur die
U-Bahn und nur von 11 bis 18 Uhr, Donnerstags war alles dicht. Teilweise
gab es Donnerstag nicht mal Taxis. Wie komme ich also zur Arbeit? Vom
Büro bekam ich ein Auto ausgeliehen und so gings auf in den Berufsverkehr.
Da kann man was erleben...
Continue reading "Streik - Mit dem Auto zur Arbeit"
18 December 2005
Απότομη αύξηση στην κατανάλωση σοκολάτας στην Ελλάδα
Μόνο απορίες από την πλευρά των στατιστικών
Η στατιστική υπηρεσία Ελλάδος σήμερα πληροφόρησε σε έκτακτο press conference στου Ζωγράφου για την απότομα αυξημένη κατανάλωση σοκολάτας τις τελευταίες μέρες. Σύμφωνα με τα τελευταία δεδομένα πολλαπλασιάστηκαν οι πωλήσεις της γλυκιάς ουσίας. Οι στατιστικοί δεν συμφωνούν στο τι προκάλεσε το φαινόμενο. Ένα βοηθητικό στοιχείο μπορούσε να ήτανε το ότι ειδικά η ελβετική σοκολάτα παρουσίασε αυξημένη κατανάλωση κυρίως μετά τις 7 Δεκεμβρίου, αλλά οι ειδικοί ακόμα συζητάνε για τους λόγους...
Continue reading "Απότομη αύξηση στην κατανάλωση σοκολάτας στην Ελλάδα"
19 December 2005
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
This is the real stuff: Saturday we went to watch Wallace and
Gromit in their full length feature. Really, really, really, really
recommended. Not just because it's Wallace and Gromit, and because I'm
a fan of theirs, and because I've seen all their previous stuff (at
one point in Mac OS 8 land I even had cool Wallace and Gromit desktop
icons on my PowerBook 1400). But the movie is great fun, lots of crazy
humour, weird stuff as usual in a movie with spleeny Wallace and his
geeky dog Gromit. The story is well made too, with good suspense. Right
till the end we were still gripping the handles of our seats. I had the
impression that the movie lasted only about 20 minutes, the action was
so tight. The local cinemas treated the film like a childrens movie
Continue reading "Plastiline Fun"
Resetting RAM Cache Manager on COREBlog entry edits
Just a little bit more friendly tweaking
As seen in previous posts (Experiments with RAM cache and RAMcache for COREBlog update), I'm using a RAMCacheManager in Zope to speed up the weblog loading and to ease load on the server. So far the downside has been that after editing a post I had to manually reset the cache. This would even be the case when I would preview a post multiple times before adding it. Not the best solution and definitely an itch that needed scratching...
Continue reading "Resetting RAM Cache Manager on COREBlog entry edits"
21 December 2005
Christmas Light Impressions
Right from the center of Athens
The last two evenings we went to Syntagma square and the Zappeio Megaron
in the center of Athens to see what the municipality has prepared for
christmas. It's all quite nice to look at, here are a few pictures
to give you an impression...
Continue reading "Christmas Light Impressions"
22 December 2005
Το πιο πρόστυχο σκράμπλ (ever)
Συνήθως, όταν παίζουμε scrabble στο σπίτι μου, δεν παίζουμε ακριβώς με τους κανόνες του παιχνιδιού. Δηλαδή, τον πρώτο γύρο κάπως σωστά τον παίζουμε. Επειδή οι περισσότεροι μας ακόμα μαθαίνουμε ελληνικά, δεν παίζουμε με πόντους και βοηθιόμαστε μεταξύ μας. Αλλά πολλές φορές το δεύτερο παιχνίδι χαλάει λίγο... πάει στην πρόστυχη πλευρά...
Continue reading "Το πιο πρόστυχο σκράμπλ (ever)"
25 December 2005
Unit Testing the Witch
Split and test
After the last few weeks at work, where we worked hard and fast to finish part of a project, with the holidays and free time at my hand, I had nothing better to do than to code at home... I finally got around to writing some unit tests for the RewriteRule witch (a script to generate apache RewriteRules for Zope). The code of the witch stayed the same as far as actual output is concerned.
There is one difference to the code, something that the last few weeks working with ZopeTestCase unit tests had taught me: Split up the code on the boundary that affects the web browser. The witch consists mainly of one simple method. It picks up the parameters from the http request, shows the form (if no input given), or shows the form together with the result (if form input was provided).
Since unit testing form input is complicated, what I ususally do is split request processing and actual logic work. So there is now a public method to handle the request, and a private method to do calculation. And the private method is written in a way that it can be tested easily, without having to rely on form handling. That makes testing at least the important stuff possible. I can make changes to the code and be sure that the most basic variants of output stay the same.
26 December 2005
Xmas Break Program
Taking it easy
That sums it up: I'm taking it easy. After the last weeks of concentrated work and not much else, these days I'm relaxing and not doing much. I've spent the 24th and 25th sleeping, eating, and reading. Now, on the third day of that diet I start to get bored. So I'm commencing to put my program together for the next week. No work means lots of time to do things, not only having time to sleep till noon.
So on my program wish list are a couple of concerts (Jazz, mostly), museums, exhibitions, and visits to the ice rink that is set up at the Zappeio near Syntagma square. It's been years that I've been ice skating and there is no regular ice arena in Athens any more (there used to be two of them, funny as it may seem to strangers). Last year around Christmas time, there was an ice arena too, but the waiting time was about an hour, so I gave up. This years arena is bigger, so hopefully waiting times will be shorter.
As for my program: Tonight I will be likely going to a concert, Paula West at the Half Note Jazz Club. Actually I haven't got a clue and I've never been to that Jazz Club, but I will find out how I like Paula West singing and that Club too. All other pieces of my program will fall into place one by one, real easy.
27 December 2005
An Evening Out with Jazz
Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars
Yes, I went to see Paula West at the Half Note Jazz Club in Athens Mets
area. It was a most remarkable evening. The Jazz was sweet and intense,
I met the artists of the next nights events and Sharon, one of the clubs more
peculiar residents. When it was all over, I walked home, which took me
about an hour...
Continue reading "An Evening Out with Jazz"
28 December 2005
Eisbahn ausnahmsweise vorhanden, aber nass
Heute morgen wollte ich früh (ok, "früher", schliesslich habe ich Ferien) aufstehen um bei der Eisbahn vorbeizugehen, die am Ζάππειον (Zappeion, in der Nähe des Syntagma Platzes) für die Weihnachtszeit aufgebaut ist. Aber schon vom Bett aus habe ich es tropfen und tröpfeln gehört. Da die Eisbahn nicht gedeckt ist, wird die Eisfläche wohl schwimmen, nichts für mich. Gestern abend durfte ich schon bewundern, wie die Eishockey-Mannschaft heroisch versuchte, die Eisfläche vom Wasser zu befreien. Anstrengende Sache, da keine Maschine vorhanden ist.
Schlussendlich hatten sie es einigermassen geschafft. Daraufhin haben die Jungs eine Art "Show-Spiel" vorgeführt, offiziell um dem griechischen Publikum Eishockey vorzuführen. Inoffiziell wohl auch einfach um mal eine Gelegenheit zu bekommen überhaupt zu spielen. Denn schon seit ein paar Jahren gibt es in Griechenland keine Eisbahnen mehr. Früher gab es zwei in Athen, eine in Thessaloniki und eine in Halkida. So toll fand ich die Leistung der Spieler nicht, bis auf wenige Ausnahmen machten sie einen eher untrainierten und ungeübten Eindruck.
Die Eisbahn im Zentrum von Athen wird dort noch bis zum 8.1. sein, da werde ich vielleicht doch noch mal Gelegenheit bekommen für ein paar Minuten Schlittschuhe auszuleihen und aufs Eis zu gehen.
31 December 2005
Books... and Bookshops in Athens
Looking for something to read
This Xmas break I spent mostly reading, I'm halfway through my third
book since Christmas, I've been going through most of the big bookshops
here in Athens, and I've been enjoying most of it. Right on the morning
of the 24th I began looking for books to read, found two then, but kept
on looking. Yesterday I finally found two more books too my liking. So
let's sum up the books and bookshops in a bit more detail.
Continue reading "Books... and Bookshops in Athens"
Greek in vim with langmap - only ISO-8859-7
Still not there yet for UTF-8
In a comment to my old post about State of
Greek and UTF-8 in the Mac OS X Terminal Andreas Triantafillidis asks
if I finally managed to use vim with Greek. Answer: The state is still
somehow the same. Using a vim with multilingual capabilities compiled
in, I can read and write in Greek, but not as good as I
want, because mapping of keyboard commands does not work with
Unicode, but read on for what I got with ISO-8859-7...
Continue reading "Greek in vim with langmap - only ISO-8859-7"