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01 October 2006

Skinning a ZWiki

Coding at home for the "nautica" ZWiki project

This weekend I wasn't content with relaxing and enjoying going out with friends for coffee and with the HelMUG guys for... eh... coffee too. I worked on a little coding project with ZWiki. Hacking in my spare time today was fun. Even though I did nearly the same stuff I do at work, I feel relaxed. It seems that because I did something new, was on a "discovery" tour, there was something playful to it, like playing a game. Now, what was it all about, this ZWiki and Skins thing?...

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Posted by betabug at 21:00 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
02 October 2006

Δορυφορικά... ψάθινα;

Καινούριες εξελίξεις στο τρεντ του "merging"

Υπάρχουνε εταιρείες που κάνουν παράξενα πράγματα, και υπάρχουν εταιρείες που κάνουν κάπως νορμάλ πράγματα άλλα σε παράξενο συνδυασμό. Το πρωί έβλεπα ένα φορτηγό με την επιγραφή "Δορυφορικά συστήματα" και στην επόμενη γραμμή από κάτω "Έπιπλα Ψάθινα Δώρα".

Μπορεί βεβαίως να έχουν "ενώσει τις δυνάμεις τους" δυο εταιρείες (δεν πρόλαβα να δω αν γράφει "Όμιλος Εταιρειών Νικολάκη" από κάτω), άλλα πιο ενδιαφέρουσα θα ήταν η σκέψη ότι πουλάνε ψάθινες δορυφορικές κεραίες που κάνουν και για καθίσματα και έρχονται σε συσκευασία δώρου...

Posted by betabug at 09:14 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
03 October 2006

Sketching Kerameikos

From my notebook, pen selection, practice!
The Acropolis, seen from Kerameikos

This afternoon after work, I went to Kerameikos again. I had left a little bit earlier, but still had only a short time with direct sunlight. Made two and a half sketches, the last "half" one abandoned and given up on. My newly filled up pen is much better than what I used last time, but I need a lot of more practice. The sketches are from the last visit, the first shows the Acropolis as seen from the Kerameikos archeological site...

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05 October 2006

Menu: Souvlaki (and that's it)

A visit to an old fashioned Souvlaki shop

Souvlaki is one of the internationally most known Greek foods. Essentially it is just meat on a stick, but comes in many varieties. In Athenian parlance, the term "souvlaki" also means the complete small pita bread with souvlaki, fries, tomato, tsatsiki, and anything else - confusing enough it may be called souvlaki even if it contains a sausage or gyros instead of a real souvlaki. The modern souvlaki shops offer a wide variety of the stuff, customized to the nth degree.

Yesterday we went to an old fashioned souvlaki shop. They offer exactly one food on their menu: Souvlaki. To be more precise, they offer what in Athens is called "Kalamaki", small wooden stick souvlaki with bread, no pita, no fries, no tomatoes, no salad to go with it, nothing...

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06 October 2006

Eating Like the Ancient Greeks

Visiting the restaurant Αρχαίων (Arhaion) for some "old" food

It's full moon time. Time for doing something romantic, like going to the Acropolis in moonshine. Unfortunately the nights when the Acropolis is open to the public in full moon nights are only in Summer. As an alternative we went to dine in the garden of the restaurant Αρχαίων (Arhaion), eating food like the ancient Greeks did. We had an interesting food experience and a good view of the moon too...

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07 October 2006

Towing, Ancient Recipes, Pictures

Bits and pieces...

While coming home from Αρχαίων (Arhaion, the restaurant with "ancient" Greek food) by bus, we found our bus suddenly blocked in a small street. In front of us was another bus, and before that one was someone who had parked his car in a corner and walked away. We were close to home, so went out and contemplated walking the last bit. While we thought about it, we had the chance to watch the tow car arrive, hook the offending car up, and tow it away. Revenge! The car didn't have a car alarm, so the sound effects were low-key.

Also I wanted to remark on my last post about that restaurant Αρχαίων. Obviously they can't tell you that their food is really exactly like in ancient Greece, because nobody alive today (and out of a psych clinic) has eaten genuine ancient Greek food. But it's the idea that counts, and maybe the old texts and inspiration were enough for the chef to produce something that could pass for ancient food. It's a bit like "experimental archeology", where they build huts and run around in self-made cloths out of hand-spun wool.

Today we went for coffee at the very nice kafeneion in the National Garden next to Syntagma square. I made a little drawing there, which I liked (no bragging here!) and would have really wanted to use to illustrate this post. But somehow with the drawings I am back to where I was before the digital camera in my phone: I'll have to scan it in and then I can publish it. Maybe I should combine taking photos and doing sketches. Adding the drawings to the posts two days later isn't such a great idea in the weblog format, so maybe I'll add small posts just with the drawings as they come along.

Posted by betabug at 19:40 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
08 October 2006

Magic Dice & Cloud

Eleni Traveling
cloud tower on blue sky on the hils around Athens

Tomorrow Eleni will be traveling to Germany. So today we met again with friends, this time in the cafeteria in the Parko Eleftherias. On the way home we noticed that there were big towering clouds on the horizon, on an otherwise spotless blue sky.

I snapped a few pictures, hoping to catch the spirit of those huge towers, looking along all the street canyons, as there were different clouds in multiple directions. They were based in the hills around Athens.

Likely they are a weather phenomenon due to the shape of the land Athens is built on. The megalopolis is stretched out over a relatively flat and wide bowl (just a few hills in the middle), with a ring of hills around it (and open to the side where the sea is of course). When the exhaust from cars and heating gets stuck in that ring of hills, we get smog. Today it seems that those hills caused different layers of air to intermingle and produce those clouds.

Despite the clouds it's pretty warm, we saw a sign giving 24C at around 19:00 in the afternoon. Warm enough to eat on the balcony and then play some backgammon out there too. In the process of getting my 3rd or so doubled game in, I dropped a dice... from the third floor.

Luck had it, there was no one down there. I saw it bounce off the street a couple of time. I picked up a spare to continue the game (as I'm a crypto-nut, I always have enough dice at home, the particular one I had bought in a shop selling backgammon and chess sets in Monastiraki).

Right after the game I looked down from the balcony again, in reverence to the dice who went down there. And I saw a light spot, on the opposite side of the street, right next to the line of a car's shade. Must be the dice! I jumped up and went down (the stairs!), and indeed it was! The dice is mostly unharmed, with some grey spots on the corners and a hardly noticeable dent on one side. A magic dice indeed!

Posted by betabug at 21:21 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
11 October 2006

Site Update Trivia

Not much changed

A few very small things have changed on this site: First, my friend xsa has finally unslacked enough to publish some of his stuff in a weblog. His feed took the place of kassandra (who seems to be on a blogging hiatus, but I'll be happy to re-list her when she starts to post her excellent writings again). In the process I discovered the problem behind the missing dates for the posts *and* managed to fix the stuff. [pats own back here]

Next thing I noticed that the one page about me had a number of hits over time. I think some of them are people who found my site due to some search query or a bad humored coincidence and then possibly clicked on that link to find out who is behind all that. The page in question had some information, but nothing that could give a quick idea. So I changed that, which was an interesting experience, writing about myself. Now we can go back to our daily lifes of luxury and fun!

Posted by betabug at 00:42 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Mobile Internet in Greece

Some thoughts on getting online with a GSM phone

Updated: As of 2008/2009, the information in this article is outdated. Please read the Update: Mobile Internet for Visitors in Greece 2009 instead!

I have written before about Internet in Greece, ADSL-Preise in Griechenland (in German) and SMTP on the Go with CosmOTE, and the result is that sometimes people email me with further questions. Dave from England wrote me asking about getting online from a mobile phone:

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Posted by betabug at 23:30 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (1)
13 October 2006

Writing Zope and RewriteRule documentation

Meanwhile, over at

Yesterday evening I made an effort to rewrite the Zope and Apache page over at Something that I had intended to do for a long time. The old version of the page always had seemed confusing to me, especially in mentioning stuff like ProxyPass that zopistas don't really use any more nowadays. I hope "my" version is better now.

Today I noticed still some things missing, I went a step further and added a section about "Debugging, Common Pitfalls, Problems", in short the things that can go wrong and where to look after them.

Usually I would have written this kind of guide or how-to on my own site somewhere. But on the one hand, the basis has been there before (and I left in much more than I added or rewrote) and on the other hand being part of something like and sharing in a community project is an experiment for me that gave me some good vibes.

Posted by betabug at 18:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
16 October 2006

Kühler, also Zeit zu schreiben

...oder lieber gleich mit dem Winterschlaf anfangen?

Die letzten Tage ist es bei uns einiges kühler geworden, vor einer Woche hatten wir oft auch spät abends noch 20 Grad, momentan wirds mit 17 Grad schon richtig kühl. Natürlich nichts im Vergleich zu nördlichen Ländern :-). Die "Temperatureinstellung" des Menschen ist schon was komisches. Heute morgen musste ich noch kurz was erledigen und ging etwas früher aus dem Haus. Ich ertappte mich doch tatsächlich dabei, dass ich probierte ob mein Atem in der kalten Luft sichtbar ist... als ob wir auch nur irgendwo in der Nähe vom Gefrierpunkt wären. Man gewöhnt sich halt an das sommerliche und auch spätsommerlich warme Wetter.

Gerade mit den kühleren Temperaturen habe ich nicht immer so viel Lust rauszugehen und gross was zu unternehmen. Also mehr Zuhause sein und mit etwas Glück auch mal was kreatives machen. So ist zuletzt eben die zu einer Überarbeitung gekommen und neue Ideen für anderes habe ich auch schon. Also nur noch die Tendenz zum beginnenden Winterschlaf überwinden und los geht's...

Posted by betabug at 13:29 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
17 October 2006

IP Telephony, Here I Come!

Skype, Gizmo, ...and Vivodi

Yesterday I signed up with Internet telephony services Gizmo and Skype. I had been looking into the options for a while, but then just came the time. The thing is, that I need cheaper phone calls to some European countries right now, and yesterday was the day to finally get it rolling...

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Posted by betabug at 19:56 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
18 October 2006

Μου μιλάς ακόμα;

Πως να τσεκάρουμε αν είναι ζωντανός ένας εξυπηρετητής

Ένας γνωστός server τον όποιον διαχειρίζομαι με άλλους έχει πρόβλημα και σταματάει τη λειτουργία του κάθε τόσο. Μάλλον πρόβλημα hardware, αλλά είναι δύσκολο να ξέρουμε. Αυτό που θέλω να κάνω, όμως, είναι να μαθαίνω νωρίτερα αν υπάρχει πρόβλημα, δηλαδή αν δεν απαντάει...

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19 October 2006

Power Day

Blow my fuse, baby!

The last 24 hours were deeply rooted in the power of electricity. First of all on Wednesday evening at home our super quality electricity system blew a fuse, which left me sitting in the dark, right as I was talking on the phone. Then I came into work on Friday morning, logged into only to find that there had been a power failure in the housing, which hadn't worked out so well with the G3 (no, no, I'm lucky there has no permanent problem). And to round things out my new bluetooth headset acted up in the afternoon, which isn't really in the electricity category by itself, but I needed the charger to get it to work again, and the charger was of course at home...

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21 October 2006

Night Promenade

Walking from Floisvos to Kalamaki

Today I was in need of some fresh air. One of the best oxygen suppliers in Athens is the sea. So I took the bus to Faliro and walked along the promenade.

The sea is agitated and in some places illuminated. It's pretty warm so the experience is very agreeable.

I had stopped at the chess pavilion and watched two fast games. The spectators were shouting and commenting out loud. Not what they usually do in chess, but since they all knew each other it was good fun.

Posted by betabug at 20:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
22 October 2006

One Rule to RewriteRule them all

New version of the witch out

This very moment I've uploaded a new version of the RewriteRule Witch, the RewriteRule generator that helps you to get proper RewriteRules for Zope VirtualHosting through apache. So, what's new? The witch outputs now only one rule. We still cover both cases that the old "two rule" version did, but with an "or" inside the regular expression we need only one rule now...

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23 October 2006

Places of Enjoyment in Athens

Marialena's list of 10+1 special places
Kafeneion in the National Garden, Athens

Marialena, in one of the blogs I follow regularly because I like their writing, has posted some weeks ago a post about 10+1 places of Enjoyment in Athens (where "places" could also be translated as "moments" - the article is in Greek).

At first I had thought about making my own list, possibly sharing some points with Marialena (the National Garden would be right there in my list too). But there is a special quality to her list, one that I can't try to answer or further: She doesn't just have a checklist of places ("go there, look at that"), but instead some of these places are situations or special occasions in the flow of the city.

So all I can do now is to tell you to go and read through that list (assuming you understand some Greek), maybe look at the few pictures, let yourself be inspired to look out for your own special moments and places here (and if you live somewhere else, in your own place). I'll go as far as to illustrate this post with a small drawing I did in the kafeneion of the National Garden. The sun was shining, autumn was almost there and we enjoyed a quiet, green moment almost out of town.

Posted by betabug at 23:16 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
24 October 2006

Automatic Menus on the Nautica Project

The easiest CMS on Zope just got easier

Yesterday evening I spent some "quality time" online with sm (this morning for him) to improve further on the ZWiki Nautica Project. In case you missed that, it's a site that skins a ZWiki in a good looking template from, thereby trying to prove the point that a ZWiki is really the easiest CMS on Zope. There still are some things missing, but we improved a lot on how the menu is done...

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Posted by betabug at 09:22 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
25 October 2006

Long Time No See

Going for a special coffee in Kalamaki
Evening sky over the sea near Faliron

When I was about to leave work yesterday, I made a phone call to my friend Φωτεινή (Fotini, or Fofi for short) from old times, back when I was living in Athens for the first time. We haven't seen each other for what? 15? 16? or 17 years? A very long time. From work I took the bus and went to Faliron, from where I walked to Kalamaki. I could have taken another bus of course, but I had plenty of time and the sea was a sight (click on the picture for a bigger view).

Then we finally met again, went for coffee and had lots of stories to tell. I had the pleasure to see that she's doing very well, turned out to become a successful and busy businesswoman. There were lots of moments when I was just struck by the situation and probably couldn't open my mouth and say a word. Let me say just so much now: That was a very long time.

Posted by betabug at 09:24 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
26 October 2006

I'm Saying Good-Bye to

...and thanks for all the great music

Last week I took a step that was in the pipeline for a long time now - I unsubscribed from the download music service. I did that despite believing that emusic is the best, correction: the only real download music service. In contrast to many systems that kind of let you "lend" the music while pumping it full of copy protection crap, limiting you by what you can do with the tracks (or even how long you can play them) emusic lets you download real, unencumbered MP3s. They also have a lot of good music (but they don't have mainstream top ten stuff). So why did I leave? A monthly subscription just doesn't fit my listening habits, read on for an explanation...

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Posted by betabug at 19:12 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
28 October 2006

Mit einem Lächeln von der Arbeit

Manchmal klappt's halt auch

Manche Arbeitstage funktionieren halt besser als andere... am Freitag kam ich zum Beispiel mit einem Lächeln aus dem Büro. Unsere Applikation wird immer runder, voller und (wenn ich das mal selber behaupten darf) besser. Da kommen dann halt die Enden schön zusammen und wenn die Einzelteile "zusammenklicken" macht das Spielen mit Bauklötzen ja bekanntlich auch mehr Spass. Wenn dann mein Chef noch nach gewünschten Funktionen fragt und es ist alles schon da und eingebaut, da fängt es richtig an witzig zu werden.

Dann habe ich für die HelMUG auf dem Server noch was gebastelt, was sich "greylisting" nennt und den SPAM reduzieren sollte. Zuerst hat es sich beim Einbauen etwas quer gestellt, dann gings doch noch. Und dann habe ich das Logfile vom Mailserver aufgemacht und mitlaufen lassen... die SPAMs prallen auf eine Betonwand. Platsch! Das macht dann auch Spass zuzuschauen.

Greylisting ist nicht ganz unumstritten, aber für den Moment reduziert es sowohl den SPAM, den die Benutzer abkriegen, als auch den Arbeitsaufwand den der Server hat, denn die SPAMs wurden immer auch noch auf Viren geprüft, was aufwendig ist. Für den kurzen Auwand den ich hatte (selbst mit Problemen beim installieren), hat sich's gelohnt.

Posted by betabug at 23:53 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
29 October 2006

Business Class Emigrants

The Swiss Embassy performs

After a while where they couldn't get my address change right, the Swiss Embassy here in Athens found out where I am and sent me some mail. Next to the usual bimonthly color news magazine, there was also a letter from the ambassador. He's informing "the swiss colony in Greece" (my translation) about what to do in case of a crisis.

The first thought that came to my mind was that being a swiss emigrant nowadays really is the business class of emigration. I mean, which other country produces a four color magazine for its expatriates? And offers so much hand holding? (Even though the embassy doesn't really help when you come and ask for things like where to do your papers in the Greek bureaucracy, or where to find a lawyer/doctor/whatever.) I've seen the people waiting outside some third world embassies, and they aren't treated like that, they can feel lucky if their embassy gives them their necessary (and rightful) papers in a reasonable time. Ah well, can't change the world (especially not through writing in a weblog).

Then I looked through the info sheet about the crises. It isn't half bad, actually it's quite a good idea. I mean, I'm quite paranoid, but some swiss people arriving here could be ignorant about the fact that, yes, Greece has earthquakes, and yes, all kind of ugly stuff can happen in a middle to major earthquake. It's just good advice, not pushing things up and scaring people. There might be a tiny dose of CYA ("cover your ass") in there, where they state that in any natural catastrophic event, the duty of rescuing people (etc.) is on the Greek authorities. But all in all it reminded me of the usual swiss mentality of planning for the worst too and buying lots of insurance. I'll even go and implement some of their advice.

Posted by betabug at 23:11 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 October 2006

Jail for an RSS Link?

Freedom of oppinion is a joke

The weblogger and administrator of the Greek blog aggregator was handcuffed, arrested, and had his computer hard disk confiscated,... all because his blog aggregator had picked up an RSS feed where a TV evangelist was satyrized. At the same time we have the UN organized Internet Governance Forum, right here in Vouliagmeni. Gonna be a lot of talk about freedom of speech, while they put handcuffs on people for less than that.

What do I intend to do? I signed up for the Internet Governance Forum. And I urge you to do the same. If my application comes through, especially I want to go to the main session on Tuesday morning, titled "Openness" (see the program). I want to hear what they say, and maybe I can get to ask a question or two. Like "what good is all this talk when people can get in jail for a link, even in democratic countries like Greece?"

Update στα Ελληνικά:
Ο Έλληνας blogger και blog aggregator του συνελήφθη γιατί το aggregator του περιείχε ένα link σε ένα blog που κορόιδεψε τον Λιακόπουλο.

Τι να κάνουμε; Πάμε βόλτα στην Βουλιαγμένη! Εγγραφείτε για το φόρουμ και πείτε την γνώμη σας, όπως θα το κάνω εγώ.

Posted by betabug at 11:04 | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)
31 October 2006

The Case at the Internet Governance Forum

Greek government official hears about

So I've arrived at the Internet Governance Forum here in Greece. I was a bit delayed due to the heavy rain and lack of geographic information. But I managed to arrive towards the end of the "Openness" session. I've heard some lame speeches (example: they asked the Microsoft guy about human rights and he started to talk about protecting software from being copied and how China has advanced in this respect). Later I heard Kieren McCarthy (from The Register) bring the case to the attention of the panel. He used some strong words, naming the issue a disgrace for Greece and the forum...

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IGF - the Double Chinese Wall

Listening to the panel on Security

The speaker from China gave us some examples where they had responded to IPs spewing out SPAM and viruses. Before that audience members had raised points about the security of the network and the connectivity of developing nations.

I started to think about these two. In practice some of network admins block all of china to their port 25. If this happens, connectivity for developing countries is at stake. OTOH I could open a couple of mail logs and probably give the chinese CNCERT man offending IPs faster than he could write down those cases.

And that's not just china. Spam comes in through home broadcast IPs nowadays. Governments are more keen on using collaboration on their political or pet crime (IP) topics. Spammers are mostly immune to collaborative law investigation for example.

Posted by betabug at 15:30 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Day at IGF Sum-Up

Interesting, after all
IGF badge

Here I am, back home, still a bit cold after all the rain I've been in and out of. To sum up this day, I've seen and heard some interesting things, I've been reminded that all these problem areas on the Internet now and in the future need solutions. I helped getting the story of mentioned once in the "Openness" session (where Kieren McCarthy brought it up), and once I mentioned it again in the afternoon session in the big room, when I sneaked it into a question I asked...

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Posted by betabug at 23:42 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)