01 February 2006
The Line Is Up
Yes, ADSL at home
Yes, everything worked. The technician from Vivodi came around at the
specified time. He was delighted to find my two flatmate-grrls there.
The installation seemed to have gone fine. I was already looking out to
get a wireless kit or some other means to get the net to my room. But
then I came home and discovered that the ADSL modem is also a router and
wireless access point. Nice.
Even nicer was the setup of the wireless: It was wide open. At least
there was a password on the admin account, but the network was open and
unencrypted, and the built in firewall was off. So as a first measure
I set up that stuff a bit, WEP 128, MAC address registration, and
the firewall will at least deter the lazier script kiddies. Anything
important will have to be encrypted anyway to go over the line. At least
my paranoia is well developped enough that I use PGP/GPG daily, have the
firewall on my personal machine on and use encrypted protocols for
everything I can. It would be cool to have a Soekris with OpenBSD to
secure the wireless, but that is currently out of the reach.
Oh, and the technician was really happy to have my flatmates around,
he gave them his phone number and reminded them to call him if they have
questions. "Any questions! Just call me!" Yeah, sure :-)
02 February 2006
Μαθαίνοντας Zope στην Ελλάδα
Learning Zope in Greece - Weblog
Στην δουλειά είμαι προϊστάμενος τώρα. Η Μαίρη και ο Ανδρέας με βοηθάνε και μαθαίνουν το Zope. Ενδιαφέρουσα κατάσταση. Από την μια πλευρά δεν είχα πότε "μαθητευόμενο" στον προγραμματισμό, και είναι ωραία να βλέπω πως μαθαίνουν, κάθε μέρα προχωράνε. Από την άλλη πλευρά πολλές μέρες μου σπάνε λίγο τα νεύρα που ρωτάνε συνέχεια. Για να τους έχω απασχολημένους, τους έβαλα να κάνουν ένα weblog Learning Zope in Greece. Έτσι...
- Μαθαίνουν πιο γρήγορα (γιατί για να γράφεις πρέπει να διαβάζεις και να σκέφτεσαι)
- Επιστρέφουν κάτι που μάθανε από άλλους (δεν υπάρχουν και πολλά για το Zope στα Ελληνικά)
- Μπορώ να βλέπω τι διαβάζουν
Κανονικά τους έχω πει να διαβάζουν καθημερινά την Zope mailing list, και να γράφουν κάτι για το τι διάβαζαν εκεί. Αυτό δεν έγινε (εκτός από μια φορά) δυστυχώς. Μήπως κάποια μέρα τους έρθει η όρεξη για κάτι τέτοιο. Χρήσιμο θα ήτανε σίγουρα. Άλλα και μέχρι τότε, το "blog" τους έχει πολύ ενδιαφέρον. Καλορίζικο!
Phone Tapping Scandal in Greece
Hello Mr. President
From before the 2004 Olympics, until March 2005, about 100 mobile
phone numbers of politicians (amongst them also the prime minister)
and official offices have been tapped by
unknowns. One number under "surveillance" seems to have
belonged also to the american embassy. In March 2005 the installation was discovered by an audit (or
a check up) from Ericsson technicians, and the officials were informed.
Not until today though, was the public and ADAE ("Hellenic Authority for
the Information and Communication Security and Privacy") informed. The
mobile phones were tapped by stealth software in the providers
Continue reading "Phone Tapping Scandal in Greece"
04 February 2006
Stats going up
The last post about the phone tapping scandal here in Greece was quite the success. Bruce Schneier linked to it, later Slashdot linked to Bruce Schneier. And since then that post got a lot of views. February already surpassed all of January in the stats. Right now the post had 5700 pageviews. It's fun to watch the access log scroll by. Even then, these numbers are not that high, about 15 hits per minute. For some websites out there that would be a joke. My server wasn't breaking a sweat either, 97% idle at all times (even though a B&W G3/350 isn't a big iron). Looks like my setup with Zope and COREBlog is working fine too (especially the setup with a RAMCacheManager, the machine rarely ever touches the disk at all).
Only very few of the visitors look at other pages too, about 94% see only the one page. But even with the few who look at another page, I feel there might be some people who maybe found something interesting that I had to provide. If you see this, take a look around and (for example) discover some of the interesting things you can experience in a visit to Athens or the island of Limnos.
Historical Sweets Shopping
Ζαχαροπλαστεία from 1910, 1928, 1944 on one corner
On a little excursion to the center of Athens I noticed a funny grouping of shops around one corner of Βουλής (Voulis) Street: There are three Ζαχαροπλαστεία (Zaxaroplasteia, pastry shops, places to buy Greek sweets) on or around the same corner, and they all advertise being founded in some distant past...
Continue reading "Historical Sweets Shopping"
06 February 2006
Looking For (English) Bookshops Again
Science Fiction isn't what they think
Saturday's nice weather found us going into the center of Athens,
looking for bookstores with English language books
again. On the "athensguide" web site I had
found a mention of a shop called Compendium (or Compendeum) which we
looked for on Nikis Street (near Syntagma square), but it was gone. No
link to that page, as it is outdated, should be either updated or
removed. Next to where that shop was, there is a branch of
Eleftheroudakis, but only with a small English section. We went on to
the "big" Ελευθερουδάκης (Eleftheroudakis) on Panepistimiou street (which
got relabelled to Eleftheros Venizelos street btw)...
Continue reading "Looking For (English) Bookshops Again"
07 February 2006
iCab jetzt mit CSS 2
iCab ist wieder da... Taxi, Taxi!
iCab war lange Zeit mein Lieblings-Browser. Zwar nicht Open Source, aber schnell, klein, und unabhänging. Dann kam (endlich) CSS 2 auf das Netz und viele Seiten funktionierten mit iCab zwar noch, sahen aber eher seltsam aus, weil iCab kein richtiges CSS kannte. Irgendwie sah es aus, als ob es mit iCab nicht weiterginge. Das hat sich jetzt geändert. Die "Public Beta 3" von iCab 3 ist da und damit auch die Unterstützung von CSS 2. CSSZenGarden sieht damit aus wie es soll (nämlich geschniegelt). "Meine" Applikation (die ich hier unten in Athen entwickle) sieht auf den ersten Blick auch schon aus wie sie soll. Willkommen zurück, iCab!
The Greek 2CV Stamp
2CV going postal!
Look what my boss just handed me: A Greek stamp with a picture of a blue 2CV. It's one of the older series (too busy to look up the exact model right now) and it looks swell. The picture is a bit enlarged from the original and I did not get the colours just right. The stamp has the year 2005 printed on it, and on the opposite side the name of the car: Citroën 2CV.
Vodafone Suicide Rumours: Weird Last Mails
Some rumours to go with the phone tapping scandal in Greece
Let's play rumourmill for a moment: Just talked to a friend who is working in the telecoms industry here in Greece. He's not working for Vodafone (nor was he ever), but he had heard from the suicide of the Vodafone employee (the one who seems connected to the phone tapping scandal)... back last September or October.
At his company they had a lot of work and when they started to yammer about "management is killing us with all the work", someone told the story of the Vodafone employee in the manner of "look what work can do to you". So far ok, but the interesting thing is that he heard back then that the Vodafone employee in question had sent mails out to his coworkers the evening "before" in the form of "you will have to do this", "please do that", etc., and another mail to his supervisor "we won't be speaking tomorrow morning".
Now doesn't that send a nice rumoury shiver down your spine? Of course this is all hearsay, so don't take my word for anything.
08 February 2006
Greece Moves Forward To the Past in Informatics
"Strategic" agreement of the greek state with Microsoft
It's bad enough that a few days ago statistics showed us that only about 1 in 5 Greeks ever used a computer, and that most of those use it only for entertainment. Now the government went for the total sell-out. In a new agreement, they ensured that the states software will be from Microsoft for the next years... likely till 2013. Everybody is now wondering if there was ever a public call for offers for this deal. Likely not, the way it came just out of the blue. For the country this is a problem, since a monoculture is the opposite of a healthy informatics society...
Continue reading "Greece Moves Forward To the Past in Informatics"
09 February 2006
Pläne für griechische Ostern
Dieses Jahr nach Limnos?
Griechische Ostern fällt dieses Jahr (2006 für alle die's vergessen haben oder nächstes Jahr lesen) auf den 23. April. Vielleicht schaffe ich es ja dieses Jahr nach Limnos zu fahren (letztes Jahr war ich in Athen, genauer Nikaia). Allerdings macht das nur wirklich Sinn wenn noch Leute mitkommen. Denn an Ostern ist alles zu, man kocht und brät zu Hause und im Grünen. Ich kenne in Παναγιά (Panagia) zwar einen Haufen Leute, aber sich selber zum Lamm braten einzuladen ist nicht wirklich die feine Art. Wenn ich noch Gäste im Haus habe, macht das Fest mehr Spass. Na, mal sehen.
Siehe auch: Griechische Ostern 2008
Friends Weblogs Moved
Hope they packed the plates up good
As you may have noticed, I'm linking to a few weblogs that I like and occasionally even read (!). Two of them moved lately:
Deviousdiva's. I'm just glad I don't have to move myself, I would hate it to have to sort out all my software and patches [knocks on wood]. Until things are set up properly again with the feed reader on this page, there might be small hickups on the links, thanks for the patience!
11 February 2006
Greek Mac User Sunday
HelMUG meetings in Athens and Thessaloniki
This sunday we will have HelMUG meetings in the two biggest cities of Greece: At 12:00 in Athens (Flocafe Thission), and at 17:00 in the "Clocks" in Thessaloniki. These are relaxed meetings in a Cafeteria, no speeches or presentations, no protocol, just a bunch of people hanging out and talking the Mac talk. Since the weather turned nice again, we will possibly be sitting outside. And since I am in Athens, I will go to Thission. If you are around this sunday and want to pass by, consider yourself invited! The meetings are open to non-members too.
The guys from Thessaloniki plan to do a live streaming of their meeting. To do this we (the admins who look after the HelMUG server) will have to setup the QuickTime Streaming Server. We haven't done this before, so we have some QTSS RTFM to do. If we can pull it off in time, I will post a link here, so stay tuned.
12 February 2006
Sunshine with HelMUG, Darkness with QTSS
Always an experience
So I went to see the HelMUG crowd today. We sat in a Cafeteria in the
sun. The sun was nice, but the wind was cold, when we left we were all
frozen up. Still it was nice to see them again and talk about Macs and
the club. We definitely should find a good location and start making
fixed meetings once a month. With all the hype about the phone tapping,
it would be a good chance to give an introduction to PGP for example :-)
On the way there I took a fitting image... and then we tried to stream
the meeting in Thessaloniki to the 'net...
Continue reading "Sunshine with HelMUG, Darkness with QTSS"
13 February 2006
cyradm Cheatsheet for Mac OS X Server
One of those "note to self" posts
I rarely have to do stuff on Mac OS X Servers with cyradm (the cyrus imap server administration tool). That's why I always have to look the stuff up. Here is a little cheatsheet for some of the commands I have used so far...
Continue reading "cyradm Cheatsheet for Mac OS X Server"
14 February 2006
Vodafone Public Relations in the Phone Tapping Storm
Security is hard... and sometimes expensive when it fails
The phone tapping scandal has been a public relations disaster on the
scale of a nuclear bomb for Vodafone Greece. Vodafone has disappeared
from the market. No TV spots any more (they used to be on all channels),
no posters, no mention of their sponsorship for the Greek soccer team,
pop star Sakis Rouvas, and others. They had started out well enough on
the initial press conference, cooperating with the authorities.
promising that they had done the right thing, that they had handed
everything over. That changed soon enough...
Continue reading "Vodafone Public Relations in the Phone Tapping Storm"
19 February 2006
Πλατεία Κλαυθμώνος, μέχρι 26.02.2006
Στην πλατεία Κλαυθμώνος (απέναντι από την πλατεία Κοραή) υπάρχει αυτή την εποχή ένα παζάρι βιβλίου. Είναι οργανωμένο από τον "Σύνδεσμο Εκδοτών Βιβλίου". Οι εκδότες βάζουν τα βιβλία που δεν πουλάνε εκεί. Ανάμεσα από πολλές παραξενιές (συνταγές από το 1970 - με φωτογραφίες πολύ της εποχής) έχει και κάτι ωραία. Μερικά όμως δεν τα βλέπω να "τραβάνε", όσο φτηνά και να τα βάλουν: "Windows 3.1 σε εικόνες", κανείς; Εμείς πάντως διασκεδάσαμε μια χαρά, και πήραμε και τόσα βιβλία που μου πόνεσαν τα χέρια από το κουβάλημα. Ξένα βιβλία δεν έχει τίποτα όμως, μόνο λεξικά και λίγα φροντιστηριακά.
21 February 2006
First Glimpse of Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network
...and Wifi mucking around at home
In Athens there is an open wireless network. I knew as much and had
visited the website of the Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network.
Apparently they use directed antennas to build
"backbones" that at some point connect to the greater Internet. It
follows that you need some equipment to find out if you have any
connectivity. They have a map where you can look up access points and
"connectors" in your area, but this won't tell you if you really have a
signal. This morning, due to mucking around with my own miserable
wireless connection, I catched a glimpse of an AWMN signal myself.
Continue reading "First Glimpse of Athens Wireless Metropolitan Network"
22 February 2006
Do You Use PGP?
Encryption is not just for techies any more
This morning Rodolfo
asked me if I use GPG (which is a program that
implements PGP encryption, for example for sending secure mails). My
answer is of course: "I do - almost every day." I recommend it to
everyone. The reasons are well known, the old saying is that E-Mail is
only about as secure as a postcard written with pencil. If you work for
a stupid employer or use a mail server of a stupid company, it's even
less secure. One problem with encrypting your mails if that the other
side has to be using the stuff too. So here are some real world
Continue reading "Do You Use PGP?"
23 February 2006
Throughput and chaos
My bus line to work goes along one of the bigger traffic arteries of
central Athens. On some days when traffic thickens, someone from the
τροχαία (trohaia - the traffic department) sends out traffic cops on
bike or car to each intersection. These cops are equipped with one
whistle each and some of them have white gloves to go with their
Continue reading "Traffic Cops"
24 February 2006
Aussergewöhnliches Wetter... und Staub
Nein, meine Kamera ist nicht dermassen schlecht, in Athen ist es
heute neblig. Geparkte Autos sind ausserdem mit einer feinen
Staubschicht überzogen. Das ist aussergewöhnlich und errinert mich an einen
solchen Tag im April 2005, an dem wir
Sand aus der Sahara zu
Besuch hatten. Diese Nacht hatte es ausserdem geregnet, so dass die
Luftfeuchtigkeit auch höher ist. In den Nachrichten habe ich noch nichts
zum Staub gefunden. Einfach auf die Bilder klicken, um eine etwas grössere
Ansicht zu sehen.
Not Seeing Salif Keita in Athens
I prefer to remember the old times
Saw some posters on bus stations, Salif Keita is coming to Athens. He has concerts in Thessaloniki and in Athens, each in the respective Megaron Mousikis. The Athens Megaron Mousikis is the biggest and shiniest music hall for classical music here. I understand that these are a "Stop AIDS" concerts. Some
Information from the Megaro Mousikis website (in Greek, direct link, because the website of Megaron Mousikis is plain unusable). The prices are very steep (starting from 40 Euro and going up to 300 Euro for VIP tickets). I'm just not going to do that, no matter that I really like Salif Keita's music.
I have seen and heard Salif Keita play life in Athens before. It was back somewhere in 1988, in a big open air concert on the beach in Kalamaki. It was a wonderfull night filled with some of the best african bands. There were a few african immigrants too, back then these were still very few and likely all of them who were able to raise the money for tickets were there. I had left at 5 in the morning to go home and sleep, even though the concert was still going. Lucky me I lived just a 5 minutes walk from the concert beach. When I briefly woke up around 8 in the morning I still heard them play. I will always remember that concert. Please excuse me Salif Keita, but I will continue remembering you in that concert. I don't think a lot of the african immigrants today in Athens can raise 40, 70, or even 90 Euro for a ticket. Also: How appropriate is a classical music concert hall for this music?
P.S.: Woody Allen had played with his big band in the Megaron Mousikis some time ago too. Tickets started around 240 Euro and went up to 360 Euro. This is around half of a monthly salary for "normal" jobs here. And it wasn't even a benefit concert. I've heard that Woody has some psychological problems, and given these circumstances I might believe that.
26 February 2006
A Visit to Diomidis Spinellis
In class with the author of "Code Reading"
Greece is not exactly known as the navel of Open Source Software, but
there is one author whose book stands out and became a success in that
world. When Diomidis Spinellis wrote "Code Reading" he did not
anticipate its success. The book was featured on slashdots frontpage for
months, it received best reviews from several Open Source programming
insiders and is on the "recommended reading" list for a couple of free
OS's. Last Friday I went to visit Diomidis and got a chance to
experience his teaching too...
Continue reading "A Visit to Diomidis Spinellis"
28 February 2006
Es wird heller
Der Winter ist in Athen Ende Februar schon fast vorbei
Die letzten Tage wurde es hier schon einiges Wärmer, Höchst-Temperaturen von 15 bis 18 Grad Celsius, manchmal bewölkt, aber ab und zu auch mal Sonne. Ende Februar ist in Athen der Winter schon fast vorbei (obwohl es im März schon noch genug Regenfälle geben wird). Ein weiterer Effekt ist, dass ich aus dem Büro komme und es noch hell ist. (Siehe Bild.) Das wirkt sich immer auch auf meine Stimmung aus, ist halt schon was anderes noch etwas hellen Himmel zu sehen. Bis ich mit dem Bus quer durchs Zentrum zu Hause ankomme ist es dann schon dunkel.
No contact, no Airport
Looks like my good old PowerBook is finally falling appart. I can
connect to the Wifi network at home, but only when I screw open the
PowerBook and wiggle the connection to the airport card just right.
The Titanium PowerBook (a 550Mhz in my case) was never well known for
good wifi connections. But my Ti is now 4 years old, I have carried it halfway across Europe and on daily commute back in Switzerland.
The material wear is just showing, the Airport antenna connection seems
to be on the definitive way out too now (the connection to the screen is
already halfway gone)...
Continue reading "Wiggle Wireless"