02 December 2007
HelMUG and Reading Sunday
Kafka on the Shore
For this Sunday I had planned to prepare the upgrade of my server. But as I had a bit of wrist problem again the last days, I decided to do a reduced-computer-day today. Instead I was reading. "Kafka on the Shore", by Haruki Murakami. I had picked up this book when I was in Munich. I can't give a final word on the book, but I'm glued to reading it all day. It's intricating (yeah, I had to look up that word too).
Well, one thing I did today is to go to the HelMUG meeting. After many times with only 2-4 people, today there were something like 12 people there. It was nice, with nice discussions and mac-chats. A lot of the people I hadn't seen before and some regulars too.
03 December 2007
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).
04 December 2007
Suppress zLOG output in Zope tests
Another of these "note to self" posts
In an old product of mine, the ZopeTestCase tests were being run from a shell script, using framework.py. I'm switching that to running them with zopectl test. It's not too hard after I had found out how. But strange enough it would show any zLOG output of level WARNING or higher on the console. Annoying when all you want to see is a happy line of ......... test dots. So here is how to suppress this log output...
Continue reading "Suppress zLOG output in Zope tests"
Not so common here
Trees can be very different in Greece compared to northern Europe. While
up there Autumn is the season when the leaves are turning yellow and
red, and Winter is when trees and fields are barren, here it's more
green in Winter, and dry and yellow in Summer. There are some small
exceptions in Athens, where trees have leaves that turn yellow. They do
so a bit late too. It's already early December, but these trees looked
nice in this morning's sun.
Most of the time I don't think it's any good to compare countries. They
do this one way here and another way there, so what? You got used to
one thing and they don't have it here? I prefer to adapt. There are
times when it gets confusing, because some habits were rooted deeply in
you when you grew up. For me those are the moments when I step back and
try to just observe the difference, not judge it.
When it really gets confusing it might help to have a place to
retreat to, a good home where you are allowed to have things your
way, even if that's a bit different from local habits. In the end, I
take what I like from the local habits. I'm here because I like it, so
it's easy to take a lot.
08 December 2007
Rain Outside a 2CV
Two cylinders put-puting down memory lane
It's raining outside. I really enjoy this "sitting inside with the rain out of the window" thing. As a child I didn't have that, back then rain (or in general bad weather) was more of the "cant' go outside, so have to be bored" thing, even though I was a bookworm anyway. At some point that turned. Well, tonight when I ventured outside to get some food, I saw a nice red 2CV with white wings.
That sight reminded me of the feeling of running through the rain to my own 2CV, then fumbling with the door lock, jumping inside (seats and the whole car's suspension heaving), slamming the door behind me. And then sitting there for a second before starting the car, enjoying the moment of "being in the dry" and hearing the raindrops on the roof, transitioning myself from hectic necessity to get out of the rain to a mood more fitting for careful driving. Last step: Trying to get the heating emit anything resembling enough heat to fight the fogging of the windows (yeah I know, I wrote "trying" for a reason).
11 December 2007
Just in case you are living synchronously in Athens and under a rock: Tomorrow Wednesday 2007-12-12 will be a big strike here. Public transport will be mostly out for 24 hours, other public services will be totally out for 24 hours. I will work from home, I don't think it's worth it to try to get on the street and compete for one of the taxis - which will be overcrowded, overcharging and driven by bad tempered (even more than usual) drivers.
Before any foreigners unused to strikes complain: The reason for this strike is the situation with the various pension funds. As far as I get the situation, various governments have helped themselves to the money of those pension funds to plug holes in their budgets. There has to be a way to make a point, even if it inconveniences some people who are not responsible for the situation.
13 December 2007
Meteor Shower... or Clouds?
Where are our sunshine days now that we need them?
It's cold, rainy, and uncomfortable, but that's not the reason I'm complaining about the weather. The reason is that now we would need one of those famous 300 days of clear sky we have every year in Greece, not the cloud cover we have now. We'd need a clear sky to see the Geminid Meteor Shower flashing up to 100 "shooting stars" per hour over the night sky (ok, not all of them really visible). There wouldn't be much to see in Athens itself (too much city lights), but it would be a chance to drive out of the city for a night excursion. But as I said, not likely with this weather.
14 December 2007
Celebrating with Chäshörnli
Always a reason to party!
The swiss political system is very peculiar - it's very much different from most other countries systems. For example, we have only 7 ministers in the government, and they come from 4 different parties. For four years we had a certain Multi-Millionaire by the name of Christoph Blocher in the government, someone on the "political right", who (as usual) plays the role of "people's poltitician" but in truth just bought his way to power. Well, to make a long story short, his stint in the government will be over by the end of the year. The swiss political system is built on cooperation, compromise, and consociationalism - which didn't work well with someone who wanted all the power for himself. In the end the system was healthy enough to clean up itself.
Myself I was smiling all day yesterday. Not only does it mean that the country where I grew up has still some chances for a continuation of a political system that is slightly more sane than other countries', but it also means that it's much easier not having to explain to non-swiss people why a country that is perceived as free and democratic has someone like Blocher in the government.
So, yesterday I bought some swiss cheese and tonight I'll serve my friends swiss Chäshörnli (recipe in Greek) in celebration. Always a reason to party! I should translate that recipe to English and take some nice pictures. Hmm, I should get a real camera (like wildweasel tells me all the time), so I could take food pictures like the ones on the Once Upon a Tart blog. Incidentally I found her by searching for chäshörnli pictures, but her recipe is much different from mine.
17 December 2007
And ring the bell
There I was, early morning in bed, already awake with thoughts and problems rolling around in my head and me rolling around in my bed. Felt like a pinball machine, with me involuntarily hitting the ball again and again, rocking the machine and cursing myself for not finding sleep again. Hey, I have to get to work later, can't I find some rest? I expected my mind to go "tilt" any moment. Maybe that would have been a good thing, but the ball didn't stop rocking back and forth.
Then my wake up clock rang. I grabbed it, shut it down, settled back for a moment and... closed my eyes to fall sound asleep. I even dreamed nice and cozy dreams. To make an end to this story: I managed to get up almost in time, but I seriously need to rewire that wake up clock. It's supposed to ring when I have to wake up, not when I fall asleep.
20 December 2007
The Software Equivalent of Duct Tape + Swiss Army Knife
Doing crazy stuff with crappy stuff
A few days ago, while waiting for the Metro to get me and some friends to a party, I was thinking about some of the crazy stuff I have done with crappy stuff in the past. I'm not a hardware guy, so I have to do the equivalent of building a rocket launcher with duct tape and a Swiss army knife in software. Here are two things that immediately come to my mind:
First was that crazy sales and contact management database I had built way back then, with FileMaker 3 (then moved to 4). Not crazy? No, so far that's just lame, as lame as FileMaker. But the crazy part was that this was a distributed, replicated database. Keeping the distributed databases from multiple locations in sync over email. It was possible for people to work on it offline on their laptops. The result was slightly crappy in hindsight, but it worked.
Next was of course the first SMS chat on TV (as far as I know ever), which was built in the time frame of 2 weeks. When the people who should originally do it gave up (without even trying), I stepped up and said: "I can do that." Well, I could, but all I had was a handful of crap hardware that nobody else wanted. Don't believe me? Would you say that a couple of Macintosh Performa 630 boxes with Mac System 7.6 are indeed crappy? One of them with 32MB RAM, the other two with 8MB. They were even crappy back in 2001 when this was taking place. Ups. I did this hack in AppleScript and using Claris Emailer. It worked quite well I'd say, even though the Claris Emailer mail database needed emptying quite often :-)
So, what are your software duct tape stories?
23 December 2007
Fix Functional Tests in Zope 2.10
Copy + Paste, my friend
A few weeks ago I introduced a new bug into the Zwiki code. A bug which made it past our tests. So I made up my mind to finally add some high level functional tests to our arsenal. Been there, done that, it's not so difficult. Then I hit the error TraversalError('No traversable adapter found', obj). It seems that the Zope 3 Page Template implementation in Zope 2.10 made it impossible to run the same functional tests on Zope 2.9 and 2.10. Which is kind of unfortunate if you happen to work on a Product that should run under multiple Zope versions. The solution is to copy+paste about 10 lines of code...
Continue reading "Fix Functional Tests in Zope 2.10"
25 December 2007
Kneel before me, for I am the net!
Haha, only serious
There are PC stations for free Internet access at Athens International Airport, but you have to go on your knees before the gods of the net to use them.
At the gate where I'm waiting is another station. The user is logged out, the screen showing a password prompt (W2k, duh). But at least this one has something to sit on.
30 December 2007
Going to see some snow
Travelling to Germany and Switzerland
The last post on this blog was about the Internet stations at Athens
Airport. I saw them, because I was flying to Munich on the late
afternoon of the 25th December. In Munich it was much colder, which was
expected. This time the temperature change did not shock me as much as
in November. Maybe I got a bit used to it, maybe it was because while it
was colder now, back in November the temperature difference between the
two places was bigger, with more than 20ºC. First thing in Munich, we
went to a bavarian restaurant and I got a nice duck for dinner.
Continue reading "Going to see some snow"