03 November 2008
Neueste Entwicklungen in den nachbarlichen Beziehungen
Aus den neuesten Nach Richten des Schweizer Cabarettisten Urs Welter:
"Bezüglich der Vermutung, das Rot in der Schweizerflagge habe den Deutschen Finanzminister Peer Steinbrück zu den Drohgebärden mit der Peitsche verleitetet (obwohl er die Schweiz liebe!), heisst es bei Wikipeda: Der Realität mittels Zufügen von Lustschmerz zu entfliehen, sei gängige Praxis in der Sadomasoscene."
So wahr und so treffend.
07 November 2008
Rereading William Gibson's "All Tomorrow's Parties" here. Instead of a review (great book, list differences to the "Neuromancer" trilogy, ...), this morning in the bus I had the idea to post a few quotes, since Gibson's writing is often so condensed, it becomes pure poetry.
"I was dreaming of hell," he says.
"How was it?"
"An elevator, descending."
"Christ," says the voice, "this poetry is unlike you."
That's actually where the idea of this "quotes" post came from.
Continue reading "Gibson Quotes"
10 November 2008
Back from Sailing
The sea, the waves, the air, the wind
I'm tired. Most of my muscles are sore. My eyes got used to the wide horizons of the sea and the to the fresh air and salty atmosphere, they now rebel against dry, bad smelling office air back in Athens and having to stare at a monitor. When I close my eyes, the grounds still sways back and forth. I secretly practice making knots with some spare power cords I have hidden behind my desk.
In short: I was sailing again this weekend. Didn't take any pictures those days, but had a wonderful time. I learned a lot. On Saturday I was on the same boat as the last times, but due to material failures, that boat couldn't run on Sunday. I overheard a friend's conversation and hitched a ride on their boat.
Sunday's boat was much more a "racing" boat. Where the "Mango 3" cabin has white sofa's, nice wood finishing everywhere, a kitchen and two toilets, the "Mogwai" greets you with the bare inner side of the hull, some old upholstered benches around (so people can crash the night when a race has a sleepover) and not much else. "Mogwai" is also considerably smaller, so less room to move around other people, especially given that due to some setup it needs a relatively big team to operate well. (Sidenote: the "Mango 3" is a fast boat, no getting fooled there.)
But man did I learn a lot. First from looking at things from a different angle, then because Nikos (the friend who invited me over, even though it's not his boat) has a lot of love for teaching and gave me and the other newbie on board many lessons. We even practiced the timing on some maneuvers after the race was over, when we were heading for the port.
11 November 2008
Favourite Uninformative Commit Messages
Say it all in a few words!
When committing to a Revision Control System, usually you have to enter a "commit message" that informs the other coders (and your own self in the future) in summary what you did to the code. Some people go into detail here, some give just a rough idea, also it might depend a lot on the nature of the changes. But then there are the "programmers" who do not feel the need to give away any information... if you want to find out what the code does, why don't you just look at it, after all? So here are some of my favorite uninformative commit messages (real life and more or less imagined)...
- "my changes"
- "here it is" (credits and mad greets to graffic)
- "probably done" (to leave some ambiguity as to the state of things)
- "have a look" (but really only fun if the changes are huge, complicated and non-obvious)
- "see specs"
The last one reminds me of the people who write in their (python) docstrings only "see interface", making you jump to another file and hit another search just to find out what the method you're looking at is supposed to do.
Anyway, feel free to add your own in the comments!
12 November 2008
Taxi Driver Thoughts
Where do you want to go?
Was at graffic's place yesterday evening, drove home in a taxi
with my flatmate. We had a funny taxy driver, the talkative kind.
He told us the story of his lifetime. How he actually isn't a
taxi driver, just takes the shift for his friend who is in the
hospital, in fact he's a truck driver, delivering flour for
bakeries all over Athens.
And in a few months he'll get his pension and he'll kiss
Athens' ass good bye, go to Crete to live on his pension. ("27 years
driving a truck, 8 years driving a coach, it's about enough!")
How taxi driver is really the last shit job, it's like a
jail (his words, not mine, no offence to any taxi drivers reading this),
while in the truck you can get out, talk to people, move, see things.
Then, I'm listening to music now and thinking how it is, that people
always try to find the own, current, personal situation in the lyrics.
Even if it's just a line or two that reminds me of whatever pit I'm
stuck in right now, it touches me. That taxi driver wasn't listening to music, he was the talkative kind.
14 November 2008
A while back Panos had talked to me about Cambodia, a song from the 80s by Kim Wilde, which he got stuck in his head and on his music player. I remember hearing that song in a dressing room after a hockey match, the special drive and intensity it had. So I started to listen to it too, again. About a week ago I had a special listening experience with it.
You know, the building I work in is a bit run down. Our offices are fine, but step out and you're in this ugly stairway, with an elevator that was "renovated", but still looks not too trustful. It smells bad, because there are/were some cooked cables in the basement, due to the striptease joint on the ground floor shortening their electricals (yes, there's a striptease joint in the building). For some time there are some bulbs gone out, so I walk down the stairs in partial darkness (no, I'm not complaining, I like that part, besides, we're moving anyway). What does it all have to do with Kim Wilde's Cambodia?
One of those evenings, before I opened the office door to step out into the wild stairway, I put on my music player, hit play and walked, closing the door behind me. One swift motion there. Now Cambodia has a little delay in it, so at first I didn't hear anything, then - just as I started to descend the stairs in the darkness - that swiiiiiiiiiiirl of the song with those eighties electronic beats set in - I was flying through the night.
17 November 2008
SOS: MacBook Pro don't like Mondays
dit dit dit - daw daw daw - dit dit dit
Came into the office this morning to find my work MacBook Pro with what looks like a hardware failure: It was running (in sleep mode) when I left it Friday evening, now it was off. When trying to boot it, it emitted three short beeps, three long beeps, three short beeps... SOS in morse code. All attempts to bring it back to life failed, various suggestions on the web end up with having to get the machine to Apple support. Fun, especially when you have a project on a tight deadline.
Also the hard disk should come out of the machine, as we don't want our internal code to travel all over Europe. The MacBook Pro's HD isn't "user replaceable" though, so we've got to muscle the "apple shop" here to do that before sending the machine in. Yeah, we're in Greece here, so no real Apple support. Lucky enough I've got backups of my work for the worst case.
A conclusion that does not follow the rain and the riot
Two things happened today in Athens: It rained and it is the 17th of November, day of annual demonstrations in memory of the Politehneion uprising against the military junta 35 years ago. The two things have only limited relation: It might happen that due to the rain there will be less trouble at the demonstrations, everybody's mood cooled down a bit and tear gas probably not working that well. But given information out of context, one could come to interesting non-conclusions, as in when Wu heard me describe part of my way home. His reaction:
< Wu> what?
< Wu> in greece riot police go into the street when raining?
My way home was non-spectacular, despite arriving at the metro station closest to the imperialists foothold^W^Wamerican embassy and seeing a bit of the demonstration. Oh, and I got wet from the rain.
20 November 2008
Server is back
Wasn't really *that* long, right?
Yesterday this server wasn't accessible. The machine was running fine, but the network interface had locked up. This has happened before, a couple of months ago. I'm finally planning an OS upgrade on the box (Real Soon Now™), hopefully that will help. Otherwise maybe I should try with the 2nd network port on the box. In the end I managed to resolve the problem by connecting through the serial port. Things should be back to normal now.
22 November 2008
Serious business in Switzerland
Due to the server problems and my workload and general state of mind, I forgot to post this: Tuesday I voted. You might not heard of any major elections recently (except for the U$ one, which was already past then I believe) and besides, I'm a Swiss guy living in Greece, so what do I get to vote? The thing is, in Switzerland we have elections or rather "referendums" or "plebiscites" four times a year. Even as a Swiss abroad, I get to take part in those "ballot votes" that have to do with confederate matters - I can't vote in matters of the cantons, nor of any municipal matters, since I'm obviously not living in any canton nor municipality in Switzerland. Practical enough, I get to vote by mail - I took a picture of my voting booth right there, a normal Greek post box.
This time there was quite a bunch of business to decide about. Two drug related law changes, something about the pensions age, a law change that wants no more "statute of limitations" on sexual assault on children, and giving non-profit organizations less right to block building projects (crappy translations by myself). If you read German, French or Italian, you can read about the 5 changes to be decided about here on the official site. Serious business, no doubt.
26 November 2008
2CV Stamp Puzzle
Read the stamp? View the puzzle!
Almost two years ago my boss gave me this nice 2CV stamp. This morning when I was at the post office to pay a bill, I noticed again the puzzle they have on sale of this stamp... and I went and bought it. It's not really a puzzle I would want to solve, as it's only 120 pieces, can't be that hard. This thing is more for the fun value of it. The ideal gift for someone who collects and has everything about the Citroën 2CV (which means: not me). In the same series they also had a Fiat 500.
29 November 2008
Φωκαία and Félix Sartiaux
Book presentation at the IFA
Picking up on my cultural program after a long time, I went to the Institut Français d'Athènes (the IFA) to see a presentation of the book "Phocée 1913-1920 – le témoignage de Félix Sartiaux". I didn't really know what to expect, except that the book is about this town Φωκαία (Fokaia) near to Smyrna and containing old photos. I arrived there to find a lot of old people, which turned out to be the members of the "association" (σωματείο) of the people descending from that town.
There were three people speaking, the interest factor of their speeches rising on a logarithmic scale - starting with the president of the Rizario foundation starting with something very close to sub-zero freezing point of boredom. The mayor of today's Φωκαία on Attika had already a more interesting talk, giving some good background on the history of the town, from the ancient times, through the "catastrophy of asia minor" to the refugee's rebuilding at the current town.
At last Haris Yakoumis, photo-historian and author of the book spoke. He presented the background story of the pictures - a suitcase full of glass plates turning up through a Turkish dealer. How he searched on the background of the pictures and discovered the story of Félix Sartiaux, French archeologist and photographer who witnessed the refugee drama of 1914 in Fokaia. I was moved, both by the story and the pictures. All the while he "slideshowed" through the pictures, was able to give little stories and information on each picture, unraveling the story along.