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05 May 2009

Hiking in the Mountains of Taygetus

A nice long weekend
Tree on the E4 trail near Taygetus

The first of May fell on a Friday this year, providing me and many other people with a three day weekend. I went together with some friends from a mountain club to hike on the Peloponnese on the Taygetus mountain range (Ταΰγετος, also transcribed as Taugetus, Taigetos or Taigetus).

We drove by car to a village near Sparta, then hiked up 4km with our packs to a hut run by the local mountain club. We set up our tents outside the hut and enjoyed the nice camp life. The evening got quite cold, so one of us decided to crash in a bunk in the hut, while I really, really was glad that I bought a very good sleeping back many years ago. This spring has been much colder than usual here and at 1550m and with a lot of humidity, some of our group had a less than pleasant night in summer sleeping bags.

The next day (Saturday) we attempted to go for the summit of mount Taygetus. We were quite ill prepared, without crampons or other "serious" mountain gear. There were some fields of harsh snow in our way, with a consistency almost like crash ice (caipirinha anyone?) which would have required harder boots than most of us had. At about 1950m height, most of our group turned around. Three of us were continuing, stubborn enough to want to get to the top.

Continue reading "Hiking in the Mountains of Taygetus"
Posted by betabug at 18:44 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
08 May 2009

Το γιατί δεν έχει mobile έκδοση;

Πιο κομψό

Με το καινούριο κινητό μου αρχίζει και παίζει το κινητό Internet πολύ παραπάνω από παλαιά. Το να τσεκάρω τα νέα (NZZ online έκδοση) και τα "μέλια" μου στο λεωφορείο είναι πια νορμάλ. Πολύ χρήσιμο θα ήταν και αν έπαιξε το σε πιο "κομψή", πιο "λεπτή" online έκδοση. Η σελίδες τους είναι πολύ "βαριές" (700kB) και για mobile το μόνο που έχουν είναι υπηρεσία μέσον SMS.

Προς το παρόν το έβαλα μέσων Google mobile site converter, και πολύ καλύτερα φαίνεται. Για παράδειγμα η πρόγνωση για την Αθήνα σε μορφή "mobile".

Posted by betabug at 12:31 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
13 May 2009

Working on Naxos

An old dream comes true
betabug looking on the Naxos landscape

Since last Sunday I'm on the island of Naxos. I live in an old two-story stone house, in the middle of the island. The sea is not near, from the terrace I can barely spot a glimmer of it, but I can see the mountain of the neighboring Paros island.

Having the sea nearby isn't so important, I'm here to work. I brough my MacBook, a bit of paper, and a little device to get Internet over a 3G mobile connection. When I'm sketching out plans, I can sit on the terrace in the sun, otherwise I'm inside on the computer, with a view on the trees and the still green landscape. I hear mostly the birds chirping, with a truck or tractor passing in the distance now and then.

It's a nice setting to think things through and to concentrate on writing code. Working on the Zope on my local machine is fast as usual, but when I connect somewhere over the Internet, results vary. Sometimes the connection is speedy and slick, other times I get a lot of lag. Clearly following Murphy's law, the signal is worst on the nice desk little where I like to work, much better in the middle of the house. Sitting in the middle of the house, I can even talk on Skype with clear and non-laggy sound. I always wanted to try and work like this. Modern technology with 3G Internet connections finally made things possible.

There are a lot of cows on Naxos, the place is famous for butter and cheese. It tempts me to cook swiss style, with a lot of butter. I went to run twice in the evenings, greeting cows and farmers alike. I love that: wind up work, then change into shorts and go for a run, right outside the door. I'll stay here this week, then head back to Athens.

Posted by betabug at 10:46 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
15 May 2009

First Swim of the Season

The weekend of the week on Naxos
betabug underwater, upsidedown

After a week of working in an old house on the island of Naxos, I think I was ready for a jolt of true summer feeling. I left work early on Friday afternoon and we went to pick up a rental car. After a little tour of the Χώρα (Hora, the main town) of Naxos (and finding a certain street with a special name, which I will write more about in a later post), we drove to a very good restaurant where they served us the first Moussakas of the season.

The background being that they don't make such in advance cooked foods before guests arrive who will actually eat and appreciate the stuff. The lady who makes this moussakas seems to use half goat milk to make the bechamel sauce used in the preparation. It was a wonderful dish, the place on the top only contested by the κεφτεδάκια (keftedakia, small meat balls), who were soft and spiced with wonderful herbs.

Having eaten a lot of good food, we drove to a sandy beach hidden behind some low cliffs. Since one shouldn't bath right after eating, we just slacked out in the late afternoon sun. When I felt I had digested enough and at the same time heated up enough, I went into the water. Wow, first swim of the season! It's still May, so the water was very cold at first. The feeling was great though, cooling down, floating. A bit more inside, I reached warmer areas of water and the swim became relaxed. Only problem: My waterproof camera ran out of battery soon after, I had forgotten to charge the battery. It was enough for some first experiments.

Posted by betabug at 23:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
17 May 2009

Die Welter-Strasse auf Naxos

Benannt nach dem Archäologen Gabriel Welter
Sascha Welter in der Welter-Strasse auf Naxos

Schon wieder ein Foto von mir. Diesmal in einer Strasse mit einem für Griechenland sehr seltsamen Namen. Vor meiner Anreise nach Naxos hatte ich mir einige digitale Karten angeschaut und dabei zufällig in der Χόρα (Hora, dem Hauptort der Insel) eine Strasse mit dem Namen "ΒΕΛΤΕΡ" (WELTER) entdeckt. Kann ja wohl nicht sein, sowas? Seit wann benennt man eine Strasse nach mir, noch bevor ich dort aufgetaucht bin? Einige kurze Recherchen und etwas kühles Nachdenken später fand ich raus, dass die Strasse (natürlich) nicht nach mir benannt ist, sondern nach dem Archäologen Gabriel Welter (auf Griechisch Γαβριήλ Βέλτερ). Tatsächlich zeigt das Strassenschild im Unterschied zur Karte auch den vollständigen Namen.

Dieser Herr Welter war als deutscher Archäologe in Griechenland, aber zum Teil auch in Palästina tätig. Eine einzige französische Quelle, die ich fand, bezeichnet ihn als "lorrain", also als Lothringer und beansprucht ihn so wohl mehr oder weniger für Frankreich. Seine bekanntesten Ausgrabungen waren auf Ägina und beim Zeus-Tempel im Zentrum von Athen. Es gibt einige Bücher von ihm, zum Teil wohl auch mit Fotos. Leider ist fast gar nichts von ihm im Web direkt zugänglich. Wäre wohl ein Fall für altmodisches, "richtiges" Quellenstudium in Bibliotheken.

Um die Strasse selber zu finden, mussten wir in den kleinen Gässchen von Naxos suchen. Das GPS im Mobiltelephon half etwas, den entscheidenden Hinweis gab dann ein Herr vor der Tür des Museums von Naxos. Das war schon lustig zu hören, dass für einmal jemand in Griechenland meinen Namen schon mal gehört hatte.

Posted by betabug at 13:08 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
19 May 2009

The Day of the Backups (Oh yeah!)

Good to have them, good to have them working

Today was something like a "Day of the Backups". It started a few days ago already actually, when HelMUG (the Greek Mac user group) had a break in at their PHP site. Probably SQL injection, but that kind of stupidity aside, it's another story I wanted to tell. The story there is that I had set that machine up a long time ago to make a backup of the SQL database every morning, then encrypt that backup with PGP and transfer it to my server with rsync. Sure came in handy just now. Even if the vandals had gained access to the drive they wouldn't have been able to tamper with the encrypted remote backups.

The second case was when this I started this morning with the last preparations to replace an aging (and acting up) server at work. There is a lot of data on it (as in "many gigabytes") and the fastest way to transfer the current set of data to the new machine was to unhook the backup drive and hook it up to the new server. Except the daily backup on that backup drive wasn't readable. Everything appeared to be there, but the files couldn't be read. Moved the drive to another computer and now it wouldn't even mount, with the directory structure shot. Luckily nothing bad had happened, as the data on the main drive was ok and I was able to move it over using another drive. Lesson learned: It's good to have a backup, but make sure it's working too!

Posted by betabug at 20:55 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
20 May 2009

From the Olymp to the Everest

Mountain movie

My friends from the mountain club dragged me to town tonight. There is a public viewing of the movie "Από τον Όλυμπο στο Έβερεστ" (From the Olympos to the Everest). It's a film about a greek team of alpinists going up the Everest. Apparently it is vastly attractive, the place is packed. There are way more people than chairs. The ventilation system seems to be on the way out too. This with the ever warmer spring temperatures in Athens.

Me I arrived in time, got a seat. Now waiting for the battle to end and the movie to start. Going up the Everest.

Posted by betabug at 20:21 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 May 2009

Olymp to Everest

Seen the movie too now

There was a long delay before the showing of the movie Olympos to Everest (see previous post). The reason was that more than double the expected viewers had shown up, so they were setting up a second projection. When that was done, there was another delay to get the audio working again. Finally we saw the movie.

I was moved. The film is really strong, telling a strong story. It's a documentary, so when there's drama, there's real life drama, when we're laughing, we're laughing with real people. Given that I was there with the members of a Greek mountain club, many of the people around me knew the people on the screen in person. There is indeed a lot of drama and a lot of good laughs in the movie. There are also images of tough and beautiful mountain landscapes.

What is the movie about? To quote one description:

"Από τον Όλυμπο στο Έβερεστ" - "η συναρπαστική ιστορία μιας ομάδας νεαρόν που κατέβηκε πρώτη φορά από το χωριό τους στον Όλυμπο για να πάει να φάει κλαμπ στα Έβερεστ στην Αθήνα".

Ups, wrong description from the cheap joke department! In fact it's the story of the first Greek expedition to succeed to the top of mount Everest. But it's more like a group of guys who succeed over themselves to reach farther than they ever did before (and yes, there was another Greek up there before, but that's not really the point).

Posted by betabug at 09:47 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
23 May 2009

Bios Green Cube

... already warm enough for an evening outside
Green cube lights on the terrace of the Bios in Athens

Still haven't got a photoblog, so this picture goes here. This "thing" is a green "cube" light on the terrace of the Bios bar/club/cultural center in Athens. They've got what looks like beer barrels for seats too. Been there yesterday evening with friends for some drinks. We were up on the terrace and it was easily warm enough to stay outside in a t-shirt. Some people even wore shorts, so summer is officially here.

The pic was taken when we arrived, a little later the place started to become crowded. At some point we left and went for pork chops to a nearby place that only has... pork chops. Very good ones though. No pictures of that, this time, but I've been there before. There are actually two places like that, right next to each other (called Minotaurus and Telis, IIRC), right at the start of Evripidou street, near Pireus street. Not a nice neighborhood, especially at night, and it got worse at that the last few years. Really a pity, because it was a weird, but safe place "in the good old times", back when I came the first time to Athens. The pork chops are still good though.

Posted by betabug at 16:56 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
24 May 2009

Mobile Internet for Visitors in Greece 2009

An update to "Internet for Visitors" - prepaid mobile phone Internet access

Things have changed a lot since my often read post Internet for Visitors in Greece. That post was from February 2005. In the meantime we have mobile Internet solutions from all three Greek mobile phone providers. Only two of them have solutions for prepaid customers though. Also much more available are wifi connections, both in the form of accidentally left open wireless networks (use according to your own ethical standards), and in the form of "free wifi" in cafes and hotels. Read on for some more information especially about the prepaid mobile solutions.

Continue reading "Mobile Internet for Visitors in Greece 2009"
Posted by betabug at 16:47 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)
25 May 2009

Chasing the Late Afternoon Sun

Some of the best light
Palm tree street scene in the late afternoon sun in Athens

Working steady hours results in a different light situation when I leave the office as we move through the circle of the seasons. In winter, I get home in darkness, in summer in bright daylight, same as most people. Currently, there are various levels of warm, late afternoon sun, which I chase with my camera.

It's simply some of the nicest light to take pictures in. Here I have three pictures taken more or less randomly, from my way home. Click on "continue" to see the other two.

Continue reading "Chasing the Late Afternoon Sun"
Posted by betabug at 20:06 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
27 May 2009

9th European Jazz Festival in Athens

At the Technopolis in Gazi

It's time again for the European Jazz Festival in Athens. The 9th edition is held again at the Technopolis in Gazi. I've been there last year, found some good music and a lot of people who were there for the party, not necessarily for the music. Not that that's a bad thing, everybody was enjoying themselves.

There seems to be no official site for the event, except for one page without any real info on the Athens city website. Only real information in there: Entrance is free! Anyway, due to proceedings I don't want to mention in detail in public, I got handed a program leaflet yesterday evening, so I'll type in the program titles, click on "continue" to see it.

Continue reading "9th European Jazz Festival in Athens"
Posted by betabug at 09:31 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
29 May 2009

Μάθε και εσύ να παρκάρεις σωστά!

Δεν είναι μαγεία...
Creative parking in Athens

Δεν είναι πάντα εύκολο να βρεις μια θέση να παρκάρεις το αμάξι σου στην Αθήνα [1] . Γι' αυτό και είναι πολύ σημαντικό να μάθει κανείς να παρκάρει σωστά και υπεύθυνα. Μας το έδειξε χτες ένας κύριος που - όπως φαίνεται - έχει σχολή οδηγών.

Και εξηγώ: Η ρόδα είχε ανέβει ακόμα πιο ψηλά... αλλά πριν προλάβω να βγάλω την φωτογραφική μου από την τσέπη, μάλλον άλλαξε γνώμη και το επέστρεψε. Για λίγο μόνο, το άφησε παρκαρισμένο περίπου έτσι. Πάλι καλά που δεν το έχωσε έτσι σε πεζοδρόμιο.

[1]το συγκεκριμένο σημείο όμως είναι ένα από το λίγα που έχει ελεύθερες θέσεις σχεδόν πάντα

Posted by betabug at 10:55 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 May 2009

Geschichten vom Dorf

Vor langer, langer Zeit, da war einmal...

Dieses Wochenende bin ich "auf's Dorf" gefahren. Ich habe ein Dorf auf dem Peloponnes besucht, eines das ich noch nicht kannte. Hier habe ich bei einem Projekt mitgeholfen, bei dem es um die Menschen und die Geschichte dieses Dorfes geht.

Meine Mitarbeit bestand daraus, bei Gesprächen mit den (vor allem) alten Menschen dieses Dorfes zu übersetzen. Die Geschichten, die sie erzählen, sind interessant und wert, erzählt zu werden. Die Leute freuen sich, jemanden zu haben, der zuhört. Dabei hab ich mich bemüht, auf sie einzugehen und sie reden zu lassen. Aber manchmal wurde es schwierig, gleichzeitig zuzuhören und das bereits erzählte immer wieder zu übersetzen. Ab und zu flogen von zwei Seiten Geschichten herum, während ich noch am nacherzählen der letzten Geschichte war.

Die Geschichten spielen vor dem Hintergrund der alten Zeiten, als die Menschen in harter Arbeit ein karges Leben führten. Sie berichten vom Krieg, von den Bergen, von den Ziegen, von Oliven und Orangen' von Schulen und Schulkindern. Sie spielen in einem Dorf, dass früher viele Einwohner hatte und in dem heute, wie so oft in den griechischen Dörfern, fast nur noch Alte leben.

Inzwischen ist die "Arbeit" des Wochenendes getan, wir waren noch baden, nicht weit vom Dorf. Jetzt geniesse ich noch den Ausblick aufs Meer in den letzten Stunden eines spannenden Wochenendes.

Posted by betabug at 17:42 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)