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09 April 2005

Schach auf Griechisch

Alphabetisch anders

Am Dienstag war ich Schach spielen in einem Schachclub in Kipseli. Die Konfusion meinerseits war gross. Griechische Schachbretter sind zwar mit lateinischen Buchstaben beschriftet, aber griechische Schachspieler benutzen natuerlich die griechischen Buchstaben α, β, γ, δ, ε, ζ, η, θ um die Felder zu bezeichnen.

Seit Oktober hatte ich mich nicht mehr ernsthaft mit Schach beschäftigt und jetzt muss ich auch noch da "um die Ecke denken". Das kann ja nur gut rauskommen. Natürlich habe ich erstmal verloren, aber was solls. Es war ein interessanter Abend. Ich weiss nur noch nicht, wo ich die Zeit hernehmen soll, um regelmässig zu spielen.

Posted by betabug at 10:25 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
18 April 2005

Sahara Dust

Is it fog? Is it dust? Is it sand?
Kalamaki beach in the dust

This sunday Athens was hit by Sahara dust. I had seen that before, but it was more yellowish then. So at first I did not believe guesses about the Sahara origin. But Then I Saw It On TV (TM). And the powdered cars everywhere make it more believable. We went to the seaside in Kalamaki, my old neighbourhood. With a lot of wind and fresh air it was quite nice. Other niceties: Buying belgian chocolate from the branch of a belgian chocolate chain. Kalamaki is so high society compared to the center of Athens where I live now.

The picture shows the beach in Kalamaki in the "fog". The greyish white sky is due to the sand in the air, not just due to the lowly mobile phone camera.

Posted by betabug at 09:20 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
19 April 2005

Who Is Behind the Greek National Security Organisation?

Is it the CIA? Is it the NSA? Is it the Germans? The French? Or the Japanese?
National Security Van

For a long time people were worrying who is actually behind the Greek National Security organisation. I can't tell you just now, but the answer can be found on the streets of Athens. Obviously, whoever it is, their phone number starts with "522".

I noticed this abandoned van on the street behind a building of some army school (!). Since I was there at night (don't ask), I had to come back to snatch some pictures during day time. This I did in spite of the scary signs "No Photos!" around the building. Civil disobedience must prevail in the face of the military industrial complex, even if it comes (drives?) in the form of a Mitsubishi van.

Posted by betabug at 09:19 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
10 May 2005

May 1st Postponed Due to Popular Demand

How is that for being weird and peculiar?

Incredible but true: May 1st was postponed to may 11th in Greece, because the "real" may 1st fell on the same day with greek easter. The notion of postponing a date is new to me. Next time you miss your project deadline on (say) October 4th, you just declare October 4th to happen on October 26th.

I'm not sure if I will get the day May 1st/11th off, since not everybody goes with the move. Obviously all public services, schools and universities will close. Any chance to slack will do for them. Especially open is the question of public transport. If I can't go to work by subway and bus, I might have to take the bicycle. Another adventure awaits the traveller.

Posted by betabug at 14:51 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
11 May 2005

The Strike is Here

"Workers unite!" and all that

Yes, Greece (or Athens) is on strike today. Yes, May 1st was postponed to May 11th. Workers unite! and all that. Asked my boss yesterday if we will be working. He said: "We are working, but if someone of you wants to go on strike, it's ok with me."

This morning I found the entrance to the metro blocked. No public transport for swiss geeks today. For a moment I looked out for a taxi, but they were all busy with 5 passengers each. So I returned home and borrowed my flatmates bicycle. The taxi would not have brought me luck, Athens centre is blocked from Omonia through Syntagma to Syggrou. Even with the bicycle I had to do some detours. But I arrived without problems and not very tired. The way home will be more interesting, lots of uphill battles to fight.

Posted by betabug at 09:37 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
24 May 2005

betabug in Hong Kong

Watch out for those chop sticks!
Neonsign 'Green Park'

With all the roaring and feedback to my Slacky Tiger on a Rainbow post, a strange thought occured to me. But let me explain some of the preconditions before. (You did not expect me to share my precious thought that easy, didn't you?) I think it all winds down to yours truly, the betabug, having moved to Hong Kong. Let me explain...

That post (and to a lesser extent this one) has not exactly been slashdottet, but there are a lot of pageviews to the article, there was a lot of feedback, some comments, but mostly behind the scenes feedback. People are not exactly happy with Rainbow, the Greek Apple importer. People would like Apple to take back the Greek market and judging from the current situation, it is not exactly clear why Apple is not doing that. Now my suspicion comes in.

The one thing we don't know is what contracts Apple has with Rainbow. Maybe... oh no, that must be it: Maybe Apple sold Greece to Rainbow for 99 years, like Hong Kong! There must be a long standing contract of subletting the country of olive trees, Sokrates, and Sirtaki to a foreign/strange power. This explains everything. If this is true, our grandchildren (or grand-grandchildren?) will be able to buy their Macs in style again, without shamefully bowed heads and having to supply photocopies of ID documents.

As long as the state of this occupation persists, we should follow the example of Hong Kong: Put big neon signs everywhere, and start to eat our Souvlaki with chop sticks (we already supply the sticks in the souvlaki). To give us a headstart I supplied this picture of the beautyfull neon sign of the Cafe "Green Park". Now I have to go, I have to get my clothes to the chinese cleaning shop.

Posted by betabug at 13:14 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
26 May 2005

Stop software patents

Greeks, get into action!

There may still be time to stop software patents in Europe. This is not a linkblog, but topgan1 rattled my craddle so I will post a reference. If you can vote in Greece (or somewhere in the EU), please look up your politician in the European parliament and get into action. Dimitris Glezos has a howto on what to do. (Dimitris: I did not find a link to make a trackback to your post...)

Posted by betabug at 09:25 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 May 2005

Athenener Trams mit deutscher Software?

...und sehr angenehmen Fahrtzeiten am Wochenende

Letzten Freitag war ich mit Freunden abends spät weg, in einem Lokal in der Nähe von Syggrou / Fix. Nachts um halb 2 begab ich mich auf den Nachhauseweg, natürlich mit dem Tram. Die Athener Trams fahren von Freitag morgen bis Sonntag Nacht im 24-Stunden-Betrieb. Sehr praktisch für Nachtschwärmer.

Ich musste zwar eine Weile warten (amüsierte mich damit, zu beobachten wie die Anzeige der zu erwartenden Ankunftszeit von 11 Minuten auf 13, dann auf 15 Minuten stieg und dann wieder langsam zurückging). Aber dann gings gemütlich Richtung Syntagma.

Im Tram ist dann die nächste Computeranzeige, die (wie hier im Eintrag über den öffentlichen Verkehr in Athen schon erwähnt) die nächsten 5 Haltestellen anzeigt. Als auf der Anzeige schliesslich "Syntagma" erschien, tauchte darunter auch ein kleines Wort auf. Ich musste aufstehen, um es lesen zu können: "Endpunkt". Hmm, nicht wirklich ein griechisches Wort. Sieht so aus, als ob die Software für die griechischen Trams aus einem deutschsprachigen Land kommt.

Posted by betabug at 09:46 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Businesslunch in Greece

Some things are just a little bit different
Greek taverna

Just went and had "business lunch" with my boss here, in a small fish tavern 5 minutes drive from the office. This is what I call quality of life. Sure I might be making more money in Switzerland, but I would not be putting down a kilo of fresh fish at noon. Not to mention the sun. Did I mention the sun? I really happen to like the sun, even when in a few weeks it's going to be too hot to sit in the sun.

Even though Athens is trying to get all modern on us, international and styled in plastic, there are still a lot of small family style places around. This one has fish, others have cooked foods, some have barbeque style meats. And Ouzo. Well...

Posted by betabug at 17:46 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
04 June 2005

Μ0υνάρες είναι;

Τι μας μαθαίνουνε τα ΚΤΕΛ

Περσι, το καλοκαίρι το πέρασα στη Λήμνο, σε ένα μικρό χωριό. Για να πάω στην πόλη, ξυπνούσα στις 6:30 και έπαιρνα το λεωφορείο του ΚΤΕΛ. Εκεί έκανα τα ψώνια μου, έπινα τους καφέδες μου και στη 1μμ ήμουνα στο ΚΤΕΛ για το τελευταίο λεωφορείο σπίτη. Μία άπο αυτές τις μέρες έγινε κάτι περίεργο.

Ο οδηγός άνοιξε τις πόρτες του λεωφορείου. Εμείς, οι χωριάτες, μπήκαμε μέσα και περιμέναμε να φύγουμε. Στα καθίσματα μπροστά μου καθότανε δύο κορίτσια. Ήτανε πολύ φτιαγμένες, βαμμένες, φορεματάκια, γλυκές μπλουζίτσες. Δύσκολο να πω πόσο χρονών να ήτανε, γιατί σ'αυτή την ηλικία στα καλοκαίρια στο νησί τα κορίτσια μεγαλοδείχνουνε. Πάντως 14-16 τά'κανα. Μιλήσανε μεταξύ τους σε χαμηλό τόνο, αλλά όχι και ψιθυρίζοντας. Πιθανόν, νόμιζαν ότι δεν μπορούσα να τις ακούσω ή με κόψανε για ξένο, τουρίστα και βάρβαρο άνευ γνώσης της ελληνικής γλώσσας.

Απ'έξω περάσανε δύο άλλα κορίτσια. Φτιαγμένες κι εκείνες, ακόμα πιο πολύ φτιαγμένες. Κοντά τα φορεματάκια, έγχρωμο το βάψιμο, σαν από φρέσκο από κομμωτήριο το μαλλί. Τα κορίτσια αυτά συνόδευε ένας κύριος, αρκετά μεγάλος, πιθανόν ο πατέρας ή ένας θείος που τα πρόσεχε.

Τα κορίτσια μέσα κοιτάζανε τα κορίτσια έξω. Η μία φαινότανε να τις ήξερε, όπως κατάλαβα από την ακόλουθη ερώτηση. Τα μάτια τους έμεναν καρφωμένα πάνω τους, και η άλλη ρώτησε: "Μ0υνάρες είναι;".

Το ρώτησε με ένα ύφος που μου έδειχνε ότι ήταν η πιο απλή ερώτηση του κόσμου, ότι αλήθεια ήθελε να ξέρει. Δεν θυμάμαι απάντηση, πιθανόν η φίλη της να κούνησε το κεφάλι. Η απορία μου είναι τώρα (και κατευθύνεται φυσικά πιο πολύ στις θηλυκές αναγνώστριες του weblog μου): Σωστά άκουσα; Μιλάνε έτσι τα κορίτσια;

Μην μπερδεύουμε τίποτα εδώ, δεν έχω πρόβλημα με τις λέξεις αυτές. Τα ελληνικά μου τα έμαθα σε ένα συνεργείο στην οδό Πειραιώς. Όμως, μου φαίνεται ότι υπάρχει ένας κόσμος που τα αγόρια δεν πατάνε ποτέ.

Posted by betabug at 23:22 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
06 June 2005

Getting to Run on the Weekend

Bus tickets are free today, since there are no busses anyway

Came in to work this monday and can't remember what I worked on last friday. Must have something to do with the weekend. Last weekends plan was to run 3.5 kilometers at the 2005 Athens Fun Run / Γυρος της Αθήνας. Like with many plans in didn't work out that way. This "running around Athens" event was somehow coupled with a "Day for the Environment". I think the organizers of those events screwed up in a really stupid way. They had blocked all roads for us to go to the start...

What happened? We enrolled (free) for our start numbers (22637 was mine IIRC) by going to one of the citys service offices. Then we woke up early on Sunday, I changed into highly advanced running gear (my new bermudas and a T-Shirt). Had some special athletes breakfast (toast and apple juice) and went to the bus station to take the trolley bus to the start location, at the fancy Kallimarmaro stadium, near the Zappeio and close to Syntagma Square. Public Transport is reduced on sundays, but we had two trolley lines to choose from and we weren't that late. So we waited for the trolley to come.

Warming up to it on the way

And we waited a bit more. Some trolleys passed that went only a few blocks to Patission street. As usual in Greek public transport the amount of information given to passengers is zero, zilch, nothing. But at one point we deduced out of the warm air, a conversation someone had with a bus driver and the guesses from other waiting passengers, that there was no bus traffic to the center of Athens. The time had finally passed 9.30, when the race started. We were still at the bus stop. Finally we walked some streets over and found a taxi. The taxi took us close to Omonia square, when the driver realized that Omonia was closed (Omonia being something like the central traffic hub for 3/4 of Athens traffic). He wanted to bypass Omonia by the left, going through Exarcheia.

All the center blocked

But I told him to let us out, since it finally dawned on me, that of course all of the track around the city of Athens would be blocked, which meant that nothing would get us to the other side of Athens center. No race for us. What should we have done according to the organizers? Get up at 6 and take the bus to arrive at the start 1.5 hours early? Take a car, drive there and park it on some sidewalk? Walk there (making us run more than double the distance)? Or just go over and slap some of the organizing comittee after the fact?

Due to the "Day for the Environment" all public transport was free from 7:00 to 14:00. Easy, since it was impossible to take a bus in the center of Athens anyway. This means that they had maybe an hour where people were riding for free. It would have really been nice if the organizers had included in their high-gloss information brochures some information about how to get to the start. Hey, they expected only something like 25000 people. Of which according to the news about 15000 showed up. Maybe some of the others would have made it there too, if they knew that they had to pass a hurdle run across town.

Posted by betabug at 10:04 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
08 June 2005

New Recycling Program in the City of Athens

How long till old habits die?
Recycling container on Victoria square

Starting from last week there are now heaps of new recycling containers all over the city of Athens. On Victoria square there are about 5 of them, they are literally everywhere on the more populated streets. Those containers have three slots (as you might be able to spot from the picture), for paper, aluminium, and glass/plastic (combined).

I'm still meditating on the feasability of combining glass and plastic. Is there some clever machine out there somewhere that will later divide these up? Last I had heard (and seen on TV), recycling glass still involved a lot of manual labour, large belt drives where workers picked up non-glass fragments with thick gloves. Especially ceramics are poison for glass recycling.

At some point it will all come down to the people who are supposd to drop packaging material into those containers. The choice of paper, aluminium, glass, plastic and the placement of the containers suggests, that the plan is to get recycling going at the street trash level. Buy an aluminium can of a soft drin, then drop the can into the recycling container. As opposed to the system of collecting aluminium stuff at home and bring a box of the stuff to a central recycling center later.

We will see how the habits of people can adapt to this plan. In any case it would be nice if it works out. Myself I am more worried about battery recycling: I might be wrong, but I haven't heard anything about battery recycling in Greece yet. And the Greeks consume a hell of a lot of batteries. Myself I got a small pile waiting at home for some information where I can properly dispose of them (because of the lack of such information, I'm very reluctant to use anything battery powered).

Posted by betabug at 09:28 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
10 June 2005

Battery Recycling in Greece

More information that might help properly dispose toxical refuse

According to this article (in Greek) about Battery Recycling in Greece (ΑΝΑΚΥΚΛΩΣΗ ΜΠΑΤΑΡΙΩΝ), there are two chainstores (Carrefour and Praktiker) who accept used batteries and will properly ship them off for recycling. The article also gives a lot of background information about the problems with toxic battery waste. And it mentions several ways for people to get into action about it. First thing for me: I'll find a Carrefour so I can properly dispose the old batteries I have lying around. I'll also read more on the site itself, since they have lots of information about Recycling in Greece in general.

Just seen that Carrefour really mentions battery recycling on their website. So it looks like that piece of information is correct. Still, don't forget to use as few batteries as possible.

Posted by betabug at 09:07 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
14 June 2005

Take the Mac to the mountain!

HelMUG Tour to Karpenisi

As I learned from a recent "HelMUG Board Info" mail, the second barbeque/tour of HelMUG (Greek Mac User Group) will be a two day excursion to Karpenisi, scheduled for the weekend of July 9 and 10. (Updated:) There is now some info on the HelMUG website, though it's still not final. Also the date might change, in which case I'll post an update. I'm definitely planning to go, looking forward to a lot of hax0ring, tech talk and breathtaking mountain landscape in central Greece. It might become as good an excursion as the duckride to Grammeni Oxia. Take the Mac to the mountain!

Posted by betabug at 09:28 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Alte Werkzeuge und Exil-Inseln

Ein Wochenende mit Museen und Besuch im Benaki, gleich hier um die Ecke
Museums-Bilder: Tafel des
Makronisos-Museums, altes Buch und Fein-Hobel

Dieses Wochenende war wiedermal Museumsbesuch angesagt: Zufällig in der Zeitung entdeckt, dass im Museum Benaki (das in der Piraeus-Strasse, nicht das im Zentrum von Athen) die Ausstellung "outils des arts - art des outils" (kein Permalink, aber ein Link auf die aktuellen Ausstellungen) noch läuft. Werkzeuge und Kunst? Und dann noch mit Schweizer Organisatoren? Schon noch interessant...

Also in Gedanken abgeschätzt wo das Benaki ist und los gehts. In Erinnerung wusste ich: Station "Thiseio", dann runter an die Piraeus und bis zur Ecke. So trügt die Erinnerung, Strasse und "Ecke" stimmt schon, nur war es fast 2km weiter die Strasse runter. Naja, doch noch gefunden, aber das nächste Mal den Bus nehmen.

Zwischendurch noch auf dem Weg gesehen: Das Schild eines Museums fuer die politischen Gefangenen auf Makronissos und die politisch Exilierten auf Ai Strati (Agios Efstratios, einer kleinen Insel in der nordöstlichen Ägäis, die ich auf dem Rückweg von Limnos kurz gesehen habe). Leider waren weder der Eingang offen, noch die Öffnungszeiten vermerkt. (Schild siehe Foto links)

Die Ausstellung zeigt viele, viele schöne Werkzeuge: Schweizer, französische, holländische, englische, ..., Werkzeuge. Im Bild ein Buch mit Titel "Du The et du Caffee" und feine Hobel für Instrumentenbauer, der kleinste etwa so gross wie ein Daumen. Die Handwerker früher verwendeten bedeutend mehr Zeit auf individuelle Gestaltung und Verzierung der Arbeitsgeräte. Die Lebensdauer des Werkzeugs wurde längerfristig berechnet, die Werkzeuge waren sicher teuer im Verhältnis zu den Lebenshaltungskosten, sozusagen eine Anschaffung fürs Leben, eine langfristige Investition. Und die hat dann auch bedeutend länger als ein einfaches Leben gehalten, wie der grosse Bestand der Ausstellung zeigt. Viele der Werkzeuge sind einfach schön.

Posted by betabug at 17:33 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
16 June 2005

Post Roundup

Picking up ends and pieces

Today it's time for rounding up some older posts. There's no news about the Museum for political prisoners/exiles, but some observations about recycling, μουνάρες, the wheather, a solution for TV à l'arabe, and a quiet end to the bot attack. Read on for details...

The Museum for political prisoners on Makronisos and political exiles on Ai Stratis (mentioned in German) is still a mistery: Neither a search on the internet, nor an inquiry by E-Mail to the ministry in charge of museums turned up any information yet. My guess is that the place is a.) under construction and b.) built by a private organization.

Recycling in Athens: The recycling containers seem to be in good use, at least for paper (newspapers). I have spotted some being filled up to the brim and once even an extra pack of old newpapers left outside. The notion of getting recycling going at the street level (not collecting stuff at home and then bringing in a truckload) seems to work.

This post with a story mentioning the Greek word μουνάρες (mounares, loosely translated "bitches", anybody have a better fitting translation?) seems to be a target for happy googling. When entered in the well known search engine, the post comes up at No 2 and the text excerpt suggest some not-so-decent content. But I think those surfers in need of rose entertainment are being disappointed, it's not what they expected, indeed just a nice anecdote from last summer.

The wheather continues to be warm, there are still flowers around. The picture is again from the Pedio tou Ares, last weekend or so. When too lazy to go to the park, there is also the option to watch TV. The problem of TV à'l Arabe, where the onscreen menu was all in the arab language is over: I found the menu by deduction. I thought about which buttons my flatmate's mother would have likely pushed while trying to adjust the volume. Took me only a couple of minutes.

Also over seems to be the Bot Attack: The hundreds and hundreds of accesses to the same blog posts (over and over) have stopped so far. I still have no clue what it was good for or all about. So if you are the one who has a problem with me or my server, why don't you just write me a simple mail and we can talk it over?

Posted by betabug at 09:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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