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Apokria in Athens

posted at 00:13

If you happen to be in Athens for the next ten days, you surely won't like to miss this period of the Apokria.

Sort of Carnival, as it's latin equivalent, the Apokria, means the abstaining from meat and is associated to a feast which ends up to a fast!

The Apokria is held for three weeks ending at the Kathari Deftera, and then starts a 40 days fast before Easter. But the carnivalesque part of the Apokria starts in the middle of the second week with the Tsiknopempti.

The festivities are mostly animated by masqueraded dancers, jokes from everybody towards everybody, singing and fun. The ancient dionysian roots of this fiesta are clearly visible, especially by the provocative character of the wordplay.

This year, Athens celebrates the Apokria from february 23 to mars 6. The municipality organizes most of the street shows as well as the feast, at many spots in the city.

See more details about, at the Athens website, here.

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posted at 21:56

You talk about greek customs, there are hundreds, thousands of them. On every occasion, there will be something to say, to do or, most of all, to celebrate! Customs are of a strong local character and it is not rare to find customs at the one side of the country that are completely unknown to the residents of the other end. Here's one coming from Athens.

The Carnival, anyway some form of it, is being celebrated in Athens since the very first ages, much before the present era. One of the customs related to the Carnival is, what survived up to our days as the "Tsiknopempti". Mainly an Athenian custom, it is known all around the country. In the beginning, as many other customs, it was a Pagan celebration. It ended up to be Christianized.

Getting ready for the fasting before the Easter, one day is dedicated to "cleaning up" the meat, that rests in the house. So, the barbecue is set and all meat passes on!

Nowadays, this custom consists in spending some time in the city taverns with friends, eating grilled lamb chops. Of course, greek salad (choriatiki) goes with, as well as feta cheese, fried potatoes and a lot of Retsina (white resined wine). The smoke coming out of the barbecue, charged with the pleasant smell of grilled meat and fat, is called the "tsikna". The day "Pempti" (Thursday) fo the "tsikna" is the "Tsiknopempti" (there you go!).

In the late years, the altered composition of the population of Athens has somehow lessened the importance of this custom, but still it remains popular among the Athenians who are very fond of this day, and celebrate it vastly.

And that's what we are going to do the day after tomorrow: celebrate this festive day as it deserves. If you're passing by our street, don't be surprised by the tsikna! Come on inside and have a glass of wine with us!

P.S. A nice blog for the Athenians and their customs and habits you can find in "Αθηναίοι του Πλανήτη". In greek language.

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Vodaphone customers' new answering quote

posted at 00:10

Do you follow me? - Yes! - Well, you better stop following me, or I'll have you arrested.

(Groucho Marx in A Night at the Opera)

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They missed the Scandal!

posted at 19:48

So they said, there was a scandal in Greece, about telephone-tapping members of the government, the prime minister among them.

What I saw being the scandal, in this affair, is the fact that the members of the government don't use the state-owned phone provider Cosmote, but the private Vodaphone! Lack of trust to the public services?

Don't forget that for the first flu, our beloved elite gets the plane to London!


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The Greek Government imprisons the future of the country!

posted at 20:45

At the moment that more and more governmental organizations, especially in Europe, try to get rid of the Microsoft hegemony in the software arena, passing their administrations to Linux oriented free and Open Source Software, at the moment that the European Comity threatens Microsoft in various domains, trying to break its monopoly, the Greek government signs a huge contract, granting the giant company the right to occupy the whole administrative domain, including the Education field!

During the "Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Europe 2006" held yesterday in Lisbon, the Economy and Finance Minister of Greece, George Alogoskoufis, signed an agreement offering preferential financial terms for the purchase of software licenses by the Greek state, free software use rights for Greek civil servants (including home use) and training by Microsoft on the use of new technologies.

Microsoft will set up an innovation centre in Greece with the aim to support the local academic community as well as Greek software companies.

Microsoft will also set up at least 10 computer training centers throughout the country.

The Greek minister stated that the agreement offers significant opportunities to a new generation of Greek students, researchers and businesspeople.

Bill Gates

Knowing Microsoft and their strategy of building monopolistic conditions, wherever possible, knowing the quality of Microsoft software, knowing the permanent refuse of the company to let things go ahead in the IT domain, it is very hard to understand, what benefit will greek people take out of this agreement!

At the same time, does Minister Alogoskoufis, who has raised much controversy off his economy politics, really believe that such an engagement, could be beneficial for the country?

The Open Source Software community, very active in Greece, will let this pass without protesting?

Notice that, in this gathering called "The Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Europe 2006", it is Microsoft, the company, that invites the State Leaders, to show up what has to sell and not them to ask the company to come with their trading suitcases! Here's one that is already bigger than countries! Hurray for the pride of Europe!

Notice also that, on the site of Microsoft, the press releases about the Lisbon event, didn't even mention the Greek agreement. It's so... breadcrumb business for Microsoft!

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Internet access for the masses!

posted at 11:00

I remember the actual government of Greece claiming that the Internet should be on every home, that all students should have the same opportunities over this, that it is very important to develop the IT landscape for the future and other such empty of content fat words, govs use to spread - it's their job, isn't it?

I read this morning in this MacUser Uk post, that Greece is the most expensive country in Europe, when it comes to the Internet access offer.

The survey passes over a sample of 1Mbps access, throughout several countries. Maybe the example of Lithuania is not that relevant, surely there is some hic behind this price. However, countries like the UK or France, show up prices around 29€, the average European price should be in the 37€ neighborhood. While Greece, the most expensive of all countries, flies up to 58€ a month!

My comments:

1. I don't think the average connection speed, by this moment all around Europe, is 1Mbps. There is so much difference in the infrastructure between the countries, that it is almost impossible to establish a common reference for all countries and compare access speeds. The 1Mbps for Greece is still a rocket speed but in France is considered already a thing of the past!

2. As usual, compare just numbers in the prices, is almost meaningless. What one should compare is relatively comparable units, like say hours of work. In this case (nimble calculations of mine) French will work about 4 hours for the 1Mbps while Greeks have to work 14 hours for the same thing!

3. I don't know where the survey took the data from, but as much as I know for France (OK, OK, I'm living there), the 1Mbps is almost not anymore in the offers. The most common is in the 5 to 10 Mbps area and this is for an average of 15€ a month.

4. As I'm concerned, I have a 24Mbps access for 29.90€ a month. That's 24 times faster than the one in this MacUser's post. I got an ISP named Free - see for yourself. The theoretical limit is some 24Mbs. Considering the loss by the distance, the age of the cables in my apartment, the spread of the signal to a multi-socketed installation, having an average of ~14Mbps, is quite satisfactory. See my speed test bellow. The 1Mbps is the third, my connection is at the bottom, in red.


Included in this price is a real telephone line with free and unlimited communications to many countries, like the US or Australia, the 100+ channel television, (alright, there's much crap in this but that's television in the beginning), not to mention some minor pluses, such as a router, a WiFi network, unlimited number of machines on the line (well, almost unlimited), a media center, the ability to watch and record TV on a computer screen, a huge file transfer service, unlimited number of mail accounts, unlimited number of 1Gb web hosting facilities etc…

If you want to measure your connection the way I did, look at this french, Mac Authority site: Macbidouille.

5. In my opinion, the only way to force prices to go down is put the ISPs in competition. And this is obtainable only by one means: boycott! What has happened in France for years is that people didn't step ahead to the broadband access. The media didn't stop to cry about "le retard de la France" in this domain. The ISPs didn't sell. Then one day, forced to follow or shut down their shops, they started proposing the cheap, the cheaper and the cheapest broadband access. Because it WAS possible to chew in their profit margins and lower prices. Then started the real price and offer war. At that point, people found, it was reasonable enough to buy. And we ended up with 2005 being the year of the broadband explosion.

Well, I believe in Greece - or any other suffering country - the real weapon against arrogant ISP policies, is boycott! Since you keep buying, whatever the price, thei're not fool to kill the goose that lays the golden egg! Stop buying, threaten this way the survival of their businesses and you'll se how fast prices will go to the basement! The law of offer and demand is a two way game!

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