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George Schizas Blog

Days in the life of a clone

Graduation

This Thursday, I finally (after 14 years!) graduated from my university. I am now officially an Agricultural Biotechnologist!The ceremony wasn’t really much, which is a good thing, as the hall we had gathered in didn’t really have all that much room. Also, I think I was the last of my year to get a degree, so there was no-one I knew in the hall.

Still, this really was a pivotal time for me. A chapter has now really closed in my life, even though I was reading ahead about 3 chapters forward 🙂

World Othello Championship

The last three days were a bit hectic, but I was taking part of something very cool: The 31st World Othello Championship! It was a bit unexpected of course, but I was one of the two members of the Greek team. The event took place in Greece, in the center of Athens (which was almost obviously the reason a Greek team, which was just put together, could take part).

All in all, a wonderful experience! I came 66th of 68, but it really was my first time playing for real (as in on a board), with players that obviously have been playing a very long time and were very experienced. My goal was really not coming last, which I very much achieved :).

I just hope there will be a next chapter in all of this, and I can do better next year 🙂

New PC (almost)

My server PC’s motherboard was fried last week, so I decided to not replace it, but to upgrade my Workstation PC to a slightly better CPU, GPU, memory and motherboard, and use my old workstation PC as the new server. This is a work in progress obviously; the server PC is now just a Virtual PC and the actual hardware server (to be) is just a bunch of cables waiting to be put together.

So, I went to pick up my PC on Saturday, on a part of Metropolitan Athens that I’ve never been before (GPS is cool!). As luck would have it, I caught the most extreme rain I’ve ever seen! I might be exaggerating about the actual rain – but it was one of the few times I’ve ever seen hail, and the first one that I was driving.

The quality of the new case and PSU aren’t really that great. The motherboard/CPU/GPU/Memory is doing great so far (I got a 5,3 in Vista Experience Index), but half the SATA power jacks have broken when I connected them, and there were some disconnected cables in the case. Of course after working in the obscenely huge Coolermaster Stacker, the Coolermaster Centurion I got seems way too cramped. Unfortunately the disk encasement on Stacker is really a torture device to plug in and out, so the sideways plug-in of Centurion is really a breath of fresh air.

Unfortunately the motherboard/CPU change did not bode well with Windows Vista, so I had to reinstall them. So once again, I’ll be installing software after software and manually migrating setting after setting. There should be an easier way to do this. Even from hosed installations. Why, oh why did Microsoft replace the good old “In-place Upgrade”, a.k.a. “Repair Installation” of Windows XP with the dumbed-down, slow as hell, check-your-disk-when-it-doesn’t-need-it monstrosity that is “Repair Windows Startup Problems” (or something)? Bring Install-on-top back! This was really the way to solve such “trivial” problems as changing motherboards. And I’m afraid I’m going to have to do the same thing for the fourth time at work too!

Don’t get me wrong, I like Windows Vista. They are truly better than Windows XP in most matters. And in spite of the fact that I’ve gone for the most incompatible path imaginable, namely 64-bit Windows Vista (Ultimate), I’ve only met with very few problems, probably less than 10 cases. There are some incompatible drivers (I can only think of two, a USB-to-Serial cable, and I think a MIDI device) and I can only think of Sysinternals’ Process Monitor that didn’t capture 32-bit applications once, although this was probably due to the state of anarchy I’ve managed to brink my work’s PC configuration to. Problems with 64-bit are more of an “a-ha” problem, such as converting a web site to 32-bit, or using the 32-bit cscript.exe to start 32-bit ActiveX objects etc. I chose to do this of course, in order to experience the problem class that comes with 32-to-64-bit transition. Even my new motherboard’s manual has a warning that 32-bit windows cannot see more than about 3,5 GB of RAM. In this new PC I already have 4 GB…

I’m now a bicyclist

I went with my more experienced cousin today and bought myself a bicycle. It’s a black Ideal Ergomax (a Greek bike industry) and it’s something like a hybrid city-mountain bike. I didn’t get a change to ride it, other than outside the store, because of the transport (the wheels and the brakes are currently disconnected), but indeed riding a bicycle is like … riding a bicycle (ok, lame joke, but I’ve been waiting very long to say this). I mean even after 15 years since I’ve even touched a bicycle, I still can ride. The only difference is that this one has real brakes that actually stop movement (as opposed to my learning bike that just pretended to do so).

So, why now, at 32? Well, the first and foremost reason is of course I really need the exercise, and an exercise bicycle (which I also own, and is gathering dust, as most exercise bikes are) is too boring (especially my own, since I can’t even read a book properly while riding). My ultimate goal is of course riding to work, since that’s just 11 km, and all flat. Of course I don’t shun driving and cars, but if I can do the same distance in about the same time, why waste gasoline etc? I’m not such a raving environmentalist, I love driving, but it’s a whole lot more healthy to ride to work.

Of course there’s every chance that I’ll either get bored very soon (I’m dreading late night rides back), or that I’ll chicken out (I mean, riding around through traffic?). Still, it seems a dreadful pity to be here, out in the country (of sorts) and not take advantage of the openness and nature. Driving is fun when driving large distances, but to really appreciate and grok a place, you have to go slow!

50.000 km

I passed 50.000 km in my car today!

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I have my SEAT Ibiza for just a few days over 6 years now, and I must say I’m quite happy with it. The only things that have broken down are just a fuse in the engine, the electric window mechanism and the turn signal lever (all fixed of course). It remains a very powerful car for its engine size (1400 cc, but 101 horsepower), and because it’s relatively light, it is not rare for other drivers to eat my dust :). It is very comfortable, to the point I prefer sitting in there to sitting on a normal chair, and in the rare cases I traveled long distances, I can’t say I was tired at the end (even though it "complained" that two or even four hours had passed and I should take a brake from driving). I’m of course very grateful for the air condition, as 47°C on the outside are really not tolerable without one! And of course it remains really fun to drive!

So, here’s to another 50.000 km!

Baby nephew

So, my nephew fed up with being inside my sister, and decided to get out, a bit early (actually just in time). So, at noon of Wednesday (June 13), my sister gave birth to a handsome, blonde, blue-eyed tall and strong little man!
Baby nephew

Welcome, baby nephew!

Wardriving

Having actually starting to use my new mobile phone, I tried a wardriving experiment today. I downloaded and installed WiFiFoFum and ran it from the way from work to home. To my surprise, I discovered about 70 WiFi networks on the way, and about half of them unsecured! Unfortunately WiFiFoFum refused to play nice with the mobile’s GPS, so I don’t have the location of those networks. It would be nice, though.

Anyhow, 70 WiFi networks? In such a short space? (About 10 km). Ok, so a lot of the owners don’t realize they’re sharing their internet with just about everybody that drives/walks/stands outside their house. Still, that’s a lot of bandwidth!

This is not supposed to happen

It’s not supposed to happen like this. You see a movie, it makes an impact, you forget it. You shouldn’t be so shaken when seeing the same movie (or series) again. After all it was made so long ago. It’s past its prime. It’s been superseeded by new ones, new movies and new series that learned from it and improved on it.

Still, I saw the final two episodes of Babylon 5 and Dead Again in two consecutive weekends, and both shook me almost as much as they did on the first time. Babylon 5 in particular should not be like this, since there’s Galactica now (at least before it became a soap-opera) that claims to have learned from Babylon 5. Still, even if I saw the 5th season before moving (more than a year ago, that is) and I only saw the final two episodes the last weekend, they didn’t fail to move and shake me.

Dead Again though should be a completely different story. I mean I know the plot, and these types of films are based on plot twists. And I knew the plot twists. And I really liked the movie because of the plot twists! And the same plot twists shouldn’t work for the second time. Yet…

Well, you know when there’s good art, when 5 or 10 or 15 years down the line, the same series or movie doesn’t fail to have the same impact as it did the first time!

300

I went and saw 300 last week. Why am I writing about it now? I dunno. I just felt like it. If I keep finding excuses for not writing, I will not be writing!

So, extremely cool movie! Easily the best comic adaptation ever, and that’s saying much! I think it’s even better than Sin City (not by much though!). Very impressive imagery and cinematography, very good battle choreography (only second to The Matrix in my opinion) and a general epic theme that made almost 500 people in the cinema jeering and clapping in the middle of the movie! Always fun when that happens! 🙂

I hear and read many negative opinions on the fact that it glorifies battle and war, it glorifies oppressive regimes, it glorifies Bush’s attack on Iran or whatever. Ok, so the Ancient Spartans were an oppressive regime, but they did have the fiercest army. And actually it came into my attention that Spartans spoke with a British accent in the movie, while Persians spoke with an American accent. Maybe that’s a lame excuse, but it might seem that the movie is anti-Bush, even though he wants to invade old Persia (Iran) now, we might as well see that the Iranians or the Iraqi are today’s Spartans and Bush-led USA is today’s Persian Empire.

Anyhow, let’s not overanalyze things. There are some movies that you see in order to come out of the theater enlightened and troubled and thinking great thoughts. There are others, such as 300, that you see in order to come out of the theater feeling 10 meters tall!

Baby niece

I got back from the hospital, where my cousin gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! Ok, technically she’s a “second” niece, but I literally grew up with this cousin, so she’s very much dear to me 🙂

I wish I had photos of this, but I was afraid to take photos in the waiting room! Didn’t want to blind the little thing! 🙂

I skipped work to get there as soon as I could, my mother and aunt were already there (and discussing about their own pregnancies and childbirths – as mothers are wont to do all around the world :)), but my father got a bit lost – he even asked for directions 🙂

Both mother and daughter are fine, he birth was quite easy I’m told (wonders of modern medicine), and will be returning (or going for the first time!) home on Monday (which is actually Ash Monday – a holiday) or maybe Tuesday.

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