- Bye Maria... - Relax dude, it's a camera!

Today I got the news. Maria is officially dead.

Maria was my camera. I changed the name to Maria from CAMERA #1 about a week ago when she was baptised in the waters of Naxos. By accident of course.

What's in a name, really?

A photo posted by Ryan Hudson (@ryankhudson) on

When I realised what had happened, I remained calm and said: “Hope the pictures are ok”. 

Inside me I died for a moment as this camera is the only thing I've been able to keep alive for 7 years. Here I would like to confess that I am a goldfish and plant murderer by negligence. Deal with it.

If I crossed the sea to get these photos, they are more valuable than my cheapo camera. Alright, it was about 5 meters worth of sea but still some sea to be swam!

And what photos! This is me Ash Ketchum style while catching Vaporeon on Pokémon Go (real life edition):

Cameras are tools to make pictures. Nothing more, nothing less. If you treat them as such you will make great or at least enjoyable pictures. If you treat them like fragile babies, you will be too afraid to make good photos outdoors.

- Dude, stuff is expensive!

I know and I respect that. But it’s relative.

Sure, Maria 7 years ago was more expensive than what my friends were willing to spend on a camera. But they may spent that much (or more) on other stuff. By camera standards, it was as cheap as you could get at the time.

Also back then your phone's camera was quiet shitty. Now it's really good! I am thinking about not replacing the camera and stick with my phone. Or go completely old-school and check out film photography. Waterproof by design.

On that note, if you like doing something, respect the tools but don’t babysit them. You are interested in your hobby/job, not the tools, right? RIGHT?!

Now that I lectured you, check out Maria on the operation table and if you see me doing something stupid like that again, punch me:

P.S.: This was written in under 30 minutes and by now I hate the name Maria for a camera.

Is it futile to un-Google?

I was watching Citizenfour the other day so you may understand my confusion.

I can say that I am privacy aware. On a high level, I understand how things work. I use a different strong password for everything, I have a GPG key and I opt for using open source services that make security a priority.

However I still use services that are not so privacy centric. I use Facebook and nearly all Google Services (Search, Gmail, Drive, Photos, etc.). These two alone can show you everything about me.

According to Edward Snowden's revelations everything is busted. Dropbox, Google, Apple.. You are not safe.

On the bright side, Snowden notes that the big software companies are doing steps in the right direction.

But let's say I stop using services from these companies and find alternatives. Am I really doing anything except dealing with bad UX experiences and beta software?

Any time I email somebody who uses Gmail — and anytime they email me — Google has that email.
That was what Benjamin Mako Hill who maintains his own mail server realised and tried to estimate how much of his emails Google has. Here are his findings.

TL;DR; 51% of his email at the year of measurement had passed through Google's servers. Just wow! This guy works so hard and spends so much money every year to avoid this and there he goes.

The only way i can think of to email other people and keep it private without blowing my head up, is if I use Protonmail which I think is awesome. But even then, starting a casual conversation demands that you have to teach the other person how to use the service. Also mobile is a pain and the web interface is not packing the 11 years of experience that Google has with Gmail (yes, proper shortcuts).

Email is one and probably the easiest thing of all to keep private. There are many other ways your privacy can be invaded.

Most chat services are not encrypted by default (however this is changing), there has been massive security breaches and big data dumps in the last years. Your phone tracks your position constantly for years and records your habits. Your browser sees what websites you visit and where you click, what you search, what you need and when. Wearables will track your biometrics and exercise habits. There has been proof of manufacturers putting malware on their laptops or phones. One can go insane in minutes thinking about it. 

Many of the above can be turned off but for most people the default remains current. I suppose there are very few people who have turned their Android's location history off and I am not one of them.

Why? The thing is that all these things make us more productive and they are very convenient. They provide the things we are most pumped about. Automation, collaboration and convenience. I can work on documents collaboratively with Google Docs and as I travel a lot I can easily work remotely with Dropbox and Drive. Using my location to tell me when I should leave accounting, transit time and traffic data to be on time for my next calendar event is awesome. Spotify analysing my music preferences and giving me something new to enjoy once a week is not that bad. There are many benefits in using these technologies to ignore them. 

For regular folks, like me that want to make stuff and get work done, it is not an easy feat to do so with 100% privacy. To keep private you should spend a lot of time and work on it to setup and maintain the complicated systems. You have to change burner phones all the time and live like Harold from Person of Interest.

So we give up?

Absolutely not. But instead of getting down to build you own password manager because no one can be trusted and change online services every six months pursuing your tail, you can start by not doing EVERYTHING online.

Ironically most of my friends will argue that DOINGEVERYTHINGONLINE should be my nickname. They don't see the need to keep stuff accessible from anywhere and that's fine. For me having all the stuff I need accessible from any device and suffer minimum to zero dataloss in case of failure of my main machine is crucial. But it is not EVERYTHING. I do the following.

I evaluate privacy importance on my stuff. Long story short, if something must be seen by you and you only for whatever reason, don't put it online (without encrypting it for good at least).

Realistically this is what you can do to use the internet today without becoming paranoid. 

On the grand scale the only solution is for the law to be enforced appropriately. If we don't have that the only thing we are doing is avoiding the unavoidable.

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Running streak

For 5 days now I run every day morning or afternoon. And it’s great!

I tried to form this habit many times in the past but for some reason it did not stick. At some point, my excuse would be that I could not find time and one day out of the loop was enough to throw me out of it.

Casey is very motivating in that stuff so for the first time I decided to make running (among other things) a priority.

Why running is great

First of all, I generally feel better. Much better.

I feel more accountable for my diet and I drink a lot less on social occasions. I am more likely to be more focused on other tasks and I move 80% more.

A run gets almost an hour from my day which is OK. Especially when it is at 6.30 in the morning. In that hour, I feel free and I can do things I don’t do so often anymore. That is listening to music, snap some pictures but mostly think and clear my mind.

Way too early.. #sunrise #moon #running #boat #sea #wakeup

A photo posted by Tasos Sagiotis (@tsagiotis) on

I'm on a streak! #atlanticdiana #running #sunset #patras #port

A photo posted by Tasos Sagiotis (@tsagiotis) on

After that I have time for a good shower and a breakfast (not on rush) which is magic. There I get down on zeroing my inbox and by 9 o’clock it is already a good day. The rest of the day I feel more focused and I start working at full mode earlier.

Running with a friend is strongly recommended. Especially if they are in better shape than you. Yesterday I run with a friend and she is regularly exercising. It was pretty intense but it pushed my limits and I covered more distance with almost double the pace.

How to track things (aka. Toys)

Tracking things helps a lot to stay on track and do better every time. However the point here is to go as simple as possible.

I have used Nike+ and Runkeeper to track my runs. I think I prefer Runkeeper as it is snappier and more stable.

For music I use Spotify as ever and a party playlist.

The more convenient thing is the bluetooth earbuds. If you use them once, everything else feels bulky.

I use these cheap ones so I don't have to worry. They last 2-3 hours which is pretty good for what I need.

Having said all this, if you feel like running, please do! :)

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Social media frenzy

It all started with Twitter.. or foursquare... or Snapchat!

I think it was foursquare though. Twitter in Greece was not that popular and foursquare was a funny game for me. I even checked "in" at the bus stop.

Anyhow. The last two months I've been under the Snapchat frenzy and friends I razzed about their addiction are coming out swinging.

I also share more on Instagram and Twitter. Swarm (formerly foursquare) check-ins never stopped.

This ranting is just a vague assessment of what is happening with our social media addiction and oversharing. 

I recall Snapchat becoming popular among friends about two years ago.

I tried it, it was hitting my nerves and my battery was disappearing like a ghost (see what I did there?) so I got rid of it soon by deleting my account.

During last summer my friends were on Snapchat frenzy so I got it back on my phone (with a different username as deleting your account on snapchat does not release the username).

The engagement was crazy!

Everyone is eager to see what you (or anyone) posted and you are crazy to see what everyone is posting.

The same was with Facebook on the first years. It was the easiest way to share something with the world. 

Then twitter made it even faster. It also gave you the possibility if you were fast and funny enough to become a celebrity of sort on the medium. People were expecting for your content.

Same thing with Instagram. The faster way to share a picture. There you could also get the celebrity feeling. (hashtags are a powerfull thing).

Then there was Snapchat which is even faster and more intimate! And now beme is making things more faster! And faster makes for more engagement.

If I did not snap in a day or two people (and not just close friends) will ask me:

"No snap today?" or "Everything ok? I didn't see a snap from you today!"

Let me tell you, it is pretty nice (and somewhat vain) when people are eager to see your highlight of the day (or your tweet, or instagram picture or whatever). When this happens you feel like sharing a lot more. Everyone feels like they are Casey Neistat (who is awesome).

Because when you share fast, others check out fast because they fear of missing something in the scrolling sea or in the Snap lifespan. To give an example, even if the lifespan of a Snap is 24h, it becomes irrelevant in an hour or two.

That's pretty much it.. And most active users are suffering from this behaviour, me included.

As a result you are scrolling and refreshing way too much. So, it is time for me to tone down a bit.

I deleted Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Medium from my phone and spoiler alert: I am not locked in at the bathroom eating my nails!

My tablet is for slacking anyway so these apps live a happy life there.

I just have less brakes and get more work done. Simple as that.


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U Can’t Touch This

No bro, it is not cool when I enter the room, you use my computer and then ask me if it’s cool. It wasn’t when you started it and it is not now.

I said “Look at this” showing you a picture. I surely don’t remember saying get the phone off my hand, check all my pictures/apps and don’t forget to log me out of Facebook to check if people still like you.

That big old CD collection you see there, is not for you to pick up and shuffle.

Same for my books library.

You are at my home smoking without asking. OK. That happens above my keyboard with your hellish cigarette torch that spills ashes everywhere trying to figure out how YouTube works. Guess how OK that is my metalhead friend…

Don’t get offended when you want to try out my computer/phone/glasses as if you’ve never seen one of them before and I politely say no.

No little kid. The game you were playing in daddy’s office is not playable on my computer.

My glasses have “My” and not “Our” in front of them. You don’t look sophisticated, you look like an idiot performing an unsuccessful myopia test to himself.

You dare thinking about tasting my food/drink? From what planet did you come from?

If I can reasonably call it mine, leave it alone.

All the above, I can do to you. But you don’t mind, right?

Elafonisos

Sand everywhere

On the road

Simos beach

Simos is a the biggest beach in Elafonisos. It consists of Big Simos and Small Simos. There is sand everywhere and the water is mesmerising.

The name of the beach is due to the of the drowning of the sponge diver Simos from Kalymnos in the area where the Small Simos beach is now.

Company was awesome

There was cockfighting involved (and asking for mercy).

And everyone asked for a new Facebook profile picture so these are my recommendations.

The sun goes down

Islands of Madonna (Nisia tis Panagias) is a beach and a restaurant on a high spot of the island. From there you can have a great view of the beach and the sunset.

Resulted to Moon rising

The moon was almost full and with the help of some beer, a good lens and a tripod I almost saw Neil Armstrong’s flag.

The Port

The town and port of Elafonisos is a typical one. Except the small rock where the small church of Saint Spyridonas is located. Saint Spyridonas is considered the protector of the island and the small rock is the most beautiful part of the port.



Footnotes: Canon EOS 1000D (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS II USM) // Nexus 5

A smart and witty Martian

Just yesterday I finished reading The Martian. I wont lie, this book is not for eveyone but I really liked it.

Mark Whitney, an engineer and botanist, was left on Mars by accident and he has to survive some years since he has even a chance to get back to Earth.

While he is at the same time the luckiest and unluckiest person on Mars he manages to crack jokes all the time.

Here are some of the highlights I made on Kindle (WARNING! Minor spoilers ahead, proceed with caution)!

How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.
I used a sophisticated method to remove sections of plastic (hammer), then carefully removed the solid foam insulation (hammer again).
Using advanced construction techniques (duct tape)
Even if it’s got a bigger problem, he’s an engineer!” Dialing, he added, “Fixing things is his job!”.
It’s a strange feeling. Everywhere I go, I’m the first. Step outside the rover? First guy ever to be there! Climb a hill? First guy to climb that hill! Kick a rock? That rock hadn’t moved in a million years!
The battery was a lithium thionyl chloride non-rechargeable. I figured that out from some subtle clues: the shape of the connection points, the thickness of the insulation, and the fact that it had “LiSOCl2 NON-RCHRG” written on it.
“Yes!” They said, “Yes!” I haven’t been this excited about a “yes” since prom night!
“Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”
“Jesus, what a complicated process,” Venkat said. “Try updating a Linux server sometime,” Jack said.
I mostly ignore them. I don’t want to come off as arrogant here, but I’m the best botanist on the planet.
I told NASA what I did. Our (paraphrased) conversation was:
Me: “I took it apart, found the problem, and fixed it.”
NASA: “Dick.”
Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.
I used a geological sample container (also known as “a box”).
I got really bored, so I decided to pick a theme song!
Something appropriate. And naturally, it should be something from Lewis’s godawful seventies collection. It wouldn’t be right any other way. There are plenty of great candidates: “Life on Mars?” by David Bowie, “Rocket Man” by Elton John, “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan.
But I settled on “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
The worst moments in life are heralded by small observations. The tiny lump on your side that wasn’t there before. Coming home to your wife and seeing two wineglasses in the sink. Anytime you hear “We interrupt this program …”
One kilowatt-hour per sol is … it can be anything … um … I suck at this … I’ll call it a “pirate-ninja.”
I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.
That makes me a pirate! A space pirate!
The fifth one is reserved for the day I launch. It’s labeled “Last Meal.”
“What would an Apollo astronaut do?” He’d drink three whiskey sours, drive his Corvette to the launchpad, then fly to the moon in a command module smaller than my Rover. Man those guys were cool.
I’m in my space suit on Mars and I’m navigating with sixteenth-century tools. But hey, they work.
They’ll probably say, “Thanks for gathering samples. But leave them behind. And one of your arms, too. Whichever one you like least.”
Have you ever taken the wrong freeway entrance? You just need to drive to the next exit to turn around, but you hate every inch of travel because you’re going away from your goal.
I’m traveling 90 kilometers per day as usual, but I only get 37 kilometers closer to Schiaparelli because Pythagoras is a dick.
I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First, get some hot water, then add nothin’.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a woman. Just sayin’. Anyway, to ensure I don’t crash again, I’ll — Seriously … no women in like, years. I don’t ask for much. Believe me, even back on Earth a botanist/mechanical engineer doesn’t exactly have ladies lined up at the door. But still, c’mon.
It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.
But really, they did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true.

Questions after No

It was a rough and fast week. From the announcement of the Greek referendum to the announcement of the final and big No.

That was little time to think about many things for me and for everyone.

However the million (Euro?) question was the following:

What is the plan?

Not the plan of the government, not the plan of the people and not even the plan of the rest European leaders.

What is the grand plan? Is there any?

Nobody really knows but I write this trying to put my thoughts and mental simulations in order. I believe I will fail but it would be interesting. Let’s calmly answer some questions.

What was the question/intention?

As the question was anything but clear, through the week we had many different scenarios for this.
  • The official one was that Syriza wanted to push Europe for a better deal.
  • The other was that Syriza was aiming to reduce the political cost of making a high austerity deal.
  • Another was that Syriza was tricking people to answer if they prefer to be in or out of the Eurozone and to gain time.

What is the clearer message we can get from the result?

That is a difficult one. Because of the unclear nature of the question, people answered to the version of the question they understood.

People and especially young ones (75% of them) voted No. At the same time75% of all people answered to polls that they wanted to stay in the Eurozone.

My interpretation is that this means out with the old and in with the new. Not just the old and the new of Greece but the old of Europe too.

At the same time people threw the ball back at Alexis Tsipras.

Why so loudly?

The result got me by surprise. No won by something more that 60/30 and in Athens there was a 70/30 ratio. We should examine why.

Yes was represented (maybe deliberately) in Greece by the people that run Greece after its big political reform in 1974 and in Europe by anyone who has been austere to Greece in the past 5 years. Also almost all private media were channeling people to vote Yes. That pretty much erased chances for aYes because Greek people hate all or some of the above categories.

However polls and even Twitter stats showed that people changed their minds at the last time.

People are angry with the situation. The last week helped to that. An hour a day in queue while in fear and uncertainty was an optimistic day plan. Angry people don’t choose positively.

At the same time the government strongly supported that there is no danger in choosing No. It seems like people believed them.

What happens now?

Nobody knows for sure. We still have to find out what we voted for.

The Prime Minister is ready to get again in negotiations and for the first time in these 5 months, Alexis Tsipras will make a move to form a united front for Greece with the help of the rest Greek leaders.

This could help Greece in the negotiations or if things go sideways Alexis Tsipras political cost would be highly reduced.

Many believe that this was the plan all along. That governing is too much for Syriza and they prefer to get back at the opposition where they feel comfortable and let the others take the blame of anything inevitable that will happen. It makes sense if you think how easy this gets with the referendum.

Now that we are here, let’s note that ex Prime Minister Antonis Samaras stepped down last night as a party leader meaning that the New Democracy party is going to get through (likely massive) reforms to become relevant and avoid the fate of Pasok.

At the same time Greece is divided. Many Syriza voters voted Yes because they feel betrayed by Syriza and many voters of other parties that were pro-Yes voted No. The thing is not party related and the word traitor gets thrown around a lot. People are afraid and uncertain. At least I am a little (less than last Friday I must say). This must be fixed really soon.

What can we do?

I am on a bus to Patras. A woman next to me is on the phone organising a play and her contact on the phone is anxious about what would happen. But the show must go on.

Be optimistic, hope for the best, continue our lives and search for ways to produce wealth in Greece. Armageddon is not coming and this will not be the end of everything. However things can still go bad or really bad but they can also go better.

Only time will tell…

Ας μην ξανακολλάμε

Όσο άσχετο και να είναι το δημοψήφισμα ως προς το ερώτημά του πλέον, σαν Έλληνες έχουμε πάρει θέσεις ηχηρά και οπαδικά ως συνήθως. Αναπόφευκτα λοιπόν τσακωνόμαστε και ξεκατινιαζόμαστε. Άριστοι σε αυτό από τα βάθη της ιστορίας.

Είμαι 22. Στη δύσκολη αρχή της κρίσης πήγαινα ακόμη σχολειο. Μικρές οι απαιτήσεις μου και χωρίς ρωγμές η φυσαλίδα μου.

Από τότε σπούδασα σε άλλη πόλη, ταξίδεψα, δούλεψα, πήρα μια μικρή ιδέα από δημόσιες υπηρεσίες και ενήλικες διαδικασίες και λίγο πολύ είδα μια πιθαμή πράγματα από τον κόσμο και την Ελλάδα.

Ταυτόχρονα ζω στο ίντερνετ. Το ίντερνετ είναι ένα άγριο μέρος όταν ο κόσμος είναι μπερδεμένος και πορωμένος όπως τώρα. Να χτυπάς με κακία ένα πληκτρολόγιο είναι αρκετά εύκολη και γρήγορη ευχαρίστηση. Τα αποτελέσματα στην προκειμένη περίπτωση ήταν αναμενόμενα.

Το λιγότερο αναμενόμενο για μένα ήταν το ότι βρίζαμε και υποβιβάζαμε τον Πύρρο Δήμα όταν πήρε θέση στην τηλεόραση. Έναν άνθρωπο που ο παππούς μου με φώναζε από μικρός που ήμουν να δω να σηκώνει τα βάρη, τον δοξάζαμε σαν έθνος για χρόνια και ανέβαζε την εθνική μας υπερηφάνεια με κάθε αρασέ και ζετέ. Και τώρα είναι οΑλβανός, ο αγράμματος και βολεμένος.

Αφού βρέθηκα αναπόφευκτα και σε ένα ΑΤΜ κατέληξα ότι για ακόμη μία φορά δεν έχουμε κοινό στόχο. Μόνο χωριζόμαστε ανάλογα με τους κοινούς μας εχθρούς.

Ο κόσμος κοιτάει το κενό λες και έχει φάει μία σφαλιάρα και δεν έχει ακόμη συνέλθει. Στο δρόμο οι οδηγοί είναι νευρικοί. Άκουσα στο ραδιόφωνο κόσμο να πλακώνεται στην ουρά στο πεζοδρόμιο για το ποιός φταίει.

- Ο δικός σου ρε μαλακα!
- Γιατί, ο δικός σου καλύτερος ήταν ρε προδότη;

Τους χώρισε ένας ηλικιωμένος. Κάποιου άλλου του έσπασαν το μαγαζί επειδή είχε μία σημαία της Ευρώπης έξω.

Ήδη νομίζω ότι χτίζουμε μόνοι μας ένα εμφύλιο. Πολλές οι φωτογραφίες από τον εφοδιασμό μας για πυρηνικό πόλεμο.

Ας μην πάει μακρυά αυτή η βαλίτσα.

Ό, τι και να βγει από αυτό το “δημοψήφισμα” τη Δευτέρα θα πρέπει να χτίσουμε μαζί τη χώρα και να βοηθήσουμε όποιον το χρειάζεται. Το ΝΑΙ και το ΟΧΙ είναι μία προτίμηση σε ένα ερώτημα που δεν υπάρχει πια. Είναι μία δήλωση. Πόσο καλό ή κακό μπορεί να κάνει αυτή η δήλωση μένει να φανεί. Δεν παίζουμε μπάλα και δεν υπάρχει κύπελλο για το νικητή.

Συζητήστε μεταξύ σας με ανοιχτό μυαλό και χωρίς μνησικακίες. Σεβαστείτε τον άλλο και καταλάβετέ τον. Αυτό είναι αναγκαίο.

Αν δεν αντέχουμε ο ένας τον άλλο τη Δευτέρα το παιχνίδι έχει ήδη χαθεί.