life 19 Apr 2016 11:22 am
Facebook post from 19 April at 11:22 · Athens ·
Another emotional encounter this morning:
Walking two streets from The Cube on Benaki str. I encounter a very old man asking someone for help – He’s confused, probably suffering from the first signs of dementia. “Where are the busses, I want to go home” – “Which bus do you need” asks the other man, an owner of a kiosk, not able to give him the attention required.
“Where do you live” –
He pauses, angry at himself “I don’t remember the address but I remember the place I take the bus from and the stop I need to get off on”
A needle in a haystack.
“Do you have children?” I ask, “Do you have their phone number?” He’s very confused.
“I have children but they haven’t seen me in years – where are we? I just came downtown to buy some shaving cream – now I’m lost”
“We’re on the corner of Akadimias and Benaki”
“Show me the place where there’s a dip in the road, the beginning”
“The beginning of Akadimias?”
“Yes, there where the busses leave from. What’s the name of the square”, there’s that confused gaze again.
“Kannigos” I respond – his eyes light up.
“That’s it , there”
So I walk this old man a little further east towards the bus stops
“No the other way – all I do now is go there down that street and my bus leaves from there” – He’s pointing to Solonos street – We walk past the ever present drug dealers and he tells me he’s 93 years old. He has 3 children and 8 grandchildren – he lives alone – the anesthetic used during an operation he had on a broken hip 3 years ago left his mind numb. His children slowly drifted away after he lost his wife. “They have their own lives now”
He was a bus driver – coming to Athens at age 16 “When the Germans came to Kefallonia, I left and came to Athens. It’s worse now don’t you think?” He asks.
“I don’t know, I haven’t lived through a war”
“It’s worse now”, he says
We walked for 10 minutes or so as I took him to his bus station, making sure he knew where he was going. In the short time as we waited for his bus, we spoke about life, love, war and peace, about disappointment, about achievements, about parenthood – about my Father and Mother.
“Your Dad is a youngster” he said
We spoke about Greece as it was and as it is. This old man had so much to tell and give. Yet, he’s abandoned, unable to even use a phone. – I gave him my card.
“I can’t call you”, he maintained.
“If you get lost on the way home, give it to someone, and have them call me – I’ll come take you to your home and install a phone with big buttons – all you’ll do is press one button to call your daughters”
“One button?” The impossible seemed possible.
I wonder how many old people there are that are just like him. Forgotten by their kids, the ones they once gave everything for.
It made me sad. Really sad. We don’t spend enough time with our elderly.
I’ve been posting a regular update called “Best Thing Read Today” to my Facebook recently. It’s normally a short text from a book,newspaper or site I chanced upon that strikes me as important. Here’s one I think is profound given Greece’s current situation and the root causes of these outcomes :
Sounds a little like Kennedy’s “Ask not” speech.
life 24 Apr 2015 02:59 pm
Today I had a coffee with Menelaos, someone I consider very highly. He said something that I wanted to share with all of you.
“If you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t have time to complain”
I’m probably wasting time on low impact things that inevitably make me complain. No more. I intend to do it right and not have time to complain.
How about you?
The next few weeks will be hectic – with a visit to San Francisco and Boulder, helping my friends from codebender.cc do some great things with Sparkfun and some US schools, it will be a lot of fun and we’ll make some impact. I hope too to have some time to attend TiECon – I met the awesome TiE folks when they did their summer retreat here in AThens a few years ago. We helped them put together a great entrepreneurs bootcamp here and I’ve been invited back to do the same for their next summer retreat in Dublin. So, the following week, I’ll be closer to home, in Dublin doing that.
So, no time to complain – trying to do it right. Can I convince you to join me?
life 03 Sep 2010 10:04 pm
Times are tough. The experts say they’re going to get tougher. I’m encouraged by the fact that in many conversations I’m hearing people offer eachother the phrase “How can I be supportive?”. It comes early in the conversation, probably the second question asked. Right after “What are you working on currently?” Most respond with an empassioned rant on their current project. Some answer that they’re not working on much but are looking for an opportunity. The response is still fitting.
It’s great that people are interacting like this. Using the word “support” rather than the word “help” implies success rather than failure.
In tough times like these we need to be scaffolds for eachother.
life 22 May 2010 04:37 pm
I’ve just woken up. It happens so often that I wake up during sleep and wished I’d had a notebook by the bedside to jot down what I, at that specific point in time, think is an incredible idea. I don’t have a notebook and naturally, overcome by the desire to nap for a few more minutes or get back into that nirvana mode where I came up with that idea, I forget the idea. Today, I beat nirvana and jotted down an incredible idea.
I get my best ideas while sleeping, that’s why siesta’s are important.
I wish I had more of them!
It’s been a tough couple of weeks and we have been at the mercy of some cold, hard balled professionals and the impact has been devastating but we will overcome. I wanted to make a point regarding professionalism vs amateurism and how one without the other will most likely lead to failure of some sort. The last few weeks’ events have resulted in a few people being hurt, productivity is in the doldrums and work morale is at almost zero. It’s going to be an uphill battle to encourage the troops again and some valuable soldiers are likely to desert.
To make my point: The difference between professionals and amateurs is that amateurs exhibit love for what they do.
Yesterday, I advised a young colleague with a bright future that while being professional is important, it’s equally important to be a little bit of an amateur. A professional places less value in the human cost of decisions than an amateur will. I hope he takes my advice and when it’s his turn to advise those more senior than him on the best course of action, he’ll be a little bit of an amateur as well as a professional. This will transform him from a good manager to a great manager and eventually into a great leader. A leader who will have troops that return that love and will be ready to follow him into any battle. Battles that’ll then be easier to win because love is hard to beat.
There are too many professionals around lately. They’re not really producing more than the amateurs were. I’m seeing more destruction and less construction. Play a little tetris people.
Etymology of Amateur
In Greek: Erasitechnis < erasi- (eramai-to love) + -technis (techni) In English: 1775–85; < F, MF < L amator lover, equiv. to ama- (s. of amore to love) + -tor -tor, replaced by F -teur (< L -tor-, obl. s. of -tor); see -eur
My (slightly modified) view on what matters is:
* An alternative culture, a brighter light
* A tight relationship with stakeholders, partners and the wider community that all give us permission to talk with them
* Doing business in a remarkable way that’s worth talking about
* A story that spreads, a tale that sticks
credit to peter michel heilmann
It’s been 2 months since I lasted blogged and I apologise for that. Tonight has been special in that I have had the privilege of attending MediaCamp Athens ’09.
I took a lot of photo’s, some quite good, others not too good. They’re on Flickr so take a look if you like.
For the most part I have enjoyed the event (and although there have been one or two negative points upon which I’ll expand on below) first: a few notes on what was presented on this second day and what I enjoyed “consuming”
Morning demo sessions I followed were Udrive, Kapou.gr, spitia.gr, greekstartups. All good but kapou.gr was exceptional. Better than Google. Real potential here. I loved the bit about placing advertising in a 3D live rotating view. The execution of this will be tough though, someone mentioned that advertising might appear on the Acropolis, imagine that!
The round-table Social Networks “A model for analysts” provided some heated discussion. As far as I understood, we have the potential to become less social by using social networks. (fair point if you consider we might have less physical contact if we’re constantly tweeting.
Joomla dominated today while apparently Drupal dominated yesterday. The uptake of Joomla seems fantastic. Greek company Joomlaworks.gr is well placed to provide services.
Vicky Kolovou and I held a discussion on TeachKidsTech – interest was good and we’re going to have a followup meeting in a couple of weeks. Join the Facebook group Teach Kids Technology if you’re interested.
And now for some comment.
The Web Startup/New Media/Social Network community or family in Greece is growing. This is a relatively young family and it is growing fast. Naturally, as families grow, the children develop and mature. They get opinions, they prefer more independence and don’t really like sharing toys. There are growing pains, jealousies and intrigues that develop too. Sometimes there are bullies about.
There is clear evidence of this happening in this family. It’s natural and there is nothing to worry about. Evolution and natural selection will occur.
Evolution is a wonderful thing. In the meantime, let’s spread the love people. Try not to be a blue meanie. The events that provide value will endure. They will survive. We should try not to stand in the wings and criticise, if we see something we don’t like, let’s lend a hand to fix it. I spoke to one person last night who felt it could have been better, but he stayed to the end, and contributed from the beginning. If you’re irked by a naturally obnoxious self promoting person or someone you feel constantly talks total crap (and there are some of those around believe me(perhaps I may be one of them)). Let the system phase them out. It will happen. Don’t worry.
I must say well done to the organisers (all of them) for their hard work in setting all this up. It was very well run. The sponsorships came through, the event was fun. Some opinions were questionable and there are more “experts” than letters in this post but you’ve got to take the good with the bad. I’ll be there next year – for sure.
Did you attend? What did you think?
I have resolved to never again say that someone “Just doesn’t get it”. Saying someone “doesn’t get it” implies that you’ve decided that you won’t take the time (or any more time) to convince them of the merits of your position and thereby proving that it’s the superior one. If your take on things is indeed better then you should provide enough evidence to convince. This can sometimes be very difficult, especially when the person has a fixed view or the person lacks sufficient knowledge in the subject.
So, turning it on it’s head, no more “they don’t get it”. From now on it’s: “I haven’t explained it well enough yet.”
Crowd trust is the trust I place in the crowd that has gone before me and not been burned. For example: EULAs. I never read them fully, I trust someone before me has already read it and if there was something there that was so wrong the crowd would make a fuss and get it fixed. What do you think about this?
Take 4 minutes to view this great video.
Now if that has whet your appetite, take a look at this: Charles Leadbeater at TED talks
life 10 Sep 2007 08:31 pm
The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.
- The thing most people know me for isâ€¦My passion for technology and innovation, I’m always looking for a quicker, easier, cheaper way to do something. Sometimes I do it successfully, sometimes not
- The people I associate the most with areâ€¦My family and those who inspire me
- People who have influenced my life areâ€¦My parents, my brother, Mr Claasens in std 9, Michael Dertouzos, PaulW
- One challenge I took on and overcame wasâ€¦Swimming an open water long distance race without training, fueled by 12 dishes of spaghetti, 32 sachets of corn syrup and a bit of courage.
- My early years, before you probably got to know me wereâ€¦well protected from all foreign influences – I escaped to Europe at age 24 where my eyes were opened suddenly.
- You might not know this, but â€¦I was once a budding artist, photographer and electronics hobbyist.
- Iâ€™m passionate aboutâ€¦Maria, Panos and George Jr II, Technology and my workplace
- In the next year or two, I hope toâ€¦Run the Athens Classic Marathon and Buy a house
RSI (repetitive strain injury) is playing up really bad this week. I’m changing hands for mousing and switching mouse buttons to give my right hand a little rest. Rest is the only way to recover. Some really good software for helping a recovery of RSI by reminding you to take frequent rests and do stretching exercises is WorkRave but you need to be disciplined enough to use it.
I wish I was.
Measure everything Important – you’ll never know how fast or slow you are going without a speedometer. If you need to speedup to overtake or slow down to keep from crashing you need to know about it so remember metrics are everything. You need to be able to prove the value of something you are doing compared to something else someone might impose on you. Metrics are everything. Whether it’s time or cost or even a ratio of both. Measure it, date it and measure it again. Put these values in a matrix and use these matrices as your tools to sell your ideas.
What if, at our next meeting, everyone around the table actually was ready and had anticipated everything that might come up? Wouldnâ€™t it go faster? Or better? What if we tried something completely new and had the meeting standing up. That might make it go faster.
Meeting participants should only have 3 things to say.
1) What progress do I have to report since the last meeting
2) What do I plan to do before the next meeting
3) What potential problems do I foresee arising before the next meeting that I may need help with
life 27 Nov 2006 03:43 pm
We have a burly young gentleman of 4.1kg. Born by CS. I’ll put pics up as soon as I take them. M has been super. First night was a little easier than with Panos two years ago. I guess we knew what to expect. Thanks to all friends who came to visit, called or sent messages. We will be home as of Friday. Baby G is exactly 2years, 2 days and 2 hrs younger than Panos.
life 01 Nov 2006 10:19 am
Heard today that “Die Groot Krokodil” is dead. Apparently he died peacefully. Personally I can’t imagine he was very peaceful given all that happened under his rule. Still RIP PW.
On a funnier note, while surfing following on from reading the PW article I stumbled across the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission website.They have a list of applicants who had applied for amnestyÂ crimes/atrocities committed under apartehied. Some granted some denied. Im taken aback by the sheer volume of killings that took place. One site actually lists operations undertaken by the ANC during that time. WOW almost every second or third day they were actually blowing stuff up. In some cases very near to whereÂ we wereÂ located. Anyway this post is actually about one guy, ROBIN HOUSTON HOLMES, who applied for amnesty to overturn a conviction for “illegal production, printing and distribution of banned T-shirts” !!! One shirt titled “We are everywhere – Even in the kitchen” I’ll give him one thing – at least his action was non-violent and apparently he didn’t even make a quick buck on the back of the struggle.
life 12 Sep 2006 12:32 pm
“Memory failure owes more to interference from irrelevant information than to an inability to focus on relevant information”
I am tired.Â My brain is full. I either need a reboot (not a boot to the Head) or a memory upgrade. SinceÂ the upgrade’sÂ not available yet, I’ll settle for the holiday (kind of like a reboot). I am literally unable to remember more than 3 digits at a time when noting down a phone number. The other day the boss stood accross the room and quoted a number for me to dial into the phone. I got it wrong three times in a row. He took over. I hav since reverted to carrying a large blue notebook around everywhere I go, noting things down, moving them off my RAM. Seems to be working and my productivity is slightly up – still, time off after the 25th for a couple of weeks.
life 03 Sep 2006 11:10 am
Been a long time coming and his hair was getting really long (for the orthodoxically uninitiated: we cant give him a haircut before he’s baptised) The ceremony was great, a really cool priest who seemed high on something or other, a great group of family and friends as guests and vast quantities of food and wine thereafter. Thank you all for coming and thanks so much for the wonderful gifts.
pcitures are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/stavrosmessinis/
life 31 Aug 2006 11:33 am
In mathematics, we are usually concerned with declarative (what is) descriptions, whereas in computer science we are usually concerned with imperative (how to) descriptions. — Abelson, Sussman, and Sussman in Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, p.22
Bob Gouldie, you were a dick but you were right, calculus would have been useful. Pity we had a pair of failures. I failedÂ toÂ learn it and you failedÂ in teachingÂ it to me. Nevertheless, my attitude has always been “If you want something done, do it yourself” so here goes.
life 11 Aug 2006 10:20 am
So I’m gonna be a little cheeky:
If you’re inclined to buy me an Xmas prezzie this year, here are a few suggestions:
Magazine Subscriptions: Get me the Electronic version and we’ll save some trees or Get me a paper magazine and I’ll promise to donate the mag(s) to the local school.
Rechargable AA and AAA Batterries, preferably over 650 mAh – do they last a little
More Geek Energy:
A portable solar panel
Gee thanks !!
This is for you D.
Jay Adelson, CEO of Digg says: If your business idea fails, at least you will make the contacts and gained experience that will help you to make a success the second time round and unless you’re totally incompetent, you will still have enough trust from them to help you succeed.
life 03 Aug 2006 12:46 am
One way to ensure that you never run out of ideas is by never executing them. Tell yourself you don’t have the time or resources to do them right. That way they stay in your head. It feels good to be full of ideas. Like “Brain Crack”, no matter how bad things get, at least you still have those good ideas. That “Brain Crack” is really addictive. Some people hold on to an idea, planning every detail of how perfectly that idea should be executed. I prefer to execute an idea immediately. I dontÂ wantÂ to get addicted to that “Brain Crack”Â and chances are i’ll get it wrong at least three times before I get it right. But I’ll still have three times more experience than the guy addicted to “Brain Crack”
Great stuff ZeFrank
life 27 Jul 2006 01:58 pm
Had some friends visiting Athens tonight and took them to Filistron, my absolute favourite taverna in the world (happens to be in Athens)Â with the most amazing view of the Acropolis. We went early, around 7:30 so got a really good table on the roof gardenÂ without a booking which was superb. The food as always was brilliant and the service, top notch. Good food, good company. A great night out.
life 27 Apr 2006 12:57 pm
6 Weeks 5 days – He/She waved “Hello Mum & Dad” at us. Tres Cool !!
life 23 Jan 2006 02:55 am
Panos is officially walking – If I were a betting man, I’d bet on two things here. That he’ll be running by the end of the week and that we’ll be running after him. H’e seems to have gotten bored of the Animals app I built for him a few weeks ago. Time for an upgrade I think. This time we’ll need to add a few quack – quack -ing ducks, a few horses and some sheep. His favourite so far has been the moooooo-ing cow which makes him chuckle really loudly.
Baby Panos loves the PC. He just can’t keep away from it.
So today, I whipped up a little vb app for him that shows pictures of animals and plays the sound that animal makes when he clicks on the picture. He LOVES it !!
I must admit, he hasn’t got the hang of the mouse just yet but he’s almost there, managing to click on a few pics and hearing the sounds. I think his favourites are the dog and cat.
Maria has some tips on improving the app so I’ll get them into version 2 pretty soon.
life 29 Nov 2005 05:23 am
I’ve decided to take a few days off from the old day job and spend some time with my son and wife and “other children projects”. So, one week down and one to go, only been in the office three times since which isn’t bad considering. I guess doing that will help keep the work from piling up, making the return much more bearable.
Actually I’ve been lazing around at home, babysitting, browsing, writing the odd peice of code and spending some afternoons at WOW. Been brilliant.
life 25 Nov 2005 03:07 pm
Yipeee!! No more 0. You are 1.
You are sooo cool.
A real character.
My best project EVER.
Happy Birthday BIG BOY !!