Projects &the net &work 05 Aug 2008 11:33 pm

Scratching your own itch

I’m currently reading Getting Real from 37 Signals and wanted to share some phrases from it. Here’s a first

“Build software for yourself

A great way to build software is to start out by solving your own problems. You’ll be the target audience and you’ll know what’s important and what’s not. That gives you a great head start on delivering a breakout product.”


“When you solve your own problem, you create a tool that you’re passionate about. And passion is key. Passion means you’ll truly use it and care about it. And that’s the best way to get others to feel passionate about it too.”

General &life 04 Aug 2008 09:20 pm

Never again will they “Just not get it”

triangles.jpgI 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.”

General &life 22 Jul 2008 05:50 pm


crowd1.gifCrowd 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?

work 14 Jul 2008 09:40 pm

The new way – cut and skydive

sdive.jpgSome colleagues will recognise the concepts listed below.

Taking a pragmatic approach, one can see where it’s going and why it’s going there.

The aim is efficiency, to be more targeted and achieve more where it matters most.

1) Clarify: – Identify objectives to do and Identify objectives to stop doing. Now execute both.
2) List tasks and activities: rank in order of importance, chop bottom 20%
3) Drucker question: If it’s a fresh start, would you do it the way you’re currently doing it?
4) Binary budget: Don’t spread it thinly, ranked objectives get full funding, unranked get no funding.

Now Skydive.

This is the new way.

General &work 14 Jul 2008 04:51 pm

L. Take a lesson in this image and let us get on with it.


shameful &Technology 05 Jul 2008 09:28 am

Goudi Park, OLPC at the Athens Anti-Racism Festival

The Athens anti-racism festival is happening right now and it’s being held in Goudi park, right across the street from where we live. Some of you may already know I’m involved in campaigning against commercial developments in Goudi Park and as such we were offered a booth and projection screen at the festival. First off, I was amazed at how many booths there were. It’s unbelievable how many people have a cause they’re passionate about. There must have been hundreds of booths. So many causes.

First working prototype One Laptop Per ChildImage by brettwayn via FlickrOne booth I’d like to mention is the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) booth. For those who don’t know about the OLPC, in a nutshell, Nicholas Negroponte founded and leads a group of people that design and produce a cheap to make laptop.

While chatting to the guys there, I was struck by what I was told. This very noble project is in real danger, it’s being hijacked by commercial interests that support the Windows/Intel platform. Clearly, giving billions of poor kids a linux based PC is a real threat to Wintel so wintel is deliberately sabotaging development of distributed production and distribution of the OLPC.

Now I don’t want to misunderstood, what I’m getting at here is not about the hardware. Frankly if wintel can produce a cheaper box then let them be the winner, let them produce and distribute the the millions of PC’s necessary to bridge the digital divide and educate and empower the world. The software used is OLPC is based on open source software whereas Wintel is not. What you do when you give someone a closed source vs an open source software solution is you limit their options. You limit their opportunity to be creative. You say “let them be creative as long as they’re creative on windows.”

Zemanta Pixie

the net 01 Jul 2008 08:30 am

More Direct Democracy

more_democracy.jpgThere’s no doubt that the internet and the social networks it helped create have done two things: brought people closer and brought about much more democracy.
A new political party in Australia called Senator Online is taking this to new extremes, it will allow each member to vote on each and every bill that is tabled at parliament. The majority vote by members is what the party representative will vote in parliament. Now that’s direct democracy !!

With lobbies, special interest groups, back room dealing and partisan voting marring the popular will, this new alternative will be hard to compete with. The party will have no political agenda as such but will act purely according to the will of its members, helping members decide how to vote by offering impartial online information on the pros and cons of each issue. Some might think that such direct democracy could easily take a negative route. What would prevent members from voting against a tax bill, could they strip away rights of minority groups?

Senator On-Line
(abr. SOL) is a registered Australian political party that contested the 2007 Federal election. It is running ten candidates for the Australian Senate.Unlike other political parties, Senator On-Line does not have any policies of its own. Instead it will conduct an online poll for every bill that passes before the Senate. Anyone on the Australian electoral roll who is not a member of another political party will be allowed to register to vote in these polls and will be allowed one vote per bill. The senators will then be required to vote in accordance with the clear majority (70% and more than 100,000 votes). If there is no clear majority the senators will abstain from voting.

The FAQ’s on the party website tries to answer these questions: To prevent a malevolent majority from overthrowing the country, Senator Online will only be represented in the upper house, The Senate. Here, the powers are limited to approving or rejecting bills. It is the Australian lower house, the House of Representatives that proposes and debates bills.

Web based democracy is new and untested and it is very likely that, as did social networks, direct democracy groups will evolve in unexpected ways and will have profound effects on how politics is done. Special interest groups, lobbyists etc will no longer try and influence legislators but will likely focus on the masses. But the masses are exactly that, MASSES and influencing them is a going to be a lot harder.

life &Technology &the net 22 Jun 2008 10:12 pm

Psst … Something wonderful is happening … pass it on

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

Technology I use &the net 20 Jun 2008 11:22 pm

Teach the machine

Here’s a great video about Web 2.0, the social / semantic web (4 minutes)

the net 16 Jun 2008 09:25 pm

What is twitter

I’ve recently started using twitter as a microblogging service and for status updates. One really cool feature is the free sms feature for those following you. Can you imagine the creative ways this can be used? Think updating a family member about how late you’ll be or getting a direct message to bring home some milk or updating a customer about the status of a service call.

Take a look at the video below and feel free to follow me using twitter name smessinis

Technology I use 14 Jun 2008 07:45 am

Children and the Internet

children.jpgThe internet generation is here and many children from as young as about three years are spending more and more time online. This holds both risks and benefits and so needs to be carefully managed so that children are protected from the risks while still being permitted to enjoy the benefits of the internet.

The internet holds great possibilities for early childhood education and for teaching children many new things, but what happens when your innocent little four year old accidentally clicks through to a porn or adult-only website?

Fortunately there are ways to ensure that little James stays on Thomas the Tank Engine website and does not mistakenly click through to visit any adult websites while playing around on the internet and this is done with parental control software.

Continue Reading »

shameful &Technology &Technology I use &the net 05 Jun 2008 02:08 pm

Coincidentally, Zografou City Council website finally live TODAY

zographou.JPGI say coincidentally because, I went by their offices today and complained about their site not being available for the past year or so. I’ve recently moved to Zografou and have often needed to talk to someone at the council for various things. Naturally, being a geek, I would look to their website to provide a telephone number but there has not been a website live for over a year.

So, today I went to the council offices to make an inquiry about something and right near the entrance I notice a sign pointing to the I.T. Dept. Naturally, I walk in. “Could you kindly tell me what the council website address is please”, I ask. I notice some bare stares from the three geeks in the room. One brave soul comes up for air from his session of bejeweled and says “Oh I think it’s” seeking confirmation from his cohorts. I respond like any unknowing citizen would. “Are you sure, because I don’t think it is. Could you show me?”

More blank stares, then a hint of terror. They now know I know there is no site at that address but he perseveres, fingers to the keyboard – DNS error. Not Found.

“See, thats what I get too” I say innocently. Another geek comes up for air. Google to the rescue. A couple of seconds later he calls out, “Found it!”

“Oh good I say”, what’s the address. “” – before I can say anything the third geek jumps in. “We need to make that address known !!”

“No,” I say, “You need to fix the Nameserver entry to point to your domain”, Cat’s out the bag. They realise I’m a geek too.

The traditional “We’re not responsible for the site, we’re only temporary, I’m only on Stage (work experience) employment” conversation ensues to which I respond. “You’re geeks like me and even if it has been given to a contractor, a bad or non-existent website is a bad representation of you as geeks. So fix it or call someone to fix it.” You’ll have to talk to our manager, she’s not here now but we can give you the name of the person in charge of the contract.”

I go about the rest of my business and a few minutes later, I’m back in their offices, the manager has returned. She’s been told about my little complaint and immediately tells me to take my complaint to the mayor’s office. “Superb!! I’ll see the mayor, I have some other things to tell him too.” I say and off to the mayors office I go.

The mayor was busy. But I made my point and coincidentally, the site is live. Literally 2 hours later. It looks like it was built by Atcom They’re a great company – It’s a good site. I like it. I just hope they feed it before it dies.

Technology 03 Jun 2008 11:19 pm

OpenCoffee virgin

Attended my first opencoffee event tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a group of smart kids, some seniors, some money guys. A good crowd. One minor negative, nothing serious. I felt that 10min presentations aren’t enough for the motivational speakers – give them more time. [Post edited]

Still, the event was great and I’ll make an effort to attend the next one too. I hope to bring along a couple of my geeky pals too. Keep up the good work.

Technology I use &the net 30 May 2008 06:26 pm

too many tweets

image-thumb.pngToo many tweets again today. I’m beginning to realise the benefits of this platform. Twitter is fast becoming defacto goodness for all. Guys, it seems youcant handle the load more often than not. Either sell to Google who can handle the load or take the platform peer-to-peer and let everyone share the burden.

Full of Myself &Technology 28 May 2008 11:23 pm

Apple is Listening

solariphone.jpgI wrote about this almost a year ago :

NY Times reports new iPhone Patents

ZDNET Reports on new iPhone:Will the sun power your future iPhone?

work 22 May 2008 10:23 pm


the sun

40 minutes of solar radiation has enough energy content to power the world for a whole year.
How do we store this energy. Storage is the problem. As photo-voltaic cells (PV’s) get more efficient, we need creative ways to store this energy.

Here’s the cycle: during the day – use super efficient PV’s to collect energy and drive compressors that compress air. During the night, release this compressed air and drive turbines to provide electricity. Can we store it as compressed air in huge underground caverns?

Explaining &Projects &work 22 May 2008 10:18 pm

On Speeches and Presentations

Only two things about speeches and presentations matter. Your audience is subconsciously asking:

A. What’s your point?
B. Why does it matter?

Technology &Technology I use 16 Apr 2008 02:22 pm

Google Feature Missing

I think the most used web app for me is probably my Gmail. I use GoogleDocs quite a bit as well. One thing that is missing is a full text search across a users GoogleDocs folder directly from the Gmail interface. Gmail search is brilliant but adding an option to add Docs search would be really great.

Explaining &General 16 Apr 2008 02:17 pm

TV Listings Software – TVBrowser

skytitleGreek TV is terrible. After a long day, when you just want to flop in front of the TV it’s a real shame that you are presented with total crap and more advertising than content. We used to buy the weekly TV guide, pick what we wanted to see and just watch it.

However, in Greece, no TV guide can be trusted. Greek TV stations will interrupt shows to shove advertising down your throat whenever they can manage to sell a spot to an advertiser. This means that when a TV guide says some show will start and end at certain times, it’s most often absolutely untrue because the ad’s have thrown the timing out by hours. Forget setting the VCR the tape will end before the show does. A PVR is better. Don’t ever risk sitting through a 1,5hr feature. It will take 4,5 hrs with the ad’s.

Too often, I find myself wasting my life in front of the TV while trying to enjoy a 1.5 hr feature. I have now completely stopped watching Greek TV and have moved onto Satellite TV. I use a great Open Source TV listings software called TVBrowser that will bring the latest Electronic Program Guide (EPG) to my desktop, allow me to set reminders, set recordings and much much more. It’s java based software and a little heavy on resources but the benefits it delivers are great.

Stop wasting your life in front of the TV – Be picky about what you consume, use a PVR and an EPG. Don’t let the channels feed you crap.

Projects &the net &work 19 Mar 2008 04:02 pm

A website is like a baby. It needs love, care and feeding

A friend asked if I would help with setting up of a new website. My first response: Does your organisation have the commitment and resource available to follow the process through? Can you or someone here look after this new child of yours? One that needs love, care and feeding? If not, then it’s best not to bother at all. A site that is not fresh, active or healthy is a waste of time and is doing far worse to your reputation than the good you think setting up the webiste might initially do. Think hard about it. If you can follow through and support its potential growth to the full then let’s go ahead, otherwise forget it.

Social Nets 17 Mar 2008 10:19 am

Facebook seems to be getting it

FW I think I’m getting a lot less facebook spam. Seems those little ‘thumbs down’ icons I’ve been clicking are working. It’s kind of scary to think that facebook data is really a relationship map. Take a look at ‘friend wheel’ see how everyone you know links to eachother, really good app.

General &Projects &Technology I use 17 Feb 2008 11:38 am

72 billion consuming

“The population of the world, currently six and a a half billion, is due to rise to nine billion by the middle of the century.

The developing world, by definition, aspires to western standards of living. Some economists suggest that nine billion people all consuming resources at peak developed world rates would be equivalent to a population of 72 billion consuming resources at current rates: this is not economically, environmentally or politically feasible.” from the residence sustainable development seminar to be held on 29 Feb 08. Follow proceedings during Live! coverage on the day via the website and U-Stream.

Eco 26 Jan 2008 06:37 am

Open Eco Energy Camp 2008

Webcast powered by Ustream.TV

the net 18 Dec 2007 01:44 am

Facebook- Cool and Not so Cool

Facebook has brought me back in touch with many high school buddies I had long lost touch with but it can be such a damn waste of time. Take a look at the video below, really true, really funny.

the net 06 Dec 2007 12:33 am

I wish !! Mesh Networks – Cell phones and Cars

When are our cellphones going to have mesh network capability? Imagine thousands of cellphones connecting to eachother, sharing connections, perhaps bridging to a home aDSL / cable / Wireless connection and sharing it on. It will kill the ISP’s. Cell phones should be relay devices. Check out these links along similar lines Brad Templeton’s entry on SMS mesh network and also this article from CNET SMS Relay – An Idea For Fault Tolerant Communications and also this article on Mesh-Networking Cellphones
Autonet produces a wifi/GPRS-3G device that turns you car into a wireless hotspot. Nice but I don’t think the traffic police would take too kindly to me browsing the net while driving. It’s great for receiving podcasts though.

life 10 Sep 2007 08:31 pm

Great Quotes #303 – On Freedom

The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.

Eugene McCarthy, Time magazine, Feb. 12, 1979
US politician (1916 – 2005)

shameful 28 Aug 2007 09:39 pm

Wednesday August 29, 19:00, Syntagma square


Protest demonstration, Wednesday August 29, 19:00, Syntagma square, and on every central square all over the country. Wearing black.

Συγκέντρωση διαμαρτυρίας, Τετάρτη 29 Αυγούστου, στις 7 το απόγευμα, στην πλατεία Συντάγματος και σε κάθε κεντρική πλατεία, σε ολόκληρη τη χώρα. Φορώντας μαύρα.

shameful 28 Aug 2007 08:55 pm

Burning greek “Bushes” and dirty politics

Fires rage across southern Greece, klling 60+ and we find ourselves consuming the ultimate reality show, a gory game show where the score is measured in lives lost and acres burnt. Three days later and not much besides the mercy of the winds have changed. Cries of terrorism, Greece’s Sept11, Greek flags on TV screen top left corners. Then, more Bushisms, PM Karamanlis , standing in front of a Canadair firefighting plane, borrows some tactics from Bush, speaking to troops and firefighters, “the coalition of the willing”, Firefighters coming from across the EU, Russia and others. One thing missing : The “mission accomplished” sign abve his head. I ask myself what the mission is, helping those poor people or getting re-elected. I’m confused but will not allow myself to be terrorised. Not again.
16 days to Elections: Watch the circus.

Books &the net 13 Aug 2007 05:42 pm

Flattening the Amazon

In this flat world we live in, you would think that would get it.

What I mean is that if Amazon knows where I live (and they do), they can keep all my profile info and credit card details across all sites (and they do), why can’t they  put my orders via the  closest  location  geographically?  I buy a lot of books based on recommendations from other sites who earn  commissions via Amazon Associates. These sites are mainly in the US. It makes no sense for me to buy from the US site because shipping is really high so I prefer to buy via It would probably make even more sense to buy from the French or German sites. What I’d love to see is when I place an order for a book or other item from, they process my order via the closest geographic location, thereby charging me less shipping but still giving the poor devil that recommended the book to me his commission.

Heres an interesting comparison:

Purchasing The World is Flat by Thomas Freidman from will cost €6.00 in shipping while buying the same book from will cost €7.36 in shipping (£4.98 @ 1 GBP = 1.47764 EUR)

Makes sense since Germany is a little closer to Greece so why can’t Amazon ship from Germany when I order from the English or American site?

Technology I use 31 Jul 2007 10:08 pm

Window shut for 30 days, now for some pain

One full month into my Linux@Home adventure, the experience has been generally positive. While there have been quite significant problems over the last week with browsing, today I attempted a reinstall of the whole OS. Being an old hat at this, I’ve had no data loss since I’ve long made a distinct separation between data and OS files. The re-install confirms there was something going wrong on Ubuntu. Pinning down exactly what was wrong is difficult but it may be an Azureus install I did a week or two ago which might have screwed things up. Anyway, Linux@Home is back up and the speed is up. This thing has become usable once again.

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