Archive for May 26th, 2006

Village name changing and more

If it’s one thing I hate, that’s name changes on villages. Around my mountain village (”????a S??????”) there are many other small villages which their name changed in the last 20-30 years. Apparently, driven by a wave of nationalism, Greece changed all names of places that their words were not derived by Greek words, but instead they were either turkish or albanian or even, just village-greek. Some examples from the villages around my own:

Rousatsa became Polystafyllon (means “many grapes” in Greek — that’s where olympic sprinter Katerina Thanou is from)
Zarmi became Vrysoula (”small water fountain” — that’s where Gousis who betrayed the Souliotes was from)
Koritiani became Trikastron (”three castles” — its history goes back 2,300 years)
Koutsari became Kato Revmatia (”southern wave”)
Gionala became Pano Revmatia (”northern wave”)
Podhogora became Rizovounion (”root mountain”)
Nassari became Assos (”ace”)
Kantzas became Stefani (”tyre”)

To prove this misguided nationalism, my very own village, Skiadas, never changed its name because its name was always Greek (”at Hades’ shadow”). It really hurts me seeing this mania that wipes out anything that doesn’t represent the Greek belief system, even if the place I am from most of the time was not 100% Greek but it usually belonged to the Illyrians (here’s a better map): the whole region was speaking an ancient form of Albanian at the time (some old *greek* ladies in Preveza still do when they are chatting away), the southern side was doing some trading with Greeks and they had some influenses from the Greek 12-God religion, but they had mixed it with their own paganistic cults (sex with snakes and other stuff like that, just as Great Alexander’s mother did, as she was an Illyrian who married a Macedonian). Of course, if I go now to any of the Greek people living there now (including my own family who are direct descentants of the heroic Souliotes — Greeks now understand why I am such a bitch who never shuts up) and tell them that after all these years they are probably not pure Greeks and maybe they never were, they will excommunicate me and strip me of their will. They don’t even wanna hear that the ancient Greeks only considered Greeks people from the southern Greece and some islands. They were reffering to the Illyrians and Macedones as “barbarians” (despite their compatibility in religion and other matters) and they didn’t wanna let them take part in their Olympics. Corinthians had some colonies in the southern Illyria region (Dodoni, Appolonia, Amvrakia etc), but the main population (mostly clans living in huts) were Illyrians. They only became “part of the club” many hundrends of years later, after the whole Byzantium had become Christian and Greek became the official language (and everyone had to speak it in the kingdom). But in the Greece of today, nationalism has won: you are a true Greek only if you are a Christian Orthodox (and only Orthodox) and you can trace back your geneology within the *current* Greek borders. If you happen to have a Greek passport and be a Greek citizen, that doesn’t automatically make you “hellenic” in their eyes. This is how they think they “keep their national identity”. I call it racism and anti-democratic.

Don’t get me wrong. Do I feel Greek? Yes. Do I love Greece? Yes, with all my heart. I was reading about Kolokotronis yesterday on Wikipedia and started crying. I am not shitting you. I was crying by the time my husband came back from work (and I even registered a wikipedia account so I can write an article about hero Odysseas Androutsos as there was none listed there). But, as we say in my place: “ta s??a s??a, ?a? ta ?a??d?a ?a??d?a”. It is more important for me to be objective and know who I am (or who I am not), rather than fall into blind nationalism and common myths. Because then, and only then, I can truly help my country to get through the 21st century, even from far away.

CNN: one of the sites that has no clue about mobility

Once more, I am appalled. This time, over the mobile version of CNN International. It looks like shit and it doesn’t even render correctly on the vast resolution of the Treo’s 320×320 (running Blazer which is a branded Netfront browser). As you can see from this picture, it even creates horizontal scrollbars on a 320×320 screen, which completely renders useless the mobility of that page.

So, as I have nothing else to do (well, there’s laundry, but that’s ok), I sat down and rewrote the CNN International page in a way that renders perfectly and without scrollbars even on 128×128 phones (images are not bigger than 105 pixels wide because we should not forget the scrollbar width when designing a mobile page). I also lightly shuffled around the words at the table at the bottom and trimmed them a bit, e.g. “Technology” became “Tech”, so the table can fit better on small screens (and it’s important to not impose any width to the TDs but let it flow depending on the length of its longest word). My design also looks good on a QVGA phone/PDA where it only has “two pages” to scroll up and down instead of long scrolling. True to my mobile principles, the page uses very little CSS and it’s written in cHTML instead of XHTML, as it’s is more compatible with most mobile browsers.

The source code for the whole page is not more than 4.5 KBs and the two pictures used, are not more than 5 KBs — combined. Overall, that’s less than 10 KBs that a mobile user will have to download on his phone or PDA — which means that it doesn’t cost more than $0.10 with Cingular’s GPRS prices. Totally financially feasible, even with these crazy GPRS prices that we have here in USA (in case that no unlimited data plan was purchased by the user). All it takes, is some design clue and some testing with lots of devices.

my CNN mobile mockup

SuSE 10.1 == just another buggy Linux

Some say that I don’t like Linux, which is not true. The truth is, Linux doesn’t like me. All its possible bugs, it offloads them to me. Naturally, we have a very weird relationship all these years because of this.

The latest bru-ha-ha, I experienced tonight when trying to install SuSE 10.1. I downloaded the official DVD ISO (4 GBs or so) and installation went well in the beginning, but afterwards it would complain that there is no CD 1. Even after manual installation was invoked, the OS would complain that there is no CD 1 inserted. Crazy stuff.

At the end, I filed a bug report (yet another Linux-related bug reporting account I had to create — I lost count and it is getting out of hand and I am getting pissed about it). I also had to use the nolapic kernel option to force SuSE to work with my twin-optical drive system (other distros have no such problems). In my opinion, the best installation routine has Fedora/RHEL. It works, it is consice, it is powerful and it is usable. SuSE’s was always a piece of shit, especially the partitioning and YaST package screens — terrible usability and bugs arising out of the blue. Now that Red Hat embraced Mono, Novell should do the same with Anaconda. It would be to their advantage.