Monday, June 30, 2008

3rd Day in Pervolia

This morning session is very long: it ends at 3pm. All the students now had given their presentations, with pointing out their own work, the focus, the methodology, and the current state. The discussion takes a while as each student expects some useful feedback.

Today I plan not to use the car for anything else than just going to town to grab a bite. I sit most of the time on the bungalow terrasse, writing some software. Unfortunately the lack of internet prevents me from progressing in my web-based projects.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

2nd Day in Pervolia

The morning seminar takes also place on Sunday. I realise that I have missed the evening session yesterday - for some reason I had thought there would not be one, but this is an "Intensive Program", so no free weekends are allowed. Again, the students present their abstracts and their concepts of their planned PhD thesis. Graham will leave today, so he gives his farewell remarks.

The morning seminar usually goes until 13:00. The start time has been set to 9:00, but due to the warm weather and the holiday atmosphere, this beginning slides a few minutes towards a later time. This time it gets a bit later, as there is much to be discussed.

I also have an opportunity now to use the printer in the office of the bungalow village, so I can get my voucher for the car rental.

Afterwards I use the time to catch up on my software for the MScape on my mobile phone.

I had reserved the car for 15:30, so that I would pay for exactly 3 full days when returning it to the airport. Now I take a taxi to the Larnaca airport. The car rental office is only reachable through the arrivals area, I have to pass a guarded entry where people come out from their planes.

CarHire3000 is only a broker; my car rental will actually be from AVIS. No problem there. But I have to pay the gasoline in advance, will be able to return the car empty. This is a bit annoying, as I will then have to plan exactly on how much gas to spend.

I mention the free upgrade to an A/C, which is noted nowhere on the voucher but which had been announced on the web page. Naturally, they agree that without an A/C, driving in this heat would be murder...

Now I finally have a car, and I enjoy the increased mobility. I first head to Larnaca, just to see what is there. In the city there are a few sights marked, and I follow the brown signs to the relevant points of interest. There is an archaeologigal dig, some ancient tombs under a church. I pass the Lazarus church where I had been a few months ago. While driving I see a glimps of a mosque, but the maze of one-way streets does not allow me to go there directly. Using GPS and instinct, I drive around a while in circles / spirals, until I finally approach the mosque from the other side. There is a relevant orthodox church nearby too.

Again, in the side streets there are many delapidated houses, ruins, broken. One can only imagine the stories of horror and dispair which must have happened in 1974 and before. Of course I only see the results here on the Greek side; I assume the same would be on the Turkish occupied side.

I try to find the ruis of Kition which are mentioned; the road signs are a bit misleading, often I miss a vital turn. But I finally find the site. Is closed, only open until 14:30. Maybe one of the next days...

I head now along the coastal road, further towards East. I want to reach the ultimate point in the South-East of this island. Passing a power plant. I do not go to Agia Napa, but pass it on the moterway. Then I reach Capo Creco. Large antennas from a British military installation. A large rock at the corner, a few 100m high. The road becomes now a dirt road, the main road would make a turn here towards north, to Famagusta. But I have no time anymore to explore further north.

Then I head back. Through Agia Napa. Now this is a real touristy town! Young crowds head for dinner, the primary mode of transportation appears to be quad bikes. Around Larnaca there is suddenly a stop-and-go traffic; it is all traffic which turns up north towards Nicosia. Today is the European Soccer Championship final game: Germany-Spain.

Before going home I head to the Internet cafe, to check emails and do some work. The game already starts when I leave. I watch the remaining game in my bungalow, with a desperate commentary in German from the ARD.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

1st Day in Pervolia

In the morning we have again the seminar, in a conference room, air-conditioned. No internet, so no emails / surveys. The students begin to present their abstracts.

After lunch I check out the Faros hotel computer: there is a proprietary software which handles all interaction. It starts programs, but does not let the user save anything. There is a USB port in the wall, but as I plug in my memory stick, nothing happens. So no picture upload. And no printing - that is disabled too.

But I find out something else: I ask at the hotel check-in desk, if one could rent bicycles. Yes, one can. And I immediately rent one, for the rest of the day. Finally I am mobile again, without the need to pay for taxi rides. The hotel clerk drives me on a golf cart to the shed where the bicycles are. A blue 21 speed mountain bike, not too bad. I start riding right away, heading towards south-west. Maybe I can make it to Limassol? In the beginning it goes very smooth, wind appears to be from the back. I stop in Kiti, go into the internet cafe with the one computer. Save the car rental voucher onto my memory stick. Now I only will have to find a printer, maybe at the hotel. Then I can get my car on Sunday.

I continue to cycle. A few blocks away is a nice old Orthodox Church. Tourists come out of it, I take a few pictures, then head on towards south-west.

Now there appears to be a strong head wind, I only can go with about 12 km/h. The street is quite boring, a wide open plain, a few house ruins at the sides, fields. In the far distant to the right the Troodos mountains, on the left is the sea. The afternoon sun burns down quite strongly. I had put some UV protection onto myself, factor 25; should be sufficient. As I get more tired, I decide to take a swim. The coast is empty. Is not pleasant to lie at this beach, no sand is here, just stones. But the water is very pleasant, despine being warm it actually cools a bit, compared to being exposed to the burning sun.

After about 30 minutes I continue further along the coast. Make a pit stop at a beach establishment, have a few ice cold drinks. I am now sure that I cannot make it until Limassos. I head further inland, pass through Mazotos and head towards Alaminos, but halfway I return. Is too exhausting now. I am looking forward to something nice to eat now. Pass by at another nice church, more contemporary. But it appears that the Orthodox Church does not make any experiments: even newly built churches have the Byzanthine style. A pity - there are many nice contemporary catholic churches which convey a lot of spirituality through the architectural language of our times... the "old stuff" appears a bit stagnant, stuffy.

Pass again through Kiti, through the town centre of Pervolia. I stop at a restaurant, have a beer, village salad, calamari, and tsatsiki. Price just 15 Euro, and tastes great!

As I approach the Journalist Village, I decide to head on towards Larnaca towards north-east, just to see what is there. Make it up to the airport, then I turn back. Around 19:30 I return the bicycle at the hotel. I am quite tired now.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Transfer to Pervolia

The night before, just after midnight, I had reserved a car for the last three days of this stay, using the internet from the room. I just had done a very quick search for "car rental cyprus", and had come across the Carhire3000 site. I reserved a car, 3 days, 67 Euro all inclusive. With a free upgrade to an airconditioned vehicle. The confirmation email stated that I would need to print the voucher and present it at the counter... well, is not so easy done without a printer. I replied, explaining that I could not do that. It appeared that their office was in Manchester; I wrote done the phone number, just in case I would have to call them.

The morning seminar went well. The idea of using Survey Monkey for setting up a review of submitted abstract worked reasonably well. We discussed some of the abstracts, then closed the session.

It was again hot, and also getting more humid. As I was very thirsty, I walked for the last time to the Convenience Store to buy a few drinks, for the road and for the evening. Not sure how the options would be in Pervolia.

The bus arrived shortly before 16:00 near our dormitory at the University of Cyprus Campus. I had packed my stuff, but somehow was not able to fit everything into suitcase, computer bag, and photo bag; so in addition to these I had 3 plastic bags, with some drinks and towels. When we entered the bus, the driver was afraid that we would not be able to store everything in the bus - there was no luggage compartment. But we just piled everything onto the back seat row, and off we drove.

At about 17:00 we arrive in the "Journalist Village" in Pervolia. I wanted internet access - something that the bungalows would not provide. So I stay in the bus, together with a few others, to drive on to the Faros Hotel nearby where a few rooms had been reserved.

Beach near the Journalist Village

However, for me there was no room reserved there - instead there was only a bungalow flat in the "Journalist Village". And since that had been reserved, there was no way of bailing out of it. I almost considered just swallowing the double booking, until I got details about the internet access in the hotel: there was a phone dialup only, and the cost would be quite significant. So I decided to go back to the bungalow afterall. There was a PC in the hotel, 2 Euro for 15 minutes. There are also a few internet cafes in the town centre, so I gave up the idea of having internet in the room and settled for a few days without the web.

Christian and myself decide to take a taxi to Pervolia Centre, a few km west, to find out about internet access and to get some cash. The taxi trip costs 17 Euro. There is a cash machine in Kiti. The taxi driver asks a few kids around where the next internet cafe is. They point to a bar one block down the road. There are two PCs, coin operated, one coin machine is broken, so only one can use the PC at a time. 11 minutes cost 50 cents, appears to be reasonable. I am able to read a few emails and reply to the most important ones.

Slighty problemating with updating this blog is that blogger always adapts itself to the native language. So this means that I have to guess where to enter my blog entry (the previous entry was done through this).

At 20:00 there is a joint dinner at the restaurant "Enalia". Rudi Kaufmann from University of Nicosia joins us. We have a nice chat about students, PhD pursuits, and worldwide relocation.

No internet for the rest of the seminar...

Arrived ok in Pervolia, near Larnaca. But the hotel only had dial-up internet, and the bungalow where I am staying does not have internet at all. Am right now in a village nearby, using an internet cafe computer... so there will be a while without updates.

I will try to keep a log and upload everything later, after my return to UK on Wednesday night.

Last Day in Nicosia

Today the whole group will move to a place near Larnaca, to spend the remaining days of the "Intensive Programme" seminar. The workshop about publishing a paper is almost done; 5 sessions have been organised, one is remaining. But the time limit is not handled very strict, as the advising and consulting goes on an individual basis. Each of the student has a different background and status within their PhD progress, and one cannot give a general approach which is suitable to everyone. So I have tried to sit down with each student individually, to go through their status, their work, and distill ideas for a paper. Some of students who are more advanced in their PhD progress are ready for publication and have already writen abstracts. Others have still to find their focus of the work, so they need to study more on the literature. What we did today: I set up a pseudo-review on SurveyMonkey, with one of the abstracts from a student. This allows all other students to review this abstract as if they were members of a program committee. I hope that this is useful for each of them.

Wednesday evening Graham arrived from Leeds Met. We walked as a group to the cafe "Indigo" to have dinner and to watch the soccer game Germany-Turkey. Thursday then was again my workshop in the morning, also Graham contributed with a lecture.

In the evening, there was finally internet in the dormitory room, so I could upload my pictures. Graham, Verena, and myself wanted to go into town, to go to the Turkish part for dinner, but the taxi that I had called did not arrive within the next 60 minutes... so I decided to stay in the room and use the web for the Flickr upload. I also designed a new interface for the mobile GPS application I had in mind.

Today we will depart in the afternoon at 16:00.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

4th Day: Seminar

Today the main focus was on individual coaching of each student towards writing their paper. There was a deadline for a joint paper submission, in which I myself was involved with two other students, and we had to submit the contept outline today - done now.

There was still no internet in the hotel room this morning, so internet only works here on the campus.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

3rd day: Excursion to Limassol

On the 3rd day of the "Intensive Program" (IP), the plans had changed: the excursion to Limassol which had been scheduled for Wednesday, will take place today on Tuesday.

I leave the hostel in the morning at 7am to walk and finally to buy a towel, as there are no towels in the dorm (I had to improvise a bit...). But the supermarket (2km away by walk on a dusty road) is still closed, and the convenience store does not have any towels...

We meet at 9am for departure at U.of Cyprus. In Limassol there is a lecture at the University of Technology of Cyprus. The speaker there, Christina, had lived in Manchester for many years, and here in Cyprus she misses the Manchester weather, with its rain showers and cool temperatures. I never heard anything like that...

After that talk, we have a few hours to walk around in Limassol or to go to the beach. I go with Richard, Martin, and Christian towards the beach, walk a few steps into the really warm water. Then a short snack at a pub bar, Moussaka salad, then I walk with Christian back towards the town centre, just to see what is there. We walk to the old castle which has Byzanthinian roots. Also visit the "sea sponge exhibition", a great tourist trap! The bust leaves back at 4:15. Monika and Julius had expressed an interest in seeing an archaeological site on the way back, therefore we left earlier than 5pm. But somehow the info was not conveyed to the bus driver... as I woke up from having dozed away, I see that we long have passed that location.

The Limassol Castle

This evening I am going to do a bit of work, for my geo-software. No excursion planned.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Seminar, 2nd Day

The seminar starts again at 9:00 am in the morning, and it is again my turn to begin. The students had the assignment to identify conferences, but due to the time constraints and the lack of internet in the dorm, there had not been much progress. So I give a few pointers, then organise each of them into groups according to their topic, so that they can do a joint search for those "outlets" for their paper which they would produce.

A few students identify clearly suitable conferences, while others still struggle with their topic. This makes it difficult to apply a homogeneous lecture, and I will have to do significant individual tutoring.

In the afternoon there is "self study" for the students. My lack of sleep catches finally up with me, and I have a rest in the dorm and sleep for two hours.

Then at 5pm, I head back to the campus to participate in an interview, which a group of students has prepared for an evaluation of this whole seminar. There is an evening session as well, and at 8pm we meet again for heading to dinner into town.

This time I call the reliable taxi driver Nikos; he organises 2 more taxis, as we are now 10 people. We drive directly to the Ledra Street, walk towards the border, and cross it. Fill out that paper which serves as the "visa" for the illegal part of Cyprus, then move across. Much more empty there on the other side. Bright lights, but few people. I buy a cob of corn from a street vendor. I realise that the Cypriot money which I have with me from the time when Cyprus did not have the Euro, is also not valid here... I must have spent all those bills two years ago.

The Mixed Kebab is good, as always. Afterwards we walk a bit further into the Turkish part. A few guys in T-Shirt stand around, but suddenly there is a commotion, and two of them attack two others, pull out a gun, and put hand cuffs on them. Then they push them into two cars, and speed off. Police action? We are puzzled. I had not dared to take pictures of this, as I was not sure what was actually going on. Later the restaurant owner nearby mentioned that this was a police raid.

He noticed that we are Germans / Austrians, and invites us to come on Wednesday evening to watch the soccer game Germany-Turkey. This would be great and certainly fitting... will see if we actually do this.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Evening in Nicosia

The dormitory and the campus of University of Cyprus are relatively far away from the Nicosia city centre: about 5km. Too far to walk, and busses to only once per hour, in a schedule which needs to be interpreted with a +/- 30 min uncertainty. So we do have no other choice than taking a taxi. Or better, two taxis, as our group os 6 people. We get dropped off somewhere near the centre, walk then towards the Ledra street.

We find a nice restaurant, someone has recommended it. Inside we sit down and order Meze, this fabulous collection of starters and main dishes, sampling everything. Erwin watches the game Spain-Italy.

After dinner we walk towards the border, which has now changed a bit since I was there 3 months ago: the wall has been removed, and instead of soldiers there are policemen. The buildings at the side have been "secured", empty shells left over from the war. Neither of us has their passport with them, so we cannot cross. Something to do tomorrow.

Intensive PhD Program in Cyprus - 1. Day

Unicersity of Cyprus, Noew Campus in Nicosia

The reason why I travelled to Cyprus was to give a workshop within the Intensive PhD Program.

My role in this program was to give a workshop to the PhD students for writing their own paper, to be submitted to a conference, journal, workshop, or other. The seminar started in the morning of Sunday, 22. June, at the campus of the University of Cyprus. Erwin Bratengeyer (Danube University Krems) and Savas Katsikides (University of Cyprus) had organised this seminar and gave an introductory overview on this seminar. Then I started my workshop.

Naturally, when it comes to paper publication in the Computer Science domain, the automatic paper generation tool SciGen comes to mind. While this is a great tool for "testing" conferences, it also has some educational merit as showing the general structure of a paper. And it creates a fun effect for all participants who can get one of those fabulous nonsense papers.

The workshop gave to participants the first assignment: to find suitable outlets for their work.

For lunch we Savvas ordered 8 pizzas, which we ate on the roof of the university building.

Morning Shopping

I slept about 2 hours. Before going to bed, I had sent my blog entries through the mobile phone, with GPRS roaming. I hope to stay below 1 MB...

Student Dormitories

The sun was bright already at 7am, so I decided to get up. Since there would be no breakfast served at this hostel, I would have to get some on my own. The guard was asleep in his cabin, as I passed by. I walked about 1/2 mile into side streets, but no shops in the neighborhood. When I returned, the guard was awake and told me about that mini supermarket 1 mile down the main road. So I walked again, along the dusty road. Reached the "convenience store", got some drinks, a sandwich.

Then walking back to the hostel. Most of the students were up now, had breakfast with things they had bought yesterday. Most had arived earlier than 3 am.

Road towards Nicosia Centre

Driving to Hostel

Ultimately we had to leave the plane and wait in the nightly airport lounge. After about 1 hour waiting, the announcement was made (in Greek only) that there would be no plane today to Larnaca. Instead, they would drive us by bus. Bummer. And I had been looking forward to a restful sleep...

Immediately I text Nikos, the cab driver, who is waiting at Larnaca Airport to pick me up and is expecting the plane to arrive at 11pm. Since he is the only one who knows where I am supposed to go tonight, it is imperative that I meet him. Aternatively, I could have taken a taxi from Paphos airport directly to my destination - that is whay my colleagues did. Originally, I thought that the drive would be too long, but now with going first from Paphos to Larnaca, then to Nicosia, the direct taxi from Paphos to Nicosia looks more and more like a viable option.

Some confusion at Paphos airport about where to take the bus... But finally we sit all in the bus and drive along the coast towards east.

I use the opportunity to sleep a bit. Had already dosed off right after takeoff from MAN.

At arrival at Larnaca Airport around 3am, I txt Nikos. Great that I had at least his mobile number (thanks, Savas!). He has now been waiting for 4 hours... It is about 4am when I arrive in Nicosia.

The campus of University of Nicosia is east of the centre. A night guard is there to show me the room in the student hostel. I slowly realise that this accommodation is a bit different from what I am used: there is no TV in the rooms, no internet is available yet. There will be no breakfast, people will have to buy their own stuff. I was not really prepared for this... But the worst discovery comes when I am in the bathroom: there are no towels. Somehow I must have missed this bit of information in the preparations... Well, I will have to improvise in the morning... Now trying to get at least a few more hours of sleep.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Stuck in Paphos

Serves me right.

Why did I choose to fly with a stop-over in Paphos? First, they told us to remain seated in the plane after the landing, until in 45 min the flight would continue to Larnaca. But then, after 20 min, they found a technical problem. Already the initial announcement in Greek had quite often the word "problema" in it... So I guessed that there would be such.

Now it is already 23:30 local time, and I should have been in Larnaca 1/2 hour ago. This will be a short night... And in the morning at 9am I will give the first lecture in the seminar...

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Cyprus Airways

In contrast to all those El-Cheapo airlines, Cyprus Airways is a "proper" airline, where the price includes everything: luggage, a decent meal, aq movie, and as much beer as one likes. A recent booking at (just to show an example) resulted in a low initial fare quote, but then a series of surcharges were added on: a sudden jump in the base price occured for no explicable reason, each piece of luggage costs, a seat reservation costs, extra legroom costs... Quite annoying. And then in the plane each drink needs to be paid, food is available for purchase only.

The fare with Cyprus Airways from MAN to Larnaca was just under £300, similar to what the final price with a low cost airline would have been.

When will airline catering providers finally invent some food items that are "flight-compatible"? For example, a coffee milk container that does not appear to burst when being opened. Or a type of light food which is compatible with the sitting for a few hours.

They say that one should not drink alcohol on flights because it dehydrates. I never had made this experience: one simply has to drink a lot of it to compensate the dehydration. :)

The flight left one hour late from MAN. As a am writing this, I am siting in the plane, just having finished my meal, and preparing for a work session. I need to prepare for tomorrow's seminar...

Since there is no way of live upload now, this post will be uploaded later in the hotel.

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MMail Message

The previous two posts here were sent from my mobile phone as emails, using my LeedsMet account. This now is a SMS, for testing.

Manchester Airport (MAN)

The train arrived in time at Manchester Airport (MAN). Seemed to be quite well insulated re. EM radiation, as I had trouble receiving GPS signals, even as I sat near the window after many passengers had left the train in Huddersfield (is there anything going on today? Huddersfield seemed quite popular).

At MAN I met 4 of my Leeds Met colleagues resp. students who are heading to the same event.

MAN is somewhat dreadfull. Construction everywhere, a new railway track is being laid at the train station (good), the signage for directions is confusing (bad). At the elevator in terminal 1 it stated departure at level 5. But it also said check-in at level 0. So we all went first to level 0, only to find out that just a few airlines do have their check-in there. Up to level 5. The others are booked on Thomas Cook, while I am on Cyprus Airways, so we part for now.

Check-in goes smooth, I will have seat 4A. Window is always what I want when flying.

Long lines at the entrance to the gates. First a zig-zag to boarding card check. Then carry-on xray. Then suddenly the path goes right through a large duty-free shop. Everything slows down as the passengers hurying to their flights are stopped by the ones who pay for their purchases. After arriving in the gates hall, I turn quickly to Dixons. At least one reasonable store here. Long lines at a book store, but most people just buy there sandwiches and drinks.

For quite a while, the anouncement display states for my flight "will be anounced in 5 minutes". I have a sandwich, then go to gate 24 as it appears listed on the board. Crowds are still standing in front of that board, waiting for their departure gate to show up. Stairs leading down to a cellar, then leading up again to a glassed waiting room. Now waiting for boarding. The flight already is supposed to have started...

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On travel

The weather this morning was grey. A slight drizzle started. I could not find my camera, must have forgotten it in my office. So first a drive to Headingley. Since it is Saturday, the Caedmon building is closed. I go to the guards in the James Graham building, 10 min later someone opens for me the entrance to Caedmon. First I cannot find the camera in my office, then I see it on the floor, almost hidden uderneath the table pillars. Glad to take it with me on the travel. I had taken quite a few nice pics with it in the past 3 1/2 years since I had it.

Quickly operating my GPS software on the phone, to upload location, then the taxi arrives. Ride to the train station. Get a sandwich for the trip, then waiting for the train at the platform. The train is quite full, a few people even have to stand. I only get an isle seat, GPS has no reception, so no tracking. Will try again at Manchester Airport.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Two new Blogs

I have decided to create two more blogs: and These blogs serve as a documentation of the development of two systems: our Leeds Met webcam and the geo-centric interface activities. The main purpose of these blogs is: one can subscribe to the feeds and get then information about the status of the web cam, down times, and new developments in the geo-interface area. I did not want to post this info here on my own personal blog, as these entries would be not really appropriate to the context of my other entries here.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Preparations for Graduation and Staff Development Festival

Since Friday, 30.5., the Acre has been fenced off, and the construction of the large Marquee has begun. From my webcam the progress can be followed, it is now turned towards the marquee construction.

This picture was shot Friday afternoon, when the first work on the Acre had started.