Landmark deal signed for Europe’s largest casino

Cyprus Mail reports that the casino deal is signed:

The contract for Cyprus’ first integrated casino resort, the only one of its kind in Europe, was signed on Monday in Nicosia between the gaming authority and the Melco Hard Rock consortium and is designed to provide for an investment of €500m, attract an extra 300,000 tourists a year, and to add 4,000 jobs.

The contract was signed at the Filoxenia Conference Centre between the president of the National Gaming Authority and Andy Choy, chief gaming officer, of the consortium of Melco International Development Ltd, Seminole HR Holdings LLC (Melco Hard Rock) and CNS Group (Cyprus Phassouri Zakaki Ltd).
Energy, Commerce and Tourism Minister Yiorkos Lakkotrypis, who addressed the event, touted the fact that the Limassol complex would be the only integrated casino resort in Europe, which will be based in Limassol, and will include four satellite casinos in Nicosia, Larnaca, Famagusta and Paphos.

The main resort will also be the largest casino in Europe, the minister said with 136 gaming tables, 1,200 gaming machines, a luxury hotel with 500 rooms with the capacity for expansion, a conference hall spanning 6,000 square metres that can accommodate audiences of 1,500, and a wellness centre covering 4,000 square metres.

It’ll obviously take a bit of time and effort until this all comes to life, but no doubt – that’s a new era for Cyprus as a country, as a tourism destination, and as a member of the European Union.

Exciting news!

House Affordability Calculator

Zyprus.com has this nice Affordability Calculator, which, given a few basic numbers, helps one estimate the price of the house that will comfortably fit into the budget (yeah, those are the words they use).  It’s a nice tool for people who have been saving up to buy a property.  For me though, no matter what I put, it returns this:

Nothing new here, but it’s always good to get a confirmation from another source.

10 upcoming real estate projects in Limassol

A while back I’ve blogged already about the changing face of Limassol.  Cyprus Beat has a post with the 10 upcoming real estate projects in Limassol, that overlaps the previous blog post of mine, as well as provides some updated pictures.

Limassol is truly becoming an iconic city of the Mediterranean (even being mentioned in The New York Times). Hopefully, the trend continue…

36 Hours in Cyprus

Lunch

A post shared by Leonid Mamchenkov (@mamchenkov) on

The New York Times runs “36 Hours in Cyprus” article, which introduces the rest of the world into the good side of Cyprus.  Particularly cool of them to mention “To Theatraki” cafe, which is one of the many places where I consumed numerous pints.  Happy hours indeed!

Hellenic Bank Open API

Oh. My. God.  The future is here.  Hellenic Bank is (finally!) introducing an API.  Not sure yet what exactly one would be able to do with it, but even if it’s just to check an account balance, it’s progress already.

I vaguely remember being part of the effort to convince Hellenic Bank (or any Cyprus bank for that matter) to provide an API to my then employer … erm … about 10 years ago.  The effort was beyond describable at the time.  But I knew the day would come, and it’s finally here.

These are probably the biggest technology news since the time PrimeTel became an ISP with its own submarine cables.

Cyprus : startup visa proposal

CNA shares some interesting news:

A proposal promoting startups visa, aiming to attract entrepreneurs from non-EU countries will be submitted to the next meeting of the Council of Ministers for approval, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has said.

Addressing a graduation ceremony of IDEA, a starup programme co-founded by Bank of Cyprus and CIIM, the President also announced that a proposal from the legal framework for university spinoffs, liking academic research with entrepreneurship will be tabled within the next three months.

“We believe that the Cypriot startup visa will be one of the most competitive and will bring multiple benefits in the medium-term both as regards new jobs as well as promoting innovation and research and the boosting the competitiveness of our economy,” the President said.

Of course, knowing how long things take in this country (especially if the government is involved) and how twisted they get by the implementation time, one shouldn’t hold one’s breath.  But there’s hope, if nothing else…

10,000 most common English words

This GitHub repository contains a list of the 10,000 most common English words, sorted by frequency, as seen by the Google Machine Translation Team.

Here at Google Research we have been using word n-gram models for a variety of R&D projects, such as statistical machine translation, speech recognition, spelling correction, entity detection, information extraction, and others. While such models have usually been estimated from training corpora containing at most a few billion words, we have been harnessing the vast power of Google’s datacenters and distributed processing infrastructure to process larger and larger training corpora. We found that there’s no data like more data, and scaled up the size of our data by one order of magnitude, and then another, and then one more – resulting in a training corpus of one trillion words from public Web pages.

We believe that the entire research community can benefit from access to such massive amounts of data. It will advance the state of the art, it will focus research in the promising direction of large-scale, data-driven approaches, and it will allow all research groups, no matter how large or small their computing resources, to play together. That’s why we decided to share this enormous dataset with everyone. We processed 1,024,908,267,229 words of running text and are publishing the counts for all 1,176,470,663 five-word sequences that appear at least 40 times. There are 13,588,391 unique words, after discarding words that appear less than 200 times.

There are a few variations of the list – with and without the swear words and such.  I took a quick look at it and was surprised to find that “cyprus” is at position 4,993 (pretty high), immediately after the word “emails“.  Weird!

(found via the link from this article)

Internet users in Cyprus

7 years ago, to the day, I’ve published this post, containing the Google screenshot for the graph of the Internet users in Cyprus.  It used to be 38% of the population.

Today I decided to check exactly the same Google query and see how that number has changed.  Here is how:

internet-users-in-cyprus

Yup.  We went from 38% to 65.5% in 7 years.  Considering the fact that the population grew as well, in the absolute numbers the statistics will be even more staggering.

21st century is finally here with PrimeTel Fibernet

The apartment building where I live in for the last few years had some cabling issues.  That prevented me from joining the rest of the world in the 21st century, when it comes to home Internet connectivity.  Here’s what I’ve been on until today:

PrimeTel (before)

Today, I’ve got my connection updated.  PrimeTel Fibernet, which is currently only available to select buildings, brought the modern age of technology into my house.  Here’s how it looks:

PrimeTel (after)

Yup, that’s a 50 Mbps download with 8 Mbps upload connection.  Nearly a 10x speed increase, but not only that.  Have a look at 1 ms ping now vs. 35 ms ping before.  And that all is for the same price.  And nothing else had to change – I still have the same TV channels and the same landline number.  Ah, no, wait, my home IP address changed, but who cares about that, right?

This thing is so far indeed, that to fully utilize it I need to use the Ethernet cable.  Gladly, that’s how both my PlayStation 3 and the home media server are connected.  With my laptop’s WiFi, I get the numbers like this:

PrimeTel (WiFi)

I’m not yet sure why, but I’ll probably need to look into my wireless card drivers or something.

Anyways, WiFi or not, it’s way faster than it used to be, both in bandwidth and latency.  Which are amazing news!

P.S.: Thanks to SpeedTest.net for cool graphics and years in service too.