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.

Changing the face of Limassol

Limassol, Cyprus

My brother sent me the link to this forum thread (in Greek mostly), which contains lots of pictures for the current and upcoming real estate projects in Limassol, which are significantly changing its skyline.  It’s one thing to hear about these projects individually, and see the construction begin in different areas of the city, and a completely different to see them all together on one page.

It’s quite impressive!

CySEC copy-paste logo design continues

A while back I blogged about Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission website using a copy-paste design of the logo from the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  Since then, CySEC website got a new look and feel, as well as a new logo.  Well, it looks like they haven’t really solved the problem of the copy-paste.  Have a look yourself.  Here’s the updated CySEC logo from their current website:

CySec logo

And here is the logo from the Money Project:

Money Project logo

Arguably, not exactly a copy-paste like before, but way too similar not to fall into the plagiarism, which is just a fancy word for the copy-paste.

Easter in Cyprus

For those of you not fortunate enough to live in Cyprus, here is a glimpse at how Easter (and other major holidays like … Sundays) are celebrated in Cyprus villages.

easter

The photo comes from this article (in Greek) which (to the best of my knowledge) tries to warn people about buying meat from non-certified butchers.  Well, guess what, all certified butchers were probably emptied out anyway.

Cyprus Tax, Facts & Figures 2016

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published their annual Cyprus tax, facts and figures brochure for the year 2016. It is a handy document to send to friends abroad who are interested in moving to Cyprus or starting a business here.

One thing that I found ironic in this document was the example they used for personal taxation (page 7-8 in the English PDF).  The example is for someone with a monthly salary of 5,885 EUR and additional income from rent, etc – a total income of 75,620 EUR per annum.  Looking at the average salary in European Union, Cyprus shows 1,833 EUR per month in 2014 and 1,574 EUR per month in 2015.

I hope PwC predicts a huge spike in average salaries in 2016.  That would be nice …

Netflix now available worldwide, Cyprus too

These are super exciting news – Netflix now available worldwide, Cyprus too!  For those who don’t know this service, Netflix is basically the Google of the TV series and movies.  Until recently it was only available in US, UK, and very few other locations, but now they’ve expanded to 130 countries more.

netflix pricing cy

For 8 EUR a month you get an unlimited access to all their movies and TV shows.  You can stream content to your TV, laptop, tablet, or phone, and for a couple of extra euros you can even watch stuff on more than one screen simultaneously!