The Perfect Start With Car Hire at the Athens Airport

Athens Airport is a sophisticated and a contemporary transportation hub. The airport is a civilian port for all the passengers entering and exiting the city of Athens. The airport serves as a significant seat of Olympic Air. It successfully acts as the terminal for around 16 million passengers each year. The airport has been named after the eminent Greek Statesman Eleftherios Venizelos.

The airport serves as a significant passage to Asia and the Middle East countries. You will be amazed to know that this contemporary and cosmopolitan airport has been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration. If you are arriving in Greece, you can conveniently pick up a car hire Athens Airport to get a perfect start to your holiday.

The present airport is in the same place as the previous one. It was outdated and really needed to be updated. The towns of Markopoulo, Koropoi, Spata and Loutsa are well connected by the airport. And it is now known as one of the busiest airports in Europe. In 2006 the airport was felicitated with a Skytrax award as it was recognized as one of the best airports in Southern Europe.

One of the uncomplicated and economical ways of travelling the city is car hire Athens Airport. The city of Athens still has the ruins and the monuments of the Roman and the Byzantine monarchs that had ruled the city. The tourists are allured by the rich and the expansive cultural heritage of the city. Car hire Athens Airport is the best way to navigate the city. The nearby tourist attractions can be easily reached and viewed by car hire Athens Airport.

Athens is known as a contemporary and an idyllic destination for vacations with plethora of tourist spots and attractions. The colorful history of the city is still clearly visible by the historical and cultural imprints in the city. The mesmerizing monuments, enchanting churches and scenic location allures tourists all over the world to the city.

The tourists should view the neoclassical architectural brilliance dominating the historic city of Athens. The ancient yet sturdy building of the Athens Academy is a masterpiece and the beautifully constructed National library that has successfully housed timeless books, journals and other literary classics.

The tourist will have a great time shopping as Athens has many reputed stores, and wonderful beaches that result in entertaining tourists. The most beautiful and sun-kissed beaches include Vouliagmeni, Varkiza, Kavouri and so on. The scenic beauty, the lush green patches in the city and the impeccable architectural beauties make the city one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world.

Information On Different Strategies Involved In Stock Option Trading

The stock market is a brilliant place to improve your earnings and to multiply your savings. There are a number of investments that you can make to help you earn a lot of money. Stock options or equity options are a type of investment that connects you directly to the asset or business. In big corporations, senior employees are given the choice to invest in the company itself. This investment is in the form of stock options.

Because these are like any other kind of investment there are a number of different strategies that can be implemented to get good profits. The risk spectrum for this kind of trading strategies is covered completely to appeal to the most conservative to the most daring. In the end what you need to decide is which kind of investor you want to be – one who wants to hedge the investments made or one who is ready to speculate and take high risks. But whichever type of investor you want to be, it all comes down to profits. That is the ultimate goal really. To make profits what you need to do is to monitor the ups and downs of the stock market and choose a strategy that is devised to match the condition of the market.

These strategies or tactics are categorized into 4 major groups that will work on different types of markets –

• Vertical Spread – in this tactic you buy and sell the stocks at various strike prices in various contract months. The trading is done such that the risk of one stock is offset in the other.
• Ratio Spread – in this tactic short and long securities are bought in imbalanced numbers. This inequality in the numbers helps to offset the risk.
• Delta Spread – in this approach the deltas of the options are taken into account. The delta of the stock bought is divided by the delta of the stock written and a neutral position is acquired.
• Credit Spread – in this approach the stock that is sold is in a position close to the market and the stock that is bought is in a position further away. In this approach both the positions are in the same direction.

There are also variants of some of these tactics, each breaking down to make it easier for you to make your desired profits. The plethora of strategies in this kind of trading makes the stock option trading the most sophisticated investment method.

The Land of Athena

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Have you ever been to the land of Athena? Come join us on our tour to Athena. We begin the tour at your luxurious Grande Bretagne Hotel. From your balcony, you can see The Changing of the Guard which takes place in front of the Parliament. It is quite a unique show! Fifty two National Guardsmen (in white uniforms) accompanied by a marching band, walk down the street. From the identical vantage pointe you can view the Changing of the Guard which is in front of the Unknown Soldier’s monument. This is a wonderful event to witness on Sundays! I have seen this event countless times. The King George Palace also stands across from the Parliament. This hotel can be seen with a similar vantage point, but the Grande Bretagne Hotel is a bit more regal in appearance. In addition, the national gardens are across the street at the Syntagma Square which is where Athenians take a walk and relax during the summer days.

The real estate areas of these properties are called Herodou Atticou which is the most expensive in   Athens . Impressive views of the Acropolis will be seen on top of a beautiful hill with the  city  of  Athens  as a backdrop. Do you enjoy taking photos? This is definitely the spot. Let us go to the entrance of the Acropolis and tour the Parthenon (constitutes a masterpiece of architecture that is renowned worldwide), and the Temple of  Athens  Nike, and other fascinating and historic sites on the “Sacred Rock” overlooking the  city  of  Athens . Did you know that the Acropolis was for many centuries the most important religious  centre  of the  city  of  Athens ? The archeological sites are universal symbols connected with the birth of democracy. And did you also know that  Athens  received its name because of Athena who as become the goddess of wisdom and peace in ancient times? Obviously there is much to see and ponder about in  Athens , especially The New Acropolis Museum is housed on the grounds of the Acropolis and is one of the best museums in the world. This new museum is set in a characteristic neoclassical building. It contains recently a refurbished collection of ancient Greek art and artifacts including more details about the goddess of Athena. This is a must see! You will be amazed at these antiquities.

We also won’t let you miss the other sites: The Dionysus Theatre, the Stills of Olympian Zeus, the Roman Agora, the Greek Agora and the Keramikos. The Museum of Cycladic art and The Benaki Museum and the National Archaeological Museum are also quite significant. How about the Kallimarmaro Stadium? It was originally made out of marble. The Marathon runners of the 2004 Olympics ended their journeys in this stadium. Can you imagine what it would be like to sit in the stands of this stadium? Let’s go in and sit!

In addition, did you know that there is a monument across from the Hilton Hotel? Another important monument we will see is the Marathon man which is made of fiber glass and is located across from the hotel. The “Marathon Man” was built in dedication to the Greek soldier Philidippides who in 490 BC ran from the town of Marathon to  Athens  (about 26 miles) to announce that the Persians had been defeated. He shouted “Nenikikamen” which means “We won” in ancient Greek and then he collapsed of exhaustion and died.

After visiting the above venues, we will visit Lycabettus Hill, passing through the Kolani Square which is in the Soho area of  Athens . Athenians gather in this square to have Greek coffee and chat in the nearby cafes. It also has some of the best shopping stores of known fashion designers. The drive up Lycabettus Hill is the tallest hill in  Athens . It reaches 277 meters and on its peak lays a small white Greek Orthodox Church of St. George which was built in 1852. Near the Greek Orthodox Church stands the St. George Lycabettus is another luxury property. This is another photo opportunity! We then head to the Plaka area where you can spend more time shopping and eating. According to a recent theory, the Plaka owes its name to the large stone slab found in the area of the Church of St. Alexandria. Plus, the best eatery is on the top of a hill, called the Csarda Taverna.

After spending some more time in the Plaka, we travel to the outskirts of  Athens  towards Cape Sounion along the coastline of  Athens . Before reaching Cape Sounion, we will stop at Lake Vouliagmeni which stands at 40 centimeter in elevation and its water maintains a constant 2.4 degrees year-round Celsius temperature. Due to the healing properties in the water, the Athenians swim here all year round.

Cape Sounion has the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon which was built in 444 BC. The view from the temple is spectacular. I never tire of the views. Here you will be able to enjoy the most beautiful sunset. There is a lovely taverna called Akrogiali in Palea Phokea on the way to the cape where we can enjoy lunch or dinner over-looking the blue waters of the Saronic Gulf. The five star Recital Cape Sounion Hotel is located in one of the world’s most celebrated archeological sites. This is another one of our most traveled Luxury Greece tours. After seeing Cape Sounion, you will return again and again as we do!

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Want Your Employees to Get the Right Information Security Awareness

There are many great websites that provide generic best practice information security tips for the workplace. However, employers need to be aware of two major risks of asking employees to rely on them for their security awareness.

The first risk is making sure that your employees visit one of the good websites, rather than fall foul of one of the ‘lesser’ sources. Simple enough to solve – send your staff an email of the information security websites that you approve of. Job done!

The second risk isn’t so simple to address. Your organisation is unique, with its own specific processes, procedures and information types. It may even draw unique cyber threats that other industries and organisations don’t have to contend with. Unfortunately, any best practice that your employees draw from generic security websites is unlikely to be fully applicable to these unique aspects of your organisation.

For example, generic websites can talk about the dangers of phishing, but they can’t talk about the specific dangers of spear phishing attacks that are unique to your industry or organisation. Generic sites can talk about how ‘sensitive information’ should be encrypted when copied onto storage media or transported on laptops, but they can’t define what ‘sensitive information’ means in the context of your organisation.

Benefits of the specific source

Many organisations are addressing this second risk by bringing the source of security best practice in-house. This ensures that employees have fast access to a comprehensive portal that covers the breadth of required information security awareness. In most cases this is achieved by way of a distinct information security micro-site held within their existing intranet framework.

This delivers the immediate benefit of allowing you to tailor all information security best practice to your organisation, making it fit for purpose for the work your employees do and the way that they do it. The types of information can be discussed within the context of the organisation’s own information classification system. All handling procedures can refer specifically to organisation processes. The unique risks of the industry or organisation can also be addressed, with relevant real life case studies providing additional weight.

Compiling an in-house resource also provides many other advantages. The content can be re-tasked for your employee information security awareness training sessions. It can also become the central information hub from which organisation-wide information security communications campaigns are run. No matter how campaign messages are conveyed to employees – whether by posters, presentations, plasma screen animations or quick-guides – the information security micro-site is always cited as the first port of call for further information.

Building an information security portal

Naturally there are many factors that contribute to a successful information security portal. Two key priorities are to plan a clear information hierarchy and aim for maximum build flexibility.

Getting the information hierarchy right plays a huge role in dictating the success of the project. If users have trouble finding what they want to know, you run the risk that they’ll try and find it on a web search, which takes them outside your control. Information security is a complex topic, and a clear information hierarchy not only makes it easy to find topics, it can also help employees to see how all the various topics inter-relate. This can make the entire subject seem much more mentally accessible and therefore easier to employ.

Build flexibility gives your site the longest possible shelf-life and makes it a highly versatile communications tool. Like any website, users are encouraged to return if they feel it is a dynamic source of valuable information. For example, home page flexibility in particular can allow you to tailor it to specific information security awareness campaigns. You should also ensure that the clear information hierarchy takes into account that the site will grow over time. For example, as new threats emerge or as new processes are introduced to the organisation.

Before embarking on a portal project, it’s a good idea to ask a cross-section of your employees what they would like to see and what would help them most. Although many will almost certainly provide generic answers, look closely at the way they are responding. This is an excellent opportunity to test the temperature of your organisation’s attitude to information security. If a large proportion of your staff members have no opinion, it could indicate that they aren’t that interested in handling their work securely – something that certainly needs to be addressed.

Greece Flights

Athens, the capital of Greece is well connected to major international cities. The International Airport of Athens’, Eleftherios Venizelos, was inaugurated in March 2001 and was built to cater to the needs of a modern world. It is located 23 miles northeast of the city. It has 157 check-in counters and two runways that are 2.5 miles each. The airport can accommodate close to 600 flights a day. It has conference facilities, a post office, a hotel, courier service, banks, currency exchanges, ATMs and many stores and restaurants.

There are 5 international airports in Greece. They are situated in the major cities of the country namely, Athens, Corfu (Ionian), Heraklio (in Crete), Kos (Dodecanese) and Thesaloniki (near the region of Halkidiki). Some Greek islands are not directly accessible by flights. The best way to travel to these Islands is by organizing for a cab transfer from the Athens airport. The airfares to Greece between June and September and during holidays are comparatively more expensive. The weekend flights are also expensive. Of recent, many charter flights have begun operating to and from Greece. Most charter flights operate during summer.

Olympic Airways is the national airline of Greece. It operates daily flights from New York City and Boston to Athens. The approximate flight time from Athens to Los Angeles is 15 hours and from Athens to New York, 13 hours; Most European airlines connect North American cities with Greece via major European cities. Direct flights also operate from major European cities to Macedonia International Airport in Thesaloniki, Northern Greece, as well as to Corfu (Kerkira), Grete and Rhodes.

American and Canadian citizens entering Greece for a period of less than 3 months require a valid passport. There is no need to get a visa, though. Passport and visa requirements vary for tourists of different nationalities, and should be checked well in advance of the trip.

Different Strategies in Internet-Based Marketing

The large volume of online businesses and advertisements make it seem hard to imagine that e-commerce is relatively very young. Many of the current online platforms that are popularly used by marketers are less than ten years in existence.

For example, Facebook was only launched in 2004 as a campus-based social network. Within eight years, Facebook users increased to almost one billion users from a few hundreds when it was launched. The great advertising potential of this social networking platform raked in multi-billion profits for the company. It also made the founder, Mark Zuckerberg richer by US$ 9.4 billion. The platform also continues to help bring significant profits for many small businesses online.

It is now estimated that more than US$ 200 billion is being spent on online marketing. The amount is expected to steadily increase as competition becomes tougher. Virtually all companies, large or small, are vying for attention online. Securing a place in the search engine results page is a very valuable strategy. It can determine the difference between success and failure, between profitability and bankruptcy. This is especially true for startup enterprises that are highly dependent on online presence.

Just like offline or traditional marketing strategies, online marketing strategies have the same three basic purposes. These are initiating pubic awareness, creating desire, and prompting consumers to act. Listed below are the main categories of online marketing.

Display advertising – This is perhaps the most visible type of online marketing. It is straightforward but oftentimes expensive. Just like traditional offline banner or billboard ads, display advertising online relies on graphic design, words or slogans, and proper placement. These can be prominently and strategically placed on various websites so that they can be seen by large number of internet users. These banners range from simple text boxes to animated ads. All of them have clickable links that lead to the company websites being promoted.

Search engine marketing or SEM – This type of marketing is actually a comprehensive strategy that may incorporate other strategies online. The main purpose of this strategy is to improve the ranking of a website when displayed in the result pages of search engines. The use of contextual advertising based on specific keywords or keyword phrases are commonly utilized. Oftentimes it involves paid advertising in the search engine websites. Pay per click advertisements are commonly used. Extensive search engine optimization techniques are also implemented.

Search engine optimization or SEO – As part of the SEM strategy, SEO techniques focus on natural or algorithmic search results that are not based on paid advertisements. Articles with specific keywords are commonly used to improve ‘organic’ search results. Several web 2.0 platforms such as blogs are also utilized for this purpose.

Social media marketing – As mentioned earlier, this type of marketing strategy utilizes the convenience of various social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. This strategy often targets specific demographics and implements viral techniques.

Email marketing – Email is perhaps the oldest form of online marketing. It is very effective when used strategically. However, the abuse of this direct marketing approach is oftentimes associated with spamming and scams.

Referral marketing – Otherwise known as tell-a-friend approach is basically a word of mouth strategy that can utilize emails, social networks, forums and chatting to spread the word. It relies on social influence in a close-knit group of friends or acquaintances. Satisfied customers have the tendency to refer their friends.

Affiliate marketing – Very few marketing strategies offer opportunities for third-party endorsers and even customers to earn. This strategy works by attracting those who are interested to earn extra cash by serving as affiliate partners or agents. It simply involves putting a link or advertisement on a website of a participant. The affiliate gets paid certain percentage per referral who is converted into customer or client. Hence, this is an incentive-based marketing strategy.

Inbound marketing – Offering e-books, online services and software applications for free seems counter-intuitive. Nonetheless, it is very effective when done properly. It is all about titillating prospective clients or customers in trying specific products for free but on limited conditions. This strategy aims at establishing a loyal clientele base.

Video marketing – Many people mainly use the internet for entertainment purposes. One of the simplest strategies to attract the attention of online users is through videos that are directly or indirectly connected to specific products or websites. Oftentimes, popular amateur but viral videos are useplace advertisements.

Athens Syntagma Square – Athens City Center

The heart of present day Athens is fashionable Plateia Syntagmatos which lies below the imposing mass of the Old Royal Palace. Plateia Syntagmatos, which translated means Constitution Square, commemorates the constitution granted by Othon I in a proclamation from the balcony of the Palace on the night of 3rd September 1843.

The OLD ROYAL PALACE, which since 1935 has housed the Parliament, was designed as the residence of King Othon, at his own and his father’s expense, by the Bavarian architect Friedrich Garther and built between 1834 and 1842.

At the foot of the west facade of the Old Palace is a large square bounded on three sides by walls on which, in evocation of the ancient custom of hanging the victor’s shield in the temple, are set bronze shields flanked by the names of the many victories won by Hellenic arms since National Independence. Built into the center of the retaining wall is the TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER, a relief impressive in its simplicity, which depicts a dying hoplite. This work is by the sculptors Constantinos Demetriades (1881-1943) and Phokion Rok (1886-1942), and was unveiled on 25th March (National Independence Day) 1932.

South of Plateia Syntagmatos lies Leophoros Amalias, which is so called after King Othon’s consort, who, with the horticulturist Friedrich Schmiedt, created the delectable retreat adjoining the Old Royal Palace that we know today as the NATIONAL GARDEN. The National Garden is open daily from sunrise to sunset and the shade of its multitudinous trees provides a cool and peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.

On the east side of the Garden are the busts of Capodistrias and Jean-Gabriel Eynard, a great Swiss philhellene who donated large sums of money to the cause of Greek Independence. Both these busts are the work of the famous Pelopennesian loannis Kossos. Other busts in the National Garden are those of three leading Greek poets of the 19th century: Dionysius Solomos of Zante, who is considered the national poet; Aristotle Valaoritis, also a native of the Ionian Islands, and Jean Moreas, which was the nom-de-plume of loannis Papadiamantopoulos, an Athenian who lived the greater part of his life in Paris.

Contiguous to the National Garden is a large public park called ZAPPEION after the brothers Evangelos and Constantinos Zappas of Epirus, who donated it with its splendid exhibition hall to the Nation. On either side of the entrance to the exhibition hall stand statues of the donors, that of Evangelos by loannis Kossos; that of Constantinos by Georgios Vroutos. Among the many pieces of statuary by famous sculptors is the bust of loannis Varvakis by the master Leonidas Drossis. Varvakis is best known as the founder of the renowned boys’ school, the Lykeion Varvakeion, for the endowment of which he bequeathed his huge fortune. Other busts include those of Constantinos Paparrighopoulos, the greatest historian of Modern Greece, of Stephan Dragoumis, the most prominent political personality during the Macedonian struggle (1903-1909), and of George Souris, the leading satirical poet of his times.

A short distance from Plateia Syntagmatos, on the right of Odhos Panepistimiou, we come to a Renaissance edifice of Italian inspiration. This is the NUMISMATIC MUSEUM, which contains a rich collection of Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins, cameos and seal-stones. Built by the noted architect Erst Ziller in 1878, it was the private residence of the illustrious archaeologist Henry Schliemann.

Still keeping on the right-hand side we come to a five-storeyed building situated at the corner of this street and Odhos Omirou. Here are the premises of the ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, built entirely in marble. The classical motif of the magnificent bronze door with its richly painted and gilded surround and the ceiling coffered in a delicate blue and gold deserve the greatest admiration. Besides creating the first National Archaeological Museum the Society, which was founded in 1837, has excavated sites all over the country.

Immediately after the Archaeological Society’s premises stands the ROMAN CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL. As the Latin inscription shows, the cathedral was begun in 1853, completed in 1887, and dedicated to St. Dionysius Areopagite. It is a three-naved basilica designed by Leo von Klenze (1784-1864), Bavarian Court architect and master-plan ner of modern Athens, and built under the direction of Lysander Kaftanzoglou (1811-1885), the outstanding Greek architect of the period.

Adjoining this edifice is the OPHTHALMIC HOSPITAL, a Byzantine-style construction designed by Theophil Hansen (1813-1891, the younger of two Danish brothers, both distinguished architects), in 1847, and completed by Lysander Kaftanzoglou four years later.

Just beyond the Ophthalmic Hospital is an ensemble of neo-Classical buildings: on the right the Academy, in the middle the University, and on the left the National Library. All three were gifts to the Nation from wealthy patriots; they are the most sumptuous monuments of Modern Greece.

The HELLENIC ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES, a meticulously accurate reproduction of an edifice of the Classical period erected in the graceful Ionic order by Theophil Hansen at the expense of Baron Georgios Sinas, was begun in 1859 and completed in 1875.

The nine sculptured pediments and all the statues before the Academy are the work of the Athenian master Leonidas Drossis. The relief in the central pediment, which portrays The Birth of Athena, and the two gigantic statues of Apollo (right) and Athena (left) standing on tall columns, one on either side of the principal facade, are particularly impressive. The seated figures flanking the short flight of steps leading to the portico represent the philosophers Socrates (right) and Plato (left).

The portico consists of a double row of columns. The coffered ceiling is painted in bright blue and gold and the door opening into the vestibule has a surround of classical inspiration executed in brilliant color and gilding. A statue of the donor Baron Sinas stands on the right of the vestibule, while the interior of the Academy Hall is decorated with eight superb panels by the Oldenburg painter Christian Griepenkerl (1839-1916), depicting scenes from the Myth of Prometheus.

Visitors to the University will be surprised to see a statue of William Ewart Gladstone, standing on the right of the lawn surrounding the forecourt. The dedication on the plinth of this statue immortalizes the prominent part played by the great British statesman in the deliverance of Epirus and Thessaly from Turkish oppression, and their return to the Motherland in 1881.

The statues at the top of the steps leading to the entrance commemorate the great philologist Korais (1748-1833), ardent patriot and “father” of the Modern Greek literary language (right), and Capodistrias (1776-1831), first Head of State (1827-1831) and one of the major architects of modern Greece.

The UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS was founded in 1836, and was initially established in a large house which Schaubert and Cleanthes had built in Plaka (the old quarter of Athens) when they first came to Athens in 1831. This building, at the corner of Odhos Prytaneiou and Odhos Tholou, is still standing and is converted into a museum devoted to the earlier history of the University. The present University buildings were designed by Christian Hansen and the foundation stone laid by King Othon in 1839. The central building was ready for use in 1842, but owing to lack of funds, the buildings as a whole were not completed until 1850.

A colonnade with a handsome portico in Pentelic marble fronted by two Ionic columns with gilded capitals, and a coffered ceiling in blue and gold in harmony with the classical motif of a painted and gilded door surround, gives access to the interior of the main building.

On the upper part of the wall a fresco by the celebrated Austrian painter Karl Rahl (1812-1865) shows the resurgence of arts and sciences under King Othon. Statues of two national heroes, Patriarch Grigorios and the martyred poet Rhigas Pheraios, stand respectively at the right and left angles of the facade.

The NATIONAL LIBRARY, which is built of Pentelic marble on a foundation of poros, consists of a central building in the form of a Doric temple, with two wings. It was planned by Theophil Hansen in 1887 and the work executed under the supervision of Ernst Ziller, at the expense of the Valianos brothers of Cephalonia in 1901. A statue of one of these munificent benefactors, Panayis, stands outside the central building, and those of his two brothers Andreas and Maris inside the entrance hall. All three statues are the work of Georgios Bonanos.

The eminent philologist Andreas Moustoxidis on the island of Aegina formed the nucleus of the Library in 1827. The books were brought to Athens in 1833 and stored in the beautiful church of St. Eleutherius (the “Little Cathedral”). In 1842 they were removed to the first floor of the central building of the University – which had just been completed – where they remained until the National Library was inaugurated in 1903.

In recent years many fine nineteenth century buildings have been demolished and unimaginative concrete structures built on the sites, so that with the exception of the Ionian Bank of Greece on one corner of Odhos Pezmazoglou and the former buildings of the Arsakeion College for Girls (founded in 1836) on the other corner over the Doric portico, built at the expense of Apostolos Arsakis of Epirus in 1848, nothing remains of the splendid buildings that once lined both sides of this street of central Athens.

Continuing along Odhos Panepistimiou for a short distance, we turn right into Odhos Patission. A few hundred meters further down, on our right, stands a construction in the finest Pentelic marble, in which two educational institutions of University status are established: The POLYTECHNIC SCHOOL (Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Naval, Chemical and Mining Engineering, Architecture, and Topography) and the SUPERIOR SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS (Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Engraving, etc.). Two wings in the Doric order serve as propylaea to the central building of two storeys, the lower erected in the Doric order, the upper in Ionic. This edifice is the work of Lysander Kaftanzoglou, who built it between 1862 and 1880, and owes its name -METSOVION POLYTECHNEION- to the fact that the principal donors Nicholaos Stournaras, Michalis Tositsas and his widow Helen, were natives of Metsovo in Epirus.

Gathering of Information: The Silent Spies in the Internet and in Telecommunications

Anyone who is regularly online will have seen it more than once, if they’re really interested in Social Media Networking, they’ll have seen it tens of times over the last few years: Big Brother. Stories, articles, essays and a whole mess of scaremongering about what happens each and every time a person logs onto the Internet. Someone, somewhere is watching over them, peeking over their shoulder and following each and every move whilst they are surfing. They know what has been purchased on Amazon, what is searched for on Google, each status update on Facebook and Twitter. The curtains may have been drawn and the door locked, but no one is ever alone on the Internet.

In Europe and the United States there is a great deal of legal pressure on politicians, not so much pressure from the public because they know better, but from civil rights organizations and the like, to limit the ability of some web sites to gather information. Much has been written about Facebook and Google gathering information, and there have been many diverging opinions: the information is entered voluntarily, so be it! It is, however, much more than that.

The Internet is the biggest potential marketplace ever. The discussions might be about markets such as China and the United States, about emerging markets and First and Third World markets but they have nothing compared to the potential of the Internet, because the Internet brings every single country together, almost into one melting pot, and has all the possibilities at anyone’s fingertips for exploitation. Not necessarily in a bad way, not all exploitation is bad, but in a way which could define how the market evolves, what offers are made and how web sites and online stores are designed and geared up for the customer of the future.

In short, someone out there is gathering information on you and your habits.

Most of the information being gathered is harmless. It is information individuals have entered themselves – such as by Facebook – and it is information on what is needed, desired or enjoyed – such as by Google, Yahoo, Bing and any other search engine one might care to mention. It is information about what has bought – where else can Amazon get its recommendations from other than from individual buying habits?

And the rest of the information?

The rest is a gathering of individual surfing habits. Which web sites have been visited and how long has the visitor stayed there? Where did they come from and where did they go? Which page did they land on and which search words did they use to get there?

What would happen if a single person or a company could use all this technology at their fingertips to see what each person does on other sites? What if they could set up a little bit of spying software on another site and see whether someone visits when that site has no other connection to them?

This has happened here from the moment a link was made to this site. Not in a bad way, but everyone visiting this page has been checked by others. They’ve been checked by Google (Google Analytics), by Alexa, by Facebook. Even if the visitor doesn’t have a Facebook account, they’ve been checked and the visit logged.

Why and how?

Why. Facebook is a site which gathers all manner of information to advance its own advertising strategy. A person doesn’t need to be registered for Facebook to want to know what interests them, to be able to build up a global picture of what is popular and what is on the way out. Each time there is a Facebook symbol on a web site, even if no one presses Like, they’ve been seen, their visit has been noted. The page has loaded in a browser and the Like button has been loaded direct from Facebook.

How do webmasters know when others are hot linking to their photographs and images? The visit, on another web site, has been logged and, eventually, evaluated.

And when a person thinks that they’ve only been surfing safe sites? Think again.

A few days ago I installed a new tracking checker on my personal system. It tells me how many other companies are watching my every move, how many spies there are out there. I went through my normal surfing routine, a little bit of Twitter, a touch of Facebook, some StumbleUpon, a hint of Google+ and a few sites with adult content. The result after only two days, that is perhaps seven or eight hours of actual surfing from one web site to another, was seven hundred and sixty-eight hits by Facebook alone.

Let’s get one thing right out of the way: in the majority of cases Facebook, and all the others tracking, do not know who an individual is. They can’t put a name to their activities, or a face. That is, unless they happen to be logged in to Facebook while surfing elsewhere. Unless they happen to still have the Facebook cookie saved in their computer cache. Facebook and others can see where a person is on the Internet, where they’ve been, which country they are in and, probably, also which area from the IP address, but they don’t know who an individual is.

Is this a bad thing, this gathering of information for marketing purposes?

Perhaps there will indeed come a time when Minority Report – the film with Tom Cruise – is not just a threat but a reality. A time when a person’s features can be recognized from afar and advertising is adapted to their needs, their interests. At the moment it is all limited to offers made when someone log into the web sites of their choice and based upon the information they’ve given up voluntarily. But some of that information is already being used to influence other people in their buying choices.

Who hasn’t seen the little addition on Amazon: people who bought this book also bought…

This is the thin edge of the wedge, this is just the beginning. This is the information other people have put in to a web site being used to influence you, the visitor. It’s one thing to say that an item might interest you based on what you’ve purchased before, but quite another to have information based on what other people have looked at or bought.

And it is also a simple fact of life which cannot be avoided. I may well have been able to block over three thousand tracking attempts during my few hours of surfing, but did they catch all of them? More to the point, aside from Facebook, who is tracking me? The Big Bad Wolf is not an advertising company checking on who has been looking at their banners or pop-ups. The Big Bad Wolf is those tracking companies who gather information, press it all together and then sell it to others. The anonymous, faceless people we have nothing to do with. Are they just marketing companies, or is the government, any government, hiding behind them? Has the CIA found me, or you and decided to track our movements because a web site visited published a photo of someone, or MI6 because there is a comment posted about Kate Middleton’s figure?

Enough of the scaremongering. To be honest and there is not a great deal about this gathering of information that’s all that bad. Information has always been gathered, evaluated, passed on and it always will be. Every single time someone goes shopping in the Real World their purchases are recorded: the credit or debit card company; the store; the wholesaler; the manufacturer. No names in most instances, but the information has been gathered. A tin of peas has been purchased, restock the shelves and order a new tin.

Are there any benefits to this mass gathering of information?

If a product isn’t popular it gets removed from sale. If a whole range of products suddenly go viral, more are produced. If a web site suddenly falls in the ratings, it gets improved or it vanishes. If an advert gets no clicks at all, it needs to be re-evaluated and a new marketing strategy pounded out.

The people who are surfing through the Internet are changing its features with each click of their mouse. Their surfing activity is the basis for what follows. A visitor to any web site doesn’t have to press Like to show appreciation, it is enough that the records show they stayed on a site for five minutes, read through an article, even if they didn’t comment or purchase. The visit alone is showing the manufacturers, the advertisers, the service industry where interest lie with the result that they are going to have to tailor what they have on offer to meet our (silent) demands. We, the Internet users, are shaping the future, just by being here. And that can only be a good thing.

Even so, nearly eight hundred blocks on Facebook alone in so few hours?

I have written so far about the marketing strategies of various Internet web sites, of advertising and the collection of data from individual visits to web sites while surfing through the Internet. Now I wish to take it one step further following an announcement by the German telecommunications company O2, a daughter firm of the Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica.

The collection of information through Internet sites, as illustrated above, is simple, cheap and effective. An Internet user surfs to a web site of interest and his or her movements through the web are logged, collected and evaluated by a whole range of different tracking devices, from spy software through cookies, links to social media networks and search engines or analytical tools. But what about the general movements of a person during their daily lives? Is it possible to follow a specific person, or a group of people, as they move through a city? Is it possible to collate the information gained from these movements and come up with an overall picture which might be useful to marketing companies, to advertisers, to the marketplace in general?

It is a well known and accepted fact that people who use modern smart phones, as well as older versions, can be tracked. The mobile telephone needs to be in constant contact with a transmission device, a node or similar, so that it is available should the user wish to telephone out or to receive calls from other people. As long as the mobile device is switched on it sends and receives a signal which places it within a certain area, within reach of a communications point to retain this high level of connectivity. A person moving through the streets of Berlin, New York, London, Paris or any other modern city as well as all minor cities, smaller towns, villages and the countryside with a mobile device is constantly followed by these connection signals as long as their device is switched on. Information on their position may, with the right technology, quickly be collected and, in the case of an emergency for example, directed to the appropriate authorities, even without the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS).

The German telecommunications company O2 is investigating the possibilities of using this information on the movement of individuals for marketing purposes. Being able to watch the movements of an individual or a group as they travel from one shop to another within a major city, or from one position to another on longer journeys, can give information about where the most interest in a town lies, where the shops and stores have the best pull and even, with finer tuning, how long a person remains in one position, in one shop or store.

Not, in and of itself, too much of a problem until you take it to the next step in the process.

Couple the information on a person’s movements with further information, such as age and gender, and it is possible to build up a very accurate picture of the movements and interests of a group of people within a certain age group – such as young women aged between 18 and 24. The necessary information is already there, voluntarily given by the customer during the process of buying or renting a mobile telephone. Date of birth, address, gender and, in some cases, income and educational levels are all included in the basic application process for a contract between telecommunications company and customer.

Here, because of the sudden lack of anonymity, we come into a gray area as far as data protection is concerned, and a potential earner for the telecommunications industry. Combine the information with actual sales, with positioning in an entertainment area of a city or the main shopping street, and it is possible to build up an individual picture of each and every person using a mobile device at any time of the day or night. Here we are verging on the private sphere, the gathering of information which can be narrowed down to a specific person.

What is the difference between an individual person using the Internet and being tracked and an individual using a mobile device?

With Internet tracking there may well be several hundred people using a connection point into the Internet, an IP address linked to an Internet Service Provider, at any one time. With mobile device tracking the link is direct to a specific mobile phone, to a specific person who has purchased or rented this device. It is possible to link directly to a name and an address without needing to go any further along the chain, without needing to find out who was using a specific IP at a certain time and then checking their communications protocol or whereabouts at the time of connection. It is possible to track movements without the person being tracked actually being active, without them having logged into the Internet or even making a telephone call.

With further innovations in the smart phone market, such as video devices, payment for services through a smart chip, it is possible to trace their every movement right down to the items they may purchase in any given store, even a parking ticket purchased through an appropriate application on their mobile phone. It is possible to see how long they remain in one area, where they move to and how much they have spent.

For the gathering of information with marketing potential, this is an absolute goldmine. For the individual, the mobile device owner, it is an incursion into their private sphere, into their daily lives.

This form of market information gathering is not music for the future; the first steps have already been taken by O2 in Germany. Information is already available and is constantly being added to each time a person switches their mobile device on. It is only a matter of time before the true potential of this information source is recognized and, data protection laws allowing, becomes common practice.

This form of gathering, of tracking is, according to many professional and civil rights organizations, one step too far. As long as the information gathered comes from a large group and cannot be traced back to an individual it is relatively harmless. With the mobile device potential, the move towards a Minority Report style society is far closer than anyone would wish to believe and, in all probability, far closer than anyone is prepared to accept.

Take a Different Strategy and Keep it in Strict Confidence

A company should not take the same strategy taken by the competitor in business. Sun Tzu wrote “The Arts of War” about 500 B.C. in China and insisted the importance of the strategy to defeat the weak while avoiding a battle against the strong. In most cases, however, a company plays safe and follows its bigger competitor using the same strategy. It intentionally or unintentionally ignores the factors that make the strategy of the competitor successful and presumes that the strategy taken by the competitor will also be effective to it without careful consideration. As a result, it unknowingly attempts to attack on the strength of the competitor.

It is important to know that specific products of each company make its strategy work well. Not only visible products, such as equipment and apparatus, but also invisible products, such as technological strength, sales forces, developmental power, and service capability, vary with the company. In the subprime lending disaster, you can say that every company involved took the same strategy seeking big profits and fell into an abyss together. It is an honor for a company to have its strategy imitated by another company, but the competitor’s strategy is the worse strategy for a company that imitates it. Any strategy does not work as soon as it is known to your competitor.

Japan provoked a reckless war against the U.S. without notice in 1941, and it was knocked into smithereens in 1945. Putting aside the fact that Japan had no chance of winning in terms of military strength, it is important to know that the U.S. mostly knew Japanese strategies beforehand because they were too much faithful to the textbook. During the age of provincial wars in Japan (1467-1615), warlords worked out their own strategies and fought against their enemies with the strategy full of originality. The greatest warlord is Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), and both Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1536-1598) and Ieyasu Tokugawa (1542-1616) are his students. It is striking to know that none of the three warlords shared the same strategy.

During World War II, headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Army was staffed only with the bright graduates from the military academy. They all were too faithful to the textbook to construct a strategy full of originality. In addition, they were too proud and gentlemanly. A high-raking official in the headquarters reportedly told “It is not gentlemanly to sneak a look at strategies that the U.S. keeps in strict confidence.”

Athens – The City Other Places Want to Be

The writer Charles Caleb Colton once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and this saying has now found its way in to common usage. Its message is clear and almost undeniable – and something that must make Athens feel a proud city.

The capital of Greece – and the country’s largest city to boot – is one of the world’s oldest cities with recorded history going back around 3400 years. In that time it has been a center for arts, philosophy and architecture and has been admired and copied from afar.

Such is the reputation of Athens that other cities around the world often try to use it to boost their own standing. In total, there are 28 cities or towns outside Greece that have incorporated Athens into their nickname.

There is an “Athens” for each of the four major compass points (including a bonus historical Athens of the West) as well as an “Athens” for many different countries, eras, American states and hemispheres.

Each has their own reason for the nickname – although some, such as the Scottish town of Troon being known as the ‘Athens of Ayrshire’ – are a little less clear.

Jyvaskyla – the ‘Athens of Finland’ – is so named because it is a city of learning, as Athens was once with the teachings of philosophers Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and many others; still popular material in curriculum today. The Massachusetts capital, Boston, is known as the ‘Athens of America’ and Colombia’s capital, Bogota, is the ‘Athens of South America’ for similar reasons. Edinburgh – the Scottish capital and the ‘Athens of the North’ – was a major center during the Enlightenment in the 18th century – while another American city (Nashville, Tennessee) is known as the ‘Athens of the South’ because of an abundance of colleges and universities in the area.

The Russian city of Tomsk had a high emphasis on education and by the outbreak of World War II every 12th citizen was a student – causing it to be dubbed the Siberian Athens.

The Italian city of Florence holds the title of the ‘Athens of the Middle Ages’ as it is considered to be the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance – a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe from the end of the 1200s to the start of the 17th century.

Other Athenian cities with cultural significance include the Indian city of Madurai (the Athens of the East), Sarospatak in Hungary (the Athens of the Bodrog – a river that runs through Hungary and Slovakia) and Lexington, Kentucky (Athens of the West).

With all this attention and willingness to be associated with the Greek capital, it’s clear to see the reason why so many flights to Athens are jam-packed with tourists wishing to see the sights that have inspired so many places around the world.

The information contained within this article is the opinion of the author and is intended purely for information and interest purposes only. It should not be used to make any decisions or take any actions. Any links are included for information purposes only.