Monday, 27 December 2010

Friday, 24 December 2010

Seasons Greetings

A Merry Christmas to all my readers and contributors .We have just passed 4000 page views !.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Breaking News Skype Collapses !

Skype is experiencing a massive worldwide outage today.

This is according to Skype:
Earlier today, we noticed that the number of people online on Skype was falling, which wasn’t typical or expected, so we began to investigate. Skype isn’t a network like a conventional phone or IM network – instead, it relies on millions of individual connections between computers and phones to keep things up and running. Some of these computers are what we call ‘supernodes’ – they act a bit like phone directories for Skype. If you want to talk to someone, and your Skype app can’t find them immediately (for example, because they’re connecting from a different location or from a different device) your computer or phone will first try to find a supernode to figure out how to reach them.
Under normal circumstances, there are a large number of supernodes available. Unfortunately, today, many of them were taken offline by a problem affecting some versions of Skype. As Skype relies on being able to maintain contact with supernodes, it may appear offline for some of you.
What are we doing to help? Our engineers are creating new ‘mega-supernodes’ as fast as they can, which should gradually return things to normal. This may take a few hours, and we sincerely apologise for the disruption to your conversations. Some features, like group video calling, may take longer to return to normal.
Stay tuned to @skype on Twitter for the latest updates on the situation – and many thanks for your continued patience in the meantime.

Bill Gates joke

For  all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for the  way computers have enhanced our lives (!?!), read on....
At a  recent computer expo (COMDEX),Bill Gates reportedly compared  the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, 

'If GM had kept up with technology like the computer  industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000  miles to the gallon.'

In  response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press  release stating:

If  GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be  driving cars with the following characteristics (and I just  love this part ):

1. For no reason whatsoever, your  car would crash.........
  Twice  a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the  road, you would have to buy a new car.
3.  Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason.  You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of  the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the  windows before you could continue. For some reason you would  simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a  manoeuvre such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down  and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to  reinstall the engine.
5.  Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was  reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but  would run on only five percent of the roads.

6 The  oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would  all be replaced by a single 'This Car Has Performed An Illegal  Operation' warning light.
I  love the next one!!!
7.  The airbag system would ask 'Are you sure?' before deploying.        

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car  would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you  simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and  grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
9.  Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to  learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls  would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10.  You'd have to press the 'Start' button to turn the engine  off
PS - I'd like  to add that when all else fails, you could call 'customer  service' in some foreign country and be instructed in some  foreign language how to fix your car  yourself!!!!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Property tax laws change

Bulgaria's Notary Chamber has proposed the introduction of a final power of attorney in a bid to reduce property fraud.
"This is how the elderly and the sick, including alcohol and drug addicts, will be able to entitle only their closest people to manage their property," Dimitar Tanev, Chairman of the Notary Chamber said.
Data of the prosecutor's office shows that a total of 90% of the people who fall victims to the so-called real estate mafia are elderly or psychologically unstable.
New rules that envisage that all property transactions in Bulgaria must be carried out via bank transfer were approved at second reading by the parliament at the end of September as part of amendments to the Notary Act.
Whilst the change to buying and selling was first mentioned a year ago as part of a bigger plan to reduce corruption in the property sector, they have not come to fruition.
There is hope that the new rules will help to reduce property fraud and money laundering, as well as ensuring that all fees and taxes owing to the state are paid.
The legislative changes will require that both the vendor and the buyer specify their bank accounts for conducting a property deal. Alternatively, they could use the account of their notary public.
These legislative changes are seen as the first step to an all-out regulation of payment in purchase deals through a special law to be called Deposit Account Act.
There is also hope that the new laws may inspire more confidence from overseas property buyers.
But, there are risks to this new system, as sellers and buyers may want to avoid the new fee charged by the bank for servicing the transactions.
Thus, they may agree a lower price for the official transaction and then do a cash deal privately. This is common in France where the new system planned for Bulgaria is already in use.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Wikileaks,Bulgaria, and a very dodgy power plant

One of Britain's biggest energy suppliers, which wants to build half a dozen nuclear reactors in the UK, helped develop one in Bulgaria which was "dogged by ongoing serious safety concerns", according to leaked US diplomatic cables.
The German firm RWE, which owns npower and supplies electricity and gas to 6.7 million UK customers, bought a 49% stake in the project in December 2008 and quit as a strategic partner in October 2009. RWE said its decision to pull out of the troubled €7bn reactor project was due to the fact that "the project's financing could not be finalised within the agreed period". It said "safety issues were not a factor".
But its involvement in such an apparently shoddy project, which the cables claimed "reeked of side deals" even before RWE bought the 49% stake, could hurt its reputation over safety and cast doubt on its judgment in selecting who to work with on reactor projects.
In December 2007, environmental groups including Greenpeace condemned the European commission's approval of the project. Approval came despite the former Bulgarian nuclear regulator publicly calling for it to be blocked on safety grounds the month before.
RWE said: "RWE adheres to very strict safety standards and criteria. For each project RWE is involved in, safety has the highest priority. The reason for RWE to withdraw from the Belene project was that – because of the international economic and financial crisis – financing of the project could not be clarified in due time. RWE has advised our Bulgarian partners to the difficulties of financing already at an early stage."
The release of the cables comes amid growing safety concerns over an impending global "nuclear renaissance" with more than 1,000 reactors expected to be built by 2030, according to the World Nuclear Association. Countries which could turn to nuclear power for the first time include Albania, Bangladesh, Kenya, Venezuela and Syria.
In August 2008, RWE's CEO, Jürgen Grossmann, responded to questions about reports of its possible involvement in the over-budget and behind-schedule project: "It is remarkable, isn't it, that the possible involvement of RWE in the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Belene, Bulgaria, based on state-of-the-art technology is being described as irresponsible."
The cables claim that despite its due diligence, RWE's confidence had turned to "buyer's remorse" within weeks. In the cable, the US ambassador cited local contacts as saying there was a rush to start construction so that the project would keep RWE on board. RWE had reportedly said that it would not provide funding until it sees the "first concrete poured", signalling the start of construction. Belene project experts privately expressed "serious concerns" that if safety practices continued to be ignored "it could pose a huge risk". RWE's partner, the state-owned Bulgarian electricity company, NEC, which held 51% of the project, declined to comment on any of the allegations.
RWE was said to be "in the dark" on most on-site and technical issues. This was despite a previous cable claiming that the company in February had demanded to review all Belene-related agreements.
The same February 2009 cable reported "RWE worries about the project's lack of transparency and the need to work with Atomstroyexport [the Russian lead contractor]. RWE wants to enforce European business practices". RWE was reported around that time to be in talks with a number of European energy groups, including Belgium's Electrabel, to offload half its stake but did not find any buyers. "RWE realises that working with Russian and Bulgarian companies in the energy sector is a 'poisonous combination' for European investment" the cable added.
The cable also reports: "When Bulgarians talk about the Belene nuclear power plant, they increasingly do so in hushed tones. Issues of delays, financing woes, non-transparent horse-trading and side deals, Russian influence … and the interests of well-connected politicians and energy oligarchs inevitably come up."
RWE's statement continued: "RWE's participation in projects guarantees a high degree of ethical business behaviour and openness to concerns of all stakeholders. We ensure that each project is in line with European standards with regard to transparency and information to the public. It is therefore common practice within all our projects that RWE's or a similar code of conduct will be applied. The same has been true for the Belene project for which a code of compliance was developed and should have been implemented; we would have thereby introduced dedicated instruments against corruption.
"We have raised these issues with NEC and the Bulgarian government and they confirmed that this was a shared mutual understanding. RWE has signed a joint venture agreement with NEC in December 2008 after intense pre-assessment of the project. Under the joint venture agreement the companies involved agreed to jointly continue the project development work, and further advance the project.
"The potential joint construction and operation of the new power plant would not have gone ahead until all relevant safety-related, legal, economic and organisational aspects had been settled during this phase."

Uncles Comment: I particularly 'liked' the following phrase: 

"RWE realises that working with Russian and Bulgarian companies in the energy sector is a 'poisonous combination' for European investment"

Smoking bans start to come in

Restrictions on smoking in public areas, which were introduced through amendments to the Health Act, will take effect at the beginning of 2011. By that time, restaurants and other establishments will have to have glass walls installed segregating the smoking from non-smoking areas, Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported on December 20.

The decision comes several months after the Cabinet suspended a complete ban on smoking in public areas, which had been planned to come into effect in the middle of 2010.

Smoking areas inside restaurants and cafes, commercial and administrative buildings, railroad stations and airports, should be equipped with walls, tight-closing doors and ventilation systems. The Health Ministry said that starting from January 1 2011, inspectors will be monitoring the implementation of the ruling, escorted by police officers.

Clients caught smoking in non-smoking areas will be fined up to 300 leva, while owners of clubs and restaurants will be fined from 1500 to 10 000 leva, the report said.

The decision on whether to adopt the smoking ban in cafes and restaurants, which have areas of up to 50 sq m, will be up to owners – but they can be either all-smoking or a smoking free zone, the report said. If smoking is allowed, people younger than 18 will not be allowed into the establishment.

Larger establishments will be required to designate separate smoking areas of less than 50 per cent of the total space.

The Bulgarian Government withdrew Act 56 from the Healthcare Act in the summer of 2010, pertaining to the complete restriction of smoking in all public places, pubs and restaurants, replacing it with "a more relaxed regime", the announcement said.

Accordingly, on November 3 2010, the Cabinet approved the ordinance, which will regulate how to manage, separate or segregate respective establishments in the future, in order for these to provide the necessary comfort to non-smokers. 
Uncles Comment: If you are a health nut who likes going to pubs (probably not) then this is ok, but smoking is absolutely part and parcel of why Bulgarians go to bars and restaurants.People will even smoke during a meal.The fines are pretty big and I have heard that many places are closing down because it is impractical or too expensive to undertake the modifications.
One bar in my village gets alot of kids from the local secondary school coming in, the bar is less than 50ft so he either goes smoke free and loses the adult smokers, or smoking and loses the kids. Absolutely crazy, so he is shutting.

It needs more than just a logo !

The Bulgarian tourism's rose logo will be probably substituted soon, as a project for the establishment of the country's touristic brand has been launched by the Ministry of Tourism.
The project, which is estimated to cost some BGN 2.9 M, will focus on analyzing Bulgaria's tourism market, as well as the neighboring rival markets. A research will be carried out on whether the current vision of Bulgaria's touristic logo the is recognizable enough and whether it should be changed.
"It is crucial for us to understand how our customers react to the brand's image, which is what they see – the logo, the slogan and the overall vision of the product. There is most probably going to be a new slogan. Bulgaria must be identified with something unique, which is completely different from all other destinations," Nikolay Yotovski, a representative of the Ministry of Tourism explained before the media.
"Bulgaria must be very careful in its choice of a new touristic vision, or it may end up like Spain, which promoted Ibiza as an alcohol tourism destination, creating a very bad image for itself," Yotovski commented.
Bulgaria's main rivals in the touristic market are Romania (cultural tourism), Austria and Italy (sri resorts) and Cyprus (sea resorts), according to the representative of the Ministry of Tourism.

Sunday, 19 December 2010


Many thanks to Uncles chums at expatfocus for awarding this blog 'Recommended Website' status, it's a major feather in our cap and a major compliment... Uncle is blushing !!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Put some property in your christmas stocking !

Over this festive period after wrapping the presents and stuffing the Turkey (or vice versa if you've got too drunk) you may well start thinking about the new year and it's possibilities.One possibility is treating yourself to an overseas property investment.Bulgarian property is now at its lowest since 2007, and has nowhere to go but up.You can buy habitable properties near the coast for 35000 Euros, apartments on the coast for not much more brand new !.Land on the coast can be purchased, zoned for building, from 15 Euros per square metre.
Just click on the topic title to view my website to see offers, or e mail me direct from the website for information. 

BG Weather update

Well readers, we are now experiencing UK style weather, it started snowing about 11am and has not stopped since.The forecast predicts much the same tomorrow but the daytime temperatures are set to get above freezing so it may not settle.This would have to happen when I am expecting visitors this weekend.Typical my luck !.
The snow has come a week early this year, which does not bode well for the full winter.I have stocked up well with the Christmas food supplies so at least I am feeling seasonal.My mate just phoned and he is leaving Dobrich now, should be an interesting journey back for him.

Sunday, 12 December 2010


A couple and five staff were trapped inside one of Britain's highest pubs for eight days because of the snow, a chef there has said. 
The Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, near Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, was cut off since Friday of last week, as 20ft of snow drifted against the 16th Century pub and bed and breakfast.
The couple, from Darlington, were trapped along with five members of staff until a plough made its way over the North York Moors and the man and woman managed to follow it back to the next town of Castleton.
However, the five employees have remained on site and will wait for the road to officially reopen, possibly on Sunday lunchtime.
Chef Daniel Butterworth, from Kirkbymoorside, admitted he had been talking to himself during the enforced lock-in.
At first the staff, all aged under 25, got stuck in to the drinks, he said, but on the third day they eased off.
"We haven't been getting ratty," he said. "It's been fun and we have had a laugh. We have been getting on with little jobs, having our tea, a drink, playing games and then going to bed. The bosses aren't here, they are snowed out. We have wireless internet here and the television works so we have been fine."
During the day, the Lion Inn seven have managed to get out onto the snow on improvised sledges made from beer trays. There remained plenty of food and the beer has not run out at the well-stocked inn, some 1,325ft above sea level.
But he admitted the icy internment had not been all fun.
"I have been going a bit crazy, doing weird things like talking to myself," he said. "Hopefully, we will get some more customers in when the road opens again. I could do with some more company. We have had people phoning up asking to get trapped in, but it's kind of boring now and I would like to go home."

Chilly !!

Winter has well and truly arrived.It is currently -7C, even colder with the wind chill. I think we are on target for snow on Christmas Day, probably a little as early as this week.I dont mind the cold, just don't go out unless necessary, and keep the fire well stocked with wood.The only thing is that everday one has to go through the rigmorole of cleaning the fire and re-lighting it.If it gets really cold I often get up in the middle of the night to make sure it doesnt go out.On the other hand a log fire really does look lovely.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Awful story

4 Bulgarian Doctors Face Murder Charges over Baby Death

The municipal council in Bulgaria's central town of Gorna Oryahovitsa is meeting Monday with one single item on the agenda – to decide on the dismissal of the director of the local hospital – Mirolyub Kozhuharov.
Also on Monday, the Prosecutor's Office is expected to press charges against four of the same hospital's doctors. They were arrested on November 30, 2010, after a 17-year-old girl gave premature birth to a baby that died the next day. The doctors are accused of premeditated murder of the newborn.
Meanwhile, the Bulgarian daily "Trud" (Labor) reports an ultrasound picture taken right before the premature birth shows the baby did not have a heartbeat. The information has been confirmed by two different sources – from the hospital and the police.
The picture has been given to the prosecutor along with a report where one of the doctors has written – "the baby is dead inside the uterus and must be removed in order to save the mother's live."
The investigation, however, believes the picture has been manipulated.
Meanwhile, Kozhuharov is cited by the daily "24 Chassa" insisting the baby died inside the girl's womb and the probe will confirm it. He stated that the baby was not the real problem and the hospital staff was haunted over plans to destroy the facility and take over its property in a prime location of the town.
The Bulgarian Doctor's Union announced they will conduct their own investigation of the case and appealed to the media to not make rushed conclusion before the probe is over.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

First snow arrives !

Well readers it's finally happened, the first snow fell this morning in Obrochishte, it was a flurry but the temperature also fell to match.It is very sunny now but the evening temperatures are approaching freezing.Winter is creeping up to us !.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Stray dogs cause more carnage

Yet again another person has become victim to Bulgaria's stray dog problem.This time a six year old girl was attacked and killed in a village near Razgrad in Northern Bulgaria.Last year a 60 year old British woman was killed in a similar way, and an elderly Bulgarian woman was rescued in the nick of time in Sofia last week.Even people simply strolling in a public park have been set upon.The fact is that the stray problem is out of control and there needs to be a cull if more lives are not to be put in danger.A domestic dog can be mans best friend but a pack of them can be deadly.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Getting about in Bulgaria

As promised in an earlier post here are a couple of useful websites:
The first http://www.autogaravn.com/index.php?id=28&doc=bus-shedule is a link to the Varna bus station website.Here you will find a comprehensive bus schedule for most major routes.The buses are regular and clean the long distance buses are air conditioned but the toilets are always locked. Buses to Sofia are operated by several companies I prefer Union Buses as they are probably the cheapest.

Buses to Burgas and some minibus services are operated from the smaller Mladost bus station, just across the road from the central bus station, just use the underpass and you will see a side road go down that for 50 metres and its there.For long distance buses the tickets can be bought from one of the many bus offices in the Central station, at the other station tickets are bought from the driver.

The second link is http://www.bdz.bg  this is for state railways, please use the google chrome search engine to translate the site.Trains are slower than the buses but have toilets and buffet facilities.Trains from Varna to Sofia tend to be morning ones or later afternoon.The trains on this line are a bit antiquated, on the Burgas-Sofia line they are modern.