Author Archives: mike

About mike

A European living in Finland who occasionally makes technology "Do Stuff"(TM)

Nice pub in Göteborg

So while in Göteborg for FSCONS, I found a rather nice little pub, The Flying Barrel. It seems that English stlye pubs are rather popular in Sweden as that is what they associate with good beer and good times.

I started with a couple of export only beers from the Ridgeway Brewary.
lump of coal
A nice stout, that tasted very nice. Was a rather strong beer.

On the recommendation of the barman, I took an IPA from the local brewary and it was very refreshing.
I then took their porter, again, very pleasant.
swedish porter - Share on Ovi

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Thoughts on why i like unconferences

With the upcoming BarCampHelsinki IV this was more on my mind, possibly due to the many recent conversations where i would be explaining about barcamps.

My view is that what happens at unconferences, is more about people communicating as peers together, even when it is a more classic presentation style, rather than the traditional conference format where it is more a single person at the front attempting to distribute their wisdom.

But the killer difference for me is that at BarCamps there are intermediate level people teaching beginners or learning from one another.
At a traditional conference the “guru” will often attempt to please both types of audience (beginner & intermediate), and thus often fail to please both . I find that by teaching people who know less than you, you will often find the gaps in your knowledge & understanding, and thus progress towards mastery faster.

But the reason I keep coming back to these type of events is the sheare randomness of what happens at them.
The core principales of BarCamp type events Seems to cause people with a commaon characteristic of having a willingness and desire to share to come togeather. This in turn, leads to oppertunites to be exposed to new things. Emma Persky touched upon this in a recent post where she points out that not everything happening at a BarCamp is about technology, in fact the most memorable/remarkable sessions are often the ones no-one expects.

Posted by Wordmobi

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This was a joint idea between Suuret Oluet-Pienet Panimot and Karhu
Reasonable selection of beers from the small brewaries, and Sinebrychoff only had Karhu beer available (designed for their more discerning customer?). They were all strong beers (over 5% abv).
You could also get a one litre glass for a 5€ deposit.

The food was provided by Eat&Joy Maatilatori, it certainly looked good (not just standard Makkara!)

Seemed to be something like a 65-35 split men to women (is this higher than at other beer events?), seemed similar to similar to the small breweries event.
There was also a luxury toilet truck for your convenience.


Syystober toilet truck

The music got a little loud after 20:00, but that seems the norm nowadays (turn it up, cos the kids want it loud?)

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SSWC – the memories

How do you sum up a weekend like that?

If someone asked you “Hey, do you want to spend 50 hours traveling to spend 41 hours surrounded by 250+ people you have never met before?” you would think they were mad, but then they would have missed out some cool times and stories.

Would I do it again? Just show me where to sign up!
Would I change anything? Probably not

My tripku
Vesa’s tripku

A sequence of memories
(with (other people’s) photos added where appropriate or relavent)

Eating FAR too much at the ship buffet (because we had already paid for it?)

Queueing for the ferry to the Island, “it’s ok, we have beer”, “wow that’s a lot of jellyfish”, “Arse, where’d that bus come from!”

Waiting for the boat

Waiting for the boat

Damm, looks like the next boat then

Damm, looks like the next boat then

The guys who brought a mannequin with them

The guys who brought a mannequin with them

maybe encouraging someone to hold KnitCamp (if you hold it, they will come)

Suddenly it’s dark, then it’s not so warm.

Waking up at 5am, going to toilet, then finding a flock of sheep wandering across the camp site

Sheep invade the camp

Sheep invade the camp

Attempting to get a network up and running, using only consumer grade equipment, and some guesswork.

lets use wires

let's use wires

lots of wire

lots of wire

Actually getting some form of network up and running!

Learning some cool stuff at various sessions.

Seeing Vesa power a boat with a broken oar.

Floating Sauna

Floating Sauna

quite a few inside

quite a few inside

Sauna was not so warm at first, but then when some wood was added to the kiuas it got warmer 🙂

Being asked “ok to interview you for a podcast?”, then finding out it is actually being filmed and broadcast live to the web!

Handing out thepresents from Finland from their gift-box

The amazing night sky when you are far away from cities.

Talking with @lemonad and discovering that the JaikuEngine project has really high standards.
Being interrupted by actually good guitar playing by @emanuellantz (there was also some fun and games with the megaphone, but those videos don’t seem to be up anywhere)

Damm, but it gets cold on a clear night, but lukily it then warms up again quickly in the morning.

Damm, its cold

Damm, it's cold

Repeatably being surprised at how smoothly and well everything went, as this was by far the most people ever on the Island, yet all of the staff seemed constantly happy & helpful.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

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doing things in threes

With the official announcement of the N900 Nokia now has a 3 pronged OS platform attack:
S40 for the low end
S60 mid & high end (old fashioned?) smart phones
maemo to cover the new emerging market of internet oriented devices i.e. iPhone, Android, Palm pre

Nokia in recent history has been all about segmenting the market and having at least one handset that competes in every segement.

By extending their experiement in the MID platform area to also include GSM capabilities Nokia should be able to get similar benefits to Apple i.e. a very small number of hardware platforms to support.

They can also expose the work they have been doing over the last few years with the Open source community, which is not to be under-estimated.

The other thing Nokia seems to have taken from Apple is to have the device available a month or two after the event it was announced at, rather than a half year (as was the case with the N97)

You can see a marketing type video here, and a more “human” version here
The Hardware specifications are listed on the site, but the really interesting thing is that Nokia seems to have listened to the information around the iPhone and seen it is all about the software, for example see this review over on maemo-guru.

The thing that may get ignored/glossed-over in all of the geekgasms happening all over the place (examples here and here) is Nokia’s moves to provide services targetted at the developing world.
I think at least some of this has to be caused by Nokia employing people like Jan Chipchase who was talking about something similar to Nokia Money over two years ago. It is also a nice complement to Nokia life tools.
These are HUGE markets that California (home of all the Web2.0, Social Media hype engine) currently does not seem to understand or want to work with, and while the margins may be very small, they are there!
Over the past few years Nokia has shown it understands how to work a very high volume, low margin business (at least for hardware) and it will be interesting to see if they can do the same with services.

The Nokia Booklet announcement resembles the begining of the partnership announcements made with Intel and Microsoft. I am guessing that although this product was being worked on before the announcements were made and may have even helped them along.
Of course i can’t find the article now, but I remember reading an article recently that pointed out that Enterprise IT changes very slowly (something like 3-5 years per cycle!) and even then is not keen on the change. As pointed out in this article by Tomi Ahonen, many Enterprises are currently married to the Microsoft stack (essentially Exchange and Active Directory), and for many this has also meant moving to Blackberry.
I see the combination of a stylish netbook alongside a small handset (for example the E52, allowing the modern road warrior to do their job more effectively, than using the compromise device that is the Blackberry (screen is too low resolution, can’t connect to a project, etc). The inclusion of Quickoffice on E-Series devices is potentially yet another string to this bow.

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My notes from The Mobile Trends session

The slides that Christian Lindholm used during his session are on slideshare here

As Christian’s session announcement was rather last minute (in true BarCamp style ;), the audience got to discuss the ideas in quite some detail.

During the talk (as is my habit at BarCamp’s) i was attemting to take notes and then posted them to this thread on Jaiku.

So these are my notes tidied up slightly. The text in [] are things I have remembered after the event and don’t have actual notes for.

The handset business is dropping – this is mainly due to consumers hanging on to handsets longer

People always need to talk so the operators are ok?

Phone to flute leap not possible for “normal” mind [referencing the Flute app demo at the recent iPhone announcement]

In-app purchasing is huge oppertunity for digital assets. [Most people have not grasped this yet?]

2 master copies (laptop/desktop & cloud)
From development of the Lifeblog software, there was two components; phone & pc. 40% of effort was assigned to sync, but ended up as 60% of cost. VERY difficult problem.

Mobileme syncing is not 100% fool-proof yet.
Privacy. Use a Box that lives physically at home but logically in the cloud rather than some third party

Figure out what a companies super rare eng skill is:
At Nokia it was the RF guys who were gods
At Yahoo it was the guys who understood backend scaling

The handset market is seperating out into high & low end, [middle is disappearing. Problems for Sony-Ericsson and others?]
Nokia is digital Coca-Cola [memorable quote from Christian]

Apple is the only b2c handset manufacturer all the others are b2b

most people are used to combination of screen & keyboard, and understand how to interact with a device with these physical characteristics. [touch-screen is too new method to interact with computers]

Operators have not figured out how to sell more than one [not sure exactly what this was in reference too, but i think it was that most people only have a single “thing” from an operator, and that Netbooks offer a chance for operators to upsell data packages]

Object is small & cheap – reverse gadget psycology kicks in, this enables women to buy in [Christian had a really good explantion of the difference of how men and women buy technology, but i have forgotten it]
Kids. Families need to be very affluent for everyone to have their own computer.

Hardware is the service – iPod is a physical service
Razr – beautiful design, super thin but horrible to use

Olpc – fucked? A “.org” is not able to compete with comercial market.
Olpc is the genes/ancestor of netbooks.

Apple will get into the netbook market at somepoint. Will they be able to be as game changeing as iPhone? [waiting for the market to settle before joining?]

Still dont have good linux build for netbooks

BBC iPlayer users more Bandwidth than youtube in uk

Kids using bluetooth to pirate/copy content (new sneakernet). Adults forget that they have “send via bluetooth”, kids don’t as it costs less [one reason for popularity of SMS was the lower cost of sending SMS than making a call]
[there was an example of kids exchanging 1.5GB movies via Bluetooth]

Companions – Limit is battery life

iPhone if used as intended, always runs out of juice very early in the day

Number of devices is increaseing. Christian has an iPhone, iTouch & e71, all three can have empty batteries by end of a busy day

[don’t want to be without some form of connectivity, so share the laod between the devices to extend battery life]

Lots of activity in android driven by smaller operators & manufactures
Still imature

Android has lots of inovation in ui

Need to build then analyse in mobile space (this costs lots of time time and hence money)
With an OS just need to grind on it! [to drive out all the small edge case?]
Google hiring superstars who don’t have patience to grind it out?

Difficult to make a platform that is not fragmented [I think this was in reference to the many partners in Android]

Palm – beautiful but screwd
100M is small change for existing players

anaology of “Football player being sent on in tennis shoes” [does not matter how talented, if not on the field with totally the corect equipment, then will not be able to perform]

Syncing. Palm (currently) is a good demo [everyone is waiting to see what the reality is]
Problems of duplications, and loss (not able to define where and when so hard to file a bug)

No one has a working solution yet.

Sync is definatly a forward in the final winning team. What the other players are is not so clear.

On touch:
Don’t know what will be dominate entry form

Swipe. Check it out as an input method [christian was refering to a contact of his who had developed this (faster input method for touch screens), famous for developing something else]

Blackberry test that abc was faster than qwerty [comment from Jesus around some test Blackberry had done on keyboard layout. Thinking was that people were used to phones being layed out in Alphabetical order]

Chrstian has another company working in area of sensors that could help extend life of physical keyboard’s [he provided this as a disclaimer i think]

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Social network grouping

With the latest change to the Facebook profile page, one thing became clear to me, Facebook has managed to get something correct – grouping of your social network.

In this latest incarnation of the interface, this grouping functionality is being brought much more upfront (it is there in the left hand column), and it is needed as the front page now has a metric-buttload more content on it, and by using the various groups you can apply filters to this to get a faster overview of what is happening.
If you think about what has happened to the interface, it is that it has effectively promoted what was the “live Feed” tab to be your home page, and now people are struggling with the sheer volume of stuff that is flowing past

Everywhere else I have seen this type of functionality it has relied on predefined groups that the service sets up (looking at Plaxo here!).
Facebook refers them as groups, but I find it easier to think of them as tags.

This is important, as it is only really me who can decide how I define my relationship with any of the “friends” I am connected with on a social network.
For example, I could want to separate family and close-family, local office co-workers and all other office co-workers etc
The point is, as showed us a few years ago, it is nearly impossible to think of all the labels (tags) that people might want to apply to something, so, rather than trying to think of them (and attempt to build an interface around your limited subset of groups), just store whatever label the end user applies to the content (in this case the relationship).

The reason that this is closer to tagging (as i think of it) is that each person can be in multiple groups.

Prior to this change there was no real use for me to group my “friends”.
Now there is, and I think that there are more privacy controls being put in place in the background so that you have more control over exactly who can see what. Easiest place to see this is in your profile page, click the little padlock icon next to something (after clicking on edit) and one of the options will be to limit that information to a group.

This grouping feature/idea will become more and more important as more and more people start to use the various social Media/Network sites out there.
Well, as you attempt to maintain a level of ambient intimacy with more of the people you meet, have known/met and are trying to meet, the names can/will start to blur, and you need all the help you can get in remembering how and why you are trying to stay in contact with this person (especially as we start to pass the Dunbar number).
By applying your own tags to your social network (for example where you first met, a couple of points that made this person stand out etc) should make it easier to track all of this.

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Is there a future for Location Based Services?

Following on from this Jaiku thread there were two questions asked:

  • What’s your take on location based services?
  • What in your view are the best opportunities or use cases with LBS?

What’s your take on location based services?
So far, i have not really be able to find a real use for any of the ones i have tried so far.

Playing with LBS is fun and justifies buying a top of the range device (although now, GPS is moving down the range, in the same way that cameras did).
Currently the purpose of most of the LBS out there today are they allow you to connect with other people who are interested in experimenting with LBS.
So far, most of the services i have tried are (to me at least) obviously the result of people who are coming from a non-mobile development background. The experience on the web is so much better than the mobile experience. The mobile is only thought of as a place to *generate* data, and not as a potential primary consumption location.
The two exceptions to this are buddycloud and Google’s Latitude.
Both succeed as they offer an excellent experience on the mobile and currently the desktop use is more of a “second choice”.

What in your view are the best opportunities or use cases with LBS?
As Andrew says at the end of his article, Location in and of itself is not really that interesting.
It is the context where the value is and it is no great surprise that Jyri picks up on this in the Jaiku thread.
There might be some small use case in the sharing of your location as a “fuzzy” entity. I think brightkite had this at one point, but like Plazes before it, the interface became too complicated and it put location in the center, and location is rarely a social object that people care that strongly about.

As i see things, the Jaiku team created something that was one of the earliest real uses of location, by tying it in with your phone book. It is just a shame that more people did not make use of this feature.

Privacy is something else Latitude seem to have got mostly correct (because of the strong influence of Jyri Engeström?).
It seems that many people have missed the fact that there are actually THREE levels of sharing; hide, city and accurate (which if you are indoors is not actually all that accurate as it is cell tower based).
This extra city level allows for a level of the serendipity of meetings similar to the one that Dopplr has going for it, whilst still retaining some privacy.
The other thing that this simple 3 level scheme has going for it is that you apply it as you connect with people rather than having to think of some complicated grouping, or forcing people into the limited groups offered by the service.

As i see things today, the future will involve something like fire-eagle, where location is both easy to generate and consume. Probably in a similar manner to how things like atom and XMPP were created.

original article is here

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My notes from the afternoon sessions of BarCampHelsinki2

(originally posted here

What happens to Seniors? by Summpi
continues/expands on a Lunch time discussion:

What happens to designers & Programmers when they get to the Senior level (not how do we help OAP’s , as i first thought from title).

Options; change company, become Project manager, Start a company, Consultant.

Reactor as an example.
Interesting projects, good team, good tools
Interesting point – not so good pay, but amazing conditions. Only 3 people have left, now approx 100, can pick clients.

Fjord‘s senior people get pleasure from mentoring.

Conversation morphed into/onto business models (which had been mentioned during Myles session earlier)

Web2.0 – do it cheep first then monetise.

How to get over the gap (only need a few 10k s to get to an intial level), then need to get 6 months to one year money to get to VC level (few 100K’s users)

Jaiku – changed purpose. What was their business model.

Tools for Distributed teams by Antti
Antti had prepared slides, but decided to change to a more group discussion type thing

Basic idea – Teams should not be distributed.
Discussion : for a more succesful project you must get everyone togeather physically at the start of the project for some period of time (time length depends on number of factors, but few days to a week seemed to be consesous )

Tools used for Project management? Kisko is using Basecamp

37signals – all products are basically a productised wiki.


Campfire used in kisko. Scrumwords.

Timetracking methods;
– enter using emacs & text file this is then parsed via excel.
– checking time spent by svn logs, emails etc.
– Stimmer – Scred team bills by second.
– Github – times stuff via checkins?
– Fogbugz – investigated by

Discussion: Estimating, accuracy and best practices. Joel Spolsky‘s essay on software estimation was mentioned.

Beer – Why does it taste so good by me
Originally i had posted this on the Wiki as the i saw that the proposals were getting a little “heavy”, and late one evening after slightly more than one glass of beer it seemed like a good idea.
As there was only a few sessions on the board, i put mine up there (if only to fill the last 10 minutes before going to the pub!)
I basically gave a short summary whiteboard presentation of the Wikipedia pages on beer.
2 main types – Lager and Ale (i started off drinking Ale in UK, and prefer it).
Beer is made of only natuarl ingrediants; water, mated grain (normally barley), hops and yeast.

A couple of days later i came across this article about an ancient yeast being used to make beer.

User Experience by Niko Nyman
Niko volunteered to give this as Sergio was not yet back to give his talk.
Niko will be using the same slide set at Web 2.0 Berlin

Experience is …
Excellent ideas and pictures.
Worth of the admission price when presented at ??
Example of hyundai – they provide new purchases with lots of reasons for their purchase after they have bought the car, as they know you will get lots of commetns for your unusual choice.
Dvd player with coffe cup button
He has put his slides up on slideshare now

One thing is that the graph on slide 50 was refered to a number of times in the conversation in the pub afterwards.

An excellent presentation of basic fundamental concepts, my notes/wrtie up is short as the session was near the end of the day, and appart for the graph (which kept being used in the beer session in Kaisla afterwards), there was only a single fundamental idea presented.

Niko pointed out that he does similar workshops at corporates to help managers understand design and user experience fundamentals.

Design Ethics by Sergio Palomo
Presentation and discussion of the ideas presented by Gabriel White. The original can be seen here

We do not want to be evil.

Ethically is good design enough? Are designer’s responsible for their product.
Discussion – Example of guns & knives

Use principles & heuristics
Question – rules for ethics? Is good will enough, or something else

Overview of heuristics.

Discussion – if/how social web sites are addictive

Use of resources (multiple devices not ecological), how to re-use
Make it easy to do double sided printing.
More principles & heuristics – gives a language to have the discussion/negotation.

Discussion on ethics.

It was a real shame that this came so late in the day, it could be seen/felt that everyone in the room really wanted to take part, but was really just too tired.

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My notes from the before lunch sessions of BarCampHelsinki2

Originally posted here

Once again, the sessions were a single stream, with the titles written on the big board.
As was the case last time, it was quite a slow process to get the titles on the board. As there was no better suggestion we took the sessions in the order they were written down in.
I will link the title of each session to the relevant Jaiku thread, where i have already posted my “rough notes”, so i don’t plan to duplicate those here, but expand on them slightly.

Does Silicon Valley culture work in EU? by Myles Byrne
This was an interesting session as Myles was on a flying visit to Finland, i think around his stealth startup that was doing something with Neuroplasticity.
Myles started off by quoting some “stupid big numbers” such as 170 guadrillion transistors, 55 trillion links, 2mhz freqency of email, 31khz freqency of txts, etc
In Silicon valley this adds up to 1 big machine, this is referred to as “The singularity” (the idea that this 1 machine will soon be equal a single human brain)

There was then an interesting discussion that seemed to conclude that in Finland, generally, people are practical and direct but in the “Valley” there is an environment where dreamers and big ideas can exist. @Pe3 pointed out that it is quite funny to be talking about Finns as all the same.

Myles then talked about the clock of the long now apparently it is featured in the latest Neal Stephenson novel

The discussion then morphed into how the two places viewed risk (mostly with regard to starting your own business.
The conclusion of this seemed to be that the EU was more about Social risk whereas the US was more about financial risk.

Doing one thing properly by Henry Lehto
Presentation available here
An interesting presentation on the idea that it is better to do only one thing really well, rather than multiple things to a good standard.
This lead to a number of interesting discussions, around each of the points raised.
For me one of the eye opening discussions was sparked off by the example of the Disco app, which only does CD (DVD?) burning, costs approximately 20$ to buy, however it duplicates the functionality of the built in OS X burning app, but does not come close to the functionality of Toast. The interesting thing was that Mac users are willing to pay 20$ for an application that is prettier than the inbuilt application. I knew this on some level, but had not realised that the hard core Mac faithful regarded this as normal.

Bridging the gap: explaining RSS to grandma by Tina Aspiala
Tina went back to basics (presentation wise), with a whiteboard based discussion/presentation
She started off with a couple of lists; Two basic platforms that exist today (and hence you should consider when developing a solution) are Computers (Mac’s, PC’s Desktops, laptops etc) and cell phones.
Changing and/or enabling technologies; RSS, Wiki’s, Social media, CMS & blogs. these are things that are obvious to everyone in the room, but hard to explain to non-tech literate people (example of email now used by virtually everybody)
Tina then asked that if there is all this cool stuff “out there” why is it not more used. The discussion came up with a number of reasons, and tina gave an example of how she tried to get the market stalls in Töölöntori to make use of modern technology, but was not able to make them change.
All this was leading to the point that had just launched an updated version of the site, and how best to get Restaurant owners to update their own information. There was a good flow of ideas supplied by everyone present (be aware that free advice is worth everything you paid for it!).
Future expansion plans for is that no matter where you are in Finland, you will be able to find an eating place near by and have information about that place (average price, quality, opening times, food types etc)

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