"No, I will NOT fix your computer"

Sometimes I get a bit annoyed with my friends and family (cousins, in this case). To quite a few of them, I'm just "the guy who can help with computers". Few days ago my oldest (as in, I have known him the longest time) friend of mine called. I knew what he wanted before he even said it: "I'm having some computer-problems here...". Well,he DID ask that when am I coming over after I had helped him out, so kudos for that. The next day my cousin called: "How do I install Google Earth? It's now asking that do I want to install it on the C-drive, is that OK? How does this software work?". Oh, I'm doing quite well over here, thanks for asking (or not). And another thing: I believe that if you do not how to go through an installation-wizard (really, it's not rocket-science!), maybe you shouldn't be installing software in the first place?

I really need to get myself this shirt....

How many working hours have you managed to squeeze in to a day?

My current record is 19.

Security and Control

Warning: This is a geeky post that will not interest about 95% of the people out there.

I like to try out new things. And that's especially true when it comes to computers and software. I'm typing this message on a Mac Mini running OS X. A while ago I ran both Linux, on a tower-PC and OS X. But then my tower-PC broke down, so I have been OS X-exclusive for several months now. I absolutely love the hardware, and OS X is a very easy operating system to like. It looks good, things (usually) just works, and everything is very smooth. Different apps are nicely integrated with each other (like slideshows in Mail, with option of adding those photos to iPhoto, sharing of content between different iLife-apps etc. etc.). I can easily see why so many people love this thing. Hell, I like it as well! Of course, no system is perfect, and there are things in OS X that annoy me. But I'm not going to list them here.

That said, I have decided to abandon OS X. I will be moving back to Linux. In many ways, Linux is just as good, if not better than OS X. But that's not the reason for the switch. The reason is security and control. Now, to most computer-users those two are not that important reason for choosing their OS, but they are to me.

What is "security and control" in this context? No, "security" does not refer to safety from viruses this time (although, you do get that with both OS X and Linux). What it refers to is simple, really. OS X is made by Apple Computer. They made it, and they are calling the shots. They tell you what you can and can't do with it. They can change the terms of the license if they want to (they have done that with iTunes for example). They set the rules, and the user either accepts the rules, or uses something else.

In a way, it's like living in a total dictatorship, but that dictatorship gives you entertainment and safety from crime. Does that mean that such dictatorship is actually a good idea?

For me, the choice of my OS boils down to simple question really: "Do I sacrifice my long-term security for short-term comfort?". Well, do I? In the absolute short-term, things might be easier with OS X. But even that might change. But what doesn't seem to be changing is the fact that OS X (and any other proprietary software for that matter) has been designed to give it's creator (Apple, Microsoft, you name it) maximum benefits. Everything has been designed so that the creator-company benefits. With Linux and other Free software, the license of the software has been designed so that the USER gets the maximum benefits. With Linux, the user can be absolutely sure that no-one can march in and say "We changed the rules, you need to give us money, and you must stop doing this thing here". And the user can be sure, that no company will march in and prevent the user from doing something with the system. Want to change it? Want to share it with your friends? Go ahead.

That is what "Security and control" means.

However, I'm a realist. Most users don't really care about those kinds of things. And I wouldn't have any problems recommending OS X to people. It IS, after all, order of magnitude better than Windows. Not only is it designed better, but it's not a monopoly either. But in the long-term, I feel that Linux (and Free software in general) is the one true way forward.

Milk Chocolate. Now with more air!

This is why I'm just a geek and not a marketdroid. Only a marketdriod could come up with chocolate that has air as it's defining feature. That's right, air. As in, nothing. I routinely see chocolate with nuts, raisins, fudge or something else in it. And they all prominently tell on the packagaing "Chocolate with nuts! Eat me now!". Today I saw Marabou (Marabou has lots of diferent chocolate with different stuff mixed with it) chocolate that had (and I quote) "air bubbles". I knew I just had to try it out. Turns out that "air bubbles" is just what it sounds like: "holes" in the middle of the chocolate with nothing in 'em. I guess that they actually had maybe 30% less chocolate in there, as opposed to just selling people solid chocolate.

Think about it. They basically mixed nothing with the chocolate. OK, they mixed air. But air is basically nothing. It's just empty space. And they made the fact that there are large areas of "nothing" inside the chocolate in to it's selling feature. They could have just sold solid chocolate, but apparently that is too mundane for the educated consumers these days. No, chocolate has to have some "air" in it!


The perfect something

Wouldn't it be great if everything was perfect(* ? Well, since we can't have everything, how about something at least? Luckily I just found that something: The perfect sitcom! This is one of the good things that came out of the IT-conference in Copenhagen. Apparently the show is all the rage in The Firm IT, with people quoting the show all the time. I have now seen four episodes (of the measly six, but more are luckily on the way), and it's just drop-dead hilarious.

The show is.... The IT Crowd. The moment I saw the first episode, and I noticed the picture of The Flying Spaghetti Monster on the wall, I knew I had struck gold. Made by the same people who gave us Father Ted, Black Books and The Office, the show has the recipe for success.

OK, there might be a one problem here... The show revolves around an IT-department. The jokes are often IT-related, the dialogue is full of inside-jokes (All you non-geeks: hands up all of you who got the goat-joke!), and lot of the fine details in the set (and there's A LOT of them!) will go unappreciated by the non-IT folks. So it might be that the audience at large might just view it as a just another average sitcom. But to the IT-departments around the world, the show is just what the doctor ordered.

Get in touch with your inner geek: Watch "The IT Crowd".

* = Well, if everything was perfect, we wouldn't appreaciate them, and life would get pretty birong pretty fast.


Next weekend Helsinki will be hosting the Asia-Europe Meeting. And since it's such a high-caliber meeting, security is going to be tight. Add to that the fact that they are expecting that there will be thousands of protestors protesting about "something". So the security is going to be even tighter. Add to THAT the fact that next monday is the fifth anniversary of the 9/11-attacks, and things start to get really interesting.

So it seems that Helsinki will be crawling with police. Airspace above Helsinki will be denied for traffic, apart from law-enforcement helicopters that will be everywhere. And apparently the military has been asked to provide assistance as well. Their job is to shoot down any plane that has been hijacked or otherwise seems to pose a threat. Jesus.

Luckily I wont be working during the meeting, so I can just get some R&R. If I were at work, I would right in downtown Helsinki, right in the middle of those protestors (and planes falling from the sky, apparently).

Finnish 101

My co-worker taught this piece of conversation to our colleague in Sweden:

"Kokoa kokoon kokko!"
"Koko kokkoko?"
"Koko kokko!"

Yes, it actually does makes sense in Finnish...

Back home

OK, the conference in Copenhagen is over, and I'm back in one piece. It wasn't THAT bad. Professionally it was very interesting and productive, and the non-work stuff was OK as well. Still, I'm pretty damn exhausted. Hopefully, I should be having an extra-long weekend next week.

Still, it was good to see my colleagues from other offices, although I do quite often feel like an odd man out. They speak Swedish with each other, and they usually default to Swedish when talking. And I don't speak Swedish. At all. So I have bunch of people having a lively conversation around me, and I have no idea what they are saying. Every time we get together they do ask me "so, how much Swedish do you know?", and then they proceed to speak Swedish to each other. No, I don't think that they do it on purpose, it's just very easy for them, since Danish and Norwegian are basically Swedish with a twist. So you have about 10 people from Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and two from Finland. And one of the Finns is a native Swedish-speaker. So it's natural that they speak Swedish. Still, it can be quite annoying, and it does make me feel that I don't belong there. I don't think that I can ever reach the same level of bonding that they have with each other, since they can speak with each other a lot more easily, whereas speaking with me requires an extra effort on their part.

Anyway, like I said, the event was professionally very productive. It seem that about two years down the road there are some VERY interesting projects coming up in the Firm. Projects that I would just LOVE to be part of. I talked with one of the experts that flew over to talk about them, and he said that one of the problems they have is that the Firm doesn't really have that much expertise on those areas. To which I replied: "Well, I do". Ka-ching! With little luck, my job could get VERY interesting few years down the road!

As to the non-work-stuff.... I think I quadrupled my lifetime beer-consumtpion during the trip! I don't usually drink beer, but we went for a dinner in this restaurant which is famous for it's beers. And they served beer with the food. Lots of beer. I thought that maybe it's time to give it a shot, and I did.