Last week I was sent to Helsinki at the last minute, which is becoming something of a regular occurrence after a trip to Chester a couple of weeks ago.

Helsinki was fantastic- I would definitely like to visit Finland properly at some point. I’m not really a natural city dweller. I like being close enough to visit now and then, but far enough away to escape the mad crowds. Helsinki could be an exception though: it has all the good points of a city but it was a really relaxing place to be in. As a bonus, I could use my second favourite method of commuting to get to the IBM office…



That’s the number 4 tram about to pick me up outside the apartments I stayed at. Nice.

If only getting to and from Finland was as easy! Like my recent experience with Virgin trains, a late Air France flight from Southampton meant I missed my connection in Paris. Unlike the train companies, Air France didn’t charge me extra for the pleasure of spending three hours in Charles de Gaulle. Sadly my complaint and request to use their lounge and internet connection didn’t get very far. After three complaints all I got was a free sandwich. ‘Wow.’

Even though the flight back was late as well, I do like flying from Southampton. Much nicer than the chaos at Heathrow or Gatwick. Mind you, Fly Maybe were causing a few queues because some computer was broken and they were having to hand write boarding cards! Luckily the Air France computer was working and I’d checked in on line.

P.S. For anyone else on the trip, the rumoured contribution of the company to Finland’s GDP appears to have been wildly exaggerated, although 4% is still pretty impressive if you ask me.

Update: 4am start tomorrow to head back to Helsinki!! The price of a direct flight from Heathrow. (13 Oct 2008)


Walking to work

I haven’t been abroad for IBM in a while but I spent last week in Paris. Or at least pretty close to Paris in La Défense which I didn’t escape from due to working far too many hours! Still, I’ve been sent to less interesting places; not to name names but I stayed somewhere that used to be called the Clinic View Hotel, and that really was about as interesting as it got!

There was a big practical advantage to staying in La Défense since that’s were I was working, so I could just walk to work. I like walking and there were some great buildings to look at along the way, which made for a very relaxing commute.

Arche de la Défense

Arche de la Défense

I dream of being able to walk to work every day.

Canteen Mash

Over lunch we were discussing how it would be handy to know whether a paycut would be covered by cost savings of a shorter commute. A mushup to do the calculation for you seemed pretty doable, and you could use the same thing to find out how much money you’d save working at home a couple of days a week. Oh yes, and the environment etc.!

Well, it seems that there are at least a couple of mashups already that do part of the job. Unfortunately both these examples are a bit US-centric and don’t take in to account PAYE (so now I’m being UK centric!) but they’re a good demonstration.

I also discovered that the OS now have an API! Looking through their FAQ, they (or more likely their lawyers) have some funny ideas about how the web works, but still, better than not supporting mashups at all.