Norway Over - Almost

So we’ve just finished our last day with the customer here in Norway, and presented on the work we’ve been doing for them. All in all, it’s been a pretty enjoyable (if stressful) week, and I’m looking forward to doing more direct customer work in the near future.

Due to a mix-up with dates, my flight doesn’t leave until Saturday evening, so I’ve got Friday and Saturday in Oslo to find out a bit more about the city, have a good time and take some pictures. I’ve just checked into the third hotel so far this week, so time to relax for a bit before heading out to find food!

Update: If a taxi driver says he doesn’t know the way to a major hotel, but he ‘can stop at a gas station and ask’, should you worry? In this case, it worked out fine, but I was nervous…

Open Dopplr

I wrote the other week about Dopplr and am finding it quite cool (despite some competition for attention from Facebook, Plazes, and others). They’re now allowing unlimited invites, so if you know me and would like one, let me know.

On the Way to Oslo

Sometimes travel produces the strangest combinations of experience. I was upgraded to Club Europe by BA on my flight to Oslo (probably something to do with the AA Gold Card that I was mysteriously sent after returning from San Jose earlier in the year). So as I write this inflight, I’ve just finished an impressively delicious chicken curry, polished off a bottle of red wine (no, not THAT size), and a decent bit of Stilton (which, I might add, goes particularly well with left-over curry sauce - yes, really). I’m listening to Kellie Pickler on my phone-cum-MP3-player with an operating system that barely manages to go a day without rebooting (but it’s OK, I’m gonna upgrade to an E61 soon, which Dave assures me is the bee’s knees). Kellie Pickler, incidentally, is pretty much the equivalent of Gareth Gates - as an American Idol almost-made-it - but the novelty of country music means that the unadventurous style is lost on me, and it evokes pleasant feelings of my trip to California anyway (yes, even California has country music).

All this is an unusual combination, to say the least. I’m checking into the Radisson SAS Plaza downtown later tonight, which Chris assures me (from a trip to Oslo earlier this year) is pretty decent, although sadly the team has to move after tonight as it seems that the whole world has checked into Oslo for this week and all the hotels are full. We have to move 50km away, so maybe I’ll be brave and hire a left-hand-drive MANUAL car. God help me.

Now all I have to do is make the week worth it by helping to impress the IBM customer I’ve come to see with our products. I’m nervous, but excited.

Later update: Hotel is OK, team is very friendly and seems very capable. I’m feeling quite positive about this week. I have discovered that we’re only at the customer till Thursday (rather than the Friday I thought), so I’ll have to find something to do on Friday. Maybe locate the local IBM office, or maybe take the day off. We’ll see.

Oh, and it’s 11:30pm and it’s still almost light outside.

Starbucks in Winchester

It appears that Starbucks is finally coming to Winchester. No doubt many will lament over this further Americanisation and homogenisation of our high street, but I’m kinda curious.

For a long time, Winchester’s most obvious and best option for coffee (in my humble opinion) has been the equally sterile and characterless Caffè Nero chain. There are a few other chains and independents around, but they’re all weaker for one reason or another (low ceilings, no air-conditioning, dirty tables, etc.). Starbucks will become its most obvious competitor, located only a few doors down, and will hopefully shake things up. It’s interesting how Caffè Nero’s dominant position has allowed it to get away with some things - the lines are always far too long, and the staff slow and inefficient. I see this as a practical example to observe how change in markets works, that wouldn’t be possible in a larger city with less incumbency and more turnover of residents. It’s going to be curious to see what happens, and I’ll be one of the first in Starbucks’ door.

The Myths of Innovation

I’ve just finished reading Scott Berkun’s new book The Myths of Innovation. Like his previous effort, The Art of Project Management, its main redeeming feature is its no-bullshit tone. Reading The Art of Project Management, it was easy to see the influence of Berkun’s experience working on Internet Explorer at Microsoft, but it nevertheless stretched into topics other than mere software or technology, giving a less dry alternative to traditional project management textbooks. The Myths of Innovation is similar, and Berkun’s objective seems to be to cut through the Harvard-inspired hype and discuss some of the untruths around innovation - my favourite subjects include ‘The best ideas win’ and ‘Your boss knows more about innovation than you’. He never denies innovation - indeed, he is clearly a major student of it. But if, like me, you’re tired of hearing innovation as a buzzword and want a book you can nod your head to and say ‘couldn’t agree more’, this is probably the one.

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