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.
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.
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.
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.
Little Miss Sunshine is a film well-described by its title. Its playful and Amelie-esque opening accurately reflects the film to come: well-structured, and full of crazy characters. Steve Carell (The Office - US), in particular, plays a difficult role, that of a depressed man who learns to enjoy life. The stand-out acting, however, has to be from Abigail Breslin, who plays Olive, the little girl around whom the film is centred. It has always seemed unfair to me that child actors automatically get a lower billing, and this is a good example of that disparity. It is amazing to think that someone so young could get such a strong grip on acting.
The family that forms the meat of the plot of Little Miss Sunshine is just as dysfunctional as The Simpsons, and just as funny. The film is a road trip, and as such is plotted as you might imagine: various different events occur that provide the ups and downs of the emotional journey. I got drawn in - I found it hard not to get angry when they did at ‘the system’ that holds them back. Despite knowing that it’d have a happy ending of a sort (films like this always do), I got nervous when they had a setback.
Little Miss Sunshine is an instant classic, just purely on acting ability alone. But it’s a fully-rounded film, and one that deserves to be enjoyed. I recommend it highly.
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