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Last Friday marked a massive change in Finland. The by far largest Finnish company announced that it would drastically change its direction. Stephen Elop decided to jump from a “burning platform” into the unknown, but realized that by doing so he could not take everyone with him. Nokia’s decision to adopt Windows Phone 7 as primary operating system and terminate all long-term development of Symbian will result in many Nokians having to look for new jobs. But it’s not just the Nokia employees that will suffer, but also the countless contractors that worked for Nokia. The Minister for Economic, Affairs Mauri Pekkarinen, expects 20,000 jobs across Nokia’s sites in Finland to vanish: “You’re talking about 20000 people, it’s a big number”. One of those sites is Oulu. Nokia’s R&D facility in Oulu is currently the home of approximately 2000 engineers, of which 1500 have been working on Symbian and MeeGo. Most of them will face their jobs being axed.

Having been to Nokia in Oulu, I have met some of the most amazing people I know. And it is one of them who has come up with a rather nifty idea. Kristian Luoma, Product Manager turned Entrepreneur decided to do something about this situation.

What would happen if an extreme incubator would be set up in Oulu, where these bright minds can work together on the next big thing. Nokia started out as a small Finnish company and became the world’s leading mobile phone manufacturer with an annual revenue of €42.45 billion. What would stop the Finns from reclaiming former glory?

If there’s something that every Entrepreneur I’ve met has said to me, it was: Dream big! Achieve the un-achievable! “Oulu Fifty” is a vision for a programme with the insane goal of producing fifty start-ups in twelve months. That’s roughly 1 start-up per week! It would be a programme giving these talented people all the tools they need, such as shared office space, legal advice, exposure, chances to get in touch with VCs and much more. The goal is to create a vibrant community that fosters innovation and spins out seedable companies.

“Oulu Fifty” would run innovation and idea exploration sessions which would be open to anyone to attend. It would regularly have hackfests to perform rapid prototyping. It would seek out to consumers to vote on the best ideas – every week. It would educate its members on technology and other necessary skills – by mentoring and by leasing inspiring speakers to visit the campus occasionally.

This could be an amazing opportunity for both the Finnish government which is strongly encouraging entrepreneurship and the Nokians. But such a programme requires a few things to be successful. On one hand, “Oulu Fifty” would need support from the industry. Getting Entrepreneurs and VCs involved that would be willing to visit. On the other hand, this programme would need financial support to pay for facilities as well as a limited staff running the programme which would approximately be €0,5 million for 1 year of operation.

I personally love this idea, but all the credit has to go to Kristian Luoma who dreamt up this idea. This programme could bring Oulu back to the forefront of technological innovation and save the by Nokia abandoned local community. I sincerely hope that there is a future in this idea, but we will see what happens in the next few weeks.

Just in case you have €0,5 million lying around, and want to support this programme, do contact me: florian at florian jensen dot com

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It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post here … I blame Twitter … but this story won’t fit the 140 character limit.

The plan

I was in Stuttgart for a week of consulting, so I wanted to return on Saturday to London to pack my stuff and head off to Brussels on Monday for the holidays.

However, it seems like I’ve chosen a bad weekend to travel.

The first part of my trip was from Stuttgart to London Heathrow.

Saturday, 18th of December 2010

I was booked onto the 13:20 – 14:05 flight from Stuttgart to London Heathrow. Just before leaving Esslingen to head to the airport, I checked the Lufthansa website to make sure my flight was on.

Great! Flight is scheduled, whereas British Airways decided to cancel all flights pre-emptively. Feeling smug, I was off to the Airport.

Everything was going as planned, check-in, security check, lunch and then off to the gate. Boarding time was planned for 12:50, but it took a while for Lufthansa staff to show up at the gate. At 12:55 they finally did show up and shared the bad news. They were unable to get a landing clearing at Heathrow due to the adverse weather conditions. My smugness quickly disappeared off my face and it was off to the Lufthansa Ticket desk.

Turns out, you can go backwards through the entire process at an airport to leave it. Arrived at the ticket desk, I quickly got booked onto the flight at 16:40. Ouch. That meant trying not to get bored for another 3 hours. Thank god for my iPad with Spotify and Angry Birds.

3 hours later, again at the gate, the same announcement: Flight cancelled due to weather at Heathrow. Yet another trip to the Ticket Desk, where Lufthansa was kind enough to pay for a great 4* Hotel near the Airport and 20€ for food and drinks. Compared to British Airway’s budget of 200€ for all stranded passengers, Lufthansa was great. I was afraid it would be a small, cheap hostel but it wasn’t. The Pullman Fontana was an amazing Hotel. Nice rooms, fast WiFi and a well stocked bar (gotta love Campari!). The only thing that was disappointing was the breakfast. Just a few mini-Croissants and some toast. It’s the only thing that didn’t fit the entire 4* Business Hotel setting.

And so we get to

Sunday, 19th of December 2010

Wake up call at 4:30, quick shower, mini-breakfast and then off to the Airport again. I was supposed to get the early morning flight, yet I already saw online on the Lufthansa site that it was cancelled. However, the receptionist was convinced that the flight wasn’t, so it was off to the airport again.

What a coincidence, the 6:50 flight was cancelled. So I got onto the standby list of the 13:20 flight, a ticket for the 16:40 flight and a 7€ voucher for breakfast. During breakfast, I was browsing the internets, I checked the Heathrow Airport website and saw that they closed the airport completely for all incoming flights. So it was off to the Ticket Desk again, to tell them that there won’t be any flights going out to Heathrow today.

So, what were the options? I asked about train tickets: Possible, but only to the German border, and it didn’t look like it would be easy to get a hold of Eurostar tickets. So that was a no go.
The next option was going back to the Pullman: After a lengthy talk, they offered us a second night at the Pullman, but clearly said that it would be the last one they would pay for, as this was a case of force majeure, so they can’t be held liable. Realizing that the situation at Heathrow wouldn’t change over night, and that the backlog of passengers at Stuttgart for London Heathrow was growing, this didn’t seem like a smart move. On top of that, I had a flight booked from Heathrow to Brussels on Monday at 10:50, so I would possibly miss that flight.

This is when I overheard some people mentioning a Germanwings flight to Stansted in the evening. So I asked Lufthansa to get me a seat on that flight which they did. However, seeing as this was a low cost carrier, I had to get my luggage and wait for check-in to open 2 hours before the flight was scheduled to leave. This meant killing a day worth of time.

Having met a fellow traveler at the Pullman the night before and both being booked onto the Germanwings flight, we decided to head into Stuttgart and do something there. Little did I know, Stuttgart is the dullest city in the world (no offense). Add the fact that it’s Sunday to that, and you’ve got a place where you don’t want to spend another minute in. After 2 hours of going from one Café to another and keeping the caffeine levels high, we found a “Casino”. It was a very strange place. It was an underground cellar, with 2 pool tables and 6 slot machines and a few very odd human beings. Didn’t matter, it was something to do. So we played pool. The final score isn’t relevant.

Having wasted time there, it was off to the station to get hold of some WiFi and then off to the Airport to check-in. You could immediately see that Germanwings is a low-cost carrier, as the queue to check-in was stretched around several corners. Nevertheless it was a flight to the UK.

Luckily that flight wasn’t cancelled and the plane finally left Stuttgart. A quick sidenote, the Germanwings flight was quite good. A nice amount of legroom (more than Brussels Airlines! wtf?!) and very professional and friendly on board staff.

Landing in Stansted, it was off onto the Stansted Express, then Underground (which for once wasn’t on strike) and finally South West Trains to Egham. HOME.

The experience

Overall, it wasn’t a “bad” experience. Of course, I would’ve preferred not to have been stuck at the airport for 2 days, but Lufthansa was very friendly and having a Hotel for the night and not having to sleep on the benches at the airport like BA passengers was great.

The thing they could’ve done better is communication. They could’ve told the receptionist that the flight is cancelled, so that we could’ve gotten another few hours of sleep. Also, how come we, as passengers, know that a flight will be cancelled before staff at the airport ticketing desk know? Not good. So in short, Lufthansa, get your communication sorted.

And so we’re getting to Monday.

Monday, 20th of December 2010

Getting up at 8am is horrible for any student. So being in the age of Twitter, I wanted to make sure I don’t get to the airport for nothing, so I asked Brussels Airlines on Twitter if my flight was operating.

Yay! Looks like I might get home on time. So I was on my way to Heathrow.

I am used to just finding an empty departure hall, with loads of space and hardly anyone in sight. Today was completely the opposite. Staff was checking if you’re flight was scheduled at the entrance before they let anyone inside and inside the hall people were queuing everywhere and some families lying on the floor on these aluminum blankets.

As I know where the Brussels Airlines check-in is, I didn’t bother checking the boards, and just headed over to the desk. This is where I saw a mass of people pushing and shoving each other to get to 2 check-in desks, and a woman with a bullhorn screaming at them to get back. Turns out, Cyprus Airways had a check-in desks next to Brussels Airlines. Amazed by how uncivilized that queue was, I queued up at the Brussels Airlines desks where I only saw 2092 (which was supposed to have left at 8:30 … it was 9:50). Odd. This is when I saw another tweet by Brussels Airlines.

Ouch. Oh well, I was in the queue already, so let’s see if I could get on any other flight to Brussels. Turns out, I could. An amazingly professional, calm and friendly Brussels Airlines staffer got me onto the standby list of a very delayed SN2092 which was leaving more or less now … and assured me that I would get a seat. Great!

Fast-track through Terminal 1 security and then off to the BMI Great British Lounge to get some breakfast. Turns out that a few weeks ago, BMI decided to change the access rules to it. Even though the BMI website states that BMI Diamond Club Silver card holders get access to the lounge (even with a guest), they now deny access to people not flying on BMI metal. Having booked a BMI flight (BD flight number – even though operated by another LH group member), and thus paying BMI, Silver members aren’t allowed in.

Very disappointing decision by BMI, which results in me not booking through BMI anymore. No point in paying more for LHR-BRU on FlyBMI.com compared to BrusselsAirlines.com.

So it was time to head off to the gate. I quickly got a seat on the plane and boarded.

This is when the fun began: We spent 3 hours sitting on the plane before actual take-off.

The first two hours were spent with the flight attendants counting the people on the plane and comparing those numbers to the manifesto. Seems like those numbers didn’t add up. But how come this takes 2 hours?! After they finally figured that out, it took 30 minutes to get a starting clearance, so we were off towards the runway. Heathrow decided to close the runway for 30 minutes to clear it (even though it was clear).

40 minutes later, touchdown in Brussels. Looks like we just about made it before they realized they were running out of de-icing fluid.

So I thought that was it. Quickly picking up my luggage and then home. Wrong. Turns out my luggage decided it wanted to stay in Heathrow for a bit longer. Normally not a bad thing, however Brussels Baggage hall was a mess.

BRU luggage chaos - picture by Regi Penxten

BRU luggage chaos - picture by Regi Penxten

Bags everywhere but mine wasn’t anywhere. That meant queuing. And not just queuing, but a queue of at least 200 people for the baggage claim. Add to that the fact that there were only 2 desks open to handle the lost baggage claims, this meant a long time to queue.

It took 6!! hours!! 6 hours to tell someone they lost my bag. Incredible. Why weren’t there more people working the lost and found desks?

To sum up, great ground staff from Brussels Airlines at Heathrow, 3 hours of sitting around on the plane before take-off (and seat pitches that are less than on Germanwings, a low-cost carrier!!) and then 6!! hours of queuing at the lost & found. All in all, a lot of room to improve.

Just a few last words: I just wanted to say, a great thank you to the people behind the @FlyingBrussels, @FlyBMI and @HeathrowAirport twitter accounts. You guys rock!

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Hey guys,

it’s been a while since my last post … I know … I guess my excuse is, I’ve been busy 🙂

Anyway, a friend of mine is trying to organize a Hackfest in Oulu, a nice town up north. I’m sure it’ll be an amazing event and I’m sure any help with setting it up will be appreciated.

So if you’re able to help, or just interested in joining an awesome hackfest in a different location than the usual ones, do check it out!

Oulu Open Hack, could it be done?

I’ll do my best to be there too!

–Florian

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Finally! I’ve got my own N900.

To be honest, it was just a matter of time, until I would get one. After having had one for 4 days, and then having it taken away from me after the XMPP Summit, I had my mind set on getting my own.

Now, the problem was the price as 649€ are not something I was willing to spend on a phone. Thankfully Vodafone UK has a great Webrelations Team, who were willing to give me the N900 for 15£ / month! Thanks guys!

So… Why Maemo Rocks and Android Sucks:

It was obvious that I wouldn’t go for another Symbian device, as S60v5 is just a hack, and S60v3 outdated, these were out of the race. That left the iPhone (which has just gotten video recording and doesn’t do multi-tasking?! .. even my old 6260 from 2004 was able to do that), an Android device (I still can’t find a reason to get an Android phone – No USP! There is no point in Android. It does everything, but nothing very well.) or the shiny toy packed with the power of full Linux and Maemo, the N900.

The beauty of Maemo is, that it’s a full Linux OS. It uses apt-get, I’ve got root access without hacking it, and allows me to run more or less anything from Asterisk over Nmap to Wolfenstein 3D. Oh, and it does Flash! During the XMPP Summit, we even went so far as to run rm -rf /* on it, which it executed without complaining.

The N900 is by far not ready for end consumer, but it’s the perfect device for people who want a Linux machine in their pocket, with a shiny UI. Maemo is like OSX. It has a very shiny and nice UI, but if you want, you can open a terminal, and do whatever you want, without anyone or anything stopping you.

As with every developer centered phone, there are some things that need to be improved:

  • Ovi Contacts Sync support
  • Better Ovi Maps with free Navigation
  • Video Calling (not only for Mobiles, but also for XMPP / Ovi, MSN, Skype…)
  • Better Battery life! It’s kinda poor at the moment. Having 3G connected, it’s about 1/2 a day
  • An official Spotify client (Yaspot works but isn’t great)

However, there’s some really cool apps on the N900 already.

The apps I’d highly recommend for anyone with an N900:

  • rootsh – Because being root is so much better
  • Hermes – A nifty little tool to sync info from Facebook and Twitter to your address book contacts
  • Angry Birds – I just love Rovio Games, but Angry Birds is by far the best game around for the N900 (In the Ovi Store for free)
  • Adblock Plus – No one likes ads.

So, I guess that’s it. My first impression of the N900: It’s a must have for every tech and gadget fanatic. It just doesn’t get better than this. Symbian^3 won’t be able to measure up to Maemo!

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It’s that time of the year again, the SU has gone mad. People all across campus are trying to get elected for different society positions, which in a way is just a big joke, as most of the positions are uncontested. As far as I remember, only 2 of them are contested, one of them being Student Radio Station Manager.

Now, these people have to run campaigns (why? – Most of them are uncontested? – Just goes to show how beloved the SU is…). But, the SU has imposed restrictions on what they can, and can’t do. The funniest I heard is, that allegedly, third party students may not promote a specific candidate.

This means, if I would like Nick Stylianou (random pick of the two options below…) to win the election, I am not allowed to tell people to vote for Nick, as I’m not on his campaign team. Why?! In politics, the candidates get to run THEIR OWN campaign the way they want!

So, because I believe in freedom of speech (and am not restricted by UK law in terms of libel), and as I did not sign anything, prohibiting me from telling everyone who to vote for, I will do this here, and now.

Please note: The candidates are in random order. No preference intended.

My picks are: Nick Stylianou or Helen Carr for Student Radio Station Manager, and Sarah for Assistant Station Manager (not that that’s a hard choice.)

Please, if you know of more restrictions imposed by the Student Union, please get in touch. I will treat all submissions confidential, of course.

Keep following this website, as I will add more election news here, as it develops.

UPDATE: Right, here are the official guidelines. This is ridiculous! Who does the SU think they are?!?!

4.2 Facebook will be the only online resource permitted for the purposes of this election with the following restrictions.  Twitter, personal websites and all other forms of online media and social networking pages will not be permitted.

6.3.  No candidate may have more than ten in their campaign team.  if a candidate is found to be receiving additional help or support from anyone, they will face disciplinary action.

Right, starting some FB Ad Campaigns, which will (according to these guidelines) disqualify everyone.

PS: Vote RON on all uncontested positions!

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It looks like I’ve finally got 30 minutes to write this post. So here goes.

Just about a week ago, the XSF held yet another successful XMPP Summit in Brussels in conjunction with FOSDEM’10.

As I had to miss the Hackfest on Friday, let’s start with the important things: The FOSDEM Beer Event.

It was nice to see, that this year, the Beer Algorithm allowed us to actually get a seat, unlike the last years where we had to stand in front of the Delerium most of the time.

On Saturday, the XSF had the Stand and Devroom at FOSDEM. We were happy to see, that the devroom was packed throughout the event. There were some great talks, including a very popular “Stump the experts”, where the audience was able to ask our XMPP Book Authors and Council members this amazing technology called XMPP.

The booth was also not left unattended. Although this years T-Shirts proved to be harder to sell, GREY?! REALLY?!, we were able to sell about half of them.

We also had some odd people visiting the booth, such as a lawyer, that wanted help the XSF help to defend their copyrights. The thing we noticed though was, that not that many people are aware of the fact that they use XMPP every day, in their favorite websites, such as GMail and Facebook.

The thing that people really seemed to like, were our “Shiny Toys” (N900’s nicknamed by Dave; reference here), and the other Mobile XMPP demos, like Ooros‘ NFC Demo, and Buddycloud. We’ll try to have more of those next year round!

Speaking of “shiny toy”, I’d like to thank Nokia for lending us the 20 N900’s and MobileVikings for being so generous and giving us SIM cards with Mobile Internet to take advantage of all the functions of the N900’s. I had my first Jingle call that JUST WORKED! It actually worked so well, that I got a wake up call on the N900 early in the morning from other people on XMPP Jingle – Nokia, please implement auto away.

Of course, after people had played with the N900, many started hacking software together in order to try and keep the N900’s provided by Nokia. Here you can see Remko porting Swift to the N900, and Dave finding the accelerometer API.

Sunday evening, it was time for the big XSF Dinner. It was less spectacular than last years, but that’s because we had a coach bringing us to the restaurant and back, which resulted in less running in the Brussels Metro stations, and a short 15 minute drive. With 54 attendees, the dinner was full up, and we might need to restrict it to XSF Members and Sponsors only. But we’ll see.

I’d also like thank Auberge Bretonne for another successful dinner.

On Monday, we had the actual Summit. There were some talks about mobile optimizations, server to server security and of course Jingle. More info about these can be found on the official XSF Blog.

I’d also like to congratulate Frank Scholz and Philippe Normand, who gave a talk about their Mirabeau application, and won the XSF Developer Challenge.

It’s a pity that I didn’t find time to talk to everyone personally, and learn about all the cool XMPP projects out there, but I’ll try to catch up next time.

I’d just like to thank some people personally, without whom, this weekend wouldn’t of have been the same:

  • Nokia and specifically Kristian Luoma and Petri Liimatta, for their continued support of the XSF and the cool N900’s.
  • Our Dinner Sponsors, who paid for the great dinner: Nokia, Vodafone, Collabora, Isode, TANDBERG, Buddycloud, Collecta, and Ooros.
  • MobileVikings, for giving us the SIM cards with Mobile Internet, that saved us from FOSDEM’s flaky WiFi and allowed us to keep in touch over the weekend.
  • Auberge Bretonne for the great dinner.
  • Everyone in the XSF community, who joined the events.
  • And the rest of the XSF Board, for organizing the event!

I hope that everyone who attended enjoyed the event, and I hope to see you all next year (or maybe earlier – if I am able to attend OSCON).

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The XMPP userbase just took a big leap forward! Today 400 million users got their XMPP accounts!

Facebook enabled their XMPP support today. And unlike AIM, I think it’s here to stay!

How do I log in?

Well, just use your Facebook Username and Password, and use the server chat.facebook.com.

So, what does it do?

Well, so far as I can see, it only does Chat. I heard from some people that vCards work, but I cannot confirm this. Service Discovery / Disco is also currently not available. The resource name is your pre-defined one in lower case, followed by a long hash (probably cluster routing information), here my example for Homer-LAN: homer-lan_5769bd69_47F44ABA3F597

I am sure that more and more functions will become available over the course of the next few months. It’s just a matter of slowly scaling it.

One thing which would also be cool is S2S connectivity.

But we’ll see how it goes.

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Yes! The JIM Hitmix 2009 is here, and it’s amazing!

Take a look at the trailer:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Can’t wait to see the full TMF Yearmix 2009.

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I guess you all know the track “I’m on a boat” by The Lonely Island.

Well, now there’s a new version for all you Mac users out there!

The Pantless Knights are at it again with a sequel to our “Mac or PC Rap.”

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.
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It’s official! I am a Hero!

They got some facts wrong though. I’m not Swedish but: Danish / German / Belgian, and I did not pay for a TV licence. But hey, I’m still a hero right? 🙂

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