Saturday, January 09, 2010
Free your mind by breaking a foot
The headline is a bit extreme, but it seems to be what is happening to me. While I was on holiday I managed to brake my foot while biking. Nothing very serious, but enough to keep from moving about, flying doing things I normally do in my work. I live a quiet life on the sofa.I recently noticed that this slower life pace sets my brain in motion. New interesting ideas have popped into my mind. I have to say I cherish it, but breaking a leg for it is an expensive price to pay.
2009 was in many ways extreme. What seemed to be the recession of my life seemed to have spread over to the user experience business. The first quarter was very quiet. We had to work really hard to win new business. This continued in the second quarter. In July it swung around and since then we were extremely busy. This hecticness had taken its toll on my public writing. I felt I had no time to think and hence I had nothing new to say. The good news is that 2009 was a very good year for Fjord. Despite the though climate we had loyal customers, a fantastic team and managed to open two new offices, one in New York and one in Madrid. We also managed to become the top digital agency in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 - the list of the fastest growing companies in the UK, our overall rank was 47.
Time is the most democratic asset in the world. We all have the same amount of it. The lesson here is that if one does not take time to recharge the brain in a knowledge business you cannot provide the best of value. I need to help my customers solve user experience and service design challenges and I need to help my designers push the envelope, for that the brain needs to be in good shape. This January leg break should be great for both.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Hotel Cornavin, Tintin's and my hotel of choice in Geneva
To my great delight I realised I had chosen the same hotel as Tintin in the Calculus Affair, Hotel Cornavin in the center of Geneva. It was in this Hotel Tintin and Captain Haddock start to search for the kidnapped Professor Calculus.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The bespoke Brompton folding bike is here. What a moving experience.
Yesterday the Brompton folding bike arrived. A clear laquer with titanium parts. It weighs 10.1kg making it one of the lightest Brompton. The Brompton is a 25 year old design. It is the dominant design in that industry. In the past years there is a growing number of people who prefer this type of transport. It is ideal for fusion travel, cycling-train-cycling. The Brompton is a great example of the growing trend of Made in England, where consumers seek high quality keep for life products, it is eccentric. The notion Made in England struck hard when I discussed the concept with the execs. of Vertu, asking where Vertu phones could be made. Thinking about it only few places came to mind that produce the highest of quality, but Made in England, is going strong. The Bromton is the only form of transport made in London. We all know the cost level in London, but if one looks at used Bromptons they have amazing second hand value.
My commute now seems to be around 19minutes, only 2min slower than taking a taxi and 25min faster than walking or twice as fast as the bus or tube. It is simply a great way to get around. What I will miss is the nice morning stroll through the park, but that is the price to pay to breeze home in a whizz. You win some you loose some.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Our Little Legoland is sprawling with life.
The church is the centre piece in downtown. It was the first building appearing on the other side of the river.
A small city has appeared at home it measures 84cm by 180cm. We have completed the third phase on our massive Lego project. First we did the infrastructure, roads, river and hill where the castle was being built. Then we did the castle and the church. Finally over the last week we have been building alot. Houses, parks, cars, lights etc. The girls have been busy building, Karen contributes well on various parts and does smaller things, she is good at putting models with plans together like Fire trucks. Maud is mostly destroying, though she has evolved in the past months, now she assembles little men without help. She loves the cars. The park is largely Karen's design, the Café was completed today. Two of the villas where built by settlers from Helsinki when my brother and his wife came over. Nina is slowly building a townhouse. I think we have used maybe 4000 pieces to get this far. I plan to get the Café Corner set which is probably the most beautiful big set I ever seen. It brings real Legoland to the home, and by having it be a combination of big and smaller units, it provides challenge both to the children and to the parents. It means some new community planning in our town, but that is what Lego is all about.
Some lessons learned.
1. Lego is great family fun. One of our favourite games is called 'Lego factory'. I am a builder in Legoland and Karen works for Lego. I call her and order pieces from the Lego factory. She then delivers them to the site. We also do it in reverse.
2. Plans are good for development. I think Karen still needs plans to build real looking stuff. When she has them she does great. When she lacks them she needs help, this is part of learning.
3. Let kids build freeform. I had observed Karen that she likes to build stuff which in my eyes looks weird, incomplete, I guess in her eyes it is cool To foster this I had the idea to incorporate old ruins into the city. I had done some basis for some ancient ruins and she completed the excavasion site. A great merger of freeform building, the City working men and machines like Front digger.
4. Eat the elephant one piece at a time. The help the kids construct without plans, make small projects. I pick out some needed pieces and then suggest things she can build from them. Tables, a flower stand. Sandpit in the park. playponds generally object familiar to a five year old.
5. Even a two and a half year old is not bored with Lego. The way to engage her is to let her mess around. I do not know how many times I have rebuilt the castle. She does destroy alot, but much less than 3 months ago. The little men are superb. Maud loves to put men into the buildings, drive the cars around and change hats, feet etc. on them. She can spend 2h around the Lego City, clearly without getting bored. When the Lego does not interest her, then she serves Tea to the workers in Legoland or takes her dolls to look at Legoland.
When I started this project, I was thinking this will be my project as I have small girls. To my amazement this has been a project that got everyone involved. As it has lasted around 3 months in elapsed time, Maud has gone from earthquake to regular storm. Karen has become solid contributor and Nina is contributing. My brother and his wife were instantly hooked ;-) I can warmly recommend anyone to build a City, it is easy to stack on a cabinet, and having it on the height of a coffee table lets big and small build ergonomically.
Now we will probably give it a rest and then come back and make improvements. I need to construct some cars and improve the castle. . .
I wish Lego would do more City stuff which would be gender agnostic. Like a bus, a family car, a small street café, a playground. I recently went to visit some friends and wanted to bring some Lego for the kids, they had two girls. I ended buying the Airplane, which turned out to be a huge success, but I was really nervous that they would think it was too 'boysie'
The Lego City advent calendar was great. It had lots of good City accessories. I would pay another €5 for it if the models would have a few pieces more each day. We bought 3 of them. 2 after Christmas at a good discount ;-). A offseason set like that could be great, a kind of City meets Creator. I loved the Creator house, we got two of those. I was sad to see that the new one was so similar to the old. I would immediately had bought it if it had black roof and bought two if it had come in sand colour. The ambulance, and fire trucks worked very well with Karen. The Street Sweeper was a hit with everyone, hard to find, but finally saw one at Hamley's. I also wish that the City models would have more older style buildings. Café Corner is as I mentioned fantastic, but I would like to more in that genre. Maybe call it 'Old City' and make it interoperable with the modern world, just like the real world. I will not buy the Port, the Fireboats etc. they are too niche in my opinion. I will get the garbage truck once it is out.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Still life with Apples and oranges. This is not trying to be a dutch masterpiece, as you can see there are no beautiful waterdrops or flies in this picture as there would be in finer still lives from 17th century Holland. This was a picture blogged with the 7610 using new version of photoblog. I decided to keep it just as a small record. Check out the timeline for a more interesting little case. Two pictures with text that is a story and with a bit of idea behind it it is narrative...
Friday, April 09, 2004
Do not litter the world with wind power
I do not believe wind power will solve our ecological crisis, it will just add another dimension to it – A visually spoiled world.
I am very fond of the Finnish archipelago, the sea and nature in general. My summers are spent in the archipelago and recently I learned that they are planning to build some wind power plants in one of the most beautiful parts of the Finnish archipelago on the Högsåra island. To me this plan is absurd! Fortunately there is now an organisation trying to stop it called Nature friends of the archipelago. I really hope they will succeed.
This is the way it is intended to look, the light house is of course man made, but the effort making one is so much more greater than putting up a wind power tower that I am not worried that they would start to litter. The old ship is man made, but it passes gently and the next moment it is gone. The picture is taken by me, but it is not from Högsåra, but just to make my point more explicit!
This rim of islands forms the boundary between the western archipelago and 'civilization'. The island is a land mark for miles as west of it is the Skärgårdshavets Nationalpark, or the Natural reserve of the Archipelago, east of it is the more dense part of the archipelago, with small villages and the Dalsbruk city. Most people heading east towards Helsinki will pass it. For many they will head towards them for a whole day, as it has been on of the main route for sailors for more than 500 years. Now the locals are planning to build wind power. Wind power is arguably one of the cleanest ways to produce energy, the towers are almost maintenance free and there is generally a movement in EU to increase the amount of wind power. Being Danish, my mother is Danish, I have followed throughout my life the gradual towerisation of Denmark, and it is almost becoming difficult to drive around the country side without seeing a wind tower. I have not gotten used to them and will never get used to them, to me they are utterly ugly. I spent some time surfing around sites about wind power and I even stumbled across a Greenpeace, video which was at most utopian as it painted wind power as the solution for global heating. Nowhere in the movie or on sites which are pro wind power was there ‘sales’ arguments how this makes the nature more beautiful! This is my key argument. Wind power is tall physical man made litter in nature.
When one reads about wind power there are three key elements that need to taken into consideration: The technology, meaning how efficient and clean is wind power, what is the business case and what are the visual drawbacks. The two first ones are reasonably easy to analyze using facts, the third one is purely based on emotion and taste and hence a so called design issue. From what I hear the business case for wind power is weak and hence public funding has been frequent, or funding from the tower manufacturers. I am not competent to argue about the first two issues and hence what interest me is the third argument aesthetics.
It is very difficult to asses the value of design in general. I tried to do it in my Masters Thesis ten years ago and I did not really solve it. Most of my professional life has been dealing with ease-of-use another design issue, and again putting a price on that has proven very difficult.
I bet if we do an aesthetic poll among people about wind power, I guess most will be against it and as that is such a key issue in wind power, I cannot but conclude: let’s forget about wind power, the drawbacks are far greater than the benefits. I really hope that I will not have to stare at those damn towers for a whole day, when I am heading home from the most beautiful part of the archipelago.
So I urge any politician to think about it in the following way: Would you like to have a wind tower humming next door from your own house? I do not think I have to try to convince the business men, fortunately they think with their wallet and as the business case is weak, less wind towers will be funded.
Sunday, March 28, 2004
The SUV of shoes.
There is a gigant trend in shoes which I call convergence shoes, where Cole Haan is driving mass market. I bought a pair of Eldridge shoes. They are as comfortable as sneakers, but are more business like. To me they are like the SUV cars, leisure car in a urban environment. Denmark's Ecco invented this type of shoe and Prada made it hot few years ago. Now Cole Haan, the Nike subsidiary is making it a commercial success. What I like with the Cole Haan is that they really represent a convergence shoe as they merge two brands, the Nike brand for technology and the Cole Haan brand for style. The salesman told me that these types of shoes already constitute 30% of Cole Haan's business. I must say I am impressed by this kind of innovation in such a mature product as a shoe.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
La Cinquecento would be ready for a renaissance!
La Cinquecento or the Fiat 500, is in my mind ripe for a relaunch like the Beetle and the Mini. The Mini has been a big success, with around 170.000 sold units last year. The roundish style and retro look of the Cincuecenta could be an interesting alternative to the Smart car seen frequently in downtown in European cities. I hope someone is thinking about it...
According to a talk I heard many years ago the 'Cincuecento is the last car engineered by a single man. He designed the engine, suspension, steering. I never forgot this and a few years ago I had a chance to familiar myself with car manufacturing and car design is way beyond the intellect of a single human.
This car has a special place in my hearth. I spent considerable time of my childhood in its successor the Fiat 600. This car was orange and I does give me some moving experiences, hence the post here.
My mother drove two of them a white and this orange one. It is the Orange that I specifically remeber I even remember the license plate AGF-67. It is interesting how seeing things, like this Cinquecenta in the lobby of the hotel acted as a mindlink, moving my thoughts to my past and triggering me to re-live a moment very vividly.
The car is also featured in Le Grande Bleu, where Jean Reno and Jean-Marc Barr have just ripped of a rich American diver stucked in a wreck and the guys drive of in a Cincuecento loaded with cash.
A small Note (This post was originally generated using the new version of Photblog I just got, where I am able to post both to the timeline and the main page. I made the post like a timestamp for me, knowing I wanted to go back and edit it later.
Monday, February 09, 2004
On top of Google - As me as an editor
Today on the 9th of February, 20 days since my url and new identity was e-born, I emerged at the top of the rankings in Google.
I have already for several years been the first entry in Google when 'Christian Lindholm' is entered. Initially it was the model boat community, later through speaking engaments with Nokia and last year through the Mobile Usability book.
So why I am so excited about this and what has changed? From my perspective everything, I am now the editor of my digital identity. For me it is not about being the first entry, but having the right entry being clicke on when my name is entered.
I think this is fundamental for the future of personal identity, people know me by my name, not through a phone number, address, url.
Getting into this position was one of my objectives when I started blogging. I could have done it lots earlier, by setting up a home page, but this was too labour intensive.
One of the things I would like to see is some kind of concept of a universal namebook, where one could 'google' and find anyone. I am sure this is something many have worked on but I have not seen any solution. I plan to investigate this issue a bit more during the O'Reilly ETech conference. So if anyone is reading this get hold of me, I am online with my phone...
How did I manage to do this in 20 days? I think the key reason was the Maxdox post, to which two important bloggers Rael Dornfest having the MobileWhack blog and Russel Beattie keeping his online under his own name. It is widely known that blogs have a major impact on Google rankings, in this case it was a positive influence and it happened very quickly.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Radio sailing - a truly moving experience
A very dear hobby of mine has been to build and race radio controlled sailing yachts. I have built more than 15 boats and raced in races all around the world. Here I am with my latest boat called 'Blåndin', a Graham Bantock design. Below you see a couple of shots of me with the boat giving you a sense of size of these little machines.
(The pictures courtesy of Bino Haeggström)
I have won numerous Finnish championships, a Nordic Championships. I have also participated in world Championships with best results being 4th in 1988 and 6th in 1994, generally I have been in the top 10 to 15th the other times. After joining Nokia I have had less and less time for this hobby, but in 2001 I decided to switch class to the smaller simpler International One Metre class One Metre class, which is a one metre long boat. This class is quickly becoming the most popular in the world. In Finland alone there is almost there are already 36 registered yachts.
This year I participated in the nationals, and managed to dig out some edge from the spine winning the two-day event with a decent margin. It is a moving experience when one really master something very deeply, where a break of 2 years seems like a week. The brain is an amazing recorder of eye-finger movement. I guess it is the same if you learn to play an instrument, you then know it for life. In Finland the typical example is ice skating.
Our federation FiRCS has been on-line from 1995 It is one of the first memories from the web I have and a wonderful example how global tribes can get in touch with each others. Anders Wallin our web master has done a wonderful job for several years keeping us up to date with anything and everything in the radio sailing field.