Jamie's Blog

Lessons from a life of startups, coding, countryside, and kids

Notes from Finland

I’m at the MobileHCI conference in Espoo, Finland. As is my way, I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learnt about Finland since I’ve been here.

  • Mobile Phone Throwing is a serious sport. There was a conference social event last night and the best thrower got the mobile just over the 50m mark. Apparently the “world” record is about 95m.
  • Finns cycle. There seems to be roughly the same number of cyclists as pedestrians. I guess this is because everything is seperated by mini-forests. My 15 mins walk to the conference would have taken about 5 mins if it had been in a UK city.
  • Every building is surrounded by trees. Not the perfunctionary wispy things you find in the UK but giant fir trees, deep enough that it can be hard to spot the buildings. It’s like God sneezed out a few buildings into the middle of a coniferous forest. I keep expecting a wolf, bear or moose to come wandering around the footpath — probably carrying a Nokia phone and sporting long black hair.
  • There is no traffic. Obviously there are cars, quite a few and mostly nice, but there isn’t any traffic. There are also little zebra-patterns across the roads at regular intervals for pedestrians. I’m not sure who has priority though. Cars seems happy to whizz past me as I stand there but cyclists just cross and assume that the cars won’t hit them.
  • Finnish Girls. No comment, I’m married. Although I have been reliably informed that they drink like fishes, require little chatting up and are extremely forthright.
  • HCI Girls. Oh, and if you’re wondering where all the girls in Computer Science are, they’re all in HCI though probably came from the arts and not compsi courses.
  • Food. It isn’t good so far.
Update:
  • Obesity doesn’t seem to be a problem here which might be down to walking the long distances, cycling or…
  • Cross country skiing. It’s 20 degrees here, no clouds and no snow but cross country skiing seems to be a popular pastime - or even a method of commuting. The elderly do it by walking with poles and no skis. The young zip past on roller blades with poles flailing dangerously after them. Kinda cool but I doubt it would work in Southampton.