Thirty-three minutes of useful mobility

I have been going by bus to work basically every day this fall, and it has been a really cool experience. First of all, I am able to work with my computer all the way, connected with my Telia 3G card. The data speeds are more than okay. Secondly, it is light-blazingly quick. This morning was a new record: I boarded the bus 06.07 outside of my house in Vaxholm, and jumped off by Stureplan at 06.40. That's a 33-minute ride, which is much faster than going by car.


Congratulations, Skype!

I just got back from a few days in Chicago, and saw the news that ebay decided to pick up Skype. Congratulations!

I spent about 20 euro on Skypeout calls from the US during these last few days. Those calls would have cost me 200 euro if I had used my cell phone. I wonder what it will cost me in five years time?


Connexion by Boeing

I am stunned. I'm sitting here on the plane, buying songs from iTunes (Stones' new album was released today), and downloading them. A song takes about a minute to download, and I am 33.000 feet over Greenland...

Off to Chicago

I am happy like a child, mailing, surfing and using Skype on the plane to Chicago. I am going with my dad to see The Rolling Stones on Saturday, it will definitely be a blast.

And it IS pretty cool to use VoIP from the plane... and to use the Internet... I guess the last "information-isolated islands" - airplanes - have finally given in and become part our our wonderful, always-connected and always-on world.


Depeche Mode - Precious

I know this is ooold news (their new single Precious was released last week), but I have to comment on it anyway. My iTunes shows me that the song has been played 11 times, and I must admit that it has grown. This song is, by far, the best material they have released since the release of Violator.

I was discussing the song with a friend of mine the other day, and we agreed that the only thing we didn't like was the guitar towards the end of the song.

I guess it is not only I who look forward to getting my hands on Playing The Angel on October 18. Or watching them live in Stockholm on March 1, 2006!


"Two states in EU ease sales of songs over Internet"

Look at the heading above (blogged by Joi). "Two states in EU"... For me, it is a historical heading. It is the first time I see a blog heading (together with a news heading from IHT I read before) reporting a trivial affair concerning different EU states as a partial EU matter. Even though the context is something that is not regulated by EU in today's legislation.

In the world, Swedes are Swedes, but Swedes are defined by non-Swedes. I believe that the same reasoning works regarding the EU.

I believe that the world will come to look upon Europe (EU) in the same way we look upon the US today. As a Swede, I used to wonder about the logic why people were allowed to get driver's licences at different ages in different US states. I also thought is was kind of weird that Colorado pretty much allowed citizens to shoot burglars to death (a law that reminds us that important legislation still is controlled by states in the US).

Is this idea of Europe as a "larger whole" good? I think so. I think that an increased "togetherness" will help Europe to evolve into a happier and stronger continent. If two states decide different rules for their citizens, there will naturally be quarrels. If the rules are the same, there will be harmony.

Google Talk

Google Talk was launched a few hours ago. It seems like everything Google touches becomes gold. I wonder if they will succeed with something as "old" as IM/VOIP?


55.000 stupid ways to spend a billion USD

I am like most people. Sometimes I get upset with decisions that Swedish politicians make. Sometimes I get a little upset, and sometimes I get very angry. Now I am getting very, very upset, and feel how my heart starts pounding harder.

Our Minister of Finance Per Nuder just revealed that the government has come up with a brilliant new way of creating new jobs. The government is setting up a two-year plan where 8 bn SEK will be spent on creating 55.000 new jobs in the public service sector (elderly care et cetera).

The obvious problem is that the government will spend roughly 120.000 SEK per new job and month. And we are talking about jobs that give the employee not much more than 12.000 in their pocket (10 percent). Per Nuder's comment to this is that "You can not look at it like that. The costs vary between the different parts [in the program]."

Ok, so you can not look at it like that? Even though the program has been communicated as a way to create new jobs? Doh.

PLEASE! HELP ME! I don't know what to do. I would really, really like to slap Per Nuder's hands. It feels like he is a thief sticking his hands down my cookie jar. Why do YOU have to spend the money? If you want to help the elderly, lower the taxes on those services. Or maybe even raise the lowest pensions. If you want more jobs, lower the costs to hire people (and especially for small and mid-sized companies).

My message to Per Nuder and Göran Persson:

Please, let us decide what to do with our lives. Just because you happen to find a billion dollars in the budget that materialized due to a stronger-than-expected economy, it doesn't mean YOU have to spend it. Where does this spending-other-people's-money-obsession of yours come from? Trust the people to make their own decisions, for a change.

Sometimes it is good to interfere. When it comes to creating new jobs for the future, we might need some redistribution of wealth. But we also need a government that does not decide in detail how that redistributed wealth is spent.


"The Asian Age Coming"

"The Asian Age Coming" - that is one of today's posts from Sweden's former PM (and my former board colleague) Carl Bildt. It surely is. One of the most emotional discussions during last week's Frejas konferens (a Swedish world-and-Sweden-problem-solving conference I attended) concerned China's extraordinary economical growth. We were lucky to have the Swedish ambassador in Beijing with us at the conference.

The BusinessWeek graphics Carl is blogging about is interesting. I have a problem digesting two things in it, though: EU is supposedly going to continue downhill for the next fifty years, in comparison with the US. And India will pick up and basically catch up with China during the same time.

My gut feeling tells me that India will have a harder time than China. China has an industry far more superior than India's industry today, and China's mega-boom has been created partly from the fact that there was a need for a player like China in the global economy (low labor cost, low-productivity, large scale exports). India's scenario includes a China that still have a lot of labor that are very poor, but that increasingly gains economy of scale. (One should remember that the graph is produced by Keystone India, though...)

And when it comes to Europe's future, I sincerely believe that the new ten member states in EU25 will make Europe a more competitive player than the US. Long-term, that is.

I and Maja thought about the possibility to hiring a Chinese nanny for Max. Wouldn't it be great for him to become fluent in Mandarin?


Your Majesties

"Your Majesties, My ladies and gentlemen..." That was the beginning of the captatin's announcement on my flight to Kalmar today. Apparently the Swedish king and queen had decided to go back to their Swedish summer retreat on Öland since the weather is supposed to be nice this weekend.

It was kind of impossible to get to the front of the cabin during the flight. I don't think anyone even dared to try, since a team of slightly less than ten bodyguards/people with earpieces were travelling just behind them.

Our Majesties and all the guards got off the plane first, of course. When the whole plane with nearly a hundred people got out, we walked up to the airport building (Kalmar airport is very small, and doesn't have any gates). The king and queen sat alone in their car and waited for the bodyguards to get ready in their cars, but only ten meters from the walkway.

There was not one single person of the rest of us that didn't turn their heads and look at our royalties. They looked rather trapped in the car, not happy, and I can't say I envy them.

PS. I flew back with the same plane twenty minutes later, and one son richer. He had had a wonderful time with his grandma while I and Maja went up north. Will update my Flickr soon.


Frejas konferens

Har precis kommit tillbaka från datorn efter två dagars världs- och Sverigeproblemslösande på Frejas konferens. Årets tema var "Sverige i världen och världen i Sverige". Mycket intressant att få lyssna på många klocka människors idéer kring demokrati och främlingsfientlighet i Sverige, idag.

I mina ögon var det slående hur skillnaderna i åsikter i stor gick hand i hand med åldersskillnader. Det äldre gardet hade större tilltro och respekt för etablerade institutioner och metoder, medan den yngre generationen sökte efter andra lösningar.

Som vanligt på sådana här konferenser så var kanske det allra mest givande att få träffa nya intressanta ansikten. Ser fram emot att få träffa många av er framöver!


The Office

After a friend's recommendation (and astonishment) I decided I had to start watching The Office. I had heard and read about the series, of course, but never gotten around to watch it.

Worth mentioning is also that I haven't watched a single episode of any TV series, or any single movie, for two years. I haven't watched them transmitted over a terrestrial, cable or satellite network, that is. Instead, I have watched several downloaded or disc-based series and movies. This includes basically all Star trek episodes of all Star Trek series ever made (still haven't seen all from TOS), all four seasons of 24, Desperate Housewives, three seasons of Alias... You get the picture.

So, now I finally got around to watching The Office, and it is... brilliant. I haven't ever watched a TV series that really makes me feel truly uncomfortable all the time. I am so ashamed on David Brent's behalf that I sometimes have to pause and take a break while watching.

The series is really focused on people's prestige and communication skills. It takes the most annoying and embarrassing habits people can have (which in my experience usually happen to be most visible during junior high or high school), and refine it to the extreme.

I just watched the first episode from season 2, and it was positively positively horrible. It took me over an hour to watch the 30-minute episode, during which David Brent manages to make the perhaps worst introduction speech ever (while drunk), and then try to repair the damages by making (racist) jokes that no one appreciates.

I heard that Hollywood supposedly is making its own version for the US. Why? Why? Why?


Back from vacation (and gaming)

I've returned from what seems like the longest and most wonderful vacation ever. Lots of consecutive weeks stranded on the island Öland have really done good. I managed to play through Star Wars KotOR and half way through one of the most debated games right now: GTA San Andreas.

Both games are wonderful.

The Economist's special report this week is on video gaming. As (almost) always, they manage to cover the topic really well. They compare today's aversions toward computer games with Socrates' objections to written texts (since they always give unvarying answers!), et cetera.

The perhaps funniest "interpretation" of the report comes from Johan Norberg:




The explosions in London are just awful. Luckily enough, we have been able to reach most of our loved ones who live there. Our thoughts are with all Londoners.


Catching up

I have some serious catching up to do. I just sat myself down and tried to turbo-read all unread (physical) magazines that have been stacking up for the past three weeks. That’s when it hit me: I haven’t watched the latest Star Wars movie yet. This is absurdly insane, and I really, really have to handle it this coming week.

I have been so caught up working with my wonderful wife for the past two weeks that I haven’t had time for much more than work and family time (much less blogging and playing computer games). Also, I really didn’t have time to look at all the extensive E3 coverage, much because I know I won’t have time to play the games. And I even went to E3 last year...

I am writing this from Gothenburg airport, waiting to go home after one of my best friends’ bachelor party. This is the second weekend in a row that I’m off to Gothenburg, and I must admit that I have come to appreciate this city much more in recent years. In many ways, Gothenburg has an air of self-respect that Stockholm lost during the bubble years. But, I have no doubt Stockholm will be catching up, too ;)


Books for fun

Wired just gave us a fun excerpt from iCon Steve Jobs : The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business - the unauthorized biography coming on Monday. It is about Jobs telling a story about how he and his family had a dinner discussion regarding whether they would buy an American or a European washing machine. That dinner discussion continued on every night for two weeks, after which everyone felt that they had gone through the subject and could decide to buy European.

Jobs told the story in an interview, explaining how important design is, and how important it is to really understand the functionality in order to be a good designer. "
You have to really grok what it's all about."

After the superb marketing trick of Apple throwing out all Wiley & Sons books from their stores, supposedly because the publisher didn’t agree to remove the word “iCon” in the title, I (and probably quite a few more people) immediately pre-ordered the book from Amazon. I can't help thinking that this actually could be yet another really clever conscious marketing trick from Jobs. Given that he would like to, and thinks he could, increase the hype around his person.

Anyway, after reading the excerpt I got so inspired, that I had to order the book’s predecessor by the same co-author: Steve Jobs: The Journey is the Reward. It's only available second-hand.

Pareto from Italy, Europe

I’m catching up with some of my economy studies, and remember the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. He came up with concept of a Pareto improvement: A change that can make at least one individual better off, without making any other individual worse off. Seems like a good thing to strive for. An allocation where no more Pareto improvements can be made is Pareto efficient.

Two Nobel Prize winners, Kenneth Arrow and Gerald Debreu, actually proved mathematically in their “first welfare theorem” that a free market economy is Pareto efficient. What does that mean? Does it mean it is economically superior? No. Thereby, it doesn’t prove that a Pareto-efficient society has a higher GDP than another, even though it seems very likely.

Distributive policy, or welfare, is all about how one can modify that free market economy away from a Pareto efficient state, towards a situation where the ones worst off get a better situation, while the ones best of get a worse situation. This is pretty important to Swedes, since we have the highest taxes in the world (which I wrote about before).

These values seems really hard-core to whether you are a socialist or conservative today. Either you support an increased distributive policy, with the argument that: “Minimizing the economic differences between individuals is the only descent thing we can do as human beings”. Or you support a decreased distributive policy, with the argument that: “Decreased distributive policies will benefit all. In the long run, the ones worst off will be better off in real terms”.

And that last thing seems to be the key. In real terms. Is it that simple, that our Swedish left-wing blogger Ali Esbati would like to see a world where we are worse off in economical terms, but economically equal? And that right-wing Johan Norberg would like to see a world where we are better off in economical terms, but economically unequal? And Daily Kos and Powerline?


Yet no Starbucks in India

An article in this morning's IHT covers the problems of newly-opened malls in India. Supposedly, people are just going there to enjoy the air-con and chill out. Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. I went to the Metropolitan Mall in March, the mall the article is talking about, and didn’t find the first of the two things I was looking for. I hoped that Marks & Spencer would be set up the same way as the UK “Simply Food” stores, since I couldn’t find a single convenience store anywhere in India.

I found the other thing I was looking for, though. A place to relax. Being a westerner and traveling in non-western countries can sometimes be quite cumbersome, especially if you bring along an infant. It doesn’t really matter if you’re in Delhi, Seoul, Bangkok or Kyoto - you can get this “cultural overload” anywhere. When a cultural overload occurs, I typically retreat into Starbucks. I feel as if I’ve been saved already before even stepping up to the counter. After half an hour or so, I slowly start feeling a tiny bit of guilt for not being able to cope better with the local environment, but instead spending valuable time in a americanized and totally adjusted milieu. That’s when I tell myself that it is OK to be weak, and buy another blueberry muffin.

Anyway, India is a rather poor country, and has a fairly large middle class population. They are not rich enough to go shopping seriously at the mall, but perhaps they can treat themselves with some small things once in a while. And if you ask the locals, they themselves agree that Delhi can drive you crazy with its smog, high temperature and intensity. If I would live in the neighborhood and be a student, I would probably go to the Metropolitan Mall all the time. And since there is no Starbucks to be found, I would probably settle for a chicken or veggie burger from McDonald’s. Every once in a while, at least.


iTunes finally in Sweden

I have waited for this moment for quite some time.

Right now I am listening to Weezer's "Beverly Hills". It is definitely not one of Weezer's best songs, but it is one of the first songs bought from iTunes Sweden that was launched this night/morning. I realized something was wrong (or right, rather) in my car this morning when the radio station had a giveaway for iTunes gift certificates.

It is even a bit cheaper than I had hoped for at 9 kronor per song. Thanks, Apple. But why didn't you launch it earlier?


To TV or not to TV

A couple of TIME magazines ago, there was a small ”Numbers” paragraph talking about how much time people in different countries spend watching TV. It said that the Japanese watched most television in the world: an average of 300 minutes per day, while Swedes watch TV “only” for 150 minutes per day, lowest in the study. Some googling made me find the secondary source from Reuters, where one can read that Americans come in second with a 265-minute average.

265 minutes? 300 minutes?!! That means 2-3 movies per day. (I am happy if I manage to get time for one single movie, which doesn’t happen that often anymore.) Anyway, the reason for my sudden TV interest is a combination of two things, namely 1) that my satellite receiver has stopped working since a couple of months back and 2) that the 2005 Ice Hockey World Championships finals will be held this week. The Ice Hockey WC was the sole reason to why I actually bought a satellite receiver two years ago.

Up until now, I’ve been totally OK not to use my TVs or my projector for “TV”, but only DVDs and video games. But ice hockey can turn men into something that they’re usually not ;) This gives me three (or four) alternatives:

1) Fix the satellite equipment + open up the subscription again
2) Buy a terrestrial digital TV receiver + subscription
3) Order IP-TV

To fix the satellite equipment doesn’t seem like an alternative, partly because my father-in-law is an architect and hates the antenna (“the best way to ruin your façade is to put one of those dish antennas on it!”) and partly because you the subscription model totally sucks. I don’t want to pay 300 USD for watching three games.

The second option, terrestrial DTV, would make our current government happy. They decided that everyone in Sweden that want to keep on using terrestrial TV have to buy digital receivers within a two-year period from now. The main reason to why everyone must make that switch is that DTV can host more channels in the same terrestrial spectrum, which is “good for everyone”. The crux is that, in order to view any of those other channels, you have to subscribe to them at pretty much the same price as you do for satellite or cable packages. And you have to get that subscription from the monopoly company Boxer, which is a joint venture between the state of Sweden and the private savings and life insurance company Skandia.

So, in effect, the government has spent, and will spend, billions of kronors in order to “be able to offer more channels in the terrestrial network”. But those “other channels” are not public service channels. Instead, Boxer is now unfairly competing with IP-TV from the ISPs, as well as satellite TV. The ISPs and the satellite TV companies paid for their infrastructure themselves, but Boxer gets a free ride from the Swedish taxpayers’ money.

The DTV project is the child of our former minister of culture Marita Ulvskog. Considering that our she used to be a member of the communist party, and that she has had a tough time legislating for Swedish privately owned media, it suddenly makes sense. She is simply trying to compete with the private media companies, but with some extra money from the taxpayers under the table. People should get all their media delivered through state-owned companies, right?

Option three is simply not an option, since my (partly state-owned) ISP Telia has failed to include anyone of BBC World, CNN and TV3 in the package. And TV3 is the channel that shows the hockey…

It seems like I’ll end up with option four: going to a sports bar and watch the games with friends.



Businessweek started a blog two weeks ago: Blogspotting. Blogspotting is "where the worlds of business, media and blogs collide", and during the two first weeks they have been blogging about blogging. From their latest entry:
It was almost embarrassing. At the BDI conference on blogging that's going on a couple blocks from here, someone asked if blogs were a big deal outside the U.S. The panelists barely seemed to know. PubSub founder Bob Wyman had to grab the mike and set the record straight.
He said that there were more bloggers in Korea, China and Japan combined than in the rest of the world.

That is truly interesting, considering both the different political environments and current/historical relationship towards each other that those countries have. Perhaps the best and most powerful way to increase long-term stability and security in the area would be to make a serious upgrade to Altavista's Babelfish, so that people from those countries could read each others blogs and discuss. Or am i being naïve? ;)

PS: One of Blogspotting's two contributing authors, high-tech journalist Stephen Baker, has interviewed me a few times regarding the Scandinavian mobile internet industry. It is fun to be able to write about his work for a change ;) The best of luck to you guys!


Mac OSX Tiger - one day early

I can report that I got my OSX Tiger delivered by courier to my doorstep today rather than tomorrow. Must be some kind of mistake from Apple's side, but not worse than the early delivery that Engadget told us about a few days ago.

Can't say I'm sorry ;)


The country of Ingmar Bergman

According to the Swedish tabloid Expressen, all Swedish public service television productions must, from now on, be mixed in such a way that speech and music are not present at the same time. That means that there can be no discrete background music in scientific TV shows (imagine an exciting Discovery show without dramatic, low-pitched music in the background), for instance. The fitness and aerobics program host in the article is, for obvious reasons, rather upset.

And the reason to all this, you wonder? The former Swedish news anchor Claes Elfsberg, who ended his public career not to long after accusations of him sexually harassing colleagues by sending them dildos, got himself a new job as “viewer ombudsman”. He thinks the “no music while speaking”-question is the most important issue that he has been working with since he took the job.

“There are people that feel shut out when they have difficulty hearing the dialogue, typically because there are music in the background. They get sad and switch off the television.”

Hello Claes, maybe it is time for you to really retire now. Swedish public service television has been world-leading in producing captions for the hearing disabled for ages. With an increasing part of the population becoming older and older, no wonder a lot of folks get problems with their hearing. And it doesn’t matter whether you sit in your TV sofa or in a restaurant. Maybe you can tell them to switch on those captions?

Stop this nonsense now! This decision is about as smart as restricting roller coasters to 5 mph, since all the infants and retired people that cannot go in today’s coasters might get upset otherwise. I can understand why Bergman holds dialogues in his movies sacred and background music-free, but do we really need to Bergmanize our TV shows too?

This is probably one of the most stupid public sector-decisions I have heard about… for at least a month. And then I haven’t even gotten started about the enormously idiotic way public service media in Sweden is funded; by a special “TV fee” that has its own huge organization (headquartered in Sweden’s northernmost city Kiruna) just for ADMINISTRATING the fees. 200 employees. Is it just me, or could it maybe make sense to fund public service media from regular income tax?

Nokia is coming back

It all began a few weeks ago, when Nokia launched their 8800. It sent me into my worst we-wants-it-yesss-my-preciousss-attack since the Mac Mini. My problem is that I'm starting to get seriously 3G addicted, and have a hard time to consider buying a "regular" tri-band phone. The looks of the 8800 are really making me think that addiction over, though.

And now today - the new N-series! The N90 with its rotating camera with a Carl Zeiss lens is definitely the coolest-looking new phone I've seen in a long time. Too bad it doesn't come with 3G. The N91 has awsome tech specs (according to Engadget, but not Nokia's own site), boasting a 4-gig hard drive, 3G and WiFi! Why the *%#¤ didn't they put a video conference camera on that one? I'll probably end up with N70 in 3G version... (too bad ;)

It seems like Nokia once again is finding its way back to making phones we want.


Update: I got an anonymous comment from a Finnish IP number that said that the N90 was a 3G phone. Finnish IP... hm... who could that be from? Now Nokia has also updated the sites, revealing that every one of the N-series phones will support 3G.


It's the environment, stupid!

This morning’s leader in The Economist woke me up. Having been a dedicated Boy Scout, and even studying ecology (voluntarily) in High School, I sometimes imagine myself being a responsible environmentalist. It was tough for me when I was buying a new car last fall: should I buy a fast, sweet, practical and fossil-fuel consuming station wagon, or should I buy an ethanol-enabled, slow, not-so-good-looking Ford Focus? In the end I decided to choose the gasoline car – just this last time (promise!). I sincerely believe that I won’t buy another gasoline car in my life, ever.

Anyway: I wanted to discuss the next green revolution: Economic valuation of eco-systems and their preservation. It seems more and more likely that we will use market mechanisms to regulate global emissions and common resource exploitation, and that it really works. The idea is nothing new – I even remember trying to pass an internal party bill about “emission rights in emission bubbles” back in 1991 (yup – even I have been a young politician-wannabe). For an update on global initiatives in the area, read the latest Economist. Spice it up with the World Bank report: “How much is an eco-system worth?

I think that it is very sad that the Swedish Greens (Miljöpartiet) aren’t the ones I will vote for in next year’s general election. They have three serious problems:

1) They are really, really left-wing. Of the Swedish parties, only the “former” communists can challenge them on anti-capitalism. This means that we end up with two left-wing parties – with slightly different views on how to protect our environment.

2) The party agenda is nothing but wide. Visit their website, and it is quite hard to find their solutions and attitudes regarding environmental issues. It is easy, however, to find their thoughts about work life, living and people’s health.

3) They seem to think that saving the environment means sacrificing everything else. That is basically the same rhetoric as when they first got in to parliament, in 1988. In order for the greens (in Sweden and elsewhere) to have a significant impact, they need to present solutions that save the environment while helping the economy, not strangling it. That means global solutions. Miljöpartiet doesn’t even have a single information page in English, if someone non-Swedish would get the idea to contact/cooperate with them.

Maria Wetterstrand, official spokesperson for Miljöpartiet, got back from maternal leave this Monday. She is one of the most intelligent and analytically skilled persons in the Swedish Parliament today. In my dreams, she will transform the party by tackling those three problems. It would be good for the environment.


Off to London

Maja and I are off to London for a few days work with clients + some chilling during the weekend. And our one-year-old Max is with his grandparents ;)


Things that make you go… hmmm.

For the ones of you that do not know: Swedes pay the highest (relative) taxes in the world. We are the only country in the world where more than 50 percent of GDP are absorbed as tax. UK is at about 35%, and Japan at 25%, for example.

It is nice with taxes. It is a good model for how people in a community finance shared and public operations. I even hope and believe that we (eventually) will reach the kind of happy and enlightened sci-fi communism that you can see in Star Trek. But it will not be in my lifetime, and probably not in my grandchildren’s either.

Today, our rather new Minister of Finance Pär Nuder presented the government’s “spring fiscal policy bill”. Its purpose is to lay out the direction for Sweden’s long term fiscal policies, but also make necessary adjustments to the current year’s budget. Due to the fact that the state’s income from tax was not quite as high as the budget had suggested, some minor adjustments were made. These adjustments are made so that Sweden's deficit this year not will be too large, but we are still talking about a deficit. Now to why I choked on my coffee this morning, reading an SvD article:

“The public authorities had to contribute last year to make plus and minus match. Now we are given notice that we don’t get those money back, and have to contribute once again.” The words are Annette Carnhede’s. She is chairman of Sweden’s trade Union for Civil Servants.

I am speechless. I cannot understand how an educated human being can speak about allowance to authorities in such a way; that a lowered allowance could be considered as a “contribution” from those authorities. From my perspective, that person’s perception of reality is severely distorted.

In some kind of sick way, maybe it all makes sense after all. If you are born and live in the only non-communistic country on earth where more than half of GDP consists of taxes, maybe you start to think that “contribution” is something mainly derived from the public sector. And if you stop from furthering raising those taxes when the public sector’s perceived needs are greater than tax income, then that is a great sacrifice made by the public sector.


Schooled or skilled?

Sweden’s largest daily Dagens Nyheter runs an article today, claiming that Swedes are becoming overqualified for the jobs offered in the country. 37 percent of all employees think that they have more education than their job requires, up from 18 percent in 1974. The article is then partly blaming the government with its goal that 50 percent of all students should move on to college. The other ones to blame is supposedly the natural business cycles: students graduating in a recession have a hard time finding a job, and when times get better the newly graduated students get hired since they have “fresher knowledge”.

I am not entirely sure that this is a good reflection of how things really are (and if it is – then things are really sad). If the most important knowledge students gain at university can be categorized as “fresh” - then they are not learning how to learn. Something I have criticized for a long time is the tendency to immediate (and uniform) specialization that Swedish university students are being subjected to. For some reason, Swedes tend to deeply appreciate and respect the specialist, and at the same time think that the generalist is a rather vague and meaningless person.

If you are a Swede pursuing an international business career you might be better off pursuing a different path towards a degree, though. Most people in Swedish banks have bachelor or master degrees in Small Business Economics, but this “employee stereotype” is almost amusing when you compare it to the people at a US or UK bank (still searching for article link). If you start working for an investment bank or a consultancy in London you are more likely to have studied something else, such as political science or history. In Stockholm you end up having everyone specialized – in the same way (sounds pretty general to me).

Perhaps I am exaggerating a bit, but my experiences from studying both computer science and small business economics at Swedish universities are rather distinct. Today’s curriculums are better than the ones from 1994, and nowadays software engineers are also being taught that they should be able to communicate orally (scary!) with colleagues, hold presentations, think about user interface and other “irrelevant things”.

My conclusion is that Swedes still have some learning to do – and the subject is life-long learning. An acceptance and embracement of a generalist view is more important in a world where we don’t know for sure what we will be doing in the future. It is important to have skills, but it is essential knowing how to gain new ones.


Definitely Dead On Arrival

Wired just published a very good article about the new hi-def formats that are the standard candidates for tomorrow’s DVD players: Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. The article argues that these formats will never fly, since we most probably will download our movies rather than shipping them on pieces of plastic.

Of course Wired are totally right. In case you have any doubts after reading the article, consider this:

The Compact Disc was launched in 1979, and had a capacity of 650 MB of data. The DVD arrived in 1997, being capable of holding 8.5 GB. You’ll see the first HD-DVDs this year, maxing out at 30 GBs of data.

Summary: In 25 years, the data capacity of “pieces of plastic” has increased 46 times.

The first groundbreaking modem for phone lines was the 300 bps Hayes Smartmodem, in 1981. There has been a lot of development since then ;) Last year, ADSL2+ was widely available, giving the end user 24 Mbps.

Summary: In 23 years, the data capacity of consumer WAN networking has increased 80.000 times.

Of course our DVD players will end up supporting at least one of the new formats, but it will not matter. As a commercial phenomenon for carrying movies to our living rooms, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are definitely DOA.


Delhi + Agra: The last two days

India: Taj Mahal
Originally uploaded by Mosseby.
Friday was ok, with me and Maja summarizing the conference and writing down some of the conclusions from it. We managed to get to the Red Fort in Old Delhi (a silver medal from Hillman wonders) and had a close-to-death experience in the process. The taxi driver tricked us into believing that one had to go by bicycle rickshaw the last bit to the entrance (totally untrue - but it would give him a cut from the rickshaw fee). A couple of minutes later we found ourselves sitting on this old bicycle thingie, with Max in between us, and buses and trucks passing on both sides! It was too late to jump off, so all we could do was to sit tight and pray.

Luckily (and not too surprisingly) we survived, and in the end the lying taxi driver lost out since we of course didn't get back to his cab as agreed. After visiting the Red Fort we spent quite some time in the Jama Masjid (which one can only do on Fridays!), which in my view felt more exciting than the Red Fort.

Nothing gets close to Saturday though, when we went to Agra and Taj Mahal. It is quite impossible to describe the feeling of the long walk from when you get the first glimpse of it, until you arrive and can touch it. The details in the marble... the grandness... It is often said that a great lot of authors have failed to describe Taj Mahal's beauty, so I won't even give it a try. I sincerely recommend everyone that goes even remotely close of Agra (200 km south of Delhi) to visit, though.

PS. The Indian "Holi"€ festival was also held during Saturday, resulting in that most people we saw from Delhi to Agra were covered in paint. A few of them were really spaced out from drinking some kind of weird Holi-drink. Since we were traveling with Max we tried neither the paint nor the drink...


Delhi: Day three and four

India: Sonia Khurana
Originally uploaded by Mosseby.
Maja got better after all, so I spent Wednesday going around the Delhi zoo with Max, and also getting to understand India a little better (more about that later). We didn't have any conference on Thursday, giving us the opportunity to go and meet with Sonia Khurana - a very exciting contemporary arts artist - in her home here in Delhi. She showed us some of her work, and we ended up buying a very beautiful piece from her.

Anyway, the zoo experience was different from what I expected, and not only pleasant. First of all, of all the people we saw at the zoo during our three-hour stay, it turned out we were the only ones that were (or appeared to be) non-Indian. And the place was crowded, so we definitely saw thousands. Secondly, quite a few people behaved rather strangely towards us. While standing in line for tickets, people from behind simply ignored us and passed ahead of us (and only us). After forcing our way up to the booth and buying our tickets (much more expensive than the ones for residents), it was as if the ticket guy was not all that happy to sell us tickets. A lot of people stared more at me and Max than at the animals, and not always with happy faces.

Since then we've had a few similar experiences, and all I'd like to say is that India sometimes can be a bit unpleasant for foreign travelers. During a two-week trip in Sri Lanka we had fewer bad experiences€ in total than we've had during some days here. And then we've stayed at a single hotel here, while we traveled and changed hotels four times (without making reservations more than a day in advance) in Sri Lanka.

Max had a blast at the zoo, though! Tigers, elephants, lions... and the giraffes that turned out to be his favorites!


It could've been tragic - but now it won't be

Now the shit hits the fan.

It has been almost a week since my post concerning the Swedish industry-funded anti-piracy organization Antipiratbyrån (APB), and the quote from our Minister of Justice. Now, everything is far from Status Quo. The story begun with an executed search warrant towards the Swedish ISP Bahnhof.

The search warrant clearly stated four movies that one had “very clear indications that they would hosted illegally by Bahnhof”. After ten consultants had been searching for hours, they still did not find any of the movies. (Is it only me, or do “Weapons of Mass Destruction” ring a bell?) The sweet part was that the authorities still found a large clustered server (covered with skull stickers!) that had a lot of other pirated stuff on it.

The moral and legal debate over the past week has argued whether the newly found server should count as evidence or not, since it didn’t contain any of the files covered by the search warrant. The US has rigorous legislation concerning this (the servers would not be valid as evidence) but in Sweden it isn’t as obvious. If it would be legal to collect evidence in that manner, one basically could search any random company in Sweden – you’re bound to find at least some pirated files if you search servers and PCs.

Now about why the shit hits the fan (even Slashdot wrote an article about it last night):

Judging from published logfiles and reports, the evidence was clearly created by APB themselves. And APB – yep! – is the anti-piracy organization funded by Sony, Microsoft, Universal et cetera. APB has already publicly announced that they had a paid insider (legally considered an employee) called Rouge. They failed to mention two small details, though:

1) “Rouge” (APB’s employee) is the person that, by far, has uploaded the largest amount of pirated material to the server
2) “Rouge”, and in effect APB, are the ones that have paid for most of the server hardware (new disks since Rouge was such a huge uploader)

APB will never recover from this. This is by far the worst lobbying scam I can think of in Swedish history. A conglomerate-interest-lobbying organization backed by the huge guys (m$, sony et c) pays off a pirate, encourages him to increase uploads, pays for hardware upgrades, and then tries to take down the hosting ISP!

Swedish people were rather pro file sharing before this happened, but after Bahnhof one can only imagine what will happen. They will definitely go closer towards China’s piracy morals.

Message to APB sponsors: Go to jail (without passing “Go”). Be creative about your business models.

Delhi: Day two

India: Doors of Perception Poster
Originally uploaded by Mosseby.
When we woke up, it was clear that Maja wouldn't leave bed anytime soon. She had gotten herself a typical Asian traveling stomach, which isn't that nice. Since someone had to go to today's sessions, that someone turned out to be me (Max is still a little bit too young).

Doors of Perception is an interesting conference, and the focus on sustainable development and social innovation - partly in the context of developing countries - is an interesting one.

During the day I probably saw ten presentations, but the ones I remember best is the last tree ones. Tony Salvador gave an excellent presentation on Intel's work on getting their technology to new customer segments in developing and newly industrialized countries. The work often meant innovating new and local business models.

Prof. Dr. Margrit Kennedy, a world authority on alternative economic initiatives (local currencies, interest-free money et c) explained a lot of the basics of her work, which was very interesting. Surely it would be nice to move our house loans to an interest-free one. Basically, the interest-free loans means not giving interest to the bank, but sharing it amongst the people. Considering that Föreningssparbanken, which is just one of several large Swedish banks, made a profit of 12 billion SKr during 2004 and 10 billion during 2003, one can understand that the loans business is hugely profitable. She mentioned the Swedish bank JAK as the best example of that interest free savings and loans actually works in practice. I wonder why I haven't heard about it before?

The last presentation was held by Sunil Abraham, who gave a hilarious speech on free software and commonism. Things are really moving in the IPR area, and it is definitely not only in Sweden. The day ended with a great party - we had a lot of fun. Looking forward to tomorrow!


Delhi: Day one

This is actually our second day here, but during the first morning/afternoon we didn't get much further than down to one of the hotel restaurants and to the pool.

Maja ran off to the Doors of Perception conference in the morning, leaving Max and me alone. So what should one do during the first day, on the first visit to Delhi and India? Well, having learnt a bit on traveling in poor countries with small children from our trip to Sri Lanka in December, I figured I wanted to get a taste of the country without stretching it too far. After all, you can get kind of tired from making your way through in crowded cities with your 15 month-old son as your only travel companion.

Browsing through the Delhi section of my Lonely Planet India guide helps a bit. Clearly it seems like first-timers in Delhi have to visit the following attractions:

• The Red fort (Old Delhi)
• Jama masjid (Old Delhi)
• Chandni Chowk (Old Delhi)
• Connaught Place
• India Gate

Anyway, for Max and me it seemed quite satisfactory to take care of the last two, so we jumped into a cab and went to Connaught Place. It turned out to be a bit crowded, and I hesitated for a moment when I realized the whole central park was blocked down due to Delhi’s subway construction project. We decided not to be such sissies, and threw ourselves out in the crowd.

Apart from being followed by three extremely persistent beggars for more than an hour (waiting outside for us while we entered a few stores), it went pretty well. I had probably pictured something a little bit more… ordered, since it is the commercial downtown-heart of India’s capital – and India is after all the second most populated country on earth. We ended up taking a few pictures, visiting a few shops, and buying only a memory stick reader since I forgot the camera’s computer cable at home. From there, we went to India gate, walked around in the park and had a great time.

I can’t help feeling a little bit exhausted from the Connaught Place experience, but I know most of that exhaustion comes from the fact that I brought Max along. On one hand I think: well, but just because I have small children, I shouldn’t cocoon in Vaxholm for the rest of the toddler years. On the other hand (which I realize right now) – I basically didn’t see one single other child that was younger than four-five years old today. And we saw a lot of people. Hmmm… what does that mean?

We’ve had a great dinner, and it's time to log out. Maja’s stomach is a tiny bit upset, so we’ll see if I’ll replace her during some of tomorrow’s sessions. Take care.


Moscow SVO: The “Ordering Lady”

I am waiting around for our transfer to Delhi, and can’t help noticing that some things seem to be the same as when I was visiting Moscow a couple of years ago. At the largest airport restaurant, there are at least three different persons you interact with during your restaurant visit rather than one (or two).

You sit down, and get a menu from the waiter. Then when you call on the waiter to order, you are told to go to the Ordering Lady, who seems to be the establishment’s senior primadonna. You go to the “Ordering Lady”, to place your order. The waiter brings out your meal. And when you tell the waiter to get another beer, he points you towards whom? Correct, the ordering lady.

Now to the really weird part: You finish up your meal, and want to pay. You tell the waiter, who gives you a receipt and points you towards the Ordering Lady. Just as you think you’re starting to understand Russian bureaucracy, and walk up to the Ordering Lady... WHAM! She points you on to the Payment Lady.

Off to Delhi

The whole family is off this morning to Delhi for the Doors of Perception conference. Or rather, Maja is going to participate, and Max and I will be exploring Delhi for a week :) And when Maja’s brain gets exhausted from all social innovation I will take her seat.


Our Minister of Justice: A little piracy is OK

The No. 1 debate in Sweden for the past few weeks has been about software/music/movie piracy through file sharing technology. The discussions have been both interesting and amusing to follow.

It all started with a very well performed PR stunt by the industry-funded organization Antipiratbyrån, APB. They started a massive media campaign, implying that they wouldn’t sleep until piracy disappeared. The message was one of fear, built from three components:

1) File sharing (uploading) of copyrighted material is illegal and considered an act of piracy
2) Some Swedish piracy verdicts has contained orders to pay damages amounting to several million kronor
3) APB will start serving the police with prepared cases, evidence et cetera that they have collected. No one is safe!

What most people are missing is that no verdicts exist against people that are using (illegal) file sharing for non-commercial and personal reasons. And what APB has really missed out on are the doubtful methods they are using, pretending to be the police. Suddenly APB are turning into the bad guys in this. Swedish blogger Nicklas Lundblad has written many insightful texts covering the subject.

Not even the Swedish Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström could stay silent any longer. This morning one can read he thinks that “The police should not hunt teenagers that are downloading” (Swedish) in Sweden’s largest newspaper DN. This should be seen in the light of a new law from July 1st, that definitely makes file sharing (of copyrighted material) illegal.

I’m really curious to see how all this turns out.

Max: Break it down

Max: Break it down
Originally uploaded by Mosseby.
It seems like I can post to my blog directly from Flickr, right?


SkypeIn - how bad is that?!!

This is possibly the coolest service launched ever - or at least the past few months. Ever since Skype launched SkypeOut, enabling you to call any PSTN number ("regular" phone number) from your Skype client, I started hoping for the other way around - SkypeIn. Now it's here, and it works great! I picked a Southern San Francisco number - so from now on you can call me on +1 (650) 557-2071. Call me on that number from any phone in the world, and you'll end up at my computer and Skype client (wherever it might be).

I wonder how long it will be until our house in Vaxholm won't have a physical phone number attached to it. Or will friends and parents to our son’s friends find it comforting to be able to call our house rather than me or Maja?

Opening post

I just realized that I need a blog! And I hope that me needing a blog is not mainly due to the fact that colleagues, friends, writers, Carl Bildt and Joi Ito have blogs. I definitely hope that is is not because Anna Kournikova has a blog. I sincerely think that me needing a blog has its roots in... in... in that I need something like a diary, to write down my reflections in. I have few secrets, so I guess it can be public. The upside from the possibility of getting feedback on reflections are so much larger.