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.