LinkedIn Dashboard for Outlook

June 28th, 2009

Receiving an average of more than a dozen emails per day, my Outlook requires more upkeep than I’d prefer. I installed the LinkedIn Dashboard for Outlook to get my Outlook contacts rebuilt after migrating to a new laptop – Sony VAIO VGN-SR39VN, loving it, the best thing since a Macbook I’ve used – since Microsoft’s lack of migration tools made the transition difficult. The plugin got the job done very well.

I was somewhat irritated to see what kinds of crap it installed into my Outlook, already something of an unknown with all the features I never use getting in my way day to day, but coming into the LinkedIn Dashboard was a revelation. It is presenting me with precisely the information that’s so fuzzy about my old Outlook – is there someone I’m forgetting to reply? Is there a red flag somewhere down the line, buried under all the contact requests from outsourcing companies? Am I forgetting that someone even exists?

My old Inbox is still the way it ever was. The LinkedIn Dashboard makes sense out of it and I would pay something for it. All the better that it’s free.


LibraryThing

March 2nd, 2009

As someone who has too many books, LibraryThing is all kinds of awesome. I’m likely going to use it for my videogames, as well.

Related to this, I’ve recently begun reading and buying ebooks. I’m beginning to wonder how I’m going to catalogue those.


PicLens

April 8th, 2008

A surprisingly funky, natural way to view images online, PicLens is a free add-on for Firefox and a bunch of other web browsers. I thought it would be very systems-heavy, but it works just fine on my basic laptop at work.

Essentially, it gathers the images on a site from a separate “media” RSS feed and shows them as a 3D image wall, in full-screen. The catch? The site needs to support PicLens. Crucially, they already have Facebook, Google image search, Picasa and Flickr (and others) working. As a taster, they have an add-on-independent Lite version available as well (check it out here). Cool stuff.

www.piclens.com


Sol in prime sweet summertime

April 3rd, 2008

Spring is here. The Russian forest fires cast a weird, dreamy light despite the warm sunlight. We got just about one week of snow this year.

I have landed a job at a Finnish game studio. I will be working as an assistant producer from June. This is my dream come true and I know it’s going to work out, despite leaving behind a secure, comfortable job and a promising career.

Looking back at my life until now, it’s weird how I’ve built up the skillset for the career I always wanted, yet didn’t really know anything about up to a couple of years ago. Many people do not even know what a producer does.

I’m a game designer at heart, having drafted and planned games forever. Since I learned how to write, I’ve been making game designs. When I first thought about becoming a professional in the videogame industry, there just weren’t any open positions if you didn’t know how to code or make art. I know some code and I dabble in art, but I’m not a professional by any means. Over the years the industry has bloomed in Finland, opening up positions more than there is talent available for.

Some years ago I realized I might become a producer, but it took until now for an opportunity to present itself. I am seizing it and urge anyone with a vision of what they want to do in their life to always keep the target in their sights, no matter what direction your life and career takes you. If you want it – and let people know that you do – there are always opportunities. I’m not saying this has been a straight line towards a job in the game industry, far from it, but I’ve never let it slip from my mind and I’ve talked about it openly, always keeping myself up to date with the industry.

I can’t wait to see a game with my name on it on the store shelves!


Cowbells

December 22nd, 2007

Outside the plexiglass window, Heidi flickers past, waving at me. There must be a hundred of them, side by side, identical smiling faces making a wave with her hand. A cowbell clangs and a cow is mooing. Somehow, it sounds like she is laughing. I turn my eyes back inside the subway train as we arrive into Zürich airport’s main terminal. I’m wondering whether anyone has ever actually worn the supposedly traditional dress that Heidi is wearing. Are there even any Heidis in the mountains? Am I mixing nationalities here?

Switzerland was very good to me. It was outright magical in the mountains, with 1.5 meters (5 feet) of fresh, powdery snow, the temperature barely below freezing, the air completely still, the sun baking. Absolutely no sound could be heard, save for the occasional thump of snow falling from a tree, relieved to be free from the weight. I do hope to get back here.

Avalanche training

Treeline shadows


Commute

September 28th, 2007

Kai challenged me to post this.

Usually I have time to think me-stuff only in commute. At home I’m either engrossed in consuming entertainment, be it TV, magazines or videogames, or doing chores – mostly eating, really. At work I’m obviously working for the most part, although I often post in the office before I start working, or on a break. But the actual thinking, such as it is, usually happens during commute.

I actually look forward to the commute on most days. I tend to listen to podcasts (Gamers With Jobs), play videogames (PSP), read magazines (Edge) or listen to music. Podcasts and magazines give me fuel for my gaming blog, while listening to music gives me time to think. I used to sleep during my commutes, but I rarely do that anymore, probably because my commute is fast these days, only 20-30 minutes.

So the challenge was to take a picture from the place I do my posting. I’m not going to post a photo of my workplace (a cubicle) or my home computer (in the bedroom) or a laptop in my living room, but the commute is the thing that ties it all together. The photo below was taken from a moving bus with a Canon Digital IXUS i7 Zoom, which I happened to be taking for a spin yesterday. As it happens, I took 69 photographs and some video of the commute, and this one is perhaps the most representative of it all. I go through a lot of road construction work and admire the autumn colors.

Commute


Perspective, meet paper

September 27th, 2007

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m thinking about books I’ve read before – books I don’t normally recall during a normal day, good books, books I’ve read years and years ago, some as far back as fifteen years back. For example: Do androids dream of electric sheep by Dick and Gibson’s Neuromancer - well, Gibson generally, really. There’s a feeling that maybe I should revisit them. Some of it has to be just age and a general understanding of the world, a feeling that perhaps I’d understand the novels differently now, which I’m sure I would. After all, I was a teenager back then.

But the fact that this feeling has just now hit me, and across the board, not just with a given book, is what’s given me pause. I’m thinking it’s because of the traveling. I’ve visited countries I haven’t known before, alone, and met a lot of new people. I have widened my world view considerably, albeit in a corporate context and small doses. It’s hard to admit that I’ve been so tightly in my own confines that this little amount of travel would’ve opened me up, broadened my perspective, but it really feels like it. I really didn’t expect any new experience to open my existing heritage to this kind of re-interpretation, but what do you know.


Drunk on Piccadilly

September 21st, 2007

Across from me sits a woman in late thirties, sleeping. She’s in a junior position at a company. She’s resting her head against a stranger. The stranger is taking it like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Being a commute sleeper myself, I think it is.

On the right, a man wearing a turban is carrying a bike inside the underground car. The walls are so close. When we stop in the tunnel, I can feel the air getting thicker. On the left, a red-faced man in his forties, wearing a suit and tie comes in, sits down and pulls out a Warhammer 40’000 novel.

An advertisement on the wall says that I spend three years of my life in commute. Right now, I think it’s time I couldn’t spend better. This morning I noticed how wrinkled my eyes had gotten since the last time I really looked at them.

The woman gets out and I see myself in the plexiglass reflection, smiling. I can’t help but smile, all the fifty minutes from Holborn to Heathrow. I’m feeling the love of a night out with my dear friends. My music goes from Justin to Ken Ishii, culminating in fragile electro as I wake up to get out of the underground.

Reflection on reflection it hits me. I can’t help but smile.


Abroad

September 20th, 2007

20/21 09: London

I meant to post the impressions of my first real business trip during the actual trip, but at hotel internet rates, I suddenly found myself with another batch of unposted travel notes. But here goes, I’m putting them all up in one go.

27/28 08: Alone in Holland

It’s a little past midnight. I am alone in my hotel room, facing the Atlantic. It’s much darker than back home north. The full moon is painting the waves with white light through spotty clouds. The large industrial zone’s massive gas torches light the night to the side, and inbetween are hundreds of leisure boats. A lighthouse’s torch shines in my eyes every few seconds. I should have brought a camera.

I’ve known the colleagues I’m with for a little over a week and it hits me: I’ve never been this alone, this out of my element. I tried to alleviate the circumstances by hitting the internet, but I’m not going to pay 8€ for 60 minutes of broadband. I wanted to call my wife, but she should be fast asleep by now. So instead I wrote this on the Windows Notepad; at least I can feel a future connection to my blog.

I am an individual and I can take care of myself, but I am not used to being alone. It’s a new feeling to me. It’s surprising, really – I guess I actually thought that on a basic level, I’d already experienced most of what life has to offer for me, like it would be all repetition from now on (not to say that’s a bad thing in itself) – but perhaps luckily, it does’t go that way.

Sure I could go more hardcore still, traveling really alone to a place really out of my cultural sphere, but as things stand, this is an interesting place to be.

28/29 08: Adaptation

Twenty-four hours later, I’m again alone in my hotel room, but now I’m savoring the “me” -time. I just got off the phone after twenty-plus minutes with my wife, and after a day of intense interaction with foreign colleagues, it’s great to be alone. It’s been a heavy day of training and tomorrow will be harder still, and with less sleep, to boot. But the networking has been totally worth the Visa bill and the loss of sleep. It’s somewhat revelatory to realize that the people behind our Europe headquarters’ email addresses are just that; people, exactly like the people in my office. Sure, our brand is big enough to attract some superstar talent, too, but most of us are just people, struggling with exactly the same problems that I am. I have especially enjoyed the interaction with our Swedish and Japanese colleagues; Swedish because they’re our Nordic neighbors and Japanese partly because they’re our global headquarters and partly because I haven’t known any Japanese people before.

My back is a pain, though.

20/21 09: Battle metal in London

From air, England looked exactly liked I imagined it would, a curious, sketchy take away from the Amsterdam surroundings I looked at an hour earlier. I got the fly-by of London and didn’t feel any real need to see the sights – though I’m sure they could be impressive from the ground level. Everything looked so unassuming.

Through the male sex’s fascination with football, our dinner plans were cancelled. I was so tired that I didn’t really complain, three hours of sleep plus perhaps another ninety minutes on air not quite enough to deal with the day’s toll. Then I spotted a local friend’s status message on Facebook, stating her intent to see Turisas the same night, and withing ten minutes I had bought a ticket and arranged a date with friends.

I was a little intimidated with the London public transportation and I welcomed my friends easing me in from the Heathrow tube station. We had dinner and beers, I met this interesting magazine editor, and we saw the heroic viking metal show. I had never heard a chord of Turisas, but it was so easy to get in on it. It was really a world apart from my daytime activities, taking in corporate plans, it’s a little hard to orientate myself for tomorrow’s training.

Once again, you see how huge an impact local guides have. I got the London experience within six hours. After my priceless friends saw me into the correct train, I made my way back to the Crowne Plaza, daring to take a local bus and saving myself around 16 GBP in the process.

I am positivey surprised by London. The people are immediate and aware; I got more feedback and interaction (and ketchup) with strangers today than in a week of living in Helsinki. I’ve heard Londoners being called cold, but I just don’t see where that’s coming from. Everybody’s very happy to help me and generally people tend to take you into account. Which generally just doesn’t happen in Helsinki.

Traveling on the job is not easy or fun, but right now I feel like I can value the insight it’s giving me. Of course, without my UK friends I would be typing a very different story tonight.


Back on PC hardware (HP-Compaq NC6320)

August 23rd, 2007

I got my new work computer. It’s an HP-Compaq NC6320. I have spoken loud and clear against HP before, mostly due to disastrous printers, but I have to say that my initial impressions of this laptop are very positive. The machine is pretty large, but not too heavy. Especially the screen and keyboard are excellent. If I’m going to add an external keyboard, it’s because of the separate numpad. I did add an extra screen, simply due to needing the extra space – if this was a widescreen panel, I might do without.

So far I’m mostly missing the Macbook’s better still screen and superior touchpad. This machine’s touchpad is alright, but the “mouse” buttons feel rubbery and too light and the instantly accurate feel of the Macbook touchpad isn’t there. I’ve only used the machine in the office so far, but it sounds quieter than the Macbook and I think it doesn’t get as hot.

I’ll be in Amsterdam most of next week, so we’ll see how the machine does on the road. (The battery life should be a respectable 3,5 hours.) I have extremely limited user rights on the rig, though, so I know I’m not getting the full experience. I would love to play with the integrated fingerprint sensor, for instance.