Swirly Sweden

I was sent to Sweden last week to give a training course in GH Tester . This was very stressful for various reasons, and hard work. I spent the whole three days in a hotel/conference centre just outside Arlanda airport near Stockholm, which seems like a terrible wasted opportunity to go see Stockholm or do something more interesting, but in between working and stressing there was no time.

I think the training course went well though, which is quite satisfying to look back on. Other good things about the trip…

There was a funny guy from Finland on the course. We got chatting about how he goes on big moose hunting expeditions. Apparently as a young Finnish hunter he partook of the tradition to drink a cup of blood from the first beast he killed. Warm and quite salty he told us.  He also talked a lot about saunas. Apparently in Finland there is ludicrous ratio of saunas to people. One for every family. And when farmers settled into a new area of the wilderness, they would build a sauna first, and then the farmhouse.

I got to fly BA from the new Heathrow terminal 5. I didn’t approve of Heathrow expansion, but they’ve done it now, so might as well enjoying being in a nice modern airport. I also enjoyed BA’s headrests on the way out, but not on the way back (Headrest designers please design them so that you can rest your head to sleep. It’s not rocket science)

And this view over Sweden on the way home was nice.

View over Sweden’s swirly lakes

I was looking at the swirly arrangement of these lakes on the Stockholm map So here’s a challenge for you: See if you can work out exactly which lakes on the map we can see in this photo. I couldn’t.

UPDATE: There’s quite distinctive little island in view in the photo, which wasn’t rendering properly before on the map. Having fixed this, it’s clear that the view is looking North Northwest with plane being about here.

Wiki Wednesdays – Back in 2008

Last week the London Wiki Wednesdays thing kicked off again, which I’m pleased about. I enjoyed this regular meet-up of wiki and web 2.0 enthusiasts. It was happening monthly for a while, but this is the first time we’ve managed to get together in 2008. Apparently David Terrar has been struggling to find people to host it, so if anyone knows anyone who has a big (~40 capacity) room with a projector, we’d love to use it (in exchange for appreciative blog links). Big thanks to David Terrar for managing to bring it together again, and special thanks this time since he paid for the food & drinks himself! I showed my appreciation by drinking all the booze and rambling to him on the tube on the way home! And thanks to Alek for hosting us again.

OmCollab logoAndreas Rindler’s OmCollab looked interesting. It’s a blending of MediaWiki with WordPress and bookmarking tools. Some nice customisations, obviously including skinning, but also dropping in various extensions for added toolbar buttons, category tag clouds, easy attachments etc.

Andy Roberts pointed out that wordpress is adding a ‘revisions’ feature, which is rather wiki-like. This kicked off a discussion about using wordpress as a wiki , whether it can be regarded as a wiki, and whether you want to use it that way. Without actually playing with it, it’s not clear whether it would support open editing, how it would relate with the “publish” button, or what would appear in RSS feeds. Personally I don’t expect wordpress to become a wiki. It is fundamentally a blogging tool, and this little revision feature does not represent a dramatic departure from that. But it is nod towards the wiki way of thinking, and this is exciting because wordpress is so extremely widespread, with a colossal installed-based. That’s a lot of users who may start to feel more comfortable when they see a history page in a wiki interface.

People pointed out that this wordpress-wiki wouldn’t support wiki style links, that is, links which are (perhaps) created via some [[square brackets]] or CamelCAse, to create a new page by the same title, or to point to a potential new page. In my opinion this a defining feature of the wiki concept. It is the linking approach which allows wikis to function as a gloriously simple but powerful knowledge management tool, and can also lead to a characteristic wiki sprawling mess in the absence of careful wiki-gardening. Conventional HTML linking features won’t cut it, in my opinion. On the face of it, the only thing which matters about a wiki, is that you can edit a page really easily. But for me the wiki linking aspect cannot be dismissed.