Wed. 09.10.08 and Thurs. 09.11.08 – Thus the Nokia Open Lab 2008 starts off with travel from Seal Beach, California at an ungodly hour of the morning on Wednesday (ie before 5am) to get to LAX in time for a 7am (!!!!) flight to New York’s JFK airport before transferring on to Helsinki via Finnair.
My neighbor Earl was so kind as to give me a ride to LAX before the crack of dawn even thought of getting up. The flight from LAX -> JFK was wonderful due to the lovely inflight GoGo wifi, as previously documented. At JFK, Micki and I stopped for lunch at an amusing “bistro” that was themed as a New York cop bar with the servers in fake police uniforms.
The plane ride from New York to Helsinki was uneventful, in that there was no wifi, and my poor rowmate, Rahul Nair, got a chatty Ms. Jen (sorry, Rahul…). But hey! Rahul was a part of the team that was responsible for Zonetag and Zurfer. Oh how I would have liked to have met him 2 years ago when I was working on the Around Ireland project. In my defense, it was an 8 hour flight to Helsinki and Rahul has been working in geo-location for a couple of years… ;o)
Upon arrival in Helsinki and passing through the usual assortment of passport & customs folk, a herd of us attending the Nokia Open Lab 2008 waited together with our baggage for our transport into central Helsinki to the Hotel Klaus K, which would be our home for the next 3.5 days.
The drive from the airport to the hotel was quite pretty. All the parts of Helsinki that I saw were 3-5 stories tall, lots of trees, good open space, water peeking in and out (Helsinki is on the sea), and clean. Did I mention clean?
Yes, in the whole time I was in Helsinki I only saw two trash cans out and about, but no trash and/or gum on the streets. How do they do it? Little cleaning elves?
Upon arrival to the Hotel Klaus K, we checked in with the Nokia Open Lab workshop organizers, were greeted by and greeted the lovely WOM World folk (Robbie, Rich, and Donna), and were given room keys. And, it was only 10:30am on Thurs.
Up to this point, I had not slept at all, as it was only 12:30am in LA and not yet really time to sleep. ((cough, cough, giggle, silly)). After a 1.5 hour cat nap, I rejoined Donna, Rich, Robbie and Co. in the lobby for a good chat, lunch, more chat, a bit of comatose-ness, etc.
The big excitement of the day is that Rich led about 20 of us over via taxi/shuttle bus to the Nokia House in Espoo, Finland. Yes, folks, the Mothership. The Mothership on the bay. Nokia’s buidling complex was a cluster of both 4 -5 story lower lying buildings and two new towers that curved along the bay with a small marina on the water side and a few parking structures on the street side. Well done, discrete, and lovely.
The Nokia House interior was lovely as well with triple paned glass (hello, winter!), multiple story ceilings, and grand interior spaces.
Oh yeah, we also went and got to tough and feel some new devices, like the N96 and the N85 and the purple Classic 6220. The purple 6220 is a lovely candy bar mobile that takes great photos. I am NOT, I repeat NOT impressed with the N85. The N82 is definitely the superior device in my book.
I found the N85’s slider and exterior keys really annoying. Even more annoying was how unresponsive the N85’s exterior keys were, as I had to push several times to get the menu to show up. Huh. I will not be waiting for the N85, I will be purchasing the N82 as my next camera phone.
After a trip to the in house Nokia store, we went back to the Hotel for a couple of hours. Some folks trotted off around town. I was dying of jet lag, so I took a disco nap. Thus started a great pattern of sleeping 2-3 hours each night with a 2 hour nap late each afternoon. Sounds awful, but I was able to trick my body into thinking that I was actually there for 5-6 full days rather than just 3.5.
At 7pm on Thurs 09.11.08, we all met up and walked over to the Nokia Open Lab Pre-Party at Bläk in the city center for dinner and a pre-party. This was great fun. The food was very, very, very tasty. I am in love with the watermelon, feta, arugual/rocket salad that was served to us. There was also greetings from the Nokia folk, a comedian, dj, wine, and lots of good meet & greet time with other attendees and Nokia folk.
Charlie Schick came on down to the pre-party as well. After knowing Charlie for the last four years since the Lifeblog Wasabi project started and meeting up at various times & events with him in SF and London, as well as the fact that he was my main supervisor on my masters thesis, it was great to see him in his adopted hometown and in his element.
All and all, the best part of the party was meeting new folks and having the opportunity to catch up with previously met friends. One of the amusing parts of the evening was the bafflement of many attendees as to “Why was I invited to this?”, to which I replied, “You have a blog, you are talented, and mostly likely opinionated. So be opinionated the next few days.”
Yes, Nokia is one of the few companies that takes the time to listen to and inquire after the opinionated amongst us. This is good. The party was good. And it was even better to go back to the hotel before midnight and *attempt* to go to sleep.
Attempt was the key word. But I was too awake with the excitement of it all…