Archive for March, 2009

March 10th, 2009

The big circle

This week is our winter holiday (sort of), and we are now in Taivalkoski — visiting Sanna’s parents for a few days. During the week, we’ll drive a circle around southern half of Finland: Oulu, Taivalkoski, Polvijärvi — about two thousand kilometers in the car.

We first visited Sanna’s (and nowadays also my) friends in Oulu; spent two nights at Ollinaho family enjoying their hospitality and meeting friends. There are small children in every family there, so boys have friends, too.

I had a few business meetings on Monday before heading towards Taivalkoski. I also managed to do some shopping among the meetings, found five books worth purchasing. In Taivalkoski, we’ve been somewhat active outdoors despite the biting wind. Sanna has skied and I’ve skated with Aapo. Niilo has continued to learn walking. Besides these activities, I’ve had telephone calls to and fro, and also wrote a presentation to an upcoming seminar. Working in a relaxed schedule on your own does feel like a holiday after hectic weeks at the office.

We’ll drive to Polvijärvi on Thursday, and I’ll continue doing business thereabouts, too. Skating and skiing will be in the to-do list, too, and maybe some swimming. Reading a few good books is also in the plans — that need to be kept vague, as there is no reason to start stressing on achievements during holidays.

Typical Finnish hotel

Jyväskylä has two Sokos hotels, one located in the main shopping street and the other near the railway station. The distance between these hotels is about three blocks, so there’s not much need to select the hotel based on your route. We stayed this time in Sokos Hotel Alexandra — near the railway station.

The hotel has been partially renovated quite recently, and the lobby and the restaurants are in top notch shape. There was a fair in the city, and all renovated rooms were already booked when I made the reservation. The older areas of the hotel do need renovation. There’s nothing wrong per se, and the rooms are way more comfortable and in better shape than typical hotel in the UK or France. They are worn and the textiles are outdated. Beds are comfortable, and there is no difference in amenities.

The price includes a sumptuous breakfast buffet and free use of saunas, available both in the morning and in the evening. There is no pool, but instead three jacuzzis that had surprisingly cold water. Otherwise the sauna was excellent.

www.sokoshotels.fi, Hannikaisenkatu 35, Jyväskylä, Finland, +358 20 123 4642

Okay tex-mex

Amarillo is a tex-mex restaurant chain owned by the Finnish retail giant SOK. They are found in every bigger city in Finland, and they do resemble each other in every sense. Usually, they present the only tex-mex choice in the city — Chico’s is not considered as an option here. Fortunately, the concept works and the food is decent or better.

Jyväskylä’s Amarillo is located in Kolmikulma, at the end of the walking Kauppakatu walking district. As the town centre is pretty small, everything is in walking distance.

The menu is extensive and focuses on more American side of tex-mex. Amarillo has a peculiar habit of using the same ingredients, such as their BBQ sauce or whisky marinade, in most of the portions. Sometimes I feel that it really doesn’t matter what you order, as it will taste the same. Nevertheless, the food is good and portions are big. Don’t expect anything spectacular, but keeping the expectations at the bay will reduce possible disappointments.

The service in Jyväskylä was way better than usually, and our waitress was an extraordinary person in a Finnish restaurants — attentive and genuinely engaged with you while serving the table. This was probably an error, and will be rectified when the management finds out.

www.amarillo.fi, Puistokatu 2, Jyväskylä, Finland, +358 14 621 222

March 1st, 2009

New website for Exove

I’ve updated the website of my company, Exove, last Thursday.

After spending three months of getting the design and the implementation just right, the site has been finally released. I never thought that making a company website for a company that makes websites for other companies would be this hard. But we are more engineers than copywriters…

During the development, I implemented a specific plugin to WordPress to create some dynamic parts of the site, such as carousels and accordions. They pick their content from a set of other pages, so your textual content does not get crowded with HTML.

The site is bilingual and for that I needed to reimplement quite a big portion of functionality of WordPress theme tags. These are in a specific class that gets instantiated using Singleton pattern in every theme file, and then provides site menus and other similar content in a proper language.

I found a lot of limitations in the current thinking of WordPress themes. Someone should reimplement the theme support with Smarty to allow better flexibility and control of the content. Now, WordPress provides too much HTML from inside.

Maybe I’ll roll my sleeves when Exove updates their website next time…

Walk in the park

Boston Commons is a green oasis in the middle of the city. Well-manicured grass areas, clean paths and some water elements help stressed city dwellers and tourists alike to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Boston downtown. There are benches here and there, and a lot of trees to provide shadow from the blazing sun in the summer. The park is surprisingly void of services, there are a few stalls selling drinks and ice cream, but nothing else. Which is good.

A pond in Boston Commons

Besides being an oasis, Boston Commons is the oldest park in the United States, dating back to the times before independence.

Boston Commons, Charles Street, Boston, MA, USA