Archive for 2017

September 30th, 2017

DrupalCon Vienna

I spent the best part of this week in DrupalCon Vienna – annual European gathering of people working with Drupal CMS.

The trip started already on Sunday with me and number of other European Drupal business and community leaders participating in Drupal Association’s strategy summit. I could participate only on Sunday due to both family items on Saturday and by booking so cheap flight ticket that it could not be changed. Anyhow, the discussion was good and a lot of progress was made.

On Monday I participated briefly in business summit and gave a talk about participating in IT associations in Finland and what my company Exove has got out of that. Had a very interesting discussion after the session and people come back to me on the topic also later the week – so it was most probably a successful presentation.

The rest of the day was spent in the community summit to discuss the future of European DrupalCon. The event is making loss in the current format and things need to change in order to have continuity for the event. Finally, I popped over to Acquia partner day for a few hours of extensive discussion about their roadmap, marketing, and sales. After their evening dinner I was well done and decided to retreat back to the hotel.

Tuesday was the keynote by Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal project. I and Michel van Velde from OneShoe, the Netherlands, have been working hard with our teams to survey the business landscape of Drupal companies. We shared the results with Dries, too, and I was thrilled to see some topics we pointed out in the keynote. It also felt good to see Exove’s logo on the slides.

The rest of the day was spent in various meetings and in the evening there was opening reception in the sponsor area. Again, I had spent all my energy and the bed in my hotel room felt so sweet.

Wednesday was very similar day, except that we had a meeting of the future of the event among a group selected by Drupal Association. I felt proud to be part of that group and will do my best to ensure a good future for the event.

The culmination of the week was the annual Drupal CEO Dinner that I and Michel have been organising for several years. The evening focused on good food in a good company, and possibility to speak freely with your peers from other companies. We also went through the Drupal business survey further during the night, and had in general good time.

I slept in on Thursday morning and run various items forward back in Finland – in other words, spent my time in Slack discussing and guiding people. Thursday is always a bit more relaxed day in DrupalCon, I popped over to marketing sprints, event future discussions, and other smaller topics before the closing session.

I am proud to say that the community pulled off quite a feat during the few days. There will be no DrupalCon Europe in 2018, as the Drupal Association will need some time to find the best concept for 2019 and onwards. Instead, Drupal Europe will fill that gap – organised by the community for the community. I am very proud to be in both of these movements.

The busy week ended – for me, others continued in coding sprints on Friday – with a volunteer dinner. I’ve been working to organise the event among a lot of other people for better part of this year, and it was nice to see most of them in the dinner. Some of them I knew from the past, but made also a lot of new acquitances.

Friday was travel day. I got to the Vienna airport early on, the idea was to go to lounge to work. Unfortunately, the lounges were all before the security control and I found that after queueing through. Fortunately, there is free wifi on the airport, so I could do my mails before boarding the plane.

This week has been one of the most memorable experiences in DrupalCon and in business in general. Maybe due to my grown involvement in doing things or then everything just clicked. Or both.

August 31st, 2017

Autumn is travel season

August is ending and my hiatus with travelling seems to be over. I visited Tampere today, enjoyed my company’s Tampere office family day, and will fly to Oulu for a couple of days early next week.

Then there is DrupalCon Europe, as every autumn. This year the event takes place in Vienna that I’ve visited last time several years ago. It is a good time to come back to that city. Albeit I won’t be seeing it too much, as most of the time is spent inside the exhibition center.

And in October the whole Kalliola family will be visiting Madrid during the school autumn holiday. None of us have been in Madrid yet, so we are expecting a lot from that trip – museums, cafés, some shopping, and hopefully a football match.

July 31st, 2017

Visiting Tarto, Estonia

We have had a tradition for several years to travel abroad once during our summer holidays. This year, we decided to do some local travelling and visited Tarto in southern Estonia.

As Tarto is quite near, we decided to take our car over the gulf and drive there. The other considered option was to take train from Tallinn to Tarto and back. Probably it would have been cheaper, as the trains are very inexpensive in Estonia and we didn’t really need the car for anything on our trip – it was parked in a garage for the whole time we were in Tarto.

We had reserved a suite with a separate bedroom in the newest hotel (V Hotell) in Tarto. It has also the very first indoor hotel spa in the town, so this was an obvious choice for family with children. We ended up visiting the space every morning and evening. The spa had several pools with all kinds of fancy water streams, hot tubs, and four saunas.

The children would have spent the entire vacation in the spa, but we ventured out to the science center Ahhaa and the newly opened Eesti Rahvamuuseum – Estonian National Museum. Both places were just excellent. I’ve always admired how Estonians use the latest technology in their museums in non-introsive, almost natural way, and these were no exceptions. For example, in Rahvamuuseum, the descriptions of exhibits are on e-ink displays that switch language using a NFC key that we got with the tickets. Boys had such fun to change the language.

The exhibitions were also excellent. Especially the origins of Finnic people was organised so that you never felt having too much to see or digest. This meant also that children were able to focus on the exhibition instead of chasing each other around.

The only disappointments in the museums were their cafeterias. They had very Estonian set of dishes and cakes, and it was somewhat hard to find something to eat for the children. Almost every cake had sour cream and all salty dishes tasted quite bland – except for the salmon bread that had enough saltiness.

Besides the museums, we just strolled around the city. Tarto is surprisingly small town, everything in the centre is reachable by walking a few hundred meters. We visited the old fortifications on the nearby hill, saw the university, and enjoyed good food in upscale yet affordable restaurants.

The trip was also a good for improving my Estonian skills. I’ve been studying the language for five years – slowly – and can handle short conversations on familiar subjects. In Tallinn, everybody responds in English when I speak Estonian to them – my accent gives me away. In Tarto, everybody answered in Estonian and I had sometimes hard times to understand what I was being told. But it was an excellent refreshment of my active Estonian language skills.

While driving back to Tallinn we visited a nature reserve in Tooma. The reserve is a big swamp with duckboards and an observation tower. Very tranquil place, except for finding the right path to the swamp. I thought several times that we are lost, but fortunately Sanna was more level-headed and we walked through the farm to the actual scenic trail. Worth the visit, but you better read the instructions carefully to find the trail.

On the same route, we stopped by Põhjaka manor to have a very delicious lunch. Estonia is full of manors – owned by the Baltic Germans in the past – and they are in varying conditions. We saw a couple of very pristine manors while driving, but Põhjaka was in more “romantic” condition. Not rundown per se, but age was showing through.

June 30th, 2017

Working hard at the summer cabin

June went past so quickly. In the past years, June has been a month that Finland gradually settles into holiday mode, as the traditional Finnish holiday season starts in midsummer. Recently, the holiday starting dates have been moving towards central European tradition and this week was one of the busiest I’ve ever had. Fortunately due to good things only.

When I’ve not been in working in Exove, I’ve been busily doing minor construction work and wood chopping at our summer cabin in Lohja. The cabin itself has been ready for a year, and now the builders are working on the sauna by the lake.

We have focused our efforts to the yard, planting plants and bushes, hauling rocks to the shore to stop erosion and make it look better, and cleaning the place after construction workers. And yes, I’ve been chopping a lot of wood lately. My shoulders have been on fire at the evenings, but the results and also the workout has been worth of it.

No travel, though. My holiday starts next week on Thursday, and I’ll have a short 22 hour cruise from Helsinki to Tallinn and back with the kids. Sanna will go to a knitting festival (or something) in Jyväskylä, so I’m alone with the kids the whole extended weekend. The kids have been yearning to go to a cruise ship, so it will be mostly an adventure tailored for them.

The first full week of the holiday will be spent in Helsinki Cup, both boys are playing there for a few days. After that we go to Tartu, Estonia, for a few days. I’m surprisingly excited about that trip, even if it so close and only for four days.

May 27th, 2017

Drupal events

After the previous update, I’ve attended to numerous Drupal events as an organiser or speaker or both.

The first one was the main event in the Northern America, DrupalCon Baltimore. I’ve been helping Drupal Association in Europe several years by being a track chair for the business track, and this was my first American DrupalCon as a track chair. And also my second American DrupalCon overall, the first one was in Chicago in 2011.

There are no direct flights from Helsinki to Baltimore or Washington DC, so I flew to New York and took a train to Baltimore. I was able to combine a couple of business meeting in the Big Apple, so it was not just a detour.

The con itself was pleasant, as they always tend to be. I met a lot of acquitances and friends, and also make a few new ones during the week. I skipped most of the evening activities and parties due to time difference and also because I had to divide some of my attention to Finland during the week – waking up at four o’clock in the morning, spending a few hours working, then breakfast and to the con.

Boy, I was tired after the last meeting on Friday in New York. Fortunately my flight was on Saturday, so I could have a long stretch of sleep on Friday evening – went to bed before eight. I had transferred some of my Amex points to Finnair and upgraded to business. It was actually my first transcontinental flight on business and I will sorely miss the experience when I’m flying next time in economy on a night flight.

Less than two weeks later I was in the next event, this time speaking in DrupalCamp Nordics organised in Helsinki. I was also in the organising committee, albeit had very limited possibilities to do much. At the end, I was able to spend only two hours at the location due to meetings and other hassle. My session went well, at least I think so, and got a few compliments from the listeners.

Fast forward one week, and I was flying to Frankfurt via Stockholm to deliver the same session in the European Drupal Business Days. My speech was on Thursday as a part of the CXO event and again I saw number of familiar faces and had good time in general. This time I was able to stay most the two-day event, had a fancy (albeit slow) dinner at the top of one of the Frankfurt skyscapers with magnificent views. I flew back via Riga, and it was surprisingly straightforward route with minimum hassles – actually my first experience with both Air Baltics and Riga airport, and I could see myself using their services again.

I was quite exhausted after such extensive conferencing. Fortunately the weather was excellent back in Finland and I could enjoy our summer cabin with the family; including also doing manual labour for five to six hours a day…

April 17th, 2017

Skiing Trip

We’ve just returned from our traditional Easter skiing trip from Ylläs – the biggest skiing resort in Finland. We spent total nine days on the slopes.

As the trip takes around fifteen hours by car, we took night train to and fro. The resort is quite distributed and using own car is a must, so we took it with us in the train. The ride took fourteen hours one way and we arrived in Kolari train station surprisingly well rested on Saturday one week before Easter.

We had rented an ski-in apartment next to the fell, and cooked most of our meals by ourselves. The kids are picky eaters and there is no point to go to restaurants to eat just french fries for a week. Thus, we visited the local grocery stores, even one in Sweden – it is very conveniently located, less than a kilometer from the Finnish border. We bought some Swedish specialties there and the bulk of the food from Kolari center before heading to the fell.

The week itself was nice but sort of uneventful in that sense that most of the days were very similar: wake up, eat breakfast, go to slopes, eat lunch, go to slopes, eat dinner, spend time in the flat, go to sauna, go to bed – rinse and repeat.

Our family friends arrived on Tuesday evening and we spent three days in the slopes with them, on and off due to little kids in both families. On Saturday they went to cross-country skiing and we decided to visit another skiing resort – Pallas – around 60 kilometers to north. Pallas is located inside a national park and thus it has not been developed actively – in other words, it still has the original Lappish feeling.

It was a fun trip. The slopes were in excellent condition and we skied as a family some part of the day, before the boys started to feel itchy skiing as slow as their youngest sister and then they continued on their own. The resort has only two T-bar lifts and nine slopes, but the views were spectacular. Unfortunately it was so cold on the summit that I decided not to take any photos to save my fingers from the biting wind.

In Ylläs I also tried going backcountry skiing by climbing to the smaller Ylläs summit – Keskinen laki. The distance is only a few hundred meters, but I got the taste of going upwards with muscle power and it felt nice enough that I could do it again later. Need to ponder on this and also think which kind of gear I would need – some of my current stuff is okay for backcountry stuff, but much should be bought, too.

Another big thing for me personally happened on the morning of the last day – yesterday – when I bit the bullet and ride my snowboard from the top of the fell, around 450m vertical. Before those two rides – couldn’t do more, my abs were hurting like hell – I’ve rode only on slopes for kids and beginners. Despite falling over multiple times, it was fun. I’m still sore, but happy.

We boarded the train back to Helsinki in yesterday evening and I felt promptly asleep a bit after nine o’clock – as well as the rest of the family – to woke up around seven in the morning. After getting back to home, we’ve unpacked the car and washed a load of laundry. Tomorrow is a working day, so need to get things done today.

March 17th, 2017

Visit to Viimsi Spa

My travels for the past five years or so have been either with the whole family or alone on work trips. I and my wife haven’t got the chance to spend some quality time together abroad since our trip to Amsterdam probably eight years ago.

So the expectations were quite high last weekend, when we dropped off children to my younger sister and headed to Viimsi Spa in Estonia. We took a fast Tallink ship to Tallinn and then drove with taxi ten kilometers or so to Viimsi peninsula north of Tallinn.

I must have been quite loyal customer to Tallink, as they send me a coupon to redeem business lounge seats for two people with eight euros per person per direction. The price without the discount would have been whopping 410€ and now it was merely 32€ – the discount was around 92%!

The business lounge is a secluded space in the ship with surprisingly plentiful and tasty buffet food and drinks service. And it was quiet, no announcements from PA. Especially on the return trip the lounge was extremely nice, as we were travelling on a brand spanking new ship Megastar – that had been sailing less than two weeks. Very airy and light compared to the old ships, way better looking materials and design – overall, not just in the business lounge.

In Viimsi Spa we had a normal hotel room, which was too cold and dark. I tried to set the thermostat a couple of times with no luck. The room also lacked lights, big time. There was one ceiling lamp in the corridor before the actual room and then two bedside lamps. Nothing else – except a led strip in ceiling that shoned indirect light through the ceiling and factually did not help at all. I’ve always wondered who designs the lightning in hotel rooms, as the rooms are almost always too dark and the light sources are far and between. I need to turn on all lights and still the result is mediocre at best.

Despite the room, we had excellent time in Viimsi. The normal spa is quite small but okay. There are several saunas which is always plus. There is also adults only spa that has more serene atmosphere – no kids splashing and screaming. The entrance costs 20€ per person for hotel guests, but it is worth the experience. I can also recommend participating in sauna rituals, had very fun and also surprisingly intense moments in sauna during a ritual.

We also visited restaurant Noa, a couple of kilometers from the spa. Highly recommended! Very good food with affordable prices. They should have a nice sea view, but unfortunately we arrived so late that it was dark. Maybe next time.

All in all, very good trip and a lot of activities – jogging, sushi, going to movies, etc. – squeezed in less than 48 hours.

February 28th, 2017

Skiing trip up north

The last week was a winter holiday week in the southern Finland, and our family spent it skiing – both downhill and cross-country.

We decided to skip the traffic jams and left Espoo on Saturday. The first destination was Häkärinteet near Jyväskylä in central Finland. It is quite low hill with dozen slopes or so, so it was perfect as a starter and also very nice for our youngest who is still learning the ropes in skiing.

We skied a few hours and deftly left Aapo’s skis there – just forgot to pack them in the car. This was found out on Sunday in Koli where we were next skiing together with my younger sister’s family. Aapo was, of course, quite devastated at first, but fortunately agreed to use rented skis.

Koli is the highest ski resort in the southern Finland and very conveniently located near my parents’ house. We spent the whole day there. Also decided to skip the usual trash food and opt for the á la carte option at the hilltop hotel. I ate one of the best burgers ever – highly recommended.

On Monday people went to cross-country skiing. That is not a sport for me, so I lounged at my parents’ house and fixed their PC and smartphone issues. The next day was a travel day to Taivalkoski. We split the trip into two parts by visiting Ukkohalla ski resort in Kainuu region. Never been there before, but it was a good choice. The slopes were nice, not crowded at all, and there was enough powdery snow in the woods and edges of the slopes to enjoy my backcountry ready skis.

Taivalkoski was in middle of our road trip, 800 kilometers behind and also 800 kilometers to go. We spent a few days with Sanna’s parents – their house is conveniently located a kilometer or so away from Taivalvaara ski resort. Our boys skiid there every day, also on the day we visited Iso-Syöte, a way bigger ski resort 35 kilometers from Taivalkoski.

They even went to ski on Friday morning and got a couple of hours of slope time before we headed to Oulu for a couple of nights with friends.