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Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Archive for the ‘Swedish products’ Category

Boston Beta Blatte: Testing one of Sweden’s innovative start-up gadgets

Friday, October 11th, 2013

This week I am on the cutting edge of being a techie nerd. Well, the cutting edge of being the guinea pig for the true techie entrepreneurs. This week I am a beta tester for a new wearable camera.

narrative clip orange

It is called the Narrative Clip (until just a week ago, better known as Memoto.) It’s a wearable camera that is always on, takes a snap every 30 seconds and easily uploads to a mobile app for you to archive or share to your heart’s content.

Sweden is among the lead pack of countries breeding, incubating nurturing, disruptive innovation, gaming and start up companies. For a sparsely populated country extending into the Arctic circle, that is pretty impressive in my book.

And the Swedes have even succeeded at spreading the wealth of this economic turbine to several regions traversing the length and breadth of a physically large country. From Malmö in the southwest corner just across the bridge to Copenhagen, Denmark reaching diagonally northbound to Luleå at the top of the Bay of Bothnia, clusters of research institutions and private enterprise dot the country.

Not surprising, Stockholm the nation’s capital, has more than its fair share of these start ups. And living in the capital means that there is great opportunity to interact with the dynamic people and companies.

Location has its privileges. Well, if you want to be a tech guinea pig at least.

I’ll post some of my images in a day or two.

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IKEA UK: Swedish furniture giant stomps gnomes.

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

A recent IKEA commercial has inflamed the gnomists of the UK. It has lead to more than 50 complaints lodged with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority. Apparently the gnome is a quintessential garden love/hate feature of the average UK garden. I have learned today that one should not enrage gnome fans.

gnome ikea

Link to watch advert video here

Recently, the Royal Horticultural Society lifted a ban (yes…royal gardening has been rather undemocratic) on the garden gnome at the prestigious Chelsea Garden Show, a clear victory for gnome enthusiasts of the British Isles.

IKEA marketing is intended to drive visitors to the IKEA store. Is their new UK ad campaign set to achieve this, albeit led by the angry, gnome-loving masses? According to the Daily Mail sales of gnomes have risen 150%.

Perhaps this is just a calculated, evil plot by the furniture giant intending to bring gnomes to the product range? Though, the IKEA newsroom reports that Brits are embarrassed by their gardens citing, “Once a staple of the English country garden, only a dwindling 1% said they needed ‘more gnomes’ in their garden”.

Maybe someone in the IKEA UK marketing department has a secret fondness for the sprightly figure. Soon, it shall all be revealed (*inserts evil laugh*).

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Stockholm Taxi Wars: Über fail

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Three cheers for competition, innovative alternatives and nifty new apps. Hats off to low-budget basement start-ups’ covert guerrilla marketing. Hail righteousness and activism. But disinformation, half-truths and unsubstantiated wild accusations packaged as a Greenpeace-esque write-in campaign does not for a reputable car+driver service make.

uber x
And that is what I was under the impression Uber, was supposed to be. As a registered user, the email I got from them today put all that into serious question.

Uber is a taxi-like, black car service new to Stockholm. It differs from traditional taxi services in that it’s all about the mobile application -ordering and paying and the promise of more luxury vehicles. A lot of Stockholm’s fleet taxis are leather-appolstered V70s and Mercedes and not grimy, dented up yellow cabs, so the immediate appeal beyond novel and hipster was sedate for me.

A visiting friend from Boston (Watertown more specifically –gotta ride the 15-minutes of fame train) tipped me off to Uber over Easter. Since then, I have only had one need for a cab. Solo at 4am, a long festive evening behind me, squinting with slightly blurry vision I chickened out and called Ole Faithful, Taxi Stockholm. A black Mercedes sedan came within minutes to whisk me home. Fair to note, the estimate by Uber ranged between SEK 400 and 600. Taxi Stockholm ended up charging me SEK 500. That’s ballpark.

uberf

Comforted by a fair estimate experience and having read a few rave reviews, I was on beginning to talk up the service without my own real test drive. People I knew and trusted genuinely liked Uber. Spread the love.

Until that email.

Headline: RÄDDA UBER (Save Uber).

Message: The big bad state transit authority was trying to shut down Uber.

Heartstring pull: Exceptions made for services driving royal people and fancy, schmancy corporate fat cats (Booooo! Hissss!)

Call to action: Rise up, protest, write your congressman (or rather this long list of Swedish officials) and for Uber’s sake and the salvation of all mankind; sign the petition (they implore you!)

Act now and you get a complementary hashtag complete with each Tweet, #UberSthlmLove, the hash of Woodstock meets Occupy Stockholm. The Twittosphere went wild. Much of it was uninnovative, SAVE UBER!

But a number of voices started asking the embarrassingly probing question: HUH?

And then some light started getting shed on the subject. This tempest-in-a-teapot call to arms is not new to Uber’s modus operandi. Pando Daily wrote “Who is the real bully? Uber or New York”. And in Swedish from yesterday evening, Computer Sweden was one of the first to publish the actual statement from the Swedish Transport Authority:

“Uber finns i Stockholm och tillhandahåller tjänster för taxiföretag. Två taxiföretag som vill ansluta sig till Uber har ansökt till Transportstyrelsen om undantag från krav på taxameter. I dessa ansökningar står det att Uber kräver att företagen ska ha undantag från krav på taxameter för att få ansluta sig.”

Loosely explained in English: “Uber is a taxi service and gotta have an approved meter”

Joakim Jardenberg gave insightful thoughts about the ‘rave campaign’ and a potential resolution (in Swedish). Simply: Get a meter!
taxi

But Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, is against the taxi meter. In a discussion on Twitter he wrote, “our customers do not want meters or stickers… they want a chauffeur service”.

That might be true in the US where black car services appeal to the über cool who want something a little more refined and are willing to pay for it, but most of Stockholm ain’t about that. More because it doesn’t need to be. Each of the major taxi companies of Stockholm have their own apps, can easily be called from your cell and a new, clean car comes within minutes. But certainly the exclusivity appeals to many and I know that some people prefer to not handle money. So who knows.

Ultimately, I think this PR-campaign movement is going to backfire. It is going to get them recognition for sure. But after the empty “SAVE Uber” chanting dies down, the influential voices -once strong advocates and ambassadors- will be singing different tunes. And they may be slightly off key.

Or the new innovation will disrupt the established Stockholm taxi services as we know it and we’ll end up with the Spotify of private transport. Cuz that’s how Sweden rolls.

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Swedish Pirate Bay Shanghaiing to North Korea?: Hoax

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Swedish piracy is testing the rule of law in the social media-sphere. The Swedish file-sharing website has announced they had found refuge in North Korea.

I think they may have demanded a “Parlez”.

pirate bay

Well, their announcement did make you wonder if they were trolling or failing their political geography lessons. They mentioned the Republic of Korea (aka South Korea, or the good guys who bring us Samsung) but announced from Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (aka North Korea where Dennis Rodman just hung with his hommie, the despot).

I am no expert, or even very savvy on this topic, but the flurry of WTFs and similar expressions of disbelief did catch my attention.

A little poking around on Twitter turned up some more knowledgeable sleuths than I could ever be. Gizmodo’s position seems to doubt the validity of the move and refer onwards to super geek Will (in the most positive definition of geek) who can discern the routes of several acronyms even under the cloak and stealth of a Harry Potter invisibility cape.

It is all right there Will points out, “It is actually pretty easy if you have an understanding of BGP and BGP transit links.”

And if you do, you can follow the transit link trail here.

So, what do I know? Not much, but as the saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.” Not that I have an opinion about whether a move to North Korea is good or bad for Pirate Bay, but the wow, shock and awe factor of a move like that would be absolutely delicious to observe with a box of popcorn.

Mythbusters would say, “BUSTED”.

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Sweden’s Answer to Rihanna: Elliphant?

Monday, January 28th, 2013

So wonders contributor Nicole James on Fuse.tv

I have never been a music fanatic and pretty safe to say I am still not. But of late, I have been more and more fascinated with the Swedish music export. And not only the bands, but the Swedes behind the scenes from songwriters and producers like multi-megahit wonder Max Martin to music video sound and video editing by the many talented, award-winning people at Chimney Pot Stockholm.

Swedes seem to get away with lyrics like “Waking up in a pile of shit” and singing in some weird Swedishised Jamaican patois and the oddest emphasis/pronunciation of “shadow”. YouTube link to Elliphant Down on Life

elliphant

The video, shot in Iceland, suggests along with Elliphant’s real name, Ellinor Olovsdotter, she might have Icelandic roots? No clue.

Nice groove, regardless.

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Stephen Colbert still wants in: Mission #artificialswedener is go Stockholm

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Stephen Colbert is not relenting in his effort to tweet for the @Sweden.
colbert

See the June 18, 2012 Colbert Nation episode

The @Sweden account is the official Twitter account for Sweden (via the VisitSweden people) and its curator changes every week. It’s uncensored and for the weekly curator, pretty much anything goes.

The account got international attention last week when its curator tweeted what was long debated as potentially anti-Semitic. A fantastic blogger, The Digital McGyver gives a very interesting analysis of the “Sonja-what-the-fuzz” tweet and its rippling effect across the globe (it’s a great read.)

So far, despite the onslaught of incoming emails and trending hashtags, the future @Sweden blog/Colbert is still but a distant maybe.

In true Swedish fashion, nothing can deviate from the path, not even to capitalize on the free marketing the guest curator account was designed to manifest. Hello Visit Sweden! Go crazy. Try something new. Live a little.

And bring on Colbert!

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Colbert Nåtion: Operation Artificial Swedener

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

So Colbert wants to twitter for @Sweden! I say HELVETE JA… let’s get him on board. (see TL article)
colbert

Ask him to come to Sweden, record his report from Sweden and twitter about his experience while doing it. Sweden couldn’t ask for a better form of marketing exposure. According to Colbert, he’s got a following of 3.5 million on his Twitter account. Imagine the buzz that would generate for tourism figures for Sweden. Hello Visit Sweden…Carpe Stephen!

The comments to date on the Comedy Central clip for Operation Artificial Swedener remind me of how humor does not always translate culturally. Two Swedes try to point out that “Nation” in Swedish is spelled the same and not Nåtion with the “funny A”.

Says aSwede, “Jenks (that’s phonetic spelling for ‘Yanks’)…. To (sic) stupid to o a google translate and discover that the english word “Nation“ is spelled “Nation“ in swedish :D

Swedes don’t appreciate that Americans think the odd letter, especially with the diaeresis sign –more popularly, though incorrectly(cuz you KNOW someone is going to be so clever to point out the “real” name) known as the umlaut–is über trendy.

I love asking Sweden where they think the ice cream Häagen Dazs comes from. haagen dazs They guess all over the place but never guess that it’s an American product.

Swedish tourism figures continue to grow and this will keep making those figures soar.

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Pizza Feud: Stockholm’s little Italy.

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

It’s not wise to mess with an Italian from Palermo, Sicily.

The closest Stockholm gets to a little Italy is crammed into a cafe at Hornstull on Södermalm. At least when it comes to Italian soccer football fans. Especially if you support Palermo’s team,.

The locals know it as “Dellos” from its original name, “Cafe dello Sport” but passing by the other day I discovered that a little tiff between the Dellos gang and the pizza man around the corner has changed the face of Hornstull’s Little Italy.

Dello’s has now renamed itself

VIP or Very Italian Pizza
vip large description

But why?

Long story short. The pizza place around the corner tried to jump on the Dello gravy train which wasn’t very popular with the real McCoy-ianos.

vip

So they fought back and opened a corner of the café as a pizza place, reinvented themselves and re-signed
vip sign

They weren’t open for pizza when I was there. I must stop by again and sample that pizza. Though probably still not on par with Varasano’s ;)

little known fact: The owner of Varasano’s, Jeff Varasano, scouted and imported his pizza oven from Borås, Sweden. He is also a pretty fast Rubik’s cubist, 19 seconds!

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Swedish mainstream shop: Alternative lifesytle?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

When homosexual wedding greeting cards are unceremoniously displayed in mainstream shops we’ve shaken the “alternative lifestyle” label tagged on to gay marriage. At least in Sweden.

Same-sex marriages have been legal since May 1, 2009 and registered same-sex partnerships were recognized already from 1995.

I found these cards on display at one of my favorite stationery [chain] stores,
Ordning & Reda
wedding cards.

Now you have all options covered for your next wedding invitation needs.

Just don’t drive yourself nuts by converting the 30kr cost of the card (OK, if you have to, it’s just under $5.)

Oh, and if you’re attending a gay wedding, I highly recommend buying the Leatherman Multitool for the happy couple. Especially if it’s already on their gift registration list.

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Fashion/Fury over fur pompom: Blue fox Crown(ed) Princess.

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Since Victoria kicked off a fury of fashionista followers and well…a plain old fury with her mössa med blåräv toffs (knitted hat with blue fox fur pompom ) I’ve been seeing them all over Stockholm. pompom hat

For the record, I’m not a bunny hugger and as long as we treat animals humanely when we farm them for food and clothing, I’m pretty much ok with it. Natural materials and pelts make warm and beautiful articles of clothing and luxurious linings and collars (I admit that I do love the feel of real fur) But seriously, a pompom might be arguably the best candidate for a faux fur replacement. Unless you take it off and waggle it playfully in someone’s face, no one reaps any of the properties of fox (and not faux) fur.

Now the Swedish Crown Princess isn’t supposed to participate in political positioning but the image of her (albeit a very cute princess in a very cute hat) sporting a decadent adornment of fluff from a fur[r]y blue fox  n isn’t really sending the right international message, is it? (Though that fox does look like a very cozy hat in itself).

Since uproar in the mainstream and tabloid Swedish media last week I would imagine that Victoria will resist pulling that hat on again in public. However with the sightings of foxtoffs (Newly created Svengelska word?) especially around Stureplan central will only increase until the spring (summer at this rate of deep freeze) thaw.

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