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Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Posts Tagged ‘stockholm’

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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Back in the Blog: Blatte is back

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

I took a hiatus over the summer.

Summer dragged on to fall and knowing the slippery slope of Sweden’s seasons…winter shall be upon us in no time.

But we are enjoying indian summer at the moment. It’s called Brittsommar in Swedish. It takes its name from the Swedish name day, Birgitta, which falls on October 7.

Pretty spot on as the weather turned the day before yesterday, on October 6.

brittsommar

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Hockey. Hockey. Hockey.

Monday, May 20th, 2013

BANG!!!! BANG!!!! BANG!!!

In the midst of the Stanley Cup’s Eastern Conference semifinals series, every Bostonian knows it is all about Bruins ice hockey.

faceoff

Oh right. I am in Sweden, home of the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation GOLD Champions. And there is certainly no doubt ice hockey fever has taken over Sweden.

sweden hockey

A lot of Swedes, the Swedish husband included, should rightfully be questioning my loyalties placing Boston hockey playoffs above Swedish gold-medal champions. The thing is, that I am even writing about hockey is pretty ironic to begin with.

I am about the furthest thing from a hockey fan there can be (though I did play field hockey at Watertown High currently boasting a 90-something unbeaten game record). However, this past week I have read about, listened to and watched more hockey than in my lifetime.

I caught the fever discovering the events leading up to Boston’s defeat over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Going from a 3-0 series lead, the Bruins face off against the Leafs in game 7. Coming into the 3rd period the Bruins are down 4-1. And they rally to a 5-4 victory in overtime. Incredible. I was regretting not having watched the game.

We’re not a sports-watching family (thankfully) but we are fans of our ‘home teams’. That means if the US, Sweden or Boston are in a race for a title –you pick the sport, we are game-watchers.

And so, in addition to the nail-biter Sweden matches in the International Ice Hockey Federation games hosted by Sweden, I watched both the semi-final US defeat against Switzerland and the bronze US victory over Finland.

Today, Sweden is in hockey ecstasy over its glorious champion status. And with that glee comes light-hearted humor. This image has been touring the walls of several Facebook friends.

funny

The message is clearly sedated bragging over the defeating Switzerland at the (cheap) expense of stereotypical American geographical challenges. But in their cute, naive way, they presume there are Americans who have even heard of the International Ice Hockey Federation, then know that there is a world championship and finally, CARE about the results. It is long stretch.

But it tickles the jubilant Swedes basking in hockey glory.

The reality (perhaps sad and provincial) is that Americans who care about hockey, only care about the NHL. They are grateful for the rest of the world supplying amazing hockey players. Sweden has produced Carl Söderberg for Boston and for the NY Rangers, Carl Hagelin Anton Strålman, and Henrik Lundqvist.

So in equally light-hearted humor, I will leave you with a playful image of Bruins pride aimed at NY Rangers’ goalie…who happens to be a Swede:

suck it

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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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Stuck in Stockholm for the sport holiday? Best kept secret is BouleBar

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Boule Bar at Globen was our one-stop shopping solution to keeping a 5-year old, two 8-year olds, a mom and a grandmother entertained on our first day of the sporting holiday week.

And fed.

All that on a very limited budget.

boulebar

Included in the 89kr/adult 49kr/child pricing: hot dish, fresh salad bar, juice, coffee/tea, homemade chocolate truffles AND a round of boule WITH free popcorn.

You might know boule better as bocce or pétanaque

boule

It was better than bowling since anyone who could carry and throw the metal ball could play. And the pace was pretty quick to keep the easily bored or distracted active.

Until today I had only been to the location on Kungsholmen and then we have only eaten or enjoyed beverages.

Added bonus(es) to the Globen location:
-free parking
-kid friendly
-indoor cours
-nicest staff

Unfortunately, I don’t get a red öre for this shameless plug.

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Innovative Sweden: Playable frozen record

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Add water, freeze and spin. Sit back and listen to your turntable spin Blue Ice, a new release by Shout Out Louds, a Stockholm based indie rock band. And when it melts, just add more water, refreeze and spin again. Bet you are glad you kept your old turntable.

blue ice

Sweden always ranks high on innovation rankings. But I have always admired the creativity value that accompanies many new ideas, products or methods. The band, set to release a new album wanted the single, Blue Ice, wanted something out of the ordinary to draw attention. The concept of a playable frozen record seemed to fit the mould. Swedish advertising experts at TBWA/Stockholm, deserve a well-earned shout out [louds] for this bit of masterful marketing.

Personally, I had to see it to believe it. Here is a YouTube clip of how it works.

Only 10 record sets were produced. One was donated to raise money for the Swedish Radio’s charity collection Musikhjälpen 2012. The theme was fittingly to help children in impoverished nations have better access to clean water. It sold for SEK 4758 (or $730). Here is the link to the now closed auction.

#Iwantone

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Bostonians: Swedes of the United States?

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Boston is renamed “Meantown” by a pithy blogger referring to the results of a 2010 survey (can’t locate the actual survey).

meantown
Reading through the comments I had to chuckle. In the whiny comments we could easily replace Boston and Bostonians with Sweden and Swedes.

e.g. Upon moving to the Boston area Sweden I found many people inhospitable. Now, three years later, I remain surprised at how many strangers ignore you altogether when a simple “hello,” or “excuse me,” or “thank you” is appropriate. Boston Sweden has a lot of wonderful things going for it, but courtesy is not one of them. Sorry.

The original internet survey split human traits into two, one of which was termed “strengths of the heart”. It included include gratitude, compassion, teamwork, hope, modesty, religiousness. I wonder why “religiousness” is considered a “strength” implying a lack of religiousness is a weakness? Modesty is also funny since Americans by nature rarely weigh in modesty as a strong American characteristic.

So I’m none too perturbed that Boston scored low. And I am warmed to know that my Bostoness (Bostonianism?) can be a reason I feel rather comfortable in Sweden. Both places are filled with kind-hearted, open-minded, no-nonsense folk. We’re just misunderstood.

And screw the rest of you if you don’t agree ;-)

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Holding up Halloween: NJ and Stockholm style

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

New Jersey is doing what we do here every year: putting Halloween on the day that is more convenient.
no candy sandy

New Jersey kids will have to wait until Monday with so many homes in the state are on generators or without power altogether in Frankenstorm’s aftermath. You can’t leave your front porch light on when you have no lights. Or when your driveway is blocked by a fallen tree. Or when your street is under water.

Our kids will work the immediate neighborhood on Friday evening. Our street’s tradition is to organize day and time. As a result, neighbors are prepared and homes are decorated.

halloween

True that in the US, since everyone (except NJ this year) sends the kids around on Halloween night (October 31st) you get the same result. But here in Sweden, the trick-or-treat tradition is still in its formation stage. I did hear that many kids were out this evening, though we didn’t get any.

We’ll just have to hang on until Friday. And New Jersey, you have a safe Hallween on November 5th!

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Stockholm steely street smarts: “I grew up in the suburbs”

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

I had an irate father in my face this morning. Real aggressive and invading my personal space. Knowing the background and having checked my facts, I stood secure and cozied on in to his face. To be fair, I was only staying put and not leaning in. But I’ll admit, a little confrontation on a brisk September morning gets my blood flowing. And you get so little confrontation in Sweden, so you take what you can get.
standoff

In brief, it’s a tiny matter between our sons. My 8-year old said a mean thing about his 9-year old’s shop project. His son bawled his eyes out. But they’re kids. Mine was clearly wrong and had already apologized. I thought the matter was closed. But no, back to the school yard kids.

The little spat carried on in most uneventful manner (well, in proportion to its being an overblown altercation over boys being boys and that this was literally in the school yard and he even threw out a F-bomb) until the father used an interesting expression to indicate that he was a bit street smart, hardened around the edges and ready to go the 15 rounds.

He expressed the thickened skin on his nose as, “You know, I grew up in the suburbs.” It completely caught me off guard because I understood what he was trying to articulate but I was confused by the reference. All I could do was think about my Watertown, MA upbringing at the time and say…”Me too.” And then the irony struck me; we were IN the suburbs. Both his and my kids are growing up in the suburbs. But that’s not what it was about.

He was referring to one of the “undesirable” suburbs. The ones around Stockholm classically associated with a tougher breed of folks, immigrants. The places where things are viewed as not all peaches and rose petals. Places with names like Rinkeby, Akalla or Skärholmen which are districts of Stockholm outside the center.

Reflecting back on the event after it simmered down I giggled at the contradiction. What we Americans would attribute to an inner city upbringing, i.e. tougher, wilder and more savage streets, he characterized as [specific] neighborhoods in the suburbs of Stockholm. Because unlike most American cities, the inner city of Stockholm is the most desirable property and consequently, the priciest.

So, if in Sweden you want to indicate that you can handle the meaner things in life, you tell people, “I grew up in the suburbs.” That ought to get their knees knocking.

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Stockholm sighting: Urban assault on “pink army”?

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Obama came out in support of gay marriage and Swedes like it. Probably because Sweden legalized gay-marriage in 2009 and prior to that recognized same-sex registered partnerships already in 1995.

Rush Limbaugh said on his show yesterday, “the president of the United States is going to lead a war on traditional marriage”.
This was a sighting yesterday in Stockholm near Slussen. Could this be a counter-assault on the pink army? Has Limbaugh taken the war on the “pink army” to the streets of Stockholm? I think the ‘enemies of traditional marriage’ are about as ominous as this little band of preschoolers.

pink army photo by Carolina Åkerlind.

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17 August

Sea Fever (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I’m going to keep this post short and sweet as its not something I take any pleasure in writing. After much deliberation I have made the heartbreaking decision to abandon my trip after 1200km due to reoccurring injury. It is not a decision I have made lightly and it is one that has been truly devastating..." READ »

 

17 August

St. Louis strong (Blogweiser) »

"It’s typically a bad sign when my hometown makes news in Sweden. St. Louis was in the headlines here a few years ago when a tornado struck the airport. The city also caught attention after a politician talked about ‘legitimate rape’. Now, shooting and riots this week in Ferguson, a part of St. Louis, are..." READ »

 
 
 
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