Strangely enough, this post contains lots of text about bus rides.

April 12, 2015

We’re slowly heading for warmer times, and even though we’ve had a disappointing winter, as in non-existent, I’m kind of looking forward to summer. Mostly because summer is what brings out the best sides of a city, and seeing as Helsinki is new for me, I’m curious to see what it has to offer.

Did I mention that there’s a beach just a couple of hundred meters from my apartment? I decided to go see it for myself — I’ve only noticed it by looking through maps, but as the clouds cleared, I decided I wanted to get a first hand glimps of it.

Can you believe this is just a couple of hundred meters from my apartment?

I had thought that the beach would’ve been void of people, but boy was I wrong, there were actually quite a lot of people enjoying the spring sun. And besides people, there were lots of birds too. The good thing with birds is that they aren’t necessarily scared of a telephoto lens, and I don’t look like some perv when I point the camera at birds — oppose to pointing it at people. There’s just something spectacular with the sea, I’d have a hard time living somewhere which isn’t close to open water.

In other news, I set up my work phone this week, which means I’ve now made a complete three sixty when it comes to devices, from being all Windows, I now run a Macbook Pro and an Iphone 6.


There’s an awful lot to get used to, but so far I’m neither impressed nor disappointed, I guess they’re all tools anyway. Though I’m really happy about getting a native unix terminal, which is probably the biggest reason for the switch. The biggest hurdle I’ve had so far is the keyboard, all of the shortcuts are different to what I’m used to in Windows and Linux, why in god’s name can’t they just standardize these things? And as soon as I get the hang of it, I go home, and I’m all confused again, because my personal machine is still Windows.

Finnish parliamentary elections

I’ve also handed in my advance vote for the Finnish parliamentary elections, even though the official voting day is 19th of April. During the last week in Stockholm I got my voter’s card on the mail, and since the day of the advance voting was from the 8th until 14th April, I wasn’t going to be able to visit the polling booth in the Finnish embassy in Stockholm. I called them and asked them what I should do, that I was going to move back to Finland, and whether or not I was going to be able to vote for the Helsinki region instead.

They told me that seeing as it was so close to the election, that I wasn’t going to be able to change to the Helsinki district in time, and that I would have to vote in advance at one of the post offices in Helsinki, for the region that was stated on my voter’s card — which is the Vaasa district. Upon hearing this I feared that I’d forget to vote, but somehow I managed to remember, and so, I was successful in doing my part of upholding the Finnish democracy.

Space Apps Challenge Helsinki

The international space apps challenge got kicked off this weekend, which is basically a global hackathon organized in part by NASA, and Idean hosted the one held in Helsinki. I didn’t participate per se, but I did show up to take some stills and some video. Startup sauna had the venue, which is located near the Aalto University grounds in Espoo, only a couple of bus stops from where I live.

The launch party took place on Friday at 5 PM, and so I went to work a little early, so I could leave for the event (and stop by at home to grab something to eat). The bus ride was nothing spectacular; as bus rides rarely are.

Friday drinks, Space Apps Challenge launch party.

When I got to the venue, a lot of people had already turned up, and there were free drinks and food for all the guests (visitors and participants alike).

All the guests were given a goodie-bag, and part of that bag was a t-shirt, and an awesome t-shirt at that. The front print is of Nessie — Idean’s mascot — in a space suit, and the back print is just the logo of the international space apps challenge, with the added subline “HKI”, as in Helsinki.

Awesome t-shirt. And more awesome is the fact that all the walls in my apartment is white, which is great when you need a backdrop!

Anyway, I took a couple of photos, walked around, talked with people, though mostly my colleagues, because I’m still getting to know them, and after about 2 hours of walking around, I decided to call it a night and go home.

I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to public transportation, the system in Stockholm works great (when it does indeed work; less so when it doesn’t), you rarely need to wait for a bus longer than 5 minutes, Helsinki is a lot smaller, and so you’ll have to wait a bit longer. The bus that I wanted to take was going to arrive after roughly 30 minutes, and so I turned to the one thing that usually is able to help you out when you are in need, the internet. I was able to find an alternative route, which involved two buses, but it would still be a faster way of getting home then taking the direct bus.

One of the hackathon teams.

And so the alternative bus came, I went inside, swiped my public transportation card and then, nothing. I tried swiping again, and the display just showed me my balance on the card — and that’s when it hit me, like many cities, the public transportation is split up into different zones, I live in zone 1, and I hadn’t expected to leave it, so when I got my card, I only got the zone 1 card, but in this instance I was actually located in zone 2, and therefore my card didn’t work. To be fair, in Stockholm, which also has different zones spanning multiple municipalities with different costs associated with them, however, the monthly card is valid for all zones, which means I’ve never needed to think about it.

Anyway, there I stood, with an invalid card and no cash, I had to get off the bus. I contemplated to just walk home, sure, it would suck, and carrying my gear would probably kill my back, but what was I supposed to do? And at that instance my savior emerged, a taxi. I don’t like buses and trains, but I do like airplanes and taxies. The ride ended up costing 14.50€.

I visited the venue again the next day, but this time, I was prepared, I had some cash on me, can you guess the bus fare? And keep in mind, that the distance from my place to the venue is about 5 km. My guess would’ve been a couple of euros, three at most. But sadly, I would’ve been wrong, it costs 5€, per trip, i.e. 10€ back and forth. One euro per kilometer is pretty darn expensive for a bus ride.

I really need to start saving up for a car.

A perfect example of displaying meta-data in an image.

It was great to be able to see the types of thing Idean involves it self with, especially since space, and science, are some of the things I care quite a lot about. It was also really fun talking with people, getting to know them and see everybody working together.

Maybe I’ll join in next year as an actual participant of the hackathon?