Thursday, August 31, 2006

What should I do with my life?!

Ok, so soon enough I need to decide where I want to go in Estonia. I have to do a test task (pretty large, but I get a symbolic pay for it) for CoolSecurity, then I should have an offer from them, and FindYourself have already made me one and are content with waiting a while for my final decision.

I give you here the unique opportunity of pitching in your opinion of where I should go. Below I'm listing the pros and cons of my options:

+ a golden product, a small holy grail of cryptography, but still a grail
+ the company is aiming to be international, and might sell well
+ the potential to make me sizeable amounts of money if the company succeeds and is sold
+ the privilege to work with very cool people who knows their stuff
+ the career benefits of specializing in security
+ slightly better entrance salary than FindYourself
+ I get to live in Tallinn, which is less remote than Tartu
+ I would share apartment with my baby
+ I would prove my flexibility in helping build the organization

- I would share apartment with my baby
- the risk the company will never reach market
- my immediate boss seems cool, but choleric
- Tallinn is perhaps too busy, polluted etc.
- the present organization is virtually nonexistent
- I could be more confident that I will manage the job

+ silver technology, pretty cool and unique, but not holy
+ are already selling worldwide very well and there is no end in reach
+ Tartu is cheap to live in
+ Tartu is more relaxed and nicer than Tallinn
+ excellent trustworthy prospects of bonuses
+ I would most likely travel to very cool places all over the world
+ as a part of my job, I would be in contact with swedes
+ a varied job I would probably enjoy a lot
+ I would have my own apartment
+ an excellent workplace with well-oiled routines

- Tartu is remote and boring
- I would not live with my baby except when she comes to visit
- I would have to pay for my own apartment
- I would have to live with turning down an uncertain chance like CoolSecurity

With my own weighing of the factors (between one and ten, which I am not going to disclose) CoolSecurity get 49 plus and 32 minus, a total of 17 plus. FindYourself get a slightly surprisingly high 54 plus and 19 minus, making it a total of 35 plus.

So, this looks like the safer option, FindYourself, is still winning the race, but I'm still leaving my options open, and I want your opinions and comments as well!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Greetings from Sweden!

Robert! I and the boys thought you needed to hear that things are still happening back in Sweden. Now that summer is almost offically over people are coming back to town (though we of course couldn't care less about those overall retards thinking there should be a significant difference in life between summer and the autumn semester), we had pizza together today (and turned Dorado into a wasp death camp), watched a surreal Linklater movie tonight and as you can clearly see, someone was very drunk and silly as well. Hope you are well, we miss you lots! :-)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fascinating things in Estonia

Ok, so they say Балтик Инкассо are gone (here and especially here), and I truly hope so, but Desperado Security sure do exist. I saw one of their security guards in a 24hr liquor/seafood [sic] store and they have the craziest flash website ever (here).

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Home again - the final time?

There, I am back in Gothenburg again after a week in Estonia. Just so you know it, this is what you will go through purgatory for in Tallinn airport:

I was called all the way back to check-in from the gate to open my bag (they wanted to see that it was not 80% vodka), I got to cut through the security check line, belt off, computer out, empty pockets, metal detector, arms out, fill pockets, belt on, show passport, cut in line at gate (Estonian style, yeah!) and got a great seat behind the wing. Stressful but bearable experience, good thing I don't smuggle as much drugs as I used to.

The rest of the trip was nothing out of the ordinary, except FlyNordic have seriously shaky pilots, and that it was delightful to hear 6-year old Nathalie in the seat in front of me ARN-GOT giggle with glee as we took off and saw the clouds from above. Her dad did superbly in making her enthusiastic rather than scared of flying.

Being in Estonia was great, we went sightseeing to a beautiful (make-out) lookout, an amazing island in the gulf of Finland which used to be fortified by the soviets, etc. As far as work goes, I'm cancelling my apartment now - FindYourself have made me an excellent offer and Revalbank surprisingly led on to CoolSecurity™, an upstarter company I can't write too much about, except they have hold of a pretty serious holy grail they want to commercialize. CoolSecurity want me to write a part of their whitepaper as a test task, I will be up to my ears in work the next couple of weeks, it is a super-hard decision to make and I still have to cope with writing my thesis project... but it's all bliss compared to not having anywhere to go.

Time to sleep now, might write more about my options and ask for your opinions some other day.

P.S. In the fashion of other great bloggers, this will be my "quit smoking"-blog as well. It's doing quite fine since three weeks now. The other night I dreamt I smoked, and last weekend when tipsy I really wanted a cigarrette. That's more or less all. Robert, are you managing without the snus?

Friday, August 25, 2006

On the purpose of this blog

Catching up some on the writing, I probably should explain some about what this blog is, and why it is so.

During my years in college I have seen plenty of the daring globetrotter kind, who travel around the world just to sign up for another international exchange student program, don't seem to miss the family back in India too badly as they cope through a Gothenburg winter and think it's a great idea to work as an airline stewardess to be able to afford the two degrees they are working for, one in Sweden and one in Japan. Let's just say I am not of this kind.

I happened to find my girlfriend in Estonia, and as things were in our lives it seemed a better option for me to move and start my career there, than for her to move to Sweden and try to work something out there. Besides, in Estonia companies are fighting each other to acquire competence such as mine while in Sweden my girlfriend could possibly look forward to a job in a kindergarten or anything equally fulfilling. The choice was an easy one but nevertheless the process is very exciting and I wanted to document it.

My friend from Chalmers (Robert, as we chose to call him, after the character in "the Emigrants" by Vilhelm Moberg) has simultaneously (or somewhat earlier actually) found a thesis position in an exciting Silicon Valley technology company. As outlooks are now, Robert will be there at least six to nine months and I personally wanted to hear his stories of life in the Land of the Free, so why not let you here them as well?

We figured we'd write a blog, and we'd write in english, to make our stories available to as many as possible of both old and new friends. As we work in professional contexts and as little as possible want to expose our friends or corporations involved, we will anonymize all posts as far as is reasonable. We hope you here will find two interesting stories, similar and yet very different in both style and experiences. Enjoy!

Karl-Oskar, butchering a common friend

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Rollercoaster week, continued

I said I would write down some of what happened lately (don't worry, will get to everything moving- and work-related as well), so at least starting to write this post from a lengthy wait at Arlanda airport, check this out:

- Bad luck friday

Friday the 11th was just ridiculous. I hadn't gotten enough sleep, had laundry to do in the morning, wanted to finish the picture assembly for mother's 60th birthday and woke up with a fiercely flourishing cold. It was as if events of bad luck just wouldn't stop, I wasn't at work when FindYourself™ called, the fire alarm went off at work, the tram suffered delays when I was to go to the train, the frame for mom fell down and hit the lady next to me on the train in the face and to finish things of - mom accidentally stepped on and cracked the framing glass of her own gift before I could even finish it. Needless to say, all of this was very exhausting, but caving in simply wasn't an option, so instead of sulking I tried hard and had a good time with mom's party. On the positive side, I reached FindYourself later, and they promised to send me an offer including numbers by wednesday.

- Saturday, mom's 60th birthday party

Relatives all around, smiles and fake smiles, again and again explaining about the estonian girlfriend who could not be there, that I plan to move soon and everything. Over all a very nice event and I guess that the prospective of moving is relieving some tension there as well. On the train back to Gothenburg I read a fascinating passage in my current book giving a fascinating pseudo-scientific perspective on the issue of correlation between skin pigmentation and the size of male genitalia. The previous sentence is only remotely related to Estonia because of the allegedly prevalent xeno- and homophobia there.

- Monday of despair

On monday I was called by Mediocre™ which wanted to give me a job offer. 50 EEK/h during the trial period, 70 EEK/h after that and in a remote future perhaps but unlikely as much as 90 EEK/h. That makes for 390 EUR per month after tax (545 EUR/month after trial period). Tax-compensated, that is 5400 SEK and 7600 SEK before tax in Sweden. I have both rent and student loans to carry, I don't want to cry in despair every month I get my salary... Mediocre usually hire students who work beside school to do their work, and I might have under-marketed my skills, but needless to say this was devastating news. What if all other Estonian companies can't offer me even workable salaries, as my brother said, then I might as well kick myself tired? That would also imply I can't move to live with my baby, has all this effort been wasted, will I be stuck and bored to death in Sweden?

- Wednesday of small good news

Monday hurt, and even though I grabbed a friend to speak to, the emotions raged during the night to tuesday. Still, I pulled myself together and at wednesday called the chief security person of the Revalbank™. We had been talking and emailing some before, he hadn't seemed very enthusiastic about seeing me, but this time things started moving, and we set a date and time to meet next wednesday. Very excited about what will come out of that.

Before leaving work as well, I discussed with my boss about what possibilities exist to get more money out of my thesis project. As long as I stick to my 20 weeks stipulated, it doesn't matter if my project is huge or really well done, but he expressed some interest in having me stay for a month or so after the project is finished, at full salary. It would just make so much sense, I would get enough money to make the move away from Sweden, I wouldn't have to sit around staring at my belly button while the machinery grinds my degree application and it is much cheaper to hire me to complete more features in my project than to train and pay anyone else to do it. Now let's just hope that is ok with both the upper management and the estonian companies wanting to employ me.

- Thursday of euphoria and traveling butterflies

A busy day, wrote an application to a custom electronics manufacturer, prepared my trip to Estonia and made sure things would keep rolling in the office even without me.

Just as I was about to leave the office and go home to pack, I got an email from FindYourself. It was a pretty detailed description of the job they'd want me for there, Technical Project Manager, and a suggestion on salary. With all the work behind me and all that had happened so far, this suggestion was an incredible relief. The job is very exciting and seems it would fit me very well, and the salary is reasonable. I don't want to describe in too close detail since this is an offer I take pretty seriously - but the introduction salary should be comparable to my student budget the first four months, and after project bonuses and stuff start kicking in, roughly double that after tax. Compensate that for the low cost of living in Estonia, how good this salary is compared to other estonian salaries and that it seems I get a bit of an extra bonus from my thesis project to finance the moving... and I'm more or less up on dry ground now! I can't express how exciting this is to me...


I, Walker (one of the Bergman’s) and his friend Johan went to Yosemite national park this weekend. We stayed at a colleague of Johan who has a cabin in the mountains just south of the park. He tries to go there every weekend, so it was a perfect opportunity to tag along.

Johan's colleague adds to the list of American characters. He is an engineer who works at an electronics company in the valley, and a really nice guy who loves the outdoors, his dog, his terrain truck, his Ford Cobra and his assault rifle (the last one you will figure if you know how to interpret his custom number plates). All-in-all I would say, not a bad set of toys.

After a good night’s sleep and a nutritious breakfast consisting of sandwiches and beer, we headed out to Yosemite. There will be a gallery up soon with some more pictures for those who are interested.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Rollercoaster week

At the risk of repeating myself, the last week has been ridiculously up, down, eventful and important. Outlooks are very promising. I will try to fill in this post later, but that will have to wait because tomorrow morning the plane lifts for Tallinn again and I haven't packed!

On an other note, I have been entirely nicotine-free since august 6th now. My baby came up with an idea to deal with the cravings which to be honest worked better than expected. Great!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

First day at work

Today was the introduction for new employees. To walk takes more then an hour so I took a cab there. It turned out that the driver was also studying to become a CS major. He couldn't afford the more expensive schools like Berkeley, and certainly not Stanford, but would earn enough to get by studying without a scholarship.

The tuition at Stanford is around $40 000 a year (about 280 000 SEK). I’m glad I get my degree for free, and probably won’t complain as much about having to pay back to CSN afterwards. We wished each other good luck, and I made sure to tip the guy well.

At the intro we were informed about benefits, responsibilities and how the computer systems at Engineering were setup. It took 6 hours including the lunch break. Then we had our pictures taken for company ID badges.

The photographer is one of the janitors responsible for utilities at the company campus. His Norwegian father wanted to name the same as me, but his mother wouldn't allow it. Now he always greets me by name. I think he's a bit jealous :)

Then I was shown to the building were my office had been prepared, and met my boss. He's a really laid back cat. Very American. One of the few Americans who work in our department actually. About half of the staff in Engineering are from India, then its about one quarter Asian, and the rest is American, European or of other origin. Some 10% (roughly) are Scandinavian.

I got two computers to play with. (Warning - Technical content)
A dual Xeon 2.8 GHz 2 Gb ram, and a 3 GHz P4 HT workstation with 2 Gb ram, and it's SCSI all the way of course. Now that should allow me to get some work done.

I had Vietnamese for lunch with my boss the next day. He had learned to really like Asian food when he was in the navy and stationed in the Philippines.
He also likes big handguns and drives a huge pickup truck, and is a republican of course. He is well aware of how that is perceived but has a very relaxed attitude towards it. I recon there is a lot we wouldn't agree upon, and we agreed to try and avoid discussing politics.

Later after a ferocious party of Munchkin with the Bergman’s, I fall asleep. The adventures has just begun.
But time flies, and the first week just kind of swooshed by, with plenty of stories to save for later. Enjoy yourselves ‘til then.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Arrival in the US

It's Aug 4. My apartment in Gothenburg has been cleared out. Everything that has not gone home to my parents is packed into two pieces of luggage. The annual festival has just started, and I am out on the town with some friends until 2 am before I go to sleep. At 4 am I get up again, barely awake. I leave my keys with Erik, my neighbor who has his own reasons for being up at this hour. Thanks for all the help btw Erik.

I board the transfer flight to Amsterdam at Landvetter. Of course, fate, or Murphy, or whoever you put your faith in, finds it suitable to place an infant with loud cravings for attention in the seat just behind mine. Dammit!

I have a travel present with me I got from my friend Simon: "Tage Daniels paket", which I during the flight would discover to be a brilliant collection of writings by Swedish comedian and author Tage Danielsson. The pieces are written in the 60's and prior, but they have a taste of timelessness, and a hint of old style and ingenious use of Swedish. Thanks man, it was great. I definitely think we should stay up all night drinking Absinthe and discuss the meaning of life again sometime :)

There is some kind of personal media player mounted in front of every chair on the Airbus A330 which is to depart from Schiphol.

I browse a little, find an old favorite move, "Fight Club", and begin to watch it. But no! I can't believe it. There is a damn kid in the seat behind me on the transatlantic flight as well. Luckily this one calms down after takeoff. Some airplane-food and a beer later and I wake up while the fasten seatbelts sign turns on during landing.

I ended up living in the famous (and comfy) sofa at The Bergman’s for a while.
It's a typical house in the well kept and expensive, but still typical American suburban city, of Palo Alto. In the heart of what is called Silicon Valley, the sprouting grounds of the IT revolution, located some 20 miles south of San Francisco. I'm told Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computers, lives just down the street.

I'll get back soon with the story of my first day at work.


Monday, August 07, 2006

First post

I don't really have much to talk about yet, so for now, here's a bunny with a pancake on its head:

In my office, people are coming back from the vacation, so catching up on everything which has happened. The boss is very impressed with my progress in the thesis project, I am perhaps a bit more realistic and think the challenges ahead to finish the project will be quite sufficient.

It's a bit of a concern that I don't know yet exactly where I'll work in Estonia. Well, that should not be impossible to sort out. I'm writing letters today, tomorrow I should probably get thesis report started.

The guy who will be writing here with me sent me an email today that he's landed in California. Congrats to him! We should see his first post soon enough.