Seamus K - Irish tech industry expat living in Sweden.

Tag: life

Bringing ice to eskimoes

Sweden is the land of white crockery. We were in IKEA yesterday, and I don’t think we saw anything other than plain, brilliant white cups, plates, bowls. and mugs. Which is all nice. But when I saw these beefy, brightly coloured mugs in Dunnes* in Cork I had to have them. 

Mugs from Ireland

They bring a nice bit of cheerful colour to the table. But it does seem a bit funny bringing delph to Sweden.

* Okay I have cheated a little, the jug is from Flying Tiger which I suppose does make it Scandinavian.


Life is

Life has taught me we are all broken things…
Some of people are just better at hiding it.

There is a sadness, greater or smaller within everyone. A big part of like is learning how to mange that burden.


The Apple test

Image result for adam and eve

I was sent this by my former house mate PaddyK. 

It is a (lengthy but) amusing video about how Apple gets away with manufacturing defects that other laptop makers would not. And worse their customers excuse them and then keep paying the premium for these poor experiences.

I have been using a MacBook almost exclusively as my work machine for about 6 months now. A later post will talk about how that has gone for me. Right now though I want to talk about “The Apple Test” – my way of deciding whether it is worth your while having a debate with someone. 

The test came about when I was having a chat over a beer with a long time Apple product user. It was good natured, but the guy, who did not have a technical background, didn’t accept my technical explanations for why other products might be better. Eventually I asked him:

“What would it take to change your opinion of Apple stuff”

His response was that there was nothing that would change his mind.

That is when I realised I was wasting my time. If your position is that no argument will change your opinion, then you are a zealot. And it is pretty pointless engaging such people in a debate.

I now use the same standard with a lot of other discussions. Lets say I have someone strongly attached a a position e.g. Trump, Global Warming is a hoax, Brexit. Rather than butt heads trying to shift the immovable – ask them the question – what is the thing that might change your mind?

Worst case they will make it obvious you are wasting your time having a discussion with them. 

Best case they will have a think themselves about what it would be. And then maybe they will be more open to persuasion?

Rather than come across all holier-than-thou I accept I am as bad as the next person. There is a strong instinct to reflexively reject an argument that is against a position they you hold strongly. Ask yourself the same question from time to time – what would change my position? 

And the other important thing is – be open to shifting what you think. It is important you do this regularly. It is a sign that you are receptive to different opinions, different evidence. You want to find the best answers.

Here is a question for you. What is the last thing you changed your mind on? 🙂 



To water your whiskey or not?

The Washington Post has an article on the merits or otherwise of adding water to your whiskey. Most “whiskey drinkers” I know don’t. They take theirs neat. The article below goes into a detailed scientific examination of the pros and cons from a flavour compounds point of view.

Personally, though I don’t drink that much whiskey these days, I always water mine. Why? Because I used to work for Irish Distillers. There I worked with professional whiskey tasters (among other things they had the job of checking the newly blended batches against reference samples). One of the things I was told by them is you always water your whiskey. They didn’t have some fancy justification based on detailed analysis of the outputs of a gas chromatograph.

No, the reason is that undiluted 40% whiskey overwhelms your taste buds, so you can’t actually appreciate the flavours of the drink. The “purists” who drink their whiskey neat actually never get to properly appreciate what they are drinking because they have effectively concussed their palate!

Funnily enough the scientific analysis came the the same conclusion (it is better to water) but for different reasons.

Can we consider the discussion closed on this on then?

The best way to drink whiskey, according to science

Scotch drinkers say adding water makes the spirit taste better, and a new study shows why.



Driving home for (after) Christmas

The route is set. My 0600 Sunday departure time is planned. The Rostock hotel room secured for Sunday night. The ferry to Gedser in Denmark at 0600 on Monday is booked, and I am banking sleep. I just need to load the car, hit the road and head 1800km north to get back to my place in Sweden.

driving Vienna to Stockholm

On the way down before Christmas I took the long road with my father – we didn’t take the ferry. But that adds 350km to the trip. We took two and a half days (including time lost for fog from Dresden to Prague and on to Vienna. I should do the return in two.

On Sunday I will do 871km from Vienna to Rostock. My splits should be:

  • Vienna – Brno: 2 hours
  • Brno – Prague: 2 hours
  • Prague – Dresden: 1.75 hours
  • Dresden – Berlin: 2:25 hours
  • Berlin – Rostock: 2:25

The following day

  • Rostock – Gedser (by ferry): 2 hours
  • Gedser – Copenhagen: 2 hours
  • Copenhagen – Malmo (by The Bridge) : 0.5 hours
  • Malmo – Jönköping: 2 hours
  • Jönköping – Stockholm: 2.5 hours

All that assumes no problems with the weather, breakdowns and so on. But the real risk to my times is refugees. The Swedish and German governments have effectively suspended Schengen. They have re-instigated border checkpoints to look for refugees. Over Christmas we saw the big tailbacks that result when we crossed from Austria to Germany on the way to our ski resort.

Still a 15-20 minute tail back I can deal with. 18 hours of boredom on my own might be a different case!


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