Paul Houghton and I Ricardo Brito are on our way to Argentina to attend IXDA Cordoba, one of the biggest Interaction Conferences in South America. Jane Vita arranged this but sadly can not join us. We owe her everything.
I am sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Sao Paulo airport. It took several minutes fighting to fit the damn “universal” charger in the power plug to charge the laptop while writing this. Paul is sitting in the corner, not talking, finishing his breakfast beer. Maybe in this trip we can make him more Latin.
Our mission: 2 workshops and do some good. The first is Future Thinking applied to Concept Design. We show the importance of utilizing foresight in the Design process. The second is Open-Smart-Cities, a collaborative exploration with the IXDA attendees of concepts for a sustainable and bright future for cities and those that live in and work in them. We will also check the pulse of the broader design community, spread the word about Futurice and our ways of working, and record a several podcasts with leaders for The ThingCast.
I’m all packed for Helsinki to pick up Paul, my favourite engineer.
Paul: He lacks standards, and friends. Later I found he had a plan…
I pack the IoT Service Kits, Trend Cards Maps, Business Canvas and clothing for 30 degrees spring weather. :)
Security went surprisingly well and fast, they even smiled at me. For the ones who don’t know me I’m always the “random” security check guy.
Paul: Because he looks like a terrorist. That’s why he takes The Gringo with him this time – distract security, and take revenge
In Helsinki, first stop: meet Paul at Futurice’s office. Big hugs, smiles, beers and with shining eyes he introduces me to the concept they have been developing with our IoT Service Kit to pimp the office into an IoT demo paradise.
Paul: There must be some cultural misunderstanding here – engineers only shine when we are plugged in to an appropriate voltage.
We gather our workshop materials and head for dinner.
We solve the world’s problems over dinner through philosophical discussions about democratic cities and how architecture is political.
Friday starts early, Finn style (my bad luck).
Getting to the office I’m immediately busy meeting many new people, saying hi to well-known characters, and breakfast. PR Guru Arttu Tolonen shares the great news that our IoT kit, which we are going to use at IXDA, is generating a huge response in the media for Futurice. It is featured in London agency Head’s list of the five best tech stories. That makes our day.
The time has come and we head to the airport to start 30 hours on four flights: London, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Cordoba. I tell Paul as we see our luggage disappear that I hope our luggage with all the workshop materials will not be lost. He just says: “Of course not…”
The flight is nice on a brand new plane. Since this is work time we study UX of the entertainment system by synchronized viewing of Ant Man and looking for UFOs on the external cameras.
They take two of my three lighters.
Paul: Ask a smoker what they most need to pack…
Then something wonderful happened. Security problems, and it wasn’t me. Paul is stopped before getting on the plane. They say there is something wrong with his passport (“computer problem”). I take pictures and laugh.
Paul: Do I really look _more_ like a terrorist than a grunge Portuguese hipster?
The 10 hours flight was… bad, really bad. But there was time for coding, writing, watching bad movies, and having terrible coffee. I can’t sleep, but Paul is snoring and almost licking my face.
We arrive to Sao Paulo at 6am, and our next flight is at noon. We are starting to smell, but not too bad. Yet.
When entering Brazil they took my last lighter. They seemed panicked, like I was carry some sort of illegal explosive device. Then I discover that there’s no Smokers Lounge (yes Mark, our worst nightmare).
Paul: I did offer some pipe tobacco, but he apparently he lacks the Tennessee skill of putting it in his upper lip
6 hours later is time to leave to Buenos Aires. I’m still hoping that our luggage is still following us.
Something wonderful thing happened again: Paul is stopped before getting on the plane. They say there is something wrong with his passport. Again, but different, some sort of “Americans pay extra” tax. I take pictures of the gringo and laugh supportively.
Paul: Slowly I start to realize why he brought me
Normal flight. We entered the country with no problems, luggage was there waiting for us but the whole check-in process made me pull from my best latin ways to go through it on time, and still make time for a well deserved cigarette.
Paul: Latin skill at cutting lines is like a fine art.
Things got fuzzy here. My luggage didn’t made to the destination. I panicked thinking about all the materials for our workshops are there… I chat with the luggage lady. After that, it is time for an off-market exchange of Euros for Pesos and smooth travel tips.
Is it strange not going to a bank? Well, Argentinian laws don’t allow locals to buy foreign currency, therefore most of the people will kindly exchange money from their own personal account, paying almost the double comparing to the local banks. So we did it right there in the dark corner of the airport.
Time to go home.
Lazy Sunday morning, feeling a bit Jetlagged, especially after the neighbours decided to throw a party at 6am that lasted until noon right next to our apartment.
At the moment we have a work day. We are preparing the rest of the materials for the workshops, encouraged by the local beer. When in Rome…