Things have been rather hectic lately, so I haven't found much time to blog. Here's why:


The Gigabit Ethernet version of our thin client took more time to produce than I expected, for a number of reasons mostly related to a few improvements we decided to squeeze into the design at the last minute.

However, today, we finally reached a point where LinuxBIOS runs as well as it did on our previous DBE61 model and where we no longer need any DOS tool to flash the MAC address into the VIA velocity Gigabit chip we selected. Hurray!

Production will only commence in one month, but I'm already excited by the new model's potential, both as a thin client and as an embedded platform.

Another good thing is that, thanks to Ubuntu developer Scott Balneaves, we managed to get all the necessary tools to support thin clients based on LinuxBIOS into LTSP, so our Etherboot model works out of the box on Ubuntu, since Gutsy. Hurray!

There is one remaining issue related to recent changes in X.org core functionalities that make the AMD driver we need unstable but, again, various AMD, Debian and Ubuntu developers are looking into fixing this, so we should soon have spotless Geode support into Debian and Ubuntu again.


I visited Turkey twice over the last few months, because I'm putting together a pilot project to better promote the Estonian high-tech sector abroad, in collaboration with the Estonian government.

I have to say that the more I visit Turkey, the more I like the place and the more understand why these people see themselves as Europeans because, you know what? They are: practically every significant civilization and religion that is at the core of European culture had major events taking place in in Anatolia or Thrace and, also, a devastatingly huge percentage of the consumer goods sold in Europe are designed and manufactured in Turkey.

Learning the rudiments of Turkish has also proven to be a lot of fun. While I'm nowhere near as fluent in Turkish as in Finnish or even in Estonian, the learning curve isn't as steep as I initially expected: Altaic and Ugric languages share a surprising amount of grammatical concepts, while Turkish itself borrowed a lot of vocabulary from French, because the founder of modern Turkey, Atatürk, was very fond of the language. I'll venture that proximity with nearby Middle-Eastern countries that were formerly under French influence has something to do with it too.

Identity crisis

To me, the most challenging part of these business missions abroad is to represent a whole economic sector from a country of which I'm not a citizen or even a resident. Case in point:

Being invited to dinner by a Turkish investor, I noticed the waiter asking my host where his foreign guest might be from. A few minutes later, as the waiter put down a gigantic pita bread with the word "Estonia" spelled in roasted sesame seeds, my host asked, reading my business card:

  • Actually, your name doesn't sound Estonian. France?
  • Québec.
  • And your mobile number ... 358 ... is that Finland?
  • Yup. I've been living there for the past 10 years.
  • Ah! So you don't live in Tallinn?
  • Nope. Helsinki.

Looking at the waiter and pointing at the gigantic pita, he continues:

  • Actually, make that Canada ... no, Finland ... Ah, sorry, never mind. Just keep it as Estonia.

Honestly, trying to keep a straight face while saying "We" about a country of which I'm not a citizen and where I don't even reside becomes unbearable. At some point, some European bureaucrats will have to admit that I need a new citizenship, to reduce the confusion and to let me find myself a proper national identity again; the sooner, the better.

Besides, the absurdity of the situation keeps on jumping at everyone's face: during the second mission to Turkey, I kept on bumping into Finnish diplomats who took personal offense at me for living in their country and yet representing the interests of a competing, neighboring country. If you ask me, I cannot entirely blame them for it.

However, as far as I'm concerned, I've done my homeworks: I've been here 10 years, I speak the language and I don't have a criminal record. Given this, you'd think that acquiring citizenship would be a mere formality, but the Ulkomaalaisvirasto doesn't see it that way.

If you ask me, this country's very first Minister of Immigration, Mrs.Astrid Thors, ought to unilaterally grant citizenship to anyone who's lived here for at least 5 years, just for the asking, regardless of what circumstances brought them here or of what absurd decisions the Ulkomaalaisvirasto might have previously made on their residence permit status. Doing this would go a long way towards undoing the mess of her predecessors at the Ministry of Interior and it would speak volumes about how much Finnish society has evolved from the days when any foreigner was a commie they had to push over the Eastern border.


Anonymous said...

One question:

Just why would you need gigabit NIC on a tin client???

Martin-Éric said...

Any remote application with intense audio or video, especially where signal quality is at stake, can benefit from it.

The most obvious example is when replacing normal phones with VoIP applications in call centers of similar office settings.