I spent the whole last week (or this week; after all it’s Sunday… and Sunday is obviously the last day of the week, not the first, right?) in Linköping, Sweden. The idea was repeating some Debian course I gave here in Oslo, giving two more talks about automated testing since I was there anyway, and attend two more talks. It was lots of fun, partly thanks to my “host” (thanks Gerald!), and surprisingly I found a bunch of things that seemed plain weird to me… or at least quite different from Oslo.

The talks themselves went pretty good I think, although I’d have preferred more people attending. I guess it was normal that there were less people than I’m used to, since the Linköping office is much smaller. But anyway. The Debian course went quite well and some people got started packaging stuff almost right away. The other talks were an introduction to automated testing (advocacy and arguments for it, advice, basic examples and small rant about a different kind of QA), which went ok, and an entry-level talk about unit testing in Python (thanks Ask and Batiste for the information and reviewing the slides!), which went very well. I’ll try to get the slides for all the talks available somewhere.

About the city itself, it’s a charming little part of Sweden where:

  • Restaurants have insanely different prices for food whether it’s for lunch or dinner. Typical prices for lunch are 80 SEK (around 8 EUR) and typical prices for dinner are around 250 SEK just the main course!
  • Restaurants usually serve some Swedish dish for lunch… and I mean every restaurant, meaning all the Greek, Vietnamese, etc. Considering “real” Swedish restaurants are very expensive, you usually go to those foreign cuisine ones when you actually want to eat Swedish food.
  • Restaurants typically have some salad (that you have to take yourself) while you wait for the food… and some coffee, tea and cookies (that obviously you have to take yourself) for the end.
  • Related to this, restaurants are usually very self-service. I thought service in Norway sucked, but boy was I wrong, at least there is some service. And: there were typically long but pretty-fast-moving queues, and there was this one place where you didn’t even get the food on the table after ordering at the bar; instead, you were given some gadget with some wireless receiver, and when your food was ready it’d beep so you knew you had to go to some special place and fetch your food. Is it really cheaper maintaining some gadgets than hiring a waiter? I guess so.
  • The restrictions on the amount of alcohol that can be bought outside the special Government booze stores are even harder than in Norway. You can only buy booze with up to 3.5% alcohol outside “Systembolaget”. Now that is sad. And I was complaining about Norway’s 5%.
  • Partly because of that (I assume/hope) the Swedish “cider” you get in Sweden is even sweeter and worse and the Swedish cider you get in Norway.
  • We went to this nice student pub… which was literally for students. They actually checked your student id, but each student could bring one non-student along. Once you were “identified” as a non-student-coming-with-a-student, you’d get a stamp on your hand so you wouldn’t have to bring along the student when you ordered again. Also, the place was so very slow it was almost funny. One of the good sides was that they had what I thought it was the only decent Swedish cider… but after checking just now, it seems it’s actually American. Bummer. And the name of it was funny too: “Hardcore Cider”.
  • Right before leaving the office on Friday there was a small gathering in the canteen (the “Friday Beer”), where they had a Dreamcast with one of the most awesome games I’ve seen in a long while: The Typing of the Dead, a version of The House of the Dead 2 in which you kill the zombies by typing words that appear on the screen, instead of aiming and shooting with a gun: