Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Java Champion and Developer Advocate at Okta.

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Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

Norway Rocks!

Norway has to be one of the coolest places on Earth. I've been here for a week now, and I'm definitely impressed. I didn't know what to expect when I left the U.S. - mostly because my last trip to a non-English speaking country was to Russia in the mid-90s. When I went to Russia, I thought it'd be a lot like the U.S. What I found was a beautiful country that was struggling to survive. I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Norway.

I'd heard it was modern, but I wasn't going to get my hopes up. When my laptop died on the way over, I thought I was in for it. I figured they probably didn't sell PowerBook cords over here, so I was screwed. Luckily, I was wrong. Unfortunately, I had to buy a whole new laptop - but it has been quite nice using a faster machine (1.67 MHz / 1.5 GB RAM) this week, with Tiger and all that jazz.

This week has definitely been tiring. I've given a fair amount of presentations in my life, and even done a few week-long training course. However, I've never talked as much as I did this week. I did a total of 7 sessions on Spring this week, at 3 different companies and 2 different JUGs. It was a lot of work, but it was also fun to meet so many enthusiastic Java Developers. Preaching the Spring gospel is pretty easy since it's such a kick-ass framework.

So what about Norway? It's very modern. In many ways, it's more modern than the U.S. It seems cleaner, the people are nicer, and apparently there's little crime and/or poverty. This is readily apparent from the moment you get off the plane. There's a "bullet train" from the modern/cool-looking airport into downtown Oslo. It takes about 20 minutes, and then you're wisked away into a historic city by the sea. I dig the train.

I've been staying at the Hotel Stefan in downtown Norway Oslo, which is about 5 blocks from the main courthouse and lots of historic buildings. I'm a block away from a castle too! The funny thing is all the westernization - there's a TGI Fridays down the street and Star Wars is playing at the local theater. Taxis are very cool - most of which are new Mercedes. The only downside I've seen so far is the beer is pretty expensive ($10/each).

I've taken a few pictures and hope to take several more while sipping on seome cold ones with the locals tonight. I'll try to upload the whole batch later this evening or tomorrow morning. My flight leaves at 11 a.m. and I'll be back in the Denver tomorrow night. The 16-hour flight home is going to be rough - good thing it's in first class. ;-)

Posted in General at May 27 2005, 09:22:32 AM MDT 27 Comments

"...downtown Norway..." ;-))

Posted by Dmitri Maximovich on May 27, 2005 at 10:40 AM MDT #

I am surprised that you was surprised about norway ;-) In fact apart from being "nearer" to the russian border as other western EU countries like where i am living, all scandinavian countries are very well developed with quite good economic numbers the last years. Regarding the prices for alcoholic drinks, yes thats known throughout the EU. Its allways funny to see scandinavian people being in germany and smiling when paying their drinks over here. I think back then the governments were frightened about alcohol abusement like seen in many places in russia so they defined the incredible prices for alcohol or better, they defined the taxes on it <g>

Posted by Marc Logemann on May 27, 2005 at 10:44 AM MDT #

But even funnier is the thing that you still define distances in blocks (which is pretty clear) but its somehow crazy because when you tell someone in europe to go 5 blocks to the next store, i am quite sure nobody understands that measurement. And yes, we also have PCs and Apples in europe ;-)

Posted by Marc Logemann on May 27, 2005 at 10:48 AM MDT #

While you're in the area, why don't you visit your roots in Finland? You might find it interesting to broaden your experience in non-Russian and non-American countries.

Posted by Anothermike on May 27, 2005 at 11:52 AM MDT #

Hello, there. Hope you don't mind this little intrusion.

> Regarding the prices for alcoholic drinks, yes thats known throughout the EU

Dear Marc, Norway is not in EU.

As for the main entry, there's some discussion about it now at my friend's blog (both in English and in Russian).

- [What's surprising about it?] Americans' lack of knowledge about the world outside the US, I guess...

- What do you know about life in Norway?

1) I'm pretty sure, more than that guy.
2) How is it relevant to the discussion? (NB: Besides, I'm not a citizen of a country that views itself as a center of the world and engages itself in different political, economical and military activities all over the world).

1) How? Did you talk to him?
2) No futher questions.

1) On the basis of what he wrote about his expecations regarding Norway.
2) Ok.

Why are you mad?

I'm not mad.
I'm annoyed.
Because I'm sick of people making generalizations "stupid americans". Have you gone around and asked how much Canadians know about the world? What about Russians? Nigerians?
I have seen very similar trip descriptions coming from Russians, for example. Yet, no one ever said that this betrays their utter disregard for other cultures and "self-centeredness".

> I'm sick of people making generalizations "stupid americans".
Then you've come to the wrong place, yelya. Neither me, not Bulatych said anything of that sort.

> Yet, no one ever said that this betrays their utter disregard for other cultures and "self-centeredness".
Oh, yes. My American LJ friend said that (a very smart American guy who traveled around Europe, speaks Czech and other languages), and I fully subscribe to his view:

Well, not stupid americans, but self-centered americans. Choose whatever you want. That's what it looks to me you said.

Yes. It is a natural phenomenon in center-periphery relationship (see the link). But that only proves it again and again that Americans view the rest of the world as their periphery.

rydel from Belarus

Posted by rydel23 on May 27, 2005 at 01:03 PM MDT #

rydel: Sorry mate, you're not making much sense

Posted by on May 27, 2005 at 01:38 PM MDT #

No offense Matt, but comparing Norway to Russia is like comparing the US to Africa. In many ways, Norway is like a child-proof version of the States; alcohol is expensive so you won't get too drunk, gas is expensive so you won't pollute too much and guns are regulated so you won't kill too many people. Did you know that there are more mobile phones than people in Norway? That bears repeating: MORE PHONES than PEOPLE? How does that compare to the oh-so-wired US? "westernization"? Ok, I know the alcohol restrictions might give you that idea, but this is not the Communist bloc we're talking about!

Posted by Norrbagge on May 27, 2005 at 01:47 PM MDT #

This post is a little disheartening. It just goes to show that even smart people can be totally uninformed... to the point where they talk about "westernization" in a city that's on the same longtitude as Milan. Man, Americans really need to get out more.

Posted by Maarten on May 27, 2005 at 03:24 PM MDT #

I am also disappointed with "westernization" and things like that, TGI Fridays and Star Wars, I could not let it pass as a daily reader of the blog... :(

Posted by Eduardo Rocha on May 27, 2005 at 03:52 PM MDT #

Posted by
> rydel: Sorry mate, you're not making much sense

Let's put it another way: you couldn't make much sense of what I posted. Granted it wasn't that straight-forward because I took the comments out of a context of another discussion. But it wouldn't hurt to try to flex your brain sometimes, would it?


Posted by on May 27, 2005 at 04:52 PM MDT #

> I figured they probably didn't sell PowerBook cords over here You're joking ?

Posted by da Bourz on May 27, 2005 at 10:06 PM MDT #

Thanks for a great presentation at the Oslo JUG, Matt. Really got me up on my toes reconsidering JSF against SpringMVC (and the slide transition animations were pretty neet too) ;) Glad you like our country!

Posted by Thomas on May 28, 2005 at 05:23 AM MDT #

UN Human Development Index 2004; considers things like the economics, health, education, governance, deomcracy; Norway is top!

Posted by Dave on May 28, 2005 at 11:40 AM MDT #

I appreciate all the reactions to this post, but I should defend my position. Regardless of how smart y'all might think I am, I'm still a hick from the sticks who grew up without electricity and doesn't know a whole lot about the world.

Sure, I should know that certain countries in Europe (and the rest of the world) are modern, but I'm sorry, my University (and culture) didn't teach me that. I will try to do my best throughout the rest of my life to educate my family and children what the "rest of the world" is like. I'm sorry if I offended anyone, I certainly didn't mean to do that.

Posted by Matt Raible on May 28, 2005 at 11:51 AM MDT #

Don't worry, I don't think you really offended anyone, and, in any case, we could all stand to learn a little bit more about the world, whether it be Scandinavia or the Colorado sticks ;) Maarten

Posted by Maarten on May 28, 2005 at 02:15 PM MDT #

Matt Raible rocks!

I attended the whole-day seminar on Spring in Oslo and enjoyed being presented with concrete experiences, good examples, valuable comparisons on web frameworks and sound techniques and advice. TANSTATBWF - There ain't no such thing as THE best web framework :)

As for "modernization" in Norway, I believe we are more technology-savvy here than in the US. Some examples (that may or may not be representative):

* Cheques were replaced with cash cards around 1990
* Digital cell phones have been in widespread use since around 1995 (and several friends and collegues now use so-called 3G phones, having 384 kbps download bandwidth)
* Self-service on the internet is widely adopted, more than half of the population use online banking and hand in their tax forms electronically
* Telecom analysts often regard the US as being 1-2 years behing Scandinavia in technology adoption
* However, we don't have the Blackberry here :/

I also think it is not fair to describe 'America' as one unit. I've lived in the US and find it to be a continent with huge variations. If I go to Wisconsin I meet an English-speaking near-Scandinavian culture, then going to South Carolina or Tennessee or California means an entirely different experience.

Most Americans I've met have not been exposed to many foreign cultures and I in most cases I think it was not their fault. The opportunity is simply not there in the same degree as here in Europe. Here you can catch a plane and meet a different language and culture after a simple 2-hour trip. And in the US you rarely hear a foreign language (spanish being one exception) or have the opportunity to watch a foreign movie.

New York, however, is more an interntational city than an American city IMO.

Posted by Kristoffer on May 28, 2005 at 11:12 PM MDT #

Matt (and others), You should really check The Washington Posts blog about travelling around Finland.

Posted by Janne on May 29, 2005 at 03:10 AM MDT #

Glad you liked Norway, Matt.

I really enjoyed your presentations. Thanks for sticking to it, even through the last presentation.

Posted by Geir Hedemark on May 30, 2005 at 11:19 AM MDT #

> > * Cheques were replaced with cash cards around 1990 > And, of course, Matt, you got to visit the company that made that one happen. I hope you enjoyed visiting us as much as we enjoyed having you. (And the next time you come, you could go see the movie in what is called the world largest THX movie theatre) Johannes

Posted by Johannes on May 30, 2005 at 12:41 PM MDT #

Oh man !!! I've been reading your articles for a pretty long time and you've always seemed to me as a uniquely smart guy. But this post killed me. I mean caused a lot of laugh. Aren't u american guys ever courious about what is happening outside your state or country ? Did you really thought EU countries have no computer shops and no global restaurants like Fridays ? Btw... Did u buy your notebook in Norway ? Don't u know Norway has in average the highest prices in the whole world ? Oh man, I know u're reach and can handle this but I think you know nothing about the world. No offence bc I admire and respect u and ur work a lot, but generally in my opinion some very basic knowledge about the world is a must have for any intelligent being. It's not my interest to offend u in any way, I'm just shocked after reading your post and only want to express my astonishment. Best regards, Mike March, Poland (Central EU)

Posted by Mike March on May 30, 2005 at 10:42 PM MDT #

Hi Matt, I hope you'll be invited at BEJUG's JAVAPOLIS too (at Belgium-Antwerp. FYI: It's a EU member and the beer is cheap ;). This year I skipped the conference but if you come over then I shall have to attend it too. Sins the chairman and founder (sja at bejug dot org) reads this blog your probably on their list.Maybe you could keep the first half of December free for this event. PS. We all don?t know much about eachother! Matt is a good guy, he didn't vote for Bush! That's all that matters.

Posted by koenvda on May 31, 2005 at 12:31 AM MDT #

Again and again, this thread proves that no matter how skilled (not necessarily smart!) software developers are around the world, they can be such intolerant drama queens. As soon as you take them out of their field of expertise anybody can be as ignorant and naive as a little kid. I'm from Mexico and I've witnessed how ignorant were some visiting Java contractors from central EU (UK, France, Spain, etc.) working for a multinational high tech co. project and that I took them to a tour around downtown Guadalajara. As we were walking upstairs from the subterranean parking lot downtown to central square, they were speechless for 2 minutes (senior manager included) after seeing the panorama view and the human activity, calmly I began to describe the 1800s stone buildings and some historic landmarks and the fact that the city was founded in mid 1500s, in summary I was told "I wasn't expecting this at all".

Posted by Rogelio on June 01, 2005 at 01:16 PM MDT #

Hello Matt, I'm sure this is not your favourite thread but... Im really interested what your sources of news about the world are. We hear terrible things about USA news, FOX in particular. Here in the UK the BBC doesnt seem too bad but it still suffers from the common diseases such as "One Briton feared slightly hurt in Tsunami"

While the USA has no monopoly on ignorance as the remaining super power perhaps its citizens have more of a responsibility while its leadership is out fixing the world?

There is not enough room here to tell you about the depths of my own ignorance.

Thanks for a great blog. Cheers Sam

Posted by Sam Hough on June 04, 2005 at 04:41 AM MDT #

Sam - to be honest, I'm not much of a news guy. I don't want much TV and I don't read a newspaper much either. Maybe I should start. ;-)

Posted by Matt Raible on June 04, 2005 at 06:29 AM MDT #

Matt, apart from giving you a different view of the world also provides entertaining .NET errors.

After seeing the difference in news coverage in Egypt and Turkey I dont have enough confidence to recommend a news source ;)

Posted by Sam Hough on June 04, 2005 at 06:45 AM MDT #

None of the media sources alone is not enough to give you the real point. You need to filter those news keeping in mind who owns the broadcast. Btw. watching Rails presentation from I'm shocked how sure the guy is in laughing at all the java guys, java coding style and principles of java frameworks. That all make sense to me but what I would need is a link to some high class people's discusion about java vs. ror since I don't trust that much any single guy as I mentioned before.... Any of you can provide such a link pls ?

Posted by Mike March on June 06, 2005 at 12:12 AM MDT #

Norway and like countries are being smashed and ruined by cultures like the US. We send bad ideas over there and people get this americanized idea, and they follow by it, it is really sad.

Posted by Joesph Christiansin on December 10, 2007 at 06:28 PM MST #

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