Friday, 10 January 2014

A journey of a year (more or less)

What have we done...

I had some time to sit down and think recently and give some perspective to the year that passed by.

(The post is obviously looking to my life at Jolla even though that has been big part of my life it is not the only thing that happened during this year but don't worry I won't talk about that :D)

January, Jolla had 50-something employees, we were looking for a System on Chip (SoC) to build a phone, we had some hunches, but it had been very difficult to involve major players that far. We had already an OS based on X11, Qt4.8 and a lot of legacy MeeGo code. Still lots do be done but at least something more than slides.

February, we went to Barcelona for MWC2013 and it was a blast, even though we were in the middle of nowhere in the last pavilion people and journalists came looking for us and we were able to tell our story. We finalized the decision of going with STE a SoC and we were more than ready to build a phone.

March, just a month after having found an SoC and lots of work under the hood had gone STE told us that they were not able to support us anymore. So in a couple of weeks we had to make some very big decisions...

April... so we started a project to evaluate the feasibility of making a product based on Carsten Munk's libhybris, Qt5 and Wayland. Wayland had reached 1.1 by that time and (as far as I know) we were the first ones making a mobile product with it. Same goes with Qt5. At the same time we were in search for a new SoC, a new ODM and a new product. No pressure...

End of April-May, the project was a success, we decided to go for it and the whole company started to move all the internal projects from X11+Qt4.8 to libhybris+Wayland+Qt5. It was less than painless and it took us about a couple of months to go back to the state were we where in March with the other SoC. A new product program was made on April 23rd and we set the target date for sales on w47.2013. We started a pre-sales campaign based on the SoC we managed to secure. We had the first Jolla Love Day in Helsinki where we presented our device.


June-July, the whole company was running full speed on the new project, every day there was a new something running and working. Performances were not yet great but given the time we had it was fantastic what Sailors managed to achieve.

August, lots of perplexity on the schedule, we seemed to be late, not enough was working fast enough and we had to take a lot of things off the plan to maintain schedule and quality. We were only 12 weeks from sales and things had just started working on the new HW.

September was dedicated to fixing bugs bugs and more bugs.

October was the month of the change. We had a bugfixing week in Helsinki with people from all over the world (from Australia to Europe to US) and only in that week we managed to fix more than 700 bugs. Sailors worked an average of 14 hours a day and quadruplicated the velocity. We started to go downhill, all the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together. It was almost magic.

After that we had 3 weeks to sales and we were tired, happy and confident that we would have made it.

November was the month of Slush and the announcement that we would have shipped on Nov 27th.

From (Copyright 2013: Jussi Hellsten)
And then there was Nov 27th in Kamppi, Helsinki. That was week 48: just 1 week of delay on our original plan back in April. Lots of love from all over the world, lots of party (part of the things I promised not to talk about :) )

Just recently, in December we were hit by some nasty data corruption in our shipping system that created some tension inside the company and especially some unhappiness among our eager customers. Mr. Logistic managed to fix the problems and put the train back on tracks just for Christmas tree to be full of Jollas. And we maintained the promise of shipping our product in 2013.

Then we opened our online web store and started serving the whole EU (support us and buy a Jolla today!)

Just 2 weeks ago we opened our co-creation platform  and to date there are more than 2000 posts by more than 1600 users.

Ah and we released 2 updates and 1 hotfix in 1 month, more than most of the devices out there will ever get in their lifetime.

During this journey we managed to get to about 100 awesome Sailors aboard and still counting.

The road was extremely tough and still we managed to deliver a product to the market in time. We focused on quality and stability rather than on number of features and we committed to our customers to listen to them and support the phone so it will remain valuable, relevant and well performing. We did this in about 100 guys and girls: we built an OS, an app store, a product, logistic and sales channels, online collaboration tool, SDK and developer intake.

We changed the SW and the HW architecture in May 2013 and we still made it (I still haven't probably realized the magic in this...).

This goes to our Sailors: UBERAWESOME!

The road ahead

Sure we have done a lot in very short time. But what is coming next?

This is just the beginning. We committed to release updates often: we did. And we will keep doing.

More features will come. We will react to the feedback we get on the various channel, we will build this OS with our users, we will keep talking, responding and fighting.

We will be in Barcelona again for MWC (want to meet us? Contact our press dept. ;) ) and besides eating tapas and drinking good wine and beer we will demo some of the cool new things we have been working on.

We will provide (the hacker) community with tools to hack on top of Jolla and Sailfish.

We have another 12 months ahead before getting again to the "look back and see what you did" moment.

Let's walk this road together.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Jolla: community and innovation

I write this open letter to the communities out there inspired by Misha and Lucien telling a bit of "behind the scenes" in Jolla.

About openness and communities.

I have been involved in Meego (named OSSO and Maemo before that) since 2005 when I moved to Finland and started working in Nokia. Few months after I started working in Nokia the 770 Internet Tablet was released and since then I have seen several other Linux based products being developed and released to the public (and some not released to the public). I loved the atmosphere and the learning I was able to do at Nokia. Most importantly I learned a bit more about open-source and community as a (mostly passive) member of

Openness is a very cool thing and Nokia was not bad at all in that respect. And I learned a lot about being open, open-source and related.

As Lucien points out very well Jolla is a company that has to do business and make money, like any other company in the world. Being open is not about telling all what we think and do exactly when we think and do that. Everything and right away. It would just be insane from any kind of perspective. It could disrupt all the innovation we are having, other companies might copy us, investors might not invest in the company anymore, customers and partners might feel betrayed and so on.

One clarification that I also have to make is that Jolla is not "using" open-source, Jolla is using AND contributing back. 75-80% of the code we use is upstream in Mer and Nemo and we make no forks (if and when we do it is a rare and extreme case).

Openness in Jolla is open communication between the inside and the outside of the company (what I am doing right now and what we try to do as much as we can), as being active part of a good open source project like Mer and Nemo.

If you think openness as "I need to know everything and right away" that is not being open to me. It is being stupid from business point of view. And even though you might see us as a set of crazy guys, no we are not stupid.

Yes we do listen and we do care about what you guys think and say and regardless what you think we change or try as much as we can to change plans based on the feedback you give us. And we respect you enough to answer you (on twitter or wherever else).

Being on internet is not our primary job, we all have at least a couple of other jobs inside the company. But we still do it for a very simple reason: we could not be here without you and your support.

That's why we care about communities that follow us. You are our customers, our research department and our feedback loop into real life.

In this business timing is essential. And also timing of revealing things is essential. Mer and Nemo as open source projects have these discussion in the open and Jolla sailors as part of these projects do participate in these discussions. And since 80% of what we do is Mer and Nemo, well we don't want to fork these projects and you can go there and see what we are doing there.

We are as transparent as we can be at any given time. And time is a precious variable here.

About what we are doing

We are not doing a "proof of concept" device. We are doing a real device that works. And we are doing that in 80 people.That means that yes we are a small company, I would say a tiny-miny company in this world, compare us to all the major phone manufacturers of the world. HTC has 16K employees. Nokia 97K. Sony 146K. LG 220K. Samsung 425K. We are 80 (no Ks here, just 80). And we are doing an OS and a phone (None of the company above is writing anymore their own OS, all of them use either Android or Windows.). EDIT: As pointed out in the comments Samsung is working on Tizen, just it hasn't released any phones based on it yet.

We are so tiny that our company is probably the size of the cleaning department in any of the companies mentioned above.

Still we are making a smartphone AND an OS that powers this smartphone.

This company named Jolla did not even exist on paper two years ago, yes we had ideas but we had no money, no employees and no name. No website, no mail addresses, no nothing. Still 2 years after a lot of people are talking about us and are waiting a phone made by these guys and girls in Jolla.

When this phone will be on the shelves, with its beautiful and priceless design, with it's crazy good UI, when you will boot it up and you will read Jolla on the screen and then the phone will connect to the network and you will be able to make your first phone call with it, that call, that boot logo, that will have the sweat and the blood of 80 guys (and some subcontractors) that have devoted the last two years of their lives for you to make that phone call (thank you Sailors!). They will have slept half of the time they should, spent half of the time they should have spent with their families and done way less exercise than they should have done, for you. And of course they will have done it for themselves. Because they believe in Jolla and they believe in Sailfish and in what it can be.

That is our love and our passion. You just can't touch it yet but we do love you guys. And when you will touch the device for the first time everything will be clear to your eyes. I won't have to say anything anymore. I will not have to explain. This device is a pure, pristine, crystal monument to the love we feel for you and for this software and hardware. And you will not care about the megapixels and the ppis, the megahertz and the megabytes.

Specwars and innovation

Have you realized that before three years ago nobody was talking about specs? Yes there was a bit about megapixels on cameras but I just can't remember all this fuss about specs.

The 1st gen iPhone did not have 3G (they made the 3G version for that). The iPhone 3GS (it was mid 2009) had an average camera, decent RAM, and average processor by that time. There were at least other 20 phones that had equal or better specs. Nobody talked about its specs though.

But Apple managed to do something that others did not manage to do. Have a beautiful UX on a beautiful design.

Pumping up the specs is easy, working on a beautiful user experience is the hard part. Putting that beautiful experience in a great industrial design so that SW and HW become a unique PRODUCT is not something that a lot of companies can do. And that's what we are focusing on at Jolla. Because we believe that is what matters and that is our differentiation. We don't have to differentiate with the specs. We can (and are) innovating on the UX by building a product that stands out already on the shelf.

Was talking to a friend the other day and he said he walked into Dixon's and imagined the Jolla placed there on the shelf. He said: "there would be nothing else to look at".

I haven't seen too much innovation recently, instead I heard a lot about who has it bigger and faster. It starts to get so flat and boring...

Thank you communities

Finally I want to thank you.

Thanks, keep being critic, keep us in line, push Jolla to do the best it can, don't buy the device if you don't want but keep talking with and about us. We are all human beings, we can make great things but we can make them only together. We can fail miserably as well, but only if we don't listen to the signals that the world is sending us.

We are Jolla. Together. Let's walk this road as good friends.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Finland: the garden of technology

(I am still surprised someone still reads this blog as my last update was almost a year ago... but it seems that some crazy guy still visits this... Thanks!)

Anyway back on the topic I had in mind, random thoughts about stuff and technology. If you don't know I am working as CTO of Jolla, a finnish based mobile phone company, and I had a lot of different discussions lately with startups here in Finland.

Just yesterday I realized what luck we have to be living and working here.

In a land were most of the people are shy and prefer to talk to you via IRC (I am one of those BTW even though I am not shy) and darkness and ice are there for several months a year you might think that living here is just boring and totally not fun (well sometimes is not fun when it's -20C outside...). But if you happen to be in the technology field, jeez, this is Colorado in the age of gold mining.

The talent is tremendous and when you hear a pitch it might sound and look flat, but that's just due to the Finnish accent of the guys that are presenting. If you look at the contents you understand the amount of top notch talents that are available in Finland.

Why now?

So where the heck was all this talent all these years?

I believe most of them were working in Nokia and now with the fallout happened after year 2011 all these ideas were liberated, all these top notch talents had to actually find a job and Nokia helped them not to find a job but to create new ones (kudos to Nokia for that!).

So 2013 is the year when Finland has become the Silicon Valley of Europe, the Ice Valley of technology.

Why does it work?

The scholastic system of Finland. It's not about the PISA rankings guys, it's about the fact that everybody is the same and receives the same education. There are geniuses but all the rest is good as well. So if there is a lack of geniuses well the system still works.

Collaboration. Finland gets it right, is not by going solo that you will become the best, you have to collaborate and share the ideas, only in a place where ideas can grow and flourish the collective intelligence will lead to common success. If you have a beautiful flower and this flower lives in the desert with no possibility to get water... the flower will die.

Ideas in Finland are watered every second, people talk, share ideas, collaborate (by the way Linux was born in Finland in a cottage) and the whole nation grows.

What does not work?

Money. We have been running around and talked to so many people to get some money to start Jolla (eventually we managed) and in Finland unfortunately there is not yet enough access to money for startups. Entrepreneurship is getting better but everyone's willingness to take risks is still quite low and definitely lower than Silicon Valley. It's getting better but still it can improve.

Any big guy there listening? Finland is the place for innovation in 2013 (and gaming industry is supercool here with SuperCell and Rovio among others) put some more water (money) into the system and this place will become the best garden for technology in the world. Please ;)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Tips for writing a readable CV and cover letter

Note: those are my personal opinions and by no mean I pretend those to constitute a universal truth.

I had the chance to read several curricula over the last few years and to be honest a very tiny percentage of that was something that I found enjoyable.

The thing is when you are reviewing CVs for a position you are facing a hard situation: there are something like 100-150 persons that want your attention and you already know that 70% of that will not be a good candidate (of course the odds might be better or worse depending on many factors, but as a rule of thumb that's what I found out).

So you allocate some time (usually a full day at least) to read those 150 CVs (you already know you will never make it), make a day 8 hours, that makes 3 minutes per each CV with no pauses and no interruptions. Of course the reality is that it takes 3 minutes maybe to read it, then another 5 to 7 at least to understand it, evaluate it, take some notes and decide what to do with it.

But anyway let's assume that a normal reviewer really has 3 minutes to dedicate to your CV (and cover letter).

What do you think it's the reaction when the guy sees 5 pages of CV? Three possible reactions: procrastination (you will go to the end of the queue), drop (you will never get read), evaluation (the guy is in a really good mood).

So first tip: make it 2 (two) pages. No reviewer has time to read your 5 pages CV.

Actually the first thing that a reviewer will read is your cover letter. That's even more important than the CV.

A good cover letter is something that tells the 3 essential thing about you to the guy who's about to read your CV. Is kind of a preparation to your CV. Think you are going on the stage in front of 1000 people. What do you want these 1000 people remember about you?

You think that "Hi, please find attached who I am" would work? Or "I am very interested in any position you might have to offer" works better?

Yeah I think you understood. You have to go there on the stage and be a freaking rock star (everybody knows there is only a limited amount of rock stars in the world).

Engage the reader, tell him really who you are and what great things you have done. Don't lie. Don't try to "I am sure you will agree with me when I say..." or quote Steve Jobs or give great names to tiny things. Be yourself, the real yourself. Tell them your story. That's what the guy wants to know: "Who the heck is this guy?"

So a cover letter should shortly say (e.g.):

"Hi there,

I found this rocket scientist position interesting because I love rockets. Rockets are all I ever wanted to do and there is nothing that will ever stop me from doing them.

I was graduated by the Rocket Science academy in Williwonkaland and since then I worked for 14 yrs in a garage building my own rocket. It flies, it went to the moon but never came back. But I did it all by myself.

You might think I am crazy but I am just a rocket scientist that wants to work with you."

Lately (and for the first time in my experience) I read a very nice cover letter. I don't remember the CV but I remember the guy because of the cover letter. This is what you want to happen.

Of course the cover letter has to be short and concise and exactly to the point. Use a big font and colors if you want as long as you say the right things in the right tone.

Of course if you are a musician and you applied to a rocket scientist position don't hold your hopes.

So second tip: Write a gorgeous cover letter. Short and to the point where you say why you like to work in this position and for this company.

Ok back to the CV.

What does the CV have to have?

Your name and contact details and where you are located (city, nobody cares about your address).

Who you are (even if you put it already in the cover letter). This has to be a one liner, something that should help the reviewer understand if she has to continue reading or stop there.

Example: "Rocket scientist with 14 yrs experience of building rockets in own garage"

Then write there where you got this experience. What you have done more than 10 years ago (unless is still your current job) does not matter. You have forgotten it, our brain does not have that much memory.

So third and last tip: write there your latest ( < 10 yrs) experiences

Per each position write your title, for what company (if you can disclose it), what was your assignment and 1 (one) important (really important) thing that you have done. Eventually links to proof of your work or portfolio. Order the positions you held in reverse order (from latest to oldest).


2005 - 2010 Cleaning manager at YMCA
 -  In charge of cleaning windows and floors. Once people were brushing looking their image on the floor so much it was clean. [Photos of the floor at Flickr]
2000 - 2005 Cleaning manager at ACME
 - In charge of cleaning all the windows. Once cleaned 73 windows in one day.

Then your education (only the most important/s, nobody cares about your primary school).

Then if you really want (but not many read them) your interests.

That's it.

This is of course if you want to have a "standard" CV. If you want to do something else (a PPT, a flash animation, a movie, comics, ...) then you are already different and you will already catch the attention of the reviewer. So ignore the tips in that case.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

How to add a new schema to openLDAP 2.4+

I tried to stay away from the new config type in LDAP introduced in v.2.3 as much as I could but today I had to face it.

I understand the reasons behind but I have to say that the docs are pretty scarce and any newbie has a pretty steep learning curve ahead especially if used to the old way of configuring LDAP.

The configuration now is in ldif format and it follows a pretty logical scheme which is clearly shown in this picture
What you find inside these trees (which are also directories inside /etc/ldap/slapd.d dir) is all your LDAP server knows about, all the rest in the /etc/ldap is not really that interesting.

Anyway you are to read something else, I know. I could not honestly find a straight answer to the question which gives the title to this post, even though there are a lot of places that contain bits of info but as usual the amount of work needed to get everything in place is still some. That's why I am writing this post.

[UPDATE: just found this which is pretty close to what I needed.]

I will start with a practical real-life example: Adding the sshPublicKey schema kindly provided here to your LDAP server. [I am basing my example on a Debian Squeeze installation]

Now you will find in /etc/ldap/schema/ a lot of .schema files. And there is where you will start to get confused... so forget the schema files.

Copy paste the openssh-lpk_openldap.schema in /etc/ldap/schema/ directory (just to keep them happy together):
# LDAP Public Key Patch schema for use with openssh-ldappubkey
# Author: Eric AUGE <>
# Based on the proposal of : Mark Ruijter

# octetString SYNTAX
attributetype ( NAME 'sshPublicKey' 
 DESC 'MANDATORY: OpenSSH Public key' 
 EQUALITY octetStringMatch

# printableString SYNTAX yes|no
objectclass ( NAME 'ldapPublicKey' SUP top AUXILIARY
 DESC 'MANDATORY: OpenSSH LPK objectclass'
 MAY ( sshPublicKey $ uid ) 

Create a tmp directory, e.g. /tmp/ldapstuff and create a dummy file there called for instance slapd.conf which simply has this line
include /etc/ldap/schema/openssh-lpk_openldap.schema
cd /tmp/ldapstuff && slaptest -f slapd.conf -F .
This will create in place a dir called cn=config and a file cn=config.ldif.

cd cn=config/cn=schema && vim cn={0}openssh-lpk_openldap.ldif 
 The only interesting things that need to stay in that file are the  following:
So remove everything else and edit dn and cn. This is a schema so it will need to be inside the cn=schema,cn=config LDAP tree, so the result should be
dn: cn=openssh-lpk_openldap,cn=schema,cn=config
cn: openssh-lpk_openldap
Now you are ready to add this to your LDAP server:
ldapadd -Dcn=admin,cn=config -W -f /tmp/ldapstuff/cn=config/cn=schema/cn={0}openssh-lpk_openldap.ldif
That's it, you can verify that it's really there by
ldapsearch -xLLL -D cn=admin,cn=config -W -b cn=config cn=*ssh*
This should give you some result. This is pretty much applicable to any other schema.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Regaining access to an AWS (Amazon) Linux machine

Say you secured so much your AWS server you can only login with SSH keys there. And you have only one SSH key that can access that server. And you lost your SSH key or forgot the passphrase for it.

Are you damned to lose all that work you have poured into that machine? Probably not, if you have the luxury of some downtime.

AWS does not have any (easy) way to just change the SSH key that can access to a system.

So after 30 minutes of attempts this is how I managed to get access back to my machine.
  1. Create another machine (a copy or just a new one it doesn't matter) and start it up. Pay attention to authorize a new SSH key that works to access this machine.
  2. Shut down the original machine
  3. Detach the (root) disk volume
  4. Attach that volume to the running instance
  5. mount the root partition (running dmesg or fdisk -l will tell you what to mount)
  6. go to <mtpoint>/root/.ssh/
  7. vi authorized_keys and add there the public key of your new key
  8. shutdown this new machine
  9. detach the volume
  10. reattach it to the old instance
  11. restart the instance and ssh into it with the new key

Be happy.

Ps. I found here another method involving snapshots but I just couldn't make it work. For some reason the cloned machine was always empty.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Buying group - Goodstuff from Italy

To all my friends in Finland (if I didn't send you an email already): it's that time of the year.

If interested in good food from Italy go and fill the webform (now improved usability!)

I hope to have all the orders by mid September (in 3 weeks), place the order in 4 and get the stuff within the second week of October. If everything goes fine :)