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Svein-Magnus Sørensen's Blog

sxsw-2012-logo.pngThis year was the first time I have had the opportunity to attend South by South-West Interactive, the digital part of the infamous music festival in Austin, Texas that quickly grew to include movies and multimedia. With the tech-boom of the recent decade nearly letting the Interactive section overshadow the other parts it has been dubbed "spring break for geeks" and it is one of the largest and craziest events around for all things digital. So naturally it is the place to be to catch up on the latest trends and hypes in everything from online social media to cutting edge gadgets and private space ventures. SXSW can only be described as conference overload. There is simply too much of everything so it is an entirely overwhelming experience to be there.

So how was it then? Absolutely incredible of course! Despite the downpour of rain throughout that gave me a pneumonia, and the unknowable number of sessions, lounges and parties that I missed out on, I still had five fully packed days with stimulating chats, interesting sessions, amazing food and fun nights out. In addition we took a Texas roadtrip after the conference where we got to see a whole lot of a place most Europeans would never even think to visit.

SjokoladesamlingInspired by my passion for fine dark chocolate I began spreading the love a couple of years ago by holding chocolate tastings for my friends and colleagues. The feedback I received was extremely positive, most participants really enjoyed my sessions and some even claim that their chocolate habits have been changed forever after attending my course. With such potential I sensed a fun and rewarding business opportunity that could bring the joy of fine chocolate to a lot more people, so last year I created the website to promote my concept, and slowly but surely the demand for my events began growing.

Recently I reached a threshold for keeping this activity as just a hobby, so I would either have to start declining requests or step it up and get properly organized. With the potential for building a business on something I love I naturally chose the latter, so I have now registered an official business through which my future events will be organized!
Since owning a business involves costs and overhead this also means that I can no longer just idly wait for clients to find me, so I am now looking for partners and promotion opportunities that will get more people aware of my courses. Hopefully this will allow me to grow my chocolate tastings as a side business and maybe make it a full time venture one day... well at least I can dream :-)

After reading this, would you perhaps be interested in having one of my chocolate tastings held at your company or for your friends, or do you have suggestions for partners or promotions? In that case get in touch at for bookings or to get or provide more information!

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NSA LogoIt has been three years since I first began working as a senior consultant and business analyst at Objectware. During this time many things have changed, including the name of the company, its strategy, my department, parts of the management and a good number of my coworkers, but despite this the contents of my job and the essence of the company has in many ways stayed the same throughout these changes. It probably would have continued that way for several more years, but this summer a former colleague suggested that I consider interviewing for a position with a company called NSA where he was currently working. It was not *the* NSA of course, but a small Norwegian consulting company named with the three-letter-acronym for Norwegian Software Architects.

The position in question was as a Technology Evangelist for a Software Solutions Team focusing on Java and Open Source. With my diverse consulting background including java-development, being an active open data promoter and also a speaker on a series of conferences, the position suited me perfectly. Naturally I took my colleague up on his suggestion, interviewed for the position and getting a very agreeable offer I ended up accepting the job. Now I have just completed my very first day of working in my new role as an NSA Technology Evangelist! Wish me luck going forward :-)
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Most of the work I do as a consultant is by its nature invisible to the general public. Some of this is because of security concerns, but mostly it is due to the work consisting of building or improving internal intranets, applications and collaborative systems, writing reports on various topics, holding courses in different technologies and aiding our salespeople with technical details in bids and meetings, all of where the results are rarely published externally. While these inputs are often important parts of the day to day operations in many organizations, they will rarely be appreciated by anyone beside those people directly involved.

However in the past year I've also been part of several projects that have resulted in public facing websites where my work will affect how thousands of people go about their day, and can be accessed by anyone in the world. The most ambitions and innovative of these has been the new site for the merged University Colleges of Oslo and Akershus, which was just launched a few days ago. I've also held a key role in planning the redesign and restructuring of the Norwegian Business School (BI) website, as well as managing the implementation of the Moonwalk RED campaign website for the Norwegian Red Cross. All of these have naturally been built as team efforts where my work have only played its part along with that of the designers, the developers and the clients themselves, but none of the sites would have appeared as they are without all the contributions coming together as one.

Roots logo I've recently returned home after spending a few days in the rainy city of Bergen, my birthplace from where I still can be identified by my accent, despite us moving north when I was just a few years old. I was there to attend the Roots conference, a different technology conference where all kinds of IT-workers can meet and get professional and social inspiration from each other and the fascinating talks they had scheduled, one of which was by me on improving the user experience in existing solutions. The slides from my talk are as always available from Slideshare, and impressively the Roots organizers have already made all the talks available online, including mine!

Besides giving my talk the conference was a very interesting place to be and I heard and talked to a wide range of both the speakers and participants that provided me with new insights and food for thought. This was definitely a different kind of conference and one I can wholeheartedly recommend. The location in Bergen was also a positive thing, as it provided opportunities to go sightseeing and exploring in a city I rarely visit otherwise.

ChocolatesBased on my interest in fine chocolate I'm holding chocolate talks and tasting as a side-business. In the chocolate tasting events that I'm doing on request you get to listen and taste your way through the history and geography of chocolate.
Recently I've held several reserved tastings for my co-workers at Itera Consulting and other companies, but I'm also available to give chocolate talks and hold chocolate tasting events for any businesses and organizations that are interested in a tasteful team-building session out of the ordinary! If this sounds like something your company could be interested in, check out more details on my fine chocolate appreciation page.