Sunday, August 26, 2012

From CD Routes to GPS navigation

E71_June24_Sotkamo_2009 268

PICTURE: Helge V. Keitel, Loviisa (2009)

I’m learning new things by studying old email postings and photographs stored on a portable hard-drive attached to my laptop. There was a time when the CD-ROM was a big thing.
“Tell me, when did you watch or use a CD-ROM or a Floppy-disk?”
The internet and social media, picture galleries and movie storages are here now to stay. It’s so easy to distribute and share now-days. But let’s move fifteen years back in time.

We’re driving south along The AUTOROUTE DU SOLEIL, approaching the exit to the Medieval Avignon. The other choice was to the right and GROTTES DE THOUZON and to look for a hotel in that direction. We didn’t have much time for tourism during those days.

Mobile phones made it convenient to communicate but it was pretty expensive to keep in touch with our clients in Finland and Europe. Our mobile computers also had a FAX option while lots of people were more familiar with FAX machines. French and Finnish companies had FAX-numbers, but the use of email was only emerging. Finland was much more advanced in the field of telecommunication than France at that time.

We'd Nokia, France was still believing in MINTEL. Today, the information society is functioning pretty well almoste everywhere in Europe.


Nevertheless, we’d good long-term collaboration contracts and living on-the-road wasn’t that expensive as one might think. We learned to travel light and succeeded to control our expenses. We still do!

There was a phone call from Lyon. I explained to Irja that we’d have to attend a meeting in the outskirts of Lyon within a week.Change of plan.
“Are we going to get the technical people from Finland to participate with such a short notice?” Irja asked.
Honestly, at that moment I wasn’t so sure, but figured we could go to that negotiation and handle the entry-level technical questions ourselves and prepare the FAQ’s during the week we had in front of us.
"Do you want me to call it off?" I asked, staring at her in the soft light at a road-side lunch restaurant.

“No, we’re going to handle this,” she said.
The technical stuff wasn’t the only problem we would have to face. Pricing and delivery times had to be brought to the table as well. We decided to set up a Basecamp and start working. We’d no time to loose. There was a big deal opportunity waiting around the corner. We’d to get started and there was no time to bother about technical limitations and shortage of bandwidth.

The Innkeeper  was a charming woman, and we chatted for quite some time while she explained details about the apartment we had chosen.   She was curious, what on earth had brought us from Finland to the Southern part of  France. According to her, Finns didn’t move around much. She knew about Swedish tourists and travelers.


We had dinner at a wonderful auberge and remarked upon a poster displayed there.  We asked the owner where we could find one.  
She said, “Give me your phone number.”
Let me tell a little detail: I still have the same phone number (+358 50 309 2021). Two days later she made a phone call and said it would be delivered later that evening.  
C’est mon cadeau pour vous.”  
Just about anyone you meet make an attempt to chat, even in ungrammatical and halting English - French, and the Provencal are invariably polite, helpful and, believe it or not, complimentary.  Our French wasn’t good either, but we did come along with these friendly people.
Mais vous parlez bien!  Je vous comprends!”  
Our stay was coming to an end. Au revoir! I hope, rather, it’s a bientot.  It is hard to believe that our Provencal adventure was coming to an end.  It didn’t. We’d to hurry to the meeting in Lyon, but promised to come back. We'd a another job waiting for us in the outskirts of Marseilles.
"How about next week at the same time?" she asked.

“We’re not going to stay in Lyon for more than two days,” Irja said.
There days later we were back in the same place and working with the second step and a few other things. We’re lucky, four months later we closed the biggest deal in our company’s history.


The A7 Autoroute, also known as l'autoroute du Soleil (English: the Motorway of the Sun) is a French motorway. It continues the A6 and links Lyon to Marseille. The autoroute du Soleil is 302.5 km (188.0 mi) long and forms part of European routes E15, E80, and E714.

According to Wikipedia, this Autoroute is fairly heavy throughout the year. Much of the transit of heavy goods between northern France and the Benelux countries and Germany and the Mediterranean passes through the Rhône valley, and thus along the A7.

Traffic is also generated by local transit around the larger cities of the region (Lyon, Vienne, Valence, Orange, Avignon). During holiday periods, traffic is particularly congested, southbound at the beginning of holidays, northbound at the end.

The last week-end of July and the first week-end of August are particularly crowded in both directions; jams can occasionally stretch for hundreds of kilometers.

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