Off To Paris

I'm going to be in Paris for the next eleven days. Tomorrow will be my first trip through Le Chunnel, which I'm excited about in a nerdy kind of way. I'm being paid to travel business class, which is nice. You can see it now can't you, me in my chinos, sipping a beaujolais and poncing around with my laptop and smartphone. What a picture!

The first week there I'll be staying in Disneyland. There's an IBM conference on and I'm working as a roady for Sandeye. Theirs is the kiosk application I've been working on and I'll be there to support it and make sure everything runs smoothly.

It's a really nice application and I'll be interested to see how it goes down with the real users. Having run a couple of Karen Tests™ it appears to be idiot-proof. Here's a screen shot of the "people" view (you have to imagine it taking up the whole screen on a laptop):

Here's one of a memo being forwarded and the user selecting a name from the list of attendees:

Finally, here's the login screen that the user first sees when they approach a vacant laptop:

Notice there's no actual login form. Instead there's a picture of a card being held up to a card-reader. CMIS uses RFID technology to identify users. They simply hold their card to the reader and it logs them in. Magic.

I'll probably write more about it when I add a case study to Rockall's site. For now I just couldn't resist showing if off a little. As with any project that's my most recent work it represents where I am at professionally. The design and workings of this application are based on all the best practices I've learnt and wrote about over the years. It's always nice to get a clean slate (CMIS beforehand was a client-only application) on which you can apply all that you've learnt.

If I had to say I had a speciality then it would be converting Notes applications to the web. If you need this doing, then I'm your man!

After the conference is over I get to spend a weekend in Paris itself. The Monday and Tuesday of the week after I will be visiting a long-term client of mine who I've never had the chance to actually meet. When I mentioned I was in Paris he asked me to visit. How could I resist the excuse to spend a weekend in Paris. Although I'll be alone for the weekend, I don't mind, as there's loads to do and I'll be taking my camera.

Has anybody got tips for a lone first-time traveller to Paris? Where should I go? What should I do?

For now I am packing my case and practising the only line of French I hope to use: Parlez-vous Anglais?


    • avatar
    • Erwin
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 07:57 AM

    The design is -so- not Notes :-) Consider that as a compliment :-)

    I see too many applications where people want to mimic the notes look and feel on the web. Don't do that. You didn't, and the result is just outstanding!

    The use of colours remind me of Workplace a bit...

    • avatar
    • Nick
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 08:04 AM

    Can always practice the 'Voulez-vous avec moi ce soir'(please excuse any mangling of the french language). To all the pretty ladies of Paris. Is Paris similar to Las Vegas? What happens in Paris stays in Paris? :)

    • avatar
    • YoGi
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 08:07 AM

    It depends what you want to do : visiting monuments or places (there's a lot of to, need advices?), going to pubs, concerts, clubbing..

    i'm not at Paris (where i actually live) next week-end, too bad we could have had a beer !

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 08:15 AM

    Erwin. Agreed. Part of the design process was convincing Sandeye to let me do away with the infamous twisties.

    Nick. If I did anything like that I think I'd better stay in Paris too.

    YoGi. it's a same we couldn't meet. I've got lots of things in my mind that I want to do/see. Eiffel Tower by night, the Pompidou centre, Louvre pyramid, that square glass arch and such. Probably enough to keep me busy.

    • avatar
    • Craig
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 08:24 AM

    Don't forget the old French lesson favourites :

    "j'aime le music pop"


    "je joue le football"

    Always handy in a pinch.

    • avatar
    • YoGi
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 11:21 AM

    @Jake :

    Places to see also in Paris :

    - Montmartre: {Link}

    - Notre Dame de Paris : {Link}

    - The Panthéon : {Link}

    - The Père Lachaise cemetary : {Link}

    - Haussman boulevard (galeries Lafayette, Printemps -- near St Lazare train station)

    - Concorde : {Link}

    - Catacombs : {Link}

    - Arc de Triomphe : {Link}

    and don't forget the rule : basically there's no more metros after 0:30 am

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 11:29 AM

    Thanks YoGi. Photographically, I prefer the new to the old. I think I'll find the Arc de Triomphe and then follow the Axe historique down La Défense and the Grande Arche {Link} Is that a massive walk?

    • avatar
    • YoGi
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 12:47 PM

    yeah, it is a massive walk. I guess about 5~6 km. And i don't think it would be especially interesting, as far as i know, there's nothing special between the arc de triomphe and the grand arche.

    Two more things :

    - Here is the metro map : {Link} (userful -- here is the printable version : {Link} )

    - I can be back sunday 9 around 7:30pm (st lazare train station), so if you're still there, we might have that beer, finally :)

  1. "je joue AU football"

    amuse toi bien et ne bois pas trop de vin rouge :-)

    enjoy yourself but don't drink too much red wine :-)


  2. "I don't speak french but I do kiss that way" - Lt Frank Drebin


    BTW, who is filling in for you?

  3. Just avoid, "Tirez mon doigt." That doesn't go over well anywhere. And I believe that the traditional pronunciation of "parlez-vous anglais" is "DO. YOU. SPEAK. ENGLISH????" (Slower and louder if the answer is not immediate.)

    • avatar
    • Lake
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 01:55 PM

    Make a point to check out the incredible pastry shops.

    • avatar
    • Mike
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 02:05 PM


    Love the "clean" look and feel of the app and the fact that every pixel isn't crammed with something.

    -- Mike

    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 02:56 PM

    YoGi. I don't know what my movements are in Paris yet. It depends on what the client wants of me. If they don't want to wine and dine me of the evenings then I will get in touch. I am there Monday night as well (the 10th).

    Jeff. Filling in here on the blog? I'm hoping to have plenty of time on the internet while I'm there and so I'll still be blogging.

    • avatar
    • tq
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 03:01 PM


    I have to agree - the kiosk app looks really good - nice, clean UI and very non-Notes! Enjoy your trip.


    • avatar
    • Keith
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 03:22 PM

    Ahh, Paris. I worked a 3-month contract there one summer - it was sweet.

    Pesonally, I would avoid La Defense. The Grande Arch is impressive, but it is the only thing there worth seeing.

    For seeing the Eiffel Tower, I'd recommend taking the Metro to the Trocadero station and finding the view from the Chaillot Palace (Palace d'Artes, forgive my rotten French). Do it at night. Best view of the tower available.

    Also see if the fountains at Versailles will be running on Sunday. If they are, head out. It's fantastic.

    The one thing I never got to see was the catacombs.

    My favorite Paris tip is to use the RER within the city. It's a regional train line with several stops within Paris, and the Metro passes also cover the RER within the city. It's like a secondary express Metro. It can cut a trip across town in half!

    • avatar
    • Gaston
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 03:25 PM

    Hi Jake,

    If you have spare time and want to share a beer in a pub, just tell me ;)

    Have a nice trip,


    • avatar
    • Jake Howlett
    • Fri 30 Sep 2005 03:40 PM

    Gaston. That would be good. As soon as I know what my commitments are I'll get in touch.

    • avatar
    • Julien
    • Sat 1 Oct 2005 01:47 AM

    Have a nice trip in Paris and avoid speaking about London 2012... We are not all badjoke-proof ;-)

  4. Hi Jake,

    I am french and I live just near Paris.

    The post from Yogi was already quite exaustive for an eleven days business trip...

    It you want a place with young people and nice pubs you could go to St-Michel and Bastille.

    Catacombs are not really exciting...

    Look for the Champs de Mars, l'avenue des Champs Elysée, et cetera.

    There is no metro after 0h30 but you can take a taxi !

    WARNING : to morrow there will be lot of problem with the metro because of drivers who won't work for social reasons.

  5. did you know that the first channel tunnel was planned by a man called Watkins (something like that) he was chairman of the

    MS&LR Manchester Shefield and Lincolnshire Railway, (money spent and lost as share holders called it)

    later the Great central railway. He changed the name when he decide to branch out :-) with a line from Sheffield to London, teminating at Marylebone Station. When he go to Annesley in Nottinghamshire he made Paris his goal at this point he changed the loading gauge, so all the bridges and tunnels etc after Annesley tunnel were to the continental gauge. So to the point,

    The private station of Hollinwell and Annesley

    was in efect the first station on the first channel tunnel rail link.

    I do realize that fact is rather boring,

    but this is a blog, so!!!

    anway have fun son

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