advertisement

July 30, 2014

Taxi app uberPOP making its way through Amsterdam

Filed under: Automobiles by Orangemaster @ 12:26 pm

As of today selected Amsterdam clients using taxi app uberPOP can organise taxi-like rides with private persons and pay for them using their smartphone. The company also offers two other services that feature properly licensed drivers and vehicles, but it is uberPOP that remains a thorn in the side of cabbies, as it offer rides up to 50% cheaper than normal cabs.

Besides having much more overhead (insurance, permits to drive over tram rails and bus lanes, etc.), cab drivers in Amsterdam have to write down every trip they take, which I find ridiculous and dangerous as many do it while driving, something an uber driver probably doesn’t have to do.

In London, where the app has been available for some time 12,000 taxi drivers protested last month, although many Londoners are gladly using the app. Earlier this year in Paris riots broke out, with people being hit and cars being smashed. The city of Brussels demanded uber make changes to its app in order to keep it legal, including making drivers obtain certificates of good behaviour.

The main objection to the app is that it takes work away from real taxi drivers, but then the app is legal and the drivers and cars currently meet local rules and regulations. Anyone is free to take a properly licensed taxi if they want, but with the mess that is Amsterdam’s taxi services, switching to uber will probably be a major relief for a lot of people.

In Amsterdam drivers continue to refuse small trips, preferring tourists going from Amsterdam Central Station to Schiphol Airport. They also often refuse animals, sometimes speak poor Dutch and/or poor English, and have one of the highest fares in the world. I personally get good taxi service when I need it because I don’t take taxis from Amsterdam Central Station, which is physically regulated at night by security staff like some Banana republic. Even tourist website ‘I Amsterdam’ says “Amsterdam recently launched a campaign to improve taxi services”, while happily listing uber under ‘special taxi services’. Fancy that.

(Link: www.elsevier.nl, Photo of taxi sign by Ben Fredericson, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , ,

July 29, 2014

The Jacksons to lay flowers for Michael in Amsterdam

Filed under: Music,Photography by Orangemaster @ 12:16 pm

4241054376_5ec4c3f126_m

The Jacksons are performing at Paradiso in Amsterdam on Wednesday 30 July and were scheduled to lay flowers this afternoon at a memorial billboard featuring a famous photograph of the late
Michael Jackson taken by Dutch photographer Claude Vanheye in 1977. Located on the Gustav Mahlerplein in the Zuidas business district, the billboard was installed on June 25 and will stay there until mid August.

However, word is that Jackie, Tito, Marlon and Jermaine were stuck in France due to bad weather and now hope to honour their late brother Michael on Wednesday, but it’s not confirmed yet as I write this, so we’ll keep you posted.

The above-mentioned picture (click to see) features a young Michael Jackson with a camera walking through the Jordaan district of Amsterdam.

UPDATE: The Jacksons should be at the memorial billboard around noon on 30 July, as per Nu.nl.

(Links: www.at5, www.legendarymichaeljackson.nl, Photo of Michael Jackson illustration by kasiQ, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , , , ,

July 28, 2014

Breaking the law is fine when the rich do it, says cop

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 2:43 pm

Smart-parkingLast month, lost in a footnote, I hinted at a common practice in a rich neighbourhood of Amsterdam of not paying parking tickets.

Instead, the rich used to fight their tickets in court. They assumed that because the district had to pay its lawyers with public money, the district would prefer to turn a blind eye to parking violations.

Volkskrant wrote back in 2001: “In the entire neighbourhood committees were started to collect the legal expertise needed to fight parking fines in court. Once people had won a couple of their cases, posters started appearing at the dry cleaners: ‘Got ticketed? Fight the fine!’”

The article, a vignette of the Amsterdam neighbourhood Museumkwartier, quotes a police officer who gets worked up over the lack of respect shown to his office, but his colleague, one Jan Okx, sees the positive side of the situation: “The people get to know each other, which improves the cohesion of the neighbourhood.” Volkskrant describes his attitude without a hint of irony as “thinking in processes”.

I wonder if an article like that could still be published today. The one percent have destroyed the economy and the phrase ‘the rich are getting richer’ is no longer just a leftist cry but a scientific fact.

Tags: , , , ,

July 27, 2014

How to find a lost rocket launcher

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:55 pm

find-missing-buk-crop-koreandefenseKoreanDefense writes: “The rebels in eastern Ukraine seemed to have lost the anti-aircraft system they’re using to shoot down planes, so, let’s help them locate it.”

The author uses Twitter, Google Maps and Google Translate to help Russian terrorists, the ones that allegedly shot down civilian flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, locate their missing Buk rocket launcher. A more serious investigation appeared in The Guardian a week ago.

Dutch weblog Nine to Five has been doing its own research into Buk rocket launchers. It appears that Rostec, the company that manufactures these missile systems, is officially headquartered in Amsterdam in a building owned by Renault-Nissan. Rostec and Renault-Nissan work tobether in the car manufacturing business. The reason such a large Russian company has its office in the Netherlands is likely because we are a tax haven.

rostec-amsterdam-branko-collin

On Saturday I biked to the Rostec office expecting to find I don’t know what, anything really. A lone protester perhaps or a sign that this is where evil lives. I guess the most dramatic thing about the arms trade is its entirely uninteresting face of respectability. On one end of the planet you have hundreds of innocent people being torn apart in a ball of fire while back home you have marble slabs, sleek halls and a parking lot for visitors that is always empty.

(Link: Martin Wisse, top illustration: KoreanDefense)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

July 26, 2014

Dutch Rail may not block porn on free Wi-Fi in trains

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 5:27 pm

free-wifi-on-trainTech mag PCM has discovered that Dutch Rail is blocking certain porn sites on their free Wi-Fi network on the train.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (formerly OPTA), which polices Internet access providers, has confirmed that blocking porn on the train is illegal. Dutch Rail appeared unaware what exactly it was they’re blocking: “We’ve taken over the system from T-Mobile, the company that managed our network until March 2014. At the time of the transition they determined for us what filters were needed to keep the network functioning smoothly.” Dutch Rail promised yesterday that it will look into the situation.

As we wrote earlier, Dutch Rail is allowed to block certain services to keep their network running smoothly. PCM points out that the way the train company does this for sites like YouTube is by only blocking the videos, but you can still view the comments. Porn sites however have been blocked entirely, PCM writes. Sites such as TorrentFreak have been blocked as well. Contrary to what the name suggests, TorrentFreak only offers written news articles.

Tags: , , ,

July 25, 2014

Sad Dutch Kickstarter projects are sad

Filed under: Design,Food & Drink,Gadgets,Online,Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:24 am

The Dutch have had their own Kickstarter site for a few months now and I have seen many interesting projects get the funding they probably deserve. However, they are a lot of ‘non-starters’ on the site because anybody can ask for money and hope for the best without being serious. The projects that get my attention usually fall into four categories: the good ones that usually get funded, the ones that don’t get funded or get insufficient funding, the ones nobody gives a toss about but could be serious, and the jokey ones. Let’s have a look at the last two categories, the losers and the jokers:

- ‘I need a computer to review stuff on the Internet and become a YouTuber’.
How about you get a job? It would go faster, too.

- Two guys want to deliver apple pie to their friend for his 17th birthday, but would rather someone else pays for it.
You can’t find 5-10 euro for your best friend? Ouch.

- ‘I make music. To make these tracks, I need money. You want to spend money on music’
It sounds more like you don’t want to spend money on music…

- Someone want to sell ‘trustee rings’ to prove their ‘fidelity’ and got 1 euro so far.
They have GPS and Wi-Fi to track your partner. Stalker alert!

- A statue for Louis van Gaal, but only if the Netherlands wins the World Cup, which it didn’t.
Nice try.

- Frying up extreme eggs.
Ever since a potato salad got funded, Kickstarter is full of food-related projects.

- ‘A story about a boy that lives in a crappy world.’
Buy a diary, write it down and take up drinking like the rest of us.

(Link: www.kickstarter.com/discover/countries/NL, photo of a lightbulb by Emil Kabanov, some rights reserved)

Tags: , ,

July 24, 2014

Dutch robots made the RoboCup 2014 semi-finals

Filed under: Sports,Technology by Orangemaster @ 11:06 am

10152328796_2c7e6de3f4

Just like the Netherlands did in Brazil during the World Cup, the robot team from the Eindhoven University of Technology have made it to the semi-finals of the RoboCup 2014, the World Cup for robots, also being held in Brazil.

Eindhoven had a difficult game against China this past Monday when all five robots on the field decided they all wanted to be goalies. After a reset of the robots, the designated goalie did its job and Eindhoven won 3-0.

Later today Eindhoven will be playing the final against I have no idea but not China or Japan, after scouring the Internet and the official but not updated RoboCup site. I will update you as soon as Twitter works its magic.

This picture was taken at RoboCup 2013, which was held in Eindhoven where they lost against China, proving that the world is indeed round.

UPDATE: Here’s the schedule for the final.

ANOTHER UPDATE: They won the final, congratulations!

(Link: www.omroepbrabant.nl, www.omroepbrabant.nl, Photo of RoboCup2013 in Eindhoven by RoboCup2013, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , ,

July 23, 2014

The Hague’s new logo already falling apart

Filed under: Design,General by Orangemaster @ 7:49 pm

TheHaguelogo

In February Amsterdam’s new
‘hit the return key’ logo upset quite a few taxpayers, and now it’s The Hague’s turn to weather the outrage about their new logo as it is already dangling in failure.

The new logo was unveiled last month, cost 250,000 euro and pissed off taxpayers. The city says it will repair the logo soon enough. In the meantime maybe we should take bets on the ‘e’ falling off.

(Linsk: www.omroepwest.nl, www.rtlnieuws.nl, Image: Twitter @ShakeAtOrion)

Tags: ,

July 22, 2014

Dutch constitution will finally include e-mail

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 8:33 pm

grondwet-grondwetfestival_nlArticle 13 of the Dutch constitution declares a secrecy of correspondence, meaning the government and others are not allowed to snoop on your mail.

However, there is an unfortunate loophole: the law specifically talks about paper mail. E-mail was never included and therefore exists in a legal limbo.

According to Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet, the council of ministers of the Netherlands has now proposed a change in the constitution that will not actually name e-mail, but which will make the phrasing of Article 13 more generic. A change in the constitution requires two consecutive parliaments to vote for that change, the idea being that the change can be made an issue in the elections.

Not that it matters much, as the Dutch constitution, which is now 200 years old, is more of a guideline than law. Judges are not allowed to ignore laws based on their constitutionality. The constitution may be said to have a normative function, for example, it could show courts how to interpret a vague law, but a 2009 study by the national government claims that this normative function is eroding (PDF). Instead a societal function is emerging, as the constitution aims to hold up a mirror to the citizens of the kingdom and to show us what our shared values are.

See also: an English translation of Article 13.

(Photo of the constitution of 1814 by Grondwetfestival.nl, used with permission)

Tags: , , ,

July 21, 2014

Armoured vehicles of the Dutch East Indies army

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 11:23 am

marmon-herringto-ctls-4tac-pd

Overvalwagens.com is a website dedicated to “the research of military, commercial and improvised vehicles as used in the Netherlands East and West Indies before 1945″.

In May 1940 Nazi Germany conquered the Netherlands, but it did not gain control over Dutch India. The outbreak of WWII made acquisitions difficult however for KNIL, the army in Dutch India. Overvalwagens.com writes: “Often the Netherlands Purchasing Commission was forced to acquire vehicles (as well as other military equipment) that was by no means standard allied material. Sometimes they bought off-the-shelf prototypes or equipment rejected by the US armed forces.”

An example is the tank shown above, the Marmon-Herrington CTLS-4TA. This was produced by the only company in the US “building tanks commercially, while not being involved in the re-armament process of the US Forces”. An interesting vehicle because the gun turret could not turn all the way around. As a result they were sold and used in pairs, one gun covering the left flank, the other one the right.

(Link: Martin Wisse, Photo: British armed forces, now in the public domain)

Tags: , , , , ,

Older posts »