November 27, 2020

Right-wing Dutch social media uses Luxembourg flag

Filed under: Animals,Architecture,Online by Orangemaster @ 2:19 pm

For anybody new to The Netherlands, and more specifically right-wing Dutch social media, there are a few symbols you’ll come across, usually used together. Here’s what they tend to mean.

First, if you see an owl, it’s a reference to the Owl of Athena [Greek mythology] or the Owl of Minerva [Roman mythology], and has been a symbol used by one of country’s extreme-right parties that is currently falling apart.

The second emoji, also used by the same party, is the classical building that is part of their logo.

The third one is the Dutch flag, which in itself is just a flag, but when used in combination with the above-mentioned ones, more often that not means the account will feature right-wing politics in one way or another. The funny thing is, many of these accounts use the Luxembourg flag, as they don’t seem to know the difference.

Of course, it’s always good to remember that sometimes an emoji is just an emoji, but not in the case of the Luxembourg flag being used by what I imaginen is a Dutch person. I wonder if there are any people from Luxemburg using the Dutch flag by mistake.

As this video points out, “while the two flags are almost identical, they are unrelated in the origin of the colours.” For the fun with flags nerds, both the red and the blue are different, which is also the case with the emoji, and the official size is different as well.

(Image: Screenshot of the above-mentioned video)

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October 13, 2020

Facebook blocks Lebowski quote search engine by mistake

Filed under: Film,IT,Online by Orangemaster @ 3:05 pm

According to British-Canadian journalist and author Cory Doctorow on Twitter, Dutch digital rights activist Hans De Zwart, who used to head up digital rights organisation Bits of freedom in Amsterdam, created the search engine thebiglebow.ski that generates fun quotes from 1998 American cult classic ‘The Big Lebowski’.

Right from the start, the site had the rug pulled out from under it, as it was blocked by Facebook (and Instagram) with the message “Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.” De Zwart wanted to complain to Facebook, but without a Facebook account, he couldn’t. As a digital rights activist, he doesn’t use social media, but he joined Facebook just to be able to file a complaint. He was also annoyed at the fact that he couldn’t spell his Dutch last name correctly, de Zwart with a lower case d. He was basically told ‘thanks for the feedback’, which is big tech speak for f*** you.

About a month later, De Zwart bought a five euro Facebook advert in order to be able to communicate with the tech giant. His advert was rejected with “This ad contains or refers to content that has been blocked by our security systems (#1885260)”. This error code means nothing to mortals, so he tried to complain. First, he had to agree to “four sets of legal terms”, after which he was told “Thanks for helping us improve!” He was down five euro and still didn’t have an answer. “It appears that Facebook will only look at problems if they realise that it might cost them too much political or media capital if they continue to ignore them”, he explained.

A few days after the author of the article below presented the case to a Facebook PR person, the problem was magically solved. Nobody had reported thebiglebow.ski for abusive material: it had simply been incorrectly labelled by Facebook’s automated tools as spam.

Now either watch the movie if you have not seen it and pour yourself a White Russian when you do, if that’s your thing.

(Link: medium.com, image thebiglebow.ski)

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February 19, 2020

Vintage Dutch tech site calls it a day

Filed under: History,Online,Technology by Orangemaster @ 5:50 pm

Webwereld, one of the oldest tech news sites of the Netherlands, is going to cease to exist. We enjoyed using them as a source for subjects such as high speed wireless internet (wimax), NL-alert (national alarm system), net neutrality and quite a few more.

The tech-savvy site had been around since 1995, and editorial staff were sent packing about a month ago. The site will go offline on 1 March, and its owner, IDG, will apparently continue on with business sites.

Way back in in the day, having a 24-hour online news service about IT was a big deal and quite new, at least in such a small country and language region as the Netherlands. One of the cool things they did was launch ‘lektober’ (‘leaktober’) in 2011, which featured company data leaks back when companies didn’t quite know how to deal with them (they still don’t, but OK).

Thanks for the good stories, Webwereld!

(Link: bright.nl)

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January 29, 2020

Dutchman fails test 10 times, needs it to graduate

Filed under: Online,Science,Weird by Orangemaster @ 3:44 pm

For the past couple of years 22-year-old university student at the Eindhoven University of Technology keeps failing the same two exams over and over, stopping him from graduating. The exams are calculus and ‘some kind of algebra’, whatever that means. Both exams are from his first year, and he’s now in his fourth year.

He’s not too worried, but his friends think it’s amusing. On Heeft Daan calculus al gehaald (‘Has Daan finally passed calculus?’) you can check his progress. His friends helped build the site.

In the Netherlands grades go from 0 to 10, and on Daan’s last attempt at passing the calculus test, he got a two. “I felt like shit,” he said. In a way, I want to Daan to pass because he’s very much the underdog, and in another, I’m glad he’s not studying to be a doctor or a dentist.

There’s another Dutch concept that’s good to know, it’s called the ‘zesjescultuur’ (‘sixes culture’, as in 6 out of 10, a passing grade) and for many people that’s enough.

Daan’s the poster boy for it now.

(Link: www.nhnieuws.nl)

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October 24, 2019

The Netherlands as represented by emoji

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 2:24 pm

Every once in a while fun stuff, rather than controversial or nasty stuff, does the rounds on Dutch Twitter. One user names Mathieu from the province of Zeeland came up with an emoji map of the The Netherlands.

The mountain is for the Sint-Pietersberg mountain in Limburg, the only mountainous part of the country. The mountain border Belgium and Germany – I ran up them this summer, it’s beautiful.

There’s parasols for coastal resorts and beaches, an airplane for Schiphol, tractors for many farming regions, tulips for Lisse, South Holland and a skate for Heerenveen, Friesland. My guess is that the phone is for Apeldoorn (tax office), microscope for Eindhoven (why not a lightbulb?) and a roller coaster for the Efteling.

Nos.nl tells us that the telescope in Drenthe stands for the big radio telescope in Dwingeloo and the dust bin stands for Almere – someone explain that to us. Feel free to check out Dutch Twitter to see a whole bunch of other versions, including who says ‘patat’ or ‘friet’ (different ways to say ‘fries), sports and politics.

(Link: nos.nl, Image: Twitter)

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September 12, 2019

Dutch are official test market for Disney+

Filed under: Dutch first,Film,Online,Technology by Orangemaster @ 1:04 pm

As of today, The Netherlands has become the exclusive test market for the new Disney streaming service, unadventurously called Disney+. The country will be able to enjoy the new service for free until November 11, after which ‘The House of Mouse’ will charge 6,99 euro a month for it. On November 12, it will also be made available in the United States and will have more productions added to it. Other countries in North America, Europe and the rest of the world will surely follow.

People in The Netherlands can also watch their Disney favourites on Android and iOS devices as well as PS4 and Xbox One. According to the screenshots we’ve seen on Twitter (see screenshot), Disney+ is offering Marvel films (Avengers’ Endgame will only be available in December), Star Wars (all the films including Solo and The Last Jedi – a big deal because the first films are not Disney productions), Pixar and National Geographic.

Although all in English, some of the productions also have Dutch audio. No other languages are available yet. By testing Disney+ first in the Netherlands, Disney wanted to weed out issues, which sounds more like beta testing. According to one Dutch journalist on Twitter, the search function does not work, and I agree after having seen the screenshot of random suggestions, based on two or three letters, not even in the right order.

Reactions are mixed, but quite positive, ranging from ‘Why do I have to pay for another streaming service?’ [you don’t, but North Americans pay for many services for the same shows we all get on Netflix], ‘If I buy this for my youngest son for his birthday, I’ll be spending more money on him than my other two kids and that’s a dilemma’ to ‘I don’t need a bunch of remakes’ and ‘it’s all Disney princesses anyway’.

Free is always nice, but the true test is who will stay on after it’s no longer free.

(Link: nu.nl)

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December 6, 2018

Porno boss threatened with exposing his viewing behaviour

Filed under: Online,Technology by Orangemaster @ 12:47 pm

bitcoin-key-fob-btc_keychain

Me and my co-blogger Branko had recently been threatened per e-mail. While I got something that said ‘pay x amount of bitcoin or else you won’t be able to use your computer’, which reminded me of an episode of American television show NCIS, Branko got a nastier message, saying ‘if you don’t pay x amount, we’ll release a film of you watching porn’, or something to that effect. We both did nothing and suffered nothing, so that’s good news.

Here’s how not to blackmail Dutch folks per e-mail: Jan Wenderhold, 78, the publisher of porno magazine Chick was told in an e-mail to transfer a ridiculous amount of bitcoin or else the world would know he watched porn. I’m sure he laughed his ass off.

His daughter Sandy Wenderhold tweeted about it, saying “My father is being blackmailed per e-mail. If he does not transfer 7,000 bitcoins, his family and friends will find out he watches porn. Oh no!”.

This type of blackmail is a bit like the common cold at the moment: it’s doing the rounds, but will hopefully disappear on its own, over time. And according to a response to Wenderhold’s tweet from a magazine aimed at people 50 and up, the e-mail tends to threaten older people who may not know what to do.

In any case, as they say, it’s good to know your target audience, even when you’re a cyber moron.

(Link: nhnieuws.nl, Photo by BTC Keychain, some rights reserved)

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December 4, 2018

Christian party wants rating system on YouTube

Filed under: General,Online by Orangemaster @ 12:33 pm

Similar to what is done with film and television, Dutch national Christian party CDA says it would like to help parents protect their children against images containing violence, sex and swearing on YouTube. The Dutch system, called Kijkwijzer, is a Dutch film and television rating system that is slightly more liberal than the one many people know from the United States or Canada. However, applying it to YouTube any time soon is said to be next to impossible.

Every minute, YouTube puts up 400 hours of video. The CDA says it’s up to YouTube themselves to protect children, which seems like, as they say in Dutch, ‘yelling into the desert’. If multinationals can’t even sort out all the copyright infringements that appear on YouTube, then they won’t care about some Christians giving their opinion about it in such a small country. This discussion had already been brought up in Parliament in 2015, but now that YouTube (and in this case, Google as the owner) may have to abide by the same rules as television (I don’t know about film), then getting YouTube to comply is a step closer, but still very close to impossible.

As a parent, a member of the CDA said that his seven-year-old son looks at YouTube films and it is tough to determine if a film is suitable for him or not, which is completely understandable. Sadly for him and I bet also his spouse, they have to look over their child’s shoulder to make sure they can control what their kid watches. As well, a representative of Google Netherlands said that imposing the Dutch system is impossible and that YouTube would then come with its own system, and the entire world would have to follow whatever they come up with.

(Links: bnr.nl, bright.nl)

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November 23, 2018

Why the Dutch are observing Black Friday

Filed under: General,Online,Weird by Orangemaster @ 3:19 pm

According to Wikipedia, Black Friday became a thing in the Netherlands about three years ago. Even as a Canadian, it was the first time I’d ever heard of it. In Canada, where Thanksgiving is celebrated in October and for very different reasons that in the United States, we’ve always had Boxing Day (26 December) as our shopping madness day, where shops want to get rid of their stock before the new year. In the Netherlands, 26 December is actually a holiday.

This year the Netherlands has a lot of shops big and small participating in Black Friday, acting like not doing so would be missing out. A lot of people think this ‘commercial appropriation’ is ridiculous, but mark my words, it will continue to grow here and in Europe because it remains a money maker, especially with Cyber Monday a few days later.

One person on Twitter captioned a picture of packages of American cranberries, saying sarcastically “The cranberries are already in the supermarket, so that we can celebrate Thanksgiving tonight and Black Friday tomorrow. But changing anything about Dutch traditions, well no.” The comment alludes to this year’s escalation of the Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) debate, which has turned to hate and violence, two things that do no pair well with gift giving and happy holidays.

And seriously, most Dutch kitchens do not have an oven and if they do, good luck fitting a turkey in there. I’m still bummed I can’t put two trays of 12 muffins in side by side.

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May 5, 2018

Rabobank uses animal and plants for client privacy

Filed under: General,Online by Orangemaster @ 1:14 pm
privacy

To comply with the General Protection Data Regulation that will enter into force on 25 May 2018, the Dutch bank Rabobank has found a nifty way of using client data without having to ask permission: by assigning Latin animal and plant names to their clients data, pseudonymising it. They also claim it’s something they were toying around four years ago when the GPDR wasn’t on anybody’s radar, but yeah, Google was doing that back then as well with animal and creatures names that anonymised Google docs users.

Special software was developed by IBM to make people’s data unrecognisable, but still useable for analysis. The software is currently part of a service aimed at a small group of financial organisations. Later, it will also be used in retail and healthcare.

(Link: bright.nl)

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