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February 26, 2015

20,000 people sign up for free Dutch courses

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 9:37 am

The Language Centre of the University of Groningen has received 20,000 responses from people all around the world wanting to take their free, online Dutch courses. The amount of people signed up was so unexpected, the university cracked open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate its success. The Dutch course was offered on futurelearn.com where millions of people browse through free courses offered by all kinds of universities.

According to the Telegraaf, people want to learn Dutch to find a job, because they have a Dutch partner or just out of curiosity. Asylum seekers and potential immigrants could also try to learn Dutch this way although they would need regular access to a computer with Internet, which for many of them is not a given. Another issue is that the course explanations are in English, so someone needs to be able to understand English first before they can go Dutch.

(Links: www.deondernemer.nl, www.telegraaf.nl)

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February 10, 2015

Erotic story site accessible to the blind

Filed under: Dutch first,Online by Orangemaster @ 2:36 pm

Dutch sexy story site sexverhalen.com (‘sex stories’) has made some changes in order to appeal to the blind and visually impaired, apparently a unique concept in the Netherlands.

First major tweak is having the story read by a sultry female voice instead of the computerised voice of the user’s software. I’m guessing this specific tweak is mainly aimed at men after a quick look at the titles of the stories. If you prefer to listen to a story instead of reading it, then anyone can enjoy the audio version of the stories provided a sultry female voice works for you.

For the ladies and maybe even gents feeling left out, I highly recommend Benedict Cumberbatch reading Casanova by Ian Kelly.

(Link: www.deondernemer.nl)

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January 4, 2015

Gamers build life-size Amsterdam in Minecraft

Filed under: Architecture,Online by Orangemaster @ 4:33 pm

Minecraft

Started in May 2013, but currently gaining momentum, a bunch of Dutch gamers have decided to build a large part of Amsterdam on a 1:1 scale in Minecraft using Google Maps and Google Earth.

“People called us crazy when we decided to build our own City Amsterdam on 1:1 scale. We started out with a giant map we built with World Painter. After that the building begun.” The group has completed Central Station, Dam Square and the Nemo museum and have about 90% more to go.

If you want to help out, ‘hop into the creative server’, say the makers on www.planetminecraft.com and start building typical Dutch Amsterdam houses.

(Link: www.at5, screenshot: www.planetminecraft.com)

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December 2, 2014

Looming privacy disaster with ID system and police

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 10:46 am
privacy

As of 2015 Dutch citizens will be able to file charges with the police using DigiD, the national government’s digital identification system. If there’s a company that’s not thrilled with that idea, it’s advertising agency Digi-D in Waalwijk, Noord-Brabant.

For years, Digi-D, who opened shop three years before DigiD came along, have been receiving people’s personal data erroneously and trying relentlessly to get the government’s full attention on the matter. The government decided first to bully the ad agency into changing its name, which was too expensive. At the moment, the government is listening a bit more closely and is trying to come up with a solution, albeit not fast enough. As of 27 Nov, Digi-D has received 45,282 wrongly addressed requests with people’s personal data, so you can imagine how antsy they are about getting police reports as well. Oh, and they are also the victims of hackers who can’t spell. The company is run by two people and they surely have better things to do than monitor municipalities who keep telling their residents to register with Digi-D because they can’t spell either.

(Link: www.nu.nl)

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November 12, 2014

Dutch online pop-up music store with freebies

Filed under: Dutch first,Music,Online by Orangemaster @ 11:09 am

red vinyl

Dutch record label Black Hole Recordings has opened an online online pop-up store where people can get free tracks, ringtones and the likes by paying with a tweet. Started on 11 November, the pop-up store will be online for 30 days. Follow Black Hole Recordings on Twitter at @Blackholerec by placing a tweet with the hashtag #paywithatweet and the article you want, and it will be sent to you for free. You’ll get a direct message about you purchase.

Black Hole Recordings claims this is a world first and sells music and merch from artists such als Ferry Corsten, Tiësto and New World Punx.

(Link: www.entertainmentbusiness.nl)

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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)

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June 12, 2014

Facebook on trial for infringing Dutch patent

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 10:58 am

More than a decade ago, Dutch computer programmer Jos van der Meer originally thought up and eventually patented his Surfbook site in 2001 and 2002 before Facebook launched it site in 2003. Surfbook let users share their information with selected people, approve posts using a ‘like’ button and link to external information. Van der Meer passed away in 2004 aged 44, but in Feburary 2013 the patent holders, Rembrandt Social Media run by his elder brother Wil van der Meer, filed a lawsuit against Facebook for infringement just as the latter hit the stock market. Van der Meer said that it is about recognition, not about the money.

Although Facebook usually swats its opponents out of the way like flies, this case has made it all the way to a federal jury trial in the US, which is extremely rare. And even though Rembrandt Social Media can prove it was first, Facebook can claim that the market was going that way anyways and swat another fly. If RSM were to win its case, it would probably be paid money for damages and the Dutch could lay claim to Facebook down the pub.

US sources read as if RSM is just a patent troll trying to make money off the Van der Meer family and that Facebook is so big it does whatever it wants anyways.

(Links: phys.org, www.nrc.nl)

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May 22, 2014

The Dutch connection in Game of Thrones

Filed under: Literature,Online by Orangemaster @ 11:29 am

In a cast dominated by actors from the United Kingdom, the main cast of Game of Thrones does feature well-spoken actors from other parts of the world:

Denmark: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Germany: Sibel Kekilli (Shae), Spain: Oona Chaplin (Talisa Stark). Yes, she’s related to Charlie Chaplin, United States: Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo), and Norway: Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane).

Interestingly, only one non-UK country now has two actors in the main cast, and that’s the Netherlands. The Dutch supplied Carice van Houten (Melisandre) and Michiel Huisman (Daario Naharis), the latter having taken over from British actor Ed Skrein who got another gig all of a sudden.

Portrayed by Carice Van Houten, priestess Melisandre wins first prize for the most explicit female nudity as a main character. As far as the entire female cast is concerned, the whores in Littlefinger’s whorehouse get my vote for the rest. Melisandre dominates powerful men and mesmerises women with her pseudo-religious schtick, but as far as her accent is concerned, Van Houten says she was asked to keep her Dutch accent, as it is exotic.”We also didn’t want it to sound too Dutch or too specific so it’s a mixture of Dutch, British, American and hint of Irish.” I applaud her for that, because Dutch actors tend to devoice final consonants (‘days’, which is pronounced ‘daze’ comes out as ‘dayss’), which sounds like snakes talking.

As for Michiel Huisman he plays Daario Naharis, a mercenary and cocky tag-along of Queen Daenerys Targaryen who has taken an interest in him. Queen Daenerys is surrounded by three advisors, one of which is too old for her (Ser Barristan Selmy), one has a lifetime membership to the ‘friend zone’ (Ser Jorah Mormont), and the other, Daario, is the guy to watch. Daario recently got his kit off for Daenerys and is officially the love interest. Huisman claims to have had a tougher time winning over the fans since he showed up on screen out of nowhere, but I think getting your bare bum on screen in a sober Dutch way must count for something.

Both Van Houten and Huisman have worked together before on the film Black Book (Zwartboek), a WWII film that received many Dutch and foreign prizes and accolades.

On a name dropping side note, I heard second hand from an Irish friend that contrary to the bratty nutter that is King Joffrey, actor Jack Gleeson does lots of charity work together with his theatre activities and is a really, really nice guy.

(Link: www.people.com, Photo by Anthony Kelly, some rights reserved)

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April 29, 2014

Voting booth ‘stemfie’ to be contested in court

Filed under: Online,Photography by Orangemaster @ 10:31 am

Following up on the selfie, Dutch word of 2013, there’s a new variant, the ‘stemfie’, which means taking a selfie while voting. The Dutch word for vote and also voice (noun) is ‘stem’, hence ‘stemfie’.

The trend kicked off during the last municipal elections on March 19, but now it’s time to go to court over it. Posting a selfie with your filled out voting ballot violates voting secrecy and therefore should be forbidden, according to the Dutch Foundation for the Protection of Civil Rights. The Ministry of the Interior has no problem with selfies and even encourages them, but this foundation claims international jurisprudence and says it’s a big no-no.

For the upcoming European elections, Belgium’s Guy Verhofstadt, campaigning to be head of the European Commission, has told voters, “Send us your selfie, showing us where or how you enjoy the benefits of European integration. Did you just board an airplane on a cheap flight or crossed a border without having to use your passport or to change currencies? Put it on your instagram profile and tag it with #selfEU.”

Illegal or not, I’m more worried about electronic voting in the Netherlands. In 2007, the government axed electronic voting because hacking into the devices was child’s play, and in April of this year, they’re planning to reintroduce electronic voting.

UPDATE (9 May): ‘Stemfies are not forbidden’, says a high court in The Hague (in Dutch).

(Links: www.markpack.org.uk, www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, www.neurope.eu)

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April 24, 2014

Student sells all his personal data for 350 euro

Filed under: Online,Weird by Orangemaster @ 3:46 pm
privacy

Dutch student Shawn Buckles decided to sell his personal data to the highest bidder in an attempt to raise awareness about privacy. E-mail, diary, location, medical records and more were up for grabs. He claims he didn’t sell anything he didn’t own, and had a lawyer helping him out. Most of what he sold is available in bits and pieces on the Internet for anyone who would want to look for it, something we collectively noticed when the likes of Julian Assange were more prominently in the news.

In a radio interview with BBC radio Buckles said, “I’m trying to add more value to my privacy. Companies are making huge profits on this data trade, and I thought why not turn the tables and see what happens when a person tries to sell his data, to figure out how much it’s worth.”

On an auction on 12 April Buckles finally sold everything he could for € 350. Most people give away data for free in exchange for the use of a site, service or application. At least he made a few bucks. And anyone who really thinks their information is private is fooling themselves.

People don’t generally understand the value of their data, which is what Buckles was trying to draw attention to when he sold his. Oddly enough, there is no way an individual can sell their personal data on a market, but it may not be that far off. The health research sector, entertainment industry and insurance companies are interested in this kind of personal data.

The winning bidder was technology news company The Next Web, which Buckles says will use his data to highlight the issue of online privacy rather than to a more sinister end.

(Link: phys.org)

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