‘Volg de Das’ (‘Follow the badger’) is a webcam that was set up by forest rangers Aaldrik and Pauline who are logging their adventures in Dutch watching a family of badgers. The badgers can be seen in the evenings and at night, and if you spot them you can send in your film clips.
In other badger news, our reality badger family is branching out and getting a second webcam soon, so more people can watch them. Who knows, maybe Dutch artist Bart Jansen who makes gadgets out of dead animals will have a eye on them too if they happen to die for his badger submarine.
(Link: www.volgdedas.nl, Photo of Badger by Tatterdemalion, some rights reserved)
Tags: badger, webcam
The first Monday of the month at noon is when the entire country gets to listen to a modern-day air raid siren, a test to make sure it’s all working in the event of a flood or if zombies ever become a thing. The government wants to replace it with NL-alert, which was the world’s text message-based emergency broadcast system, as well as use social media, websites and the radio to warn people, probably in Dutch only.
Webwereld.nl points out a host of problems with NL-alert: it still doesn’t work with 4G mobile phones and doesn’t always work if your phone is too new, too old or not configured to receive NL-alert. If your mobile network breaks down, you won’t get a warning, either. If you don’t own a mobile or if something happens in one town and you work in another, which is most of the Dutch population, you won’t get a message until your commute home and it could be too late. If you’re driving in your car where it’s illegal to use your phone and you’re not listening to the radio, you’ll find out much later as well. If you’re a person that turns off your mobile at night to get some decent sleep you also won’t get the message, as disasters would then really need to happen during the day.
And if you’re a visitor or a tourist with no mobile or a foreign network, the zombies will get you first.
Sure, if enough people know something bad is happening you’ll find out as well, but it’s still patchy. The current alarm system seems to be the only ‘old school’ way to warn almost everybody, but it does cost 4 million euro a year and doesn’t always work, either.
(Links: www.parool.nl, webwereld.nl, Photo of Air raid siren by Tim Geers, some rights reserved)
Tags: air raid siren, alert app, mobile phone
A ruling from the District Court of The Hague says that Dutch telecoms no longer have to retain Internet and phone traffic data for law enforcement purposes because the retention law infringes on the privacy of the Dutch. The law required telecoms to save the communication and location data of everyone in the country from six months up to year, which was disproportionate for the courts. Saving all that data in order to fight possible crimes made everyone a suspect, never mind how bad the government is at data storage.
Journalists, lawyers and activists are thrilled with the verdict because it would ensure the confidentiality of their communications. However, the whole thing is unsure because the now former Minister of Justice and Safety Ivo Opstelten and his deputy Fred Teeven have had to resign over a shady pay off with a drug dealer and new people need to be appointed.
A bill is already before Parliament to scrap the retention law, but until it’s a done deal – like the above-mentioned drug dealer pay off – it’s not over yet.
(Links: www.theregister.co.uk, fd.nl)
Tags: data storage, telecom
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)
Tags: Dutch courses, University of Groningen
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.
Tags: audio book, blind, sex, visually impaired
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)
Tags: Amsterdam, gaming
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 November, 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.
Tags: Digi-d, DigiD, police, privacy
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.
Tags: pop-up store, Tiësto, Twitter
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.
– 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: crowdfunding, fails, Kickstarter
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)
Tags: Facebook, infringement, patents