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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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April 3, 2014

Google Naps maps good places to crash outdoors

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 10:39 am

In the spirit of April’s Fool, Dutch creative agencies Venour of Rotterdam and cartoonist Kakhiel (held up in a secret lair) created Google Naps, a parody of Google Maps, although it does give excellent tips about where to crash outdoors. Just like the real Google tool, Google Naps allows users to plot out specific locations on interactive online maps.

Writing this in downtown Munich next to the beautiful Isar river and its big city parks, Google Naps is telling me the place I relaxed under the sun with friends and beers was a good place to get some sleep and I agree. However, everyone can put in a suggestion and so sleeping under a bridge may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

The creators also put in a Dunglish disclaimer just for Google’s founders, asking them to not get upset and not sue them because they don’t have any money. They then say, “whenever you are in the Netherlands you can have a nap on our couch if you want, just e-mail us: kakhiel@gmail.com. We can also make coffee and bake eggs if you like that (for a small price).”

(Link: www.ctvnews.ca, Photo by Flickr user RelaxingMusic, some rights reserved)

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March 20, 2014

The Hague launches ‘Bitcoin boulevard’ just in time for spring

Filed under: Art,Food & Drink,Online by Orangemaster @ 9:29 am

Today, 20 March at exactly 17:57, when spring will officially start here, the city of The Hague will open ‘Bitcoin boulevard’ along a canal, framed by the Dunne Bierkade / Groenewegje / Wagenstraat / Uilebomen streets, also known to locals as Avenue Culinaire for its selection of international cuisine. An art gallery is also said to be joining in.

Software entrepreneurs Hendrik Jan Hilbolling and two bitcoin fans were able to convince restaurant owners, including a one Michelin star joint, of their project, which probably wasn’t easy considering some of them had no idea what a Bitcoin was. The boulevard project will run for two months with a possible extension. The initiators themselves won’t profit from it financially, Bitcoin or otherwise.

On a smaller scale, shops in other Dutch cities accept Bitcoins.

(Links: www.coindesk.com, www.denhaag.nl, www.emerce.nl)

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January 8, 2014

New Internet meme pokes fun at Dutchiness

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 10:52 am

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Following in the footsteps of ‘Dudes be like’ and a lot of other similar memes, ‘Tattas be like’ is the newest Dutch meme to poke fun at typical Dutch values. The guy who started the thing off is of mixed Surinamese and Caucasian background, which explains his use of the word ‘tattas’, Surinamese slang for ‘typically white Dutch folk’ and not breasts like many would think. More digging would suggest that ‘tatta’ refers to ‘patata’ (‘potatoe’), something many Dutch people think is theirs, although potatoes come from South America and were introduced to Europe through Spain.

The creator explains that after serious discussions about racism these past months, he felt people needed something light-hearted. The new meme is successful because of how easily recognisable the situations are at least if you’re Dutch, live in the Netherlands or have some understanding of Dutch culture. The pic above refers to the Elfstendentocht fever that takes over the news the moment ice starts forming on the canals.

I chuckled at this one below because it depicts a typical Dutch birthday party. Family and friends sit in a circle, whether it’s favourable or not to having conversations, and eat cake and drink coffee until told to leave. ‘Fissa’ is slang for ‘feestje’ (party), which this isn’t — it’s a dreaded obligation. It also depicts the idea of ‘gezelligheid’ (roughly, ‘having fun’) that is forced upon people who then collectively must pretend it’s fun because it’s a birthday party.

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(Link: motherboard.vice.com)

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January 2, 2014

Documenting migration in the Americas for 40 weeks

Filed under: Film,Online,Photography by Orangemaster @ 12:35 pm

Photojournalist Kadir van Lohuizen has won many prizes for his work and is well known for his project Diamond Matters, about the diamond industry. This time, over the course of a year, Lohuizen investigated the roots of migration in the Americas, a time-old phenomenon that is increasingly portrayed as a new threat to the Western world.

Via PanAm engages the audience through a variety of platforms, using both traditional and new media. The stories made on the road are edited into weekly radio broadcasts, biweekly newspaper columns and regular magazine publications. The Via PanAm website and iApp not only provide contextual background info, but also directly connect readers and viewers with the journey’s progress. Day by day, the Americas and their people reveal themselves to the photographer and his followers as photo-stories, video and audio are uploaded on a regular basis.

Via Panam – Kadir Van Lohuizen from Paradox on Vimeo.

(Link: www.amsterdamadblog.com)

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January 1, 2014

Dutch railways leans on net neutrality law to block sites

Filed under: IT,Online by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am

The Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets has approved Dutch railways’ move to block YouTube and Spotify which use a lot of bandwidth in order to provide better quality Wi-Fi in some of their trains. Even though the Wi-Fi is free, the net neutrality law force ISPs and telecom operators to ensure access to all types of content, services or applications available on the network.

Much in the same way as Christian Internet access providers let clients filter the Internet to respect religious beliefs, the Dutch railways has blocked certain ‘data-heavy sites’ to avoid Wi-Fi congestion in trains. As long as the blocking is not selective, it is allowed, although one could easily argue that it is selective, as blocking YouTube and Spotify but leaving out Daily Motion and Deezer is indeed making a selection.

A lot of people in the Netherlands already use Internet mobile on their phones and computers and don’t really need the free service, the service is quite slow and probably won’t improve dramatically, and when something is free, many people don’t expect much of it anyways. However, watchdogs are worried about telecoms like T-Mobile who run the Wi-Fi in trains trying getting around the law to suit its purposes. After all, it’s companies like them who tried to up their prices when they started losing major ground to Skype and WhatsApp, and led to pushing through net neutrality laws in the first place.

The Netherlands made international headlines after being the second country in the world and the first European country to embrace net neutrality. The idea of companies chipping away at it will surely be watched very closely.

(Links: www.nieuws.nl, webwereld.nl, www.acm.nl)

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December 17, 2013

‘Selfie’ is the Dutch word of 2013

Filed under: IT,Literature,Online by Orangemaster @ 10:37 am

Another English word has become a Dutch word, as ‘selfie’ has been chosen by the Van Dale dictionary as the Word of the Year 2013. A selfie is a self-portrait taken with a digital camera, smartphone or webcam. A feature of the selfie when taken with a smartphone is that you can see the phone in the picture. The international media is currently swooning over a picture of Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt taking a picture of herself with Barack Obama.

Social media and IT have definitely changed Dutch vocabulary for good. In 2012 we had ‘Project X-feest’ (‘Project X party’), a local word from the name of a birthday party event on Facebook turned into a riot and in 2009 ‘ontvrienden’ (‘unfriend’) on Facebook, Twitter and other apps was the winner.

The Van Dale only started inventorying words of the year in 2007 and before that it was done by companies and blogs only going back to 2003. ‘Selfie’, ‘Project-X-feest’ and ‘ontvrienden’ are social media and IT related, while other words stem from traditional media such as ‘gedoogregering’ (a type of minority government that keeps things quiet) (2010). The crowd favourite at parties is ‘swaffelen’ (2008). If you don’t know it, click to read about it.

(Link: www.volkskrant.nl)

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