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April 7, 2015

App tells you to hurry to catch a train

Filed under: Gadgets,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:26 pm

moet-ik-rennen-app-google-playCan I still catch the bus or train if I start running now? That is the simple question a new app poses. Its name, Moet Ik Rennen?, is Dutch for should I run?

The app, which saw its beta test launch today, uses the location services of your mobile device to find your current position. It then locates the nearest bus stops and metro and train stations, provides you with departure times and if you select a specific line it tells you if you should hurry.

Moet Ik Rennen? appears to be free and is available for iOS and Android. It was developed by four students (initially as a school project) with support from Dutch Rail. Go About is listed as the data provider.

If you still have to wait a bit for your bus (or train or subway), the app suggests a place to get snacks at a discount. Once you have stuffed your face with excess calories you no longer need the app. Yes, you should run.

(Illustration: Google Play / Moet Ik Rennen?)

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March 30, 2015

Drone to deliver asparagus, ringing in the season

Filed under: Food & Drink,Gadgets,Technology by Orangemaster @ 12:55 pm

One-Michelin-star restaurant De Zwaan in Etten-Leur, Noord-Brabant likes to make a splash in spring once white asparagus season kicks off and what better way to do that than having a drone deliver the white gold to your door.

On 1st April (no joke), a drone with a 15-minute battery that needs to fly 12 minutes avoiding all kinds of buildings and bridges according to many rules will drop off a crate of asparagus at the kitchen door of the restaurant. There’s a backup battery and a Plan B to land nearby if the wind is too much.

It’s not the first time De Zwaan and its owner Roland Peijnenburg have marked the start of asparagus season by creating a buzz. They’ve also used a hot air balloon carrying the town mayor and once had an asparagus relay race.

When you mention asparagus in the Netherlands, people think white asparagus and not green asparagus first. Here’s a white asparagus cocktail appetizer recipe for you as well.

(Link: www.deondernemer.nl, Photo of asparagus by Stephan Mosel, some rights reserved)

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March 27, 2015

Dutch spies thwarted by German windmills

Filed under: Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:58 pm

don-quixote-gustave-dore-pdGerman windmills are disrupting the proper spying on Dutch citizens by the Dutch military secret service MIVD, or so the latter complains.

The Ministry of Defence has complained to the municipality of Vreden (Germany) about the fact that it allows the placement of wind turbines so near to its spying antennas (14 kilometres), Ravage reports. Vreden has already limited the height of its turbines and is currently amending its rules for the placement of new turbines.

According to Webwereld, 25 Dutch citizens lost their jobs in 2009 and 2010 when the Ministry of Defence destroyed their employer’s business model of providing medium distance, high speed wireless internet (wimax). After the ministry had told Worldmax that it was forbidden to roll out its services in the entire north of the Netherlands, the wimax provider had to close its doors, losing dozens of millions of euro in the process.

Vreden is planning a farm of 24 wind turbines in or near the Crosewicker Feld nature reserve and is getting some resistance from its citizens, according to Münsterland Zeitung. The locals don’t share the concerns of the Dutch military, but are unwilling to have to look at the turbines all day. They want the distance from the turbines to their house increased from the proposed 400 metres to at least 500 metres. (This has led to an interesting legal paradox where the council members who live too close to the proposed wind farm are not allowed to vote on what constitutes ‘too close’. The Germans call this conflict of interest Befangenheit.)

Illustration: renowned windmill fighter Don Quixote by Gustave Doré, 1863.

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March 25, 2015

Are women afraid to use the self-scanner?

Filed under: Food & Drink,General,Technology by Orangemaster @ 1:26 pm

Rosie

It is a tendentious question, but what on earth is Rosie the Riveter being used to encourage women folk, who are the main food shoppers, that they too have enough brains to use the relatively new self-scanners at the supermarket? It says ‘We scan ourselves!’. If they had a picture of a tough guy saying ‘I can use a scanner, too!’ it would be condescending. The scanners also work in other languages, so the insult isn’t lost on the non-Dutch crowd.

Hang on: the message with a woman is condescending towards women! Retro is cute, but not like this. Rosie deserves a hell of a lot better.

This lame message is quite typical of corporate Dutch passive-agressiveness: use the fokkin scanners ladies, as we’d rather have our cheap students (mostly female by the way) lose their jobs to a self-scanner over time. Yes, it’s mainly boys that stock shelves because, well, boys. I bet Rosie could kick all of their asses.

As a representative of women folk, I don’t always use the scanner because when I buy alcohol, an employee needs to come over, verify my age and swipe their magic card through the scanner so I can get on with it.

If you don’t agree that the poster is insulting to women, fine. But you should agree that it’s fokkin unoriginal.

(Photo: Mariëlle Verbeek)

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March 7, 2015

Questionable Dutch Kickstarter projects

Filed under: General,Music,Technology,Weird by Orangemaster @ 3:24 pm

Of course, there are some amazing ideas floating around in the Netherlands, but there will always be some ‘non-starters’ because anybody can ask for money for anything. Just the spelling mistakes are like bushwhacking through a forest of flies. Here is a small selection of Kickstarter projects that make you wonder:

– A workshop space only for men and ‘males’, but freely using the world ‘everybody’.
Half blind boy.

– A female-fronted metal album because just a band would mean it was ‘male’ and automatically good.
How to hit the wrong chord.

– A self-cleaning shower cabin – I want to believe!
‘Only a man would come up a way not to clean’ cliché.

– An app that shows you all the places Michael Jackson has been. Are you LOL, too?
Give me Elvis instead.

– Someone is building a TARDIS!
This could actually be pretty cool.

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

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February 23, 2015

Tinder-style voting for States-provincial elections

Filed under: General,Technology by Orangemaster @ 6:16 pm

vote-counting-rnw

Talk show host Arjan Lubach has devised a Tinder-style voting app made for fun to help undecided voters for the upcoming States-provincial elections. The States-provincial or ‘Provinciale Staten’ in Dutch are the provincial parliament and legislative assembly in each of the 12 Dutch provinces.

With ‘StemTinder’ (‘Tinder Voting’) you can swipe left or right and find the political party match for you. It’s not the national elections, so why not vote on looks? And there’s nothing wrong with candidates trying to look trustworthy to win votes.

(Links: www.ans-online.nl, nos.nl, Photo by Photo RNW.org, some rights reserved)

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February 22, 2015

Dutch SIM card firm hacked by US and UK

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 7:28 pm

privacy-jeff-schuler

Gemalto, an Amsterdam-based multinational that produces 2 billion SIM cards a year, was hacked by US and UK secret services in 2010 according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Following the recent news, Gemalto’s stock price took a $470m hit. The company’s CEO Anne Jellema has called for an investigation into both countries’ secret services, including “a full and frank disclosure as to why they hacked a private company, and one headquartered in an ally country.”

“With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments,” writes The Intercept. Basically, the breach has given US and UK surveillance agencies the ability to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s mobile communications, who will now themselves be targeted by others for the same information.

Dutch Euro-parliamentarian Sophie in ’t Veld, who chaired the European Parliament’s recently inquiry into mass surveillance exposed by Snowden said, “governments are massively engaging in illegal activities. If you’re a student doing this, you will end up in jail for 30 years. Secret services are behaving like cowboys. Governments are behaving like cowboys and nobody is holding them to account.”

(Links: firstlook.org, www.theregister.co.uk, Photo: photo by Jeff Schuler, some rights reserved)

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February 11, 2015

Dutch professor invents robot that collect eggs

Filed under: Food & Drink,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:35 am

eggs1

Dutch robotics expert Professor Edvert van Henten from Wageningen University is developing a robot that will help egg producers help put a stop to wasted eggs. “The hens have to lay their eggs in nests, but 30% are laid on the floor. They cannot be sold as quality eggs and encourage other chickens to lay there as well so the farmers have to collect them by walking through twice a day, which is challenging.”

The technology is not yet available, and much like milking machines in the dairy industry, much needs to be done to make them commercially available,” says Van Henten.

Why is there a feather on the eggs in this picture some North Americans readers may wonder. Because the rest of the world believes in the natural protective coating placed on eggs by hens and that washing them straight out the chicken forces North Americans to wash and then refrigerate their eggs, which has been proven to be more susceptible to bacteria.

(Link: www.abc.net.au)

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January 22, 2015

Chattable gets you dining out with strangers

Filed under: Food & Drink,Technology by Orangemaster @ 11:23 am

Chattable

At first glance new Dutch app Chattable looks like a smart combination of many other apps. The idea of who is eating where seems interesting if ever you’re somewhere and you don’t want to dine alone. You can also see where someone is from because not being able to communicate would make for some pretty awkward dining. This app does set people up for awkward dining though, so brace yourselves.

According to the video, Chattable tables at restaurants have a special stand on them, which probably makes it easier for people to find each other, but does tell the world you couldn’t find someone to dine with. Again, that’s uncomfortable, but maybe it will turn out to be cool like sitting at the Stammtisch table in a German-speaking country, where the meeting table is marked with a decorative sign.

The developer claims it’s not a dating app because Chattable doesn’t know the age and gender of your dining partners. “You only need a common language,” which is true in an ideal world, but humans don’t function that way. Straight men will try and find pretty young women and straight women will try and find decent available men. And I imagine the LBGT crowd will be weary and probably should be. All of that in principle is not Chattable’s problem, but will always be an issue.

The Internet and all kinds of apps have been used for sex and dating from the get go. Nobody saw the recent introduction of Uber as a great app for raping women, so I think developers should be way more careful telling people what they think their app should be used for.

I enjoy eating alone abroad because it’s my moment to enjoy new surroundings without having to deal with someone else taking away from the experience. When I dine with someone else, it’s the opposite: I want to enjoy my company and tune out the background. If you need an app to never eat alone again and aren’t worried about a possible creepy encounter then by all means, it could be fun and only time will tell if it’s a good idea.

(Link: www.bright.nl)

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January 12, 2015

‘My first day with my drone’ goes viral

Filed under: Technology,Weird by Orangemaster @ 5:10 pm

Zwier Spanjer, 26, was playing with his new DJI phantom drone for the first time and it all went South, which you can see and hear on the video at about 0:26 when it starts to sound like a swarm of killer bees descending on an unknowing Dutch village.

At the moment of writing this, the video had over two million hits on YouTube and according to Vice.com some 7 to 8 million hits on Facebook and other social media. Be sure to watch the 15 second ‘love edition’ as well.

(Link: www.vice.com, Photo of Drone by Karen Axelrad, some rights reserved)

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