November 11, 2020

Dutch tech journalist hacks lights on Rotterdam bridge

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 6:00 am

On 9 November Dutch tech journalist and author Daniël Verlaan hacked the online lighting system of the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam. Although he went for the colour pink, most people said it looked more like purple, but that’s besides the point.

In a tweet he claims that the lighting system had been accessible to everyone for a year, and there wasn’t even a password protecting it. That fact is very interesting since his very first book just came out and is aptly called ‘Ik weet je wachtwoord‘ (‘I Know Your Password’). Verlaan got the tip from a white hat hacker who pointed the wide open bridge system out to him. Using the keyword ‘Rotterdam’, the open system showed up in one of the first results on search engine Shodan.io, made for smart devices. The system was accessible online using an IP, protected by an easy to circumvent login.

The city of Rotterdam has now taken the system offline. And the lights are only for special occasions.

(Link: rtlnieuws.nl, Photo of Erasmus Bridge by Joop van Houdt – Beeldbank.rws.nlSome rights reserved)

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November 10, 2020

Leiden University prints a micro-sized Star Trek starship

Filed under: Film,Science,Technology by Orangemaster @ 11:59 am

According to CNN and BoingBoing on Twitter, while developing methods to 3D print synthetic micro-swimmers, microscopic devices that can propel themselves by interacting with the chemicals in their surrounding environment, researchers at Leiden University printed a model of Star Trek’s USS Voyager that’s just 15 micrometers long. As a comparison, a human hair is around 75 micrometers in diameter.

By studying synthetic micro-swimmers, we would like to understand biological micro-swimmers,” Samia Ouhajji, one of the study’s authors, told CNN. This understanding could aid in developing new drug delivery vehicles; for example, microrobots that swim autonomously and deliver drugs at the desired location in the human body.

Why did they go for Star Trek and why one of the franchise’s later starships? Jonas Hoecht, one of the study’s co-authors, claims to be a big Star Trek fan and was told he could print anything he wanted. Of course, I still want to know why he opted for Voyager and not a version of the Enterprise, but it’s still extremely cool.

(Link boingboing.net, image ealclearscience.com)

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November 9, 2020

‘Replace sweets with sprouts’ on Dutch Halloween-like holiday

Filed under: Food & Drink,Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:31 am

It is not real news, but we still really like the story.

On November 11 Dutch children usually celebrate Sint-Maarten by going around town door to door at night, carrying hand-made lanterns and singing songs for sweets.

The city of Amsterdam would rather this not happen at all due to the health crisis and has made a suggestion that sounds more like an April Fool’s joke: replace the sweets with Brussels sprouts to promote healthy eating.

The idea is to stay home and celebrate with the healthy yet questionable-smelling miniature cabbages. The city is bold enough to suggest parents also use ‘tomatoes, carrot and radishes’ as well.

Maybe spend a evening doing something fun with your kids that doesn’t involve you checking your mobile phone, but that’s just me.

Good news is I won’t have to hide in my own house on 11 November. A Canadian like me considers 11 November as Remembrance Day, the day we commemorate the millions of fallen during the First World War, which the Dutch don’t celebrate.

I posted a picture of Dutch white asparagus because it’s really tasty.

(Link: www.at5.nl, Photo by Wikipedia user Janericloebe who released it into the public domain)

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October 28, 2020

Dutch student finds artwork by cubist André Lhote

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 10:23 am

A 22-year-old Dutch art student named Bob spotted a work by French cubist André Lhote on Dutch second-hand site Marktplaats. Bob figured the painting could be worth a lot, so he bought it from a family in Bloemendaal, a rather posh coastal city in the province of North Holland.

Bob then went to Paris to have the painting examined by the world’s André Lhote expert, Dominique Bermann Martin of the André Lhote Association who collects the artist’s works. Her evaluation of the painting was swift, as it was the real deal, estimated to be worth tens of thousands of euro.

The family who sold it didn’t know what the painting was worth, and according to other articles, Bob said that they couldn’t be bothered to find out. As Bob put it, they could have gone to Paris themselves to have the painting examined.

(Link and photo: rtlnieuws.nl)

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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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October 7, 2020

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen passes away, aged 65

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 2:24 pm

Dutch-American guitarist and arguably the heir to the technical guitar playing of Jimi Hendrix, Edward Lodewijk van Halen, better known as Eddie van Halen, passed way yesterday at age 65 after an ‘arduous battle with cancer’, according to his son Wolfgang (Wolf) van Halen who broke the sad news on Twitter.

Eddie van Halen was that unmistakable high end, loud guitar sound of 1980s rock band Van Halen. As well, he also guest starred on many other songs, including ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson in 1982.

Sticking to the Dutch angle, here’s all of Van Halen running around downtown Amsterdam in 1981, courtesy of Dutch music program Countdown (in English):

And because we all want to know if Eddie spoke Dutch, here he is with his brother Alex, also Van Halen’s drummer, speaking some Dutch (English subtitles).

Now go put some Van Halen on.

(Link: nu.nl,
Photo of Eddie Van Halen by Carl Lender, some rights reserved)

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October 4, 2020

Dutch designer Jan des Bouvrie dies, aged 78

Filed under: Design by Orangemaster @ 9:03 pm

Famous Dutch designer Jan des Bouvrie has passed away at age 78 after a battle with prostate cancer.

As an interior and product designer, he was probably best known for his 1969 ‘kubusbank sofa’, easily considered a design classic and still being sold today. In fact, it is said that his sofa is a symbol of modern Dutch interior design and can be found in the collections of both the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. As well, the Jan des Bouvrie Academy in Deventer, Overijssel was named after him. Last year, he celebrated his 50th anniversary as a designer at his studio Het Arsenaal in Naarden.

We wrote about him quite a while back: Des Bouvrie designs a mobile chalet.

(Link: parool.nl, Photo of Jan des Bouvrie by Erwin Olaf Springveld, some rights reserved)

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September 7, 2020

Dutch efforts are retrieving the downed RAF BK716 bomber

Filed under: Aviation,History by Orangemaster @ 2:14 pm

After about 12 years of wondering what happened to the missing British Short Stirling Bomber BK716, it was finally found at the bottom of the Markermeer lake, near Amsterdam. In 2020 we’ve also learned that the remains of the seven airmen who went missing aboard this aircraft during World War II are still on board.

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary in the United Kingdom said the Bomber Command Museum of Canada had asked it for help tracking down living relatives of Sergeant Charles Armstrong Bell of Langley Park, County Durham, one of the seven airmen. The relatives of the six other crew members have also been found, although their names have not been revealed.

The BK716 was lost when returning from a bombing raid in Germany in 1943, and first discovered in 2008 when a piece of its landing gear latched onto the anchor of a stranded boat. Experts had long believed that the aircraft was another Short Stirling, the BK710, after examining an aluminium panel. Later, however, a cigarette case and a wooden mascot brought on a new investigation that made the BK716 a more likely candidate.

The defence ministry and a private contractor started retrieving the wreckage of the BK716 on 31 August, with an engine part confirming that it is the BK716. After six weeks, the dredging will have been completed and hopefully we’ll hear all the historical details. For context, the Markermeer is a 700 km² lake that is in fact shallow at 3 to 5 m in depth, while the area the plane parts are being found cover 75 m².

(Links: dutchnews.nl, bbc.com, Photo of a different plane, the Short S 31 Half Scale Stirling by, most probably, the Imperial War Museum)

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September 2, 2020

Zaandam street reverts back to ‘gay sounding name’

Filed under: Architecture,Music,Weird by Orangemaster @ 2:47 pm

In 2018 the city of Zaandam, North Holland was dealing with a tempest in a teacup: a street called ‘Hobo’ (‘Oboe’) was turned into ‘Piccolo’ because folks said it sounded too much like ‘homo’, which is a homophobic slur, the equivalent of ‘faggot’. ‘Folks said’ is not very clear, but city hall picked up on the discontent of some and decided to change instruments.

However, in 2019 the city went back on its decision, saying that it was hard to claim to be a ‘rainbow city’ (LGBTQIA-friendly) if they cater to the whims of a few people who didn’t like a street named after a musical instrument. Other Dutch cities have Hobo streets and that was never a problem. And just having a rainbow crosswalk is not enough these days to be truly LGBTQIA-friendly.

I went to Zaandam recently to see what the fuss had been all about. One very nice typical blue Zaandam-style house had a sign on the door that said “Hobo 14, former Piccolo 14”, which seemed to be for any kind of deliveries. Hobo street is barely a few hundred metres long. And why would I use another slur, ‘faggot’, to make my point? That’s because parallel to Hobo, there’s ‘Fagot’ street, which means ‘Bassoon’ in Dutch and nobody had a problem with that.

(Link: hartvannederland.nl)

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September 1, 2020

24 Oranges stays on Flickr, but no longer as ‘Pro’

Filed under: General,Photography by Branko Collin @ 5:57 pm

In 2008 we joined Flickr, a photo sharing site that was also one of the first social networks. Shortly after we switched to their Pro account because it made sense at the time – back then it looked like we might soon be bumping into the limits of the free account.

Recently, the new owners of Flickr, Smugmug, have done us the honour and favour of stimulating us to re-evaluate how we want to keep using the service by raising the price of the Pro account by 300%.

We have decided to stay on Flickr, but switched to the free account. The effect on you, dear readers, should be limited. We have maxed out the number of photos we can post to Flickr, so we can no longer do that. In the coming months Flickr may also decide to delete our oldest 232 photos. Smugmug have said that they will not remove CC licensed photos, but it is not clear if they mean all such photos or just the ones that would cause a PR stink if deleted.

We have always distributed our Flickr photos under a Creative Commons license. Please rest assured that this license remains valid, even if you can no longer find the photo.

(As a tip for your copyright audits, you may be able to find the link between a photo and a permissive license on the Wayback machine, even after a Flickr user decided to change a license; also, Wikimedia Commons often copies photos, including their licenses, from Flickr.)

(Photo by Liz West, some rights reserved)

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