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)
Tags: Amsterdam, data, mobile phone, SIM cards
Two American guys, Kong and Jesse, take magic mushrooms and take a ‘trip’ through busy and touristy downtown Amsterdam to attempt to pick up girls. Wearing any kind of apparel with Amsterdam printed on it is usually a warning sign to locals, and indeed girls barely talked to them — no surprise there.
The Koningsplein intersection and the busy Leidsestraat are first featured, with both guys interacting more with a trash can (dust bin) than with girls. They eventually talk about renting a bike, but it’s clear that’s not going to happen. When it gets darker, they end up at Rembrandtplein where there are currently winter stalls with arts & crafts and international food, another major tourist trap. Talking to girls is apparently nothing compared to feeling up our trash cans for some reason.
Kong and Jesse picked up nobody in the end, embodying what us locals think about of this type of tourist. Maybe it’s nice to see that two guys doing mushroom and acting stupid is nothing more than two guys doing mushrooms and acting stupid, and Amsterdam just happens to be the backdrop.
Tags: Amsterdam, drugs, magic mushrooms, tourism
About a year ago Dordrecht opened the first modern day baby hatch for women in dire situations to be able to drop off their unwanted babies safely as foundlings. Online news source Dichtbij.nl says that Groningen and Papendrecht each have one as well. The provinces of Zeeland and Noord-Brabant will soon be opening baby hatches, and there are plans to open some in more prominent places such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Maastricht.
Currently Dutch law forbids abandoning babies for them to be adopted as foundlings and Child Protection Services agrees, claiming children have the right to know who their parents are. The government has no plans to close down, stop or pursue anyone who would abandon a baby in these places, so the government will remain inert on the issue for now.
Sadly, an alternative that occasionally makes the news is when a child has been left in the forest or in a rubbish bin.
(Link: www.bbc.co.uk, Illustration by Leonardo da Vinci)
Tags: Amsterdam, babies, baby hatch
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
In its third year, the Amsterdam Light Festival runs until 18 January 2015 and makes any winter night on the town that much more fun. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, a boat ride will give you a great view of some of the installations. I went on a running and walking tour where installations could be found in gardens (bike wheel dome shown here) and streets.
At 0:37 in the video, you’ll see coloured tulips coming out of a canal, the Herengracht, which have to be pumped up by passers-by using bicycle pumps. Other installations had their colours controlled by sound, motion and even Wi-Fi, making it interactive.
Amsterdam light festival 2014/15 from Jack Fisher on Vimeo.
Tags: Amsterdam, Amsterdam Light Festival, canals, installations, winter
Three scientists of the Meat the Mushroom company are developing a meat replacement food product using prawn waste at their container venue in the up and coming Amsterdam North district.
They explain that prawn waste is normally processed into animal feed or spread on fields. “Ninety percent of all Dutch shrimp is peeled in Morocco. If you buy fresh prawns, you can assume that they are about two months old. They are caught in the North Sea, cooked on the boat, shipped to Morocco, peeled and placed in preservative, and shipped back to the Netherlands again. [...] Some 70 percent of the weight of a shrimp is not even edible. A kilo of prawns leaves 700 grams of waste.
Working together with a shrimp processor in the small Groningen village of Leens that peels the prawns using a machine, Meat the Mushroom have come up with this basic recipe: prawn waste + grain + king oyster mushroom = ‘cheese’. The result apparently looks just like the French Mont d’Or or Camembert cheese.
The product is obviously not suited for vegetarians or vegans, but it is made from discarded bits, making it a decent alternative to meat and very creative. The picture depicts shiitake mushrooms, which the scientists also grow.
(Link: munchies.vice.com, Photo of shiitake mushrooms by pjah73, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, mushroom, prawn, shiitake, shrimp, waste
The idea was to build an experimental office environment where people didn’t have to sit at a desk all day, which is said to be unhealthy for long periods of time. In this space you can lean, perch yourself, lie down or use bits as makeshift table to read, etc.
Dutch studio RAAAF and artist Barbara Visser first started working on the concept earlier this year. They were invited to create this – their first working prototype – at Looiersgracht 60, a new exhibition space in Amsterdam.
I wouldn’t want my laptop sliding off a surface so when I see one in the picture, I wince. Some of these surfaces look too high for shorter people, which makes them look like counters. I think it’s an idea worth exploring and maybe the surfaces could even have tech built in like subtle screens with clocks and some Wi-Fi.
Tags: Amsterdam, Looiersgracht 60, office
Sending hundreds of bikes to Syrian refugees in Jordan sounds like a great way to clean up the clutter caused by abandoned bikes in Amsterdam. The idea isn’t new, as the city of Amsterdam said this summer that it wanted to send 10,000 bikes to Jordan. Bikes are useful for transporting large objects and can be converted into many things.
Having tens of thousands of abandoned bikes in a city of some 813,00 inhabitants makes it sound like we grab a bike and leave it on the street every time we go out. The bike depot, a ‘refugee camp for bikes’ that were parked illegally yet often removed incorrectly by the ‘bike police,’ is so far away that people cannot be bothered and just use another bike. It’s not a very green attitude, but it does save time and money.
If the city would just lay off people’s bikes unless they were really abandoned carcasses with no wheels left, that could be a good start. If the city would build more bike racks, that would help considering the current depot system apparently runs at a loss. If that depot wasn’t so ridiculously far away or there were a few smaller ones, that would help. So go ahead, ship a bunch of ‘abandoned’ bikes to Syria (or talk about it for months) instead of fixing the real urban problem, that’s the ticket.
(Links: www.dutchnews.nl, www.parool.nl)
Tags: Amsterdam, bike depot, Jordan, refugees, Syria
This morning Privacy First, a foundation committed to preserving and promoting the right to privacy, is in court in Amsterdam over having to enter one’s license plate number when parking on the city’s streets.
Bas Filippini, who when parking in Amsterdam enters the license plate number ‘NOWAY’ (see film linked to the source), says the problem is two-fold: 1) a person in Amsterdam now has no choice but to enter their license plate number and 2) people cannot pay with cash, which both breach the right to privacy and anonymity, never mind being a pain for tourists or other visitors who don’t have the right bank card or mobile phone.
Filippini is in court because of a 60 euro fine he got for not entering his license plate number. According to Privacy First, every free citizen has the right to privacy in the sense of anonymity in public spaces, including parking one’s car, a right stated by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (PDF).
We’ve been parking cars on the streets in Amsterdam for decades without the city knowing anything about our cars, and continue to gleefully do so across the country. Article 8 says unless matters such as, “national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others” come into play, which I cannot possible imagine they do.
UPDATE: The verdict is due 23 December 2014. Postponed for six weeks.
UPDATE No. 2: Verdict out: “The council considers that using the wrong number plate is the same as not paying but the court disagreed. Not finding a payment corresponding to a real number plate could be evidence that no payment was made but the person parking can demonstrate they did pay in a variety of ways”.
Tags: Amsterdam, parking, privacy
“In ,’7685 Frames of Netherlands’, filmmaker Pengcheng He documents the beauty of the old cities of the Netherlands in a charming series of tilt-shift time-lapses. He shot the video in Delft, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.”
Many people don’t see Rotterdam as one of the old cities, mainly because few old buildings were left in the city after the WWII. Delft and Amsterdam join cities like Haarlem and Nijmegen as old cities.
Amsterdam’s IJ river ferries kick it off, then the Stopera, but I’ll let you play guess the city on your own because I could possibly describe the entire video location by location (yes, that is a bit scary) having lived extensively in all three cities. Sometimes, the film even has a miniatures feel to it.
(Link: laughingsquid.com, Photo of Rotterdam, KPN building by Roel Wijnants, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam