January 8, 2017

‘No more bike wheels stuck in tram rails’

Filed under: Bicycles,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 8:30 pm

A Dutch friend once told me about when he was a student in Amsterdam and went on a date, which involved the girl hitching a ride on the back of his bicycle (on the rack) and instead of having a typically fun and possibly romantic moment of her having to hold on to him, the front wheel of his bike got stuck in a tram rail and they both fell.

SafeRails solves the well-known problem of getting your bike wheels stuck in tram rails. Invented by two engineering students, Ward Kuiters and Roderick Buijs, SafeRails is a profile made from recycled plastic that can be inserted into existing tram rails. The idea is that bike wheels cannot get stuck in the rails and the tram can ride right over the profile as if they weren’t even there.

SafeRails is sustainable, durable and makes cycling safer. The guys’ goal is to start with The Hague, the political centre of the country, but first they need to win The Hague Innovators Challenge 2017 and are currently in second place. You can vote, too.

In Dutch with English subtitles:

(Link: www.bright.nl, Photo of the Kinkerstraat by Wikimedia user Ilonamay, some rights reserved)

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January 4, 2017

A new year, a bigger bike rack for cargo bikes

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 5:08 pm

Not too far from 24oranges HQ, the city of Amsterdam is trying out a new bike rack that fits cargo bikes and bikes too wide to fit into normal bike racks, usually with crates in the front.

People with bigger bikes usually park them willy-nilly, taking up more space, which is a bit inconvenient. As well, instead of jamming your bike front wheel first where it may bend because the bikes are stacked too close to each other, the front fork of the bike rests on the rack, as the slots are wider, and hopefully morons won’t lock their bike to yours catching your brake cable in the process.

For anyone living in Amsterdam, you can even e-mail your opinion about the rack to help the city decided whether it should install more.

(Link: parool.nl)

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December 22, 2016

World premiere: donating to the homeless electronically

Filed under: Dutch first,Technology by Orangemaster @ 1:59 pm
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As of this holiday season people in Amsterdam will be able to give money to homeless people using their bank card and its contactless payment function. It’s an experiment that is making headlines, thought up by Amsterdam advertising agency N=5 and developed together with the ABN Amro bank.

The homeless will be wearing a special jacket with a bank card reader, allowing people to donate one euro that will be used to provide either food, a shower or a place to sleep to the homeless person in question. The accounts will be managed by the cooperating homeless shelters. The idea is to avoid seeing the money spent on alcohol and the likes, something that stops many people from giving. Once someone has donated, they will get a thank you from the homeless person on their bank account statement.

According to newspaper Het Parool, over the past years the homeless population in the Netherlands has more than doubled from 2009 to 2016, from 13,000 to 31,000 people.

(Link: www.parool.nl)

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December 17, 2016

Dutchman spies on guy who stole his phone

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 2:03 pm

The sound at the beginning of the film is of a tram in Amsterdam, although this short graduation film by Anthony van der Meer entitled ‘Fine My Phone’ had support from the institution he graduated from, the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.

Every week in the Netherlands 300 police reports are written up for smartphone theft, explains Van der Meer. After having his phone stolen in Amsterdam, he used Find My iPhone and caught ‘a few metres’ of how far his phone went before it was turned off. He wasn’t bothered so much by having his phone stolen, but more that a stranger had access to all his photos, videos, contacts and so on. A thief just has to switch SIM cards and reset the phone for Find My iPhone to be totally useless.

To make this short film, Van der Meer installed spyware on a new phone and purposely let someone steal it. He then remotely recorded audio, photos, and videos from the phone and made a 20 minute film about the guy who stole it.

It’s in Dutch with English subtitles, and a good part of it can be understood visually thanks to many computer screenshots, including one to show us that Arabic appeared on his phone and a few other cool things you should see for yourselves.

(Link: boingboing.net)

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December 10, 2016

Amsterdam’s oldest coffeeshop forced to close in 2017

Filed under: General,History by Orangemaster @ 10:15 pm

Amsterdam is currently on a mission to close down many of its coffeeshops in 2017, as some of them are too close to schools, following a policy called ‘Project 1012’, referring to a downtown postal code and one of their next targets is the city’s oldest coffeeshop, Mellow Yellow opened in 1972, albeit at another location.

The mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan made a deal back in 2011 with the Dutch government that if they didn’t force him to make Amsterdam coffeeshops register foreign patrons he would close down coffeeshops that were less than 250 metres from schools. However, a report from the Bonger Institute of Criminology says the remaining coffeeshops are now so overcrowded that they have twice as many patrons with people queueing outside to get in, which is disruptive.

Then there’s stories about coffeeshops allowed to stay open because schools are either closing or moving, and when a school moves then other coffeeshops may all of a sudden have a problem. And there’s the story of a coffeeshop not having to close after all because someone measured the 250 metres incorrectly. Oh, and there are newspaper articles about coffeeshops being shot at and closed temporarily, so that the actual number of coffeeshops in Amsterdam is never quite right.

Goodbye Mellow Yellow, 1972-2017, the experts think you should stay open, but not the city who doesn’t want to see the new problems caused by shutting the likes of you down.

(Link: parool.nl, a report on Project 1012Photo by Eric Caballero, some rights reserved)

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December 5, 2016

Amsterdam will get a baby hatch in 2017

Filed under: Health by Orangemaster @ 8:17 pm

We had a modern era baby hatch open up in Dordrecht back in 2013 and after that a few more opened up around the country, but now it’s the capital’s turn to have one, set to open in 2017.

Earlier this year Zwolle got a baby hatch in the Isala hospital, the first time a Dutch hospital has opened such a service.

It’s illegal to abandon a child as a foundling in the Netherlands, and can land someone four years of prison or a hefty fine of 20,000 euro. Making it punishable does mean babies are found in places like bins, the streets or a forest, some alive, but some dead as well. In 2014 a live baby was found in a container in Amsterdam whose parents were never traced, and a dead baby was found near Sloterplas in Nieuw-West in a sports bag not too long ago.

Child Protection Services in the past claimed that 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 a baby hatch, so the government is still doing what it does best, which is nothing.

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November 19, 2016

Meeting the Mayor of Amsterdam: what that’s like

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 12:43 pm

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A local elementary school filled with local residents of all kinds had a friendly, tea-drinking, homemade baklava-eating hour to ask Eberhard van der Laan, the Mayor of Amsterdam, their pressing questions. Right before, the mayor walked around the recently renovated playground across the street to talk to all ages of youngsters and take part in a mannequin challenge that I joined in on if anybody finds it online.

The questions that were raised, were classics: dust particles emanating from the motorway nearby, promises of building new houses that never materialise, cheaper sports hall for getting unhealthy youngsters to move and a few others that hit home with everyone.

Van der Laan used to be a lawyer as well as the minister for housing and immigration, so his answers mostly pleased the crowd. Some things he had an aide write down as matters he could do something about like not getting any answers from city bureaucrats, other things he explained had so many parties involved that he couldn’t exert much influence on as one person, which is a good thing he said because that would be dictatorial.

I found out he’s well-versed in the art of pull-out quotes. Asked about what will happen to people with polluting vintage cars being banned from the city centre Van der Laan said “old things don’t have a future”. He admitted that lack of housing is one of the biggest problem in our country, as well as in Amsterdam. He also believed that it was good policy to build the nice schools in the poorer neighbourhoods, as we were standing in a newly renovated school, and admitted to those complaining about lack of funding for many things that “when money is taken away, good things are always lost”, which he said is often a national decision he can’t do much about.

In true Dutch straight talk fashion he did tell the crowd that “Amsterdam wasn’t an ATM”, and explained to a nine-year-old girl that, “yes there’s graffiti you want removed near your house, but let me teach you a big word first: ‘nannyism’. That means we can’t tell people what not do to all the time, but give me an email address and I will look into it”.

My only complaint is that he was talking about schools and mentioned “white and dark parents”, alluding to what is still referred to as ‘white schools’, (Dutch, with some money and assumed to have more of a future) and ‘black schools’ (anything that looks foreign although Dutch, is usually poorer and assumed to have less of a future). I hope we stop using those terms very soon because “old things don’t have a future”.

All in all Ebehard van der Laan is a great communicator who made all the attendees, especially the children, feel like they had been heard. He’s the father of five children himself and his interest in what they had to say was genuine. He’s also going to be around for quite a few more years, so it’s good to have met him in person.

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November 11, 2016

Artists upset about ‘foreign’ art on their wall

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 9:46 am

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HW10 artists’ workshop in Nieuw-West, Amsterdam has had one of their walls painted without having been consulted by an American artist who lives abroad in what looks like a guerrilla action.

The 30-odd artists of HW10 want the rogue art removed, but the neighbours, who you think would complain about something they were also not consulted on, want the art to stay because they like it. It features a contemplative woman who appeared a month ago painted overnight by well-known artist Nils Westergard, a stunt set up by one of the neighbours. Westergard does a lot of spontaneous things in a lot of different places, many of which seem to feature pensive people.

The neighbour claimed that even though it was a bold move, he arranged it because there’s nothing in his area, no coffee places, no art and only the workshop that they never see the inside of, and that the art spruced up the place. It feels as if the artists should have done something with the wall first, but then again I wonder if either side of the story had the right to paint on it.

The majority of the 30 artists of the workshop have voted to have the wall scrubbed, but the neighbour wants the artwork to stay, and the city council of Nieuw-West is busy listening to both sides to resolve the situation.

(Link: www.parool.nl, Screenshot from Nils Westergard’s Facebook page)

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November 6, 2016

Ajax FC send 27 crates of beer to Scots

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sports by Orangemaster @ 11:55 am

Amsterdam’s football club Ajax has sent 27 crates of beer to Scottish club East Kilbride FC of South Lanarkshire to congratulate them for breaking Ajax’s world record of most games won in a row last Saturday by winning against BSC Glasgow FC.

Former goalkeeper and now Ajax’s general manager Edwin van der Sar recorded a video message to congratulate the Scots telling them to ‘have some beer on us’.

A truck full of beer, Belgian Jupiler beer, basically Stella’s big brother, was driven right onto a dark and cold pitch with patches of snow.

Enjoy this classy football moment in English:

(Link: www.at5.nl, Photo by Wikimedia user Carolus Ludovicus, some rights reserved)

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October 26, 2016

Dutch firm unveils new clear air filter

Filed under: Dutch first,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 6:30 am

At the two-day Offshore Energy 2016 Exhibition & Conference in Amsterdam this week, the Dutch Envinity Group from Den Helder, North Holland unveiled what they called “the world’s first giant outside air vacuum cleaner”, a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic fine particles from the atmosphere around the machine.

The system is said to be able to suck in air from a 300-metre radius and from up to seven kilometres upwards. It can treat about 800,000 cubic metres of air an hour, filtering out 100 percent of fine particles and 95 percent percent of ultra-fine particles, the company said, referring to tests carried out by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) on its prototype.

Fine particles are caused by burning wood and other fuels as well as industrial combustion, adversely affecting our health, according to the European Environment Agency. As well, about 90 percent of EU residents are exposed to levels of such particles, which can cause cancer.

On a much smaller scale, there’s also the smaller air-purifying system called the ‘Smog Free Tower’ that was installed in Beijing last month by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde.

(Link: phys.org, Photo of a particulate polluted Shanghai sky by Wikimedia Commons user Saperaud, some rights reserved)

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