May 25, 2019

Counting insects as only the Dutch can

Filed under: Dutch first,Nature,Science by Orangemaster @ 5:38 pm

Thanks to amateurs and experts at, the Netherlands is currently the only country in the world that is able to properly and automatically count insects, and plans to spend this summer doing so.

Using 100 camera traps that will be placed throughout the country specifically developed to automatically count and recognise insects, Software will be ‘trained’ using a photo database containing several million photos. The size and quality of this database is apparently unique in the world.

Counting and identifying insects gives researchers insight into the numbers of insects nationally as well as the effectiveness of measures being applied to restore biodiversity. According to recent publications in scientific research, there’s an alarming drop in numbers of insects in Western Europe and in Dutch nature reserves. Regular folks like myself often see adverts about the lack of bees, with garden centres selling seed mixtures for plants that attract bees and butterflies.

Using camera traps is a bid deal because they can count and cover more ground as it were. The Netherlands apparently leads the field automatic image recognition of insects and the technique, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, will now be delivered in time for the summer.

(Link:, Photo of Bee swarm by quisnovus, some rights reserved)

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April 24, 2019

Utrecht’s Dom church attic open to the public

Filed under: Architecture,Dutch first,History,Religion by Orangemaster @ 11:24 pm

On 5 May, the attic of the Dom Church (“Domkerk”, in Dutch) in Utrecht will be open to the public for the very first time. And as of that date, people can enjoy one-hour tours every Sunday starting at 14:30. RTV Utrecht went and took a peek:

The Dom Church is about 32 metres high, up to the highest part of the choir vault. Half way up there’s a gallery where nobody has ever been before until now. Utrecht’s well-known symbol was once the Netherlands’ largest church, but the nave collapsed in a storm in 1674 and has never been rebuilt, leaving the tower isolated from the east end.

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March 22, 2019

Free housing in exchange for all your data in Helmond

Filed under: Dutch first,Science by Orangemaster @ 11:09 am

Binary code

In Helmond, Noord Brabant, there are plans to build a neighbourhood, called Living Lab, where people will be able to live for free, but there’s a catch: they’ll have to give up all their data.

Part of the Brainport Smart District, Living Lab will be the ‘smartest neighbourhood in the Netherlands’ with 1500 homes where 4000 people are expected to live. Their behaviour will generate a huge flow of data and that’s the goal. Basically, you’d be a guinea pig with free housing. Sensors will measure what you do, how you sleep, what you do online and whatever else companies will pay to find out.

Free living for only a year is not very practical, but considering how difficult it is to find a place in this country, I’m sure they will find 4000 people ready to give up their privacy, which is a bit sad in a way.

Toronto, Canada was the location of a similar project called Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. The difference is that this project hit a brick wall when it came to privacy and proprietary rights of the data.

Living Lab is on the edge of what is actually acceptable, which means it’s not out of the woods yet. But again, in a country where corruption is common in the housing market, having a free space to live that’s nice will have people willing to give up quite a bit of their lives. Let us not forget that social media seems free, but many of us are giving away our data there as well.

(Link: Bright)

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March 19, 2019

University student bequeaths record amount

Filed under: Dutch first,Science by Orangemaster @ 4:05 pm

An alumna of Utrecht University from Rotterdam has left 1.2 million euro to the university, making it the biggest amount ever bequeathed to it in Dutch history.

Annie van Leerzem studied medicine in the 1950s in Utrecht, as Rotterdam did not have a faculty of medicine back then. Although she graduated, she never practiced medicine, as the care of both her parents fell on her shoulders.

A fund has been set up in her name, the Familie van Leerzemfonds. The money will be used for young clinical researchers in general medicine.

(Link:, Photo by Tom Varco, published under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license)

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February 25, 2019

Donald Duck magazine to include homosexuals

Filed under: Comics,Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 12:04 pm

The Dutch have youth news on television, and recently 10-year-old called Fenna was interviewed for telling the editors of Donald Duck weekly magazine that there was never any homosexual couples in their magazine, after going through all of the one she had.

Fenna has two mothers and two fathers, and would like to see her favourite magazine represent her reality a bit more, saying that it is important. The editor-in-chief responded that he had never really thought about it, and that they plan to add homosexual couples in the background of stories soon based on her suggestion.

Donald Duck magazine has made steps to become more inclusive before, including an edition dealing with dyslexia and one character in a wheelchair. They are clearly not huge steps, but sometimes it takes a fan who sees things a bit differently to point others in the right direction.

Donald Duck magazine has been offered in Braille, in Frisian, and in an easier-to-read version for children that don’t read.


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February 11, 2019

Train app to find a seat in real time rolls out

Filed under: Dutch first,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:19 am

For years, there’s been a Dutch Rail app called ‘NS reisplanner’ (‘NS travel planner’) that helps you sort out train travel. Soon enough, the app will also let you find an actual place to sit in the train, in real time.

After a successful trial that started last year in April, the ‘find a seat’ feature will be integrated into NS reisplanner, with specific trains gradually added, such as Utrecht-Nijmegen. The app uses a sensor per train carriage to see if there’s anywhere to sit and displays the information in the app using the colours green, orange and red. As of next year, the whole country should be covered, according to a spokesperson from Dutch Rail.

The app is available for both iPhone and Android in Dutch and in English.

(Links:,, Photo by Flickr user UggBoy hearts UggGirl, some rights reserved)

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February 7, 2019

Dutch company boasts world’s first transparent wood

Filed under: Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 2:21 pm

According to Dutch company Holland Composites in Lelystad, their transparent composite wood panels are the first ever made in the world.

Mark Hoff explains that the company has developed a panel that looks like wood, but when held up to the light, it’s transparent. The panels can be used indoors as partition walls as well as outside as façade panelling. They feature a very thin layer of wood integrated into layers of composites, making them strong, low-maintenance and with a natural look.

The panels are mainly used by project developers and architects, and cannot be found at DIY stores. Watch a short video in Dutch here.

(Link and screenshot of video

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January 29, 2019

Amsterdam ferry named after mayor, a first

Filed under: Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 3:19 pm


Yesterday, Femke van der Laan, widow of deceased Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan, was present at an unveiling of a wall of Amsterdam’s new IJ river ferry number 63, showing that the ferry was renamed after Eberhard van der Laan. This is the first time that Amsterdam’s transport company GVB has named any kind of transport after a person.

“Eberhard van der Laan was a mayor who poured his heart and soul into the city, a leader that built bridges and looked for connections between Amsterdam residents.” Since the picture of him about was shot at a meet and greet he did in my neighbourhood addressing people’s problems, I tend to agree with the image people have of him. Although different, much of the same has also been said of former Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen who is still living. Van der Laan died of lung cancer in 2017.

As well, the new ferry is one of four bigger, quieter and cleaner ferries that go across the IJ river and is part of the road infrastructure, which means it is free of charge. The new ferries are 33,60 metres long and 9 meters wide, able to transport 310 people. Although not emissions-free, the GVB says it will equip its fleet with fully electric motors when the time comes.


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January 23, 2019

First ever Dutch musician to play in Brazil carnival

Filed under: Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 11:22 am

At the end of February, Rotterdam resident Steven Brezet will be the first ever Dutch musician to perform at the world famous Brazilian carnival in Salvador da Bahia. Brezet will be performing on the truck of Brazilian artist Denny Denan as a percussionist. Millions of people attend carnival in Brazil every year: it’s the biggest outdoor carnival in the world, and Salvador is said to be the third biggest in Brazil.

Brezet was asked by Denan himself to join the band. “It will be 10 days of hard work and not much sleep. The entire country works towards this period of the year, as carnival is important to everyone. I’m very curious as to how the audience will react to me”, explains Brezet.

Brezet is a known percussionist in Brazil where he often gives workshops and performances, but this is carnival and it’s an honour to be able to be a part of it, says Brezet.

(Link:, Photo of Dutch carnival in Maastricht)

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October 30, 2018

Dutch championship escape room scheduled for 2019

Filed under: Dutch first,Event,Gaming,General by Orangemaster @ 1:56 pm

On 7 January 2019, the first ever national championship escape room will take place in Erp, North Brabant and will involve ‘an escaped psychopath from Germany’. The goal is to find out what he’s planning, find his bombs, and thwart his plans.

According to organiser Joris van den Bergh from Erp, they’ll be three preliminary rounds before having a shot at being the winning team. In other words, it won’t be a walk in the park. There is room for 22 teams (sign up here until this Thursday), each of which should consist of four or five people. Sign-up costs 200 euro per team.

Since more than 1000 people will be participating, some 32 escape rooms will be used. The best 75 teams will go for the final in an actual castle, the location of which is still under wraps.

One of the last times we mentioned an escape room, it was one based on Anne Frank’s life, which raised a lot of eyebrows.

(Link:, Photo by Aapo Haapanen, some rights reserved)

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