December 4, 2018

Christian party wants rating system on YouTube

Filed under: General,Online by Orangemaster @ 12:33 pm

Similar to what is done with film and television, Dutch national Christian party CDA says it would like to help parents protect their children against images containing violence, sex and swearing on YouTube. The Dutch system, called Kijkwijzer, is a Dutch film and television rating system that is slightly more liberal than the one many people know from the United States or Canada. However, applying it to YouTube any time soon is said to be next to impossible.

Every minute, YouTube puts up 400 hours of video. The CDA says it’s up to YouTube themselves to protect children, which seems like, as they say in Dutch, ‘yelling into the desert’. If multinationals can’t even sort out all the copyright infringements that appear on YouTube, then they won’t care about some Christians giving their opinion about it in such a small country. This discussion had already been brought up in Parliament in 2015, but now that YouTube (and in this case, Google as the owner) may have to abide by the same rules as television (I don’t know about film), then getting YouTube to comply is a step closer, but still very close to impossible.

As a parent, a member of the CDA said that his seven-year-old son looks at YouTube films and it is tough to determine if a film is suitable for him or not, which is completely understandable. Sadly for him and I bet also his spouse, they have to look over their child’s shoulder to make sure they can control what their kid watches. As well, a representative of Google Netherlands said that imposing the Dutch system is impossible and that YouTube would then come with its own system, and the entire world would have to follow whatever they come up with.


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October 11, 2018

Google Home Minis understand some Dutch, but not enough

Filed under: General,Technology by Orangemaster @ 1:12 pm

According to someone who works for, yesterday all of a sudden their Google Home Minis, a type of wireless speaker and voice command device with an integrated AI-based virtual assistant started to understand his commands in Dutch. Before then, his entire family had to ask for everything in their best American English.

After choosing Dutch as a default language, all devices stopped working except the Hue lamps, a line of colour changing LED lamps with wireless control, and the Honeywell thermostat. Sending images from the front door to the television with the Dutch command ‘Hey Google, show me the front door on TV40’ produced a YouTube video about front doors on the telly.

A day later, Hue dropped out, with an error that the lighting was no longer available. Bright hopes that Dutch language support will be working properly on 24 October when Google Home speakers will officially be available in Dutch shops. I’d hate to be working in a shop that is going to get a wave of complaints with no fix in site or be told to use it in English or German. And I wonder if it will understand those of us who speak Dutch with accents.

For the advanced class, here’s the discussion about Dutch accents within the country, such as is it Leiden, Leide or Leye? It depends where you’re from, but that’s still not good enough.

(Link:, Photo:

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June 8, 2015

Google, KLM and government favourites with Dutch students

Filed under: Aviation,Food & Drink,General,IT,Technology by Branko Collin @ 10:09 pm

klm-plane-steven-straitonSwedish marketing agency Universum has been polling Dutch students on who they want to work for after graduation.

A whopping 12,000 students from 32 universities and polytechnics were asked about their career preferences. Major Dutch companies such as Philips, Shell, KLM, Heineken and Endemol were named, but large American companies such as Google and Apple also made their appearance.

Both law and arts & humanities students named the national government as their preferred employer, followed by Google for the former and KLM for the latter. Business students like KLM and Google the best, engineering and physics students prefer Google, followed by Philips.

Compared to last year, TNO, Coca-Cola, IKEA and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek failed to make the top 5 in any of the categories.

(Link: ANS, photo by Steven Straiton, some rights reserved)

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April 3, 2014

Google Naps maps good places to crash outdoors

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 10:39 am

In the spirit of April’s Fool, Dutch creative agencies Venour of Rotterdam and cartoonist Kakhiel (held up in a secret lair) created Google Naps, a parody of Google Maps, although it does give excellent tips about where to crash outdoors. Just like the real Google tool, Google Naps allows users to plot out specific locations on interactive online maps.

Writing this in downtown Munich next to the beautiful Isar river and its big city parks, Google Naps is telling me the place I relaxed under the sun with friends and beers was a good place to get some sleep and I agree. However, everyone can put in a suggestion and so sleeping under a bridge may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

The creators also put in a Dunglish disclaimer just for Google’s founders, asking them to not get upset and not sue them because they don’t have any money. They then say, “whenever you are in the Netherlands you can have a nap on our couch if you want, just e-mail us: We can also make coffee and bake eggs if you like that (for a small price).”

(Link:, Photo by Flickr user RelaxingMusic, some rights reserved)

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December 3, 2013

Google breaks privacy laws, Dutch watchdog says

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 3:26 pm

privacy-jeff-schulerBy not informing its users about what data it collects and by not asking for permission, Google is breaking the Dutch data protection act, privacy watchdog CBP said in a press release last Thursday.

In 2012 Google changed its privacy policy. The American Internet giant started combining the private data it collects from its users across all its services.

The investigation shows that Google combines personal data relating to Internet users that the company obtains from different services. Google does this, amongst others, for the purposes of displaying personalised ads and to personalise services such as YouTube and Search. Some of these data are of a sensitive nature, such as payment information, location data and information on surfing behaviour across multiple websites. Data about search queries, location data and video’s watched can be combined, while the different services serve entirely different purposes from the point of view of users.

Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet points to a peculiarity of Dutch privacy law that says you have to ask users for informed consent. It’s not enough to say ‘this is how we deal with your privacy’, users should be able to understand what is going to happen and say ‘no’ before it happens. Also, Google shouldn’t say what they could do with your data, they are obliged to say what they will do with your data.

Apparently Google tried to defend themselves by claiming they do not collect personal data, they merely create profiles. CBP quotes Google’s own CEO Eric Schmidt back at them who once stated: “We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” Google’s chief Internet evangelist (and Internet co-inventor) Vint Cerf said two weeks ago at a privacy and security workshop of (of all people) the US Trade Commission (40 minutes into the video): “I would not go as far as to simply, baldy assert that privacy is dead. […] But let me tell you that it would be increasingly difficult for us to achieve privacy. I want you to think for just a minute about the fact that privacy may actually be an anomaly.”

Engelfriet concludes: “Google of course believes the criticism is invalid and uses a barrage of marketing language […] to keep dancing around the issue. And that is all that will happen. I don’t see what kind of effective measures CBP can take to make Google fundamentally change its ways—which is a pity, because this is one of the most substantial reports CBP has issued in a long time.”

(Link: the Register; photo by Jeff Schuler, some rights reserved)

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November 3, 2013

Dave Hakkens partners with Motorola for Phonebloks

Filed under: Design,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 12:01 am

Mobile phone manufacturer Motorola has announced it will be working with Dave Hakkens on his modular phone project Phonebloks.

More precisely, Motorola has been working on its own modular system in the past year called Project Ara, which is designed to be “a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.”

The manufacturer will now be “engaging with the Phonebloks community throughout [Project Ara’s] development process.” The idea behind Phonebloks is to create a modular phone to combat electronic waste—instead of throwing out an entire phone because a component is broken, you swap out the broken component instead. Phonebloks is looking for manufacturers who want to work in their ecosystem.

Motorola was once a major player on the mobile phone market. It was recently acquired by Google. Dave Hakkens is a 2013 graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven.

(Via The Verge)

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July 1, 2013

Unofficial Android store to open in Arnhem later this year

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 8:30 pm

A manufacturer of customized Android-based devices is planning to open an Android store in November, writes.

GOCAL, the company behind the initiative, wants the store to become a place where customers can feel and experience Android-based devices from different manufacturers.

The company sees its O-Droid Store, which has not been endorsed by Google, as a mixture between an Apple Store and a Starbucks, meaning coffee will also be served. GOCAL also hopes to be able to offer products through its store that are not yet available in the Netherlands. adds that there are currently two official Android stores in Indonesia with another one planned in New Delhi. According to the site there are no indications that Google is planning Android stores outside of Asia.

(Illustration: Google Android logo)

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February 24, 2013

Art students hack Google Images to become advertising platform

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 2:03 pm

Students of the Willem de Kooning art academy in Rotterdam have managed to take a search string, ‘ultimate business car’, and have this produce five pictures in Google’s search engine for images that, once put next to each other, form an advertisement.

Search engines are in a continuous battle with Search Engine Optimizers, companies with the morals of an arsonist who try to replace relevant search results with links to the sites of their paymasters.

Students Pim van Bommel, Guus ter Beek and Alwin Lanting used the help of ‘hardcore SEO-ers’ to get the ad to show up in Google’s search results. The ad is no longer visible in its original form. When 24 Oranges searched for ‘ultimate business car’, the first panel had disappeared entirely and the text panels were in a different order. Van Bommel told Bright: “As soon as users start clicking on images Google’s algorithm changes the display order based on popularity. Unfortunately that is an aspect we do not yet control. Ads in which the order of the images is of less importance would be a good solution.”

The students call this concept Search Engine Advertising.


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February 8, 2013

‘Don’t Google the names of the other candidates’

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 10:38 am

Decision-maker Clemens Cornielje has told candidates for the mayorship of Arnhem ‘not to Google the names of the other possible candidates’ during the application period. Cornielje believes that searching on the Internet using the names of candidates as search words will leave traces behind and comprise the confidential nature of the process.

Hello? First thing the candidates did was in fact google the lot apparently. Cornielje claims to be the only one with the right information, which is why googling is a bad idea [insert Dutch finger wagging image here].

Point of clarification: Dutch mayors are not elected, they are appointed by bright lights like this guy. While some politicians and citizens find appointing mayors backwards, most people don’t care and so it stays the undemocratic process that it is because when they did try elections a few times, it went sour.

First of all, telling people not to do something (Mr Cornielje, do you have children?) is a surefire way to get them to do it. Secondly, appealing to people’s moral sense when it comes to the Internet is the worst thing you could ever do. If we listened to people who preach morality to others, but often don’t follow it themselves, then porn, downloading music and the likes would all be magically gone. And unicorns with rainbow capes would run wild and free, throwing sweets that don’t damage teeth to cute, well-behaved children.

It’s embarrassing that ignorant people have the right to make important decisions. Good luck, Arnhem.


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November 14, 2012

The Netherlands’ reputation as a tax haven is alive and well

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 11:20 am

Last year, The Guardian wrote a column on how the Netherlands is a tax haven for multinationals. In fact, if you Google ‘Netherlands’ and words like ‘tax avoidance’ or ‘tax haven’, you’ll see how gladly the country enables companies like Amazon, Google and Starbucks.

Back in 2002 Portugal got pissed when they calculated the insane amount of money they were losing to the Netherlands, while Dutch telly pointed out that “empty shell corporations pump 8,000 billion euro through the Netherlands”.

It’s bad enough the country’s 16.5 million residents have to deal with explaining themselves when it comes to prostitution and drugs, what we could do without is having to explain why our government wants to be the whore and pusher of corporations. Grab a hot beverage and read The central role of Dutch financing companies in tax avoidance strategies.

In the Netherlands, complex tax law constructions apparently allow companies to show losses in one or more countries to pay taxes at a lower rate in another. While most of it is probably legal, like many capitalist constructions, it screws billions of people over around the world. And the Netherlands thinks that’s ethically fine for some reason.

If you want more information, this is also a nice read from the Netherlands Comparative Law Association. The conclusion says a lot: “The Netherlands has a long-standing tradition of providing tools to address tax avoidance.”

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