October 25, 2011

Dutch have fastest Internet connections in Europe

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 9:48 am

The Register writes:

The Netherlands have the fastest Internet connections in Europe according to a State of the Internet report by Akamai, with more than 68 per cent of Dutch broadband lines clocking in at 5Mbit/s or more.


The fastest Internet in the world is found in Japan, with 59 Japanese cities filling out the Akamai list of the 100 cities with the fastest broadband. Brno in the Czech Republic has the fastest connection speeds of any city in Europe at an average of 8.3Mbit/s. No UK cities make the top 100.

Global average connection speed grew 43% in the last year. The Netherlands is also the country with the highest level of broadband adoption in the world, with 68% of the households having a fast connection.

In case you’ve never heard of them, Akamai are the people who used to host large files for large companies until Amazon shouldered its way into the market. (I am sure they’re still doing fine.) In other words, they know a thing or two about connectivity.

See also: Gigabit internet connection to the houseboat

(Photo by Joe Frisino, some rights reserved)

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June 29, 2011

Six things you should know about the Dutch cookie law

Filed under: IT by Branko Collin @ 8:12 am

There seems to be a lot of misinformation going around about the fresh Dutch (Internet) cookie law, so Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet set out to dispel the myths in a few excellent articles.

1. First this. The Dutch call their cookie law ‘cookiewet’ instead of ‘koekjeswet’ in spite of the Dutch origins of the English word. (The oo sound is spelled oe in Dutch.)

Says Arnoud (and I paraphrase):

2. Other ways than invasive pop-ups are OK to ask permission to plant cookies. A checkbox on a profile page, a central register, and even browser settings can be used to get and store permission. You are even allowed to use cookies for which you did not ask permission to store the fact that you got permission for other cookies.


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June 10, 2011

Net neutrality: the Netherlands go first in Europe

Filed under: Dutch first,IT by Orangemaster @ 11:44 am

A week or two ago Dutch telecoms tried to boo hoo hoo their way into charging clients for using mobile apps such as WhatsApp (text messaging) and Skype (VoiP) off which they can’t make money because they bypass their mobile serivces. Not only did users tell them where to go, but the government nipped that in the bud in its soon to be adopted Telecoms Act.

The final vote on the new Telecoms Act will take place next Tuesday, but is considered a formality. The Dutch Parliament has agreed to make the Netherlands the first nation in Europe to officially put net neutrality principles into law. The law will force ISPs and telecom operators to ensure access to all types of content, services or applications available on the network.

True to stubborn Dutch form, Vodafone NL (my provider) is currently still blocking the use of Skype on its 3G mobile network. Let’s see how long that lasts.

Chile was the first country in the world to adopt net neutrality last year.

(Link: theregister.co.uk)

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November 28, 2010

Internet use of lesser educated people trumps that of better educated people

Filed under: Online by Branko Collin @ 1:53 pm

Says the Trend Report Computer and Internet Usage 2010 of the University of Twente (PDF, p. 54):

The differences [in the amount of Internet use] are the most noticeable where education and social position are taken into account. On average people with a lesser education use the Internet more per day than people with a higher education— some 3.1 as compared to 2.6 hours. The unemployed and people unfit for work use the Internet on average 4.0 and 4.1 hours respectively per day, whereas working people average 2.6 hours. This suggests that the available time is an important factor. […] In the past 20 to 25 years it was the better educated who were the pioneers of Internet access.

The report unfortunately does not define ‘better educated’ and ‘lesser educated’ (in fact, it measures along three education levels, but does not define any of them).

Also notable is that the higher educated use the Internet far more to educate themselves further than the lesser educated do. (p. 41)

(Link: Blik op Nieuws. Photo by Woolie Monster, some rights reserved.)

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June 22, 2010

Dutch Twitter hashtag claim unfounded

Filed under: Online by Orangemaster @ 11:00 am

A hashtag in Twitter is a word or phrase preceded by the pound sign (#). If it’s a sentence, like #whatsontelly, it is written without spaces. It gives a certain punch to tweets, as a tweet is only 140 characters long. It is also used for people to search for subjects like #obama #oilspill #tigerwoods and so on.

Our favourite Internet-savvy lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet explains how some Dutch folk have missed their mark.

First of all, the trademark claim for #weetjevandedag (roughly, this day in history or what happened on this day) was claimed on an image (a square, black-and-white, cartoon-like smiley face), not on the hashtag expression. If you don’t use the image, it’s not an infringement. Second, such an expression is general and does not differentiate the trademark in question from other things. Third, the trademark claims it already won a court case on someone using their trademark with no proof anywhere to be found to back it up. In English it’s called ‘hot air’, in Dutch it’s lovingly called ‘baked air’ (‘gebakken lucht’).

(Link tip @wilbertbaan (Twitter), blog.iusmentis.com)

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October 3, 2009

Buma/Stemra charges bloggers 130+ euro for YouTube vids

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 1:42 pm

Collecting society Buma/Stemra is after Dutch bloggers now. Starting in 2010 you must cough up 130 euro for every six music videos you embed in your web page, according to Madbello (Dutch).

Buma/Stemra is a copyright collecting society for composers. It makes use of a feature of Dutch copyright law that says that negotiating licenses and royalties is too cumbersome for some forms of creative works, and that therefore collecting societies can be set up that charge bulk rates and pass on the money to the creators.

IT law specialists Arnoud Engelfriet and Kamiel Koelman are quick to dismiss B/S’ claims at Tweakers.net (Dutch). Both point out that embedding content on your web page is not necessarily a new publication of that content, and therefore B/S cannot charge money for it.

Dutch copyright law makes a distinction between the act of copying and the act of publishing. A famous lawsuit that highlights the difference between the two, and that went all the way to the Dutch High Council is Poortvliet vs. Hovener (Dutch, PDF). Hovener was a publisher who had an agreement to sell 13 reproductions of Poortvliet’s paintings as part of a calendar. Although Hovener did print the calendar, they then cut out the reproductions and sold them separately, pasted on cardboard and presumably at a much higher price. No copying took place, yet it was considered a new form of publication, and therefore infringement.

Engelfriet’s and Koelman’s reasoning are in my opinion unconvincing, but even more so I think B/S rates are through the roof. A rate of 13 cents per embedded video seems much more reasonable considering that videos embedded in blogs (with the rare exception perhaps for blogs where people come to listen to the music) only work to expose an audience to the embedded works.

UPDATE: Sign the petition: bumablog

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September 24, 2009

Set top box lets you surf the Internet on TV

Filed under: Design,Gadgets,Online by Branko Collin @ 10:10 am

Rotterdam based company Metrological hopes to introduce a set-top box in November which will enable users to browse the Internet on their television sets.

Yes, that sounds very 1980s, but apparently the device also works as a regular TV tuner. At a price of around 400 euro, the Mediaconnect TV is somewhat expensive for a peppy tuner, the inventors admit, but they hope to sell the device to cable companies who can package it with subscriptions.

Inventors Jeroen Ghijsen and Albert Dahan have a background in designing telemetry systems for airports, and their new device is indeed based on software they wrote for controlling video cameras and lights on landing strips.

(Link: a fawning Parool. Photo: Metrological.)

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July 5, 2009

Providers not eager to (multi)play

Filed under: Online by Branko Collin @ 1:38 pm

Four years ago I wrote a piece for the Teleread blog called “Consumers won’t (multi)play.” It told about how telecom providers had lined up all these great packages that combined television, internet access, and telephony. No more hassle with double or triple contracts and bills, just one easy, clean, simple package from a single provider. And the consumer wouldn’t have it, for reasons that remained unclear.

Well, it appears that consumers have finally started to make the move towards a single bill, and I have been caught up in the drift. My internet access provider of many years sent me a rather threatening letter, telling me to get with the program or else… The situation there has been rather more convoluted than elsewhere. My provider offered ADSL before the phone company did (former monopolist KPN), and as a result its customers had to have a contract both with the internet provider, and the phone company (which provided the physical lines).

Later the provider somehow acquired the possibility to offer ADSL without forcing the customer to tango with KPN (I don’t know why, I presume this has to do with some sort of liberalisation of the phone lines), and now it understandably wants to move all its customers that couldn’t be arsed to go the single bill route. So this is the sugar with which they are trying to coax us: “If you don’t move, we’ll raise the price of your subscription.” Naturally, I have been checking out the competition.

Oddly enough, the competition doesn’t seem to be too eager to take me on as a new customer.

UPC offers a handy looking tool to select your package with a great promise: they’ll pay for the cheapest of the three services. But you don’t even have to click around to realize that it’s pretty much the price of the internet service you choose that determines the final cost. Still, you have to choose all the premium deluxe services with all the bells and whistles and free champagne and hookers for a year to get at a price that’s substantially higher than what you would pay at the competition. Wait, there’s some dirt on the screen. Hm, I cannot get it off. Would it be …? Yes, it’s the tiny print that informs of all the extra costs that add 50% to your bills for many moons to come.

All this dancing around the do to hide the true costs.

KPN, that good old phone company, also offers triple play, and they also dance around. They’ve got a couple of special offers lined up right now that make their Basic and Premium package look much better than their Lite package. Well, for the first three months that is. Again, what’s with the deception? Why not give everybody the premium service for three months, and the choice to switch back for free after that?

Telegraaf reports (Dutch) that a change in the Telecommunications law last Wednesday no longer allows contracts to be silently renewed without the customer’s explicit consent, and predicts this change is going to cause a price war in the telecom world. Price comparison whizz-kid Ben Woldring tells the paper consumers can save hundreds of euros a year. So far, I have not noticed any participant who seems to take this war seriously.

Illustration: UPC’s two-out-of-three picker always yields pretty much the same price depending on the internet component you choose.

Illustration: If KPN’s premium packages are cheaper than their Lite package, why do they offer the latter at all?

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March 18, 2009


Filed under: Photography,Weird by Branko Collin @ 8:18 pm

The two fat guys in the picture are both me at a client’s where the photographer,
Michele Boccamazzo, is working as a Web 2.0 guru. He has started a Flickr pool where all can play, so please don’t let me hold the world hostage for One Million Dollars all by myself!. [Insert obligatory “Muhahaha!” here.]


November 19, 2008

Twenty-five percent wakes up with the Internet

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Branko Collin @ 9:46 am

A quarter of the Dutch goes onto the Internet right after waking up in the morning, even before going to the toilet or drinking coffee. (Coffee is the other national addiction.) A study from KPN also shows that 8% of the Dutch consider a day without Internet wasted, says Webwereld. Some 58% of the Dutch even feel a sense of panic coming up after two days offline.

Me, I’ve got one of them old-fashioned steam powered computers that takes a minute or so to start up, so that’s the ideal pee and coffee break. And at the end of the day…

Photo by E-magic, some rights reserved.

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