September 27, 2018

Ban on mobile phone use for cyclists in 2019

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 2:44 pm

Anyone who lives here and who has visited this country and its bigger cities knows how dangerous cyclists fiddling with their mobile phones can be, and I for one welcome a ban on this hazardous activity that makes them a danger to others.

As of July 2019 the Dutch government will impose a ban on using a mobile phone, tablet or media player while cycling. But that’s not all: it will also affect tram drivers and drivers of vehicles used by the disabled.

Since there are more cyclists on bike paths and cycling speeds have increased due to the arrival of electric bikes, the lack of keeping your eyes on the road has also increased. There’s no word yet as to how much a fine will be, but the fine for motorists using mobile phones while driving is 230 euro, to give you an idea.

In the Netherlands bikes outnumber people, with nearly 23 million bikes for some 17 million people. The use of mobile phones is a growing hazard, with a smartphone involved in one in five bike accidents involving young people, according to the Dutch Road Safety organisation.

What about using your phone for navigation? Then it needs to be in a holder, not in your hands. Will there be enough police or other authorities to fine folks? That’s always the question.


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October 3, 2015

Fairphone 2, more expensive but easier to repair

Filed under: Sustainability,Technology by Orangemaster @ 8:27 pm


In 2013 we told you about an ethically sourced smartphone, the Fairphone. Today the Fairphone 2, which runs a customised version of Android 5.1, sells the idea that it is ‘as repairable as a modern smartphone gets’.

Owners can replace the screen, microphone, speaker, camera, and main circuit board using nothing more than a screwdriver, with all the replacement parts available directly from Fairphone. The new phone has gone up in price from €325 to €525 and is concentrating on turning into a movement rather than just being a product.

The company’s founder and CEO Bas van Abel says that the most ethical smartphone is the one you already own. The fact that the phone can easily be take apart is quite the party piece.

(Link:, Image, screenshot of video)

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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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September 14, 2013

Phonebloks, a modular open mobile phone platform in search of manufacturers

Filed under: Design,Gadgets,Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 11:43 am

Eindhoven-based inventor and designer Dave Hakkens is a man of ideas and his latest idea, a mobile phone of which you can swap out parts when they break down or get too old, is getting a lot of attention on the Internet.

The idea behind Phonebloks is to commoditize the hardware behind the mobile phone in such a way that not manufacturers but consumers get to swap out parts—a sort of Lego for mobile phones. There would have to be a ‘Blok-store’ where you could order the parts you want (at a suitable mark-up of course) all the while feeling good about yourself for not throwing out your entire mobile phone when you get tired of parts of it.

Hakkens seems to have learned from a previous project, a power strip called Plugbook, which he ran on Kickstarter but which failed to reach its target. In order to show your interest in Phonebloks you do not have to pledge your own money. Instead you voice your support via Thunderclap in the hope that manufacturers and investors will sit up and take notice.

(Via my Facebook page where people were ‘liking’ the damn thing by the boatloads. Illustration: crop from Dave Hakkens’ video.)

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August 19, 2013

Dutch banks rush mobile payments system into production

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 1:06 pm

The three major Dutch banks—ING, ABN Amro and Rabobank—are set to introduce ‘mobile payments’ to unsuspecting consumers in two weeks, Volkskrant reports.

To use the system consumers must have an NFC-capable mobile phone. The banks hope that by introducing this new payment method they get to be the gatekeepers that determine the price tag.

It is not clear from the article which stores will accept mobile payments. The paper mentions a trial period in Leiden. Spokesperson Margo van Wijgerden of Mobiel Betalen in Leiden tries to maximize the confusion by saying: “It is not a trial. There will be an evaluation, but mobile payments will continue after the initial phase.”

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May 24, 2013

Ethically sourced smartphone looking for pre-orders

Filed under: Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 11:22 pm

A Dutch company has started building a mobile phone that they say is made from conflict-free materials by well-paid workers while also addressing what happens once the phone has reached the end of its life.

The phone is called the Fairphone and the manufacturer is still looking for customers who would like to pre-order one. Apparently they need 5,000 orders to start production. Currently they’ve sold 2,400 phones, 48% of their goal. The pledge drive lasts for 19 more days. Techcrunch calls this the world’s first ethically sourced smartphone.

The Fairphone runs on Android, uses a quad core processor, has dual SIM trays and both a front and rear camera. The price is 325 euro.

UPDATE 6 June: they have their 5,000 orders and have crowdfunded 1,6 million euro.

(Video: Vimeo / Fairphone, Image: crop from the video)

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November 15, 2012

World’s first emergency broadcast system using text messages

Filed under: Dutch first,Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:04 am

The Dutch government has just launched the world’s first nation-wide text message emergency alert system, called NL-Alert, which allows authorities to warn people within the immediate vicinity of an emergency situation (e.g. a major fire or flooding) by sending a text message to their mobile phones about what to do in that event.

All mobile phones users in the affected area will receive text messages automatically, as long as NL-Alert has been activated, the phone is switched on and has normal reception. It is also free to use and you do not need to register to use it.

Considering the goal is to keep people safe, I’m a bit surprised that the website is only in Dutch and that the warning messages will only be in Dutch, contrary to a lot of other less important government information about, oh, taxes. The other thing is, it assumes everyone has a mobile phone, but then again I assume that someone with a mobile phone will be decent enough to warn any phoneless person.

This seems like a very modern response to the quasi obsoleteness of television and radio for up to date information, which nobody except the elderly, housewives and the unemployed listen to during the day. Most major emergencies are often communicated by mobile phone to the media by Twitter and the likes, so it makes sense that the information from the government be broadcast by mobile phone. Granted, cell broadcasting is totally different than using the Internet, but both make use of mobile phones.

My phone, the HTC One X was already configured to receive cell broadcasting messages, a system which is designed to simultaneously deliver messages to multiple users in a specified area.

(Link:, Photo by William Hook, some rights reserved)


September 18, 2010

John’s Phone, ‘dumbphone’ with modern capabilities

Filed under: Design,Gadgets by Branko Collin @ 10:30 am

A designer ‘dumbphone’ from the Netherlands: ad agency John Doe from Amsterdam came up with this 80 euro marvel called John’s Phone, and as the price tag suggests they actually put it in production!

Dumbphones, mobile phones that stick to telephony and SMS, are nothing new, but so far have generally been aimed at people who did not need all the features a modern phone has to offer, like the elderly. John’s Phone on the other hand seems aimed at “those who are willing to pay extra to have less” as one BoingBoing commenter puts it.

Publishing an article about a mobile phone brings with it the grave responsibility to produce a spec list, so here goes:

  • No simlock
  • Quad band
  • A choice of one ringtone (pre-selected)
  • Always-on address book (paper, with pen)
  • Caller ID
  • 1200 mAh battery (estimated 3 weeks stand-by time)
  • Hands-free mode with included earphone
  • 10-number memory
  • Size: 10.5 x 6 x 1.5 cm
  • Weight: 95 grams

BoingBoing readers (presumably Americans) lamented the lack of compatible service plans, which makes me guess not every country has SIM-only plans, which can be had for as little as 3.50 euro a year. The lack of texting seems a more serious problem: if I see a 06 number (Dutch mobile phone number), I expect to be able to text to it.

(Source photo: John’s Phone. Also check the ad agency’s Flash site for more complete details of the phone.)

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September 6, 2009

Nearly 2,000 phones tapped daily

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 8:30 am

In 2008, the Dutch police tapped an average of 1,946 phones on a daily basis, according to a letter written to parliament by Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin. “In 2008, a warrant for tapping was issued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) for 26,425 phone numbers, of which 90% were taps on mobile phones and 10% landline phones.”

Hirsch Ballin made a comparison of the Dutch figures with those of other countries. In France, 26,000 tapping warrants were issued in 2008, about the same as in the Netherlands. “In the US, the number of tapping warrants totalled 2,208 in 2007,” the minister reported. “In the UK, 1,881 warrants were issued, while Belgium had 3,603 tapping measures carried out in 2007. In Germany, 39,200 mobile phones and 5,078 landline phones were tapped in 2007.

Hirsch Ballin believes one cannot draw conclusions because the legal system differs in each country. However, it’s still interesting to point out that some European countries tap 10 times more phones than the US.

(Link: crossroadsmag)

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May 5, 2009

Illegal impounding of laptops at airports

Filed under: General,Technology by Branko Collin @ 9:12 am

Patent lawyer Arnout Engelfriet says (Dutch) that searches of mobile phones and laptops at the airports by the marechaussee, a form of military police, may be illegal. He refers to the fact that the powers of the marechaussee are the same as those of the regular police, and regular police may only perform searches when they have good reason to suspect a specific wrongdoing. The marechaussee’s actions are part of a test started last year in the hope to lessen the smuggling of child pornography.

According to tech news site (Dutch), the justice department wanted to keep the test a secret because of expected “legal complications.” Journalist Brenno de Winter discovered that although 900 mobile phones, 62 hard disks and sundry other digital devices were searched, none of the victims were prosecuted on the basis of these searches.

The marechaussee was installed in 1814 by later king Willem I as a successor to Napoleon’s reviled gendarmerie. Its tasks have included policing of citizens from the word go. When the civil police reorganized in 1988, guard and police duties at national airport Schiphol got assigned to the marechaussee. The organization took over guard duties for the royal familie in 1908, a job hitherto performed by the palace’s gardening staff.

(Photo: colargol87, some rights reserved.)

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