March 27, 2015

Dutch spies thwarted by German windmills

Filed under: Sustainability,Technology by Branko Collin @ 2:58 pm

don-quixote-gustave-dore-pdGerman windmills are disrupting the proper spying on Dutch citizens by the Dutch military secret service MIVD, or so the latter complains.

The Ministry of Defence has complained to the municipality of Vreden (Germany) about the fact that it allows the placement of wind turbines so near to its spying antennas (14 kilometres), Ravage reports. Vreden has already limited the height of its turbines and is currently amending its rules for the placement of new turbines.

According to Webwereld, 25 Dutch citizens lost their jobs in 2009 and 2010 when the Ministry of Defence destroyed their employer’s business model of providing medium distance, high speed wireless internet (wimax). After the ministry had told Worldmax that it was forbidden to roll out its services in the entire north of the Netherlands, the wimax provider had to close its doors, losing dozens of millions of euro in the process.

Vreden is planning a farm of 24 wind turbines in or near the Crosewicker Feld nature reserve and is getting some resistance from its citizens, according to Münsterland Zeitung. The locals don’t share the concerns of the Dutch military, but are unwilling to have to look at the turbines all day. They want the distance from the turbines to their house increased from the proposed 400 metres to at least 500 metres. (This has led to an interesting legal paradox where the council members who live too close to the proposed wind farm are not allowed to vote on what constitutes ‘too close’. The Germans call this conflict of interest Befangenheit.)

Illustration: renowned windmill fighter Don Quixote by Gustave Doré, 1863.

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April 8, 2013

A day in the life of a parcel (video)

Filed under: Design by Branko Collin @ 11:45 am

Ruben van der Vleuten, a Dutch student at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, wanted to see what happened to a parcel once it disappeared into the bowels of the Danish postal system.

He then made a parcel with a hidden camera in it and sent it through the mail repeatedly until he got a video that had the camera facing the right way all the time.

Van der Vleuten explains on his website: “The timer circuit was set to make a three-second video every minute and make longer videos while the box was moving, so as to not miss the ‘interesting’ parts.” There’s circuit board porn and technical explanations there and at the Vimeo page.

All that circuitry made the package look suspect. In an interview with Fast Company the designer admits that this had crossed his mind:

The second was based on the pics that showed the open box; that thing really, really looks like a homemade bomb (if homemade bombs look like they do in the movies). “To be honest this was my biggest concern as well,” Van der Vleuten admits. He included a note explaining that this was part of a student project with no criminal intent, but regardless, “Every time, I was bringing it to the post office with sweaty hands.”

(Link: Bright. Photo: crop of a still of the video)

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January 31, 2011

Even gossip queens have a right to privacy

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 11:47 am

The Court of Appeal in Den Bosch has recently ruled that the public prosecutor must start a case against broadcaster BNN reporters Sophie Hilbrand and Filemon Wesselink for spying on TV presenter Albert Verlinde and his husband, Onno Hoes.

Ironically, Albert Verlinde is one of the presenters of TV gossip programme RTL Boulevard, and Onno Hoes is the Mayor of Maastricht—between them they must have committed more privacy violations than all the hidden cameras in girls’ locker rooms the world over combined.

Volkskrant reports that reporters Sophie Hilbrand and Philemon Wesselink installed audio recording equipment in an award they presented to Verlinde, the ‘Golden Ear”, with which they successfully recorded a discussion Verlinde and Hoes had in the car on their way home. The public prosecutor had already fined the reporters, so that they now get punished for the same offence twice. For the record, double jeopardy—or ne bis in idem as it is called here—is illegal in the Netherlands.

(Photo of Albert Verlinde by Thomas van de Weerd, some rights reserved)

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