November 25, 2014

Saudi prince descendant homeless in Leiden

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:05 am


Today Muhammad Bin Talal, the grandson of Muhammad bin Talal of the Saudi Arabian Al Rasheed dynasty and its last prince, is a homeless man in Leiden who lives on a bench near Leiden Central Station.

Bin Talal came to the Netherlands in 1995 as a Master’s student in Social Communication at the Universiteit van Amsterdam and lived with a friend in Leiden. He also had a flush Swiss bank account thanks to his family’s fortune.

Life in Leiden was good until the family fortune had been questionably removed from his bank account by the Swiss, although he was left with some 35,000 euro from the 10 mln that was in it initially. Used to living in hotels, the money eventually ran out and he became homeless and an illegal immigrant, as his student visa ran out. He also doesn’t have a passport, but is not an asylum seeker. How he ever got his student visa is beyond me.

According to BN De Stem, his Saudi family has confirmed his back story, but they didn’t know he lived on the street. They offered him help, but he doesn’t want to owe them anything, a question of pride he says. People bring him food and he’s good with that for now.

(Link: bndestem, Photo of Leiden Central Station by harry_nl, some rights reserved)

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May 14, 2009

Robotic safety blanket keeps toddlers busy

Filed under: Gadgets,Technology by Branko Collin @ 9:51 am

The Play’d is “a soft, thick blanket, developed for very young children that doubles as an interactive play environment.” It is made of squares of differing materials, each with a sensor hidden underneath, for the toddler who knows where their safety blanket is. The blanket can produces light, sound and vibrations. A sample application is when a kid is in its “rolling phase”: lights and sounds can be used to lure a child to roll in a certain direction.

The Play’d netted its inventor, computer scientist Viktor de Boer, first prize in the Nieuwe Idee├źn Prijsvraag (New Ideas Competition) of Science Park Amsterdam last Tuesday. Second prize went to Vanessa Evers for her robot “that supports human-robot interaction research.” I am not quite sure what that means, but I do see a pattern of robots trying to get to know us here.

Photo: Viktor de Boer. Link: Sargasso (Dutch).

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