5 euro

Iedere week vijf euro betalen. Zomaar opeens, gemakkelijk via de telefoon rekening. Zonder dat je er iets voor hoeft te doen. Zelfs niet eens toestemming geven.

Zo ging het met onze telefoonrekening. Opeens betaalde we iedere week 5 euro voor nummer 900 814 644. Het bleek om een abonnement te gaan op ‘game-station’. Gelukkig (voor ons) hadden ze precies het nummer van Ana, en dat bleef niet ongemerkt. Na een paar telefoontjes kregen we het geld, inmiddels al weer 20 euro) weer terug. Toen bleek ook dat je dit soort nummers gewoon uit kan zetten. Nooit meer ongevraagde superdure nummers die je kan bellen. Vreemd dat dit niet standaard uit staat, maar waarschijnlijk komt dat doordat de telefoonmaatschappij er ook niet slechter van wordt.

Gouda

Every Dutch person likes to eat cheese, but in Spain they also eat their fair share of cheese. Dutch cheese is even present in every supermarket. We always buy Gouda or Edam cheese and these can be found everywhere. A nice cheese for a nice Dutch breakfast.

The last pachage of cheese had something that called my attention. There was a small german flag on the package. Strange, because Gouda for sure is a city in the Netherlands.

Finding out what was going on was easy. I send an email to the cheese manufacturer and within a day I got my answer. It seems that the name Gouda is not protected at all. Only “Holland Gouda” or “Dutch Gouda” are protected names. As long as the words Holland or Dutch do not appear on the package everyone can call their cheese Gouda. If seems that I have been eating non-Dutch cheese for breakfast for years.

Class photo

A class photo is a very nice way to remember your class for when you are a bit older. It is nice to see your classmates and even nice if you are still in contact with some of them. A picture makes it easy to remember, but it seems that pictures are not a very reliable way to remember anymore.

Alex just got his class photo of his class with 5 year-old. A nice picture but with something strange. Just look yourself: Klassenfoto Marpe 2016!

klassefoto-marpe-2016-added-kidAt first glance there is nothing wrong with the picture. A typical picture with a lot of kids that remarkably all look more or less at the camera. We only noticed Alex who seemed to have his eyes a bit closed, but hey, they are kids after all, so this is to be expected.

Then I noticed something else. The boy on the bottom right seems to be floating. A better look makes it clear somethings up here. The boy looks at the camera perfectly, has a clean black uniform, and his colors are more crisp. This boy has been added to the class photo using a photo made in a studio.

The teacher and the two most right boys were cut from the rest and moved a little to the right. The new kid was added and moved to the background, blurred a little, and then the teacher and two most right boys were moved a little in front of the new boy. Just like he was there. But in reality he wasn’t there. Should we want him in the picture even if he was part of the class? If we are going to edit the class photo anyway, why not just all studio pictures of all kids, smiling, clean and looking at the camera, and paste them all in a class composition.

Doing the dog?

Doing the dog?!English is without a doubt a very important language. Still, in the education we are giving Alex and Alan it is a little less important. For our sons Dutch is much more important. I want them to have at least a basic knowledge of Dutch so that they can manage themselves once in Holland. At school English is also a little less important. Alex’ school focuses more on German, with German classes every day, and English only twice a week.

We still feel that a little English at school, and all the English we can get on the TV should be enough to get a basic understanding. At least, as long as he is not taught incorrectly. At his school Alex got a drawing with the English title “What’s doing the dog?”, the words are in an incorrect order, which make it quite wrong. It should have been: “What’s the dog doing?”. Such a mistake in just once sentence is sure making us a bit worried.

Spam

Spam sucks so I made this dynamic post! Click to experience the spammers-revenge.Evil: Spam!Revenge on spam. This blog receives more than 5100 comments per month. Of all the comments less than 12 are from actual persons. Truly unbelievable. All these comments are filtered and thrown away automatically, but still it remains a never ending steam of data. Around 230 useless comments a day, where the author advertises gold, pleasure-enhancers, fur coats, vuittons, medicines and you name it. Usually the spam comments are written in a laughable bad manner.

I have also been guilty to spamming, because during a short while I worked for an evil spammer. They send spam to get translation related work.

Of course the act of spamming comments all happens automatically. When a new post is published a big number of spam robots start trying to post comments. The comments are changed every time to make it more difficult to recognise when a comment is spam or not. Usually the result is some messy text, but sometimes it manages to trick all the filters set up to eradicate spam, and then the comment spammers ultimate goal is achieved. If just a few of the millions of spam comments make it through it is a good result. If then just one of the millions of published comments has a sale as a result there is a profit, and it has all been worth it.

It is time for revenge, and that is why I created this fight-back post. Every time the text changes so spammers don’t know they already commented on this post and they will keep on spamming forever. All the spam comment are automatically deleted, so I will just be putting the spam bots to work and that just might cost those spammers a little bit of extra cash. If this dynamic post cost the spammers 1.05 cents more my job is done.

Corendon

Corendon goldcard!Nowadays you can get cards for almost everything. Companies think that a card secures a stronger loyalty from their clients. The same goes for Corendon. A name that I had never heard before, until I found out they offer cheap tickets to Gran Canaria. I was interested and gave them my data to get the newsletter.

Corendon photo!Later I suddenly got the goldcard send to my home. I was amazed because I never travelled with Corendon and they require a minimum of 10 flights to get a discount.I was even more amazed by my special picture with gold chain. Quite a scare to see myself like this.

I do have something to hide

In 2006 the Dutch government tried to calm the population. The message was that there was no need to worry, because there were 200.000 people working to keep us safe. Searching for strange behavior to quickly discover possible treats. In 2006 the moral of the story was: There is nothing to be afraid of. Just go on living. The website made for the government against terrorism has died and no longer exists.

Last year the Volkskrant ran a story about phone-taps in the Netherlands. We were the country with the highest numbers of phone-taps of the developed countries. No less then 22 thousand phones were monitored each year!

Last month the NSA admitted to monitoring 1.8 million phone calls in the Netherlands per month.

These messages are all smoke screens.

Edward Snowden! Hero!Now we live in 2013. Edward Snowden, an employee of the United States secret service sheds some light on the information that is being collected. The United States are embarrassed because it turns out that everything, simply everything, is being monitored and stored. Of course this is not done solely by the United States. The Dutch intelligence service also monitors everything in the Netherlands and shares this data with other agencies.

Everything you do with your computer, everything you pay for with a card, everywhere you are seen by cameras, everything related to insurance, all your medical history, all bank related data, everything you do with your phone, all the places you visit with your phone, you name it. Everything is recorded and stored. Privacy is one big illusion. Privacy is granted as long as you are not perceived as a threat. This leads to the big question. To whom should you not be perceived as a threat? And what are the consequences if you are perceived as being a threat?

The simple fact that monitoring all information is so widespread proves that there are automated systems. Monitoring 1.8 million phone calls a months is impossible without automation. If there is an automated system, then there is no reason to you limit this process to an incomplete set. The logical conclusion is that everything is being monitored. Lets hope the owner of this system is the government.

If the goal is to monitor and use all data that can possibly be monitored, than a system that cannot be monitored poses a direct threat. A source that cannot be monitored is like a big hole in the fence surrounding a jail. This implies that the government needs to know the weaknesses of all systems. If a system cannot be monitored they need to research the system as soon as possible. Every theoretical exploit must be tested for feasibility, turned into a proof-of-concept and then added to the list of monitoring tools.

“I have nothing to hide”, “They may know everything about me”. These are things we hear sometimes and make clear that people don’t realize what is going on. All the privacy we lose now is lost for the generations that will follow. Each new generation of people will be watched and controlled more closely and eventually we will end up with our backs against the wall.

We are all being watched and we accept our faith as something that is just part of life. No-one who really matters is really worried, and those that are worried really have no voice. Nothing happens and nothing changes until you decide to change your routine. What will be the consequences? Maybe now sticking your head above the cornfield will just result in a little note popping up at some desk of someone working for a secret agency, but who will guarantee us that in 5 or 10 years the same person is not send directly to jail, of suddenly disappears.

A hero has risen. Snowden, who realized things are moving towards a dangerous future and tried to make a change. Someone who has given up everything he had, for all of us. Lets hope a change will follow before it is to late.

Kycklingbullar

Ikea meatballs!We have not been neighbors for a while now, but we still enjoy visiting the IKEA every now and then. Recently the IKEA made the headlines. It seems that the IKEA meatballs contain some horse. I’m not really clear on what the problem is with that, but the solution IKEA comes with is to remove all meatballs from all shops in Europe.

What a shame because these balls are pretty tasty, but luckily I just bought a bag of balls just a few days ago.

Moving

Carvajal!After living for quite a while in the green part of Las Palmas, Ciudad Gardin (right next to the worlds richest person, the owner of the IKEA) it became time to find a bigger place. Our new apartment is a bit more in the center of the city. The building is well knows as the old x-rated theater but now the building is change to have nice spacy apartments in the center of the city. We now have a garage and a lot of shops nearby.

Alex is very excited because of the move. He is very enthusiastic and sleeps with difficulty. For sure this new found source of energy is because he is now noticing a lot of moving activity around him. He now has two weeks to settle down in his new home and then there will be a big party. His first birthday!!!

Audi

Audi door with a hole!During our visit to the Netherlands we spend a couple of days at my brothers place. He had just bought a nice new car, an Audi A3. He had the car for only a couple of weeks, and it is usually parked right in front of his door in a quiet residential area in the Hague. Everything seemed okay, but something very unexpected happened. One morning we suddenly encountered a big gaping hole in the door, just below the lock.

Ofter filing an online report at the police department and the insurance agency we visited a mechanic and got some very clear information. He hole was clearly made to rob the built in navigation. The thieves were interrupted during their work, and left just after making the hole, and before entering the car. The car window was still intact, because breaking the windows triggers the alarm. A big hole in the door is ignored by the alarm system and allowed the thieves to open the door without triggering the alarm..

Taking the car home without repair would imply that the navigation system would for sure be stolen that night. The car was left at the mechanics to repair and reinforce the door, but the previsions are not very good.

We also received some unofficial information. The thieves will be back for sure. The door will be reinforces but probably it will not be enough, of the thieves will return with bigger equipment. The navigation system is said to be worth just 10 euros in the south of Europe. I doubt if this is really the price, because a new navigation system costs around 1500 euros. The current solution is a big metal bar connected to the steering wheel, which extends to hover before the navigation system. Hopefully this will deter any thieves.