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.

Radar & In a ditch

Leiden - Brahmslaan!My appartment in Leiden was part of a TV program and it was featured on TROS Radar.

But, as often the case, the media coverage involved exaggerating the facts a little. Once there was also an article in the local newspaper about me. It informed the people that some victim of an accident involving a car and a bit had broken his jaw. In reality the victim was me, and though I had indeed been hit by a car, and taken to the hospital, I was without damage.

The TROS Radar TV show went undercover to film at my apartment. The program wanted to show that people that wanted to rent a home were changed things that had also been paid by the people that supplied the home. Something like that, and if was shown that it was not legal to charge two different parties for the same thing. Only the renters could be charged or the person renting out the place. Not both.

The funny thing was that the person representing me (I never met this person in my life) did have quite some stories about me to share. I was heavily in debt, divorced, and basically having a very bad time.

Spam

Spam sucks so I made this dynamic post! Click to experience the spammers-revenge.‘ . $onderwerp1[mt_rand(0, count($onderwerp1) – 1)] . ‘, ‘ . $onderwerp2[mt_rand(0, count($onderwerp2) – 1)] . ‘, ‘ . $onderwerp3[mt_rand(0, count($onderwerp3) – 1)] . ‘, ‘ . $onderwerp4[mt_rand(0, count($onderwerp4) – 1)] . ‘, ‘ . $onderwerp5[mt_rand(0, count($onderwerp5) – 1)] . ‘ and you name it.’;
$zin5 = array(“Often in various unfamiliar languages.”,
“Usually in English, but also in French, Chinese, German or Russian.”,
“Always up to the brim with mistakes in language or style or just plain unreadable.”,
“Usually the spam comments are written in a ” . $woord1[mt_rand(0, count($woord1) – 1)] . ” bad manner.”);

$zin6 = array(“I myself am not without fault. I also had a small part in sending spam, but I have seen the light and turned my back to the darkness.”,
“I have participated with these practices from the wrong side of the fence. I was the (kind of) sender of huge amounts of spam. After a very short while I have see the light and stopped these nasty practices.”,
“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.”,
“I once worked for a translation agency where they used spam as part as their business model. It was funny that the quality (or better the lack thereof) of the translation work could be directly related to the manners in which they secured their projects.”);

$zin7 = array(“Spammers use a range of automated systems and usually a new post on this blog is directly followed by a number of spam comments. To make the comments more difficult to identify usually the text is a combination of different ever-changing sentences. This way every comment seems to be a unique text.”,
“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.”);
$zin8 = array(“The result is usually ” . $woord1[mt_rand(0, count($woord1) – 1)] . ” bad, but sometimes the spam gets through the layers of protection and then the goal is achieved. If 1 out of ” . rand(100, 180) . “00 comments is actually published the objectives of the spammer are reached.”,
‘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.’);
$zin9 = array(“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.”,
“Now it is the time to fight back! I have created this F.U.-post with a ever changing content, and lots of links to itself. If will be difficult for a spam bot to see it is the same story all the time, and they will just keep on spamming, which eventually will cost them just a little bit more then usual.”);
$zin10 = array(“If this dynamic post cost the spammers 1.0″ . rand(1, 9) . ” cents more my job is done.”,
“If this post results in a spammer paying a single cent more I will be happy and have achieved my goal.”);

$paragraaf1 = $zin1[mt_rand(0, count($zin1) – 1)] . ” ” . $zin2[mt_rand(0, count($zin2) – 1)] . ” ” . $zin3[mt_rand(0, count($zin3) – 1)] . ” ” . $zin4 . ” ” . $zin5[mt_rand(0, count($zin5) – 1)];
$paragraaf2 = $zin6[mt_rand(0, count($zin6) – 1)];
$paragraaf3 = $zin7[mt_rand(0, count($zin7) – 1)] . ” ” . $zin8[mt_rand(0, count($zin8) – 1)];
$paragraaf4 = $zin9[mt_rand(0, count($zin9) – 1)] . ” ” . $zin10[mt_rand(0, count($zin10) – 1)];

echo “" . $title[mt_rand(0, count($title) - 1)] . "Spam!“;
echo $paragraaf1 . “

“;
echo “

” . $paragraaf2 . “

“;
echo “

” . $paragraaf3 . “

“;
echo “

” . $paragraaf4;
?>

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.

Away with the heating

Heating tube Ibiza!It is a very strange sensation. Our car breaks down every couple of months. I always take the car to the same mechanic, because I believe I’ll be less likely to be cheated being a loyal customer. As a foreigner I run an even bigger risk of receiving highly inflated bills.

Sometimes I receive very little benefit from my loyalty to our mechanic, who sometimes likes to be creative calculating the hours he spends on our car but ever since I returned his screwdriver to him I notice a difference. Our most recent problem was a warm liquid that was dripping on the passengers feet. A liquid with a very obnoxious smell.

We quickly realized something was wrong about a wet car and pulled over. After a quick checkup I found out it was the cooling liquid, Quickly I added almost 3 liters of water to the cooling reserve and we continued our drive home.

According to the mechanic the problem was with the heating. The cheap solution was the disable the entire heating system. Result: 30 euro. A very nice price.

Our car turning into a sad story all the time. The alarm was dismantled, he heating does not work anymore, the paint job was destroyed because I cleaned the car with a very tough sponge and at some spots rust is appearing. How much longer will she survive?