January ’24

We started the year with Ana’s family visiting us. Juanjo put a very nice impression on how 2024 started for us on his YouTube channel. A few days later we had a visit from Marco and his family, which was fun. We went to Guayadeque for a small walk and some food in one of the caves. Afterwards we visited our home and has a stroll in the Doramas park, where I learned the magical words to get a nice picture with the kids: ‘Backs strait!’.

I, once again, paid Apple 99 euro to be able to develop iOS apps for another year, but my first app is still not done, even after being in the pipeline for over a year. I will see how it goes. Maybe this year I will find some time.

Our apartment entrance is right next to an escape room. It started a couple of years ago, and now we see big crowds standing in front of their door every now and then. This month it was finally our turn to try and escape. Well, we did it, with only seconds on the clock we managed to escape the room within the hour. It was a fun adventure, something different to the things we normally do. The kids told us they had fun, although I did notice some agitation during the game, probably caused by the stress about wanting to escape as fast as possible.

Agenda

Agenda?!Keeping an agenda is a very simple and effective way to keep track of things you need to do. You make plans, and you write them down on the date for which they are meant to be finished. This way you can select any day and see what needs to be done on that day, because all the plans you made in the past are written down of the day the plan was for. Logical.

Well, it seems that the logical way of using an agenda is not so logical after all. Our kids are learning something different on their school. All their tasks and appointments are written down on the day they initiated, with an indication for what day they are for. For example, the entry for today could be: ‘Tomorrow read biology page 64’, ‘Next week, on Wednesday, exam language’. The result is an, as I see it, useless agenda. Every day you need to look back for one or two weeks to see if there are any tasks for tomorrow. A terrible way of using an agenda, and a terrible thing to teach the kids.

Insufficient funds

Money gone!Friday, after work I pass by the supermarket near my office. I go to this supermarket a lot, so I work my standard route and get everything we need. I stand in line to pay and take everything home. That was the idea, buy paying was not so easy. Payment declined. Insufficient funds. Another card did work, so I loaded everything into the car. After loading everything I decided to check the bank app to see why I could not pay, and I got quite a scare. There was nothing left on our account. Everything was spend in Marceille, in France. Our entire account, with nearly 1500 euro was all spend in a single day.

We quickly went through all the steps. Notify the bank, block all cards, change all codes and passwords. Make a declaration and file a report at the police station, and now all we can do it hope we will see some of our money back.

The thieves did make an error. They made a purchase that makes them identifiable. Using 100 of our euros the thief booked a hotel room in booking. Maybe he felt like going on a city trip and just enjoy life a bit. The weird thing is that booking knows all their data. The thief connected my bank card with his booking account to rent a hotel on his/her name. This should make it easy to find the thief. Still, I am afraid nobody will make the effort to find the perpetrator. Booking will never reveal any identifiable data to me, the police will probably do nothing, and just file our report, and the bank will probably make a calculation. Doing an expensive investigation for 1500 euros, with a low probability of doing anything with the thief, and a very low probability for getting the money back is not going to be justifiable expense. To bad, but it seems the thief will get to keep their stuff, paid with our money, and will not face justice any time soon.

Tamagotchi

Alan used to have a little crab as a pet. He kept it in his room in a nice crab environment with crab toys, water, plants, and some dirt so she could dig a nice hole. Sadly she kept getting older and older, and when we returned from our last trip she had passed away. To bad. Alan was in favor of getting a new pet, en we started to investigate. A walking stick seemed like a good idea, or maybe a new crab. Maybe even a hamster. The crab was nice but it spend most of its life inside its little hole in the ground. Only to come out to quickly get some food. The care for the little animal was also quickly allocated with Alan’s dad. That needed to change.

Searching for a new animal I also passed for a toy store. I hoped to find maybe a robotic fish, or something similar. Then I noticed the tamagotchi eggs. Maybe this could be interesting. The technology is from the last century, but if it’s fun, it’s fun. For Alan is was the perfect gift. He was so happy. His thoughts of any live animal disappeared immediately, as he started feeding and training the little digital animal. The animal also had a small game, and could be disciplined. The best part was that Alan could take it wherever he went. A great gift for sure.

Evaluate – 2023 nearing the end

It seems the end of the year is a perfect time to reconnect to the past. I like these last weeks of the year, where the upcoming end/beginning allows for a review of a fixed period. One year where we did lots of things, we experienced lots of now things, and we have all grown. Recalling the best parts of the year is uplifting. Even the sad parts add value trough the experiences and personal growth they made possible.
Looking back to the last years events is fun, but looking back over much more years is even more fun. Memories of nearly 48 years, most of which are good memories fill me with happiness. Seeing my sons grow up so fast is like helping them build their own memories, which hopefully will turn out to be good memories.

The year is almost over. 2023 went by like an arrow. Still a lot took place and we all learned a lot and we did a lot. Disneyland!, Paris, Torrevieja, Headball, Noordwijkerhout, Walking the wad, Avifauna, Smoked eel, Bitterballs, Soccer (Alan plays with ‘Fomento’), Soccer GC – Getafe: 2 – 0 win, La Laja, Burrito, Roque Nublo, Alex visited Barcelona with his godfather Miguel, Routes across the island, Climbing, Visit Miguel, Visit Nel, Visit Bert Sally Annabel Jack, Visit family Ana. We closed the year with rasca’s, lego, new bikes, and a visit to an all-in hotel in the south.

The kids have grown tremendously, their school results are near perfect, thanks to quite a bit of support from their mother. I lost a few kilos, and I try to run twice a week, when I can. We wish everyone a great 2024!
Family christmas 2023

The making of – Like and subscribe

Almost every YouTube video has a small part where the creator of the video asks the viewer to like the video and subscribe to the channel. Likes help other viewers to see if a video is worth watching. Subscribes help by generating lots of exposure for new videos. A channel with lots of subscribers will usually have lots of views for the videos they post. For amateurs it is really nice to see lots of people watching your content. For professionals a higher number of subscribers means a higher income.

Alex wanted to do something with this theme, so we made a ‘Like & subscribe’ stop motion. The idea was to add the short video at the end of a ‘normal’ video, just like the intro Alex used to start his videos. We would love to hear your opinion about this in the comments!

First we make the text. Every letter was drawn, colored en cut. Then we had to think of a nice idea for the short movie. Alex liked to do something with his skateboard, so we decided it would be nice to jump over the letters. Jumping over everything was a bit boring, so we added some variation. First a few jumps, then a dive, then a jump off the skateboard, then hitting some letters, and finally just ignoring the letters. Just let them come.

The story is really quite simple, yet at the same time it is personal, recognizable and a very powerful story. I helped Alex a bit by adding a bit of direction and evolution into the story. A young boy, avoiding confrontation, avoiding problems, and slowly gaining confidence. Learning on the go, while life goes on. Then when he eventually feels his knowledge is enough the tables are turned. First he simply repels the things that threat him and finally he has gained so much confidence that the can just ignore the threats. He learned that was he thought was a threat (or something dangerous) was really just an illusion, and that he can trust in himself.

In reality it is a story that applies to all of us. We start out fearing the unknown. Slowly we lose our fears and get to know yourself, and with this knowledge of yourself comes a tremendous power, where the faith you have in yourself can at times move mountains and have a giant impact on the world around you.

Making the movie took quite some effort. A stop motion is created by taking lots of pictures, and pasting them together into a movie. Alex was lying on the floor for over an hour, while me moved the letters, the skateboard, and Alex around. Then we took a picture, and went on to the next frame. In total we had almost 100 pictures, which was good for a short 18 seconds movie.

With a zoom at the end, and a fade to black we should get a nice ending of around 20 seconds. After adding some ‘special effects’ (by editing the almost 100 images one by one!) we got a really nice sequence.

All our efforts resulted in something quite nice! We think it turned out pretty good. What do you think? Do you think it is a good video to include in our YouTube content? Please leave any ideas/tips/suggestions/criticism in the comments below!

Lessons learned:
– We could use some music with the video, but finding a nice short piece is difficult, and it could result in copyright claims if not done correctly.
– Alex’ position was quite uncomfortable. Lying on the ground for the entire time. Next time we can see if there are alternatives, so the position of his head will look more natural.

Disneyland Paris

DIsney 2023!After three days spend in the artificial happiness I must conclude we really did have a great time. There were lots of things in Disney that were not very nice, but these are common to all theme parks. Waiting times, broken attractions, commerce overload, masses of people everywhere, conflicts and discussions between parents and kids. Disney is a great park to enjoy and experience, but I was personally very happy to leave the park after three day.

For the kids it was a non-stop fun experience. They were running from one adrenaline shot to the next. Three days was perfect to see both parks, do all the rides, and the third day we spend repeating the favorites.

Disney & Paris prep

A drawing of a black mouse with big ears and a white duck with a big castle on the background and laser lights lighting up the imageIn a couple of weeks the waiting is finally over. We will head over to France, to visit euro Disney and Paris. Alex has been counting down the days for a couple of months already. I must admit I had big doubts. Before planning this trip I was convinced that Disney was a bit of a rip off. A place to avoid. A fake place, with abused workers in suits with a smile painted on it walking around the park. I felt it was a place where ‘undercover’ employees walk around to check on the ‘visible’ minimum wage workers, and where incorrect behaviour will not be tolerated.

I still feel like it is place of conflicting emotions, but I now see that there is also the other part. The part were everyone is (trying to) work together to create a long lasting good memory for people visiting the park. I have decided to just give the park a change. Lets see how I experience it. I am almost certain the kids will have a blast, and I don’t want to hold them back. I want them to enjoy this experience as much as they can.

Visiting Disney is pretty expensive, so we will probably do this only once, so it is important to optimise our visit. If we are going to enjoy the experience we have to do our best to enjoy it thoroughly. We need some preparation, and we will need some discipline. We are going with a big group, so it will be hard. The group is all Spanish, so it will be even harder, but we should a least try and wake up early. Breakfast early and head to the park as soon as it opens. Try and do lots of different rides and not repeat the same ride all the time.

After a couple of days at the Disney park we have some more days in Paris. Seeing the city, with a couple of visits to the famous spots, but much more relaxed. Time to enjoy some wine, a crossant and some french cheese. Enjoy the sites, visit the Eiffel tower, float across the seine, check out the Arc du Triumph, maybe see the Mona Lisa, visit the cathedral, do some shopping? Who knows.

Online friends / Astroturfing

a big ear with lots of people whispering in itMore and more time is spend online. Your social circles are formed online with people that feel similar to yourself. Where our social circles used to be centered around the town or city where you live, right now they can be everywhere. The same way that your physical friends can influence you, you can now also be influenced by the options and views of your online friends. Friends that you might have never met, but with whom you can spend lots of time.

Imagine a very near future where your online friends might all think siilar to you. A bit group of similarly minded people. All individuals that reinforce your thinking in a certain manner. Maybe 10 good friends, and maybe 20 more people who also think in a similar way. Maybe such a big group of people can influence you much more that you would think possible. Each of the persons you know has his or her own personality, which you get to know and trust.

Imagine all these friends are not as you would think. All of them are uniquely generated by an AI. In the blink of an eye there can be tens or hundreds of people who all think the same as you, and who will all try and navigate your thoughts to a desired outcome.

Maybe suddenly some of them will tell you about their experience with a new product, using the AI’s for some kind of advertisement. Or worse, your ‘friends’ influence your political opinion. This has already happened, where less powerful AI was used to influence groups of people and to redirect their thoughts and actions to achieve a certain goal. Now, with AI getting more and more accessible, the big danger is an abuse so personal it will be very hard to resist. You will not even know it is taking place.

If can even be done with less effort. Simply train an AI on how you interact with your environment. Let it learn how your friends and contacts behave, and at the right moment simply inject some additional conversation. Almost impossible to trace.

Even if this technology is used for good, avoid radical opinions, avoid unwanted behaviour, in the end the person that controls the AI controls the emotions and thoughts of lots and lots of people. A very dangerous future we are entering.

Lets just ask an AI itself

Would it be possible for an AI to generate a number of different identities all aimed at trying to influence someone to get them to buy a certain product?
Yes, it is possible for an AI to generate multiple identities to influence someone to buy a certain product. This is known as astroturfing, which involves creating fake identities or groups to simulate grassroots support for a particular cause or product.

The number of identities needed would depend on various factors such as the size of the target audience, the level of influence required, and the resources available for the astroturfing campaign. It’s difficult to provide a specific number without knowing more details about the specific situation.

However, it’s worth noting that astroturfing is generally considered unethical and can damage the reputation of both the product and the company behind it. Therefore, it’s important to approach marketing and advertising ethically and t