Coco orchid

Coco orchid!Step one was a coco box with coco cookies. It was a great project, the cookies taste great and the coco box was a nice decoration. Still, I had the idea that we could improve the concept. After some mind-storming the coco orchid project was born. There are three parts. A coco that we use to hold the plant. A base to hold the coco, and a pretty mini orchid to provide some stunning beauty.

1. Cut/saw the top of the coco. Clean the inside and let the coco dry.
2. Smooth the edges of the coco, and smooth the outside and the inside with some sandpaper.
3. Lightly oil the inside of the coco, with a little bit of oil, to make the coco a bit more water resistant.
4. Make the base, cut a piece of plastic from a bottle, and wrap it with brown wool. The brown wool combines well with the color of the coconut.
5. Buy a mini orchid, and transplant it into the coco. Add some additional material to surround the base of the orchid to it does not move around, but there should still be lots of air/space around the roots.

Enjoy!

Mini orchid: 16 euro, coconut: 1.50 euro, water bottle: 1 euro, a ball of brown wool: 1 euro. Total: 19:50 euro
Enjoy a beautiful orchid every time you come home: Priceless!

Coco cookies

Coco cookies!Super easy, super tasty and super fun to make. What else could you ask for.

Ingredients:
– A package of cookies
– Condensed milk
– A package of coconut powder

Step 1: Throw all the cookies into the blender and mash them up into a fine or semi-fine powder.
Step 2: Mix the cookie powder with a part of the coconut powder and the condensed milk. Mix it all up, and then make small balls of the mix.
Step 3: Roll the balls through the coconut powder and lay them all out on a big plate. When you have all the balls place the plate in the refrigerator. After the balls have turned more firm in the fridge they are all done!

Extra (will take a lot more time preparing):
– Buy one or two coconuts to present your coconut cookies in style.

Use a saw to cut the coconut in half. Use only the part without the three marks, and try and give this part the ideal size you prefer. One of the three marks can be easily pushed in, push a hole in this mark to get all of the liquid out of the coconut. Once drained saw the coconut in half carefully. Take out the white insides with a spoon, and leave the coconut a white so it can dry. Now you need to make the inside and the edge smooth using sandpaper.
You can leave the outside a bit rougher if you like, but it will make the coconut more difficult to clean. I smoothed the top two centimeters of the outside, so it will be nice when using the coconut for drinking. In this case we will not drink from the coco; we will fill it up with the coco-balls we created. The perfect presentation.

Costs: Cheap package of cookies: 1.20, condensed milk: 2.50, coco powder: 2.00, two coconuts: 2.00. Total: 13.97.
Homemade coco-balls presented in a fantastic coco-cup: Priceless

Tide clock!

Tide clock!I bought the mechanism for a tidal clock. Basically a regular clock, but instead of showing the hours it will indicate the time it takes to reach high tide and low tide. We love visiting the La Laja beach with low tide, so this is a perfect ‘thing’ to place on the wall. I only bought the mechanism, so I will need to make the entire clock myself. I could have bought a finished product directly, but I did not like the versions that were available. I thought I could do better myself.

A tide clock is specifically designed to track the motion of the tides, which are influenced by the Moon’s position relative to the Earth. A tide clock typically completes one cycle every 12 hours and 25 minutes, reflecting the average time between two high tides or two low tides.

  • Get the tide mechanism. Note that there is only one dial! There is only one dial needed to indicate the water is going up or going down. There is no need for a dial indicating minutes or seconds.
  • Get a regular clock. Try and find a cheap one where you can more or less easily disconnect the plastic front panel, and disconnect the clock mechanism.
  • Dismantle the regular clock. Remove the mechanism and remove the backplate. We only need the outside frame and the plastic front cover.
  • Create a new backplate, and put it in the clock. The backplate has the term ‘High tide’ on top. Then to the right a countdown to low tide. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. At the bottom we have the text ‘Low tide’ and on the left of the backplate we have a countdown to high tide from the bottom to the top. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
  • Place the tide mechanism in the clock, and the tide clock is finished!

Costs: Mechanism 3.47, Clock: 8.50, Paper/decoration: 2.00. Total: 13.97.
Having a beautiful homemade tide clock on the wall: Priceless

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.

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.

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

AI: Are we there yet?

A mind inside a fishbowl on top of a mechanical body walking through the sky on top of a cloudArtificial intelligence is a thing we keep hearing more and more about, but what are we really talking about? Is it really something smart and intelligent. It is certainly smart, but sadly the intelligent part still needs to be created.

A few years ago we had various very good search engine. You could give it a couple of words, and it would use those words to really quickly give a list of results that were related to the words you provided. They improved this search by remembering where people clicked. More clicks meant a result was probable better, so it got a bit higher score.

Now OpenAI has added a new layer to this. It’s tool ChatGPT can understand text, and can tell you something in a natural fashion. You can ask it a question, and it will give you an answer back, just like a normal conversation. Understanding someone is a very complex task. You can ask the same thing in lots of different ways, and small details can be very important or meaningless. The ‘engine’ is trained to know what is important, and what is not. Instead of giving you a list of sites, now you can simply get a summary as an answer. The AI is not storing a huge amount of links, it is reading everything, and storing the information it finds, which is what it uses to answer your question.

We are not there yet, but it is a huge step forward. Understanding language is really difficult, and making it seem ‘natural’ is very hard, but it looks like they really achieved something here. Still, there is no intelligence. For now there is no curiosity, no initiative, no desire. The AI only responds to queries. It remembers what you asked it, but thats it. You can ask it things, and it can tell you things, but it won’t do anything else. It is really good, and clearly the current ‘AI’ is much much better then the ‘old’ search engines.

We can even ask it directly.

Q: are you really intelligent?
A: As an AI language model, I don’t possess a conscious intelligence like humans do. However, I have been trained on vast amounts of data and algorithms to respond to various queries, so I can simulate an intelligent conversation with humans. I can understand natural language and can generate responses based on the information I have been trained on. My abilities are limited to what I have been trained on and what algorithms are available to me.
Q: can you repeat the answer in dutch
A: Als een AI-taalmodel …

Losing weight

I have to admit that I did have some unhealthy habits the last few years. Almost every day I ate some sausage, or some cheese, or a couple of nuts. A few days a week I would also drink a beer (usually after running), and these habits were a bit to much. Luckily these habits were reasonably easy to change.

A few weeks ago I was still close to 80 kilos. I then set my target to 75 kilos (which is my usual weight), but as I am getting closer to my goal I am thinking that maybe it would be better to have an even lower goal of around 68. This seems to be the perfect average BMI, and it will leave me with some extra leverage and maybe even with some extra health benefits.

I somehow doubt that for me this is really an obtainable goal, because the last time I weight less than 70 kilos must have been literaly in the previous century but if I don’t try I will never know. If I manage to do it I must treat myself to a good gift. Maybe a new Dell laptop.

Too good to go

Too good to go!Too good to throw out. Toogoodtogo is an app that makes an effort to reduce waste. When a product is still pretty good a company can decide to toss it in the trash, or sell it with a big discount (or give it away, but that sometimes conflicts with the business interests). I installed the app and we have tried it twice!

Chinese foodFirst experience (4.99)
There were some left-overs available at a local Chinese restaurant. This felt like quite a risk, because what are you going to get? The left-overs from the buffet? Still we took a gamble, and what we got was unexpected. Four containers with freshly made Chinese food. Nothing to good to go, just normal Chinese food, with the only exception that we could not chose the menu. What we got was pretty good. White rice, rice with chicken, noodles with chicken and croquet’s. All very tasty, but not something that was at risk of being thrown away.

Meat!Second experience (3.99)
The second time we rescued a package from the trash from a big supermarket. This time we got lots of meat. Bacon, bacon pieces, sausages, yogurt (8x), and three apples. All the meat was from a pig. The best-before dates were all on the current date. Not bad, the products all looked pretty good, and we received a big amount of food. I spend the evening frying the meat and even though I would normally avoid pig-meat out of personal preference it looks like the next couple of days I’ll be having pig for lunch.

Conclusion
It is really a gamble. You don’t know what you will get, and you don’t know what state it will be in. I don’t think we will use this app a lot more. The food you get is cheap, and it can be a lot of food, but it is still a gamble. It is unusual to get something you really need. In our case it is much easier to simply pay a little more and get exactly what we want/need. As a game/gamble/surprise it might be fun to get something with friends.

For the company it is an easy way to achieve something. In the case of the Chines restaurant I think they used as a new way to advertise. A random menu for a low price, to maybe get some new customers. In this case I think there is a high probability I would try this Chinese place again, just to see what I will get next time. In case of the supermarkt the app clearly achieved its goal. Avoid throwing away food that was perfectly fine.

Companies that can really benefit from this app are companies that deal with perishable foods. Fruit, vegetables, bread, meat, fish, etc. These shops can avoid throwing away things and get some new potential customers at the same time. For the customer there is the potential for cheap food, but with a risk in not knowing what you are going to get.