Netherlands and more

Blog about life in Holland (and a lot of other stuff)

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InfoPi (a.k.a. DIY Google Now) May 7, 2016

When a geek gets bored, he usually dives into home automation. And when there's nothing more left to automate, he blogs about it.

When leaving my house I usually check the weather forecast for today and if there are any train disruptions. The thing is, it takes precious time and I'm usually in a hurry. Therefore the idea of having all the useful information on a single display was in the air for quite a while. Recently I've finally got to implement it. Please meet InfoPi.


InfoPi is essentially a display connected to a minuscule single-board computer Raspberry Pi. The computer runs a tiny web server and the Chrome browser in the kiosk mode. The display is mounted behind a mirror (which hangs next to the front door), and here's how it all looks like:

InfoPi hiding in a mirror.

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King's Day 2016 May 1, 2016

The last Queen's Day to date happened three years ago, when Princess Beatrix, then still the Queen of the Netherlands, announced her upcoming abdication for her son Willem-Alexander. The latter celebrates his birthday on April 27th, which is very conveniently near the former date of April 30th.

King's Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands. Therefore last Wednesday we light-heartedly set off for Amsterdam, traditionally dressed in orange. So did hordes of our fellow countrymen.

Amsterdam Central Railway Station.

The entire city centre, starting from the Central Station, was packed with people who came to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness.

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Separate the sheep from the phones Apr 30, 2016

Moore's law teamed up with the Chinese electronic device industry are inserting new steps into the Lansink's Ladder. Next to the sections for used fluorescent bulbs and batteries, which are classified as klein chemisch afval (household hazardous waste), Albert Heijn grocery stores have now added a separate opening for used mobile phones!

The gadget-recycler.

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Sky is no limit Apr 11, 2016

Igor Abakumov, also known as Mr. Raskolnikov, an ex-member of Radiolaria, has shared some new material with me: tracks that were recorded for his own solo project called Zapreschennaya Akustika ("Forbidden Acoustics"). Even though it's a home recording and perhaps you can't really appreciate the Russian lyrics, the musical aspect seemed quite interesting to me.

So far four new tracks are available, all of them pertain to the sky for some reason:

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The castlerun, second edition Apr 9, 2016

This spring is full of sporting activities. First aikido (I hope my certificate with nice Japanese characters is already on its way), now a half marathon.

As I mentioned, the event was to happen on March 28, on the second day of the Easter, which is a public holiday here in Holland. It's the second edition of De Halve van de Haar, and half marathon (21.1 km) was the longest distance available.

The medal is actually grey, it's the light that tints it.

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Shodan: 11 years on the way Mar 27, 2016

Last weekend, on March 19, 2016, the author of these lines has qualified for the first dan Aikido Aikikai.

The black belt.

Exactly 11 years ago I've entered the dojo of Rudik Manukyan (in Russian), who had second dan Aikikai (the original branch of aikido stemming from its very founder) at that time. Thanks to his lead I've grown from naught to second kyū in three year's time, and left for Holland shortly thereafter.

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