Saturday, 31 May 2008

a €29.95 brain

This morning started off with a slight drizzle. I walked through Frankendael to the Kruislaan corner.

The 'jungle' part of Frankendael is growing lush

After work I took tram #14 to Waterlooplein. At the Stopera there was a TV truck recording in HD, and a bunch of Marechaussee (military police) motor bikes. Probably a royal in attendance. 15 minutes later there was a bomb scare and they evacuated the building.

MP bikes at the Stopera

Across the Amstel and towards Rembrandtplein.

Blauwbrug across the Amstel

People were sunning themselves on the lawn.

Night watch and Bay watch...

I sat on the St. James' Gate terrace, waiting for Collins and Jud. Jud had arrived this morning from Seattle. While I was waiting Yanko and Liz were playing.

Yanko and Liz

Both Jud and Collins arrived in due time; Yanko and Liz stopped playing and sat with us counting their busking income. We talked for a while, having drinks and bitterballen. We then retired to the Stivale d'Oro for dinner. It was pretty busy, so they put the three of us on a tiny table in the corner near the window. We had a bit of problem finding out where to put our legs... The food was great, as usual.

Stivale d'Oro

After Stivale we went back to Rembrandtplein and sat at the Nachtwacht terrace. Nadia, one of the waitresses, greeted us with kisses. I have to go there more often… We sat down for a few drinks.

Nachtwacht terrace

Around the corner there was a Guinness Book of World Records attempt to make the longest 'domino' fall but with glasses of Jägermeister instead of domino tiles. It will probably be shown on AT5 since it was recorded right in front of their office.

Jägermeister dominos

I walked back along Reguliersgracht.

Prinsengracht; the houseboat on the left is Siard's

the end of Lijnbaansgracht; Rijksmuseum in the distance

Crossed into van Woustraat.

Albert Cuijp market looks very empy without its stalls

Onto Ceintuurbaan and across the Nieuwe Amstelbrug.

Amstel vista with 'Manhattan on the Amstel' in the background

On Oosterparkstraat is a medical instrument shop. Lots of strange things in the windows!

the brains are only €29.95

There was an ad for a massage douche which probably dates from the 1960s by the looks of the lady's hair style.

more weird stuff

A few doors down I saw this in the window. I wonder what the action is.

jesus action figure

And straight to home.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

charm school

This morning I was up early since I had to be in the hospital at 08:00. A few weeks ago, when I had just started my walking experiment, my right foot constantly had a tingling feeling. My GP couldn't find a pulse in the foot, so he sent me to the hospital to have the veins checked out. That's what they did this morning. I was hooked up to automated blood pressure cuffs on arms and ankles and the nurse used a microphone probe to find the pulse. All this was recorded on computer. I then had to walk on a treadmill for six minutes and the whole procedure was repeated again. Results next week wednesday.

The funny thing is that since I've bought real walking shoes and ditched the Crocs the problem has gone away…

OLVG hospital hallway

After the hospital I walked through the Oosterpark, past Muiderpoort Station to the bus stop at Insulindeweg / Molukkenstraat where I got the #41 bus to work.


It looked like it was going to rain, that's why I took the bus. In fact, it started to rain about 10 minutes after I walked into work.

bus #41

After work I walked back to the Insulindeweg / Molukkenstraat corner where I saw a sideways drilling machine in action. I like tracked vehicles, so I stood and watched for a while. The guy sitting on the side had a little joy stick with which he controlled the angle of drilling.

sideways drilling machine

On through Molukkenstraat and onto Javaplein. Here the old public bath house, built in Amsterdam School style, has been converted into a restaurant with terrace. I might try it out one of these days.

bath house

I turned left into Javastraat since I wanted to see the sort of shops the street has. They're very diverse; a mixture of Turkish, Arab, Surinamese, Indian, etc. It was like a miniature United Nations. If you're looking for something etnic I'm sure you can find it here.


I walked towards the Oosterpark and decided to check out the restaurants on the east side of the park. I ended up on the terrace of Pata Negra, a spanish / Portugese tapas restaurant. I ordered a coke, bread, olives and empanadillas to start with, telling the waiter that I would see if I wanted to order more after that. The bread and olives appeared almost instantly, but the empanadillas took 45 minutes. It consisted of four very small, very greasy pastries with an undefined meat-like filling. It tasted of minced road kill fried in old engine oil. I asked for the bill and left.

pata negra no mas

I walked through the Oosterpark past the monument for Theo van Gogh.

'de schreeuw' / the scream

When I got home I checked my email and found a message from Juf Jo: did I want to come out for drinks on the Maxwell terrace? I did, so I went down the stairs again and backtracked to Maxwells where only a little while later Jo showed up with her two dogs, Flo and Lily. A good time was had by all.

miss Jo shows her charm school graduation smile

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

et fon home

A rather quiet day; I was home playing around with the new WiFi router I've bought a few days ago. I'd been using my MacBook -sitting on the sofa- with a 1 Gb ethernet cable sofar, but that didn't work on the balcony or the kitchen or the bedroom or… You get the idea.

On one of the forums I follow someone said that he had proposed 'village-wide' WiFi connection via FON routers in his neighbourhood. The idea behind FON is that people with a broadband connection (ADSL, fibre or cable) attach a FON WiFi router to their broadband. This router has two channels: one 'private' for your own local WiFi connection to e.g. the back of the garden, and one 'public' where other FON router owners can make use of. This way, once you have a FON at home you have free access to 600.000 WiFi hotspots in the world.

A community based world-wide WiFi network sounds good. I like the idea of free WiFi all over the world. I looked at the propaganda on FON's website and saw you could buy a router for € 14.95 Not a bad price at all, so I ordered one. It arrived yesterday and today I've been setting it up.

They sell the thing as 'plug and play'; just plug it in, let it sit for half an hour while it gets its software updates from the internet, register yourself on the FON network and WiFi away.

my linux box in its natural environment

According to messages on the FON-users bulletin boards (both international and Dutch) this seems to work. Not for me, though. I don't have a ISP-router with more than one ethernet port. Mine has just one port which is connected to my linux server which also functions as my firewall and router. Out of the linux box comes a second ethernet cable which is connected to a gigabit switch. The FON-box is connected to this switch.

This means the FON-box doesn't automagically gets an IP-address, since addresses on my network are hardwired and not handled by DHCP. I had to do some 'plug and pray': reconfiguring my MacBook with a different local -non routable- IP-address, connecting directly to the FON-box with a cable, manually configuring the box, etc. It took some time, but in the end it all worked. I can now connect from anywhere in the house (or ~100m outside) to the interwebtubes via wireless. I feel like Marconi.

After I got the thing to work I wondered what more you could do with it. A lot, it seems. The box runs an embedded version of linux and the web is full of clever hacks for the FON-box to make it sit up and roll over. People have been hacking the thing left, right and center. One of these days, when I'm bored and the weather sucks, I'm going to have a look at the different hacks and see which ones I'd like to install. Until that day I'll just use it for what it is, a WiFi router.

If you want to buy one of these things: I've got 20 invites I can send to friends. These friends can get a FON-box for a discount price of € 5.99. Let me know if you want an invite.

In the mean time, you can have a look on where you can find FON hotspots you could connect to. It might surprise you how many places are already well-connected.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

server crash

When I got to work this morning, the first thing to do -as usual- is to check my email. Only my work's email was visible; nothing from my own mailserver. I tried to contact my server in different ways, but to no avail. Dead as a doorpost.

My email didn't show up until I got home and rebooted the box. One of the emails that was dribbling in from my alternate MX was from Nicole, sweetly asking if something had died in my house. I know it smells like that every now and then, but I didn't think you could smell that all the way from Australia.

I only realised a few minutes after reading Nicole's email that some of the graphics on her blog are hosted on my server. That's how she knew something had died…

Danny, who's whole blog resides on my server hadn't noticed a thing, which goes to show you how often she checks for comments and such.

Anyway, the thing is working again and I hope it stays online a bit longer now. I haven't figured out why it went down. Doing the usual forensics on the log files didn't show anything strange or out of place. Maybe the box had a 'baaldag'.

No photos today; I didn't take any going to work (I took the bus 'cause my foot hurt) and didn't take any coming back either since I was thinking about my server and food alternatively.

if you can see the punches, my server is alive

Monday, 26 May 2008


It being a cloudy/rainy day, I wore my coat to work. I walked the Frankendael route with a twist at the end.

One of the little side streets of the Schalk Burgerstraat, just around the corner from where I live. Houses on a human scale. A while ago they had some problems with drugdealers gathering there but that has been solved.


The sky was dark over the jungle Frankendael allotments.

the jungle

Walking to work is not without its dangers; the wind was so fierce this morning that just before I arrived here these branches had broken off.


A quick walk following the main road through Frankendael brought me to Christiaan Huygensplantsoen. All the streets in this neighbourhood are named for scientists. Huygens got himself a little shopping centre.


I zig-zagged the streets behind the Huygensplantsoen until I got to the railroad switching yard. This must be the most unlovely tunnel in Amsterdam.

railroad switching yard tunnel

The big blue thing is actually a sluice gate. The railroad forms a water barrier. If/when the Watergraafsmeer dike breaks, they can close the gates (there's another one outside the picture) and the water from the Ringvaart will be contained in the outer part. The only people who will then drown are the scientists in the Science Park since that is outside the safe area.

blublub… blubblublub…

Here's the end twist of the walk: I walked all the way via the long route.

A fun project at work today. In october is the official opening of CERN's new accelerator LHC with all its experiments. One of these experiments is ATLAS and our director came up with the idea to wrap the new University of Amsterdam science faculty across the road in a life-size mesh canvas of the ATLAS detector. Here's the mock-up I made today.

ATLAS in the polder. The real detector is 46m long and 25m in diameter.

Going home I took the bus to Muiderpoort Station, walked into Celebesstraat following the railroad track and then turned left into van Swindenstraat. The photo is looking back to Javastraat, and I never realised it was a shopping street until today. I'll have a look through it later in the week to see what sort of shops are there.

Javastraat is getting a new pavement

I walked my now normal route through the Oosterpark.

I'm now on a first name basis with the ducks

Going past the OLVG Hospital I noticed for the first time that their chapel looks like a mediaeval building. It is completely new, though.

faux mediaeval

I bought a Maguro no Temaki (tuna hand roll) at the sushi take-away near the hospital, then walked to AH where I got a nice Mexican salad and went home.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

politically correct school

After dinner (the other half of last night's Thai) the rain had stopped, so I went walkabout. Every time I walk it is a little easier the next time. If I don't watch out I might start to like it…

I started off along the Transvaalkade towards the Amstel river. To get to the Amstel you have to under the railroad tracks. Somebody had placed metal camel silhouettes along the line. Maybe Vincent should put little camels in his coffee table railroad, too.

railroad camels

Opposite Cafe Hesp is one of the widest parts of the Amstel. There are no boats moored here, so it seems even wider. Hesp has a terrace here which was closed today due to the weather. One of these days when the suns shines I'll give it a try.

amstel river

The ad on Hesp's wall is not inflation proof. I wonder what would happen if you demanded a bottle of Lager for 9 cents.

last year's century's prices?

At the rowing club the girls of this coxed four were putting away their oars and boat.

coxed four

In Tweede Oosterparkstraat I spied this school and pondered the significance of P.C.
Police Constable? Personal Computer? Politically Correct?

sponsored by M$?

HDR photography

Rainy day, so I stayed at home. I remembered I had taken a bunch of HDR-source photos last year when I was in Scotland. I never did anything with them, since Photoshop sucks diesel with HDR. I now have a new program, Photomatix, which does a much better job and gives you a lot more control over the whole HDR/tone mapping stuff.

Here are some of the results. Each photo was made from 3 source pictures at -2, 0 and +2 bracketing. If you want a better look, click on the pictures to go to Flickr where you can see the larger versions. There's also more on Flickr than here on the blog.

A view of Ben Nevis. When I took this one the camera's colour balance was still on fluorescent light, so the pictures were a ghastly shade of blue.
Desaturating to BW makes it look better.

Loch Arkaig; I like the colours on this one.

Basically the same as above, but with more 'natural' colours.
It feels a bit more 'washed out,' though.

The one I like best. The colours make me think of a dark fantasy story.
You'd expect a troll to come into the picture any moment…

Saturday, 24 May 2008

2,372,807 MySpace friends

Steven Levy writes in an article for the Washington Post about the phenomenon of social network friends. He gives the example of comedian Dane Cook who has 2,372,807 MySpace 'friends.' The senior vice president of MySpace has 2,965 entries in his friends list, including a potatoe...

He quotes Clay Shirky: "Instead of 'friend,' it might be better to say, 'I'm linked to you.'"

My list of Hyves friends has presently 51 people and no potatoes. I only follow about 5 people on that list and I'm sure there are not many more that follow me on this blog. Maybe that is why I spend more time here than in Hyves and point from Hyves to this blog. This blog and the blog roll just feels more alive than all those Hyves 'friends.'

lousy food and warm beer

I had a walking attack today... I decided to walk to the ABC bookstore on Spui. The weather was pretty warm; when I got to the bridge across the Amstel near Weesperplein there was water spouting all over it to cool down the asphalt.

wetting the bridge

I walked down Utrechtsestraat.


Turned left on Prinsengracht and walked across Amstelveld where in front of the church somebody had spraypainted a text on the ground.

where are you? invitation to aliens?

Then onto Reguliersgracht towards the Thorbeckeplein.

leaning house on the corner of Keizersgracht and Reguliersgracht

On Thorbeckeplein the British bank-holiday trippers were attracted by the Aussie promise of warm beer and lousy food.

lousy food and warm beer

Those tourists who weren't swilling beer were walking slowly or blocking the way on the Singel flowermarket.


After buying my books at ABC I walked towards the Oudezijds Kolk.

Oudezijds Kolk

Passing by Captain Zeppo's I kept going to Oudemanhuispoort, the secondhand bookmarket. I hadn't been there in years; my father had a market stall there when I was a child and I remember it being much busier.

Oudemanhuispoort #1, my father's old stall. They now sell cookbooks there.

I walked through Staalstraat to Waterlooplein, where according to Joerie's comment on Flickr (click on the photo) I just missed her by minutes. By this time my ankle started to hurt so I took the #9 tram to Tropenmuseum.


Sitting down for only 5 minutes in the tram seemed to do the trick since my ankle didn't hurt anymore when I walked through the Oosterpark.

in Oosterpark people were playing a version of volleyball

I had a drink on the Maxwell terrace, got a Kai Pad Med Mumuang take-away from the ThaiCoon (I only ate half of it and kept the rest for tomorrow) and went home.

For later tonight and tomorrow there's a forecast of thunderstorms and rain. Looking out of the window I could see the clouds gathering. Every now and then I remember to take photos where I bracket the f-stops up and down the scale. You can then combine those photos to an HDR (High Dynamic Range) image. The photo below is a composite of 5 photos: -4, -2, 0, +2, +4 f-stops.

On the photo the sky looks like lightning could start any minute but that is an artifact of the HDR processing. It does show the sort of tricks you can do with HDR.

HDR try-out