Category Archives: belgium

after the storm

Nature can be awesome. Last year in November a hail storm passed by on a Sunday leaving the cloudy and stormy looking sky filled with orange colours so bright and alive I just had to go out in the cold and shoot some of that beauty. Click for the big version on Flickr.

after the storm

after the storm

after the storm

after the storm

why camera surveillance in mechelen won't work

The Belgian city of Mechelen is planning to put up road surveillance camera’s up on all big exit and entry roads to the city. The reason for this is -of course- the same as it always is when it comes to invading your privacy: to increase security. The plan is to scan every license plate that passes the camera and hopefully be able to stop or catch burglars more easily and scare them away from Mechelen.

I don’t have to tell you how scanning every car’s license plate invades the general public’s privacy, but that’s the price to pay for additional safety isn’t it? The problem with this solution is that it’s called a “Club solution” in the IT world.

A club solution works as long as only a small club of users (cities in this case) use it. So camera surveillance might scare off crooks, but it won’t stop them. They will move to other cities which do not have the same solution. This somewhat forces the other cities to apply the same tactic. After a while every major city will have camera surveillance in place and your solution stops working. It’ll make crime harder, but it won’t stop it. So they will return to the most profitable cities since there’s surveillance in all of them by now anyway.

I’m sure that a hardened criminal won’t be stopped by this. There’s plenty of ways to circumvent the camera’s when you think about it. Fake license plates, stolen cars, disabling the camera’s or simply making sure you bypass them by taking smaller roads.

So we end up with the public being watched at all time and crime at the same rates as it used to be. Big Brother is born one step at a time.

Photo by nolifebeforecoffee, cc-licensed

parasite's woody dubstep and breakcore mix

The guys and girls from Breakcore Gives Me Wood are infamous for their awesomely wicked breakcore parties they throw in our little Belgian country. For their 7th anniversary they threw another one which featured the artist Parasite from the UK among others. To promote the party they also put a promo mix online for free download.

Since we like that kind of stuff, I thought it would be neat to link to it here as well.

The mix itself isn’t as breakcory as you might expect even though it starts of with a nice Droon reference. Expect some kick ass and hard dubstep tracks for starters. Followed by some of the harder drum’n’bass tracks around, and of course some good breakcore jungle-ragga-amen-choppage and mash-up business. Good stuff, as usual. Enjoy and check out a Wood party if you can. You won’t regret it.

help stop the Belgian data retention rule

The European Union wants that internet traffic, phone calls and generally every form of electronic communication data (e.g. Skype) is logged and kept for 2 years. The logged data has to contain personal information to identify the user and location information such as time, date, place, length of the phone call/internet connection, the text/MMS/email-message itself.

The whole idea is to use this data to stop terrorism and crime but I don’t see how tracking the surfing behaviour or a few million innocent people is going to make it any easier in finding that needle in the haystack. Not only is this a huge invasion of each and every civilian’s privacy, it’s also going to cost a lot to set up. In the end it’s the customer of the ISP’s and phone companies that’s going to end up paying for this, as if Belgium isn’t already expensive enough when it comes down to that.

Having this information spread out of a few thousand databases is also prone to abuse or hacking. Think of what spammers could do with this kind of information, or even marketeers. They’d love to get their hands on that kind of information I’m sure.

So if you too feel like this should be put to and end, get over to bewaarjeprivacy.be and sign the petition.

we all need a pirate party

You’ve probably heard of them in the news. The Swedish Pirate Party is one that sprung from the Pirate Bay bittorrent search engine lawsuits and is a modern party which focused on issues concerning privacy and copyright which have changed considerably in the last decade due to the influence of the internet and modern technology. A while ago I heard that the Belgium government is trying to get a Big Brother bill (Dutch article) across to force ISP’s to keep records over a period of two years of all it’s customers internet usage. For one this is going to cost a shit-load which the consumer will end up paying one way or the other. We’re already one of the most costly European countries to have a broadband internet connection in without this measure, so this won’t help at all. Secondly this is also a huge infringement of our privacy. Europe suggest logs are kept somewhere in-between 6 months and 2 years. Funny that they are going for the maximum term on this. Why not take the short end and don’t bother ISP’s with the investment of keeping huge databases? The worst thing about this whole deal is the potential privacy infringements this could cause and for what? Huge databases sitting there to be exploited, hacked and sold on to the highest spammy bidder. I don’t like it a tiny bit.

So Belgium could use a Pirate Party to protect us from bills like this IMO.
Does your country have a Pirate Party?

Photo by country boy shane, cc-licensed

dour 2009

Yep. Been to the Dour festival again after a number of years and it turned out to rock just as hard as before. Instead of the long post I had been typing up earlier I’m gonna distile it down to a few points to sum up that sunday I spent there:

  • Peeing is free for all now at Dour. Some people still feel they should do their business against the walls but still, free peeing is great and keeps the mess to a minimum. Yay!
  • The food is good at Dour. Plenty of choice although those pizza’s where insanely expensive for festival standards. Didn’t get me one of those of course! Rip-off!
  • Bob Log III should not have ditched his great stage-act with the beer-titties and the girls on his knees. It made it so much more fun to watch. Now it’s just a one man blues band which bores after a few songs really.
  • De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig known how to party. These Dutch guys make me think of the Beastie Boys when it comes to their fun-making attitude on stage and music. Good fun.
  • Soldout is something I never heard of before but they are Belgian and rock with electro sounds. Why haven’t I heard this on the radio yet Studio Brussel?
  • Aphex Twin didn’t deliver IMHO. I came to get some Aphex acid but instead I got some mediocre techno set with some weird surround glitch effects. The last bit was good but that’s because it was Come To Daddy and almost the only of his own tracks he played. A pity. The visuals where quite good though, but I wanted more snare rushes and machines going all crazy and stuff.
  • Venetian Snares did deliver though. Got plenty of snare rushes, glitch, retrigger and hardcode gabber madness there. The whole place was jumping up and down during his set and he didn’t even have visuals. This is how I like my breakcore/idm/techno live sets. With lots of balls. Some guy was sleeping next to the PA setup on the floor though. How wasted must he have been? I wonder what kind of fucked up dreams he must’ve had with a VSnares soundtrack on them.
  • From a geek’s point of view this is the festival which integrates the most with cyberspace. Twitter, flickr, facebook, tags they have it all on the website. Nice.
  • It was fun. See you again next year!
    Well, if the programming is awesome again of course.

Photo by Kmeron, cc-licensed.

the broadband wars continue

Recently Telenet increased it’s bandwidth limits to 25 GB, instead of the previous 20, which came from only 10 GB last July. Now the competitors Scarlet and Tele2 are dropping their bandwidth limitation all together, and are opting for a Fair Use Policy to cover their telecom asses for abuse.

I can only be geekishly happy about this turn of events, as this means that slowly but surely Belgium is progressing towards a bandwidth limit free ISP country, which will put us up to par with the rest of the developed world. Judging from the price difference, new geeks signing up for phat cable will probably be choosing the ADSL solution from Scarlet, as it’s half the price of the Telenet and Belgacom solution, and without limitations. Awesome.

Photo by Double B Photography, cc-licensed