29/05/2012

About English and such…

by Rob on

This weekend I got a mail from someone living in the UK. He wrote that he liked my blog, but made a remark about the grammar and spelling errors in my English…

Uhmm… yes, true. My English is way from perfect. But the reason that I have chosen to do this blog in English is because I have quite some friends from abroad who cannot read or understand Dutch. My old blog was in Dutch and these friends said more than once that they thought it was a pity that they could not read the articles on my old blog.

In 2007 I moved to this blog and with that I made the decision to move to the English language so more people, including my friends from abroad, could read my blog…. but yes, that means most likely grammar and spelling mistakes.

When I explained this to person who wrote that mail, I got very fast a reply. He wrote that it was not meant as an attack or negative criticism. After all, as he wrote, he only knew one language…

So forgive me the grammar and spelling errors….


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The weather was today very nice, so I decided to make a nice trip on my bicycle This way I could test right away the new GPS-tracker (for my camera) that I got from Marion.

It was a nice long trip that made me use 3 ferries. The first one to cross the “Noord-Holland kanaal” to get in the direction of the harbor of Amsterdam. I can see the cranes of the harbor on the horizon when I am standing on my balcony of my apartment.

The second time to cross the side cannel C (of the “Noord-Holland kanaal”). This to get in the direction of IJmuiden. This ferry is a very small one, specially for bicycles. It came specially from the other side to pick me up (and that for just 1 Euro).

The last one was at IJmuiden to get to the right side of the “Noord-Holland kanaal” again, so I could travel home.

I think the complete trip with all the d-tours must have been at least 45 kilometers, mostly likely even a bit more. Although I could feel my behind after all that time on the bicycle, I enjoyed it very much.
Somehow I was convinced that I had already enough sun this year to have a sunburn. I was wrong, my arms and face have a nice red color. But luckily not too serious.

And my new GPS tracker? It did a wonderful job. Maybe a small explanation how this all works. In a picture made with a digital camera is all kind information stored like when the picture was made, what kind of camera was used, all kind of settings of the camera. This is the so called EXIF-data. Lets have a look at the picture below of “De Stenen Paal” nearby Heemskerk….

If I would have a look the properties of the pictures, I can see the EXIF-data of that picture:

Well, when you have a GPS-tracker on your camera, simply said it queries a satellite for the exact location on the moment you take a picture and add this directly to the EXIF-data of your picture (it sounds so simple, but such a GPS-tracker is really a piece of high level technology)…

As I like to know where a picture was taken, this is very handy for me. I have many (older) pictures where I have no clue of where it was taken. And that is a pity.

So no more doing difficult things with maps for me. I just look at the EXIF-data of the picture and I know exactly where the picture was taken.

To make things even easier there are a lot of programs and websites that can read the GPS-data from the EXIF-data and do fun/useful things with it. Think of Flickr, Gallery (with a plugin), ViewNX2, Google Maps/Earth and many more. An example is that Flickr can add a nice map to your picture:

So for me this GPS tracker is a very useful addition to my photo-gear that will safe me a lot of time which I lost which manually trying to find the location a picture was taken. So I am very happy with this gift from Marion… Thanks dear!


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Hortus Botanicus

by Rob on

Yesterday afternoon Marion and I have been to the Hortus Botanicus in the city of Amsterdam.

It is for me the second time I have been there. I have been there about two years ago (while I was still renting a room in Amsterdam) during the winter. For Marion also has been there before, but for her it was much longer ago. She was still a girl and was still living with her parents.

The Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam is one of the oldest in the world. It was founded in 1638 as a Hortus Medicus to learn doctors and pharmacists in use of herbs as medicines. And although the Hortus Botanicus is only 1.2 hectare big, there are 4000 species of plants from all parts of the world.
There are all kind of plants to see like medical herbs, carnivorous plants, ‘cycadeeën’ [Dutch: palmvarens], trees and more. The oldest plant in the Hortus is the 300 year ‘Encephalartos altensteinii’ [Dutch: Oostkaapse Broodboom] that was bought from King Willem II in 1850.

On the picture above the ‘Encephalartos altensteinii’ [Dutch: Oostkaapse Broodboom] can been seen. But this is not the 300 year old one, but the 200 year old female counterpart.

There are a number of greenhouses to create the best biotope for the different kind of plants. But because of the warm mirco-climate of the innerpart of Amsterdam many of subtropical plants can grow outside.

The weather was nice yesterday, so it was a pleasure to walk through the garden. Although some of the greenhouses where very warm and caused at first a problem for my camera (condensation on the glass of the lens, but after letting the camera adjust to the temperature and humidity that was solved.

Marion was right when she said that it was very peaceful there, even when it was rather busy. Just like me, she enjoyed walking relaxed through the gardens of the Hortus. The many colors and scents made it really enjoyable. She made me even a nice compliment by telling that, even with my new camera, that I was not only focused on making pictures and that I was very aware that she was there as well.

On the picture below the ‘Strelizia reginea Aiton’ [Dutch: Paradijsvogelbloem], which might be the most famous flower from South Africa.

Of course we sat down at the “Oranjerie”, the restaurant of the Hortus, to drink and to eat something. The menu they have there is rather limited, but what is on it is very good. All they serve is based on biological products. Marion did go for a salad and I sandwich with prawn-croquette. It tasted very well and the ice-tea was refreshing. One thing I really liked was the sign telling that use to make calls with a cellphone was not allowed. As people may know, I love my iPhone, but people must learn that it very easy to switch it off and that it is not bad to be for an half hour not reachable.
The building of the “Oranjerie” is impressive, large and lots of space. It was built in 1875.

I didn’t get the name of the plant in the picture below, but I loved how the butterfly was sitting on the flower. And yes, the butterfly was indeed upside down.

It was a well spend day that we both enjoyed a lot. Maybe it is an idea to visit it in the autumn again and see what all have changed. Below some more of the pictures I made yesterday.

Below the ‘Wisteria sinensis (Simns) Sweet’ [Dutch: Blauwe Regen] that grows all to the top of one of the buildings and gives quite a sight with all its blue flowers. It was planted in 1915 and is still very healthy:

I couldn’t find the name of the flower below (it was in one of the green houses), but I liked the bright color and I was amazed by its weird shape:

A view in one of the greenhouses at the Hortus:

Another plant I don’t have the name of, but I do remember that these grow on the branches of other plants and trees:

This blooming cactus is the ‘Mammillaria spinosissima Lem.’, which finds its origin in Mexico:

As soon I have time I process all the good pictures I made yester and I will place them on my photo-site and on my Flickr-site as well.


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Dinner talk…

by Rob on

Yesterday I made a simple, but very nice dinner for Mairon and me…

A nice big steak (medium done) with some mushroom, snow peas/carrots and Pommes Parisiennes with peel. It tasted wonderful! But during dinner I brought a subject up that I have pondered about lately.

I love to work on my blog. It some kind of public dairy to me. It is very nice to look back on what happened in the last years. And that is really a lot. Good and bad things!
I started this blog in 2007. Wow, that is almost 5 years already! And to be precise, before this I blogged for some time at web-log.nl. But hosting a blog yourself gives you much more control and possibilities.

Anyway, back in 2007 I was still busy with getting my life in the right direction again. And yes, at that time some very big and important steps were already made successfully. So hence the name of blog “Life is there to life again…”.
But concerning getting my life on the right track again, I can only say one thing: Mission accomplished!

Many good things happened: Marion stepped into my life and brought a lot of happiness along with her… I know some great people that I am proud of to call friends… I have a nice job and the people I work directly with are good people to have around… I bought a nice apartment in Heemskerk… Have nice hobbies as photography… and many things more. Sure, sad things as the passing away from my mother happened also. But yes, life is very positive to me!
Sure, Life is still there to be lived again… but it feels a little as a passed station. So maybe it is time to give my blog a new name that reflects better the current situation.

So I am looking for a new name for my blog. I already thought of “I code, so I am…” reflecting the work I do, but somehow it doesn’t feel really good to me. I agree with Marion that I only should change the name if I am 100% sure about it.

So if you have any serious suggestions, please let me know :)


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People who know me little, know that I really like that the Dutch comics of “Suske & Wiske”. I have very nice collection of them, but not all yet.

When I see one of their comics that I haven’t got yet, I have a hard time not to buy it. So yesterday after work I was doing my groceries when I notice a new story of them…

This is already comic 317 in their series. And yes, I bought it! Although I have to say that these comics are not really cheap anymore, but for me it is well spend money.

The story is about an unsuccessful architect who want to become famous and he gets for this help from the devil. But the architect tries to trick the devil and lets Lambik sign the blood-contract. Lambik disappears. It turns out that Lambik has suddenly a very weird house outside of the town. Our friends go to have a look there and find many strange things. Lambik is under control of a dark force….

The story is nice again and fun to read. And my collection of Suske & Wiske books has grown again :-)


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Yesterday Marion and I have visited the town of Wijk aan Zee, which is not really far away from Heemskerk. But it is a very nice area to wander around. And of course I took my new camera along.

Lets talk first a bit about photography. Not interested or have no clue what it is about? Just skip it :-).

With my new camera I have over-thought they way things I have done and which tools I have used.
For my normal photo-editing I will stick to The Gimp. Some will claim PhotoShop is better. Maybe, but I am not going to pay over €1000 for a software package. And yes, as software developer I have an issue with illegal software. Specially when there are good alternatives available. The Gimp is such an alternative. It can do anything one may need for normal photo processing.
For the RAW-conversion I always used UFRAW, an open source package. Really a great working application, but there were some bugs in it (specially in the Windows version) that are now untouched for years. So I have looked around for other RAW converters. Currently I am looking at ViewNX2, a free application of Nikon. As someone said once: “Who will better understand Nikon RAW-files as Nikon themselves”. I believe that is correct.
ViewNX2 does its work good, but it has some nuisances I have to deal with. But it will do for now. I have to alter the workflow I am used to, but that is not a problem (I think). The finishing touch will be done in The Gimp anyway.

Anyway… Wijk aan Zee!

Someone told me a while ago that the dune-area north of Wijk aan Zee was beautiful and great to make long walks. And yes, it is indeed a wonderful place. And very silent, which I like. In the walk of at least 3 hours we made there we saw one person walking a dog (very in the beginning) and a jogger later on.

From the dunes we walked towards the beach. The idea was to walk over the beach towards the town of Wijk aan Zee again. There I had the opportunity to play around with my camera again. The sea is always a wonderful subject for pictures. It always changes and never is the same. Yesterday the weather was a bit “gray” and so the sea looked more “gray” yesterday. Over the two years that I am living now in Heemskerk, I made so many pictures of the sea. And yet, the atmosphere of those pictures are never the same.

Here some of the pictures that I made yesterday…

Over beach we walked to “Het Strandhuis”. Marion and I have been before to this restaurant. It is located directly to the beach. And from the terrace you have a very clear view on the sea. On the terrace we sat yesterday and enjoyed these great views of the sea.
We already knew from the last time that we visited “Het Strandhuis” that the kitchen is very good. And they proofed that this time again. The burrito’s we had were great. Spicy, but not too spicy.

A wonderful spent afternoon again!


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As said, here the first entry in the journal of the replaying “Ultima Ascension (also known as “Ultima IX”)”.

The adventure begins here on earth, in the house of our nameless hero. Nameless? Yes, unlike the older Ultima games, you cannot name your character. He will be referred to as “Avatar” (in the older games he was also called “The Stranger”).

Our hero is called by a mysterious voice that tells him that Britannia and Lord British need hem for his final task.

In the house of our hero you learn how to move around. How to pick up items. His first task is to collect a number of items that he will needs when he travels to Britannia. The items he needs are a tool-belt (for fast access to things as spells and potions), a back pack (for storing items), a compass, a journal (to make notes in, but also contains information about the world of Britannia. And you need the journal for action as saving and loading of the game), a gate key (to enter the park near the house) and some food from the kitchen.

All throughout the house (and later in the rest of the game as well) you can find books that you can read by clicking on them. The contains of these books may differ from fatal information to finish a quest to a nice story or just a joke.
So it is important to read these books.

Well, our hero is ready to leave the house…

Outside the house there is a practicing area where our hero can learn how to handle sword and a bow. It is very important to understand this well, because you really going to need in Britannia!. There are some crates around the corner of the house that you can crash with your sword. One of the boxes contains some money… and yes, you will need money in Britannia.

After practicing enough, you will find that the only way to leave the area is through the gate to the park. For this gate you need the key that you took along from the house.

Beware! In the park there aggressive beasts as rats and wolfs. They will attack on sight, so defend yourself. Walk around the park and kill all these aggressive beasts. It is also possible in the park to train your swim, climb and jump skills.

Then finally make your way to the Gypsy which have mostly already seen while walking through the park.

The Gypsy tells that Britannia awaits the Avatar. He will never return to earth, nor to Britannia. She leaves the why and how unclear.

The Gypsy will read the cards and by 7 questions based on the Virtues it will be determined how the Avatar will walks the roads of Britannia. It shows that the Avatar favors the Virtue of Compassion. So he will travel through Britannia as a bard.

When leaving the gypsy the gate that will bring the Avatar to Britannia is open. And the Avatar walks towards it to begin his journey.

But as the Avatar gets close to get gate, a gazer comes through and attacks the Avatar. Luckily is the gazer is a magical creature and therefore his powers on earth weakened. The gazer is easily defeated, but this must mean that the Guardian, the source of all evil in Britannia, must be aware that the Avatar is coming to Britannia…

Nothing can stop the Avatar anymore from entering Britannia….

To be continued!


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