Hiking along the border

My last fews hikes where along the coast, but with the predicted hot weather and associated masses of people on the coast I was ready for a change of scenery, so I picked up the Grenslandpad along the border with Belgium. The weather turned out to be unseasonably hot, but with some wind blowing it was still very pleasant. Fortunately I only got a bit sunburned on my nose.

Patersmoer

I only took some pictures at the Patersmoer. The rest of the hike was enjoyable but there was nothing that caught my eye.

Published on 07/05/2006 at 09h38 by Hans de Graaff, tags

TV Turn Off Week

Well, last week it was, anyway. And at the time I did read the article on the generally wonderful creating passionate users blog. While I tend to agree with the general sentiment, it has always been hard to actually act on it, even though that is the only thing that matters. This weekend I ended up watching a lot of uninteresting TV just for the sake of it, and at the end of the weekend I didn’t feel so good, both mentally and physically. Maybe pointing to the TV as one of the causes it too easy, but it sure does feel good.

So, I’ve now started to be much more serious about not watching so much TV. I do enjoy watching the odd show that is engaging or interesting, such as Lost or The lost world of Friese-Greene</a. It’s all the stuff that comes before or after it that sucks up time, energy, and attention that would be otherwise well spent. We’ll see how it goes, but at least today is a good start.

Published on 01/05/2006 at 21h02 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Hiking along the coastal path

Finally had some time to go hiking again on the Dutch coastal path, this time from Haarlem to Santpoort through the dunes. A very nice area, although also very busy. In some of the higher parts the whine of car engines from the Zandvoort racetrack could be heard, and seeing the smoke stacks from Corus near IJmuiden also takes away some of the magic, but all in all a good hike. Didn’t take that many pictures because there were not so many specific things that were striking to me, and it became overcast quite quickly.

Published on 24/04/2006 at 07h51 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Dislocated shoulder

Just got back from what should have been a skiing trip. Instead I dislocated my shoulder after falling on the 2nd day of the week, with the first day being to windy to really ski. With my arm still in a sling typing is not too easy, but hopefully this will be remedied soon. In any case I still has a nice vacation, including a trip to the Olympics in Turin, but more about that when I’ve sorted the pictures.

Right now I’m studying the topic of dislocated shoulders, with a hospital appointment later this week. Obviously I’m collecting the sites on shoulders that I find on watvindenwijover.nl.

Published on 27/02/2006 at 10h45 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Garmin's Foretrex

For some time now I have a Garmin Foretrex 201 GPS unit, mainly to have some fun while hiking and to have fun afterwards looking at the tracks we made. After some nine months of usage it is time to make up the balance. All in all I’m really pleased with the Foretrex, apart from one not so minor problem. It just works and doesn’t get in the way.

The Foretrex is small and simple so it wears easily on the wrist. I’ve found this to be really useful for quick glances while hiking more difficult parts of a track, where it would be a pain to get out a unit from a pocket. The Foretrex doesn’t handle downloadable maps, but that was never an issue for me anyway, I’d rather get the smaller size unit and carry a real map in addition to it. It does have all the other things that make a GPS unit useful: waypoints, routes, and tracks. Most of the displays can be customized so that it is easy to show all relevant information in one go.

The one problem that I have with the Foretrex is that it started to behave strangely after some 6 months of use. The unit was turned on, and could not be turned off. It seemed as if the power button was permanently engaged. After turning the unit in under warranty it was not really fixed. Garmin had loaded new software on the device, and the problem was not so apparent anymore, but it had not gone away completely and got worse over time again. Interestingly, it then switched to not being able to load at all instead of being turned on all the time. The breaking point for me came when I was on a hiking trip and could not load the unit at all.

The Foretrex comes with a special clamp with connectors for serial and power. The clamp can be taken off so that there are no exposed areas on the Foretrex which makes it resistant to water. Opening up the clamp revealed the problem. As can be seen in the more detailed photo below, the power connector (on the right) has a small pin that inserts into the plug at one end. Because of this quite a bit of pressure can be put on it when the plug is not inserted exactly right. The other side of the pin, visible in the photo, is soldered onto the board, but that is not a very strong connection. Indeed, making sure that the pin-end connects to the board at the right place makes my unit load without any problems. Moving it around makes the earlier symptoms very easy to reproduce. Looks like a bit of faulty engineering to me, but at least I am now able to load the unit again.

Published on 12/02/2006 at 22h08 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Our first service in beta

Finally our first service is in public beta. Even though we only exist officially since January 1st, we have been working behind the scenes for a few months already. All that work has now resulted in our first service: Wat vinden wij over (sorry, the service is in Dutch only). It’s a social bookmarking meets light-weight blogging service that allows people in the Netherlands to do what they do best: quickly give an opinion about something.

The current service is a public version where notes can be seen by anyone, but we think that the service makes a lot of sense also in a situation where you want to share information specifically with some others, e.g others in your own company or project. A forthcoming release of the service will address these issues, providing one example of how we how we want to help business capitalize on web2.0 issues (in dutch).

If you speak Dutch then please feel free to browse around on Wat vinden wij over and sign up. Feedback is always appreciated!

Published on 27/01/2006 at 11h26 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Lack of blog posts

I haven’t posted much in the last few weeks. Part of that has to do with personal circumstances, and additionally we’ve been busy to get our company started. Since January 1st the three of us are sitting in the same office and the initial rush of getting things organized and settled now seems to be over. Today we even had time again for a strategic evaluation of our product roadmap and the next big things to work on. Good stuff!

Part of blogging less is also that our new product is sucking away blogging attention. As the product is progressing through the beta stages it is getting more and more useful, and I’m finding that it is much easier to jot down some of my quick thoughts there rather than writing it up as a blog entry. Hopefully other people will find it that useful as well. Tomorrow we expect to invite an additional set of beta users, and I expect that soon afterwards we will go public with the service. Let me know if you would like to be included in this batch of beta users, we still have room for some people.

Published on 19/01/2006 at 21h58 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen

Last Saturday I finally had time again to go hiking, and the weather certainly made it a treat. A nice sunny day with long shadows made for good hiking circumstances, which was evidenced by the many people that crossed my path, probably more than on any other hike so far. With a temperature of around freezing and a slight wind it was not too cold. Continuing the hike along the coast I walked from Haarlem to De Zilk through the Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen. Not too many spectacular pictures as the dunes are a bit bland-looking in winter with everything a faded yellow-brownish color.

Published on 19/01/2006 at 21h47 by Hans de Graaff, tags

A new company is born

Our new company is finally taking shape. We have settled on the name winkwaves, with a preliminary web site up and running to explain who we are and what we intend to do. It’s in Dutch only for now as we have not been able to spend much time on it. Expect a completely new site to emerge somewhere in January, featuring more interactivity as well. One fun fact about the name winkwaves is that currently it gets 0 hits in Google. Writing this entry will change that, I know, but it is nice to have such a clear recognition measurement at the start of the company.

Since this week I’m also back to working just one job which is a bit of a relief as it allows me to focus fully on winkwaves instead of juggling two allegiances. For now that means working at home, but starting in the new year we’ll be moving in to some temporary office space until our new office is ready in March.

Published on 21/12/2005 at 10h19 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Firefox toolbars: check

Thanks to the Captain’s universe howto it was not so difficult to create my own toolbar for Firefox. This is good news for the site I’m developing right now. Part of the design revolves around the ability to open a popup window related to the page you are viewing, and doing this with a javascript bookmarklet is more portable but also very difficult to get to work, due to all the overzealous popup blockers doing their business. With the toolbar these problems go away, and things work much more smoothly. Too bad it only works on Firefox, so there is still Safari and IE to explore.

Sorry, no links yet to the site or the toolbar, as all of this is still very much under development.

Published on 22/11/2005 at 23h14 by Hans de Graaff, tags

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