willem.com blog

Removing paint from a bike frame

Uncover the aluminium with chemicals and sanding paper

June 9, 2018
Using dichloromethane and sanding paper I removed the paint from my bike frame to create a minimal, raw aluminium look.

There is beauty in raw, unfinished material that is often hidden with superfluous layers of paint. I like things to be true to the nature of the material. My bike was painted black - not bad - but I wondered what it really looked like from a material point of view.

Creating a minimal iPhone stand

Routing oak wood for a custom fit

June 2, 2018
Today I created a minimal iPhone stand from oak wood. I used a single piece of wood to get it done.

Today I created a minimal iPhone stand from oak wood. While it's much faster to buy one online, I wanted one to fit my phone horizontally, with its case on. I like minimal design, so I opted to machine a single piece of wood to get it done.

Listen to your body

Why I stopped using health and fitness sensors

May 17, 2018
Using health data gathered by sensors and wearables I learned to listen to my body. Now I have stopped using bluetooth sensors all together.

A good customer of mine was once a physiotherapist, he told me about people asking him to "feel their muscles" to tell them how they where doing. "Crazy!" he told me: "I can never feel better than the people themselves, if they only would listen to their body". This caused me to question the health and fitness sensors I use.

Lunch by plane

Flying from Hilversum to Texel in a Tecnam P2002JF

May 9, 2018
This week I went out for lunch by plane from Hilversum to Texel with a good buddy of mine.

This week I was invited to fly along over the Netherlands in a small aircraft, from Hilversum to Texel. A good buddy of mine is a pilot and planned to fly to the Texel island for lunch (and good fun!). The weather was excellent, so packed with my photo camera, I didn't hesitate for a moment to join him for lunch!

Off the grid: Working on 100% renewable energy

Collecting, storing and using solar electricity to power my phone, computer and wearables

Apr. 30, 2018
Learning from powering my personal devices using nothing but self generated electricity using a solar panel and power banks.

For the past 10 days I have powered my personal electronic devices (phone, computer, wearables) using nothing but energy collected using a small solar panel. I disconnected all grid-connected chargers. I hoped that by going off the grid, even in such a small way, I would gain insights that enable me to save energy (and money).

Outside the comfort zone: amateur acting

Wearing an heart rate monitor during my debut performance

Apr. 18, 2018
This month I strapped myself with sensors during a little experiment outside my comfort zone: I debuted as amateur actor!

This month I made my debut as amateur actor. I am no Hollywood star, nor do I envy to become one. But I do like crazy experiments and operating outside of my comfort zone often leads to new and refreshing insights. I took part in an amateur drama play and - in the name of science and fun - strapped myself with sensors to measure what happened to my body.

Cyber security: 5 easy tips to protect your server against hackers

Server hardening best practices for Windows and Linux

Mar. 10, 2018
These 5 practical cyber security measures will improve the safety of server, website and data.

This week one of my clients was hacked and asked me for emergency assistance to help secure their server infrastructure. It was a web server that ran WordPress websites on Apache (with PHP/MySQL), including a few webshops with customer data. This hack could easily have been prevented with the following best practices, is your server secure?

Tablet as main computer

Comparing the Microsoft Surface Pro to iPad Pro

Mar. 7, 2018
I have been using a tablet as my main computer for quite some time now. In this blog post I share you my experience on using Surface Pro and iPad Pro to get my work done.

For the past few weeks I have been using the Microsoft Surface Pro as my main computer. It's a modern tablet computer that can be used as laptop with the type cover. With the Surface Pen, it's a versatile PC that works in a lot of different ways. Time to find out if it's any good and how it compares to my other tablet computer, iPad Pro.

Creating the ultimate commuter bike

Riding at 35KM/h with Nexus Alfine 8 and Gates Carbon Drive

Feb. 24, 2018
Creating the ultimate commuter bike by upgrading the Sensa Cintura belt drive bike.

This winter I use a Sensa Cintura bike with a Gates Carbon belt drive as my daily commuter. It's a bike designed to be nice to ride thanks to its sporty lightweight frame. It's also meant to be low on maintenance thanks to the belt drive and Nexus Afline 8 integrated gear hub. After 1800KM in just eight weeks, it was time for some upgrades.

Updating Snake '97

About the challenges of developing a wildly popular game

Feb. 21, 2018
This month I bit the bullet big time: I redesigned the game engine of the wildly popular Snake '97 game. Read about the design challenges in this blog post.

Few years ago my brother threw a beer on my iPhone in an Amsterdam bar. The poor thing didn't like the Dutch brew as much as I do: it died. While waiting for a new phone to arrive, I used an old one that couldn't do anything but texting, calling and... Snake! The idea for Snake '97 was born and this month it was time to update the wildly popular game.

Something the smartwatch will never have: patina

Wear and tear by the hands of time

Jan. 21, 2018
Patina is often neglected when comparing smartwatches with regular watches.

A good friend of mine had an issue with his Apple Watch, the digital crown lost a rubber ring causing the watch to lose its water resistance. Apple made no problem of it and offered to replace his "device". While it solved his problem, it felt painful to my watch lover's ears. It made me realise the one thing a smartwatch will never have: patina.

Lessons from a takeaway plastic bag

My ever increasing antipathy to planned obsolescence

Jan. 8, 2018
How we're tricked into repeated purchases replacing perfectly fine products just for the sake of change.

About five months ago I got some take away food from our local Asian restaurant. They packaged the food and gave me a plastic bag to carry it home. On my way home I was thinking about the bag. Although it has some nice styling printed on it, it's designed for single use only. What a waste... making me wonder: how long would it last if you would use it on a daily basis?

Commuting by bike

One week (240KM) on the VanMoof Electrified S

Dec. 2, 2017
One week on the VanMoof Electrified S E-bike testing it for commuting and comparing it to a normal bike.

For a few years now, I commute to work using a bicycle. I have lost more than 15KG since I stopped using my scooter. This week I tested a VanMoof Electrified S, an electric bike with an industrial, minimal design. Is it any good? How does it compare to a normal bike? Will an electric bike make you lazy? Read along to find out!

Collecting health data with Biostrap

Wearing a clinical-grade photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor for a month

Nov. 15, 2017
Wearing a clinical-grade PPG sensor for a month to collect advanced biometrics from my wrist.

Most wearables (smartwatches, fitness trackers, etc.) use very basic sensors to capture heart rate. Their signal is binary: just counting beats. Biostrap is different, instead of just checking pulses, it captures a high-fidelity PPG waveform. These waveforms are the same kind that doctors use, making me wonder what I could learn from them!

From tree to table

Designing and creating a night stand

Oct. 23, 2017
Creating a night stand from a raw slab of chestnut wood.

Right next to the house were I was born there was this chestnut tree, sadly it died one and a half year ago. When it was taken down, my brother saved me a slab of wood. I intended to create something from it, a nice "do it yourself" adventure, worthy of a blog post!

Saving a MacBook Air with exploded battery

Don’t try this at home - but I did

Sep. 14, 2017
Saving a MacBook Air with a swollen battery pack.

Last night I had a nasty surprise: my original MacBook Air was swollen due to an exploded battery. I immediately had to take action, for reasons of safety and to preserve this piece of modern computer history. Don’t try this at home, but if you do... read along for some practical tips.

Climbing Mount Etna

Visiting an active volcano on Sicily, Italy

Sep. 2, 2017
Climbing Mount Etna, an active volcano on Sicily Italy.

Last week me and my wife went to Sicily for a little summer holiday. It is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is an autonomous region of Italy, along with surrounding minor islands. It's home to Europe's largest active volcano: Mount Etna. We had a chance to visit this lava spurring monstrosity and it was quite the experience.

Clouds below my floor

Building a little datacenter in my basement

Aug. 31, 2017
Building a little datacenter in my basement utilising a very fast internet connection.

At my home I have this crazy fast optical internet connection. It is a 600MB up and down fibre connection which directly arrives in my home (no copper cables involved). It's like a private internet highway. Reason enough to find out if I could do something to make better use of all this speedy fiber galore...

The day I killed my LAN

Turned off my local network and went 4G only

July 31, 2017
I killed my office LAN and went 4G only. Saves a lot of clutter, energy and money.

Today I called my provider to quit my office's ADSL internet subscription, I don't need it anymore. I have turned off my local area network and switched my workflow onto mobile internet only. The simplicity and savings actually surprised me so much, that I made blog post for it.

Fietselfstedentocht 2017

Cycling the 235KM bicycle tour through Friesland

June 30, 2017
Cycling the 235KM long Fietselfstedentocht through Friesland

This month I cycled the Fietselfstedentocht, a 235KM tour through Friesland. This tour brings you through various Frisian cities throughout one of the most Northern provinces of the Netherlands. The tour was first organised in 1912 and has grown to become legendary due to its history, challenge and popularity; well worthy of a blog post!

Beast of the Green Hell

Driving the Mercedes-AMG GT R

May 31, 2017
Blog post about an amazing AMG Circuit day at the race track of Zolder, Belgium.

This month I received an invitation to join Mercedes at the Zolder circuit in Belgium to drive in "the beast". The Mercedes-AMG GT R, a furious green coloured performance car that gets its nickname from the Nürburgring where it was developed. It was an incredible experience, well worth a blog post!

Smartwatches vs Mechanical watches

Why I still wear mechanical and why smartwatches have potential

Apr. 30, 2017
Why I still wear a mechanical watch and why smartwatches have potential.

Technology has come a long way since the first computer. Smartwatches today are very much an achievement of miniaturisation of technology. I recently used an Apple Watch Series 2 to find out if technology has come far enough to replace my mechanical watch, today I share you my findings.

Repairing a Nintendo Gameboy Advance SP

Chip surgery to play classic Zelda

Mar. 26, 2017
Reparing an old Nintendo Gameboy Advance to play classic Zelda again.

This month Nintendo released the Switch with Zelda "Breath of the Wild". The new console received positive reviews. The new Zelda game is amazing and can be played on-the-go, thanks to the portability of the Nintendo Switch. But it its hardly the first Nintendo device that features the mythical kingdom of Hyrule with Link and princess Zelda. I found an old Gameboy Advance, perfect for playing classic Zelda games... but it was in need for repair!

Programming on Apple Watch

Serious about crazy experiments

Feb. 16, 2017
Programming with VIM over SSH on Apple Watch using a bluetooth keyboard

Over the past years I have been no stranger to crazy experiments, but this time I really wanted to push it into the extreme: programming on an Apple Watch. Would it be possible to actually write code on such a tiny device? Why even bother? This post is about the case for crazy experiments, and why you should try too!

iPad Pro next to my primary machine

Using it with Apple Pencil as a creative powerhouse

Jan. 30, 2017
Using iPad Pro with Apple Pencil next to my computer to form a create powerhouse

I wanted see if I can find something better than my old fashioned pencil and paper that I use for designing software as professional developer. I knew iPad Pro from my test last summer, figuring out if it could replace my primary development machine. While it may not be able to completely replace my thrustworthy ThinkPad, it turned out to be a totally different story when it comes to paper.

One year of cycling

GPS recording an entire year of bike rides using Garmin and Strava

Dec. 31, 2016
GPS recording an entire year of bike rides using Garmin and Strava.

One year ago I started recording all my bike rides, including commutes, short grocery trips and long Gran Fondos. I equipped my bicycles with Garmin Edge computers that recorded location (GPS), speed, cadence and my heart rate. I covered more than 7683 kilometers during 320 hours of riding. It's time to review all the data and share some photos I took along the ride!

Being a volunteer in Amsterdam-Zuidoost

Computer support in the local community center

Nov. 21, 2016
About my work as volunteer in the local community center in Amsterdam Zuidoost

After realising how lucky I am as an healthy, well educated, young man with a solid income, I wanted to do something for other people as volunteer. It just so happens to be that two years ago I received a flyer in my mailbox from the local community center: they were looking for someone with some knowledge of computers. A very interesting journey was about to begin!

Harvesting boredom to let creativity flourish

using the Punkt MP01 dumb phone

Oct. 1, 2016
What does it mean for my state of mind and creativity if I am no longer be constantly connected to the Internet using a smartphone.

Smartphones are everywhere in the modern society we live in today. Through our 4G and WiFi connections the internet is just one tap away. In fact, it is so close that it feels like a natural extension. But is this wealth of information all good or does it have a downside too? It seems like an interesting experiment to go app-less for a while and solely use a dumb phone.

Batavus Champion bike from 1978

restoring retro glory with some help from the Internet

Sep. 3, 2016
Restore the retro glory of an old bike from the 70s using the internet.

Almost a year ago I bought an old steel racing bike from 1978. I wanted to figure out if using a bike to commute worked for me. It did! I used it to ride more than 1000KM before I decided to get a modern road bike. Now, almost a year later, I decided to put the powers of the internet into good use: to bring the bike back to its retro glory!

iPad Pro as primary computer

testing iOS as primairy development platform

Aug. 15, 2016
Is the time right to use an iPad as primary development platform to get some real work done?

The lack of physical clutter, distracting branding, or blinking LED's makes the iPad Pro a textbook example of minimal design. My despiction of distraction explains my interest in using the iPad Pro as only computer to test if it is up to the task. Is Apple's latest effort on iOS enough to enable it to do serious development work?

Cash is king, or is it?

The wallet- and cash-less experiment

July 15, 2016
Is the time right to ditch the wallet?

Very often I see men carry a wallet filled with plastic: multiple debit and credit cards plus a bunch of loyalty programs and membership cards. Then, some even top it off with stinky paper money and sticky metal coins! It made me wonder if I can free up one pocket by ditching the wallet?

Building the blog... in style!

Developing on a 20-year old computer with 16MB RAM and Windows 98

June 23, 2016
Find out if it is possible to turn a computer from the 90s into a modern development machine.

One must be a bit crazy to come up with the idea to build a blog (as in: actual programming) on an old 486 laptop with just 16MB RAM. I happen to be that crazy: I took my very first laptop from the 90s and decided to find out if it was possible to turn it into a development machine.