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Environment on Willem's Blog

One year on the ultimate commuter bike

6000KM in 12 months with Gates CDN/CDX and Shimano Alfine

Feb. 27, 2019
Answering questions from one of the most popular posts of last year, I am reviewing my commuter bike after one year of extensive use through winter and summer.

A year ago I tried to create the ultimate commuter bike, a modified Sensa Cintura with the Gates CDN/CDX carbon belt drive. I received lots of messages from cyclists and commuters from all over the world. From the Swiss alps, France, Italy, Germany, United States and even "down under", Australia! You all wanted to know: how does the upgraded bike hold up?

Around town in an electric car

Driving the Smart Electric Drive (EQ fortwo)

Nov. 16, 2018
For one week I drove the electric Smart EQ fortwo in and around town. I found out what it's like to drive electrically: fun!

Earlier this month I drove around town for a week in an electric vehicle, a brand new Smart Electric Drive (EQ fortwo). I used it to commute, for my daily groceries and to visit family, friends and customers. What's it like to drive a fully electric car on a daily basis?

Space travelling from El Teide

Visiting Tenerife's volcano at the Canary Islands

Aug. 21, 2018
On Tenerife you'll find Teide, the world's second highest volcano with extra terestial views and a perfect altitude for stargazing.

This summer holiday brought me to Tenerife, part of the Canary Islands, Spain. It's a popular destination because of the climate, but it's also the home of Teide, the world's second highest volcano (7500 m, measured from the sea floor). The incredible views reach way beyond earth, into outer space, the Milky Way and other distant galaxies.

Helping people with free software

Installing Debian GNU/Linux on an old laptop

July 20, 2018
This week I helped a man with repairing and reinstalling his computer with Debian GNU/Linux.

This week a man brought his laptop to the community centre where I help people with computer problems as volunteer. The old laptop wouldn't start anymore and had to be reinstalled. Instead of Windows, I installed a free operating system. I think it is important to tell you how and why I did it.

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).

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!

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!

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.

All blog posts
Testing the design concept
Testing the design concept
Multitool sawing
Multitool sawing
Solar panel fixed on the balcony
Solar panel fixed on the balcony
ThinkPad X200 running Debian GNU/Linux with OpenBox.
ThinkPad X200 running Debian GNU/Linux with OpenBox.
Central touch screen - like an integrated iPad
Central touch screen - like an integrated iPad
These craters are the result of explosive magma eruptions
These craters are the result of explosive magma eruptions
Boot device not found - that's not good
Boot device not found - that's not good
Lock chain inside a small luggage compartment
Lock chain inside a small luggage compartment
Make sure to wear a helmet when you try to master the slippery roads during winter!
Make sure to wear a helmet when you try to master the slippery roads during winter!
The Las Cañadas caldera on top of Teide, as seen from the International Space Station (public domain)
The Las Cañadas caldera on top of Teide, as seen from the International Space Station (public domain)
Normal (non-electrified) vs Electrified bike
Normal (non-electrified) vs Electrified bike
GNU/Linux distributions
GNU/Linux distributions
Dutch bike, Dutch weather: The Electrified S handles the dark, cold and wet conditions easily!
Dutch bike, Dutch weather: The Electrified S handles the dark, cold and wet conditions easily!
Laptop as it arrived at the community center
Laptop as it arrived at the community center
Two pieces on bench, painted.
Two pieces on bench, painted.
The laptop is working again, this time thanks to (mostly) free software
The laptop is working again, this time thanks to (mostly) free software
Gates CDN front sprocket and CDN belt are in good shape after 7800KM (they are original to my bike, which is about 14 months old)
Gates CDN front sprocket and CDN belt are in good shape after 7800KM (they are original to my bike, which is about 14 months old)
The higher you get the rougher the terrain becomes
The higher you get the rougher the terrain becomes

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