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Environment on Willem's Blog

Moving to the countryside

Leaving the big city for a small village

Nov. 1, 2022
Join me on a journey from the bustle of Amsterdam to the tranquility of Noord-Limburg's countryside.

This month marked "the big move": relocating my family from Amsterdam to Noord-Limburg's countryside. Motivated by my wife's longing for her roots and our desire for space, the timing felt right. As our oldest child neared four years and primary school, we considered embracing the countryside lifestyle. Would trading Amsterdam's bustle for a new pace be rewarding? Read on!

Commuter bike checkup

How is my commuter bike doing after 21.000KM?

Jan. 10, 2021
This week my trustworthy commuter bike started making strange squeaking noises when braking, time to have a look at the bike after 21.000KM!

This week my trustworthy commuter bike started making strange squeaking noises when braking. It has been just over three years since I started cycling on it. People frequently ask me how the bike is performing and how the Gates Carbon CDX belt drive is doing? Time to have a look at the bike after 21.000KM!

Repairing a Giro AEON bicycle helmet

How to replace the Roc Loc 5 system

July 9, 2020
Try fixing your Giro bicycle helmet? I went through some trouble to do it! Read along to find out how.

This month my trustworthy Giro Aeon bicycle helmet broke down! Normally I wouldn't hesitate to invest in safety and thus buying a new one. But I like the Aeon helmet so much that I went through some extra trouble to fix it. Read along to see how I did it.

Supernova E3 Pro 2 dynamo powered headlight

Replacing my bike's headlight

Nov. 26, 2019

Earlier this month my dynamo powered headlight on my commuter bike needed replacing. One of the electrical connectors broke of, likely caused by intense daily use. I searched for the best possible light, one that would be extremely durable and bright. I found the Supernova E3 PRO 2 and decided to install it on my bike.

Assembling a cargo bike

Setting up the Babboe Big cargo bike

June 25, 2019
How hard can it be to assemble a cargo bike? This posts shares my experience with assembling the Babboe Big cargo bike.

This month our Babboe Big cargo bike arrived, in boxes. The engineer in me thought it was a good idea to assemble the bike by hand. This way I would know exactly about all its parts and fittings, handy knowledge for maintenance. Read along for my experience and some practical tips.

Solo around the Markermeer (211KM)

Tips to prepare, to endure and to enjoy long distance cycling

May 29, 2019
This week I took my bike for a long distance (211)KM ride around the Dutch Markermeer, solo! Read along for practical tips for long distance cycling.

This week I took my bike for a long distance (211KM) ride around the Dutch Markermeer, solo! Unlike participating in an organised event with service, support and company along the way, going solo requires a different preparation, mindset and planning. Read along for some practical tips for long distance cycling.

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.

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iPads rejoice - perfectly snug on the passenger seat
iPads rejoice - perfectly snug on the passenger seat
That smile is not because of the fantastic Dutch weather... it's because of that rocket disguised as bike
That smile is not because of the fantastic Dutch weather... it's because of that rocket disguised as bike
Dude, where are my wheels?!
Dude, where are my wheels?!
Central touch screen - like an integrated iPad
Central touch screen - like an integrated iPad
Front frame and wooden box (still packed)
Front frame and wooden box (still packed)
Downtown Amsterdam, don't forget a lock!
Downtown Amsterdam, don't forget a lock!
The smartphone cradle is an interesting alternative to the integrated media screen
The smartphone cradle is an interesting alternative to the integrated media screen
Voila! Pulling the cable worked like charm
Voila! Pulling the cable worked like charm
The creek
The creek "De Groote Molenbeek" meanders through forests and countryside, a picturesque sight to behold, a typical scene for this region
The assembling kit comes with some tools
The assembling kit comes with some tools
"De Limburgers heten u welkom" - now I am one... or am I? :-) "Het is een kwestie van geduld" - resistance is futile! Ha!
Nicolas G. Hayek, 1999 at his desk in Biel (photo: swissinfo.ch)
Nicolas G. Hayek, 1999 at his desk in Biel (photo: swissinfo.ch)
Matte grey finish with black accents - young, serious, but still a lot of fun!
Matte grey finish with black accents - young, serious, but still a lot of fun!
Hard conditions for the Gates Carbon Drive
Hard conditions for the Gates Carbon Drive
The 1h45m express ride is my chance to transform into a high-speed businessman, cruising at a decently-fast 140KM/h in my mobile office
The 1h45m express ride is my chance to transform into a high-speed businessman, cruising at a decently-fast 140KM/h in my mobile office
Heated car seats, with luxurious stitching
Heated car seats, with luxurious stitching
Styling on the car is mature and full of customisation options, you can have the Smart look anyway you'd like
Styling on the car is mature and full of customisation options, you can have the Smart look anyway you'd like
Fietselfstedentocht 2018 - the ultimate endurance test for any bike - 235KM in one day
Fietselfstedentocht 2018 - the ultimate endurance test for any bike - 235KM in one day

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