The Quiet Musings

Content Denied

- April 17th, 2017 -

Losing my hearing has made me more aware of how inaccessible the world we live in is. From train announcement only being called out instead of also being displayed on screens, to movies without subtitles and YouTube auto captions still sucking in 2017. Humans have a hard time being inclusive of everyone. The world is built for hearing, seeing, talking and full mobility only. Let me not even start about people who avoid me because I’m deaf. Either because they don’t want to deal with adjusted communication or they just don’t know how to deal and don’t ask me for whatever reason.

More than 10 years ago weblogs and articles were the main source of content on the internet. I missed nothing. Back then I was severely hard of hearing but thanks to so many written content I taught myself HTML, CSS, PHP and mySQL with no pain. I could read the latest TV show review or spoiler, breaking news, regular news, it was all written.

But as the years progressed, smartphones and tablets became mainstream. Everyone in the western (privileged) world is online 24/7. Which means our attention span have become less and less while the content available keeps growing everyday. People stopped writing and started making vlogs, videos and podcasts. I stopped following several weblogs and websites because most of their content is now only available in audio.

Humans have a hard time being inclusive of everyone. The world is built for hearing, seeing, talking and full mobility only.

Gone are the days that you could find lots of written content to learn the latest in (in my case) web development. It’s mostly video now a days with a few select developers who still write amazing content to learn from. Fortunately several videos have subtitles or transcripts. But as a deaf person, for me the best way is written content. With video’s you have to split focus on screen and text while trying to grasp and learn the material. You can imagine that with coding it is a bit harder than lets say a cooking instruction video.

Podcast and vlogging are so common now a days that even book reviews (book reviews!) aren’t written anymore but now you have booktube. I used to have a bookmarks folder full of book reviews weblogs. Most of those sites are dormant now.
Somehow I cannot compute why, why people who love reading, who love the written word. Only review those written words in video. Videos without subtitles.

People meaning well keep telling me that YouTube has auto caption. There is no eloquent way to put this. YouTube auto caption sucks. For being a Google product, a company that has whole departments full with engineers for each product. They still haven’t gotten speech to text even decently right. It’s easy to try for yourself. Mute the sound, turn on auto caption and use YouTube like that for a couple of days. Also, notice how happy you’ll be when the channel offers original subtitles for their videos.

I am glad that a group of front-end coders are now investing in inclusive design. Making websites accessible for everyone. It’s not easy. Not only do you have to work more precise and educate yourself about all kinds of people who use the internet. You have to educate the people providing content for the website you painstakingly coded to be usable for everyone.

It is an uphill battle, while a growing group of front-end coders are doing the good work. A giant like Facebook keeps pushing for video content as main content while doing nothing about captions or audio description. Netflix is leading by starting to add audio description and everything is subtitled. Although not in English.
Another misconception. Just because I live in The Netherlands does not mean I want subtitles in Dutch. I want them in English, especially if I’m watching a movie spoken in English.

There are many more examples of this imbalance. Technology keeps advancing but only a little is being done for inclusivity. Think about the new era of smart home, Amazon echo, etc. It’s mostly audio interface. What about we perfect speech to text and vice versa before we exclude even more people from daily experiences?

Obviously I am writing this from my personal deaf experience. But it counts for everyone. Improving inclusivity needs to be done and established as a standard on which we build everything. So far, this seems like a pipe dream.

Meanwhile I’m going to start a curated collection of podcasts, vlogs and YouTube channels that have transcripts or subtitles. It doesn’t have to be about web development only. A podcast about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a vlog about pens and notebooks, a YouTube channel about the greatness of avocados. You get the gist.

Send your suggestions at and I’ll add it to my links page.

Gilmore Girls, the revival

- November 27th, 2016 -

Photo of Lorelai and Rory in winter Stars Hollow

I am not a hardcore Gilmore Girls fan. I can’t even remember which year I started watching Gilmore Girls and I certainly can’t quote from the show like I still do with Friends 12 years after the finale.

The only shows that stayed with me long after they wrapped up are Friends and Frasier. Friends carried me through my college years, first time away from home living in student housing. And later when I got sick, Friends helped me keep my cool. Later on Frasier joined late night when I was lying in the hospital after my kidney transplant. Since then I always put one or the other to watch when I need some distraction or nostalgic comfy feelings.

I did like Gilmore Girls enough and after having seen it more than twice, I was excited for the revival. The last revival I was into was the Veronica Mars movie. I even supported the crowd funding for the movie. The movie was followed by two books that continued the story. I’m hoping the Gilmore Girls creators will also release a book.

The Gilmore Girls revival is going to be the revival to beat. 9 years later they managed to recreate the whole Gilmore Girls world like it never went away. They got all the cast back, although some in lesser capacity due to other obligations, age and health. Richard Gilmore absence left a gapping hole which they handled magnificently. The pain from his death crossed from non-fiction into fiction, making up for some of the best scenes in the entire of the series.

The way all actors resumed their characters to a T shows true talent. Simply amazing. Gilmore Girls cast shows that when you get actors that care for their show you deliver the best show to your fans. Veronica Mars was the same. The deep appreciation for their fans.

 

Why on Earth aren’t you on Xanax? It was invented for you.Michel Gerard to Lorelai Gilmore, A Year in the Life

 

Story and plot wise Gilmore Girls has some controversy which I believe to be the result of fans having too many expectations about how the revival would go. The over hyped four last words, which fans have been speculating about for years. For me the show was good, I knew it was going to be an open ending because the creators said so and in interviews with Entertainment Weekly the actors commented that when they found out the last four words they said that it was not a closure to the story.

Now I only wish they’d release a book to continue the story or at least wrap up the open ending. I’m pretty sure a spin off is not possible considering many of the actors involved in the open ending already have other on going jobs. And lets be honest, a spin off would not work. What made this show great was the whole of it. The town and all its people.

I’m still mad at Netflix for blocking VPN and forcing me to the Netherlands catalog only, which is almost abysmal. But one thing Netflix can do very well is pick their original shows. I’m very glad they got Gilmore Girls and not Hulu or Amazon.

Mensenlevens boven trots

- September 15th, 2016 -

Photo of main street in Aruba

Aruba can’t catch a break. Op Aruba is de tensie (lees, haat) van geregistreerd partnerschap nog niet eens gekoeld, of het eiland is alweer aangeslagen door geweld. Fysiek geweld, het ergste wat er is. Wat iedereen vreesde dat ging gebeuren is daadwerkelijk gebeurd. Moord. Moord van een onschuldige burger in haar eigen huis.

Al maanden, nee al meer dan een jaar gaat het berg afwaarts met de veiligheid op Aruba. Atracos worden links en recht gepleegd. Van de tientallen lukt het de politie zo nu en dan de daders ervan op te pakken. Feit is dat het politiekorps onderbemand is. Je kunt als politie zo goed je best doen, maar als er niet genoeg mankracht is, dan kun je weinig als er een golf van criminaliteit over het eiland gaat.

Deuren open gooien voor iedereen die bij de politie wilt is geen oplossing. Voor zulke zware misdaden heb je nú politie met ervaring nodig om het een halt toe te roepen. Er is geen tijd meer te verliezen, het gaat niet meer om de gestolen tapa di wiel di auto, een zeldzame atraco bij de supermarkt om de hoek of bij e cas di lotto. Het is geëscaleerd naar het ergste niveau: het vermoorden van mensen in de veiligheid van hun eigen huis.

We hebben een lange geschiedenis met Nederland, we kennen slechte en goede tijden. Aruba is trots op haar Status aparte en terecht. Maar er komt een moment dat je je trots moet inslikken, moet samenwerken en vragen om hulp. Geel of groen maakt niet uit, mensen levens staan op het spel. De veiligheid van burgers is ontelbaar veel belangrijker dan politiek.

Aruba heeft hulp nodig om weer orde te brengen in de samenleving. Politie met ervaring om ons korps te steunen, fregatten op zee om de kustwacht te helpen met de grote instroom van wapens. drugs en mensenhandel. De tijd van discussie, brainstormen en vergaderen is voorbij. Het gaat alleen maar erger worden en nú moeten er goede, langdurige en harde maatregelen komen.

Als dat allemaal geen goede reden is, beeld je dan in wat een drama het wordt als Aruba straks op de lijst van risky destinations staat.

Bijgewerkt op 2 oktober 2016

‘Stranger Things’ takes you back to the 80’s

- July 28th, 2016 -

Illustrated VHS cover.

Netflix latest show, Stranger Things, is a classic 80’s throwback show. A mix of The Goonies and Poltergeist. The cinematography makes it seem it was even filmed in the 80’s. No fancy CGI effects or anything, at least not that it was obvious. From what I read even the sound is like you are watching it on a VHS tape. Remember video cassettes? That thing you needed to rewind before you could see the movie?

The peculiarity of the 80’s style intro screen at the beginning of each episode, in this modern age, is a breath of fresh air. The theme music is also pure vintage 80’s from what I have read.

Stranger Things has a strong cast starting with Winona Ryder, all grown up and mature. This is the show that can relaunch her career. The kids are excellent actors, nothing like these Disney or Nickelodeon kids that seem to be on a sugar high all day long.

Millie Bobby Brown 12 years old and already destined to be one of the greatest. She plays “Eleven” or “El” as Mike names her. She doesn’t have many lines but oh man she can act. Her facial expression tells every emotion. There are many adult actors in Hollywood that aren’t even half as good as her. She really brought that extra punch to Stranger Things.

The show is 8 episodes long, each episode is about 48 minutes including the intro. Every episode is so good that before I knew it I was done watching it in two days. Half away the season it was pass midnight and I was sitting in my dark living room with hands before my eyes watching the scary parts.

I also enjoyed the though Chief of Police, Hopper. No beating around the bush with him, he’ll just sucker punch someone out cold and move on to get things done. Modern cops on TV shows are all about the red tape and following protocols. Not in Hawkins, Indiana circa 1983.


Mornings are for coffee and contemplation.Chief Hopper, Stranger Things

Beside that the show is obviously set in the 80’s, details that we don’t stop to think about makes the show even greater. Like, when the kids have a pressing science question, no one whips out a smartphone to Google it. There isn’t any computer around let alone internet. Instead Dustin picks up the phone and calls his science teacher at 10 p.m. to ask a question and have him explain the answer to him to a T. When his teacher ask why he wants to know this info at night, Dustin answers: Fun.

Animation Chapter One

I’ll stop here before I spoil you. If you love or even like 80’s classics you really should watch Stranger Things. Don’t skip it!

De hypocrisie van Aruba

- July 6th, 2016 -

Hooiberg photo overlayed with no signal TV screen

Zestien jaar woon ik al in Nederland. Ik beschouw mezelf helemaal ingeburgerd als Nederlander. Altijd netjes op tijd, meestal zelfs te vroeg, afspraken maken voor sociale gelegenheden in plaatst van last minute even langs gaan bij iemand. Voor je het weet spreek je ff plat Nederlands en gaan we lekkuh even vrijdag middag borrelen na werk. Behalve mijn “Antillaanse” accent, de pica di papaya van Madame Jeanette in mijn koelkast en mijn shirt van Bula, verraad niet veel dat ik Arubaans ben.

Maar een Arubaan ben ik, ik hou van mijn eiland en ik huil van binnen van wat er van mijn eiland is geworden. Wegens verschillende redenen, buiten mijn macht om, kan ik niet terug emigreren om bij te dragen aan een beter toekomst en soms denk ik, heeft het nog wel zin? Als je eenmaal uit Aruba bent, de wijde wereld in, dan pas zie je hoe klein het leven op Aruba is. Het is zijn eigen kleine wereld die voorbij gaat aan de rest van de wereld. Terwijl de westerse wereld hard streeft naar economische en mensenrechten vooruitgang, loopt Aruba een halve eeuw achter. De nieuwe opgeleide generatie die terug gaat krijgt bijna geen voet tussen de deur en sommige kiezen om niet terug te gaan omdat de kansen op Aruba zo klein zijn.

Aruba is een wannabe eiland geworden. Green en klimaat bewust, maar dan wel met een olieraffinaderij en zonder blinken een natuurreservaat wegvagen voor het zoveelste hotel. Flink lobbyen zodat Nederland een zetel krijgt bij de Verenigde Naties, dé wereldorganisatie voor mensenrechten en dan in dezelfde adem geen gelijke rechten gunnen aan zijn eigen bevolking.

Het jaar is 2016 en de regering gaat eindelijk de wet Geregistreerd Partnerschap voor hetero’s en homo’s behandelen. Een al lang gepasseerd station. Terwijl de meeste westerse landen en zelf de sterk religieuze Ierland tot recent Colombia, 1 voor 1 op snelle tempo gewoon gelijke huwelijksrechten invoeren, gaat Aruba nu met veel tegenwerkende kracht en zelf met haat deze wet die al bestemd is tot verdoemenis behandelen.

De dagen dat de kerk vol was op zondag behoren tot het verleden. Afgaande van het aantal scheidingen, buitenhuwelijks affaire’s, buitenechtelijke kinderen, samenwonen zonder getrouwd te zijn en om maar te zwijgen over het grootschalig kindermisbruik waar niks tegen gedaan wordt is men al lang het woord van God vergeten.

Dat is totdat men zijn medemens in de naam van God gaat veroordelen om verliefd te zijn op iemand van hetzelfde geslacht. En om met zijn partner wettelijk te willen trouwen om te kunnen genieten van dezelfde rechten als zijn hetero medemens.

Dan is plotseling iedereen vroom, hun lievelingsboek de bijbel (en vergeten even voor het gemak dat Jesus duidelijk zegt om je medemens lief te hebben en anderen niet te veroordelen), zelfs de Paus zijn recente standpunt hierover gaat aan hun voorbij en hangt men de moraliteit op, gebaseerd op ongefundeerde feiten. Want o wee twee mannen of twee vrouwen met elkaar volgens de wet mogen trouwen. Men gaat op social media, de radio en in kerken hun homofobie verspreiden. Want dat is het, keihard homofobie.

Het gaat hier om gelijke mensenrechten. Het recht om volgens de wet te trouwen. Zodat ze onder andere elkaar kunnen bijstaan tijdens ziekte en voor elkaar kunnen zorgen zelfs als de dood hen scheidt. Het heeft geen enkel effect op een ander mens als twee vrouwen of mannen voor de raad met elkaar willen trouwen. De zon gaat nog op, je staat nog steeds op om te gaan werken, je betaalt nog steeds belasting (of niet) en je sopi di carni smaakt nog steeds hetzelfde.

Laat het oordelen aan God over. Voor zover ik weet heeft Jesus nooit aan zijn volgelingen gevraagd om anderen te vervolgen en te veroordelen. Wil je een goede Katholico zijn? Begin bij jezelf.

The Hague Food Guide

- June 5th, 2016 -
Last updated on June 25th, 2016

I have been living in the city center of The Hague for about five years now. The places I frequent for lunch and dinner have changed a lot. Being a routine and comfort person I tend to stick to the same places. I stop going when I get bored with the menu or if the food quality goes down. Also, if the service becomes so abysmal that the food isn’t worth it anymore.

Without much ado, the places I frequent, as in, when not in the mood to cook or when eating out with friends/family.

Breakfast / Lunch

Will’s Pancake House When I’m craving American Banana Pancakes or a good ole traditional Poffertjes. They take cash only, so make sure you got at least a 20 on you. Still the best and only pancake place in the city. Haven’t set food in the one at Malieveld in ages. Being the city slicker I have become…it is so far for just a plate of pancake. (Note: I walk, I don’t bike)

Walter Benedict This French Bistro at Denneweg that specializes in poached eggs have an all day breakfast menu. For the ones with a large appetite you can even get a hamburger before noon. They have a very good burger loaded with cheese and optional bacon. Love bacon but not that hungry? What about avocado with bacon on toast. Unless you plan to be there early (they open at 9) make sure to make a reservation because they tend to be very busy at times.

Happy Tosti Grilled cheese sandwich, the king of comfort food. Perfect for when you wake up without bread and cheese in the house. Happens to the best of us. Also great for those rainy noons and afternoons when you just want a warm sandwich loaded with cheese.

‘t Achterommetje Guilty free eating. Soup, sandwiches, smoothies and salads. From veggie burger to the best steak sandwich currently. Rather have a grilled cheese sandwich? You can choose your own combi here. Hidden in the alleys of De Passage, they are almost always full. Make reservations if going in the week-end.

Baladi This small Lebanese place can be found at Torenstraat. Fresh made Lebanese manouche (flat bread) with cheese, za’atar, meat or hummus. Try their fresh lemonade. It’s so good, you’ll drink it in one go.

Lunch / Dinner

Woeng Kee My new favorite Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Their Dim Sum menu might not be as extensive as Kee Lun Palace, but what they do have is good. Their fried rice is fluffy and I love fried rice. They have an exquisite Honey and Pepper Beef (or chicken). It’s so good that I overate. I still need to try their roasted duck, but to avoid an overeating incident again I’ll have to find more dinner partners. Good place to order online or eat in.

Green Bowl No time to cook or in the mood to but you still want to eat healthy? Green bowl’s salad is the answer. I always order the same thing: Deli Steak Salad. A small cut of beef cooked with mushrooms, potato and green beans served on a salad with dressing of choice. Beside a select chef specials (fish, vegetarian, chicken and vegan) you can choose own salad combi. They also have wraps and soups.

SLA Want to eat even more healthy? SLA at Kerkplein is so healthy you feel like eating a hamburger the next day. One of their slogan is “Munch on mother nature” and it’s spot on. Their salads are served cold and they switch menu every season. They are new in town, I have no idea if in colder months they serve warm salads. It’s a perfect go to meal if you want to eat very healthy.

Frietwinkel at Kortepoten. One day Cupcakechic was suddenly gone to never be seen again and now the location is taken by my favourite fries at the moment. Frietwinkel serves organic fresh cut fries with the skin on and it couldn’t be better. Still hungry? They have beef and goat cheese croquettes among others. And on Friday and Saturday you can get beef stew. They have a nice take away box making it easy to get your fries to go.

Dunglemann The Hague’s best beef croquettes can be found at Dunglemann’s. With three locations: Babylon, De Nieuwe Passage and Hoogstraat. A perfect quick lunch for on the go.

Hoender en Hop craving a roasted chicken or ribs with a good craft beer? Hoender is the place to be. I love roasted chicken but not leftover chicken which is why I almost never cook it myself. So every time I crave roasted chicken I get one at Hoender. These organic French chickens are the right size for one meal They are now serving a palm sized chicken which is more starter than a meal. Too bad. Hoender spareribs tho, is addicting, I have to contain myself to not eat these regularly, you know with eating healthy and all. It’s a very salty and fatty meal, so I only treat myself that sporadically. My current favourite special beer to go with a fatty meal is Kompaan’s Vrijbuiter No 45.

Beer Garden In the basement at Kerkplein a stone trow from SLA. It can be a battle of wills; healthy or junkfood, healthy or junkfood? But if you are going to eat junkfood, Beer Garden is the place to eat junkfood. Burgers, hotdogs, quesadillas, onion rings and all the craft beers you want. And even better, the food is organic. They also have a terrace so you have your choice of seating.

South of Houston For a New York experience South of Houston is the place to be. Situated at Plein, they currently have the best burger in the city. Their steak (dry aged meat) and rack of lambs are perfect for meat lovers. Their menu has changed a bit. Some new Starters like Fried Squid, the herb crusted chicken has been replaced by roasted chicken, which I need to try out soon. Their two vegetarians meals have also been updated. All in all a balanced menu. A perfect place for a nice night dinning out.


I would eat out more if The Netherlands had guidelines about salt use. The United States is starting with recommendations for restaurants.

Lebanese lunch in The Hague

- March 4th, 2016 -

I discovered a ‘new’ place in The Hague centrum that is an ideal place to score lunch. Baladi is a small Lebanese manouche place located at Torenstraat.

Manouche is a Lebanese flatbread served with different toppings like za’atar, cheese (akkawi), meat, strained yoghurt and hummus and more. Baladi has a special manouche every month. They also have Lebanese delicacies and drinks.

Baladi

I found Baladi on Trip Advisor and I went there three times already. Which should tell you how good they are. I tried the Cheese & Za’atar, first time I tried za’atar and I definitely liked it. I also tried the hummus which they make fresh. The hummus manouche wrap is healthy and low sodium (from what I and others tasted) which is perfect for a healthy lunch.


Cheese & Soujok Manouche
The second time I tried the spicy meat and cheese, which was delicious. Left me wanting more. Already planning on getting it again the next time I go there.

The place is run by a young couple, they cook and make everything themselves. You can also ask for gluten free manouche and/or for vegan toppings. There aren’t many places that are that accommodating.

If not in the mood to go out you can also order them on deliveroo.nl or foodora.nl. Foodora has an option to leave special instructions, Deliveroo does not.

Next time you are in town, need a nice, fast and healthy lunch. Try out Baladi.

Gulp, Autoprefixer and SASS

- October 7th, 2015 -

Recently I started my first project with CSS flexboxes. I always try to keep my work flow ‘simple’. Although ‘simple’ can be defined differently for everyone. For me it is vanilla SASS through the terminal and hand code in the Atom editor. I recently started using GIT, I know enough to commit and push my code (again through the terminal), thus using the repository as my cloud backup. I still use plain ole FTP to upload my files to the hosting server.

Hey, I run small web projects, no need for the whole deployment she-bang. Although it would be nice to have a smooth deployment environment for small to medium websites.

Anyhow, back to my autoprefixer problem.

Flexbox requires a lot of browser prefixes and ain’t nobody got time to type down those all day long. Most prefixes SASS mixins won’t do the trick because they use @extend which cannot be used inside @media. And with no @media there is no responsive website. My best option was using autoprefixer which needs Grunt or Gulp, both which in turns needs Node. Man, life of a front-ender gets more complicated with each new technique.

First I needed to decide Grunt or Gulp? I did a quick online search and this article helped me make a decision – Gulp vs Grunt. Why one? Why the other?

Gulp on the other hand is all about streams and building complex pipelines with ease. It uses node.js’ streams, and executes faster, since it does not open/close files, or create intermediary copies all the time.

If you have never used Gulp or Grunt it can get really frustrating. I’m good at installing and setting up environments but I get stuck in the details. I used the following installation guide to install Gulp on my Macbook with Maverick and on my Mac Mini with Yosemite. Getting started with Gulp by Travis Maynard.

My setup in Gulp is with SASS and Autoprefixer only. I got totally stuck with my gulpfile.js for which I got help. This is my current code:

gulpfile.js


var gulp = require('gulp');
var sass = require('gulp-sass');
var autoprefixer = require('gulp-autoprefixer');

var input = 'sass/**/*.scss';
var output = 'css';

gulp.task('sass', function () {
gulp //add gulp without return to keep session going
// Find all .scss files from the sass/ folder
.src(input)
// Run Sass on those files || pipe adds everything together
.pipe(sass().on('error', sass.logError)) //error log to keep session going when scss contains error
.pipe( autoprefixer( 'last 2 version', 'safari 5', 'ie 8', 'ie 9', 'opera 12.1', 'ios 6', 'android 4' ) )
// Write the resulting CSS in the output folder
.pipe(gulp.dest(output));
});

gulp.task("default", ['sass'], function() {
gulp.watch(input, ['sass']);
});

Basically I just want to run ‘gulp’ in the command line once, have it watch my sass file without breaking the session if there is an error in my sass file, add autoprefixer and done.

Obviously I want to expand my gulpfile later with more things like, minifying. And getting a better hang of using pipes and running only one task without the others. gulp-sass also has issues with @import inside a @mixin. I had to import Google fonts directly instead of using a mixin to set the details. So, still plenty to figure out with Gulp.