Our eldest son became interested in LEGO. At first, you can keep everything contained in one box, but soon enough, it takes more time to build/play with it. This means we needed a solution to store projects in progress. If you combine this with a growing collection of sets and boxes, you see this is an impossible situation!
Since this is our dinner table, it needed to be cleared of all pieces for every meal. Our kids wanted to keep playing longer and longer with the LEGO. They started building their cars, boats, houses, … Interrupting their play every time made it harder for all of us (struggle to clean up, stop the play, …).
My wife reads a few blogs from moms writing about their ideas and experiences. The solution for our LEGO problem was published on “Mama ruimt op” (Dutch). The basic idea is as smart as it is simple! The structure of the table is a group of 6 Trofast wall storage elements with boxes to store all LEGO blocks or K’nex or ….
Why this model?
Our kids are very … ehm … enthusiastic when they play, which means toys, boxes, … need to be robust.
The table will be used for some years, by (children from) different ages. So not too high, not too low
A table to build on is good, a table with additional storage is better
Linoleum or vinyl with high durability (to cover top)
A few dozen wood screws
Trofast storage boxes (a mix of smaller and lager boxes)
Nothing special is required:
Electrical drill with bits
Hex key (included in the Ikea products, but I prefer a taller one)
To start, assemble the 6 Trofast elements
To optimize storage space, put 2 Trofast elements after one another. This way, the rails are deeper and can support the larger Trofast boxes. The small open space in the middle has no negative impact, don’t worry about it.
The base plate is used to keep the Trofast elements in place. You can use a few planks for this, but we opted for a larger piece of OSB to support the table. Size: 93 x 135 cm. To temporaroly fix the plate in the right position and support the screws, we used double-sided tape. A bunch of screws attach the Trofast elements to the OSB board.
Mobility of the table is mandatory, so we can rearrange the room, clean it from time to time or collect all LEGO pieces from under it. We mounted 4 Swivel caster wheels with Rubber and locks. This way, we can easily move the table and keep it frim in place.
The same way as we did the base plate, we take the top plate (98 x 140 cm). Since the top plate is larger on every side, we rounded the corners, so the kids wouldn’t hurt themselves.
The table can be used in this state, but we can add some small extras to it!
To protect the table top and to cover the screw holes, we opted for a few linoleum tiles, which was a left-over from another project. We used double sided tape to glue the tiles to the top plate. This layer adds some friction to the surface and is a little bit softer, so pieces don’t bounce of the surface on the ground so easy.
There are many solutions out there. For our needs, this table, with storage is a great solution. The construction wasn’t that hard and didn’t take much time.
When reading the newspapers headlines, one must think the world is doomed. Every story is about dramas. If this is your only source of information, your view on humankind must be very negative. So, in general, you might think people are bad.
On the other hand, people are living next to each other for centuries. In the beginning in small groups of hunter-gatherers, later in communities. In all this time, people helped and supported his neighbour. Probably it’s more realistic to think people are good in nature! Peoples instincts are more leaning towards cooperation and doing what’s best for all of us.
In this 476 pages book, Rutger Bregman tells a story, starting from first humans until modern times. An untold story of 200 000 years of human history. He challenges general accepted assumptions and supports it with hundreds of scientific sources. Some of the most known sociological experiments are discussed and often contradicted. Very useful, since people have a “negativity bias”.
A great recent example, is the corona crisis! At the very beginning of the crisis, a few makers started the “Corona Denktank”. In a few weeks time, a community of 2000 enthusiasts gathered and started working on projects to support fellow citizens.
To end the book, there is a list of guidelines to live by from the author himself. Maybe they can help you also to look to others with a more positive view?
The book is a story, not a scientific publication, so it’s highly opinionated. The story that’s told, though, it one everyone can relate to. Even when you disagree with it.
If you would like to read it, you can probably get it in every book store. It’s written in Dutch originally while translations are being released in English (pre-order) in June 2020. To save resources, the publisher encourages the owner of the book to pass on the book to another interested person. You can borrow mine, so don’t hesitate to get in touch!
COVID-19 sent a shockwave through the world and it had major impact on all our lives. On March 16th, the Corona Denktank (Corona Thinktank) published this tweet
I don’t consider myself a maker, but there is some knowledge I can share, so joining another Slack Workspace to connect and collaborate.
These seven days have been a hell of a ride for everyone active in the Workspace. Almost 2000 members were collaborating on a massive amount of projects. The mentality is one where working together and taking initiative are most important.
There are so many projects in progress, some based on the hottest technologies, while others are pure craftsmanship! All of the projects have in common its worked on by teams of makers! I present the project I contributed to.
There are many video call tools, but they require you to have an account or login or some other technical hurdle. Praatbox let’s you set up a video call by entering 3 words. Nothing more simple than that.
This week, two classmates of our eldest son have their birthday, so the teacher suggested to use Praatbox to connect and celebrate!
There is a major shortage of face masks. With this action, in multiple languages, you can learn how to sow masks from common materials. Follow the hygiene tips and use the pattern to make masks. The more masks, the merrier!
This one-pager website has all the information needed and a few call-to-action-buttons
This global website (Work in Progress) gives an overview of the the initiatives and projects currently in development. Over the next few months, this website will become the hub of all Corona related intiatives.
I have not expertise in any aspect of healthcare, but I have a lot of experience in web development. My empty schedule (after the evening rush with the kids ;-)) gave the opportunity to contribute to this wonderful citizen maker collaboration project.
I’m convinced we will overcome this pandemic by collaborating to find the best possible solutions
Installing WordPress is a 5-minute task, according to the documentation. It actually is true! And everyone can install WordPress, which is also true.
The first speaker in our meetup presented the steps and made a detailed guide to set up WordPress on your local machine. After the installation, there are so many options to optimize the installation to your needs.
You can read the full article on the website of WP Belgium.
Every web developer has made his or her own CMS, possibly even several times. Alone or in a team. What is often underestimated is the time and energy needed to maintain and improve everything once a website works with the CMS. In the meantime, a number of large Content Management Systems have become established. One of them is WordPress, which supports about 30% of the most popular websites.
WordPress is known for its user-friendly backend and the many plugins that give you the opportunity to create all kinds of websites with WordPress. Where this used to be a real blog engine, it has evolved into a flexible platform to build all kinds of websites. Another strength of WordPress is the large community that works together to make WordPress better. This is not just about programming! There are so many tasks to do that make WordPress what it is today. The power of a platform like WordPress is, in my opinion, determined by the community that contributes to WordPress.
How can I help?
Anyone can become a member of the WordPress community in order to work on it and thus improve the platform. This is free and strongly encouraged. You don’t have to be able to program, there are so many other tasks you can use your knowledge and skills for. This can range from supporting other users to development and marketing. You will have to find out which aspect of the community suits you best. This depends not only on your knowledge, but if possible even more on what makes you happy!
The WordPress community is divided into several teams, with each team focusing on a specific part of the development and promotion of WordPress. Below you will find a selection of teams:
Themes: assess and approve the themes submitted in the WordPress Theme repository
Plugins: review and approve the plugins submitted in the WordPress Plugin repository.
Training: make downloadable lesson plans and related material for teachers
Test: test, document and report on the WordPress user experience
The complete list of all existing teams can be found on the Make WordPress website.
Why am I putting that list here? To show that WordPress is about much more than just programming. Of course, without code there will be no WordPress, but you can use your knowledge perfectly in many other areas.
In addition to your knowledge, the time available is also an important factor in determining how you can participate in WordPress. I am convinced that you will be able to contribute when you can spend 15 minutes! Maybe let’s start with translations?
The second weekend of June, traditionally the 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place. It’s already the 87th edition of the mythical automobile endurance race. On the Circuit de la Sarthe (13,6 km), 62 cars will compete in 4 classes.
Just like last year, Toyota will be the only factory teams in LMP1. The rest of the teams are private teams without the budget and support of a major car manufacturer. In LMP2 and both GT classes, there’s a lot competition! So there’s a lot to look for.
This year, there are some small changes to the regulations. Both changes have to do with safety cars.
Full course yellow
When an incident on track occurs, sending our safety cars (3!) is a complex procedure, so race directors try to launch this procedure only when needed. Safety cars can also impact race results. To keep the impact as low as possible, a new procedure for smaller incidents can be invoked: Full course yellow.
The procedure is similar to the “Code 60”, used in other races. When Full course yellow is started, all cars on track may not exceed the speed of 80 km/h. The main difference between Full course yellow and the classic safety cars, is the gaps between competing cars will stay more or less the same. While safety cars will group the competing cars, which impacts the gaps.
Pitlane & Safety car
When safety cars are deployed, the pitlane is closed until a safety car has passed and the car can rejoin after that safety car. If you are in the pitlane when safety cars are deployed and you’re chasing the leading car, you have a disadvantage when the pitlane gets closed while you were in it before the safety cars enter. From this year on, cars that were in the pitlane can rejoin the race.
This is only the timing involving the cars or drivers, not entertainment or scrutineering
A Spotter guide is an easy to use overview of all cars and as much information as possible (team, drivers, …) As you can see above with a real example explained. My guess, you should print it on A3 paper format?
On May 11th 2019, the 4th WP Translation Day was organized! This global event will put focus on translations of WordPress. During the 24 hours, everyone is encouraged to contribute by submitting new translations to the WordPress repository.
WordPress can only be this popular all over the world, because it’s supported by multiple languages. The default language, when you download WordPress is English, but the Polyglot teams translate every string other languages. At this moment, there are 51 different and up-to-date translations of WordPress. Joining a Polyglot team and translating untranslated strings or improving existing translations is considered an easy first step into contributing to WordPress.
Start to translate WordPress
To start translating WordPress, you can follow these steps:
Search your locale and click “Contribute Translation”
Find a project you’d like to translate.
WordPress: The core of your website
Themes: Free themes
Plugins: Open source plugins
Meta: Websites of WordPress itself
Apps: Apps to manage your WordPress website
Click the “Translate Project” button for the item of your choice
Click on a Set or Subproject
Double click the row you want to translate and start typing your translation
When finished a translation, click on “Suggest new translation”
The translation awaits approval by community members with the “Editor” permissions
The updated editor
Right before WP Translation Day, a new translation editor is released! Thanks for everyone who contributed to this major improvement.
I would like to highlight 5 features of the new translation editor interface:
The string that needs translation. This, of course, is not changed.
You can easily toggle between strings and close the editor.
This field is also not changed. You can enter the translated text in this text area.
Sometimes, a string should be copied from the original language. So you can click on the most left button. When clicking the question mark, you get help information.
Some string were already (partially) translated in other parts of the code. Translation Memory is a new feature and will suggest a translation if possible.
An open source project, like WordPress relies on the contributions of your time. The more time you and the rest of the community spends on improving WordPress, the better WordPress will become. On the other hand, we all have a family, hobby, job, … It’s important to balance your time, energy and attention between all of these.
I started translating WordPress a while ago and it was very motivating when a new translated item was submitted and accepted. Even on this level, I spend most part of a week on it. This wax not sustainable, so I set myself a limit:
Every other working day, I work on 20 untranslated strings.
Start to translate WordPress
I can keep up with this pace and on a monthly basis, I have roughly 200 new translated strings.
Everyone knows and uses one of Google’s many services. At the end of 2015, these services were brought together under the lesser-known name Alphabet. The image below gives you a good overview of services that all fall under the Alphabet name. I’m sure you will recognise and use many of them.
All of these services are free to use, but in return Google will collect data about your usage (in Dutch) in order to better tailor ads to who you are. Even if they indicate that they do not follow you around, Google will still collect behavioural data (metadata) about you in order to refine and improve their profile of you.
What are the alternatives to Google?
Nowadays, you can perfectly “remove Google” and work with the many alternative tools and services that are available. Some of them are already a bit better known than others. I’m not going to go over the services and their alternatives alphabetically, but I’m going to sort them according to use. First there is the Google search engine with some alternatives, followed by the browser. For each service I also try to give an indication of the complexity of switching to an alternative. Sometimes it’s simple and all you have to do is surf to another website, while sometimes you’ll have to make a ‘switchover plan’.
For each service, I indicate the following:
Why switching is important
Alternatives to consider
How hard it is to switch, visualised in Hoe moeilijk is switchen, uitgedrukt in sweat drops (scale of 1 to 5)
Google (search engine)
Through their search engine, Google knows exactly what you’re looking for, but also exactly what you’re clicking through. Based on both the search queries and the search result you click on, Google knows a lot about you. Just think of the football boots you last looked up and the football related ads you now see.
There have been some pretty good alternatives to the Google search engine for some time now. I choose 2 of them, for totally different reasons. Both services do show ads, but add personalization or profiling. They only show these on the basis of the keywords entered.
Startpage: This search engine uses Google’s search index, but removes all tracking that Google adds.
This is super easy, because you only have to surf to another search engine. Setting up an alternative search engine on your many devices is a bit more complex.
Chrome is a very convenient browser with a market share of around 80%. If you are logged in with a Google Account, everything you do in Chrome is tracked and collected in this account. This gives Google an enormous insight into your behaviour in the browser.
Alternative to Google Chrome
Firefox: This browser has been around since 2002 and is open source. In recent years, they have been clearly drawing the map of privacy for their users.
Brave: This browser offers its users a safe, fast and privacy-friendly experience. They block advertisements to achieve this speed. In addition, they have built in interesting features to reward your favourite content creator: the Basic Attention Token.
Vivaldi: If you want to configure your browser to your own needs, Vivaldi is the right place for you.
There are many alternatives to avoid Chrome. My choice for this 3 is one on personal experience, which is completely subjective.
It’s not that difficult to use a different browser, but some fixed movements or key combinations have to be learned in a slightly different way.
You quickly collect a whole range of passwords and other logins. At the moment I have about 500 of them myself. It is very easy to save these in Google Chrome and have them filled in automatically. Have you ever wondered where you can change or delete the stored passwords? In addition, you are suddenly bound to Google Chrome if you don’t want to lose your passwords. With the next step-by-step plan, you’ll get an overview of all the passwords Chrome stores for you.
There are applications that are specifically designed to keep passwords and other sensitive data safe for you. These applications often have an integration with common browsers, but also with your smartphone and they help you log in to different apps. In addition, they also help you to maintain your passwords properly.
Alternative to Google Passwords
1Password: One of the more famous password managers, who in the beginning was mainly available for the Apple ecosystem. The very handy interface and the many integrations make it an application that I use all the time.
Bitwarden: One of the more famous password managers, who in the beginning was mainly available for the Apple ecosystem. The very handy interface and the many integrations make it an application that I use all the time.
The difficulty is in getting all your devices set up and keeping them in sync. Anyway, the use of a password manager is highly recommended. Especially if you combine it with 2-Factor Authentication.
Google mail (Gmail)
Gmail was launched 15 years ago on April 1st. It could just as well have been one of Google’s April jokes. But in those many years they have made Gmail a powerful mail service, with of course many changes to both the interface and the functionalities.
Why avoid Gmail? Google scans as the emails in your mailbox to further enrich your profile and show ads based on it. Actually, Gmail is a new way for Google to serve ads and gather more information about you.
Alternative to Google Gmail
If you want to make sure that your data isn’t used to target ads, you’ll soon end up with a paying email service. However, we are not used to paying for email…
Fastmail: A secure, high-performance e-mail service that also pays the necessary attention to privacy. They also have support for synchronising contacts and calendars.
Protonmail: A secure e-mail service with a focus on privacy. They also have a free subscription available. This free option is usually sufficient for a personal mailbox. In order to get the best possible security, you need to install a “bridge”-application for most e-mail clients.
Additional security sometimes also means a slightly more complex setup. In addition, you may also need to transfer your domain name or create and distribute a new email address. All not so intuitive.
When a website uses Google Analytics to track visits, it will store as much data as possible from the visitor. If you own a website or build websites for clients, organisations, … you have to be aware of this. By default this data will also be shared throughout the Google network, including their partners. Anonymised or not. Once the data is shared, you’ve lost all control over what happens with the data. By default, Google Analytics will also collect IP-addresses from visitors. This is also considered personal data, so the visitor has to give it’s consent.
This gives us enough reasons to search for alternatives. Especially since for most websites, a less sophisticated tool will suffice.
Alternative to Google Analytics
Matomo: You can install the application on your own servers or go for the hosted solution. All necessary data is collected, but not shared with other services or partners.
Setting up Matomo is not really hard, but it’s a new tool, that needs some exploration and getting used to. This website tracks visits through a self-hosted Matomo install.
Everyone uses Google Translate and you can even let Google Translate full websites your visiting. This way Google knows what texts you reading and working on, even if it’s not a website. For a long time, Google Translate was the best service to use and the results have improved a lot of the years. There are alternatives!
DeepL: Translation of texts, supported by machine learning algorithms.
You just have to browse to another service and enter your text like you’re used to.
We have to make the distinction between the document storage and document editing services. For this section (Google Drive), I’m only discussing the storage service.
When storing all your files in Google Drive, you have a great, feature-rich platform. This tool is only accessible when you’re logged in through your Google account, which makes it a perfect way to let Google track you. Also are they allowed to track you on other websites and uwe the content on other websites and services.
Alternative to Google Drive
NextCloud: This application lets you host your files on your own servers or sign up through a provider. Client applications are available for most common operating systems.
Dropbox: A well-known alternative with a client application to automatically synchronise files between all your devices.
Setting up the an alternative document storage service might be require some more perseverance. You also will have to convince collaborators of the new tool and everyone involved has to get used to the new tool.
Until now, we discussed services for which there are real alternatives with at least the same features and quality. For some of the Google services, there are no worthy alternatives available. Like for example Google Docs or Google Maps. Other Google services are used by so many people, you will have to use the service to get to your content or reach your community. Think about Youtube.
There are so many great tools and services available, but we are mainly pointed to the most well-known tools. It’s totally worth the effort to sometimes take a look around to discover new tools or services.
I will update this post when new services emerge or are becoming more mature.
Which alternatives do you use for Google services?