Random thoughts...


Kudos for the Dutch IRS

The Dutch IRS is switching to the Internet for filing VAT and other tax returns for businesses. I just filed my first VAT return for one of my (small) companies and I have to admit they did a swell job!

Although the application is not very difficult (fill in a bunch of numbers on a few forms) it works Just Right (tm). They even left the Internet Explorer only path! According to their leaflet they support Netscape (6.2), Mozilla, Safari and Opera as well! And at the end of the process you get a nice PDF which contains your return and can be printed (paper trails rule! :-)

posted at 10:23:28    #    comment []    trackback []


For many years I have been a subscriber of The Economist: a British current affairs magazine that is so good it almost defies description. One of the things that to me is a mark of their quality is the fact that when they are writing about stuff that I know a lot about (IT, Internet, Holland) it is always concise, clear, well-written, to the point and, above all, true.

They have humour too. For instance the October 2nd issue contained this little news snippet:

America edged ahead in its tussle with Japan to develop the world's fastest supercomputer. IBM claimed that Blue Gene had surpassed the previous claimant to the title, NEC's Earth Simulator with a working speed of 36.01 teraflops. Most computers flop only intermittently.


posted at 18:32:00    #    comment []    trackback []

My Tax Rate is at 100%

After a couple of months of diligently taking tax-raising decisions, the average income tax rate in The Principality of Jos Visser is now at 100%!

PDF description here.

posted at 08:51:44    #    comment []    trackback []

Find a better way of life

Yesterday night I went to a concert of Marillion in Vredenburg (Utrecht). It was again a fantastic experience. Los Marillos complete swept the audience (all die-hard fans) with a fantastic show featuring songs from their last album (Marbles; before the break) as well as songs from their 15 (or so) albums released in the last 16 years.

If you have never heard of Marillion, or if you still think of Marillion as "that band from Kayleigh", you are in desperate need of enlightenment....

Start here...

posted at 12:57:04    #    comment []    trackback []

Nagios kicks ass!

Hi all,

For some system and application monitoring that I needed to throw together quickly I decided to go with Nagios, an open source monitoring framework. And I must say that it absolutely rocks! I am a veteran OpenView (Network Node Manager, IT/Operations) user but I am impressed with the simplicity and power of Nagios...

The power of open source came to the rescue here as well since I needed some HTTP monitoring that Nagios' standard check_http plug-in could not do. With only a little effort I added features for accessing servers through HTTP proxies and using SSL client certificates. For the interested, the modified source code is here (and a patch against CVS HEAD of 15 September is here.

posted at 13:12:00    #    comment []    trackback []

Ants in reverse...

Yesterday I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11. I am not sure what to do: logoff from society completely or become hyperactive in order to Set Things Right...

If you have read Mike Moore's books, and maybe have even seen some of his earlier films, this one does not come as a surprise to you. His work (although funny) makes me depressive and cynical. The world has become too complex. We are a species that has evolved to live in troops from 10 to 50 animals. A couple of hundred maybe, max...

We have become ants in reverse. If you see a group of ants you cannot fail to notice that as a group they are pretty smart: they build things, are highly organised and have specialised units to deal with certain situations. But if you take one ant and look at it, it is a fairly stupid animal. We are exactly the other way around: take one average human being and he/she is pretty intelligent but look at us as a group and we are mindboggingly stupid... :-(

Benjamin Franklin stated: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." This has never been more true than today. I am completely amazed at the general inability of people to assess the terrorist threats and act accordingly. Or what about the crap people are exposed to in order to catch terrorists?! A complete waste of time and resources. Has nobody in government ever read "Beyond Fear" (by Bruce Schneier)?

All this makes me want to log off. Build a log cabin next to Lake Superior and remove myself from society forever. Makes me remember a concept from a Douglas Adams book in which someone built a small shed inside out. In the shed you were actually outside the rest of the world. When stepping through the doors back into the world a small sign said: "Warning, you are now entering the asylum".

Am I the only one????

posted at 17:13:04    #    comment []    trackback []

The BBC Micro lives!

A nerd on holiday is a sorry sight to see :-) One of the things I did over the summer holidays was to get Horizon working. For the uninitiated (that is: most of you :-), Horizon is a BBC Micro emulator for MacOS (X). This means that I can once again play my favourite computer games!!!

Screenshot from Chuckie Egg

I feel I am still the planet's ultimate master of this game!

(By the way, I also compiled Rock Linux 2.0.2 to create my own install ISO; didn't I say that holidays are wasted on us?)

posted at 09:30:08    #    comment []    trackback []

MacOS X kicks rear end!

Hi everyone,

I have been out for a while (weblog-wise speaking). The reason for this is that I decided to give myself a new laptop for my birthday: an Apple PowerBook G4 with MacOS X.

I finally found some time to get the Python Desktop Server up and running (sharing its configuration with my other (Rock Linux based) laptop...

I'll have more to say about this in the future, but MacOS X really kicks ass!!!!

See you soon!

posted at 11:06:08    #    comment []    trackback []

Vote for the United States of Europe today!

Today are the elections for the Dutch members of the European Parliament. The Chinese have a saying: may you live in Interesting Times. It is more of a curse actually....

Europe-wise these are interesting times indeed. The union has enlarged recently and will continue to grow in the near future (with several prospective members already lined up, of which Turkey is the most interesting). There is also a European Constitution in the making... Although "constitution" is somewhat of a misnomer. We are not talking about a short work of legal art (like the US constitution) but instead the proposed European constitution is a monsterous several-hundred pages long document which contains detailed texts about all things bureaucratic. There will be referendums about it and I am pretty sure that either the Danish, the English or the Dutch will vote against it.

"The Dutch?" I hear you think? But you were always such ardent Europeans!? Well, we are, and we ain't. In fact most of the European related rules and legislation have been pushed through (Dutch) parliament with little or no explanation to the electorate. And we are in a particularly grumpy mood lately because we always seem to get our ass kicked in Europe by larger nations. Do the words "stability pact" ring a bell? Throw in the fact that we are the largest net contributors per capita and that most people perceive the Euro (unified currency) as being against our best interest and you can begin to understand how many people feel.

What interests me though is that we Europeans are struggling with lots of things related to living in a continent-size area with a (albeit it loosely) federal structure, but yet we do not look across the Atlantic towards the US for possible solutions to our problems. The US has been a federal republic for over two hundred years and have worked out a structure for dealing with state/federal issues, allocating responsibilities and building a more or less functioning democracy. I am not saying that they got it right and that we should imitate that, but we could at least try and learn from them. That debate is sorely missing...

Anyway, I will be among the few voters who will bother to go to the poll booth today. If only I knew who to vote for... :-)

posted at 08:21:52    #    comment []    trackback []

Proven technology at Schiphol (again... :-)

And again I was at Schiphol airport when a notice sign showed quite openly what crap it was running on...

Full picture (available here) is a bit crappy since it was shot with a P800 under unfavourable conditions.

posted at 10:53:20    #    comment []    trackback []

This is not what you'd expect...

The following link goes to something that is not quite what you would expect it to be...


I am not yet sure exactly what it is though...

posted at 00:09:04    #    comment []    trackback []

Divorce humour...

EBay is one of the world's most amazing sources of humour. Read this one. If it's gone, try here.
posted at 11:55:12    #    comment []    trackback []


Some of the stuff you find on the Internet is just... well.... how shall I put...?

It's probably best if I say nothing. Just turn up your speakers and listen for yourself..

Click here...

posted at 20:33:36    #    comment []    trackback []

Even more proven technology (at Schiphol)

Again a PC-driven noticeboard failing:

It's a bit hard to see (picture was shot with a SonyEricsson P800) but it is a Windows Blue Screen Of Death. Full picture here.

posted at 17:00:16    #    comment []    trackback []

More proven technology (in London)

This picture was shot at an ATM in London on Easter saturday:

Click here for a larger image.

I needed some cash money but decided to try the next ATM instead... :-)

posted at 09:30:08    #    comment []    trackback []
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© 2004, Jos Visser