Things I Mean to Know

I regularly listen to podcasts in the car. One of the podcasts I follow is This American Life. Sometime ago they put out an episode titled “Things I Mean to Know“. This triggered me into creating a list for myself. Not necessarily to blog about it, but to have a grand feeling of what technologies I can say I do know something about and what not.

Funnily the podcast goes into quite the opposite opinion; that such lists are just a burden. During my work I regularly speak to customers, partners and other technical people. Usually new technologies come up and I want to be able to have at least a general idea what it is about!

So here a broad list of Things I Mean to know; mostly pulled from Gartner. (story behind)

  • Data science and big data
  • Quantum computing
  • Digital twin
  • Serverless, edge computing and IoT platforms
  • Volumetric displays (Holograms)
  • Deep learning, machine learning

This post is a reminder for myself to report back to you, my readers, about what I’ve learned and to explain what is worth diving into or what can be ignored.

In another future post I will dive into things I’ve already digged into last year (2017) and that I’m currently experimenting with; Things I’ve Learned About.

Reading habbits (in 2017)

After turning 29 years old (about 3 years ago) I noticed how quickly my twenties passed and how quickly time passes when you get older. So much things left undone, so much still to learn, so little time left in life. As a youngster I was an avid reader and read late into the night, even upsetting my parent because the little sleep I got.

During my twenties I mostly read study books and gradually more and more articles and content on the web. I watched massive amounts of tv-series and movies to get my drift for interesting stories and to enrich my fantasy. This went at the expense of books.

Currently the most prominent or interesting movies and TV-series are based off of books. Even older cult and popular movies such as Fight Club, Jurassic ParkThe Godfather and many more are based off of books! One of my favorites novels was adapted to a movie as well; World War Z.

So I decided to start reading more as this form of stories allows for a wider imagination and use of your own fantasy. It pulls you deeper into the story and keeps you entertained much longer than the two hours most movies wrap the story into.

This year (2017) I’ve read 8 books; (still way below the global average of 12!)

  • The Faults in our Stars – John Green (Amazon)
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline (Amazon)
  • Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton (Amazon)
  • The Lost World – Michael Crichton (Amazon)
  • The Case for Mars – Robert Zubrin (Amazon)
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk (Amazon)
  • Aurora – Kim Stanley Robinson (Amazon)
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari (Amazon)

Tracking Screen Time

Today, I once again saw and read an article about the way we’re all attracted to use apps on our smartphone more and more. By giving us for every interaction a small meaningless reward. It is becoming an increasingly mainstream topic; we’re all controlled by the giant (social-)media and app companies to continuously spend time using their apps or services. All of us are wasting time by trying to maintain a social profile towards people that already know and care about us.

I myself am quite aware that my smartphone is really dear to me, and that sometimes I use it way to much.

The article offered an app to track your screen time usage on your smartphone; Moment. However it wants you to take screenshots of your battery & app-usage every week, something I’m sure I will forget someday. And it tracks every app individually, which is something I’m not that interested in or want to share with another company.

Another app which is less extensive but gives just the right amount of information without any extra effort is RealizD. Below an example of my usage of the last month. 

Any conclusions or changes about my behavior will follow in 2018!

To be continued..

Allium ‘Google Analytics v3 Tracker in C#’

Lately I’ve been looking into NuGet packages and libraries on GitHub to add Google Analytics tracking in .NET WPF applications. There are quite some that offer ways to do this, see the links at the end. They all however have their limitations; either they lack support for WPF (and it’s hard to add) or they use older versions of the Google Measurements Protocol. It’s a shame that Google hasn’t released a tracking library itself! Their Analytics Reporting API is quite good!

So I’ve decided to create my own solution, Allium. As of right now, it is still WIP and untested.

Here is however an extremely simple usage example, which will not change much during development;

using (var session = new AnalyticsSession("UA-XXXXX-YY"))

Inspired by;

Update on 2012 resolutions…

Ok, I must confess it has been a while since I last posted. In my last post I talked about resolutions for 2012 and now I would like to give that an update. In some way I’ve worked on all of them.

In September I switched jobs, to a much smaller company; Soltegro. It gives me much more ways to grow and improve myself and bond with my colleagues. It is also a tad bit closer to home, and I can safely work from home so the commute is a lot better, giving me more time off. Instead of using that time for working on personal projects as I promised I’ve taken a second job working on mobile-, media- and games-applications. During that job I have however developed my first android app that went online in the Google Play store; MMH Calculator.

I’ve spent the spare time between my two jobs working on my prototype. It isn’t as far as I had hoped, but I’ve got 3 more weeks with some days off until the end of the year, so who knows?


Happy new year!

I guess 2011 wasn’t the year I would pick-up blogging! And 2012 won’t be it either…

So what will I do then with this site you might ask?

Well below are some new-years resolutions and I hope that by the end of 2012 I’ve completed all of them! Whenever I complete any of my resolution or the plans change I’ll post an update back here.

In 2011 I developed for several personal projects, found support for one project and tested out several idea’s. I had a great year with my friends playing board games and hanging out, I made quite some new friends and even went to Mexico to visit one! At the end of the year I visited my sister in Berlin and finished the year at my place with some close friends. Not bad at all!

In 2012 I will…

  1. No matter what, this year is going to be the year I will introduce my first game for a mobile platform. It looks like it is going to be Windows Phone, as development is easier and my product close to being finished! (Could start investigating PhoneGap afterwards to go multi-platform!)
  2. In late January there’s a SuperStijl event in the 013! After that event I will decide how to continue, but my voting-system for pubs and events has made a huge leap last year! If my version has enough changes with the original I will finish it for a prototype in early summer!
  3. After gaining more interest in board-games this last year I’ve come up with an idea for a Facebook/Social-media game that can be easily done with Windows Azure and Node.js. It would be good to get some prototyping off the ground and introduce it to some people to find support and help.
  4. Since November 2010 I’ve been travelling almost 2 hours a day from home to work and back and this has cost me a lot of spare-time, which could have been used to develop some of my projects! Thus another resolution will be to find either a project that can be done with less travel time or find a new job outside detachment agencies.
  5. If finding another project or job doesn’t prove fruitful there’s always another option available: do a 3 or 6 month term at a Swedish University!
  6. Something a lot more personal is losing weight, it’s not that I’m super fat but I could look a little more healthier!

I’m off, going to Breda: Limewax vs Bong-Ra vs Thrasher @ Mezz!

Summer Festivals

Due to a very costly speeding ticket I decided to skip my regular Rock Werchter for this year and instead went to some of the smaller festivals. I wanted to check out some of the different festivals and get to know some new artists.

Mundial 2011

Every year the Mundial festival is hosted in the Leijpark in Tilburg, this year on Sunday the 19th of June was my 3rd visit. The festival was struck by a huge storm on Saturday and the outlook for Sunday wasn’t pretty either. So I’ve spent most of the afternoon at a friends home before actually entering the festival.

We arrived just in time for the Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, where we found another friend who is a real festival junky! The three of us then did a quick tour around the festival, as this is no ordinary festival. It features many forms of art and expresses cultures of many different places around the world. We then checked out some Balkan Disko and Partizani music by Shantel & Bucovino Club Orkestar in a tent. Some parts of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and a dance act from Chavi Bansal called “Infanticide”. The night ended with Moby, who caused the whole crowd to go nuts and end the festival in a bang!

Check the line up for sunday here.

Dour 2011

On Friday 15 July, together with friends I visited Dour in southern Belgium. It’s a sweet location, because of it being so south it has quite decent weather and it is located directly next to the highway. There are however some minor drawbacks; everyone speaks French, it is quite a long drive (at least 2,5hrs) and it is the dirtiest festival I’ve ever seen (thus the stories are true).

However the music makes up greatly for those drawbacks; a line up with heavy metal, rock, drum & bass, techno, dubstep and dance. Some of the artists I’ve seen include: The Japanese Popstars, Sascha Flunke, Papa Roach, Skindred, Riva Starr, Eskmo, Mogwai and Rusko. The festival consisted of many different podium’s and way more choices than any festival I’ve seen so far!

I actually picked friday to be able to see The Qemists and Vitalic and as I suspected those turned out to be the best acts! During Vitalic I ditched my companions and went to the front of the field, which was awesome and totally made up for the lonely (my friends we’re sleeping) travel home by night!

The full Friday Line-up can be found here.

Summer Darkness

The next festival was Summer Darkness on Sunday 31 July, which is a dark underground interdisciplinary festival, located in the  city centre of Utrecht. For years I’ve been asked to go to this festival to experience Cyber/Goth at first hand and finally I was able to! Unfortunately due to work-schedules we could not go on a Saturday, however Sunday also offered some great acts.

We set off by train and arrived slightly later than planned due to a wrong turn at the central train station and me bickering about it all the way to the entrance. This festival is located at different pop-stages throughout the city, which requires some moving time in between acts. We we’re able to see a mix of different bands and genres; The Wars (alternative rock), Destroid (industrial/ebm), a little bit of Julien-K (electro-rock/industrial-rock), The Neon Judgement (industrial/new wave),  Faderhead (ebm/futurepop) and Killing Joke (post-punk/industrial rock).

The best act, and the one we all wanted to see, was Faderhead. That act together with my “Broodje Ploff” from the local snack bar proved to be a great way of spending a free Sunday!

The Sunday Line-up can be found here.


So, welcome to my blog! My name is Alexander van der Kolk.

I currently reside in Roosendaal, the Netherlands. For a living I work as a Software Engineer for Logica, a world-wide IT and management consultancy company. This blog gives me the opportunity to share some thoughts about my projects, travels and other interests. It will provide a means for people to get to know something about me and my experiences. It will also contain a project archive and a travel summary to see what I’ve done in the past and where I’m currently working on.

In the past I’ve tried to maintain this site using my own scripts, however it became tiresome to update it with content. Switching to proven technology is probably a better decision than to stay running it on my own. It will make my life easier and give me more spare-time to work on projects and have fun!

So far this welcome message, cheers!