My wishlist for 2010

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. I don’t smoke or drink coffee or alcohol, so those vices I don’t need to cut down on or quit altogether. I play tennis at least once a week, and have a Kung Fu/Tai Chi/Qigong class every week. I take the stairs whenever I can. And I also enjoy good food, which includes fresh veggies and lots of fresh fruit. Sure, there’s always room for improvement. I’m far from living the perfect life. But I love singer/producer/DJ Ben Westbeech‘s motto “Welcome to the best years of your life”. Live life to make the best of it. But this year, I’m making an exception. Continue reading “My wishlist for 2010”

Listmania: the music of 2009, Herko edition!

It’s that time of year again, where you look back and -well basically, make lists. So, in keeping with this wonderful tradition on the interwebz here’s my list of music related goodness of 2009.

Award shows on TV keep the best for last in order to keep their audience hostage and their advertisers happy, but the web apparently doesn’t work like that. So,lets get this show on the road! Continue reading “Listmania: the music of 2009, Herko edition!”

New site for Child Support Ghana goes live!

Finally, after many hours of work, the new website for the Child Support Ghana NGO and Dutch Foundations is live. Child Support Ghana is a non-profit organization based in the Upper West Region (UWR) capital Wa, Ghana, West Africa, who support needy children by providing them with a roof over their head, loving care, education and healthcare. This organization is the vehicle for the awesome work my dad is doing in Ghana. His work is supported by a Dutch Foundation who raise funds and volunteers for the projects. Doing their website, has been a long standing side project of mine.

The new ChildSupport-Ghana.org website, as created by Herko Coomans
Screenshot of the Child Support Ghana homepage

Continue reading “New site for Child Support Ghana goes live!”

I support web standards!

Monday, November 30, 2009 is the 3rd annual Blue Beanie Day. Started by Doug Vos, Blue Beanie Day is a way to show support for web standards and accessibility.

Doing my bit for Blue Beanie Day
Herko supporting Webstandards Blue Beanie Day

Excerpt from the 3rd Annual Blue Beanie Day Event Page:

It鈥檚 easy to show your support for web design done right. Beg, borrow, or buy a Blue Beanie (or Blue Toque in Canada) and snap a photo of your mug wearing the blue. (Or get creative with Photoshop). Then on November 30, switch your profile picture in Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, (and any other social network) and post your photo to the Flickr Blue Beanie Day 2009 group.

Want to help with planning the 3rd Annual Blue Beanie Day? Planning a meetup or tweetup in your hometown? Organizing a group photo in your city? You might qualify to win a free copy of Zeldman and Marcotte鈥檚 (brand new) Designing With Web Standards 3rd edition. Contact Douglas Vos.

Kevin Cornell makes it even easier for us this year by providing an illustrated blue beanie photoshop file.

So don a blue beanie, spread the word and keep working towards a truly open web.
Some of my collegues also support Webstandards:

@raphderooij supports webstandards (gasp!) -introduced to blue beanie day #bbd09
Raph dons his blue beanie
@julezrulez supports webstandards (obviously)
Jules also supports webstandards
BBD09#4
OWMS Smurf supports anything for a beer
@michellethonen manages to look like a kitten
Standards in da hood! Word.
Hey look! I'm wearing a blue beanie too!
Euhm... no comment.
Don't you dare take your blue beanie back!
A Lean Mean Blue Beanie Machine

Ben Westbeech lights up RAW Rhythm Festival 2009

The 2009 edition of the RAW Rhythm festival, hoping to fill the shoes left vacant by its predecessor DRUM Rhythm, is finished. Two great days filled with good food, good friends and great music and performances. Here is my review.

Day one: start with a bang

The festival started with an early performance by Lamb, one of -if not the most – my favorite bands. Lamb got back together again after they split up 5 years ago to persue other projects (such as Lou starting her own label Infinite Bloom, and singing on two Cinematic Orchestra albums, and Andy doing Hoof and Luna Seeds). But now producer Andy Barlow, singer Lou Rhodes and bassplayer Jon Thorne are touring the festivals again, playing their old songs. We saw them first at the Cactus Festival in Brugges, Belgium a couple of weeks ago, and the basically played the same set.

Lamb @ RAWRhythm Festival 2009
Lamb live @ RAW Rhythm 2009
Lamb @ RAWRhythm Festival 2009
Lou Rhodes taking center stage

Lamb used to be 5 people, with Icelandic Oddur Mar Runnarson playing the guitar, and Dane Nikolaj Bjerre as the main percussionist. But now it’s just the three of them on stage.

Lamb had the difficult task to play early in the evening, in the largest venue at the Westergasfabriek, with gorgeous weather outside. By the time they started playing, there were only about a hundred people about. Their audience gradually grew, but they had to work hard to get the positive and energetic vibe they’re famous and loved for.

I especially liked Lou’s singing, her voice has matured over the years and become rock solid and fragile at once. Her voice is a love it or hate it thing, apparently, as a friend who joined us for this performance told us later, her voice annoys him.

And Andy and Jon were their usual energetic selves, with Andy firing up the fans by taking the bongo’s (or whatever these drums are called) to the front stage and soloing a bit.

I loved seeing Lamb perform live again, this must have been our 8th time. And I can’t wait for their live CD/DVD to be released (as their Wikipedia page announces). But in all honesty, their performance was lacking that bit of extra fire, the interaction with the fans and audience, and frankly, the drummer. It made a big difference, but not enough to ruin the performance.

There’s one little anecdote I’d like to share with you all that relates to Lamb. I twittered about the performance, and I got a special kind of reply:

Tweet @Herko Lamb was awesome! As usual 馃檪 @RAWrhythm #RR http://twitpic.com/ca9d6
Reply @Lamb_lover It’s so easy using up roast lamb leftovers, wrapped in foil and kept in the fridge they’re good for two days

Ben Westbeech and Jazzanova

The rest of the evening were dedicated to walking from one hall to another, finding some good tunes to dance to. Ducth rappers Zwart Licht were able to get the crowds going crazy in an instant, but that was just loud noise. Ryan Leslie was a slick smooth talker with a good show on the main stage, and Dizzee Rascal was ok, but not my kind of music. Nneka was great, she has a voice like a real soul diva. And then we came to Ben Westbeech.

Westbeech is a producer/singer/DJ from Giles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings label. His was a DJ set with vocals. Jazzanova was there to tweak some knobs as well, apparently they know eachother and have worked together for a bit. But Westbeec clearly wanted to have a good time. He played an impressive set of funk, soul, house, hip-hop and sang in some of those tunes as well. There weren’t many people in the audience at first (Dizzee Rascal was performing on the main stage), but as the set continued, the dancefloor filled up nicely.

Ben Westbeech and flute-girl @ RAWRhythm Festival 2009
Ben Westbeech + flutist @RAW Rhythm
Ben Westbeech and Jazzanova collab @ RAWRhythm Festival 2009
Ben Westbeech & Jazzanova
Ben Westbeech (photo @arnecoomans)
Ben Westbeech (photo @arnecoomans)

And thus ended day one of the RAW Rhythm festival 2009. The old Drum Rhythm vibe was there, the quality of the artists was high, the food was good and the weather was too.

Day two: not so much

The second day of RAW Rhythm started with us getting more bracelets, as the photographers and crew bracelets we got yesterday apparently didn’t cut it for today. So now we got a new photo bracelet, and uniquely a backstage access bracelet. We looked kinda like a freakshow with all those tags, if you ask me.

 

Tagged
Tagged

This second day was main sponsor G-Star RAW Denim’s day, apparently. They held a ‘private’ party, inviting a bunch of ‘celebs and babes’ as my brother put it. This meant that there were a lot of people there who didn’t come for the music, who were more interested in how they looked, and by whom they were noticed, and this didn’t have a positive effect on the festivals vibe. It became more tense, and more crowded outside. The effect was that DJs were playing in a smaller room, near empt, while outside were hundreds of people drinking and eating.

Anyways, back to the music, so to speak. Surprise soul act of the festival was Leelah James, sort of a smaller (and younger of course) version of Tina Turner. She has a great voice, and an awesome band, but she clearly didn’t like that fact that she had to start off for a rather empty and docile main stage.

And we saw De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, which was nice (but also not my kind of music), and Chuckie and Lil John. Chuckie is ok, but Lil John is just nasty. And for some reason, there’s a LOT of talk and interrupting going on, in stead of just playing the music and letting everybody dance.

We also saw Roni Size, who is clearly still king of the jungle. His beats got the whole room up and jumping from the very first start. Roni Size was awesome. For me, it was the best of the whole day.

Anyways, the second day just didn’t reach the same high as the first -for me. Overall we enjoyed ourselves very much ,and hope to see the festival return next year!

Long live XHTML!

Smashing Magazine published a comic strip written by Jeremy Keith and drawn by Brad Colbow about W3C’s recent announcement to end the XHTML 2 workgroup charter by te end of the year. There has been a huge amount of discussion on this topic within the webstandards community, and Jeremy Keith’s explanation of the exaggerated reports of XHTML’s demise is a great way to get the gist of the matter.

Comic explaining why XHTML isn't dead
Comic explaining why XHTML isn't dead

RAW rhythm festival FTW

This weekend is the first edition of the RAW Rhythm festival, held at the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam. RAW Rhythm is the sequel of the Drum Rhythm festival, a popular festival a few years ago, that had to cease its acivities due to a new law that probibits tobacco-advertising in The Netherlands. Now it’s ‘back’, as the organisers found a new sponsor in G-star RAW jeans.

I attended two or three editions of Drum Rhythm, and saw some of the most memorable performances I have ever experienced there. I saw Lamb perform a truly magical and energetic set, I saw Leftfield give one of their last performances, I saw Austrian lounge-duo Kruder & Dorfmeister getting a crowd jumping, and many many more.

So I was very happy to discover that there will be a new edition of this festival, and even happier when I found out that my favorite band Lamb had actually reformed itself (after splitting up for solo projects a few years ago) and were going to perform there again! I created a Last.fm event for the festival, as there wasn’t one yet, added all the acts to the bandlist, and saw it grow and grow.

My brother, who is a professional concert and event photographer (he’s 3voor12 Amsterdam‘s phtography co枚rdinator), has now arranged for two photographers wristbands for the whole festival! This means that we’ll be able to go backstage and go everywhere! So this is going to be a very memorable festival for me.

I’ll post a review and photo’s after the weekend!

Barcamp Webguidelines and web 2.0, june 30th, Amsterdam

On june 30th, the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Cinnamon Interactive host a barcamp on the Webguidelines and web 2.0. The Webguidelines are a set of accessibility guidelines that are mandatory for Dutch government to implement in their websites before the end of 2010. The barcamp aims to bring government organizations and webdevelopers together to discuss issues, ideas and solutions on creating accessible web 2.0 applications. The barcamp will be held at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam, from 9am to 4pm, and you can sign up at the barcamp website on overheid20.nl.

I haven’t been involved in organizing this barcamp at all, but as a member of thh Webguidelines project I take a special interest in it. The idea for this barcamp probably was born when Cinamon Interactive, a (mostly) Dutch Website builder with a reputation for building accessible sites got the assignment to build a web 2.0 platform for the Ministry of the Interior. Since the application of the Webguidelines is mandatory for state government websites since 2006, Cinnamon wanted to know how to secure accessibility on the platform with all that user generated content, widgets, data sharing and other web 2.0 technologies.

This is one of the known criticisms on the Webguidelines, accessible user generated content. The main question is ‘how to ensure that user’s contributions are accessible conforming to the webstandards and webguidelines, without making it too hard for users to interact with the platform’. This quickly turns into a discussion about what is more important: contributions from people, or accessible government content. While there is a lot to be said about that discussion, there is no clear answer for it, and thus it doesn’t bring us any closer to a solution.

What will? One thing to look at definitely is W3C‘s WAIARIA standard. If you’re interested, read this excellent article by martin Kliehm on A List Apart titled “Accessible Web 2.0 applications with WAI-ARIA“.

Anyways, I’ll be attending the barcamp, and I hope more people will to. The more people, the better we’ll be able to find creative solutions to a pretty serious problem.

**UPDATE** As of today, june 22nd, there aren’t any more places available for this Barcamp. Thanks everyone for signing up! I’ll keep you posted on the results. You can probable follow the barcamp with twitter. Now to find a decent hashtag for this event.

Partying with R贸is铆n Murphy

R贸is铆n Murphy
R贸is铆n Murphy (by Dennis Stempher)

Yesterday we went to a concert of R贸is铆n Murphy in Amsterdam’s Heineken Music Hall. R贸is铆n is the former Moloko singer. We saw her before twice: once as part of Moloko, and once as part of a Groove Armada concert. Both times she brought great energy and a tight performance to the stage, so our expectations and hopes were high.

The show started a bit slow and tame, like she didn’t really feel like performing but was doing so anyway. Still, her voice is flawless, her band is incredible, and her background singers are awesome, so even then it was still a good concert. Not great tho. Continue reading “Partying with R贸is铆n Murphy”

The value of privacy in an interconnected world

One of the blog posts that was on my to-do list was one about the value of privacy in the interconnected world (hence the apt title of this blog post). I thought long and hard about what I wated to write and research to convince you that privacy is undergoing a major transformation at the moment. And then I found Nat Torkington‘s presentation called ‘Web meets World: Privacy and the Future of the Cloud‘. And that is exactly what I wanted to tell you! So please take some time to go through this excellent presentation (make it full-screen so you can read the notes, which contain the text of his presentation).