Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

Axel Schoevers (Photo: A. de Krook) Name:
Axel Schoevers
Rijswijk, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sun Day Texel

While contemplating about whether or not I should join and commit to an Easter weekend trip with NKB or Peddelpraat, Jan suggested to paddle around Texel on Easter Sunday.

At 06:45 Jan and I set off from Den Helder to cross the Marsdiep. On the Texel side we were joined by Karien. She lives on Texel and started at 06:00 from Oudeschild. The weather was gorgeous with an almost negligible 1-2 Beaufort easterly wind (how fitting!) on a totally flat North Sea.
At 10:45 we already landed at the Cocksdorp on the northeast coast of Texel. We could have gone for a record-time, but to not offend Jan's regular long-distance paddling buddy (and to enjoy this day to the fullest) we left that for another day.

After a long break we left again at 12:30 to get over the Wantij at a time when the tide changes to have the ebb assist us to Oudeschild. A Wantij is the highest part of a tidal flat barrier. At Oudeschild, Karien finished her (first !) one-day Texel circumnavigation. After another relaxed break, Jan and I crossed back over to Den Helder where we landed at 18:00 sharp.
To view our route in Google Earth, click here.

I can now tell that I am officially 'in training' for my second '11-stedentocht' this September. That is just another circumnavigation. In this case on inland waters connecting eleven cities in the Friesland province, a route of about 200 km length to be completed within 36 hours.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


De Volharding on the Bergsche Maas, Netherlands, 2011
Jan asked me if I could assist him on the "Rondje Bommelerwaard" trip for Peddelpraat. This trip used to be advertised as a training-run for the (now defunct because of 'red tape') 140 km GRIMA (Great River Marathon) down the river Rhine from the German Border to Rotterdam.

Apparently his enthusiastic promotion in the club magazine for this 70 km long-distance trip on inland waters did not entice many. At 07:15 we set off with four...

For me this would be the first trip for a long time with these 'kilometer eaters'. Jan (with a buddy) regularly paddles 'weekend trips' in one day; i.e. around Texel. How would I cope, not having been 'tested' for a long time on these kind of distances and sustained paddling speeds.

After a busy indoor week with lots of issues to solve and lots of time behind the computer would I be in any shape to do this today? After half an hour I already knew that I made the right decision. I cannot remember going on a paddle and regretting it, whatever 'mental exhaustion' I would be in.

The first half of the trip is on the Bergsche Maas against a weak river current. The second half of the trip is with the current on the faster flowing river Waal. The trip statistics and GPS track shows that this trip is only 65 km! So that much smaller distance ;-) should attract more paddlers next year!

The trip took us a bit over 10:15 hours of which 8:15 hours paddling time. On this gorgeous day I think we were a bit lazy with three breaks totaling two hours. At 17:30 we were back. At least I feel comfortable (and pleasantly tired now) to join these guys and gal on another long distance trip.

P.S. The historic vessel on the picture that we encountered was named "De Volharding". A better motto than "Perseverance" one cannot find for long(er) distance paddling.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Better Facebook Graffiti

I was about to kill myself again on FB. What is it that makes me 'suicidal' every time I log-on to FB ?

For so many times I tried to enable my blog entries to automatically show-up on my wall. I tried it again yesterday, to no avail. A FB forum thread of more than two years (?!) of people complaining that this supposed FB functionality is not working! I was about to give-up again on FB (that would be forever). I had already let go of most my friends (again). Then some software threw me a life-line...

RSS Graffiti is an add-on application for FB that imports RSS feeds into ones Wall. And it works! The only reservations I have at this point is my understanding of the authorization settings that allows this to happen. With a few clicks it works like a charm.

My main FB 'frustration' however is the proliferation of recent activity notifications. By now I have no clear overview of where I all had to tweak the FB privacy settings to make it a bit more bearable. Being able to see EVERY FB activity of my friends makes me 'shiver'. It is thus not only the clutter on the Wall/Feed pages that annoy me.

Again, just by coincidence, I found out about the Better Facebook browser add-on. Just about anything from big to tiny annoyances can be alleviated with this piece of incredible software. No more activity notifications; the software physically deletes it from FB whenever one loads the profile page. Everything I detest FB for is now 'configured away'. And so much more!

The only thing I could not find is how to hide the FB activity notifications of my friends FB pages... But that would be their responsibility and choice anyway.

With other companies doing a better job than FB, it is just a matter of time that FB will end it's reign. And that there will be better social networking software than FB. Looking in my 'crystal ball' I see the end of FB before the next decade.

Back to work!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Flash Cookies and other Big Brothers

Regular Blog Reader Warning: This is Off-Topic!

A year ago I became aware of a thing called 'Flash Cookies'. Like anything on the internet (and in life) things are there to benefit us or can be (and often are) misused and a lot of shady areas in-between.

Most of us are aware of 'cookies' and know that it is our responsibility and choice to set them according to our privacy preferences. Within a browser session, cookies are for instance used to keep web form input available throughout a session. I have set them to clean them out after closing my internet browser(s).

Cookies are more and more used to specifically target advertising, based on our internet browsing and search activities. And as a result of growing user awareness, cookies are more and more 'disabled' (deleted after sessions) to prevent the build-up of a 'profile' for privacy reasons.

Off course, if one is logged-on to ones Google account and does all the searching from within that Google account, we have no control over that Google tracks all our activities to that user account (and not the IP address). The price of 'free' searching... Probably Google sells this as 'enhancing our searching experience' and to 'better be able to find what we are looking for'... (and target advertising along the way).

But now back to the Flash cookies. Not many sites even work anymore without us having Flash Player installed on our computer. And very few might know about Flash cookies.

Flash Cookies are now massively in use. Just look in the (Windows XP) folder:
C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Macromedia\Flash Player\\support\flashplayer\sys\

From the moment I read about it, I am thinking of Flash Player (cookies) as the ultimate Trojan. No, you cannot set it through your browser cookies settings. And yes, one finally can find the hidden 'documented' Flash cookies Settings screen.

Now that I thought I am in control of what I allow Flash Player to track, I was astonished to see it is still tracking websites (url's) that I visit, not adhering to my settings what I would think... And also puts that in your local settings.sol file.

Is this a problem?

Well, it depends. I still haven't found what I am looking for. But I do not want to find something that someone else decided for me to find. Anonymous browsing and searching is the way to go. Not that I have something dark to hide.

Remembering a bad experience in Cabo San Lucas (and probably all tourist locations). Being constantly harassed by people trying to sell you stuff for ALL the time you are walking on the street and even during dinner. Wearing a t-shirt with "Do not F#@!ing Harass me!" would not work as I would get more custom T-shirt offers and more, featuring the 'F-word'.

And that is also why Facebook will never become my cup of tea. Seeing the movie "The Social Network" does not help either. Such and such likes your T-shirt and before you know it...

My solution to Flash cookies is something as simple as going back to the 'good-old' DOS days with a batch file that I put in the folder:
C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Macromedia\Flash Player\\support\flashplayer\


Before running it, save the settings.sol file (that one contains your modified settings) from the \flashplayer\sys folder into the \flashplayer folder.

Adding a shortcut to this FLASHDEL.BAT batch file into my Windows start-up folder solves the issue (for now). If you want to use it, please use this carefully and at your own risk and only if you know your way around WindowsXP (and DOS). And Macromedia will sure change the workings in future versions.

And while this post is already so totally off the topic of kayaking, I could add that WindowsXP will be my last Windows version, having had horrible close encounters with Vista/Seven. And that Microsoft won't be around in ten years time. Time for me to retire from almost 30 years of CP/M, DOS and Windows and back to more kayaking.

And now wondering what Google AdSense will show next to this blog entry.