One man, 50 Bic pens

(An Experiment and a Fantastically Boring Tale.)

In 2011 I bought 50 pens in an attempt to stem the constant trickle of pen disappearances.

Like matching socks, ballpoint pens have this obscure, almost life-like ability to get lost just when you need them, and this seemed to be a good reason to buy way more pens than one man could chew on.

Last week I took a fresh pen from the box, because all the others had disappeared, and it would barely write. Dried up. I tried another from the box. Dried up. And so on.

I counted the dried-up pens I had left: 22.

So the result of this experiment is that a man can live on 28 pens before he must replenish.

A couple of caveats:

  • I regularly get pens from congresses and what have you, so the disappearance rate is probably higher than 30 pens over the lifetime of one Bic.
  • The period between when I bought my Fantastic Fifty and today neatly straddles the divide between when people needed a pen multiple times a day and when people did most of their stuff online or on their phones. In other words, my pen replacement rate has presumably slowed down.

Now for the good news: according to this selection of life hacks, you can bring a ballpoint back to life by using it to ‘write’ on rubber (for example, the sole of a shoe), and I can happily say, this works.

See also:

  • How long can you use a Bic before it runs out of ink?
  • At its introduction in the 1950s, the pen shown here was called the Atomic Pen, but as the Cold War wore on and the lure of a nuclear age quickly dissipated, Bic changed the name to Cristal. The hole in the cap was introduced in 1991 to prevent a user from choking after accidentally swallowing the cap. (NotASource)

An anecdotal look at Facebook page reach

Here is one for the books.

This is a graph of the so-called ‘reach’ that my roller derby photography page has on Facebook. Reach means: how many people have been exposed to my photos. (In an earlier blog post I explained why I have a Facebook page in the first place.)

Every dot represents the reach of a post in which I introduce a new photo album to this page.

There are two things that stand out from this graph, both which are remarkable for reasons I will explain below.

The first thing you will notice is the up-and-down nature of the graph. One time I reach a lot of people and the other barely any at all, but — and here comes the second anomaly — before the autumn of 2017, “barely any at all” still meant more than 2,000 people reached. Since late 2017, reach has dropped into the hundreds.

This is strange because of the way I work. I visit roller derby games on the weekend, prepare an album containing photos of a game the day after and then post the album, containing a few dozen photos, to my Facebook page. Usually the players and sometimes their friends and family will look at the fresh album and that is that. After a week, nobody except a few fans of very popular players, engages with the album any more.

In other words, my status updates are limited to the same type of thing over and over again, and although the specific audience changes per game, the expected size of the audience is always the same — namely friends and family of two teams of skaters.* This should be reflected in my reach, but it isn’t.

If anything, my average reach should increase slightly because more and more people ‘like’ my page.

When my reach was still in the thousands, I wasn’t overly concerned about the up-and-down nature of it, because I was still reaching most of the people who would be interested in my photos. When it dropped into the hundreds however, I started to worry a little.

“Over the past few months, I’ve read articles and answered questions from many people who are concerned about declines in organic reach for their Facebook Pages”, wrote one Facebook employee in 2014 in an article titled Organic Reach on Facebook: Your Questions Answered. Let’s see what he had to say.

There are basically three reasons why reach would drop over the course of time. The first is that more and more updates are being shared each day, the second is that people ‘like’ more pages than they did before and the third is that Facebook won’t show everything.

In other words, whenever I share a photo album, Facebook shows it to less and less people over the course of time, and the more people like my page, the fewer people get to see its fruits.

Facebook does this, it claims, so that it can keep people engaged. If people have too many things of little value to look at, they will get bored. So Facebook prefers to present people with content of high value.

And then he bowls that entire edifice over by saying that companies can buy views for their pages. So much for putting engaging, valuable content first.

I had an interesting experience last month. The online presence of roller derby in the Netherlands is largely concentrated on Facebook. Games are announced using Facebook event pages. After a game, I share links to my photo albums there, because not every skater is a fan of my page, but they may still be interested in photos of that particular event.

On this occasion, somebody posted a comment to my post on the event page. Usually this takes the form of “thank you” or “nice photos” but I like to check, in case somebody wants a photo removed or says something untoward. In this case, though, I could not view the comment because I could not view the post because Facebook had decided (I assume) that my post was not engaging enough for me.

I could see I had posted that link, because Facebook was still showing it among the three posts in the preview of its Discussion tab (event pages are divided into an About and a Discussion tab). And I could also see that somebody had commented, because Facebook notifies you of new comments. The site however just refused to show me either my post or the comment.

So that was an interesting bit of automated gaslighting. Smarter systems, designed to counter trolls, hide postings from other readers but not from the author, Facebook seemingly does it the other way around.

International ad agency Ogilvy (disclosure: I worked for them in a previous life) wrote a white paper in 2014 in which they outline the everlasting decline of Facebook page reach. Their recommendations are that 1) you focus on sub-sets of your audience so that you can better supply them with engaging stories rather than going for a one size fits all, and 2) that you return to Platform Neutral, e.g. your own website. If you want to control the discussion, you have to control the platform.

I am not sure that is such a good advice, because Google Search is a platform too now (it wasn’t, or not as much, in 2014) and is capturing a lot of visitors before they can reach your site. Also, in the case of the amateur event photographer, Facebook may simply be where your audience is, and you don’t get to move them around.

*) Full disclosure: most events I photograph are so-called double headers, in which two roller derby games are played back-to-back. That means that in those cases my audience actually consists of the players, friends and family of four teams. However, that would have side-tracked you into contemplating the nature of roller derby events in a way that is completely irrelevant for this post, hence the condensation of the situation into a form that is easier to understand.

Dutch photography magazines

The things you want to get better at you need to consume and you need to practice.

Consumption of photography can be done, amongst a great number of other ways, through the consumption of photography magazines.

Problem #1: when people say “photography magazines”, they mean “camera equipment magazines”. You know the type, left page is an ad, right page is something that is supposed to be not an ad, although for some reason they both try to sell you gear you don’t need.

Sometimes photography magazines are called art magazines, sometimes niche.

Problem #2: magazines are dying out. I’ll count vlogs and blogs too if I run across them.

Problem #3: I am an old man and used to things being a certain way.

That is not the problem.

The problem is that our modern-day neo-liberal hipster paradise, everything, including magazines, are a thing. In my day you went to the copy-shop, copied what you had, and if you had readers, you had a magazine (or fanzine). Nowadays when the thing is no longer cool, you no longer have a magazine. I hope this makes at all sense.

What I am saying is that it is difficult to see if what you have is a magazine or if the makers are about to get bored.

I don’t, at this point, want to drop the phrase “continual effort”, because that sounds like an obligation and a drag, but… Anyway.

Let us also hope I won’t forget to keep this list up to date.

FOAM Magazine, of the museum in Amsterdam, 3x a year, since 2002.

GUP (Guide to Unique Photography), 4x a year, since 2005.

FW, FW:Books, 2004 – 2010.

Extra, FW:Books (essays), 2x a year.

Newdawn, by the makers of GUP, 6x a year, 2014 – 2015, no longer in print.

Newdawn, the blog continuation of Newdawn.

Ordinary, 4x a year.

March & Rock, photos by Maarten Rots, 3x a year, since 2015.

(I don’t count Unseen Magazine, because a frequency of once a year makes it a almanac, not a magazine. Same goes for Cindy Baar’s The Butter Space.)

List of possible disadvantages of a NAS

I have two work computers in my home office—one a desktop PC and one laptop—and I thought it would be nice if both had access to the same set of files.

Late 2016 I looked a little into setting up my own file server, but in the end I went to a store and bought a NAS, a network drive. Just like a printer you connect to the drive through the network, but unlike a printer it doesn’t have it’s own port. Ideally your OS pretends the NAS is just a drive hanging off the computer and ideally the OS deals with the nitty gritty of actually making the drive behave like that.

In the end I bought the Synology DS215j and two hard disks. Installation was straight-forward enough that I don’t remember anything about it. I had found the Synology by looking on tweakers.net at what appeared to be well-regarded brands and models.

A year later I had removed the NAS from my company’s books because things were just not working out.

So what are, from my perspective, the disadvantages of a NAS (specifically the Synology DS-xx) for the use of an office file server?

TL/DR: network abstraction only partially achieved, data loss may occur.

– The NAS tries to connect to the internet by itself and without my permission to do god knows what. I realise this is par for the course in our VC fueled, neo-liberal paradise, but I am an old geezer who remembers the day in which devices worked for him instead of the other way around.

– When you haven’t used the NAS for a while and need data, it takes a few seconds to start up. It is not instantaneous, like a hard disk is.

– On the other hand, sometimes you are not using the NAS but it nevertheless fires up all by itself (maybe the OS needs it for something).

– When you wake the OS, you have lost your connection to the NAS.

– You can easily reconnect, but not all application software remembers these lost connections. For example, if you had a certain folder open on the NAS in Windows Explorer, the latter will not always return there, but instead show the My Computer folder.

This is not a review, nor a critique of Synology, nor is it complete. I jotted down the above notes because I was evaluating the NAS. Specifically I wanted to know if it could be properly used in my business, and what I was particularly interested in were its failure modes.

I have ‘sold’ the NAS to myself (strictly a matter of bookkeeping). As a personal, non-business device it seems to work quite well. I use it to keep photos, movies and TV series on. I stream these to my private laptop when I want to watch something in bed.

Maybe I could have set the NAS up to be always on and maybe I could have convinced Windows to keep the network connection up, but in the end it was too much bother. I simply do not need to transfer files between systems often enough to justify all this bother. YMMV.

Facebook Location Spam

facebook-location-spam

If you check in at a location on Facebook or enter the location for a photo, there is a chance that you will end up linking to spam.

The main reason for this is that Facebook is crap and the people who make Facebook are idiots, but I say this in anger after hacking spam out of my photo albums for 2 hours straight, so I will acknowledge that this is perhaps not the most constructive of explanations. Let me elucidate.

When you try and enter a location in Facebook, the site helpfully offers you a number of suggestions based on the part of the location name you have entered so far. This is not an exhaustive list, i.e. Facebook makes a selection of locations it is going to suggest. If the name of the location is not in the list, you get the option to ‘Just use’ the name you just entered.

In some of Facebooks forms, you get the option to Add Place. This takes you to a new form in which you can enter some information about the place you just added, including its address. Facebook does not remember what you added last time, so if you have to fix hundreds of photos, you have to fill out thousands of fields (hence me just wasting two hours).

But suppose you are a spamming low-life piece of scum (watch your contaminations, Branko!) and you have somehow managed to automate part of this process, you now have found yourself a way to storm the top of the list of location suggestions. At least, that is how I assume this works. It would make little sense for Facebook to suggest obscure locations, so I assume they automatically suggest popular locations, opening them up to attacks by spammers who have the time, the energy and the tools to game this system.

Presumably, the more people like and check in at these scam locations, the more popular these false locations get.

The screenshot illustrates how I have started typing ‘Sporthal’ – Dutch for sports venue – and as you see, Facebook suggests 8 locations. Of those, 3 have been hijacked by spammers, all of which show up in the top 4 (you can tell by the fact they share the same logo).

I have no idea how these scammers manage to hijack locations so completely. They take over both the profile photo and the cover photo and manage to be the only ones to have posting rights. The cover photo seems to be something that a person can suggest for a location, but the other two items aren’t.

I know of at least one location (Sporthal Oranjeplein in The Hague) where there was a somewhat well used, somewhat maintained real location page that was then ‘merged’ with the spam location. Meaning, if you somehow managed to find a link to the original location page and clicked it, Facebook would automatically redirect you to the spam page. In those cases Facebook will helpfully tell you it has merged pages and offer you a way to report an incorrect merge.

This is also useful in cases where locations have been merged with automatically created pages – case in point, links in photo albums leading to Utrecht Disaster (a roller skating hall) now all lead to an auto-generated page about the Heysel Stadium disaster. You can report the mismerge – as useful as pressing a pedestrian crossing call button I imagine.

So what is the problem? Is there a problem? I mean, I hate spammers and all that, but in the end it is my choice to add a location to my photos, and it is my fault if I don’t properly look at the location I add.

The mismerges are problematic in this respect, because I could link to a proper location only to find out years later that the link is now redirecting to spam.

I also imagine that if locations can be hijacked by spammers, they can be hijacked by phishers and other criminals with more insidious designs.

I don’t know of a way to fix this. Facebook does not want to hire people to add and manage locations, so this is always going to be a problem. It could disable locations altogether, but having people share where they have been and what they have done together, happens to be one of its most attractive qualities. Adding the ability to report spam, assuming Facebook would actually follow up on such reports, might help, but I can think of several drawbacks. For one, Facebook (and similar social media services) is known for selectively listening to its users. Why would I report something if I believe they wont listen anyway. The other problem is that this turns the whole battle over locations in one between two powerful factions (Facebook on the one hand, spammers on the other) in which the regular user is less and less likely to be heard.

Facebook’s problem is a conceptual one. It wants locations to be somewhat community managed, but ignores the fact that the community contains many bad actors.

There is a very simple thing they could have done for my specific problem, though. As I am typing the name of the venue where I have taken my photos, progressively less and less suggestions appear. This makes sense in a world where there is only one location called Sporthal Oranjeplein (staying with my previous example), but Facebook knows of several. Would it be too confusing to show more than one?

Design pattern: event calendar (focussing on WordPress)

Event calendars tell users about interesting events that are about to happen. They can also help create an impression of how busy the near future will be. Furthermore, calendars may double as a navigation or filter tool.

Events as blog posts in WordPress

I’ve helped build a number of event calendars for websites in the past, especially for websites based on the WordPress-CMS. For small businesses and organisations who mainly need a website for informational purposes, WordPress is a powerful choice because it is cheap, easy to install, easy to maintain and well supported.

A basic WordPress-based website shows information as a series of blog post abstracts on its homepage, the most recent one at the top and posts getting progressively older as the visitor scrolls down the web page.

A simple way to draw attention to events is to display them as blog posts. WordPress started out as a blogging platform so it’s well suited for this purpose. There are a number of problems with this approach:

  • Events don’t necessarily mix well with regular blog posts or news items.
  • Regular blog posts are best sorted by publication date, events are best sorted by event date.
  • If you wrote about an event early on, it would get pushed off the screen by more recent posts.

In short, people would have to start hunting for your events or your news or both. For that reason it is best if events and blog posts are separated. This is where event calendars come in.

Luckily WordPress offers a lot of plugins for event calendars. Searching for these plugins in the WordPress plugin directory yielded the following number of hits per search phrase: events (1,001), event calendar (314), event list (841) and so on.

Grid type event calendars

If you look at the screenshots from the top results for each search, you will see that most of the event calendars are displayed as classical calendars, that is to say a matrix in which each column presents a weekday and each row a week.

event-wordpress-plugins

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Making complex PHP arrays viewable

When you want to study the contents of PHP arrays, for example when you ask the API of your favourite PHP CMS a question and it returns an array in which the answer is somehow hidden, you can use PHP functions like print_r and var_dump to display the array in a way that makes it easy to study.

Let’s say you define the following array:

$foods = array('plants' => array('fruits', 'vegetables'), 'animals' => 'meat', 'mixed' => array('pies' => 'pies'));

then running print_r($foods) will give you the following result:

Array
(
    [plants] => Array
        (
            [0] => fruits
            [1] => vegetables
        )
    [animals] => meat
    [mixed] => Array
        (
            [pies] => pies
        )
)

This improves the readibility quite a bit, because the linebreaks, indentation and added information (brackets for keys, “Array” to indicate the type) all help you to visually parse the array.

When you have large arrays to study however, the usefulness of print_r or var_dump diminishes rapidly. It can get quite tricky to remember the indentation level of an array that spans more than a few screens.

This is where tools like Krumo come in; they will present (within a web page) an array or object (or any value really) within a collapsible format. Only when you click on a top element will it fold out to display its contents.

I needed something like Krumo, but since the latter clocks in at about 100 kilobytes, Krumo itself can become quite complex to work with if you want more than the basics. (Don’t worry if you were thinking about using Krumo, it is still unsurpassed at simply showing objects and arrays.)

Below, I present you what I came up with.

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Zakelijke bankrekeningen vergelijken in 2016 [NL/Dutch]

In 2011 betaalde je 7 tot 9 maal méér voor een zakelijke rekening dan voor een particuliere rekening.

Die verschillen zijn sterk teruggelopen – althans, als je een kleine, dienstverlenende ondernemer bent van het kaliber vertaler of adviseur. Zelfs dan betaal je nog steeds minimaal 2 tot 3 maal zoveel voor je zakelijke rekening dan voor je privérekening.

Het verschil wordt de laatste jaren gemaakt door bankrekeningen die speciaal op ondernemers met een kleine paymentservicesbehoefte zijn gericht. Hieronder een overzicht:

– Oogluikend privérekening (24 € p.j.)
Knab Zakelijk (60 € p.j.)
ASN Zakelijk (72 € p.j.)
Regiobank ZZP Rekening (75 € p.j.)
SNS ZZP (90 € p.j.)

Bij de vier zakelijke rekeningen zijn de eerste 1.000 reguliere transacties (het doen en ontvangen van overschrijvingen en het doen van PIN- en IDEAL-betalingen) gratis. Daarnaast ontvang je er een beetje creditrente, met uitzondering van (op dit moment) Regiobank.

Een winkelier daarentegen die wil dat zijn zakelijke bank alle paymentservices voor zijn rekening neemt, dus ook het storten van contant geld, het ontvangen van IDEAL-betalingen op zijn webwinkel en het ontvangen van automatische incasso, heeft weinig keus. Er zijn drie banken met uitgebreide opties, algemeen bekend:

ABN Amro MKB
ING Zakelijk
Rabobank Zakelijke Rekening

De vaste abonnementskosten hiervan beginnen rond de 120 euro per jaar. Daarnaast betaal je een klein bedrag per transactie.

Ten slotte heb je nog wat tussenvormen:

Regiobank MKB Rekening
SNS Zakenrekening
Triodos Internet Zakelijk
Van Lanschot Zakelijk

Hiervan is nuttig te weten dat de Regiobank- en SNS-rekeningen vrijwel dezelfde abonnementskosten hebben als hun ZZP-varianten (Regiobank is overigens net als ASN Bank een dochter van SNS), maar dat je daarnaast per transactie betaalt.

De Van Lanschot-rekening wordt niet prominent op hun website getoond. Ik vermoed dat deze vermogensbeheerder met name een zakelijke rekening aanbiedt, zodat hun klanten niet twee verschillende banken hoeven aan te houden. Hun jaarabonnement (rekening, bankpas en online bankieren) is dan ook het duurste van allemaal.

De vreemde eend in de bijt is daarmee Triodos: je betaalt hetzelfde tarief als de banken voor retailers terwijl je er een ZZP-rekening voor terugkrijgt. Misschien dat als iemand van Triodos dit leest, ze het me kunnen uitleggen.

In het bovenstaande heb ik waar ik prijzen heb genoemd, gekeken naar pakketten waarbij minimaal een bankrekening, een bankpas en online bankieren zijn inbegrepen. Bij de meeste banken kun je ook niet minder afnemen.

Kijk niet alleen naar de abonnementskosten

Wat mij bij mijn onderzoekje vooral opviel, is dat zakelijke rekeningen complexe producten zijn die niet makkelijk één op één te zijn te vergelijken. Dat is mede waarom ik niet overal de abonnementskosten noem. Als je een bankbehoefte hebt die ingewikkelder is dan het ontvangen en doen van hooguit enkele honderden overschrijvingen per jaar, dan ga je rekeningen al gauw vergelijken op het aanbod van overige diensten en de daarbij horende kosten.

Kijk dus niet alleen naar de prijs van een rekening, maar ook naar de omvang van het pakket. Producten die sommige banken goedkoop en andere banken duur of zelfs helemaal niet leveren, zijn: extra bankpassen, advies, transacties, automatisch overschrijven, zakelijk sparen, incasso, acceptgiro, gegevensexport voor je boekhoudpakket enzovoort.

Er is momenteel niemand die een goede vergelijking biedt tussen de verschillende diensten die een bank bij zijn zakelijke rekening aanbiedt. Vorig jaar vergeleek MoneyView de voorwaarden van zakelijke rekeningen, maar de resultaten zijn alleen in een heel summiere samenvatting te zien voordat je tegen de paywall opbotst. Hun document Criteria Product Rating Voorwaarden Betalingsverkeer is echter nuttig leesvoer voor wie wil zien waar je bij de keuze van een bank allemaal op kunt letten.

Mijn onderzoek werd bemoeilijkt doordat banken niet vermelden welke diensten ze niet aanbieden. Daardoor is het lastig uit te vinden of een dienst ontbreekt. ASN Bank en Knab zeggen bijvoorbeeld niets over periodieke overboekingen. Betekent dit dat ze die niet aanbieden? Of dat ze ze wel aanbieden, maar niet vermelden? Misschien vermelden ze ze wel, maar kan ik ze niet vinden, omdat ik de verkeerde zoektermen gebruik?

De zakelijke rekeningen heb ik vergeleken met het zakelijk gebruik van een (eventueel tweede) particuliere rekening. Deze heb ik Oogluikend Privérekening genoemd, omdat de banken weliswaar het zakelijk gebruik van privérekeningen verbieden, maar sommige banken het oogluikend lijken toe te staan.

Overduidelijk lokkertjes als starterspakketten heb ik uit mijn vergelijking weggelaten.

Wat nu als je eerst aan een goedkope rekening genoeg hebt, maar later meer payment services nodig hebt? Moet je dan overstappen? Knab wijst erop dat je aanvullende payment services bij derden kunt inkopen. Aangezien ik daar helemaal geen verstand van heb (ik voldoe zelf met gemak aan de ZZP-definitie), laat ik het aan anderen over daar iets over te zeggen. De naam Mollie hoor ik regelmatig voorbijkomen; via deze PSP kun je in elk geval online betalingen ontvangen.

De toekomst

Het landschap voor zakelijk bankieren zag er vijf jaar geleden heel anders uit. Vijftien jaar geleden was het wéér anders. Ik begon in 2000 voor mezelf, en toen kon je nog een gratis rekening bij de Postbank krijgen en waren de ING-rekeningen daarentegen (voor mijn gevoel althans) peperduur.

Het enige wat je daaruit over de toekomst kunt concluderen is dat die er heel anders kan uitzien. Dat kan een reden zijn om een bank met een uitgebreid dienstenpakket uit te kiezen of om juist om de zoveel tijd je bankierbehoefte opnieuw vast te stellen en tegen het aanbod van die tijd te houden.

Disclosure: als je zoals ik regelmatig voor reclame- en internetbureaus werkt, ligt er wel eens een bank op je bordje. Ik heb echter aan zoveel verschillende bankensites gewerkt, dat ik me niet kan voorstellen in dit artikel een bank al dan niet bewust te hebben bevoordeeld.

Meet the golden banana of discord

golden-banana

You know this graph, you have seen it before. It is a graph displaying a distribution.

If you squint, it resembles a golden banana.

In the text adventure world they hold yearly competitions. In fact, the largest of them, IFComp, is currently underway, and the way it works is that everybody who wants to can be a judge. You’re supposed to play a game for up to two hours, give it a score between 1 and 10 and move on to the next.

At the end the scores are tallied and the game with the highest average wins. Often, the way the scores are distributed per game is more or less according to a normal distribution. A game that gets mostly sixes will also get some 5s and 7s, almost no 4s and 8s and only rarely scores outside that range.

Other games work differently. Players either love them or hate them and the result is that scores will be distributed not around their averages, but along the edges. Being of a certain bent of mind, the text adventure community has embraced this occurrence and named an award after the shape and, I believe, the colour of the way these graphs were originally presented – the Golden Banana of Discord. The prize (a stuffed plush banana) has been awarded since the year 2000 and is actually given to the winner of the IFComp entry with the highest standard deviation—the distribution of scores doesn’t have to be banana shaped.

I have taken to calling every banana-shaped distribution The Golden Banana of Discord, because I believe the name serves its purpose well and deserves recognition outside the text adventure community.

I said that you know this distribution. Remember the last time you looked for hotel or restaurant reviews online? Check out a bunch of them and you will start seeing golden bananas all over the place. Had a pleasant evening? Here’s and 8, sir. Hair in your soup or your waitress didn’t smile at you? A 2! Giving low marks on online review sites is often the only way a patron can regain some control over their ruined evening, regardless of whether the restaurant is otherwise well liked or universally despised—in the latter case the owners have a dozen fake e-mail addresses which they use to write glowing reviews about their own restaurant.

Last year's Golden Banana winner, SPY INTRIGUE, with its none-EU-approved banana shape among two games with beautifully normally distributed scores. Source: IFComp.

Last year’s Golden Banana winner, SPY INTRIGUE, with its none-EU-approved banana shape among two games with beautifully normally distributed scores. Source: IFComp.

Completely useless overview of mobile phone brands in the Netherlands, May 2016

An obscure need to know led me to create the following overview of mobile phone brands in the Netherlands. Since I got relatively little use out of it, I figured I’d share it here. Maybe it will find some use after all.

Caveat: I didn’t need a very precise list, so please don’t use this is as the basis for your hostile take-over or master’s paper.

By way of summary introduction (TL/DR: TL/DR) I will note that there are four-and-a-half network operators in the Netherlands who all have their own brands of mobile phone providers. T-Mobile (German), KPN (Dutch), Vodafone (British) and Tele2 (Swedish) have their own network. The half-network provider is Liberty Global plc, who do own their own frequency, but need to cooperate with Vodafone to make it work. (Things got too technical for me after this.)

Then there is a whole raft of companies and brands that provide mobile telephony and that use the networks of others. I did some quick Googling but found no indication that the network quality is any less if your company has to rent their access.

The list is not complete by any stretch; it is simply based on brands that sounded familiar to me. As it turns out, all the companies large enough to own a slice of the network spectrum sounded familiar to me, so at least there’s that.

T-Mobile brands:
– T-Mobile
– Ben
[- own network]

KPN brands:
– KPN
– Simyo
– Telfort
– Hi
[- own netwerk]

Vodafone brands:
– Vodafone
– Blyk
– Hollandse Nieuwe
– Sizz
[- former brand: Libertel]
[- also owns the Belcompany chain of mobile phone shops]
[- own network]

Tele2 AB brands:
– Tele2
[- since 2015 own 4G network]

Liberty Global plc brands:
– Ziggo
[- formerly UPC]
[- uses the Vodafone network]
[- has a 4G license]

Youfone brands:
– Youfone
[- owned by the same people that own NL Energie]
[- uses the KPN network]

Simpel brands:
– Simpel
[- founded by former T-Mobile employees]
[- uses the T-mobile network]

Note that I assigned nationalities to various companies, but the global trend is to have different headquarters depending on where the legal, financial, fiscal and labour environments are the most profitable. If a large company waves a national flag these days, you must start from the assumption that this is a branding exercise, not a heart-felt statement of loyalty.