New, but why?


Picture of a coffee mug saying "begin"If you are a/the regular visitor to this site, you’ll notice a new design, and might wonder why that is. Maybe you even think the previous one looked better. There is a single technical reason for the change, but it comes with quite a long story. Once upon a time, in 2001, I bought the domain, mostly to get my e-mail address (m at rnix dot nl). And then you get the possibility to host a site as well. So it began. I think I started at Blogger, followed by self-hosted WordPress, SquareSpace and now self-hosted WordPress again.


When I moved to SquareSpace, it was to get rid of the constant updating of the site. Every time I logged in to my WordPress site I had to update. SquareSpace offered great themes and hassle-free websites for a reasonable ~ €100 a year. However, over the years, SquareSpace has become more of a site for e-commerce sites than personal blogs, making it harder to bang out a quick post. That meant I was posting less and less. So here we go, trying the WordPress thing again. Have a tip for a better cms? Let me know!

The Corporate Story – The GPS for communications strategy


I wrote a blog about the corporate story for effectgroep (in Dutch). In short, the corporate story tells the story of your company, without the boring mission, vision and who remembers the third. It’s a story that touches people and is the base for all your communication. By solidifying your identity, you get the employees and customers you deserve.

Door het verhaal vast te leggen, zorg je ervoor dat iedereen hetzelfde vertelt. Sterker nog, een corporate story is een self-fulfilling prophecy. Een bedrijf dat consequent hetzelfde verhaal vertelt en leeft, krijgt vanzelf de klanten, partners en medewerkers die daarbij passen.

Want to know why you need one and how effectgroep produces a corporate story? Head over to



As an information addict, you want to have control over your own news. On the other hand, you want to be surprised. So it’s important to have a ‘healthy’ media diet, with predictable sources and curators who surprise you. My solution? RSS, with a lot of content collectors among my subscriptions. Below are my favorite sources. If you read all of them, you’ll find most of what I link to yourself! The list may be updated…

Tech news/Apple

Daring Fireball: John Gruber has been dishing out intelligent commentary on tech as a whole and Apple in particular since the beginning of the millennium.
MacStories: iOS, Mac and shortcuts from the master.
Six Colors: Jason Snell is a journalist turned indie blogger.
Stratechery: Insightful, theoretical observations on the big players in tech and beyond.
The Verge: High-quality tech reporting.
The Wirecutter: Like the Consumentenbond, except I usually agree with their conclusions.
Tweakers: Best (only?) Dutch tech site. Great forum as well.

General news/background

De Correspondent: Beyond the daily news (Dutch, paywall).
The Correspondent: See above (English, paywall).
DUIC: De Utrechtse Internet Courant: The online Utrecht newspaper (Dutch).


Colossal: Art, inspiration, beauty. Often surprising.
FiveThirtyEight » Features | FiveThirtyEight: Data, visualizations, predictions.
FlowingData: All about the visualization of data: creative communication. Always a surprising source of inspiration.
Learning By Shipping: Steven Sinofsky’s Tweetstorms end up here.
Seth’s Blog: The demi-god of marketing (Seth Godin) has been blogging daily for a loooong time.


Fokke & Sukke: These two birds have been going at it for decades. I just love how Randall Munroe’s mind works.
De Speld: Dutch satire to trigger the mind. Does get repetitive.


Agile Blog: If there’s news about 1Password, I need to know.
ATP World Tour: Did you know you can get all the news about men’s professional tennis?
DuurzaamBedrijfsleven: Sustainability news in Dutch.
Without bullshit: On better non-fiction writing.
Digging the Digital: The ramblings of Frank Meeuwsen. Scripts, software, ADHD.

Anything I’m missing? Let me know!

∞ Happy to be here: an anecdote about design in the workplace

I wrote a small post about my new workplace for Interface’s new site Human Spaces:

Part of my first meeting was a visit to the Awarehouse. When the recruiter told me this could be my next workplace I got pretty excited. What an inspiring place to work! Needless to say, I got the job, and on my first day, I tweeted a picture with my new view.

You can read more by clicking the title. Don’t forget to explore the rest of Human Spaces!

Permanent Beta Day 4


Permanent Beta wants to improve the world with a combination of Arts, Science and Technology. June 30th they organized Permanent Beta Day 4, a day full of presentations, workshops and other exciting stuff. I was there from 9.45 until 21.15 and had a great day. I had no problem keeping myself entertained. There must have been over 50 presenters! My most memorable experience was the day itself. The fact that it’s possible to ‘organize’ an event like this (50 speakers, about 300 visitors) by creating an open invitation and letting everything sort itself out is amazing. What we got for free today was much better than a lot of costly conferences in my opinion. This shows how easy things become when you let them happen. On to the my personal best of #PBDag4.


Alette Baartmans (@AletteBaartmans) wants to change education. By following the money she wants to know how the €,- that we pay for education each year is being spent. Her arguments about innovation in education are as follows:
* It’s impossible to monitor the current state of education. The only things that can be checked are the reports that are generated from the bottom up, not the actueal performance of students.
* Every organization (in education) should answer a few questions, such as (we generated these in the session):
– Why was I instituted? Which goal am I meant to achieve?
– What can I do to make myself superfluous?
* There should be room for experiments in education. If we can’t try new things, how can we improve? Just as important, there should be room for failure in these experiments.
I was already inspired by Alette when she spoke at TEDx Utrecht in April. She has an original concept and might actually change the world!

Helping our Hosts

De Nieuwe Stad/The New City (@DeNieuweStad) hosted the event, for free (€ 0,-). The complex consists of (among other things) an old toothpaste factory. It’s an inspiring environment for a day of knowledge exchange, but I wouldn’t want to work in that factory day and night…

The hosts asked us to help them activate their renters. De Nieuwe Stad is not their project, but that of the inhabitants. They are the ones who should do whatthey want. But how do we get them to realize that they are in charge? We talked about this in the MKBuzz. This was the most interactive session of the day. We advised the entrepeneurs to help their inhabitants create the city they want to live in by:
* Helping them find out what they want to change
* Showing them it’s okay to go and do stuff
* Facilitating sessions to help the inhabitants get to know each other
* Communicating the why of De Nieuwe Stad instead of the what. The why is something people can get behind, while the what is something nobody knows yet.

I hope the founders of De Nieuwe Stad will find our suggestions useful. Good luck!

I don’t know either…

Maarten den Braber (@MdBraber) spoke to us about the creepy side of big data. Maarten was one of the first people in The Netherlands who was into quantified self. Now he’s having doubts… What happens to the data your FitBit/FuelBand/Jawbone Up collects? Who really quit WhatsApp when they were acquired by Facebook? Is it necessary to improve everything? And what is the cost of that improvement?

I really like that Maarten didn’t preach a solution. He only tried to get people to think about the data that they create and share. It’s actually shocking to see the lack of thought about this in a crowd of frontrunners. What about society at large?

Who wants to live forever?

Berend Watchus told us about the quest to live forever. There are actually two kinds of life extension: creating a better life for the 120 years we’re programmed to be alive, or extending life to make it longer. The second group can be divided into two groups again, one that wants to enhance our bodies to live longer, and one that wants to leave our bodies for a digital environment (transhumanism). There are exciting developments:
* Did you know we can regrow fingers using a special powder?
Cryogenics and subsequent reanimation has been succesful on a frog?
* Scientists have transferred memories electronically between rats?
* There are animals that are biologically immortal (this means they don’t die unless there is a trauma?

Fascinating stuff to think about! Would you want to live forever?

If you can’t beat them, use them

Brenno de Winter (@Brenno) was tired of the inadequacy of the Dutch Government when it came to ICT-projects. So, he corralled some public servants from multiple institutions and started doing it another way. Dropbox is insecureopaque and very foreign. Time to build a local alternative that’s localsafe and well tested. Localbox is born. And not just born, but in time and on budget.

According to Brenno, the fact that the government is inadequate when it comes to ICT-projects means we have to do them ourselves. A big problem is the lack of capability when it comes to the supervision tasks the government is supposed to carry out. There is no way for the people to perform the tasks of the CBP for example.

Grass doesn’t grow any faster when you’re pulling it

The last talk I attended was that of Boer (Farmer) Bos (@BoerBos), a recovering business man who decided to take over the farm of his parents after all. A wonderful story about sheeppeople and letting things happen. He reminded me a little of the Dude…

I would like to thank the organisers of Permanent Beta Dag 4 again for their initiative and their enabling of the people to create a wonderful day together. I’ll take the inspiration and try to spread my new enthusiasm.

If you want to read more about the day, head to Twitter and search for #PBDag4.

World Travel Gear part II – Electronics


I find it hard to imagine travelling without all my toys. All the surprises would be lovely, but so is being sure the driver is actually taking you to your hotel…

This is the second part of my Gear post. You can read the first part here.

Electronics on the road

Ahh, electronics for travel. It’s a very nice contradiction. You leave to get away from it all, but you bring your electronics to stay in touch, or make your frenemies jealous when you return. If you’re like me, you want to make photos, triage them, book hotels, create blogposts, navigate and a whole lot more. We used the following stuff.

Camera: Sony DSC-RX100 (three versions by now)

In short: the best camera that you can fit in your jeans pocket. A sensor that’s a lot bigger than those in other cameras makes everything better. Combine it with a f:1.8 wide-angle lens and low light photography, depth of field and dynamic range become best in class. If the best camera is the one you have with you, I’ll happily bring this one. By the way, The Wirecutter agrees with me:

If I could have any point-and-shoot camera under a grand, the one I’d get is the Sony DSC-RX100 II. It’s $750, which puts it in the price range of cheap DSLRs, but make no mistake—this is the best pocketable camera out there for less than $1,000 thanks to its large sensor, fast lens and small size.

There are three versions, all great. Get the one you can afford.


If you bring a small camera, you can also bring a smaller tripod. We haven’t used our gorilla pod often, but when we did it was super nice for selfies and night photography.

Phones and Pads

We’re a pretty Apple-centric household (because of me). We brought our iPhones for navigation, reading, music and hotel booking. The iPad mini got used for triaging photos, reading and exploring TripAdvisor. Which brings me to apps. We couldn’t do without:

  • Content creation
    • Drafts: Where all our blogs started life. Also perfect for writing down those wi-fi passwords.
    • Tumblr: Where all our blogs got published.
    • iPhoto: This made sure we came home with 15000 photos instead of 25000.
  • Exploring
  • Booking
    • Agoda Best prices, but you pay in advance.
    • (and their Tonight app for discounts): 
    • Air Asia, Nok Air, etc.:Flights!
  • Communication
  • Entertainment
    • DS File: Yes, we downloaded complete movies…
    • Spotify: Mister music, will you play?
    • Pocket Casts: News and entertainment for me.
    • Reeder: This has to be the most used app on my phone.
  • Information
    • 1Password: You don’t know what this is? Buy it and let me help you change the way you live.
    • Dropbox: Keeping all of the above together.

It’s surprising how little we used things like and the various weather apps. Usually you’ll deal with the weather when it gets to you…

Sometimes we put the phones into a waterproof case by Lifeproof. The Frē model for the iPhone 5 sucks! It has a vanity window at the back so you can see the Apple logo. After a month, this had fallen out, so no more waterproof joy for me. The version for the 4(s) is fine.


Yes, we brought an electric toothbrush (actually, we brought two!). It will be hard to brush three times a day, so you might as well do a good job of it. It’s a shame all electric toothbrushes are so terribly designed, but that’s a different rant (watch this space).


All Those electronics need a steady stream of electrons to keep them going. That’s why we bought the ‘mother of all chargers’. This is a USB charger with 6(!) ports. Have you got an iDevice with a Lightning port? This device will make your touchscreen feel adventurous, since it becomes wildly inaccurate. Still, it’s a lot better than bringing six chargers… And you can share with fellow travellers!

We also brought a world plug and a triple plug plug of course.

Would we bring it all again? I would, although I’m not sure about Jacqueline…

Have you read read the first part of this blogpost?

A headshot of Marnix


All posts