On kids and listening to the radio (or podcasts, or audiobooks, or music)

Peter responded to my previous post on giving Daughter a cordless headphones.

Our variation on this theme involves providing Oliver with access to podcasts or music to listen to while he’s going to sleep.

comment by Peter on The unexpected perk of going cordless

He then describes four variations for Oliver to be able to play music in his room. Peter’s response reminds me that I’m still looking for a good solution to giving Daughter more autonomy in her own ‘listening behavior’. At some point in the near future I want her to be able to decide to listen to music or audio stories for herself, without having to ask me or her dad for permission.

The thing is, my household has digitized music to such an amount that it’s only accessible through a mobile phone or a computer. We have Sonos speakers in the house and through the Sonos app, we either start radio, our digitized CD collection or Spotify streams. I don’t allow Daughter access to my phone without my supervision, and will keep it that way for ever. She will one day have her own phone, but that will be in the distant future. But when it comes to listening to music or audio stories I don’t want to restrain her. I want her to explore this stuff without parental supervision.

When I was her age, we still lived in Compact Cassette-land (CD’s came in my teens). I had access to tapes with kids’ stories and music that sat in a cupboard and could get them out and play them all by myself. I remember clearly how I listened to folk tales in my own room, or to audio recordings of my favorite tv-show.

How do young kids these days know what is available to them without a physical presence in the home? Of course I introduced Daughter to some kids music (that made it through my filter), so she knows there is music available ‘out there’, but how do I give a three year old access to her stories and music albums whenever she wants to without giving her access to a device that can do too much?

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The unexpected perk of going cordless

During our vacation I gifted Daughter a cordless headphone. She loves listening to audio stories when we’re driving so I took a subscription to Storytel. With a two week trial for free, I thought it would be an excellent way to listen to something new, instead of an entire vacation listening to the three CD’s I bought her last year, which Man and I know by heart by now. The stories of Opilopi turned out the be a hit, just as the classics of Jip en Janneke.

The only problem with audiobooks is that we can’t really listen to them while in the tent, because I’m the type who refuses to impose unnecessary noise on others (unlike other guests at the campground this year). Then we went to one of those oversized supermarkets France is larded with and it had its own electronics store. Man had to search for a new charger for his phone, so I took the opportunity to look at the headphones and spotted the perfect one for Daughter: kid sized and wireless. It was an instant hit. Daughter listened to all the stories of Opilopi and Jip en Janneke several times during our vacation, while just sitting in her own chair in front of the tent just gazing in the distance, or while fiddling with sticks during a picknick , or while watching the Man cook dinner. The headphones gave her parents some hours of uninterrupted reading or talking as well.

Daughter with her new headphones
Being able to move around freely while listening to Opilopi stories

I have tried using cordless headphones way back, but the technology wasn’t fully developed. Connecting to my phone or computer often failed or the signal got interrupted and sound quality was poor. So I gave up on them and have used multiple wired headphones since then, including my loved noise cancelling headset from Bose (the in-ear ones). I was therefore taken by surprise how good Daughters new headphones were. Connection just worked without interruption and sound quality was excellent.

When we returned home I lent Daughter’s headphones while working from home and had a very pleasant day of uninterrupted listening to my favorite writing playlist while I was typing in the garden, making tea, wandering around the garden for inspiration. And all this without imposing my musical taste on my neighbors who were also enjoying a quiet morning in their garden.

I knew I couldn’t keep lending Daughter’s headphones. It was all fine as long she was in kindergarten during the day, but that counts only for three of my working days. The others days I’m bound to get into a fight over them since she will want to wear them as soon as I put them on. Rightfully so, because they’re hers. So this week I gifted myself cordless headphones as well.

So here I am, writing this while listening to Jamie Cullum on my new pair of headphones which sound excellent, without the need to put them down when I grab a new cup of tea (or coffee when I publish this post).

And today, for the first time in my life, I enjoyed listening to Jamie in high fidelity sound quality while going to the washroom, an unexpected perk of going cordless.

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Read: Adblocking: How About Nah?

Cory Doctorow writes that we’re on the brink of ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ web browsing, meaning that toolmakers are no longer allowed to create ad-blocking tools. That would seriously suck.

The standard the W3C published—Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), for restricting playback of video—comes with many dangers for would-be adversarial interoperators, notably the risk of being sued under Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bans tampering with “access controls” on copyrighted works and holds out both criminal and civil liability for toolsmiths who traffic in programs that let you change the rules embodied by EME.

One driving force behind the adoption of EME was the ever-tighter integrationbetween major browser vendors like Google, video distributors, and advertising networks. This created a lopsided power-dynamic that ultimately ended up in the standardization of a means of undoing the configurable Web—where the user is king. EME is the first crack in the wall that protected browsers from those who would thwart adversarial operability and take “how about nah?” off the table, leaving us with the kind of take-it-or-leave-it Web that the marketing industry has been striving for since the first pop-up ad.

Adblocking: How About Nah? by Cory Doctorow for EFF
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Gezien: Poster – het begin van moderne reclame

Close-up had gister een hele interessante aflevering over drie ontwerpers, twee uit Duitsland en één uit Oostenrijk, die een nieuwe draai hebben gegeven aan de reclameposter: Lucian Bernhard, Ludwig Hohlwein en Julius Klinger. Ze floreerden allemaal in het begin van de 20e eeuw in Berlijn met het maken van posters met een zakelijk en minimalistisch karakter.

Ik ben deze namen nog nooit eerder tegengekomen, maar blijkbaar zijn het sterren in de posterwereld. Ik kende wel het posterwerk van de Franse kunstenaar Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Het werk van de drie eerder genoemde heren wordt gepresenteerd als een reactie op die Franse stijl. Ze introduceerden de zogenoemde Sachplakat, waarin het ter verkopen ding (of merk) centraal staat.

Er worden prachtige dingen getoond in de documentaire en af en toe een parallel getrokken naar de advertenties van nu. Dan wordt het heel duidelijk hoe groot de invloed van het Sachplakat nog steeds is.

Ik heb vanochtend gezocht of ik meer informatie kan vinden over deze beweging en de kunstenaars. Boeken met prints zijn er niet van. Ook de wikipediapagina’s zijn redelijk summier. Wat ik wel heb gevonden is een aantal afbeeldingen in de database van Europeana onder CC-licentie. Vooral van Julius Klinger staat er veel in. Het copyright op zijn werk is vervallen, omdat hij naar alle waarschijnlijk in 1942 is overleden in een concentratiekamp, nadat hij dat jaar is opgepakt samen met zijn vrouw, in zijn woonplaats Wenen. Bernhard is in de jaren twintig al naar New York en overleed daar in 1972. Hohlwein is in de jaren dertig lid geworden van de nazipartij en maakte posters voor de partij. Hij kreeg na de oorlog een beroepsverbod, maar overleed al in 1946.

Van alles wat ik voorbij zag komen, ging mijn hart uit naar het werk van Klinger. Als eerbetoon aan hem een aantal afbeeldingen die beschikbaar zijn om te delen.

Random observations while traveling in France

  • In Dutch we use the expression ‘all roads lead to Rome’ when we want to explain there are many ways to achieve a goal. The French must be scared to end up in Rome, because all their roads lead to Paris. No matter if you’re hundreds and hundreds kilometers away from the capital, road signs will lead you to the one and only city that seems to matter in France;
  • France’s countryside is so big and so empty, you can hardly blame them for pointing towards the epicenter of human activity at any desolate point between hay bales, corn and cows;
  • As I’ve said before, French restaurants suck. I’ve had enough of people claiming French food is so good, because it isn’t. The only pleasant restaurant experience we had in two weeks (and we ate out a lot) was in Bretignolles-sur-mer. If you ever end up in this village close to the sea, I recommend Bar de l’Hotel de Ville. Good food and friendly service. Daughter was pleasantly surprised about the kids’ sized toilet seat;
  • Which brings me to the lack of service for small kids in public spaces. In Rouen we had a hard time to find a place for Daughter to run about for a bit. The park next to the hotel consisted of grass used by dog owners and the few bushes served as shelter for the homeless. We found one playground in the city center. The brochures all pointed to activities for kids about twenty kilometers outside the city. And sometimes I spotted restaurant personnel that weren’t keen on serving a three year old (who actually knows how to behave very well);
  • Which brings me back to French food. Daughter had to survive on steak boeuf, frites and crêpes.
  • And while we’re talking about French food: a fried egg on top of a pizza, WTF! Never ordering a pizza in France again;
  • The Sunday market in Bretignolles-sur-mer exceeded our expectation. It was so big and lively. All of a sudden all the extra parking lots made sense for the small town that it is. I highly recommend a visit if you’re in that area;
  • French are chauvinistic. Not a surprise, but very apparent inside the food hal in B-s-m when it’s packed and all venders have very long lines, except the only Vietnamese in the room;
  • We’ve entered an era where people can’t live without listening to music. Twice I was in the shower at the campground and young women (mixed gender toilets and showers have not reached this part of Europe) played music on their phones while having a wash. Many others played music in their caravan or tent, imposing their musical (dis)taste on their neighbors;
  • I hate it when campgrounds have on-site live performances, especially when these performances take until midnight to finish at the night of your arrival. Interesting thing is that campground rules state you should be quiet after 10:30PM. They clearly feel entitled to break their own rules;
  • Though I encourage everyone to bring an acoustic guitar and fiddle with it all night long. Makes my night;
  • I’ve never seen so many Irish on a campground and never before was I exposed to so many variations of English at the same time. Many people camped there for the x-th year. Guests at La Garangeoire were very loud and active until late at night. Kids running and shouting until 11PM was normal. It made it extra hard for Daughter to downwind after a day full of new experiences. Several nights she only went to sleep after we joined her late at night;
  • The beaches near Bretignolles-sur-mer were much more pleasant than in Lion-sur-mer, Normandy. The latter was a rather dirty beach, both in terms what the water brought to the beach and what humans left at the beach;
  • The new self-inflatable mattresses we bought were the best camp gear investment in years. For the first time my hips weren’t sore from pressing on the ground. And they roll up more compact than our previous ones. Win-win! Nomad Dreamzone XW 10.0, in case you’re wondering.

The rise and fall of French cuisine

I’ve been saying this for years: I’m always disappointed while eating out in France. This year is no exception. This article explains why (and that I’m not a fool for saying it):

My friends all said: “Oh Paris, how lovely! You must be eating well.” They were surprised to hear me complain that Parisian menus were dull and repetitive. “Paté followed by nothing but entrecôte, entrecôte, entrecôte. Occasionally roast lamb, duck breast. No vegetables to speak of,” I told them. “It’s a tyranny of meat-in-brown-sauce.” As the rest of the world had begun to (re)discover their own cuisines and innovate, the French restaurant seemed to be stagnating in a pool of congealing demi-glace.

The Guardian