Category Archives: Events:

EU Cookie Law

CameraYou shouldn’t have failed to notice, that when you visit this site now you get a message regarding cookies and your privacy. This is to comply with the The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, that were amended in 2011 to change the requirement for individuals browsing websites. The amendment now requires individuals to give their consent for certain web tracking technologies to be used. The most common being cookies.

What are cookies?

Cookies are tiny files made up of numbers and text that are placed on an individual’s computer when surfing web sites. They are not used to put spyware, trojans or other nasties on your computer.  Other technologies are also used such as tiny transparent image files known as web beacons or bugs, Flash Cookies and HTML5 all store information on your computer. Over 90% of websites use cookies .

They are used to remember which individual is visiting the site by reading the cookie file stored on an individual’s computer. In nearly all cases the information stored in cookie is just a code that cannot be used to identify the individual visiting the site.

Are all cookies equal?

The simple answer is no. Some cookies are exempt from the law such as those used to remember to keep you logged in to a site or remember the items in your shopping basket. Others such as Google Analytics are used by webmasters to see how the site is visited, which pages are popular and unpopular, which sites they came from and which page they left from. This enables the site to be tweaked so that it caters for user’s needs. Finally there are the Performance Cookies. These are generally used to serve adverts such as GoogleAds but ever increasingly Social Media buttons, such as Facebook ‘Like’ buttons, Google ‘+1’ buttons and all of those ‘Share’ buttons.  These gather the most information and for the longest timescale. Without them them Facebook and other social media sites would have to change their business models.
In the process of assessing the cookies set by WordPress and its plugins, I learnt that there are some quite intrusive cookies set. I will be looking to eliminate these is possible. WordPress makes web publishing easy but the downside is that we have less control over the coding.

What should you do?

The best thing would be to read up more on the subject. You can’t know enough about internet security and privacy. Look at some of the social media provider’s Privacy and cookie policies. See if you are happy with what they are doing. Some sites have implemented a scheme that allows individuals to set the level of security that suits them on their site. So you can block cookies for advertising but this also means that the social media share buttons are disabled as well.

Take a look at Add Ons such as NoScript for Firefox which is very effective at blocking malicious code and if you trust a site then you can temporarily or permanently allow it to get full functionality.

What do you think?

You must have come across other sites taking action as a result of this European Directive, which ones impressed you? How much did you know about cookies before and how much has your understanding improved as a result of the implementation of the directive? What further information are you personally looking for?

 

 

 

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Daily photo: Mont des Arts in the Brussels Summer Festival

Mont des Arts, Brussels

Mont des Arts
The Brussels Summer Festival is on this week, it closes with Stromae on Sunday night. Earlier this year I uploaded a guide to Belgian Music Festival. I have been busy enjoying some of my favourite Belgian groups and discovering some new ones, even missing #TogChat on Twitter to do so (well what would you do in my shoes?).
This year there is a new venue on Mont des Arts. The road has been closed in front of the equestrian statue of Albert 1 and a stage set up past the statue of Elizabeth. I am blessed that I can walk to the concerts from our apartment as it entails a very low carbon footprint and allows me to down some Belgain beers if I wish. This was the view as I returned home from watching Great Mountain Fire, last night.
The stage is in the background behind the avenue of trees on the right of the picture. For more photos from the Brussels Summer Festival, have a look at my Flickr Collection.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.

Belgian Music Festivals 2011

Belgium and music festivals in the same sentence?  If you find that surprising you are missing out on some of the best live music events in Europe. Many of the festivals are free, so timing a visit to Belgium to coincide with a free event could make a lot of sense. This post will cover mainly Rock / Pop, purely because I don’t get Jazz, although you might find me at the occasional Folk concert.

Brosella in the rain
Brosella in the rain

Brussels Jazz Marathon
This weekend (27, 28 and 29 May), the Brussels Jazz Marathon is held. Venues range from Grand Place to the small bars like ‘London Calling’ close to where I typed this. All concerts are free. Other Jazz Festivals include Day 2 of Brosella, Brussels (July 10), Jazz in the Park, Ghent (26 -28 Aug and 2 – 4 Sep), again the concerts are free, but you’d have to pay me if you wanted me to attend them 😉 Day 1 (July 9) of Brosella is Folk music, also a free concert.

 

The music festival season has been under way since the last week of April when the PackRock Festival was held. Then, in the first weekend of May, the annual Fête de l’Iris is Brussels celebration, the iris being the symbol of the city. The events include two evenings of free music, this year with Arno as headline act and Piano Club supporting. I missed them as I was at the Inc’Rock Festival at Incourt. The headline acts were Puggy, Pony Pony Run Run and Stromae. Piano Club played on the Friday night.

Puggy at Inc'Rock
Puggy a popular Belgium group at Inc'Rock

Rock Werchter, Europe’s best music festival
There are plenty more music festivals to come, including many free concerts. The largest Festival is Rock Werchter, Werchter (30 Jun – 3 Jul), this is probably the best music festival in Europe, although I’m sure the Glastonbury regulars would disagree. There are currently 61 acts on the programme, including Linkin Park, Iron Maiden, Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, Black Eyed Peas, Chemical Brothers and Coldplay. Tickets start at 76 euros plus booking fees. There is also a TW Classic at the site featuring Bryan Adams and Texas on July 9.

Pukkelpop, Couleur Cafe, Dour, Francofolies and Esperanzah!

Pukkelpop, Hasselt (18 – 20 Aug) has the Foo Fighters, Eminen, Thirty seconds to Mars as well as dEUS, one of the top Belgian bands. Day tickets start at 79 euros, but the Thursday has already sold out. Couleur Café (24 – 26 Jun) was originally a world music festival, but has grown to include other musical genres. This year the line up includes Seal, Wyclef Jean and Puggy. The Dour Festival (14-17 July) is held in the village of the same name. This year Papa Roach, Cypress Hill, Ice Cube and Pendulum are appearing. Tickets start at 40 euros for 1 day or 100 euros for 4 days.  Although the name Francofolies de Spa, Spa implies a French speaking / singing event, this is not strictly true. Acts booked include Pony Pony Run Run, Hoverphonic, Zazie and Stromae. Well maybe you haven’t heard of them, but they are all from French speaking areas of the world and many sing in English. Prices fro 45 euros per day. My last inclusion in the paid festivals is Esperanzah!, Abbaye de Floreffe, Namur (5 – 7 Aug) is the main World Music Festival in Belgium.

Sharko at Belgavox
Sharko at Belgavox

Brussels Summer Festival
The Brussels Summer Festival (12 -21 Aug), Brussels takes place over 10 consecutive evenings.  Head liners this year are Jamie Cullum, De la soul, Stromae, Hooverphonic and more. Last year the wrist bands also allowed free entry to many museums in Brussels, I’m hoping they do the same this year. I’ve already bought my ticket for the ten days for 30 euros.

Brussels Summer Festival
Brussels Summer Festival

Free concerts
Now, back to the free concerts. For the two previous years Belgavox brought both Dutch and French speaking musicians together to deliver one track each for Belgian unity. I cannot find any mention of it for 2011, so do not know if it will take place this year. This free concert was a great way to sample a lot of Belgium’s groups and singers.

The next big free musical event is Fete de la Musique (17 – 18 Jun) at venues all over Belgium and beyond. I’ll probably head down to Place des Palais on the Saturday and St Gilles on the Sunday. Another free musical event I have attended for the last two years is the Czech Street Party outside the Czech Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU in Brussels. As well as showcasing some of the Czech Republic’s talent it also has stands from each Czech Region with food and drink tasting.

 

There are many more free and paid festivals. Do a little research before visiting Belgium and maybe you can take in a free concert during your stay.

About John Williams

John Williams looks at travel from a responsible consumer's perspective. He is doesn't accept hosted trips, so don't expect gushing reports of experiences that neither he, you, nor our planet can afford. He, is the first to acknowledge that when it comes to sustainable travel, he has a lot to learn. TravelCrunch is a platform for sharing his learning, but if you have any tips or disagreements feel free to air them in the comments.