Archive for March, 2009

Problems and follow up …

Monday, March 30th, 2009

There are some problems with our server. Nothing too serious, but it causes some downtime. I hope it is fixed in the days to come.

I have a slight delay in writing about the safe opening weekend, but hopefully will complete the article in the next 24 hours orso. That is the trouble with spring: there is more in life then locks and metal ๐Ÿ™‚

One thing I can already say: the safe opening weekend was a great success, and already lots of people asked if there will be a follow up. Well, I have good news! In just one month there will be a next safe opening weekend! The weekend of May 1-2-3 the next penetration party will take place! Again we will have around 35 serious safes, and again it will be an experience every safe technician on the planet is going to look at in envy. And there is no need for that: just register and join!

queensday amsterdam: fun fun fun!

For international travelers: The day before the penetration party weekend, (April 30) is a very special day in the Netherlands. Queensday! A day you should have experienced at least once in your lifetime!

Party on! ๐Ÿ™‚

Registration for the penetration party can be done as always at crouwel@xs4all.nl …

(wikipedia on queensday:)

Orange
This is a typical occasion for oranjegekte (orange craze), when the colour orange is a ubiquitous sight, referring to the name of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange. There are orange banners, orange colored foods and drinks, and extreme amounts of orange clothing and creative accessories are worn as well. Sometimes even the water in fountains is dyed orange. It is not uncommon for people to impersonate the queen, not always in a flattering manner (rudely).

Freemarket

The so-called ‘vrijmarkt’ (‘freemarket’) is similar to a nationwide car boot sale or Flea market. Owing to a holiday dispensation from the Dutch government, people do not need to pay taxes on their sales. Many people set up stalls or blankets in parks, on sidewalks and even on the roads themselves (cars are banned in some streets). The items sold are traditionally old rubbish, but for commercial traders this is also an extremely profitable day. ING bank has estimated the size of the trade in 2007 at about 200 million euros, with the approximately 1.8 million sellers making 111 euros on average. The freemarket in Amsterdam attracts the most visitors.
The sign says ‘overthrow the royal house’, referring to the pictures of the royal family on the pile of boxes one can throw balls at

Typically, many children sell their cast-off toys and clothes while entrepreneurs sell food, beverages and almost anything else imaginable. Prices tend to be very negotiable and drop as the day progresses. By the end of the festivities, much of the unsold merchandise is left on the streets to be picked through until it’s hauled off by local municipalities shortly after. In Amsterdam, the main streets in the city centre are increasingly being taken over by commercial traders, pushing the intended car boot sale out towards smaller streets and the outer ring of the centre.

There are, however, some areas where the original style is preserved. One of these is the Jordaan, a gentrified former working class neighborhood, where prices are very low because the sale is just an excuse to have a nice day and a friendly chat with complete strangers. Sections of the Jordaan can become so full of pedestrians that they become completely gridlocked, despite the absence of cars. Another is the Vondelpark, which is officially reserved for children. Especially there, but also elsewhere, there are many other activities besides selling second hand goods, such as performing music or providing other entertainment for money.

Open air concerts

In recent years, Koninginnedag has become more and more of an open-air party, with many concerts and special events in public spaces, particularly in Amsterdam, which attracts anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 visitors. Many Dutch people living abroad try to make the pilgrimage home (with many ‘clued-up’ tourists) to experience this holiday each year. Booking accommodations in Amsterdam and elsewhere for Queen’s Day is notoriously difficult, requiring booking 6 months or more ahead.

Queen’s Night

During the preceding ‘koninginnenacht’ (Queen’s Night) many bars and clubs throughout the Netherlands (particularly in Amsterdam and The Hague) hold special events catering to revelers that last all night long. This tradition started in the early nineties when pre-Koninginnedag riots were an increasing problem in The Hague. The idea of convincing the rioters that a celebration is a much better way to spend ‘Koninginnenach’ (without the ‘t’, as it’s pronounced locally), proved successful. The event draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.

15 safes opened …

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

the safe opening party is over ...

After hard work it is time for food and drinks ….

The score of the safe opening weekend: 15 high security safes were opened. Most of them drilled, yet some of them decoded and picked. More information on the days to come … we are having a beer now …

Wired on the Antwerp Diamond Heist

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

With one week to go to our own safe opening weekend, a very nice article in Wired to get in the mood.

Wired on the Antwerp Diamond Heist


Fascinating stuff! Still reading and sifting trough all the details myself … A must read!

Setting new rules

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I had dinner with Marc Tobias last week, and one of the things we spoke about was ‘disclosure’.

It is my philosophy you should warn a lock company if you find a (new) flaw in their product and give them time to fix it and inform their customers. Marc however defended the standpoint to only give them time if they promise to exchange the locks in the field, or apply a patch, free of charge. It is a dilemma, especially if you see how companies like Uhlmann & Zacher suffered from anonymous youtube videos that popped up out of the blue.

The other side of the medal is that lock companies sometimes are sloppy and do not take this all too serious. I still have not fully made up my mind about the future of disclosing issues, but tend to lean in Marc’s direction. If companies promise to compensate/exchange the flawed products the consumer wins. If the manufacturer does not want to fix the problem, the consumer needs to know the lock needs replacement. And most likely replace it with a product from a company that does take it’s customers serious….

But I guess it is a decision we will make case by case, as not all locks and flaws are equal …

To be continued for sure … (and I am curious to hear your opinion about this …)

Opening a magnetic lock using … a teddybear ?!?

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

This week a story about less dangerous magnets ๐Ÿ™‚

I was in Spain last week and when I visited a lockshop the owner gave me a small present. It is a lock I knew for a while (named Disec), yet it’s a lock I never managed to get my hands on.

The DiSec shield is a lock that is mounted over your euro profile cylinder, protecting it against vandalism and unathorized opening attempts (like bumping, breaking and drilling). It is the kind of extra protection I like in a lock.

I was in Spain because we had a booth with CryptoPhone at the 3GSM tradeshow. During the slow hours I always like to quickscan the show to see what is new in telecomland, and collect some gadgets and gifts for the kids. One of the gifts I collected was a small teddybear (or is it a cat?) that has a small magnet in it’s head.

It did not take me long to rub the magnetic part of the bear’s head against the lock, and opened the lock in just a couple of minutes. The technique I used can be considered ‘raking’, and requires some skill and luck. The skill in this case being able to control the amount of tension on the shield while jiggling, as well as varying in speed and rotation with the magnet. But without a little luck the lock remains closed …

I did shoot some video for you, showing how I opened the lock. After opening, I did disassemble the lock and key a little.

And there are people who do not use raking but actually pick the lock (youtube) in a more clever (but less fun?) way ….

On my way to CeBit now. Lets see what kind of gifts I collect there that can be used to open locks ๐Ÿ˜‰