Blog
NN Rotterdam Marathon
NN Rotterdam Marathon

BSL team at the NN Rotterdam Marathon 2019

In February, BSL received an invite from NN to take part in a charity Business Run as part of the Rotterdam Marathon on 7 April. Participants could sign up for a 10K (1/4 marathon), aiming to raise money for a good cause along the way – the Linda Foundation. This charity helps make life a little brighter for less fortunate children in the Netherlands. And because we’re not called the Bright Side of Life for nothing, BSL wanted to help them to reach their target of €100,000. We sponsored two of our colleagues to take up the challenge!

BSL gears up for the NN Rotterdam Marathon

BSL is always up for a challenge, and for helping others. So finding support within the company was easy. Eric (an experienced runner) and Gabriella (an enthusiastic hobby runner) were quick to sign up for the 10K Hart Loop Challenge. The rest of the team played their part too, providing plenty of encouragement, sympathy for aching muscles, and of course donations as well. 

More support came from the organizers, NN Business partners. They arranged for a personal online coach to guide Eric and Gabriella during their preparations. None other than Dutch middle and long-distance runner Susan Krumins. A silver medal winner at the 2018 European Championships, 10.000 meters in Berlin, Susan was also the ambassador of the Linda Foundation. And the Linda Foundation’s goal was to collect €100,000 in sponsorship from business participants. They plan to use this money to help children in the Netherlands who live in families struggling to cope financially.

NN Rotterdam Marathon, 7 April 2019

The day of the run finally arrived. A beautiful Sun(ny)day, unusual for early April in the Netherlands.  Bright and early, our runners made their way to the “runners home” in Rotterdam. Here they met other NN business partners teams participating in the 10K Hart Loop Challenge. We’ll let Gabriella carry on the story:

On arrival, a valet showed us where to park in the huge parking lot made available for the runners. I could feel the excitement in the air. Groups of colleagues and acquaintances were mingling in the hallway, all talking about the day’s event.  After a security guard had checked our passes, Eric and I went up a long escalator to the “runners home” on the first floor. This huge area was crowded with people changing clothes,  chatting, and drinking coffee. And the coffee was definitely welcome. It wasn’t yet 8 a.m, and at 8:15 we were due to start the warm up with Susan.

Point of no return

At 8:45, we began the 15 minutes walk to the start of the race. The roads were closed for car traffic, and the sidewalks were flooded with runners and their supporters. At this point, faces around us started looking more anxious. This was it! Marathon organizers divided us into four starting groups, each separated with a small time difference. These groups were defined by the time participants would take to complete the 10 km run. Eric started in group 1, I was running in group 3.

Eric’s group left first. And all too soon it was my turn.  Because once over the start line, I knew there was no way back. The route was well-marked, and the runners soon became an indistinguishable mass of bouncing neon green, pink and bright yellow colour. But what an atmosphere to help us along! Cheering crowds lined the route, children’s tiny hands reached out for high-fives. Loud music piped out from logo-emblazoned tents erected by local businesses. And drummers and theatrical groups had set up alongside signs marking the number of kilometers.

The finish line

Finally, the finish line was in sight. And although it had been fun, I must admit…. I was glad it was over! After crossing the finish line, we received a commemorative medal, much-needed water, and handfuls of fruit. From here, it was just a short walk away from the crowds back to the “runners home”. Time to rest, meet up with Eric, and feel proud of our achievements. Both on a personal level, and for a good cause.

And later that morning, NN business partners officially presented the Linda Foundation with the generous donations collected by all the teams who took part in the Hart Loop Challenge. With a collective sense of accomplishment, participants gathered around Susan for photos and exchanged their experiences of the day.

The focus shifted to TV screens at midday, when we watched Marius Kipserim win the Rotterdam Marathon. He established a new course record with a race time of 2.04.11, 16 seconds faster than the Kenyan Duncan Kibet 10 years ago. We rounded off the day with more coffee and some tasty sandwiches before heading home – tired, but satisfied.

Watching over us

While we were running, our colleagues were able to follow our progress via a smart NN Marathon App. They could pick who they wanted to follow, as well as get race updates. I was really pleased to receive congratulations from a colleague soon after crossing the finish line. It was great to know that I hadn’t been running alone.

Watch some of the highlights of our 10K run:

 

The morning after

On Monday morning, our runners were back at BSL with their “NN Rotterdam Marathon 2019” medals and stories to tell. For BSL, events like this are a great way of building an even stronger company team.  Eric and Gabriella are now fully recovered from the 10K, feeling good about their achievement. Back at their desks, they are once again working on great projects for our clients.

Would you like to work with an energetic and enthusiastic partner? Then contact BSL to discuss your next IT project!

SEO benefits, and the power of good-quality content

SEO benefits, and the power of good-quality content

Many business owners still think their websites are merely visiting cards. Their “go-to” expression is: “our clients/audience already know where to find us…”. This may be true, but optimizing your website will reach new clients and audiences.

New Keylane Careers website

New Keylane Careers website

Keylane asked BSL to help design and build a new Careers website. The main aim is to increase the number of visitors by improving the organic search performance. To achieve this, we’re introducing a new design and adding blogs.

Cloud provider migration: What are the benefits?

Cloud provider migration: What are the benefits?

The focus of Cloud computing is to improve the efficiency of IT services. By choosing a cloud-based solution, organisations can stay up-to-date with technology innovations and benefit from higher scalability, lower expenses, and enhanced security.

A new website for BoekWijzer

A new website for BoekWijzer

We’ve completely revamped the BoekWijzer website! The website was built to support the BoekWijzer app, the mobile guide to the world of Dutch literature. Using the app, you can quickly and easily stay up to date with the latest literary news.

New developer / web designer at BSL

New developer / web designer at BSL

If you have any questions about your website or web design in general, then Patrick van Bennekom is ready to help you five days a week at BSL. Patrick helps to design and create websites and apps for our customers, including the design of logos and house styles to deliver a professional end product.

Migrating to the Cloud, benefits and opportunities

Migrating to the Cloud, benefits and opportunities

Several of our clients are migrating to the Cloud, and some that aren’t yet ready for this step are reviewing their legacy systems, intending to migrate to the Cloud in the future. We’ve recently completed two migrations on behalf of multinationals, and our experience has taught us that a direct approach (simply redeploying existing databases and applications on virtual machines) is not always the best route…

Beleev: Controlled Multisensory Environments

Beleev: Controlled Multisensory Environments

Perhaps you have never heard of snoezelen, a Dutch term that describes controlled multisensory environments (MSE) that stimulate various senses within a custom environment – a so-called “Snoezel” room. On behalf of St. John the Baptist special education school in Kerkrade, we’ve created custom software to create and manage so-called “Snoezel” rooms, controlling, lights, audio, switches and a video projector.

Goodbye 2021 and COVID-19 lockdowns – It’s time to look back

Goodbye 2021 and COVID-19 lockdowns – It’s time to look back

So who, in early 2020, thought that we’d still be operating under COVID-19 lockdown measures in January 2022? Luckily, my skill set has given me a better understanding of software development and technology than catering or hospitality. As director of an IT company, I’m happy to say that Bright Side of Life has taken to remote working as a fish to water. Let me tell you about our year.

Canon of the Netherlands apps now available in stores

Canon of the Netherlands apps now available in stores

The Dutch Canon of the Netherlands (2007) tells the story of how the Netherlands was formed. Using the Canon, BSL developed the popular EnToen Nu apps for iOS and Android a few years later. In 2020, the Canon was extensively revised, so we’ve completely rewritten the Canon apps, bringing them up-to-date, making them faster and even more fun to use. They’re now available in the app stores.

Integrating powerful AI search capabilities within apps and web-services

Integrating powerful AI search capabilities within apps and web-services

Search technology is continually evolving, so we’re always ready to adopt new technologies to meet specific client needs. This blog outlines our recent experiences with Azure Cognitive Search and Cognitive Search AI services – that we’re using to classify thousands of new documents each day, delivering customised briefings to subscribers. Using Machine Learning and AI we can create intelligent search prototypes in just a few weeks.

Canon van Nederland apps coming soon!

Canon van Nederland apps coming soon!

The Committee on the Development of the Dutch Canon developed the Canon van Nederland in 2007. BSL developed the EnToen app a few years later, and since its launch in 2013, it has been a top-rated school app. In 2020, a new Canon Committee updated the Canon. We’re now busy working on new Canon Apps, with a modern look, and using the latest technical know-how.

Drupal 9 replaces Drupal 8. Long live Drupal 7!

Drupal 9 replaces Drupal 8. Long live Drupal 7!

Drupal 9 arrived last year, and Drupal 8 is end-of-life in November 2021. Nothing strange about this. But did you know that Drupal 7’s life has been extended to November 2022? Due to the high number of active users, it will remain in use longer than Drupal 8! Nevertheless, if you’re still using Drupal 7, you’re drinking in the last chance saloon, and it’s time to plan your transition to Drupal 9.

BSL delivers a new Pulse importer using the Forrester API

BSL delivers a new Pulse importer using the Forrester API

We developed our “Pulse” Business Intelligence Software for PwC. It’s a global service, maintained and supported by BSL. Pulse imports thousands of documents daily from commercial content providers and website feeds, delivering personal briefings to PwC subscribers throughout the PwC organisation. At the request of PwC, we recently created a new importer for Forrester using their API.

Outsourcing, retainers and long-term development partnerships

Outsourcing, retainers and long-term development partnerships

It’s not always straightforward for even large companies to create cutting edge development teams, as their core business may not be related to IT. Moreover, even when IT is a significant part of their business, there is frequently a wide gap between delivering core services and innovating with new technologies. BSL offers development services that can help fill the gap.

Machine Learning technology for Library services

Machine Learning technology for Library services

We’ve worked for many years with NBD Biblion, a unique organisation that selects and distributes books to public libraries in the Netherlands. They recently introduced Machine Learning (ML) technology to automate their client recommendations. After this success, NBD Biblion asked BSL to integrate a new Machine Learning service with MIPS, developed by BSL.

Drinks and a movie at BSL

Drinks and a movie at BSL

Enjoying a few drinks and watching a film together was a regular feature of life at BSL. I write ‘was’ because COVID-19 has kept most of us working from home. As a result, sharing a drink and watching a film together has not been an option. So instead, we’ve organised Digi-parties, Easter surprises and other events. Most recently, we arranged for everyone to enjoy a movie at home.

Two BSL anniversaries in May, time for a party

Two BSL anniversaries in May, time for a party

Two BSL anniversaries this week. Senior developer Peter Verbaan has been a key resource within BSL for 15 years, and front-end developer Roderick Gadellaa for 5 years. Reason enough for a party, you might say, and that’s something we love at the “Bright Side of Life.” For now, Corona makes this impossible, so it’s an online drink and a virtual hug.

Designing a simple phone app for 1888 information numbers

Designing a simple phone app for 1888 information numbers

1850 BV has asked us to design and develop a new simple phone app for Android and iOS, designed to help people who have difficulty using modern smartphones. After all, not everyone is excited about all the hundreds of features provided by a typical smartphone. It’s hard for people who lack the technological skills to figure all this stuff out. And or course, many simply find tiny screens challenging.

Early to market? Try developing a Minimum Viable Product

Early to market? Try developing a Minimum Viable Product

Entrepreneurs frequently contact us with ideas for their ground-breaking app, web-service, or web application. Their market research completed, business plan ready, financial backing sorted. They want to start, and get their product to the market as quickly as possible. This is when we introduce the concept of an MVP or Minimum Viable Product.

The Entoen Nu app makes history lessons easy

The Entoen Nu app makes history lessons easy

Do you sometimes have trouble with Dutch history? The EnToen Nu app is intended for those interested in Dutch culture and history, particularly children from grade 5 up to and including secondary school. It can be used at school, and at home. We’ve recently updated the app, adding support for the latest version of the Canon of the Netherlands.

SRS: New Job Model and Access Governance Foundation

SRS: New Job Model and Access Governance Foundation

Since developing the original Signature Registration System (SRS) on behalf of a large international bank we’ve made many changes. Migrating SRS to an Azure SQL cloud service is our current focus, but earlier this year we worked on two other infrastructure changes: Introducing NJM (New Job Model) and AGF (Access Governance Foundation) support in SRS.

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 2

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 2

In recent months, two clients have asked us to migrate legacy Oracle systems to Azure. In the previous blog, we explained how our tiered web applications make it easy to maintain our software and to migrate from one database to another. We asked Eric Wijnands to tell us about one of these migrations, moving a Banking solution from Oracle to Azure SQL.

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 1

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 1

Is Azure the flavour of the month? We’ve been approached by two clients in recent months to help them transition legacy Oracle systems to an Azure Cloud database. We’ve been building tiered database solutions for many years, with Front-end web applications calling web-services that use Oracle databases for storage. Just how easy is it to migrate these applications to Azure?

BSL creates a new Corporate site for WCC Group

BSL creates a new Corporate site for WCC Group

The WCC Group is a leading provider of advanced solutions for Public & Private Employment Services and ID/Security government agencies. Two years ago we designed and developed a dedicated Careers site to help find the specialized personnel needed to support their rapid expansion. This year they asked us to create a new, modern, responsive Corporate site.

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson – Part 2

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson – Part 2

In his previous blog, Martyn introduced us to his time working for Computervision/CIS, creating custom solutions for their clients. Experiences that he uses daily within BSL. After leaving CV, he continued to travel, working firstly with a company you’ve maybe never heard of (although you’ve probably used their products). And then with a company that you all know: Apple Computer.

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson

Bright Side of Life Director – Martyn Simpson

So rounding off our current series of Bright Stories, it’s the turn of Martyn, our director. Martyn created the Bright Side of Life more than 25 years ago, and he’s been developing software since 1977. It’s not easy to condense 43 years of software development into a single blog, so in this first part, we find out just why he became a software developer, with some “Lessons Learned” on the way.

Front-end Developer – Roderick Gadellaa

Front-end Developer – Roderick Gadellaa

Continuing our “Bright Stories”, this week we turn our attention to Front-end Developer, Roderick Gadellaa. Someone with a very sweet tooth, and who enjoys solving design and UX problems. You’ll frequently find him on Twitter, tweeting about design changes and concepts. Here at BSL, Roderick’s enthusiastic whistling and singing are part of our soundscape!

PA / Customer Relations Manager – Caroline Bos

PA / Customer Relations Manager – Caroline Bos

As part of our “Bright Stories” series, it’s now the turn of Caroline, PA / Customer Relations Manager at BSL. We tell you why her varied background, outgoing personality, and talent for organization make her ideal for the role. Connecting and communication with people is in her DNA! Having worked nearly 8 years at BSL, she plays a pivotal role in our organization.

Software Developer – Jurjen Schröder

Software Developer – Jurjen Schröder

Our “Bright Stories” campaign is your chance to get to know some of the talented individuals that make up the Bright Side of Software. This week, the spotlight is on one of our software developers: Jurjen Schröder. An opportunity to find out more about Jurjen, and at the same time discover why he keeps some very unusual housemates!

Agile working is a success even during Corona

Agile working is a success even during Corona

Agile working is ideal for teams working remotely. Although we’ve used Agile for several years, there’s always room for improvement. Flexibility is part of this approach. Each client has their preferences, and so we refine our working methods to suit each customer. Fortunately, this type of refinement is more or less built-in to Agile: The Sprint Retrospective…

4

Previous

5

Next

Contact BSL