Month: July 2015

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

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The Edinburgh Festival amalgates multiple sort-of independent festivals during August month. The original festival is the Edinburgh Festival. And then the Fringe Festival is the fringe event of that festival. A book festival is stoved away in the middle of Edinburgh. And the 152nd International Photographic Exhibition appears in Great King Street. The official book for the Fringe is over 400 pages long.

Going in the dense area of Edinburgh you will invariably get fliers for all sorts of performances: Shakespeare was there at venue 54 but didn’t see him; Crtl-Alt-Sketch was rescheduled to 8:30 PM and contained catty porn; Kurakuraw is the first and best known Taiwan contemporary indigenous dance theatre – and “deeply touching” according to the Scotsman; while Feng Dance Theatre’s Kid Box  is a “fantastic realm of language visual arts drama, installations, singing and dancing” and James Loverige is simply just “funny because it’s true”. Other acts are “impressive and hilarious”, “deliciously farcical” or contain “wonderful, terrific, life-affirming stuff.” The New Celts are also there with The Magic Egg and Lace Up in 36. There is also the show that “transcends the stage”. These were some of the fliers I was handed.

Here are the acts I ran into in 2014:

Made in ILVA – The Contemporary Hermit in the Summerhall venue was a one-man theatre performance from an Italian theatre company called Instabili Vaganti. Indeed he worked for it in this piece that primarily stood out with the physical performance, supported by the monologue in English. The single man used his body in repetitive machine-like movements in a spare scenography. As he was coming to the end his shirt was dripping wet and when he threw it on the floor a “smash” sounded through the room. A promotional video does not quite give justification for the performance.

James III: We didn’t manage to buy tickets to James III playing at the non-fringe part of the festival. But standing at the ticket office we must have looked sufficiently confused and innocent to get handed over two tickets by a couple for free! Thanks, very much” From a Danish point of view this particular piece was of interest as Sofie Gråbøl had a part in the play as the queen. With her monologue in the final scene she provided the theatrical highpoint of the show. Whereas Fringe shows typical last an hour, this non-Fringe piece lasted several hours with a break in the middle. Good but not dangerous.

Shazia Mirza provides deadpan humor based on her British-Pakistani background. We got £10 seats for the show, Bulletproof, playing in The Assembly Rooms in the late afternoon at 17:15. The joke I remember from the show was a remark to the Guardian-like audience. She is apparently on again for the 2015 edition of the Fringe trying out new material.

We lost a show because we did not manage to get there in time. Parking in Edinburgh during festival time is not an easy task.

Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall had a show called Success Arms at Underbelly Cowgate that I did not see. But I did see a free afternoon show Alasdair Lists Everything, a whimsical minimalistic endless monologue of pure words. For a whole hour! Interestingly, he manages to associate quite freely, an amazing capability. See an examples here: “Crafting a really nice pancake”, “Coffee table smell”, …

The Warriors: A Love Story was traditional modern dance with multimedia, with a theme around the bombing of Dresden.

Looking for Paul – Wunderbaum provided one-of-a-kind show: Labeled as “performance art, multimedia” it started out with Inez van Dam, apparently a young respectable Rotterdam bookshop owner and not quite comfortable on the stage. She complained about a sculpture put outside her window, the Buttplug Gnome of Paul McCarthy. This part of the show appeared like some kind of slide show, public hearing, theatrical documentary, mockumentary or explanation of the making of a documentary where the actors join in as characters in a theatre company. Wanting to confront Mr McCarthy – or at least they tell us so – they go to Los Angeles taking Inez along, but then the preparation for the play or a play apparently goes wrong. The rest is transgressive theatre – inspired by the perpetrator McCarthy. A playful narrative, to such an extent that I am still not sure about Inez van Dam and what is fiction and fact and what is satire and not. Well done, Holland!

We managed to find some good late night standup in a cellar in Queen Street I believe. One gay did gay humor and one women did jokes about her washing machine. Good ol’ fashion standup.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, somewhat away from center, featured a disappointing exhibition of some forgettable sort.

For a good intro to Edinburgh Fringe from a comedian as a Danish reader you can try Sofie Hagen’s Mærkelige ting: Om at være på Edinburgh Festival. She is doing a show called Bubblewrap in 2015.

Rejsekort – advantages and disadvantages

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Rejsekortet is made by a company whose parent company Thales has been involved in corruption to an extent that a Danish retirement fund has banned investment in it. It was a story that one of the Danish tabloids could bring to the frontpage.

The cost of the investment is estimated to be around 2 milliard kroner. According to some calculations the Rejsekort will be 3 times as expensive to administer as the old system. Other calculations have found that it only was twice as expensive.

If you forget to check out the cost has been 50 kroner. Children has a problem remembering to check out. A nerd has constructed a smartphone app to remind people to check out, so now you only need to check in, set the timing for the alarm in the app and then check out when the alarm sounds… Some time ago I got the Rejsekort and tried it on several trips. I forgot it so many times – perhaps around of the third of the time I used it – that I switched back to the klippekort. It cost me 50 kroner each time I forgot. 25 kroner is for the ordinary ticket. In July 2013 the klippekort kort was to be abandoned, so I started to use Rejsekortet again, thinking I just needed to get into the habit of remembering the check-out. I managed to remember to check-out several times by holding the Rejsekort in my hand during the travel. One day I forgot and got around a kilometer away from the station before I remembered that I forgot to do the check-out. Luckily a bus stop was close by and I got in a stopping bus, checked in, immediately checked out and got out of the bus. I believed this saved me 25 kroner. Unfortunately a few days later I forgot to check out again. I had traveled from Lyngby to Nørreport and then switched to the Metro for the DR Byen. In Lyngby I checked in and at Nørreport I checked out, because I had to check in two bikes on the Rejsekort (Bikes travel freely in the S-tog between Lyngby and Nørreport, but in the Metro you pay). Getting off at DR Byen I forgot to check out. I discovered that after cycling perhaps 3 kilometers away from the station. Thinking that it was only a question of a 30 kroner difference in penalty (a penalty fare) I cycled on. I later saw that Rejsekorte took first 20 kroner for the trip from Lyngby to Nørreport, then a further penalty. Why this is so I do not know. I have used Rejsekort-like system in Amsterdam where I forgot to check out in the trams. However, the Rejsekort I had there was a week-based version, so I presume it did not matter. I have used Oyster Card in London I have had no problems as you need to check out to get past the gate in the train stations. The same goes for Rejsekort-like system in Stockholm. There are no gates at the train station of Copenhagen or anywhere else in Denmark. The introduction of gate will be an expense and furthermore, because of the possibilty of fire evacuation, the stations would need to be manned. The problem with missing check-out and the travelers complaint let the Rejsekort to change the penalty from 50 kroner to 25 kroner. Lately, I have been setting up an alarm on my phone, but even with that I apparently managed to forget to check out (I could almost have sworn that I checked out, but Rejsekortet sent me an email about a missing check-out).

There exists special Rejsekort for young people, Rejsekort Ung. This can give you a discount. You need have a discount card (apparently another card) if you want the discount. At one point young people needed to bring the discount card along when they were not entitled to the discount. This oddity was removed.

For a travel I had used the klippekort (where you do not need to check out) and then after a while got this unpleasant obsessive compulsive thought that I forgot to check out… I went to a party were a guy remembered that he had forgot to check out, so he left the party to walk back to the train station to check out. Away half an hour.

The check-in and check-out terminals resemble each other. A YouTube video shows a user fails to check out, – instead he is checking in again. The problem has led the company to put stickers on the stands with a more clear indication. Interestingly, blogger Georg Strøm found a case where the sticker said the terminal was a check-out type, while it actually was a check-in type.

The Rejsekort for a large part requires the use of the Internet. This may be difficult for the elderly.

Rejsekort does not (yet!?) work well for institutions/organization. For example it does not work well for a kindergarten since the institution cannot have a Rejsekort. However, an employee can use his/her own personal Rejsekort to pay for the travel of the children and then get reimbursed.

It is difficult to know the price of your travel. Rejsekort A/S suggests using their online calculator. The media reports amazing stories about strange unpredictable pricing. Denmark has a strong tradition for enforcing stores to show the final price. The obvious contrast to the opaque pricing of Rejsekort travels have been noted.

The number of check-in and -out for travellers increases. Say, you travel from Lyngby to Frederiksberg with one change of means of transportation. With a “Pendlerkort” you never need to check in or out. With the Rejsekort you need to scan 3 times: check in, check in again for the second leg and check out. If you forget one of them you may face a 750 kroner penalty, a penalty on unknown number of kroner (120? kroner) or 25 kroner penalty, respectively.

A user has reported that money added to the Rejsekort account is not added to the card. That story sounds too strange for me to be true but might be. Perhaps it is due to delays?

The same user also reports that the machine of the ticket checker cannot detect the check-in for the second leg travel.

He furthermore reports that terminals in busses were check-in terminals when people thought it was check-out.

If a terminal does not work when you get off you are in trouble. Apparently the Rejsekort support recommends waiting on the next bus to do the check-out. But in the countryside there may easily be many hours to the next bus.

I have experienced that the machine at the station for putting money on the Rejsekort was using several minutes for its transaction as it tried to communicate with the central payment system. Luckily, I was not in a hurry.

The Rejsekort system has failed nationwide. This happen in February 2014 for some hours.

The Rejsekort terminals in the busses are offline for most of the time. The information about check-in and -out are only synchronized when the bus gets back to its garage after work. Also terminals on the train stations are reported not to be in sync, but only updated every 4 hours (is this really correct?). Reportedly, the offline issue means that you can get a temporary penalty ticket for not checking out: If you take the train and check in, afterwards change to the bus and check in and check out, then your bus check in and out will not appear on the Rejsekort website and a temporary penalty will appear for up to 1 to 2 days.

The offline issue also means that you can add money to the account on the Rejsekort website, but the card and terminals do not know about it. If there is too small amount on the card, you cannot check in. Rejsekort suggests to always put money on the website well ahead of the travel or to use the automatic refill facility.

On the other hand you cannot put money on the card too early via the Rejsekort website. After a week the payment is cancelled!

Christian Dalager retweeted a one funny story. First in Danish: “Det. Stopper. Aldrig. RT @steffentchr Har fået et brev fra #Rejsekort om at de ikke havde min adresse. Altså et brev med posten.” In English: A guy received a snail mail letter from Rejsekort stating that they did not know his address. :-)

A rejsekort user has reported that the Rejsekort terminal may inadvertedly scan your Rejsekort, so that you get checked out and may face a penalty on 750 kroner. The scanners are apparently so sensitive that they can scan a card lying in a bag. The company Rejsekortet A/S states on one hand that people should keep bags away from scanners, on the other hand that it is impossible to be scanned without knowing it. A YouTube video shows an example of check-out with a wallet in a pair of trousers. My card on the other hand has been (while it worked) so insensitive that I had to take it out of my wallet. If I remember correctly foreign card–perhaps Oyster–could scan card in the wallet. And the position of the check in and out terminals on the train stations were such that inadvented check out would be excessively rare.

You have no means of prove to the ticket checker that you have made a check-in. My Rejsekort (apparently!?) malfunctioned while I was travelling having checked in. I got a ticket on 750 kroner. I got the issue resolved with Rejsekort and DSB.

If you are forgetful (as I am) and forget to check out too many times then your card may be blocked! It is reported that 300 people are blocked. In a news paper comment notable neuroscientist Albert Gjedde reports on his experience with getting his Rejsekort blocked without notice and himself a 1-year ban after just three forgetful checkouts.

The number of missing checkouts have been reported to be 2%. If a pendler (Danish for ‘commuter’) forgets to checkout in 2% of his/her travels, the number is actually a very large number: Consider the pendler travelling 400 times a year. On average he would have 8 missing checkouts per year. Given that your card may be blocked after 3 missing checkouts, then the average pendler is almost bound to get his card blocked, – and indeed this is what has been reported to have happened for a user. The mathematically inclined may attempt to solve an exercise in probability to get a feel for the 2%-problem. Hint: Negative binomial distribution. The conclusion seems to be that the Rejsekort hits a probabilistic wall, which is a very deep problem and where I can see no immediate solution.

Phone support is not good. Trying to find out what I should do with my card that was malfunctioning (or at least could not communitation with the terminal) I called the Rejsekort (all other options was gone: card at terminal didn’t work, no personnel on the station, “Rejsekortautomat” I could have tested would not have worked). I was on hold for around 13 minutes. At the end my call was interrupted. The cause of the interruption was unclear for me, perhaps low battery, bad coverage, my mishandling of the buttons on the phone or was it Rejsekortet that interrupted by call? If you cannot check out Rejsekort A/S suggest calling them and tell about the situation. The second time I called it was much faster. There was only one customer ahead of me in the queue. But it is probably optimistic to think that Rejsekort phone support may be able to solve your problem if you are in a hurry. The phone support and its waiting time is a common complaint on Trustpilot.

There have been problems with the homepage where you can check your travels. Given that you do not get a paper ticket with the price information it is problematic.

One Rejsekort strangeness is shown in a YouTube video: You can take children, dogs and bikes along on the Rejsekort, but only two types of them.

A customer reported experiencing that a check-in was not registered so he received a penalty.

Poul-Henning Kamp reported strange (wrong?) price computation in the Rejsekort system. One story involves travelling with 1’100 km/h with the train. Here the human ticket checker had his/her machine set to the wrong area. One must imaging that this has affected all the passengers in the train, that the ticket checker scanned. Rejsekort admits that this can happen, but claims that it happens extremely seldom. In these cases there seems to be no back-end data mining that can capture, warn and correct the issue. Instead the user has to check his/her travel and contact the Rejsekort support to get it corrected. It is unclear if Rejsekort expects the user to do this every time s/he uses the Rejsekort with a moving terminal.

One funny Rejsekort concept discovered by Søren Hugger Møller is null travels. Søren’s case is shortly described but too complex for me to understand, but essentially boils down to that you should pay 12 kroner if it happens again.

The password length on Rejsekort website can only be up to 15 characters.

You cannot see on the Rejsekort when you did the check-in. How long you are allowed to travel (“maksimumtiden”) apparently varies between zones. With the old Klippekort you could see the timestamp and read on the backside of the Klippekort how many hours and minutes you were allowed to travel. If you travel more than the “maksimumtiden” then your ticket is no longer valid and you can face a penalty.

When changing busses or trains it is not immediately clear whether you need to check in or check out. The automated speaker in the S-train clearly states that you should check in (again) and not check out. If you check out and check in (again) there is not a penalty or extra price AFAIU. A checkout may actually benefit you, because if a bus does not arrive (or its Rejsekort terminal does not work or it is delayed), you take a taxi or choose to walk and you did not check out, then you will face the extra 25 kroner bill. On the other hand if you do not check in (even though you have not checked out) then you may face a penalty. Rejsekort itself states if in doubt, check out.

Trustpilot user Camilla Engelshardt Kirkegaard has reported that during a travel with the same train she needs to get out of the train and check in and get back into the train.

Rejsekort stores your travel data. For those interested in privacy, such as MSS, NSA, FSB, BND, GCHQ, Frenchelon and non-governmental problematic organizations from a Danish point og view Rejsekortet may prove a valuable source of information to monitor a great part of Danes. The Rejsekort is constructed by a company associated with the French Thales. With the recent paranoia we got from Edward Snowden and Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen’s claim that the French are among the top most monitoring intelligence services one may wonder to which extent Frenchelon has access to Rejsekortet.

My card malfunctioned. On their FAQ they do not tell what to do. I called Rejsekortet to ask and they told that one should go to a station to have it checked, it was apparently not enough that I stated that I could not check in and the ticket checker could neither get a signal from the card. I then asked whether I could go to my local train station, but no no. Only at certain train stations with special Rejsekort ticket office is it possible to have the Rejsekort checked. I did go to such a Rejsekort ticket office, but it turned out that it was closed. Later I went to a Rejsekort ticket office that was actually open. After only waiting 20 minutes in a queue I managed to get to a person that scanned my card and found it not working. She could not do anything, but told me to go home and block my old malfunctioning Rejsekort and order a new Rejsekort. I now got a new Rejsekort, and now have 214.00 kroner dangling on my old Rejsekort, which apparently have not been transfered…!?

With the Klippekort you can make a quick return trip on the same ticket (as long as you travel within the time limit). With Rejsekortet you need two tickets one for the out-going and one for the return travel.

Travelling long distance you often want to buy a fixed seat. The Rejsekort does not entail this function. You will need to buy a separate ticket for the fixed seat.

One of the nice thing about airplane tickets is that the airline company handles delays on multilegged travels. Given that the Rejsekort is country-wide one should think that a notion of a end-to-end ticket is possible, – and indeed a very good feature if you are travelling to remote parts of Denmark were there is long interval between busses. It is not at all evident that this is the case. Take a combined train and bus ride. If the train is delayed and it is not evident that the bus or train company should handle my delay and I might simply miss the bus ride.

If you get a new credit card and need to associate that with the Rejsekort, the procedure is terribly complicated, one blogger calling it The absurd theater of the Rejsekort.

With my first Rejsekort broken I got a new one, but I still have some money on the old card with and with little know how on how to transfer that money to the new Rejsekort…

A minor issue on the website: Under the menu item “overview” (“Oversigt”) the “My travels (“Mine rejser”) claims that I have not yet used by Rejsekort (“Du har endnu ikke taget dit rejsekort i brug.”). For both of my Rejsekort listed this is simple wrong.

Some kind of system errors might occur making automatic refilling of the Rejsekort not working.

The Rejsekort is not good for tourists. A blank anonymous Rejsekort costs 80 kroner. The Swedish Stockholm Rejsekort card fee is 20 SEK, so well under a fourth.

Although Danish public transportation is heavily subsidized and partially owned by the government the Minister of Transportation says that he cannot control the companies making decisions about the Rejsekort.

The Rejsekort system does not allow you to check in a Rejsekort if you got another NFC card in your purse. I have a card for the door at my work and I need to take our my Rejsekort out of my purse to check in. It is technologically possible handle multiple cards, but the company behind Rejsekort has simply decided not to implement that detail.

Rejsekortet does not work well with the Pendlercard (special card for commuters). If you travel outside zones covered by a pendlercard you need to check in in the middle of you travel, e.g., rushing out of the train to find a check-in terminal quickly and jump on the train again.

For more complaints see the 85 items list from Politiken.

See also Rejsekortets own list in the action plan for better customer
exerience with Rejsekort


There has been a number of satisfied customers with the Rejsekort. One is Jakob Rosenkrantz de Lasson.

You do not have to know anything about the number of zones of travel before you buy a ticket is mentioned as an advantage. With the old Klippekort you need to figure out in advance how many zones you would be travelling.

Rejsekort stores your travel data. For those interested in self quantification it may be a valuable source. However, I do not think that Rejsekortet provides the data in a convenient format. And if you think that Rejsekort provides an API, well think again. You will probably have to scrape the webpage: Good luck…

Certain travels may get cheaper. In Odense’s ring zone 10 has been especially advantageous for travellers as you pays for only one zone compared to 3 zones with the non-Rejsekort system (FynBus is apparently considering to change the zoning in Odense because it is too advantageous). However, many users report that this is not the case for them. 1, 2. E.g., with an old fashion ticket you can get a discount, that is not handled with Rejsekortet. Another way that tickets may get cheaper is that with Rejsekortet you pay for “bird flight” distance, while for Klippekortet you pay for train track distance. However, if your Rejsekort are checked underway you still pay the train track price. However, there has been reported about travels getting more expensive with the Rejsekort.

You can get 20% off by travelling off-peak with the Rejsekort. This may a help alleviate the pressure on public transportation. It is unclear why this offer could not be made to people with a klippekort, e.g., they could have offered me to only use a 3 zones ticket for the ordinary 4 zone travel during peak hours.

Rejsekortet may clean up the complex structure of ticket zones and special rules. However, I have no knowledge that this have actually occurred.

Rejsekortet can give a more precise overview of the travel pattern of users. This allows a more fair distribution of the income between the Metro, the bus companies and DSB running the S-trains. This is only of very indirect advantage for the user of the public transporation and actually puts an extra burden on the user as s/he needs to check in when changing from one type of transport to another. The use of camera has been suggested to count the passengers instead, avoiding to burden the user.

Rejsekort uses NXP-type NFC which certain smartphones can read. Independent developer Casper Bang has developed a smartphone app that allows the user to read the Rejsekort and see the travels and the amount of money on the card.

With automatic refill for the Rejsekort you do not need to buy ticket or put money on the card. This happens automatically. I have this opted in for this functionality. I means that Rejsekort can suck money out of my bank account. I hope no errors happens with the system, so that my bank account is emptied. It is unclear if there is any upper limit on the withdrawal from the bank account and if good intelligent monitoring is at hand so that suspicious use is flagged. There may be month between my checks on the self-service where all travels are listed and weeks between my use of the Rejsekort, so I fear that if my card is stolen the thief will be able to withdraw substantial amounts of money from my bank account.