Friday, March 27, 2009

Best free workplace for freelancers in Amsterdam

I'm writing this from my new office, on the 6th floor of a very good-looking building in the center of Amsterdam, with great views, ample desk space, an excellent cafeteria and your choice of wireless Internet for your laptop or unlimited use of PC or Apple desktops. I'm not the only one. Around me hundreds of others, mostly young and hip, are enjoying the same facilities. Best of all, it's free (except the cafeteria, of course) . No multi-year rent contract or any other obligations. You don't even need a library card. Yes, that's right, I'm at the Central Public Library. If the word library is strongly linked to 'old and stuffy' in your mind, like it was in mine, then you really need to see this.

I'm not sure if it leads to more library books being read, but it sure is a nice public service. Of course it has a few downsides. Gaining access to the wireless LAN is a bit more difficult than I'd expected (it's not anonymous so you first need to register, then configure some unusual network settings on your laptop). Also, in particular in the afternoons it can get quite crowded, with a corresponding effect on the speed of the Internet connection. For the time being, for me it's only a welcome change from my own tiny suburban office. Because of my multi-year rental contract, and because I don't have to share the Internet connection with anyone. But if the recession lasts a few more years I might move here permanently.

Some basics:
Centrale Bibliotheek OBA ODE
Oosterdokskade 143
1011 DL Amsterdam
Customer service 0900-bibliotheek (0900-2425468), 020-5230900 or
Opened daily from 10:00 till 22:00

Network settings for Windows XP: in the authentication properties of the wireless connection set the EAP type to PEAP, disable 'authenticate as computer', enable 'authenticate as guest', and in the PEAP properties disable 'validate server certificate', select EAP-MSCHAP v2 authentication, and configure EAP MSCHAP v2 to disable 'automatically use my windows logon'. This will result in Windows asking for your registered user name and password when making a connection.

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