Bart Vander Sanden

Freelance web developer/graphic designer in Leuven, Belgium

General Posts

All of my posts that don't belong under travel or Instagram.

Chinese New Year in Leuven

Chinese dragons roaming the streets of Leuven.
Chinese dragons roaming the streets of Leuven.

Last weekend the Chinese community of Leuven celebrated their start of the new year for the first time in Leuven. The weather was awful (lots of wind and tons of nearly ice cold rain descended on us), but we quite enjoyed the exhibition shows of the local martial arts and dancing groups, and the march through the city with the dragons leading the way.

Here’s to a great Year of the Pig!

The dragon puppets, ready to come alive.
The dragon puppets, ready to come alive.

My winter commute in Belgium

Lately I’ve been taking pictures whenever I’m traveling between Leuven and Brussels.

The days are getting longer again, and the sun has been rising and setting during the morning and evening rush hours. It gives me a sense of calm during these moments when the daily commute is anything but.

A useful tool:

A screenshot of
Andy Bell created this small tool to find out the basic configuration of your browser and device, called

It’s simple, yet extremely handy as you can send this site to a client, and they can send back the results in an instant. It’s a lot easier than the old fashioned way by explaining to the client over the phone where they can find the about menu of their browser.

Fixing locale errors with Jekyll plugins on Linux

I’ve been working on setting up my blog in a way that makes it possible for me to edit and update this website from anywhere. Jekyll makes it easy to create a website that’s fully portable by not working with a database, which makes it easy to just push and pull your data from Git, but until a few days ago I just compiled this website on my laptop. This works nice enough, but I have to rely on a traditional computer to do the updates.

To counter this, I’ve decided to move the build process to a VPS, so I can just build the website with a simple command over SSH, on any device that can remotely log in to this server.

Jekyll is nowadays a pretty well documented framework, and installing it to my Ubuntu 16.04 server was as easy as following the steps from the Jekyll website.

Unfortunately, running the jekyll build or jekyll serve command resulted in a mysterious error:

Error: \xE6 Code: US-ASCII

I noticed that this is the unicode character for the æ ligature, and I started looking for this character in my files to replace it with an HTML entity. I didn’t find the character in any of my files (not even in the exported site on my laptop), so this didn’t help.

I then tried to create a new jekyll site with the make command, and this website worked perfectly right away. Strange.

I then tried to add the posts from my website to the newly created site, and those also generated on the first try.

I found that the only difference between my site and the new site were that I used a few plugins to help me do some basic tasks (like creating a sitemap, for example). This resulted in discovering that the jekyl-autoprefixer plugin was the cause of the error.

This is an important plugin for me as I’m using flex and (more importantly) grid in my css, technologies that are not yet fully baked in all browsers, so they often need browser specific fallbacks which are automatically generated by autoprefixer.

I then found a blog post by Holly Becker, in which she solved a similar issue. She described that this problem was fixed by setting the Lang and Language variables to en_US.UTF-8 so Ruby (the environment that Jekyll uses) doesn’t fall back to an incompatible language. This didn’t solve it for me, but the error was similar enough to my issue that I felt that I was looking in the right direction at least.

While searching around I stumbled on a question on StackOverflow that mentioned the same solution, but with a few variables added. And voila: adding LC_ALL to en_US.UTF-8 solved the issue (with export LC_ALL=en_US.UTF-8).

I suspect that it’s also perfectly possible to change en_US.UTF-8 to your preferred language, given that it’s unicode compliant. The default charset of the locale is (if I understand it correctly) set to ASCII, which does not have the æ character available. This issue is probably not only related to that character, but the unicode charset is large enough to account for most non-ASCII characters.

Sleeping cat

Sleeping cat (drawn with Clip Studio Paint on my iPad Pro)

A drawing of our cat, sleeping on the sofa.

I’m trying out Clip Studio Paint on my iPad Pro as a drawing app, and it’s quite nice. The lines feel a bit more refined that those drawn by Procreate, but it’s not a big difference. I’ll see if I’ll keep using it before my trial period ends.


Brussels North Station.
Brussels North Station.

Linked: Using A Static Site Generator At Scale: Lessons Learned

Here’s an interesting article by Stefan Baumgartner on using Jekyll for larger sites. I’ve noticed myself that the build time for this (Jekyll based) website takes a lot longer with a large number of posts.

Generating this website with just the blog takes a few milliseconds, but when I add my concert photo galleries it bumps up to 6 seconds. Still fast enough, but I can imagine this becoming a problem at a larger scale.

His solution (splitting up the different parts of the website) is interesting, simple, and very effective.

Brussels Airlines - Magritte

Poster of SN Magritte - Brussels Airlines © Thomas De Louker

A few months ago I was asked to design a new poster at Brussels Airport for the Magritte plane of Brussels Airlines. It was nice to work with this special plane again, as I also worked on its design a few months prior (with Thomas Dieu and Thomas De Louker).

Reveal of SN Magritte - Brussels Airlines © Bart Vander Sanden

(First photo by Thomas De Louker)


Mint plants in our garden

We tend to use a lot of mint at home (mojito’s and Thai beef salads are the best), so we have a lot of those plants in our garden. The warm summer weather is treating them very nicely at the moment.