From https://www.flickr.com/photos/49889874@N05/6101434856/

Will you miss your password?

Companies are conspiring to kill the password. Bill Gates predicts its death will come soon. Smartphones and soon tablets equipped with fingerprint and eyeball scanners are the answer. With recent internet security flaws, everyone is asked to change their passwords, and in many sites, it is getting more and more impossible to come up with memorable password. Your password now must be more than 8 characters, with upper case, lower case, numerals, and special characters. Good luck remembering it next time you login. The “Forget Password” became one of the most important features of sites with the complexity of passwords.

Although security experts warn against it, many people still use names that are special to them, significant dates or someone, or favorite things (TV, Movie, object, etc..) to help them remember. Few bother to use password managers and random password generators and have passwords like yQLttMZ1jm!QA3.

But reading the news I couldn’t help remembering my early password choices, and how I choose words that are linked with a memory I wanted to keep, or an object I was attached to. Back then “Remember Me” feature wasn’t there, and you will have to enter the password daily, or perhaps hourly if you are using command line as I did.

Will passwords be missed? or everyone is waiting for it’s death along with ATM Pin codes?

Arab Commons

When you follow someone like Anas Tawileh, one won’t be surprised of where he will head next. Never I saw of him anything less than determination and hardware to make it work. “It” here is “Open Source, Open Content, Open Standards” or in one word, Openness. The most recent project he is in, is Arab Commons.

Arab Commons project aim to promoting “Creative Commons” and it’s use in Arab world. The site work on indexing and listing creative work, of art, science, and literature, from Arab creative people, who placed it under the open license of “Creative Commons”. Many Blogs in the Arab workds are under Creative Commons license. As well, most of the photographs taken by many of our best photographers are under Creative Commons in Flickr. I will would like to urge you all to list your creative “products” in Arab Commons, and help make this project succeed.

Skype in Jordan: Back online

I noticed it yesterday, and it is confirmed now (Thanks Ahmad), the TRC (Telecommunications Regulatory Commission) reversed their bad decision of blocking Skype. It seems that Skype is no longer a security threat.

اللهم احفظ اردننا سالما من كل شر ومكروه وسكايب وياهو وجوجل وماسينجر و……

God keep our Jordan safe from any Harm, or Evil, or Skype, or Gtalk, or Yahoo Messenger, or MSN Messenger, or…..

Skype Blocked in Jordan: A Big Step Backward

A coworker informed me today that few days ago, the site of Skype (http://www.skype.com ) is no longer accessible from Jordan. It seems that they are following the steps of countries that live in the dark ages when it comes to Internet. To confirm that you don’t have a “Network Error” or that the site is down, and that the site is actually blocked, try to use any of the Internet Anonymizer services (http://www.freeproxy.ru/en/free_proxy/cgi-proxy.htm ) and see how you will be able to access it.

What really aches me the most, is that Jordan was really one of the countries that have the highest level of freedom of access in the Internet, and even daring to block sites to protect the commercial interests of few companies is the worst thing that could happen to our Internet industry. I really hope that some reasoning and sanity get to the heads of the decision makers in Jordan. The Internet is Free, I can still get the skype client from 10s of other sources, and I can make calls using 100s of applications, the only way I would use licensed services by companies in Jordan is if they give me same level of service with lesser price, and we know that this will never happen.

UPDATE: the block seems to effect the ability to download Skype client, and not using it for those who already downloaded it. So, for those who are already using Skype, it seems that they can continue to do so, but without the ability to download, or update their Skype Client.

UPDATE2: Thanks Omar, here is the official letter confirming that the block was requested from the Telecomunication Regulation Commission:

TRC Skype Block Letter

Searching in Arabic ? Use Araby.com

ArabyBeing first is nothing new to Maktoob, the provider of the first arabic email service.. Early this morning the Arabic Search Engine Araby.com making it the first arabic search engine. Samih Toukan, CEO of Maktoob announced it in his blog few hours ago.

Wait a minute! you are saying first ? there were search engines before.. or at least attempts .. Well, yes, I am saying first. The “Search Service” attempts that was before didn’t succeed, mostly because of the lack of coverage, lack of funding, or the lack of Arab language understanding. Many “Directory Search” sites pretended to be Web Search, while it was far from it. A Directory search have records of hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of sites, with their information, and when you search, you match the site information. A search engine is far more than that, it is covering 10s of millions of Arabic pages, and storing relations between pages, and links between them, and different forms of the texts in the body, and more.. all that to bring a speedy and accurate search results.

Now I must say that I had been involved in Araby for the last months, and so, you might not take my word for it, but I am telling you, when it comes to searching in Arabic, Araby.com is by design, and practice a powerful engine. A query and a document goes through several stages of linguistic analysis and modification to provide users with the best and maximum matches possible. Can you remember the number of times you search in arabic in the global search engines such as Google (which I adore) or Yahoo, and turned down with poor results due the possible variations of Arabic language. try to search for any word in google, and put a simple Harakat, Hamza on Alef, or other variation, and notice the drastic difference in results. For someone to “claim” to be best in Arabic, those need to be taken in consideration, and we did.

One thing that a blogger will be familiar with in the home page of Araby is the Top Searches, in a “Tag Cloud”, as well, we implemented many Web 2.0 design and technology concepts, that should maximize the user experience. Another thing that a visitor will notice is that there are different search “types” or as they are called around here “Verticals”, the verticals where designed according to user feedback, and knowledge of Arabic web, which Maktoob have. Islamic, Blogs, Forums, Pictures, and News could be considered the first set of verticals that are designed for Arab users.

One thing for sure, Araby.com, and the verticals in it have a long way to go with development, We only released early to give users a peak into what is cooking, and get feedback on it. So, please send it forward.. and pass it forward.. I can tell you with complete confidence that the next very few weeks still have many features and enhancements that didn’t make it to the beta launch, so stay tuned, and make sure to bookmark it :)

Apple in Jordan: Premium Prices, for Sh*ty Support

OK, I had it, I can’t stand this anymore, and I got to spill it out. I love my Macbook Pro, and I can’t imagine how I was computing before it. But, the level and quality of support an Apple user get in Jordan is basically, the worst anyone can get.

I bought my Makbook Pro as soon as it was available, and I was from those unlucky ones with a defect in the battery, where the machine randomly shutdown when it was getting near being empty. As well, a dent or a swallow in the back of the battery appeared, looked like it is gonna explode, and dangerous to use. So I stopped using the battery, and went looking for Apple support in Amman. That was around the 1st of June 2006.

First stop was a shop in Swaifiyeh, that identifies itself as an Apple Reseller, and Support provider. Went to them, they checked the laptop serial number, and they reported back “Your laptop is not covered with support, replacing the battery will be 200JDs” (That is 300$USD), WHAT ! I asked “Is my laptop less than 2 months old”, they answered “Yes”, I asked again “Is there an Apple Laptop that is sold without Warranty”, they said “No”, “So How-come my Laptop isn’t covered with support” .. no answer.. So, I left the shop, and went to the other Apple Provider located in Abdali.

There was a totally different experience, it seems to me that the people there know what they are doing, but the package (offices, dress-code, etc..) isn’t as pretty as the shop in Swaifiyeh, but it didn’t matter, I wanted the battery replaced. The guy there entered the laptop serial number, saw the same message that the other store saw about coverage, and smiled “It seems that the shop you bought your Laptop from didn’t fill your purchase information, or it didn’t sync yet with Apple Database” and they asked me for the contact information for the shop I bought from, and photo copied the invoice, and told me “It will take 6-8 weeks to have the battery arrive”.. that was June 5th.

Since then I had been using the laptop without a battery, I can tell you that the MagSafe works.. I lost count of the number of times that my laptop went dead because the power connector popped up and disconnected because of a movement near the laptop, it is supposed to “protect” the laptop from being cough up with the power wire if someone or something pull it off, but it ended up as the reason I have countless improper shutdowns for the machine.

Now, I had been emailing the Apple Agent in Amman almost weekly, asking them with an update, and getting answers such as “We made the Order”, “We are waiting for Approval”, “It is being shipped”, “It reached Dubai”, “it should come next week”, “it didn’t come with this shipment, maybe with the next one in few weeks”, etc… It had been 3 months now (13 weeks), and I am still waiting.. What bugs me the most, is that a client in USA, who probably have double my income, and payed for the same Laptop half the price I payed, is getting his battery exchanged in 2-3 days using mail, or immediate if he heads to one of the Apple stores or authorized service centers. Why is that ? Is the problem with Apple, focusing on US? and leaving their customers in this region under the mercy of bad service, or it is our problem for asking for a premium service when paying premium prices ? Tell you what, I don’t want premium service, I just want a service, any service.

UPDATE: After 4 months 9 days, and more than 50 follow up call, I got the battery, at Oct 16th.. At last, my Apple Portable is portable.

Allah Ywafgak

Is it just me, or there is a big spike in begging in the streets of Amman ? I just took 3 minutes walk, from office, to super market, back to the office, and I was stopped and interrupted by: One Young Man who need 1JD to get back to Gwaismeh (Meskeen, Magtoo3, and can only use taxis it seems), 2 ladies ( separately) – each with a baby- asking me for money to feed the baby, and last, one lady without a baby (maybe it is not her turn to use the baby today).

If there is one thing that I believe in more than Open Source, then it is that those beggars are big manipulative liars, every and each one of them, no exclusions.. and they come in different packages:

  • This-is-my-first-time-asking-for-money needing money for transportation type
  • Feed my baby (using own or rented baby)
  • I lost a leg, or can’t walk type (there is this one in Shmaisani that I see in the same place for years, near the bird park)
  • knock-knock-give-me-food-at-Iftar-time-in-Ramadan type
  • and so on

There are many other derivatives and mixtures of the above basic-types.. it can differ according to location, such as in front of a mosque, or near the burier places at funeral times, and so on.. and they are all big “thin” liars.. call me cruel, but I would never give a penny to any of them. If one is to help, then there are trusted organization, that take donations, and take the extra effort of checking the illegibility of those asking for money, and it is those organization that should be given money regularly, and not those pretending to wipe your windshield at a traffic light.

Allah ywafegko, don’t give money to any of those..

PS. to check the street I got 4 beggars in less than 100 meters, it is near the fifth circle, in front of the Sheraton.. Near Hotels .. mm.. interesting coincident ..