Monday, April 30, 2012

Telecom minister's surprise

The telecom minister has been telling us for about a week that on Monday 30th of April he will announce a "surprise" for us. Speculation has been going on and on about a price drop in 3G services or DSL:

I was a little bit disappointed by this "Surprise" because I was hoping for new 3G packs, it was only new blackberry services: "New Blackberry Offers: Instead of paying 27$ for 200MB => BB SOCIAL 200MB for 8$ | BB COMPLETE 200MB for 12$ | BIS 500MB for 24$" 
This is an "achievement", I mean a year ago blackberry users were paying 40$ for 100MB. 

Keep your hopes up, the minister, on his Twitter account, announced new 3G offers to be unveiled in 2weeks:
Stay Tuned for more upcoming updates!

Mobile companies just released the new offers on there website, here they are:

BlackBerry Social: With a capacity up to 200 MB , BlackBerry Social offers access to social networking applications, such as: Facebook®, Twitter®, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), and whatsApp, in addition to video streaming. (Notice the absence of email service AND instant messaging) 1.8$/Week+0.08$/MB

BlackBerry Complete: With a capacity up to 200 MB , subscribers can configure 1 external email account as well as access to social networking and instant messaging applications, such as: Facebook®, Twitter®, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Windows live messenger and Yahoo Messenger, in addition to video streaming. 2.8$/week+0.08$/MB

BlackBerry Prime: With a capacity up to 500 MB , configure up to 10 external email accounts in addition to Video streaming, access to social networking and instant messaging applications, such as: Facebook®, Twitter®, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Windows live messenger and Yahoo Messenger 5.6$/week+0.08$/MB

BlackBerry Prime+: With a capacity up to 1GB, configure up to 10 external email accounts in addition to Video streaming, access to social networking and instant messaging applications, such as: Facebook®, Twitter®, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Windows live messenger and Yahoo Messenger 9.8$/week+0.07$/MB

Friday, April 27, 2012

Beirut On Fire

I was studying like a normal university student when I feel like it is time I check Facebook. I open ad the first post that shows up is by Samer Karam who posted this an image of a big black smoke screen coming from Beirut. I will let the image speak for now and update this section as soon as I have more information

Image by Samer N.
Image by Samer Karam

[UPADTE 1] It seems to be a warehouse full of tire burning down

[UPDATE2] Now that thick smog over Beirut has faded into the invisibility of night, I turned to the evening news for some answers. Unfortunately they were few and far between as most stations buried the inferno story deep into their newscasts, if they even covered it at all.

Despite plenty of teasers of smoldering fire footage above, the actual report only lasted about 20 seconds. It was just a "read" i.e. no reporter was on the scene and the anchor provided some vague commentary with no indication of who, what, why, etc.

To be fair it was a busy news day with an explosion in Damascus and a reported arms shipment confiscated at the port of Beirut. But none of these stories took up that much time either. So where did the newscast go? To the ruling regime of course!

[UPDATE3] It has been confirmed to be a warehouse full of tires (since 1993 and still stocking until now) that was burning down yesterday afternoon in the Burj Hammoud district. The causes and the responsible of this ecological disaster seems to be until now unknown. Luckily there has been no collateral damage knowing that in Burj Hammoud there are a lot of fuel tanks. 

[UPDATE4] It seems that this fire was caused willingly to extract metal and sell it (Source: L'Orient Le Jour, Greenpeace)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Titanic 3D

Today I went to watch the famous Titanic in 3D. Although I've already watched it several times, it never gets old.
People all over the world (and especially the Internet) have been making a huge buzz about it to the point that I wanted to re-watch it on big screen!
I don't really like 3D because, except for James Cameron's Avatar, none of the movie in 3D I watched was worth it; I've never actually felt that I was in a 3D environment.

Lets get back to the Titanic, at first I was both skeptic  and eager to watch it. Skeptic because the movie is old and well  known, eager because I wanted to see how James Cameron's managed to turn a 2D movie in 3D and if it was worth doing so.
At first I was like "ok this is not bad" but when the Titanic set sail there we could see the full power of the 3D technology unleashed! There is no word that could describe how I felt, what I saw and the amazement at this very moment. I could feel how the whole theater was amazed, astonished.
Really James Cameron did some amazing work by reworking the whole movie in 3D, I can't imagine how hard it was for him and his team. They worked on every single picture of the movie. Lets do some math: 26 pictures per second, 1hour = 3600 secs, the movie takes approximately 3 hours; 3*3600*26=280 800 picture reworked and put in Three Dimensions!
Truly Titanic 3D is the a movie really worth watching again on the big screen and I recommend you to do so.

Now about the feeling it left on me, I found myself wondering what would I have done if I were on board. Would I have been on first class or steerage? Would I have bribed my way to a seat on the lifeboats? If I were J. Bruce Ismay of the White Star Line would I have jumped ship and lived with disgrace (as he did) or stayed on-board and died with dignity? If I were on a lifeboat, would I have gone back to help those struggling to stay alive in the freezing water? Or would I have been too fearful for my own life to care about those poor helpless souls? If I lived, how do I overcome such a traumatic and near-death experience? So many ifs…

But the ultimate questions that lingered on my mind after I left the cinema were these: How much has changed in our social and moral fibers since the Titanic? Have we evolved? How many of us would commit selfless acts of bravery and heroism in the face of calamity? Or would we just default to self-survival mode?

They say the best movies are those that hold a mirror to our faces. Those that lead us to question and reflect on our own lives in relation to what is on the screen. Titanic made me peel away from the internet, my mobile phone to think, to reflect and to weigh my own values. If we were to go by the aforementioned measuring stick on what makes a good movie, then yes Titanic the movie is a success on and off the box office.


The Next Galaxy

It is official, Samsung announced that their next Galaxy Smartphone will be unveiled the third of May!
Journalist have received their official invitation. The vent will be held at London!
Samsung has been enjoying the amount of buzz its next flagship Android smartphone is generating, despite the company’s silence on what will be included in the device and when it will launch. The company recently moved to quash any rumors it was to incorporate a 3D display in its future handsets, but has kept details of the handset close to its chest.
Unconfirmed rumours include a slight increase to the screen size of the product, enlarging the SII’s 4.3” screen to 4.6”, bringing it into line with Samsung’s current flagship the Galaxy Nexus. Such an increase could be due to an “edgeless” design, rather than to an enlarged overall device. An improved camera, possibly up to 16megapixels, is also a possibility, and wireless charging has also been mentioned as a possibility.

I will write an article about the Next Galaxy when it comes out! Stay Tuned

Monday, April 9, 2012

Facebook buys Instagram

This is a totally unexpected news but it is real, Facebook, who needs no introduction, has announced the acquisition of Instagram, the photo sharing platform available on iOS and Android (recently).

This purchase estimated at $ 1 billion has just been finalized today by MarkZukerberg, the creator of Facebook, who announced it on his profile. The news was then confirmed to the press area of the site. Mark Zukerberg expresses delighted with this acquisition and that the team developer of Instagram will join that of Facebook.

In a statement that Zuckerberg posted on Facebook, he said:
For years, we've focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we'll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.

This acquisition will allow the social network to further improve its 
photo sharing functions for users. The company says it will develop independently Instagram from its social network; this means that the application Instagram as such will always be available separately from that of Facebook. It will also be possible to share photos Instagram on several social networks. Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s CEO, wrote this to calm down his users in response to the deal. An excerpt:

It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away. We’ll be working with Facebook to evolve Instagram and build the network. We’ll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience.

This acquisition is the largest since the creation of Facebook in 2004, I expect that the firm will make good use and it will not neglect Instagram in favor of his own social network.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Blackberry mania

Long have we witnessed in Lebanon some sort of Blackberry "mania".

I find the blackberry pretty normal, not very attractive and very poor in applications. The only thing that I actually like about it is its security system; communication between blackberries is encrypted thus making it impossible to what is being said between two users. Most Lebanese Blackberry owner don't even know this security thing and this is NOT the main reason they have for buying one, but they still don't intend to change.

Why is this? It is pretty obvious for someone who knows the Lebanese telecom situation, but it is another thing for those who don't. Lets see "why" in details.

First thing first, in telecom the word "unlimited" is just a word; nothing here is unlimited. We have only 2 mobile telecom company and they don't compete between each others, it is some sort of Duopoly. This will lead to very high prices: Minute Call = 0.36$; SMS = 0.09$
3G arrived only recently so before there was only a WAP service (10$/month for only 25MB/month) and the Blackberry service (40$/month for 100MB/month). These 2 service being the only one with mobile internet people began to buy a Blackberry so that they could communicate between each other almost anywhere, anytime on a constant basis. People in the buses, class, mall always holding their phones and messaging each other. When I asked my friend "why did you buy a blackberry" he answered: "so that I can send free messages".
This is the problem! We don't have free messages nor anything! We have to pay for every message and every call!
Also I must mention that it is the state that imposes such a high price! Like for the internet, the government has a total control on the prices of mobiles services! They are the one imposing such a duopoly. Don't take me wrong I am NOT blaming the CURRENT government but ALL the government since 1993.

Now that we have 3G we still have blackberry but not as much as before, the epidemic has passed!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Electricity? Electricity. Electricity!

For all those who are going to read this let me put you in the context: In Lebanon electricity 24/7 does NOT exist! In some places there is a blackout of 3 hours and in other places there is a blackout of 12 to 16 hours!
So we (normal citizens) have to use generators to have electricity during blackout periods

Here are my theories about WHY is this situations (and lots of people agree to it)
1- The infrastructure is OLD, in fact it dates from 1993 and some says from before the war. My parents told me that before the war there used to be electricity 24/7
2- Lebanon does not get enough fuel to produce the Lebanese daily need in Electricity
3- Stealing. Politician just cut the electricity so they could save some money for there pockets
4- Private generator lobby! Their is a lobby for private generators, and they put pressure on the government (and even pay them) to do not fix the problem; because if it is fixed, their whole "industry"/machination will go down. So we are once again in the corruption problem
5-We have people who "steal" electricity from their neighbor. They just fix the corresponding wire which is an easy but risky task and, MAGIC, they have "free" electricity thus consuming more and more without worrying about the bill

These are the most common theories about the electricity shortage. All of them are involved, it's not just ONE

Now what are the different solutions to the problem?
-The first solution is privatization! We need to privatize the "public" electricity company in order to get a better management and a better administration because we have seen what the current electricity's administration is doing.
-The second is setting  a maximum price for the generator owner because right now everyone is acting like a mafia and setting a high price.
-Building more power plant and renewing the infrastructure of the existing ones on a longer term.
-Use more "Green" energy that will reduce the use of oil.

What is the government actually DOING for us?
In December 2011, the minister of electricity&water said that they will cut the power more often this winter in order to face the high electric consumption of summer 2012. True we had lots of blackout this winter, but I don't know whether or not we will have more power this summer.

They signed a contract with an American and Turkish company that will provide us with electricity through the use of boat.
I don't really know now what the problem is and why it hasn't been implemented yet but let:'s hope for the best. I'll update this section as soon as the story gets clearer.

Cheers and hope for the best!

UPADTE: It seems that the website of the minister of and electricity has been hacked!Here is the website:

Here is the message they left also on ALL the website they hacked:
To our dear "beloved" Lebanese Government,

We are RYV, short for Raise Your Voice, and we are simply a group of people who could not bare sitting in silence, watching all the crimes and injustice going on in Lebanon. We will not be silenced and brainwashed by your media. We will not stop until the Lebanese people mobilize, demand their rights, and earn them. We will not stop until the standards of living are raised to where they should be in Lebanon. We will not stop until this government's self-made problems are solved, like the power shortage, water shortage, rise in gas prices and rise in food product prices. We are RYV, expect us to break the silence, whether in the streets or on the Internet.Silence is a crime.