Razan Khatib's commentary on life on/off the web

Archive for December, 2007

Predictions for 2008 0

I am copying and pasting my answer to kim’s Quest on Questler

So here are my predictions for 2008:

1. Lebanon will have a new president (do they have one already???)

2. George Bush will give us another disaster decision before leaving office.

3. It will be more and more expensive to live in Amman.

4. People will start having negative feelings about Google.

5. Republicans and Hillary will lose the presidential race.

6. Questler will hit big everywhere (ok, this is wishful thinking:) )

7. Microsoft will announce that office 2010 will be completely a web app!

8. New search engines will become more popular (Spock, Riya…etc)

9. Palestinian occupied territories will still be called the same.

10. last but not least, real estate prices in Jordan will start declining by end of year. (Wishful thinking?)

Children Museum: Sorry you are too old to enter! 0

A fried of mine passed by today and told me that she was so disappointed that they wouldn’t allow her and her brother to enter the Children’s Museum today because they didn’t have a child 13 or younger with them! Read her post at When Your Inner Child Doesn’t Count by Shalabieh

This is outrageous,  I mean why can’t adults be allowed to enter? A public space built by our tax money and you can’t enter?!!!

Yamli.com, anglo arabic? 7

I’ve been playing for the past 30 min with this new web app called Yamli. Which enables users to type arabic using roman characters, like we usually do within emails, our official language being arabeezi. So instead of sending an email containing arabic words in roman characters like this one:

Hi Diala? Keefek? shoo el akhbar?

you will type it the same way you typed the above but will get the following text instead:

هاي ديالا؟ كيفك؟ شو الأخبار؟

This could enable more people to communicate with each other in Arabic, since most of us are really slow typing in arabic characters.

Also the service enables you to search Google in arabic as well by again typing how the word sounds in roman characters.


I am impressed!

If they allow us in the future to use their editor in third party web apps that would mean wonders to the arab web.

I can hear some loud voices out there saying that we should learn how to type faster in arabic, but since that isn’t happening that fast for some of us i think this web app might be just the solution. They have a Facebook app as well!

Google Alerts, keep being posted 0

Just in case some didn’t discover this great tool yet.

Google Alerts is a great tool to keep your self posted with whatever people are talking about on the Internet on a specific word or combination of words. For example you can use it to send you weekly, daily or as-it-happens alerts for anything posted with your name on it, or your company’s name or a specific topic you want to keep being posted in new developments on.

A friend of mine suggested I use it to keep a watch on my comeptitors so as to keep being updated on what they are doing and who they maybe are a year ago and now I get an email every week or so with a digest about learning/informal learning with news and blog posts that are mostly useful! Thanks Hussam :)

Yazan Rousan, agwa noo3 1

If you have not heard of Yazan Rousan or any of his songs, then as an ammany you are definitely missing something BIG!

I don’t think I want to call his songs “songs” because his lyrics and the way he sings them is just wildly amazing, some are out of nowhere and some hit home big time. He definitely has a style of his own with his dark glasses, and cynical sense of humor!

Yazan @ Kanabayeh Dec 22, 2007

Yazan, Agwa noo3 indeed! (translates to “best kind” oh well!)

Google Trends 0

Want to know how much a certain word of phrase been searched for on the Internet the past 4 years? Check out Google Trends a web trend analysis tool from Google; it will give you a chart-based analysis on that phrase.

If you tried to search trends for “Lebanon” you will get the following chart:


Which from looking at it you will see that there is a base level of search about lebanon eveyday, and a two main spikes, one earlier in 2005 around with Rafiq Hariri was assassinated, and in the summer of 2006 around the Israel invasion of Lebanon.

Try another search, lets say “Global Warming”:


A seen above, in 2007 a lot of people got more aware and searched for information about Global Warming. Which in my own observation was about right.

“Facebook” got more than a trend more of a hike in 2007 and still on apparently, we will see until when will it keep that hike:


Try it your self for whatever phrase, be it a country, a web app, a person, or a topic!

Funny video about Web 2.0 "bubble" 0

I just came across this video at OnStartups.com , its so funny but sadly it has some truth to it! Titled “Here comes another bubble” sang by The Richter Scales.

Being the founder of a Web 2.0 web app, I still found this video funny, but here is why I don’t think we are building a bubble! why? I am going to do exactly like what Dharmesh did on his blog! Watch the video then read why!

Warning: video ID not specified!

1. We are building a learning network that will help people learn from each other, not just poke each other…hint hint!

2. We are building a toolset that will empower people to take charge of their own learning, not wait for formal programs to to keep doing that for them.

3. The product vision for Questler is to enable organizations of all types both cultivate and capture informal learning that is already happening in their organizations.

4. We want organizations to balance their spending between formal and informal learning to get performance results not just keep on spending 80% of their budgets on formal training programs.

5. We are talking about one industry only not two.

6. We are using Web 2.0 concepts but we are trying to focus their use in learning, not socializing and i think that should win us a point!

7. I am 33, Eyad is 32 and Alma is 29 and we don’t think that Web 2.0 is only for people in their early-mid twenties!

Thanks for that video, its good to be able to blog this!

IE no more! Use Firefox, and better yet Safari! 2

Yes, Apple released its infamous browser, Safari to all windows users. I ‘ve been using it for a while, and I tell you its the fastest browser I have ever used ! In addition websites that work well on Safari, look much better.

You can download the beta at http://www.apple.com/safari/

From a web development point of view, most of the CSS work we did for Questler was first done on Firefox, no changes were done to make it work on Safari at all. In contrast, few changes were made to make it work on IE 7 and A LOT of changes needed to be made to make the site viewable on IE 6, which usage will hopefully keep on dropping, as FF is gaining more ground at %36 as well as IE 7 at 21% see the table below copied from Browser Statistics @ W3Schools

2007 IE7 IE6 IE5 Fx Moz S O
October 21.0% 34.5% 1.5% 36.0% 1.3% 1.7% 1.6%
September 20.8% 34.9% 1.5% 35.4% 1.2% 1.6% 1.5%
August 20.5% 35.7% 1.5% 34.9% 1.3% 1.5% 1.7%
July 20.1% 36.9% 1.5% 34.5% 1.4% 1.5% 1.9%
June 19.7% 37.3% 1.5% 34.0% 1.4% 1.5% 1.8%
May 19.2% 38.1% 1.6% 33.7% 1.3% 1.5% 1.7%
April 19.1% 38.4% 1.7% 32.9% 1.3% 1.5% 1.6%
March 18.0% 38.7% 2.0% 31.8% 1.3% 1.6% 1.6%
February 16.4% 39.8% 2.5% 31.2% 1.4% 1.7% 1.5%
January 13.3% 42.3% 3.0% 31.0% 1.5% 1.7% 1.5%

2007 was the year I quit using IE, its Firefox and Safari now.

Will I quit windows in 2008 too?

AdBrite – An alternative to AdSense 2

3 weeks ago, Google AdSense team decided to block my account which I opened more than a year ago. Why? Because a friend of mine kept clicking on ads thinking she is helping us make more money on Questler! Anyway, after I submitted an appeal, they still refused. As an AdWords user as well, from one hand I somehow respect their decision to stop seemingly fishy accounts, but still having had the account for one year should stand for something in my opinion and if they really bothered to look at Questler they would have known that it’s a “serious” site.

Anyway, since then I’ve been looking for an alternative that as easy to setup and get approved. I didn’t run into anything until 2 days ago while browsing Alexa.com (the web information website) and found AdBrite (adbrite.com). It’s too early to give an assessment, but setting it up was as easy if not easier than AdSense. They do have critical mass that would justify using them. But they still don’t offer per page related ad serving; they make you select as many keywords as you want yet upfront when you setup the account.

Will give a more detailed review in the next coming months once I can see its value!

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