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

Archive for the 'Buzz' Category

Another brilliant holographic laser projection technology! 0

Meet Light Blue Optics‘ Holographic Laser Projection (HLP) Technology!

Can’t wait till we can use LightTouch at the office! or LightSpeed in my future car!

More on Light Blue Optics technology here.

(Discovered from an ArabCrunch.com post)

A call to blog/tweet about the upcoming Gaza Freedom March 2

The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza  an organization formed after the 22-day assault on Gaza in winter2008-2009 is holding and coordinating the Gaza Freedom March which will take place on Dec 31 to mark one year since the assault through mobilizing an international contingent for a nonviolent march alongside the people of Gaza to end the illegal blockade.

Though participation is now closed, this post is to call on everyone who supports this effort to blog about it on Dec 31st as well as to to tweet and try to make #GAZA a trending topic on Twitter on that day.G

For more information please add a comment to this blog post so I can arrange for us to meet one of the participants and activists who’s a fellow Jordanian. Together we can find the best way she can update us about the march as its happening.

Amman Twestival a success! 0

Was a great evening tonight at the Royal Scientific Society who hosted Amman Twestival, Organized by Malik Shistawi Foundation, and Sponsored by Aramex and Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship in support of Al-Aman Fund for the Future of the Orphans.

Almost 100 people attended a very heated discussion about Twitter, social media and entrepreneurship prospects for Jordan and our part of the world. I was happy to be selected amongst the panel speakers along with Zeid Nasser, Laith Al Qasem and Laith Zureikat moderated by Moh’d Khawaja.

Majd Shweikeh CEO of Orange Mobile attended and shared great insights as well as the marketing, Shop’nShip and sustainability teams from Aramex including Lina Shihadeh, Firas Hilal and Raji Hattar.

The discussion topics were many, from use of social media to promote business, new ways of reaching and servicing customers, connecting to people as well as discovering content & opinions from around the web. The longed-for Qatayef break was equally interesting, as I got to meet lots of tweeps face-to-face! Ok, I never went to any of the Jordanian bloggers meetings so this was a first-time experience :-)

Its one of those days where I have a good feeling about Jordan and us Jordanians.

As a contribution to this momentum, I worked most of the weekend to create a simple website that aggregates all tweeps (twitter people) and their tweets from Jordan, you can check it out at http://JOtweeps.com. To be included all you need to do is follow @JOtweeps and we will follow back.

Also you can go to #AmmanTwestival to read all tweets about the event.

Happy tweeting everyone!

Sunny, the feel good music station has a feel good website! 0

SYNTAX and Spring teams are happy to announce the launch of Sunny 105.1 radio station website!



Sunny a brand designed by SYNTAX and launched in 2008, mow has a very cool fresh website, featuring a blog filled already with feel good stories and tips.

The home page features links to promote Sunny’s social web consisting of its newly created Twitter page as well as its very successful Facebook fan page. a.k.a. more ways to have conversations!

You can listen to the station using the live stream as well as sent a shout (comment) almost at all pages of the website.

As in Play.jo website, you have the cinema and events guides to check out fun activities. But one of the things I love the most about the website, is the very lively background that looks like a real sky. When you go to the about page in particular, you will be able to read the text while the clouds move behind it, very cool right?

Enough talk, go and feel good now :-)

Spring & SYNTAX sponsor Chronicles of a Refugee Website 0

Chronicles of a Refugee is a 6 part documentary series looking at the global Palestinian refugee experience over the past 60+ years.

Chronicles of a Refugee website

The documentary was produced and directed by Adam Shapiro, Perla Issa and Aseel Mansour and is currently being broadcasted @ Al Jazeera documentary channel.

SYNTAX and Spring sponsored the design and development for the documentary’s website as its the platform upon which the conversations between Palestinians all over the world would take place after screenings of the documentary. These conversations will take place on the website’s Forum section.

The website was build using Drupal 6.0 as the CMS with a customized video player to play each episode’s trailer.

Wolfram|Alpha launches tonight! @ 7pm CDT 0

Ok it is one hardcore WEBsessed post. it even has a geeky name.

Wolfram | Alpha, the new product out of Wolfram Research labs (world known for their Matmatica product) is promising to be the real deal search engine. I think Google finally has the prospect of a real competitor.

wolfram-logoThis search engine is smart, is semantic and promises to use natural language search something we’ve always wanted to have. Most people in semantic search talk about RDF (restructuring the Internet) so machines as people can talk to each other. Wolfram team thought no, that would take a long time. Lets code smart algorithms to get the answers we want.

Well they say its here. Watch the introductory video to understand more and watch a demo.

Watch the countdown video and later live broadcast  here.

Murder in the name of Honour, a book by Rana Husseini 8

Taken from a press release I received from Rana Husseini sent on April 8th, 2009.

Rana Husseini‘s long waited for book “Murder in the Name of Honour” is going to be released in the United Kingdom on May 28th and in the USA on June 26th of this year.  The Arabic version of the book is going to be released in October 2009.

Rana Husseini's Murder in the name of Honour

As you all know, Rana has been advocating against this brutal practice for the past 16 years.  The book is an accumulation of cases she covered in Jordan as well as a documentation of the efforts and events that took place in the long process of combating this murder. The book is also a documentation of worldwide cases and efforts that were exerted by many countries, organizations and individuals to end this practice mostly targeted against women and their right to life.

Furthermore, the book includes a section on the social and medical aspects of this murder, it concludes with recommendations as to what can be done to end these crimes worldwide. One part of the book describes Rana’s efforts, among others’, in exposing the hoax Jordanian-American writer Norma Khouri and the effects her book had on this part of the world.

Rana hopes that this book will be another tool for raising awareness as well as a reference for human rights advocates locally and internationally. It is also a source for anyone interested in learning more about this issue from a credible and objective source.

The book is available on Amazon.com and other websites for pre-order.

You can reach Rana Husseini on her email: honorcrimes@ranahusseini.com

Been a long time fan of Rana and her great work, really excited to read the book from cover to cover!

There will be a book launch and signing event in Jordan at Readers at somepoint, will post when I know the exact date.

Twitter, it's all about attitude 1

This is the time where the real power and promise of a service, a tool, a community portal or a social medium is when it turns into a Platform with a capital P.

Of all the thousands of web apps that started since 2005 till date, only few have made that leap. Facebook was the new kid on the block two years ago, when it turned its API into a platform.

But one can learn so much from comparing the story of Facebook and Twitter, the latter being the new hot kid on the block.

Here is how I view those two web brands as people:

Facebook to me is a control freak, from a developer’s perspective they keep changing their API without notifying developers in addition to all those restrictions on their API. From a user perspective, too many changes too soon. To that end, I think they have the highest record of how much interface changes a web app can do in shortest period of time. I think they keep forgetting that the user is the application and the capability of the environment is just the tool! I think to forget that is a sin in the web app development business.

On the other hand Twitter to me is this generous chef who since she moved into the neighborhood has had an open kitchen policy where anyone can use the restaurant’s extra kitchen tools to host their own events!

Soon after they launched, the created their API. Geeks from all over loved it and started using it as users and developers. So many tools were founded that helped people tweet better.

I am guessing that they intended it to be a mobile social network used between friends – real life friends, and that what it was at first. Its now in my view a communication tool free from any specific medium being sms, mobile app, browser or desktop.

Today its potential is in the transformation to be one hell of a data mining tool, as well as a new communication technology as Marshall Kirkpatrick from ReadWriteWeb put it

Show us a simple messaging tool that can be accessed through a wide variety of methods, using only a (hopefully) memorable username of the person you’re trying to communicate with – and we’ll show you a genre of technology that could disrupt not just email, it could disrupt telephony.

I like to believe that Twitter’s attitude is what eventually created the platform and its potential today. Not just PR, lines of code, big developer events or meetings.

Side note: The only other exciting thing next to twitter these days is of course the iPhone and its App Store  :-)

SYNTAX & Spring sponsor Makan's new website 0

As Makan is turning 7, SYNTAX & Spring sponsored the design and development of their new website.


Check it out @ http://www.makanhouse.net

This was one of the projects we had most fun in doing, the design was inspired by Makan’s space with its welcoming atmosphere, simple interiors and clarity so comes the chairs and the sofa.

Makan really wanted to turn the website into a virtual space people can visit to learn more about the projects in the archives, get to know the artists who have participated in Bait Makan residency program as well as other programs.

Makan staff as well as residents have a blogging space to document their daily activities, so the blog section should be quite an interesting space to visit in the next few months.

One of the major needs Makan had was the ability to get feedback on exhibitions held at Makan after the even. In the new website, all events have a space for visitors to comment and give feedback to the artists after they have seen the exhibition.

Shatana, Makan’s flagship event has a section of its own where artists can apply for the workshop -held every year- as well as check the previous workshops; the participating artists and their projects as well as a photo gallery of the whole event.

enough talking, now go enjoy surfing the website :-)

Yamli gets reviewed at TechCrunch 1

Finaly, a review of an Arab-related startup Yamli (previously reviewed here) at TechCrunch today, read the full article Yamli Makes It Easy To Use Arabic On The Web.

The article also mentions Maktoob!

Congratulates to the Yamli team!

Yammer: Twitter for business 0

Yammer.com a company which has just launched at TechCrunch50,  offers a service similar to twitter but aimed for business answering the basic question of “What are you working on?”

You can use your work email and invite other colleagues who have the same company domain to yammer together.

I think this is an excellent idea and I think it will be a huge success because it might be much more useful than twitter, people knowing what others are working on in the same company is very useful. Yes, I am more for “serious” apps! It will be great if in the future, Yammer can allow companies to befriend each other as well so you yammer with other teams you work with.

Questler goes international! 1

We got very excited today with the number of blog posts that sprung out of Jane’s post yesterday, the more exciting thing was the great number of users that joined and are growing!

Here is the chronological order of things:

1. Jane’s post on July 28th UK morning time. http://janeknight.typepad.com/pick/2008/07/questler.html

2. Someone submits Questler to SimpleSpark.com,  gets on review queue.

3. Glen Gaten writes about us on his blog. http://ggatincritped.blogspot.com/2008/07/informal-aspects-of-everyday-learning.html

4. Questler gets listed officially in  SimpleSpark.com. http://simplespark.com/catalog/questler/

5. Questler gets selected as one of the 15+ web reviews at KillerStartup.com, a great review! http://www.killerstartups.com/Web-App-Tools/questler-com-find-answers-and-share-knowledge

6. Ajay Tripathi writes about in his Visionwiz blog http://visionwiz.blogspot.com/2008/07/questler-is-informal-learning-network.html

7. ROTOR blog writes a great review of Questler, http://www.rotorblog.com/2008/07/29/questler-tries-to-make-the-world-an-active-learning-space/

Hope I didn’t jinx it by a pre-mature post :D but I had to mark this day!!!


Update, July 30th

8.  Questler review on KillerStartups.com is published @ The Online Life Knowledge http://www.jaimeviniciusbarros.com/2008/07/questlercomfindanswersandshareknowledge/

9.  The briefest mention ever (yet powerful!) @ the English Education Professor http://www.eeprof.com/blog/?p=3209

10. Questler briefly reviewed at a mini blog post by Sigalon http://sigalon.posterous.com/an-informal-learning-network

11. Questler @ ZEPY http://www.zepy.net/archives/find-answers-and-share-knowledge-with-questlercom.html

Cups and Kilos at the heart of supporting local businesses 5

I’ve been noticing that whenever someone talks about globalization and its effects on Jordan and Amman, Cups and Kilo’s gets mentioned. Whenever, a decent local business that can compete with a global brand on our soil is discussed, then Cups and Kilos gets mentioned. Even when they had problems of being shut down in Abdoun months ago, a facebook group was created in their defense and support! Ok, I know that there is a facebook group for every little things these days, but again I think i have a point :)

It appears to me as if the threat of global businesses with strong brands like Starbucks gets Jordanians hot blooded even if some don’t think that global Starbucks are owned by Zionists. I don’t remember that being the case when MacDonalds and BurgerKing opened. People don’t even mention BlueFig, as the incumbent.

Even Fastlink tried to sell on that concept when it created its “minna ou fina” (from us and within us) slogan yet I don’t think it was as successful as the case with Cups and Kilos. It was more of a joke between fastlinkers!

Way to go Cups and Kilos! and a big cheer to all local business owners (including me :D ) that are doing their best to create world-class brands and customer experiences. And no they didn’t pay me to post this!

"Up Close" original, crazy and brilliant 0

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Those were the words exchanged between visitors at the opening of Alma Khasawnih’s first solo exhibition “Up Close” on June 1st at LeCentre (French Cultural Center)

“Up Close” original, crazy and brilliant

The art pieces presented did need a closer look to be able to see the magnificent details, actually the artist included a handy magnifier almost with each piece to allow visitors this closer look.

The exhibition included two main types of pieces; paintings and sculptures/installations…something very different and original.

I encourage you to go and take your up close look @ the French Cultural Center in Jabal Elweibdeh, Paris Circle and you will notice more than half of the pieces are sold out!

Here are some photos taken by Rafiq Nasereddin from Makan

See the details??? Yes, crazy brilliant is my friend and business partner Alma, he also just gifted me some glow in the dark garden pebbles which I completely fell in love with :-)

API to upload on YouTube! 1

Google’s YouTube announced the creation of an API to allow developers to upload videos directly to YouTube for free! This will enable lots of sites to save on storage/bandwidth and use YouTube’s platform. The videos will of course be viewable from YouTube’s site as well. Bad news for video sites everywhere especially those that bank on selling their platform-as-a-service (PaaS). I think we will explore this further with Questler in the next few weeks. More analysis on TechCrunch

Facebook aps, wow or cow? 0

With all the buzz facebook has created with launching its platform, i found it to be a wow at first, its so cool and seems very easy to write your own facebook app.  Almost every cool web app there is, is on the list, del.icio.us, twitter, flixter…etc and some cool ones developed by individuals as well.

I just got the silliest one so far, “1 hungry request” from a friend! what is this about? it says “now you are never hungry by your self, declare your hunger with friends” or something of that sort. now come on, that is too useless and silly but sure, facebook is about entertainment through socialization and silliness is a big part of it.

Now the question is, why would you want to develop a facebook app for your existing web application? when in reality you need to bulk up the number of page views on your site; how does having your app on facebook even start to help? my view when i asked this same question to my self…why would we want to develop one for questler? and the answers i could come up with were basically:

  • free advertising  for your hot new beta.
  • let people do one or two things only and get them curious enough to go and check your full list of services/features–>page views!

My thoughts are that facebook should and probably will charge companies for adding their own web apps very soon.
Your views?

Questler beta is up! 0

onblack1.gif   We’ve finaly did it and got the beta out last night!

Our baby of 6 months has finally seen the ligh! Thanks to Eyad & Alma (my partners) and Ahmad (our coder) we were able to get a stable release out to our friends to use and send feedback.

So far the feedback was great, i mean lots of it! and we are working on fixing some issues and adding more usability features to the service. We have some interesting quests already logged and some very useful answers.

This has been a great journey so far, sometimes a bit harder than great but we marched on and proved to our selves that we can do it with the little funding (none!) and time constraints we had.

Questler, more much more to come!

Amman is being Facebook…ed 0

The Facebook phenomenon has hit Amman, it’s amazing when I read and use a lot of websites/services and get turned down by my friends when I ask them to join in. “Efftt razan has sent us another invitation for another weird website yet again!!!”

I have a unique story about Facebook. I first learned about it when it was a closed network within schools late 2005. And it was instrumental for my initial idea about what I now call (Questler: a learning network) my own web startup which will beta launch soon. To check it out then, I had to ask a friend of mine at York University to sign up for an account!

After the success Facebook has acclaimed in North American schools over the past two years, it only opened up registration for its service for the general public of the world late last year. It already has over 5000 people from Amman, who started joining early this year and the effect seem to be similar in Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf.

I joined early Nov. 2006 then, I had NONE of my friends in the network. Now I have over 26 friends this very min. Most of which joined in the past month, and most recently this week alone! The funny thing is that, some of them hate the web or think it’s too much, use email because they have to and now they are using Facebook like crazy!

I think advertisers in Jordan & the region should run and get in touch with Facebook ASAP, it’s what people are doing more than chatting these days.

While silicon valley is most excited about its new comer “twitter” (http://www.twitter.com ) wonder when will this one hit Amman?

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