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

Archive for the 'Life & Living' Category


Jordan Internet Blackout Day: Aug 29th Action Alert 0

The Jordanian government officials are planning to censor the internet in the country using baseless moral claims.

Join the Internet Blackout day this coming Wed, Aug 29th.

Read more here in English at The Black Iris

Read more here in Arabic at 7oryanet.com the official campaign website.

7oryanet badge

أنا إمرأة أردنية 1

أنا إمرأة أردنية

حياتي يجب أن تحميها قوانين صارمة و عقوبة شديدة لمن تسوّل له نفسه ان يأخذها بلا حق.

جنسيتي يجب أن تكون حق لأطفالي، كما جنسية أخي حق لأطفاله. لا تُحملّوني وحقوقي المدَنيّة قضايا سياسية.

ولاية أمري يجب ان تكون مسؤليّتي وحدي، كما أًُحاكم إن سَرقت ولا يحاكم أبي أو أخي نيابة عني.

مكان معيشتي هو من إختياري متى أصبحت في السن القانوني اللذي أُحاسب عليه كإنسانة عاقلة.

زواجي و طلاقي هم قراري، كما هو قراري أن أنتخب من أريد.

أنا إمرأة أردنية

حقّي أن أعيش، أن أختار و أن أكون.

My personal pledge to the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions 6

Before a new work week starts and to commemorate this incredible weekend, 18 days and year so far; I wanted to write a post about this whole new state of affairs that took us on a roller-coaster of a new kind. But I already shared a lot on Twitter and Facebook through the past month. So I don’t want to add new thoughts or share any more feelings.

I want to share my very personal pledge to all those who stood up high, rose their voices out loud, suffered and died to free a quarter of the Arab World.

1. I will no longer accept the long-standing-and-greatly-accepted-as-a-norm of a defeatism attitude no more. Neither at work or my personal life. When there is a well, there is ALWAYS a way.

2. I will make my voice heard, I will not shy away because I feel my school of thought is a minority.

3. I will make my voice heard, I will not shy away because someone thinks that what is concerning me has “lower” priority than other things that needs fixing in the society I live within.

4. I will make my voice heard, whenever I see someone is doing something I don’t like in my name or with my taxes.

5. I will not let difference of opinion discourage me or others from voicing out our thoughts. We all need to listen and try to understand each other, let’s try to find a common ground.

6. As an entrepreneur/business owner, I will always try to keep my commitment to quality over quantity, to reward with no punishment, to systems of dignity & trust and not belittling doubt, to push as much as possible for consensus over majority, to everyone-is-their-own-boss and finally -yet not least important- to create meaningful experiences, to reduce waste, to contribute value to our environment and society from the ground up.

7. I will read the constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and learn as much as I can about our history, about our laws and regulations and on what it means to live in a democracy. Because, Omar Suleiman thought Egyptians of all people didn’t know what democracy is. I bet you, it’s because he himself didn’t know what it means.

That’s what I though of. I will add more as they come to mind.

Initial impressions on the iPad 0

1. It’s awesome! Super awesome actually, the whole experience feels like being part of sci-fi movie!

2. Since I own an iPhone too, the main driver for me to get one was -beside being a gadget freak- the iBooks and Kindle apps; the idea and then experience of buying a book and getting to read it instantly while you are at home in Amman is just thrilling.

3. Pulse, BBC News and Reader apps made my daily ritual of reading news and blog posts from my favorite RSS sources much more intimate and relaxed than reading those on Google Reader on my laptop browser.

4. The much talked about Wired app was amazing. Yet, i slowly grew out of it because it still felt like i was reading a magazine with articles as images and not live web pages.

5. I downloaded one of cityscouter.com brilliant travel guides that had all information ready within the app it self, both the iPad version and the iPhone version got installed only to discover they didn’t talk to each other. Whatever I saved or did to the iPad version, I needed to do again in the iPhone one. I didn’t like that. This is the case with many other apps that are not associated with a big website as their backend, not like Dropbox…etc. I found that to be annoying and would be great if someone can build this generic platform where app developers can sync in their apps to it and have the data saved across devices.

6. I just got the Keyboard Dock yesterday, it really made the experience much more productive, making the iPad a truly portable computing experience; from one side it’s much more comfortable than a smartphone when you want to write a long blog post like this one yet, not as bulky when using your laptop.

7. I haven’t experienced super photography much on the iPad beside’s the guardian’s eyewitness. An amazing app and experience.

8. YouTube. And How. Watching YouTube videos is so rich on the iPad that you don’t want to watch anything on your laptop, again the relaxing and intimate nature of the iPad has this great effect on video as much it did for reading for me.

9.Yet, video from other sources that don’t yet have HTML 5 support is annoying. You’ll be reading a news item on Pulse or Reader and if the source didn’t use YouTube for their videos you can hardly read them. I want flash support on the iPad and iPhone, whichever smart excuse Steve Jobs gives against it, i want it.

That’s about it for now. My advice? Go get one, and be for once part of a revolution of a new breed or devices that will soon be the norm.

Sixth Sense Projection Technology Demo 1

Amazing technology, can’t wait for it to be commercialized with a better product design!

AramramTV, behind the scenes 1

After listening and broadcasting us (Internet Entrepreneurs) for the past few months; Serene Al-Ahmad & Mohammad Khairy from AramramTV team get a chance to talk about their own creation this time around in a -very well done -video interview by Mohammad Azraq and Amahl Khouri.

They talk about some of their projects and their original approach that differentiates them within Jordan and the region. Moreover, they talk about their own take at bridging the divide between east and west Amman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOcuH2Wj3XI

Charter of Compassion: a call to bring the world together 0

Karen Armstrong is purely brilliant. She knows what matters.

Her book “A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam” was one of those few books that did change the way I thought of the world and us humans not just religion.

After winning the TED Prize; Karen’s wish was a call to bring the world together…Charter of Compassion which if anything affirms her deep understanding of what we all know needs to happen yet we hide behind self preserved walls.

Watch the video voicing the charter:

The case for being liberal 6

Over the years I’ve gone through the path from being a moderate religious conservative as a teen into a full fledged liberal as I like to call my self today. The journey was not an easy one and through which I came to learn that people around me understand liberalism in different ways, the ones who call themselves liberal that is.

From one side some think being open minded is equal to being liberal, others think that having a westernized-Arab mindset is liberal, while some think that the acceptance of other people’s religions is what makes them liberal.

You can read this Wikipedia article of what liberalism means and the history associated with it.

But what i want here is to share what I think being a liberal individual means (not to confuse this with political parties that call themselves that).

As a liberal it’s about really really believing in your individual freedom and of those around you and treating them as equals in their right to exist and be.

What they wear, where they want to go, where they live, what they do for a living, who they pray for, who they want to sleep with, who they want to love …

By freedom I mean everything that does not result in harming other individuals.

Yes those were BOLD. And those as many debates I’ve read, witnessed and participated in is where the confusion comes and where you hear stuff like this:

“I am generally a liberal person, but really someone sleeping around is something I am totally against, it’s harming for our society“.

“I am a liberal person, but really someone wearing an Islamic Hijab (scarf) is something I am totally against, she’s definitely oppressed”.

“I come from a liberal mindset, but really walking down the street wearing such tight short miniskirt and a transparent sleeveless shirt is definitely inappropriate! we are not in Europe!”

“Gosh this girl is wearing a scarf with such a tight jeans, she either wears a full hijab costume or take her scarf off and spare us her pathetically portrayed conservatism!”

“As a liberal, gays and lesbians can do what they want, but really I don’t think its my job or if it’s the right time and place to go defending their rights! there are more important things to fight for these days than that.”

“My wife and I are liberals, but you know how things are when you have kids, it’s the mom that has to stay home definitely not the dad.”

Those statements can not in any way, shape or form be statements coming from someone calling themselves a liberal. They can call themselves “moderates”, they can call themselves “cool”, “easy going”, “open minded” for all I care.

What do you think?

(If you are not a liberal or hate liberals and think they are the promoters of sin in society. I ask you gently to spare me your comments this post is not for discussing anti-liberalism. Thank you.)

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.jo

http://sunny.jo

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 :-)

Stories of/about love 0

Alma Khasawnih’s quest for love has been going on for a while, early on with the most active quest on Questler:

What is it about love that makes it the focal point in our lives? Any thoughts on love?

sometime later last year, during her residency in Ramallah (covered here)

I attest to the obsession with the subject Alma has had all this time. Its been mostly one of the greatest learning journeys I’ve taken listening to her talk about that story, that book…her fascination is overwhelmingly beautiful.

Alma now has a regular column with JO magazine on Love, you can read the first one (March 2009) here titled “Love: An introduction”.

The second one is in the April issue titled “Forbidden Love”, where she has a theory I for one, never thought of before!

I might be biased since Alma is one of my closest friends, but don’t listen to me, go read for your self :-)

World Water Day Video from charity: water 0

Warning: video ID not specified!

love, life and Ramallah 1

Alma moved us today with her stories and experiences during her art residency at Qattan Foundation in Ramallah Nov-Dec 2008 where she collected love stories from people there.

Artist Talk by alma Khasawnih

Artist Talk by alma Khasawnih

She talked about love.

Telling a tale of Mohammed the 40 year old divorcee who’s still in love, then another Mohammad, the tormented lover, then a third one too. Connecting and disconnecting. The deserted lover’s park, the lonely benches. Observing lovers. Romantic Indian films watched by men in the cafe.

Alma’s passion ignited hearts in the room. We  laughed, we contemplated about our own love stories, we were moved.

This event by far, was the most entertaining event I have attended in years.

Goodbye 2008 – Bad Hair Year! 2

A reflection 2

Been reflecting about my premature come back from Canada 2.5 years ago continuously all through since then. For all the mix of reasons I thought of then when I made the decision, coupled with the numerous disappointments the move brought with it; I thought I’d be forever haunted by that decision. The big what if?

Recently however, I came into a self discovery that stopped this thread of thought forever I think.

I discovered that my heart was and forever will be in Amman.

And no matter what Canada, the US or the west offered. Its here in Amman where I want to make it. Turned out not a 50-50 of a great life. More like 40-60 with the latter for Amman.

This discovery brought peace into my mind and regardless of any future decisions to move or not. I know I will always come back to Amman and its where I will grow old amongst family and friends.

I am Happy 4

I am so happy today. I didn’t think Obama’s projected win would make me this happy. I haven’t said these words with such peace as I said them today in a long long time.

I am hopeful of a world where things can drastically change to the better.

Not that I think Obama will help end Israeli occupation or anything of that sort that is a different story al together. The event it self is just inspiring.

Couldn’t help but wonder as I watched crowds cheering on the news in the US and elsewhere, what would any unelected ruler of a nation must have felt yesterday and today?

What Obama experienced yesterday is something so profound that anyone would envy. Again, this might be naive of me on some part. But this election day moved me beyond my expectations.

Who stole your cheese? 3

To Al Ghad editorial team and co; I totally feel with you as soon enough you will question the fact that you can’t find your cheese anymore.

Because it’s really tough to wake up one day and suddenly find no cheese. Especially if you happen to live in a box located right in the middle of the jungle called life and you eat one type of cheese everyday. There are lots of dangerous people out there in the jungle. You know what I mean, those adventurous folk that go discover new types of cheese everyday to feed from. Crazy crazy people they are. Who needs new cheese when you have your great cheese recipe that has been passed on to you for generations? You know the one that lead you to write such a lousy article and state such scientifically (mental health) erroneous claims by all professional standards.

I say get out of your box into the jungle, and stop being afraid of what you may see and find. Have a new perspective. Because really who wants to be ignorant in this time and age? Get your facts straight. Put more opinions, catch a larger audience, be a positive instrument of change, of delivering a good message that is tolerant in its essence. Be bolder, be controversial, bring something new to the table and start a healthier conversation where we can definitely disagree yet with utter respect to our brains.

The only constant is change, and no matter how much you scream out now you can’t fight it when it has strong foundations like the issue of sexuality in general and homosexuality in specific.  Soon enough people are going to look-up your article as an example of what newspapers used to write during Jordan’s dark ages by then your type of cheese will be the minority.

Save Africa, save the world! 1

(Inspired by Heroes)

Join the discussion:

http://questler.com/explore/quest/view/1008

Global financial crisis: Jordan finally speaks…but to Bloomberg! 0

Been desperately trying hear any detailed official commentary on the country’s exposure to the global financial crisis beyond the “we are fine…” sentence, I found something through Google News. (On Jordan’s official silence throughout the crisis read this article on AlGhad (http://alghad.jo/index.php?article=10661)

Bloomberg News in Amman received a fax from Umaya Touqan (Governor or Central Bank of Jordan) on Oct. 7th with answers on their questions; read on…

Jordan Expects `Minor’ Impact From Global Crisis, Governor Says

Highlights:

“The impact of the U.S. financial crisis on Jordan’s growth is expected to stay minor,”

“Jordanian banks are in a safe and sound financial position” as they avoided risks faced by the U.S. banks and some large European banks.”

“Containing inflation pressures is currently Jordan’s most pressing priority,” he said. “Therefore, the prevailing economic conditions suggest that Jordan does not need to ease monetary policy through cutting interest rates.”

“Jordanian banks had very limited exposure’ to Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.” which was the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank before it filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15 and to international asset-backed securities, Toukan said.

Extra important note from the article, not by Umaya…

In an Oct. 1 report, Fitch Ratings Ltd. said because of the kingdom’s banks’ “local focus, current international credit market conditions have not yet had a significant impact on the banking system.” It added that “the Jordanian economy and, therefore, the banking system may be affected by a global economic slowdown, even if only through a decrease in foreign direct investment flows and a reduction in export activity.”

Update: If you would like to know more on about the crisis in relation to Jordan/Middle East/Tech World follow this quest on Questler http://questler.com/explore/quest/view/992

Ramadan mayhem 3

I have been following closely the dialog about the sudden and seemingly unlawful closure of establishments like Books@Cafe in Amman the past couple of weeks.

The best place to follow this conversation is Madian’s article at 7iber.com Closing of Books@Cafe

My first reaction was utter anger mixed with despair and reminder of why I am in so much conflict with the place I live in. Today, only the anger subsided. A very complex issue this has become, and my discomfort of these events comes from different angles.

Simply put, I am not for systems where majority rules and minorities get oppressed as a result. I am not for systems that allow individuals to act outside the law. And I am defiantly not for systems that are confused to the level that they have to decide who to please and who not to please at any given point.

Celebrating Ramadan should not mean squashing all “those” who choose not to fast. Let tolerance rule and everything else will follow suite.

My colleague Ibrahim made a documentary about this dialog and did a great job including a good spectrum of opinions on the subject, yes I was one of the interviewees.

To my surprise later, I was the only Jordanian woman who accepted to participate. Astonishing, really, again women for all the reasons there is for them to participate more in the life in Jordan they choose not to in this one.

http://ikbis.com/Ibrahim/shot/134769

(Embedding videos from IKBIS doesn’t work on my wordpress.com based blog!!!)

Where to go if you wanted "Touch"? 2

I’ve spent over a week now researching to decide which is my future (2 year life span) mobile, and I’d like to share this with you!

So main features I can’t let go of any are:

1. Finger-friendly touch screen technology

2. Excellent Internet browsing ability.

3. Productivity software (Word, Spreadsheets, Calendar, Tasks, pdf…etc) with the ability to synchronize with Outlook both ways.

4. Over 3 MP Camera with flash, that shoots pictures and video

5. Media Player (Video and Music)

6. Copy and paste (yes you need it when you want to copy someones number and send it to someone else via SMS)

7. Ability to install more applications.

8. Physical keyboard.

9. Built-in G-sensor

My wishlist was:

1. Lighter weight than my current HUGE i-mate K-JAM

2. Over 2.8-inch screen size.

3. 3G

So, I first wanted of course to buy an iPhone, well aside from its excllent software user interface it failed items 3, 4, 6 and 8. Too much to accept just to get a great user interface.

Next, I checked HTC, and fell in love with HTC Touch Pro it matched my 9 items plus one on my wish list, brilliant design, great TouchFlo 3D interface built on top of Windows Mobole 6.1 (ok they try to imitate Apple, but who isn’t?) yet from reviews its G-Sensor doesn’t work on all interfaces in the phone. Weird!

But then the heavy weight kicked in, do I want another huge mobile phone?? So I checked HTC Touch Diamond, it had the 8 items on must-have list plus 3G and lighter weight on the wish list (No flash light with the camera), yet it had some not-so-good reviews especially for a bugy and slow TouchFlo 3D interface that HTC managed to tweak with the Touch Pro.

Next I decided to check other touch phones out there, and Samsung OMNIA and Sony Ericsson XPERIA came up:

The OMNIA, has a 5 MP camera with flash, lighter weight, a 3.2-inch screen but with no physical keyboard. I think it competes very well with the HTC Diamond, yet HTC’s proprietary touch interface TocuhFlow 3D is much neater.

The XPERIA on the other hand, was a bit less heavy than the Touch Pro (145 g instead of 165 g), has a nice sleek arc slider design for the physical keyboard, with a 3-inch screen. I just didn’t like its exterior design, those x’s everywhere.

My search then was concluded, didn’t check anybody else but Nokia, who depressingly  don’t have a touch phone to-date!

I think I am going to go with HTC, I love the brand and I like their design, they still have a way to go to mach the iPhone interface (physical and touch technology) but I believe they are on the right track, especially that Google’s open source operating system Android is going be first implemented on an HTC Dream with T-Mobile in the US.

Notes:

1. Nokia, where the hell is your touch phone??? its 2008! and I’ve been using touch technology for the past 3 years!!!

2. All mobile makers everywhere, people who are looking for business productivity like nice design too, like to take good quality pictures and video too.

3. This comparison didn’t include price.

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