AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: September 2005 (Page 1 of 5)

Blogging a la Arabia

I was very pleased this morning(yes, this morning, my vampirish routine has got to go this semester) when I logged on to Jordan Planet and found that we have 7 new Jordanian bloggers(welcome to the Planet guys).

Blogging is certainly taking off in Jordan, although I must stress on the fact that it has been mostly growing with a certain segment of society. This better-off segment of society is a young one that speaks very good English, that is(to a certain degree) quite technical, and is, as Firas and Natasha pointed out, not very political.

We, as Jordanian bloggers, have tried to account for this trend several times, both in online and offline discussions and debates. Although the conclusions have ranged from political conspiracy theories to reasons related to disinterest, I believe that the fact that there were no real Arabic blogging softwares online greatly contributed to the social segmentation of Jordan bloggers.

Yes, I know that American blogging softwares such as Blogger can be manipulated to start posting in Arabic, but I personally believe that what we really need to facilitate blogging in the Arabic-speaking world is having a blogging software with a blogging interface in Arabic.

So, when I heard about a newly launched blogging service by the Middle-Eastern portal Al-Bawaba, I was intrigued to try it(And Far Away… on Al-Bawaba here), especially as the blogging interface can be interchanged between both Arabic and English.


I found the interface fairly easy to use, the default blogging setting being the wysiwyg editor, although it can easily be switched to HTML mode. It has some features that make it very appealing, even more appealing than Blogger(which I believe in the best free blogging software online), such as the availability of a “Resource Center” which acts like an online file library. It also has categorizing, integrated statistics, and easy link managing(links have to be added in HTML to the template in Blogger). All these features make it very, very usable for less technical Arabs interested in blogging.

Actually, the only setback to Al Bawaba Blogs is the template system, which only has a few templates and of which only a couple are aesthetically usable in my opinion. An even bigger setback with the templates to a more technical person is that you cannot edit their HTML, and I believe that the best thing about blogging is that you have, to a certain degree, complete control over your space. Apparently though, changes are being cooked to improve the templating system, so that should be something to look forward to.

I’m aware that Fastlink had started a mobile blogging service earlier this month, and although it has huge chances of success as a service because Fastlink as a company has a lot of subscribers, I do not think that it is even slightly comparable to Blogger because the quality of the target audience. I mean- cheap mobile phone cameras, aimless picture taking of random people and random places, and pretty much nothing to say are not the ingredients of a good blog.

It would be interesting to witness what will happen to blogging in Arabia with the local companies starting up local, Arabized blogging services, and whether these easy to use services such as Al-Bawaba Blogs will attract Arabs who have something real to say but who are, for some reason or another, not very comfortable with English-based interfaces.

Monthly Jordan Planet Blogger Meet-up for October

I would like to remind everyone that the monthly Jordan Planet and Jordanian bloggers meet-up for October will be held on Sunday, October the 2nd at 6:30 PM in Wild Jordan, with a special self-confessed “Surprise”.

Please add a comment if you think you are coming.

Thanks!

Why Amman can never be GPSed

Because someone is on a mission to make sure that Amman’s streets and circles have a different name every several decades, and so, the name you know of the street depends on your background.

No seriously. I really hate this. It’s just Really annoying me how Amman’s circle’s names have changed.

They were always the First Circle, the Second Circle, the Third Circle, and so on and so forth. Now, they have been officially renamed after people, and to my utter confusion, their new official names are being used in documents and directions on TV, leaflets, and radio.

Why, why, why?

Let me also add to that that they also change the names of streets such as Al-Gardens Street and University Street. Save the new names for new streets for heaven’s sake!

I understand that these circles and streets may have not been initially named by the government, but isn’t that how things come along? Like how the name “Amman” for example came from the God Ammon? They can’t just change the name of the city of “Amman” because they feel like calling it after a person.

lema 664

lema 619

lema 613

Teeshirt of the year

I totally loved this t-shirt created by the talented dudes at Teeshirtat that are being sold at JARA Market.

Update: I just came upon this picture of fellow blogger Wes wearing this shirt.
Awesome! The whole world loves Jordanian women :P
Teehee.

Customer service… in Amman?

Three cheers for the guys and gals at Jordan Telecom(JT) and Batelco for their wonderful customer service and impressively quick transactions. I actually got my internet back in THREE days. That included having them cancel our old account, starting a new one, coming to fix the set-up at home, and then getting the paperwork done between Batelco and JTC.

Is there a secret, I wonder? If there is, please do share it with the rest of most of the private firms in Jordan. Much simpler stuff in other firms like simply sending fixtures took weeks at a time!

Anyhow, I think that the great service I have experienced with these two companies is a good sign that the Jordanian private sector is finally realizing the importance of customer service in an economy as reliant on the tertiary sector as Jordan’s.

Pandora’s Box

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One of the things I found during the massive packing operation was this little box with hundreds and hundreds of vocabulary flash cards from the SAT days stacked neatly side by side between its four tattered walls.

I’m not much of a neat person, but I more than make up for that with an incurable nerdiness and a straight out need for perfection. I cannot even remotely account for how many hours I spent cutting these flashcards, writing the word with a Sharpie on one side, then turning the card around and carefully writing the definitions with a biro on the other side.

And that’s only the making… because after the making came the learning, and there came a time when I would not go anywhere without a pack of fresh vocabulary flashcards sleeping restlessly in my handbag for easy access.

Aside from the hours, this box also reminds me of a friendship, because believe it or not, one of my very favorite memories has to do with this box. My friend Nisreen, who shared the same level of nerdiness, also spent hours making flashcards, and whenever we shared a class at high school, we would swap flashcards and start learning the fruits of the efforts of the other under our desks. I chuckle to myself when I see us sitting in the pink hallways of Manarat sharing tips such as “You know, because nice people always throw pics at others! Philan-thro-pic!”

Needless to say, my excessive efforts that went into learning 5,000+ vocabulary words in those years resulted in a very good score in the SAT’s verbal section and an ability to open any page in a dictionary knowing fully well that I will probably be familiar with most of the words aside from the jargon.

Long and rather pointless narration, I know, and perhaps this box looks very insignificant, but finding it sent this gush of nostalgia that made me take this picture and feel an urge to toss this memory away into cyberspace just like I tossed the actual box of flashcards into the trash can.

I’m too busy cutting up advertisements I like these days and storing them in a red folder.

I really, really, really want a mohawk

No, seriously, I’ve always wanted one. Too bad I wouldn’t do it because my hair grows so slowly!
This article on The New York Times is making me want one even more…

Another term…

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Unlike 96% of the students of Jordan University, I actually enjoy school. Yeah, sure, it’s exceptionally chaotic and there are always those times when you could just choke the disorganized nonchalance down the cadres’ throats, but for the most part, I think it’s a wonderful experience. Above is a charming “e3melo-7alkom-3anjad-3amte7ko!” photograph taken at the wonderful Fine Arts and Design Faculty this morning. Oh, God, yes, how can I not add that all pictures actually grow when clicked.

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The infamous Milk Bar. You know, when I look at pictures of my mother’s time at Jordan University, there actually was a time when the Milk Bar actually had some sort of display with glass milk bottles. I wonder when that stopped.

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Square il Oloom, or the Sciences Square in English.

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Walking down Share3 il Nawar(or The Vulgar’s Street)

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I hate the daily traffic jam on the way out of University Street.

Last but not least, Soos posing for a picture and Soos looking at herself on the blog(shagfeh :P ):

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Soos was sweet enough to wait with me all day today at school and even went to a few classes with me. I also had the chance to meet Amino today, which was great!(hey girl ;))

Well, anyhow, yesterday was the start of the new school year at Jordan University. It is going to be one long semester- I’m taking too many classes, and most of them are studios which means that I’m stuck at school from 9 till 6 twice a week and 8 till 2 thrice a week.

Some of the classes are going to be really interesting, although their workload is going to be a killer- mainly “Communication Technologies”, “Industrial Design”, and “AutoCAD”. I’m also taking “Art Criticism”(I know, zay ka2eni mish imphalsapheh kefayeh). The other two classes are going to be absolutely horrible and I’m completely dreading them- one is with the most dreadfully boring educator I have EVER come across in my life, I took a class with her last term and it was hell. The other class is something I should have taken years ago but which I’ve been putting off- Arabic 101. Allah yostor.

And oh, yeah, I totally take my word back on dial-up being not too bad. It’s aweful. Especially with my dear teta insisting on calling us every 5 minutes.

I want my internet back!

Shocking Discovery #3

Internet at JU isn’t bad at all!

Shocking discovery #2

Dial-up isn’t all that bad!

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