A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: November 2009 (Page 1 of 3)

Why I haven’t been updating

While I insist that Eid is the lamest excuse for a vacation ever, I still managed to have a very good time with the family (that extends to funny degrees), as well as eat more meat than I have eaten in a while :)
Hope your Eid is being as lovely as mine (or Thanksgiving, or weekend, or whatever it is you’re currently celebrating).

A few pictures just to let you know what I mean:


Now that that is said and done, I should be back shortly, as soon as I’m done getting my neurons tangled up with Twilight, as soon as I’m done kissing cheeks.

My favorite image in a while…


Via the charming Emmanuel Vivier’s blog.

What makes a good book?

I have been a reader since I was a very young child. Before I learned to read, I would pester my mom endlessly to read to me. As soon as I learned to read, I read everything that my hands possibly found, often not understanding a single word.

I guess during those early days of book exploring, I discovered vampires. It could have been R. L. Stine, it could have been abridged Bram Stoker, it could have been L. J. Smith, it was probably Christopher Pike, but it also could have been Anne Rice.

The world of vampires lured me into the fantasy genre, and I never got out of it. I’ll always find something entertaining in a book about fantastical creatures, even if its one of the most hyped up books in the world.

Currently, I’m reading Twilight, after I sort of enjoyed the movie when I watched it thanks to the hottness of Pattinson on MBC Max. My awesome friend Lina got me her copies (Lina and I are book soulmates), and I started the first one last night (after reading the entire series on Wikipedia) :)

And I gotta say this, loud and clear: THE BOOK IS ACTUALLY GOOD.

Okay, Mormon mom isn’t a quarter as eloquent as Anne Rice, and is no where near the brilliance of J.K.Rowling, and the plot isn’t even slightly as smart as that of His Dark Materials, but it’s good reading.

Recommended for anyone looking for a super quick, and entertaining, read (the 500 pages took me around 3 hours).

Other book reviews on AndFarAway:

The Mists of Avalon 
All My Friends are Superheroes 
The Lord of the Rings
His Dark Materials

Dreaming of Information Addiction

I’m browsing the web.


I’m ALWAYS browsing the web, even when I’m sinking knee-deep in design, or sitting at a relative’s place faking polite interest (sometimes on my phone, other times in my head).

I’m constantly reading online, feeling sorry for myself because I can’t read faster, or remember more of what I read. I skim and scan, often mindlessly, just to close the current tab and go to the next.

I bookmark sites, clip away phrases, and crave my childhood ability to memorize great chapters, great books, great sentences. I still remember the books I memorized when I was 10. I don’t remember the sentence I tried to get myself to memorize last night.

The digital scatterbrain. That is I.

I know everything. Just give me a second to google it. I know nothing. I do know it’s somewhere online.

It’s 12:12, and I’m facing my daily challenge of shutting down. Not before I share this link with you though, which is why I decided to write this post in the first place.

It’s called “Overhearing the Internet“, and it was written in 1993. I was eight years old, a year shy of discovering my addiction to MS Encarta, and four years shy of logging on.

An excerpt:

“Thus the answer to Big Question #4–Will the Net alter the very metaphysics of human existence?–is: not really. The attraction of cyberspace isn’t so much that it radically transforms human interaction as that it leaves the feeling of interaction intact.”

Fifteen years on, the answer to Big Question #4 is a FAIL.

As a bonus, the link also has a much more FAILish article about the digital smiley.

The Flowchart: What should you order for lunch today?

Daily office conversation:

– “I’m hungry.”
– “So am I.”
– “What shall we order?”
– “Let’s order X.”
– “X is too expensive.”
– “How about Y?”
– “Y is too oily.”
– “How about Z?”

And it goes on and on. Usually for an hour. I’m sure this happens often with other companies as well, so I’ve created this handy little flow-chart that will hopefully make ordering decisions much easier :)


Amman restaurants Flow chart

GMail adds Yamli-like functionality

Many months ago we heard about Google Ta3reeb, a transliteration lab from Google that is very similar to Yamli. Today, I noticed that they also added the tool to GMail, where you can have your 3arabizi transliterated instantly into Arabic as you compose your email.

GMail adds Ta3reeb

The battle for blue

Really nice infograph that just proves that blue might be the most overused color in the world (isn’t it enough that the sky and the sea are blue?)
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like blue, but this inforgraph is a little shocking. You know subconsciously that blue is all over the place in the corporate world, but this much?

Click  image to enlarge.

GEW Jordan: Internet Entrepreneurism

GEW Jordan

Yesterday evening was the launch of the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Jordan. The event is happening simultaneously all across the globe with the aim of “mentoring madness” :) Okay, that’s not really true, the real aim is to connect young people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators.

There were 13 speakers at yesterday’s Amman launch: Joi Ito of Creative Commons, Sami Shalabi of Google, Maher Qadura of Hikmat Road Safety, Meisa Batayneh of Maisam, Khaled Kalaldeh of Ketab, Ghassan Nuqul of Nuqul, Mitchell Baker of Mozilla, Amjad Aryan of Pharmacy1, Emile Cubesy of IV Holding, Laith Qasem of YEA, Sabri Hakim of Talasim, Habib Haddad of Yamli, and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn.

A few interesting snippets:

GEW Jordan
One of my favorite speakers, Joi Ito, talked a little about new ideas, and said how they usually “Sound stupid until you try them.” Of course, as I’m sure you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I have been an avid supporter of Creative Commons since I first heard of it in 2004, and it was awesome listening to the man behind  it talk. Ito also mentioned how many companies lower the cost of failure, and this lower cost of innovation, because starting businesses can be a very high-risk factor. Creative Commons was created to cut down from the risk, and provide easy way for creative people like Google to worry less about copyrights and lawyers by standardizing the online system of copy right.

Sami Shalabi also gave a very interesting  talk, citing that his favorite thing about coming to Jordan was eating good shawerma :) He also talked about how although entrepreneurs only have an 18% shot at success, with open source, the cost could be very low. He cited himself as an example, where his venture Zingku (which was bought by Google) produced some softwares with the total cost of ZERO, while their highest expenditure was actually caffeine :)

GEW Jordan
Maher Qadura was refreshingly critical of our culture of criticism, saying that as Jordanians, criticism is a core competence, and how we have to thrive on that and let it help us become better. Jordan has lowered traffic accidents by 30% this year, with many thanks going to his organization’s efforts.

GEW Jordan
Mitchell Baker  of Mozilla talked very passionately about being open when dealing with business, and transparency. She said how Mozilla is a non-profit foundation that actually makes profit! :) That woman is awesome. Her self-confidence is amazing. I think she’s my new hero.

Laith Qasem
of YEA was talking about the state of creative content in the Arab world, and he said a very interesting thing: In the Arab world, we have the pipelines, the hardware, the technology, but we have nothing to push through these pipelines. Which is very true. We need more creatives, more content creators, more people who should shove good taste down the Arab world’s throat.

GEW Jordan GEW Jordan
GEW Jordan GEW Jordan
GEW Jordan GEW Jordan

Really, very impressive event organied by The Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship, Endeavor Jordan, Creative Commons an the Young Entrepreneurs Association.

Fortunately, the week just started, and there are many great events to attend with GEW, with events all across Jordan including Zarqa, Ma’an and Irbid. Check the schedule here for the next week.

Meanwhile, for those of you who want to meet and listen to the fantastic Joi Ito, Reid Hoffman, Mitchell Baker, Sami Shalabi, and Habib Hadad, the event today at PSUT is open to the public and free of charge. Not to be missed!

More: Ahmad Humeid’s post about the event

“I’m here from the internet”

Over the past week, my favorite sentence has been this: “I am going to a talk featuring the CEO of Firefox, the CEO of LinkedIn, the CEO of CREATIVE COMMONS, and someone from Google.”

My friends reaction: Roobee-kind-of-Heaven :)

And now that I’m back from the event, I just feel like I MUST tell those of you who missed it that Joi Ito, Reid Hoffman, Habib Hadad, Mitchell Baker, and Sami Shalabi are going to be talking tomorrow as well at Princess Sumaya University for Technology, at 4:00 PM.

I will of course write a post about the event with pictures and all tomorrow, but I’m beat now.

Writing for the ‘Human Web’: It Might Blow Up Any Second

Really, it just might.

At least, that’s what today’s cool “Web 2.0” websites want you to keep in mind as you browse. This site is made by humans, run by humans, and is susceptible to piss fits and disaster at any given minute. Hey- we know it just stopped working, but dude, afterall, we’re human.
Although the Twitter “Fail-Whale” is an outage error message, it has become iconic and adored by Twitter users. It even has its own fan club!

Yes. The web these days is more about humans and less about tech. After all, Facebook Inc. is just a pile of servers and a warehouse of complex code, it’s the people who run it and the people who use it that actually make it interesting.

This interestingness is not (or at least should not be) just represented in the mind-gobbling functionalities, brilliantly new ideas, and designs that can impress Picasso. This interestingness should be portrayed all across the site, giving the user an experience similar to that he may go through in the real word.

One of my favorite facets to this interestingness is portrayed on great sites is the way words are treated; basic, boring words, like “Sign up” and “There is an error.”  The people behind great sites realize that despite what the content is and where it’s being displayed, it will always be read by another human, a human who wouldn’t mind a laugh and some cheap entertainment. Wording included. 

Afterall, humor is the best way to prove your human-ness.

One of my earliest experiences with wording humor is with Flickr, way back in 2004. Who remembers the “Flickr is getting a massage” error page?

Writing for the 'Human Web': It Might Blow Up Any Second. Web 2.0 Writing.
The personification of a web-service makes you more inclined to allow it the few minutes off, “Ah, my brain shuts down every now and then as well, and a massage would do Flickr good!”

Pre-Yahoo Flickr was a pro with such messages. 

Writing for the 'Human Web': It Might Blow Up Any Second. Web 2.0 Writing.
Adios, amigos.

Writing for the 'Human Web': It Might Blow Up Any Second.
Press pages are often dusty, and it’s nice to see that admitted.

<manual br>
Google is of course another popular service that goes the whole nine-yards with humanized web-copy, and they do a damn good job at that too (Ahem. I know I am Amman’s resident Google fangirl, but that doesn’t mean Google isn’t awesome.)

Google Wave is the latest example:

web 2.0 writing wave2

web 2.0 writing wave

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Social bookmarking sites such as Digg and Reddit are also excellent with embedding humor in their websites.

Writing for the 'Human Web': It Might Blow Up Any Second.
Digg error page.

web 2.0 writing reddit3
Reddit ad.

web 2.0 writing reddit2
Reddit menu item.

Writing for the 'Human Web': It Might Blow Up Any Second.
Reddit frame item. It would be lame indeed.

<manual br>
Meanwhile, Facebook has taken wordplay beyond error  messages and menu items by providing an entire language option called “English (Pirate). It’s hilarious.

Writing for the 'Human Web': It Might Blow Up Any Second.
Avast! :)

Writing for the 'Human Web': It Might Blow Up Any Second.
Can’t decide what’s funnier, “Abandom Ship” or “Scour”?

Writing for the 'Human Web': It Might Blow Up Any Second.

<manual br>

Even Arabic services are being witty in their own way. Here’s a screen from Ikbis:
Writing for the 'Human Web': It Might Blow Up Any Second.
Not so funny in English, hilarious in Arabic, “Ikbis is visiting his mother-in-law.”

web 2.0 writing watwet
Watwet uses an Arabic saying with patience for the “loading” screen.

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Finally, it’s not just online websites that try to be humanize their wording, desktop-base applications such as Firefox are as well.

Writing for the 'Human Web': It Might Blow Up Any Second.
How could I possibly be annoyed at Firefox when it’s so embarrassed? :)

That’s it for now I guess. I hope this post will help the web designers and developers reading this to lighten-up their projects a little.

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