AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: February 2010 (Page 1 of 3)

For the Hate of Orange

Picture 3
(Notice the date)

I have been without Internet at home, for the most part, for over a week, thanks to Orange’s disastrous service AND customer service.

It started last weekend, when my Internet connection was so slow that even Google wasn’t loading. We thought that perhaps its the capping issue, so we call Orange and have our line upgraded to 1MB. Does that do any good?

Not at all. Amazingly, our connection moved from being very slow to nonexistent after the upgrade. Between me and Moose, we have called their CLUELESS customer service line over 10 times in the past week.

Today, the lady on the phone told me that “Sorry, I can’t send anyone over because I do not see a problem with your line.”

Wait. YOU THINK I’M ENJOYING HOLDING FOR FIVE MINUTES EVERY TIME I CALL?

She refused to give me her manager.

I am really, really pissed off. I have had so much work to do this week and no way to do it without an Internet connection. I would have switched off to a different service provider, except I’m already going to dish over cash for their malfunctioning service for the next two months, and I want it FIXED. There’s even a penalty if I downgrade from the nonexistent 1MB connection! Plus, my gut instinct tells me it’s something wrong with the line. Or their modem.

I HATE ORANGE
(Notice the date here too)

Honestly, I have no idea what to do anymore. I’m taking Naseem’s cue and blogging about it too. Maybe one of you would have a better suggestion, cause I seriously might end up killing someone if my Internet connection isn’t alive again ASAP. Any suggestions?

Nakhweh: Enabling Volunteering in Jordan

After moving from a very socially considerate life in Saudi Arabia, it was a little hard adjusting to Amman’s lack of organized-volunteering activities. I tried to get involved with Jordan University’s initiatives at first, but I quickly discovered that they really have nothing going on at all.

Beyond JU, I was new in town, unfamiliar with local charitable organizations, and the brilliant networking capabilities of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook was years away from formulating. I settled for involving myself in the blogosphere, which was very rewarding for me personally, but a site like Nakhweh could have made my university years so much more useful.

As Mariam of 7iber.com would tell you, a lot of Jordanians are more than willing to help people in need by volunteering their time and effort. Often, what is lacking is organization and a holistic channel of communication. That’s where Nakhweh comes in. Created by Kamel Al-Asmar and Hadi Nasereddine, Nakhweh aims to match volunteers with causes and initiatives across the Arab world.

Yesterday was their launch event, and I encourage you to check out their website, even if you do not have the time to volunteer any time soon.

For example, Hamzet Wasel is looking for four volunteers willing to spend 3 hours next Saturday to work with a group of kids from Jabal Al-Qalaa to participate in the Jo-Bedu “Amman-T” competition.

Check out Nakhweh, and the other volunteering opportunities available.

ArabNet 2010

If you hangout around half as many geeks as I do, you have probably heard of the ArabNet 2010 conference taking place in Beirut next month.

If not, well, then now you have ;)

Organized by IBAG, the 2-day conference is stuffed to the brim with idea sharing, presentations, and coffee breaks, covering e-commerce, gaming, mobile, content, online advertising, social networking, new media, and start-up fundraising. Participating web businesses include Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Intel, AdMob, Al Jazeera, Maktoob, OneCard, Flipmedia, Netlog, Maysalward, D1G, Bayt, and Jabbar Group. The guest speakers list is quite impressive, and you check it out here.

Why am I telling you this a month before the event? Because I am flattered to have been chosen to be an ArabNet 2010 Official Blogger. That means that I will geek out to my heart’s content on March 25 and March 26 on this space. You can either look really forward to it… or avoid me for those two days ;) I’m hoping you’d choose the former, of course :P

I am even more excited that I usually would have been because there are some other awesome official bloggers, like Maya Zankoul and Frankom (two of my favorite toot people).

More about this later. For now… if you’re interested in attending this event, you can register here. If you are attending it, let me know, I’m curious as to who else is going.

Are you a daydreamer?

Are you a daydreamer?

I know I am.

My daydreaming habit resulted in a few traumatizing F’s as a child (and summers wasted studying, and make-up tests, and sad parents). Every day, I’d spend most of my effort at school trying really hard to “FOCUS!” rather than to understand. It’s a weird sensation, putting so much effort on grasping words being said. These words turn into separate entities, disconnected letters and sounds that don’t make sense together. They turn into a system you’re not familiar with, and even more effort is then spent trying to make sense of these entities when placed together. Listening becomes decoding.

It’s a hard job for a 10-year-old.

One day when I was in the sixth grade, with a science test the next day, my mother interrupted my idle daydreaming while I tried to cram to give me a highlighter and a more advanced biology book. She told me it didn’t matter if I listened at class or not, I could learn more by reading a book that explained better.

It was a revelation. You see, by that time, I was already an ardent reader, bad grades aside. It’s easy to read, I can read at my own pace. I can skim the parts that bore me, dwell on the parts that interest me, and read the book in whichever order that makes most sense to me.

I started to apply this same theory to my studying habits; buying more advanced books from the bookshop and learning by myself at home, and daydreaming to my heart’s content at school. It worked like a charm. By the time I was in the eighth grade, I was already in top percentile of my class. No one yelled at me to “focus” anymore.

Fortunately for me, my listening skills are much better today, after my mother’s incessant nagging to work on my hearing. I still would rather read a movie or a show online, and I’d still avoid music (noise), but I can deal with the most boring blah-blah-blah if I had a pen and a paper in hand to write down what I hear immediately. Which sometimes makes me wonder if I have something seriously wrong with my ears, like a learning disorder or something.

Well, this whole post was started after reading an article on Boston.com about the effects of daydreaming:

“After monitoring the daily schedule of the children for several months, Belton came to the conclusion that their lack of imagination was, at least in part, caused by the absence of “empty time,” or periods without any activity or sensory stimulation. She noticed that as soon as these children got even a little bit bored, they simply turned on the television: the moving images kept their minds occupied. “It was a very automatic reaction,” she says. “Television was what they did when they didn’t know what else to do.”

The problem with this habit, Belton says, is that it kept the kids from daydreaming. Because the children were rarely bored – at least, when a television was nearby – they never learned how to use their own imagination as a form of entertainment. “The capacity to daydream enables a person to fill empty time with an enjoyable activity that can be carried on anywhere,” Belton says. “But that’s a skill that requires real practice. Too many kids never get the practice.”

What’s your experience with daydreaming?
 

Vote for your favorite piece of jewelry

So that everything is a hundred percent fair, I had friends choose their favorite pieces of jewelry from the list, and here are the finalists.

Which of these is your favorite?

For larger views of each piece, click here.

Person who picked the piece that gets the most votes wins the gift certificate.

Voting ends on February 28.

Disclaimer: The winner will recieve the token to the gift certificate provided by Sarah, and can follow up on collection, delivery, and all other issues related to collecting the piece with her.

The Ferrero Frost

IMG_2387

A chocolate shot that Moose invented to please my sugar-loving tastebuds.

Since it’s so yummy, I decided to share it.

Ingredients:
1 Ferrero Roche Ball
Pillsburry Vanilla Frosting
Sugar Confetti

Directions:
Mix all together and eat with a spoon.

Best with:
Chilled Diet Pepsi.

Okay, it’s a heart attack in a glass, but worth it.

You are gonna love me for this

I have the best recommendation for all the bookworms in Amman: Golden Books.

You’re going to love me because it’s a great deal. Through them, you can order any book online and get it for the same price that you would pay if Amazon shipped it, without worrying about customs, getting it lost in the air, or any of that stuff.

Remember a few months back when I called all the bookshops in Amman looking for a book that no one had? Golden Books added a comment, and I called them to check their deal out. I ended up ordering the books I needed a few weeks later through them, and I just got my order (they were even kind enough to deliver the books to the office).

Photo-4

I ordered this: Sookie Stackhouse 8-copy Boxed Set from Amazon, which would cost me $50. I ended up paying 36 JDs, which is quite fair deal, especially since I spent around 40JDs for a 3-copy Boxed Set from Readers a few months back.

I think my life is going to get so much better now.

You can call Golden Books at +962- 786 496 447, or visit them at their shop in Gardens Street (the Kudu Building).

Bag it for charity

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Fortunately for me (but unfortunately for this event), a designer bag is one of the things on my list of items to never, ever own. If you do have a designer bag you’re not using, why not donate it?

For Omar

I’m reblogging this with the hope that Brandy sees it :P

via sugargraceee

Hyperlink: “Start a Blog” is Not a Social Media Strategy

[Originally published in Venture, February 2009]


https://i0.wp.com/newmediachatter.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/cc_matt_hamm_social_media.jpg?w=629

I was probably on Venus when the gods of marketing released their latest commandment: “Thou Shalt Sell Yourself Cheap Online.”

Suddenly, every corporation in the world, regardless of size, seems to have woken up from a dreamless frenzy, staring with blank eyes and endlessly chanting “Facebook. Flickr. YouTube. Twitter. WordPress. Digg.”

HALT.

Frenzied or not, social media marketing is not a fad. It has, and will continue to, change the way we market our brands, communicate with our customers, and sell our products. On the other hand, blindly jumping into social media marketing without much of a strategy might as well be the most useless thing a corporation could possibly do. It would be like renting out an empty conference room and screaming all day about how fantastic a product is, except that, well, the room is empty.

And no one is listening.

It’s too bad, because the listening part is what really makes all the difference. Historically, corporate communication was a one-way stream of propaganda, where carefully crafted press releases and perfectly created campaigns controlled the publicity that surrounded brands. It cannot be any more different today. There is a constant stream of endless opinion drowning the Internet. News is practically instantaneous. Social media networks have millions and millions of users, meaning that ideas (both good and bad) travel really fast. These changes in the infrastructure of communication have resulted in a consumer who wants to connect to a brand on a more personal level. He wants to feel actively involved, rather than to passively consume.

Most corporations seem to have grasped this change, as well as the fact that social media is probably the most efficient platform to communicate like it is 2010. The crowd mentality is very heavy within the social media community, making it easy for ideas, campaigns, and brand awareness to sky rocket. If people like you, they will tell their friends. And their friends will tell their friends. And the friend of their friends will tell their friends. You get the point. What most corporations seem to have not discovered yet is that the key to “cracking the social media code” is conversation rather than never-updated accounts on every existing social media service online (AKA “Selling oneself cheap”).

Con-ver-sa-tion. It is not about being on Twitter, creating a Facebook fanpage, and uploading all the commercials a company ever produced to YouTube. Nor is it about blabbing. Today, we have a great new offer! Check out our new awesome video campaign. I have a meeting with Bill Gates in 5 minutes. Blah. Boring. Clients do not want to become friends with their car manufacturer, they want to become friends with a person who listens and gives back valuable feedback (even in 140 character format). They want a friend who acknowledges their existence, shares useful stories, and perhaps even solves their problems. Clients want value.

Ford gets it. Coca-Cola does too. My personal favorite “getter” though is Southwest Air, who really manage to crack the code. Their 140-character Twitter micro-posts include insider-tips, such as where a flier should sit so that he gets served drinks before others on the flight. That kind of tip is something you expect from a friend, rather than an organization. No wonder Southwest Air has a million Twitter followers. Meanwhile, on their blog, called “Nuts About Southwest”, they steer clear of press releases and talk about everything else, from colonoscopies to candy corn. Sometimes, they use their blog to involve their clients in their decision-making process. A blog post asking customers whether they would prefer if Southwest changed their open-seating policy to assigned seating received over 700 comments. It was followed by another post soon after, entitled “You Spoke and We Listened – Southwest Airlines Says Open Seating is Here to Stay!”

It works for them because Southwest is well aware that real value lies in being human. It lies in caring about customers, and getting to know who they are. It lies in nurturing client conversations (especially when they are about your brand), participating in their communities, and providing benefit. The value could be anything; a great competition idea, interesting links, or simply an apologetic email when someone has a bad experience dealing with your brand.

Forget about any social media commandment that is not the opposite of corporate rules of engagement. The real secret is: “Thou Shalt Act Human, Especially On the Web.”

More Hyperlink articles:
It’s Time to Learn How to Surf
It’s Real Time

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