A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: November 2011 (Page 1 of 5)

Review: 10.1 Samsung Galaxy Tab

Given the massive amounts of lawsuits that Apple has been filing against Samsung for intellectual property infringement, many of which successfully ensured the banning of the tab in several countries, my first thought as I unboxed the Samsung Galaxy tab was “Where the hell are the similarities?”.

As much as I love Apple products (my iPad is my FAVORITE THING IN THE WORLD), Apple can be bastards. In the case of Samsung, it’s hilarious, as it they are a particularly important supplier for Apple’s gadgets. The company provides some of the phone’s most important components: the flash memory that holds the phone’s apps, music and operating software; the working memory, or DRAM; and the applications processor that makes the whole thing work. Together these account for 26% of the component cost of an iPhone.

Here’s a fantastic timeline of the lawsuit war between Samsung and Apple, and an even more fantastic infograph about that as well.


With these lawsuits in mind, I spent the first 10 minutes with the Galaxy Tab trying to go over the physical similarities to the iPad. As many of you know, my iPad is my most prized possession. I love it so much it’s insane. My phone, on the other hand, is the Samsung Galaxy SII. I love it with all my heart and soul as well, although it falls third in my list of favorite gadgets, with the second slot going to my MacBook Pro.

At first site, they do look similar. The Galaxy tab is, of course, a touchscreen with a back. But what the hell else is it going to be? Apple’s innovation has defined what a tablet looks like, and the risk of genericness is the cost of innovation.

The tab looks good. It is slick, shiny, and looks more sophisticated than the iPad. The 10.1-inch shape is weird though, and unlike the iPad, is more comfortable to hold horizontally. The plastic back makes it look slightly cheap and feel vulnerable.

In terms of quality, I’m a big fan of Samsung hardware. The Samsung Galaxy tab is exceptionally light, and the screen technology is brilliant.


Since I’m a daily user of both iOS and Android, I feel very comfortable saying the following statement: Google’s Android platform does not compare to that of Apple’s iOS on any level.

iOS is sheer genius in terms of design, usability, ease-of-use, comfort, updatability, and almost every single other facet except expandability (but that’s where Cydia comes in).

The Samsung Galaxy tab’s RAM is definitely the worst thing about the gadget. I had only two applications installed (Firefox and Twitter) and the tablet was annoyingly slow and jammy. Even with all active applications closed, my RAM was dying. Definitely not cool, I’m afraid. It’s really unfortunate, because my Samsung Galaxy SII phone is so freakin’ fast it’ll break your heart from joy.

RAM sucks on the samsung galaxy tab. I only have three apps installed and its suffering. Slow! My phone is much faster

The user interface itself is clunky. The bar at the bottom confused the hell out of me, and it took me a while to figure out where everything was and what everything did. As a user who spends a considerable amount of time testing new gadgets, I really do not like feeling confused. 

Design-wise, the interface is sometimes gorgeous and sometimes hideous.

For example, as I was about to retweet something on Twitter, I was horrified to be greeted by this really ugly modal window. You can dwell on its ugliness when you click on the screenshots. Check out the chrome background in screenshot 2. Ew. Windows ’95, anyone?

Some weird-ass, very 98ish Microsoftish interface things. Notice chrome tips and weird modals.

On the other hand, the settings page is gorgeously architected and laid out:

I like the settings interface. Its so clean.


Given the horrendous quality of the iPad’s cameras (and the nonexistence of them in the iPad 1), I was impressed by the Samsung’s picture-snapping abilities, although the backfacing camera is 3MP and the front one is only VGA.

For your comparision-

Samsung Galaxy’s front-facing camera:

Testing front-facing camera on samsung tablet, much better than the ipad 2s.

iPad 2’s front-facing camera:


Imagine my horror when I discovered that synchronization with Google products wasn’t tip-top on the Galaxy. As a heavy user of everything Google, I just can’t handle that, especially with a Google-produced OS.
GTalk did not work at all.
Gmail synchronization was crap.
The Google Docs app was frustrating.
Synchronization with Google Calendar was HORRIBLE.
It’s weird, because aside from occasional nuisances with GTalk, I don’t face any issues with synchronization on my Samsung Galaxy SII mobile.


Specs wise, the Galaxy is really, really solid. Here’s a chart, because sometimes charts are better than paragraphs:


Given the $500 price tag, I’d recommend you buy yourself an iPad 2 instead. I say it was sadness, because I’m pissed off over Apple’s bitchiness with the lawsuits, and not because the gadget is great.

Thing 21

Beit teta.

JustLittleThings Amman Edition is a (week)day-ly celebration of the little things that make Amman special. The project will run throughout November, 2011. To share your little things, please email them to roba.assi (AT) gmail (DOT) com.

This project is inspired by



Originally published in February, 2006.
This post is a part of the “NotSoFar Archive Project”. After eight years of blogging, the project aims to help you rediscover old posts, as well as go back in time. Somehow.


During my first semester at the UofJ, my daily parking experience was something worse than the “Suffi, Suffi” scenario. There were actually days where I had to have friends (and ok, random people on the street) drive my car out of an extremely tight spot, and others where I would get so frustrated at the lack of proper parking spots that I’d skip school altogether and just go back home.

But yeah, that was only the first semester, because if the UofJ doesn’t teach you anything at all, it will at least teach you how to successfully squeeze your car into the tightest, most inappropriate spots, while all the while practically equipping every inch of the parking lot’s surface area so as to fit the most cars possible.

Let me illustrate with some images from my “Karajat il jam3a” collection, which I’ve actually been collecting for years:

I took this picture this morning, and although it was a heck of a freaky park, I absolutely love the chaos! It’s hilarious, isn’t it? Some of the cars are diagonally parked, others are horizontally parked, and you have 4 rows of cars in a parking lot that’s designed for two rows.

Same parking lot, less chaos, but still quite terrible.

There aren’t any two cars that are actually aligned properly, and there is no horizontal/vertical organization.

zooksie 410
A sea of cars…

Around the Science’s gate, I know it doesn’t appear like a terrible park in the picture, but trust me, it is.


Finish classes only to realize that some van had closed off my way out… we got my car out in the end, but it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. The awesomest part about this picture is that my mother was stuck in the SAME situtation (where a van was closing off her way) and in the SAME parking spot in 1979 (but she wasn’t as lucky, a group of guys had to lift her car into a diagonal position).

Again, no car alignment.

zooksie 409
Triple parkings, lack of alignment, and random parking allotment.

Now, who agrees that they seriously need to invest in some land for student parking?
مأساة il parking at Jordan University.

Thing 20

The terrace at Books.

JustLittleThings Amman Edition is a (week)day-ly celebration of the little things that make Amman special. The project will run throughout November, 2011. To share your little things, please email them to roba.assi (AT) gmail (DOT) com.

This project is inspired by

Just what is it that makes today’s Beirut so different, so appealing?
Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?
by English artist Richard Hamilton, 1956

22-11-2011 – Beirut

It’s been half a dozen times or so that I’ve set foot in Beirut since my first visit in 2006.

It has always been Hamra, the university soul of the Western part of the capital, with the faux-Bohemian street dwellers in their rebellious garb lounging the sidewalks.

Oh, Beirut, the rebel. This city is rebellious in every sense. It’s rebellious in its politics, it’s rebellious in its peace. It’s rebellious in its openness, it’s rebellious in its fundamentalism. Nothing seems to matter. Everything seems to matter.

I walk into my four-star hotel, and request a smoking room, like I usually do. The receptionist, a Palestinian with a Lebanese watheeqa called Mohammad — as I discovered from a 15 minute conversations with him about the advantages of online recruitment — laughed at me. “Smokers are welcome anywhere here in Beirut! The rooms are all yours!” he said.

I smiled. I’m not used to being welcomed much as a smoker these days, especially since I recently came back from the non-smoking capital of the Arab world, Dubai.

Mohammad is both entertaining and friendly as he checks me into the charming Mayflower Hotel. The hotel is an old one, having first opened its rooms to travelers in 1957. It has the beautiful charm of a vintage picture book; the wooden detailing, the warm marble floors, the outdated furniture that reminds me of the love I feel when I walk into my grandmother’s house.

Behind Mohammad on the large wall of the reception area is a giant tapestry of keys on over sized keychains that resemble mills from a distance. As he checks me in, I get excited abot the prospect of using a room with a key (I only had that experience once in Damascus as a teenager), but my excitement is shut down when Mohammad hands me a plastic card. Obviously, the keys are there for display, a remnant from a past when all doors had to be opened with a metal instrument that was used to manually operate a lock.

It matters not, though, because the ancient lifts more than make up for the plastic. There’s an old copper ashtray on a stand in the corner, and I feel like I’ve taken a time machine to the days when elevators had to opened like a room, and when smoking in a confined space of 1 by 2 meters was a perfectly normal thing to do. The typography on the control panel is brilliant, and I stare at the round buttons with the floor numbers with amusement.

Ah, the charm of the old!

My room itself is as gorgeous as the experience so far. The OCD in me immediately starts inspecting sheets, furniture, and towels for stains, but I found none. The rooms had been rennovated recently, as you could tell from the wall closet and television, but the wicker furniture is really old. The faded tungsten lights cloak everything with sepia undertones. There’s a huge balcony with two white plastic chairs propped in the corner, where I’m currently sitting and scribbling my thoughts while sipping from an Almaza can and smoking a cigarette.

I’m so in love with the hotel room that I get caught in the emotion of it all.

Beirut. Even the world is melodic, I think to myself, although I am not hopelessly in love with this city. Like a true Ammani, I am tempted by its crazy charm, but I can’t handle the craziness at large doses.

I smile to myself in joyous euphoria as I sit outside at 11:00 o’clock on a balcony overlooking Hamra. I love this city, with all its craziness.

There’s something fresh about the air. It’s warm, in comparison to hilly Amman. The noise pollution is welcomed, as I know that I don’t have to deal with it every day. I’m scribbling furiously on cheaply printed stationary with gold embossing and a Bic pen.

I could sit here for hours.

Life is sometimes about these little timeouts. There little moments where you really have nothing but ink — look, ma, no wi-fi! A few times a year, even a digital junkie like myself needs to spend the night sitting alone on a cheap, white, plastic chair, drinking Almaza and breathing the sea-scented air of Beirut to truly grasp the joy of living.

– End –

Mayflower Hotel, Beirut

Mayflower Hotel, Beirut

Mayflower Hotel, Beirut

Mayflower Hotel, Beirut

Mayflower Hotel, Beirut

Mayflower Hotel, Beirut

Thing 19

Reading at Turtle Green.

JustLittleThings Amman Edition is a (week)day-ly celebration of the little things that make Amman special. The project will run throughout November, 2011. To share your little things, please email them to roba.assi (AT) gmail (DOT) com.

This project is inspired by


Via Arabzy

Rest in Peace, Myriam Achkar: A Call Against Sexual Harassment in the Arab World

A brilliant post by the brilliant Nadine Moawad, on the sad story of Myriam Achkar, who was brutally raped and murdered this week in Lebanon. Rape, sexual objectification of women and sexual harassment are severe issues that are plaguing the Arab world.

As a woman, I experience sexual harassment when I take the short walk from our office building to my car. As a woman, Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy was sexually assaulted by Egyptian security forces. As a woman, Myriam Achkar was MURDERED because a man wanted to have sex.

I encourage everyone to read Nadine’s blog post, but here are some excerpts:

“A young woman, 28, takes a 20-minute walk from her home in the suburbs and gets raped and then murdered by a man.

Rapists most often get off the hook. Women are blamed. I dont have statistics because we dont have studies. But I know of many cases. Most recently, a European woman was raped and beaten up by two young Lebanese men. I met her and I saw the scars and bruises. The men have posted bail and are now building a case to fight her allegations in court. Our law, Article 503 says a rapist can be acquitted if her marries the victim. He would often get a reduced sentence if he proposes marriage. The maximum sentence is 5 years. Husbands are excluded from this law if they rape their wives. Rape is interpreted as a penis penetrating a vagina. All other forms of sexual violence are not criminalized. This is the law the governs rape in Lebanon. This is the law we should revolt against.

Our streets are unsafe. Women are subject to sexual harassment on the streets  any street in any part of Lebanon  24 hours a day. Lewd comments, stalking, following in a car, propositions for sex, groping, you name it, it happens 24 hours a day to almost every woman, young women especially, every day. And our protective measure, often, is to tell women not to be on that street, at that time, alone. Its a stupid measure. What we need is municipalities to take sexual harassment seriously, to have enough security that punishes harassment, to have adequate lighting, to respond to complaints. Outside one university campus in Metn is a womens dorm where men gather every night to harass every woman who enters and exits. They have complained to the university and the municipality and nothing was done about it. When we allow, as a society, sexual violence to be dismissed and joked about and belittled, we allow for rape to go unaddressed.

How can we call for the sexual liberation of women when we only understand sexual liberation as the commercial objectification of women?”

Read the rest of the post on Nadine’s blog.

As women, we need to start speaking up against sexual harassment. INSTANTLY. Yell. Make a scene. Have the street harassers realize that they are scum and that this is not funny. Be a woman about it.

ObjecDEFY has some ideas on how you can fight sexual harassment on our streets.

Thing 18


JustLittleThings Amman Edition is a (week)day-ly celebration of the little things that make Amman special. The project will run throughout November, 2011. To share your little things, please email them to roba.assi (AT) gmail (DOT) com.

This project is inspired by

Inspiration: Magic is in the details

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