AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: October 2014

The Qatar Digital Library: Qatar Does Something Really Awesome

The Qatar Digital Library (QDL) is an awesome website that offers free access to thousands of pages of amazing working, including 25,000 pages of medieval Islamic manuscripts. It has been developed as part of a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding on Partnerships between the Qatar Foundation, the Qatar National Library and The British Library. The best part is that it’s all Creative Commons licensed… free to use, free to re-use.

Wow.

Check out the articles section to begin to appreciate the beauty of the QDL. You can also simply explore the archive.

My favorites include:

Iraqi Maqam Music and Chalgi Ensembles, complete with soundbytes

Islamic Highpoint in Astronomy

And many more.

This is really awesome.

Check out the Qatar Digital Library (QDL)

XKCD: Star Trek Into Darkness

1

I think it should be capitalized :)

The Autistic Boy Who Loved Siri

Oftentimes, it’s the people on the fringe that make things interesting.

You and I deal with Siri and other forms of artificial intelligence as some sort of novelty toy: cool for a little while, but ultimately boring and algorithmic.

It’s people like Gus — the 13-year-old autistic boy in this New York Times article — that remind us of the potential of all the amazing things we take for granted.

Do take a few minutes to read this article to see how magic still exists. You may not recognize it for what it is, but to this boy and his mom, Siri is nothing short of magic.

Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his BFF. Obsessed with weather formations, Gus had spent the hour parsing the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms — an hour in which, thank God, I didn’t have to discuss them. After a while I heard this:

Gus: “You’re a really nice computer.”

Siri: “It’s nice to be appreciated.”

Gus: “You are always asking if you can help me. Is there anything you want?”

Siri: “Thank you, but I have very few wants.”

Gus: “O.K.! Well, good night!”

Siri: “Ah, it’s 5:06 p.m.”

Gus: “Oh sorry, I mean, goodbye.”

Siri: “See you later!”

That Siri. She doesn’t let my communications-impaired son get away with anything. Indeed, many of us wanted an imaginary friend, and now we have one. Only she’s not entirely imaginary.

This is a love letter to a machine. It’s not quite the love Joaquin Phoenix felt in “Her,” last year’s Spike Jonze film about a lonely man’s romantic relationship with his intelligent operating system (played by the voice of Scarlett Johansson). But it’s close. In a world where the commonly held wisdom is that technology isolates us, it’s worth considering another side of the story.

[Continue Reading]

The Hardest Job in the World: I Love You Mom

This video almost made me cry.

Moms really are the best thing in the world.

I love you, mama :)

How Marble is Made

From the category of things I did’t know were so awesome: How they harvest marble.

Streak: Inbox Awesomeness You Must Have

Streak falls under the category of things that are so awesome I’m consciously willing to become a brand cheerleader for free. It’s just a really, really great piece of software.

I found it by mistake while going through Quora, and it has CHANGED MY LIFE.

Basically, if you use Gmail and Chrome, you can add Streak to your Chrome and make your Gmail much better than it already is. That’s really saying something, because we all know that Gmail is probably the best piece of software ever created. Making Gmail even better is no easy task.

Streak lets you organize stuff, and create activity pipelines, reminders, email templates, and more. My job has become so much easier after I created a “Translation” pipeline and a project pipeline.

Get Streak today and organize your life.

Disclaimer: I do not know the people behind Streak nor am I involved with them or with Streak. It is just so cool that I want people to use it so that the Streak guys can continue developing this great product. Get it now.

How to Be Happy, According to Kant

The topic of happiness is one that fascinates me. Maybe because I discovered the secret happiness a few years ago.

Immanuel Kant also said stuff about happiness:

The more a cultivated reason gives itself over to the aim of enjoying life and happiness, the further the human being falls short of true contentment.

It’s true, you know. Stop hoping to be happy and just be happy.

Is medieval armor as absurd to use as it seems?

The answer is no, it is not.

In this terribly-made but REALLY cool video made by Le Musée National du Moyen-Âge de Cluny” shows exactly how easy it is to move (and even do jumping jacks) in 14th-century armor.

This is really awesome. Now I want myself some armor, though I don’t mind settling for this:

On September

9amm
Amman in all its glory

9cal
Punk-tuation Day

9cinem
Found in a 1961 phonebook

9ghady
With girls from Bayt.com

9happy meal
My first Happy Meal in ages, all for this cute little pony

9hashem
Night at Hashem

9office
Knafeh made fresh in the office

saber
Saber!

Pictorial Archive of Life

2007: On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2008: On January | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | On August On September | On October | On November

2009: On July  | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2010: On January | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | A Captioned July An UnCaptioned August  | On September  | On October | On November | On December

2011: On January  |  On February   |   On March   |  On April  |  On May  |   On July

2012: On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2013: On January | On Februaury | On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2014: On January | On Februaury | On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September

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