Archive for Geek Culture & Tech

Happy Birthday, Gmail. Thanks for Making the Internet a Better Place.

From the category of “Virtual Stuff I Perceive As Human”, it’s Gmail’s 10th birthday and oh, what a wonderful decade its been.

Gmail came out around the same time AndFarAway did, and I scored an invite by posting a blog post about wanting one. It was such an awesome thing having a Gmail account then.

From a post in 2004:

Ok, I officially hate Hotmail. I thought they were supposed to update all their accounts by the beginning of September!
I mean seriously, I’ve had Gmail for about a month now, and I already have 7 MB in it. I’ve had Hotmail since 1998 and I have to be so careful with what I have in it so that it doesn’t reject emails!

Happy birthday, Gmail.



Motion-picture industry reports super-high income… even with piracy


Via BoingBoing:

Once again, the “piracy-stricken” motion picture association has had a banner year, with box office revenue breaking all records (as they’ve done in most recent years). The biggest gains this year come from China — a market condemned by the studios as a hive of piracy.


See the Singularity Form in News Clippings In Front of Your Eyes



Coolest Visual Illusion I’ve Seen in a While


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Happy birthday to the first love of my life

I was 12 when I met you. I already knew a little about you. I was so excited.

My father brought you home that night. He was sitting on my favorite chair, the one with the red metal legs, and the computer’s screen reflected brightly on his face. He fiddled with the wires of the modem, configured the NoorNet dial-up connection, and lo and behold… I heard the magical sound of connectivity for the first time in my life. It was a sound that would become dearer to my heart than any song or television show or jingle. It was the sound of the beginning of you, the beginning of the Internet.

Beep booop eeeeeeeeee beep boop.

Imagine the scene. My father, in front of a big, fat computer screen, excited to show his little kids this new genius technology called the World Wide Web. I was 12. My youngest brother was six. How do you show your kids the potential of the early, text-heavy web?

We were lucky that my father worked at a company that was the first to bring the Internet to Saudi Arabia, and we were among the first familites to “test it”, before it was rolled out to the public. But none of our friends had Internet connections yet, and so we had no idea this new, virtual thing was.

But back to the question. How do you show your little kids the potential of the Web? My father being my father, he opened the website of CNN. Look, he said. You enter an address here by typing it, and it takes you to a website.

As the website rendered (it took 15 minutes), a button clicked in my head. The magazines I read had recently started including a little string of characters starting with “http://” every now and then, and I knew they were related to the Internet. But I had never seen the Internet, and I didn’t understand how it functioned or what you could possibly do with a string of characters starting with “http://”. I ran to my room and pulled out one of the magazines, and insisted that we all visit the website of the Spice Girls.

It was much less entertaining than my CD of Encarta 1995.

That’s when my father had a genius idea. He called his cousin, who also had an Internet connection, and asked him to log on to Yahoo! Games. There, they played a game of cards simultaneously together, while we watched with amazement.

This was 1997, and IT WAS THE MOST MAGICAL THING I HAD EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. There couldn’t have been a better way for my dad to make us all fall in love with the Web. Again, it was 1997, and that shit was straight out of science fiction. I instantly fell in love, and I knew that the Web was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Today, it’s the web’s 25th birthday, and 17 years since that fateful day when we hovered around my dad as he played cards with his cousin online. A long 17 years.

Happy birthday, Web. You were the first love of my life.

And you will always be the love of my life.

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Back from the Dead: Lestat

You know, before vampires were shiny, cool, and on mainstream TV, there was Anne Rice and her vampires. Before Twilight. Before True Blood. Before Buffy. Before The Vampire Diaries (though I must admit I read those books as a child before I read Rice).

Anne’s vampires were sophisticated. They loved Vivaldi and Bottecili. They read Dante and Ovid. They roamed around Ancient Egypt and Antioch in the times of Isis, Paris in the years of serfdom, and New Orleans in the age of rock. They wondered about right and wrong, God and the Devil, morality and ethics.

I learned a lot of what I know today from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, first published in 1976.

So… In this week’s most-exciting news, Anne Rice, one of my all-time literature heroes, is bringing back Lestat and The Vampire Chronicles from the dead.

“Blood Canticle”, published in 2003, was supposed to be the final volume of the Chronicles, but Rice just surprised her long-time fans with “Prince Lestat”, due in October 2014.


For those of us who started reading before Harry Potter, it’s like Harry’s alive again. In a way, it’s even better, because there wasn’t a grand finale with the Chronicles after Rice found God in the series’ latter years, ditching vampires, gothic fiction, atheism, and erotica in favor of Christian fiction (yes, seriously). In 2010, Rice decided to stop being Christian and apparently started writing more Chronicles.

About the book:

“…a big Vampire Chronicle, and it’s all about Lestat and all about the vampires and what they’re doing right now, how they’re coming to terms with everything that’s happened to them and how Lestat is dealing with the demand from all sides that he step forward and become some sort of leader of the tribe.”

Anne Rice is definitely one of the major influences on my life; I was a little girl out of reading options when I first picked up “Pandora”. I’ve written a lot about how her books have affected me before:

From “Lending Shelf”, written in 2010:

I was 12 and quickly growing over books written for girls my age.

That year, during the bi-weekly trips to Jareer Bookstore that my parents always made sure I took, I spotted a book with a purple cover with “Pandora” typed in blackletter.

By that time, thanks to years of reading Christopher Pike, I was very much obsessed with mythology. And I remember looking at the cover and thinking, “Cool! Now I can read about the myth of Pandora’s Box”. Internet was too expensive and too slow to be used for research, at that point.

Thus started a youth heavily influenced by the skillfully written prose of Anne Rice.

At 13, I learned what it meant to be a “virtuouso”, that the Italian master Vivaldi wooed the world with Four Seasons, that Bottecili painted the most beautiful artworks ever seen. I learned about the philosophy of Ovid, the historical significance of the Egyptian goddess Isis, and how a Stradivarius is one of the most precious objects on earth. I have to say – I owe Anne Rice my A’s in art history classes.

I was enraptured by Anne Rice and the characters she created, and I hungrily devoured every book she wrote, up until she found God in the early 2000′s, dumping her characters of 30 years to write about biblical figures (very amusing, as it was also in her books that I was first exposed to the idea of logic versus faith).

I’m so excited that my favorite vampire in the history of vampires is back from the dead.

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