Category Archives: Interesting

“Search War” is heating up

Happy new year!

If I tell you that search is crucial for using the web and indeed the web’s growth and future, you’ll probably shrug and ask what’s new. Indeed, web search is almost becoming like our sixth sense and we rarely give it much thought. Looking for something? just search for it, or, Google it.

Fun fact: Google doesn’t want people to use their company name as a verb meaning search because they’re afraid that that verb will become detached from the company itself and that people will think of googling as the act of search irrespective of how that is done. That is, they are afraid that you’ll start googling on Yahoo or Bing :-). Case in point, they don’t want “google” to become like “xerox” or “kleenex”. More on genericized trademarks.

Last year, Microsoft introduced their new search engine, Bing, which is the first possible serious contender to Google… ever! This actually turned out to be good for us consumers; both search engines have started rolling out new features quickly. Competition is good. I think I can safely say that the state of web search is much better now in the beginning of 2010 than what it was in the beginning of 2009.

The marketing campaigns of both engines are perhaps a prime indicator of the heated competition. Google rarely advertise their products. Not only that, but Google Search was actually never advertised (afaik)! Imagine that, the most used web service on Earth was never advertised! Bing as the newcomer has been running commercials on the web and TV. Recently, Google started advertising their web search. I think this is quite shocking. I think everyone who has ever used the Internet knows about Google search, yet they are starting to advertise now. I first saw their ads on Hulu, and now I am encountering them in other places.

If you’re interested, here’s Google’s search campaign and here’s Bing’s search campaign.

أسبوع الويكي

أعلم أن الجميع مشغول باله بالعدوان الدموي على غزة والإجتياح، ولكن الموضوع التالي مفيد وجميل ونبيل وبإمكاننا جميعاً المساهمة به بدون التحرك من أمام التلفاز أو التوقف عن قرآءة الأخبار.

قام المشرفون على ويكيبيديا العربية بتخصيص برنامج “أسبوع الويكي” كوسيلة لتوحيد الجهود لإثراء المحتوى العربي على ويكيبيديا وتشجيع كافة الناس على المساهمة. الفكرة هي كالتالي، كل أسبوع سيكون هناك موضوع مُعين يتم العمل الجماعي عليه. فهناك مثلاً أسبوع الإنترنت لإثراء المقالات المتعلقة بالإنترنت، وبعدها يأتي أسبوع الأغاني للكتابة عن الأغاني المختلفة، وثم لاحقاً أسبوع التلفاز وأسبوع المُدن وأسبوع الرياضيات وأسبوع العلوم وغيرها.

طبعاً لم يَكُن للمُخَططين لهذا البرنامج أن يتنبأوا بأن هذا البرنامج سيتزامن مع عدوان جارف على غزة، ولكني على ثقة أننا جميعاً بإمكاننا التطوع بدقائق قليلة من وقتنا للمساهمة. فمثلاً، لقد تم توثيق العدوان الإسرائيلي الأخير على غزة بشكل ممتاز في هذه المقالة على ويكيبيديا العربية.

أعلم أن البعض سيتردد بالمساهمة ولكني أود تشجيعهم بالقول:

  • لا تخف إذا كانت لغتك العربية غير قوية: ليس الهدف كتابة كُتب مدرسية من أول محاولة. هذه هي قوة الوكيبيديا، فإذا كان لمقالتك أخطاء لغوية (كما هو الحال معي) فسيأتي أشخاص كُثر من بعدك لتصحيح هذه الأخطاء. المهم هو وضع المحتوى العلمي.
  • المواضيع مُتعددة ومُختلفة، فإختر ما تُحب: كُلٌ منا يستطيع المساهمة في موضوع معين، وليس بالضرورة أن تكتب في موضوع لا يهمك أو لا تدري عنه. فبإمكانك الكتابة عن المغنيين المفضلين لديك، أو الطعام الشعبي في بلدك ومنطقتك، أو برامج الإنترنت التي تستعملها، أو المدن التي زرتها، أو المواضيع المفضلة لك في تخصصك ودراستك وعملك …إلخ
  • لا حد أدنى، فأكتب قدر ما تستطيع: لست مضطراً لكتابة كُتب كاملة أو حتى فصول. فأكتب ما تستطيع.
  • أنت لست مُجبراً على الترجمة: فبإمكانك الكتابة من ما تعرف. ليس ضرورياً أن تُترجم المقالات الإنجليزية عن موقعك المفضل على الإنترنت مثلاً أو مدينتك أو الأغاني أو البرامج التلفزيونية أو مجال خبرتك. طبعاً الغاية هي كتابة مواضيع مفيدة وبقدر الإمكان دقيقة، فإذا كنت لست خبيراً بموضوع معين فلست مضطراً للكتابة عنه. مُجدداً إختار المواضيع التي تَجِد فيها الراحة.

كل أسبوع من أسابيع الويكي يبدأ يوم الأربعاء وينتهي يوم الثلاثاء بحيث تكون عطلة نهاية الإسبوع في منتصف كل حقبة.

أخيراً أود أن أقول بأن إثراء المحتوى العربي على ويكيبيديا سيعود بالنفع علينا جميعاً. فإن إتاحة العلم بسهولة للجميع هو خطوة ضرورية لِرُقي المنطقة وتطورها، وفي هذا مصلحة لنا جميعاً.

لقد صنعت بعض الأزرار للترويج لهذا المشروع وللتذكير بالموضوع لكل أسبوع (ستتغير الصور تلقائياً كل أسبوع).

أسبوع الويكي أسبوع الويكي

Brain Dump / Core Dump

I guess i have been silent for a while. It is not like I have nothing to say, but none of the bits and pieces in mind grew enough to constitute a legitimate post. Finally, i decided to lump them all together and dump them in one post.

Bloggers’ Bro Code

I was chatting with one Jar of Juice the other day discussing the status and needs of our corner of the blogosphere. We concluded that there is too much chaos and anarchy and that the true voice of singlehood has been muffled by the recent wave of “lovey dovey” romanticism. Following the example of Barney Stinson‘s Bro Code, and to deliver the final verdict on the dealings of bloggers on the internets, we started drafting the rules of the Bloggers’ Bro Code.

  • Rule #1: All Bro Bloggers are inherently cooler than “Bloggerettes”.
  • Rule #2: Only a few cool Bloggerettes are considered cool and have been given honorary Bro status.
  • Rule #120: The use of the lbs, inches, feet, and miles (or other English Units) is illegal and might strip you of your Bro title. Only Metric and SI units are acceptable.
  • Rule #150: Wara2 Dawali is cool. Wara2 Malfoof is just as cool as well. (amendment motioned by Hani)
  • Rule #151: Any Bro cooking wara2 dawali must notify at least three other Bros in his vicinity at least 24 hours in advance to give them a chance to come mooch off of him.
  • Rule #152: If a Bro is invited for some wara2 dawali, he can bring with him another bro blogger; The approval of the host is irrelevant and not required.
  • Rule #170: A few things in life are awesome. Wara2 Dawali & Wara2 Malfoof are Awesome!
  • Rule #200: Bro bloggers are single by nature. Romantic posts are permitted at a maximum rate of one post per month.
  • Rule #217: When referring to your spouse on your blog, the following terms are prohibited: sweety, honey, 3omri, 7ayaty, 7abeeb albi. The only acceptable reference is: “to2borni wliy 3ala amti shu rijjaaaal eben 3ammi”. Update: the term “husbandy” is prohibited as well. (amendment motioned by Hani)
  • Rule #230: l33t is dead. You are not a haxor. And Bro Bloggers with aliases of the type: xtra_kool, hot_ice ..etc will be stripped of their Brohood.
  • Rule #250: Blogs with more than 3 shades of pink are not cool.
  • Rule #251: Blogs that use the orange color correctly are cool.
  • Rule #255: Each Bro Blogger can have at most one imaginary friend. Imaginary characters are not entitled to their own imaginary friends.


I can not explain the logic of guys like this (you should at least read the title). Their complete and utter stupidity is beyond comprehension, and they really do give faith and the rest of us a bad name.

A Day By The Lake

Last week before Ramadan, my advisor invited our group to his lake house for some barbecue and fun; and it was alot of fun! It was a beautiful sunny day, we had some good food, and nice chats. The lake was warm and calm. I was encouraged to try kayaking, and i did. It was my first time, and it was AMAZING! Ahh .. it is so great to have a nice boss/advisor.

Lake View

The view from his lake house.

Facts Are Overrated

Maybe it is my Palestinian & Arab genes; but i am addicted to news and politics. So naturally over the past weeks i followed the developments in Russia/Georgia, and the American Democratic and Republican conventions. It became clear to me that facts don’t matter quite alot. At some level, i knew this already, but the idealist in me tried to deny it. I have always tried to convince my self that substance rather than presentation is what matters most. Not true!

You can get away with the most ridiculous statement ever if you present it correctly. Sometimes you don’t even have to even present it elegantly. All you have to do is just repeat it over and over and it becomes fact. Isn’t it amazing ?! You can promote propaganda to facts just like that !!

The most recent events in American politics give you all the examples you need. I do not have deep favoring for one party over the other. All i really want is somebody to push the Middle East Peace Process forward. Currently it seems that Obama is more likely to do that than McCain. It has been interesting to see the Republicans attack Obama on experience and then have to justify picking Palin as the VP candidate. All of a sudden this unknown person is being promoted as the champion of the common man. Her words and speeches say one thing, and her record says another. Yet the Republican pundits are sitting on TV shows distorting the truth very severely. I guess the Democrats might do the same thing. But the extent to which it is being done by the Republican party is just ridiculous. How dumb do they think people are ? Anyway, this satirical segment sums it up pretty nicely.

Google Chrome

So Google introduced this new browser, and the world is buzzing. Part of this buzz is that which surrounds every Google product release. The part of this world-wide buzz is because this is one of the company’s few ventures to the world of the desktops, and this product could develop into something more serious. The company that is known for making web applications wants to provide a solid platform for its applications to run on.

I didn’t see a huge technological breakthrough in Google’s browser. They use the WebKit rendering engine which is supposed to be good. I really liked the idea of encapsulating each tab in a separate process. However, this is not totally new, and has been introduced a couple of years ago by some researchers at the University of Washington. I haven’t played much with this since it is for Windows only at this time. But i sure will try it when it is made available for Linux.

I am not sure whether this will trigger a new browser war or not. After all, Firefox 3.1 is on its way and it is claiming an even faster rendering engine and a very very fast JavaScript interpreter. All three major rendering engines (Trident, Gecko, and WebKit) are sticking more and more to standards.

Regardless of what will happen. This sure is a good boost for web application development. We sure are at the beginning of a new phase of web applications. My hunch it is all about interactivity, performance, and storing application data on the client browser side.

Argh, this semester is promising to be a busy and hectic one. In addition to what my friends are referring to as a “zalamah” schedule of high load classes, i have the added load of working on a research paper that is targeting a recent conference. Yeppi for me i guess (*said sarcastically*). As you might have guessed, the “Core Dump” in the title is a small attempt at humor of what i am going through with my code base right now. Clearly my sense of humor is not my strong point 🙂

Ramadan Kareem
Last but not least, a late Ramadan Kareem everybody! May this blessed month find you well this year, and in years to come.