Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

No Sweat College Degrees

While we bust our heads day and night studying hard to get a degree, 12 Bahrainis, according to Arabian Business, paid money to get certificates in the mail. It is so despicable that I had an immediate urge to publish the names in BOLD. The disclaimer on the American magazine that published the list made me retreat.

Coincidently, University of Strathclyde, where I'm doing my MBA, sent us an email invitation for a very important meeting this weekend to address a similar issue. It seems that some of their students have been buying custom written assignments from individuals in Bahrain who make a business out of preparing bespoke MBA assignments. No wonder we have all kinds of morons in executive jobs all over the country.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Track Your Comments

The moment you leave a comment on a blog post, you are actually engaging in a multi-way conversation. That conversation spans days with different people from different time zones having different views. The blog needs to be revisited again and again to keep up with the flow of ideas. So how do you keep track of these conversations? Some blog engines like blogger.com and some wordpress implementations give you the option to be notified by email of any changes happen after you leave a comment. This is a nifty trick but it is not used by all blog engines.

The solution I use is called Commentful from Blog Flux. It is a web service that keeps track of changes and updates on any blog post you ask it to monitor. You add a blog post to a watch list, and the system visits it every ten minutes to check if new comments are added. If a blog post is not updated for a month or so, it gets moved to an archive page so only the active ones are shown.

What about you? How do you keep track of comments on blogs you visit?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hack your Mind

Boost your mind, hack it to learn better, faster, and deeper and become a pillar of progression for the society with these 77 tips and techniques related to health, balance, and focus.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Anatomy of a troubleshooting process

about 2 hours ago
Internet access is extremely slow. Anybody else is having the same problem?

about 1 hour ago
BTW, I'm on Batelco's 1mb ADSL service

about 1 hour ago
Batelco's DNS is screwed. www.google.com is not resolved but www.yahoo.com is. Could it be something bigger, maybe root dns servers?

35 minutes ago
It's google's DNS. It's not responding. Try it with nslookup or dig and server ns1.google.com

30 minutes ago
Nonetheless, internet speed is damn slow

26 minutes ago
gmail is also not accessible. What's going on?

22 minutes ago
got a google IP address,, from a web based nslookup service. Still not accessible. Could it be Batelco's proxy?

10 minutes ago
just used www.anon.me web proxy to successfully access google.com. it's definitely Batelco's problem.

5 minutes ago
google.com is back, gmail.com is back. Speed is a little bit better. Batelco, what the heck happened?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Short Story: Domino Effect

Playing dominos with my friends the other day reminded me of the summer I spent with my cousin Ebrahim in my grandfather’s house when I was 7. The extremely hot mid-days denied us the pleasure of playing outside. We had to come up with games that would keep us busy after lunch.

The game that took the most of our time was not even a game. It all started when Ebrahim sneaked into my uncle’s room one day and took a dominos box that interested us. My uncle’s room was a forbidden area for the two of us. We were not supposed to enter it while he was not around. Ebrahim was a couple of years older than me. These two years gave him an adventurous spirit that I never had. He would do things that I couldn’t do.

We didn’t understand the dominos game so we started arranging the pieces in a straight line making them stand like a group of soldiers standing in front of their commander waiting for marching orders. We would drop the first piece and watch how each piece pushes the next one creating a wave that drops all of them in few seconds. The sensations kept going with each new arrangement but the 28 pieces were very little to keep us excited so we started adding other objects.

One day, right after lunch, following a scheme that we worked on for days, we brought out all the VHS tapes that my uncle kept in his room. My grandfather saw us getting into my uncle’s room but like always he didn’t say anything. He was a sweet and a kind man and never stopped us from doing things that we wanted to do. We considered him as our friend who was so close to us that we entrusted him with our secrets. The idea was to construct a building using the VHS tapes and use the dominos to knock it down.

I carefully built a meter long shaky building with the VHS tapes while Ebrahim arranged the domino pieces close to it with the last domino having a tape set beside it to gather the momentum of the dropping little pieces and hit the building with it. My grandfather was having his lunch time nap in a nearby room. The excitement was growing with every piece of domino Ebrahim set.

The scene was set for a formation we planned for days. It was a show with no audience except the dominos themselves witnessing a sensation of achievement of two little boys merging their love for building and destruction in a single scene. We put our fingers together and pushed the first domino and cheerfully watched the pieces dropping one after another until they knocked down the shaky building with a roaring noise. We were ecstatic with our triumph.

The beautiful feeling stayed for as long as the few seconds the 28 pieces of dominos usually take to drop each other. Our biggest achievement of that summer woke up our grandfather from his nap abruptly. He furiously run into the room and screamed at us so badly that we both burst into hysteric crying that would have gone for days if it was not for our grandmother’s intervention.

My grandfather continued the sweet and kind man he was but stopped being a friend that day. My 7 years old mind was too young to understand the extent the domino effect may reach.

Written as an assignment in a creative writing workshop with Deonna Kelli Sayed

Monday, August 11, 2008

Boot into a physical windows partition, virtually

While we were discussing virtualization in Bahrain LUG's meeting a couple of days ago, I promised the attendees to show them how I relieved myself from the hassles of dual booting into Windows XP and Linux by using the free vmware server on Linux to boot virtually into my physical Windows XP partition. I encourage you to make proper backups of both systems before you embark into the following procedure just to be on the safe side.

  • Dual boot system with Windows XP and Linux
  • vmware server 1.0.6 or above on Linux. Here is how to install it on Ubuntu Hardy
  • Unmount the Windows XP partition under Linux if it is mounted


Hardware Profile
  1. Boot normally into the Windows XP partition and create a new hardware profile by going to Control Panel-->System-->Hardware-->Hardware Profiles, and clicking on Copy to copy the current profile. Name the new profile "vmware"
  2. Log out of windowx XP and boot into Linux.
Vmware on Linux
  1. Run vmware server's wizard for a new virtual machine
  2. Choose Windows XP and follow the steps in the wizard until you reach the hard disk allocation step then un-check the options of allocating space and splitting and finish the wizard
  3. Go to the Edit Settings screen of the new virtual machine and delete the current virtual hard disk
  4. Press Add to add a new hard disk and choose "use a physical disk" and choose "use entire disk"
  5. power up the virtual machine and boot into windows XP in Grub, then choose the "vmware" hardware profile
  6. Cancel the new hardware detection pop-ups then install vmware tools then restart the virtual machine.

  • The virtual machine will boot into GRUB, so make sure you don't start your Linux partition into the virtual machine. Doing so will FUBAR your Linux partition.
  • I've done this sometime back and there might be some little tweaks that I can't recall right now so give it a try and update me.
  • SCSI drives may not be supported. I've done this with IDE
  • DirectX is not an option in the virtual Windows XP so forget about playing games in the virtual machine
  • The overall performance is slower compared to a physical partition boot, but with enough RAM, you won't feel handicapped.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Linux User Group Gathering

Marwan, the co-founder of Bahrain Linux User Group (LUG) presented VirtualBox virtualization technologies in our monthly meeting held earlier today.

He started by explaining the nature of virtualization technologies and their common uses. In a nutshell, virtualization allows computer users to run an operating system, like windows XP, as a guest OS on another operating system, like Linux, which functions as a host OS.

Then he walked us through the VirtualBox installation process on Ubuntu Linux which was straight forward using a HowTo article on Ubuntu's website. The fun started when he booted a WindowsXP guest OS in Ubuntu working as a window, or a full screen, with full functionality including sharing files between the two OSes.

Then he detailed down several configuration setups in VirtualBox with heated discussion by the audience, me included, comparing it to vmware, which is another virtualization product, but proprietary.

The obvious uses of virtual machines go beyond having windows XP booted in Linux. I for one use vmware to boot a guest WinXP on a host WinXP, and sometimes Linux, to access my work network through VPN. VPN clients connect a PC virtually to another network which most of the time shields the PC from internet access so when you are on the VPN, you can't access the net except through the VPN connection which may be slower compared to you local PC's internet access. Using a Guest OS VPNed in another network doesn't affect your host's internet connectivity.

Another use is for testing application that you may not want to run on your PC. A lot of security researchers use virtual machines to test security vulnerabilities and malware without affecting their PCs and local networks.

Developers also use virtualization to experiment with code on different platforms without the need to have multiple PCs or servers each running a different OS.

There are also tons of corporate uses of virtualization that I'll hopefully detail down in a separate post.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Code of Ethics asks for your artistic talent

You have artistic talents, you use Photoshop or illustrator to put your talent into visual masterpieces, and you enjoy being rewarded for your efforts. So why don't you participate in the competition for designing a logo for the Code of Ethics initiative? Check Mahmood.tv for more details.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Flower vs. Flower

Flower in Saar, Bahrain

Flower in Glasgow, Scotland

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Death Glorifiers

While others celebrate life, we celebrate death. We die to die. What else justifies sending an sms message to promote a Ramadan booklet by a society in Muharraq like this:

***** صفحة لصور مرحومي المنطقة في الكتيب الرمضاني لجمعية

A page of the recently deceased in the Ramadan Booklet of ****** Society

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008

Casual Games: Gateway

Casual Games are the hottest commodities in video gaming industry nowadays and for a very simple reason that they appeal to everyone, especially non-hardcore gamers who enjoy passing time with a quick but challenging game on their mobile phones, PDAs, or iPods. Casual Games are easy to learn but hard to master which sounds like the holy grail of video gaming if you ask for my opinion. You actually find them even on gaming consoles like the Sony PlayStation 3 or the Microsoft XBox 360 which shows how appealing these kind of games are.

I found my 7 years old daughter Zain playing the old-but-gold game Snake on our Dreambox satellite receiver the other day! Casual games are played by everyone, everywhere, and for a good reason. They mean big bucks for the gaming industry, but more importantly for independent game developers who were crashed in recent years with the big gaming studios that spend millions of dollars in creating and marketing multi-platform games.

I would like to present to you an interesting game which is simple to learn and control, but extremely challenging. Gateway is a puzzle game in which you use your mouse to control a little robot through the gateways. The game starts with a simple interactive tutorial explaining how to move the robot and collect things and combine them to help you move forward. I love puzzle games. They are a great exercise for my rusty brain, and apparently a great money generator for Nintendo with their series of brain train games on the DS platform. Give it a shot and share your thoughts.

Happy gaming :)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Spam on Facebook

From:Too Care
Nice to meet you, how is everything, hope all is well with you. My name is Mrs.Susana Nuhan, I found your contact after reading your profile I picked interest to contact you. I've something very important which I would love to share with you privately, therefore, would advise you to kindly write me back on:(susnuh01@yahoo.com) so that I'll give you details. Waiting anxiously for your anticipated corporation,


Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Anniversary of Bahrain LUG

Come celebrate with us the anniversary of Bahrain Linux User Group @ 4:00pm on Saturday 14th of June 2008 in Belle View Apartments.

There will also be a presentation by fellow super LUGer Marwan about his latest visit to Germany for the Linux Tag 2008 conference.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Set a world record, download Firefox

Download Day

Help your beloved Firefox web browser to set the Guinness world record of most downloaded software in 24 hours. Download Firefox 3 on June 17th

Monday, April 07, 2008

Linux User Group Gathering

Mark your calendars

The Bahrain Linux User Group is gathering on 4:00PM Saturday, April 12th at the Belle View Apartments (for directions see LUG Location)

The topic will be as follows:

Linux Help Session

All participants are encouraged to submit questions, problems, and desires related to Linux. We will then try and find resolutions and possible ways to get what you want out of Linux. Below are some examples of the types of questions would love to hear about:

Some examples
  • How can I do this in Linux? (e.g. Copy a DVD, connect an ipod, edit videos)
  • How can I fix this problem I had? (e.g. Wireless Network, Suspend)
  • What is this thing? (e.g. the Linux Kernel, GNOME)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hackers go beyond damaging computers and networks

This is just sick !!

Hackers use flashing animated images posted on an online forum to assault epileptic patients.