Jul 24, 2008

House renovation or the reason why i've been silent

Oh the dust and the mud and the dust... Pipes done, electricity too. We're moving on, but not fast enough :(

Posted by ShoZu

Jun 23, 2008

LTEN - Derbakkeh playing

2 of my friends playing on a lebanese instrument called derbakkeh. They never played it before but made a good rhythm and a nice video.

Posted by ShoZu

Jun 22, 2008

LTEN - Annoubin Valley

Picture taken from the moving bus while going down the tight road through Annoubin Valley. Only one car can pass at a time.

Posted by ShoZu

Jun 19, 2008

LTEN - The Tarnib Society

Parents & friends playing Tarnib (cards) on the balcony. Great social times.

Posted by ShoZu

Jun 16, 2008

LTEN - Red Flower

Awesome flower. Pic taken from outside my Kleiat house.

Posted by ShoZu

Jun 15, 2008

LTEN - My Aunt Wears A Nokia Slipper

First, I thought I was seeing "Nokia" everywhere and needed help, turns out i saw right. Is this genuine? No idea, but it sure made me laugh!

Posted by ShoZu

Introducing 3 New Post Series

After reassuring you that Dotsisx ain't dead, I want to introduce to you 3 new series that you will often see here on Dotsisx.

First one is "Lebanon through the eyes of an Nseries" or shortly LTEN. It will be a rather daily image upload via ShoZu with a maximum of one line of comment. It's part due to the fact that I won the N82, and part due to the truth that I will be leaving this awesome country in a couple of months, and I want to keep a memory of every day I spend here from now on, and also part due to the fact that very little is known about my country. The picture may be about people, landscapes, food, habits, places... I will just take it one day at a time, and knock myself out.

Second series is no less interesting and is called "Nseries, the x in your pocket", where x represents all the gadgets that an S60-based Nseries can or has replaced (check my post about the N95 8gb for a little idea of what gadgets it can replace). Basically I will cover the hows and whats of every usage, concentrating on how to enhance it and make the most of it.

Third, I decided to have each week two posts entitled "This Week's Recaps", one of them regarding the most interesting news Symbian-wise, and the other tech-wise.

All of these are part of bringing Dotsisx back to life and to the front. I know I don't have a huge readership here, but you have been loyal for an incredibly long time and I thank you for that.

Jun 10, 2008

I'm Back, But I Was Never Away

Hello to all my dedicated readers, and a big big sorry for the lack of updates here on Dotsisx but to those of you who were following my statuses on Jaiku (hint that big pink widget on the left column) or who were keeping up with Symbian-Guru, you would've noticed that I've been swamped and that I stopped blogging for a long while.

Long story short, my thesis about "Biotechnologies and their use in therapeutics" was finished, I even did the oral presentation last friday and grabbed a very honorable mention, not bad eh? My HUGE list of finals is done, so is my training at the hospital. Basically I am officially done with Pharmacy, and I should receive my diploma around the 4th of July (wink to you americans).

"Proud to be a pill counting, prescription dispensing, pregnancy testing, Pharmacist"

Now it's onto the next step, I am finalizing the procedures in the French embassy, and waiting for an official acceptance from the university and dorm (the lab is done) so I can move around september and hit my Master2 year in genetics and biotechnology.

Other than that, we FINALLY have a President, yup yup yup, and after agreeing to disagree for 3 years, the politicians decided to hug each other one day out of the blue, and I hope it's finally over. No more bombings, killings, wars, conflicts, heck we want peace!

Gadget-wise, I have been trialling the E61i and the Nokia BH-604 for a couple of days now, you can read my impressions on S-G. I also won an N82, yes WON, in the Show Your S60 Smarts Contest. I am so proud because I honestly submitted the video at the last day, at midnight, and because the message I tried to pass is the one dearest to my heart, that S60 is open and that you can make whatever you want of it, and adapt it to your everyday needs and life, be it in work or entertainment.

In short, life is SWEET at the moment. Now if only I can find someone coming from the USA to Lebanon to grab me a Macbook and an iPod Touch, I'd be in heaven (they cost 1.4 the original price here!)

Apr 28, 2008

Pics From Jordan

After weeks of struggling with Share on Ovi and many other responsabilities, I managed to get 196 pictures of my trip to Jordan up on Flickr and Share on Ovi. Flickr doesn't give me an immediate option to embed a slideshow of my channels to a blog, something totally stupid, whereas Share on Ovi has the option placed somewhere where you can't miss it. Plus they give 3 layout options: ticker, slideshow and Grid. It's small but meaningful things like this that make me love Share on Ovi so much, and prefer it to Flickr. So here they are, my pictures from Jordan.

Day 1 - Leaving Lebanon, through Syria and to Jordan. Madaba church, Mount Nebo and Amman.

Day 2 - Leaving Amman to Petra, then Ram Valley and night in Aqaba.

Day 3 - Boat trip in Aqaba, then off to the Dead Sea, Jordan river to see the Baptism site, and night in Amman's Kanabaya lounge.

Day 4 - Off to Jarach, then back to Lebanon.


Apr 25, 2008

Mobiles & Medicine - The Sum Of All Elements

Today, I continue my series of comparisons between the medical and the mobile fields. I had previously talked about the fact that not everything is under control in both worlds, and that no matter how perfect an object is built, something at some point can and will go wrong.

I just returned from a Medical Ethics exam today, and one of the questions asked was related to a statement made by Pope Benedict XVI about the biomedical sciences. The exam was in French, but basically what the Pope meant to say was that biomedical sciences should be used for the good of humanity, because if they didn't have the benefit of the human kind as a goal, they would be cold and heartless science. We were asked to reflect on this opinion as pharmacists, as well as give examples of how biomedical sciences can at some point hurt humanity or a human.

In my paper, starting my thinking process from the "cold and heartless science" affirmation, i set out to compare medicine with arithmetics. I didn't go into details there, but I will here. Our constant tendency, in the medical field is to take book sentences and research results wholeheartedly. When we are presented with "disease x" we always tend to give "cure a" because it's written somewhere, and we sure don't know better than those illustrate scientists. When we are presented with "disease y" we will give "cure b", for the same reason. The tricky part comes when we have "disease x + disease y" in the same person. What do we do? First, we try to find research about those 2 diseases occuring together, the reasons behind it, as well as that "written somewhere" treatment scheme. If this search result comes out blank, we're left to pray that we're going to make the right decision. Sometimes, we will give "cure a + cure b" after making sure that both medicines aren't incompatible ; other times we will give "cure a or cure b" if we know for a certain reason that curing one disease will help the other ; and some other times, we will go totally blunt and give "cure c" which is something that might work on both, not quite ideally, but it does.

See, medicine is a lot more complicated than simple math, two illnesses together can be equal to the sum of each one individually, but it can be more or less than that sum, it can also be an indication of a totally different illness. If I have chronic dyspnea, it might be asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). If I have oedema, it might be renal failure. If I have both, we could treat them separately but we should investigate an underlying heart failure that didn't manifest itself. This is explained by the complexity of the human body, that I wrote about in my first post of the series, but it can also be explained by another arithmetics comparison.

How do you define a Human Being? Is it a mix of flesh, bones, muscles, nerves, blood, liquids? No. We are more than the sum of all of our elements. Now we may not know exactly what is the other abstract entity that adds up to the body in the equation. Some will call it the soul, others the spirit, others what we refer to as the heart, others will also add society or religion and what it teaches us, others will say that unconscious acts has got a piece of the cake, too, and many many more. For what it's worth, I believe it's all of that and a little bit more too. The physical dimension of the human, which is the body, is just the smallest entity in the equation. We might be perfectly healthy, yet feel pain or sick ; we might also be deep down into some disease and yet feel perfectly fit. Why? Simply, because we're more than just organs!

Now let's go back to the mobile field. One thing we notice, that is too darn obvious, is that a mobile is not "alive". Does that mean that it misses that sum of abstract elements that we added to the body? Well, I've never seen a mobile move by itself, so there goes your answer. When something goes wrong in one piece of the equipment, it will show up, because there's nothing there governing the process and trying to conceal it. A whole mobile device is equal to the sum of its elements, and that's why it doesn't play on you those tricky games that the body does.

This is what seriously differentiates health sciences from engineering sciences: the predictability factor. When there's a problem in the fuse in some piece of electronics, you know that changing it will solve the problem, it's predictable. When there's a health problem in a patient, you might give the perfect cure, the one you have used for years to treat this same disease, yet a couple of patients will not respond or will respond in a different manner, it's unpredictable. This has been the aim of the whole genetics field so far, to find patterns that will help making health evolutions more predictable in humans. The "oh, you have gene X, then you are likely to have disease Y around age Z" as well as the "oh, you have gene A, then you will respond in manner B to treatment C" seem to be what we are looking for, making things as predictable with the human body as they are with any other piece of equipment we have. We will succeed in removing a lot of variables in the equation, but will we even be close to remove them all? No. Because we're more than the sum of our elements.

Apr 2, 2008

Mobiles & Medicine - Everything Is Under Control

One of the first things you learn when you go deeper into medicine studies is how incredibly tight and organized everything is inside the human body. It's not just the hormone that stimulates a function, but it's also the mediator that induces the hormone's secretion, and the peptide that causes the mediator to act, and the enzyme that activates the peptide, and the gene promoter that causes the enzyme to be produced. It's also the other hormone that stimulates an opposite function to the first one, and ... well we can go as far as life itself to explain some of these things.

The other thing you learn is how much control is behind every one of the smallest reactions inside your body. The simplest of examples is that if you eat anything that contains sugars after fasting, your pancreas will produce insulin so that your liver starts stocking the sugar instead of releasing it into the bloodstream, but also so that your muscles, brain and other organs start using this sugar. Each of these is an incredibly long list of reactions, with many others running in the background, and all being regulated by the smallest details.

In short, after contemplating the human body's function, you always come out with one conclusion: it's incredible how the smallest of things get added up, in an everlasting series of cycles and processes, to make a perfectly functioning entity. Everything is regulated, be it upwards or downwards, and even the tiniest piece has its place in the puzzle. In the end, it all comes down to one final goal: Life.

I have always wondered about the analogies between medicine and mobiles, two domains which take the vast majority of my time. Why have I come to love both of them, even though, on the surface there is no resemblance whatsoever between them? Then I came to the observation of the details. I guess I am fascinated by the amount of organization and regulation that governs in both instances.

Take for example the sheer act of taking a picture with your handset. Visibly, you're only opening the camera lens cover and pressing a button. You then view the picture, press back, and close the camera shutter. This is all the interaction it takes from your side. Now think about all every process that happens in the background during these 5 to 10 seconds: the lens cover clicking into place when opened so that it launches the camera application, the amount of genius going behind the fact that what's in front of your lens is projected on the screen, the capturing moment with each pixel being memorized and put in its right place on the screen, and then being saved with a thousand others on that incredibly small MicroSD card you could swallow without noticing, followed by the camera application shutting down the moment the lens cover is closed back. Think of all the 0 and 1 in the background, the electricity circulating on the boards, in the most complicated circuits, the coding scripts being executed. Think of the relations between everything that happens and that you can't see with your eyes compared to the small amount that finally pops on the screen.


I know that the comparison between medicine and mobiles doesn't stand a chance now. But as years go by, these small devices, barely the size of our hand palms are getting more complex, more detailed, with more and more processes of the smallest importance running in every millisecond.

Over the years, engineers and scientists have thrived to reach the level of perfection and togetherness that is seen in the human body. Why do you think the most enticing of all gadgets are robots? Why do you think that each time a new development in the robot-world is made, we stand in front of it in astonishment? Why do you think movies like AI (Artificial Intelligence) were made? Two reasons. First, is that deep inside, the final aim of an engineer (and Human for that matter) is perfection, and the most detailed model of perfection is us. Second is because we have long wanted to explain how we truly function, because our biggest mystery lies within us.

Is there any doubt that in 10 years, mobiles will become even more developed than they are now? No. Is there any doubt that in 20 years a mobile prototype will have learned to regulate itself, to control itself, to clean itself figuratively (software-wise) and literally (hardware-wise)? No. Is there any doubt that in 30 years mobiles will be made from live particles, that can interact with the environment? No (look at the Nokia Morph Concept).

One question remains, is there any doubt that no matter how far into the future we delve, anything built by us will have flaws, bugs, problems, issues? No. It's not a matter of belief or not, it's a matter of facts.

Let's go back to medicine for a while and take the human body, our model of perfect function, as an example. It doesn't matter how well everything is built and regulated, something at some point can and will go wrong.

Most of the time, the body knows and corrects the error, because it's "intelligent" and it has learned to distinguish the error and to correct it. As an example, I will take the process of cell duplication. Our cells multiply all the time, to regenerate newer and younger ones, leaving the others to die. During this transformation process, a letter in our genetic language (which is made of 4 letters, ATCG, that's all) may be misread and mis-copied: It's not a simple xerox process! The body has its way of knowing the original copy from the new one it just made, and hence can and will correct the mistake.

But one in every million times, the body won't notice the mistake, and we will end up with something called a "mutation". If this happens in the germinal cells (read: ovule or sperm cells), the error will be transmitted to the next generation. Sometimes, this will just lead to a different eye color, or skin structure, but sometimes it affects a very delicate function and causes an illness. And that's how genetic diseases are born (in a very simplistic explanation).

So, is everything under control? No. Even in the most complex structures known to us, everything isn't under control. Archaic changes and modifications of a template always occur. A gadget, handset, piece of electronics,..., might be amazingly functioning now, but no one could assure you that it wouldn't stop in the next second. Bugs, as we call them now, are and will always be an issue we face, be it with our mobiles or within our body. So we'd better accept the facts as they are, than keep moaning about it for the next millenium.

Some people might explain this by the tendency of the universe to chaos. See, the Earth and our existence are a huge exception to the theory that everything tends naturally to go to chaos, and that organization is by itself a state of chaos. I don't know how I would explain it, because no, I am not looking for the answer to everything. Life would be dull if I knew it all, wouldn't it?

Mar 26, 2008

An Open Letter To Nokia : Buy An Atlas!

It has been building up inside for months now, but today, I simply can't hold it any longer. Nokia, you need to open up your Atlas or your World Map and start looking more closely at it. Head to the east shore of the Mediterranean sea, right below Turkey and right on top of Israel, there, you will find a small area, called Lebanon.

This is where 4 million people live, and this is a country you have been neglecting or forgetting or not noticing for years now. No we are not Europe, we are not the States, we don't fatten your pockets every year with billions of dollars. But if there was a study of your marketshare here, if you could find one, then you would be astonished by the numbers. We have been loyal, very loyal to you, Finnish company, we swear by your built quality, we ravish over your designs, we have thousands of phone shops that have one of your devices in their logo or on their displays, we carry your devices religiously, we always ask about Nokias, and it's not unless there's a bigger motive that we buy another brand. Yet, you don't seem to notice that we exist.

Let's start from the beginning, Nokia. If I buy a new device, when I first fire it up, it asks me to input my country. My country, as far as I can tell, is Lebanon. I type L, and there I have it: Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania and Sri Lanka. No Lebanon. No Lebanon! Are you kidding me? In order to have my time set right, I have to choose Egypt as a country. I have nothing against Egypt, but I am Lebanese!

Second problem. I recently got to try your Download! application. I admit, it's not the brightest thing I have seen, but it has some good potential. I guess I was too optimistic thinking I might just find half of the content that other countries have, with the same device. Oh how wrong I was. Just a couple of links, nothing special. I look at screenshots for other countries, and then look at my N95 and think "if only they filled one screen"(ie 12 icons). No they don't.

Edit: Another problem I have been facing is with Nokia Maps. When I first got the N95 8GB to trial, I searched the Maps website and saw that Lebanon wasn't amongst the countries supported for voice navigation. No problem I said, I don't need it, I just want to see the roads. Well, what do you think I found? Ah, one road. ONE freaking road in ALL of Lebanon! Would I ever be able to tell my friends that my device has GPS? NO! Because they would want to see it in action, and to tell you the truth, I don't think we can take a lot of action out of ONE road!

Third problem is the one that pushed me off the edge today. You know Share on Ovi, the new sharing service that Nokia just launched as a part of their Ovi bundle. The day it was launched, I clicked through the website, I got a "This service is not yet available in this region" message. I thought it still wasn't launched worldwide and held my breath. As the days passed, I kept checking to find the same message every single time. I filed an email to the Ovi product manager, and received a reply that there were social limitations that were preventing the launch of Ovi in the region. I thought "crap, here we go again, the Arab sticker is once more on our forehead!". A couple of days later, I clicked by mistake on some link that led me to Share on Ovi, and this time, the page loaded. I was ecstatic and created my own account, without uploading any picture. Two days later, I opened my account to get some picture uploading and there it was, the white screen of death, staring me in the eyes, again: "This service is not yet available in this region".
From then on, it was a one-day on, several-days off catch up game with the service. I only got to upload 4 or 5 pictures, just to see how it works. That's until a couple of weeks ago, when the service just went unavailable for the longest time. I gave up, I honestly did.
Then came my trip to Jordan. After coming back, I thought that Flickr would be a nice idea for uploading, but I needed a backup plan. So I tried Share on Ovi and yesterday, I was in heaven. I uploaded about a 100 pictures (from Day1 and Day2) using Shozu to both my Flickr and my Share on Ovi accounts. I was using both of them for the first time, and to tell you the truth, I found Share on Ovi to be a MUCH better solution. It gave me the choice to upload via email to a specific channel, it kept the picture in its original size, it gave me an organizing possibility right from my images pages, it allowed me to upload endless file types, it had a very very visible embedding link (with options to embed one image or a whole channel)... well it was Apple'esque. Yeah, you read that right, it had the simplicity of an Apple product. And for once, I was totally totally in love with a product from Nokia. I couldn't find anything wrong with it, from tutorials, to usability, to learning curve, everything was well thought. I had a glimpse at the future of Ovi, and I knew great times were ahead.

Being this pleased with the service, and being that I have enrolled in the S60 Ambassador program (with Share on Ovi being the first mission), I thought I would share the pictures I took with my friends from the trip. I sent them all links to my channels on Share on Ovi (and not Flickr). It was almost midnight, and I think none of them managed to catch it by then, since we were all still worn out from the trip.
I woke up today, and launched Share on Ovi again, to create my "Jordan Trip - Day 3" channel and start uploading, to get spanked in the face by the "This service is not yet available in this region" message, again! And a couple of hours later, the SMS's started arriving "we can't see the pictures on the link you sent us, what's the problem?".

What do you expect me to answer, Nokia? Huh, what do you want me to say? That you simply don't give a damn about us? That you are teasing us Lebanese with a one day service every now and then? How do you expect me to explain to people the philosophy behind Share on Ovi for the Ambassador program? How do you expect me to endorse that T-Shirt you are sending to everyone, if I know that if someone memorizes the site and visits it from my country, there's a 95% chance he/she will find himself/herself with a "not available" screen? And you know I love you, you know I will always support you, you know I have already been your Ambassador in Lebanon, I don't need a T-Shirt or a keyring to prove that. You know I will keep on typing www.twango.com every single day, and I will sigh every day I get the terrible message, and make good use of the day when I find my home page open. I will, I swear I will. But I don't guarantee other people will. They are loyal, but they are not stupid. They know when they are being laughed at!

Nokia, look at us, and don't forget us like the rest of the world has. Don't forget there's a small country called Lebanon, with 4 million people who have been faithful to you, for years. Don't forget that we are here: we don't have a president, our country is on the verge of disappearance, so it would make us a little bit glad if for once, someone, just someone noticed that we, as a country, exist.

Mar 19, 2008

Picture Of The Day

I have previously asked you whether I should get an N81 8GB or a P1i. Well I ended up buying the N95-1. I also got the N93i to trial from WOMWorld and I am excited about using them both.

I am headed to Jordan tomorrow at midnight. It's a 4 day trip, with a bunch of friends, by bus (Jordan is very close to Lebanon) and we're going to exciting places like Petra, the Jordan river, and Amman. I will be using the N95 and the N93i mainly, will be looking for WiFi spots everywhere to upload pictures and keep in touch.

Anyway, here is a picture I took today. I took it with the N95, aimed at the N93i reflective cover, and tried to align the O in Nokia as much as I can. The picture is cropped and the resolution is changed, but you get the idea ;)

Mar 1, 2008

P1i Or N81? You Choose!

In one of the weirdest steps ever, I am putting my destiny (not that much) in your hands. I was looking for a second-hand Nokia N81 8GB when I stumbled upon a second-hand Sony-Ericsson P1i. I tried to weigh the pros and cons of each device, and ended up even more confused.

Nokia N81 8gb
- It's S60 3rd and I am used to it
- I know all applications that I can install and where to get them
- Has 8gb of internal memory, can serve as a great music player replacement
- Has 3.5mm plug so can be used on any headset or earphone
- Has dedicated music keys
- Supports Ngage, and allows me to get on the action
- Has dedicated gaming keys
- Should cost about 250$
- Has only 2MP camera
- Build quality isn't impressive
- I can't find one right now :s

Sony-Ericsson P1i
- Is a new platform, Symbian UIQ3 so promises to be interesting
- Is available now
- Has touchscreen, should be great for accessing links in eBooks and web browser
- Has 3.2MP camera
- Build-quality is AWESOME, feels rock solid
- Has the Track ID system (record a part of a song, and it tells you the name)
- I can get it for 1 month and re-sell it without losing much money because SE phones don't drop prices quickly.
- Only 512MB memory card, and it's Sony's proprietary MemoryStick Micro so I won't buy a memory for it (it's not worth it)
- Has proprietary music plug, no 3.5mm plug
- Costs 360$

So, what do you think I should get? There's a poll on the left column, please vote :D I am placing my future month or so in your hands :D The poll will go for about 10-15 days I think

Feb 24, 2008

Lost Without The N810

Yes that header pretty much describes my situation. The N810 has been a life saver for me. As a student, an intern, a blogger, a writer, a gadget-lover, I pretty much have zero free seconds during the course of a day: there's always something to do. Since the N810 arrived, I've had a series of derangements in my daily schedule: between the laptop charger that went dead for a week, the frequent electricity blackouts and the courses re-scheduling that left me at uni for hours with nothing to do, you can pretty much see how my usually organized life became a mess in no time.

You can not think of how many times I thanked God that the N810 was here to save me from these situations. But most importantly, the N810 has been invaluable for me in one particular aspect: my thesis.

I am preparing a thesis for my pharmacy diploma this year. It's about the applications of biotechnologies in the medical sciences field. This involves a LOT of information checking, web surfing, writing, analyzing and the likes. But the most important aspect of it is article reading. We usually have one source for our articles: Pubmed, and 99% if not 100% of all articles are found in pdf format.

Now normally, I would be stuck in front of my computer endlessly; normally, I would be totting my laptop around everywhere I go to keep working on the thesis. Not when the N810 is around. I am capable of putting a huge amount of books in pdf format, as well as all my articles (and saved web pages) on one device, and carrying it with me. I can read while lying in bed, while waiting for my bread to toast or while boiling my milk in the morning.

One particular thing I have been highly enjoying though, is going walking. Sports were an essential part of my life, until I got tendinitis and my schedules became hectic. Enter the N810. Ever since I got it and found out that there was a built-in PDF reader in it, I knew that I would use it to bring back exercise into my life. I now go in the morning and do slow'ish (my foot still hurts) but steady walks of around 3 hours, while reading my medical articles. PDF Reader in full screen mode on the 4.13" beauty is nothing short of the desktop Adobe experience. The transflective screen makes it also a lot easier to use the device outside when it's sunny. Plus it's small and light and easy to carry on, especially by using the built-in stand to hold the device, something I found myself doing unconsciously just to find that ThoughtFix thought of it too.

I also use the Notes program to write down excerpts and thoughts following each article, which I then send to my PC, open and copy paste into my thesis.doc file. If I need some explanation of a medical term, I open Garnet VM and use my medical dictionaries in Mobipocket to check it out.

If that's not productive mobility, I don't know what is!

Feb 21, 2008

Why Ebooks DRM Isn't Likely To Die

I was downloading the other day my medical ebooks on the tablet, after I managed to make Mobipocket work, when it hit me. DRM is such a PIA! I am not accustomed to music DRM because I find my music elsewhere. Here, there is a shop that sells 4GB DVDs full with MP3s for 2$, there are the shops that sell audio CDs for 1$, or the Syrians on the street who sell CDs full of MP3s for a little more than 1$, and if not, there's always Limewire and eMule (yes sue me)!

But when it came to getting medical ebooks of quality, like the ones sold on Mobipocket, I couldn't find them anywhere, seemed like their DRM is uncrackable or still uncracked , or maybe cracked but not known by the medical community. Point is that I had to buy them, something I did without much grunting, because I knew I was getting value for my money. And later, I was glad because most of them had a dictionary layout allowing me to type a word in order to find what it is (drugs, diseases, organs, symptoms,...)

It isn't until later that I realized how much of a PIA DRM is. Everytime I get a new device, I have to get the Mobireader for it, get my device ID, go to the Mobi website, register this device and DOWNLOAD all of my ebooks AGAIN! Just so that they work on the new device! And that is seriously a joy killer because I got to trial a couple of mobiles lately and I had to do everything from scratch for each one.

That got me to thinking. The trend with music is all about going DRM-less or DRM-free, a service that even the mighty "close-garden" strategist Apple got into with iTunes. Suffice it to say that music DRM is starting to vanish, slowly but steadily and not so painfully. The big and small labels might have put all of their effort into defending themselves against crackers and leechers and whatnot, you could always launch your P2P or Torrent download and get whatever song that you wanted. With ebooks, the trend is the opposite.

The fact is that music is ubiquitous, whereas books aren't. You can listen to music while you drive, you can't read a book while you drive. You can listen to music while you jog, run, go grocery shopping, walk to the bus, work, clean the house... you can't read a book while doing any of those (under normal circumstances). Meaning that the target of music is each and everyone, whereas the target of books/ebooks is a select one. All of this to say that the bigger the target, the more there is likely a cracker/leecher purchasing the material. That's why there is more music available online for free, if you know where to look for it, and that's why you have to look for hours before finding an ebook. This is the reason why music records stopped feeling like getting money from MP3 sales is necessary for them.

It's true that ebooks are becoming more and more mainstream, probably stealing the thunder from regular books, a trend that has been noticed and promoted by the Amazon Kindle. The sales of the device are rocketing for an ebook reader and that should be something we are thankful for and not reluctant towards. Why? The Kindle might as well become the iPod of ebooks, it could bring ebooks to the masses so hard that instead of providing more revenue to publishers on the short run, it will help people realize that DRM sucks on the long-run and drive them to find and if not create ways to avoid it. But what I believe is that, even so, publishers won't go DRM-free. Why?

The fact that Music Records accepted to remove DRM isn't as much driven by the frequent leeches as much as it is by the fact that they can get their money elsewhere: concert tickets, events, artist swag stores, putting the artist in a certain publicity for another product and cutting shares, ... , they can find payment in more places than one. Plus with the recent rise of blogs and what everyone is calling web2.0 as well as independent records, every little artist can get famous within minutes. It takes a well-placed and linked YouTube video and there you are, no need for high-quality camcorders either because the YouTube codes will hammer it. Meaning that record labels are no longer the referee in this game, but more of a goalkeeper: still essential for many games, but some teams can go a whole match without needing one.

The problem with ebooks is that there is no elsewhere. Probably 99% of authors get their money from their books, nowhere else. It's only with great franchises like Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings that publishers can go elsewhere for the money: swag stores, movie rights, and the likes. But the grand majority of books won't have this possibility and will only remain a "book" and that is why publishers will never allow DRM to die on ebooks, not in the near future at least.

Feb 20, 2008

Dotsisx Changes Direction

I previously announced in my last post that Dotsisx will be changing direction. It's not as drastic as it seems, oh well on second thought, it is. Don't worry I am not leaving the mobile community.

The reasons behind this decision are mainly 3:
First one is the tag line I have right now "Everything S60 3rd Edition and More". We all know that Dotsisx was never about "everything" S60, but more about "some things" S60. This is due to the fact that I never was good with news and I always hated reporting them. Mainly, when I *read* the same story for 30 times in my RSS, I am so sick of it, I don't want to see the title again, let alone, write it myself.
Second is the fact that being now that I write on Symbian-Guru (and Tablet-Guru), I find it odd that everytime I have a post idea, I have to pick one blog and go for it. I also hate copy/pasting the same thing on two different blogs.
Third, and main reason, is that when I started blogging, I did it because I wanted to bring my special touch to the community. As months went by, I lost my initial eagerness to achieve this. I want to have this back.

So, what is that new direction I'm talking about?
Basically it will be summed up by the new tag line "Dotsisx - On Life, Mobiles And S60" (new banner coming tomorrow). This means that Dotsisx will be more focused on daily life integration with S60 and on ways to improve that integration and make the most of it. This also means that I will post general things about the mobile industry. But most importantly this means that I will focus on the use of S60 in the life sciences field, as well as the new technologies: nanotechnologies and biotechnologies, and how they will be used in life and mobile devices.

The risks
I know I will see my RSS subscriptions figures diminish by the dozens the moment that I publish this post, but this is a risk I am willing to take. I also know that this is a new commitment from me, to a different domain than the one I have been comfortable in for the past year, most importantly because I will have to look for genuine content every time I post. This is why I will post less in quantity, but try to improve the quality.

Why did I choose this specific direction?
Because I figured that I am one of the rare bloggers that are implicated in the life sciences field, because I am passionate about Life, because mobiles are here to help us "live" better, because if I want to bring a special touch I should choose a domain that I know, because new technologies are all "hip" these days and it would nice to get to know them together.

Where to get S60 3rd information if not here?
First off, I have embedded on this page to the left, the most recent posts from Symbian-Guru and Tablet-Guru. If you're a strict fan of my work (1 get a life, 2 who are you?) you can also see the names of the authors: the ones tagged Dotsisx are the ones I wrote. You can also check IntoMobile which generally have all mobile-related news as well as AllAboutSymbian which mostly focus on Symbian. There's also on the left column my Bookmarks and my OPML file (all my RSS subscription links) if you really want to check a lot of site.

Feb 16, 2008


Hello all! I'm sorry for not posting for the last week but my laptop charger issue became worse and I had some problems with the repair company. Anyway this was solved today. But guess on what I wrote this post? A Nokia? Yeah you're close. An N95? Oh no I'm still stuck with my 3250. But I got an N810 from the awesome guys at WOMWorld and I finally get to see what a Nokia Internet Tablet is. And yeah baby I am liking it! The full coverage will be online on Tablet-Guru so be sure to check it soon.

I also have an announcement to make over here at Dotsisx, it's about a change of blog direction (no I am not leaving the Symbian world) or probably a focus on a specific aspect. I am still pondering the exact way to shift things so expect some explanations in the week to come.

Oh and I have decided to get an N81, but I can only afford a second-hand one so the search has just started :p Now if you'll excuse me I'll go see what the internet radio on the tablet can really do :)

Feb 11, 2008

Take Your Seats

The WOMWorld virtual event is about to start in 20 minutes so if you want to grab it click on the banner below and make sure to have Flash 9 installed. If you don't, you can get it here.

I know I have previously said that I will be covering the announcements here, but my laptop charger is dying and I don't even know if I'll be able to watch the virtual event. For all the juicy details, head on to Symbian-Guru. Ricky will cover everything there and there will also be some thoughts from yours truly, so it is a safer bet than hanging here on Dotsisx...

I am having them take my laptop and charger tonight so I don't know for how long I'll be missing. I had to happen during Mobile World Congress!

Feb 10, 2008

N81 8GB - Final Words & BOSE

The N81 8GB Special Edition with Bose Quiet Comort 3 headphones has been here for 2 weeks now and I am a little reluctant towards the thought of having to pack it up tonight. I didn't want to just review the device, because many people have done so in the past months, and I couldn't basically add a thing to the extensive posts that were made. I tried to have a practical approach to it and it was all covered on Symbian-Guru.

The N81 8GB must be one of the most controversial devices Nokia has released in the last months. While many have hated the cheap plastic finish and the 2MP cam, many have also liked the overall style and the dedicated gaming keys of the device. I belong to both categories, but the latter is more prevalent for me and given that I can't go on anymore with Symbian blogging having a Nokia 3250, the N81 8GB seems like the next logical step. It's one of the best and cheapest phones right now on the market (around 250$ for a second-hand one), it has N-Gage, WiFi, ultimate music capabilities and no need to pay more for an external memory card. I am seriously thinking about getting one, but holding a little back to see what comes from Nokia in the next days (MWC and all).

In all cases, packing this baby up tonight will hurt like crazy, because even if I end up getting the N81, I will never have the Bose QC3 headphones again, and believe me, this by itself is a major problematic. I have found the Bose QC3 coupled with the N81 to be utterly useful in 4 scenarios.

1 - Studying partner : I had a couple of finals this week. Being a study-hater and having more than one distraction available, I couldn't get myself started. Eventually, one day before the exam, I opened the books and decided I'd study with tunes. I wired the QC3 to the N81 on the lowest volume and I can't express how great of an experience that was. I didn't sleep (something I usually do after reading some pages), I didn't feel distracted, and time flew by without me wining about the hundreds of paragraphs to memorize. I gotta admit that the Bose would be a nice partner, especially in May-June when I have my Probatoires exams (12 exams of all the major topics we have covered in Pharmacy during the last 3 years).

2 - Ultimate Bus Trip companion : the N81 came with me on a bus trip we had to Benta Pharmaceutical Industries this Friday. With street noises and on-bus conversation topics being more than one reason that would've made other headphones crazy, the noise cancelling QC3 shone. Just clip them on, close your eyes and it's like no one is around you!

3 - Politics Escapology : my mother needed the pc and internet connection one day. While being installed in my room, she turned the TV on and chose some political talk-show. I hate those! Basically, it's a lot of trash and it ends up with everyone sticking to their beliefs, and the viewer having learnt nothing new. In order to avoid listening to that crap, I got my lethal mix: Bose + N81 and there I was, on some other planet.

4 - Sleeping lullaby : For the past week that I have had the Bose, I have enjoyed going to sleep listening to them many many days. I'd partially wake up a couple of minutes later, take them off, and dive right back into my dreams.

Along with random music listening, you understand now why I will miss the Bose QC3. Ah *snif* *noisy breath*

Feb 9, 2008

Microsoft Wants Windows Mobile On Nokias - LMAO!

Two days ago, the news started circulating all over the web: according to iTWire, Microsoft is in discussion with Nokia to have it add Windows Mobile-powered devices to its portfolio. While this news would have made perfect sense for me a year ago, and probably made me a little bit glad, it comes now as the most surprisingly hilarious news I have read in days. Not that I believe it's ever impossible, but it does have a funny ring to it.

I believe Nokia has invested a lot in the Symbian platform (S60 and S40), be it in expertize, research, development, hardware, education, marketing, and many more areas. I believe it has finally reached that place with S60 where it's been finally recognized worldwide as the powerful OS that it is, where people have finally understood and embraced the S60 way of life, and it has gained the amazing market-share that makes it the global decision-maker. For these reasons and more, I believe Microsoft will likely have to do a little more than "urge" for Nokia to change strategies. And I am not talking about whole portfolio switch, even a new line of Windows Mobile devices added to the huge Nokia product line is far from becoming a reality.

Another point to make is that WM's current market-share is 6% globally, according to the same iTWire article. Is Nokia likely to plunge into a 6% market? No. Nokia is more likely to eat that market, with Symbian. Because if it decided to venture in the WM arena, not only will it have to buy a license to use it and rethink its whole hardware design and function to fit the platform (touchscreen or not), but also it will have to invest in developing, improving, personalizing the platform, because that's what it did with Symbian: get the Symbian 9.1 OS and build S60 3rd on top of it. That's a lot of money to compete with giants like Asus, HTC, iMate, HP, Samsung and Motorolla for a bite in a 6% market-share.

And that goes without mentioning the vast array of services that Nokia have recently launched or will launch in the near future. Ovi, N-gage, Maps, Music Store, MOSH, all are based and solidly built on S60. Nokia is no longer the hardware company, it is the software company (recent acquisition of Trolltech) and even more the services company. These services have been engineered to work for S60 (and not S40 for example) for a reason. It's a commitment, on behalf of Nokia to the S60 platform. It's also a statement that hardware is no longer the main purpose, but services are. A company's benefit from hardware come from the device sale itself, whereas a company's benefit from services last for years after the device has been purchased.

The 6% WM market-share denotes that Windows Mobile is not a very popular platform worldwide, and there has to be reasons behind this. Fortunately enough, through the course of this year, I've seen those reasons myself and that's why, after having wished to see WM on a Nokia a year ago, I am now in a place where I'm repulsed by this thought. I am not saying that WM is a piece of crap, on the contrary it has a lesson or two that it can teach S60, but I would pick S60 over it in a blink.

If the news provided by the iTWire article should prove anything, it is that Windows Mobile is desperately looking for a safety net. With the recent success of Apple's iPhone, the near release of Google's Android, RIM's (Blackberry) massive US popularity, Linux sneaking on some devices (Nseries Internet Tablets) and the Symbian worldwide domination; WM and PalmOS are the black sheep. If Microsoft has learned a thing or two from the Windows PC market, it is that facelifts (read: Vista) do not necessarily please everyone. WM6 is a little bit more than a facelift to WM5, but core functionality remained the same. And it isn't putting a platform on more devices that will make it popular, but fixing and improving the platform itself.

I believe that we're now in a time frame where Nokia is a leader not a follower, and a global trend-setter, and if only for this reason, we're not likely to see a Windows Mobile powered Nokia device in the near future. Of course times can change and I can be wrong...

Catch The WOMWorld Virtual Event Here!

Remember a couple of hours ago I said that I was attending the WOMWorld Virtual Event? Well, Now you can attend it with me. Just click on the banner below and be sure to have Flash 9 installed. If you don't, you can get it here.

Feb 8, 2008

Mobile World Congress

The guys at Nseries WOMWorld were nice enough to invite me to Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, one of the biggest mobile-related shows, previously known as 3GSM. While attending MWC has been my year-long wish, I had to pass the invitation because of exams (that's why I have been away this week) and an unstable Lebanese situation.

But a couple of days ago, I learned that I was invited to the Virtual Launch event, a nice way by Nokia and Nseries to make sure bloggers who aren't there can catch the launch and participate in a Q&A session with Nokia execs. It goes without saying: hats off, Nseries!

I'll try to report the announcement asap here and also tell you guys what happens in the virtual event. Expect things to get started on Monday February the 11th, around 11am here (9am GMT) so stay tuned!

Now off to the juicy part. What do I think will be unveiled in MWC?

Knowing Nokia's past at 3GSM we can cross fingers for some Nseries, Eseries and other new devices. The best bets so far would be the E71 and E66. As far as Nseries go, rumors have been circulating around the N78 and the N96. Both are supposed to have S60 3rd Edition FP2, and this isn't expected until the second-half of the year so I am skeptic as to whether we will get them now. It goes without saying that it would make much sense to release the FP2 now and not in Q3 because S60 Touch should be around in Q4 and Nokia would want to keep various UIs well spaced and differentiated. Personal opinion. Talking about Touch UI, S60 should do some demonstrations and I hope they give us something to chew on for a while.

When it comes to services, I believe :
- Nokia will shed some more lights on Ovi (ready availability? don't think so).
- There may be newer regional Music Stores but don't take it from me.
- We might also get that Nokia music player for the desktop that some bloggers have been raving about.
- Comes With Music might go all forgotten.
- N-gage should be left to the Game Developers Conference Mobile on February 18 and 19.
- We should also get all that internet services and connecting people talk, that is always there. Gotta admit it though, Nokia devices are the ones that offer the most versatility in was you can connect and interact with the world.

What do you think will be brought in front of the curtains by the Finnish giant? Agree or disagree with me?

I have to admit that I'm really annoyed that I'm not there, having a blast in an environment where I feel comfy. Put me with a couple of mobiles around me, and you'll always see me laugh. I guess there's always a next time.

Jan 30, 2008

N81 - The Perfect Storm Companion

Today was the stormiest day I have seen in years (or in my entire life) here in Beirut. My hospital training was done at noon, and my 2:30 pm course was delayed to 4:30, so I had pretty much 4 hours to kill. Freakin Excitin! Being that my laptop wasn't with me, I went to the hospital library, the only place where you can get some free computers and a decent WiFi connection. I fired YouTube (that's what health specialists do in the hospital libraries :p). That's when I noticed something was wrong, the page didn't load fully and I got some sort of javascript and flash missing message (very hip computers).

That was it for me. 4 hours of emptiness I thought. Not really. I had the N81, the good loyal companion. Took it out of my pocket, took the Bose headphones out of my bag, connected and pressed play. There I was. Better. Much better. Then I fired OfficeSuite and used it to write down a post to be posted later on. That was one hour. 3 more to go.

With music still on, I fired up the gallery and saw the pictures I had taken of my patient's file for one of the case study reports I am due to finish this Friday. Using the N81's screen, it took me a while to zoom/browse through every picture, but it was still doable and I was able to skim through the patient's admission reason, his lab results, medications, medical history,... and the likes. While reading the case (ie browsing through the pictures), I had to check some medical facts, so I launched mobireader and used the Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine (a 9Mb ebook equivalent of a 2-3kg weighing book) as well as the A2Z drug facts and Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, to get my information. Notice, I was in a hospital's library, full of medical books, yet the N81 did it for me: I stayed lazily on my chair and enjoyed the power in my hand.

Now that got me through another 80-90 minutes, so I had still an hour and a half to kill. Thinking what else I could do (with Europe - The Final Countdown playing on the Bose). I remembered there was WiFi around and decided to check my email, catch on some RSS and do some testing with emTube and MobiTubia. Being done with the first 2 in less than 20 minutes, I opened emTube and started looking for Jeff Dunham, he never fails to make me laugh. I stumbled upon Achmed's Jingle Bombss video, and that was a 10 minutes or replay, replay, replay, till I almost dropped on the floor from laughter. I decided to save the video, to later show it to my friend, another huge fan of Achmed.

That's when I noticed the 4 hours were done, and I hadn't felt bored for one second! Amazing! I packed my stuff and headed outside to see it was SNOWING! In Beirut! Snowing! And I didn't have an umbrella! Too bad the N81 didn't serve as an emergency umbrella... that's when you notice your do-it-all gadget still lacks some functionality... A friend of mine was nice enough to share hers with me, and dropped me next to my car.

You'd think it ended here? Well no! It was snowing in Beirut, and I had to take some pictures and videos. N81 to the rescue! Here are some quick snaps and a video I took while driving, 30 minutes after the storm stopped. You can still see some snow on the sides of the streets.

I Will Never Sing Jingle Bells The Ordinary Way Again!

I was at the hospital today for 4 empty hours of stormy weather. Thank God there was some WiFi in the library, so I got to try emTube and Mobitubia. I was first firing up emTube, thinking what type of video I would look for, when I remembered that the best videos I had seen on youtube were those of Jeff Dunham. If you don't know him, just search for his videos. He's an AMAZING ventriloquist, one like you've never seen and I have pretty much memorized all his scenes so far (favorite characters: Peanut and Achmed).

So I searched for Jeff Dunham and found a new video I hadn't seen before, called Achmed's Jingle Bombs and you bet I watched it. Took it a couple of minutes to load on the hospital's WiFi and I was ready to roll. All I can say is that I had the Bose on, and being that those are noise-canceling, I was laughing too hard to even notice it, in the library! Well, enough words, here you go: (btw if you don't know the first video by Achmed, watch it here so you can follow this one better :p)

Ok, Now I'll never sing Jingle Bells the ordinary way, again!

Jan 29, 2008

Über Cool - A Quick Run

I love new tech, old tech, useful tech, lousy tech, and every type of technology you can think of. But the über cool future tech is the one that makes my heart skip a beat, especially if it's available today.

1 - LiveScribe SmartPen : this is your typical digital pen (ie you can write your notes on paper but also see them on a pc), except that it records the audio at the same time that you are writing a note, so that later on, you can hear what was said at the exact moment that you wrote something. That's darn interesting for students with roaming minds! Plus, when you play back the audio, it will be played in 3D, so you will hear it from the same direction you heard it while writing, is that cool or what? I want one now!

2 - ShakeSms : I am still a recovering addict with some N95 8GB withdrawal symptoms, but I was coping fine, until I saw this new über cool software by Tong Ren, the developer of FlipSilent. ShakeSms is a nice accelerometer-based app (runs on all N95s and on the N82). What does it do? Say you receive an sms and the keypad is locked, no need to unlock it to read the sms, just shake, the sms will be opened, shake it again: sms closed and keypad re-locked. Nifty! A nice video demonstration here.

3 - knfb Reader : Ok so this comes out of the blue here, no leak before as to where something like this is possible. Apparently, if you shoot pictures of text on an S60 3rd device, this software will recognize the letters, words and read them out loud for you. Awesome! I wonder whether it can just recognize the letters and transform them into a .txt or .doc file, would be amazing for my case reports. Short story: during my hospital rounds, I am supposed to do 2 case studies per week, which means copying 2 whole patient's folders from A to Z (admission reason, treatments, history, lab results, other tests, follow-up, doctor consults,..) in order to analyze everything. Being the mobile addict that I am, I take my friend's N73 and use the close-up mode to take pics of the whole file and then send them over BT to my device. When I come home, I send them over BT to my laptop in order to do the case study. If this software recognizes the words from pictures, it'll spare me so much trouble... Aw can't wait!

Any new tech posts you read in the past days that impressed you? You're welcome to share, I LOVE those!

Jan 28, 2008


Over @ WMExperts there's a nice tutorial by Malatesta explaining the difference between A-GPS or assisted-GPS and GPS. If you're like me and these terms sound too weird and too complicated, jump over and have a nice read!

Jan 27, 2008

Nseries Have A Problem With Common Sense

Ya, you read that one right. There is a serious issue between the multimedia department in the Finish giant and the basic thing we take for granted and we call "common sense". It's either this, either my conceptions and what I have been trained to unconsciously think and deduce are radically wrong. So what am I talking about and why am I so upset?

If you recall, I first received an N95 8GB from WOMWorld (which I still miss btw) then 2 days ago, I received an N81 8GB Special Edition with Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones. You can read my first impressions over @ Symbian-Guru. During these 2 trials, I noticed 2 astonishing facts regarding those devices, 2 facts that defy my common sense.

1 - Zooming Keys

The zooming keys over the N95 and the N81, and all N-series for that matter, are the same as the volume keys. Good. The problem is that the Volume Down key zooms in and the Volume Up key zooms out. WTF? As I have been tought to think, the "up" symbol means augmenting something, and the "down" symbol means diminishing it. And since we're talking about zooming, up should add zoom and down should reduce it. Right? So, when I first opened the camera on the N95 8GB and decided to zoom, I pressed the volume up key, thinking that's how it's supposed to be. To my surprise nothing happened, so I used the d-pad keys to zoom. A couple of days later, while I was using the camera and needing to zoom, I pressed the volume up key again, in vain, so I thought let's press the down key and ta-raaa there it was.

For a second there, I thought I was mistaken and that didn't really happen, but I repeated it and it worked. Thinking I might have been wrong and my unconscious reflexes were wrong, I decided to test this with a couple of persons who had never owned an Nseries. To my surprise (or not actually) they all went to the volume up key. Feel free to make any deductions.

2 - Scroll Wheel

I thought the zooming key issue was just a random mistake, until I received the N81 and tried the scroll wheel. Yes, there is something seriously messed up with this one too. It functions well in the music player (well it needs some sensitivity settings, but that's not the issue): if you scroll it clock-wise it goes down in the songs list, and if you scroll it counter-clockwise it goes up in the songs list. Now open the Gallery. You probably know the main Nseries Gallery view by heart, but I will post here a screenshot just to make my point.

As you see, this is the gallery as I see it holding the device in landscape mode, or holding it up right in portrait mode. So now let's suppose you want to scroll in the gallery to the dark blue image on the right (landscape) or the botton (portrait), what direction would you use the scroll wheel, instinctively? Clock-wise, right? *Imagine a beeper sound and a TV commentator saying WRONG*. Nokia wants you to scroll counter-clockwise. Apparently that's how it works. And if you want to go to the image on the left (landscape) or the top (portrait), you scroll clockwise. That's how it functions. Are you freakin' kidding me?!

As always, I was a little skeptic as to whether I was the mistaken one, and that I was mislead by wrong conceptions. So I also handed the N81 to a couple of my friends who didn't have any experience with the N81 so far, and guess what? They did the same as me.

Now I was ready to believe that I was the mistaken one here, but it seems that everyone that has the device in his hands, has the same reflex as me, zoom in using the volume up and scroll forward using the clock-wise rotation. I know these are not MAJOR issues, nothing like a blurry picture or a buggy firmware, and I got used to them in no time, but still they defy any logic and common sense we have incorporated in our unconscious use of devices over the years. I would like to hear your feedback. Have you had a problem with these 2 matters before? Did you wonder why some things work against your pre-conception on Nseries, or any Nokia device, so far?

P.S: Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go wonder about the lack of common sense in the minds of several several Lebanese persons (a tire-flaming manifestation turned into a street shooting guerilla with the Lebanese army, some hundred meters away from my house). God be with us!

Jan 25, 2008

Bombings, Our Daily Bread

It's not a matter of technology or mobiles. It's a matter of life. Life with a capital L. It's the matter of a country, of a population, starving for peace and tranquility. We are 4 million, 4 million persons who wake up each day, wondering whether a bomb will explode somewhere today, and trying to guess where it will happen, who will be targeted and whether we will be anywhere near it when it happens. 4 million people who thank God everyday that they got home safe and sound, and that no one they know was accidentally killed when an important politician or security responsible got murdered by a bomb attack. 4 million people who want to live, love, breathe, sleep, walk, run, dance, drink, eat, play, dream, talk, in peace. In PEACE of MIND. They have taken our dreams away... they have taken our love for this country... they have taken away everything we believe in, everything we want, everything we aspire to.

Who is "they"? I don't know, "they" is maybe one, maybe many. The matter of who is "they" is becoming practically irrelevant now, because the major question every single one of us is asking is "who will be next?". Apparently we would need the CSI instruments and expertize to solve the more than 10 bombing attacks that have happened since february 14th, 2005. Heh. I wonder how atrocious is the truth, that they won't let us know it.

Why am I being this depressed? Because if it wasn't mentioned on your local news today, a high lebanese security responsible was murdered today by an exploding bomb, less than 1km away from my house and less than 100m away from the road I usually take every morning and evening, because it happened at 10am in huge traffic jam, because I heard it when I was in the hospital and the glass windows shivered to the sound of the explosion, because for one hour I couldn't make a single phone call to make sure everyone was ok and tell my mom I was safe and sound, because a teacher of mine was 25m away when it exploded and her car engine couldn't start later on, if she was 10secs late she would've died, because they brought a burned body and some injured people to the hospital, because the pictures they showed on tv were too harsh that I almost threw up, because last time it happened my friend's father died (late Francois Hajj).

But mostly I am depressed to come back and see the flower shop near my house still open with valentine's day theme, the neighbor's child playing around the driveway and my mother cleaning the house. This isn't how it's supposed to be!!! The only proof that something went wrong today is on the TV stations, but well, time after time, even those are lessening their coverage of the explosions. I am depressed to see us go on, as if nothing happens. Depressed to see this has become such a ritual in our daily life, that it doesn't affect us more than 10 minutes, and then we're ready to move on. Depressed to see us accept it, without fighting, without demanding explanations. Depressed to see my country without a president for more than 2 months now, without people demanding elections or doing something about it.

Depressed because I no longer plan for the future years ahead, I just want to get home safe tomorrow. Depressed that I got one more proof that Lebanon doesn't belong to me, that I will never be able to grow old here, that I am once more driven to pack my bags and leave. Depressed because I want to love this country, this land, these people, so bad, and yet everytime I am close to believe in all of these again, I get shut away.

Depressed because Life is a god-given gift, and I shouldn't have to fight against humans to keep it.

Jan 23, 2008

One Week After The N95 8GB Has Gone - Retro Look

It's been 8 days since I packed the N95 8gb and sent it to the DHL guys. When we receive something new, we are over-excited to try it, we love it, we hate it, we praise it, we criticize it. But we are always, always, impressed by the "new" factor, and don't see the many sides of it. It's like that impulse we have when any new gadget is unveiled to go buy it, never wondering how well it suits our life style and how well it fits in our life. Now, after spending one full week with my 3250, I can look back at the N95 8gb and see all the sides of the story. Mostly I can answer many questions, of which: what features do I mostly miss in the N95 8GB, and what features do I not miss all that much. And most importantly, I can answer the trivial question: Do I want an N95 8GB myself, or should I be looking at something else?

Features I miss the most
1 - Having more than 90MB of free internal memory. The 3250 has 10MB of internal memory, of which 3-4MB are free. This means I can almost never send a song to my device via BT, let alone a video!
2 - The camera. Looking back at all the pictures I took with the N95 8GB, it's almost a torture to use a 2MP cam with no autofocus and no flash.
3 - The 75MB of free RAM. It's not a joke. Having that much free RAM around is perfect for running 10-20 applications in the background and still being able to browse the web.
4 - WiFi. I got used to checking my email, reading some RSS and viewing websites, with only a couple of clicks, without carrying my laptop or having to put up with the nauseating WM internet browser.
5 - The 8GB of memory. I am back to a 3250 with a 128MB microSD card (my 512MB card has some issues). I was using the N95 as a portable storage disk and it was well replacing my iPod. Can't do that now.
6 - The 2.8" screen. You don't know what a blessing it is to have this one! Absolutely love it. Makes everything from web browsing to viewing pictures, videos and documents, and generally just clicking around in the UI an absolute pleasure.
7 - Accelerometer : RotateMe and FlipSilent made my day, got me a couple of wide-open-eyes and laughs, but still, having them on board was a bliss.
8 - The great Music Player. Being able to have everything organized the way i wanted it was a true bliss for a music-addict like me.

Features I do not miss
1 - GPS. I wasn't able to find maps for lebanon, plus I don't need navigation to drive/walk around. I mean I know every road here by heart, so it's nothing I need urgently. Although I imagine if it works out for me, and I am in France next year, GPS will be a must-have, especially the first weeks.
2 - 3G. We don't have 3G here in Lebanon, so I didn't get to try it.
3 - TV-Out: that is a feature you miss if you have something worth showing (pics, vids, docs, games). I don't have anything to show on my 3250, so no I don't miss it all that much.
4 - The not-so-loud speakers. The speakers of the N95 8GB compared in loudness to my 3250, which was announced like 2 years ago. That is unacceptable, especially on a multimedia-centered device.
5 - The earphones. The N95 8GB comes with those 5-10$ earphones, which btw look extremely cheap. I wonder what happened to the in-ear earphones that came with the 3250?! Those were great! Plus they had 3 tips to fit different ear sizes.
6 - The keypad. I still have a lot of grief over the N95 8GB for having those side-raised borders around the keypad. So dumb!
7 - The battery life. I can forget to charge my 3250 for 3-4 consecutive days without having to worry about the battery running dead. Try to do that with the N95 8GB!

Perspectives it changed
I used to think the slider form factor wasn't for me, used to think it wasn't very intuitive and very user-friendly, and that I needed the keys available at all times. Now I don't mind having a slider, in fact I love the form factor. Being able to answer a call just by opening the slider, as well as being able to hide the keys when I don't need them is great. I just wish the weight of the device was better divided in order to make it more comfortable to use it for longer times.

Do I want the N95 8GB?
I truly don't know. I love it and think that it changed the way I deal with things, in so many ways. I would recommend it without a blink to someone looking for a high-end device with a big screen, WiFi and a good camera (I already recommended it to someone and he bought it). Right now, if someone offered to take me to a mobile shop, with every device ever made being on display, and told me to pick ANY device I want to take, I will pick the N95 8GB. It's the closest device to my needs and it has rocked my world.
But music and gaming is also a great part of my everyday life, and I am eagerly waiting to get my hands on the N81 (it should be here this week *crossing fingers*) to see how well it performs regarding those 2 specific aspects. I am crossing fingers to see whether the rumored N96 is true, and whether it lives up to its looks: N95 + N81. That might be the perfect device for me and I would be willing to plunk down some more to get it. I am also looking forward to the touchscreen devices (I am a fan of those) and would like to get my hands on one... Ah too many choices and so little budget...
I want to upgrade phones, I want to buy a new device for myself, but with my current budget (300-350$) I can only get an N73: I have to think about my future and for now, being just a student, this is all I can afford. It's a shame.

So what do you think? Any advice for me? Any recommendations? Anything you would like to add to my list of likes/dislikes of the N95 8GB, if you have it yourself?

Jan 22, 2008

365 Days Ago,... The Story Of A Dream

365 days ago, I started blogging. I had just finished my winter semester finals and was so excited to start bringing my touch to this blogosphere. At the time, I was a daily follower of Ricky Cadden, Darla Mack, Engadget Mobile and AllAboutSymbian. I knew I wanted to create my own blog months ago, but was still hesitating. Finally, on January 22nd, Dotsisx was born.

Many of you may not know it, but Dotsisx was first hosted on Vox, that's where I made my first contacts with Darla, Daemon, and many many others. It isn't until June the 12th that I decided to move here, to Blogger.

Now, one year later, so many things have changed. Over this year, I have casted my foot, got a masters 1 degree in molecular biology, gained some weight, made some friends, became sillier and funnier, changed a little bit my plans concerning my future Masters and PhD specialization,... Over this year I also got my first device trial (the N95 8gb, nothing less), received my first invitation to a mobile event (that I unfortunately can't attend, story coming soon), got in touch with so many great bloggers and readers, received my first email from a manager inside Nokia, got in touch with many software developers, fell in love with the slider form factor, conducted the N95 8GB Lebanon Ambassador, started blogging for one of the sites that I followed the most Symbian-Guru...

210 feed subscriptions, one interview and one review later, do I still have the same passion? Yes I still have that same passion that I had when I started Dotsisx, but I also have more maturity and more understanding of the whole blogging world and mobile technologies world. Do I know it all? Not in my best dreams. But I know more and I understand better. That's the process of evolution. Am I now where I thought I would be when I first started? No, I am waaaay ahead of my expectations. I admit it, the first weeks, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. It isn't until later that I understood that it takes a lot of effort, dedication, passion and patience. A wise woman once said to me "It's because you're a girl. Take a look around and see for yourself. It takes us 10 times more work and effort to reach the same level as a guy". I know she is right. In a male world, it is kind of tough to be heard and taken seriously. I don't blame anyone, it's just how it functions. We're not perceived as credible tech addicts. But at the same time I won't give up. I will be here, in one year time, hopefully, still carrying the torch.

One last word before I close on this chapter, I would like to save my best regards to fellow bloggers and readers (in no particular order): Tarek Ghazali, Michael Hell, Ricky Cadden, Darla Mack, Jenifer Hanen, Vaibhav Sharma, Jay Rashid, Antoine Wright, Kirollos Fares, Daemon Welch Abernathy, Ravindra Dissanayake, Zacharye Epstein, Ishtiaq Saddam, Pasco, Luca,... and to my friends here (Yaya, Stef, Rach, Pati, Nancy). Forgive me if I forgot anyone.

Now here's to another year of friendships, surprises, symbian love, blogging, passion and maturity. A wise man once said to me "I live to make every moment worth telling", so here's to more life experiences and stories.

Jan 21, 2008

I Need Your Contribution

I won't go into much details, because this is an idea in progress and I want it to be a surprise. But here it goes: I need your help. I need someone with a good camera device (N95 or N82 or N93 please), one hour of free time to spare, a mood for video recording and directing, and who can find one nice girl and one nice guy to appear in a 30seconds video. Anyone up to it, please email me at khoury.rt(at)gmail.com and I will give you details in the days to come. What's in it for you? Well, this isn't paid or anything (please notice there are no advertisements on my blog, I don't make money out of this). Your work will be recognized on my blog, that's all I can offer. Plus it's just a fun thing to do, you'll see. Please, include some details in the email and don't contact me if you can't provide what I asked for. All of those are mandatory.

Jan 15, 2008

A little disappointed by Stevie

To tell you the truth, I am amazed by Apple. I'm not a fan, but I sort of have mixed feelings about them. Love them in so many ways, hate them in even more ways. But this time I was waiting for Steve Jobs keynote during MacWorld, because I wanted one thing, a Mac equivalent to the UMPC (ultra-mobile PC = those extremely small laptops). Yeah I know that was a rumor that faded quite fast, and no one believed it was still a viable option, but I was hanging by a thread.

The Background Confession
To tell you the truth, I never owned a Mac computer, but I was considering replacing my Toshiba laptop (my only unit now) with a MacBook during the summer, one reason is the smaller and lighter factor, the other is the reported "no crash, no virus" system. Then I thought it would be crazy to go totally blind and get a new system without having ANY previous experience with it, especially that I know that Nokias aren't 100% Mac friendly. That's when I read the rumor about the ultra-portable macbook that got widely understood as a UMPC equivalent. That's when I thought that this would be the best solution for me. Keep my laptop, get an ultra-portable MacBook.

The Announcement
You can read the keynote coverage from Engadget. Basically what Jobso announced was some high-end back-up drive (500GB and 1TB *drool*), a customizable today screen for the iPhone (he gets applauded for something that has been here on many other mobiles for ages... cutting-edge technology y'all!) plus lyrics and Google My Location, 5 new apps for iPod Touch that would cost existing users a whopping 20$ (are you kidding me?), a new Apple TV concept (rent movies in HD for 4$ and 5$ prices, looks interesting but won't threaten the 0.3$ dvd-rental shop near my house) and the Apple MacBook Air. Basically that is an ultra-thin MacBook, 0.78" at its thickest, with no CD/DVD drive, no Ethernet port, no modem, no card reader, (and many more "no"s I don't know about), 1.6 or 1.8GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo, only one USB port, but 5hrs battery life. Oh and 80GB hard disk, are you kidding me? You put 180GB on the iPod and 80GB on a MacBook?! Seriously?!

The Problem
What I would want Jobso to understand is that people with a mobile lifestyle really don't worry about how THIN a laptop is, but about how HEAVY it is. Making it half the size of the Sony series doesn't matter because you made it the same 3 pound weight. Let me be clear. If I am working on a desk, in bed, on a couch, I don't worry about how far off my knees/table I will be placing my hands (read: i don't worry how thick the laptop is) but how much weigh I am laying on my knees. So no, I don't care that it can fit inside an envelope if it's gonna break the envelope's side and drop out. What I want is something light enough for me to carry in a bag, a backpack or Samsonite-like bag so I don't come home every day crying from my shoulder pain.

The Wish
A 7"-8" full-fledge OS X Leopard running machine with a tablet form factor (ie: pivoting touchscreen + full keyboard) where the touchscreen has multi-touch functionnality, with average processor, at least 60GB hard disk, 5 hours battery-life (loved the idea), wifi, 2 usb ports and a real 3.5mm headphone port. I want to see it for 700$ or 800$, and weighing at 1.5 pounds maximum. Is that too much to ask for?

So next time Jobso, do some thinking before you act. Yep the Air (btw that has the same pronunciation as a swear word in lebanese) is good-looking, eye-candy, yeah yeah I feel like if I see it in real life, I will fall in love instantly. But no, I'm passing this one. If it was 1.5-2 pounds, I would run right now and get it, not even worrying about the lack of every single option nor the nifty 1800$ starting price.

Jan 14, 2008

As if there weren't enough reasons for me not to send the N95 8GB back!

Just when you think you saw it all. Yes I was crying and screaming when re-packing the N95 8GB (read: i was heartbroken) but after taking my SIM card out of it, formatting the mass memory, restoring factory settings, deleting every bit of evidence that I had it in my hands, I went ahead and opened the drawer where I had put my Nokia 3250, 2 weeks ago. Took it out, noticed the small screen, the stiff joystick, the tape used to keep the memory card door from opening when the lower part is twisted, the small 2mp camera lens, the scratches. Then I took off the battery lid, removed the battery, re-inserted my SIM card, switched the phone back on.

Heh, same greeting tune, same hands moving to join, but such a different feeling. I click on New Text Message and type *snif* to send to my friend who knows I should be packing the N95 8GB today. The sending sms icon remains on the standby for a short while. I then notice my device is still in Offline mode. I click on the # key to get it to silent mode. And there it was, looking at me right in the face "Insert SIM card". WTF? It was in. I shut down the device several times, remove the battery, remove the SIM and re-insert it. No luck. I even re-insert it in my dad's phone. Same answer "Insert SIM card".

You would think that besides 2 of my friends who really enjoyed Global Race, I would be the only one missing the N95 8GB so much. Turns out even my SIM misses it! Believe it or not...

Edit: after inserting my dad's SIM card in the 3250 and making the device recognize it, I re-inserted mine. It works now, though I don't understand how that helped and where the problem was in the first place. I remember reading some place that people affect their belongings in a great way, like the handwatch that stops working when the old guy who wore t for 50 years dies. *snap out of it*

Jan 13, 2008

Music + N95 8GB + Sony stereo

It's times like this when you appreciate the smallest things. I was out watching a movie and came back home with a mood for some music. Usually I'd look for my iPod, hook it with the headphones and dream. Today I didn't. I know the iPod needs recharging so this isn't a viable option.

I just took the N95 8GB, and while looking for my Sony MDR-Q68 headphones, I remembered the Sony stereo in my room. Ah that old technology, totally forgot about it the last months. I hardly turn it on now. Well I have a wire hooked in the back of the said Sony stereo and hanging with a 3.5mm plug. Just plug it in the N95 8GB, turn the stereo on and rock on!

That is something I can't do with more than 5% of the devices on the market now. Thank you Nokia for adopting the 3.5mm plug and for heaven's sake, put it everywhere, I don't want to see any other device without it!

I am now laying down, N95 8GB next to me, recharging from one place and playing music through the stereo from the other. The room is filled with magic because of a small device barely the size of my palm, and I am not going over 50% of volume! Oh and quality? Crystal clear. I usually rip music myself from audio CDs, so I choose the 160 or 192 bitrate for mp3.

I'm going to go away and steal Mc Donald's phrase (if they read this blog, then I'm honored and well, sue me!) : Nokia, I'm Lovin' It!