Demonstrate For Peace, Live from Beirut, Online

Demonstrate for Peace Beirut

The next age of protests is upon us. A new initiative has made its way online today, called Demonstrate for Peace, which calls on an online gathering on September 21st in order to protest for peace. It will be the first of its kind. It is orchestrated by the United Nations.

You can join the movement by following this link. This demonstration, despite the website listing Martyr’s Square, will not take place in any physical locations in Lebanon but is simply Lebanon playing its part in International Peace Day.

I have to ask: what effect could such a rally truly have? Is an online protest as efficient as a real life one that requires people to go down to Martyr’s Square and ask for peace using their voices, not their keyboards? Or does the UN know that such protests may not be as effective or as enticing to people?

I’m not really sure what a protest such as Demonstrate For Peace could do, especially that real life protests – complete with bloody faces – in this country have failed to do much as a general rule of thumb. But I guess there’s no harm in logging in with any social account and expressing the simple and extremely important need to live in peace, especially in a country like ours. I assume we’ve all come to appreciate the beauty in the quietness of these past few days, which have been oddly calmer than their predecessors.

Demonstrate for Peace Beirut 2

 

Let’s hope that those who actually dictate peace log in as well?

The Best April Fools’ 2012 Pranks

That day is behind us – the only day of the year when you can get away with as many pranks as you can. I was lucky enough not to have fallen for any practical jokes this year. But these are the best ones that I’ve gathered from around the internet.

1 – BBC’s: We Are All Dead

2 – Google’s 8-bit maps:

3 – Forbes’: Romney Drops Out of GOP Race

This piece has caused a frenzy and reached the top of Google news shortly after it was published. People had only read the headline and started spreading it, making it go viral. It was immediately taken down but you can still read it here.

4 – Kodak: Print Your Own Kittens:

5 – Toshiba’s New Laptops:

When Companies Swap Logos

After all the seriousness of my previous few posts, which I’m sure bored a lot of you, it’s time to post something fun. And I recently ran across this and found it to be quite interesting.

Have you ever thought about how it would be if Pepsi and Coca-Cola swapped logos? Or if any of the world’s rival companies did so?

Well, no need to imagine that anymore. Here are pictures that will show you.

Pepsi and Coca-Cola:

McDonald’s and Burger king:

Ferrari and Ford:

Fedex and UPS:

Google and Yahoo:

Audi and BMW:

Visa and Mastercard:

Skype and Google Talk:

iPhone and Android:

Nike and Puma:

Twitter and Facebook:

Want A Google+ Invite?

I just got invited to use Google+ and I have to say, there is so much promise there.

It’s a great and smooth interface that combines elements from most known social networking platforms.

You can add people to circles that are categorized based on the degree of you knowing them: friends, family, acquaintance, etc…

Your home screen is a feed of everything that the people in your circles share. You can comment and interact with them on the home feed. You can also share things you like, specifying which circles you want what you share to appear to. In addition to that, you can categorize which stream you want to see by simply clicking on the circle you wish to check.

Moreover, there is a cool option called: Sparks. It basically allows you to pin interests on your profile so you can stay updated on everything that’s current in that field.

Also, another cool feature is hangout. It allows you to have a video chat session with a selected friend or circle, sort of like hanging out in cyberspace. Google+ also has a mobile app, although it’s not available for all platforms at this point so I can’t test it out on my iPhone. You also get to mute posts you don’t want to see by clicking on the arrow next to the post.

You can update your profile with a tagline that summarizes who you are. There’s a “Bragging Rights” section where you post things you’re proud of. Places You’ve Lived and Education are also included on your profile. You get to post pictures and videos.

Gtalk is integrated with Google+ as well, even for your contacts that don’t have Google+ yet.

And instead of the “legendary” Facebook like button, Google is introducing its +1 version, which is widely used on the social networking website twitter. You can check all the things to which you have clicked +1 directly from your profile.

Moreover, everything with Google+ is available to you at any Google page you visit: your notifications, a quick link to your home feed…

That’s pretty much what I’ve used out of Google+ so far. I’ll make sure to edit this post with any additional information. Now, if you want an invite, let me know your gmail email in a comment on this post.

PS: If the invite doesn’t work right away, try again at some other time. If you receive an email from me, then you are invited!

The Allure Of Free

There’s a response that is, I believe, inherent to human nature, transcending boundaries – almost unanimous. And it is the response to something that is free.

If I tell you I’m willing to give you something for free, what would be the first thing that comes to your head? Yes, there it is… “What’s the catch?” And what do you do? You don’t take the thing.

My cousin was telling me earlier today about her dilemma in Australia. She works at a leading TV station and is often given tickets to movie premieres. We’re talking about the star-studded events, involving red carpets and bling, not the excitement we feel when we watch the first screening of a movie on its release day. And more often than not, she can’t go to those premieres so she usually asks around if someone wants those tickets, only discovering that giving this tickets away for nothing is harder than her actual job.

And it happened to me when I was at AUB outdoors. There was some guy offering free hugs and the moment I saw him, the second idea the crossed my mind (the first one being how weird it was) was that there was definitely a catch somehow in those hugs.

But why do we have such a response to free stuff? Why is it that most people would take the premiere tickets from my cousin if she had asked for an insignificant amount of money but refrain from doing so if she was handing them for nothing in return?

Our mentality is apparently wired to go away from things that are too good to be true. Even for things that are not totally free. If you find a bargain online, you are as skeptical.
But in the world of today, do not underestimate the power of “free.” I am most definitely not an economy expert but with most things getting cheaper and cheaper because of competition, offering things for free has become a way for some companies to topple others. Offering things for free is also a way for those companies to introduce services.

When I started buying stuff off amazon, I was offered a free trial of “amazon prime” in their attempt to hook me on speedier deliveries. And if I had been living in the US, I would have totally gone for it. Amazon redid a similar thing with Lady Gaga’s latest album: they sold the mp3 version for $0.99 along with a free trial of their newly introduced “cloud” service, as a way to get ahead of Apple before they introduce their own version of cloud services, probably later this year.

According to Chris Anderson, “free” is the future of prices. He wrote his book Free: The Future of a Radical Price on a $250 netbook, running a free version of Linux, free Google Docs, which offer him free backup and on-the-go access and then he offered the work for free on iTunes. He argues that billion dollar industries are being formed today around the price of “zero dollars and zero cents.” And if you think about it, isn’t Google one of the leading companies in the world today and it gives almost everything for free? So don’t freak out when you’re offered something for free. Odds are, someone, somewhere, is making money off of it somehow – with no catch to you.

Apple Is Recording Your Every Move

Do you have an iPhone or a 3G iPad? Well, if you do, that is the case.

It looks like ever since iOS4 was released, both devices have been keeping a record of your location within a hidden file on the device.

It’s not sure, however, what the point of this mass data collection is but it looks to be intentional as the location databases are backed up and are automatically transferred with phone migration.

The file where this information is stored is unencrypted and unprotected so it can easily be accessed if your phone falls into the wrong hands and they can get an approximation of your location for the past year, since the release of iOS4.

However, should people be as worried?

Continue reading

Internet Speed At Google

Just to make things worse for us Lebanese who want to get our average speeds up from the ridiculous 256Kbps at which they are today, Google’s internet speed has been revealed.

To put things into perspective, these are 1000 times faster than the 512Kbps speed some of us in Lebanon brag about. And another thing hampering our Lebanese internet connection is an unbelievably slow ping time (depending on ISP, the fastest you can get is 100 ms). With Google, it’s 3 ms.

And since Lebanon is not the benchmark when it comes to internet speeds, the average internet speed in Europe is around 12 Mb/s and that in the US is around 10 Mb/s.

Finally, just to show you how strong a connection this is, look at a download of a 8GB game:

And I was happy about the 1 hour it takes for my 350MB episodes to finish. Let the mourning over our pathetic situation start.