Monday, January 15, 2007

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid

Today I went with my friend to the Mega store in Mecca Mall to buy Jimmy Carter's new book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."

Not surprisingly, we did not find the book because it's sales in Jordan was prohibited by the censorship department.

I did criticize the censorship department before in an earlier blog post when the sale of "Da Vinci's Code" was prohibited. Luckily at the time the censorships department removed the blockage and the book was sold again.

Well, I hope this time around that censorship department would come to its senses and just call it quits and go home. Personally, I do not mind if they went home and still got paid for doing no censorship what so ever. We live in the 21st century and it is almost impossible to do censorship. This book will get into the country one way or another, so why bother.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bad Signage

Well, a picture is worth a thousand words. Call this bad signage or lost in translation or what ever you will.

For the last 10 months , every time I passed by Mecca Mall, I wanted to take a picture of this sign for the Japanese restaurant at the end of Mecca street. I finally got to do it and I am happy.

It is somewhat unfortunate that this picture was taken at night, but you can see what I am talking about; What is written in Arabic means "The Japanese restaurant for Japanese food."

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Education in Jordan, part 2

This a follow up to my previous blog post.

I was thinking about what Jordan needs to do to improve the university level college education. Here is what I think should be done:

  • Performance evaluation of professors by students based on which the university decides if he should go or should stay; get a raise or a salary reduction.
  • If a professor has a high student failure rate for example more than 25% he should get the pink slip.
  • English should be the official language of education in all public and private universities. After all, we live in a globalized world whose lingua franca is English and not Arabic. This will also help Jordan export labor to countries other than the gulf, for example Ireland, Australia, Canada and other places in need of English speaking skilled labor.
  • Pay attention to world wide university rankings and try to move up the ranks.
  • Professors should be hired with at least 4 years of industry experience, where applicable, to ensure they are not so far away from reality and more on the practical side.
  • At least 20% of university professors should get their PhDs from the Top 500 universities world wide.
  • At least 20% of University professors should be USA, UK or Ireland natives. This will ensure that students are exposed to a different kind of teaching. I know this will cost Jordan a lot, but nothing is for free.
  • Courses for each discipline should be checked for their relevance to the real world applications for the field of study. I know some courses have to be taken just for the sake of maintaining accreditation, but still, the content should be improved as much as possible so that it is more on the practical side.
  • Professors should be certified in training (training of trainers). This is somewhat different from education, but it does make things a bit more practical.
  • Yes, more funding for research and for the universities in general, but this should not come from increasing education fees or from higher taxes.
  • More scholarships.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Maybe 5-6 weeks ago, I started experimenting with various Linux distributions that can be booted from a CD or run from a USB drive without affecting the system set up or changing anything on the hard drive.

Just one day before the end of the year I decided to install Freespire on my hard drive. Lucky enough, the installation was easy, and my computer can boot either Windows or Freespire.

I said it on multiple occasions, I hate M$. I hate their consumer policies, their monopolistic behavior, and ridiculous pricing. So it was very logical for me to look for other alternatives.

Freespire is a free version of Linspire(formerly known as Lindows). After using it extensively for over the last few days, I can say it is a very decent alternative for Windows.

On the plus side, it is 100%, has a one click install feature directly from the internet called (click and run,) has a system level spell checker that runs in all applications, has a multi chat client built in, has free office like software, just to name a few.

Keeping in mind that it is a free software, one should not complain too much about the negatives and there are two major ones. The first one is printer support, if you have an HP or a Canon that is not a big problem, but if you have other brands, it is. The other negative is language support. Arabic will be supported at the end of 2007 and translation of menu items is underway.

Overall, this a very good product. We in Jordan still do not feel the evil of M$, because most people still use pirated Windows XP or 98. Things are already changing and M$ is putting some nails in the coffin of piracy. If people had to actually pay for office and windows XP, the cost of software will probably exceed the cost of hardware, and no computer in Jordan would be sold for less than 500 JDs.

I read an article about Linspire offering south Korea an annual license for all the population( 50 miliion) for 5million dollars. That is a few cents per person. Maybe Jordan should get such an offer. Even at 5million dollars for 5million people, that is a great bargain. Jordan can save 10s of millions in software cost instead of paying royalties and what not to the Vole.

From now on, I think my usage of M$ products will go down by over 70% and that should make me very happy.

Here is the link for Freespire


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