Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

Left: Professor Nicholas Negroponte, a man behind the idea of a $100 laptop
Right: The laptop being tried out in a school in a developing country

The man has a conscience and that's why he felt he had to do something to help the children in the poor countries of the world catch up with their peers in the developed world. How on earth are their countries going to move forward if they can't afford the very basics of modern technology?

I think this is such an inspired idea & I really hope it will be successful & spread though out the world. But it seems some people don't share this vision. The mega rich companies Microsoft & Intel are not 'convinced' that the project is good enough!

Microsoft's chairman, Bill Gates, has questioned the need for the Linux-based laptop and doubted the suitability of Negroponte's OLPC concept for the developing world.

Anyway, as I said I think this is a great idea & it's been piloted in a few schools around the world, so hopefully we'll see it in action soon.

$100 laptop founder saying he ignores the critisim

The laptop itself is designed specially for its purpose. It's lighter than a lunchbox, and about the size of a textbox. The stylus is huge, the keyboard is from rubber, and contains no toxic materials. You can charge the laptop not just by the mains, but by solar panels or by cranking it up. About one minute of cranking will give you about ten minutes of computer activity. It's designed to withstand wear and tear, so the machine's body is 2mm thick, which is more than the standard for laptops.


In order to keep this laptop as cheap as possible, and as close to the $100 target, the XO laptop is a lot different from ordinary desktops and laptops. This computer has no CD, DVD or even a hard drive. Instead, it uses a 1GB flash memory drive to run on, as well as a few USB slots in case of external data. It uses a 433mHz AMD processor, and only 256MB of SDRAM (memory).

The memory can be expanded using an SD memory card slot underneath the screen or by plugging in peripheral devices through the USB ports. Files can also be backed up on to a "school server" - a larger computer installed in a classroom - or via an online system provided by search giant Google.
The off-the-shelf processor is designed to be energy efficient. Unlike a standard chip, which remains active even when nothing changes on screen, the AMD processor is able to shut itself down, only waking when it is needed. It has an inbuilt graphics card.

Not only does the laptop support regular wireless network, but it also supports mesh network. This means you can turn on your computer and automatically see and connect to anyone who has a similar laptop. This would allow sharing documents, video conferencing (think of a teacher finally able to talk to illiterate parents face-to-face) and is extremely well suited for class (or village environment). Furthermore, if even one computer in the mesh connects to the internet, the rest can share that connection. The more laptops connected, the better the bandwidth.

The laptops are "a blessing from God", says Mrs Okonkwo, the school headteacher.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Why Household Hacker Is a Liar

If you think that anything these nutters at Household Hacker is true, then you are mentally disordered. Worse yet, if you try to do one of their experiments and regret what you just did, then you should jump off a cliff now to end your misery.

In this post, I'm going to explain why two videos (the most popular ones, by the way), are absolute fakes. These two are "Power Your TV With An AAA Battery", and "Charge Your Ipod With An Onion".

Case Number 1: Power Your TV with an AAA Battery

This one was obviously a fake from the beginning. Its impossible, even logically, to believe a TV would run on 1.5V, when it originally runs on 110V - 240V. This video is fake for 3 reasons...

1) 1.5V doesn't equal 240V, and it will never equal 240V. Even if we used a device that controls voltage, 1.5V AC won't work (duh!), as I tried so in the picture below.

2) A TV works on AC, or Alternating Current, which comes from your mains plug. A battery is DC, or Direct Current, which won't work with a TV. This is because DC only flows in one direction, whereas AC flows in both directions.

3) A battery does not have enough amps to run a TV. A TV needs about 200 watts. If W = C x V, then the equation would become 200W = 0.91A x 220V, and we'd need 0.91 amps to run a TV. A battery's amps are usually in milliampere, or 1/1000 of an amp. Via Qwaider...

[...] And finally the TV needs about 200watts (That's called power) Power is calculated as: current x voltage. So to achieve 200Watts you will need 220v*0.91a(amper)=200w
usually the current of the battery is in the Milli amper. Or 1/1000 of an Amper.

Conclusion: Fake.

Case Number 2: Charge Your Ipod With An Onion

This, by its name, seemed a bit true. When I actually saw the video, I completely changed my mind. The most thing I laughed at was how he pushed the USB in, how stupid is that? This is a fake, for 2 reasons...

1) You can't just stick a USB into an onion to get power. Law says that if you want to extract power from anything, you need two different metals. The most commonly used are zinc and copper, as seen in the picture below. Just sticking in a USB plug into a onion isn't going to get you any power, because a USB plug doesn't contain two different metals, unless I'm wrong. A user on Gizmodo commented:

Any sort of primary cell (i.e. not chargeable) and many secondary cells require that the two electrodes be different materials (e.g. carbon/zinc, copper/zinc, nickel/cadmium, etc). The only thing being used to connect the onion to the iPod is the USB plug, presumably with the plug contacts being the electrodes. All of the plug contacts will be the same material.

2) It was tested to see if it let out any voltage, by a user on Youtube called Razorfish. Unfortunately, he has embedding disabled so click on the picture below to see the video. The voltage measured from an onion was 0.005V, which is negligible. Therefore, an onion with a USB stuck in it and dipped in a drink does not charge your Ipod.

Conclusion: Fake.

Now you see how any old crap on the internet can find its way, because the users on Youtube/Metacafe are idiots. Well, most of them. :D

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Best. Treehouse. Ever.

Tree houses are not the normal, small wooden things stuck up in trees by a few nails. They are now coming into the 21st century, becoming buildings and homes themselves. Architects have discovered the beauty of tree houses and have decided to expand them. This one has become a huge, 3 storey tree house, with normal flooring you'd see in any home and 'outdoor' lights. The actual trees go through the flooring rather than around them, so the floors have holes with trees coming through them. The walls vary in transparency, letting some light in and some out. The house doesn't contain just wood, but windows and lights and other things as well. Beautiful!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Making Use Of Those CD Covers

Click on image to enlarge [1586 x 2048]

Now that I used a case to store all my Playstation CDs, the covers in the sandwich bags they come in have to be thrown away. Instead, I collected them, did a bit of snipping and cello taping, and this was the result. Some of the games were a bit old and their covers had been thrown away, so I had to download and print them off a great CD cover site on the Internet. I intend to carry on the list until this side of the cupboard is finished, and if I get even more... well, I'll see what will happen when that time comes. By the way, I got all these games in Eid, as me and my brother Omar spent all our money in the CD shop. We never save up, which is a stupid habit we have. :D

What do you think?

Five Likes & Dislikes About Jordan

Having lived here for over two years now, I've decided to compose this list... just for fun (I haven't written everything)

Things I Like About Jordan:

  1. Relatives: well, we didn't have any in London! (except for my dad's cousin)
  2. Cheap copies of DVDs, CDs & PS2 games
  3. Much bigger house (don't have to share my room with my sister anymore! OK, so I still have to put up with Omar, but I'll think of a way to get rid of him soon)
  4. Friends at my new school
  5. Eid
Things I hate about Jordan:
  1. Taxi Drivers. (you must see this post :D)
  2. People who come to the mosque without washing or changing their 5day old socks or brushing their teeth. Have mercy on us PLEASE!
  3. Exams! >:(
  4. The weather: too hot in the summer, too cold now
  5. Internet speed: lucky people in the UK get 8 MB while I have to put up with snail paced 128 KB

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ready To Try Firefox 3?

I always check my Digg RSS feed, and today I was surprised to find Mozilla Firefox 3 had been released, as a beta of course. And if you thought I wouldn't try it immediately, then you defiantly wouldn't be thinking about Khaled.

This new version is actually better than I thought, lots of things in Firefox have been changed, updated, and some new things have been added. If you want to see the full list of all the new stuff in Firefox 3, (also know as Release Notes), click here. I'll take you through most of the good stuff now though.

- See A Websites Information: Click on a websites favicon to view info about it, although it isn't functioning yet.

- Malware & Forgery Protection: Any website from a list of suspected websites is blocked, and the suspects usually contain malware or web forgeries.

- Password Saving Easier: The choice to remember a password is now less annoying, as it appears underneath the tabs.

- Scan Your Downloaded Files: You can now integrate any virus software with Firefox so it will scan downloaded files.

- Automatic Spell Checker: All fields are now checked for misspellings (somewhat like MS Word) so you'll never get another word wrong.

- Save Your Opened Tabs: The original warning about closing multiple tabs has been replaced with a box to save your opened tabs.

- New, Better Downloader: Firefox's original download manager has a new look, as well as the ability to resume downloads after FF restarts.

- Zoom More Objects: The old zoom has been modified, so it now makes not just text, but images and layout larger or smaller.

- Bookmarker Changes: The bookmarks organiser has a new look, as well as the ability to add tags to your bookmarks and bookmark any page with 1-click.

USB 3.0, Coming In 2009

If you thought USB 2 was fast enough, meet USB 3. In 2009, the third edition to the cable series will enter the world, 10 times faster and with better power efficiency. All hail the mighty 4.8 GB/s your USB 3 will offer you.

Well, USB fans, things are going to get even more interesting and soon. USB 2.0 may be fast enough right now, but with more high-definition video products arriving and bigger and bigger files being transferred, that won't be the case forever. Enter USB 3.0, which moves the bandwidth needle from 480Mbps to roughly 4.8Gbps, 10 times faster than the current version.

The new standard, which was recently demonstrated using a new optical cable (but the same connector), will be backward compatible with older USB formats and promises better power efficiency, too, in order to decrease the load on portable devices. Possibly in the works: Better ability to charge devices over USB, some of which still require an A/C adapter or two USB connections to draw enough juice.

Specs are planned to be delivered early next year with commercial availability for 2009. Just do us a favor and clearly label USB 3.0 products with an appropriate logo this time! (USB 2.0 got caught up in a mini scandal when vendors started labeling USB 1.1 products as "USB 2.0 capable," with vendors later claiming they only meant the products worked with USB 2.0 connections. Fail!)


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fadaye7 Facebook

I overhear a conversation with two boys on my bus, just after one boy (V) realises the other one (B) took a picture of him when he wasn't noticing.

V: Hey, why did you take a picture of me?
B: To ifda7 you, on a website.
V: No, not... Facebook?!
B: Maybe.
V: No, please! Don't put it on Facebook!
B: Oh yes I will.
V: Ok, ok. You can put it, but on one condition...
B: What?
V: Don't tag me! Please!
B: Why shouldn't I tag you?
V: So all my friends won't find out! Please!
B: I'll consider it... I'm going to tag you!

And thats the meaning of facebook in our school. :D

Friday, November 16, 2007

Two Schools, Two Worlds

My first day at school in Jordan was horrible. In my mind,I had compared it to schools in London and thought they would be the same. Foolish assumptions. I had mostly enjoyed Jordan because I only came in summer, and at that time there was no school and I assumed that being in school would be the same.

I was shocked at how old fashioned the classes were. You see, in my school in London, our classroom had a projector & an "interactive white board". This school had chalk boards, and even worse than that, the teachers were angry all the time & just shouted at us. And the teachers were a whole other story.

The following days were no better. I was made to read in front of the class, then laughed at by the students and teacher, even though my mum had told the teachers over & over that my Arabic wasn't that good. I was sent out of the class once because I hadn't done my homework, even though I had told him I didn't know what I had to do. After crying my eyes out at the head teacher's office, they finally let me go.

At exam times I would study for days & my mum would get very angry with me for not remembering a word that the teacher said in class. The exam time would come and I'd start panicking when I saw the paper, full of definitions to fill in and lists to complete. After all the sweat I put in, the absolute maximum I would reach was 15, and sometimes I'd fail in the subject.

In London I was always in the top group in class. We also didn't get tested in stuff that we had to memorize! We did have tests, but they were only at the end of the school year & were meant to test our understanding of the topics.

Then there was the 'shahada', the monthly torment. The torment that came after it was at my grandmothers house.

"How much did you get, Khaled?" my grandmother would ask.
"Ummmm....ummmm.....82%" I would whisper.
"82%?!?! WHAT???!!!"

Gasps & shock appear on every body's face like I said a bad word. They were followed by scowls and 'advice', and my parents would wish they had a secret trapdoor button to quickly get out of sight.

Finally, I transferred to another school to study the British Curriculum (IGCSE), where the teachers are more human like! I'm doing so much better & most importantly, I am enjoying school again & feel like I am learning something. And the best thing: my grandmother has recovered from her previous trauma & is happy with my marks again :)

Hip hip, Hooray!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Desk, My Little Home

My cozy home, where I sit at every day, I do my homework, talk to my friends and relatives, surf the web, read a book.

On my desk, there lives an old emachines computer, outdated and only good for surfing or word proccessing. In the back you can see all my For Dummies books, with my Eyetoy camera turned into a webcam. Next to the cam is the dumpyard for electronics, and on the left of the camera there lies all my dictionaries, my penguin, my deodrant. And if you look closely ontop of my computer, you can spot the charger I talked about earlier on. :D

You like it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Something Like Cinnabon

By my great mum, Mona :D

--Mix the following in a saucepan until butter is melted:
  • 100g butter
  • 1 cup water (250ml)
  • 8 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons yogurt

--Add warm mixture to the following:
  • 6 tablespoons milk powder
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons yeast
  • Pinch of salt

--Mix well & knead gently. Leave dough to rise for 40-50 min

--Divide dough into 2 balls. Roll each into a rectangle shape & spread with the following:
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons sugar

--Roll rectangle & cut with a sharp knife

--Arrange on a buttered baking tray & bake for 20 min (205 c)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quicker PC Startup

A computer's startup is largely affected by the number of programs that launch on startup, and most of these programs aren't needed. You can easily change which programs will launch on startup, using a utility called msconfig.

Go ahead and press Start, Run. Type in msconfig and press enter.

Then, select the tab Startup. Here you can see all the programs that launch at startup.

From here, you can simply uncheck your unwanted programs. Things like Yahoo Messenger don't really need to be there, whereas you might want to keep Skype open to receive calls.

If you are unsure of something, expand the 'command' tab and you'll see where the file exists. And don't uncheck any system files, please.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Electricity In Our Phone Line!

It might be true, I have to try it. Free electricity seems cool, even though I don't think Jordan Telecom would like it, but who cares about their feelings? :D

I think the equipment can be bought from RadioShack, but I'll have to wait till my dad comes back from holiday, because I can't understand the diagram. I'm sure he will.

What do you think? Will it work in Jordan? And will you be willing to try it?

9th November, And Other Days

Bombs In Jordan

Two years ago on this date 3 hotels were targeted by suicide bombers causing the death of many innocent people. We'd only been living in Jordan for 3 months then, so I really didn't know were the hotels where and how close or far they were from our house. The following day there was no school, but when we returned school was bustling with gossip of what had happened, and because the Iraqis were blamed for the bombings, any Iraqi boy at school was laughed at and discriminated against. That day I remembered quite alot of other bombings, and I am posting to tell them to you.

Explosions In London

The incident brought back memories of the London bus & train bombings the year before. I was in 6th Grade at the time & our headteacher came to the class & said that everything was alright, except that people going home by bus had to contact their parents. Many innocent people died on that day, including Muslims. All days later were frightening, and whenever I got onto a bus or train, I was always terrified. I really hope that a day will come when we all feel safe in our houses & schools, but I guess that day will never come.

Gunfire In Palestine

I was in Nablus visiting my grandmother 3 years ago. I went with my uncle to his office, which was in the heart of the city, also know as 'al-Balad'. People who have visited the place know that its the most place gunfire is likely to be. I looked from the balcony, down onto the street which was supposed to be full and bustling with life. Instead I saw shop owners throwing, and I mean throwing, everything back into the shop. Cloth racks were crammed inside the shop and containers of clothes were hurled inside. At first I thought the guy was closing, but then I saw everyone on the street doing the same thing. The shop owners then got inside their shops and locked up. I asked my uncle what was happening, and he said that the army is coming. He seemed so normal saying that, I started shaking. A few minutes later, quite immense gunfire sounded. It was like on TV, just much louder. Sound bombs followed, then silence, then more gunfire and sound bombs. At the end of what seemed years, we left the building and went back home.

That's all I have about my experience with terror, but I think that's more than enough! Now, tell me about your experiences and comment!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My First Try At Modding

Well, after watching this video I decided to have a go myself. The steps seemed really simple, and I couldn't wait to make it. I found an old, unused webcam as a USB cable, then I got a normal Nokia Charger to fix it on.

I cut both cables, so now only the USB plug was from the camera and the mobile plug from the charger. I stripped both wires, and I have to stress it was a hard job. Stripping wires is terribly stressful and annoying.

At last I had both wires stripped, and the inside wires stripped as well. The charger cable had two wires, one red and one black. The camera one had one red, one black, one green, and one white one.

According to the video, the red and black ones were the electricity ones, while the green and white ones were the info parts for the USB (send/receive data). I checked the voltage of the wires, while plugged in to the computer, using my dad's voltmeter.

It read 5.05 volts, which was the usual for USB, so I knew I was on the right tracks. The next step was to join the wires together, in the video the guy soldered them, but I don't have a solder so I just twisted them over each other.

I went ahead, and taped over the uncovered wire, then tested it. A huge warning sign screamed into my face, saying "Not Charging". I resisted the urge to break the mobile and smash it into smithereens. I felt stupid, so I started trying several different mobiles.

Most gave the same message, and I wondered why. Usually the message comes up when there is not enough voltage to charge, so I looked on the back of the charger. The output was 5.7V, and I wondered why mobiles were so fussy about 0.7V! Does it really matter?

Anyway, the charger worked on my mobile, the great Nokia N70. I have no idea why it was the only one that worked, maybe because the N series is special or something. I will try to test it on my dad's N73 and see what happens.

Now a question to the audience. Have you ever tried modding something and how did it end up? I'd like to hear from you. :D

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Saturday, November 3, 2007

To Aqaba, And Back!

Went on Friday, came back Saturday. [pictures in a later post]

-- In the car, Friday

We all packed our stuff, which actually fitted in one suitcase. We then got in our Kia Carens, our great 7-seater car, and off we went on a 3 hour drive. I kept day dreaming all the way of the small TVs that fit into the car, and how you could attach the PS2 to them. Ah, bliss. We stopped half way to climb some mountains and move our legs a little bit. Took a few photos then we sped off to Aqaba.

-- At the hotel, Friday

We took half an hour trying to find the hotel, then we found it. Our rooms where not ready yet so my dad sat down & as usual started working on his laptop & found a signal from the hotel which you can use free of charge. I thought of blogging from the hotel about the trip, but I was too busy. Sorry lol.

-- In our room, Friday

I started unpacking, then looked around the room. The mini bar, that awful suction of money, was there. The bathroom was OK, even though the smell at first was nasty. The balcony had nice views of some mountains in the back, although at night the restraunt nearby played horrible music even late at night when I was trying to watch Half past dead on MBC Action. >:D Anyway, I took out the PS2 & plugged it in to the horribly old TV. I can't live without my PlayStation! I played for a bit then it was time to eat.

-- In Ali Baba, Friday

My parents said that Ali baba was a popular place even though i did not find it totally tasty. The fish was quite good even though nobody in Jordan has deep fried fish like I want it. I also had to take Rawhi outside & entertain him (i.e Chase him in a busy street while oldies drinking Argeeleh laughed). Meanwhile, my brother (second after me) Omar was busy inside plucking the fish's eyeballs out!! More about Omar in another post.

-- On the beach, Friday night

After the restaurant we went for a walk on the beach. It was crowded with people who were sitting on plastic chairs watching football on big screens. We kept walking until we found an "almost" empty spot & we played for a bit. The beach was full of stones & hard to walk on but the water was cool & nice. Some people took their plastic chairs to the water & just sat there!! We stayed for a bit then walked back to the hotel & bought some chocolate on the way :)

-- Southern beach, Saturday

We had a great breakfast served by the hotel, then drove to a further beach that was apparently much better than the one we went to yesterday. It was much better, and this time the sun had come out and the water was quite warm. Even though the sand was full of cigarettes and glass, the water was great. We bought young Rawhi a float, and while we were at sea, his float turned upside down and he started to drown. I quickly came to rescue poor Rawhi, but he refused to go back into the water again.

-- Flooka Restaurant, Saturday

This was our last stop, this place's fish was better than Ali Babas fish, in my opinion. All the family disagreed but I liked the fillet with the sauce that came with it. I will stick with my opinion. We then went straight to the car, because the hotel didn't want us anymore (how dare they?!). This time we didn't stop, kept going till we went home, then went to bed immediatly. :(

All in all I liked the trip. Good experience to visit Aqaba for the first time. What was your opinion of Aqaba?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Explaining Govermental Schools

I'm trying to explain to my friend why govermental schools here are so much different than the ones in UK.

S: but its TERRIBLY HARD to get less than 50%
S: i mean you'd have to be mentally disordered... or in a gov school
B: gov school?
S: govermental schools are horrible here
B: why?
S: because they are free the teachers and everything is really bad
B: oh i see
S: like the students are gangsters and the teachers are school drop-outs
S: lol
B: well i go to a public school
S: because in UK public schools are good
S: the goverment is strong and can fund their schools properly
B: yeah