Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Testing 2MB Internet

Since the new year was approaching and we had all agreed that our 128 kb/s connection was too slow. Since we had a yearly subscription anyway with Orange, with the help of my uncle Bilal, we agreed and ordered a new 2MB Surf and Talk package.

Now for the Talk part of the package to work, something called a Livebox would need to arrive. This is, according to Orange, a wireless router, modem and VoIP device, all in one. However this is yet to arrive, and knowing Orange, its going to take a while.

The Surf part has arrived though, and the 2MB internet, and downloads are fast and usually over 200 kb/s. There is only one problem, stability. The internet is not always the same speed, and speed tests are very unreliable as each test gives a different speed.

I can just hope the new modem will make it stable, although I don't know if this might be something common for higher speeds from Orange. Heres the only reliable test I could get from speed.io. Others would dip below 1MB or differ from test to test.

Monday, December 29, 2008

On Final Exams

As you may or may not know, my mother teaches English to 9th grade girls. She was marking her students final exams this morning, when she stumbled upon one girl who had find the time to draw some cartoons illustrating the writing question she had completed. :P

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Army Of Two Review

I’m just about to finish a new game I got for the Xbox 360, called Army of Two, and I thought I might as well review it. Since Christmas is around the corner, this game could be a good one for your shopping list.

The third person shooter genre is quite a crowded one, and a new arrival of a game into the genre usually doesn’t go very well, unless it gives a new idea that hasn’t been done before. And this is were Army of Two shines, in that it throws at you the new idea of co-op play.

Army of Two really puts emphasis on co-op play, where both you and your partner will enter battlefields swarming with enemies, and use cover and tactics intelligently, to kill your enemies, complete missions and earn cash.

To get the most of this game, you need to play it split screen with a friend. This isn’t because the virtual partner in single player is bad, but because you’ll achieve more of what you want when your with a human.

There are two other things that the game implies. A new system called Aggro is basically when one player gains the enemies attention by firing at them aggressively, while the other player gains an advantage of being somehow ignored, and can move stealthy to perform skillful tactics.

The other point is the vast customization that Army of Two gives you to change around weapons to your liking. It isn’t based mostly on creativity, but is more of a ranking up system, with you purchasing new weapons and upgrading upon them. You can add stocks, grips, bigger ammunition, even a shotgun or a grenade launcher on the front as well.

This doesn’t mean the game is perfect. One of the main flaws I noticed was that the game was rather short, and a few things could be improved on, such as melee attacks and the controls, as well as the soundtrack. But, all in all, Army of Two is a game that you should try when you’re with a friend.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

True Luck

This morning, while I was lying in my comfortable warm bed, enjoying the heat of the radiator and the extra long holiday, I had to start worrying since my pessimistic self just has to worry.

It usually happens to you, when you're having a great moment and then your stupid memory reminds you of all the obstacles you've got left ahead in your life.

Well, today it struck me and reminded me of the usb drive my friend gave me on Thursday, so I could copy the latest episode of Prison Break he had kindly downloaded for me. But of course, I have the most unorganized life and the worst ever little brother, I lost it.

Even after searching half the house and torturing my little brother into confessing where he had hid it, but without success. So I began trying to conjure up some plan as to what I would do. And my brain began to whirl - picture Dexter's mind boggling.

In the end, I had made up my mind. I would ask him if he had anything important on the drive, then head off to a store and buy him another one, probably with bigger capacity just to cheer him up.

Then all the horribly good side of my brain started to argue with my evily evil side, until it got to the point of being unbearable, when suddenly I was woken by a common and bad luck voice.

"Can you guess what I found?", my mum exclaimed. Then my brains sides of optimism and pessimism began to argue, as they always do. One side guessing it was some old fortune I had lost, and the other guessing it was a two year old bad mark that my parents would blackmail me with for the rest of my life.

"Your friends usb drive". I opened my eyes to find her holding it. It turned out my little brother had hidden it between his spare blankets and my good mother had found it when she was cleaning this morning.

Now was this just a rare, one in a million coincidence, just like the way the big bang and the transformation of apes to humans happened? Or was it my good intentions to my friend and the fair God watching from high above? :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Never Quit Your Blog

I used to think the same question in the early stages of blogging. The question was why I should continue my blog and it usually ponders alot of early bloggers for many reasons that they face.

In fact, these reasons aren’t true, most of the time, and they just quit even though they could have carried on blogging and living the experience of being a blogger.
I’m going to try and answer these reasons to quit blogging, even though I may not have that much experience, as I’m only two years into blogging.

A reason that always ponders most bloggers is that they believe no one reads their blog because no one comments. In fact, not everyone that reads your blog will comment. A really easy solution to knowing who reads your blog and what they read is a counter, like Google Analytics. For example, not that many people comment on my blog, even though I have over 1000 unique visitors every month.

Something that sometimes even gets me as well is that you haven’t posted anything for a century. This can, at rare occasions, affect your visitors, but in reality not posting in a while is not an excuse to never post again. In fact, most people visit blogs by RSS feeds or aggregators, so a blogs absence is rarely felt.

Writers block usually hits bloggers every now and then, but does it mean that you can’t blog if you’ve run out of ideas? Not at all. Even if you just had the most boring day, that doesn’t mean you can’t blog about something. Your favourite picks from Youtube, for example, is something you can blog about easily.

One last thing I’d like to mention is how some bloggers never manage to get a good quality post. It sometimes baffles newer bloggers how easy it is to make a good post. The main rule of thumb is to write about something people like, don’t copy from the internet, add pictures and photos, separate text into readable paragraphs and that’s it.

And to finish off my post, if you ever want to quit, why not try an alternative and take a break. Its usually just the frustration from blogging that sets you off, and before you do something crazy like write a blog suicide note to all your innocent readers, just take a while off from blogging.

You’ll find yourself coming back to it, soon enough, with fresh new ideas and a spirit ready for writing more posts.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Eid Mubarak

Revolting arabic coffee, pitiful 3ediyaat, disgusting chocolates.

Sloppy kisses from old relatives, endless visits to people you don't know.

Even old men in suites arguing whether you can invite people to weddings by text messages or phone calls.

Eid il Adha. Enjoy it. :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holidays Before Holidays

Some things are really strange in this world, like aliens, politicians and taxi drivers. But one thing that’s really strange is how Arabs decide their days off. Which is were my ranting all begins, when students decided that Thursday, the day before the Eid holiday which will last for more than a week, is a holiday for them as well.

There’s no problem in taking a day off, but why would anyone take off a day when you’ve got a whole week ahead of you. And just to add to that, my parents made me go to school anyway and I got bored to death, along with the other three students that came along as well, and did practically nothing.

Which asks the question, why on earth do we need holidays before holidays? The problem is that it’s grown too much its hard to stop this bad habit. My point is, there’s nothing wrong in taking a day off for some reason, but the problem is when you take a holiday for the sake of another holiday. It’s a bit like how everyone at school will come in their new clothes when we come back.