Thursday, January 29, 2009

Beginning Lost

After the delay of the television series Prison Break until this spring, I didn’t have something to anticipate for each week. It was fun downloading and seeing a new episode every Tuesday, and now I decided I had to change to another series to get addicted to.

I had always heard of the show Lost, I'd seen it on MBC Action and I had read about it on the internet. But I never had the chance to actually see it from the beginning. So today I went ahead and downloaded the first four episodes. Luckily with my new internet speed, one episode is on my computer in less than half an hour.

To sum up what I've learnt about the series, you can say it all begins with a plane crashing in mid air onto a large island in the middle of nowhere. After the first few days after the crash, the remaining survivors begin to realise that they're being searched for in the wrong place.

That's not it, but the thoughts of surviving on the island become a major part of the survivors lives, as well as discovering the secret of the mysterious island the plane landed into. What's also a part of the series is the flashbacks it shows which characterize each survivor.

Although I am still in the beginning of the series, I am enjoying it a lot, maybe not as much as the first episodes I saw of Prison Break, but still much entertaining and thrilling. Also, the fact that this show is now in its fifth season is reassuring that its a success.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

End To Gazas Ceasefire?

An Israeli soldier has been killed in a blast on the Gaza border. It is still not known who had led the attack, and this comes amid ceasefires from both sides on the 18th of this month. Here is the report from the BBC's website.

An Israeli soldier is reported to have been killed and several others injured in an explosion on the Gaza border.

The Israeli military said the blast targeted a patrol near the Kissufim border crossing into Gaza. Palestinian residents reported the sound of gunfire and Israeli helicopters in the area.

It is the first reported Israeli fatality since Israel and Hamas declared ceasefires on 18 January after a three-week Israeli offensive.

Arab news channels said one Israeli soldier was killed and three injured in the incident. The Israeli military would not confirm the casualties until next of kin had been informed. One Palestinian was killed in the fighting, Palestinian medical officials said.

[sources: report, photo]

Monday, January 26, 2009

Back From Nablus

I am back from my three week journey to Nablus. Although I did not post much, I did have a good time visiting relative after relative, especially enjoying the deserts they would serve.

Moving on, I decided to try out something new in my life. I have always loved the world of robots, and I joined the Jordan First Lego League competition in my old school. In it we would design a Lego Mindstorms robot to complete a task of missions and compete against other schools in the country, as well as a few from other Arab countries.

When I left the school a few years ago, I had no chance to practice my robotic skills. In some way I still thought of the idea of robotics and began saving up for one myself. I thought, I had bought an Xbox 360 and five games, but these weren't educational and were for my entertainment only.

So today I returned from my trip and counted my money, asked my father - who is currently in London - to order it, and he did so from the Lego website. Hopefully I will be able to review it for my blog readers as soon as I get it, although from my experience this Lego kit is very entertaining as it is educational.

And to finish off, a picture of one the models of the robot, named NXT.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Visiting Sabastiya

Sabastiya is a small village located fifteen kilometers north west of Nablus, and is most known for its ancient Roman ruins that it holds, as well as Byzantine artifacts also. By taking a ten minute ride in a service taxi, along with my camera, I managed to take a few photos as well as learn about the historic place.

We first visited a mosque, which used to be a church at the times of the crusaders, but was later converted in the Islamic battles.

The place itself is interesting, due to its large walls made of huge slabs of stone, still intact to this day. Aside the mosque is a recently discovered church, still under reconstruction.

In the center of the town is a large site in which were discovered many artifacts, carvings and statues that date back from the times of Romans.

Unfortunately, the government and the ministry of tourism haven't taken much care of the ruins and left them to commercial companies to come and offer.

Close to the mosque is the most important part of Sabastiya's history, the prison and grave of our Prophet Yahya. These stairs lead down to the cell below ground.

There are six holes in the far side of the cell. Inside each one is a grave to someone important at that time, and it is believed one of these belongs to the Prophet.

At the far end of the village, we come to a mostly Israeli controlled area, known as Area C. Here you can find many Roman columns in the landscape.

Each column is around thirty meters high, similar to the ones you could find in Jerash. These date back up to 3000 to 4000 years ago.

And lastly, we past by a Roman stadium at the edge of the village. This is frequently used by the Israelis, according to the villagers, for police graduation parties.

Next to the stadium is a tower, possibly the remains of an old castle at the times of the crusaders. And this concludes our visit to the village of Sabastiya.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pictures From Nablus

I have always had a passion for photography, even when being far from good quality cameras. This journey I borrowed a rather good digital camera from my relatives to take a few pictures from around Nablus. Some relatives have also acknowledged my talent in photography and suggest some great places to go to, to get better views of the city, such as the last photo. And as a side note, remember to pray for Gaza.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Heart Shaped Falafel

The new inventions of a bored falafel shop owner, possibly found only in Nablus! A possible serving at those sad weddings. Anyone seen falafel shaped into hearts like this?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Great Grandfather

Yesterday our family got a phone call, delivering the news that my great grandfather, as in my grandfathers father, had passed away at the age of 103. I joined in with his prayer, witnessed his burial and sat in his funeral.

He had lived for the last years of his life with his eldest daughter, who had devoted her life to taking care of him.

I am his eldest great grandchild, and he had brought up eleven children, who then brought him forty four grandchildren. In the last three days of his life, he would wake up in the middle of night and call his daughter, and would tell her he had dreamed of being with Allah.

He had surprisingly lived a very long life, thanks to god, as very little people these days live to see themselves enter the triple figures. In fact, my great grandfather witnessed many historical events since his birth in the entire decade he had lived. The two World Wars, the occupation of Palestine, and the two Intifadas, to name a few.

He also had to witness the death of half of his own children, but now he can at last join them once again. May God rest his soul, allah yir7amo.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blogging From Nablus

One year has passed since I last went to the city of Nablus, West Bank, Palestine. This morning our family set out early in the morning to the bridge between Jordan and the West Bank. At first I was reluctant to go, I didn't want to leave my holiday behind.

And my Xbox 360 games were far away from finished. But that's another post. I had originally wanted to bring the Xbox with me, but then the Israelis would think it was a Qassam rocket launch pad or something.

I had originally purposed that I could go with my father to Britain, my place of birth and country for eleven years, instead of going to Nablus once again. Dad thought the idea was ridiculous and once he started on his we-haven't-got any-money lecture for me to go as well, I knew I had no hope.

By the way, according to the Israeli's, I'm officially a suspicious person: male, fifteen and Palestinian. I got asked my age at every check point and was asked to 'wait on a chair' as my family got their papers back at the border.

Thirty minutes later I was called and my mobile phone and passport were searched and wiped with some strange brush. Did they think I was hiding something in my passport?

Also, at one of the check points, the soldier asked the taxi driver.
Soldier: Are you hiding rockets?
Driver: No!
Soldier: Don't lie! Do you have rockets?
Driver: What do I need rockets for?!
Soldier: Just joking. Off you go!

I hope to keep you posted like last year, with more pictures as well.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Classic American Video

Americans are NOT dumb - with subtitles

Might be old, but I hadn't seen it before. One of the most funniest videos about the intelligence of day to day Americans. Just as a side note, I'm not implying anything and this is for humor purposes only.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Livebox Arrives

After almost three weeks since the application for getting a Livebox from Orange, they finally came a few days ago to set up the device. Now, to make things short, the Orange Livebox is a modem, wireless router, and VoIP. The Voice over Internet Protocol works by connecting any ordinary telephone into the port of the Livebox.

According to Orange, calling from the Livebox gives you free calls to all local landline numbers, and calls to mobile and international numbers for a greatly reduced price. All went well, the Livebox was set up, the two young men that came were friendly and helpful, and all was done in less than ten minutes.

Three weeks waiting for ten minutes set up. Typical Orange, but what can we do anyway. To be honest the VoIP seems no different from normal, the quality is excellent. According to Orange, this barely uses up speed and bandwidth. This is something we have yet to see, but all in all this a good offer.

However, there have been two problems with our Livebox. Sometimes the telephone light on the Livebox switches off and the VoIP is no longer useable until it magically switches on after a few hours later. Also there have been some problems connecting to the wireless connection from my fathers laptop, which is Windows Vista. This could be from the Livebox or from the laptop, so this may not count as a fault.

I also mentioned the lack of stability last time. This has improved a little bit, this time the connection speed will range from 1MB to normal and sometimes will go all the way to 3MB for sometime. All in all, the Livebox is good overall. However I must point out that the customer service of Orange, the 'international France telecom company blah', is totally rubbish. It is appauling, and when you have a problem, you must pray that the pro will magically fix itself.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pickings from Makezine

I usually watch these Makezine weekend project videos, even though I've never done any of the projects, except this one. The maker of these videos is a guy nicknamed Kipkay, who has an interesting way of combining normal scenes of himself with scenes where he pre-records his voice, to make a superb how to.

Unfortunately, the Make magazine he refers to is in the United States and I'm still trying to figure a way to download it, maybe by a torrent or something. However the website of the magazine is rather good, but if you enjoy projects then be sure to visit Instructables as well. Here are two videos of the many I found.

* * *

Simple Laser Communicator

Fireball Shooter

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008 In Pictures

After the help of Wikipedia, I managed to summarized the most important highlights of last year in many photos. If you hover over a photo, I have added a caption to briefly say what this photo is about. Please allow sometime to load the images if you just see a bunch of text.

January 2 - The price of petroleum hits $100 per barrel for the first time.January 23 - Thousands of Palestinians cross into Egypt, as the border wall with Gaza in Rafah is blown up by militants.
February 4 - Iran opens its first space center and launches a rocket into space.March 1 - In Gaza Strip, at least 52 Palestinians and 2 Israeli soldiers are killed in the most intense Israeli air strikes since 2005.
April 22 - Surgeons at London's Moorfields Eye Hospital perform the first operations using bionic eyes.April 27 - The Taliban attempts to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai in a military parade in Kabul.
June 27 - President Robert Mugabe is reelected with 85.5% of the vote in the second round of the controversial Zimbabwean presidential election.June 27 - After 3 decades as the Chairman of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates steps down from daily duties to concentrate on philanthropy.
July 7 - The 34th G8 summit is held in Tōyako, Hokkaidō, Japan.August 7 - The 2008 South Ossetia war begins, as Georgia and Russia launch a major offensive
August 8 - The 2008 Summer Olympics take place in Beijing, China.August 18 - Pervez Musharraf resigns as President of Pakistan
September 1 - Hurricane Ike makes landfall on Texas as Category 2 and kills 27 in the United States.September 6 - Asif Ali Zardari is elected President of Pakistan by the Electoral College of Pakistan.
September 17 - The International Astronomical Union classifies Haumea as the 5th dwarf planet in the Solar System.October 22 - The Indian Space Research Organisation successfully launches the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft on a lunar exploration mission.
November 4 - Barack Obama is elected the 44th President of the United States.November 26 - A series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India kills 195, and injures at least 250.
December 6 - Riots spread across Greece after a 15-year-old boy is shot dead by a special guard of the Greek Police.December 27 - Israel initiates a series of airstrikes against the Gaza Strip, killing at least 375.

...Happy New Year...

Prison Break Continues

The show took a break after the 16th episode, and will return supposedly on 6/1/2009, which is in three more days. Above is the tralier for the 17th episode, in which Lincoln and Micheal seperate, each to find Scylla but each with a different goal. Be sure to watch it.