26 August, 2008

GTA IV Banned? Ministry Of Information moves against Videogames

Around an hour ago, at 2 PM today, two inspectors from the Ministry of Information raided a "Euphoria" shop in Seef Mall and confiscated all Grand Theft Auto IV titles, Both PS3 and Xbox 360.
Two men, wearing traditional dress, came in, identified themselves to the man behind the counter, took his CPR and started writing down his details in an official inspection form. They also wrote down what they took (Around 4 or 5 titles of GTA IV for PS3 and the same for X360). They gave the receipt to the man and walked out with the titles in a plastic bag.
Now this does not necessary mean that GTA IV is banned in Bahrain, but it means at least that someone (individual or the ministry it self) complained about the title and the ministry is looking into it.
Given the nature of the title and the notion that games are (still) for kids, I expect the title to be banned very soon.
The title was banned for some time in neighboring Saudi Arabia. Saudi gamers have always came here to get their GTA fix. it seems that will continue no more.
I am appalled at this movement especially since other types of media (Video, Audio) are not dealt with in this manner. I do agree there are some questionable materials in the game, however, I would suggest that age ratings are enforced as they should be rather than simply banning the thing altogether.
This blog will keep an eye out on the matter.

23 August, 2008

Taekwondo Olympian attacks referee, proves he is a crybaby

This Cuban "Olympian" is Angel Valodia Matos. Matos was a Sydney 2000 gold medalist. So on he comes to Beijing to compete once more.

In the middle of the second round of his +80kg bout against world silver medalist Arman Chilmanov of Kazakhstan, he broke his left toe. Taekwondo rules will stop the clock for injury for one minute. Any longer and the contestant is deemed unfit to continue. Chong (Red player) took more than that one minute, so the Swedish referee (of Arabic north African decent) declared Hong (Blue player) as the winner.

The Cuban and his coach did not like to lose to Uzbekistan that way, so once the ref announced the verdict, Matos attacked him with two kicks to the head.

Being an Ex-Taekwondo athlete and a life long fan, I watched this live and was appalled and enraged by this violent act of a cry baby sore loser.

The World Taekwondo Federation seemed to share my feelings as they immediately announced that Matos and his coach would be permanently barred from all championships it promotes. They said:

"This is a strong violation of the spirit of taekwondo and the Olympic Games"

"The sanctions are the following and are effective immediately: Lifetime ban of the coach and athlete in all championships sanctioned by the World Taekwondo Federation and at the same time, all records of this athlete at the Beijing Games will immediately be erased."

Serves him right. Congratulations to the WTF on its swift and stern reaction. And to Matos: You are a disgrace to all Athletes on earth, be they martial artists or else. Your Sydney 2000 medal is undeserved in this light and it is a shame to see it wasted on an arrogant cry baby such as your self.

It is a good thing that we will never see you again. Good riddance.

14 August, 2008

Stranger at home

Today, while I was just about to enter "the Centre" to do a bit of quick shopping, a Bahraini man, confused, looking around and kind of embarrassed approached me. He asked (in Arabic):
"excuse me brother, I don't know English. Can you tell me where Dairy Queen is?"
It was smack behind him.
I pointed out his destination, he thanked me and ran towards it.
I looked up to the sign of the American resturant, it was purely in English as it is in its home country, despite Bahraini laws to have Arabic on all signage.
It is a sad time we live in, when a citizen feels like a tourist in his own country.

12 August, 2008

Connected to Lightspeed (Experience log)

Following up on my last post; I mentioned that I applied to Lightspeed on the 16th of July and was promised connection within 10 days.
In ten days, my Batelco internet connection was disconnected as planned. But Lightspeed did not connect thiers or call me about it. Two weeks passed, so I decided to call.
Calling thier toll free line (80061111) after 6 (me busy man) I get transfered to thier call centre in Jordan.
Their call centre in Jordan is useless.
They do little beyond pick up your call. I called asking about my order, they didn't know and took my details and promised that someone will call. A human answering machine.
This scenario repeated for two days, until I spoke to my dear friend Joseph (that's what I call him anyway). He got lightspeed, so like a guy who was stood up by a hot girl on their first date, I ask for his advice, which was:
"Call before 5, that's when they close. When te machine answers, hit 1 for sales. NO, don't talk to Customer service, they are in Jordan and know nothing. Call the Bahraini sales guys".
I do just that in the next day. A young woman picks up and I explain that I have no idea where I am. After she verified my details she says:
"Did they not call you?"
"I'm sure they did"
"Maybe you didn't pick up."
"What the? I said NO! No one called and no missed calls. What is it?"
"Well, your device is ready. You can pick it up from our Almoayed Tower branch".
The "Almoayed Tower Branch" is a place that must open for business when I have some business of my own. As they don't work Saturdays, I decided to skip some much needed nutrition and go there during my lunch break.
I go, I park, I tell them that I came for the "Live Box" and they give me my box.
That's it? Aren't you going to check my ID or anything?
... Well, alright then. Sounds risky to me though.
I ask the young clueless man behind the counter:
"Any instructions?"
He goes :It's pre-configured. just plug it it"
Bas? That sounds simple enough. I go home and open up the box.

Day 1:

Many wires and adapters I see. Shame most of these do not work here. I liked the WIFI dongle, should make even the non wifi savvy laptop access the wireless "Live Box".
Now the livebox is a simply a wireless modem router thingy, with 2 extra USB ports (one A size, the other B) and a line out port (for the phone).
I connected it, it works, the light indicates that it connected. Lets hook up to it wireless.
Aha, there is an encryption on it. What's the password? I try my name, CPR & phone number line, nothing works. I call Lightspeed and Jordan answers back:
"The password is "password""
how ingenious! Lets try that.... fail. Again, again, AGAIN!
OK, the password is indeed NOT "password". I call Jordan and they say that this is the password. Great. Lets try something else.
I install the router on my laptop and try to connect to it. The laptop cannot find the Livebox. Try as I might, no use. I switch the connectivity option from Ethernet cat5 cable to USB and then it works. Seems like the Ethernet ports on my Livebox do not function. Never mind, so long as I can get the thing to work.
Wait, I don't have my user name and password! I curse a little then I call Customer Services in Jordan again, they give me my user name and password. Trying it, doesn't work. Try again: Nope, doesn't work. So (AGAIN) I call the customer service (BTW, I got pissed off by now) and they said that this password is correct, yet it doesn't connect. I sleep that day failing to set the bloody thing up.

Day 2:
I try the same password, nothing happens. I call customer services, lets try and ask them about the router settings, did I use PPPoE when I should have used PPPoA (It's E by the way)? When I ask the customer service agent in Jordan for the settings he goes:
"I'll log in your complaint and someone will call you tomorrow"
COMPLAINT? No no no, wait up. Not "complaint", I just want the settings, that's all.
"I don't have this information with me sir, I will log this complaint and someone will call you"
R: "wait, you don't know the settings for your own modem?"
LS: "No"
Um.. speechless, I can do nothing.
So I do a couple of google search (I was still connected to Batelco's 3G "O net") and call my dear Joseph again. I got the right settings alright. But the damn thing still wont connect. Ufffff...
I call Lightspeed again.
R: "Hello Jordan"
LS: "How can I help you sir?"
R: "My password doesn't work, can I like, reset it or something?"
LS: "Sure, let me just log in this request and someone will call you tomorrow"
R: "What the F***? I have to file a request and follow it up to CHANGE MY FREAKING PASSWORD?"
Scared LS: "Yes...?"
R: "F*** that!"
After some scary ranting, she accepts and asks what do you want it to be? I tell her my password of choice and hang up.
I try the new password, I try the old password, I try the new password and keep repeating myself until I am just too tiered to stay awake. I go to sleep for the second day without a connection.

Day 3:
My dear Joseph (again) asks me to call the Bahraini employees. Same number, but I have to press one for sales. Determained, I do just that at noon. The obviously Bahraini accented man confirms that my password didn't change and it is the same first useless password. OK, I'll give it one more try when I go back.
I finish work early and hurry home so I can catch the Bahraini employees before they leave work. I open up my router configuration and call, ah, Bahraini voice again.
R: "Dude, I want the freaking settings!"
LS: "OK."
That's it. The Bahraini employee was quite informed about the technicalities of the Livebox and gives me the correct settings.
On the third day, I got connection, it is still through the USB connection, but at least it lives.
Lets try to set the wireless connection.
Choosing WAP security, none of my devices can use it (Soney Ericsson P990 phone, Nintendo Wii, Sony PS3 a Linux laptop and a Visa Laptop). Removing the security all together doesn't do anything to fix it. Despite the lack of a password, no device can log into it.
At this point, I take the Livebox, throw it away, and install my old Linksys wireless router. Everything works perfectly.
I call Lightspeed (Yes, I am really fed up from calling them as I'm sure you are of reading about it) and tell them about my faulty box, they ask me to bring it in, I'm not bothered.

So, by day 3, and after many, many, many calls, uninformed agents and a router of my own I got the connection. Meaning, in other words: Pregnant women deliver babies faster than that.

As for the connection? I am on a 512MB line (supposedly) but my speed tests ranged from 330ks to 450ks. Download speed from download.com reached a peak of 25 kbps. Downloading torrents is an evil 2 kbps (some times nothing at all).
Playing games on this connection, my Wii found the connection unstable. Sometimes the news channel gives me an error message saying it cannot connect. Playing mario Kart Wii shows some lag that I did not experience with Batelco's 256MB BD10 line.
My Playstation 3 also couldn't connect at times. I haven't played anything online on my PS3 yet.

It is too soon to judge how good the connection is so I'll withhold my verdict for a couple of month.
Fellow blogger Yagoob is also blogging about his experience with Lightspeed. Read it.

Lets kill children. . . Slowly

On the last page of Alwasat newspaper today we see a bit of disturbing news. A father, gave away his 8 year old daughter for marriage to a man in his fifties!
This happened in alquasaim in Saudi Arabia.
This is slow torterous murder. In Islam, it is argued that once individuals are able to consumate a marriage, they should be married. Many will argue this point, but regardless, any marriage must be with the consent of both bride and groom. I seriously doubt that an 8 year old agreed to marry and sleep with someone in his fifties.
The mother filed a court case against the father aiming to get the marriage annulled. I say good for her. She should fight, and so should we.
This man has the right to marry, yes. I wouldn't mind him tying the knot with an adult woman, even if she was 20 or 18. But to marry a child? Muslims are forbidden to kill animals by torture, death should be swift, and here they are sentancing the death of a child, a human child, through long long years.
My heart and full support goes to the mother. KSA should seriously do something to re-educate the population and shift it from acceptable practice to taboo.

11 August, 2008

Design a logo for the Anti-Hate code

Get your crayons out and design a logo for the code!
Besides being for a good cause, the winner gets a BD 200 reward, not bad eh?
The requirements are:
  1. It shoulkd be in a "photoshop" or "Illustrator" format.
  2. design should be suitable for reduced and blown up sizes
  3. Should have only 3 coloures used (transparencies are OK)
  4. Vector Graphic
  5. Was not entered into another competition
  6. Deadline 19th August
The logo should embody the concept of rejecting hate-speech and discrimination.
All entries should be sent to ahmed.alaradi @ alwaqtnews.com

If you have any questions or are facing difficulties, please leave a comment here.
Good Luck!

Image from Yagoob's Dome.

05 August, 2008

LUG August Meeting

August's LUG (Linux Users Group) meeting will be on 4:00PM Saturday, August 9th at the Belle View Apartments (for directions see

LUG Location). This time they will discuss this:

Virtualbox: Run Anything Anywhere
Presenter: Marwan Al-Sabbagh
Presentation Type: Technical Presentation
Summary: Virtualbox is open source software that let's you run Linux in Windows or Mac, and Windows in Linux. It's very mature and easy to use.
Installation: Overview of Windows and Linux installation
Virtual OS Setup: Basic installation steps
Virtual Disk Manager: Creating Hard disk, CD Images
Clipboard Setup: Bi-directional clipboard setup
Network Setup: Basic NAT, and more advanced host interface
Shared Folders Setup and accessing them
Advanced Discussion: Portable virtual machines, using existing partitions, snapshots, USB Support

Support the open source community. Let's see you there!