29 April, 2010

GeekFest Dubai 4.0 – When Geeks Go Green

Just a quickie to remind y'all that GeekFest is on at The Shelter in Al Quoz tonight, starting at 7.30pm. There are the usual quartet of unusual GeekTalks (details of the talks here), GameFest appears to have taken on a life of its own (the chance to frag each other in networked games around a table) and there are various arty happenings taking place too.

One unusual aspect of tonight's event is that we're asking everyone to bring any old techno-trash as we've arranged with recycling company EnviroServe to have it all recycled - either refurbished and given to a deserving cause or rendered down and made safe and/or re-usable. So if you've got any old PCs, disks, screens, cable, faxes, printers, modems, networking kit, radios, mobiles, desktop phones, VCRs or TVs or any other electronic junk you don't want, bring it down to The Shelter. We're aiming to beat DICs collection drive, which ended up collecting 1,000 bits of techno-jetsam.

GeekFest Dubai 4.0, When Geeks Go Green, will take place on tonight, the 29th April 2010, at The Shelter in Al Quoz (this is the link to the Google map). You can do the Facebook thing or follow @GeekFestDubai on Twitter.


25 April, 2010

No more SMS to Australia

For some reason or another Etisalat and Telstra, Australia's largest telco have decided that their customers being able to SMS each other is somehow not a worthwhile service...

"In another amazing move in the telcommunications world Etisalat has, according to the customer service operator..."through mutual aggreement have discontinued SMS between Telstra and Etisalat indefinately, sorry for the inconvenience"
--more here

Link thanks to anon

24 April, 2010

Etisalat Press

Well well well, the Q1 results for 2010 are out and Etisalat has made just under 2 billion dirhams in profits.
This is an offensively large amount of money especially for a small country (UAE has about 5 million people) that is going through a recession of sorts.

If this performance continues all through the year, and you cut a bit off for inefficiencies and what not, you will get a grand profit of about 7 bn dirhams a year! Just to clarify that's about $2bn! This qualifies Etisalat in my opinion to practically print money for its shareholders. It's a printing press, plain and simple.

To get an idea what this money could do, 7 bn shared over the whole UAE population would mean each one of us gets a handsome 1400 Dhs a year.. this equates to about the price of a good mobile phone. Now since it's only possible for Emaratis to buy Etisalat shares, we can safely assume that only Emaratis will profit from their profit.

So, for every Emarati there are 4 expats, this means that each one of us gets 5600 Dhs.. which could handsomely cover my annual fuel bill for my gas guzzling V8 SUV and bike, and this includes the coming 10-15% hike in prices.


05 April, 2010

The great Mirza Malik Hullabaloo

It seems that 63 years after Partition Pakistanis and Indians have still more in common yet than they’d care to admit: plenty of ignorance and bigotry, for example.

On one side of the border you will find tribal ‘jahiliyya’ perverting Islam into a Stone Age dogma, on the other you will find a caste system which, though politically and legally banished, is alive and well in the psyche of the common man. And common man came to the fore last week on both sides of the border, burning effigies of Sania Mirza, a mediocre tennis player but veritable Muslim Indian pin up girl from Hyderabad with millions earned in product endorsements, though not prize money. It seems that in both countries there is a sizeable cottage industry attached to the production of effigies: paper mache’ figures, portrait images, pitch forks are readily available at the onset of the slightest ‘moral outrage’. Side by side with sweets and sari shops, ‘Angry Mob Supply’ stores line the streets of bazaars from Rawalpindi to Ahmedabad.

Sania Mirza of course courted ‘moral outrage’ before by wearing tight T-shirts and a pleated tutu - as is par for the course for female tennis players. The TV audience-raising and endorsement contract-inviting hint of nipple under the T-shirt stirred self-righteous souls in both India and Pakistan and further afield the Muslim world. Nationalist Hindus thought that she besmirched the traditional Indian value of not wearing tight T-shirts: apparently she ought to have played in a sari instead, with a tilak on her forehead. The Muslim man on the street - who, in the religious sprit of the Ummah likes to claim everyone else’s daughters as his own and consequently, as their spiritual father, sees it fit to lecture them on proper ‘moral behaviour’ - pronounced Sania’s T-shirt un-Islamic for obvious nipple-related reasons.

This time, the reason for the 'outrage' was that Sania Mirza and the Pakistani Shoaib Malik, a former cricket player, who are both considered role models in their respective countries (by people who consider youngsters who throw balls around for a living role models), had announced their intention to wed each other and live in Dubai. Unsurprisingly this whipped up a huge storm in the water glass that is the UAE print media. The ‘street’ in the UAE may be a bit hot for effigy burning and I doubt the authorities would allow it, so the ‘letters to the editor’ pages had to do.

Whilst some sent letters to the '7Days' newspaper in support of the two individuals’ decision and urged their respective compatriots to respect this as a personal matter, many Indians went on record condemning Sania’s choice of a Pakistani man as un-patriotic and detrimental to Mother India as a whole. Apparently, she should first have tried to find an Indian cricketer instead, as they are better with their balls and bat (and the population growth in this billion strong country seems to prove this argument right). Then, failing to find an Indian cricketer, she ought to have sampled some bright IT engineers in Bangalore, as one man helpfully suggested. And failing that she should have burned herself on a pyre rather than marry someone from the ‘troublesome’ neighbour country. The ‘saving grace’, as one Pakistani commenter put it, was that both are Muslim, as if marrying out of faith was, by reverse definition, somehow disgraceful.

I am watching with interest how this pans out. Perhaps we will see demonstrations of single brain cell creatures in Karama or Deira after all. Effigies of tennis racquets and cricket bats being doused with petrol and stamped on by angry sandals. Pakistani taxi drivers refusing Indian passengers, Indian chefs adding lethal doses of mirchi chilli to Pakistani customers’ take out orders - that kind of 21st century cosmopolitan behaviour.

If Sania and Shoaib thought they’d escape narrow-minded bigotry by choosing Dubai as a place of residence they might want to think again...

04 April, 2010

British couple appeal rejected

The news has just hit the wires that the British couple accused of kissing at Bob's Easy Diner in JBR have had their appeal against the one month jail term rejected.

An Emirati woman claimed they were kissing intimately, they say they simply kissed on the cheek in a friendly greeting. The judge obviously did not believe them.

They have one more chance of appealing, to the Court of Cassation.

There are plenty of reports, the BBC story is here. (It has a mistake in it, relating to the other charge of consuming alcohol. They were not consuming alcohol in an illegal place as the report claims, they had consumed alcohol legally in licensed premises earlier).