Ahmed Eltawil's Blog

Archive for March 2009

The flight from Toronto to Vienna was long, boring, and tiring. And did I mention how uncomfortable the seats are getting? So now I am sitting in a café at Vienna International Airport waiting for my next flight to Damascus, Syria. Thank God for the free Wi-Fi in the airport (something totally unexpected), if that wasn’t available then I would absolutely have nothing else to do. It’s really a boring airport with nothing much to do except to sit down and watch the planes go by from the window. But then again, it’s not like I am expecting a lot more from an airport. At least it gives me a chance to stand up, walk around and stretch my legs after a 9 hour flight.
To be honest, I don’t like going to Syria. Let me rephrase that: I hate going to Syria. I went there once before and it was more than enough to make me decide to never go there again. But here I am on my way there again. ‘Why’ you ask? It’s definitely not a business trip. It’s a family matter. It was urgent and I was forced to go. Something came up and my presence in Syria was required so I had to book the first flight going to Damascus.
Syria is a place full of people who don’t work unless they’re bribed. It’s a country where their government is over employed and under paid. So in order for a single document to pass through government officials you need to bribe at least 20 people. Taxi drivers always overcharge. Stores and gift shops extremely overprice their products which means people there are used to bargaining (which is something I am not used to and never had successful stories with). Pollution is way over the red line and they aren’t even considering or thinking about doing anything about it (every single car, motorbike and bus produces thick black smoke from its exhaust). In other words, the country and its people needs a complete overhaul (which probably will never happen cause someone will probably bribe someone else to bribe some other person in order to stop the overhaul). Seriously, it’s that bad.
I am sitting in a plane going to Vienna from Toronto and I have to admit that the seats seem to keep getting smaller and shorter. Or am I the one getting taller? I highly doubt the last part.

I mean, I am a tall guy and it’s always difficult for me to get comfortable sitting anywhere, but airplane seats just seem to get worse with time. Airlines are just trying harder and harder to cram more and more people into their planes. It’s getting to the point where the economy class is their playground for saving as much green as possible.

It’s pissing me off.

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How do you get there? How do you get to that point in life? Most importantly how do you get to a point where you don’t worry about your financial situation? You keep hearing about those couples who board their boat and sail the seas for months and years from one continent to the other. And others who gear up and put all their effort in climbing mountains just so that they reach the top. Don’t they have any worries what so ever?

Do they have a mortgage on a house? A car loan? Are they bound to any contracts? How can they just roam through life like there is no tomorrow? Maybe the real question here is: Is that what real freedom is?.

Sometimes I feel that people live and strive and work hard and sweat just to get by and earn a living. Basically it all comes down to money. Is money all what life is about these days? I mean, just look around you. The malls, stores, banks, restaurants, cars, houses, etc. They all have one thing in common: money. Money creates all that and more. And once you have it, you want to make more money out of it or else all that goes away.

Sure you can go away for vacation for a week or so but in the end you’re coming back and you’ll be working again. And for what? To make money.

I guess we must do whatever it takes these days to live like the rest of us. Whether you’re poor or rich, you’ll always be working or doing something to get some money in the end. If that’s the case (from the looks of it) then how do you achieve freedom? How do you get real peace of mind knowing that you’ll be fine no mater what comes at you?

We try to save money to get what we want and we try to save money for our retirement as well. But no one knows if he or she will live long enough to retire and maybe start getting a taste of a ‘worry-free’ life assuming of course that you have a good retirement plan.

All I know for a fact right now is that I am not free. I haven’t tasted freedom yet and I don’t know if I ever will. But the thought of sailing through life without worrying sure does sound more and more like heaven.

This has been puzzling me for a while now. In a time where the word ‘cellphone’ is used on a daily basis, typing it in a word processor application, like MS Word, would still mark the word with a red squiggly line under it clearly identifying it as misspelled. But is it really misspelled?

Every time I get to type ‘cellphone’ I don’t know which version of the word I should use. Should I type ‘cell phone’ to avoid the red squiggly line or should I just add ‘cellphone’ to my computer’s dictionary and use that instead?

A simple google search on both words shows that both versions are used. So does it come down in the end as a matter of preference or is one ‘more correct’ than the other according to English in general?

Personally, I feel more comfortable typing ‘cellphone’. I mean, why use ‘cell phone’ if ‘cell’ is an abbreviation to ‘cellular’? So if someone typed ‘cell phone’ it would still be wrong despite the fact that the word processor didn’t mark it as misspelled because it should be ‘cellular phone’ instead.

Someone please help me find an answer so that I can put this dilemma to rest once and for all.

I speak two languages: Arabic and English. So when I pick a cellphone running whatever OS I expect it to support international languages (or at least major popular languages). Nokia cellphones does a wonderful job supporting worldwide languages out of the box without having to add or install them manually which is a fact that may have contributed to Nokia’s massive success internationally. So if I ever received an Arabic SMS I wouldn’t have any issues opening the message and reading the Arabic characters on any Nokia phone.

On the other hand, Windows Mobile doesn’t seem to like adding support for one major language like Arabic. Which means there is a massive market that Microsoft isn’t profiting from nor does other major phone manufacturing companies like HTC.

I used to have an HTC Advantage 7501 and I was happy with it but I just couldn’t read any SMS that came to me written in Arabic. I searched the net for 3rd party software that could add support for the Arabic language onto my Windows Mobile device but I could only find one company and they didn’t look professional and it was also very expensive.

Honestly, people shouldn’t be buying language packs for their cellphones just to be able to read an SMS or open a certain website. Languages should be easily added onto the device’s OS with a couple of mouse clicks. Plus, it’s an excellent way to reach customers globally. BlackBerry does a wonderful job allowing the user to manually add and remove support for any language using RIM’s free PC software ‘BlackBerry Desktop Manager’. Why can’t Microsoft do the same for Windows Mobile?

It’s a shame that to this day Windows Mobile doesn’t have a way of adding support for Arabic. Some may say to me that the ever so popular iPhone doesn’t support Arabic either. But you’re forgetting the fact that Windows Mobile has been around way longer before we even saw the first iPod. There shouldn’t be any excuses.

Apparently I underestimated my Bold’s GPS. I always used to think that it won’t be able to get my location while I am inside my house. I used to have a dedicated external Nokia GPS module which I used with my Nokia E61 and even then I wasn’t able to get a single satellite signal in my house.

So last night I was playing around Google Maps and its new service ‘Latitude’. I was in bed away from the window (which by the way the curtains were shut) and in less than 40 seconds my BlackBerry Bold was able to get a signal from 4 different satellites. That to me was a shocking surprise!

Considering also that I previously owned the HTC Advantage 7501 (running Windows Mobile 6 Pro) with an internal GPS as well and I could hardly get a strong signal even in my backyard. And here I am laying in bed with the curtains closed and I was able to get my GPS working with a 6 meter accuracy on the Bold.

It’s just another reason why the Bold is such an awesome device.


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