Sunday, February 12, 2006

Weekend trip to Sharm!

Typical Cairo! This trip has it all... the time issue, the madness, the vitality.. everything Cairo means to me!

First: the inception or motivation - of the trip, I mean. Two weeks in sun-less Seattle, two weeks in rainy Seattle, two weeks in cold Seattle. Without getting too poetic about it, sitting in Seattle, the only place I could dream of was the beach: Sun and the beach - taking a tan, sipping a cool drink and staring at the blue horizon like an idiot. This dream, unrealized, festered in my breast, wanting to burst forth into reality. The terrible pressures mounted unstoppably driving me to the decision. I had to go to Sharm.

Second: the boiling. Idea firmly in mind, it was time to share the dream and enlighten the masses. A few phone calls a few ideas exchanged and after much debate a time and date set.

Third: Implementation. We've got the rooms booked and timings confirmed. We want to hit the road at 6 and be there by midnight. And as plans go, this one was shot to hell even before we started. I had a meeting with my boss and it seemed unending. The only saving grace was that I'd packed before-hand. So with 30 mins to spare, I left the office and in 10 mins was stuck in a traffic jam!

Another unfinished post is dead...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Egypt goes to the finals!

Egypt made it to the finals! I was supposed to go today, but fearing illness and lots of pending work kept me from the madness. I did go to the match last Friday: Egypt vs. Congo. That was awesome! It was the first time for me to attend a live sporting event of such proportions. The stadium was packed and I could see flags and the national colors flying all around me.

We had to get in 4 hours before the match started. I thought I'd be bored, but with the company and the excitement, the mood was very upbeat. Unbelievably we made noise for 4 hours before the match and cheered in the match too. At first I wasn't really into the game, but as the match drew to a close the fever got to me and as the last goal was scored, I jumped out of my seat howling! It was a total fluke and so undeserved - I couldn't believe it.

After, the streets were packed with fans gone mad. The "nafa'" on Thawra St. in Heliopolis was blocked for ages and 3 hours after the match ended the festivities still showed no sign of slowing down. I drove home and was lucky enough to escape most of the traffic. Today's probably much worse. I decided to go over to mum's place and work from there. Had breakfast, lunch and dinner here. Now, to bed! Got a customer visit tomorrow and probably quite a bit to prepare afterwards.

"City sun set over me..." - lyrics from This Mess We're In by Thom Yorke & PJ Harvey. Awesome song.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The NLP Game

Women in Cairo are difficult. I may be inept when it comes to women, but this comment can be backed by almost every male I know in Cairo. Aye sayers? Please do post a comment to show the critics! Girls too! :)

So I found this book on the recommendation of my pal Sacha from Espana. And it's called Speed Secduction by some guy called Roger Jefferies (I think!). And this book is about using Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) for the stated purpose. While I'm not putting all my pennies on this one, the concept of NLP, with or without the context of aforestated aim, does seem interesting. I'll let you know how it turns out. LOL and there is a book on Anti-Speed Seduction to protect the femmes.

Looks like I can't enjoy an advantage :(

Predominantly Evil

That's how I feel today! Hmm not true, but that's the stuff I'm going to write about. The evil I did today...

First thing today, I woke up with a call from BilBil. He wanted to know if I was headed to work. 9 am! I was still abed and after some wrestling with the plan in my head I agreed to be ready in 30. Took me 50 and he called just as I was beginning to feel guilty. I was putting on my shoes then. Just rushed through that and into the elevator. Only to find that my car was sandwiched between two others. In my street parking is terrible! There's no way I'll find a parking spot, so I double park like the others around me. We have an understanding: we leave our gears in neutral and the handbrakes down and push cars around to maneuver.

And so it was today. Only the car infront of me wouldn't respond to a gentle budge. Bristling at the idea of someone breaking the rules I was starting to get warmer around the neck. Ahmed, our bawwab was looking in my direction and when I waved, he came over to help. A bystander joined in as well. "On my count, let's push," said the good samaritan. And we did - push the car into the front of a car parked perpendicularly to it, scraping the side bad.. I think we probably dented it really good. We all looked at each other, mortified. Shit! Who do we blame? Me? Ahmed? Bystander? All? It was on my side, so I was theoretically to blame.. but they asked me to help with pushing.. I'm the poor sod whose car was sandwiched. Ahmed was quicker at the draw. "Go on, drive away. Drive away before someone notices!" I wanted to know whose car it was, but despite repeated questions Ahmed didn't seem to hear me. And there were cars behind me now, honking! So I stepped on the gas wondering which neighbor I injured and also thinking what the hell would they say when I noticed something like that happen to my car! Maybe it's one of those things.. it goes around and it comes around like the lottery - you just hope it's not your draw!

The second instance wasn't as bad. I was driving home from Zamalek and instead of taking the October bridge to Dokki, I took the May 15 bridge by reflex. So I decided to go to Mum's place at the last minute. Parking there is a bitch too -- not as bad as near my place in Dokki -- but since I park beside the British Council, afternoons are terrible. And I turned into the street and found a spot! But there was another car a few meters away reversing to try and catch the spot. It was blocked by another car in the middle, so it was trying to negotiate it's way back - slowly. I debated it for a second and decided to be an opportunist and explain later if the guy dared to come up to me for an explanation. I felt pretty bad as I reversed into the spot, but hell, I wasn't going to give it up. A few weeks ago, I think I might have been nicer on both instances - a bit more responsible and perhaps proper... and so another day in Cairo passes. With another bit of evil infused into the works. My two bits.

Monday, June 06, 2005

MSN 7

Ever seen that "This message cannot be sent to the following recipeints" bleep up every time you try and type something!?

Happened to me with this new MSN 7. Oddly enough it took a while to come to the fore. First I had a few, then I had more and finally I could barely use MSN! Imagine!

Finally, after a bit of doodling, lazing and finally googling I discovered that 2 versions of MSN on the machine were the probable issue. After un-installing MSN 6.2 (or was it 6.4? :)) all seems to have returned to the normal boring working MSN :)

Je suis happY!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sending executables via Gmail

SecurityConfig.com - ddcrypt 2.0

Now here's a cool way to send exe files via gmail. Of course they have to be under 10 MB in size, but well, that's what volumes in archives are for.. :)

So here's the trick, zip the file(s) and use this utility to encrypt them! Send user the password and a link to this utility :)

Don't you just luuuuuurve workarounds?!

Zone-H.org * Download area

Zone-H.org * Download area

Tools for encryption and decryption. Go crazy!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Revitalise your PC

Revitalise your PC

Here's a cool article by MS to start you out on cleaning up your Windows XP installation.

It's pretty simple, and for those with a fear of computers in general, worry not. MS makes it pretty easy. Your basic requirement: READ ENGLISH WELL. If you fail that, I'm sorry. No can help! :)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Re Comments on Securing your machine!

To answer some of the points you raised:

> what about windowz xp firewall, i guess with sp2, do i still need
> another firewall....

XP Firewall is a commendable effort, but it's a new product by MS, and by no means as mature as some of the others available on the market. It is a step in the right direction, and for those with no firewall, this is the LEAST you can have. However, several exploits have already appeared that are able to bypass the firewall already. You'll be safer with something more mature. i.e. Zone Alarm or Sygate

> what about stuff like tune up utilities.....i use it, but i donot know
> how much of a difference it makes
> what about optimizing a pc....defragment, registry cleaning & defrag,
> memory optimization?
Definitely useful stuff. I should write an email about that soon eh? :)


[your email is] too 'technical' for [some], for lack of a better word....or maybe
> there is some other reason,
>
> i think there should a public campaign on the level of those of
> cigrattes and drugs,
> "securing your pc",
> corporations make too much money out of public ignorance
> but maybe im exaggerating but thats what ive felt
>
Yeah, my email was technical and full of links. I guess my intended audience was a slightly techincally aware one. What I can do is perhaps start up a small site online where I can put some info for the non-nerds. I'll let you know when I do that.

Securing your machines!

I did some research in this area a while back when I was working on my
laptop. Basically, this is essential software you MUST HAVE on your
machine.

a) Firewall (esp if you have a DSL connection)
b) Antivirus (must have anyways! But even more important if you have DSL)
c) Spyware Cleaners (If you use use the net at all)

WINDOWS SPECIFIC INFO Below (sorry don't know much about Macs)

I'll list FREE software that falls under these classes, which I have
personal experience with. You should be able to find the download
sites with a simple Google search:

Firewall
- Zone Alarm (http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/company/products/znalm/freeDownload.jsp)
- Sygate Personal Firewall (http://smb.sygate.com/products/spf_standard.htm)

Sygate and ZA I have actually worked with. Sygate is good, but I've
had some issues with uninstalling it on a Windows 2000 machine with a
corrupt HD, so I wasn't totally happy with it – however, it is known
as a good one. ZA is one of the industry standards.

Antivirus
- AVG (http://www.grisoft.com/doc/40/lng/ww)

AVG is the only one in this category that seems to be widely used. It
is in use by Bell Labs and several other reputable companies and runs
on my laptop.

Spyware Cleaners
- Lavasoft's AdAware (http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/)
- Spybot (http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/)
- Microsoft AntiSpyware (FOR Windows 2000 onwards ONLY)
(http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=321cd7a2-6a57-4c57-a8bd-dbf62eda9671&displaylang=en)

Generally in this category of software, the more scanners you have the
better, because each one will often leave out a few that another might
catch. You'll probably never be Spyware-free, but you can try!