October 15, 2006

It's a Push-to-talk thing

The company I work for (bravO) was busy in the past month testing the international push-to-talk service with XPress, Wallahi I don't recall experiencing a truly new mobile service since the first time I sent and received SMS back in 1999.

The mere thought of being able to connect instantly (less than 3mS) with your business associates, friends and family abroad to make instant queries or have a quick chat within a flat-fee subscription is really exciting, though given it's a half-duplex call (you wait for the other party to finish talking before you start) makes it a bit dull for long conversations or intimate ones nonetheless.


We're not used to the concept of radio communication and push-to-talk, expensive licensing & hardware cost coupled with strict governmental control over such equipment (even the civilian ones such as the walkie-talkie) made the very nature of hearing a chirp then a brief talk then a pause to be immediately associated with law enforcement officers and intelligence agents.


No wonder why XPress had a really huge barrier to overcome with its potential customers who despite their dire need for such communication tool, they were reluctant to adapt it, of course there was other issues contributing to XPress sluggish start-up, chiefly the weak coverage & quality of service.


In a business environment, the use of this medium is very efficient in terms of productivity and feasibility, 3 years onward (since XPress launched) I can assure you that once an organization get accustomed & oriented to the instantaneous, immediate worrisome-less fixed-rate nature of the push-to-talk service; they become dependant on it and find it indispensable to them. (more than 50% of registered companies are XPress customers)

That's why the incumbent GSM operator (Fas*tlink) viewed the (then) miniature XPress as a threat from day one, as they were about to cater for a market that's beyond the realm of any counter competitive offering the prior can come up with.


The use of push-to-talk can also be recreational and can generally be adopted by individuals outside the corporate sphere, I for one sat out a trial (with a private agenda) to test how easily mature users can orient themselves with the push-to-talk routine without throwing the handset aside deeming it as devilishly too inconvenient.


So I gave a handset to my aunt in Riyadh and taught her how to call my mother in Jordan, back at head-quarters, I was monitoring the usage (numbers not content), and man did these two women talk using half-duplex telephony… amazing, at best I was barely anticipating that my mother will toss aside the set after a couple of trials.


I myself call my brother, friends and x-colleagues back at XPress regularly, I can't say it a substitute for "normal" calls, if anything it replaces international SMS or even better, it becomes like an IM service available at all times, and as my wife left back to Amman to spend Ramadan with family, the 1-minute mini calls have been eliminated in favour of a quick push-to-talk one along with the ever so entertaining & thunderous unsolicited voice of mine unexpectedly coming out of her handset speaker, one could argue that this is tactless bad sense of practical humour.


Things look bright for XPress, it's sister company bravO here in Saudi as well as the new licence they acquired in Palestine, as businesses recognize the legacy GSM services are inferior to what the system implemented by XPress is capable of offering, but mostly, it’s the short term & long term short term cost effectiveness that seems to underline the most sought out benefit from opting for such a premium service.

October 11, 2006

Islamically tuned, Ramadan themed & personalised scam email!

Though I didn't have the endurance exhibited by Bakkouz and his long email skirmish with Amina the orphan and her
Intoxicated-to-death father, however I found this pilot scam email I received yesterday interesting.

Did he/she actually spent some actual human-time on customising such message, or is web-crawlers are now smart enough to relate a name, a theme among other info to the email they hunt!


At any measure, I did reply to him, and he was more direct than Amina by bluntly asking me for my personal details… he wasn't persistent though, he dropped it when I did, Enjoy…

Notice the Subject and the overall general context, things like "I got your contact from an Islamic search on the web when i was searching for who to entrust".


From: AMAD UDDIN adudd_islamm@yahoo.it> Signed-By: yahoo.it
To: ***************************
Date: Oct 10, 2006 1:13 PM
Subject: From your Brother Amad Uddin To Basem Aggad
Reply | Reply to all | Forward | Print | Add sender to Contacts list | Delete this message | Report phishing | Show original | Message text garbled?
ATTEN:Basem Aggad

Salam Alaykum......

greetings in the name of Allah, the most beneficient, and the most merciful

Dear Brother,

Compliments of the season. I know my letter might come to you as a surprise, but don't be surprise because it’s coming in good faith. I am Mr. Amad Uddin from ZINBABWE. But based in United Arab Emirate U.A.E. with my kid sister Fatima Uddin.

My father and me located to from ZINBABWE to London long time ago, after we where converted to Muslim by my late father's friend who was from United Arab Emirate (DUBAI). After my family welcomed the Islamic religion my country was no longer self for us to stay anymore, due to the Christianity religion over there we where wanted death to be killed by Christens that is why we left to London to stay.

My father was invole in the recent Plane crash in IRAN couple of days ago, when he was flaying from Bander Abbas to Mashhad. before we left to London my father deposited the sum of E28.2m Euros (twenty Eight Million Two Hundred Thousand Euros) With Me-bank International Dubai
( United Arab Emirate). Which he made it know to me as the only son. Part of this fund i mapped out to use for building a Mosque where children of ALLAH will be worshiping, the rest of the money i will use for a very lucrative investment to keep my life going because i can't go back to my country anymore.

My Christian name use to be Michel Andrew before i was converted and since then we have been happy in worshiping the almighty ALLAH our personal savor’s, I got your contact from an Islamic search on the web when i was searching for who to entrust before i saw your contact and decide to tell disclose my situation to you of which i know that by Allah grace things will work out fine for me and you. All i need is your assistance in helping me to retrieve this fund from theMe-bank International Dubai (United Arab Emirate) and have it transferred out side through your account to build this Mosque which my late father told me to do and which has also being my dream. I know i do not have much say in my country any more that is why i want to entrust this transaction in your hands. However, i will make shore i provide all the documents back up we will need for retrieving this fund.

After transferring these funds to your account in your country, we will bring out money for building of Mosque, the rest of the funds you will be in title of 15% shear for assisting me, and 5% will be for any expencies you made on the process of this transaction.Then i will use the rest for an investment in your country.

Finally, i will reside in your country because i will not be welcome in my ZINBABWE as a Muslim.

If you are interested in assisting me. Email me at amadudd@yahoo.se

I look forwards to hear from you.

Happy Ramadan.

Best Regards.

Amad Uddinamadudd_islamm@yahoo.it>

October 08, 2006

Moslems celebrate their "Lunar food & drama festival" aka Ramadan

Next will be surrounding the Ka'ba with advertising billboards like football stadiums to milk out petty pilgrims, why not?

If it was a matter of dedicating certain delicacies (Qatayif, Samosa …etc) to this season then I wouldn't have given this despicable state of affairs a flying thought, but what we're witnessing here is an outright exploitation of the holy month of fasting with total disregard to the true essence of it.

And mind you, despite my usual rhetoric tone, I'm not enflamed by the fact that the commercial exploitation of Ramadan is on the expense of its Islamic and sentimental values, no… for this only worries those who cohere to the Islamic doctrine on a daily basis, whether off-Ramadan or during the month, in which Ramadan act as a catalyst to do more of the good stuff they usually do.

But for others, it seems fair that during the month of Ramadan, if one feels unconvinced (too young, too hot or too tired) or simply can't be bothered with fasting, then the least that one could do is to refrain from doing so and go about his/her day as business as usual, but this isn't exactly what happens.

What we see before our blatant eyes is the transformation of Ramadan to a total different entity, with nothing left of its Islamic origin or its cultural evolvement, but a mutant commercially exploited month-long celebration driven by greedy corporates and oblivious recipients (that'll be us).

From a more analytical perspective, Ramadan became what it is now from right from the capitalising of two underlying features that engulf the fasting community: hunger and boredom, that's of course what's left for those who blindly practice fasting, others subtly find themselves stricken by those two.

It sounds fair that our heritage have in its luggage allot of dedication for Ramadan along other occasion, some with valid grounds, like serving high energy food and thirst-bashing & nurturing drinks and some merely found out of the blue, no harm in that, every other culture have its fair bit of seasonal food and drinks.

Here in Jordan, Circassian have their Shibs-ibwasta, typically served in winter time (seems like year round back in the Qoqaz though) and Christian minorities serve a special home-baked biscuits during their seasonal occasions, but I'm not sure how many cultures out there have Vimto and contemporary commercial products as a Ramadan household item?

I'm not sure either; if many other cultures allow themselves to be exploited and be manically rushed into a "a pre-Ramadan shopping spree", as if supplies will run out at some point in the near future, to the point that some supermarkets here rationalise the despising of Vimto at the rate of one bottle per shopper!

The amount of advertising spending for fast-moving consumer goods double, especially drinks, they litter the littered billboards with drinks and Ramadan-inspired food, as if to say that the sunset marks the cadence of one's average Ramadanian day… petty really.

I'm not disputing the commercial viability and what used to be a marketing ingenuousness of placing food & beverages products right in the face of hungry folks who are about to have their first meal after a long day! But how ethical is that I ask? Not from an Islamic perspective but rather in terms of the corporate responsibility towards respecting others beliefs and try not to exploit it.

If anything, demand should decrees during Ramadan, work the math out, people should be consuming less since they'll be eating less, how we managed to challenge the laws of supply & demand, I think I have a clue or two.

Then comes the matter of entertainment and TV, cinema, tents & theatrical drama (will its mostly comedy I know), and again I'm not disputing the business sense behind investing heavily on aligning premier stuff for Ramadan TV schedules and line up a number of movie releases and performances especially for this month.

This is a normal continuum of the despicable state of affairs of Arabs & Moslems in general, where the only industry they seem to be "good" at is the entertainment one, if only this accompanies some quality content… but alas, mimic societies are bound to have the cultural contribution of an amphibian frog.

So I have no problem (will I do, but you should know my theme by now) with Ramadan TV specials and all, except with the fact that its dedicated for and named after the month of Ramadan, it sounds utterly awkward and incoherent with the general theme of Ramadan and what it should typically entail and stand for.

The least that can be done is to continue offering the usual stuff without dedicating anything to the month! Its very disrespectful to those who adhere to the month and try to observe it thoroughly.

I humbly think that Moslems and non-Moslems alike (living in Moslem societies), the fasting and the can't-be-bothered-with-fasting folks alike, we should all take a strong stand against all greedy companies and supermarkets that try to milk us out during this holy month and gradually diminishing its genuinely distinct essence.

A boycott movement if you like, against every exploitation of the month of Ramadan, in sheer respect for what Ramadan stands for and what it means to those who try to sincerely observe it, and happy Lunar food & festival everyone, and Ramadan Kareem to the observing few.

To the interested few, my blog site feed changed

My avid readers, the don't-call-me-Sheikh site feed address was changed

from http://dontcallmesheikh.blogspot.com/atom.xml

to http://dontcallmesheikh.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/summary

kindly amend your aggregators accordingly.

A tip to all those who migrated to Blogger beta and are using the new templates, your old site feeds will eventually disappear, circulate the new one accordingly.