The Price of Anything

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Henry David Thoreau

I just came across this little quote and it just struck me how true it is.

After all, in everything we do, we’re giving away some of our precious time, some of our lives, some of the time we could be spending with our loved ones or doing other things that we truly enjoy.

I guess we rarely stop to think of the true price of things, and to ask ourselves if what we’re doing is worth the price we’re paying.

From now on, I personally promise myself that I’ll ask myself that question, every now and then, and that I’ll try to only do things that are worthy of the price I’m paying.

We only live once after all, and if we waste it all on things we deem unworthy, would we consider ourselves to really have lived?

Zaghouan Blog Presentation

In our regular blogger meetups, one of the issues that always comes up is what we can do to spread blogging even more in Tunisia.

An idea that we came up with is by giving presentations about blogging in cultural, internet or youth centers.
We also thought it was important that we give such presentations in places outside the capital city where most Tunisian bloggers are from.

Last wednesday, we were able to take the first step in that direction, by holding a presentation about blogging in Zaghouan, a city that lies 55Km outside Tunis.

The presentation was held in the ISET institute in Zaghouan, in the presentation/activity room of one of the dormitories.
Around 50 students showed up, mostly girls, for the presentation, in which we tried to explain the basics of blogging, a bit of it’s history, how to go on about it, …etc.
We also gave a little overview of the Tunisian blogosphere and the community of Tunisian bloggers.

We were four bloggers (Tom, Karim, Marouen and myself) and one non-blogger Moez, who is a friend of Karim’s.

The themes we covered were:
– Introduction, definition and history of blogging: By Me.
– Blogging approaches and objectives: By Tom.
– Blogospheres and the Tunisian blogosphere in specific: By Marouen.
– Simulation of how to create a blog: By Karim.

And Moez kicked in after the presentation with his views of a non-blogger about blogging and his understanding of it all.
After that we held a little Q&A session in which we answered some questions by the students .

We think that the presentation went pretty well and got the message across. We did see a few eyes sparkle and felt some interest stirring in some of the crowd.
Hopefully, some of them will try and explore blogging even further and maybe start a blog.

After the presentation, I had the chance to talk to some of the students and some of them were already thinking of ways to use blogs to help in their studies, which I thought was great.

I would personally like to thank everyone who helped make the presentation a reality, as well as the students who showed up and listened to us, and of course my fellow bloggers who believed in the importance of this presentation and came. Last but not least, a big thanks to Moez who was so generous to drive us to Zaghouan and back and added a valuable non-blogger insight to the presentation.

Hopefully we’ll get to do this again soon in other places around Tunisia.

Last Day At Work

Today’s my last day at work…
Days like this always feel weird and sad.
Weird because you’re leaving something you’ve come to know so well to venture off into a somehow unknown future, sad because you’re leaving behind a load of memories and mainly because you know you’ll be missing the people, you actually spent most of your day with for over 3.5 years, so much.

I guess it’s always the people you get to know, how they touch your life, the different relationships you build with them, the good times, and even the not so good ones, that gets to you.

Why did I take this step? Well, I guess, I just felt the time was right to move on, all the omens were right, maybe the stars were in place too or whatever else you believe in.
It just falls into my basic strategy of trying to set clearer goals for myself in life and to take the steps I see necessary to reach them.
Moving on to something else in my career life was simply one of those steps.

I’d like to thank all the guys at work for the great ride. It was great getting to know you all and to get a chance to work with every single one of you. I hope that we’ll get to carry our personal relationships well on into the future.

I’d like to thank the company for having me as part of the team. I’m proud of these years that I spent in it, the role I had and the work I did. I’m very happy to see the company growing further and going on to higher grounds.
I wish you all the best of luck.

Spaceport in Ras Al-Khaimah UAE

The company that pioneered the concept of space tourism has announced plans for a commercial spaceport in the United Arab Emirates.

Spaceport UAE

Space Adventures will build its first spaceport in the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah, less than an hour’s drive from Dubai, and, in a project estimated to cost at least $265 million, is designing to add further ports in locations such as Singapore and North America.

The US company has also struck a deal with investment firm Prodea to develop rocket ships to take paying customers on sub-orbital flights.

It’s amazing how day after day the UAE keeps turning more and more into a wonderland. So many cool things in one place.

Linux Caffe in Toronto

Coffee, sandwiches and open source in Toronto’s Linux Caffe

Linux Caffe

Groups of open source enthusiasts meet there regularly; GTA-lug, Ruby, Python, Asterisk and the Toronto 2600. Linux newbies hang around and gurus visit. There’s a row of penguin buttons and t-shirts and pocket protectors are on the way.

Cool, in a geeky kind of way.
I wish we had a caf

Sleep On Your Major Decisions

A new study has found that complex decisions are best left to your unconscious mind to work out, and that over-thinking a problem could lead to expensive mistakes.

The research suggests the conscious mind should be trusted only with simple decisions.

Thinking hard about a complex decision that rests on multiple factors appears to bamboozle the conscious mind so that people only consider a subset of information, which they weight inappropriately, resulting in an unsatisfactory choice. In contrast, the unconscious mind appears able to ponder over all the information and produce a decision that most people remain satisfied with.

I pretty much believe this as it has worked with me before in taking decisions, solving problems or even thinking up solutions and algorithms for my work.

I sometimes feel that all we do with our conscious mind, when we’re faced with a complex issue or decision, is somehow panic, mess things up and interfere with a natural and more balanced process that our unconscious mind would follow.

[Source: NewScientist]

Israeli Soldiers Just Shoot, Shoot, Shoot

“When I first got to Hebron I wouldn’t open fire on little children. And I was sure that if I ever killed or hurt anyone, I’d go so crazy that I’d leave the army. But finally I did shoot someone, and nothing happened to me. In Hebron I shot the legs off of two kids, and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to sleep anymore at night, but nothing happened. Two weeks ago I hurt a Palestinian policeman, and that didn’t affect me either. You become so apathetic you don’t care at all. Shooting is the IDF soldier’s way of meditating. It’s like shooting is your way of letting go of all your anger when you’re in the army. In Hebron there’s this order they call “punitive shooting”: just open fire on whatever you like. I opened fire not on any sources of fire but on windows where there was just wash hanging to dry. I knew that there were people who would be hit. But at that moment it was just shoot, shoot, shoot.”

— Extract from an interview with Israeli soldiers (who are identified by pseudonyms) conducted by Israeli journalist Uri Blau and printed in Kol Ha’Ir, a Jerusalem weekly, in September 2001.
Translated from Hebrew by Tal Haran, and published in English translation in the April 2002 edition of Harpers Magazine.

[Via: Lawrence of Cyberia]

CNNi Redesigns, Goes Clean

CNN International has launched a major overhaul of its on-screen presentation on February 5 in a move described as a “radical move away from the cluttered screens and heavy graphics that currently prevail in today’s rolling news and business networks.”

The network’s logo was repositioned to the left, network identity spots and music were revamped, fonts in the lower-third bars were changed, and full-screen information graphics got a new look. The colour scheme used on CNNI also underwent a revamp, with the channel adapting the internationally-recognised “alert” colour, yellow, for breaking news graphics.

The news ticker, which has run at the bottom of CNNI’s screen since September 11, 2001, was replaced with a new information bar that displays one complete sentence or story at a time.

Design firm Kemistry is behind the changes and says it cut back the font graphics to the length of words and sentences so that

Batman Takes on Al-Qaida

Bored with pitting his wits against the Joker and the Riddler, Batman is setting his sights on a more challenging target – Osama bin Laden.

Frank Miller, the famed Batman writer, sees the caped crusader facing off against al-Qaida operatives who attack Gotham City in “Holy Terror, Batman!”

Miller, who has inked his way through 120 pages of the 200-page opus, told a recent comic book convention that the novel was an unashamed “piece of propaganda” in which Batman “kicks al-Qaida’s ass”.

Miller said the use of comic book heroes for propaganda had an honourable tradition.

“Superman punched out Hitler. So did Captain America. That’s one of the things they’re there for,” he said.

[Source: Al Jazeera]

U.S. and Israelis Talk of Hamas Ouster

The United States and Israel are discussing ways to destabilize the Palestinian government so that newly elected Hamas officials will fail and elections will be called again, according to Israeli officials and Western diplomats.

The intention is to starve the Palestinian Authority of money and international connections to the point where, some months from now, its president, Mahmoud Abbas, is compelled to call a new election. The hope is that Palestinians will be so unhappy with life under Hamas that they will return to office a reformed and chastened Fatah movement.

So this is the democracy that the US is promoting in the Middle East?
You get to vote for whoever you wish, but if you choose someone we don’t like, we’ll put you in a secluded corner without food or money until you change your mind and choose the people we want?!

What kind of hypocrisy and double-standards are these?
I’m sorry, but democracy just doesn’t work that way!
When Americans made the mistake of choosing George W. Bush for presidency twice, the rest of the world didn’t go on and cut the U.S. off for their very bad choice, they just lived with it.

That’s how things are with democracy, and with life in general, people don’t always make the right decisions, or the decisions that the rest of the world wants them to make, but in the end it’s their decision and nobody elses.
The world has to live with it and work with it.

[Source: NY Times]
[Via: Sleepless Jojo]