Zimbabwe Introduces $100,000 Note

Sad news from Zimbabwe…

Zimbabwe is introducing a bank note worth 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars, to help consumers as inflation exceeds 1,000%.

The note will be worth about $1 at the official exchange rate, but only $0.30 on the informal market.

The 50,000 Zimbabwe dollar bill, introduced only four months ago, is not enough to buy a loaf of bread.

Zimbabwe is suffering from shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency. In April, inflation passed 1,000% per annum for the first time.

[Source: BBC News]

News like this truly breaks my heart.
I remember a beautiful, great, stable, ever flourishing Zimbabwe from my childhood, and then I see its state today, and it really saddens me.
What a big big shame.

[Via: The Emirates Economist]

Toot’s Blog Design Competition

Toot have gone on and launched their first blog design competition, a step which I think is good because it emphasizes good design as much as it does good content.

All the blogs on toot, apart from the ones that belong to toot team members, are nominated, and the 3 blogs that win the highest votes will get prizes (digital camera, iPod Nano and a $50 Amazon gift certificate).

Here is where you can vote for the best designed blogs on toot.

As my blog is on toot, it is one of the nominated blogs. So, if you like my blog’s design, and think that it’s pretty cool or something, you can vote for me.
And well, if you don’t like it, I’d appreciate it if you leave me a comment telling me what it is that you would like to see done with it.

A little reminder to everyone though: this is a design competition, not a content or popularity competition, but a design competition, so you should keep that in mind when voting.
There are enough blog popularity competitions out there on the net, let’s not make this yet another one.

Restoring Factory Settings

Yesterday, while shopping around in Carrefour, yeah I know I said I would never go there again, but well it’s right next door and I’ve sort of figured out the best times to go. Anyway, while I was shopping around and checking out the tech stuff, I came across the shelf with the CD-Rs and stuff, or “CDs Vierges” (Virgin CDs) as they call them in French.

Seeing these piles of CD-Rs reminded me of my long planned, yet never done, format of my laptop. I mean, I’ve had this laptop for 4 years now, and it’s never been formatted. That’s abnormal, especially from an IT guy like me.
A load of crap is lying around on it’s hard disk everywhere, the Windows XP installation is barely breathing, and day after day it’s getting more and more impossible to work with.

So, I picked up a pack of 10 CDs, which I thought added to the CDs I have at home would be enough to back everything up, and as soon as I got home, started backing up every bit of information I need onto these CDs.

I backed up my photos, which needed 5 CDs on their own, my documents, my work files, my downloads, my rubbish and whatever else.

I finished backing everything up last night at midnight, and when I woke up this morning, I popped in the Recovery CD and chose the restore to factory settings option. After a bunch of warnings that all my data will be going to neverland, the laptop was restored to it’s orginal state, and what a pleasure that was.

I was thinking of throwing in a Linux distro next to Windows, but well, that’ll have to wait; Windows XP Home Edition should do for now.

I’m aiming to keep this a light installation with only the ultra necessary programs. I hope my curious testing side doesn’t take over again making a mess out of it all over again.

I found out that in the heat of the moment, I forgot to backup my email data, so I’ve lost every email that was downloaded to my hard disk through outlook express or thunderbird during the last 4 years, but well, not such a big deal, they’re mostly old emails.
I also lost all my fonts, which sucks, especially that it’ll be hard to find some good Arabic fonts all over again.

Other than that, all is fine, and here I am blogging from a faster, lighter installation.

Summertime Naps

Summer is here, it means the most to children, soon school will be over for this year, and all the different summer activities will begin taking place. I remember how great it felt when summer came at last, promising us a 3 month break from school, and the rigid serious routine we had to keep up with for a whole 9 months.

I have many great summertime memories that I might get around to sharing here, but in this post, I’m going to write about a specific memory that flashed back to me a couple of days ago.

As a kid, I spent most of my summer away from home, either in Bizerta, my home city in the north coast of Tunisia, with my uncles enjoying the best beaches in the country or in Manouba, an agricultural area, on my late grandfather’s farm playing away with my cousins.

I remember in Manouba how one of my aunts, a different one each day, used to gather all us children up after lunch, put us into a room full of beds and tell us, actually force us, to take a nap. I hated naps, and I didn’t want to waste any valuable day time sleeping. I wanted to play, run, climb up trees, and just have as much fun as possible.
But, the aunt, whose role it was to put us to sleep that day, would stand in my way of doing that; she’d put us into beds, and keep checking on us until she was sure we were asleep.

But, no way was I going to let someone impose their will on me! So, again I tap into my acting skills, and I play the good boy who does exactly as he’s told, and I’m the first to jump into a bed, and the first to fall into this angelic like sleep.
The other kids go to sleep one by one. My aunt checks on us and finds us all deep asleep, including me, but little does she know that even though I seem to be away in slumber land and my eyes seem shut, I’m actually just acting as if I’m asleep and watching her by not closing my eyes too tightly.

The moment she leaves the room, and I hear her footsteps going out to sit with my other aunts to drink some green tea and talk about whatever it is that women talk about, I get up and I start waking up all the other children.

When they’re all awake, with me making sure they don’t make any noises, I’d take them slowly to the window of an adjacent room. The window overlooks some sort of pool that old Tunisian houses have, it had fish in it and it wasn’t that deep, but deep enough to be dangerous for some children. I actually remember someone telling me that some kid drowned in it once.

I’d step out of the window onto the narrow ledge seperating it from the cold waters that lie beneath, then I’d help the other children out one by one, slowly getting them along the ledge to safe ground.
Once I got everyone out, I’d lead them out of the rear door to the fields, and there we’d either start playing a game together or break up for everyone to go and do whatever he feels like.

I’ll never forget the time when we decided to play catch, and we started running after each other, all around the field and the house, and how everyone, especially my aunt were shocked to see us run across the yard in front of them, shouting and trying to catch each other, when they thought we were deeply asleep in our beds.

After me doing this a number of times, they gave up on me, and started putting the other children to sleep, while I got to roam around freely, climbing my favourite trees, picking and eating the freshest fruits, and doing whatever I wished, free like a bird.

10 Steps You Can Take To Guarantee Failure

Most of the times when we have a certain project in our heads, and it fails, whether it be something related to work or to our personal lives, it’s because we did something wrong along the way.

The internet and bookstores are full of websites and books telling you how to succeed, but the following is a list of 10 steps that will guarantee the failure of any project in your life:

1. Make your goals vague
2. Make your goals difficult to visualize
3. Think and speak negatively about your goals
4. Avoid planning incremental steps
5. Don’t Do – Talk
6. Wait until you are motivated
7. Don’t set a date
8. List why it’s impossible
9. Don’t research your goal
10. Think of anything except your goal

For the list, with more details about each point, go here.

Avoid those 10 points and you should have a good chance of making your project work out.

Air In A Can

Spray cans filled with oxygen have gone on sale in Japanese supermarkets – an addition to “oxygen bars” that already started springing up across the country.

The air-in-a-can, which is 95 per cent oxygen compared with 21 per cent in normal air, is for use at the first sign of yawns or sighs, indicators of a drop in bodily oxygen.

I saw this bit of news on CNN today in my lunch break, and other than thinking “what the hell are these Japanese going to come up with next?”, it also reminded me of a funny story that happened with a friend of mine in Jordan.

One day this friend of mine, who was an ex-colleague and who then went on and opened his own web design company, was contacted by a client who wanted to create a website to sell his product online. My friend had no idea what the product was yet, and he went to the client’s office to meet with him and talk about the project.

It turned out the guy was still settling down in Jordan, and hadn’t opened an office yet, and my friend ended up at the client’s house. Up to this point, everything is going on normally; my friend got to the house, was greeted by the client, and was seated as the client went off to get something.

As usual when waiting in a place we don’t know, we let our eyes and minds wander off, taking in our surroundings, and imagining how the soon-to-start conversation is going to be like, and we end up a bit disconnected from the reality around us, and that’s exactly what happened to my friend.

All of a sudden, the client appeared out of nowhere with a can in his hand, and he sprayed something on my friend’s face. My friend panicked and jumped up of his chair with a million conspiracy theories running through his head, about to hold the client and give him a good beating. The client felt the sudden rage, stepped back and told him to calm down and that this was his product, some sort of oxygen spray, called an oxygen shot, with the slogan “It’s a cold shower in a can.”

He then asked my friend if he felt refreshed; my friend didn’t feel anything, it was just like spraying a bit of water on your face, more annoying than refreshing; but not wanting to let the client down, he nodded in that non-convincing way we all know.

When he told me the story later on, I laughed like crazy, imagining how he must have felt and his reaction. Priceless…

Angels & Demons Movie To Be Made

Just like I predicted and hoped for in my review of the book “Angels & Demons” by Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code”, the book is going to be made into a movie too, following the success of “The Da Vinci Code” movie in cinemas.

The Da Vinci Code movie took $224m around the world in its first weekend, despite poor reviews and controversy over its religious subject.

So now, Columbia Pictures, the studio behind the film, has ordered an adaptation of Angels and Demons.

Akiva Goldsman has been drafted in to write the script, having penned the screenplay for The Da Vinci Code. And a spokesman for Columbia said “The Da Vinci Code” director Ron Howard and Tom Hanks would be given first option to work on Angels and Demons.

I still haven’t seen “The Da Vinci Code” movie, and now, I have yet another movie, “Angels & demons”, to look forward to seeing.

[Source: BBC News]

Hanging On To The Bits And Pieces

It’s weird how as our life goes by we keep hanging on to all this stuff from the past, these bits and pieces that belong to different eras of our life.
Most of the time, it’s a bunch of useless crap that we no longer have any use for whatsoever, but still, for some reason, it’s crap that is very dear to us.

The other day I had one of those moments when something dawns upon you, and you suddenly understand a certain thing about your nature, and about human nature in general.

I think that in our present, we feel somehow disconnected from our past, as if it’s all part of a past life, a distant memory, that we’re not sure is true or not, not sure we really lived.

These small useless material things are more or less the only proof we have that we were there and we lived all that. Without them, our past doesn’t exist. They’re the only way to reassure us and keep our past alive in our present.
No wonder how dear they are to us.

I still have a bunch of stuff spanning my different ages stored here and there as some sort of anchor, a living memory of that age, a proof of existence. A teddy bear, a notebook, an old computer, a skateboard, legos, …etc.
A pile of items that hold so much more value than any possible estimation.

Microsoft Windows Vista Hardware Requirements

Microsoft has revealed the minimum requirements a PC will need to run its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system, and to be branded ‘Vista Capable’ and ‘Vista Premium Ready’.

A ‘Vista Capable’ PC will require at least an 800MHz processor, 512MB of system memory, a DirectX 9 capable graphics card, a 40GB hard drive with at least 15GB of free space, a DVD drive, and audio and internet capabilities.

The only extra requirements for a ‘Vista Premium Ready’ PC are a 1GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor, 1GB of Ram and a graphics card with 128MB of onboard memory capable of supporting Windows Aero2.

An Aero2 compatible card is a DirectX 9-class graphics processor that supports WDDM, Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware, 32 bits per pixel, and with enough memory to support the desired screen resolution.

This comes as a surprise to a lot of people who have been talking about how Vista will need a bunch of new hardware, especially to companies like Intel and AMD who were counting on it to boost sales.
Basically people with a pc just a few years old might only need to change their graphics card and maybe throw in some more memory.

Still, I wonder why the hell this version of Windows needs 15GB of hard disk space? That’s incredibly huge for an operating system.
I wonder if those one live cd operating system fanatics will be able to get anywhere near this one.

And why isn’t there a version that is stripped down from the extra fancy graphical user interface, like with Windows XP? So that people can choose to upgrade their graphic card at their own time.
Update: “If you arent lucky enough to have a WDDM-capable video card, your experience with Windows Vista will be at least as good, if not better than, your experience with Windows XP.” — Barb Bowman, Microsoft.
I stand corrected. Microsoft did think about people with older graphics cards. Thank you Swifty.

But then again, it wouldn’t be Microsoft if it did that, would it now?

If Tomorrow Never Comes…

One of the songs that really touched me when I first heard it some years ago was “If Tomorrow Never Comes” by Garth Brooks, covered by a number of others too.
It’s a love song in which the singer asks “If tomorrow never comes will she know how much I loved her?”

But the song didn’t make me think of that only, I mean of course it got me thinking about whether I showed my feelings enough for the one I love, but it also got me thinking about a bunch of other things.

It got me asking myself the question: What if tomorrow really never comes…?!
Which leads to yet more questions, I’d be asking myself if that happened, like:
What is it that I wanted to make out of my life but never got to make?
What is it that I wanted to do but never got to do?
What is it that I wanted to say but never got to say?
Where is it that I wanted to go but never got to go?
Who are the people I cared for but never got around to showing my feelings for?
And the endless list goes on…

We always get too carried away with life to stop and think that it could all end so suddenly, and that there might be no tomorrow, that those things we’ve been putting off till next week, or the month after, or maybe a couple of years into the future could possibly never come true.
Even though we know we’re mortals, we often forget it and plan as if we’ll be around forever and we’ll have all the time to do everything we want, say everything we want, express our feelings for everyone we want, …etc.
But that’s not true… And we know it…

So I guess what we should do is to follow the wise quote that tells us not to put off today’s work to tomorrow.
If there is someone we want to say something to, we might as well do it today; if there’s someone we want to hug, we might as well do it today; if there’s someone we want to confess our love to, we might as well do it today; if there’s something we want to do, we might as well set a plan for it in motion today; if there’s somewhere we want to go, we might as well start planning for a trip there as soon as possible; … etc etc etc

Good luck with your lists…