earthquake

just experienced my first earthquake. i was pulling up at the parking lot of the masjid for isha, and i waited a second to shut the engine off and i was like “why is my car shaking like that?” – i took my foot off the brake and my car was still shaking. i got out of the car, walked away from it, puzzled at the shaking (the whole time i thought it was the car, i didn’t realize it was the ground).

i only realized after the salah when the sheikh started talking about a verse (3:143) and saying how we’d just experienced being saved from death, and then the man said that people should go home and be with their families. so i asked my friend and he told me it was an earthquake.

5.6 on the Richter scale - news here.

beat xenosaga, now back to WoW

finally, after several years, i beat xenosaga (i ordered it november 19th, 2004 - almost 3 years ago…). i just could never bring myself to finish it (then again, WoW did come out around that time in 2004) until today (finally).

and, while i hadn’t played WoW since 615, i’ve reactivated my account. no, not addiction, just boredom, that and some of my work colleagues playing. but hey, what else do you do when you live thousands of miles from family? go figure.

eid mubarak, wordpress 2.3, etc

sort of late for this, but eid mubarak! just upgraded the blog to wordpress 2.3, i guess i’ll have to look into going back and tagging some of the old posts at some point in the future ™.

in unrelated news, one of my coworkers pointed out the applegeeks lite comic to me. one of the writers of this comic is muslim, and he had some pretty funny comics, especially around eid time. here’s one for kicks:

applegeeks comic

source: applegeeks lite.

quranicaudio.com redone!

keeping the seo statements from the previous post in mind, audio.islamicnetwork.com has become http://quranicaudio.com/ – it is now running on lighttpd (rather than apache - by the way, so far, i really like lighty masha’Allah) and al7amdulillah, so far, things look good.

quranicaudio.com is one of the web’s largest (if not the largest) collection of cd quality downloadable quran mp3s (and some oggs). check it out!

importance of seo

i never really used to think about the importance of seo until recently. i always figured that, “hey, these are just my sites, only my friends read them, or they spread by word of mouth, etc” and never bothered doing anything with it.

however, after actually taking some time to search for some of my sites, i realized how important seo is for attracting traffic and for “branding.” despite the suboptimal state of seo on this site, i must say that i have definitely gotten pretty lucky in this regard for this site [most of this has to be credited to wordpress]. on some of my other sites, however, i wasn’t so lucky…

so don’t make seo an afterthought or you may regret it later (just like me).

it's compiling!

it's compiling!

source: xkcd.

nooooo! another WoW expansion! :/

today, during blizzcon, blizzard announced a new WoW expansion, “wrath of the lich king.” i haven’t played WoW in over 1.5 months now (i canceled my account and unsubscribed to wowinsider and other WoW rss feeds so i don’t get tempted, but… i don’t know anymore… :p) hopefully insha’Allah i’ll manage to stay strong :p

lessons learned through writing a facebook app

a long time ago, when facebook opened its api, i wrote a Quran application for facebook [see my previous post, here]. however, it was a hack, wasn’t fully featured, it didn’t look great, and, most importantly, it wasn’t put on the facebook application directory. sometime later, someone launched a Quranic Verses application - it was much nicer, more feature rich, and, most importantly, it was in the application directory.

feeling a bit competitive, i spent most of my past weekend rewriting, adding viral features suggested by my friends, and polishing the app. after three days of hard work, i finally launched. its been one day now since i launched, and here’s what i learned:

  1. being first to market is a huge competitive edge - i started out with around 40 user, whereas the other app has about 24,000. regaining the lost share of users will be extremely difficult.

  2. on the same note as the above, it seems as though getting to the market first is more important in some ways than what you bring to the market. if your product is the only one out there, people will use it, even if it has problems. once they start using it, the chances that they leave yours and use another one are slim. even if a competitor comes out, you can just improve your app and keep the market share.

  3. features aren’t always what you think they are - some features that you think are critical and awesome won’t be used by anyone at all - other features that you think are useless will be used a lot. its actually pretty odd, the one feature that i thought would be the selling feature of my app has gotten no usage by anyone except me, and the one feature i left out is the only one anyone asked me about.

  4. connections are important - a person who knows how to spread a viral app can do it, and can work wonders for your app and users. a solid and passionate user base can help your app grow, but without it, nagging can only take you so far. also, your connections can give you really good ideas and valuable user feedback that’s hard to get otherwise.

  5. its amazing how much you can get done in such a short period of time when you have a burning desire and passion to get something done.

  6. from a technical stand point, certain things may seem daunting at first, but a solid will to succeed makes these technical hurdles surmountable.

  7. even if something didn’t turn out quite the way one expected, there’s always some benefit to be taken out of it - so take the benefit, learn from the negatives, and move on :)

so yeah… i guess that about covers it… i still have a hope that the unused feature will be used and i can start a wildfire of users adding the app, but at the same time, i am being realistic and sticking to point 7 above by writing this blog post and consciously thinking about these matters.

my thoughts on the iphone

so last thursday, i had the fabulous idea of purchasing an iphone, especially being that i was already in a cingular 2 year contract. so i picked up the 4gb model. after having used it for nearly a week now, here are my thoughts:

pros

  • the screen is amazing.

  • it has wifi.

  • safari on it is awesome.

  • the whole means of navigation (zooming with your two fingers in safari and google maps) is off the hook.

  • visual voicemail rocks! why wasn’t this available before!?

  • pull based email is good for personal email accounts.

  • the screen rotates when the device rotates which is really cool (accelerometer).

cons

  • no 3g. edge is slow! i guess usually, this is not a problem because you have wifi in most places these days, but still, in places with no wifi, 3g would be nice.

  • the phone voice quality is not that good - if you turn the volume on calls to maximum, the voice doesn’t sound right. the speaker phone also doesn’t get too loud.

  • the web browser has no arabic support!

  • no cut and paste… come on, this one should be obvious!

  • while one can supposedly play quicktime videos from within safari, i couldn’t play m3us or mp3s off of an ftp on it. not sure if that’s just me though…

  • no custom mp3 ringtones! you can only use one of the handful of preloaded ones.

  • no custom alarm tones! you have to use one of the handful of preloaded ones.

  • no games! what, so i have to be on the internet playing javascript games?

  • it comes with a youtube application, but only a fraction of all videos are available because they have to be encoded in a certain way. this is supposed to be fixed soon though.

  • no api! i want to write my own apps for it, but i can’t. people are working on it, but still…

so that’s my review in a nutshell. overall, a nice phone, but if they iron out some of those issues, it’d be incredible. a lot of those issues could be fixed by releasing a software update and opening up their api, but whether or not they’ll actually do it, only time will tell. in the meanwhile, hackers have done a good job playing with th internals of the phone, and its only a matter of time until we get unlocked iphones that will run custom applications.

tweaking your driving route using google maps...

someone from the yahoo maps team did this last hack day (a month+ ago), but for whatever reason, it hasn’t been released by yahoo yet. very useful feature imho (basically, you can drag and drop on the map to change the route, so if you want to avoid a particular road, you can).