random engadget links

first, there’s this weird pedant which blocks electromagnetic fields, and, as a bonus, also blocks negative thoughts!? rather odd…

second, there’s this honda accord that drives itself. not that i would not have expected this to happen, but just kind of neat to see it happening. i wonder if 20 years later, we will all have automatically driven cars that drive on special roads at crazy high speeds and with no errors… i guess it would be kind of like your own personal train that can switch tracks intelligently and take you from any one point to another…

happy new year - 1427 AH

kol 3am wa antum bekhayr. (transliteration will have to work until i can go home and type it in arabic :)).

green tea, microsoft keyboard

not that the two aforementioned subjects have anything to do with each other, but i figured i’d combine them in one posting anyway… so yesterday was my first real venture into green tea - i mean, seriously, how could i not try it when the back of the tea bags (which are provided free for employees to drink during the day, along with a whole slew of different other kinds of teas, coffee, and soda) reads: “Indulge in the soothing ritual of Bigelow Green Tea and discover a tastier, cleaner, smoother cup of tea that is high in antioxidants, and has no calories, carbs or fat. It’s a whole new dimension in green tea enjoyment!” – actually, i only just read the back today. the real reason i tried green tea again (which, by the way, doesn’t appear anything close to green to me) was because my throat was bothering me… and i realized its not too bad actually.

as for the microsoft keyboard… i bought one of those natural keyboards yesterday after seeing the deal on fatwallet and slickdeals… it was cake to install in linux (i didn’t have to do anything at all actually, it just worked (i was worried and expected to have problems because it was a usb keyboard, but didn’t)). but i found out that lilo doesn’t support usb keyboards, so unless my bios supports it (which i didn’t bother to check), lilo boots always into the default os, which is linux :)

but yeah, i decided to return it, simply because it was too “unnatural” for me – it felt weird, plus i had to stretch for keys that i usually wouldn’t have to stretch for as much, so, as a result, i made more typing mistakes. i think i’ll stick to my cheap labtec keyboard :)

that’s all for now.

i want this checkbook!

despite the fact that i pay almost all my bills online and barely ever write checks, i’d love to have the katamari checkbook… or, as the author pointed out, a debit card would be quite nice… but for some reason, i can’t see wachovia giving out katamari debit cards :)

why world of warcraft is like real life

world of warcraft, the popular mmorpg by blizzard, despite being over a year old, still has millions of subscribers. i’m still subscribed now (although i did quit for a few months). what i realized, however, is that with few exceptions, the game is highly repetitive and is usually played as a means of escape into a fantasy world (or, as some people claim, as a means of socializing).

but i discovered that WoW isn’t all that different from the real world - you can eat and drink in both - you can get sick, you can get disease… you can be well rested, or you can suffer from fatigue. if you try to swim across the ocean, you die from fatigue. rather than airplanes, we have gryphons or hippos. your deeds earn you a reputation with the cities and communities you work for - helping the community earns you a good reputation, whereas killing its people or harming them earns you a bad one.

in addition, as you “grow up,” you learn more, just like in the real world. just like in the real world, you need money to do anything useful, including, but not limited to, going from one place to the other (and, just like in the real world, you could, in theory, walk almost any distance, but you will pass through bad areas, see highway men, and it will definitely take you a long time), buying new equipment, buying food, drink, etc. just like the real world, you can also learn to utilize the gifts of God to man in nature - you can learn to be a miner or herbalist, or you can learn to skin dead animals. and, like in the real world, you can use these raw materials to make something useful - to make medicines to help people who are sick, or build a nice leather armor, or fix a broken sword as a blacksmith. you can even fish or be an amazing ‘chef de jour.’ heck, you can even be a jeweler!

like in the real world, you can make friends and add them to your friends list. you can join a group of people or a faction and call yourself part of them, just like our typical nationalism today in the form of guilds. moreover, you can can communicate with a lot of people. like in the real world, there are many languages depending on your race and origin. oh, and like the real world, there are many races, humans, elves, dwarves, and gnomes among others.

just like in the real world, there are good people and there are bad people. there are trustworthy people and there are thieves. besides the fact that you can pickpocket enemies (in a robin hood style “take from the rich give to the poor” fashion), you will also meet people who, when questing with you, will steal from you or be dishonest. and, of course, you’ll meet honest, friendly, and good people.

just like in the real world, there are spiders and other bugs. there are also bears, wolves, and tigers. there are also forests, oceans, and skies. there is a concept of day and night. there is a moon at night that shines so beautifully in the horizon. just like the real world, parts of world of warcraft are beautiful. just like the real world, there are areas with forests and areas that are mountainous and areas that are desert. just like the real world, there are a set number of continents, and travel across the is possible.

just like the real world, you can be religious in world of warcraft - i mean besides the fact that you can be a priest as a class, there are churches in many of the major cities. i have not stumbled across many mosques, although i have often found empty open homes which would be suitable to pray in. and, of course, for a muslim, the whole world is a masjid. in addition, all my characters follow the sunnah and thus have beards.

so yeah. world of warcraft is like real life. and that’s all.

_ [disclaimer: i don’t really believe this… or do i? ;)]_

update: i’ve tried again to run WoW under linux, except that this time, i was trying with a dell 2005fpw. all i can say is wow, transgaming really did an awesome job with cedega. i get pretty decent performance, even with an ati card on the 2005fpw. linux rocks!

namaztime development

i’ve done some work on namaztime. i made a few improvements to the interface and to the calculation algorithm, and hopefully fixed some bugs.

namaztime screenshot 1/16/2006

insha’Allah hope to release sometime soon, just got a couple more things that i want to get done for this release, a couple of small things to fix, etc…

eid mubarak!

salam 3alaikum… this post comes from our reporter in cairo. man sub7anAllah, this is the first 3eid i spend in cairo. i woke up, as usual, to the fajr athan. i got up, prayed, and went back to sleep, only to wake up a little later to the loud speakers broadcasting the people saying, “Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, la illaha illa Allah… Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar.. wa lillahi al 7amd…”

so i got up, took a shower, and went… i went to a local masjid… after the prayer itself, most people left… but after that, i listened to the (interesting) khutbah - one of the interesting points made that i never really thought of is the fact that sub7anAllah, 3eids come right after a big pillar of islam or a big piece of worship… kinda as a reward.

anyhow… chilled the majority of the day - it was really cool though seeing the groups of goats, hearing the occaisional “baas”, and seeing everyone slaughtering them, seeing people move the dead goats around, cleaning them, skinning them, seeing rivers of animal blood in the streets, and seeing people selling the animal furs in the street.

… and at the end of the day, it rained. i think it was the first time i saw rain while i was in egypt. that’s all for now..

update: i came across this article about the eid salat khutbah on in… it quotes a 7adith which states that its not actually mandatory… i didn’t know this… but, of course, Allahu a3lam.

مصر

my flight to مصر is in 4 hours insha’Allah. i’ll be back friday insha’Allah. its short, but on the bright side, i get a few days off of work and i get to celebrate eid there insha’Allah. eid mubarak to all in advance.

three books, wp 2.0, etc

peace… i installed wordpress 2.0 (actually, its been installed for a few days now, i installed svn version right before it came out because the download link was broken). as you can see, no asthetic changes here… but the control panel is much nicer… really beautiful. in addition, i installed a plugin (spam karma 2) to deal with the comment spam… so far so good, lets see how it fairs over the next while.

in any case, after watching the excellent (yet depressing) syriana movie, mansoor suggested i get the book the scorpion’s gate by richard clark - so i picked it up and also picked up dan brown’s digital fortress (at the recommendation of emad).

syriana by the way was excellent… i say it is depressing because of the fact that what it portrays feels like a very accurate picture of the state of matters as they are now. i also watched munich, but i didn’t really like it. i felt it was very one sided, and i could not enjoy a movie whose plot was to kill muslims…

also, there is a new book, “islam & terrorism… myth vs reality,” by mauri’ saalakhan… it was just published recently in answer to a particular book that was attacking islam. should also be an interesting read.

i came across a pretty neat looking arabic typing tutorial program (open source) - its called kitab (kitab.sf.net). have not downloaded it yet, but from the screenshots, it looks good.

that’s all for now…

moved to dreamhost!

greets… i’ve just moved the site to dreamhost. i have been using shieldhost for a while now because it is rather cheap. but recently, i’ve been irked with some of the things they’ve done (i had another domain hosted there too which i was pretty sure was set to auto bill my credit card every quarter, but then they stopped billing me and stopped the service, claiming that i didn’t pay… well yeah, you don’t charge me, i don’t pay…), and sometimes, i just couldn’t access it…

so i decided to jump ship to dreamhost. i’ve had dreamhost since the middle of this year actually, i just haven’t been using it. i got in on the “777” deal (one full year of service plus domain name was like under $10, and i think after that its like $8/mo) a while back for one of my domains, but even several months later when that site finally went up, i didn’t host it at dreamhost. so i figured that i might as well give dreamhost a shot since i have it.

so far, my impression is that they’re awesome… especially compared to shieldhost. the nice thing is they let you host multiple sites on the same account, so even at $8 a month, it comes out to the same that i was paying with shieldhost roughly for the several hosting accounts i had on there.

anyway… more later.