13 August 2010

Mobile phone settings - MMS, Internet - Omantel & Nawras

This is an essential list compiled and thought of sharing these here with you. Hope to keep it updated. Kindly give you comments if you need any other such settings.

Internet settings (iPhone - Nawras)
Go to Settings > General > Network > Cellular Data NetworkEnter Cellular
Data Apn : isp.nawras.com.om
Username : testTest : test

Internet settings (iPhone - Oman Mobile)
Goto > > > Apn : taif
Username : taif
Password : taif

Internet settings - Blackberry - Nawras
Go to Options > Advanced >
TCPAPN : isp.nawras.com.om
username : testpassword : test

MMS settings - Nawras
APN : mms.nawras.com.om
MMS Proxy :
All other fields blank

MMS settings - Oman Mobile
APN : mms
Username: mms
Password: mms
All other fields blank

Text Message Center Number
Go to Menu > messages > settings > text message > message centre
OmanMobile (+968 99300610)

Internet settings - Google Nexus One - Nawras
Go to seetings >Mobile networks > Access Point Names> Data
APNName: Nawras Internet (can be any name)
APN: isp.nawras.com.om
APN Type: default
User Name: test
Password: test
APN Type: defaultLeave other fields empty

MMS settings - Google Nexus One - Nawras
MMS APNName: nawras
MMS (Can be any name)
APN: mms.nawras.com.om
Proxy: 8080
username: test
password: test
MMS proxy: port: 8080
Authentication Type : None
APN type: mms
Leave other fields as such

18 July 2010

Travel made easy with Technology

A vacation to a new land that one has never travelled before but still manage to travelextensively, networking with like-minded people all the while and seeing and enjoy places thatare local highlights is now very much possible thanks to technology.
For the benefit of travelers, it is my earnest intention to make travel more exciting with tool andwebsites that tell you much more than what a local friend could do to give you good value fortravel expenses.

Planning your trip

With broad indications about the country you are to visit, try to locate the place or city in http://www.wikipedia.com/ to see the historic backdrop of the place and the important places to seein that city. If this is to your liking then the place can be marked for you travel. Being informedabout a place enables tourists to appreciate the cultural and historic backdrop of a any localeand enjoy visiting places of significance.

Maps and directions

With the city of interest marked, visit http://www.googlemaps.com/ or install the GoogleEarthapplication in your system (GoogleMaps & GoogleEarth mobile versions are also availablefor free) next. Searching for the city of your choice, do look up at nearby places of interest. Inorder to see an estimate of time to travel between any two places, you can use GoogleMaps.

But http://www.mapquest.com/ is strongly recommended for ease of use if you know the two exactplaces, because in reality the travel time estimates were found to be fairly accurate withallowances for local traffic conditions. Once the distance and time to travel between two placesis marked in Mapquest, it is possible to print and even email detailed route plans and directionsof travel.

Buying a GPS (Global Positioning System) device with local maps to the area you are to travelis a must and this is very handy to get your directions either in the interlaced downtown areaor in the interstate highways. Visit http://www.garmin.com/ for a range of devices and their features.One can pick up any hotel or fast-food restaurant address of the location in order to exactly getdirection into downtown with your GPS.

Neighborhood highlights

Using location sensitive software such as http://www.foursquare.com/, enable travelers to timestamptheir travels into electronic diary of the journey. This software also enables you to view tips leftat places by other travelers and also shout out that you are in a particular area and would like tofind friends in a new place. Most of the restaurant referrals and items are worth exploring and inreturn, you can also leave you useful tips about the places you visit or even give you commentsabout the restaurants you experimented with.

Networking on the go

A mobile phone with Internet connection can do wonders during a travel as you can takepictures and share it with friends and family almost instantly. For example at http://www.twitter.com/ orhttp://www.facebook.com/ status messages can let others know of your journey highlights along withpictures.Sending tweets asking for local tips and must-do activities receive active responses fromfollowers on twitter and several people who either live there are have been there are ready tohelp you with directions or advices. They are so personalized and timely that you find themvaluable while on your journey.

Communities on Twitter have informal gatherings during weekends all around the world andfinding about the schedule of one such in the city you visit can get chances to meet and networkwith the local twitter users.

09 June 2010

Digital Forensics – art of eJames Bonds

Most of us have come across USB failures and hard disks failures that leave us in a frustrated state. May be it is our precious office data or memorable pictures and videos that are physically still there but unable to be accessed for unknown reasons.

We hope that our precious data held as 0 and 1s can just be recovered somehow. Another similar situation is that systems recovered from cyber criminal may be damaged badly but even little data recovered from them can be helpful in pinning down the criminal with the act of crime.

Accidental or intentional file deletions also create the need for tools and systems to recover the deleted data. It may be necessary to audit employee’s activities with systems by capturing some deeper sets of data from logs and analyse them for traces of activities, time stamps and user identities.

In research scenarios reverse engineering of systems and their outputs help computer engineers understand how these systems works and what could or what did go wrong in the processing. Security experts often require technical peek-ins and tweaks to make decisions about the level of penetrations and the possibility of criminals having access to critical data.

In all the above situations, a specialised field termed ‘Digital Forensics’ rules the game. Technically digital forensic is a newly sprouted branch of ‘forensics’ aiming to demystify and produce legally valid evidential data.

Law enforcement official use several tools and techniques to produce enough evidences from electronic sources such as computer systems or digital storage media. They can also generate audit trails of electronic activities involved in cases like telephone call made within criminal networks, internet surfing or chat data concerning terror attacks, or online surveillance of suspected individuals.

The basic process of digital processes begins with getting hold of the computer system or digital media under concern. Then the original is preserved while mirror-replicate is created to examine the data it holds. This is mostly called imaging – an important process which retains the original artefact intact while its copy is examined. After initial examination comes thorough analysis of details all the while creating an investigation trail. Based on this examination and the results a thorough report is prepared.

Due to the sophisticated nature of digital forensics several tools are available to enable the investigations. For example: Forensic Tool Kit by Access data, EnCase by Guidance Software, ProDiscover, Scalpel, Sleuth Kit to name a few. But the highlight of this article is the Open Source SANS Investigative Forensic Toolkit (SIFT) which can be freely downloaded at http://computer-forensics2.sans.org/community/siftkit/

Some companies specialised in this field offer ‘Forensics in a Box’ solutions. Such solutions include setting up of an entire facility including the following:
  • Set-Up of hardware, software and other accessories
  • Implementation of hardware assembly, software installation and configuration
  • Development of policies and procedures and related knowledge transfer
  • Training in the use of hardware and software
  • Technical support and development of tools

Considering the proliferations cyber crimes and the importance of digital lifestyle prevailing, it is very important for law enforcement agencies to gain expertise in digital forensics. At commercial level, such setups could offer sophisticated data-recovery services.

18 May 2010

Consumer rules your digital brand

Just as the brand managers and marketers mastered the art of brewing value brands with a scientific understanding of consumers’ needs and wants, the world flipped into a new community all together with the advent of technology. The digital era has redefined lifestyle, content as well as communication off all consumers and businesses so radically that there has to be a new insight into branding in the digital era.

Yester years

Brand creation and management is an art and a science that creates added perceived value to both organisations and consumers alike. Tradition media such as the print, outdoor, television, billboards, and radio have their unique way of reaching to target segments and there is a high level of maturity in using these media to create the required impression about a brand in a consumer’s mind. Most of the brand images were created and pushed on to the public through these promotional channels fairly well understood by brand managers.

Consumer power

Companies can now reach out to millions of other users worldwide instantly and they play a significant part in creating a brand image. Salesmen are often outwitted by clients who have done thorough Internet research. Customers prefer personalised communications and are able to make highly informed decisions better than before. Clients with no time for consumer traditional media, surf the net, exchange emails, read blogs and watch video online. The social media is pure ‘customer play’ where reputation and referrals are based on client relationships.

Moving forward

Branding in the digital era can no longer be an afterthought. Once brand guidelines have been compiled with the client heavily involved, plans need to in place based on the local digital scenario and applicable dimensions of digital channels and their potential impact. A good brand strategy must include brand engagement in the digital environment considering the power of the democratic digital media.

Know where they are

The consumers are now living a second life in the digital world and they use their simple mobile phones as port keys. Even while working or holidaying, they constantly engage in conversations through digital channels and they have merged into virtual groups that constantly hang around in the online environment having intimate conversations.

Understanding the consumer

Once the target market segment is identified, it is necessary to understand their digital lifestyle. Then representative groups can be created both in the real as well as virtual world. It is increasingly important for organisations to have a presence online and engage in sincere conversations with these groups to build brand loyalty. There is a need to be visible but provide only a platform to engage in interactions.

Creating websites, blogs and accounts on social media like the youtube, facebook, myspace are examples of these. Dialogues can be initiated either to create brand interest or to address negative comments. Giving useful and relevant information free can be rewarding. Recognise brand advocates in such virtual groups, recognise and reward them while do not risk replicating the entire real world branding online too.

Digital Media

Electronic media or digital channels as they are normally called are quite different from the traditional media. For example publishing your printed brochures online may not work as effectively as a mini-banner advertisement selected relevantly and placed less intrusively while consumer checks his emails or while he does a key-word search in Google.

Online social media including blogs, micro-blogs, forums, social networks, groups within social networks, bookmarking sites, image and video sites are full of your current as well as potential clients and they are gladly engaged in communicating forth right opinions and sharing their brand experiences. They no longer buy-in your brand images as such; they want to prove it through their ideas, opinions and their experiences. Here is where online content will make a positive difference.

With more customers researching or reviewing your products and services online than ever before, online branding nowadays needs a strategy and budget of its own. The Internet has not only made searches easier, but the content returned is richer and it is even possible for instant comparisons and user reviews. So any brand marketing must have search strategy built-in to its core. Careful choice on online activists can create useful brand ambassadors who endorse your products or services purely based on their personal experiences.

Brand Consultation

The brand discovery process results in getting to the essence of the brand and laying the foundations for its successful communications through strategic focus, differentiation, relevance and simplicity. This exercise begins digital branding, working closely with brand consultants on having a review of the current brand perception across samples of customer segments. With this base, a new brand position can be formulated as brand guidelines.

Brand guidelines may include a revival of the current brand or even rebranding exercise altogether. The various elements that comprise of your brand identity must be charted out strategically and a formal consensus can be reached with the senior management who will eventually approve and fund the exercise.

Customers form integral part of this consultation to understand where a brand is currently poised, where and how it must proceed now on. In return for little or even nothing most customers are willingly vociferous on their opinions and experiences. One needs to sift out the credible ones and lend an ear to their voices.
Being a common member on online media like forums and social networking sites avoiding sales pitch, along with subscriptions to blog feeds is an integral part of digital branding. It is paramount to enthuse your online community with authentic & relevant information willingly.

16 May 2010

Social media maturity makes more sense now than ever

Any technology that facilitates networking and communications in a cost-effective manner is well poised for success. This has been proved in the case of social media such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.

But what exactly happens after you claim your space in the social media varies largely. For example, you create your account and find your network of friends who are on the same platform be it Facebook or Twitter. And then depending on the intensity of activity, the quantum of information and interactions fill the digital space.

Now this article is about what exactly happens right after this. How strong is this network, how it sustain mutual interests, how it continues to enrich the once empty platform attracting new and existing members.

Zooming on to one platform in the micro-blogging arena, let us consider twitter for example. The reason for choosing twitter is that it is limited in scope, functionality and resource requirements far less than other platforms. Even common mobile applications on non-Smartphone are capable of handling the 140 character text features of Twitter.

Moving on to the social interactions that take place within this platform, twitter users post small text messages to the maximum size of 140 chars which can be read by his network of followers. Interestingly within these 140 characters there can be web links embedded. Now this enables web-articles, blog-posts, Youtube videos and even pictures from photo-archives to be pointed to via a tweet post through URL links.

Twitter users vary in using the platform as a public chat-medium, treating it as their cryptic diary and logging in their experiences and opinions. Due to real-time nature of the medium, sometime these users turn out to be citizen journalists if they happen to be amidst the thick of happening.

Twitter giants or the so called power-users with a large number of followers have been able to sustain the interests of the followers by specializing their tweet posts with interesting content. Such content may range from news-worthy leads, motivating quotes, creative micro-poetry like the Haiku, how-to-do techniques, sports commentaries, funny one-liners, etc.

It is not just a place for content seekers and providers, but also a place for creative people who are looking for their own first audience. Graphic and multimedia artists, creative poets and writers are able to inform their network of friends about their latest creative endeavours. It is also possible how their creativity receives candid responses and sometimes professionals in specific fields offer tips to enhance design or storyline or blog-post.

From experience in interacting with younger age group users as well as accomplished professionals, it is a personal experience to come across amateur art-works and hobby compositions for review. It is indeed a wide spectrum of art and creativity that gets nourished by the presence of a group of followers one networks mostly online.

Few successful leads identified as potential works are being spotted by talent-hunters and from then the scope of real-world interactions and professional opportunities expand from then on.

A few things you can utilise Twitter for:
· Get early updates on news
· Be informed about events and programs
· Get to discuss with professionals and celebrities
· Organise real life events for networking
· Get product or service recommendations
· Get better customer service from brands online
· Exchange personalised review of books, movies, music, etc
· Network with professional groups with common areas of interest
· Submit your art work, poetry, website, website, blog post, article for review
· Organise campaigns for charitable or social causes
· Learn and practice vocabulary in a new language
· Get ideas for marketing online through power users
· Can generate sales-leads and improve brand image
· Any many more.

14 April 2010

iReview iPad iPhone OS4.0

An Apple a day is making news almost every day and it’s time to review Apple iPad and iPhone OS 4.0 with Digital Oman. The recent release of Apple iPad – a cool gadget touting a 9.7-inch backlit-LED display with a multi-touch interface has enticed many. Since I saw Steve Jobs launch video http://bit.ly/95TkGf in Jan2010, we have been waiting to experience the ipad and just a day after its US release, we got lucky to use the iPad thanks to Nawras - Oman.

If you’re mainly a web surfer, note maker, social media enthusiast, emailer, and play around with photographs, videos, books, periodicals, news and music - then iPad could replace your laptop / netbook! But then,.... for the rest Read on :-)

The iPad is LARGE (24.3 cm × 19 cm x 1.3 cm) in comparison to our iTouch and iPhone but felt incredibly thin and light. Holding it within a palm was possible and typing with on-screen keyboard was incredibly easy but soon we realised that we were using the device more in landscape orientation. It had some basic native apps although we missed the iWorks that could have muscled more of iPad’s interface and power.


After a while tilting, tapping, and turning the iPad— excitement wanes; wondering what will I actually do with iPad. With Apple App Stores being the only source for all native as well as Apple approved 3rd party apps; personally I am never happy about being restricted to what I use my own iPad for. Perhaps if I were a basic gamer on a couch, it would be nice to live with my iPad for longer entertaining hours or read a couple of e-books considering the modest price.

Having connected the iPad to the WiFi network, watching our home made video, hitherto watched on my phone was certainly quite an experience and native audio was loud enough for over 1mt. Tweeted live and check a few mail services and other social networking sites. But then considering its size, iPad is not going to replace either my iTouch or the iPhone even if it can be paired via Bluetooth headset to place phone calls over Wi-Fi or 3G using a VoIP application.
What’s next

Watching video and playing games gets handier but then I’m wondering how to increase my productivity beyond giving eye-catching presentations on the iPad and making it fare better than a geek-gadget for the elite, but that’s just me.

It’s a fact that the true excitement of the new iPad is going to trickle when developers create applications, using its screen size & simple multi-touch interface that excites even a 2.5yr old child http://bit.ly/aoWDDU. It’s only a matter of time, until both user and developers will amaze even Apple as to how this user-friendly handy device can be used.

Publishing scenarios

The publishing industry may utilise the opportunity to find new readers for e-books through the iPad / iPhone community and entice them with embedded multimedia. Amazon unveiling its all-new Kindle e-book app for Apple iPad and prominent newspapers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, etc. offer their Internet versions for the iPad. While few eyebrows raise, the ultimate question remains – “are people willing to continue to pay for content that may be available for free from other sources, all for the new iPad-user experience”.

Missing ones

Even without a multi-tasking capability, camera, USB port, wired-data port , wireless sync, or support for flash while 1024x768 pixel resolution down-converting HD content to 720p, the sale of 450,000 iPads in its very 1st week has proven the need for such devices in the market. The missing features are merely niche areas for Apple’s competitors to focus on. Perhaps HP Slate might be the one for me, until 2nd generation ipads are available in local market; only time will tell.
We recommend reading a few functional as well as usability issues identified at http://tinyurl.com/ya6hl4s and a comprehensive list of Positives and Negatives of the iPad at http://tnw.to/15xMc
iPhone OS 4.0

Market dynamics will be more redefined with the release of Apple’s new iPhone Operating System – OS 4.0 software spurring Web OS in an over-arching manner. As more and more power and applications including location-sensitive and motion-sensitive ones are leading to higher demand for smart phones than even personal computers.

Just this week, Apple also released its iPhone OS 4.0 which excited me much more than the iPad for the way it is going to redefine market dynamics from now on. Out of over 1500 new APIs released for developers, here are a few highlights:

· Multitasking - (memory contents saved & restored when application is resumed in most cases)
· Folders to organize apps
· Unified inbox messaging
· iBooks also for the iPhone
· Social network for gaming
· Mobile advertising with iAds
The iPhone OS 4 will be available for the iPhone (along with iPhone 3GS, third gen iPod Touch will only be capable of multitasking) this summer, in the fall for the iPad.
In my opinion, the iAd platform intended to give developers a means to profit from their programs is the next best thing to revolutionise online advertising with over 4 billion iPhone apps and 3.5million iPad app downloads till date.
Something deep in me keeps asking - this OS 4.0 needs an all new device: what would that be?! Will it be mine?!

06 April 2010

Apple iPad in Oman - First Experience

YES! Apple iPAD in Oman - A delight to get a first hand feel of it (thanks to - posing for pics)

Thanks to Nawras, it is possible to experience the Apple iPad at their Qurum City Centre Outlet. Couple of more units available at their other stores - but not for sale - only user experience. The tech-savvy company arranged a special order to let its customers experience Nawras products and services through this innovative gadget released on the 3rd April 2010 - only in the US markets.

03 April 2010

Oman Information Technology Society Launched

Oman Information Technology Society is officially approved and its 1st General Assembly meeting was held on 3rd April 2010 at the Conference Hall in the Ministry of National Economy.

As per the bylaws, it will be managed by a governing Board of Directors not less than five and not more than twelve members, and be a two-year renewable term.

At a meeting of the Governing Council , the President , the Vice-president , Coordinator and the Finance Secretary were elected and this board conducted its first successful meeting with the following agenda:

  • Welcome speech by Coordinator - Mr. Fahad Mohammed Macki
  • Opening speech by President - Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi
  • Introduction to OITS - Mission, Structure & By-Laws - Mr. Yaqoob Al Bulushi
  • Procedures for membership - Shaikh Saif bin Hilal bin Sultan Al Hosni
  • Question & Answer Session
  • Vote of thanks by Coordinator - Mr. Fahad Mohammed Macki

OITS - Logo

For designing the official logo of the society an open competition was announced throught the Omani Fine Arts Society with a deadline of 10th April 2010.

The winning entry along with the formal website for OITS will be launched at COMEX 2010 (to begin on 26th April 2010).

For further details contact info@oits.org.om

26 March 2010

1st OmanTwestival - Overwhelming Success (All photo video links)

1st OMAN Twestival - Held on the Arabian Sea - Along with over 200 cities worldwide on 25th March 2010
Few Records made
1. 1st Twestival for Oman
2. Only Twestival across 200 cities worldwide to celebrate it on the sea (not on land J
3. Largest Twestival poster measuring 10mt X 6mt
4. Event organised by voluntary team in flat 5days

Date - On the 25th March 2010 (http://muscat.twestival.com/)
Place -On board of 'Hormuz' ferry - World's fastest catamaran
Sponsors - National Ferries Company - OmanAir - Omantel - MENACOM / Wunderman - Microsoft
Photography - @Esskaywe (Sunil K Vaidya) @45vvA7h (Aswath Sridhar) @orphicpixel

Gifts Galore
2 X-box Game Consoles
8 USM Modems
2 Overhight Hotel stay vouchers for two
2 Dinner vouchers for two
50 Hayyak - Prepaid Connections
Picture Links

Full Album on Picasa (By Official Photographers Sunil K Vaidya & Aswath Sridhar) http://bit.ly/cvL2RE
Video & Photos by @KishorCariappa http://tinyurl.com/yz454ha
By @veekay53 Uploaded by @ladynamic http://bit.ly/9EaVB4
By @traiblazr http://bit.ly/9xiY98
By @orphicpixel http://bit.ly/d0Nqel
By @Esskaywe http://bit.ly/933BLj
By @hamidsofi http://bit.ly/aIKxmt
By @sanrachh http://bit.ly/9daTaH
By @makorani http://tinyurl.com/yfqs4ju
By @ragumuthu http://bit.ly/d2Gftn
By @Arun4 http://bit.ly/94CEmH

Live Video
By @Blue_Chi http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/5700805
By @Blue_Chi http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/5700860
By Aswath Sridhar (@45vvA7h) http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/5701753
By @KishorCariappa http://bit.ly/bnJcb4

Media coverage
Al Watan 28 Mar 2010
Zawya 28 Mar 2010 http://bit.ly/dyNDg3
Times Of Oman 27Mar 2010 http://tinyurl.com/ygwnht5
Oman Tribune 27 Mar 2010 Muscat Daily 27 Mar 2010
Gulf News 26Mar 201o http://tinyurl.com/ylp26zz

Blog Posts
Twestival Website http://bit.ly/buVvX0
By OrphicPixel http://bit.ly/a9Sarz
By OmanAir http://bit.ly/bhGfSZ
By KishorCariappa http://bit.ly/cmSOTc
By Shweta Ashar @Shweman http://bit.ly/ciMt2O
By Sunaina @asunaina http://bit.ly/cZSeoT
By Ahmed Al Shagra http://bit.ly/cSEr5j

Continuously Updated as new links flow in! Please visit again.

Thanks to the team, sponsors & the volunteers

20 March 2010

OmanTwestival - spirit of global community

On the 25th March 2010, when over 200 cities around the world join hands to celebrate Twestival (Twitter Community Festival) OmanTwestival is to be held here in Muscat http://muscat.twestival.com/
When - 25th March 2010 Thu (5pm - 8pm) Report at the Port Qaboos by 4.30 pm Sharp - Gates closed by 5.30 pm - Ferry Sails by 6 pm Sharp
Where - On board of 'Hormuz' ferry - World's fastest catamaran
What to bring - Mobile phone, laptop, Camera (free WiFi provided on board)
Sponsors - National Ferries Company & OmanAir & Omantel

Location Map: Port Qaboos at Corniche

What's in for OmanTwestival 2010?

In flat 5 days, Muscat is preparing to host this event. Lots of surprises await twitter users attending #OmanTwestival, including entertainment & gifts at perhaps the only Twestival Venue on sea.
  • Charity Round - Open Your Heart & Open your Wallet for Charity - Collection
  • SNK Boys Break Dance
  • Fun competition
  • Traditional 'Oud' Music
  • Oud & Guitar Medley
  • 2 Short Films made by Omani nationals - submitted at Gulf Intl. Film Festival
What is a Twestival?

Twestival - a community gathering of the members of the twitter community (http://www.twestival.com/) – an event held on the same day of the year across several cities of the world synchronised in the real world.

Quote : "Organizing online and gathering offline allows Twestival to harness the incredible communication power of Twitter to propel participation in real events around the world."
-Amanda Rose, Founder of Twestival

What is the purpose of Twestival 2010?Twestival 2010 supports the cause 'Education' through ‘Concern Worldwide’ a non-governmental, international, humanitarian organization that reaches to out-of-school children such as girls, orphans, street children, working children, children affected by conflict, children affected by HIV and AIDS, and children with disabilities. Concern’s education programs currently reach over 700,000 people in 25 countries across the regions of Africa, Asia, & the caribbean.

Who supports the Twestival?

Among numourous volunteers and several corporates supporting Twestival, PayPal the official global sponsor for Twestival has waived processing fees for ‘Concern Worldwide’ for the duration of Twestival. Twestival extends its online reach with TwestivalFM, where high-profile artists and musicians around the world donate their songs to download for donations. eBay supports Twestival, by hosting ‘Auction140’, a global online auction of celebrity-donated items and celebrities including Paris Hilton, Queen Rania of Jordan are supporting. An iPhone application for live donations and results widgets will enable real-time donations at local events. Twestival also has partnered with Ustream to live stream the day’s events, starting in New Zealand and ending in Hawaii.

16 March 2010

TWESTIVAL - a global festival synchronized Offline

Twestival 2010 rallies for social cause of "Education”

On March 25, 2010, in more than 175 cities around the world, thousands of people will demonstrate social media's power for social good through the second annual Twestival.

Organizing online and gathering offline allows Twestival to harness the incredible communication power of Twitter to propel participation in real events around the world.

- Amanda Rose, Founder of Twestival

About Twestival

A Twestival is a community gathering of the members of the twitter community – an event held on the same day of the year across several cities of the world. Well beyond a gathering, this global event generates funds through voluntary contributions for a common social cause. This post has drawn more inputs from the twestival website at www.twestival.com and wish to attribute credits here.

Harnessing Synergic Strength

Twitter community of various cities around the world have signed up to host a ‘Twestival’ in their respective locales, in real life to rally around for the cause of Education by hosting local events to have fun and create awareness.

Every single tweet (a post on twitter under 140 characters length) has a purpose and when torrents of tweets by several users join hands to strengthen social media for a social cause – 2010 being for education. It is about the social networking community connecting by little tweets connecting and working together to a difference to the lives several unfortunate communities around the world.

Concern Worldwide

All proceeds generated from the 2010 Twestival will support education and be donated to Concern Worldwide, a non-governmental, international, humanitarian organization that since 1968 has dedicated itself to reducing suffering and eliminating poverty.

“An estimated 72 million children worldwide are not enrolled in school,” said Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide. “Concern is committed to reaching those left behind, giving them access to learning and the chance to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Twestival Global is revolutionizing the way concerned citizens all over the world connect to benefit the poorest among us. We are thrilled to have been chosen, and we’re rolling up our sleeves to make the most of this extraordinary opportunity.”

Logistics of event

Free volunteering champions from cities that have signing up for twestival, invest their energies and efforts to rope in other community members to organize a gala night offline. When open invites are posted online attendees willingly sign up to attend an event in their neighbourhood and also offer their services & expertise voluntarily.

Twestival 2009 for 'Water'

The first global Twestival was held on 12th February 2009 across over 202 cities with the cause of providing clean water. It managed to raise over US$ 250K for ‘Charity – Water’ to provide more than 55 wells in Uganda, Ethiopia and India having a direct impact for over 17,000 people. Watch the videos of the first Twestival well drilled in the village of Mai Nabri, Ethiopia. Visit http://www.charitywater.org/twestival/to see how the funds were utilized for the needy.

Twestival 2010 for 'Education'

In 2010, the twestival supports ‘Concern’ - a non-governmental, international, humanitarian organization that reaches to out-of-school children such as girls, orphans, street children, working children, children affected by conflict, children affected by HIV and AIDS, and children with disabilities.

Concern’s education programs currently reach over 700,000 people in 25 countries across the regions of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Readers can follow @concern on Twitter to get a glimpse of their staff tweeting from around the world.

Support Unlimited

Organisers of the Twestival are provided with multimedia and other branded promotional material for free download and use in the awareness sessions. In addition Citrix Inc. has offered their web conferencing software – GoToMeeting, to facilitate organizers to hold online meetings.

Education is a global issue and by giving our support to a nearby Twestival or by checking www.twestival.com to see how to get involved.

PayPal the official global sponsor for Twestival has waived processing fees for ‘Concern Worldwide’ for the duration of Twestival.

Twestival extends its online reach with TwestivalFM, allowing high-profile artists and musicians around the world to donate their songs to download for donations.

eBay supports Twestival, by hosting ‘Auction140’, a global online auction of celebrity-donated items and experiences on eBay that will feature a live Twitter stream for the first time.

An iPhone application for live donations and results widgets will enable real-time donations at local events. Twestival also has partnered with Ustream to live stream the day’s events, starting in New Zealand and ending in Hawaii.

Dubai Twestival

Our nearest neighbor Dubai is holding Twestival for the 2nd time this year with abundant support from both corporate and individuals who are striving to make it a grand success. Follow up details and register to attend this DubaiTwestival on the 25th March 2010 by registering at www.dubai.twestival.com.

15 March 2010

The future of privacy

Most of us have no idea how much others can find about us, our personal lives, hobbies, interest or profession.

This post is an introspective view of certain technologies that have made it possible to find our electronic foot prints in the modern times. Protecting one’s anonymity is a game that one can never win completely once and for all.

Even to those skeptics who claim that they have taken all possible measures to protect their privacy by not indulging in social networking online and limiting their communications to close circle of family and friends, it might be a rude shock to know how simple it is easy to track them electronically.

Mobile tracking

Consider the common mobile phone, which is an electronic device just meant to make and receive calls. Let us not even introduce the mini-computer like abilities that modern phones are capable of at this point. It is almost impossible to purchase a new mobile connection without revealing other personal identity information connected to their real life.

Once these details are provided to the mobile-service provider, it is possible to track every conversation and all exchange of calls with contacts. Several national and political scandals have come to limelight just because of this traceability of telephone calls.

Card-based footprints

Those who have the habit of swiping cards at hotels and shopping malls, are little aware that their shopping habits and preferred brands and services are traceable. Many retailers retain this information in a database and comb this often to prepare your profile and later target promotions and specific marketing communications customised for you.

Even the fast food center near your house knows your exact location and your favourite item. Some companies have gone to the extent of gathering geo-positioning data from your mobile phone calls and precisely tell us where you are ordering from. Data brokers with weak systems have been targeted by hackers and in the end result it is the customer’s who pay the price for privacy violations.

Camera conscious

Consider choosing a personal visit to a shopping mall or a restaurant to avoid being tracked electronically. The myriads of globes handing on the roof could be live cameras recording your moves, and storing them is large data drives. At any point these videos could be played back, zooming close at your face enough to recognise that it is the real you.

If masking our telephone calls is difficult then covering up your online activity is almost impossible. All Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are required to maintain records about their users and dish them out completely when requirement by law-enforcement agencies.
In social media sites like the facebook and twitter, it’s certainly nice to share information and photographs and even mobile contacts. But all these platforms are public platforms and the chances that they could be technically compromised makes your data there sensitive.

Archived anonymous

Those tech geeks who pride themselves in the use of anonymiser software to erase their online trails have little to celebrate. Technically anonymisers must be tracking and archiving your website visits. For law enforcement purposes they may be forced to reveal these data. It could also be possible that decoy anonymisers are planted by government agencies to trap people who use these and frame cases with valid proof. It’s only possible that your own ISP may not have to online voyages, but this is electronically archived in some server out there.

Profiling through data

As citizens, immigrants or even as visitors, the extent of surveillance we undergo is quite sizeable. The data so far collected about is resides as digital data somewhere. It is up to technologies such as search engines, semantic webs, geo-positioning systems and data-mining software to make meaningful relations between these disparate data about you and me from various sources and eventually create a complete profile about us that we are even conscious of.

Imagine how much Google knows about you, from the way you search, the emails you exchange, the documents you place in their clouds, the blogs you maintain with blogger, your customised news profile, the videos you watch on youtube and the places you have traversed on Google maps. Haven’t we told Google enough about us, that scares us about their intrusion into our privacy circles if ever required?

Change is inevitable

Let us consider adoption of technology as a generation of change and find ways to adapt our lives with these interventions. Privacy is now more of a relative matter where the naïve and innocent are victimised without remedy for protection. We are aware of people whose email accounts have been hacked in causing embarrassment and a permanent haunt for all the resulting exposure of mails and contacts.

It a natural phenomena that the more we network and communicate, either with or without technology, we tend to share our personal details of varying degree. Rethinking privacy, it is now for us draw a new line, one beyond which, privacy violation affects us personally, emotionally or economically. In a digital lifestyle, the electronic trail we leave behind certainly a prime factor to be considered in this direction.

Perhaps in the era where identification and authorisation happen through biometric more naturally and automatically (for example holding a door handle can authenticate and authorise you for entry) then there will be no need to panic about privacy.

This post is meant to be more of thought provoking than to chastise privacy protection measures through products or policies, emphasising on our readiness to taken actions. Your view points are welcome by emails or tweets.

09 March 2010

Richard Stallman speaks on Free Software in Oman

Richard Mathew Stallman (aka RMS) the father of the free software movement is in Muscat - Oman, giving talks at the Free Software Symposium organised by the Information Technology Authority of Oman.

Digital Oman highlights this legendary personality, his philosophy and crusades in the software industry.
Richard Stallman is a legendary figure in the computing world, and his presence in Oman is only indicative of the energy that lies within this country to take up challenges in using ‘free software’, study its source-code, change and even publish this modified version’.
Dr. Richard Stallman was born to Daniel Stallman and Alice Lippman and he showed exceptional skills in the logic of mathematics since the tender age of 8.
After graduating from Harvard and experiencing MIT, he moved on to work at the MIT Artificial Intelligence centre where his quest for freedom in using software started.
He began his free software activism by launching the GNU (GNU is Not Unix) Project in 1983 and set up his Free Software Foundation (FSF) in 1985. The main goal of GNU (http://www.blogger.com/www.gnu.org) was to develop a free Operating System that was compatible to work with Unix - a exclusive portable OS of that time.
All efforts from the GNU team were successful when Linus Torvalds released his ‘Linux’ operating system kernel free in 1995 under the General Public License (GPL). FSF is a non-profit corporation organisation that employs free software programmers and provides a legal infrastructure for the free software movement.
Most software bought from vendors is licensed only for use of the executable version. However ‘free software’ is not only provided free but it’s also distributed along with the source code of the software in a human-readable form. Quoting Stallman, “My work on free software is motivated by an idealistic goal: spreading freedom and cooperation”.

He believes that our copy of a free program is our property, and that we are free to use it in all the ethical ways, unlike proprietary software which holds monopoly in terms of support ranging from bug-fixes to functional enhancements and extensions.

“Software users should have the freedom to ‘share it with their neighbour’ and to be able to study and make changes to the software that they use”, he adds.

Activists like Jim Warren, editor of Dr. Dobb's Journal support his point of view by stating that, “When software is free, or so inexpensive that it's easier to pay for it than to duplicate it, then it won't be 'stolen'”.
The original intention of free software to share knowledge and promote development for all assures the following four actions:

freedom to use the work
freedom to study the work
freedom to copy and share the work with others,
freedom to modify the work and
freedom to distribute modified and therefore derivative works
In software, it requires that the source code of the derived work is made available along with the software. In reality, it is not always is the case that derivative works are also distributed under the same free licence scheme and this can itself be considered unethical.
To quote an example of the above, the GNU manifesto states as follows: ‘GNU is not in the public domain. Everyone will be permitted to modify and redistribute GNU, but no distributor will be allowed to restrict its further redistribution. That is to say, proprietary modifications will not be allowed. I want to make sure that all versions of GNU remain free.’

Dr. Stallman has won The Association for Computing Machinery's Grace Murray Hopper Award "For pioneering works in the development of the extensible editor EMACS (Editing Macros)" in 1990, Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer award in 1998 and several other honorary doctorates from universities across the world.

The book ‘Free as in Freedom’ - Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software’ written by Sam Williams and published by O’Reilly publications is available as a free open book online at http://oreilly.com/openbook/freedom/index.html.
Creative Commons Licensing (http://www.blogger.com/www.creativecomons.org) intends to support free use combined with free right to distribute with or without changes, while placing additional restrictive conditions. GPL is an of CCL scheme. As additional knowledge in this context reader’s can read the full text of this GPL licence at http://tinyurl.com/y78muw.

07 March 2010

Global Fusion Music Concert - A class apart

A scintillating muscial concert, the "Global Fusion" was hosted in Muscat by Sarasin Alpen & Alpen Capital on the 4th March 2010 at the Barr Al Jissa Resort & Spa, Muscat.

An impressive evening of music medley – with an exotic combo of Indian, Iranian and American flavours unfurled uniquely enthralling the audience. For someone drenched into technology all through, this concert was indeed a transcending experience of human skill and creativity.
Lead by renowned George Brookes and accompanied by gifted dancer Isha Sharvani, legnedary artists kept the audience mesmerized in trance with their foot tapping music:
  • Vikku Vinayakram (India)
  • Hilal AL Bulushi (Oman)
  • Zoldan Lantose (Hungary)
  • Steve Smith (US)
  • Niladari Kumar (India)
  • Larry Coryell (US)
  • Sivamani (India)
  • Ensemble Shanbehzadeh (Iran)
  • Kai Eckhandt
String instruments like violin, guitar and the zitar blended smoothly with wind instruments such as the bag piper and saxaphone, striking chord to the lighting rthyms of drums and a range of other percussion instruments.

Throughout the show the hospitality and the natural ambience exposed and altogether dimension of events that were ever held in Muscat. Kudos to the entire team, that strived to reach this level of professional execution of this musical concert for their privileged customers and patrons.
Global Fusion 2010 has set a mark par excellence in musical concerts here in Oman. My special mention of thanks to Mr. Atul Rao, Ms. Shivani and Ms. Afreen.

23 February 2010

Twitter as social media — How to do it right!

The word social media is buzzing around the town, both online and offline. Simply put, the social media is a platform where the providers and the recipients engage with each other. This is slightly contrary to traditional media where organisations and individuals chose to only talk to their customers or users and expect them to receive and endorse it.

Thanks to technologies like blogs, facebook, Twitter, Google buzz, etc, social media has evolved more powerfully on the Internet. Here not just celebrities or authorities, but also the voice of a common man echoes. Other members of this community who are at the receiving end are also able to voice out their views and be heard.

Not just tech geeks and celebrities, but cats, squirrels, dogs, and even gadgets (@Toaster @OfficeChair @HacklabToilet @PiMPY3WASH) use social media such as Twitter, and now it is has become more compelling for brands to ‘be there’ in such social media and engage with their customers.

Let’s take ‘Twitter’ as a sample social media for our discussions today, as I use it more as a constant source of information and interactions in real-time. It takes less than five minutes to Twitter: sign up with username, password and e-mail address. But it’s a bigger game after that.

Here are few tips and guidelines for those who joined Twitter and are finding it confusing. The power of Twitter lies in your network: people who follow you on Twitter, others whose accounts you follow and those who (RT) Repeat Tweets — your posts to their network of friends online.

Here are few things to get you started.

  • Locate people you know in real life on Twitter and follow them — most often they will also follow you backv Wish them and reply just as courteously as you would in real life.

  • Although limited by 140 characters, your tweets must be readable — along with spelling and grammar, clarity of communication is important.

  • Etiquette and diplomacy are vital when you have only 140 characters to communicate and what you say is available for the open public to readv As much as possible keep you tweet text length under 120 characters. This makes it easy for others to repeat your posts along with your username without much editing work.

  • If you make mistakes, do not hesitate to apologise and say a simple ‘Sorry’ — Tweet friends are more understanding than you can imagine and nobody is perfect.

  • Read full timeline (appears when you click on a username) of a user to understand their style, context and areas of interest. You can get to know about them when you read their profile or the blog/website link that appears in their profile.

  • Several abbreviations and words with numbers used on Twitter are taken off from the chat lingo, so check their meaning in case of doubt.

  • Be ready to dedicate a little more time in the initial stage to read other’s tweets. It gives you a fair idea what is going on within this little community and they share their posts in their own unique style.

  • If you see links in a post, they lead you to photographs or video or even website links — this may take some more time to load and read. You can mark such tweets as favourites and revisit them later when you are free to view.

  • It is a matter of respect to reply to tweets directly addressed to you — They appear when you click ‘Mentions’ link.v Also use the search box wisely — type words of interest say news, hobby, technical buzz words etc — the results are tweets on this topic. If you like any of these tweets, you can repeat tweet them with attribution (RT via their username)

  • Before you RT other Tweets make certain the links are working and information is fairly authentic. Try not to spread false rumours and bad information through your account.

  • Corporates that Twitter their offers and new updates from blogs or website are treated much like any other marketing campaign. But when it is humane and lighter, customer relationship only gets stronger.

  • One wise tip: Take a second to re-read your tweet before clicking that ‘Update’ status button. “Am I sending to the right person the right message using the right words”, ask yourselves.

  • When over 50 million Tweets flood twitter every single day, make certain you add your value there or at the least make someone smile with your Tweet.

While the above can only serve as a guideline, practical experience cannot be replaced. So see you all on Twitter and follow me @SangitaSri and happy tweeting on social media.

14 February 2010

Tour of Oman - ProCycle Race Update

Tour of Oman - 1st Edition of the Annual Bicycling race of Oman organised by the Muscat Municipality kicked off its 1st stage today (14th Feb 2010). Technologies such as GPS, Live Streaming, Twitter, Facebook, Website, etc were effectively used for this event for global reach.

Jimmy Casper of France won the first stage of the 2010 Tour of Oman with Boasson Hagen of Norway following second. This first edition will run between the 14-19th February in 6 different stages has 16 of the 20 teams participating in the Tour de France - a well-known international Annual Cycling race.
RESULTS - Stage1

1. Jimmy Casper (France) Saur-Sojasun 61km (In 1hr -22min - 22secs)

2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) Team Sky

3. Kenny De Haes (Belgium) Omega Pharma-Lotto

4. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions

5. Francesco Chicchi (Italy) Liquigas-Doimo

6. Michael Van Stayen (Belgium) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator

7. Danilo Napolitano (Italy) Katusha

8. Bernhard Eisel (Australia) HTC-Columbia

9. Andreas Stauff (Germany) Quick Step

10. Lucas Sebastien Haedo (Argentina) Saxo Bank

This six-day event covering a distance of 521kms, will have a separate segment each day, that will test the test the abilities and stamina of the participants in different types of terrains in Oman.

Live action with 128 pro-cyclist - in 16 teams over 6 stages - amidst thousands of spectators to cheer.

Get more details about all the segments, participating teams, route maps, detailed time , schedules, photographs, etc visit http://www.tourofoman.om/

View of Muttrah Corniche route of Stage 1 with large screen live display of the entire race - 16 loops between the Riyam roundabout and the Samak roundabout.