Category Archives: Lebanon

The Janna Dam is Still a Bad Idea!

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nautre

This is probably the 4th article I write about the Janna dam in the past 4 years and the issue is still causing a controversy. For me, the issue is very simple:

– As long as there are conflicting studies about the dam and no one has a clear answer on its environmental impact, the project should be stopped and no one should be allowed to remove a single tree.

– As long as the authorities don’t have a clear plan to compensate for the thousands of trees cut in order to minimize the environmental impact, knowing that it will take probably 100 years to rebuild what they’re willing to destroy, the dam needs to be stopped.

We are talking about over 400,000 trees and bushes, thousands of plants, animals, mammals and birds that will be put under various levels of endangerment. For that sake, a camp will be organized nexy weekend on Saturday and Sunday at Jannet Artaba to protest against the dam. The gathering is hosted by our friends at LiveLoveBeirut, Deghri Messenger and CyclingCircle.

If you wish to join, read more [here].

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Huawei Mate 8 Review: My First Experience with a Huawei Phone

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Even though Huawei phones have been in the market for quite some time, I’ve never had the chance to use or review any of them. A month ago, I spotted the Messi commercial with the new Mate 8 so I asked Huawei if I could try it out and they sent me a review model for a couple of weeks time, which was good enough for a quick review:

Design/Build:
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The Huawei Mate 8 is a large phone, or phablet in that case, and doesn’t comfortably fit in all hands, just like all 5.5-inch+ smartphones. The slightly curved back does make it easier to hold but it’s still a hassle. The Mate 8 is an all-metal/glass phone and it’s pretty heavy but the metal finish feels premium and solid and the phone boasts a 6-inch screen which makes it one of the smallest 6-inch smartphones on the market. For example, Google Nexus 6P is a bigger phablet with only a 5.7-inch device.

comp1 Huawei Mate 8 vs iPhone 6s, Galaxy S6, LG G4 – via PhoneArena

In terms of design, The Mate 8 is a refined version of the previous Mate 7 but I found its front side to be a bit dull. Its back side on the other hand stands out and is quite nice.

Display/Screen:
I found the screen to be dim and the screen resolution to be too low. I’m surprised it’s only 1080p LCD display and is a major drawback when compared to the competition. I don’t know if I got used to LG and Samsung’s impressive screens over the past years, but most competing smartphones are of far higher quality than this. The resolution is still sharp enough for most situations, but I personally wouldn’t switch from a Quad HD screen to this one.

The only positive aspect about the display is a better battery life, which I will discuss next.

Battery
power saving

If you are looking for a large smartphone with an impressive battery life, then Mate 8 is what you need. There’s a large 4,000 mAh battery tucked inside the large metal body and it would easily last around 36 hours if you’re a heavy user (Emails, Facebook, Instagram, Watching videos, Taking pictures etc …). The quick charge is also supported and can fully charge your dead battery in around 80 minutes.

Camera
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The Huawei Mate 8 relies on a Sony IMX298 16MP front camera and a lens with a f2.0 aperture. The camera can generate up to to 4,608 x 3,456 pixels in resolution and there’s optical image stabilization too. It’s a very good camera, but not a great one but again I am very picky when it comes to phone cameras and I’ve gotten used to impressive Samsung Galaxy S cameras that are very hard to compete with. The only camera that was as impressive as the Samsung’s one is the LG G4 and I’m expecting the G5’s camera to be even better.

Going back to the Mate 8 camera, there are several cool features that are worth mentioning:
– Swiping left or right lets you switch between several modes (Light Painting, Beauty, Time-lapse, video etc ..)
– Selfie addicts will fall in love with the Beauty (Selfie) mode.
– Light-painting mode is pretty cool but you need a tripod to use it properly. Here’s a small sample with the old Huawei P8.
– Mate 8 also offers a professional mode where you can adjust ISO levels, Aperture, white balance etc.
– You can add a watermark also on the picture directly.

Speaking of Huawei cameras, I’m eager to test out the Huawei P9’s camera as it was co-engineered with the one and only Leica.

Here are a couple of pictures I took using my LG G4 and the new Huawei Mate 8.

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Software/Performance/User Experience
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The phone is ultra fast but the software is a little buggy and the interface is not very appealing. I only had a couple of weeks to experiment with the phone and given my experience with other brands, it’s still a matter of time before you get used to the interface. For example, it took me some time to get used to the LG G4’s rear button but now every time I hold a button, that’s the first thing I look for. Similary, Samsung and the iPhone’s home button is a must for me and the Mate 8 doesn’t have that.

I loved the fingerprint sensor, it’s super responsive and fast. The Mate 8 also accepts two SIM cards.

Final Verdict:
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The Mate 8 has a lot of cool features, it’s a solid phone with an exceptional build quality, powerful specs and an outstanding battery life but the display is average, and the design and the camera are good but not great. Here’s a list of pros and cons that might help you decide if you’d consider buying the Mate 8 or not. Price-wise, it’s around $500 which is a tiny bit expensive for what you’re getting.

Pros:
– 6-inch gigantic screen: perfect for browsing, messaging, watching movies or series on the plane etc.
– Impressive battery life.
– Dual SIM.
– Solid build.
– Ultra Fast processor.
– A lot of cool features (Fingerprint sensor, camera options etc…)

Cons:
– Doesn’t comfortably fit in all hands or pockets.
– Low resolution and dim screen.
– Camera is not impressive.

Rating:3/5

#LawChouMaSar, Keep Working in #Lebanon

Posted By :

lawou

#LawChouMaSar is a new online campaign that was launched few days ago and is a collective call for action from all the productive and creative sectors to keep working in Lebanon no matter what. It’s a nice initiative and I like the fact that CEOs, heads of syndicates and organizations are taking part in it but the fact that most of them are aged 50+ doesn’t really help the campaign.

These people can afford to stay here (up to a certain extent of course) or leave while others don’t have anything to lose and just want to leave this country and try their luck elsewhere. Businesses are struggling and closing everywhere, students are graduating and not finding any jobs or finding mediocre ones and the ever-increasing cost of living is moving more and more Lebanese families are living below poverty line.

What we really need is for the private sector to create a more favorable work environment, to help reduce unemployment, to encourage professionals and young people, to work more actively on problems such as the garbage crisis, to promote productivity in under-performing sectors. The simplest way to provide new opportunities is have a better infrastructure and a better internet yet I barely see anyone pressuring the authorities to fix this serious issue and catch up with our surrounding.

I am sure a lot of those featured in this video are working for that sake. What they need to do is highlight what they’re doing and give Lebanese a more convincing reason to keep working in Lebanon.

Tripoli School Teacher Beats Up Student, Breaks Two Fingers

Posted By :

kid via lebanonfiles

I still can’t believe these things still happen in Lebanese schools. The kid was apparently beaten up, taken to the hospital and the mother was told that he “fell accidentally” and injured himself. I can’t confirm the details yet but the Education Minister has to investigate what happened and fire that teacher and the principal if the story is confirmed.

The Grand Aley Hotel: Built in 1926, For Sale Since 2008

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This is a cool piece by Dima Karam (The Guardian) on the Grand Aley Hotel that was built in 1926 by three brothers from a Beiruti trading family.

The British Army set up their command center in WWII and then the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) general who led the offensive against Syria and Lebanon used the hotel as his HQ. Following WWII, the hotel “became renowned for its evening entertainment – gambling, concerts and dancing” before it got occupied by mercenaries during the Lebanese Civil War.

The owners were unable to re-open the hotel after the war and the central bank ended up seizing the hotel and putting it up for auction back in 2008. Unfortunately, there are still no potential buyers willing to restore this hotel’s glory.

It’s quite shameful that such a beautiful hotel is abandoned and for sale.

Check out the full article [here].

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The Story of Beirut: A Spectacular Start To The Beirut Cultural Festival

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bcf7

The Story of Beirut was the centerpiece of the May 17-22 Beirut Cultural Festival and the best possible way to kick off the first edition of these festivals. Using Nejmeh Square’s iconic clock tower as its focal point, the show took us back to the Phoenicians, then the Roman Empire, the Ottoman rule, the French mandate, our independence in 1943, Beirut’s glorious years in the 1960s, the unfortunate civil war and the reconstruction that followed, a moment of silence in 2005 and then a dazzling light show transported us to the 2016 all accompanied with beautiful musical compositions and mixes by Guy Manoukian.

CNN wrote a lengthy article today on The Story of Beirut. I will leave you with these pictures and a small video that I compiled from various parts of the show.

Thumbs up to everyone who made this possible and to the show’s art director Daniel Georr.

Tonight is your last chance to catch the show. You can look for tickets [here].

[YouTube]

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Naameh Landfill Is Closing Tonight, Garbage Crisis is Coming Back Soon!

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garbage Source: AFP

Two months ago, I wrote that the Lebanese cabinet is only postponing the garbage crisis with their temporary four-year long solution. Unfortunately, they weren’t even able to stick to that plan and the garbage crisis is coming back as of tomorrow when the Naameh landfill closes again.

I don’t know if the cabinet has plans to keep Naameh landfill open for a long period but what saddens me is that no one was talking about that garbage crisis during the municipal elections. You’d think that waste management would be the hottest topic on every candidate’s electoral program but instead candidates were polluting further with their posters (which were not removed yet in Beirut) and fireworks.

Here’s Why I Love Formula One

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f1 1

I love Formula 1. Everything about this sport is fascinating and I hate it when I hear people telling me “It’s just driving around in circles”. Formula 1 is considered by many to be the greatest sport ever because it simply is. You have the best automotive engineers and teams using state-of-the-art technologies to build the fastest, lightest and most advanced cars for the world’s most talented drivers to drive around the most beautiful and demanding tracks in the world.

Even though I’ve been watching F1 for almost 20 years now, I’ve only been to one Grand Prix at Monza back in 2011 and the whole experience was simply amazing and out of this world, so you can imagine my excitement when I heard Red Bull are organizing an F1 showrun in Beirut!

drift

I am sure Formula 1 fans are as excited as I am about this event, but I want non-F1 fans to realize how awesome this sport is and what they are missing out on. I want them to know how hard it is to make an F1 car, how much time it takes, how demanding it is, the different stages involved from Design and R&D, Composites, Manufacturing and Assembly and other fascinating details.

I’ve teamed up with Red Bull to come up with this post 1) because I love Red Bull, 2) because Red Bull Racing won four successive Constructors’ Championship titles in the past 6 years with my favorite driver Sebastian Vettel and 3) because they are organizing the F1 showrun on Sunday.

f1

So here we go: How to make a Red Bull Racing F1 car?

What does it take to make one of the world’s fastest racing cars? How are they so powerful? How much time does it take to build one? How is the perfect design chosen? How many tests before a car is good to go? How many parts does an F1 car need? And how many machines are needed for the whole process?
Questions, so many questions! Here are the answers.

There are basically four stages in the making of an F1 car:
I- Design and R&D
II- Composites
III- Manufacturing
IV- Assembly

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Here are a few insights on what happens at the Red Bull Racing factory. The first two parts were already covered by Red Bull so I will elaborate on the last two which are Manufacturing and Assembly.

III- Manufacturing:
rbcars

Did you know a Formula 1 car typically takes only five months to design and develop? It takes over 300 designers, aerodynamicists and machinists to create one RB model. Yes, three-hundred, THREE-hundred! Every model created has a specific purpose.

The RB car is made from over 6,500 unique parts which include 100,000 components, 70% of which are machined in house. There are 20 programmable machines capable of manufacturing all parts of the car and the engineers running the machine shop have to constantly improve to reduce the manufacturing time while preserving the quality needed and making sure the parts are 100% reliable. Weight is the biggest challenge for any F1 team as they are constantly trying to make the car lighter and lighter. Quoting Christian Horner, the team principal at Red Bull Racing, the parts produced are pieces of art and the work being done is phenomenal.

paint Even the Painting Process is a hassle

The RB car is painted in-house. The painting process is very critical as it’s not about aesthetics. It’s a performance element as the finishing needs to be smooth and building up paint on the car might increase its weight and slow it down or even affect the aerodynamics. An F1 car’s paint job may seem silly but it’s a very technical process that is often overlooked.

IV- Assembly:
ind

Assembling a Formula one car is similar to a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that needs to be completed in a record time with zero margin for error. The first build tends to take about a week and the planning process is even more painful than the assembly itself.

The cars are assembled in the “Race Bays”. Five chassis are prepared, one for each driver, two test cards and one kept in disassembly mode. Every manufactured or purchased component goes through a thorough inspection process and there are several state-of-the-art tools that are used to inspect the car and its different components without touching it. The tiniest mistake, we are talking microns, could cost the team disqualification or drastically affect the car’s performance.

All in all, Formula 1 has the best of everything: The technology, the cars, the tracks, the crashes, the drivers, the glamour, the rivalries. It’s probably the best sport you are not watching!

See you all on Sunday and let’s hope that one day we will have a Beirut F1 GP.