Category Archives: Technology

3layye wou 3leik: A Platform To Help Implement The New Traffic Law, Stop Wasta & Fix Roads

Posted By :

During one of the Arabnet panels last week, we had the chance to engage with the people behind the ISF and TMC twitter accounts and most of the tweets that I saw seemed to agree that both accounts are doing a great job online but the story is different on the ground. Everyone is interacting online with the ISF and TMC and sharing pictures of drivers breaking the law, but nothing is really changing offline. Of course there are hopes that the new traffic law would help make things better but a lot of Lebanese are skeptical about it and whether it will be properly implemented or not.

This being said, I had a cool idea few days ago that might help implement this new traffic law as well as fix our roads, while making sure there are no corrupt policemen or citizens trying to abuse the new law. If we look back at previous attempts to enforce traffic law, they all failed because of 4 key issues:

– People don’t trust the cops and the authorities.
– Attempts to enforce traffic laws were usually applied in few regions only.
– Corrupt policemen and drivers were abusing the law to skip the fines.
– The infrastructure and the roads are getting worse.

On the other hand, I strongly believe that there are a lot of decent and competent individuals in the ISF and TMC capable of implementing the law fully, gaining people’s trust and working on enhancing the roads, but in order for that to happen, you need an automated system that is monitored by a small group and that allows engagement between the related parties and the people. What I’m talking about is an app or platform that I randomly called “3layye wou 3leik” and that works that way:

Who will use this platform?

The app will be accessible to 3 types of users:
The Lebanese Driver, who will be able to see his fines and pay them, as well as report violations* (will elaborate on this point next). Drivers will register using their license plate number and their mobile number which are unique.
The Police Officer, who will report violations he sees and fine cars based on a car plate number.
The Traffic Management Center, who will be in charge of validating and approving the fines and violations reported.

How will it work?
The hardest part is coming up with this software and the rest is pretty simple. All officers will be given special devices where they will only be able to write down fines and send them directly to the application where they will stored under a certain driver’s plate number. The officer will have to back his violation with pictures and a video (at a first stage) that will be investigated then approved or declined by the Traffic Management Officer. Once approved, the driver will have to settle the amount online and further sanctions will apply if he’s late or refuses to pay.

Now here’s the interesting part. Drivers will also be able to report violations that they see and document them as well, that way if a police officer is breaking the law, he will also be reported and investigated by the Traffic Management Center. If the violation is validated and approved, then there are three ways to proceed here:

– If the driver has pending fines, he will be able to take out 1 or more, depending on the type of violation he reported.
– If the driver has no fines, then the officer will have to pay the fine.
– If the driver has pending fines yet wants the officer to pay, then he will also have that option.

Aside from violations committed by police officers or army men or politicians, drivers will be able to report violations committed by the municipalities and ministers such as leaving manholes open, not fixing potholes, parking in the wrong places etc. When such issues are reported, the municipality and ministries will have to comply within a set period before they get sanctioned.

This is just a brief description and there are more details to be shared (maybe later), but the idea is that municipalities, police officers and drivers will encourage each other to respect the law in order to escape the fines and there will be a competent and trust-worthy panel to monitor what’s happening and do the right thing. Things may be tricky at first due to the lack of evidence, which is why I recommend setting up cameras at a later stage to eliminate any human intervention and assist the Traffic Management Center. Moreover, traffic judges will have the final say in case any of the app users (driver or cop) wants to appeal a traffic violation.

How will people pay their fines?
This is the easiest part. Since all payments are done online, drivers will be able to track down their fines and points automatically, unlike what’s happening now where we need to waste a whole day just to pay a speeding ticket. As for police officers, army men, politicians, officials, municipality members and ministries, fines will be deducted from their salaries if they refuse to pay and invested in fixing and enhancing roads.

All in all, what I’m proposing is a pragmatic approach to this whole mess we are in, and even though the solution is not an ideal one and needs further brainstorming, I think it would be a great starting point and an effective way to try and implement this new traffic law once and for all. Let me know what you guys think and whether I missed out on some key points or it’s a decent idea.

Will We Ever See 5G In Lebanon?

Posted By :

20150302_141411

It’s quite depressing to see countries planning to launch 5G services in the next 3-4 years while we are still struggling with our 4G speed and data plans and of course the lousy DSL. I was lucky enough to access Ericsson’s huge booth at the MWC2015 thanks to a friend and got to see what a 5G connection looks like. We are talking about a speed hundreds of times faster than the 4G, reaching over 5000 mbits/s. Samsung has been doing some 5G tests as well and it looks like South Korea might be the first countries to adopt it.

Technology has a huge impact on every country’s development and needs to be handled more seriously in Lebanon. The technological gap between Lebanon and the UAE has already become a huge one and it will take many years to catch up. Of course I am not talking about implementing 5G but at least enhancing and expanding our 4G network and completing the switch to fiber optics ASAP.

20150302_155150 This is a mobile by the way

First Hands-On Look At The Samsung #GalaxyS6 And #GalaxyS6Edge

Posted By :

20150301_180059

Yesterday was the first time I attend a Samsung #Unpacked event and I personally enjoyed it. The event took place at the Centre de Convencions Internacional in Barcelona and it felt really good to take part in it, share the excitement and interact with the crowds. #Unpacked introduced the Samsung Galaxy S6 as well as the Galaxy S6 Edge which comes with curved screens as well as other cool accessories like the Gear VR. The two new phones were announced by Samsung’s CEO J.K Shin who claimed that no other phone can match the new S6’s, and I have to say the phones have some pretty impressive specs.

20150301_193800 Samsung’s CEO J.K Shin announcing the two new phones

20150301_193233 The new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

I will begin with the specs that are similar to both the S6 and S6 Edge:

1- Plastic covers were dropped and replaced by a metal frame and Gorilla glass back. The metal is supposedly 50% stronger metal than competing smartphones and shouldn’t bend :)
2- The battery is smaller and no longer removable (so no SD card slot). It should last longer however according to Samsung due to the new processor. 10 minutes of Fast Charging will allow you to use the phone for 4 hours. Both devices charge twice as fast as the iPhone6.
3- Display is 5.1″ Quad HD super AMOLED (577pi). Better colors more pixels and a gorgeous screen.
4- The processor (Quad 2.1GHz + Quad 1.5Ghz, Octacore ) is much better and uses less battery. The phones are equipped DDR4 3GB RAM.
5- The front camera is 5MP while the rear one is 16MP OIS equipped with f1.9 aperture for better low light results. Camera launch time is 0.7 seconds only. Here are some of the camera features: Quick Launch, Tracking AF, Auto Real-time HDR(Front & Rear) , F1.9, Low Light Video(Front & Rear), High Clear Zoom, IR Detect White Balance, Virtual Shot, Slow Motion, Fast Motion, Pro Mode, Selective Focus.
6- The #GalaxyS6 and #GalaxyS6edge come in five colors: White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz and Green Emerald.
7- Galaxy S6 comes in 32GB, 64GB and 128 GB, Galaxy S6 Edge in 64GB and 128GB.
8- There’s also Wireless charging which is a built-in feature.

As for the #GalaxyS6edge, it will be the world’s first dual-edge display smartphone, which means two curved side screens that will allow you to quickly check and answer call, messages or emails. The Clear View option will also allow you to determine who’s calling you based on the color .

20150301_194041

Once the event was done, we got the chance to check out the new phones and try them out for few minutes. I held both phones to see if they were comfortable to hold given their ultra-slim design and I was pleasantly surprised by their grip and feel specially the S6 Edge. The camera on both phones is fantastic, they are very quick and responsive and the side screens on the S6 Edge are very easy to use.

As a first impression, I liked the new S6 but I’m honestly in love with the S6 Edge. What I didn’t appreciate was the fact that there are no SD card slots anymore and I am curious to see if the battery life will indeed improve with the new processor as this is a crucial feature. Otherwise, S6 is a huge improvement from the S5 and the S6 Edge might be the next big thing. Of course this is a very quick first impression post and I will definitely write a longer and more detailed post once I get my hands on the phone for a proper review.

The official release date is set for April 10th and prices are not yet out but I heard the S6 will start selling at around 800$. Here are some of the pictures I took at #Unpacked

20150301_193420

20150301_193426

20150301_194003

Here are a couple of pictures showing the Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6 side by side:

20150301_203729

20150301_203738

[YouTube]

Samsung or iPhone? Which Is Better?

Posted By :

att-inc-sprint-corp-tmobile-us-inc-tease-samsung-galaxy-s6

What do you think I should get? A Samsung or an iPhone? What about the LG did you try it? is the HTC any good? All these are questions I get asked most of the time by friends and family members specially when a new smartphone is expected to come out soon. While I never pretended to be a smartphone expert, I love with experimenting with phones in general and I’ve been doing that for the past 15 years or so. My first phone was an Ericsson then I switched to the Siemens SL45 which was one of the most advanced phones at the time, then I carried Nokia phones for quite some time before switching to a Sony Ericsson for a short while. My first smartphone was the iPhone and I fell in love with it back then but as soon as Android phones started coming out, I ditched my iPhone4 and got the Samsung Note2. I then switched to the Samsung S3, Galaxy Note 3 then the S4, tried to get used to the Windows Lumia phones but couldn’t, gave the Blackberry Q5 a try but it didn’t work out, then I got the S5 and I’m currently using the Samsung S5 and LG G3. I carried the iPhone 6 for a short while but then I decided to switch to the new Samsung Galaxy S6 once it comes out.

The reason why I didn’t switch to the iPhone 6 again is not because I didn’t like it or don’t appreciate Apple products, but because the Samsung Galaxy series and Android phones in general are much more convenient for me. I am neither an Android nor an Apple fanatic and I will always go for the technology that makes my life easier and that I can afford. This being said, here are the four features that I look for when choosing a smartphone and that helped me favor Android phones over the iPhone.

Operating System, Software & Performance:
I’ve always had Windows laptops and desktops at home and at work and I tried getting used to Macbooks but I couldn’t, so this whole Apple experience (iPad, Mac, iPhone) is not something I am familiar with and I hated working with iTunes just to sync few songs or images. Moreover, the internet was pretty bad before and is still not that good nowadays, so downloading all these huge updates (even for the iTunes and apps on the Apple Store) was a real pain for me. I remember it took me a week once to upgrade my iPhone because of the internet connection. Even nowadays, it’s a nightmare whenever I have to update the whole family’s iPads and iPhones and I usually end up wasting my 4G quota to do so. I don’t know if there’s an easier way to manage these updates and software upgrades specially with the lousy internet, but I thought it was much easier with Android and I love the fact that I could just plug my phone in a laptop and use it as a storage device without iTunes. Backing up to the cloud or Dropbox is also not a practical solution for me as the DSL connection is not reliable and I’d waste my 4G quota in no time specially that I am a heavy smartphone user.

In terms of performance, I think most of the top rated smartphones nowadays are good and only getting better. The LG G3 I’m currently using is super fast, the iPhone 6 is even better and the upcoming Samsung S6 will use an ultra-fast processor, the Exynos 7 Octa. Sadly enough, the Windows Lumia phones were real quick but the OS was a nightmare. As for the software, the iOS still looks nicer and cleaner than the Android and doesn’t have all these useless features that only slow down your phone but I feel comfortable using both.

Camera:
I’m not a photographer but I love taking pictures and I even bought an SLR at some point and learned a few things to enhance my photography skills. However, it’s not really practical to carry your SLR to all the events you’re invited to, so a phone’s camera is really important to me specially with Instagram nowadays. Before the iPhone 6 came out, my favorite camera was the Samsung S5 one and the best camera I’ve ever used was with the Windows Lumia 1020 one. I never enjoyed the Galaxy Note cameras for some reason, so I am anxiously waiting to see how good the Samsung Galaxy S6 camera will be. Rumors so far are saying it will be a 16MP (or 20MP?) Sony-made IMX240 sensor.

Storage:
This is probably one of the key reasons why I’ll always opt for an Android smartphone over an iPhone. I am a heavy smartphone user and I take a lot of pictures and videos in high res so storage is crucial to me. Moreover, I refuse to pay $150 or $200 extra just to get the iPhone 64GB instead of the 16GB while I could buy a 32GB microSD for as little as 30$. Some may argue that you can backup everything to the cloud nowadays but as I said earlier, this is not an option when you have a lousy internet connection and a limited 4G plan, and it’s not an excuse for Apple not to offer an SD card slot.

s1 The 16GB of pictures were taken during the past 5 months only.

Battery life:
I think everyone suffers from this problem and the only solution is to buy a decent portable charger, or a bigger phone (phablet) like the Note4, the LG G4 or the iPhone 6 Plus. I recently bought the Anker Astro E5 2-Port 1500mAH Portable Charger and it’s a life-saver specially during events, road trips or while traveling. I heard that the new Samsung Galaxy S6 will have a smaller battery but a better performing one than the S5 given its ultra-slim design but it won’t really make a difference when you are tweeting, instagraming, posting on FB, browsing and checking emails, and chatting on 4G for 2 or 3 continuous hours. To be honest, I’m not familiar with the technology associated with smartphones batteries but it’s quite surprising that they didn’t figure out a way to make better batteries.

PS: I found by mistake an article today on a new technology that will triple your battery life.

Final Verdict:
As I stated earlier, there’s no such thing as the best smartphone out there. If you are a loyal Apple user, you’ll find it easier to use the iPhone while some Windows users don’t like iOS and would rather get Android. A lot of people don’t like iPhone’s limitations while others don’t like Android’s bloatware and appreciate the minimalist and clean Apple approach. I personally wouldn’t go for the iPhone 6 for all the reasons I mentioned above and will probably switch to the new Samsung Galaxy S6 once it’s out. Since Samsung has invited me to their exclusive #Unpacked event in Barcelona, I will give you a sneak peek preview on the S6 once I get to try it out. I know the HTC M9 is coming out as well but I’ve never used an HTC before for no specific reason so I don’t know much about it.

Moreover, I will be at the MWC 2015 from March 2nd till March 5th checking out all the new smartphones and technologies being released, so stay tuned as I will keep you posted of everything happening there!

I’m Flying To Barcelona For Samsung’s #Unpacked Event & MWC 2015

Posted By :

barcel

I am traveling next Saturday to Barcelona to attend Samsung’s #Unpacked event where the much anticipated new Galaxy S6 will be released. The event will take place right before the Mobile World Congress (MWC 2015) which is happening between March 2 and March 5.

whatsnext

I’ve been following news and rumors about the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and it looks like a huge step forward from the rather disappointing Samsung S5. The ultra-slim 5.1″ S6 will come with a Quad HD screen and will use an ultra-fast processor, the Exynos 7 Octa. The battery may be smaller than the S5 one (due to the ultra-sim design) but this won’t necessarily mean less battery life and Samsung will finally drop the plastic build with this new one which is great news! Moreover, a variant of the S6, the Samsung S6 Edge should also be announced and will feature a curved screen on the side. This is quite an interesting feature which was launched with the Note 4 Edge and that I’m looking forward to try out.

[YouTube]

There’s still the camera which is rumored to be either a 16MP Sony-made IMX240 sensor or a 20MP one. Knowing that the S4 and the S5 had the best cameras when they came out, I don’t expect less from the new Samsung Galaxy S6. In all cases, I will be there at the #Unpacked event live tweeting and covering so follow me @LeNajib and let me know if you have any questions. My friends from AbsoluteGeeks and @AndroidBasha were also invited by Samsung and will be there so this promises to be a lot of fun!

On a last note, please drop any tips or hints on places to go in Barcelona if you’ve been there.

What did the Lebanese Google in 2014?

Posted By :

tvs

I couldn’t find Lebanon as a country under “Google Trends” but I remember Executive Magazine once did manual searches on popular terms and published the results, so I did the same exercise with more searches. You can do the same by going [here] and searching up to 5 terms for the past year or more.

What I did was perform searches related to popular companies, banks, smartphones, sports, neighboring countries, popular TV stations, famous singers and others. Check out the results below:

Banks

chats

countries_europe

Elissa

football

Messi

neighbors

phones

politicians1

Continue reading

Lebanese Students Win Gold At The Seoul International Invention Fair 2014

Posted By :

otv

A group of Jamhour students apparently impressed at the Seoul International Invention Fair 2014 and won the first prize with their “Controlling The Mind” invention. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what their invention is nor what they really won because I barely found information about it anywhere. Of course I am happy for them and I hope they get somewhere with this idea, if it’s truly a promising one.

[YouTube]

Save The Flag & Watani Apps Win CME Offshore Independence Day Competition

Posted By :

cme off shore

Two apps won the competition CME Offshore launched for Lebanon’s Independence day, one called “Save the Flag” where you have to fly an army helicopter through obstacles and another app called “Watani” where you move from one army rank to another after correctly answering a list of questions.

I liked the “Watani” app more but I wish students had thought of more useful apps, like one that can send the location of an army soldier that just got kidnapped or is lost, or one that sends somehow a distress signal based on some criteria.

Beirut, Lebanon – December 2014: After CME announced their Independence App competition, 9 different teams from 6 universities participated and came up with some innovative and dynamic ideas, attracting over 4000+ users in a single week. The competition was intended to give $2000 to the winning app, but two teams came up with outstanding ideas that encouraged CME to double the prize up to $4000 splitting it equally among the two participants.

Save The Flag (Available on both Android and iPhone) by Peter Azar and Rami Allam (both from ESIB): It is a game that reflects our current situation and the way our army is fighting terrorism all over the country in every corner. “The biggest obstacle we came across was finding a way to take the theme presented to us and translate it into an entertaining game” said Peter Azar and Rami Allam. The team seems very excited to build on top of the current app and take it to the next level.

Watani (Available on Android only) by Rene Haddad, Christopher Barakat and Elie Mhawej (All from Université Antonine): It is a quiz app that tests the user’s knowledge about Lebanon and rewards him/her with Lebanese military ranks. The app is very special in its technology and a material design user experience. “We really appreciate and support similar initiatives that establish a common ground between an academic path, a patriotic spirit and an enterprise or a business need!” said Professor Talar Atechian who offered a full guidance to the Antonine team since the first day.

Banque du Liban Accelerate 2014: 1500+ Participants, 50 Speakers And 25+ Startups Over Two Days

Posted By :

BDL

The BDL is organizing #Accelerate2014 and bringing over 50 startup industry veterans from all around the world to put “Blueprints for Success for 1,000 international entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals”. The list of speakers is very interesting and there are a lot of events, talks and competitions to look out for. I just got back from Dubai today so I missed out on the first day but I will be there tomorrow hopefully.

One of the events I was looking forward to attend today was the “Lightning Round – Startup Competition” as part of the Seedstar World Competition as it’s always nice to hear about new ideas and startups. This year, 28 startups took the stage for 1 minute to pitch their idea and 8 made it to the final round tomorrow.

Here are the 8 finalist startups:
Cardio Diagnostic: FDA Approved wireless heart monitor that helps connect patients with doctors.
Saily: Helps you sell second hand items easily.
Yellow: Bitcoin payment solution for money transfers in your currency.
Ki: Password manager app.
Presella: Online e-ticketing platform that enables anyone anywhere to become an event organizer.
GoEjaza: Helps you plan your trips.
Feedeed: Getting fast professional services online
Tari2ak: Real-time traffic conditions app.

Here’s a link to the full schedule [Here].

Update: You Can Now Edit Photo Captions On Instagram

Posted By :

anal

I wrote a post back in September wondering whether it was possible to edit a photo caption on Instagram, specially after people had commented on it. For all I know, it’s not possible but it is now as Instagram has finally decided to roll out an update yesterday allowing users to edit captions.

I don’t have the feature yet as the update is not yet available on the Play Store but my friend Maia tried it and it’s working.

PS: I guess this means that George Clooney and Amal Alameddine picture was fake after all.

Thanks Maia!