Category Archives: Technology

Kalam Ennas Report on the New Mobile Regulations

Few questions that need to be addressed to the Telecom Ministry after seeing this report:

1- How are expats and tourists being informed about these new measures? Is there enough marketing being done in the airport and online? Because the guy interviewed at first in the LBCI report obviously had no clue about these regulations.

2- The Telecom person interviewed is saying: “The problem is not with the line but with the device, because the line is not connected to any phone. In fact, you can use your line with a billion devices but the device will be linked to this line so if you want ur line to be used on another new and registered device you can use it, but if it’s a used phone than the device needs to be disconnected from the line.”

Something doesn’t sound right here. How can you use your line in the newly bought device if you don’t disconnect the old device from it? Can we use our line on two different devices?

3- If someone steals your phone, he can unlock the device by sending an SMS to 1014. If this is true, doesn’t that contradict with what Rita Khairallah from the Telecom Ministry just said in the report?

4- Why is it taking so much time in Touch and Alfa to register the devices or explain to the customers what to do? Everyone seems upset in the LBCI report.

5- One last question: I still want to know what is the point from these regulations because as mentioned earlier, I haven’t seen one person praising them or saying they are for our own good.

#FreeTheBandwith Fta7 Ya Men3em!

Screenshot_2013-06-07-17-30-02-1
Picture taken from @Nicolasehnaoui

Telecom Minister Sehnaoui posted this picture today on his instagram account blaming Ogero Telecom chief Abdel-Moneim Youssef on the slowness and asking him to free the bandwidth.

Even though I agree with Minister Sehnaoui that Youssef’s behavior is unacceptable, I refuse to solely put the blame on one side as there are two fundamental issues that are at the origin of this problem:

1- Ogero’s existence is a problem in itself.
2- The constant bickering and lack of dialogue between opposing political opponents in Lebanon is leading to deadlocks, leaving us Lebanese to suffer.

I cannot believe that no one is able to reach Ogero’s chief or set a meeting to sit and talk with him. If that’s the case, then legal action should be taken against him or he should be forced to resign or the concerned people should head to Ogero and ask to meet Youssef, or organize a protest etc …

This matter has been dragging for months just because no one’s been able to meet or talk to Youssef? Let’s storm Ogero and free the bandwidth then. Will that solve our internet problems? Definitely not.

I’ve already tried to assess the internet situation in Lebanon in a previous post, which I believe still applies now. You can read it [Here].

And here’s my take in the article on Ogero:

Having a state-owned (privately-managed) entity controlling the Telecom sector is a recipe for disaster and the past years are a clear proof of that. Regardless of political affiliations, it is illogical to let one company control everything and then expect other privately owned ISPs to compete with it. I am not saying Ogero is bad but this monopoly is an obstacle to a healthy competition and should be halted either through privatization or other means. Last but not least, I think more efforts should have been put by both sides to settle the differences as we’ve wasted precious years and are now way behind technologically.

Speaking of problems, I urge Minister Sehnaoui to reconsider the new mobile regulations since I haven’t heard one single positive feedback on this matter from the Lebanese Online Community.

Quick Review: Samsung Galaxy S4

20130522_080544

Samsung Lebanon were kind enough to lend me the new Samsung Galaxy S4 to try it out for a couple of weeks and return it. Even though I only got it on Monday, I’ve been experimenting on my friend’s S4 for the last week or so and have few things to say about this latest addition to the Samsung’s popular S series.

First of all, let me just say that even though I’ve been an iPhone user for years, I decided to switch to Android and have been using the Samsung Note2 since Christmas without any regret (except for the camera maybe). The Samsung Galaxy S is getting more popular by the year and the S3 has been rivaled only by the iPhone last year, so there were very high expectations set for the new S4.

Design, Build & Screen

20130522_082625

The Samsung S4 is an improved version of the S3 whereas it fits a larger screen in a smaller, lighter and slimmer body. The handset feels almost as light as the iPhone 5, and doesn’t feel cheap at all. On the contrary, the S4 feels like a classy and sexy phone. What I don’t like though about Samsungs in general is the back cover as I feel I am going to break it every time I want to take it out. It seems we still have to wait a bit for them to switch to unibody.

The screen is one of the phone’s most impressive features as it is a 5-inch Full HD with quite an impressive resolution (1080 x 1920). I think it’s the best screen resolution and quality currently in the market. Added to that, the screen is so sensitive that you can swipe around it while wearing gloves.

20130522_083737
The three sensors and front-facing camera dots look randomly placed

Features

Screenshot_2013-05-22-09-04-33

Screenshot_2013-05-22-09-04-29

Screenshot_2013-05-22-09-04-23

Screenshot_2013-05-22-09-04-10

When I first saw the Samsung S4 TV commercials, I was excited to try out the Air Gesture and Air View features as they looked pretty cool, as well as the eye-tracking tool but I knew for a fact that I wouldn’t use them that often. It’s fun to try them out the first few weeks and impress your friends but that’s about it. I tried using the eye tracking tool when reading an article online but it’s not as practical as it seems. In fact, you might look stupid moving your head to interact with a screen but then again that’s a software that will take some time to perfect so there’s no harm in having fun with it until then.

Here are some of the new features in the S4:
Group Play, Story Album, S Translator, Optical Reader, Samsung Smart Scroll, Samsung Smart Pause, Air Gesture, Air View, Samsung Hub, ChatON, Samsung WatchON, S Travel (Trip Advisor), S Voice Drive, S Health, Samsung Adapt Display, Samsung Adapt Sound, Auto adjust touch sensitivity (Glove friendly), Safety Assistance, Samsung Link, Screen Mirroring, Samsung KNOX (B2B only).

Screenshot_2013-05-22-09-30-15
You can search with the camera on Google which is pretty cool

As far as the quick access menu is concerned, there are over 20 different shortcuts which I think is a bit too much.

Camera
Screenshot_2013-05-22-09-44-51

Even though I am using the Note2 currently, I still prefer my iPhone 4′s camera. The S4 camera is a major improvement from the previous one and is 13 MP with Auto Focus, Flash and Zero Shutter Lag. I noticed some lag when taking pictures sometimes but I haven’t had the chance to experiment it properly and will do so in the upcoming days. I will also try to compare the S4 camera with the iPhone 5 and Lumia 920 cameras.

PS: I will be posting pictures taken with the S4 on my Instagram for those interested (Follow me @LeNajib).

All in all, the S4 is an enhanced version of the popular Samsung S3, with a larger screen, better quality and higher resolutions, a more powerful camera and tons of new features. It’s currently the best Android and Smartphone in the market in terms of performance and specs. The Galaxy S4 is being sold at 850$ in Lebanon (with CTC warranty card) which I believe is overpriced.

I personally wouldn’t buy it because I am addicted to my Note2′s huge screen and looking forward to the Note3.

Thank You Alfa!

Screenshot_2013-05-21-10-56-04-1

Update: The 10% extra MBs are only for one month to compensate the loss due to the outage that occurred the day before. (Source: Alfa)

That’s probably the only good news that ever came out of an internet outage in Lebanon. I don’t know if the increase is permanent or just for a month.

4G service not yet working on mobile phones

20130517_164051
The 4G network will only support data at the moment to be followed by calls and SMS by end of June

I tried the 4G SIM on both the Nokia Lumia 920 and Samsung Note2 and I couldn’t get a 4G sign even though I put the right configuration. I don’t know if I misunderstood Alfa’s official statement but they did specify a list of devices that work on the Alfa 4G network during the launch:

The devices that work on the Alfa 4G network are:
1- Lumia 920
2- Galaxy S3 (that supports LTE)
3- Galaxy Note 2 (that supports LTE)
4- LG Optimus g
5- iPad mini

Here’s an excerpt from the DailyStar:

Yet very few smartphones and wireless devices currently sold in Lebanon support the new network and accessing it will come at a high cost to consumers. Alfa CEO Marwan Hayek said at a news conference that 41,000 devices in the Lebanese market are currently 4G, or fourth-generation, enabled, including the Nokia Lumia 920, the LG Optimus G, the iPad mini, and compatible Galaxy S3 and Note 2 models. [DailyStar]

PS: On a side note, thumbs up to Alfa for their improved customer service!

Meet 24-year-old Paul Salameh, The Lebanese developer behind the world’s #1 mobile kids game, Pou

pou_main

That’s quite an amazing story. I had no clue a Lebanese was behind Pou.

When Yahoo! paid 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio $30 million for news summary app Summly, one of our Wamda contributors wrote us, “I’m looking forward to the day when somebody on Wamda writes the Arab version of this story.”

The story of Lebanese developer Paul Salameh is almost that story. He might not be a teenager (he’s 24) and his app might not influence the future of media consumption, but rumors have swirled that he has been offered $20 million for its acquisition.

“He’s probably making around $30,000 day, by conservative estimation,” a local source told us, based upon estimates of downloads of the $1.99 iOS version and in-app purchases on its Android app. That’s a cool $1 million a month.

For what? Pou. Yes, that’s the name of his app, which resembles a colorful, mobile version of Japanese digital pet Tamagotchi. In Pou, players can feed, wash, and play games with a brown, triangular alien pet, which has turned out to be wildly addictive; the app made a global Top 5 Paid iOS Apps list last month, sees between between 260-320,000 downloads a day on Android, and has so far hit #1 in the iPhone kids games category in a total of 90 countries. [Wamda]

You can download Pou from the [Apple Store] or [Play Store]. To view the article’s full version [Here].

Thanks M!

Alfa Launches 4G network in Lebanon

BKSh17dCAAAOlrB-1
Prices proposed by Alfa: Is it me or are the new packages really expensive?

Alfa just launched the 4G officially and here are few details shared by Abir and from Alfa. Alfa is the 6th company to launch the 4G technology in the MENA region.

The 4G network will only support data at the moment to be followed by calls and SMS by end of June. I already tried to send an SMS this morning and it failed. The 4G coverage map is restricted to Beirut at the moment as shown below:

BKSj_C5CMAAS2Wl
via @Alfa

The devices that work on the Alfa 4G network are:
1- Lumia 920
2- Galaxy S3 (that supports LTE)
3- Galaxy Note 2 (that supports LTE)
4- LG Optimus g
5- iPad mini

BB Z10 and Q10 are not currently supported and iPhones are pending licensing agreements. Sending SMS on #Alfa4G network is expected by end of June. Only the iPhone 5 model A1429 will be supported.

Meet Super Geek + 4G Commercial Launch on Wednesday

super geek
Good Job Sareen!

This picture was uploaded yesterday night by Minister Sehnaoui on Instagram with the below text:

I introduce to you Super Geek. A young Lebanese Geek turned Super Hero He’s into high tech gadgets and would pick Star Wars over Politics any day His Mission is to lead the Young Lebanese Digital Lobby to instill change in Lebanon and the World In days to come we will all need to think and brainstorm together to create the Adventures of Super Geek Our fellow Geek @sareen_ak who drew this character to life will help us make this happen We will also need to work together to make Super Geek’s Mission a Reality Share Super Geek with the community so we can have all Geeks on board of our Young Digital Lobby

image003

I am still skeptical about this whole Lebanese Digital Lobby idea and I am not sure how Super Geek’s adventures will be appealing to internet users but I guess it’s a fun initiative for students maybe that can’t do any harm.

This announcement comes with another big event, which is the 4G commercial launch that is set for Wednesday 15th of May. The initial launch is for Limited Locations but will gradually expand to cover all regions. I don’t know whether people will be able to subscribe to the service as of the 15th as we just received few days ago dongles for the pilot phase which did not start yet and will last a whole month.

I will keep you posted once I activate my 4G dongle.

sehnaoui