What’s Happening With Telecom Minister Boutros Harb’s Twitter Account?

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After the two weird tweets that showed up on his TL one day before he was appointed as Telecom Minister, Boutros Harb apparently has decided to delete his old Twitter account and come up with a new one (@Harb_Boutros). I am not sure why he would do that specially that he had over 11k followers and now has to start from scratch. Harb announced his official handle on his FB Page but still the National News Agency got it wrong and mentioned the old handle.

Eitherway, Hagop investigated the whole thing after noticing that Harb’s old account suddenly changed into LebInvestigate and is now blocked.

On another note, Harb asked to enhance the ministry’s website and I agree that it needs a major revamp.

Pictures Of The Two Lebanese Army Soldiers Killed In Yesterday’s Hermel Explosion

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An Army Officer Elias el Khoury and a solider called Hamzeh Faitruny were the victims of yesterday’s terrorist attack in Hermel as reported by the Lebanese Army Website. DailyStar spoke of a third victim called Mohammad Ayyoub but I couldn’t find his picture anywhere. The reason why I am sharing these photos is because people are either sharing wrong images of Elias el Khoury or just Officer Elias el Khoury’s picture.

May they all rest in peace.

Angelina Jolie Visiting Syrian Refugees In Lebanon

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MixFM Posted on their Facebook page few hours ago that Angelina Jolie “is currently in Lebanon on a humanitarian mission and that they will not disclose her location for security reasons”, but LebanonFiles weren’t so discreet about her visit and revealed where she’s staying and what she’s doing. Basically, she’s visiting Syrian Refugees in the Bekaa and staying at Hotel Kadri in Zahle near the Bardawni river.

Here are two of the few pictures taken by Annahar of Angelina’s secret visit to Lebanon:

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Lebanese Skier Alex Mohbat Finishes 42nd Out of 117 racers In His Slalom Race

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Alex had finished 69th in his first race but managed to clinch the 42nd spot in the Slalom race after 2 runs. Slalom races are really tough and there are a lot of DNFs as you can see in the final results even among the favorites, so congrats to Alex on this encouraging result!

Jackie Chamoun finished in 48th spot after her two runs in the Slalom race.

Alex

Beirut Protest Against The Government of Venezuela

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I spotted today a protest that was taking place at Martyrs Square against the “Criminal government of Venezuela” as one of the banners said. I assume the organizers and participants were Venezuelan-Lebanese. According to Wikipedia, there are around 300,000 Lebanese Venezuelan, which is one of the largest Lebanese population in the Americas.

Whatsapp Down In Lebanon

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Lebanese Telecom Minister Boutros Harb tweeted today to explain to the Lebanese that the ministry had nothing to do with the Whatsapp outage and that the applicaton is facing problems. I can imagine how panicked all the Lebanese were. Whatsapp was bought by Facebook for $19 billion dollars and the first change done was making the “last seen” notification become optional.

Jounieh Floating Island or Cedar Island?

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I was reading an article in Al-Akhbar about a floating Cedar Island in the bay of Jounieh, then I saw that Lebanondebate posted about this as well with a picture that reminded me of a very old project (Cedar Island) I had heard of years ago and that was planned to be built off the Damour coast. I don’t know how Al-Akhbar managed to mix up both projects but it looks like they are talking about the Jounieh Floating Island project, which is basically a Self Propelled Floating Resort done by a company called Beirut International.

The website doesn’t say much about the project and whether it will be done anytime soon. The company’s Facebook page says it should be done by 2015 and I have to admit that it’s an interesting concept if it doesn’t cost much but I don’t know how sustainable it is. As for the Cedar Island project, the website no longer exists and the project itself is a very ambitious plan that emerged more than 5 years ago if I am not mistaken and that I doubt will ever take place.

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Review: Nokia Lumia 1020

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Update: Nokia has officially released its first Android phones, the Nokia X and Nokia XL.

The Lumia 1020 is probably the best Windows Phone out there at the moment, and its camera is the best smartphone camera you could ask for. I am really impressed with the quality of pictures and I am barely using my Samsung S4 camera these days, however a smartphone is not only about a camera and I am still not fully convinced with Windows Phones. I love the 1020 and am carrying it around with me all the time (and don’t want to give it back :P), but the whole Windows OS experience is still second best to Android and iOS smartphones.

Moving on, here’s my take on the design/build quality, the performance, the camera and battery life.

Design/Build Quality
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The Lumia 1020 is a relatively heavy smartphone, but somehow much lighter than the Lumia 920 despite the camera lens popping out of the back of the phone. The one I got came in matte black, and even though I loved the feel of the phone, it was a bit more slippery when compared to the previous Lumia phones that came with a glossy finish. The screen offers a 4.5-inch PureMotion HD + OLED display and is a very solid one (Gorilla Glass 3). There are no buttons or ports on the left side of the screen, while the right side has a volume control button, a power/standby and camera button. The Lumia 1020 can never rest flat on a table because of the camera lens standing out at the back. The round bump looks weird but it didn’t bother me to be honest.

Performance/Software and Battery Life
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The Lumia 1020 has a Dual-core 1.5GHz MSM8960 Processor and is lightening fast. the Windows 8.1 runs very smoothly just like the previous Lumia phones and the 2GB are more than enough to run all the tasks you need. This is a major advantage over the often bloaty and laggy Android but the thing is Android is more user friendly and convenient than the live-tile filed Windows Mobile OS. Take for example the simplest of options, the bar shortcut and notifications drop-down are not available on the Lumia. Moreover I hate the keyboard and you can’t change it.

As far as the battery is concerned, it could easily last an entire day if you are just using it to browse the internet, check emails and take few pictures. Of course if you are using the professional camera and the Xenon flash, expect the battery to run out more quickly. Speaking of photography, Instagram is available but in a BETA mode.

The Camera
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If you are into photography and like taking good pictures, you will fall in love with the Lumia 1020. Just like the Pureview 808 was impressive, the six-lens 41-megapixel PureView camera paired with a Xenon flash is the best smartphone camera by far. Of course you won’t need to take high-res pictures all the time as the default camera is more than enough to produce awesome pictures to upload them on Facebook or share them with friends, but if you want to experiment with the pro camera, then I advise you to read this document first. If you’ve never used an SLR Camera before, you will find it hard to change between the settings so I recommend in that case that you keep all the settings to auto in that case and let the camera do the work.

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As you can see from the above screenshots, you can play with various manual controls, such as the brightness level, the shutter speed, ISO, focus and white balance. You can get see a live preview while setting the controls. The one thing I wasn’t able to do is shoot macro shots with the 1020 but you won’t need to as you can easily zoom in any picture without losing any quality. Trust me the level of detail that this phone captures is something you’ll never see on any other camera phone and I will be posting later on a list of High-Res Photos taken all over Lebanon.

Here’s an example on how good the Lumia 1020 camera is:

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Photo taken by an S4

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Photo taken by the Lumia1020

Final Verdict
I loved the design and solid build of the Lumia 1020. The camera is an obvious winner too but the Windows OS is a major turn off for me to be honest. The notification system is lousy, large live tiles, tons of settings and no quick bar or shortcut buttons. I’ve tried hard to get used to the Windows OS but it’s not working out for me. Either a serious change needs to be done and Microsoft is more than capable to do so, or Microsoft should let their phones run on Android and I heard they are already considering it.

Lebanese Football Player Zoheir Mrad Arrested For Terror Charges

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Update: Racing Player Zoheir Mrad was released today. Good to hear.

First we have a romantic singer turned terrorist and now this. If charged, Zoheir won’t be the first footballer to turn terrorist/fighter as I heard there are 1 or 2 other players who even went to fight in Syria. This is not only happening in Lebanon though as a German National Team Player joined the fight in Syria back in November 2013 and got killed. Speaking of Germany and Europe, hundreds of Europeans are flocking to the war in Syria and joining terrorists.

Following conflicting reports concerning the location where Mrad was arrested, sources told NOW that three Lebanese army patrols awaited Mrad at the entrance of the Bourj Hammoud Municipal Stadium. During the arrest, the army soldiers ordered the club players present at the scene not to intervene while others were ordered to stand by a wall or stay in their cars. Mrad was subsequently taken away as his fellow players looked on with amazement.

Regarding whether the Youth and Sports Ministry or the Lebanese Football Association should have intervened, the sources confirmed to NOW that the issue is related to national security since Mrad was arrested for terror charges following a request by the public prosecutor. It was therefore outside the scope of responsibilities of ministers, the Football Association, and the Racing Club. Meanwhile, the statement issued by the Lebanese army following the arrest announced that Mrad was apprehended on the basis of confessions provided by Naim Abbas who is being detained for terror charges. [Now]