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Monday, January 29, 2007

On June 10 and July 7, 2003 NASA's twin robot geologists, the Mars Exploration Rovers were launched toward Mars. Primary scientific goals of the mission were to search different types of rocks and soils, in addition to discover the sites affected by liquid water in the past. Several photos of the red planet were taken as the robots are supplied with several cameras, one capable of taking images of the surface and sky of Mars and other microscopic cameras to zoom rock and soil targets.

In 2007, after three years from Spirit and Opportunity landing (the twin rovers), NASA announced a contest to choose the best photos of Mars, the voting began on January 3, and ended on January 24, and these are the winners (presented in order):


The sun sinks beneath the rim of Gusev Crater on May 19, 2005.

Dazzling Dunes

As Opportunity crept to the bottom of Endurance Crater, the rover investigated dune crests in false-color, seeing a "blue" tint from hematite-containing spherules ("blueberries") that accumulate on flat surfaces.

Cape Verde

Scientists named this dramatic cliff "Cape Verde" and all features at Victoria Crater in honor of locations on Earth that Magellan explored in the 1500s.

Blueberries on Mars

When some scientists first saw these strange beads of hematite, the spheres seemed like "blueberries" embedded in a "muffin" of martian soil.

Wheel Tracks

Hundreds of millions of miles from Earth, a pair of wheel tracks chronicles the rover's journey across a rocky, sandy, rippled slope above a broad Martian plain.

(Photos' descriptions from

Click if you want to see the other photos or the results of Saturn's photo contest.

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Today I've finally finished my exams. But I also took the wrong step of seeing the grades of my previous exams... Blah! they're so ugly, I did not do so well this semester :(

Mahjoob's Cartoon

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Friday, January 26, 2007

This is not the boy of the articleA recent Reuters news story reported from Beijing that hundreds of chickens have been found dead in a small village in east China . The reason was the screaming of a four-year old boy that had been scared by a barking dog. A witness said that the little boy bent over the henhouse window, screaming for a long time, after being frightened from the dog.

A court has officially ruled that the cause of death was the screaming of the boy, since it was "the only unexpected abnormal sound" and that 443 chickens trampled each other to death in fear.

Also, the father of the killer-boy was ordered to pay 1,800 yuan (164 JD) in compensation to the owner of the chickens.

For further reading, I advice you to take a look at a valuable scientific article of Mr. Graham B. Scott (of the Scottish Agricultural College) entitled "Effects of short-term whole body vibration on animals with particular reference to poultry".

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

After being sure that did not copy features of Mac OS X, the company of uncle Bill showed us how is simple to steal an idea (for example Apple's iPod) and to promote it with insignificant ads and a no-more-than attractive package.

The guys of never worked in a scientific step-by-step approach (their operating system confirms this), but in the act of (re-)designing the iPod package they have accomplished sequentially five golden steps, they're (FOB):

• Make sure it's on brand • FOB stands for: Full of Bullets • Stars and Snipes
• Spines and Sys Reqs • Back of Box • Final Review

It's known that Micro$oft, pardon... , is only good at making commercials and media campaigns, and I don't think this time things have changed, the fact the company admitted it has made the video lets it much nearer to any other advertising campaign than a proof of its sense of humor.


Friday, January 19, 2007

King Abdallah told an Israeli Newspaper today that Jordan will develop a "peaceful" nuclear program, he spoke in a long interview with Haaretz correspondent about recent war in Lebanon , the situation in the occupied territories and said:

"…[T]he rules have changed on the nuclear subject throughout the whole region. Where I think Jordan was saying, 'we'd like to have a nuclear-free zone in the area,' after this summer, everybody's going for nuclear programs.

The Egyptians are looking for a nuclear program. The GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] are looking at one, and we are actually looking at nuclear power for peaceful and energy purposes. We've been discussing it with the West." [Source].

It was known that Jordan was conducting a feasibility study since months and President of nuclear Pakistan has a state visit today in Amman , but the King also added that any country with a nuclear program must conform to international regulations and allow international regulatory bodies to make sure its program "moves in the right direction".

Previously both Egypt and Saudi Arabia along with Morocco , Tunisia and Algeria announced their intention to promote nuclear power for peaceful purposes, this nuclear renaissance is a clear response to other nuclear programs in the zone.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Or, a donkey up in the air, this is a video my friend Zaid sent to me last night, watch it and if you feel upset take a visit to this site.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A little surfing on the net shows us exhilarant spying techniques

It all started with Echelon, the secretive network capable of capturing tons of security, economic, political and personal information from radio waves, satellite communications, phone calls and emails. Echelon is administered by United States, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand, only one of these countries has total access on stolen data and has full executive powers, and certainly it is New Zealand :)

Several sites on the web discuss Echelon, especially in matter of legality and privacy; one is the Echelon Watch, whenever Privacy International Organization offers a detailed report on privacy threads.

Innoque Coins or Evil Spying Devices?Along with Echelon we have Carnivore and Magic Lantern, nice names for two logging tools of the FBI, the first is used to archive all the emails you receive or send, and the second is a keystroke logging tool, this means that every information you type on your keyboard is recorded by FBI. has a detailed article on how Carnivore worked… we say 'worked' because Carnivore officially has been shut down. (To be more precise, FBI has now a more potent tool for collecting email messages it's called DCS1000 or data collection system).

US Government spies on others, but it has been spied on too… 140 Israelis have been arrested until now in a secretive and sprawling investigation into suspected espionage. informationclearinghouse has an investigation conducted by C.Cameron on Israelis that have gathered intelligence information on 9/11 attacks in advance, it's worth a visit.

Canada is also spying on Americans, the 007 way… A recent AP article started this way: Money talks, but can it also follow your movements?

In a U.S. government warning high on the creepiness scale, the Defense Department cautioned its American contractors over what it described as a new espionage threat: Canadian coins with tiny radio frequency transmitters hidden inside. The government said the mysterious coins were found planted on U.S. contractors with classified security clearances [Source].

This happened months after British diplomats in Moscow were accused of spying using electronic equipment hidden inside a fake rock in a park. If you want to know how a rock can 'spy' read this BBC article.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

If you open your email account, probably you'll find it full of spam, a recent study basically affirmed what we all know: 90 percent of incoming mails are received from unknown persons.

my phone :)People have become more familiar with spam, multi-gigabytes-accounts and several filters have made dealing with this enormous problem easier and friendlier, however I noticed lately an impressive amount of messages I've received on my mobile phone from different sources… is that the beginning of a new phenomenon? Can we say these are "SMS spam"?

Some of them are sent from Fastlink (since I'm a Fastlink subscriber) they (nicely) inform you of special offers, tariffs, reduced prices, subscriptions and a hundred of other things…

A new electronic card charged with 1.65 JD is sold at 1.99JD (Taxes included) (4/11/2006)
We pay your tax! Charge your phone account before 14/11 and you'll get up to 20% free (11/11/2006)

I was told that I'm more fortunate than Mobilecom subscribers; they're blasted with such messages at 2 o'clock (night). Then, there are the patriotic messages: Jordan 1st, in memoriam of Amman bombings martyrs, vote for Petra! …

Advertising on mobile phones is being more evident and it seems very useful... Yes, now on my Nokia I have different methods for winning a Chevrolet, or 10000 JD (I have to participate in 5/5 – a TV program) and more important, I know how I can change my life using Feng Shui. (I'm serious; all these things are on my phone!).

There are also the "Islamic" messages, I remember one about the war in Somalia and how we should pray for combatants and mujahedeen, it was very popular on the Eid. But the most upsetting was the one I've got yesterday, typically Jordanian, this is its text:

The Danish drawer that offended our beloved prophet (PBUH) died in fire. Share this message now because his government tries to conceal this information.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Recently, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez had led off a large scale campaign to nationalize most critical industries and companies in Venezuela, this includes taking over country's power firms, seizing private companies and gaining special powers from parliament to go ahead with his left-wing project.

Also recently, our government had announced the privatization transaction regarding electric sector in Jordan, the transaction comprises the sale of 60% of the government’s total shares in Central Electric Generating Company (CEGCO) responsible of electricity generation, 100% of its shares in Electric Distribution Company (EDCO), and a total of 55.4% of the government’s shares in the Irbid District Electricity Company (IDECO). National Electric Power Company (NEPCO), for electricity transmission, will remain fully owned by the government.

Jordan Telecom AdUntil now, I find it difficult to know the real reason of this privatization. Government said that privatization program was launched with the aim of "rebalancing the role of the public sector in the economy"; evidently Jordanian public sector did not obtain such promised role in Jordan economy, selling Jordan Telecom to France Telecom or Jordan Cement to Lafarge do prove it, what have Jordanians and Jordan brought in? I have no idea, I only think every time I make a call from home that my money is sent directly to France. Yes! It's French economy that takes benefit not ours!

Others, happy of privatization, may tell me: "services offered to citizen are now better" or "there's more competition". First of all this is relative, it depends on certain privatized companies and not all them, take for example Jordan Telecom, it has improved some services, but on the other side it has literally monopolized the entire telecom sector, it entered ADSL market with no scruples; for instance, it demands from every subscriber a monthly payment that multiplies costs by two. These companies worry only about their business. What about costs? Well, you can call a Mobilecom subscriber for a reduced price only because both companies are of France Telecom!!

Things seem different regarding Royal Jordanian; here a partial privatization appears acceptable and proper, it makes the company more competitive in the international market, but is this the same as to privatize Queen Alia Airport?

If we not stop with this "privatization mania" we will perhaps find ourselves with a hundred of low-salary jobs in call centers, more smiles on saleswomen faces, but with an economy totally dependent on foreign companies and multinational giants ready to eat you alive if you are late in paying the bill by one day.

Before they privatize Phosphates Co, Potassium Co, Water and Electricity, there is still time to learn from Chavez.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

(I mean programming)
Error MessageAs a matter of fact we have nearly 19000 IT students now in Jordan, by adding those that learnt programming not by university the number rises to the double, a number much bigger than market needs. I will show with this post a reason for why computer science students are many times better than other programmers, I intend with 'other' those even know a programming language through a teaching centre, by self-learning or even computer engineering and CIS students.

Yesterday, I've finally delivered my term paper for the PL course (In the department we abbreviate concepts of programming languages by PL or CPL). In the term paper we have to write up the major differences between three important program languages, these languages are chosen randomly, mine were Smalltalk, C and LISP.

Majority of students were initially unenthusiastic of the course, the fact we studied a detailed history of programming languages including FORTRAN, COBOL and ALGOL was not so interesting neither of practical use, but things changed when we began to understand the real 'spirit' of programming, not to know how to program but to know what is programming.

First-year programming courses will teach you how to get a result by a number of steps, you are totally obscured of what is made behind the scenes, what the compiler does, what you are really doing when you write a statement or what this programming language have some constraints or not.

A good programmer should have a practical knowledge of a language, but this is founded on fundamental theoretical approaches, It's not just chance that we study automata theory, discrete mathematics, Chomsky's hierarchy and hundreds of other topics. Without these essentials it seems difficult, or impossible to really understand the significance of implementation or the meaning of any program.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Spongebob in his underwear

It's remarkable how many things have been discovered casually. This item almost certainly it's been invented by chance, but it will revolutionize the sport apparel industry.
The research funded by US Air Force was initially intended to find a technologic manner for protecting soldiers from biological weapons; however scientists found a way to keep underwear clean for several weeks.

The US Military spent for the production of the fabric more than $20 Millions, and it has already been used to create t-shirts and underwear that remain hygienic either if they are worn for weeks.

A protective coating is created on the fibers of the material by first attaching nanoparticles to clothing fibers with the use of microwaves and then, chemical materials that keep away water and bacteria are bound to the nanoparticles.

To read the article, click here.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Band: +44 or Plus 44
Album: When Your Heart Stops Beating
Genre: Punk/Rock
Year: 2006

My Rate:

Band Components :
Mark Hoppus
Travis Barker
Shane Gallagher
Craig Fairbaugh

Album Tracks:
01. Lycanthrope 3:57
02. Baby, Come On 2:46
03. When Your Heart Stops Beating 3:12
04. Little Death 4:05
05. 155 3:29
06. Lillian 4:38
07. Cliff Diving 3:40
08. Interlude 1:12
09. Weatherman 4:33
10. No It Isn't 3:31
11. Make You Smile 3:44
12. Chapter XIII 5:07


Once upon a time there was a group called Blink182, the group affairs were going well, lot of fans, much of nice music, worldwide tours, and millions of copies sold, but a day the guitarist/singer Tom Delonge left the band to form Angels and Airwaves, however Travis and Mark, together with Craig Ferbough (The Nervous Return) and Shane Gallagher, announced their new band called (+44) or plus 44... +44 is the international dialing code of the UK.

Previously, +44 announced that they will render their music somehow more electronic, a female punk vocalist (Carol Heller) was invited to join them, but later she discovered she did not fit well in the punk/rock direction so she left the band. Fortunately their music has not been affected by these two events.

The first album: When Your Heart Stops Beating, has been released on 14 November, it consists of 12 tracks. Good music and a few better lyrics than that of Blink, not by chance Mark said that this is the most lyrically personal music he ever written.

The Tracks
When Your Heart Stops Beating
, becomes popular as its video (Travis has his arm broken during recording), music and lyrics turned out into a little more brutal fast-punk, as we can feel in Lycanthrope...

I wake up at the end of a long, dark, lonely year
It's bringing out the worst in me
I hear your voice start breaking in fear
When the lights go down

A Lot of PunkersThe song was chosen as soundtrack to Tony Hawk's Project 8, I also recommend 155, No It Isn't (released on the Tom's birthday ... haha), other songs should be listened too, they mix fine punk music with an exact dosage of melancholy and darkness, good work 44!

Visit the website, the myspace and you can listen the album (legally) here ! And Mark has a blog too!


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Do you know the Pope wears Prada? The lion costume in the Wizard of Oz movie was made from real lions? And Tony Blair’s favorite meal to cook is spaghetti bolognaise? Royal Mail stamps are printed in Holland? Cows have regional accent?

What's Barbie's full name? And what does hexakosioihexekontahexaphobiacs mean?
Well, the BBC answered all these questions in its lately-published list of 100 things we didn't know last year!

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