Monday, November 26, 2007

Finding a laptop and Windows Vista

My current laptop is exhaling its last breath; what with its fan becoming increasingly louder, its battery hotter and its memory ultra crowded despite regular reformatting processes in addition to the letters on the keyboard merely becoming the ghosts of past shapes. Basically, I need a new laptop ....

How can this be achieved if you have budget constraints, big dreams and a strong attachment to a particular product/software.

My dream machine is light, slim, pretty, powerful and includes DVD long battery life, webcam all the works. Easy? think again, here are the narrowed down choices:
pretty , ultra portable and practical.

My second problem is that most 2007 models carry the Windows Vista software while I have just finally come to terms and made my peace to accept gasp (insert gulping sound) Windows XP, I refuse to upgrade. So I decided to check what do my blogger buddies think:

Anglo Libyan recently bought this , updated to Vista and loves it.

Safia updated to Vista, her review deserves a place in a magazine, she says: " So far (less than 24 hours) Vista has been running stable and okay. Not a great invention to ooh and ahh about, but an interesting little improvement to Windows XP. I think I´ll keep it."

Adam has actually issued a warning "Whatever you do - do not, I repeat not, buy a computer with windows Vista on it. It will be well invested money to pay extra for the good old and solid Windows XP."

So between bloggers taking the Vista to the stars and those dragging it in the gutters; Claim 2B wise's opinion is the one which made me dig in my heels and remain in the non-Vista camp.

He starts with a comparison between Mac and PC and simply tears down Mac's marketing strategy. "i never thought about a Mac computer until this crazy advertisement ofMac Books are hitting around almost everywhere trying to lower down the pc's oddsby counting and mentioning apparently nonstabilty nonreliability incompatibilitiesof a PC.but hey wait a moment ?aren't Mac is just Trying increase their selling by adopting the intel processors which arebasically created for PC and also correct me if i am wrong Mac Introduced Boot camp which allows you to use both operating system in one device.But would it be possible to fully benefit from both ?this is what i would hear from users Now why would Mac Do such a thing ?i believe that you can do almost everything with a pc with no need for having a mac on the other side you can do nothing by a mac but playing with sound video graphic editingand? what else oh yes playing chess and some really boring games".

But here comes the best part "for those who created windows Vista i ask you only one question why? if i was in bill's position i would go for trying perfecting Xp in stead of ending it's services on 2011 i would tell Microsoft one thing i have regret nothing in my life but one thing which is buying an original Vista.I'd rather call it windows disaster in stead."

Wish Bill Gates is listening... sigh

Now I know I don't want Vista; remains to decide on the laptop... your suggestions are most welcome as usual.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Patriot and the Racist: a tale of two citizens

Israel is an ally of the US and is rewarded handsomely for it. They are there holding the front in the Middle East against the barbarians (that would be the Arabs - for those who don't know their 101 of the Middle East).

The US is waging a 'war on terror' which has been kind of dragging on, I'm not going to get into the discussion that it seems to have increased terror and not reduced it because this depends from which angle one is looking at it.

However, the point is that the US is in Iraq since 2003, and it is not leaving soon ( even next year is not soon enough) . So it needed/needs to have intelligent people on the ground or at least people who use intelligence to their advantage. That translates into people who know local language and culture. Unfortunately regardless of the purported mission to liberate Iraq - after the weapons of mass destruction turned out not to be there - and with 'free Iraq' turning into THE centre for world terrorism; the Iraqis and by extension other Arabs have become the enemy numero UNO ( OK I'm not forgetting that 9/11 had a lot to do with Arabs labelled with terrorism). Basically this means that American soldiers are not feeling safe in Iraq and need to learn some etiquette of the culture in addition to Arabic because their indigenous translators are being hunted down.

You're now wondering where is this post heading? well hold on be patient.... The US government realised a bit late that Arabic is really an important language for its world operations ( I'm tempted to write dominance). Problem is it's easier for Arabs to learn English ( or any other language ) than for Anglophones to learn Arabic. It gets worse when we learn that members of the military despite the security need do not really feel motivated to learn Arabic because they cannot pick up dates.

Basically, "if American soldiers want to learn the Iraqi dialect, they're going to have to spend many long hours in cafes with Iraqi men, drinking tea, playing backgammon, arguing about soccer, and watching Al Jazeera"

So when native Arabic speakers ( including US citizens some not even Muslim - if that could be a valid reason) step in to fill this gap and show their patriotism by training the marines in Camp Pendleton for essential survival in Iraq become terror suspects because they spoke Arabic on a plane ( hattip Angry Arab) then something is definetly wrong .

" The six men were segregated and detained while the airline helped more than 100 passengers find hotel rooms".

What kind of signal does that send to Americans of Arab descent? that their patriotism and love of the country is never equal to that of non-Arab Americans? That America is not united in how it views its sons and daughters?

Is that the face of prejudice speaking? It seems that people are conditioned to believe that non-English speakers are the enemy always.

"Now a group of psychologists is suggesting that such potentially fatal language prejudice may be one of the earliest lessons we learn in life. Researchers at Harvard and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales have found that infants as young as five months old prefer speakers of their own language to speakers of other languages, even before they themselves can talk. They even prefer speakers of their native dialects (Spelke et al., “The native language of social cognition.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 24, 2007)." [source]

Apparently "language is a political issue in the U.S., and both sides in the American immigration and language war will greet this research as reinforcing their position [..] it seems pretty clear that exposure to other languages early on in American history, during colonization, through the first waves of immigration and since the post-1965 immigration boom, hasn’t produced universal tolerance in this country, linguistic or otherwise. Instead, it’s reinforced the American preference for monolingualism and magnified demands for assimilation or expulsion.
The historical American rejection of foreign languages stems not from a preference for “our own kind” but rather from a false sense that the U.S is so special, so powerful, so imbued with divine mission, that we don’t really need the rest of the world, or its Babel of languages, to get by. "

Maybe just maybe stooping to learn a foreign language could actually bread diversity and tolerance. If the woman on the plane could understand Arabic she may have learned that the other passengers maybe talking about how sexy the stewardess really is :P or that they are as great an ally as Israelis, perhaps more than she ever will be. For a country priding itself on tolerance it is painful to see such suspicion and racism, yet I stand in awe at it's justice system because the mistreated passengers are now allowed to sue the airlines!

Still I'm wondering who in this story is the real patriot and who is a waste of taxpayers money?