All Posts By mahmood

An experiment in live broadcast

What do you need to broadcast live video and audio? A truckload of equipment? A staff of highly technical personnel complimented with nice eye-candy to man the front end all with salaries in the thousands?

Nope. Not any more.

All you need is an iPhone, an iPhone app, a 3G connection and an account at UStream.tv! Seriously! See my first ever attempt at live broadcasting above, and subscribe to my live channel where you’ll find the other parts of this “broadcast”.

The limitations is that if you’re doing it on Zain’s 3G network, don’t get too excited. It’s as slow as treacle and you will get plenty of drop-outs at the higher frame resolution, I suggest you reduce the resolution to 176×144 rather than 320×240. I would love to hear from anyone with the other operators to compare.

This, my friends, is a game changer.

But the real question is, how long will this take our informed and illuminated Misery of Information to block this service “because it’s not commensurate with our moral values as Bahrainis”?

Not too long I don’t think. At least let’s enjoy this technological innovation while it lasts.

Given half a chance, I’m sure that every single village in Bahrain will have several streams going in no time at all to broadcast everything from religious precessions, weddings, community issues and even their own local news channel covering topics which interest them.

Given half a chance, we will have hundreds of broadcast stations with thousands of highly trained and talented people running them, opening a complete new stream of highly lucrative job creation opportunities in TV, broadcast and new media.

Given half a chance, we can innovate and show the world our capabilities.

Given half a chance. We could lead, for a change.

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Bahraini Views – Sayed Sharaf Hashim – Methodical Steps

I really enjoyed interviewing Sayed Sharaf, a soft spoken unassuming man who started his journey while working at a local elevator distributor as a fabricator since he left technical school. A couple of years later, at the behest of one of his work colleagues he started his business journey by establishing a small workshop near his home in Sitra.

At that workshop, he recognised a niche in the market – stainless steel fabrication and welding – he hired an experienced fabricator, actually started paying him more that he used to get as a salary at his own job, and, well the rest is history.

It’s worth noting that he started his workshop a mere 9 years ago with one employee. He now owns a group of companies employing 50 people catering for mechanical works, carpentry, interior design, building material supply and other related businesses.

I hope you enjoy watching his episode. Do let me know your feedback please, I would love to hear back from you.

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R.I.P. Gnasher – a kinder friend you will never find

Gnasher, a good friend for 12 years. Passed away on Friday 11 Dec 2009. May he rest in peace.
Gnasher, a good friend for 12 years. Passed away on Friday 11 Dec 2009. May he rest in peace.

It is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to the kindest dog I have ever known.

We were blessed to have known Gnasher for about 12 years. He passed away peacefully in my arms last Friday morning. I couldn’t announce it earlier because we wanted to tell our daughters first.

I shall always remember him with fondness, and don’t think that any other dog will ever fill the huge void he has left behind. We are all saddened by his passing, but really do appreciate the time he has spent with us.

Rest in peace my friend. I shall miss you.

Taking Gnasher for a walk in happier times.
Taking Gnasher for a walk in happier times.

Remembering Gnasher

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A tour of my garden

A quick tour of my garden shot this morning – entirely on the iPhone 3Gs so please excuse the quality. I just wanted to primarily show the beautiful Gladiolus Callianthus (the Peacock Orchid) shown at the start of this clip, but I just got carried away and shot other things in my garden.

Hope you enjoy. Oh, and if you do, please let me know by commenting or faving the video and I’ll create more videos for you to enjoy.

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RIOT!

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athens-fire_1538660iQuick! Where do you think this took place? Duraz? Bani Jamra? Sehla? Hamad Town? Muharraq?

No? Can’t guess? Well let me put your mind at ease. These were the riots which paralyzed Athens to commemorate the death of 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. Fatally shot by a police officer after a minor altercation. Once the news spread of this incident, within the first hour of the young man’s death, demonstrations took place in his neighbourhood; these escalated to full riots which lasted several days. During that time youths engaged police and private property with stones, sticks, furniture, firecrackers, molotov cocktails and whatever else they could lay their hands on (see pictures here).

Those riots were not contained within the boy’s neighbourhood, but spread very quickly to Athens which was paralyzed for several weeks, then to many other European cities in solidarity against police brutality. The Greek prime minister and many other officials came out to offer not only their condolences to Alexandros’ family, but clearly and unequivocally condemned the police for this loss of life. While there is no doubt that some extremist/anarchist elements took advantage of the situation and escalated the violence, but the fact is that the protesting majority were not maligned by the government for their “unpatriotic” behaviour. They – shockingly for us – seem to have done the opposite and stood by them and by their democratic right to demonstrate against the killing, police brutality, corruption, unemployment and other grievances.

Over the following few weeks, Bahrain will celebrate it’s 39th Day of Independence. The betting, judging by the past few years, various people will take to the streets to demonstrate their grievances; all the way from the forgotten sufferers from torture in the past through to families of allegedly wrongfully accused and imprisoned youth due to their political activities – normally demonstrating here and there for various causes and to those who will want to celebrate the various martyrs of this great country. I suspect that again based on recent history, these will be dealt with severely by the state security apparatus.

Wouldn’t it be great if the government this year adopted a more benevolent approach? How about allowing those people with grievances to express them publicly, demonstrate and use that as a celebration of our democracy within our national celebrations? Sure, if demonstrations do turn violent and threaten life and damage property the perpetrators must be dealt with within the spirit of the law, but for goodness’ sake don’t preempt events by lobbing tens of tear-gas cannisters and shoot the crowd/demonstrators with bird-shot!

Bahrainis normally are quite docile, not choosing confrontation by default. I don’t think that the majority of us want a regime change, what the vast majority want I suspect is just for their voice to be heard and their grievances attended to. We all know that the parliament is incapable of relaying these matters, let alone work to resolve them. Parliamentarians not only lack legislative teeth, but are busying themselves and are mired in their own sectarian and divisive practices. They are beyond useless. Maybe the demonstrations and other peaceful methods of dissent should be tolerated by the leadership in order for them to actually hear the voices and use the presented opportunity to quickly and courageously addressing them for the better of this country. I’m sure that they’re striving for social justice, equality and good living for the citizens of Bahrain as explained and encapsulated in the Vision 2030, so let’s just be a bit more patient with each other this December. Listen. And enter into a good national dialogue.

Where else do we have to call home by this good country? Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt, sit, and talk. It can’t be that complicated.

I wish everyone in Bahrain and fantastic National Day and I hope the attendant celebrations be peaceful and much fun.

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Twittering Bahrainis

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twitter-backgrounds-images-themesI’ve never believed in Twitter myself for quite some time. I think I was a very early adopter, but like a lot of people, just couldn’t get the hang of it as I didn’t understand it – put more simply – I couldn’t get myself to beat it into how I think it should be used!

But again as in several times before, I remember my youngest brother‘s advice:

“don’t fight the machine, it’ll always win! find a way to work with it rather than against it.”

Once that has sunk in and I invested the time to actually use it as others have by following, reading, listening and exploring – basically lurking – I’ve come to love the bloody thing. I even got an iPhone data account from Zain just so that I can just quickly have a peek while I’m out of the office.

There are many people whom I follow and feel that I have been enriched by their selfless contributions, pointers, links, and wisdom. I also have garnered many “tweeps” / or Twitter people / aka friends who make the experience really fun.

It’s also a great source of inspiration for articles to post here; for instance, the last two prior to this post have come directly from people I follow on Twitter.

There are many tweeps in Bahrain, the new “lists” feature makes it easy to track and follow them. Many of these lists have been created of course. Husaainoo has the largest list at the moment with 267 Bahraini tweeps. Judging by his activity on Twitter, I would hazard a guess that there’s a fair chance that he will keep this list updated. Another Bahraini tweep lists is maintained by the indefatigable Bahraini Social Media Guru (shame he works for $atelco!) is Ahmed Zainal’s which I personally follow.

khalidThere are a number of Bahraini government officials actively using Twitter as well. It’s intriguing following them, because through their tweets you get to know what they’re up to (as much as they would like to divulge of course) and you even get to a level of familiarity with them. This makes them a bit more touchable and of course reachable too – without a legion of secretaries and functionaries! By inference, this familiarity rightly or wrongly lulls you into a sense that the government could possibly be doing some good! By officials sharing their daily routines, wisdom, axioms and just helpful and personal banter, you actually begin to even – dare I say it – like the government and discard some of the various conspiracy theories which we Bahrainis just love to create and maintain.

I think this is a fantastic trend and it should positively be encouraged. I do know and continue to hope that even when their presence becomes more widely known and they face some anger or apathetic comments and transgressions as they most surely will in this open and (so far) uncensored space, they will not be dissuaded from continuing to share their experiences and connect with people through these social media tools.

nezarTherefore, I salute first the Minister of Foreign Affairs Shaikh Khalid Al-Khalifa and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Nezar Al-Baharna for being the highest ranking Bahraini officials to embrace Twitter and hope that others will soon follow in their steps.

To celebrate this, I have created the Influential Bahrainis Twitter List which you are welcome to follow. But please be aware that this is my personal list, primarily, you can certainly let me know if you wish to be included and you are most certainly encouraged to nominate people, but do not expect them to be automatically included. I freely confess that inclusion/exclusion/amendments will be completely arbitrary based on my own arbitrary criteria. With that said, please do give me some recommendations.

Oh, and please feel free to follow me on Twitter too!

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