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News is Dead. Long live Content.

News is Dead. Long live Content.

When news is published, it’s just the beginning of the conversation, not its end.

This is what “news” is today. It’s necessarily a live conversation that informs, educates and empowers people to make better decisions.

Whether you like it or not, printed newspapers, and magazines are dead. I believe that they’re uselessly clinging to life through rusty and leaky support machines. If publications want to get off their sick beds and actually thrive, they need to think of themselves more as very technology-centric content producers than restricted news curators. They need to produce relevant content and publish it across a plethora of platforms in a variety of formats to reach a fickle and sceptical audience. Failing to adopt this business model will ensure nothing but their slow and painful demise.

Currently, none of the newspapers in Bahrain operate under this necessary business model, which is quite surprising as well as it being disturbing, as the technology is readily available to allow them to move into the content business and away from the obsolete static news business models. I daresay that money isn’t the major detriment should they choose to strategically tread that path, the real hurdle might well be the required change in publishers’ mindsets, their management methodology and style in order to fully benefit from this new business model. There is no denying that there definitely is a long way for them to go, judging by their obtuse and difficult to use websites. Entities which are generally digitised copies of their printed publication at best, save for the ability to provide moderated reader comments.

I have to ask, though, is this situation due to general lethargy, a pragmatic response to the minuscule market they operate in, absence of vision or is it due to bureaucratic restrictions that prevent them from adopting the critical change in direction which is necessary to ensure their very survival?

I note that some monthly magazines’ websites do have some video content – very little of it mind you and in mediocre quality; however, I’m unsure whether this is has been officially sanctioned or is made available by taking the oft-used and successfully implemented concept of when caught, opting to ask for forgiveness rather than originally seeking the onerous permission required to provide such a service.

Video alone is not the answer, of course. For a modern publication to thrive, it really needs to change its business model from traditional print publishing to multimedia interactive content generation and curation, as stated previously. To make this happen, the chief requirement for success is for the organisation to intrinsically add leading edge technological capabilities – either through in-house or outsourced resources – to continuously inject innovation into their Internet assets, integrate new interactive technologies and ensure that their content management system is solid yet flexible enough to respond to the immediacy of news in all of its formats, including crowd-generated and -curated content. From my observation, there isn’t a single media entity that fits within this necessary framework so far in Bahrain.

According to the Local Media Outlets list in the Ministry of Information Affairs, there are currently 10 radio stations, 6 television channels, 7 daily newspapers, 15 weekly newspapers and magazines, 17 monthly magazines and 9 electronic newspapers and magazines (Last Modified: 28-09-2014 11:38:05). Apart from the fact that the quantity of media outlets is despicably low for a country with over 1.2 million people, I believe that they’re all doomed to failure. They’re all are stuck in the past.

Strategically, to attain sustainable success for this critical industry, basic changes must take place, changes which have proven to have positively contributed to the success of the industry elsewhere: the state needs to inculcate and protect freedoms of speech as defined by the UN Charter’s Article 19, remove or at least appreciably reduce restrictions on the ability to publish physical or virtual periodicals and allow them to fairly compete in an open market.

Should these conditions occur, I’m sure that the media industry in all its forms will thrive in Bahrain and create an industry that will be match and possibly exceed those already present in the region, and innovation in the media space will sore, bringing with it much needed economic benefits.

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iPhone 6s. ‘Nuff Said.

iPhone 6s. ‘Nuff Said.

Apple iPhone 6s and 6s+

What is the feature that most draws you to buy the just announced iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus?

To me, as a die-hard Apple-geek, it doesn’t have to be that much, just the new new shiny thing would suffice. However; it’s nice that it has 4k video, 12MP camera, Live Photos (love this feature!), 3D Touch and a plethora of other features which make my mouth water. I want one now.

And before you say it; yes, I know that some of these features are available on Android devices. I still prefer Apple, thank you very much.

Another thing: I won’t wait for it to be brought by our telcos. I don’t trust any of them and don’t want their obtuse contracts. I’ll just go out and buy one outright and be done with it.

And I’ll have the iPhone 6s in Space Grey with 128GB please.

Now where can I book a plane ticket to that someone else is paying for? 😉

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What were you thinking, Apple?

What were you thinking, Apple?

My trusty and much loved Mid-2011 MacBook Air’s recent illnesses – a battery that’s just about given up the ghost (expected) and a graphics card that refused to drive my external 27″ Cinema display (unexpected) – forced me to buy another Apple laptop. Reading between the lines of recent Apple products, it became clear to me that with the release of the über sexy MacBook, the MacBook Air’s life expectancy is just about to end. So I bought the most powerful I could get from iMachines, my favourite Apple store on the island. And happy I was indeed when I got it home and started playing with it. Marvelling at how light and fast it was, even compared to the MacBook Air. I was thrilled.

That feeling lasted about a day.

From experience, I tend to back up everything. My most precious possessions are the experiences I’ve had and the photographs I copiously take during them. Most of those experiences are travel or gardening related, so I store those high resolution photographs on external hard disks. And here’s when I experienced the first “gotcha”. The single port USB-C design isn’t practical. How could I connect an external hard disk and a power supply at the same time? Where can I find a USB-3 to a USC-C adapter? How can I connect multiple devices – or at least a couple of USB devices like a card reader and a hard disk to the MacBook at the same time and power them too?

As the MacBook is pretty new, the usual suppliers on the island had only the most basic of its accessories. I bought the much needed USB-A to USB-C adapter from iMachines, but as at the time they only had a VGA version of the multiport adapter, I opted to wait a few days until I got to Bangkok to buy one there. Lo and behold, a couple of days later, I actually found one at Virgin in Bahrain which I grabbed very quickly; though it seems that Apple Dubai jacked up the prices of all Apple accessories (product?) without telling its suppliers, so it was a battle to get Virgin to meet their commitment of the displayed price rather than foist the increase on me. The BD2 increase wasn’t going to get me to lose sleep, but the principle of “being had” would. I stuck to my guns and they finally saw the light and allowed the cashier to punch the printed price and away I went, happily clutching the HDMI equipped multiport adapter.

I was introduced to the world of USB-3 and how fast it is and fell in love with it. Things copied in minutes rather than hours – literally. This encouraged me to buy a USB-3 SD card reader and a USB-3 external pocket drive. And the problem of connecting multiple USB devices into that single port required a resolution, fast!

The obvious thing of course was to get a USB hub. I connected one that I had – I suppose it was a USB-2 or -1, I can’t tell. What I can tell is that immediately I did that, the speed advantage disappeared. As expected! Off I went to the mall in Bangkok and bought a portable USB-3 4-port hub. That worked well with connecting both an external hard disk drive and the SD card reader and the operation was fast enough; however, when I connected another device into the hub like my iPhone or another hard disk drive, the USB hub spluttered and died. Obviously it didn’t have the required oomph to drive all those things. It required some juice. So off I went to the mall again and bought another USB hub, this time powered. That solved the problem.

The real problem; however, remains unresolved. Apple has simply complicated our lives with now having to carry with us basic multiple accessories and their accompanying spaghetti of wires that it refused to provide simple ports for in the computer.

Above is what my current spaghetti junction looks like. I’m planning now to replicate this and leave them in the office so I can have a ready “dock” rather than waste time by re-connecting all the accessories, devices and wires every morning. It’s like 1989 all over again. And let me also mention that this MacBook (currently) cannot drive my 27″ Cinema Display. The USB 3.1 interface is apparently not compatible with Apple’s Thunderbolt interface. So go figure… Very frustrating.

Could the next version of MacBook be better. I really don’t want to carry various bits with me when I’m travelling. The chances of my forgetting a part is very high and that can impact my efficiency and productivity unnecessarily.

Maybe its time to ditch Apple and find another solution? No. I won’t got there. I’m happy with Apple and will stay with them, for now. However, it would be interesting to learn from you of your method of solving this lunacy if you’ve come across it. Maybe better accessories or ways of doing things?

What do you think? Did/Do you face the same problem and resolved it?

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Here comes… OSX Mavericks!
My favourite apps

My favourite apps

iphone-appsI can’t live without my iPhone. It has become an invaluable business and personal communication tool. Like most, I use the computing functionality of the device much more than the telephone. I suspect that I do most of my internet usage through it, rather than my laptop or iPad.

Like most, I suspect, I must have evaluated hundreds of apps over the years. Only a handful remain faithfully in my iPhone that I use on a daily basis. Here is my list:

Primary apps

  • Evernote
    This is my main application. I’ve got it running on all my devices and it receives my braindump on a regular basis. It also holds many in-progress projects; from scripts to blog posts as well as web clippings and information gems that I might require from time to time. Its beauty is extended in its integration into web browsers so much so that if I search for something on the web, it puts out any relevant search results on the very same page too. Absolutely brilliant product and a must.

  • Dropbox
    I do everything on the cloud, and Dropbox – which is an Amazon services front end – is where I put everything. Secure and safe. I don’t particularly care what happens to my computer or any other device as most of my files are stored on the cloud. The practicality of this is astounding. I’m at my desk, virtually, any where I sit at a computer or get a connection through whatever device.

  • Reminders
    A native app now in iOS and on MacOS; I find it very useful for creating lists of todos. Its beauty is that you get a list of current and overdue reminders at a click of a button, and you can assign priority and date/time for each item. I would have liked a third dimension to the Reminders; attaching notes or pictures would be nice, but I guess that’s where EverNote comes in.

Utilities

  • 1Password
    I don’t use any normal passwords and don’t bother remembering any. With 1Password I just use it to generate and remember 16 characters. Try breaking that!

  • DocScanner
    I use this to scan everything: invoices, receipts, magazine articles, my hand-written notes, etc and get them fed directly into EverNote as PDFs where I can further mark them up. EverNote of course has an intelligent OCR function which actually understands a lot of my scribbles. Makes it quite handy!

There you have it. My most important apps. Do you have any preferences? Please share.

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Bye VIVA, it’s not been fun

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After a year of painfully using Viva’s mediocre but much over-hyped internet offering in Bahrain, I’ve terminated both contracts for my home and office. The best speed I could get out of Viva was something like 4mbps and that was flaky. As far as the uploads are concerned, I don’t think I got much more than 512kbps, and yes, that was flaky too. As a media company with daily uploads and downloads of large files, we couldn’t take it any more. To prevent a complete riot (the guys were suspiciously building a platform in our back garden, when I saw a trap door being modelled in its floor, I knew I had to do something!)

VIVA Bahrain internet broadband offering is a disappointment

So I wend back to Batelco. Paying more than five times the price (BD160 for a business line at 8mbps) is a pleasure for at least having a dependable (well, mostly dependable) connection with an upload speed of approximately 1mbps (well, most days) although the promise was double that.

Here’s the result of a speedtest I did just now:

Batelco internet speed test
What irks me most about these continuous episodes of disappointment with operators and their prices, is the TRA who’s supposed to oversee these companies and force them to at least live up to their promises doesn’t seem to be doing much.

Why is it that Viva is allowed to advertise “Up to 48Mbps” and “Fastest internet in Bahrain” when in real life their dismal speed in most areas I’ve looked at doesn’t even exceed 10Mbps? Certainly both at my home (Barbar area) and office (Abu Sayba area) all we experienced was 4Mbps almost throughout the one year of installation.

When asked by the attendant this morning while cancelling both lines and told him that I was dissatisfied with the speed, he repeated what I got to know as the “Viva party line”: “but even if you get 2Mbps, it’s good enough as our promise is up to 48Mbps!”

Yes sure. Have it your way. Mine is – as a customer – is complete disappointment. And the way I vote, is through my wallet and you’re no longer getting that.

TRA, do what you’re supposed to do, otherwise cowboys will continue to rule the scene and the country will continue to suffer the uncompetitiveness which has become its way of life.

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Out with the old…

No no, this is not a political post. I’m (almost) fed up of that crap. Instead, this is just to share with you what I’ve done to my office today in celebration of a new year and a determination to grab this year and bend it to my will 🙂

Mahmood's Office remodelled

I frankly got fed up of “the desk in the middle of the room” where people have to sit across from each other as if awaiting to do battle with each other and the desk being the main feature of a room. So I decided to shove my trusty 19-year-old desk against the wall and open up the centre of the room. Now, my visitors can sit with me in the office without that huge imposing bulk between us. I feel that the room is now much more welcoming. I do hope the new decor make people more at ease when they visit.

Also to celebrate the new year, I decided to get a brand spankin’ new Apple 27-inch Thunderbirdbolt display and connected it to my MacBook Air. Now I can see!! Wow, the pictures are truly amazing and the videos are worth watching. I can now happily edit my HDR photographs and edit my videos with ease. Me so happy! Thanks to my friends at iMachines for being super quick in delivering the display and providing it a reasonable cost too.

So who amongst you are going to be my first visitor in the new office?

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M.Report: endgadget NY meetup vlog

Tech blog endgadget.com held their readers meetup in New York on Aug 25th, 2011 and we were fortunate enough to be holidaying there at the time. Arif and I went to geek out with fellow tech-heads. It was a good opportunity and we both were impressed with various products on show.

Here’s the vlog I created of the event, I hope that it will give you a sense of how vibrant the place was and also see some of the technologies offered:

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