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Continued frustration with throttled connections, solved?

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I’ve done everything I could to limit the use of the internet in the house just so that at least we go past two weeks before I get the dreaded “you’re it” message from our beloved Batelco.

The record was 12 days.

Since they upgraded the package to 4MB, which is just a few weeks ago, we got the 75% warning yesterday, so I doubt very much that we’ll get to the record 12 days this time. The kids swear that they’re not downloading much, just watching YouTube sometimes and surfing. Just normal Internet activity to them really, they haven’t been reared on a 300 baud connection with BD600 a month telephone bills, so what do they know? To them, it’s like the air they breath, just second nature.

They got incensed when I limited their Internet access between 8am to 8pm with a complete blackout after 8pm.

Weird. Even with that, we bust the limit. Something I am highly skeptical of. No, we don’t have viruses nor trojans that I know of. We’re exclusively on Macs, one desktop and 4 laptops (5 with mine when I bring it over), so the only thing that is permanently connected is the iMac.

What is a man to do then? Especially when my business depends on the Internet and I have to carry on working when I get home? Well, get a higher bandwidth limit of course. Therefore, the call went to Batelco yesterday to upgrade our package to 8MB which comes with a 40GB limit. That should get us to approximately a 3 week limit before we bust that at the rate we’re going.

They checked the line and called me today: our lines coming into the house can’t handle more than 5 and a bit Mbps. Damn. Well, as the main reason for thinking of this package is really bandwidth rather than speed, I told them to just go ahead. Those 15GB/month extra would easily make up the difference in price.

Today, the deed was done.

Let’s see how long it lasts.

If you have any ideas why we’re eating up bandwidth like this, I would like to hear them.

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Batelco to introduce new broadband packages

from Twitter with no confirmation yet on Batelco’s pages:

Blocked websites in Bahrain

#WebsiteURLAdmin OrderAlternate URL
1منتديات شهداء البحرين
Bahrain Martyrs Forums
shaheedbh.com2005/43shaheed-bh.com
2منتديات المالكية
Malkiya Forums
malkiya.net2005/43
3منتدى شبكة الدراز
Alduraz Network Forums
alduraz.net2005/43
4منتديات البحرين
Bahrain Forums
montadayat.org2005/43
5تقرير البندر
Albandar Report (Bandargate)
members.tripod. com/bahrain32005/43
6ملتقى البحرين
Bahrain Online
bahrainonline.org2006/58http://bahrain4u. com and http://208.100.39.36/ index.php Alternates BLOCKED by Admin Order# 2008/197 on 5 Aug 08
7مركز البحرين لحقوق الإنسان
Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
bahrainrights.org2006/60alternate bchr.net is also blocked
8منتديات باب البحرين
Bab Albahrain Forums
bab-albahrain.net2006/62
9الشبكة العربية لمعلومات حقوق الإنسان
Arab Network for Human Rights
hrinfo.net2006/62hrinfo.org
10منتديات قرية شهركان الثقافية
Shahrakkan Village Cultural Forums
shahrakkan.org2006/62
11منتدى فريج الحياك
Alhayak Neighbourhood Forum
alhiyak.net2006/62
12بنت جبيل
Bint Jbeil
bintjbeil.org2006/62
13منتديات الثقلين
Althuqlain Forums
althaqlain.com2006/62
14منتديات الجفير
Juffair Forums
juffair.com2007/03
15أسكان عالي
A’ali Housing Forums
eskanaali.com2007/03
16موقع كرزكان
Karzakan Forums
karzakan.com2007/03
17منتديات هيئة علي الأصغر
Ali Alasghar Forums
alialasghar.net2007/03
18شبكة النور الإسلامية
Alnoor Islamic Forums
alnoornet.net2007/03
19البندر )جديد(
Albandar (bandargate - new)
bander.allfreehost.net2007/09
20يا حسين
Ya Hussain Forums
yahosein.com2007/13
21حق
Haaq Political Movement
haaq.org2007/47
22منتديات عراد نت
Arad Forums
3radnet.com2008/01
23شاطئ الإيثار
Ethar Coast Forums
nasr-b.com2008/01
24منتديات المحفوظ
Almahfood Forums
almahfood.com2008/01
25منتديات كرباباديات
Karbabad Forums
karbabadiat.net2008/08
26صحيفة أوال الالكترونية
Awaal Electronic Journal
awaal.net2008/16http://www.awaal.net. nyud.net:8090/
27منتديات الصرح الوطني
The National Edifice Forums
wattani.net2008/193block order on 30/8/08 http://wattaninet.net/forum blocked under Admin Order# 2008/197 on 5 Aug 08
28حركة أحرار البحرين الإسلامية
Bahrain Freedom Movement
vob.org
29الصحيفة
Alsaheefa
alsaheefa.net
30الحوار المتمدن
Modern Descussion
rezgar.comahewar.org
31أحرار البحرين
Ahrar Bahrain
ahraralbahrain.comabandoned
32البوابة
Albawaba
albawaba.com
33الناقد
The Critic
annaqed.com
34Free Coptsfreecopts.net
35Arab Churcharabchurch.com
36Kurd Timeskurdtimes.com
37وعد
NDAS
aldemokrati.org
38The Lands of Sandsbenkerishan.blogspot.comalternate benkerishan.com also blocked
Last updated 30 July, ’08 by Mahmood Al-YousifVia @BoilingIce and @ahmedzainal on Twitter.

Batelco’s channel alludes to this too:

@batelco: Our existing customers will be automatically migrated to the new broadband packages with higher speeds & more usage, up to 90% lower prices!
[…] E.g.: customers who are currently subscribed to the 2Mbps/BD60 package will be automatically upgraded to 4Mbps at a reduced price of BD50!

New ad for Batelco's latest ADSL packages to presumably be released soon.
New ad for Batelco's latest ADSL packages to presumably be released soon. source: http://twitpic.com/7dnf7
via http://twitter.com/bahraini/statuses/2168630156
via http://twitter.com/bahraini/statuses/2168630156

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Shain

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Zain should change their name to Shain, it would be more appropriate!I am about this close to ditching the crap they call Zain – which I have now only started calling Shain – and throwing my lot with the devil.

What the bloody hell is happening with this company? Since they changed their “brand identity” they’ve gone almost completely down the toilet, at least as far as their wireless Internet service is concerned. It keeps dropping out and has become really unreliable. Their support is no great shakes either, there is no one on support after 10pm and before 8am, the speed crawls rather than walks and the whole of yesterday and this morning I couldn’t get connected at home.

It is almost daily that I call their tech support and tell them to reset my equipment from their end because they just go belly up and I could not get connected. This is stupid, absolutely diabolical and the service is a hell of a lot worse than I anticipated.

Because of the constant frustration with their service, it is really not worth staying with them.

If they think that “rebranding” just means changing their logo and colours and ignoring quality of service, then they might as well call themselves “Shain”, in this case, it is actually much more appropriate.

“shain” is Arabic for bad – against “zain” which means good.

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Blackberry Bold

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Blackberry Bold in my mitts!I was in my friend Omar Shaheen’s office earlier this afternoon, and as he is now a big wig magazine publisher and owner of FACT, he was given a new toy by Zain to check out.

Omar was kind enough to allow me to have a shooftie for a few minutes. Unfortunately, he wasn’t that keen on letting me walk away with it, even though I promised I would write a comparison article with the iPhone for FACT. Bummer.

I should have curbed my enthusiasm and downplayed it a bit. Maybe then he would have let me have it for a few days! It’s a problem when you wear your emotions on your sleeve and publicly salivate at technological devices!

Anyway, I fondled it for a few minutes and briefly investigated its features which are very impressive and very practical indeed. It looks that it will resolutely kick Apple’s ass when it generally becomes available in a few weeks time. It – to me at least – looks like a much better value for money and I will probably shall be fighting to get to the top of the queue to get me one.

At least it is unlocked and you won’t have to beg, borrow and steal to get one and get locked in with a long term contract for the privilege of owning something that will generally become obsolete just a few weeks after you have purchased it.

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Bought a Phone

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Notice that the word “Phone” does not have an “i” in front of it? If you did then well done, because I just came back from Geant where I bought the new Sony Ericsson C902i, thank you very much!

Reason? It’s unlocked and I’m not beholden to anyone. It’s got some nice features, the most important of which is a good quality camera which is supposed to be 5 mega pixels, but I don’t believe that it’s that good by comparing a few pictures I have already snapped with it.

My new acquisition to celebrate 888... well, that\'s my excuse and I\'m sticking to it!
My new acquisition to celebrate 888... well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!
It being new, iSync didn’t like it, so I had to pay UK£1.50 to buy a plugin to enable iSynch from feisar.com and a few minutes later it was up and running while singing and all dancing. I do find that the addressbook and responsiveness of the phone generally after syncing my calendar and addressbook a bit slow, which too is disappointing.

The form factor of the phone (more than half the thickness of my older K800i) is a pleasure, but as my mitts are not so used to it yet, it did almost drop out of them a couple of times. Another gripe is the oddly shaped buttons, chopped and sloping downward which makes the contact a bit awry.

Yes there are quite a number of gripes so far, true, but still much better than the iPhone by miles simply because it is sold everywhere without having to disclose your most intimate details together with convert to another religion to be able to own one!

Happy 888!

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iPhone 3G available in Bahrain

iPhone 3G available in Bahrain

I was starving after the gym this morning so I stopped over at a nearby supermarket to get a sandwich. On the way out, I noticed this on their noticeboard:

This person is selling them for really hefty prices:

  • The 8GB black is for BD 420 (US$ 1,111 – it’s $199 originally but with a contract)
  • The 16GB black is for BD 465 (US$ 1,230 – it’s $299 originally “)
  • The 16GB white is for BD 480 (US$ 1,270 – it’s $299 originally “)

They go on to explain why the prices they are charges might appear high with this:

Why does the price APPEAR high? …. What you don’t know is that to own an iPhone 3G in from Apple, Worldwide, you MUST (in addition to initial iPhone price & being a resident in that country):

  • Sign and entire 2 YEAR contract with AT&T, and add $30 to every monthly bill.
  • Pay Taxes.
  • If you wish to cancel contract you must pay $170+, if otherwise cancelled you MUST RETURN the device.
  • many more hassles.

Well, for those prices, Apple can keep their phone. I would rather have this one instead.

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Batelco Blocked!

In a reversal of fortunes, Batelco finds its own site blocked by a much higher authority than the one it kowtows to: Google!

Several people emailed me a screen grab of Batelco’s site in the latest FireFox browser which severely warns people from having anything to do with Batelco; in fact, it offers a very expeditious get-way for would-be visitors by offering them a button which says “Get me out of here!”

While the dire warning of having anything to do with Batelco is not new, nor is it unique, it is quite germane to the company that offers us untold amount of spam, and through whose servers and collection of IP addresses our business get affected. I am sure that others have suffered from those petulant “undeliverable mail” syndromes that hurls emails back at senders like gleaming hot coals due to their association with Batelco due to its status in the black lists of almost all the major spam-detecting engines.

So thanks to the dependable Google for protected me and countless others who have the forethought to insist on using Firefox which allows for the display of such warnings:

Batelco site blocked by Firefox 3 warning of malicious content
Batelco site blocked by Firefox 3 warning of malicious content

What is the current listing status for www.batelco.com?

  • Site is listed as suspicious – visiting this web site may harm your computer.
  • Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 1 time(s) over the past 90 days.

What happened when Google visited this site?

  • Of the 843 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 284 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 07/27/2008, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 07/27/2008.
  • Malicious software is hosted on 27 domain(s), including butdrv .com, chds .ru, kgj3 .ru.
  • 1 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including butdrv .com.

Lackadaisical security policies? Or is it once again complete indifference on Batelco’s part?

I would err on the side of both; why should they even care if they are the de facto source of internet communications in this country? A privilege they hold on to and will continue to do so with the complete aid and support of our very own Government – being its largest shareholder, and one that does not care to put any pressure whatsoever on its child to engender creativity and competitiveness in order to allow Bahraini individuals and companies to compete in a global and much more connected marketplace?

The reason must be manifold of course, but could the chief reason amongst them is the perceived indifference that our own government holds us in by allowing the perpetuation of this situation? Robbing us of our chances of a much more creative and competitive marketspace that cheaper and unrestricted communication could very well engender?

In any case. I urge everyone who has to deal with Batelco to exercise extreme caution. You never know when (not if) you will be breached because you are beholden to them.

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Now I’ll buy it!

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Introducing iPhone 3G. With fast 3G wireless technology, GPS mapping, support for enterprise features like Microsoft Exchange, and the new App Store, iPhone 3G puts even more features at your fingertips. And like the original iPhone, it combines three products in one — a revolutionary phone, a widescreen iPod, and a breakthrough Internet device with rich HTML email and a desktop-class web browser. iPhone 3G. It redefines what a mobile phone can do — again.

mmmmmmmm… yummy!

I wants…. I need… I must have!

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Firefox 3 ROCKS!

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Get Firefox!My brother told me about the new beta release of Firefox first, but I just discounted it and told him that I’ll wait until it’s officially released. I’ve been bitten by betas before and as Firefox is my main browser and I depend on it for my work, I didn’t want to take an unnecessary risk by installing a still unofficially released product.

I know the limitations of version 2, especially in the Arabic rendering, which is a major annoyance. So when I got some free time, and as I am completely protected by Time Machine, I thought what the heck, let’s install it and see what happens.

Once the download and installation finished, though, I was utterly blown away! It was a true “wow” moment. The first thing I did after that was check out alwasatnews.org which is one of the worst designed newspaper sites I have come across, but certainly one of the best for their content. I was blown away there too, no more question marks in the Arabic script and even the hamza was rendered perfectly.

I’ve just downloaded and installed Release Candidate 2 which was a painless exercise. I encourage you to try it out, you would be doing yourselves a favour. So go grab a copy of Firefox. You can thank me by commenting about your experience with it here.

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Zain’s closed, please call back later

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All of a sudden, the Internet stopped working at home, that happened earlier today, at about 6.15am. No big deal. I restarted the router but unfortunately that did not resolve the problem. So I called their helpdesk and after going through the usual hoops of their IVR by selecting the right options then inputting the Zain’s WiMax telephone number and password and waiting for I think 3 or 4 minutes more on hold (I love their signature music, don’t you?) the guy eventually comes online with their now traditional greeting, which again I much appreciate, especially when the alternative at Batelco is akin to a rabid Rottweiler’s barking, he sweetly tells me that the WiMax people did not start work yet and if I could call later!

I just looked at the phone in disbelief! I asked him whether he was joking, but no, he was as serious as a heart attack. He made the again Zain signature apology sweetly and I put down the phone completely in disbelief.

Zain sells WiMax, an Internet service and they don’t have a 24 hour support team in place!

Unbloodybelievable!

I got in my car and came to the office to carry on with my work. But the first thing I did was to confirm the above and once again called their help center. I went through their IVR, made my now memorised choices and got to an operator and asked, sweetly, what the WiMax helpdesk’s operating hours were. She very sweetly replied that it is from 8am through to 10pm.

8am to 10pm is a regular job, NOT an Internet help desk! What the hell is up with that?

I’m starting to get a few goosebumps here people. A few days ago – last Saturday to be exact – a similar situation happened. The Internet just stopped working. After the guy assuring me that restarting the router would resolve the problem. It didn’t. So half an hour later I follow-up only to be told – politely – that my initial suspicion was right and that they do indeed have a problem with their platform. Okay, that happens, well how long will it take to get resolved? I asked, to be answered with: “well a few hours at most sir, can I do anything else for you today?” – A FEW HOURS?, and I converted to Zain because I wanted a better price and reliability?

Yep, Zain can do something for me today for sure, they can take their WiMax and shove it where the sun don’t shine!

At least until they operate proper helpdesk mechanism that actually works around the clock, like any self respecting ISP would.

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