Showing posts from 2009

Internet 4.0: Out of the Stone Age (Second Draft)

(This is an enhanced version of the my earlier post with the results of your comments and my discussions with friends).
With the relatively rise of online social networks and it's uncontrolable availability to vulnerable users (children, teenager and even people with low or no technical background) exposed a huge privacy concerns for everyone. Your data that your putting on the internet are available one way or another to almost everyone. Along with web giants such as Google and Facebook keeping track of every click you make for either targeted services or anonymized purposes. And that made me ask one basic question:
Do they have the right to know all my internet behaviour ?
Lets first state some important definitions that we'll need.
My behaviour is what I the links I click on the internet to browse the web to check, read and edit free online content.
My service request is the link I click to ask some service provider to make something for me.
My main goal is to make my behaviou…

Getting over stone age of the internet: discovering agriculture and building homes

If you look at the current internet, giving its age and the type of problems it's facing, you can see clearly that we're still in the middle of, what I'd like to call it, the stone age of the internet.
We're talking about a technology that's only 30 years old, it has yet a lot of potentials to be discovered and drawbacks and problems to be solved. The problem I want to expose here is privacy. I'd like to compare the real stone age (5000 years B.C.) to the internet stone age (1985 to 2009).
The stone age:
During the stone age humans lived in the forests and took cover in caves from the rain, they lived in tribes that shared the same interest and cared for each other's interests. Communication between those tribes was almost impossible and they probably fought over everything (territory, food, women, etc). They slept right there in the open thinking that they are well protected that way. Invented some traps and protection systems to protect them and maybe con…

Trying to order the new Ubuntu CD and that's what I get

Demand for Ubuntu CDs is very high, and we're trying to ensure that we have enough CDs for those who really need one. We've noticed that you've already received CDs of several previous Ubuntu releases. You can help us ensure the continued availability of Ubuntu CDs by

* upgrading to the new release without a CD
* downloading your own CD for free
* becoming an Ubuntu member by contributing to Ubuntu, and thereby becoming eligible for more CDs

Thanks for your support of Ubuntu!

I am sure they are trying to do there best but my point of view that people with longest history with Ubuntu are the best candidates to share the CDs with others. Maybe I am wrong but I just want a CD :(

Video Segmentation: Science fiction coming true

First I'd like to define roughly what video segmentation is then talk about it in more technical details.
The term video segmentation is used with two applications in mind, the first making a long video short by extracting the key shots and images and puting them in a sequence summarizing the long video. So you can think of it as making movies trailers automatically.
The other is extracting the objects that were shot in a video and tracking them through a series of shots; in short making videos of the objects in one big video. So you can think of it as Arnold Schwarzenegger moving as the terminator identifying objects with his "eyes" and getting data about objects he's seeing.
Both problems are challenging and interesting but I'll focus more on the challenges faced when developing algorithms for the second definition.

If you used Photoshop ever then you must have done some image segmentation before. If you still don't know what I am talking about, remember th…

ACMQ: By engineers for engineers

I have joined the ACM recently and I received by first CACM magazine two days ago. I found an interesting ad while reading and it was about a magazine called ACM Queue; I have heard about ACM magazines before but not this one so I thought I should check it out and I guess you should too.
ACMQ is the ACM's magazine for practising software engineers [1]. So it has major guys talking about cuting edge technologies in a very informative way with a very wide spectrum of topics covered.
Not only ACMQ has articles but it also has some cool audio and video casts and Planet Queue. Planet Queue is is an aggregation of practitioner-oriented blogs written by the Queue author community (close to 400 and growing) [2].
The bottom line is go there and start reading :D.

[1] About ACM Queue
[2] About Planet Queue

Blog Action Day: Climate Change and International Day of Climate Action

Well, I just wanted to be part of that worldwide event. So I want to mention some stuff that we can do to help in saving YOUR WORLD!
Support forests for Climate
Say no to Genetically Engineered Rice:
Ask world leaders to personally attend climate conference:
DON'T UNDERESTIMATE WHAT YOU CAN DO, because you'll not be alone in this. If everyone in the world try to make a certain difference it will happen. So let's help the world be a better place for us.
If you're a blogger try blogging about climate change and how everyone can help in making the world a better, safer and greener place.

Also I invite you to be part of the 24th of October International Day of Climate…

Etisalat USB Modem on Ubuntu 9.04 (Huawie E1550)

I had a problem with getting my USB modem to work on Ubuntu as it didn't detect it. The answer to this is simple for Ubuntu 9.04.

First go to "System>Preferences>Network Connection".

Then click on "Mobile Broadband" tab and click on the add button.

Then choose a name for the connection and apply.
Now we're half way there. To make it work you'll have to download this package:
sudo apt-get install udev-extras
Then you'll create a file for the modem by typing:
gksu gedit /etc/udev/rules.d/15-huawei-e1550.rules
Then paste this code in the gedit window:

RUN+="/lib/udev/modem-modeswitch --vendor 0x12d1 --product 0x1446 --type option-zerocd"
cAll you'll need next is to plug and enjoy.
The last step was optained from here.

F5100 Flash Array: A new horizon for solid state drives

Sun announced the benchmarks for its new flash array system.Key thing is, it out performed mechanical hard drives with all the benifits that come with using solid state drives such as low power consumption, mechanical shocks tollerance and ease of deployment. You can find all the technical details explained way better than I can explain it in this video.

For further information check this here

Non-Computable Problems: Halting problem and others

If you have not studied algorithm complexity analysis this might seem a little strange. There is actually problems that the computer can't solve no matter what happens. To make it a little easier to understand, we usually think that there is nothing a human can't do but can a human fly! We'll it's not possible. You can say the same thing about non-computable problems, it's just problems that the computer can't solve.
Halting Problem:
One example, that always pops to one's mind when asked about non computable problems, is the Halting Problem. This problem is fairly simple "Given a program and an input to the program, find whether the program will run indefinitely or not when processing that input" in other words find if a certain input will cause a program to enter an infinite loop. And the computer can do that!
There is a fairly complicated proof for that problem and you can find it here .
Other Problems:
What made me mention this class of problems …

Ambience analysis and discovery research

Well it has been a few days after MobiCom and it's time to start blogging it technically.
I'll start with what if I heard of a little earlier would have thought science fiction. And it's ambience/ambiance analysis and discovery mentioned in a paper called "SurroundSense: Mobile Phone Localization via Ambience Fingerprinting" and a poster titled "Highlights: Event Coverage in Mobile Social Networks".
Let's start with the basics before going through them both. First, Ambience is "a feeling or mood associated with a particular place, person, or thing" Merriam Webster. So if you consider the ambience for a place it'll include the lights, sounds and colors in that place, and for a person it might include movement, facial expressions and clothes colors and styles. If you thought about it a little, every person or a place have unique ambience in some sort.
The ongoing research is concerned with creating a fingerprint for this unique ambienc…

DNIS in SRC: Second Place but What a feedback!

I couldn’t blog about what happened in the presentation right after it because I had places to go and things to do on my last day in China but in short it was amazing.
I asked my new friend Ari to record it in video for me and he did. As you’ll see I was terrible. I was tattering and I paused for a very long time searching for the word ORDER in my head. The bottom line I have not been worse in a presentation. The explanation is simple; my knees were shacking of fear. I was so nervous and I couldn’t help it. As I went last I got to see how all the judges asked questions and how hard these questions were. Also I got to know who the judges were and that made me even more nervous. So at the beginning I was pretty bad but I did good I think in the questions.
Even before the results were announced I knew that we’ll come second as the other guys, no matter how terrible he was on his presentation had some really solid Game Theoretic proofs behind his work and our idea was fairly simple. I was…

Before my MobiCom presentation: Fears and Doubts

I want to blog this whole experience to be able to share and also have a good documentation about it. Now it's about 4 hours to my presentation, I am worried and nervous. Also I got this unimaginable pressure of what I am representing, usually I am representing myself, my social community or even my company. This time I thought I was only representing Egypt. But I got this assuring and motivative comment "Remember that you're representing, not only Egypt, but the entire Muslim and Arab countries. You may have noticed that very few, if any one, from an Arab or Islamic university is attending, not to mention presenting." (No Pressure :D).
Well, today I talked with some people I met here and I got this very nice comment, "Enjoy it! You know about your work more than anyone else, so just go there teach and enjoy".
So I am still a little bit worried, but I hope I'll do OK.

Egypt's Undergraduate Research is Rocking the WORLD!

Yesterday was my big day, I had to present both the demo and the poster. I had judges coming for SRC and for demo evaluation, and a huge load of scientists and professionals coming to check our work. I started asking new friends I met during MobiCom about the work, and got some very helpful feedback about how to present and also they gave me a heads up one some questions I'll need to answer. But they all thought the work was great.

Now it's time for presenting the work to EVERYONE!

At first people just passed me by not asking nor talking, only more people I met on earlier days. After a while I started getting people asking me about the work. After a while I got to move my poster to be next to my demo and that's when all the action started.
I had Microsoft Research people, professors, PhD students and masters students asking questions about DNIS and discussing what we've done and how we did it. The demo helped A LOT in showing them how real the work is and its significance…

First day of MobiCom: New People and New Experiences

It's finally MobiCom!
I woke up a little late and wandered to the conference's venue using a bus and in 3 minutes I was there. The sign in procedure was pretty easy, the registration volunteers are pretty friendly and soon enough I had my package and name tag.
I started worrying about socialization a little after that. It seemed like everyone knew someone and was sitting with each other. But soon after the launch break I got to know one of the organizers due to a problem I had with my network connection. And one after another I started meeting new people from the opposite sides of the world doing research in different and interesting areas.
What I got to learn after some short conversations that it's really a big deal to be an undergraduate and present work in MobiCom. Also that our work is really something impressive as I got a lot of great feedback from everyone I talked to about our DNIS.
Here are some picture from my day:

A map of the pos…

MobiCom Updates: DNIS got into SRC

I am almost done with my tourist visit to China and back to work work work!
Before I left for China I got some very bad news, "we didn't get into SRC".
Let me first introduce SRC or Student Research Competition which is an international ACM competition for students (graduate and undergraduate). You can check its official webpage here.
The process of the competition in MobiCom goes as follows, the committee chooses a subset of the qualified posters to compete for the final places then select one of those depending on their presentations to be finalists and give a presentation on the fourth day of MobiCom. Until yesterday our DNIS wasn't selected to compete. Which was a real bummer for us.
Yesterday we got an e-mail saying that we got into SRC!
Ed3olna :D
You can check our names in the SRC Page and the Demos Page.
Wait for my future updates on MobiCom!

Tiananmen Square and Xi Dan

As I read Tiananmen square is a must see in china, so I made it my next place to see. Also I wanted to shop and Xi Dan area was recommended.
As usual I took a taxi to Tiananmen Square and then I found out that my camera's battery was dead.
I searched for someone that sold batteries and after a while I found one. I started taking pictures as usual, it's a really amazing place, very organized and highly secured. I have some recommendations for the visit:
First, go as early as possible because it'll get really crowded and because it's an open area it'll get really hot and exhausting.
Second, you should enter the Mao's Mausoleum but you'll need to put anything you have in the lockers across the street.
Third, Tiananmen Square is just a short walk from The Forbidden City so if you visited Tiananmen Square early enough you can then visit the forbidden city afterwards instead of doing what I did (visiting each of them in separate days).
I wanted to experience as m…

Third Day in China: Summer Palace

I woke up late, I was in a bad mood, I had no energy to get out of the bed :S
The room service rang the room's bell and I had to get up. When I got up I saw that there is no point of wasting such a precious day. It was 11 AM so I put on some clothes and went to the lobby. I asked the staff to write the name of the summer palace for me in Chinese and changed some dollars to Yuans and off I went.
As soon as I got out of the hotel I found fog every where, I have never seen anything like it before. Maybe in the early hours of the morning but not at noon!
I was determined to go to the summer palace and thank God that I was, because it was really wonderful.
I hesitated to get the full ticket (60 Yuans) or the limited one (20 Yuans). When I payed the 100 bill I had they ALWAYS assume that I want the full ticket but I didn't mind that, I just find the assumption strange. I got the electronic map to know a little about the place. This time I got a different version than the one I got y…

Second Day in China: Beijing and The Forbidden City

When I started reading about places I should visit while in Beijing I always got The Forbidden City as the first place I should visit, and so I did. First I asked one of the hotel staff to write its name in Chinese for me and I went out of the hotel to get a taxi.
The Taxis:
The one thing that made feel a little at home is the taxis here. The way the treat you, some are extremely friendly and some are extremely not, the don't like seat belts, the drive a little fast but here you only pay what the counter says which is usually a lot.

Back to the way to the forbidden city; I started searching for a taxi and got rejected a couple of times before I decided to got on a road heading south as I knew that the forbidden city was south. After another couple of rejections I found a taxi. When I saw the road I knew why I was rejected. It was too crowded and it took me about 40 minutes to get there.
The taxi dropped me off in front of the forbidden city but in a place with no sign nor traffic ligh…

First Day in China

After two long flights, a wait in the transit and a long taxi drive I finally arrived at my room in Best Western OL Stadium Hotel in Beijing, China.
The flights were comfortable especially the one from Doha to Beijing, the entertainment system was amazing as I got to watch "Angels and Demos", a "Fringe" episode and listen to some arabic and english music. The staff of Qatar Airways were nice and helpful, the food was OK and I got to sleep on the second flight.
Al Doha transit was OK, I got to meet a Chinese girl called Emma, she helped me pass the boring two hours transit.
For health issues they asked us to fill a form on the plane asking about our health condition, I had a running nose because of the air conditioning and so I mentioned in the form. When I got to PEK airport the doctors had me checked.
The procedures of entering Beijing was smooth, I found out that they had an Automatic Train in the Airport to move passengers between terminals.…

1 Day to China: Almost There

Well I am planning to blog about the whole thing so 1 day before it is worth blogging too.
I am actually blogging from Mahmouds's home where I have been living for the past 3 days, benchmarking, rehearsing, testing and fixing bugs. It has been a nice ride working with those guys.
Concerning China, I am learning some chinese like "Ni Hao!" is "Hello!", learning thee way to the hotel from Google Maps and the way from the hotel to the conference hotel and working with the guys here on finalizing the work.

Two Days to China: DNIS and Ramadan

It's finally confirmed, I am going to China!!
Our work in the Nile University got accepted in MobiCom 2009 which is going to take place in China this year. We thought about who would go to present the work and we came to decide that I would, Lucky me! (or that's how I thought at first)
The permissions:
Traveling for students in Egypt is not that easy. It's actually involves a lot of procedures and steps. First you'll have to make your passport which is the easy part. Then you'll have to get a "traveling permission" from both the University and the Ministry of Defense! The university permission is pretty easy you just submit your ID and get the permission the next day. The Ministry of Defense is the one that's worth mentioning.
As I have to serve a time in the military service, I have to get a permission before I travel until I am older than 30 or so I've heard. Because it's not an easy thing to get I thought I should try to get it before I pay…

DNIS's Acceptance in MobiCom: A Research Internship Result

This summer I was accepted for summer internship at the Nile University under the supervision of Dr. Moustafa Amin. The internship is a research internship at the WINC Research Center (Wireless Intelligent Networks Center) and its main requirements were good knowledge in both C/C++ programming and networking programming.
The kick off meeting was 2 weeks ahead of the internship. Dr. Moustafa gave us a general idea of what became later DNIS (Dynamic Network Interfaces Scheduler). He also gave us A LOT to read, which became the habit later on.
We started the journey of our research project which had 2 phases, the first was systems research and the second is the scheduling algorithm research. (I'll have later on a post on the details of the project).
By the end of the first phase we had some mock algorithms to test the whole idea, which is always the case with research, to see if the idea would really have positive results. When we tested the mock algorithms we got good results that enco…

Software Freedom Day @ Alexandria University

It's my greatest pleasure to announce Software Freedom Day @ Alexandria University. We are planning on having one of the biggest open source promoting events my university has ever seen, with peresntations, demos and contests lasting for two weeks.
The students' organizations working on that event till now are Alexandria ACM Chapter, Alexandria University OSUM Club and Arabic Wikipedia Team. We are still looking for others two help us make this event as big as it can get.
So if you're anywhere near Alexandria from the first of September till the 15th of it come and join us in our celebration.
RSVP here: and here
We're still working on our detailed plan and we'll have it online as soon as possible.

Where I am Spending my online and Why?

Well I have decided to check where I spend most of online time. You know Google Chrome and Firefox can do that for you so I took their results and my own analysis.
GMX (Global Mail Exchange): My main server. I started using it about 2 years ago when I found out its ad on a PC world page. What attracted me to it was that I could actually have, I can have more than one address with the same inbox and it was FREE. Back then the user interface was bad and it took forever to load but I liked that it was desktop like. Now with their new home page, fast loading time, support of POP3/IMAP, largest set of available Arabic addresses and being ads free I recommend it to everyone.Google Reader: Until 2 months ago I used My Yahoo! to read the feeds I liked. It had a lot of drawbacks, if you have more than 10 feeds you'll spend a lot of time trying to reach them, the boxes were are not a good idea for blogs feeds, actually it was not built to handle 100 feeds with updates happenin…

Make a difference NOW!!

Have you ever thought about how you can make a change, improve the world, help others and make your actions count ?? Well, I did. I have no money, no way to travel nor a plan. I found out that you can actually improve the world by just some clicks and signing ups while you´re at home enjoying your usual day.
The two websites that I found that helps you make a difference all over the world without leaving your room are Greanpeace and Save the Children.

GreenPeace: a website that is concerned with protecting the environment from greedy states and multinational companies that are abusing the environment. So how they help you?? Sending e-mails to officials , signing petitions, onlinedemonstrations(banners on your blog, virtual activities,...). Actually they keep coming up with amazing ideas to tell the decision makers that there are people in the world that care and that what they are trying to do is dangerous, whether it´s cutting trees, killing whales, using dangerous chemicals, ...
So h…

Prezi: An Easy Way to Make Cool Presentations

I was checking out startups that are competing in The Next Web'09. The post is on Tech Crunch. A line that caught my eyes, one of the startups was introducing a way to make presentations. I wanted to check out how they are making a PowerPoint like software on the cloud. To my surprise it had nothing to do with presentation as I was made to know it during my college years.
Prezi introduces a flash software that helps you to make flash presentations. It's easy, looks great, flexible to some point and free.
Prezi is was founded by two designers/computer scientists that found - as I personally think- slide based presentations so boring. So they -as I personally didn't- made their own presentation mapping and Zui Labs was founded, more information here.
Back when I was in high school I thought that soon all presentations will be flash based but what happened is that powerpoint got stronger, good looking and smart and flash made kind of a not worth the effort to make an ordinary …

Why you should be reading NYTimes regularly

I believe this is a technical post SO you should read it. I have been wondering around NYTimes and Man that website is gigantic. Well it's a news website, you'll say. The question is why I am writing a post about it. Here you are why:
The thing is about reading news it’s BORING, also for us CS people "Geeks" it's non-technical and most of the time it has nothing to do with what we do on class and what we will need and it's BORING. What's different about NYTimes is that it gives you the news you need and didn't know you can get which is the opposite of BORING. New technologies, new gadgets, new market, new opportunities and even insights on the future possibilities are a portion of the things you can extract from reading NYTimes. I have been a regular reader for the technology section for 2 years now. What amazes me is that I am seeing stuff that I read was going to happen actually happening, gadgets that I thought great now available in the hyper mark…

INNOVID, Online Advertising taking a new shape

I have been seeing all the giants two Google and Yahoo trying hard with the video advertising. Google put a lot of effort in the new ads in you tube and the video ads and Yahoo adding pauses between song clips which is kind of annoying. And also I read that an attractive way of integrating video ads with online video streaming which became one of the most used services online. I knew I wasn't going to be the guy to do it, of course I am busy with my term exams, so someone else had to do it. Ladies and gentlemen the new way of advertising through video is here and it's called INNOVID and their Clickable Canvas.
Made by an Israeli startup, which always gives me hope that startups can always contribute to the big market, INNOVID comes with a platform that integrates cool looking ads with videos you already have. What the INNOVID platform provides you with is a way to select lets say a wall in an ordinary video to place an RSS feed, a picture of your product or any other animation…

Masdar City, a motivation and a dream coming true

One of my dreams is to live in a peaceful and clean environment where I don't have to smell carbon dioxide everywhere, where I can walk in the streets and actually breathe. Today I have came to know a project called "Masdar City". Yes the title's origin is arabic which means the "origin" or "source". It's a project funded by the government of Abu Dhabi which aims to build a zero-carbon, zero-waste, car free city powered entirely by renewable energy sources. The city is to be a home for 50000 people, clean and not crowded (a dream come true). Those who will live there will move in the city using public transpotation or personal rapid transit (something from a science fiction movie). The businesses that will take Masdar as a home are to be commercial and manufacturing facilities specializing in environmentally-friendly products and any visitor will leave his car behind when he enters the city.
You can find a lot of information about it on its we…