Google Faulty Sync

Google sync services were blocked in Sudan a couple of weeks ago! [read some discussion]

At the same timing, my Android phone had a system update, to Android 4.4.4 (that’s why I went with the Nexus!). After the update I had some problems regarding contacts sync: I couldn’t add new contacts! I mean, I could but after a minute or some, I lose that contact! I’ve found a couple of articles about intermittent problems alike and really didn’t bother myself much. I don’t get new contacts often and since the problem I only had to add two, and they were not important (sorry :\).

Yesterday I came across some tweet accidentally (so accidentally that I cannot find anymore!). It was someone asking whether there was a new sanction on Google sync services in Sudan. We’re already under sanction in various other services, and overcoming the sanctions has many ways: some use different Android Market, some use various VPN or anonimity network configurations, and some just transfer apk files and don’t use it anyway.. I used to use all those before, and quite familiar with many other censorship circumvention methods (hell, I’m kinda expert!). But this now is a game changer!

Back in the old days, the problem was how to reach some service that you need right now, you need to access some service (Google Play Apps, to download an app for example), you hop in to your favorite censorship circumvention tool, download the app, et voila!, you’ve got what you wanted. You want to update? same process. You want to access Google Code? Apple’s App Store? Oracle? same same. You see why now the game changed? No? Then bare with me..

Now imagine the following scenario with me: you are on the go, walking in the streets with mind full of joy and heart full of happiness. You meet an old old friend, that whom you haven’t met in ages. You start picking up from where you left many years ago, ask him about his school sweetheart. Oh you broke up? I’m so sorry. He asks you about your long time friend that he thinks you [still baring with me? LOL] are still in touch with him. You are not? Oh! And the shamarat are unlimited, but unfortunately time is. So you split up, promising to meet again very soon, and exchange your [new, current] phone numbers. So here comes the catch: you save the contact as you’ve always do: John Doe, 09xxxxxxxx, and you smile and shake hands and move away. You are a smart guy, and you do appreciate the use of the cloud, and you sync your contacts with your Google account (logical cloud choice: you’re in AndroidLand). The phone after some time (less than a minute usually) starts to sync your contacts (a modification? let’s sync that up) and if you’re [still] baring with me, here comes the catch: the expected behavior was to add the new number to the list, but what actually happens is that your phone tries to sync, fails (because you’re Sudanese thus you’re a terrorist), and then reverts back and DELETES THE NEW CONTACT! I have no idea (of course) who signed off this deletion step but hey, screw you. I hope your wife finds out you’re cheating on her, your parents tell you that you were adopted, and your children tell you they never really loved you. Why on earth you chose to delete it?!

So, in this catch resides the new game changer: the timing. Before we chose the timing, we hopped in to our special arrangements when we wanted to look like we’re outside of Sudan, and then we continued our lives smoothly. Now the other process, the sync process, happens in the background. We do not control (mostly) when it happens, and Android developers seem to be trying to give most of the control to the app developers and less control to the end users. Now unless you’re 24/7 on some anonymity/VPN configuration, this is not working anymore…

Couple of solutions I’m considering regarding this situation:

  • Stopping contact sync altogether (and any other sync that causes problems).

pros: no sync errors if you’re not in sync! cons: must.do.backups! Changing phones will be a pain..

  • Sync to another vendor.

pros: staying in sync, always backed up. cons: they may be next in the list of vendors doing the sanctions.

  • Sync to a local account (e.g. Outlook sync)

pros: staying in sync, never worry about vendors going crazy. cons: not a real sync, plus your laptop becomes very critical.

  • Leaving AndroidLand altogether, and snapping back to iOSVille.

pros: staying in sync, more lovely platform. cons: the same as #2. plus why I switched platform at the first place?!

  • Staying in the VPN configuration 24/7.

pros: G sync will be as normal. cons: our internet is already crappy, and Google doesn’t like Tor users more than Sudanese people!

  • Suing Google, American Foreign Affairs Secretary, Sudanese government, and all affiliated in that matter. [a little too much]

pros: you may change the world.

cons: you’ll lose money, effort, get treated as crazy, and NISS will take care of you in a not-very-cool way.

 

Maybe snapping back to the old school of papers and pens will do. I don’t do phone calls very well already, why can’t I communicate using only emails?!

New Old Tools

Ubuntu One is shutting down! I’ve been advocating this service to all my family and friends so I’ve got kinda ashamed when they decided to shut down because they couldn’t be as competent as other services. I know this isn’t personal, but I kinda feel I betrayed those whom I promised that they’ll find it more satisfying than others. Damn you Canonical! You should’ve hired me to run it for you instead of just running away…

Taking this chance to rethink my whole soft/hard tool-gear, I think there might be some other tools I’m using that I may consider changing, or letting go anyway:

  • I use Ubuntu One for my files storage, the lighter ones (up to 2 GiB). As I already said, I need [have] to change it, because by the end of this month, they are in total blackout. While I’m writing these lines I’ve signed up to Dropbox, because apparently I can’t remember any other name of a storage-in-the-cloud vendor off my head now, and I have some books I need to read back home today! That may change by tomorrow, but right now, we’ll stick to Dropbox!
  • I use trello to ‘Organize Everything’. It’s quite working for me till now, but two things I can add more with it: learn how to use it like a pro, and move my company to use it instead of our self-hosted tracking system crap that proved useless over and over. #2 ain’t gonna happen (yeah, that’s the spirit!).
  • I used to use MS Outlook calender for scheduling. It sucks. Being in the corporate world forces you for things like this but not anymore. Since no one actually use it properly, and we end up manually editing all scheduling requests, I recently started using Google Calender and actually merged my business calender with my personal calender (hey, I’m one person. Why should I check two calenders?!). My personal calender was in iCloud, and since I moved (again) to Androidland from iOSVille, I just started to dump everything to Google. They seem to work well for both so if I moved back (again) I’m kinda safe…
  • My contacts are already synced with Google. A lesson learned long time ago, though KitKat is making me reconsider :\
  • I use GMail as my personal and personal-professional email. My work email is self hosted (kinda), but I use it as little as I can, because it sucks by design! I can’t get those who still use Hotmail (or live, or Outlook, or whatever new brand they try to hide their suckie product behind), and I totally hope the NSA get all those Yahoo! users. Why are you using ymail? It sucked since day one !!!
  • Instead of using the official Twitter apps, I started using TweetDeck. This thing is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I can’t even describe my first impression when I used it the very first time. Not only you can see other users’ mentions, but you can even see the timeline from their perspective! You can impersonate any user, and aside from protected accounts and DMs, you can totally be them! Stalking, the new school ;)
  • More professional tools, I started trying Toad for Oracle. I didn’t like it, so I’m probably sticking to PL/SQL Developer. Sometimes what you learn first sticks forever…
  • Chrome is my natural browser choice. Thanks (again) to the corporate world, I have to keep IE installed (the thanking also goes to Windows engineers whose integration of IE into the core system was astonishing!). And get this: Some idiots restrict their web apps to IE only FOR SECURITY REASONS. And I thought I’m the biggest loser in the world!
  • My fav editor stays the same: Notepad++. Although I don’t like the fact that it is Windows-only, but I spend most of time on Windows anyway, and NP++ makes the experience less sufferable..
  • OnTopReplica is an awesome tool you can use to make a specific window Always-On-Top. Think all those boring readings and writing or work hours, and how much you’d appreciate being able to actually watch a movie at the very same time. It changes the way you do boring stuff…
  • For antivirus program, I’m sticking with the one and only Kaspersky. These people offer more than just PC protection, they offer a security culture which is, for a geek like me, a thing worth sticking with. The Pure is a bit expensive so I’m on the Internet Security option…
  • I’m using her words as my on-earth heaven, my escape from all people, their crappy presence, their inadequacy, my inadequacy, and me. These words may not be for me, but I bet they touch no one as they do to me. Thank you, whatever of your names you like more :)
  • I have an obsession of cool gadgets. I use my laptop as for all work stuff, movies and TV shows (with the lovely projector and my new wireless headset), I use my old iPhone as 1) a backup phone, and 2) an iPod. iPhones really really do well as iPods with all this capacity and software stability, and the fact that Android music players suck (Google Play Music is the suckiest)! I use my iPad Air for pretty much anything on the go: non-work related professional issues, social networks, books and reading on general, and sometimes a movie would be a perfectly good experience on the retina display :) My primary phone is my new toy: the Nexus 5. It makes a good case for using Android, but still not as necessary.. More on that later…
  • My idea generator, my idiots-explainer, and my big ideas simplifier: My white board. That reminds me I have to get new pens for this babe the soonest. Couple of months ago I managed to get another one for the office, and its best use there is to insult each other.. Not a bad use actually in such an environment.
  • The missing stuff: I have to get me a good printer for home. We currently use some hp color all-in-one garbage that consumes ink like there’s no tomorrow. I gotta make that stop and get a proper one, even a black and white would do…
  • I make intensive use of her smile as a suicidal ideas removal tool. It can also function, among other uses, as a stress release tool, a happiness provider, and a light generator. God bless…

A gentle reminder..

This is your real life..

This is not a trial run.

It is the real thing..

You failed it

You failed the real thing..

 

You’re welcome…

Song Of The Time

Reviving this thought from a very dark time of my life. Third grade final exams. I was helpless, in the middle exams that I wasn’t prepared, and fighting another lost battle in my life. I told myself: hold that thought, and oh boy what a long hold it was…

Everybody seem to have this thing, when song is cycling your mind, going over and over. It’s, as described in the famous song: like my iPod is stuck on replay. Internally in my mind I associate places, times, decisions I made, events happened to me, and nearly everything else with two distinct things: a smell, and a song.

Midsummer collage time, mind full of knowledge and heart full of life. We were young, maybe. Naive, damn sure, but we had the world in the palm of our hand. World was our oyster egg, Oh little did we know. Whispers in her ears, roses in her hands, fancy flowery words in her everywhere, and all the happiness of mankind she gave me. World then was a scent of a fresh white flower, and a voice of Ashlee Simpson shouting and freshening up all the pieces, pieces, pieces of me

Late 2010, all my life was falling  apart. A responsibility that I’m too irresponsible to take, a failed academic life that didn’t seem recoverable, and a very close encounter of the death master. The smell of wet sand, and Sean and Ziggy’s three little birds insisting that every little thing is gonna be alright! How hard I wanted to shoot these birds dead! It hadn’t gone alright, screw you!

A year after collage. The bad times when your colleagues starting up their successful careers and moving away. You finished the national service, they convinced you that your success or failure in life is measured by your career. And here you went, applied in a thousand job, got in a million interviews. “You’re good, son. Only we needed someone good at X”. Oh, “you’re a very good X’er, but we actually need more of Y”. And the alphabet soup is all dumped in there and all in a pact to screw you up. The smell is your cheap cologne you wear with your fancy pants to all those clueless recruiters, the future is bleak , and the voice is a lost art chanting that I’m “trapped in a maze therefore I am A-mazing…”.. Yeah, put that in your resume…

Flashback many years ago. I’m out of country, couple of weeks and I come back to be whispered in the ear: your brother’s gone missing! All the long nights, crying alone in my bedroom so no one would know what’s going on, all the memories, shared secrets and bad jokes, the promise that we get each other’s back, and the pain that I was helpless as a slaughtered sheep. The word came with the wind, and turned out that the old boatman have long sailed his soul. The scent was of a fiery blood, the voice was his lovely voice chanting our best shared secret poem, and no full happiness could slip into my heart ever after…

Fall 09. The skies are heavy with clouds, and earth doors are wide open. Something about me just can’t imagine that day actually happened, and no possible combination of letters in any language of mortals can fill up these gaps.. It was never, and never again, that my heart fully felt anything, my eyes fully saw anything, my hands ever sensed anything. No scent existed that day, and no possible voice would supersede the way you call me. A sudden death would make it impossible for a heart to ever reassure anything, promise anything, or expect anything.. I miss you daddy…

Oh ALLAH, in this blessed night, grant him entrance to your higher paradise. He was a man of honor. I lay before you all his secrets he kept with you, all his loving, caring, and blessing. I lay all my sins, and lay down my heart. May your mercy be beyond what I can ever imagine…

Amen.

About My Friend!

- You know, man, I have the funniest story happened to me the other day.. We were doing the weirdest thing when that funny blah blah happened!

- Oh hahahahaha.. You know something similar happened to me too. You see, we were …

Naaah! So not me!

- Oh wow! You know I had a friend whom encountered …

Yup! That’s my mark! That’s how I roll…

Let me introduce to you my friend that I talk a lot about: The [not so] young man whom has experiences that are not as many, but as weird as to let him keep talking about, analyze, and recall every detail of each one of them. He doesn’t quite get a long with many people, or let’s say, trust them with his mind and dreams. So he actually has so few people whom his mind can breath life with, talk and laugh, walk in the halls of wonder and weigh ideas and thoughts as freely as a flying bird. Besides one or two others and two hidden blogs, I was chosen to be one of them. I’m actually the closest. We are together all waking hours, and when night puts down his dark veil, we’re in the wild city of dreams like a dancing sparks of lightning. I actually hated him like hell, at first! We were bound by the seal of God, so I had no other choice other than being with him, walking with him, and continuously listening to him whining and nagging. Years and years passed, and I started to like it.. Take it from me: you can like anyone if you stay with him for a long time. That can be so comforting if you ever have a traditional marriage :D

After all the time, we became quite similar. We love the same food, enjoy same drinks, love same places and like same people. Hell, we even love the same girls! (the plural is only for abstraction!). We can recite the same movies that we love. Our idols are the same, both fictional and real ones, and the fact that our size is the same enabled us to share the same clothes, with the hope that no one would notice.. And as schizophrenic as you think my words are, let me tell you that I’m not there, yet! Moving steadily, but not there yet…

Recently I was trying to make new friends, and that got me deeply thinking: Would I like to be friends with me if I weren’t me? And the catch is in the ‘if I weren’t me’ phrase is what refrained me from just looking around and see all those people who are around me and tell myself ‘Here is the answer!’.

See, most of my friends I met in the usual way: Neighborhood kids, family (in my home land, they are quite the same category!), school, collage, business partners whom shared a laugh with me one day and convinced ourselves that it is a friendship if we only texted each other happy Eids, and so on and so forth. The thing is, most of them were not free regarding that choice; they were bound by the tradition to be friends with me (as I was, too). You cannot not befriend your same-age school-mate that is living across the road. Take it from me: your society won’t let that happen. So most friends are in a way or another, were forced into this relation, and thus they are out by the phrase (if I weren’t me) which actually meant (if I were not forced to)! Quite amusing catch isn’t it?!

We’ll have some problems regarding logistics: the place I like the most to sit by the river Nile couldn’t possibly fit for two, especially two of the size of mine. And as I like thinking and speaking while I’m driving, we can’t both be driving at the same time in the current cars’ technologies used. We can’t possibly marry the same girl. When role playing, we can’t both be Hector. Or Astinos. Or Jack. And as much as I like the character of Arya, we both can’t be girls which puts at back at the same problem: we can’t both be Jon Snow! And the one big problem: We can’t be alone, together!

Other problems would emerge from other aspects of friendship: are all my behaviors I can take from other person? I mean, will I stand someone whom can be so depressed without telling me why, no matter how hard I try? Can I stand someone whom is too shy to talk to me? Can I stand all his weird quotations, double weird mottos he lives by, and super strange reasoning he gives to everything he sees? Can I stand him preferring to write his thoughts in a hidden place only to himself rather than, I dunno, sharing with me, his damn-so-close friend? Can I? That’s the original question, I believe.

I don’t have answers in that regard. And I believe that I might not have them any time. Until I think something up, let’s keep calling all those stories as stories of my mystery friend. If you, my friend, had a dime each time I tell one of your stories, we’d be richer than a Lannister!

It is a very fine line separating us from the crazy world of Schizophrenia. Depression, my friend, only makes it worse.. Did they release the 3.16 yet?! Could you tell her not to stop smiling? because it is very dark when she stops.. and winter is coming!

Smooth Doesn’t Fit You

The variety of life events and life challenges that face people has always baffled me. It is only logical that judgment is on judgment day, done by the all mighty God, with skies open and angels with all people in a very long day; because no one can possibly understand how to judge people. We tend to sin in a very complicated way, with complex motivations and manipulation involved all the way up. You see, some people were born kings, they are as stupid, useless, and evil as you can imagine, and nothing they’ve done or been justifies why they got this good life. He may do well, or do bad, and you can (in theory) think how bad or good he is, but do you imagine judging an orphan homeless boy that might has stolen him one day, only took a piece of bread to silence the hunger that almost killed him because he lives in a state that failed to provide him basic human rights, which is ruled by the first one? Do you imagine having to answer both of them when they say why me? Can you turn down the king’s argument that he only became evil because he had so much power with no one to guide him? Can you look into the poor boy’s eyes and order him to get punished? I myself thank God I don’t have to…

And on a small scale, we all can feel it. Sure you know that friend or family member that all his stuff are smooth, and only lucky accidents cross his road. We all know that other whose all life is too damn complicated and no single event of it, good or bad, is normal. They both live together, both go to school, have good jobs, fall in love and get married, have beautiful children and live a good live. They can both be poor, both have losses and heartaches, and one son of them may marry the other’s daughter, and join the houses. The point is they both do their things eventually, one only has it done smoother than the other. One of them may get glory, be an emperor and rule the world, fight enemies and chop off their heads, with a clear vision and clear life.. Hard maybe, but clear.. Simple.. The other one is doomed with complications. His glory is never in the ordinary way, his career is of the weirdest entrance and the strangest turning points. His lover is his enemy’s daughter, and his son is the commander of his enemy.. These kind of stuff y3ni… “Mosahhilha 3laih rabbana” is the Arabic equivalent (in a very non-arabic letters. Because my keyboard sucks!).

History has always been a good friend. Nearly everything can relate to some history. A good example of a complicated life would be the life of Ali ibn AbiTalib (May Allah be pleased with him), one of the very great Muslims. He lived a very complicated life. Born in a poor family (only poor in money), adopted by his cousin (peace be upon him), joined a new religion early in his life. He was tasked with the hardest and most complicated tasks, the ones that needed a man with a great mind, a man without fear, and a man of honor. He brought new believers to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) hiding them (professionally I tell you) through Makka, he slept in the Prophet’s bed on Hijra’s night tasked with returning all the goods and properties that had been entrusted to Prophet for safekeeping.. He’d stay (remember) for couple of days in a city whom all tribes had a plot to kill his master and he was of the reasons why they failed! He wasn’t the chosen Khalifa after the Profit passed, and he had to stop a dispute that may arise for him. Then years passed, and here came the big Fitna. God, I don’t think I could even understand it someday, yet he knew where right is, to the point that he defended it with his heart, mind, soul, and blood. None of his life was simple, yet he stood for it and grabbed glory outta that chaos. Still he has the most complicated profile in Islamic history, with people respecting him all the way up to literally worshiping him. An idol for all people whom stood for right even when right is not only hard, but hidden…

Fast forwarding history about a thousand and half a thousand of years into the present, I have a friend that represents the other (smoothy) people. He doesn’t live an easy life, he works hard and does all what it takes, but as a famous observation, his (stuff) happen in a smooth lovely way.. He always has that surprise that his cousin’s friend is the person in charge for the thing he went to do, or he is friends with the guy who knows how to play Piano right before he decides to learn to play Piano, or he came to a company in the rare day they needed someone in his qualifications. I like watching things like that happening to him. I’ve been near him for quite long time now to see a lot of these things, and I like how he now treats life that way: he expects things like these as a default. I hope life doesn’t break his heart…

Myself I was born lucky. I’m living a live that is considered good. Good family, average financial status, loving parents, wonderful sisters, and a cute little prince. I was well educated (kind of. The best in my country at least!), and I have a job. I can’t complain, and as a matter of fact I am so thankful. Yet if I have to categorize my life into one of the two categories, I’d never go with the smoothie-life one. It wasn’t hard, that’s different. It was complicated. I’ve been in dozens and dozens of weird situations, I have many weird human relationships, and life never fails to surprise me. I think that resulted in me being that kind of person: A weird one. The most frequent insulting phrase I hear from people I care about (it won’t be insulting if I have no respect for them!) is “What’s wrong with you?!” and it’s been quite frequent the very few past days. “Me” is the correct answer for the reference… I’m pretty much messed up and yes, you cannot hate me more than I hate myself!

A funny thing to observe what people expect from life. My friend only expected good, simple, clear signs and roads. He always gets those. Others expect less and get less. Now I’m not sold to the Secret‘s crap. Those whom expect something and get it, were most likely to get this thing not because they [so much] wanted it, but the other way around. They just expect what they usually get, and most likely they still gonna get it the next time. If my friend wasn’t getting good things he’d never expect good things. Viserys Targaryen expected to get his claimed crown so much and believed it with every bit of his heart, and what he got is, ehm, a “golden crown that men will tremble to behold”..

How come if one gets what he wanted so much that I don’t have you yet?!..

Pink Smile!

I was promised that a smile could only hold too much colors!

your colors…

It was only those eyes that I can imagine what skies can hold for beauty..

And like the clear blue of the heavens when I once was there,

My only life that you can exist in is my imagination,

and his reality..

damn him, whoever he is…