26 May, 2006

Back after one May!

You most probably have been noticing my absence on the blogosphere lately, that is due to the final critical days that i had in my graduation project, entitled BiSCA.

Maybe i've been keeping details about BiSCA a secret, though many of you knew about it from various comments, chit chats & posts. an abstract about it is officially available here

Getting back to this month, one that brought me the very peak of the chain of challenges i've been facing with BiSCA, starting off earlier this year, challenges have started from the authorities and the public sector, which showed an absolute no sense for such a project, and resisted giving away any hand or help, or even cooperative information.

All the data and information were gathered and observed day by day, nothing was ignored, everything was noticed, monitored and mapped into the project's vision, which got use of ideas and inspirations that belong back to an initiative by the European union entitled CIVITAS. Including a major guideline in CIVITAS that urges the fact that the same information system implemented in a city will not satisfy any other city no matter how close their circumstances might be... and there you go, a customized Public Transport Information System SHOULD be developed for Amman.

Moving a lil' bit further, came the need of having data packet and GPS services provided for us on iDEN handsets, that is, having iDEN technology the best solution for developing the subsystem available in side the buses.

Thus, the next step was having the support of the iDEN technology provider in Jordan, XPRESS Telecom, we had a positive response from Xpress, specifically a personnel in Xpress that we were forwarded to after we got some people convinced that we do not want a job there, cause everyone was thinking the papers in our hands were CVs, despite the pages were titled with the phrase "Preliminary Investigation Report - Project BiSCA (Bus Information, Scheduling, and Control)"
sigh !

Unfortunately, and as any other enterprise in Jordan, Xpress doesnt have an R & D department, and further more, no real budget for it!
By this, we got surprised to hear from the personnel we have been dealing with that he couldnt afford getting a device from Xpress, and that we should buy one.... like if not Xpress is the only iDEN provider and iDEN handsets dealer in Jordan!!!!

After a negotiation, the man could provide us with the trial line doted with the needed services, Data Packet, GPS, and PTT as well, and provided it along with a personal handset that he owns!!!!

I do not wanna concentrate on the fact that the handset he offered us had a problem with the GPS chipset, since it seemed it had a hard time under someones hands ;P , cause we have bought a big old used powerful one with 25 JDs, but i wanna concentrate on the fact that such a big telecommunication company, just like many others, doesn't even think of supporting ICT students, which might be after a couple of months be part of their staff!

If the reason is that some of those students are not serious enough and might be steeling those handset devices or using the services provided for them in an improper way, then a simple legal agreement can be signed before providing them with anything, i guess its easy, but for a group of students to pay for experimental services, and maybe not be able to get services they are using from their provider just because this provider doesnt have an R & D fund, that is really upsetting. Even the PC-handset data cable was bought by us, from the xpress main show room after they company's inner departments claimed they are out of stock!

By the way, the data packet service is not provided yet by Xpress for any type of its subscribers, this is why you do not have any other option to get it but through a the company's specialized department.

Mr Khalid Alia, the personnel who were dealing with at Xpress, helped us with what was needed at the end, and arranged with the networking department at the company to have all the ports opened to and from the handsets IP address from a certain IP address, which our project's server subsystem will be running at.

But, what about this IP where our project's server will be running! This one is inside the university, and since the very beginning of having someone in Xpress interested in supporting us, we have been running around papers inside the university in order to get an IP address from the range of IP addresses bought by the university, as a gateway to our PC installed in a Lab on the university's LAN. They claimed the did it, but the truth was discovered only a couple of weeks before the project's submission, that is when mr alia from xpress finally provided us with a line with the needed services and got the IP address the university's computer center claimed it mapped the requests on it to the fake IP address our PC have on the university's LAN, and had this IP address entered in the secure list of xpress's firewall. Only to discover the other day when we ran our 1st non emulated demo, that the university did not provide us with anything!

Further more, nobody at the computer center, even those we have dealt with, claimed to know what is it all about, further more, everyone was like "BE7AMELNA JMEELEH" that they even work there, including the chief of the center!

That is not to forget that the university refused even to pay for the handset and cable in return of keeping them for future related projects in the faculty!

The chain didnt stop here, but expanded to a further "personnal" level, after viruses attacking my other 2 partners' PCs, and after one of them had one of his harddisks eating 10 GBs under the claim of "Bad Cluster Partition".
40G have simply evaporated from my slave harddisk, including 20G of Music, Yes, my whole proud to have musical collection got lost, a Microsoft SQL Server 2005, and a couple of Oracle Servers, one of which being the raposatry for 2 data warehouses, including BISCA's Data warehouse!!!!

So the project's data warehouse was LOST! All of this after a simple "RESTART" for an operating system called Windows XP during a chilled May night !

Well, thank god, i had the data warehouse's schema, including the policy exported in a dumb file, the latest warehouse design available as a Sybase power designer file, and the data in an experimental mirror on Microsoft Access. But that's not everything!

Since that night at the beginning of may until a couple of days before the project's presentation and evaluation "the MONAQASHE", I've been trying uselessly to download an Oracle Server, I've did it over 20 times, i've even tried to do it through out the command shell, all the possible customization's of the Enterprise Oracle server, and even the very easy to use and install, Oracle Express Edition, uselessly! The best result i could get was a database with only a scott/tiger account with out a TNS listener for the server, this didnt last more than ONE DAY! Everything was becoming volatile seemingly!

Thus, we finally decided to go for it using the experimental database, and there was it, our MONAQASHE last tuesday morning at 9 AM, the 1st out of all the projects. The demonastration was set to have the project's server, the streets situated displays, the administration and supervision softwares, and a couple of emulators running the mobile application, all running on the same machine!!!! My Machine.

7 AM, my home, everything was up and running, several lines of code were needed to fix some known issues here and there...
I leave to the university, with a TAXI!
8 AM, I reach the university, get the lab's keys as set before (since you should not expect a lab in the faculty of IT opening before 11 AM), connected my PC and started it in order to finish what should be completed....




both my partners were out of it, one wasn't giving a damn, laughing and chit chatting with everyone around, while the other was getting in a panic, screaming, and loosing it! BUT I DO NOT SURRENDER!!!!!! HELL YA!

We got the MONAQASHE shifted a couple of hours, and i started the recovery process, i got the subsystems' softwares recovered from the slave harddisk and the experimental database from the master database, the last one was done using the Linux shell command of course ;)
Linux saves me again and again ;)

hehe, it was funny how everything was behind me staring at what i was doing, thought it wasn't that big deal trust me ;)

And finally opened 3 PCs from the lab, removed their RAMs and put them on the projects PC available in the lab...
this was the only to have the 5 years old machine to run the scenario set for the demo properly , i wasn't caring about the legal issues any more, i pay a couple of thousands of JDs yearly and the university gives me nothing but S***..... it was the time i guess to break a rule!

Eh, those couple of hours were full of storming thoughts, including the storming to remember what should be done in the code to finalize everything....

Everything was finalized, as far as possible, a minute before 11 AM, i didnt have time to recover the user interface's theme, icons and face as it was supposed, the Java Ocean theme isn't that bad after all, but my colleague Ehab really worked on this one, and it was sad to have it excluded at the last minute.

Thank god what we have done was appreciated after all this dilemma, thank you god for everything,,,,

And, you readers do not ever dare to surrender, because you will be the only loser!

Fight till the very last moment, and dare to do it!

Technorati Tags: BiSCA, Project, Jordan, IT, Industry, Hashemite, University, Bus, Information, Scheduling, Control, Amman, TIS, Catastrophic, May


Khalid Alia said...


It's Khalid Alia - the person who helped you at XPress.

You know what, after I read what you have wrote about XPress, and how bad experience it was to you, I really regret helping you out.

Remember how other operators rejected your project, and how XPress had open arms for you and your friends- you did not even send us a thank you mail.

Anyways, wish you luck in your future work life.


nasimjo© said...

1st of all, thanks for the good wishes Mr Khalid,

now you should know, as well as any reader, that this post illustrated what exactly happened in relation to the project during the 4 months of the semester, exactly as is.

I didn't, by any mean, attack any body in the post, i have just recapitulated the facts, and, from what can be clearly observed, that you sir were a big help for us in the project, despite all the limitation that were put in our face by xpress, rather than you sir, and more specifically by the non R & D friendly policy that xpress, as all the companies in Jordan and the region are following.

We weren't rejected by other operators as you mention in your comment, simply because i didn't head up to anybody else but xpress for the technical support in what is related to devices and services. Simply because no body has the technology we needed but xpress.

About thanking you, i guess you have forgot about the thanking phone calls after all! And if there is someone to thank in there at xpress, it is you, and this is obvious in my post as well, because i've said out my opinion regarding xpress, despite the fact that xpress is a company i respect, and which i am a customer of right now (I actually read your comment using my xpress device, through the new Internet “xplore” service).

Khalid Alia said...

how do you find Xplore?
please send me your comments at khalidalias@yahoo.com.

let me know if you have something in mind?