29 June, 2008

Romanian Rumble #2 - Telecom

After Romanian Rumble #1 - Elections .. here comes number 2 :)

Telecommunication in romania have been always terrible, ever since the 80s when, according to my parents, you had to wait for hours to get an international phone call initiated, and until now. Where the tariffs are very high, the service is bad, and the customer is not always right, and maybe not right at all sometimes!

In romania, there are currently 4 mobile phone operators, and 2 fixed phone operators.
The 4 mobile phone operators are: divided into 3 GSM Operators: the international brands Orange and Vodafone, and the regional operator cosmote (part of the greek OTE group). And 1 CDMA operator: Zapp Mobile.

The 2 fixed telephony operators are the legacy Romtelecom, which have been taken over by the greek OTE group during privatization. And the newer RDS-Link.

The 2 giants in GSM, Vodafone and orange, and ever since the starting days of GSM life in romania, when they were called Connex and Dialog respectively, weren't in that much of a concurrency! That is, unless marketing departments at those 2 companies call copy-cat-ing concurrency!

Both operators, had always had, and still have, pretty much of similar packages, promotions, and even tariffs! And tariffs are still pretty high, especially when you'd be a prepaid customer! And the prices are pretty similar that you'd think that they might even increase the tariffs at a certain time together!

Zapp and Cosmote are the real concurrency in-action guys in away or another, but are facing problems in having a decent coverage, especially in rural areas. Something that would affect most of romanians when thinking that most of the population are inherited from villages, and get to pass by the country side not less than once a week. Those problems caused Cosmote a temporary shutdown at a certain time, when they were called cosmorom, and had only several thousands of subscribers (maybe mostly employees of Romtelecom, the sister company). And got back only a couple of years ago after more than 3 years of shutdown, with much more cheaper prices than the other 2 giants (still expensive in comparison with us in Jordan, but well). And an incremental coverage.

Zapp Mobile on the other hand, being a CDMA network, went for mass-users contracts with firms, companies, and state-institutes, enabling their clients to have in-group conversations and calls for free. And is doing pretty well in this field, but, only in this field. (hint hint: CDMA devices suck!)

Anyway, other from the high prices (as high as paying 0.36 euro cents in some prepaid lines to call in another network!), customer service is very, very, very bad, And the employees responding your calls defend the company's mistakes like if its a family business or something!!! they simply dont give you solutions, they are simply there to prove that you, sucky customer, are wrong, and should be shot because you are revolting against their company's cheating and stealing! Of course, this stealing thingy is yet completely another story, the simplest example is sending an SMS to a non-existing number (by mistake), or sending an international number that might happen to be on their list of “companies we have agreements with”. Where you'd pay the 15 euro cents even if the SMS didnt reach and will never reach, even if the number is wrong, even if an SMS gateway is not that much of a big invention, but who knows how SMSes are transported in romania!

Haha, how SMSes are transported in romania! ... i like this expression :D by trucks maybe!! this year i roamed with Cosmote there, awesome enough that after i got off the Romanian capital roaming service went off!!! oops! Is roaming only in bucharest! Well, only after spending a couple of days in my Romanian home town I got my roaming back. And guess what, for around a week, SMSes sent to me today would reach me 3 days later! I mean, if you guys at cosmote would send our roaming SMSes by mail would be even if faster! And only during the last days i spent in romania i was able to check my credit!!!! Amazing, they spent 16 days trying to establish a live connection!!!
PS: last year the roaming with Cosmote was much more of a better experience!

Of course, tariffs and costumer “KAIR” in romtelecom's fixed telephony service is not better. I dont know about RDS, as i have never experienced them, but one thing i like about RDS is the fact how they turned from an ISP provider, to an independent ISP provider through their own cables, and improved their business to have fixed telephony through their data and TV cable services in big cities, and later in almost all of romania's cities through local existing cable providers as well. And Despite the low quality of their voice services (which are based on VoIP), but having 2 Mbps with 6 Euro/month without any other stuff to pay through their cable networks is just awesome.

Talking of which, networks and data-services in romania seem to be too much opposite to the telephony services. With no-need-for-land-line for internet, with local city and neighborhood lans throughout local ISPs, with cable internet, and with ADSL for those who wants it with speeds up to 40Mbps ... heard that orange Jordan, heard that TRC, 40Mbps for home users!!!!!!
All with unlimited bandwidths of course :D

23 June, 2008

شعشبونة - لقاء عن التدوين

شعشبونة هو لقاء شعشبوني يجمع المهتمين والمهتمات بعالم التدوين، تدعو شعشبونة كل من لديها أو لديه الفضول للتعرّف إلى ماهيّة هذا العالم وإمكانيّاته وأبعاده.
و ذلك يوم السبت 29\06\2008 من الساعة 12 للساعة 8 مساءاً في "مكان" - جبل الويبدة

وبما أنه ما حدا باستثناء المعلم خبيزة ذكر الموضوع، و ذلك بعد أن رأيت المطوية في إحدى محلات البوظة في جبل عمان.

المهم ... سيتمكن الحضور، من خلال جلسات عمل، من التعرف على تقنية التدوين وصناعة المدوّنات: كيف يقيّم المدوّن حال مدوّنته، ما معنى أن تعبر المدوّنة عن حالها في هذا الفراغ العام والخاص في آن، ما هو دور المدوّنة على المستويات الشخصيّة والعامة، وغيرها العديد من التساؤلات والمواضيع. كما تستضيف شعشبونة أصحاب مدوّنات لعرض تجاربهم

شعشبونة هي مشروع تعاونيّ بين مكان ومحمد القاق/مدونة خبّيزه

أيضاً يضمّ الفريق رزان الخطيب وتولين توق مستشارتين كما تستضيف شعشبونة متحدّثين ومتحدثات خبراء في التدوين ومتابعين له وهم: مجموعة جيران ( حلا طه، سماح أبو طوق ودانيه الرفاعي)، لينا عجيلات، أحمد حميض، وائل عتيلي، مريم أبو عدس.

19 June, 2008

Ahlen FM went crazy on June 18th

Yesterday, June the 18th, between the hours of 18:00 - 21:30 (or at least those are the ones i mentioned). Ahlen FM just went crazy, with 2 seconds of Kylie minogue's track (can't get you outta my head) being played, stopped, a null period of 5 seconds, and back again ... and again .. and again .. and again! until around 9,30 PM, when things got back to normal! (with continuous non-stop music) ... maybe when one of the owners tried accidentally to tune in!!!

Just cant understand when this station will become a "REAL" radio station! What is al-dekka broadcasting getting from it, no commercials, no shows, no interaction, no nothing! just continuous western music and imported radio shows. pre-ordered, with RDS-RT and thats it! and its been like that for what, 3 or 4 years now!! Gosh!
this is what i call "A Mute Radio Station", remember!

Radio Guide Update: Community Radio, Farah FM, starts broadcasting on 98.5 FM

A new Community Radio started its test transmission in Amman, the station, Farah FM, or Farah Al-Nass as it is being branded (إذاعة فرح الناس) is broadcasting on 98.5 FM in Amman Greater Area, and covering zarqa as well (since it seems to be broadcasted in eastern Amman.. I mentioned that its signal is pretty weak in western areas of Amman ).

The station, owned by Queen Zein Al-Sharaf institute for development and the Jordanian fund for Human resources development. and is said to concentrate on issues related to women and family.

15 June, 2008

Romanian Rumble #1 - Elections

I will be starting a series of so-called "Rumbles" I have about romania, after the trip i had their by the end of may/beginning of June.

Maybe the 1st one worth mentioning is the fact that i happened to start my vacation there one week before the local municipalities elections in Romania, and thus, i decided to use my right in choosing a mayor for my Romanian home town, and get as well an image for this blog's reader here in jordan about how municipal elections in Romania (an EU country) differ or match the ones we had in jordan just 1 year ago.

Well, maybe the model i'm displaying here in the photos published in this post is not for the Romanian capital. But well, lets just see what came into my mind.

1st of all, taking a look at the ordinary street publicity, there was organized publicity ....
on street panels

on buildings

on special installed panels

and, with vehicles roaming around the roads with photos, flags, and sound announcement to vote for a particular party and/or candidate.

as well as rebellious publicity, in all random places, with posters of one candidate and his party covering another's.

... and maybe some, rebellious organized publicity ... with interesting promises that the party will clean those spots after finishing the electoral campaign!

Some other means of publicity exceeded those regular methods to more interesting ones, just like, convincing the people to vote for a certain candidate by messages printed on ... Food Elements packages like sugar, rice, flour ... and even, well, Eggs!

Photo courtesy of Amar De zi

Other methods were by even distributing free Mobile handsets and lines! Like one of the candidates in one of Bucharest's sectors, who distributed over 40,000 lines and devices.

Now the big day had come, and people started going to their local voting section according to the electoral lists (which are address-based ones), an amazing observation was the fact that ID cards weren't marked with thermo-pressure water stamps, nor had their corner chopped off like we had here in jordan, a simple small paper stamp was sticked on the back of the ID Card, and thats it! What! Yes, I could have just put my ID card in a water bowl for 20 mins, remove the stamp, and go vote again! "Jordanian minds just, work :D" ... well, and if a fraud is to happen, with knowing some people in a certain section, some people can do this and go vote again and again, despite they already signed on the electoral list, in case of having an organized fraud mafia doing it.

And like if it wasn't done! Plenty of electoral frauds were done in the small villages around the Romanian capital, since the capital territories are to be expanded, and some candidates would do anything to get their hands on those small municipalities surrounding a capital were the worst apartment in the worst area of Bucharest wont cost less than 1000-1200 Euro/ Sq Meter (Yes, just over the price of meter of a luxury flat or villa in Abdoun or Dabouq !!! ).
Votes were also being bought with 200-500 Euros in those small towns and villages, imported votes outside the lists were allowed to vote more than once, while local peoples weren't allowed in the voting sections, and other more frauds. "Stefaneshti" was maybe the most popular case. But at least, a couple of days after the elections, the frauds were proved in this municipality as well as another one, and voting results were canceled, and voting was rescheduled 2 weeks later, that is, today.

Another grave incident that those elections have witnessed, was when the Romanian prime minister went and voted with a “Voting Card” rather than an ID. The Voting card was issued several years ago, but was never used by the authorities in any elections, not only this, but the law indicates that the electoral right can be done only by the ID. So, the prime minister presented his self with the non-legitimate “Voting Card”, and voted!!!! with no one stopping in his way!! why did he do that, why this was accepted by the voting section employees ... no one know!!! What was to be done after according to the law that says clearly that this Voting Card cannot be used and only an ID is to be used ... Well, thats the magic of Romanian laws, which i will be discussing soon in more Romanian rumbles, more soon, here, on my Blog :)

11 June, 2008

Amman City Tour - Part #2

After writing about the Amman City Tour in the previous post, and how much of a beneficial and mature touristic project it is for Amman.

Here is the full path of the Amman City Tour around the capital in this map.

The remarkable track starts from Down Town, to The Roman Theater down-town Amman, to The Citadel, Abdali, Weibdeh, Shmeisani, Gardens St, to Al-Hussein Park, City Mall, Mecca Mall, via Mecca St to the 6th circle, to Sweifieh (Wakalat St and Barakah Mall), to Abdoun Mall, and to under-construction Crown Mall in Abdoun beside Blue Fig, to Abdoun Circle, then to the 3rd circle and back down town again.

The Amman City Tour Bus stops are marked with such panels:

The project has also a website, well, which is under construction at the time of writing this post on www.ammancitytour.com

10 June, 2008

Amman City Tour

Have you seen the BIG RED BUS :)

An interesting amazing touristic idea had bloomed and announced just a couple of days ago in Amman.

Amman City Tour, is a 100% successful project that the GAM is starting the summer tourist season with.

Yes, we finally have city tour buses in Amman ... finally, well, the buses are not top-chopped buses like in some european cities, & well, maybe that wont work with your heat waves. but they are remarkable enough

The buses do round trips all around the ancient and modern tourist attractions around the city. continuously until 9 PM in the evening, and 6 PM in the evening during the winter.

The buses can be boarded using smart cards that are sold in tourism agencies and hotels, which are valid for 24 hours since the 1st boarding. the round trippers and can get down from the bus at any station they want, at the citadel for example, spend some time there, and then get the bus again, since they pass every 40 minutes.

The smart project is cooperated also by Mesk Tourist Transportation Co. and the buses are pretty remarkable as you can see in the Ad.

Smart Card Prices are 10 JDs for foreigners, and 5 JDs for Jordanians. also, a Jordanian Family Pack is available for 10 JDs.

The Route of the buses around Amman are detailed HERE

08 June, 2008


Back from vacation to jordan :)

sorry for all the readers who, i guess, have been a bit disappointed by my few updates from out there...

keep pinging, stuff coming on the way :)