There WAS a Jordanian 80s pop band called “Hot Ice” and It’s as Awesome As You Think.

HAHA! Just discovered an 80s Jordanian pop band that sings in English and is called Hot Ice. Hani Jordan, one of the best youtube old video archivists brings us this gem from the 80s, taken from a French TV show, of a music clip for one of the band’s songs called you’ll never guess what, “Never After”! Even the video is shot in pretty old vintage Amman. AND IT ALL SOUNDS EXACTLY AS AWESOME AS YOU THINK! I WILL CHERISH THIS INTERNET GIFT FOREVER.

Know more about this band? Comment below!

Tarakiyee’s Gangam Style Steak Recipe

I’m not trying to cash in on the famous Psy song’s fame, I just needed an ironic name for my Korean cuisine inspired steak recipe. And even if I am, It’s an original way of cashing in on its fame. This recipe is perfect for a romantic dinner or a lonely night watching 30 Rock, pretending to be on a romantic dinner with Tina Fey (or Alec Baldwin. Or Tracy Morgan, I won’t judge. I mean, there’s bound to be someone with a crush on Pete).

Gangam Style Steak Marinated
This is how the steak looks after being well marinated.

So the recipe is pretty simple. I choose two Round Eye steaks, roughly around 500 grams together. For that I mixed 2 tablespoons of Sesame Oil with quarter a cup of sweet Soy sauce, a clove of crushed garlic, and one diced shallot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You need to rub the marinate on to the steak, and then leave it to marinate for up to 12 hours. I was in a hurry, so I poked the steak a little with a knife, and added some vinegar. Vinegar helps break the proteins in the steak and helps it marinate faster, and it can also add flavor to the steak, depending on what vinegar you use. I used balsamic, because I think it goes great with this marinate. I figured all of this helps cut down the marinating time to an hour, but the more you marinate, the more flavorful your steak is going to be.

Gangam Style Steak Seared
This is how the steak should look after being seared in a pan.

Now for the cooking process, I heated the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). While it was heating, I put a pan on medium fire, with olive oil in it. Seared each side of each steak for two minutes. Then I put the steaks in the oven. It takes around 20 minutes to get the meat to my liking, but it can take from 30 to 40 minutes for it to become well done. You can always poke the steak with your finger to see how well done it is.

Gangam Style Steak Ready - With Coleslaw
The final product after broiling in the oven, served with some coleslaw. Cooked it a little too much, but thanks to the searing it was surprisingly juicy.



MenaICT Amman: Things to Look Forward To

Did you know that Jordanian exports in the IT Sector have multiplied six times in the last ten years? Perfect time to hold a MENA ICT conference to show the region what we’ve done here. =D

Here’s a round up of the latest news to come up on the MENA ICT Amman

First of all, about the keynote speakers. I’m really excited Dr. Werner Vogels is coming. He’s one of the biggest researchers on the subject of cloud computing and distributed systems (in case you don’t know what cloud computing is, read Lara’s brilliant breakdown of it on Sleepless in Amman.) Dr. Vogels is also the CTO of Amazon, and he was the architect behind their move towards cloud computing, namely the Amazon Web Services. He maintains a blog since 2001 by the name All Things Distributed.  One interesting piece of trivia I found out about him while researching him was that his Phd advisors were Proffesors Henri Bal and Andy Tanenbaum. For those of you who haven’t studied Computer Science, they’re both really famous researchers and authored books that every computer scientist has read and studied.

Other Keynote Speakers are, Stanislas de Bentzmann, co-founder and CEO of Devoteam, HE Marwan Juma, Minister of ICT, and one of the biggest supporters of the IT community in Jordan, and John Chambers (via video), CEO of Cisco. Mr. Chambers was on Time’s 100 most influential people list for his philantrophy and work towards education causes worldwide.

On a different note, in the past week two new sessions were announced. One of them, is called The Chattering Classes; Turning Social Media into Money. I am a bit sceptical about any session on social media, but the MENA ICT team have done a good job bringing a panel that will surely have interesting things to say on the subject. Notable speakers include Mr. Alex McNabb, Group Director, Spot On Public Relations; Mr. Mo Al Adham, Founder of Twitvid;  Ms. Maria Mahdaly, Online Activist, KSA; and Ms. Nadine Toukan, a Jordanian Activist.

The other session is called On the Boil, and it is split into two parts, one focusing on the future trends in the ICT business, and the other focusing on mobile applications and development. This session will feature, among others, speakers from Google, Microsoft, Intel, and Symbian. 

That’s all the MENA ICT Amman news Tarakiyee has for you today. Stay tuned for more here on my blog, or on my twitter account. In case you’re interested in attending, and haven’t already applied, go to the website, and don’t miss the chance to win a pass by participating in the video competition!

What’s up Amman? – Drum Circles and CCIftar

What’s up Amman is my series of blog posts on my narrow view of the events that happen around Amman. I can’t be everywhere, but I’ll blog about the places I went to.

Yesterday, I went down to the view above Jara Cafe, the one I’d usually avoid like the plague, because it’s usually full of guys who have nothing better to do than sit and harass anybody that’s passing by, particularly the girls. But yesterday in particular, it was full of all sorts of people, and a bunch of guys playing all sorts of drums. They weren’t just any bunch of guys, but a couple of the brightest names in the local music scene,  namely Mohammad Abdullah, Tareq Abukwaik (Alfar3i, Almurraba3), Shadi Khries (Rum), Dirar Shawagfeh, and Lutfi Malhas. The best part was, they were just having fun, and everybody else enjoyed it.

It was nice also seeing that bit of public space being taken back from the chavs for a bit. Some tried to heckle, but quickly lost interest when they realised their voices were being drowned down by the drums. The rest of the people were surprisingly varied, there were old people, young people, and from all different segments, and there were a couple of foreigners. They all seemed to enjoy it, and they kept interacting the entire time with the drummers.  There were also some hecklers from Zain Jordan, who tried to sell us offers while we were watching. Least I can say, that they were not welcomed by the crowd.

On the other hand, there’s a CCIftar today in Amman, at Mohtaraf Al-Remal. I might be a bit late blogging about it, as the competition is over, and all the invitations should be all sent by now. Creative Commons for those who don’t know it, is a non-profit organisation that’s trying to make creative works more available to the people. Now, you get your regular copyrights which inhibit and harm creative works more than they protect, and not to mention that they were designed for the executives pockets, rather than the artists. CC licences offer an alternative, where sharing is encouraged, and rights are still protected. The message remains, you are still in control of your work, but you have more leeway in how you allow your fan base to interact with your works.

CCIftar is CC’s way of reaching out to the Muslim world, by hosting several Iftars (the meal Muslims break their fasts with at sundawn), and inviting creatives from all over the region to join, some will showcase their CC licensed work, and others will get to know all about CC. I’m excited, I’m a great believer in the free culture, and CC is just one of the many manifestations of this culture. I’d love to see more CC licensed work come out from the region. CCIftar Dubai already happened I think, and the impression I got from the amazing tweeps there, is that it was a great success. Hopefully today won’t be any different. I’m honoured I won a ticket to it, but I would have gone anyway.

I leave you with two questions.

Do you believe culture can win back the streets of Amman?

Do you believe art (music, books, etc.) should be free or almost-free? What does free mean to you in this case?

Dear Reader, Regarding Jordanian Memes, Like Name Them?

An internet meme is a concept that spreads swiftly via the Internet[2], but enough of the compulsory Wikipedia quotes. I think I know internet memes well enough not to research the idea. I’ve been on the internet long enough. I’ve seen the geocities websites, took part in the Lolcat craze, got rickrolled (and far worse goatsed) a countless number of times, and I was even a btard at some point of my internet life. So yeah, in the land of self-pronounced experts, I qualify as an internet meme expert.

Arabs, or in particular, Arab internet users have been really late adopters of Internet memetry. I still cringe when I see a university girl using the word “epic” IRL. For me, there were things that belonged online, and things that belonged IRL, and that’s a line that you don’t cross. But IRL and online doesn’t exist anymore, so I can’t really blame her. But I digress, this blog post is about a new meme I’ve been noticing  on facebook, and as far as I know, it appears to be a Jordanian thing.

Namely, it starts like this “Dear [insert name], Regaring [typical action of subject], Like [insert exaggerated suggestion]?”, or in Arabizi “3azizi … , bil nisbe la …, … mathalan?” One of the first examples I’ve seen were about the weather, suggesting that the weather is so hot that the speaker wouldn’t mind taking off his clothes.

What’s so special about it, is that it seems like one of the first genuine memes that came out of Jordanian Internet users, not advertising agencies. And at least it’s one that requires creativity, a far step ahead from copy and paste memes or chain mails. But Facebook is a somewhat closed medium, it could be something that’s going around my circle of friends, even though I don’t think so, because I saw a group with that name. But I haven’t been seeing it on Jordanian Twitter.

EDIT: According to the comments, this meme has older roots among Khaligi (Gulf) Blackberry users, and apparently Jordanians just found out about it. Thanks for the heads up Awartany. =]

Have you seen this Internet meme between your friends? Do you know of any other memes that went around before this one?

Just Another Blog Post

I just felt like writing a short blog post to release some thoughts that were lurking in the bottom of my brain. I had plans for this blog, and I’m horrible at planning. I wanted to write some posts on design, technology, and Amman, but so far I only have some old posts, a rant, another rant (this one apparently) and a random post. Continue reading “Just Another Blog Post”

Thoughts on AmmanTT

I’m writing this post out of a need to vent, more than anything else. I’ll be blunt, partly because I’m pissed off, and partly because I don’t know how to be anything else. But I hope the reader bears with me to the end, because there is an important point, and a call for action. I’ll assume everybody who reads this post has a passing familiarity with AmmanTT, or Amman Tech Tuesday. If not, here is a nice blog post about it and there’s always the official website.

Now, to the rant. For the most part, I am a great supporter of AmmanTT the idea, namely, a grass roots effort to mobilise the more tech-oriented Ammanis to act on their knowledge, share it, and hopefully do enough to create an interesting event every first Tuesday of the month, where we get to learn more, meet each other, and eventually foster a stronger community. That’s the rosy synopsis of what I aimed to help AmmanTT achieve, and hoped others shared the same aim. I can’t stress enough the importance of creating a strong community. It’s something we can’t risk not doing, both from a professional point of view, and a personal one.

Now, nobody ever imagined this would go without a hitch, and as it is still going, we hit yet again another hitch. AmmanTT counts on the community, and the choices it will make, as individuals, and ultimately, as a whole. Should it fail, there will be no single person to blame. I’m stressing this fact because AmmanTT was from the beginning, meant to be an endeavour from the community as a whole.

However, we’re all busy, most of us aren’t willing to risk spending time in a new initiative, especially if we don’t clearly see the benefit from it. Due to this short-sightedness many people have, we owe a great thanks to the organizers behind AmmanTT. Their belief helped AmmanTT achieve two great events so far, and hopefully, many more to come. As a friend, and an AmmanTT organizer told me, without the core team, there would be no AmmanTT. That’s a grimmer future. I am in no way attacking the team, and neither of it’s members. This is, to use an Arabic word, a light “mu3atabeh”, and purely my own views on the situation, and a call for action at the end.

There’s an event happening in Amman at the end of the month, and it’s not AmmanTT, it’s a US delegation on Entrepreneurship. Does that mean it doesn’t pertain to the AmmanTT community? Most of us, if not already entrepreneurs, have entrepreneurial aspirations. Some of us have reservations about this event, many of us want to boycott it. I’m not going to discuss that here, my personal opinions on the issue don’t have to do with AmmanTT, I only mentioned it because it might interest the AmmanTT community. Many people don’t get that point.

Here is what I am going to discuss. I personally don’t mind the AmmanTT hashtag being used to bring the community’s attention to events it might interest them, no matter how they may be unpopular with part of the community. We can’t expect to agree on anything, but one of the tenants of a strong community is tolerance.

My other qualm is with all the internal politics and off-line discussions. We tout ourselves as “social media experts” and use twitter and facebook for almost everything, but we can’t start a proper open and on-line discussion on what AmmanTT “endorses” or what AmmanTT’s policies are? Where is the transparency in the process? I want to take a break here and say, we are pretty transparent,  the AmmanTT prep meetings are open, and soon they’ll be covered by Aramram, and displayed online. But I personally believe there is more room for improvement, and more action should be taken to involve the community.

But I’m not going to be negative about my problems. This is a call for the community to stand, and act. I’m inviting the community to discuss this issue, and any problems they have with AmmanTT, here on this blog, or on their own blogs, twitter feeds, the official Facebook group,  or hopefully on the AmmanTT website,  should it  have such a medium in the future.

Discussion Points

Do you believe in the core values of AmmanTT and see it’s benefit to the community?

Do you think that anybody is entitled to make policy decisions on behalf of the AmmanTT community?

Where is the AmmanTT system failing at promoting an on-line discussion?

How can the AmmanTT be made more transparent?