Spotify in the car

Post by Mark

Last month I signed up to the Spotify music service and since then I’ve been using it non-stop. Imagine iTunes with an unlimited supply of music and you have Spotify. Just search for whatever artist or album you want and you can start listening to it right away and it’s free. If you don’t want to sign up to any of their paid subscriptions you can listen to music but every now and then you get interrupted by ads. If you do subscribe to a package then there are many advantages including the ability to use their iPhone app.

If you sign up to the Premium Spotify account you will automatically be granted access to their iPhone app which is a downsized version of their desktop software yet with all the same capabilities. If you’re lucky like me and have a car stereo that allows you to stream music to it using bluetooth then you’re in for a nice surprise because Spotify works flawlessly with 3G. So far in the two days I’ve been using it I haven’t had any streaming problems. In fact, it’s been very responsive and fast when searching for artists and playing or forwarding songs. You really forget the fact that the music is actually being streamed and even the sound quality is pretty darn good. Spotify in the car is just incredible.

So if you haven’t signed up to Spotify you can do so by visiting their website [Here]

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Kuwait team at Imagine Cup finals 2011

Post by Mark

I can’t believe I forgot to post about this ahead of time but the Worldwide Finals of Imagine Cup 2011 were held yesterday in New York and a team from Kuwait where there competing in the software category. They came up with this idea which they wanted to present to the Ministry of Interior in hopes of having it implemented so we could get a lot of day to day problems solved. I previously posted about them and their idea [Here] if you want to read more on it.

I was just checking the results page and it doesn’t seem they won. Even though I think they must have gained a lot of experience competing at an international level and I’m sure they’re going to be coming back with even more motivation. I really hope the Ministry of Information will still help them bring their idea to life, since it’s an idea that will help make Kuwait a better place. Here is a page from the Imagine Cup 2011 yearbook which has details about the Kuwait team, their project and their intentions. [Yearbook Page]

Picture by @ahamshay

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Forum now works with Tapatalk

Post by Mark

The 248AM Forum now works with the mobile application Tapatalk. The application allows you to browse and participate in the forum using your phone but it makes it really easy since it uses the Tapatalk interface. What’s also cool about Tapatalk is the fact you can add all your favorite forums to it which makes things very convenient. The application is currently available for the iPhone, Android devices and BlackBerry and you can find out more information [Here]

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VPN Information

Post by Mark

A couple of readers emailed asking on more information about VPN’s so I figured I would do quick write up about it. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and to understand how it can be of use to you I will give you a quick example. There are some sites (mostly media) that require you to be a US resident to be able to either watch videos or listen to music. A quick example is If you want to watch a video on Hulu you would get the message (screenshot above) that videos can only be streamed to US residents. A VPN would help you get around that restriction.

How VPN works is you sign up to a VPN service (I use StrongVPN) and then you access the internet through their servers. So instead of you visiting Hulu directly from your computer in Kuwait and getting the error I mentioned earlier, with a VPN based in the US you end up accessing Hulu through them so Hulu thinks it’s you in the US. I did a quick illustration above to better visualize this.

With VPN active all the websites you visit will think you’re based in the US. It’s that simple really. It also doesn’t require you to change your browsing habits and unlike proxy websites you don’t have to access the web through a website. Once you setup VPN on your computer you connect to it from your desktop and then just browse the web like you would usually do. The above screen shot is from my Mac, I just click on Connect VPN and that’s it.

I know it sounds a bit complicated at first and maybe hard to grasp but really all you need to know is that VPN allows you to access sites that are restricted to just the US (like Hulu, Netflix, Pandora etc..). As I mentioned earlier my VPN account is from the company StrongVPN. I’ve been using them for over a year now and haven’t had any problems. I’ve also got their cheapest package. Here is the [Link]

If you have any questions just ask below.

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Kuwait Flight Simulation Center

Post by Mark

Yesterday I posted a video taken at Flight Experience in 360 Mall, well there is another place that’s officially opening tomorrow (April 20th) that has a wider range of flight simulators available. The place is called Kuwait Flight Simulation Center and they are located in the basement of Discovery Mall in Kuwait City. I originally passed by them yesterday to take pictures but wasn’t allowed to since there was a miscommunication but the owner told me I could pass by today and take pictures which I did except I didn’t have my camera with me today just my iPhone 4 so apologies for the quality of the shots.

The place looks like a large plane fuselage from the outside. Once you walk in you have 7 simulation capsules on the right hand side, 3 combat stations on the left and right next to them you have a large enclosed room which is a proper full scale flight simulator similar in style to the one at 360 Mall. You also have a small coffee shop, a small shop that sells scale models and another shop that sells flight simulator accessories for PCs.

Today the place is open but it’s invite only, starting tomorrow though it should be open to the public. For more information you could visit their website [Here] or Facebook page [Here]

That’s how the inside of the capsule looks like

The 3 machines on the left are the fighter plane simulators

I think the fighter plane simulators actually move and give force feedback

Thats the inside of the full sized simulator

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GeekFest – Abu Dhabi

Post by Mark

Just an FYI, I’m going to be talking tonight at GeekFest about blogging in Kuwait and my Benihana lawsuit. I sadly won’t be there for the event but I will be presenting via Skype video. If you’re in the UAE and want to find out more about this event you can visit their website [Here]

I think they’ve arranged for a bus from Dubai to the venue twofour54 (hmmm) and there is more info on that in their Facebook page [Here]

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Play like CSI

Post by Mark

Ace Hardware are selling UV flashlights. CSI fans will know what a UV flashlight is and can be used for and I picked one up for that very reason. Lots of warning labels all over the place, I didn’t think a UV flashlight could be dangerous. Now I understand why they wear those orange goggles on the TV show. Price? Just KD2.770

Note: As someone mentioned in the comments, this is not a toy and not for kids. There is a reason for all those warning labels on the package and flashlight.

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SSD Hard Drives

Post by Mark

Awhile back my MacBook was starting to feel sluggish and I was really tempted to buy a newer model but since I was just using the laptop to get online from the couch or for when I travel, I didn’t think it was worth buying a new laptop. Instead, I decided to upgrade my MacBook from a 2.5inch 5400rpm 250GB hard drive to a 64GB SSD.

What is SSD? SSD stands for solid-state drive and to keep it simple its just a hard drive with no moving parts and is around 5 times faster than regular notebook hard drives. I ordered the ADATA 64GB drive from Amazon since based on my research I found it had the best bang for the buck. I also looked at two other brands before deciding on ADATA which were OCZ Technology and Crucial Technology, both of which have extremely fast performance drives but at a slightly more expensive cost.

I could easily review the drive in just 7 words: “It makes all other computers feel slow”. It cut down the boot time of my MacBook to less than half and it also sped up the launch time of all the applications. For example it now takes 1 second to launch Photoshop while other applications like Safari and Microsoft Word launch practically instantly. No waiting or spinning colored wheel just click and they’re open. The SSD drive not only brought new life to my aging MacBook but for day to day use it made it feel a lot faster than all my other computers including my already very fast iMac and Mac Pro.

I got the 64GB SSD and not something larger because the prices became tooooo expensive with the larger drives. For example a 256GB SSD would cost you around $500 which is nearly half the price of a brand new MacBook! The 64GB drive on the other hand cost me around KD35 with shipping to Kuwait and after installing the OS and ALL my software I still had 40GB of free space left. That’s more than I need since I just use my MacBook to surf the web, edit some pictures and for traveling. If you’re planning on storing media like your photo or music library than I highly doubt 64GB would be enough.

I would definitely recommend everyone pick up an SSD drive if you can, it really makes a HUGE difference. But, if you need a large drive and are not in a rush, the longer you wait the cheaper the prices will get. Here is the Amazon link to the hard drive I got [Link]

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InfoConnect starts today

Post by Mark

Today is the first day of the InfoConnect exhibition. If you’re looking to get a new Internet subscription or to renew one, InfoConnect is usually the best time to do it since they usually have the best deals going on. I still don’t have details on any of the offers taking place but as soon as I get them will post them here.

Location: Kuwait International Fair Grounds, Hall 6
Date: January 30th, 2011 to February 5th, 2011
Time: 9am – 1pm and 5pm – 9pm

The entrance is free. For more information click [Here]

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Crowdsourced Activism

Post by Mark

re:kuwait have a good idea which I hope someone reads and decides to implement. A lot of people have phones with built in cameras which can also geo-tag photos. That means you can take a picture and the exact location of where that picture was taken would be stored in the picture. What re:kuwait are suggesting is this:

What if some government entity creates a website where people can upload photos they take of things they feel are broken or wrong, such as graffiti, broken lamps, potholes, whatever. These photos are uploaded to the website by a few people wanting to do good for their community.

The government can then prioritize what needs to be fixed for example and find the location of the problem with the geo-tag. I think that would be an amazing idea. Here is a link to their [Post]

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