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Mobile phone supply lines in Egypt

I got this picture from the BBC, and it interested me because it made me think of the practicality, the logistics of organising protests.

For any military campaign to succeed, communications and supply lines are vital. In this case, the communications are probably more important, as the individual protestors will get their own food and water.

Imagine if you are a protestor. It's no fun, and it's scary. Your mobile phone must be a real source of comfort and support, and you get information that may warn you of attacks, and boost morale when Mubarak shows signs of conceding. And they are crucial in coordinating actions. Though of course it has to be noted that when the government shut down (or severely limited) mobile phone networks and the internet, they continued all the same. It is a testimony to their commitment and fortitude, and I wish them all the best.


The 15-minute blog post.
I like to blog, but I can't afford to spend a lot of time on it. Solution: limit myself to 15 minutes per post.
One link, one picture maximum.
All comments, critiques and corrections are welcome. Thank you.

Xpax, Blackberry, Party, Future

Doing research as a blog anthropologist, I get sick of people saying, "But what's happening in 'real life'?"...

I mean, what's NOT real about talking, sharing and ranting with friends and acquaintances? Humans have been doing that since the first barbecue outside of a cave in Africa - is it more real because it's happening in a bar, at work or at school; then when it's happening while you're on the move and keeping in contact with friends around town, overseas, or at home? Does anyone ever say letters aren't 'real'?!

The point is - you can do BOTH of these! You can have a life online AND offline - each one complements the other, and that's the way the future's going to be. Get on the train (or more likely the maglev), and get with the future!

In the future, everyone is going to have presence online as well as offline. They'll even be provided by the government, and kids in playschools will be taught how to play online, just like they're taught how to cross the road safely. The technology will be portable nanocomputers, inserted under the skin and with controls directly from the brain (for example).

OK - we're not there yet :-O

But to get a feel of it you are going to need one thing - that's a smartphone, like a BlackBerry. So you can surf the net, update your social media, call your family, write emails, play games (important that one) - basically, have your own communications centre wherever you go...

OK - any blogger, tweeter or Facebooker wants to be able to chat with friends, do some IM'ing or check Facebook while they're out and about, but... you're going to be worried about the cost, right? I mean, if each tweet, IM message or Facebook update costs money, the bill is gonna be stiff right?

Well - I have to say that Xpax have a good solution here - RM1 per day for prepaid UNLIMITED ACCESS! So - load up with RM 30 at the beginning of the month and you're safe for thirty days.
Check out the details on the Xpax site. The RM1/day deal is for social networking sites - for unlimited internet surfing, etc, it's RM2.50 a day.

"No hidden clauses, no upfront payment" - sounds good enough to me :-D

So - the other problem with switching phones is changing your telephone number, right...? No - wrong! With Mobile Number Portability now available in Malaysia, you don't have to change your number anymore.

At the Xberry party the BlackBerry Curve smartphone 8520 was going at RM888, but if you hurry you can still get a special deal by going to any Blue Cube outlet: get a reload for RM50 and you'll be able to get the Blackberry for RM998, one week free access, and an imported skin.

Wait too long (after November 15) and the price will go back to RM1188.

I'm too skint at the moment even to get it at RM888, but at the Xpax Blackberry party, if I had been able to check Twitter I would have known that the prize draw was going on! And maybe won a free Blackberry!
tweet xpax blackberry party

OK you're gonna say - just pay more attention! But I was!

I was paying attention to an amazing beatboxer Shawn Lee and spotting celebrity bloggers such as Cheesie and and upcoming superblogger/journalist/allround party animal jessie ;-)
shawn lee ringo cheesie benjicajess xpax

and Flizzow couldn't be avoided...
Flizzow xpax

nor could Arabyrd
arabyrd xpax

(not to forget the trips to the VVIP section for free flow, food and dancing...)
(and meeting kruel74, dustyhawk, YapThomas, aprilyim, bernard and others who I forgot...)

So all I can say is thanks Xpax and Nuffnang for the party!

Get a a Blackberry Curve to lead your life from in front - it's your life, your number, and your future :-D

Malaysian phone etiquette

Part of the task of the anthropologist is to ‘unpick’ the culture they are studying in order to lay bare the cultural and social mechanisms that underlie the daily functioning of the people within that culture. This is kind of like taking apart a clock and showing how all the different parts come together in a unique way to make the clock tick. Of course, a culture is nothing like a clock really – you can’t easily say where it begins and ends, and with a clock taking out one piece is enough to make it stop functioning completely, whereas cultures are endlessly malleable and dynamic. Take out one piece (a monarch, for example), and there will be adaptations, derivations and replacements that immediately come to play.

In the classical anthropologist situation, the anthropologist arrives as a stranger in a new place, and starts to observe how things happen. Although she has the disadvantage of not knowing what to do, how to speak the language, and so on – this is also an advantage, because everything that people around her take for granted stands out to her and she may be able to spot patterns and connections that those who are embedded in the system cannot.

As my supervisor has pointed out, I have both the advantage and disadvantage of having been here in Malaysia for a while now, and being involved with blogging for a while too. The advantage is that I know more, the disadvantage is that I may take things for granted now that would stand out to a newcomer; I'm going to try to remedy this by doing a series of posts on my blog that reflect upon how Malaysia felt to me when I first got here, and how blogging first seemed to me.

So, I’m going to start a series of posts in which I try to recall how both Malaysia and blogs seemed to me at first – they will be in new subcategories of the ‘Anthropology’ category: I’ll call the Malaysia ones ‘Malaysianisms’, and the blog one I’ll call… hmm… ‘Blogisms’ I guess.

So, here goes for my first trip down memory lane – Malaysian telephone etiquette.

When I was brought up, I was taught that you always have to introduce yourself on the phone. This is obviously not the case for many in Malaysia – when I first arrived I was staying with my in-laws (to be) and because I was not working, often was by myself in the house. This was when I was introduced to Malaysian telephone etiquette – or what seemed to be the lack of, to me.

The phone would ring and I pick it up –
‘Hello? Julian speaking.’
‘Mrs Wong ah?’
‘No, this is Julian. Mrs Wong is not in for the moment.’
‘Where is she ah?’
‘I don’t know, she had to go out.’
‘What’s her handphone?’
[I’m already a bit flustered at the lack of introduction, and the rapid fire questions. The request for the number is the last straw to me – why should I give someone’s number to a complete stranger?]
‘If you would like to leave your name and number and a message, I’ll ask her to call you.’
‘Say Ah Chong called.’
‘Mr Ah Chong… and does she have your number?’
‘Ya ya, got got. OK’ -He hangs up-

What things were very different for me here?
• Not introducing oneself at the beginning of the call.
• Asking for personal information – what was ‘Mrs Wong’ doing, what’s her handphone number.
• The lack of polite niceties, such as ‘Hello’, ‘please’ and – in particular – putting down the phone without saying goodbye! That one took a lot of getting used to :-O I eventually learnt that conversations usually end with the end of the matter in hand, and a word such as ‘OK’, or ‘Thanks’.

Initially, I would find myself being distinctly disgruntled at such calls, in particular the perceived rudeness of (for me) cutting off a conversation without proper disengagement. I learnt to deal with it, and now often don’t say goodbye, depending on who I’m talking to – I’m more likely to take this approach when speaking to my in-laws, friends or trades people such as my mechanic or plumber, but less likely when I’m speaking to colleagues or people I need to deal with for work. I also learnt to use the call ID function more – so when ‘Joe’ calls, I’ll answer the phone with ‘Hello Joe, wassup?’ or something, in a way doing the introduction part myself rather than waiting for the caller to do it.

I've found that very often my 'western style' is too formal and there are too many words - sometimes people will have trouble understanding me because - I suppose - I use a lot of words that serve no apparent purpose :-)

OK, that’s it for the first of the Malaysianisms posts – any comments?

I’m Going Silent this Halloween with Nokia XpressMusic

Well, this is probably too late – but an opportunity to party with Nuffnang is not to be ignored! 8-)

I’ve been scratching my head to come up with something creative to tell you "why Nokia XpressMusic makes Halloween better", but have failed abysmally… so here is my best (lame) offering.

OK, you didn’t find that scary? Well, it’s a 'concept story board' see? Just like in advertising hehe… OK it’s kind of lame, in fact so lame that I now have to explain everything.

The idea is, since the Nokia XpressMusic is ”Big on sound, small in the pocket”, that you can record scary sounds on it and freak people out at the silent party. Here’s the explanation…

OK. But hopefully Nuffnang will send me an invite… or else… I’ll set Freddy Krueger on them!!!

(just joking ;-))

I want this guy's job!

Jan Chipchase has this very interesting blog - most of the entries are a photo or two with a short comment. They're always odd things that he's spotted - such as this mobile phone polishing service in Kabul

and car wheel protectors (against dog-pee?) in Beijing

There are photos from all around (mostly) Asia which he has taken while doing his job which is
conduct[ing] exploratory human behavioural field research at Nokia Research Center... [and he specialises in] taking teams of concept/industrial designers, psychologists, usability experts, sociologists, and ethnographers into the field and, after a fair bit of work, getting them home safely.

Revealed! Rambunctious Reptilian Rampage of Baffling Blogging Bevy

Thanks to the Nuffnang and Digi, I got to attend the launch of a Digi promotion on Friday. They're having "fear-themed roadshows” in malls in April and May, where you can get to sample such delights as baby grasshoppers

or play Snakes 'n' Ladders

and win prizes. But the theme of their promotion is an "Easy Win" contest: to win free calls for a year, charge up RM30, wait for a call (if you're lucky) and answer three questions. If you charge RM50 then you get a chance to win RM100,000 cash - only one question for that one. Entry is automatic as soon as you charge up, and the calls will be made on Fridays from 9-12 noon, and 3-6pm. So if you use Digi Prepaid, make sure your phone is switched on Fridays!

There were other bloggers there of course, including Kim Yoong who went into the snake pit and got paparazzied afterwards.

I got to meet some more bloggers, and afterwards we went to Charms in The Curve - having met Robb for the first time, I'm sure he isn't going to forget me as I gave him a lift and I managed to forget where my car was not once, but twice! :-/

But, you've been waiting for the shocking revelation about the Blogging Bevy... after daring investigation and facing unparalleled obstacles, I can now bring to you the TRUTH about the secret world of B.L.O.G.S.

Thanks to the (unwitting) participation of Robb, Skyler, Kim Yoong, Joshua and Jan :-)

And 'Hi!' to Yee Ming, Amy, Nick, Kate, and Kenny.