A growing trend is that when someone wants to send someone else the user name and the password to something, and if that something is a top security thing, then they send the username in an email and then they send the password by text (e.g. in an SMS). This weird practice stems from the assumption that all emails are monitored, but text messages are not, and that text messages are encrypted and they are far away from prying eyes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let me explain…

Back in 2004-2005, I used to work as an IT Manager in an African based mobile operator, and I knew how everything worked from A to Z, including the fact that SMS messages are stored, in plain text, with no encryption whatsoever, in a MySQL database. This meant that anyone who had access to that database was able to read private messages. Where’s the security in that?

While it is true that emails are not better, since companies hosting your email can potentially read them, as well as governmental bodies (note that governmental bodies can also read your SMS), they’re definitely not worse. At least they are not stored somewhere for anyone to read.

Again, this whole post is based on my experience, and if you have something to add, feel free to comment.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

I have a Sony S computer that I bought back in May and started using this month. It has some issues but generally it’s good – but by far no match to the Sony Z that I had (too bad they stopped making that brand – I just wish they revive it one day). I remember when I bought it it clearly said that it had 500 GB of Hard Disk capacity. To be fair, all the manufacturers, for mysterious reasons, claim that 1 GB = 1 billion bytes, while technically 1 GB = 1,073,741,824 Bytes (there is a difference of about 70 MB here), so, when they say 500 GB, what you really get is 465.66 GB (which is 35 GB less than what you thought you’re getting). I have no idea who came up with this really stupid marketing scheme, but I’m quite sure that the first real PC that I bought (which was a Gateway P5-133) had 2 GB of HDD on the box and it really had 2 GB.

In any case, when I checked how much Hard Disk capacity on this Vaio S, it said 441 GB, 24 GB less than what I should be getting. I gave Sony the benefit of the doubt and I did all the possible calculations that I can think of – I even thought it might be that Windows “hides” a few GBs here and there, but 24 GB is just too big a number.

I looked at my old Vaio F that claimed to have 240 GB, and it actually showed 223 GB, which is exactly the HDD capacity I should be getting, which means that computer manufacturers think that they now have leeway to lie to the consumer about the real capacity they are offering, since that consumer swallowed the 1 GB = 1 billion bytes thingie several years ago. It might also be that the calculators they’re using to calculate the number of bytes / GB are broken (stay clear of these Sony calculators, if they’re still selling any).

Nobody likes to be cheated on, but with very loose regulation from governments, and with very few people who really care, who’s going to notice a few lost GB here and there?

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Apple finally succumbed to investors’ calls and started producing trash versions of the iPhone, such as the iPhone c and the iPhone s, this has, of course allowed it to make good sales but albeit with a much lower margin than before. Not too bad – but, on the other hand, the market became saturated with these knockouts, which means that not too many people will buy phones soon – especially iPhones, since Apple’s customer base is not growing in an exceptional way. This means that Apple cannot expect to maintain its profit growth, which means that it’ll disappoint investors, which means that its stock’ll go down.

But, there is another reason for the stock to go down. In a couple of days, it’ll be November, which is the month immediately preceding December, which is the last month of the year, which means that all these people who bought AAPL shares immediately after the January effect ended are going to sell to offset their losses for tax reasons, which means that the stock will go down, maybe like last year, maybe more. And how much did the stock go down last year in the last 2 months of the year? 15%, no less!

Some might argue that this year it wouldn’t be the case because Icahn has announced that AAPL is his stock pick, well, only time will tell, maybe AAPL will go up the same way Netflix did when Icahn bought 10% (NFLX literally grew 4 folds – it’ll be interesting to see if it can sustain that unsustainable 275 P/E throughout next year, but I have a hunch that major investors will get out of this stock next February), but I rather doubt it, I don’t think the world is ready for the $1.5 trillion company yet.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

I run a major site in project management – and so I read a lot about the topic. In the past few days – I’ve been reading quite a few posts on the healthcare.gov website, and what happened. What I noticed that everyone all of a sudden seemed to be a project manager – when I say everyone, I mean everyone! Kids, people with no PM experience whatsoever, janitors, you name it! Everyone who has access to the Internet has analyzed the situation and reached a conclusion that the website never worked and it’ll never work. This is just to prove my theory that the Internet nowadays is full of garbage.

Now – I’m not defending anyone here – but I’m pretty sure that all these people who blogged about healthcare.gov have really no idea whatsoever on what happened, what is happening, and what will happen. All these posts are based on assumptions perpetuated by the media (whose information was also based on assumptions) – even those posts that are written by real PM experts. Everything written on the subject so far is garbage, pure garbage.

The only non garbage post on the subject would be one written from a purely technical (non-political) perspective and based on data directly provided by the healthcare.gov stakeholders. But, we all know that this whole fiasco will end before anything of that sort ever happens. Nobody cares about the truth, everyone just wants to spread his FUD.

By the way, in case you’re wondering, this circus had zero effect on the healthcare stocks. In fact, the healthcare stock index on Google is up 3.83% since the beginning of the month. Apparently, investors kept their sanity throughout this madness.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Remember the time when you used to get an email from someone and you used to scroll down through a jungle of “forwards”, until you actually know what the email is about (often the email contains only one stupid motivational/feel good about yourself quote or a joke)?

Remember the time where you used to send and receive “how are you” emails or “status updates” emails from your friends?

Remember the time when most of the personal emails you received had about 500 people in the “To”, 5,000 in the “CC”, and probably millions in the “BCC”?

Well – maybe you don’t anymore, because the last time your received such emails was probably 3 years ago. So, what happened? Did all your friends dump you? Did your friends all of a sudden discover (and rightly so) that you weren’t interested in these chain emails that flooded your inbox? Unfortunately – no. Your friends decided to throw they trash elsewhere, namely Facebook and WhatsApp.

Facebook and WhatsApp took over all the junk and nonsense that used to flood emails before. These one-joke-or-quote-emails that were sent to thousands have now morphed into Facebook or WhatsApp messages that you may elect not to read. These status updates by emails are now Facebook updates or quick messages on WhatsApp. Nearly all casual and non-essential email functionality has moved to both Facebook and WhatsApp – and that’s a good thing for 2 reasons: 1) Facebook and WhatsApp are much better at handling spam and blocking than the best managed email server and 2) email is now back to being a professional medium for communication, with less noise.

Now – going back to the title of this post – yes, Facebook and WhatsApp have rendered email useless for many, but these “many” weren’t the type of people that used email for anything productive, which means that what happened is actually a win-win scenario: email got rid of these useless users and became reliable once again, and Facebook and WhatsApp gained more users and inflated their market value.

PS: I love WhatsApp and I think it’s the best App out there – I just wanted to clarify this before someone judges me.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Due to the nature of my job, I deal with many hosting companies – and every year I cancel about 2 accounts, and let me tell you this, it’s never a pleasurable experience.

In fact, every time I cancel an account something happens:

  • Nobody gets back to me and I need to find alternate means to reach out for help.

  • Somebody responds – but tells me that to cancel an account I need to send a fax or perform another impossible task.

  • Somebody responds – but tells me that they can’t cancel the account now, and I need to wait just a few days before the billing cycle ends and ask them again (so that they can ding me for another year or month in case I forget).

  • Somebody responds – but asks me for super secret information that I haven’t entered in their system in the first place.

  • Somebody responds – and tells me that my cancellation request was forwarded to someone else, who gets back to me in a few days and tells me that the cancellation request was forwarded to someone else (this can go on forever).

  • Somebody calls and tries to keep me as a client and promises to “make things right”, after delivering (in most cases) a really horrible/careless service for a year or more.

  • Somebody responds and tells me that the account is cancelled. But, come the next billing cycle, my credit card is charged so I need to contact them to fix the issue.

The list is endless to how many things can go wrong when cancelling a hosting account. The point is, most hosting companies try all the tricks in the world to make you desperate so that you can start wondering whether it was a good move for your sanity and health to even think about cancelling the account.

Well, if you’re stuck with one of these many horrible companies out there, then you can try one of the following solutions:

  • Call the bank and block any future charges from them, and reverse previous fraudulent charges.
  • Change your credit card.

  • Report them or threaten to report them to local authorities.

Bad hosting companies are abundant in this day and age, and, if you’re stuck with one of them, then try the above tips if all else fails!

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

I remember when I was a little kid – my only dream was to have an Amiga computer. I used to dream about it everyday – every single day! I had a Commodore 64 that I really loved but what I really wanted was an Amiga. I wanted it because it had, by far, the most advanced graphics and sound in that era, and it had the best games. It was also considerably faster than other personal computers. Back then, Intel barely existed, and each company used either house-made processors or exclusive processors for its line of products (mostly Motorola). Now, almost all of us are using Intel products (including those on a Mac) or Intel clones (such as AMD processors).

Amiga was a dream for any boy at my age then, and, it was also the dream of many other computer companies: It was profitable (in the beginning), its technology was the best, and people liked the brand. Even the US government was using Amiga computer in its mission critical agencies (such as the NASA). The problem is, each company that bought Amiga ended up filing bankruptcy or shrunk significantly:

  • In 1984, Commodore, the then computer giant, bought Amiga, which was a small startup at the time. It started selling Amigas en masse as of 1985 and that was the start of Amiga’s golden era. In the early 90′s, Commodore started facing competition from IBM and the likes. In 1994, it declared bankruptcy and was sold to a German company called Escom.

  • Escom tried to revive the Amiga line with new machines such as the Amiga 4000 (which was used by NASA until around 2003) and the Amiga 1200, which was a decent replacement to the super successful Amiga 500. But alas, Escom spent a lot on expansion and marketing to the point where it had no more money. Escom declared bankruptcy in 1997 after its shareholders refused to bail it out. The Amiga name was purchased by Gateway 2000 (later Gateway) – the Dell like direct computer retailer that used the cow design to brand its products.

  • At that time, Gateway 2000 was a great company – its products sold like hot cakes because they were well-built (I have 2 Gateways myself – the P5-133 Gateway 2000 which my parents bought for me when I was 18 and another one). Gateway 2000 thought the Amiga brand had a great value and that’s why they bought it, but they never, ever, released a single Amiga product. A few years later, in 2000, Gateway 2000 sold the Amiga brand to Amiga, Inc. Gateway 2000 shrunk dramatically in size ever since they bought the Amiga so it re-branded under the name Gateway and tried to revive itself. The company eventually got sold to to Acer for a mere $170 million.

  • Amiga, Inc. looks and feels like a fan company whose main objective is to revive the Amiga one day by telling people how great it was, decades ago. I personally don’t think there’s any more future for the Amiga.

The history of the Amiga prompted a computer journalist (in the Computer Shopper print magazine, if I’m not mistaken) to ask a Gateway 2000 representative (prior to Gateway 2000′s purchase of the Amiga) whether they were afraid of the curse of the Amiga considering each company that had the Amiga line went bust. I remember that the representative’s answer was something along the lines of “the predecessors just did not keep up to date”. I wish they can ask the same question to the same person now – I’m sure we’ll get a different answer (unless, of course, that person quit Gateway and has no problem laying the blame on them).

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

Search for anything on the Internet and I dare you to find reliable information. Every single time I search for a topic – any topic on the Internet I get the views or theories of the so called “freelance writers” who may or may not be 12 years old. In my opinion, the Internet ceased to be a reliable source information over a decade ago for 2 reasons:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. On-site ads

Let me first start with Wikipedia. As we all (well most of us) know, Wikipedia is a collective project, meaning that there are thousands and thousands (if not tends of thousands) of people who contribute to this project, for free. At first, Wikipedia’s contributors were professionals – but once the project rose to fame, it lured a totally different caliber of contributors. At the moment, most of Wikipedia’s contributors belong to one (or more) of the following groups:

  • Spammers / SEO consultants: These people just throw spam links in the “External Links” section or just add spam references.
  • 12 year old kids: These kids usually love editing celebrity articles.
  • Liars: These people just insert lies or their own unproven theories in Wikipedia articles. These people are driven by hate or by ego. They might belong to the following 3 groups.
  • Jokers: These people insert some nonsense stuff into articles and, if they’re not caught, that nonsense turns into fact. Jokers are liars but their nonsense is usually funny.
  • Electronic armies: These are hired people who are there just to deface facts and to alter the public opinion about something. The are hired by parties or by countries.
  • Nationalists: These people tend to write everything good about their country, and everything bad about the enemies of their country. They also like to attribute inventions/famous people to their country.
  • etc…

Whenever you read a Wikipedia article, remember that, in 99% of the cases, at least one of the above groups was a contributor. Now, you might think, Wikipedia is just a site, isn’t it, so who cares?

Well, it is a site, but not just any site. Wikipedia usually ranks first (or at least in the first page) for every single keyword, which means that whenever people are searching for something, they will most likely get a Wikipedia article that is not accurate. In many cases, the article is the opposite of accurate.

The bigger problem in this is that famous sites tend to quote Wikipedia to support their theories or enlighten their readers – essentially transforming any garbage written on Wikipedia into facts.

OK – I think I’m done with bashing Wikipedia for now, so let me move to the other issue: On-site ads.

On-site ads were introduced back near the end of the previous century. A wise man thought, hey, there are many people out there with websites, why not slap some ads on their websites so they can make money and we can make money. At first, that didn’t work well, because the companies that were handling the advertising had a mentality of “we get the dollar, you get the penny” when dealing with their content network (e.g. the people who place their ads on their websites). So, if someone had a website with huge traffic, he would only make $100/year from these ads. Not too bad for money that he didn’t expect.

Then, at the the turn of the millennium, something happened. Google introduced Adsense, which paid over 50% of the cost of the click to the publisher, and this is where the problem started. People from all over the world started writing garbage articles containing high paying keywords to earn more from Google, and the web quickly became saturated with articles written by people who know nothing about nothing just for the purpose of making money.

OK – so what’s the solution? One might ask… Well, the answer is simple but very controversial:

  1. Ban Wikipedia as it’s causing more harm than good at the moment.
  2. Focus on branding in websites. For example, if a website is known for good quality information, then its search rankings should be higher than those sites that come and go.

I think the above 2 solutions are in the hands of Google, which has the opportunity to make things right on the Internet once again.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

When trying to move their line of credit from one bank to another, some people follow this process:

  • They call the bank that has their current line of credit.
  • They ask them to cancel it.
  • They go to the other bank and tell them that they just canceled their line of credit with another bank and they need to re-open it with them (them means the other bank).
  • They become surprised when the bank tells them we need to review your credit score, check your assets, etc…

The above process, as you can see from the last step, is wrong. In fact, if you do the above, you’re not really moving your line of credit from one bank to another, you are cancelling it with the first bank and re-opening it with another.

There is a much better and easier process:

  • Go to the bank that you want to move your line of credit to.
  • Ask them to move your line of credit from Bank X to them.
  • They will make you sign on a few papers, and they will do it themselves.

You might be surprised, but a bank can access your account at another bank! They can even do cancellations, etc… That’s how open the US/Canadian banking system is (in my opinion, this is a bit scary, but that’s another issue).

Now, before doing the move, make sure of the following:

  • The interest rate is less or equal to the previous interest rate you are currently paying.
  • The minimum payment is also less or equal to that you are currently paying.
  • There are no associated fees for the transition, and there are no monthly fees on the line of credit with the new bank.

Banks are always happy when they get someone’s line of credit, so, usually, you can negotiate a sweet deal. Make sure that you tell the bank that you don’t want to see those interest rates going up for at least a year.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

October 20, 2013 | In: Opinion

Cloud and Snake Oil

I was going to title this post “Why I don’t respect technology companies that use the term cloud”, but I figured it was a very long title, so I went with a shorter title.

Let me get straight to the point: Cloud is about saving your data somewhere on the Internet on one or multiple servers. That’s about it! And people were doing this since the dawn of the Internet. In fact, if you’re using IMAP, you are using the cloud. If you’re uploading a file to your web server, you are using the cloud. Everything that has to do with document storage on the Internet, it’s really cloud usage.

Many technology companies right now are using the term “Cloud” to describe their Document Management Systems (DMS), which existed for at least 15 years now (and I’m being very conservative), so, there’s nothing new about the cloud whatsoever. In fact, the cloud is something old, dinosaur old, in terms of computing.

Some other, large companies are using the term cloud to describe distributed hosting, again, something that existed since the beginning of the Internet.

So, what’s the point behind this term?

Well, it’s really a marketing gimmick. The cloud is being marketed as the best thing since sliced bread – it’s the panacea to everything in this world. It’s the future. Everything is going to be in the cloud. The problem is that many companies out there (including technology companies) now believe this. I can picture this conversation between a company’s CEO and his IT Manager: “I think we need to advance the technological aspect of this company – we need to use the cloud”, says the CEO. The IT Manager responds “We are technically already using the cloud.” to which the CEO responds: “It doesn’t seem so – what do you think of using Product X from Company Y?”. The IT Manager rolls his eyes.

I am all for companies making money, but I just don’t like it when money is made by misleading others. The cloud isn’t the future, it’s the past and the present – it’s how things were done and are still done. Nothing has changed – except for the fancy name, of course.

If you think my theory is wrong, just ask any company what the cloud really is, and once they answer, you can answer back with one of the following:

  • “Isn’t that called a Document Management system?”
  • “Isn’t that called a collaboration tool?”
  • “Isn’t that called server balancing/distributed storage?”
  • “Isn’t that called the Internet?”

I suspect you’ll get a moment of silence.

Just before going with any company using the cloud, ask yourself, is it worth going with a company that treats its potential clients as morons?

By the way, the sad fact is that even the biggest companies are using the term cloud. So, it might be that I am wrong and the cloud does really exist or it might be that the term cloud is irresistible to use even for large companies.

I need to stop writing now, I have to go start my own cloud computing company. Ridiculous.

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.