Tag Archives | Facebook

Viva Bahrain Launches Facebook Zero

Viva Bahrain has just launched "free Facebook" aka Facebook Zero to its customers. If you have a phone with data access (data bundles not necessary) and a mobile browser you can access Facebook Zero through one of the following addresses:

You get a basic Facebook interface suitable for mobile phones (much like m.facebook.com) and you will be allowed to access most of Facebook's services (updates, feeds, messages etc…). You will be charged if you decide to open a photo or click on a link that leads to an external page (any link taking you away from Facebook). Also note that due to the nature of SSL, if you add https:// to one of the URLs above you will be charged even though it is a Zero URL.

If you do end up doing something that will get you charged, the data fees are very affordable: BD0.002/100KB (Prepaid) or BD0.003/200KB (Postpaid). Alternatively you can add a data bundle to your account.


Effects of SOPA on non-Americans

Few weeks ago, after small and major web sites blacked out in protest of SOPA, the US congress decided to pause it. Note, they did not throw it out completely but until they can come up with changes to make it pass. So the battle is not exactly over, even though the Internet won the first round. Those outside the US may think that American law does not affect them, but in reality it does, directly and indirectly. The latest victim was the file upload service Megaupload that was used both legitimately and illegitimately by users. The owner lived in New Zealand, had servers in many locations including places that were considered to be "safe" such as the Netherlands. They were also incorporated in Hong Kong. If you visit Megaupload (and its associated services) you will come across the following on its page (known as an ICE take down):

dojbanner 300x225 Effects of SOPA on non Americans

So how does SOPA affect those outside of US jurisdiction?

  • If it does pass in the US, what prevents it from spreading to other countries? DMCA take downs are even enforced by hosting providers outside the US with no business ties in the US.
  • People will stop being creative. No more video, music and images sharing to name a few. The mentality will be "if it looks illegal it probably is" even though it might be completely original content that publishers are willing to share.
  • A large portion of services used in the US are used by those outside. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and much, much more.
  • Do you have a website? There is a chance you are hosting it on an American web hosting company. Something you put on that is not illegal in your country, might be in the US. This blog is hosted in the UK, but the company providing the service is incorporated in the US, thus coming under US jurisdiction.
  • Do you own a domain operated by a US entity? .com and .net are run by Verisign (a US based company), .org is US based as well. Look at what the Department of Justice did to Megaupload's page. All it takes is a change in the nameservers.
  • If you use something like PayPal to receive payments, you may have your account suspended and frozen. Even if you were selling stuff legal in your country or region.
  • Search engines could start censoring results. Google provide search results based on location, but come under US laws, so they may not show you results to services legal in your country but illegal in the US.

This is by far not an exhaustive list. The list goes on and on and on. So in case SOPA comes up again, think how it might affect you living outside the US. Every little bit of support helps.


Learn Web Programming Easily

Today if you ever wanted to kick start learning a new programming language you would probably visit one of those popular tutorial web sites out there. I started it off with W3Schools (introduced in university) and also used Tizag to supplement and fill in the gaps. However, one disadvantage I found with these sites was the lack of interactive exercises that you can do anywhere. For example, to try HTML you would need a text editor (Notepad++ is my favorite) and at least a web browser to test your code (same with JavaScript). If you wanted to try PHP, the easiest way would be to install one of those xAMP stacks (WAMP for Windows or LAMP for Linux, my favorite being XAMPP). If you check out one of the sites previously mentioned they simply give you an explanation, followed by an example. Progress depends on whether you apply what you learn or skim through hoping it sticks in your head.

During my frequent email checks in Gmail I noticed an ad leading to http://code.he.net. I am quite familiar with HE (Hurricane Electric) and have used their services directly (IPv6 certification, DNS services and Tunnelbroker) and indirectly (they have a large global network, so most of the VPS I have use HE for connectivity). I decided to check out what this code thing was all about. At first it seemed just like any tutorial web site: a list of languages you can learn, community forums, stats etc… To be honest I thought it was one of the usual tutorial sites. I logged in with my HE account (you can either create an account with them or use your Google or Facebook account).

codehe1 1024x559 Learn Web Programming Easily


After logging in and selecting a language I wanted to learn (I chose PHP). On the side you get some suggested, completed and full list of exercises available to you. The main body of the page is a graph which lets you know how many exercises you have been working on over time. Don't let the number of exercises fool you though, each exercise contain many sub-exercises. I wouldn't be surprised if the exercises end up in the thousands if you take the whole site into account.

codehe2 1024x559 Learn Web Programming Easily

I started off with the first exercise, Strings 1 in PHP. Now this is where HE's tutorials differ from the others. You get a terminal like interface in the page. Above that is what you need to do. Rather than explaining, they let the user observe what happens. I believe this method is pretty good since the person needs to actually find the difference and figure out, rather than have it all already explained.

codehe3 1024x559 Learn Web Programming Easily

You need to be quite precise when trying out the exercises though. I tried the first PHP exercise and instead of "Hello World" I gave "LOL" a try. Incorrect answer. How exact do you have to be? I'm not sure since the exercises I tried were short and straightforward, but it could be annoying if they get longer and the mistake ends up being a simple spelling mistake.

codehe4 1024x559 Learn Web Programming Easily

I did a few exercises and noticed my progress was being tracked at the upper left side of the page. The terminal is good at showing you what the result looks like if you run the code.

codehe5 1024x559 Learn Web Programming Easily

If you ever wanted to learn one of the many web languages out there, I suggest you give HE's Interactive Programming site a try. I would suggest combining their exercises with the explanation found in the usual tutorial sites to strengthen your background on the topic. Note that the service is still in beta, so hopefully there are plans for improving and adding content. By the way, they provide their email at the bottom, don't hesitate to contact them, when I had trouble with their IPv6 certification exercises they did not hesitate to provide help :-).

Happy learning!