ReDesign 2014 – Fully Refreshed

 

After 5 years I think it is finally time to redesign the blog and getting back to it and running again. Main issue wasn’t the WordPress version but the theme that was over 5 years old was falling apart at the seams, which made it a horrible experience to write anything. I reached a point where I thought of erasing everything and starting from scratch.

Luckily after a back and forth with the DreamHost Support I changed the install type of WordPress then shifted to a fully hosted DreamPress service of DreamHost which they fully take care of the technical side of WordPress. So after fixing a few issues and identifying some of the Plugins that were causing havoc they got it hobbling along and said the rest of it was with the Theme.

Then Jacqui aka CouchAvenue came in to the rescue and went into full redesign mode and went OCD on the site. Tweaking, fixing, modifying, and adjusting so many parts to make it work so perfectly. Using the Breeze from Bluth Company Theme she made into the amazing form that it is now.  There is still some minor issues but things are getting cleaned up in the backend to help things operate smoothly.

 

Blogs – Come & Gone

Kuwait is one very odd country, at least when it comes to social media, they are ahead of the curve and go crazy over the next internet thing.

Blogs used to be the craze, I for one joined in before it got crazy because I had an opinion and insight into things and looked for other people’s opinions and asked a lot of questions about things I didn’t know but now things have changed drastically I would say.

Kuwait has many talented and creative people and they do have a lot of people who want to take advantage of making a quick profit, well they are smart enough to get on board at the right time. First it was blogs & facebook, then it was Twitter and now its instagram.

And over the past 5 years company’s have really changed their tune and take the opinions of social media very seriously so it has turned into a money making business.

I have been sticking to my blog for a very long time but recently life has caught up with me leaving me with very little time to really dedicate myself to it like I used to. I met a lot of interesting and very cool people and I’m going to continue posting things up when I can but not as much as I used to. I’m still on Instagram because it is addictive and it is very useful because a lot of businesses use it to get the information out right away.

But there are very few blogs that I still check, except the ones that talk about my interests like Anime, Motorcycles, and TV Shows. Then there are a few local ones that I check once a week at this point like Kuwaitiful, CouchAvenue, and a few others.

It has been a hell of an experience and grew with me, and it’s not coming to an end but I can’t keep it up as much as I used to but I still still be posting information up whenever I can. Maybe a bit more technical posts then the normal posts.

Animegraphy 2013 – This Is Why I Love Anime

This is why I love anime, it brings across so many emotions you are bound to connect with one, and it gets you going, your blood pumping, your adrenaline rushing, and you immerse yourself in it, and its never enough. This year I managed to catch up with a lot of Anime but to the end of 2013 I fell back again, now I’m back at it again and this Youtube video says a lot.

2013 Coming To An End

NewYear

This has been a very interesting year with a lot of changes, ups and downs like anyone else. You always have good and bad experiences and the best thing is to enjoy your good times and learn from the bad.

For the past month I have been slightly disconnected from my online activity due to real life taking over completely. Too much family and work activities that kept me busy to the point that any other free time I had I would just try and get some sleep. Only recently I have managed to catch up with some of the TV shows I have had piled up.

With all these good, great, and bad experiences that you go through in life your perspective changes on things and you tend to hopefully develop from that. Looking forward to this coming year and hopefully getting my blog revamped at last, its been too long, about 4 years going on 5 since the last revamp.

Enjoy your 2014 people.

Catching Up

GarageManCave

December is now upon us and the last couple of weeks has been filled with weddings and milchas one after another, this is the wedding season after eid, back to back milchas. Almost one every night for the past three weeks. Work is has gotten crazy as well other then work at my desk there is insanity for flying for short meetings and back again. The end of the year you want to get in as much new business as possible for work and then you have your year end which is a ton of paper work and very time consuming.

Then there is my personal time where my TV Shows have been on the back burner even though I really want to watch them. And there are a lot of shows that are passing me by. My online time has gone down the way side as well there are so many posts that I need to catch up on but I seriously don’t have the time for it even though it is all in my head.

I would like to take two weeks off, one week to catch up on errands and another week to do nothing but catch up on TV and enjoy some outdoor activities. Time off to do nothing would be fantastic, but that rarely happen.

The above picture is of a fantastic Man Cave – Garage & Living Room Combined!

To Do List – Applications For Every Need

GoogleKeep

I am always attached to my phone one way or another, and having a list of things that I need to complete with work and outside of Work is very important. Sometimes we all have too much to remember and even the best of us forget, and I tend to do that these days.

Prevouisly the only real useful online list for me was RememberTheMilk but luckily with the development of Android there are much better note taking/list making applications.

MicrosoftOneNote

Right now my favorite Apps:

  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Google Keep
  • Evernote
  • Simplenote

Each one of them functions does basically the same things but each one has more options and sometimes more useful for different tasks. Quick follow ups I tend to use Google Keep so I have to do lists, Note taking and information I use OneNote mostly and sometimes Simplenote. And Evernote to take notes on Articles or things I want to keep in mind or details on travel plans that I later move to OneNote if I’m going to action it. 70% I use either Google Keep or Microsoft OneNote, 25% on Evernote & 5% on Simpelnote.

Each one will satisfy different requirements and I recommend that you check them all out as some people like one more then the other. I’m enjoying using all of them for my specific needs.

Evernote

Amazon Kindle Fire HD or X

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I was in love with all things Android, the freedom and flexibility with all the functionality. The Amazon product line was always trying to get you to work within the framework of the Amazon, the content all collected nicely and delivering TV Shows & Movies through Amazon Prime, but you have to be within the US for that to work.

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What got annoying about the Amazon Kindle over time was that it was so stiff, the iPad is restricted within the iPad Framework but there is so much that you can do with an iPad it never really bother’s you, there is so much to choose from.

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But only certain Apps from Android is allowed to install on your Kindle Fire/HD/HDX when the Android platform has a lot more Apps. It is honestly frustrating that I can’t get to all the Apps, and not all the ones I use are formatted for the Kindle. The Kindle has a great feature of integrating your Amazon details into your payments and subscriptions making it easy to use but I was still frustrating with the stiffness of it. The Kindle PaperWhite seems more useful since it is dedicated for those who want to read, to get that feeling that it isn’t a screen yet it is bright.

KindleFireHD4

At first the Kindle Hardware was disappointing, but when the HD came out it was great and the HDX is eve better, even the PaperWhite is great for it’s purpose. But at the end it became a paper weight in my office with no other real use since I have an iPad which I use for all sorts of things and my Samsung Nexus 10 does have the flexibility of an Android device that I love.

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Amsterdam – Food & Stops – Love This City

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For the 2nd time visitng Amsterdam I wanted to make sure I get to expolore it as much as possible, and every time I like it even more and after this trip I do love this city. It has the unique capability to combine classic with modern design in their structures which I love.

These are the list of places that we enjoyed on this trip and every time we are surprised, some places stuffed in these smalls streets, and those places turn out to be huge, there is no way to tell.

Restaurants:

  • Momo
  • IZAKAYA – Sir Albert Hotel
  • Brasserie Harkema
  • The Butcher’s Den – Burger Bar
  • Burgermeester
  • Starbucks The Bank – A very unique Starbucks location

The Red Light District is a must visit, it is just such a unique piece of the history and just something different to see. People walk around there like it is a zoo, well it is sort of like a zoo. Watching the women behind the glass with lots of other people looking to as we all walk by. It is a unique piece of Amsterdam’s night life that isn’t in any other city, not in this way at least. It is really worth a visit because you see some bizarre things and so many people just walking about there and the women in their underwear behind the glass even when it’s near freezing outside. There are different zones which designate where women from different regions are in, and there are areas for transvestites which is very freaky. You have to see it at least once, and you will laugh, there are some hilarious sights.

This is city is full of charm and I love to walk around the city, we ended up walking at least 8 miles a day because of the conference then we keep walking around after that. It is a city built for walking. But when you walk around you have to watch for a lot of things to make sure you stay alive, the streets are a sort of organized chaos. There are car lanes and bike lanes, but scooters can use the bike lanes but not motorcycles, then there are the trams. You have to keep your eyes open for the Cars, Trams, Bicycles, Scooters, & Motorcycles. And there were some close calls because sometimes the sidewalk and bicycle lane sometimes looks similar and these guys fly.

The city has a certain charm with a lot of character and the people are genuinely nice, and it is one of those places that you have to explore in Europe.

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Frankfurt Airport – The German Experience

FrankfurtAirport

It seems the most difficult Schengen Visa to get is from the German one, all the others were more routine and less difficult with the paper work. I can understand if they wanted to clarify paperwork, but they out right refuse any bookings from a local travel agency, the whole process was annoying and if you just want to make a one or two week stop they just give you a one month or two month visa. Previously they used to give 3 to 5 year visas without an issue. If you get it from Italy or Spain they still do that and 3 years from the French Embassy and the French used to take the longest. At least the British have a normal two week process or a 45 KD VIP process which takes 3 to 5 days.

I have my Visa and took off with a one day trip to Frankfurt and the rest of the week in Amsterdam. Unluckily for us there were probably two planes that landed from China because the lines were insanely long and these people do not know how to que. A new line opened up which one lady went to who wasn’t European and so I tried my luck and so did a friend. The lady immigrations officer was thinking of letting us pass on the European line since there were no Europeans but the guy next to her told her to send him back and he sent me back to the insanely long line. We understand rules but there was no one there and the lines for Europe remained empty.

We got back in line and waited, the Chinese were getting stamped without any questions and I would say at least 80% of them didn’t speak a word of English. They didn’t even bother looking at their paper work. We thought at least the line will move quickly.

When it came to our turn, instead of taking 2 mins it took 20 mins. The guy wanted my confirmation booking in Frankfurt and in Amsterdam, and he wanted to see my ticket back to Kuwait. I told him I have the printed booking from Lufthansa that I already gave to him and my confirmations are on my phone. He looked at my phone and then shrugged, he asked me why I didn’t have a ticket with me, I told him no airline issues a ticket one week before the flight. He went through my passport twice and kept typing on the computer, I was done to his annoyance and my friend was still going through questioning. The Chinese guy behind me walked out 30 seconds after me.

That was a very strange experience, and I’m surprised that Germany is turning into this, since when I spoke to people about it they told me it isn’t an isolated incident.

Now as for when we were leaving my cousin wanted to do the tax refund as he had one item from Frankfurt and one item from Amsterdam. In Amsterdam the Customs people told us he would have to exit the European Union to get the customs stamp so in his case he would get it done in Germany. When we went to Germany they stamped all the things of the Chinese guy in line in front of us without asking a question or asking to see the items.

When my cousin step up he just had to invoices with the details filled out but he refuse to stamp the one from Amsterdam and we explained to him what we were told and he simply said it wasn’t his problem. Then he refused to stamp the other invoice and said he would get it done after immigrations, but then when we went inside they told us it was only Jewelery at the inside customs not a Tumi bag.

This was the strangest experience I have had at Frankfurt Airport, it seems they are getting a bit aggressive with arabs from what I can tell. In Frankfurt itself it was easy and an enjoyable trip for me even though I was just there for 24 hrs but this treatment at the airport was not expected.

Instagram – Numbers & IGExcorcist

Insta1

Anything new in social media catches on like wildfire in Kuwait, and I do like that Kuwait is always ahead of the curve when it comes to social media. Since April of last year Instagram has gained huge traction in Kuwait, unlike any other country in the Middle East. It’s a different creature from the people who are used to using Twitter, Facebook, or Blogs, Kuwait moves from one thing to the next. First it was Blogs, then Facebook, then Twitter and now Instagram.

People love sharing pictures, and that has become normal, you get a glimpse into other people’s lives. But unlike most countries people are taking advantage of it on a commercial level, so many people using it for their stores and items, it’s honestly genius, the fastest way to get people to see their products. And a lot of companies advertise with Instagramers with a ridiculous amount of followers.

For one picture the price ranges from 150 KWD to 450 KWD on Instagram depending on who you advertise with and in reality its just as expensive as newspaper ad but you get to more people and faster, and some companies see the benefit of this.

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Now the crazy part is how easily you can buy followers & likes on instagram. So many companies are doing that to inflate their numbers its ridiculous. Some people have a strategy to gain followers and it works for them but I for one don’t believe in buying followers, you get people based on your interactions and photos, but going for numbers is a never the best strategy. Below is one companie’s number for likes and followers on Instagram.

ProPromote Pricing:

  • $ 2.99 One-time 100 guaranteed followers
  • $ 6.99 One-time 500 guaranteed followers
  • $ 39.99 One-time 5,000 guaranteed followers
  • $ 29.99 One-time 2,500 guaranteed followers
  • $ 69.99 One-time 10,000 guaranteed followers
  • $ 2.99 One-time 100 guaranteed likes
  • $ 6.99 One-time 500 guaranteed likes
  • $ 39.99 One-time 5,000 guaranteed likes
  • $ 29.99 One-time 2,500 guaranteed likes
  • $ 69.99 One-time 10,000 guaranteed likes

Link: Promote

One day I woke up and looked at Instagram and it gave me a weird number, I assumed it was acting up, but I was half asleep and the number was real. I jumped from 2000 followers to 7000+ followers, I thought what the hell could have happened, I checked and saw some of my pictures had over 800 likes which has never happened.

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I checked the followers some seemed normal with their own pictures but then more and more turned out to be bots. I don’t know how the hell the could have happened, after calling a few friends I found out who did it and was playing a practical joke on me and he enjoyed it. I spent over 4 hours and barely removed 300 followers, its a crazy process to go through. He bought the 5000 follower package from Promote and it only took a few minutes for it to happen. You can do it to anyone with an open account, and thats what he did to me and it drove me nuts trying to remove followers.

IGExcorcist is a website that helps remove bots from your accounts. It checks certain criteria and helps your account unfollow these people, but it takes about 5 to 10 minutes to remove each person. Once you activate IGExcorcist it doesn’t stop except after all the criteria is met, and in my case it took over 6 days to get rid of the bot followers, I was thankful that was done and this program was out there, I might have spent a month trying to unfollow all those bots.

Link: IGExcorcist

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