The “Hoco” Experiment

As an exchange student, I wanted to make the most out of this year. I wanted to participate in everything that simply is not available at home. Of course, I forced myself (with the aid of my friends) to go to homecoming. Now keep in mind I had no idea what homecoming was about. Sure, it was a dance, but what kind of dance? Why does it take place? Why is called “homecoming”? And most importantly, what’s with the great amount of child pornography at every teenage American dance?

Before attempting to answer any of these questions, I wanted to find a date. Everyone will tell you that it’s unnecessary to have a date as you can just go with your friends and have fun. That is correct partially, but going with another person makes the night more special and memorable for the future. I’m writing this about 2 days after homecoming and I can still remember everything. See? It was a memorable night.

Anyway, I asked an exchange student from Jordan to homecoming. At first, she said that she would be going with her friends to her own dance which is on the same day as mine and she doesn’t want to leave them to come to mine. I really wanted to go to homecoming with her for some reason at the time, so I offered to go with her (which doesn’t work usually). Two days later, she tells me that her natural parents didn’t like the idea. You win this time, Catholicism.

I tried to laugh at the idea of how I was rejected from people an ocean away. I want to stress on the word “tried”. I talked to my Lebanese friend, Tala, who lives about an hour away and she said she wants to come to my homecoming. We filled in the paperwork and added her to my school’s guest list.

IT’S HOMECOMING NIGHT OH EM GEE. I’m wearing a white shirt and a red tie to match Tala’s red dress and we leave home at around 7:15 pm to arrive about 20 minutes late to homecoming. It doesn’t really matter because it’s not a formal meeting where you have to be on time. In addition to that, most of my friends were late.

We arrive there and people are doing some weird dance so we jump and do likewise. When the dance is over, Wyatt, my Irish friend, comes over to say hi. He seemed really happy to see me. I’m not going to lie, I was happy to see him too for some reason although I’ve already done that no more than 24 hours ago. I hear Aiden shouting my name and his smile was so wide too. I guess I am that special there, huh? I ask him where the other guys are. Apparently, they just left and it’s going to take them 50 minutes to get here. Meanwhile, Tala, Aiden and I along some other people were standing in awkward circle barely dancing. Some catchy song finally came up and Tala grabbed Aiden’s arm who in turn grabbed mine to go start shaking it. It was my first dance so I had no idea what I was doing. Just look around and try to imitate others.

Kunica, Braden and Jasmine are here. Nothing special. Dante arrives. His dancing makes me laugh and is actually entertaining to watch. Some slow music goes on and everyone is in a hurry to find a partner. A big black guy asks me if I mind if Tala dances with him, I reply with a no. I don’t see Tala for the next hour as I was slow or normally dancing with either Aiden or Ricardo (who introduced to his girlfriend as his lost twin). I also got in the middle and started dancing with a lot of people I barely know. Plus I awkward danced with Sarah who screamed at me “Stop making it so awkward, just do what I’m doing!” I had to explain to her how it was my first dance. She said I did a great job at the end but it was clear that she was just complimenting me.

I finally find Tala sitting on the bench next to the same guy, clearly tired from wearing heels all night. She does this hand signal telling me to call Stephanie to pick us up. I do so then we all (including Cory because he came to homecoming too) go outside and wait for Stephanie. According to Tala, the guy tried to get her grinding on him like four times. However, every time he tried to spin her around, she refused. That’s one thing about Tala: she is a classy lady.

Stephanie arrives and we all go to Ihop. The first Ihop was crowded and one table had like 10 students who clearly just came from another homecoming. They kept the three waitresses busy and even though we were there for thirty minutes, nobody came to take our order. We decide to leave to another branch and I scream “F— YOU” at the students before I leave. Stephanie suggested flipping them off on the window but that kinda failed.

The other Ihop was almost empty. The chicken and waffles I ordered plus the hazelnut coffee tasted so good. I can see why the other one was so crowded. We finish the meal and we decide to head home since Tala’s ride back to Eloy was almost there. She takes her stuff, hugs me goodbye and leaves. I decide to stay up till 3 am because I can.

Next Sunday morning, Cory and I had the hangover feeling. It’s almost as were drinking all night. All we needed was more sleep but our bodies refused to go back to bed! We decided to just deal with it.

Today (it’s a Monday) at school, we were talking about the funny things at homecoming. One of these things was my dancing (I am not surprised at all). They also told me that my date was hot and beautiful (she is actually, I mean, she is Lebanese). Cory then said he was surprised how she isn’t my girlfriend, apparently she “jokes around, doesn’t give a shit and has the same hair” which makes her “perfect” for me. I’m just not romantically attracted her although I am aware of all these awesome traits. At least for the time being. I’m a pretty strange, random dude.

My Year in the US: California

It’s 12:21 am and I have a lot of homework to do. I have a lot of pre-calc exercises and a chemistry lab.  They will probably take just around 20 to 30 minutes but I’m an awesome procrastinator. Therefore I, Moe, decided to write my first journal of my exchange year. IT’S GOING TO BE ABOUT CALIFORNIA, YEAH BABY! (Sorry)

Day 1: Friday

I decided to sleep over Daniel’s house because his mom is hosting another exchange student, Rilvan from Indonesia. So I wake up in the morning at about six am, I take a quick shower, shave my facial hair with a disposable razor (first time I use those), eat a bowl of cereal, pack up and get ready to leave. On our way, we share a can of Rockstar energy drink because we only had one left and we all went to sleep at like 3 am.

We’re at the Central United Methodist Church parking lot, it’s where we’re supposed to meet. Everyone was there! Tala was there but she was obviously not happy and craving some extra sleep, Ramsha was jumping around with her semi-Indian smile, Ali was being Ali and MOHAMMAD KHAN was just standing there with his cheeky look. There was also this Japanese guy, Teru, whom I didn’t like very much. Ten minutes later, Dominick arrived with all his awesomeness. We also had a lot of other students that I like like Nastiya from Russia, Jamil from Philippines, Mandy from Netherlands and Paulina from Germany. Yes, I do realize most of them are girls but I have to say that most guys are unbearable.

We hopped into a van and it took us about eight hours of driving through traffic while stopping several times at gas stations to get to Oceanside from Phoenix. Being crammed in a small van does not make it any easier. Lots of racist jokes were exchanged between me and Esmaralda, an American from Mexico. She doesn’t like me now.

Anyway, we’re there. We decided to go down and walk on the beach regardless of everything. I decided to just walk on the sand because I’m wearing running shoes and jeans but the waves decided to go off their normal track and splash me. Ramsha told me to just get into the water and I did. She was very happy that I was having fun. I ended up walking barefoot to the hotel though. I decided to walk by Mandy and I discovered she’s adorable although a bit shy.

I slept on the balcony on a sleeping mattress that was leaking. I woke up to find my self sleeping on the concrete floor.

Day 2: Saturday

We wake up at freaking 6:30 in the morning and we have quick breakfast. Bagel it is I guess. We then get quickly dressed and headed to Knott’s Berry Farm. At the door, I made my usual racist jokes and asked Esmaralda if she’s gonna hope over the fence or buy a ticket. She did not take it very lightly and hit me.

We’re in the farm, my group includes me, Ali, Tala, Farah, Dominick and Cameron. Cameron refuses to stay with us and just wanders off leaving his phone with Ali. We decide to go on one of the scariest rides at first, I was yellow and red because I was frightened. I’m simply scared of these kinds of rinds because I’ve never been on them! To my surprise, they were really fun! The shimmering feeling going through my spine was the best part of it. I was able to get on another four or five rides before my stomach started to feel funny and I felt like I’m going to throw up. My friends went on three other rides without me but that was it. We then called Kristen, one of the people responsible for us and told her Cameron wandered off. Aziza and Charlotte (Cameron’s mom) called Cameron’s phone that was with us. I have feeling he got himself into trouble.

We were able to leave on time and got on the bus to the train station so we can take the train back home. We arrived early so we stopped to take a lot of pictures there. On the train back, I wore a flower crown and was announced as a princess. They also tried to take a picture of me while I slept like we do to everyone else but they failed.

We’re back at the hotel, we had dinner and now we’re just watching Futurama on Netflix. Guess that’s it for that day.

Day 3: Sunday

We have nothing to do for today so it’s BEACH DAYYYY. However, since I’m not an idiot and I don’t want to be sunburned, I went during the afternoon while wearing sunscreen. It was mainly me and Dominick who went during that time then we caught up with the other group that included Ali, Esmaralda, Mandy, Farah, Tala, Miral, Neena, Lala, Manahil and Nastiya. Later on, Cameron, Joaquin, Mohamad Khan and Branden joined so we started playing some ball game. I sucked at it.

That day went by pretty fast, we spent a few hours watching Futurama and How I Met Your Mother too. I also had a pretty good time talking to Paulina for the first time and having fun conversations with Mollie, Kristen, Aziza and Charlotte. AYUSA people are simply awesome.

Day 4: Monday

This weekend was pretty quick. I didn’t feel it pass… We woke up early and packed our stuff and got ready to leave. The van trip this time was much shorter for some reasons and it was more fun. I stuffed an oreo in Teru’s mouth while he was sleeping and a bottle of water and an orange in Mohamad Khan’s. We also found these interesting products at a gas station in Arizona called “candoms”, they’re apparently can holders. “When drinking at random, use a candom.”

We’re back at the church, Katrina (Daniel’s mom) came to pick me and Rilvan up. I hugged everyone goodbye. They were family now.

#SophomoreLife: Part 2

A few months ago, if you guys remember or care, I wrote a small blogpost on how I was suffering through the beginning of my sophomore year. I said that it’s gonna be tiring, that new classes will be a struggle and that there will be too many accents. Read it here.

None of that turned out to be true.

First of all, I barely studied. Seriously, I passed most of my classes easily without having to spend a whole night revising exercises or solving exams from previous years. The material being taught was too easy and the exams were pretty straightforward. Well, our maths exam wasn’t so straightforward but I managed to solve it with ease. It’s maths.

As for my grades, they were getting higher every semester without any effort on my part. I was getting used to the material and the somehow “new” education style which got me an average of 17.47. In addition to that, being very active in class and having some basic culture will get the teachers to like you. When the teachers like you, your grades will get higher, not because they’ll give you extra points, but because you’ll be motivated to do better.

Now about those new classes, sociology and economy, they’re easier than what most people say. Once you understand the concept of the lesson and what it talks about, you’ll be able to break free from the book’s phrasing. You will start explaining everything in your own way. You’ll easily ace your exams, given that you have good French, of course.

Spanish is, uh well, close to French. If you understand French grammar, you’ll be easily able to understand Spanish given that you pay attention in class. Sleeping through Spanish was probably why my grades were getting lower. But I got 9/10 on my Spanish final test. Yay! Now I’ll never learn this language again. Unless idiot-me decides to take it in the US.

Plus, there was no school newspaper and I couldn’t care less that the current sophomores are the most hated.

TL;DR: My sophomore year went better than expected. If this is your first high school year, don’t be nervous, it’ll all be super fine.

*With the exception of the accents.

#SophomoreLife

About a week ago, I start school. This was my first high school year (in the Lebanese educational system, 10th grade is the first class of high school) and I was hella nervous.

Just like any “first of something” year, people tend to scare you with all their notions on how hard this year is going to be. It happened in 9th grade. It happened in 7th grade. It will happen in my senior year. And it will happen during college. Usually, these “notions” turn out to be wrong and exaggerated. That was not the case, it was true.

It was only the first week, and BAM an exam. We also have three new subjects to learn, yay? First, we have to learn Spanish for the first time in this school’s history. That adds up to the other three mandatory languages. So now, we are forced to learn Arabic, French, English and Spanish. ¡Hola! Me llamo Moe. Y tú. Cómo te llamas? (TOO MANY ACCENTS AHHHHHH).

If that’s not enough, we have to learn Sociology and Economy. In French. And it’s over 20 or 40 (I don’t remember to be honest). I have one question to ask: WHY?

I’m also responsible for the school’s newspaper. Now I’d rant about it but I’d rather leave it for another time/never.

Oh wait, did I tell you that the current sophomore students are by far the most hated students in the history of this god-knows-how-it’s-still-in-business school?

I’ll get used to it. Trust me, I know I will.

(I forgot what I was supposed to write… To be continued?)

Why the Internet in Lebanon sucks (and why it got worse)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the new Lebanese Minister of Telecommunications Boutros Harb decided to “improve” the Lebanese Internet connection. The ministry has released the following table with the new packages that give you much more for a lot less:

Up to 88%, wow!
Up to 88%, wow!

With the new packages, a lot of Lebanese Internet users thought that we’re finally improving. With up to 88% increase, we’re definitely trying to catch up. However, the result of that increase turned out to be negative. The connection country-wise became so bad to a point where it’s unusable. What happened puzzled a lot of people. Everyone thought their ISP was lying to them. That’s not really the case.

During the Lebanese civil war (1975 – 1990), the government came out tired and broke. A lot of maintenance was needed to be done. Despite that, we were able to somehow keep up with the rise of internet in the 1990s. Dial-up connections spread throughout the whole country, and it didn’t take long for most the population to have a working internet connection.

Everyone knows our government isn’t all that good though, right? We were able to have a working dial-up network for a while now, but we didn’t do much for a long while. Until 2007, when the government upgraded most of the phone lines and it was ready, DSL went public. Although the DSL speeds were slow compared to the worldwide average, the new 256Kbps and 512Kbps were definitely way better than dial-up speeds.

A lot of countries began replacing DSL lines with fiber optics. We, however, did not do that. Instead, we continued to slowly improve our DSL lines until we hit 1Mbps average on most lines. While some areas are still stuck with dial-up. Some are enjoying 8-16Mbps.

The packages were expensive and the speeds were low. However, we were at least getting the speed we paid for. The expensive packages were restraining to most people. It caused them to lightly use the Internet limiting themselves to a few YouTube videos per month and rare Skype video calls. It also made them more dependent on WhatsApp and Facebook messenger.

It was all fine and dandy. Until a few months ago, the ministry decided to upgrade the packages. Oh well, that’s so good from them! Except for one problem, we don’t have the technology. The speed were too fast for the current cables to handle. In addition to that, the cheaper quota made people use the Internet more heavily. That, with other factors, caused the Lebanese network to slow down drastically. The mobile network remained unaffected whatsoever (new packages were introduced but are also expensive), stabilizing at about 2-5Mbps on 3G and 25-30Mbps on 4G/LTE. It depended on the area.

As you can see, the government isn’t exactly lying to use or is trying to steal our money (in this case). What happened was simply the result of bad planning and the fact that we’re unprepared for this. Next time the government wants try doing this, it should try to improve the network instead of simply increasing our usage.

Can we stop with the rumors?

It’s that time of the year again. In a few weeks, Apple will hold a keynote and announce its newest iPhone. The product it unveils usually disappoints everyone, but they end up buying it for some reason. It’s all fun and dandy, but there’s one big annoyance.

RUMORS!

Every goddamn year, we start seeing a huge amount of rumors. You cannot ignore them, they’re everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, News websites, etc… These rumors usually turn our to be true, and they actually ruin like 90% of the fun by spoiling the surprise and the suspense in Apple’s keynote.

Something else we can stop is the “expectations”. These are usually based on some companies Apple bought, some idea they patented or simply an order they made. I would give you an example, but I’m sure you’ve seen one before.

In order to avoid as much as possible, do the following:

  1. Mute keywords such as “rumors”, “leaks”, “iphone 6”, etc…
  2. Avoid checking Apple news websites, they’re usually filled.
  3. Don’t try googling it.
  4. Unfollow all Apple-related accounts until the keynote?
  5. Leave the Internet?
  6. ???
  7. Someone who isn’t tech savvy will ask you in real life anyway.

Sorry, it’s just how it is.

NOW STOP WITH THE RUMORS. THEY’RE ANNOYING AS HELL.

My opinion on Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about the famous scientific TV show. Basically a reboot of Carl Sagan’s, this time hosted by the famous (and loved by the scientific community) astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The first line of the first episode was, in my opinion, a warning for the religious watching.

The cosmos is all there is, or ever was, or ever will be. — Carl Sagan

A show beginning with this quote will definitely recognize The Big Bang and evolution as valid scientific theories.
They are anyway, right?

The show was definitely based on teaching the scientific theories, methods and philosophies. Inspiring young children to love science, spreading the importance of evidence during scientific research and rejecting subjectivity while doing so.

Neil mentions global warming (they actually made an episode just for that), and how we are definitely the main cause. He showed the evidence necessary to confirm it. Along the way, he showed us what happened to Venus which is now a hot desert.

Straight the point, I loved the show. Absolutely loved it. I would (figuratively) kill for a second season. Neil was definitely the guy for the mission, he’s the Bill Nye for advanced science. I definitely learned a lot while watching the show. The animations and the way stories were told were absolutely amazing. Satisfying my science-loving instinct.

How to fix iMessage on your Hackintosh

Since I installed OS X on my Hackintosh, I’ve been facing this one problem with both iMessage and FaceTime: they’re both not working. Instead, I’m being greeted with a window saying the following:

Your Apple ID “name@website.com” can’t be used to set up iMessage at this time.

If this is a new Apple ID, you do not need to create another one. To use this Apple ID with iMessage, contact iMessage support with the code below.

Customer Code: XXXX-XXXX-XXXX

So I’ve decided to write a post explaining how I fixed that. So let’s begin, shall we?

First, you’re gonna need a real serial number. Not a fake one. I found a post explaining just how to do that. For more information just visit this link. When done, reboot your computer.

If you get iMessage to work after rebooting, then congratulations! You got iMessage working! If not, read on.

Second, you’re gonna need to call Apple support. You can call them on the number corresponding to your country. You can also use Skype or magicJack to call them on their US customer support number. In my case, the answering machine picked up the phone. It asked me to provide it with the device’s model and serial number. Ignore it and it should redirect you to the director of the call center. They’ll ask you to describe the issue. Tell them the following:

I’m calling because I’m having problems with activating iMessage on my [insert Mac model]. It’s asking me to call Apple support and provide them with some customer code.

They will probably ask you to provide them with your name, a callback number (if you’re calling from outside the US you don’t have to, just tell them), the serial number and your Apple ID.

Once you’re done, all you have to do is quit out of iMessage/FaceTime and open it again. You should be able to login and use it normally.

Enjoy!

Hackintosh: Is it worth it?

Hello everybody, this is my first post on this blog. And just saying, it’s not gonna be updated frequently. It’s not a daily blog.

What does the term “Hackintosh” mean?

Hackintosh is simply the combination of the word “hack” and “mackintosh” which is what Apple called their computers before going with “Mac”.

Well that’s how they came up with the word, but what does it mean? Basically it’s installing OS X on an Intel (or AMD) computer that is not branded as an Apple product. And no, sticking an Apple sticker on the back of your case or notebook won’t make it an Apple product.

Is it Legal?

Let me get this straight, you are violating Apple’s EULA (end-user license agreement) by installing OS X on a non-Apple computer or a virtual machine (running in a non-Apple OS). Apple mentioned the following in its EULA:

The grants set forth in this License do not permit you to, and you agree not to, install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-branded computer, or to enable others to do so.

…to install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software.

Anyways, I’m pretty sure that the chance of them breaking into your house, taking away your computer then suing you is lower than 0.00000000001%, so it’s not really a problem.

Experience? Ease of use? Stability?

This is something you should know when hackintoshing. By choosing it over a real Mac, you’re basically throwing the Apple experience and its ease of use out of the window. Apple designed the Mac line to run OS X and vice versa, so the stability is based on the harmony of the software and hardware. For example: when Apple releases a new update for OS X, every person with a Mac computer (that is supported) can update without an issue. In my case, I have to re-install my patched AppleHDA.kext (kernel extension responsible of audio) to get my Audio back. Many other hackintoshers have the same problem or other ones.

As for the stability, if you’re going to Hackintosh you have to get familiar with the following screen. You’ll see it a lot.

Kernel Panic

This is known as a kernel panic. It usually occurs when OS X faces a fatal error that it cannot ignore and handle. This can happen for many reason. A wrong bootflag, a kext that’s unstable, an update that broke you installation or simply OS X acting up on you. If you’re not tinkering with your system files, you’ll rarely see it. Rarely isn’t never, don’t be surprised.

Price?

Mac Pro

This is where hackintoshes excel. For less than 450$ you can build a Mac mini equivalent. In addition to that, you’ll be able to customise it the way you want, is the VGA getting old? Swap it out. Same goes for other Mac models.

Conclusion

Finally, I would like to address that the Hackintosh has many pros and cons. the pros include price and customisability. The cons include lack of stability and legality. If you want to try OS X but can’t afford one, do it.

Although, I am aware of all these cons, I’m still going to try it. Reasons include the price, the customisability.

Oh and by the way, don’t use TonyMacX86’s software. Use something else like myHack or install it manually. For more info on why TonyMacX86 is bad, click here.