Reflections on MJC at the passing of Nelson Mandela

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” ~ Nelson Mandela

Friends, I have been meaning to type a recollection of my experience at the Muslim Jewish Conference in Bosnia & Herzegovina earlier this year. However, time has not been kind and when I did have time, I seemed to have been short of enthusiasm to get typing. The past week has seen the passing of a great man, Mr Nelson Mandela, bringing much sadness to those close to him and at the same time, much jubilance to his countrymen celebrating a life of great stride and achievement. For many, this event has led to much introspection and contemplation on the current state of affairs in which we find ourselves.

I was fortunate enough to have been granted the opportunity to attend the Muslim Jewish Conference this year together with a diverse group of participants from around the world. I’m not going to relate a fairy tale or insist that a world free from divisions can exist, but I dare you to open your mind and join me on a journey that explores all possibilities.

The conference was free from political ambition as it arranged attendees into five different committees discussing topical issues that arise regularly within our religious and cultural communities (gender equality, historical narratives, conflict resolution, etc). Coming from a religious background, I had opted to join the committee on religion, aptly named “back to basics”.

It was not so much about the content of the committee for me, but the idea of engaging in discussions about community with a group of individuals I wouldn’t otherwise find myself paired with, that was the focus of my presence at the conference. Indeed, many fruitful issues were engaged with in the committees as well.

Back to Basics Committee

Back to Basics Committee

I had always known that Judaism and Islam shared a lot in common as Muslims believe that Islam is a continuation of the faith of Moses (through the line of Abraham and through to Jesus), but I had never given this very idea much thought until my interaction with the back to basics committee. It was there that I realised that it is not just the idea of monotheism, or the belief in the Bible, nor the lineage through Abraham that are points of mutual interest. Instead, it’s about the finer aspects of our faith, like the idea that any act, no matter how small or undogmatic it may be, can be made into an act of worship by mere good intentions and willingness to serve G-d and His creation. Kindness to humanity and a real sense of consciousness are traits that are espoused by both of our faiths. We may, as other creatures, eat, sleep, create family and earn our daily bread, but with a sense of consciousness and noble purpose added to these routine activities, we add value, not just to our lives, but to humanity. Only a person who is aware will eat in moderation, knowing that many others go hungry on a daily basis. Only a person who is aware will smile at passers-by, no matter their class or background, because you know the value of a smile :-)

The conference began with many participants (myself included) dipping in their feet to test the water and tip-toeing around the “others”. Move five days later and there was such a profound sense of family and community that spread not only amongst the conference attendees, but its organisers and also the staff at the hotel!

MJC founder Mr Ilja Sichrovsky and a head member of staff at the conference venue.

MJC founder Mr Ilja Sichrovsky and a head member of staff at the conference venue.

During our stay in BiH, we were addressed by many great speakers including the Bosnian president, the grand Mufti of Bosnia, Rabbi David Rosen and others, but most memorable was the story told by a survivor of the Srebrenica massacre. His story, coupled with the visit to the Srebrenica memorial centre thereafter was a chilling reminder of the consequences of leaving a conflict unchecked. It reminded me a lot about the history in my own country (South Africa), but of course, the shocking events of that massacre in Srebrenica was an unfortunate event of its own magnitude. Having walked out of the memorial centre however, I felt a sense of relief, realising that even that came to an end. Like Apartheid, perhaps we can end our conflicts throughout the world.

So what is the approach to solving a conflict? Of course there is no simple answer to that, but the more important lesson for me is the approach to moving beyond a conflict. Only with a sincere intention to move forward can a generation of people break the cycle of conflict. Here is where I refer to the quote of Nelson Mandela which I typed at the beginning of this post. There! was a man who decided the fate of his country. Had he, as leader of South Africa, chosen not to move beyond the conflict, but to pour out hatred on the minority in his country, I am certain that no amount of international pressure or resolutions would have ended the conflict in South Africa. If anything, that would have signalled the beginning of a much darker period with an unspeakable amount of bloodshed. Instead, Mr Mandela was aware and he took an enlightened decision on the path to reconciliation.

In the words of President Obama, “It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts.”

This is so true and this, I believe, is a key to moving beyond conflict. No people, nor any nation should be excluded from our compassion and tolerance. To those who doubted my journey to the conference and those who still distrust the idea behind it, I invite you to an alternate approach. As exemplified by non other than Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) himself when he prayed for the people of Ta’if and refused to order their punishment even after they pelted him to the point that his blood dripped to the ground, as Prophet Muhammed showed us reconciliation when he did not act against the man who mercilessly assassinated his daughter Sumayya, but accepted him into the faith and amongst the believers, I invite you to contemplate the idea of moving beyond conflict through reconciliation by forgiveness, mercy and compassion. I extend this invitation to all my friends, regardless of background, in fact I extend this invitation to all who read this post.

I intend to write more about my experience at the Muslim Jewish Conference soon.

Special thanks goes to all those who made the conference possible, especially its founder, Mr Ilja Sichrovsky.

Turn your smartphone or tablet into a trackpad [How To]

A nifty trick I stumbled upon recently allows me to use my SwiftKey keyboard with Swipe and predictive text as well as dictation by Google Voice on my Ubuntu PC! That’s not all. I can also use my tablet touch screen as a trackpad with multi-finger gestures and scrolling on my PC!

wifimouse

How does it work? You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that this is really easy to set up! The only catch is that you need a wifi hotspot setup so that your PC and your Android device can connect to the same wifi network. If you don’t have a wifi hotspot setup, you can use another smartphone to set up a wifi hotspot and then connect your PC and Android device to that wifi hotspot.

Try it now!

  1. Head over to the Play Store on your Android device and install the Wifi Mouse app
  2. Download the mouse server for your OS (it is available for Mac, Windows and Linux). I have tested the Windows (7) and Ubuntu (13,10) versions of the server. Both work great!
  3. Make sure your devices are connected to the Wifi network.
  4. Run the mouse server on your PC and start the Wifi Mouse app on your Android device Follow any on-screen instructions.
  5. Enjoy!

Thanks to Nectarine for the great software! If you like it, please buy the paid version to support the developers.

BlackBerry Plans To Launch BBM Across Multiple Platforms This Summer

Originally posted on Inside BlackBerry:

BBM BBM Across Multiple Platforms

If you’re already a fan of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), we’ve got some exciting news designed to make it easier for you to connect with your entire mobile social network. BlackBerry plans to make BBM, our wildly popular mobile messaging service, available for the first time to iOS® and Android™ users this summer, (subject to approval by Google Play and the Apple App Store, as applicable). This means that, once available, you can welcome your friends and family using these other mobile platforms to connect over BBM and share in the Team BlackBerry love.

As we’ve chronicled on our Inside BlackBerry blog for some time now, BBM set the standard for mobile instant messaging with fast and reliable service and an added layer of engagement with delivered and read statuses. You’ve shared with us your stories about how BBM has kept you connected when it mattered most to you. Upon release…

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Copy (Cloud Storage App) – Review and Installation Guide

Copy recently joined the list of storage clients with native apps for Linux desktops. Other notable storage clients that offer Linux apps are Dropbox, Ubuntu One, Owncloud, justcloud and Spideroak.Cloud Storage AppsCopy offers 10GB free storage when you sign up, an additional 2GB free storage when you first tweet about Copy and an additional 5GB storage for every successful referral. Now that’s a lot of FREE storage space!. If that’s still not enough, Copy offers additional space at competitive prices. There are native apps that can be downloaded on Windows, OS X, iOS, Android and Linux. Copy also offers companies the ability to setup a storage account that features advanced monitoring and sharing facilities. I installed Copy in elementary OS Luna. The installation was smooth and accomplished in a few steps.

Like other cloud storage apps, Copy features a menu at the top panel from where you can control synchronisation, open your folder or open settings and preferences.

Copy Panel MenuThe preferences app is features a clean, easy to use UI that fits nicely in elementary.

Screenshots

Installation

  • Go to https://copy.com?r=eZdfwW
  • Sign up and download the Linux installation file. (It will automatically prompt download once you’ve filled out the sign up form).
  • Check your email to verify your new Copy account.
  • Extract the downloaded folder.
  • Open the extracted folder and navigate to the sub folder pertaining to your computer’s architecture (X86, X86_64).
  • Click on the file called, “CopyAgent” and follow the on-screen prompts. DONE!

Copy will create a folder called, “Copy” within your home folder. If you’re familiar with Dropbox, you’ll know that the contents of this folder will be synchronised with your cloud drive.

ENJOY!

How to install and configure conky in elementary OS

Some people love it, others hate it, Conky’s the name. If you know what Conky is, skip the next paragraph.

If you’re new to the Linux desktop environment and haven’t heard of Conky before, it’s a highly configurable app window that stays pinned to your desktop and displays system information which it retrieves from your computer. Hence it can display the date, time, CPU and network information, fan speeds, etc. The main pull-factor of Conky is the extent to which you can customise the display. It may not be necessary to have a clock widget on your desktop for instance, but that bling it adds to you desktop is sometimes quite irresistible, and why not spruce up your workspace anyway?

(Most of this guide is based upon the guide for installing Conky in Ubuntu. This is a much simplified version. For extra configurations and options, see the guide: here.)

Installation instructions:

Bear in mind that the following steps worked for me, but that doesn’t mean it will definitely work for you :-/ I’m running (an almost new installation of) elementary OS Luna (beta 1). Good luck.

Open the terminal and type the following code:

sudo apt-get install conky-all
sudo apt-get install conky curl lm-sensors hddtemp

To run conky, type:

conky &

You should see something like this:
Default Conky

To close Conky, type:

killall conky

Next, search devianart and other websites for your favourite “Conky theme”. Once you’ve downloaded your theme, copy the file called .conkyrc to your home folder. You may need to show hidden files in pantheon. You can do this by pressing ctrl+h.
The downloaded theme may come with additional resources like fonts or wallpapers. Follow the instructions in the readme file or from the website where you downloaded the theme from.

Here are links to some themes:

My Conky setup

My conky setup

This will work very well if you have a resolution of 1600 x 900, but the theme can be modified for different resolutions.

Download the theme file: here

Download the font: here

Download the wallpaper: here.

Save the theme file to your home folder.

Open the font and click “Install Font” at the bottom right corner of the font preview window.

Conky shortcut

To add Conky to your dock, download the desktop file: here.

Conky in Dock

Save the file anywhere you like, preferably in /usr/share/applications/

Download the icon: here.

Save the icon in /usr/share/icons.

Open the folder with the desktop file and drag the desktop file to the dock. Click the icon on the dock to start Conky. Right click the icon to close Conky.

Configuring/Customising Conky

To configure a theme or to create your own one, see this page (Click here) for configuration options as a guide to editing/creating the .conkyrc file. ENJOY :-)

Birdie tweets best – Birdie Twitter Client for Elementary

I came across this app via a post in the elementary community on Google+. I’ve never really used a twitter client on a desktop before as I find the web version of TwBirdieitter to be feature rich and more than sufficient. Most users of desktop clients I suppose look for the ability to use multiple accounts, a feature I don’t currently require. However, enter Birdie. There’s something so appealing about the interface. Of course, it’s designed to blend in with the elementary theme, but it’s also very clean and simple. Unlike other desktop Twitter clients, Birdie bears a bit of resemblance to official Twitter apps with the top (icon-based) menu bar. The app is still in early development, resulting in a missing “search” feature. The search icon is greyed out in this version, but should be included in later versions.

Bottom line, Birdie does what it’s meant to do, that’s provide a clean, easy-to-use desktop twitter client that looks and feels at home on an elementary desktop.

To install Birdie in elementary OS Luna; type the following code in a terminal window:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:birdie-team/daily

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install birdie

Remember: this is probably an early version of the software and may not work as expected. Installing the software and editing your software sources is done at your own risk.

Galaxy S4 sets the stage for Tizen

Possibly one of the most anticipated gadget launches of the year, the unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S4 this week has certainly raised the bar for smartphone manufacturers. The device under the spotlight, features an unprecedented 13 MP / 2 MP camera combo with stunning smooth graphics powered by its 1.9GHz processor and displayed on its 5.0″ screen with 441 pixels per inch. However, putting the impressive hardware aside, one can’t help but drool over the software capabilities that the S4 boasts. In the current Android-dominated smartphone market, it simply isn’t enough to produce a high end device capable of running the Android platform. Granted, other manufacturers like HTC have attempted to customise the software, but none have made as much progress as Samsung. As if the touchwiz interface isn’t enough to draw your attention to the device, Samsung offers it’s own well designed suite of applications. Samsung devices offer the Readers Hub, Music Hub, Social Hub, Samsung Apps/Samsung Hub, Learning Hub, Swype Keyboard, Kies Cast, S-Voice, ChatON and a feature rich camera application amongst others. The S4 goes on to introduce S-Translate which translates text as you type or as you receive messages and emails. It introduces new features to SmartStay which allow you to control certain actions on your device by your eyes. It introduces amazing app and media sharing capabilities, a great deal of feature enhancements to its camera app, the ability to interact with content by hovering your hand over the screen and more.

That brings me to an important point. Samsung’s latest smartphone was unveiled with absolutely no mention of features or abilities provided by its underlying Android 4.2 Jellybean operating system. No mention of Google Maps, Google Voice or Google Now. The fact is that the selling points of Samsung’s latest flagship device are now somewhat independent of the core Android operating system its built upon. Behind the scenes, Samsung have been working to develop the Linux mobile platform, Tizen. Samsung paid $500 000 to become a platinum member of the Linux Foundation and have ever since been rigorously involved in developing the next big thing in the mobile software market. Some may remember bada, Samsung’s first self-developed smartphone OS which it recently retired. Bada proved successful in terms of its abilities as an operating system, but failed to draw much attention. One could argue that Samsung never pushed its bada devices out to the public, but inevitably, bada had its limitations. The biggest constraint was not being able to draw as big a pool of app developers as Android. However, Tizen unlike bada, involves a number of different major stakeholders like Intel who have an interest in pushing development for the platform. Tizen boasts the ability to run HTML5 apps, native Tizen apps, all bada apps and even an easy port for existing Android apps. What’s more, Samsung’s own app store already has a large developer base which can be used as a starting ground for sourcing app developers for Tizen. Consider the first Tizen device powered by the same impressive hardware as the S4, featuring ALL of Samsung’s Hub apps and software features including touchwiz and sporting a fully stocked app store. I think Samsung has a winner. It will be difficult for the common user to recognise that the core operating system on an S4 differs from the core OS on the first Tizen device.

Samsung is planning the launch of the first Tizen device later this year (2013). Why Samsung is taking on Google in the OS race could be due to numerous factors, but the two most obvious are that the Tech giant wants to be entirely self-reliant and completely in control of its devices’ abilities and the obvious fact that Google has bought Samsung-rival Motorola Mobile. So if you think the S4 is an impressive device, wait until the launch of the first Tizen device and the subsequent counter-launch from Google, the LG Nexus 5. Those devices are set to shake the smartphone market!