Friday, September 14, 2007

This Blog Has Moved!

Dear Friends,

As of today, I will resume posting on another web address. Please update your links and make sure you pay me a visit there, there are wonderful news at the other end :)

Moved to : http://black-extruder.net/blog/

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mysterious Car Explosion

This took place at 3:15 AM this Sunday, the day the Tawjihi results were announced. Although what you’re about to read may look like a scene from an action movie, this is a 100% real story. It may happen to anyone, and you won’t believe what caused it!

That day, Tareq Al-Helo drove his car to pickup his younger brother Talal (both friends of mine) from a friend’s house. He arrived there, parked his car in the building’s park and waited for his brother. Talal came few minutes later with a couple of friends who need a ride. They all got in and Tareq tried to start the car …

As soon as Tareq turned the key inside the switch, sparks started to come out of the gear box and the car’s front. Seconds later they heard a big “Boom” and the hood went on fire!

They all come out of the car. Tareq ran to get help, Talal stayed at the car, while the other two guys ran away as fast as they could.

Talal tried to open the car’s trunk to take the extinguisher but he got electrocuted. He kicked the trunk several times till it opened, picked up the extinguisher and tried to set the fire down. The engine then exploded, and flaming oil was sprayed inside as well as outside the car. Luckily, none of it got on Talal.

Several explosions followed, the glass burst out, the tires went down and the fire was extending despite all Talal’s efforts. The fuel tank was surely going to explode creating a massive explosion, damaging the building, and blowing off nearby cars as well.

Tareq brought some help back. They all decided the push the car away from the building and so they did. The fire trucks arrived later and put the fire down before it reached the fuel tank. There was nothing left of the car. It all melted down leaving a chassis with two tires and some paint.


The police investigation found out that the car wasn’t sabotaged or tempered with. It all happened due to … static electricity!

For an unknown reason, the car chassis was accumulating charge for some time. The car was charged like a bomb and nobody felt it. Cars are normally insulated from the ground by tires, you can’t get electrocuted if you’re sitting inside a car even if you grabbed a 240V line by your teeth (unless the car’s downside is close enough to the ground so that air starts conducting). Passengers are further insulated from the chassis by seats and car’s interior. The closest point of contact between a charged chassis and the driver is always the gear box.

Looking at it analytically, there’se nothing they could have done. They also couldn’t have known. If only the car was touched by a metallic object on the ground, or if someone was kind enough to step into the car barefoot, nothing of this would have happened.

Anyway, thank god all the guys got out of the car before it’s too late, or else they would be serving their meat in McDonald’s today :)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Musical Perception

When I was a little kid, long before I first held a guitar, I had a chance to learn the natural notes and some basic music concepts while trying to compose melodies on a very old computer. Few years later, I was introduced to waves through the science class in school and I instantly linked them to musical notes seeing that both share an interesting attribute: frequency.

My understanding of their similarities became deeper as I progressed through school and as I developed my analytical attitude. Now that I play guitar, I get to think of this every single day. One thing that still gets me wondering, after all those years, is the communicative power of music, the thing that makes music similar to a “language”.

It is more like a fact actually, it can’t be denied: music CAN commune ideas, specifically feelings, but how come?

Those who play music can relate better to what is next. Musical phrases built on minor scales sound more saddening than the ones built on major scales, although both are a merely a bunch of waves of different frequencies. Keep in mind that the communication am talking about does not involve the types of instruments, the genres of music, or the vocals. This is all about music in its rawest form, the melody.

Certain songs make us feel certain ways although we weren’t taught to make these connections. It looks like our brains are hard-wired to match frequency progressions to certain ideas. It can’t be learnt, it can’t be altered, and weirdest of all: it is common between all people. We’re certainly preprogrammed to music.

While searching about this on the Internet, I came across an interesting study by a PhD student from The University of Auckland (Link). She made a group of 72 people, 36 of which were professional musicians and 36 were non-musicians, undergo a long series of lingual tests under three different conditions. They did the tests with no music in background, with music played with the right notes, and with music played with inconsistent notes.

The tests were intended to find the effect of music on the brain’s lingual performance. According to the researcher, past research has showed that musicians process music on the left side of their brains while non-musicians process it on the right side. The left side of the brain is dominantly associated with the processing of language.

The test results showed that the musicians’ lingual abilities were hindered with music being played in the background (either with the right notes or not), while they performed better in silence conditions. This shows that musicians’ brains process music as a language.

On the other hand, non-musicians scored seemingly equal results with and without music, indicating that their brains do not process music as a language.

I can’t really tell if my perception of music is affected by me being a musician. So is music really a language? Non-musicians, what do you think?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blogger in Draft

Blogger has introduced a new experimental interface that allows users to test all the new features that Blogger is currently working on. It’s called Blogger in draft, and it’s almost like Google Labs!


The interface is available for everyone at http://draft.blogger.com/

The first introduced beta feature is Video Upload! Although am not a big fan of blog videos, native host support for videos must be cool. The Video Upload tool is available in the post editor, right next to the image upload tool.

For more information on this service, check the official blog.

You can also take a look on the video player by checking this post. It looks great and better: it doesn’t link to outside sites :)