Jan 24, 2006

Can you top my Pizza Hut Salad-bar tower?

Making the most of my Pizza Hut Salad Bar trip. Can you top me?
and don't give me "oh, the other day I was able to fit 3 feet of coleslaw in my dish". SHOW ME EVIDENCE!
This would be a nice blontest :-) [blog-contest, for those asking]

Jan 20, 2006

Democracy: Is it right for us?

This is a continuation of the discussion that Bo3bo3 started on the topic of Democracy. I won’t attempt at answering the main question “Is democracy right for us?”. But rather I would like to focus today on the difference between Democracy and Rule-By-Majority.


About a year ago I took a very useful class on Business Leadership that cleared many decision-taking concepts for me. A common mistake is to consider methods like “individual (dictatorship)” and “advisory” as evil and “majority” or “consensus” as always-correct. They differ mainly in levels of acceptance and expertise needed, and are needed at different times.

The table of decision making:

Decision-making methodPropertiesExample
Decision is “dictated” by the leader without consulting the members.
Very Fast & efficient. Doesn’t require extra knowledge
from members. Purpose can stay with leader.
A military leader is conducting a secret operation. It’s important that all members follow orders and not know a lot about the purpose.

A driving-instructor teaching a student how to drive. The student doesn’t have the expertise to be consulted.
The leader consults an “advisory board” and then takes the decision by himself
Fast. Makes use of discrete knowledge with some of the members.You want to invite a group of people over for a feast of Mansaf. You want to know where to buy the meat from. Your guests can suggest places, but it’s finally your decision (involves distance, price, and quality).
Majority of the members must agree for a decision to be taken
Slower. Guarantees a decision and generally no-violence. The minority won’t resort to violence since they know they are outnumbered by majority.A family wants to go on vacation. They must decide between Aqaba and Dead-sea. Majority is a good method since the topic does not require expertise and it’s guaranteed to give a decision.
All members much agree for a decision to be taken.
Does not guarantee a decision. Guarantees total acceptance from all.A group of 5 is coming back from Syria in a taxi-car. The driver wants to change the drop-point to Sweileh instead of Abdaly. Such a decision requires onsensus from all 5 passengers, since if any of them wants to go to Abdaly, the decision cannot be made.

These methods are very useful especially in business
settings. If one wants to schedule a meeting, one must decide how to make the
decision and who to invite:

  1. People who have certain expertise/knowledge to make the decision.
  2. People who must “buy-in” on the decision. (agree or know about it)


Democracy is a system that assumes that the majority-type of decision making methods are important for ruling a country. Democracy is not just rule-by-majority. It is the “spirit” of including the opinion of the citizens in nation-type decisions. While all 4 methods of decision-making can take place in a democracy, it leans towards consensus and majority, especially for important decisions.

Democracy is a failure for companies. While some decision-by-majority is needed in a company, the major decisions are better be done using methods 1 and 2.

Democracy is not an all-good-and-perfect system. It’s definitely suitable for some aspects and not for others. Now the question comes back. Is democracy the best solution for all countries at all times? And what level of democracy is best for us? ...

Choosing a DSL provider in Jordan

I finally have my DSL in Jordan!! Wooohooo!!

However, to get there, it took me several weeks and many calls. The full story is below. I will start with the summary first:
  1. Subscribing to ADSL Internet in Jordan happens in two steps. First step is to connect to the JTC (Jordan Telecom) for 10JD/month and connection fee of 25JD (usually 60JD)
  2. Step two is to choose an Internet provider to pump internet in the DSL lines. And this is where your options start. (JTC sells internet to the providers in bulk, and they resell it to customers and provide customer support & other services).
  3. Price wise they are all very similar:
    1. ~15JD/month for 128Kbps
    2. ~25JD/month for 512Kbps (5 GB/month bandwidth limit)
    3. ~40JD/month for 1024Kbps (10 GB/month bandwidth limit)
  4. But service wise they are not. Here’s a summary of what I found:
    1. Wanado (5624777): A partner of JTC. They have the largest number of customers, which is their downside. They don’t seem to be scaling up well in terms of customer service & installation times (see my story below).
    2. Cyberia (5515333 cyberia.jo or 079-640-0724): (my choice) I found their sales and tech support extremely helpful and willing to take the extra mile to excel. (See story below) This is a “Hariri-Group” internet company, extending from Saudi and Lebanon.
    3. Batelco (5510101): their minimum subscription is 3 months as opposed to 2 months with other providers. However, at 1-year subscription one gets extra 3 months free as opposed to 2 with other providers.
    4. TEData (5561686 tedata.net.jo): New company on the block. Not well known. However, a friend of mine is very happy with them. They do not impose a monthly bandwidth limit, which is perfect for Torrent-fans out there.
    5. AccessMe (5699990) & Link (5546666): (same provider) cheaper by about 30%/month & 16 GB limit per month. Don’t know anything else about them.
    6. Next (?): JTC can’t find their telephone number. No info.

My Story with Jordanian DSL – American Way of Business

When I first got to Jordan, I called Cyberia and Wanado to get internet connection. Cyberia’s salesperson (Omar Qteishat) offered to come to my apartment to sign me up. However, I decided to go with Wanado because all of my friends where using them. I went down to their building in Jabal Amman and signed up. They said that JTC will come in to install the lines first, and then they will turn on the internet within 48 hours of that.

In 4 days JTC came knocking on our door. Within about 2 hours our phone lines where DSL-friendly and ready to go. The JTC guys said that another person form JTC will come to install the DSL modem. And the next day, surely enough, that person did show up and installed the modem. He said that now Wanado will call me to give me the username and password, and most likely they will send somebody over to set up my connection.

The Whirlpool Begins
  1. Two days passed by and Wanado did not call.
  2. So I called the Wanado customer service. They said that they cannot find my record, and that most likely JTC did not pass it back yet.
  3. I called again, they told me to call mohandes Tareq or mohandeseh Israa to check on the application.
  4. Tareq & Israa’s phones were always busy or did not answer. Their voice mail was full and I couldn’t leave any messages.
  5. I kept calling, and finally was able to reach mohandes Tareq, who checked quickly and said that my file is not there yet. He said let’s check with your salesperson. Who was your salesperson? Since I don’t keep track I couldn’t remember, but eventually found out that it was Ms. X.
  6. Ms. X couldn’t remember me at first, and she didn’t find my application in her file. She asked blaming “why didn’t you call after JTC came in!?” (Well, nobody said anything about calling the salesperson again! And customer service kept giving me bogus answers!)
  7. She remembered that there was a problem with my application. After looking through some papers she found my application and said “ah, yes, your credit card did not go through”! (why she didn’t call me to fix that!? I don’t know)
  8. I told her to read the credit card number, and surely one of the digits was off. She made a point of blaming me for the error (instead of asking for the right number and just trying the credit card again). I kept cool and let it go, again. She said that within 48 hours I’ll have my internet connection.
  9. I went to Syria for a week and told my parents to expect a call from Wanado.
  10. However, I came back to find that Wanado did not call yet. I called again, and got transferred from one customer service to another until I reached Ms. X.
  11. She asked me – trying to blame me again for the delay “did you call us after JTC installed the Modem? Has it been 48 hours yet?” I said “yes, a week ago”. She said “who did you talk to?” I said “you!!”. She said ah, ok, we’ll try to have somebody over soon. Eid was only2 days away. I really did not want to wait another week for my connection.
  12. The day before the Eid I called the customer service again, and they said “A technician is scheduled to come over AFTER THE EID to give you the username and password”.

Game Over Wanado, Welcome Cyberia
  1. At that point I gave up on Wanado. I called Omar Qutaishat from Cyberia, and immediately he offered to come by.
  2. He came at 11:15 sharp (as he promised) and we signed the papers. He was direct with me and promised to do his best to get me internet connection ASAP but it might not be today. I was happy with his frankness. He also made it clear that if I disconnect in 2 months then Cyberia will disconnect but JTC will keep charging us 10JD a month for a year. Something that Wanado never mentioned.
  3. Omar also said that the company policy states that they should send an engineer over, but he will see what can be done (calling in with the username & password is much faster).
  4. At 3pm Mohandeseh Wafaa of Cyberia called to give me username and password and DNS server numbers.
  5. I called again their Tech Support for help with setting up my Wireless Router (although I did not buy it from them). They were very professional and helpful.
  6. And at 3:15pm, after 4 hours of calling Omar & Cyberia, I had my internet connection!!!

I called Wanado and cancelled my subscription. They tried to get me the username & password at that moment, but it was too late. They promised that they will send me a check in the mail in 1 week. Second day of Eid I got a call from an engineer at Wanado who wanted to come and setup my connection. I told him I have cancelled already. I’m waiting for the check now.

Apparently, with the aggressive marketing of DSL in Jordan, Wanado, being JTC’s partners, got many new subscribers all at once. Their staff couldn’t scale up services quickly enough and resulted in many unhappy customers (like myself).

Kudo’s to Omar Qutaishat at Cyberia for being truly helpful and going the extra mile to make his customers happy. I truly felt that he was looking after my own interest.

I also want to say that the American way of business “not happy? go to the next-door competitor” is making its way to Amman nicely!