Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How I built an .exe program that secretly copies source code in the clipboard

My friend recently asked me to create for him a .exe program that downloads the source code from the internet and copies it to the clipboard. Source code can be anything such as Java, PHP or Python. Without doubt, the program would only work on Windows machine. My friend also wanted:

1. The program to retrieve the code from an URL which links to a text file.
2. The program should work silently, doesn't print anything on success.
3. The program should handle and catch exceptions.
4. The program should select one out of three.txt files based on users keystroke.
5. The program should be compatible with Windows 10.
6. The program should look like a calculator.

I have found the request very fun and decided to do it. C# would be a great and excellent tool for this, so I have download Microsoft Visual Studio C# 2008 for this task. I was taught C# and C++ on Visual Studio 2005 and 2008, so I really do not know the recent versions of Visual studio.


First, I have downloaded from the internet three sources codes for my friend in Java: BucketSort, RadixSort, and MergeSort. And I have uploaded them into my Google Cloud bucket.

So, I have three public URLs.

https://cdn.georgechalhoub.com/api/blogger/ewoe120asdo12eqweasdf/BucketSort.java
https://cdn.georgechalhoub.com/api/blogger/ewoe120asdo12eqweasdf/MergeSort.java
https://cdn.georgechalhoub.com/api/blogger/ewoe120asdo12eqweasdf/RadixSort.java

Then, I have started by downloading and installing a Visual Studio C# 2008 from this link and created a new project. On my machine, it was installed in French for some reason, but I was too lazy to fix it.

A default form is created by Visual Studio, so I had to rename it to form to Calculator and changed its icons. I also made sure the form doesn't resize by twisting the settings. So, it looked like the image you see on the left.


Now the fun part, our program. In the source of your form, I imported the necessary libraries.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Data;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System.Net;
using System.Windows;

Then, inside the constructor of the Calculator, I have created a key event listener. What this means is that if you press any key while the .exe is running, the event listener will be called. So the constructor looked like this:

public Calculator()
{
    InitializeComponent();
    this.KeyDown += new KeyEventHandler(tb_KeyDown);
}

What's left now,  doing creating the function tb_KeyDown and making it accept some arguments. Function looked like: tb_KeyDown(object sender, KeyEventArgs e).

Now, that code is inside the function, I have captured the keystroke, then decide to which links it belongs. So, if user presses on B, the BubbleSort.java would be copied; similarly for M (MergeSort) and R (RadixSort).

string dumb_key = e.KeyCode + "";
string link = "";
if (dumb_key == "B")
     link = "https://cdn.georgechalhoub.com/api/blogger/ewoe120asdo12eqweasdf/BucketSort.java";

if (dumb_key == "M")
    link = "https://cdn.georgechalhoub.com/api/blogger/ewoe120asdo12eqweasdf/MergeSort.java";

if (dumb_key == "R")
    link = "https://cdn.georgechalhoub.com/api/blogger/ewoe120asdo12eqweasdf/RadixSort.java";

Now, I had to download to URL and put it in the clipboard. For that, you need to create an object of the WebClient class:

WebClient client = new WebClient();

Then download the link:
Byte[] pageData = client.DownloadData(link);

And put in a string (With the formatting and breaks):
string pageHtml = Encoding.ASCII.GetString(pageData);

Then, put it in the clipboard:
Clipboard.SetText(pageHtml);

Then, the annoying part for me was handling exceptions, so I encapsulated the code in a try/catch clause. Inside the catch clause I handled errors:
//Couldn't connect to the internet.
if (webEx.Status == WebExceptionStatus.ConnectFailure) {
    Clipboard.SetText("Couldn't connect to a network.");
}

//Catching errors such as: 404, 403 and 400.
if (webEx.Status == WebExceptionStatus.ProtocolError) {
    var response = webEx.Response as HttpWebResponse;
   
    if (response != null) 
{
         Clipboard.SetText(response.StatusCode + "");
    }
    else {
         Clipboard.SetText(webEx + "");
    }
}

else 
{
    //An unknown error has occurred, just print to the clipboard.
    Clipboard.SetText(webEx + "");
}

Then, I compiled and ran the program, and everything was working correctly. On keystrokes, the code was copied to the clipboard. I have included the .exe in case you wish to test it. Download it at your own risk.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.ComponentModel;
using System.Data;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Windows.Forms;
using System.Net;
using System.Windows;
namespace WindowsFormsApplication1 {
 public partial class Calculator: Form {
  public Calculator() {
   InitializeComponent();
   this.KeyDown += new KeyEventHandler(tb_KeyDown);
  }
private void Calculator_Load(object sender, EventArgs e) {
  }
  static void tb_KeyDown(object sender, KeyEventArgs e) {
   string dumb_key = e.KeyCode + "";
   string link = "";
   if (dumb_key == "B")
    link = "https://cdn.georgechalhoub.com/api/blogger/ewoe120asdo12eqweasdf/BucketSort.java";
   if (dumb_key == "M")
    link = "https://cdn.georgechalhoub.com/api/blogger/ewoe120asdo12eqweasdf/MergeSort.java";
   if (dumb_key == "R")
    link = "https://cdn.georgechalhoub.com/api/blogger/ewoe120asdo12eqweasdf/RadixSort.java";
   WebClient client = new WebClient();
   try {
    Byte[] pageData = client.DownloadData(link);
    string pageHtml = Encoding.ASCII.GetString(pageData);
    Clipboard.SetText(pageHtml);
   } catch (WebException webEx) {
    //Couldn't connect to the internet.
    if (webEx.Status == WebExceptionStatus.ConnectFailure) {
     Clipboard.SetText("Couldn't connect to a network.");
    }
    //Catching erros such as: 404, 403 and 400.
    if (webEx.Status == WebExceptionStatus.ProtocolError) {
     var response = webEx.Response as HttpWebResponse;
     if (response != null) {
      Clipboard.SetText(response.StatusCode + "");
     } else {
      Clipboard.SetText(webEx + "");
     }
    } else {
     //Unknown error just print to clipboard.
     Clipboard.SetText(webEx + "");
    }
   }
  }
  private void Form1_Load(object sender, EventArgs e) {
  }
 }
}


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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Trimming videos via FFMPEG

After continuous insisting from my friends, I have recently set up my Steam account and purchased two games, Portal and Portal 2. And I have also been recording the screen and audio while playing just for archival and other purposes such as uploading them to YouTube and profit from videos that get high hits.

Portal 2, for example has many chapters and in each chapter you have a singnificant set of levels to finish to levels. Chapter 1 of Portal 2 has 19 levels. Nonetheless, after recording one hour session, I had to split them later.

I found intially an excellent trimmmer that is really useful in QuickTime: 


However, the process was incredibly time-consuming. So, I thought I want to do it via coding and it was easier than I imagined.

Indeed, the first library that came was FFmpeg: the revolutionary and prominent and useful and capabable video editing software on existence.

FFmpeg is way more capable than just trimming videos, so trimming via FFmpeg was very easy. Searching through their official documentation, I was able to find this link.

In short the ffmpeg command needed for trimming is this:
ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -ss 00:01:40 -to 00:02:12 -c copy output.mp4

I have tested it tons of times and found out it is the fastest and safest way to trim videos. Here are the parameters in short: 
  • -i: This specifies the input file. In that case, it is (input.mp4).
  • input.mp4: This your input file. You can name it as anything you want.
  • --s: Used with -i, this seeks in the input file (input.mp4) to position. 
  • 00:01:00: This is the time your trimmed video will start with.
  • -to: This specifies duration from start (00:01:40) to end (00:02:12).
  • 00:02:00: This is the time your trimmed video will start with.
  • -c copy: This is an option to trim via stream copy.
  • output.mp4: This your output file. You can name it as anything you want.
You can run the ffmpeg command on any bash terminal and it will run smoothly. Nonetheless, if you want to trim around 13 videos you'd have to write the command 13 times, which left me annoyed. So, I had to write a small python script take care of it.

You can run this code by simply calling python ffmpegTrim.py and indeed you have to change the arguments.
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Monday, February 27, 2017

Answering LOST's most confusing questions

Fifteen years ago, a phenomenal ground-breaking series aired on Abc Family, the show is called "LOST".  This show was confusing to plenty of viewers who especially didn't understand the ending and plenty of confusing questions throughout the series. I have recently rewatched the whole series and I will attempt to answer most of LOST's confusing questions.

Why didn't the black smoke kill the candidates when he had the chance, why put them on a submarine with a bomb? 

The thing is, candidates, selected by Jacob, the protector of the Island, are immune to death by the black smoke. While the black smoke can kill anyone he wants, he cannot kill the candidates. Candidates include Jack, Hurley and Sawyer. The black smoke is "extremely smart" and manipulated everyone throughout the series. The black smoke wanted all the candidates dead to be able to escape the Island, so what he has done is manipulated them to be on a submarine with a timed bomb. The black smoke realized that they would try to stop the bomb by messing with the wires and thus they would cause their own death, instead of the black smoke!  Jack, who realized the bomb cannot explode since it was set by the black smoke, couldn't prevent Sawyer, who tried and failed. So the bomb exploded.

How did Jack's dead father appear on the Island? 

The black smoke posted as Jack's dead father on the Island. So Jack was not hallucinating when his father on the island. A reminder that the black smoke and pose in any dead person's body. 

What was the horse Kate saw on the Island? 

The horse is still a mystery, however, my best guess is that the black smoke was trying to mess with Kate by posing as a horse. 

Why didn't Sayid stop Claire from killing Kate? 

Sayid's case got complicated. After dying from a gunshot, he was restored back to life with the help of the black smoke. Thus, Sayid lost his feelings and was only responding to the black smoke's requests. Sayid later repents by saving the candidates by running away with the bomb in the submarine.

Why didn't Jacob prevent himself from being killed by Ben? 

That's a very good question. Jacob was a very a cool character and really didn't give a damn plenty of times. There was no self-defense in the process of his murder. My best guess is that Jacob really trusted Ben and thought Ben would never harm him after being loyal all those years. Miles Straume, the spiritualist hired by Charles Widmore to go to the Island and has the ability to read the final thoughts of the deceased was able to hear Jacob's thoughts before his death and they were: I wish I was wrong about Ben.

Did Ben kill or order the death of the real Henry Gale? 

I would say: Definitely. Ben stole his identity, and knew where he was buried. 

What order did Desmond not follow that led to his dismissal in the army?

I don't believe Desmond ignored orders. The thing, Desmond started moving though time and places while being in the army so he was irresponsive and thus seen unfit to stay in the army.

Who is this person linked to Jack, his father Christian, and half-sister Claire?

We don't know. There is no reference to the "person" in the entire series.

Why does Ben insist that the Oceanic Six, as well as Locke, have to return to the Island?

Because they were candidates, and candidates have to protect island by preventing the black smoke from exiting the island. 

Why can Jacob leave the Island but the Smoke Monster can't?

As long as there are candidates, the black smoke cannot leave the Island, he's stuck. The black smoke cannot kill candidates too so they have to kill themselves. Candidates were picked since there were very young by Jacob.

What is the "infection"?

From CRACKED: "It is the word used to describe people under the Smoke Monster's influence. Claire was infected. Rousseau's husband and team were infected. Sayid was infected, until the power of love gave the infection the business."

Is Juliet Alive? And did she reset the chain of events with brought the passengers of Oceanic Air flight 815 to the island?

Juliet died at the beginning of season 6. She was still breathing before the last goodbye to Sawyer. Sawyer wanted to kill Jack out of anger when she died. So, we're sure that she's dead. Miles Straume, the spiritualist hired by Charles Widmore, also confirmed this when he read her thoughts later after insistence from Sawyer. As for the chain of events, they were not reset! Passengers were still on the island, nonetheless, they weren't in the 80s anywhere. They left the past. I understand how this might be confusing as season 6 aired two chains of events: one in the island and another off the island. I assume what was shown off the island would be the answer to the question: What would have happened if the airplane never crashed and events of Oceanic Air flight 815 are reset?

What Happened to Claire? She's been MIA for three seasons – what's up with that? And what is her son Aaron's role in the island's mythology?

Haven't you watched season 6? Claire reappears. It is really unknown what happened for those three seasons. But claire clearly was affected by the Black Smoke. She might have died and brought to life by the Black Smoke (like what happened to Sayeed), we don't know! But what we know is that she was responding to the requests of Black Smoke. Claire lost her sanity. As for her son, I don't know the answer of that. Her son might have no role in the island's mythology.

The Ajira Airways 316 Posse? And who exactly are Ilana and her crew?

Ilana is "summoned to the Island to protect the remaining candidates by Jacob, with whom she had a previous relationship." I recall that she was Jacob's bodyguard and she viewed him as her only "father". She was extremely saddened by his death. 

The Numbers! What is the significance of the numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42), and do they connect somehow to the island or to its powers? And is Hurley truly cursed by them?

You really didn't watch season 6. In short, the numbers correspond to candidates 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 respectively and one of them is supposed to protect the island. There are tons of pages regarding those numbers, please find them here and here.

When some of the survivors went back to the island on the Ajira flight, why didn't Sun end up in the past? Why was she still on the plane?

Very good question, I will quote lostpedia for this as there are plenty of theories:

1. Sun didn't go back in time because she was not a candidate. There is strong evidence that Jacob and his brother are based of the story of Jacob and Esau from the Old Testament. In a passage from the Old Testament, Jacob wants to pass his convenant through his grandchildren, and touches Manasseh and Ephraim. However, he touches Ephraim with his right hand and Manasseh with his left, proclaiming Ephraim will be a greater person. Similarly, Jacob touches Jin with his right hand and Sun with his left, only making Jin the candidate.

2. Sun wasn't sent back in time because she "betrayed" the Island by working for Charles Widmore just like Ben wasn't sent back in time because he moved the Island when Locke was suppose to and then even worse he came back.

3. Sun wasn't sent back in time because she was carrying a tracking device for Widmore. That is how he planned (successfully) to return to the Island. The tracking device worked as a sort of tether in time.

4. Sun didn't travel back in time because she was originally not supposed to be on Oceanic 815, and thus not supposed to be on the island in the first place. If you remember, she was originally going to leave Jin at the airport, but it was through her free will that she stayed with him. The island made sure she got pregnant so as to force her off the island so she would not travel back to 1977.  She was supposed to leave, but Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid were not.

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Evidence shows majority of Palestinians aren't civil

In this blog, I will list the evidence that I found which suggests that a majority of Palestinians are not civil. I have coined the evidence to present it to my apologist friend who is working on his PhD in the United States. There might be more evidence online but I will stick to those for the moment.Here are main points:

Support for Ismail Haniyeh


What do we know about Ismail Haniyeh? 


Support for terrorism

  • According to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), 89 percent of Palestinians support Hamas and other terrorists firing rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians.

Support for terrorist attacks

  • According to the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, 75% of  Palestinian Arabs in Gaza favored continued murderous terrorist attacks. 
  • 51% of Palestinian Arabs favor terrorist attacks in Judea/Samaria too.

Justification for suicide terrorism attacks

  • According to Pew Research Survey (September 2013),  a whole whopping 62% of Palestinians justify the use of suicide terrorism. Quoting Pew Survey, “in some countries, substantial minorities of Muslims say attacks on civilians are at least sometimes justified to defend Islam from its enemies; in the Palestinian territories, a majority of Muslims hold this view.” Among Palestinians, 37% said suicide bombing is usually justified whereas 25% said sometimes justified it was justified. 

Extreme and morbid anti-Semitism

    • 80% of Palestinian Arabs agree with the statement in the Hamas Charter calling for formulation of the Arab and Islamic battalions to fight the Jews.
    • 73% agree with the hadith (Islamic tradition), quoted in Hamas’ Charter, about the need to kill Jews. 
    • 61% of Palestinians reject the idea of a peaceful Palestinian state living alongside Israel as the solution to the Arab/Israeli war.
    • 72% of Palestinians support denying Jewish history and connection to the land of Israel. An overwhelming
    • 92% of Palestinians insist on Jerusalem being the Palestinian capital.
    • 62% of Palestinians support a policy of kidnapping Israeli soldiers and holding them hostage 
    • 53% favor teaching hatred songs against Jews in Palestinian schools.
    • 22% of Palestinians support firing rockets at Israeli cities and Jewish citizens.

More support for murder

  • October 2010: A Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research poll conducted September 30 to October 2 found that 51% of Palestinians supported the murderous August 31 terror attacks by Hamas which killed 4 Israeli civilians near the Bani Nayim junction.
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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Why I hate pop-under adveristments

I have written this blog for the public but especially for my assistant to illustrate to him why popunders suck.

Ever since 2017 started, one of my major websites witnessed a significant decline in its traffic. In fact, it lost over 30% to 40% of daily traffic. I was outraged, puzzled and obsessed. For days, I kept obsessing and thinking about this decline to find out a solution for this decline.

I have enjoyed a troubled, but stable relationship with pop-under advertisement networks since 2014. For almost 2 years, I have have been a customer to the most major pop-under advertisement networks, in fact, I think I've tried every popunder network you can think of, the networks are:
  • PopAds
  • PopCash 
  • Adsterra
  • ClickAdu
  • Propellerads
  • AdMaven
  • HilltopAds
There are probably other pop-under advertisement networks I had accounts with but forgot to list; nonetheless, those companies/websites made tons of money in 2014 - 2015 - 2016 as it was their time of rise.  Here are the main reasons why I hate  with popunder advertisements:

Malicious Advertisements, Viruses, and Scams

I have received many complaints about the quality of popunder advertisements being opened, where a lot of people alleged that the popups have tried to install pure viruses or unwanted software. I have personally witnessed "Get Rich Quick" scam themes, websites that were blacklisted by Chrome as "dangerous & deceptive", websites of my competitors, and endless advertised content with no value. I have very much contacted the advertisement managers and complained to no avail. You will always a bunch of amoral advertisers looking to spread of virus or malware to make money out of your clean traffic. 

Bad User Experience

This is one of the main reasons why I hate pop-under advertisements. Internet consumers like me completely abhor and oppose popunder advertisements and tend to close them as soon as they open. They're usually annoying because they hinder the user experience and stop his focus and engagement on the website by opening unwanted popups. 

Unethical popunder network

Popunder networks usually control your current eCPM and raise it or lower it for absolutely no valid reason whatsoever. One popunder network (I will not name) reported less number impressions instead of reporting the actual number. It was pretty obvious. Around 39,000 impressions were not reported. I completely ditched the network afterward. Other networks incredibly lower eCPM for no reason after realizing that you're dependent on their network. Once day you're 3.1, the other you're 0.9.


You're never in control

For most popunder advertisements, you don't control who bids on your website and who doesn't. You don't control the average eCPM that you desire to put. You have no idea how pop impressions are counted and if they are counted correctly. You have no idea if the network will ban you from the program the next day or not. You have no idea if the advertisement will contain malware/viruses or not. You have no idea how it is affecting the user experience and if users are ditching your site or whatever. You don't control anything, they control you. 


It is selling your website

Popups are easiest ways to make money off a website but they're the cheapest way. It is a quick weak fix that will pay you temporarily money until you realize that those pops are harming your business, especially on mobile where they have become incredibly unsupported (and almost tantamount) to redirecting your website to another one (aka, selling your website for cheap). 



Nonetheless... 

Popunder advertisements make money but so do drugs. I have enjoyed a 5-figures monthly income from popunder advertisements but eventually, I got sick of them and planning to ditch them when the budget permits. Not everything that makes money is good as it might destroy you in the long term. Google  hated popunder advertisements in the past and they were never integrated into the Adsense program and I completely understand and respect their decision.
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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Google's FIDO U2F Security Key: Taking two-step authentication to another level

A prominent Computer Science professor, Dr. Ramzi Haraty, said once "No system is fully and 100% secure". I was 18 years old when I heard that statement back then, and I didn't really take it seriously.

However, as I grew older, I realized how that statement was entirely true, beyond any reasonable doubt. Matter of fact, there isn't any service, login page, software, database or website that cannot be hacked and penetrated.

Even NSA's hidden and encrypted servers were hacked. However, each security system haps his own drastic security measures; some are challenging and tough to break into, and others are trivial.

One company that takes security extremely seriously is: "Google Inc." Behind this simple-looking login page you see on the right; there a monster security system that is beyond any person's imagination:

Matter of fact, if you can hack (not hijack) this page and access a consumer's account, your hack is worth at least: USD 25,000,000.

What Google does to protect the consumer Gmail accounts of their members is astonishing. This includes but not limited:


1. Bug bounty programs: Google pays millions of dollars each year for hackers and security researchers that report bugs to their system. In return, Google would pay cash in exchange for the information. That does push bored and opportunist programmers to start searching for the bugs on the system for hoping to get paid. Eventually, as bugs get reported over the years. They get minimized.

2. Encrypting the web, literally. In summary, this means HTTPS. This encrypts your communications: including passwords, credit card numbers, with many websites, making your browsing more secure. Without HTTPS, anyone spying on your Wifi could get personal information from you.

3. Locking your Gmail if it is signed up via Tor or a different country. If you access your Gmail from another country, it will be locked.

4. Obsessing about the sandbox. Google's security system is designed in a way where they have multiple security layers. That is, if you find one bug inside Google's page and access one protected page, you'll have to find a bug in the next security layer, then move to the next security layer, and so on. So, your chances of getting bugs and breaking this page are close to 0.

Allowing users to set up two-step authentication on their account is another way Google Inc. implemented security on their website. That means, if you log in from a new device, you will have to receive a 6-digit code on your mobile to be able to access the account (the secret code can be provided by a phone call, SMS, or an application known as Google Authenticator or Authy).  That is, even if you know the password of one account, you will not be able to access the account unless you receive that 6-digit code.

That's cool, right?


Not really. Google recently realized, due to their advanced artificially intelligent technologies, that governments are targeting social activists and breaking into their account. So, the standard two-step authentication feature (mobile) would be weak too.

Wait, how come?


Very simple; I'll give you one example. Imagine that you have a Gmail account, and I figured out your password. However, you're an intelligent person and have set up two-step authentication by receiving a phone call.

So, I get stuck here. What do I do? I can impersonate you and go to your mobile provider and claim that I lost your phone number and receive a new SIM card with your phone number.

It might not work in a phone company like Version or AT&T, but in other third world country countries (like Lebanon, for example) it would apparently work due to their pathetic security checks (Alfa or Touch).

Now imagine this. 


A corrupt government targets a journalist or a rebel's Gmail and get his password by spying on him. They can, for example, get access to his phone number and reset the password very quickly by collaborating with the phone company. 

In fact, this has happened as Google announced in a blog spot that since 2012 users have been targeted by state-sponsored attackers.

It might not be the method that I alleged of but I highly suspect it does. They said that they can't reveal the tip-off because hackers can adapt but however they said "Enable two-factor authentication and set up a Security Key" which could highly mean that the attempt goes on by targeting the mobile phone.

Google said they've sent those notices to 0.1% of their users which is a huge number considering there are more than one billion users with Google accounts. 0.1% of 1 billion is 1 million.

Google ended their post with "The security of our users and their data is paramount." which is clear illustrated and because of that you should trust and respect Google more.


So what is a security key?

It is a small USB that can be plugged into your machine to allow access to an account. It is a two-step authentication code that doesn't require a phone number. The full name being "FIDO U2F Security Key"; the security key is based on a U2F is an open authentication standard that empowers two-factor authentication using specialized USB or NFC devices based on similar security technologies found in smart cards. It has been developed by Google and Yubico. U2F security keys can also be used on Dropbox, GitLab, and Bitbucket.

How does it work? 

Once you've got two-step verification enabled and configured the security key. Each time you log in on a new (or unsaved) device, you will be asked to input your own safety key inside the machine, and press a button.

While you may keep the phone call as a backup verification method, I do not recommend since it defeats the primary purpose of the security key.

It is wise to generate backup codes and memorize them (not write them down anywhere) in case you lose the security key or want to login on a mobile phone.

If you decide to use one for your own safety, it is wise not to inform anyone of your friends, colleagues or anyone that you're using this type of security mechanism.

Hackers will adapt to the security features in whatever shape and forms. Let them be surprised if they access your account instead of letting them plan ahead.

Do I use a security key?

Yes, definitely. I have purchased this item on July 14, 2016, and added on July 25, 2016. My experience has been phenomenal as I gradually reduced two-step authentication. I've treated the security as any other standard security key and implemented it as a regular key on a key ring. I've had a bit of a hard time explaining what is this to my family and friends but eventually they got used to it.


How do I buy one?


You can purchase one from Amazon.com (provided by Yubico) for as cheap as $17.99. Configuration is easy and can be done easily on websites like Google or Dropbox.



In Summary

No matter where you go. You will never find anything as secure as your Google account: be it online bank accounts, Microsoft accounts, Facebook accounts, Akamai accounts, etc.  This company is obsessed security and breathes security. If you have sensitive information on your Google account or any critical material, it would be wise to purchase and configure a security key to take advantage of Google's security.
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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Starting 2017 with the "Nordic" template on this blog


I have recently realized how much I started to hate complicated blogging themes that are full of animations, design and javascript loaded that slows down the page, although I used them for years.



But I have recently realized I want something very simple, a clean cut design that lets u focus on content instead of anything else. I have been very lucky to find "Nordic" template, an immaculate template that was originally designed for Wordpress (a PHP-based slow and vulnerable blogging platform that I dislike) but later converted to Blogger (the robust and secure cloud blogging platform hosted and acquired by Google Inc.)

What I really liked about the Blogger version of the template is that pictures do not show on the main page (which has been an issue in the past).


Simplicity is key. As you see on the right, it is incredibly simple, clean and symmetric. Extremely useful to look at as well it looks well organized. 

By default, around 13 posts are originally posted on the main page, and they're all taking the same size (unlike what you see with other templates).

The share buttons are clean and work efficiently as well.  In some other models, they used to cause lots of headaches because they needed confirmation; and some templates required external add-on libraries.




The search bar looks decent and is hidden by default. But you can toggle it from the button on the right and the search page results. Social media icons are also provided by default on the right.



The page is responsive as well, and it can quickly shrink. There is no need to upload a separate template for mobile (as the option is already provided by Blogger). So the work that needs to be done is minimal.

The hamburger icon automatically appears on the left which is vital to use on the mobile.

Checking the publicly available blog on the service "Am I responsive?" illustrates that the blog looks incredible well on most major portable devices. 

It is worth mentioning that half of the internet's traffic comes from mobile. The mobile may and most likely will be the dominant source of traffic in the future as the people tend to visit websites from mobile devices instead of laptops.

Mobile responsiveness is not luxury but a prerequisite. 

Other than that: individual blog post pages - comments, footer, and other stuff are very well made.

According to a prominent speed test tool Pingdom, the site's load time is on average 1.11s (which is not really excellent but average). The template has no dependencies and doesn't request any additional external libraries.





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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Bruno Tabbal's new music video

Music video directed by: Bruno Tabbal
Starring: Cynthia Khalifeh
Featuring: Cynthya Karam
Director of Photography: Toufic tabbal
Producer : Ralph Tabbal
Art director: Joseph Khoury
Assistant Director: Jamal Jaafar

Lyrics: Ahmad abdel Nabi
Music: Jad Mehanna
Arrangement and mix: The AB Brothers

Sponsored by: MARTINI
B-QĀ DE MARSYAS


Watch "LAYLI WARA LAYLI" here:


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Thursday, March 17, 2016

It is 2016 and Payoneer still does not offer two-step authentication

In summary, this blog post is about Payoneer not offering two-step authentication for its members despite numerous requests.

As of March 17, 2016, Payoneer, a world-renowned company with more than 3 million customers, does not offer a two-step authentication protection for its members.

Founded in 2005, Payoneer provides financial services and online money transfer services worldwide. It is available in more than 200 countries and supports more than 150 currencies. 

Payoneer's concept is simple: you get an international credit card from Payoneer that allows you to get paid from any valuable american company. You will be able to use the credit card literally on any ATM machine anywhere in the world and withdraw the funds. You don't have to deal with banks, their headaches and contracts.

Payoneer had extreme success in the past and recently posted those stats on their website:


After massive success and being 10 years in business, the security department at Payoneer still doesn't get it: two-step authentication matters; all large and small tech giants include it such as: Apple, Amazon, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc...

Apparently, Payoneer is not aware that it is a company that handles financial accounts, not a social media accounts. Would thieves and hackers be interested to hack or hijack a simple social media account or a financial account that lets you gain access to a decent amount of cash? 

Computersolving.com said

Here goes my first criticism for Payoneer, besides no 2 factor authentication being available, I find it unbelievable that a company processing payments will not allow me to use special characters in my password, only letters and numbers are allowed, this will greatly help malicious hackers trying to break into my account using a brute force attack.

What Payoneer doesn't understand is that is not difficult to get to know someone's password, whether be it: installing some spyware on the victim's machine, standing behind the victim while s/he types  the password, or any type security vulnerability in the service's website and database. In addition to that, Payoneer does not force members to add characters in their passwords.

The community has been asking for this feature since forever, for example:




4. November, 2015: Security at Payoneer


I have personally contacted Payoneer's customer support team and this is the response I have received from them:

Thank you for contacting us. We understand your concern. Unfortunately the service is not available at present. We are working hard to make this available in future.

From this blog, I send a wake-up call to the security department of Payonner- it is time to fall out of the coma and straighten-up the security department.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

University of Saint Joseph student dismissed because she "can kill your babies"

A Lebanese student used Instagram to post an image of her and her friend in an hospital, HDF (Hôtel-Dieu de France). Along with the picture, this caption was found:

Be careful b*tches cz We can kill your babies #OneDay.

The Lebanese audience did not like the expression and it went viral, Mawtoura, a satirical Lebanese Facebook page posted the image and captioned it with:

If garbage doesn't kill your babies, these two mawtouras will.

Apparently, this girl was a nursing major and by this caption she was warning other people to be careful because she has (or soon has) the power to take the life of their children.

Whether it was intended to be a joke or not, Lebanese people were not hesitant unveil her name and report her to the appropriate entity, which was in their university: University of Saint Joseph (USJ).

The french-speaking university later confirmed on its twitter account that the student was dismissed from the university and/or the HDF (Hôtel-Dieu de France); which is a hospital affiliated with the university.


 The tweet translates to:

Thank you @mhijazi for the tag. The girl was dismissed from the HDF.

Was the university decision too extreme?
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Friday, September 4, 2015

Remove duplicate lines from a file using python


In case you have a file "input.txt" with duplicate lines and you would like to remove duplicate lines from it, and have the result put in "output.txt" all you have to do is execute
this python script, be careful and use the same indentation (space):


lines_seen = set() # holds lines already seen
outfile = open("out.txt", "w")
for line in open("input.txt", "r"):
    if line not in lines_seen: # not a duplicate
        outfile.write(line)
        lines_seen.add(line)
outfile.close()

This will execute in less than a 1 second, no matter how big is the file. Have a nice day.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

AZLyrics.com, the multi-million dollars lyrics empire


If you're a fan of music, and a 90-something kid, then you must have stumbled upon azlyrics.com a lyrics website, that is extremely simple. What AZLyrics.com does is pretty simple, put all pop lyrics on its site, its motto is: 

We have a large, legal, every day growing universe of lyrics where stars of all genres and ages shine.


The average 9-5 Joe thinks that this is a normal lyrics website that makes 0 money and there is no effort is maintaining, and ruling the site; just some stupid site with lyrics posted by members; that's far from being true.

AZLyrics, the top website for providing lyrics, is distinguished in:
  • Its SEO, the lyrics usually rank the first on Google search results, has a page-rank of 6 on Google.
  • Its simplicity, simple A-Z search, no complex or annoying layout, unlike (metro-lyrics, rap-genius).
  • Its accuracy, it has ordinary people submitting corrections for free, you'll rarely find wrong lyrics.
  • Its speed, it adds new lyrics everyday.
  • Its history,  AZ existed since 2000, and as of 2015, its 15 years old!
And beside its simplicity, AZLyrics.com has one hell of an Alexa Rank:


AZLyrics was very kind to publish its statistics:


As you see, AZLyrics receives 190,000,000 million unique monthly visitors and 280,000,000 monthly page views (though I doubt this is less 1,000,000,000) but anyway, the site makes money through many advertising platforms including:
  • Adsense (Known for being the best advertisement platform on existence).






  • Amazon (Advertisements for amazon.com products only).









  • TribalFusion (Known for malware, spam, fake products, money scamming)


  • ClickFuse (Music, related)

  • Advertisement for http://www.jango.com/:

Using my calculation and experience, I'd guess that azlyrics makes an income between 1 million dollars and 10 million dollars monthly.

Besides all that, the team of azlyrics.com owns and operates the following websites (Updated on 1 September 2015):
  1. AZLYRICS.COM - Pop Music Lyrics
  2. AZVIDEOS.COM - Pop Videos Embedding from YouToube
  3. DARKLYRICS.COM - Heavy Metal Music Lyrics
  4. URBANLYRICS.COM - Hip Hop R&B Music Lyrics
  5. COWBOYLYRICS.COM - Country Lyrics
  6. OLDIELYRICS.COM - Old Music Lyrics
  7. PLYRICS.COM - Punk Music Lyrics
Their site AZLYRICS.COM is hosted by LeaseWeb as of September 1, 2015:





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Monday, August 31, 2015

What constitutes an identity? A comprehensive synthesis

People are more than just government documents with statistical information; they are humans who have had their own turbulent childhoods, heritages, culture shocks, life milestones, and relationships. All of these factors lead to the creation of a person's unique identity; one that is dictated not by what the seal of his passport is but by how has lived. One's identity affects how he behaves with other people and reciprocally how others behave with him. Human history of full examples of conflicts and fights because of identity clashes. These clashes could be as minor as a politically incorrect joke on a YouTube video to large-scale genocides perpetrated by colonizers against "savages". These clashes come from a person not fully understanding people who ascribe to different identities; a situation that history proves can be a deadly incentive to persecution and intolerance. Abstracting from this, if a person consciously knows who he is, he will predict and be socially aware of how others will evaluate him based on their preconceptions of what his identity is. With an identity forged from his languages, cultures, and experiences and manifested in his sense of belonging, he understands not only how other people stereotypically judge him, but also likewise how he judges himself, judges others, and connects to others.

Various social commentators, journalists, and thinkers have touched upon the idea of how one's identity is formed and reflected in his and other people’s awareness of his social image. In his 2007 article "My First Passport", Orhan Pamuk gives the reader a glimpse of his early childhood and young adulthood spent in Switzerland and Turkey where he experienced firsthand how identities are formed, clashed, and judged. He claims that a person's identity is formed only from his experiences, wherever these experiences come from. Regardless of how you identity yourself, Orhan argues that other people will try to pinpoint what they think your identity is and judge you based on that. Ultimately, your true identity stays and grows with you. Amin Maalouf follows the same train of thought in "Deadly Identities" (1998) but takes it to a more drastic level. He explores the persecution and marginalization that follows from these identity clashes and identity pinpointing. He claims that one's identity could be formed from multiple cultural resources and experiences, and that people often try to oversimplify other people's identity by reducing it to one's national or ethnic background. But, such actions could lead to intolerance, judgment, prejudices, and xenophobia. This alarming claim is realized in both Mona Kareem's "Why do you hate Khalijis" (2012) and Ghinwa Yateem's "Lebanese women are suffering from sexual stereotypes" (2004). In the former, Kareem's discusses how many non-Gulf Arabs have developed stereotypes of Gulf Arabs (Khalijis) based on neo-colonial attitudes. She claims that non-Gulf Arabs have reduced Khaliji Arabs to these preconceptions and blackened their image, ignoring their centuries-old Bedouin culture and the role they have played in helping the Arab World. Similarly, Yateem argues that this judgmental mentality has likewise been directly from the Gulf (and other Arab countries) to Lebanese Arab women. She claims that Lebanese women have been judged as sexually promiscuous, shallow, and vain by other Arab cultures, all the while ignoring the diversity in the lives and accomplishments of Lebanese women. In response to these stereotypes, many people have taken up a call-to-action and actively fought against stereotyping and prejudice, such as the blogger Faisal Abbas who actively posts on online media in order to counter widespread Arab stereotypes (LAU, 2009). All these writers illustrate the ways that individual identities can be formed and how other people oversimplify them to a great extent.

Language is man’s original mode of communication, our innate method of sharing information with others. It thus forms one of the crucial ingredients in the creation of one’s identity. As explored in depth by Maalouf (1998), language can either be an open channel into the further development of a richer and more complicated identity, or it can be a preserver of a person’s original identity by preventing the “intrusion” of other identity-creating ingredients. Maalouf explores the former function of language in “Deadly Identities” where he provides biographical information on how he came to develop a Franco-Lebanese identity. Both the Lebanese and French facets of his one singular identity were nurtured not just by the Mediterranean and European cuisines that he grew up on, but on his exposure to great works in literature through both Arabic and French. It is through his fluency in his own native language that Amin Maalouf was able to access his ancestral folktales and strengthen his Lebanese roots. Likewise, it was through his fluency in French that he was able to penetrate into European literary culture and become a productive writer and sharer of ideas. Both Lebanon and France are a part of his identity because of how language was a channel for him to access and integrate both societies. In contrast to this identity-expansion aspect of language, language can also deter further modifications to one’s identity by fossilizing one’s affiliations and his ease of penetrating into foreign social groups. This is illustrated in the biographical account of Orhan Pamuk (2007), who as a child was not able to integrate into the Francophone Swiss school, culture, and society because of his inability to speak the language. Instead, his Turkish identity was preserved and he had to return to Istanbul to continue his education. Ironically, it was only through reading non-Turkish works in Turkish that Pamuk was able to understand these foreign societies. Furthermore, it was only in Turkish that Pamuk was able to express and refine his identity through his multiple publications.  Both these identity-expansion and identity-preservation functions of language are vividly experienced by any Lebanese citizen who on average is taught two or three languages, each of which bringing with its own cultural baggage and expression. Some find it easy to attain high fluency in these languages, and thus they find themselves cradling Middle Eastern, French, and American ties in their own identity. But others find it difficult to do so. Instead, they (subconsciously) choose to dedicate their time to only one of these language-society pairs and they mold their personalities on only this pair to the exclusion of the others. But regardless of which mode taken, language is a clear constructor of a person’s identity through it being a channel of information transfer and sense of belonging.

Expressed through language, culture likewise plays a role in identity formation. Culture is an umbrella term for the various beliefs and practices that a person grows up around. It is this under this umbrella though those identities are created and influenced. In the case of beliefs for example, by being exposed to a culture that advocates restricted interaction between the two sexes, a person may grow to subconsciously believe that gender segregation is proper and he will act based on that belief. As discussed by Kareem (2012), this is the case of some Gulf Arabs who are implicitly and explicitly told how to a proper man or woman behaves in public and private. Of course, not all Gulf Arabs, raised around the same culture, ascribe to the same attitudes and any such overgeneralization is stereotypical. But a significant number of them do. And for these specific individuals, it is because of Gulf culture. In contrast, exposure to a culture with more lax attitudes on gender interaction could create a person who believes in that same attitude and act accordingly. Gender integration is common in Lebanon as shown by the diversity of how Lebanese women live their lives (Yateem, 2004). Some feel comfortable with their sexuality, while others are more reserved. Some achieve great feats in their professional careers alongside men – May Chidiac comes to mind – while others prefer to live simpler lives outside of the work force. It is through these women’s exposure to a Lebanese culture of gender integration and feminist ideals that they choose for themselves how to live and how to see themselves. Furthermore, in terms of cultural practices and identity, when a person is continuously exposed to the culture of some social group in the form of its arts, literature, and cuisine, his psychological ties to that social group will be strengthened. When a Beiruti who was raised at a prestigious Lycee goes on a vacation to Paris, he will feel a strong bond to the faces, sounds, and sights of the French society that he first experienced in his French-Lebanese school and that he now sees live. Likewise, whether this same person is walking down an alleyway in Cairo or on the corner of the Empire State building in NYC, the aroma of falafels coming from street vendors will remind him of his Lebanese culture and identity. All in all, it is through the exposure of cultural beliefs and practices that a person’s sense of self is created and grown.

Through language and within a cultural environment, a person experiences different aspects of life: education, relationships, struggles, losses, achievements, and victories. It is ultimately his experiences that are the bulk of his identity and selfhood. For Orhan Pamuk (2007), it was his inadequacies in French and the sense of isolation he felt in Switzerland that nurtured his introverted tendencies. It was his later return to Turkey and personal readings that were the seeds for his lifelong literary career. The idea that it is your life that defines your identity is expanded in Maalouf (1998). For him, it was his simple childhood in a Lebanese village and his academic and literary career in France that created his identity. Who a person becomes is the sum product of what he has done in life and what has been done to him. Every Lebanese individual will have a unique identity that grew with a trajectory based on what life experiences he has had. Whether he went finished the Lebanese baccalaureate, got married at a young age, lost his family in the war, or emigrated to the West after graduation, all of these different potential events will create who he his and will be.

Created through language, culture, and experiences, a person’s identity is manifested in his sense of belonging or where he senses home truly is. If a person identifies with some culture and society, then he will feel at home when with other people of similar – but not identical – identities. This home could be the place where a person grew up and felt cultural ties to, as was the case for Pamuk (2007). Despite his attempts at integrating into the Swiss culture and school, Pamuk was not able to feel at home in Switzerland and had no choice but to return to his true place of belonging, Turkey. But for other people, home could include multiple places where a person spent many years of his life and much of his efforts into, as was the case for Maalouf (1998). Maalouf experienced multiple cultures and homes in his life and was able to integrate multiple affinities and ties into his identity. He was at ease in both Middle Eastern and French societies and equally felt at home at both places. The fact that he could so was a reflection of the complicated nature of his identity, one that had incorporated both his Arab and French experiences and cultures. Similarly for the average Lebanese citizen, the languages and people he is raised around and integrates into his identity will be manifested in his sense of belonging. Whether he is located in a Lebanese suburb in Michigan, a pan-Arab ghetto in Paris, or a Francophone city in West Africa, he will feel that he belongs to that area and its people as long as he has a shared identity with them.

It is clear that people’s identities are formed based on the input of language, culture, and experience and the output of their sense of belonging. However, many people falsely believe that all of these factors pale in comparison to the person’s nationalistic or ethnic origin. That is, regardless of how the he has lived in his life, every person has a fundamental identity and sense of belonging that is based completely on where he comes from – his nation, sect, or ethnicity. Other factors like language, education, culture, human relationships, and experiences play only a small role. It is ultimately a person’s passport that is the determiner of his real identity. But, such an idea is false and dangerous. It is false because governmental documents are only that, documents! As exemplified by Pamuk (2007), his passport was only a document that erroneously detailed parts of his body and demographics, not a true representation of who he was and who he would become as a person. Although he had a European passport and was evaluated as a “member of the council of Europe”, his inner identity had no connection with Switzerland. In the Lebanese diaspora, there are many people who have a Lebanese passport and Lebanese DNA running through their blood, but they have little traces of Lebanese culture running through their blood. For example, the actress Salma Hayek has verified Lebanese ancestors and carries the Lebanese citizenship. Yet, she neither speaks the language, cooks the food, celebrates the holidays, nor has experienced a single milestone in her life in Lebanon. She was born and raised in Mexico and is a Mexican by identity in all its aspects.  On paper she is Lebanese, but she is not Lebanese on the inside regardless of the fanfare that the Lebanese showed her when she arrived in Lebanon this April (Westall, 2015).

Secondly, this argument is dangerous according to Maalouf (1998). The danger lies in how this oversimplification of a person’s identity can lead to marginalizing that individual, making him feel devalued, and spreading xenophobia. There are many people who have identities that are more complicated than where they happen to have been born and raised; they further face marginalization because of this. A case in point is the social position of migrant communities such as Algerians in France. These migrants have in reality one identity influenced from both the Arab and French worlds, but both worlds marginalize these people whenever they recognize the other part of their identity, i.e. they French reject the migrant when he acknowledges his Arab identity and the Arabs reject him when he acknowledges his French identity. For the French, he is treated hostilely as terrorist; and for the Arabs, he is a traitor to his homeland Even in the Lebanese context, there are many Lebanese, including Maalouf, who are raised around French culture, have complicated identities, and feel a sense of belonging to both the Arab World and the Francophonie. Their identities are bigger than their passports, but reducing their identities to their passport seal is a denial of who they really. This denial becomes an obstacle against healthy dialogue between French and Arab cultures and could lead to intolerance and xenophobia. Even in the small country of Lebanon, no two Lebanese individuals will have identical identities just because they share a Lebanese passport. Their different family backgrounds, neighborhoods, educations, relationships, and adventures will create two unique identities. A person’s identity cannot be encapsulated in some government document, but will be nurtured by multiple variables: language, culture, experiences, and belonging.

A person’s identity is unique because of the multiple ingredients in its constructions. However, people are naturally inclined to find patterns in the world, and that includes the human tendency to ignorantly overgeneralize people, to put them into narrow categories, to have stereotypical preconceptions of them, and thus reduce people’s unique identities into smaller boxes. These stereotypical overgeneralizations and ignorant prejudices are dangerously pervasive in Lebanese culture and towards the Lebanese people. As explained by Kareem (2012), there has been a surge of stereotypical preconceptions of Gulf Arabs or Khalijis by non-Gulf Arabs, including the Lebanese. Because of their countries’ economic boom, human rights record, and conservative sexual attitudes, Khalijis are judged as being greedy, exploitative, backwards, and sexually repressed people. The actions of the few – the menial labor employers and the sex tourists – have been the measure by which all Gulf Arabs are judged and lumped together. The intricacies of Bedouin culture and society are completely ignored and reduced into this single false image of the greedy oil baron who goes on sex trips to Beirut. These stereotypical tendencies also work in the opposite direction whereby Arabs, including Khalijis, misperceive Lebanese women as promiscuous, vain, and shallow (Yateem, 2004). Their evidence is just the actions of a minority of superficial Lebanese women and prostitutes. No attention is given to the full spectrum of Lebanese women – the lawyers, judges, housewives, journalists, and mothers who play a crucial role in Lebanese society and enjoy more freedoms than their Gulf counterparts. But regardless of the direction of stereotypes, both the judger and judged are mistreated and misevaluated. Their identities are reduced to simplistic and false descriptions, based on paltry evidence and ignorance.

Based on ignorance, stereotypes are a dangerous slippery slope that can lead to intolerance, loss of humanity, and homogeneity. First, by negatively overgeneralizing a population and the identities of its individuals, the value of that population’s history, culture, and world contributions are lost. Through the reduction of Khalijis to repressed oil barons, the centuries-old Bedouin culture is marked down as just a land of oil and not a land of hospitality, poetry, and tradition. Through the stereotyping of Khalijis as exploitative and spoiled, the contributions of the Gulf in the Arab revolutions and its place as a meeting point between multiple cultures is forgotten (Kareem, 2012). Time will tell if this erasure of Gulf contributions to the world will ever be brought back into public consciousness and if the Khaliji will regain the respect he once had. But secondly, on a much more serious scale, stereotyping will not just lead to a loss of humanity, i.e. the dehumanizing and forgetting of a culture and history of some people, but also to intolerance and the loss of lives. History is full of civilizations and peoples who were killed and eradicated because of extreme stereotyping and dehumanization. To cite just a few examples, the last 100 years has seen the mass deaths of Rwandans, Slavs, Palestinians, Jews, and Armenians because of how too many people believed in horrible stereotypes about them. How stereotyping can potentially lead to crimes against humanity is difficult to explain. But Maalouf provides a model in his hallmark “Deadly Identities” (1998). By oversimplifying a person’s identity and by ignoring the complexities that go into creating his multifaceted identity, stereotyping limits healthy human interaction. If a person who, like Maalouf, has a complicated identity influenced by multiple cultures and societies, then he can act as a bridge of dialogue between those societies. But by disrespecting such complicated identities, dialogue cannot happen even between societies that are geographically close to each other. The diversity in population identities will be reduced into one homogeneous pile whereby people with complicated identities or those who have identities associated with the ‘enemy’ will be marginalized and repressed. Conversely, by respecting people who have complicated identities, dialogue and peace is insured between the societies associated with these identities.

Although the problems posed by stereotypical thinking are clear, an effective antidote is not. However, one potential solution is to utilize the media in both actively and passively fighting stereotypical generalizations. To actively fight stereotypes is to explicitly address stereotypical thinking and judgments on different media platforms. For example, to counter rising stereotypes about Lebanese women, journalists could publish multiple articles, blog posts, and videos where they talk about these stereotypes and debunk them. This is illustrated in Yateem (2004) where she directs most of her efforts into detailing what stereotypes exist about Lebanese woman, showing the hypocrisy in the people who believe such stereotypes, and providing counter-arguments in the form of real-life diversity in Lebanese women. Her article is an active struggle against stereotypes because it directly challenges them with the intent of correcting or erasing them. The same can be said for the blogger Faisal Abbas (LAU, 2009) who has made an online journalism career for himself out of his blogging activism against Arab stereotypes. On the other hand, another effective subsolution to the stereotyping problem would be to passively fight it. Instead of having the media publish works where the writer or creator explicitly and deliberately condemns stereotyping, passive media would involve releasing documentaries or articles where the stereotypes are implicitly resisted and disproven. For example, a fear raised by Kareem (2012) in her discussion on Khaliji stereotypes is the fact such prejudicial thinking has erased the existence and value of Bedouin culture from the public consciousness of the Arab World. That is, the idea of the Khaliji has now become associated with the inhumane oil baron and not the noble Bedouin nomad. To relieve this situation, journalists could publish works where this image and culture is renewed. They could broadcast documentaries exploring Bedouin history, the multiculturalism of the Gulf, and military history on the role of the Gulf in the Arab revolutions. The same could be done to resolve the issue of stereotyping Lebanese women by getting the Lebanese media to no longer use the vain nymphomaniac Lebanese girl as a stock character. Instead, Arab media would create multidimensional Lebanese female characters modeled after real-life Lebanese women. These two steps are passive in the sense that they do not involve explicitly arguing with the prejudicial audience but they indirectly make the audience see how the stereotypes are inaccurate or misguided. By watching and understanding the history of the Gulf and the value of the contributions of its people, non-Gulf Arabs will be less inclined to believe their narrow-minded judgments of Khalijis as exploitative sex tourists. Likewise, by having the diversity of Lebanese women be displayed on television as it is in real life, other Arab people will no longer think that all Lebanese women are identical fickle fashionistas. By utilizing both the active and passive forms of media as described, the Arab World has a viable strategy to counter the spread of prejudicial and stereotypical thinking. The media is one of the most powerful social forces that exist in human society. Just as it has been able to spread stereotypes before, so can it resist and cure them.

Just as no two people share identical genetic code, no two people share the same identity. Every person is unique because they were to different dialects, different cultures (cuisines, ideologies, beliefs, practices, customs, arts, ), and had different ups and downs in their life. They know who they are in relation to other people by sensing if they belong to a certain land, area, or people. They could feel this belonging to multiple areas and peoples though because of the multifaceted nature of humanity and the human psyche. Their identity is just bigger than the where they happen to have come from – their government documents. This is illustrated in the lives of many Lebanese people who have ties to multiple cultures (Middle Eastern, French, or American) and who maintain these identities wherever they live, whether it’s somewhere in the Arab World, the Franchophonie, or the Anglosphere. However, out of ignorance, many people oversimplify different people’s identities into small stereotypical boxes. This action is dangerous because it can lead to a loss of human value and, much more seriously, to the loss of human lives as illustrated with past genocides and contemporary inter-Arab discrimination. Respect must be given to the diversity of human identities, or else the consequences may be undoable.

Lebanese American University. (2009, July 13). Award-winning LAU grad uses blogs to break Western stereotypes of Arabs. Retrieved from http://www.lau.edu.lb/news-events/news/archive/award-winning_lau_grad_breaks/

Kareem, M. (2012, August 29). Why do you hate Khalijis? Al-Akhbar. Retrieved from http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/11576

Maalouf, A. (1998). Les identités meurtrières [Deadly Identities]. Grasset.

Pamuk, O. (2007, April 16). My first passport: What does it mean to belong to a country?. The New Yorker. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/04/16/my-first-passport

Westall, S. (2015, April 27). Salma Hayek pays tribute to Lebanese roots with film of ‘The Prophet’. In Reuters. Retrived from http://reuters.com/article/2015/04/27/us-lebanon-film-hayek-idUSKBN0NI17O20150427

Yateem, G. (2004, April 21). Lebanese women suffering from sexual stereotypes. The Daily Star. Retrieved from http://www.dailystar.com.lb//Opinion/Voices/2004/Apr-21/92061-lebanese-women-suffering-from-sexual-stereotypes.ashx

This synthesis can be found on http://blog.georgechalhoub.com/2015/08/identity.html and can be reproduced elsewhere without permission as long as this message is kept. © 2015 George Chalhoub.

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