The Ghar Hira’

March is coming – so before the crowd starts to grow in Makkah, we decided to visit the Holy City again for the first time this year. So I took 2 days of vacation and leave Riyadh on 22nd February morning — it was a long tiring trip as usual and we reached Taif’s Miqat area around 5pm . We took a break for lunch/dinner in the small motel there and left to enter Makkah right after Maghrib prayer.
To cut it short we checked in into the hotel and started doing the umrah ritual around 10pm and completed around midnight. The girls– Alysha and Sabrina did the umrah for first time after many years. They were too young before and always cried during the tawaf and saie so for 2 years (I think) whenever we came here they would either stayed in the room or waited in the masjid area while one of us took turn to do the umrah.
There were a little bit complain from the younger sister but alhamdulillah we managed to complete it without much hassle. Ammar too were wearing ihram this time ( I took him wudu’ too) and he did the umrah without any sign of unhappiness 🙂 — I always believed that he was the one with the bless of Allah who led us here great country of Arabia .

Day 2: After we completed Fajr prayer in Masjidil Haram (the kids were asleep in the room) , everyone were waken up early for breakfast around 8am. With the guidance of the GPS we reached Jabal Nur around 9.30am.
It was a tiring trip but worth every moment — the kids were complaining as they have to wait for my slow phase climbing the hill.. Hey! give me a break.. try driving for 10 hours and you know how crammed this knee was!
Alhamdullillah it was a great trip .. and imagine this we were at the historical place where our Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) received the first revelation ages ago..who knows if we have stepped to one of his foot steps around the cave .. Subhanallah!
The video below explains better about the trip 🙂


The beautiful Diriyah :)

Still under heavy development -the old city of  Diriyah the original city of  Saudi Royal families will become the main historical attraction here in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. We went there with few families recently for breakfast (but due to the cold and windy weather we left early)  but as usual I managed to do the favourite past time hobby – photo shooting 🙂

Here are some of mine taken using my new Olympus PEN E-PL1 🙂

Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran

The most interesting video from TED I have seen so far about Islam – I am really amazed how a Jew agnostic (what she referred about herself in the video) could explained quite well about Quran – she even explained about some misinterpretation by the Orientalist.  But what striked me the most – is my failure of being a Muslim for life of not having much effort to fully understand Quran . Living in Arabia for 4 years now I am near but the journey yet so far .. Still trying to complete my self study with books and 112 pieces CDs  –  Bayanul Quran by the late Dr. Israr Ahmed .

The Madinah trip again..

Though its been the fourth year I lived in the sandy Arabia – its only the 3rd time that I have traveled to the Prophet’s City of Madinah. The first one was a bus trip perhaps 2 years ago and the 2nd one was when Pah was here early this year  . This time the missions were to meet 1 Abang Shamsul and Kak Mas + 2Kak Imah and family whom happened to be there after completed their Hajj this year. Also I just need 3to escape from the life in the office – Hajj season works were completed “successfully” <- that what I heard from emails (got this every year so it became less meaningful!) – I just need a break — and there’s no such perfect place other than  Madinah to bow and  prostrate to the Creator in the Holy Prophet’s Masjid  🙂

data ..

My line of work involved a lot of data processing from tons of daily  alarms (indicator of faults in a system) or performance measurements (network KPI)  either from BSC, RNC or MSC etc etc . Data from those network elements were collected and stored in a centralized database and later processed by few applications  for fault management and kpi reportings.  Sounds boring? Tell me about it .. I have worked with all this stuffs for more than a decade !
Until recently, this boring data reading work had somehow become an interest  – after pursuing the MIS course in Competitive Intelligence +attending classes by Dr. Henri Dou also in DataMining  by Dr Rasimah – I began to have a different view when looking at data as my mind started to explore new ways of looking at data after learning   new statistical terms like decision trees, logic regression, market basket bla bla bla..  digging more into it later I found it just started  getting more and more interesting –not that I am “that” very  curious — it just that  I need to prepare myself  to write a thesis for my final project submission and I was thinking of writing something related to data analysis in patents in telco industry.  Researching at also lead me to several important books with the likes of Prof Edward Tufte , Jonathan G Koomey and Stephen Few.
Below are all the books that I bought to understand “analytics” better :-

I just  found a new term “Data Scientist” which sound cool for a geek like me .

Hal Varian the Google Chief Economist was quoted

I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer engineers would’ve been the sexy job of the 1990s?

What is a data scientist?

A general title for someone who is able to extract information from large datasets and then present something of use to non-data experts

You can read more about it from the following article Rise of Data Scientist .

Also one  important fact – according to Dr Jonathan Koomey in his book Turning Numbers into Knowledge (now my personal favourite!)  – data should be  treated with skepticism!   Some reports came with their own agenda – so whenever data is presented to us (graphs can be deceiving too!) we should read and understand how data collection was done – the methodologies , sources, footnotes else we should regard them with extreme suspicion ..

p/s  Talk about methodologies it remind me of this video entitled “A Brief History of Hadith Collection and Criticism” of how hadith are transmitted from the source – our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH to the ummah now.

A week in Tehran

A week after Eid 2010 – I left for Tehran – a place I always wanted to go for many reasons – to really see the people, places , how they survive the sanctions?  and the historical places where many of legendary Islamic scholars (Avicenna, Al Razi etc) were born and the latest one the famous Al-Sharif University – have you heard that the people at Stanford claimed that Al-Sharif University has the best undergraduates EEE programme in the world?

Though at the very last week, I hope the trip would be cancelled — it was a busy month at the office and the school was about to open and having just paid the house rent for  6 months left me broke  – did I mention that they don’t accept credit card there?
A week before leaving, I look around for an “affordable” hotel and found one at USD120 per night + 15% discount for NSN staffs! I left Tehran via Emirates airlines reached Dubai after 1.5 hours and a brief 1++ hour transit before heading Tehran.

The red line in the Google Earth map was not the actual GPS route – perhaps my GPS tracker was not functioning well (no signal) during the flight -so the short green line was the only actual route to Tehran. I arrived there around 3.45am and a driver was already waiting for me just outside the airport. Stop by at the money changer to get some cash – 1USD=Iran Riyal ~10400  so for USD200 my wallet was full!
I reached hotel about an hour later around 5.30am – and had a short sleep before heading to NSN office around 8am. As usual I was sleepy in the  class – talked about learning an application which I have worked for over 10 years!
I did not go many places when I was there – the first two days I was so sleepy – not due to the jet lag – just because I did not have enough sleep during the travel . It was 2 short flight trip – 1.5 hours from RUH-DXB + 2 hours transit and 2.5 hours DXB- IKA – I just couldn’t really sleep on those short flights.
The people in the office were really friendly and helpful – I believe they had good education – the English was fluent – all woman are wearing hijab though most of them were not properly worn . A colleague asked me what if my perception about the country before actually arrived here ? I said I had few friends who had worked here so I do have general idea about this country – it was not that bad . As a country who had trade sanctions from US , Iran had miraculously survived and did very well indeed they had turned the disadvantage into opportunities .
Remind me of the story of Bill Joy – the founder of Sun Microsystems .

I went to Berkley (rather than Caltech or Stanford) because it had the worst computer facilities of the three. I figured it would force me to be more ingenious