Archive for Personal

In an elevator..

// May 4th, 2013 // Comments Off // humor, life, me, tech

I haven’t written anything in a while, and I thought tonight was  a good night to write. Something interesting happened today while I was in the elevator and I thought I’d share it here with you all :p

Seriously if you think this is boring, either skip to the last two sentences or type in your address bar, I hear they have interesting videos on that site. Come to think of it, here’s a quick story: My cleaning lady likes to talk, and yesterday she was talking about youtube and how she loves it and the first time she saw it etc.. Now she’s a bit old and not tech-savy, yet she was tell me how she felt the first time her daughter showed her youtube. She described her feelings as if this youtube site was invented before world war 1. Then I started to recall when I first saw youtube. I remember I read an article about it on slashdot around May or June 2005 (it was our digg/reddit back in the day). I saw the site, and I believe it was during its first or second month, and there were less than a thousand videos. You could have literally browsed through all the videos in a day. I remember thinking to myself, that this was a very stupid idea because streaming videos costs money, and how could they pay for all that bandwidth..? Ads? Who could manage such a global ad system? It turned out google had the power to create a global ad system so powerful, it actually made youtube work and become a billion dollar investment. Why am I talking about youtube? this is supposed to be about elevators…

Okay back to my elevator story. So I get on the elevator today around 6pm, and there are 5 people. I look at the board, and 5 buttons are pressed. After I got off on my floor, I was talking to my neighbor about the probability of each person getting of on a different floor. Its not really that rare, because the probability was 0. 25 (I’ll show you how to calculate it).


So my neighbor goes on to tell me that last week he was the tenth person to get on the elevator from the garage in our building. Each person went to a different floor, and one of them actually got off on the ground floor, which is uncommon. So, I started to think to myself, how rare is that? 10 people get on the elevator in the basement, and all go to 10 different floors in a 10 story building? The answer is 3 in 10,000..! Ok, then I started to think, how many times has this elevator had exactly 10 people in it? Our building is only 35 months old. If we assume that the elevator gets exactly 10 people going up from the basement floor(s) in it, 4 times a day during the weekdays and twice during saturdays and sundays, and I do believe that I’m pushing it there. That would mean that since the building was built until today, this has only happened 3639 times at most.

So, the probability that this has ever happened in our building is 0.36, which means there is a 0.636 chance that this has never ever happened..! And if it did happen, then it would have been a very very rare occurrence…! I sorta wish I was on that elevator…

Okay to calculate the probability, you do the following:
– First person will obviously push an un-pressed button: probability is 10/10 = 1
– Probability of the second person pressing one of the un-pressed buttons: 9/10 = 0.9 (there is a 0.1 chance he’ll push the one pressed by the first guy)
– Probability of the third person pressing one of the un-pressed buttons: 8/10 = 0.8 (again there is a 0.2 chance he’ll push a previously pressed button)
– Probability of the forth person pressing one of the un-pressed buttons: 7/10 = 0.7
– ..
– ..
– Tenth guy pressing the last un-pressed button: 1/10 = 0.1 (meaning there is a 0.9 chance he’ll press a button already chosen by someone else!)

Total probability is the product of all the probabilities = 1 * 0.9 * 0.8 * 0.7 …. * 0.1 = 0.00036288

which means this only happens 3 or 4 times every 10 thousand times!

obviously this was the case for our building, and it might be different for yours, but at least now you know how to calculate it. I wonder if anyone actually read this.. LOL

Its been a while

// March 13th, 2013 // Comments Off // Personal

Its been a while since I’ve written anything here. In fact, I almost forgot about this blog if it hadn’t been for GoDaddy’s auto renewal email. The reason I stopped writing was because I got hooked on twitter. Anyways, I’ll start writing more soon.

I made sushi…!

// January 7th, 2012 // 4 Comments » // family, Information

I’ve made sushi a couple of times before, but this time I think I finally got it right. I made 6 kinds of sushi:


In the first plate I made smoked salmon nigiri and a deep fried maki with smoked salmon, crab, crispy tempura, and avocado.

click on the photo for a larger image


In the second plate I made 4 makis. One with shrimp tempura, avocado, and some mayo. In the second I put smoked salmon, avocado, and crispy tempura. In the third I put shrimp tempura, avocado, and cream cheese! In the last one I put something of everything!

click on the photo for a larger image


My guests said they loved it, but maybe they were just being nice :P Who knows, if this phd thing doesn’t work out, then maybe I can just open a sushi place back home!

How Many People Were Born The Same Day I Was?

// December 20th, 2011 // 5 Comments » // Information, Personal

I recently became 28, and started thinking to myself, what is the probability of meeting a random person that was born on my birth date.

Normally we would say that meeting someone that shares your same birthday has the probability of 1/365, which means that you have a 0.274% chance of meeting someone that shares your birthday.

However, in real life, peoples’ birthdays aren’t distributed equally. For example, I found a dataset online with 481040 birthdates for an insurance company. This dataset shows that Aug. 18 had the highest number of births, while Dec. 26 had the least number of births.

The chances of me meeting someone that shared my same birthdate became 0.266% which meant that my birthday had a lower number of births than the average. That also means that for every thousand people I meet, there are 2.6 that share my birth date.

Then I started thinking, what are the chances of me meeting someone that was born the same year I was born. Now we could just assume that the average lifespan of a human is 68 according to the World Health Organization, and say that my chances of meeting someone are 1/68. However, in real life that’s not the case. The number of births increase exponentially. According to this wikipedia entry:
“The population of the United States of America is exponentially increasing at an average rate of one and a half percent a year (1.5%). This means that the doubling time of the American population (depending on the yearly growth in population) is approximately 50 years.”
Plus the numbers of deaths per year are not the way they were a century ago. We have fewer wars now, and the number of deaths has also decreased due to advancements in medicine.

Back to the question, what are the chances of me meeting someone that was born the same year I was born? Recent stats show that there are 7 Billion humans on this earth. The year I was born had about 78 million births. According to the UN data, it was estimated that 105 die between birth and the age of 5 for every 1000 births during the year I was born. It is also estimated that there are about 50 deaths per 1000 people between the ages of 5 and 29 for various reasons for natural causes to wars (I’m not 29, but its close enough). So, we can say that around 850 per 1000 people born in the same year I was born are still alive today. That means 66.3 million of the 7 billion people on this earth were born the same year I was born.

So, the chances of me meeting a person born the same year I was born are 0.947%.

Finally, what are the chances of me meeting someone that was actually born on the same day I was born? If we take the probability of being born on the same day I was born, and apply that to the 66.3 million that were born the same year I was born. Then we would come to the result of having about 176280 people in the world that were born on the same day I was born and are still living today.

The chances of me meeting someone born on the same day I was born are 0.0025%.That means that there are only 25 people in every million, that were born on my exact birth date! So, given the population in Montreal of 1.6 million, there are only 40 people!

Child-Free Flights? Genious!!

// July 20th, 2011 // Comments Off // humor, me, Trips

I recently read that Ryanair was going to offer “child-free” flights starting October 2011. Now I don’t really hate kids, I just don’t like them crying for hours on a flight I’m on. This reminds me of a story that happened about a year ago.

I was taking a trip from Montreal to London, and the plane was set to depart at 8pm. I had so much to do the night before so I didn’t get enough sleep. I thought that I might be able to kill some time on the trip by sleeping. So I grabbed my travel pillow and headed to the airport.

I’m not a big fan of airplane food, so I ate a whopper from Burger King before going through the security check. There was not a baby in sight, and I was sooo sure my flight would be child-free. By the time I got in line for the security check, I was full, I finished praying, and couldn’t wait to put my head on my pillow with hopes of sleeping most of the trip. While in line I saw this guy from Pakistan with a child in his arms and another in a stroller. I couldn’t imagine how hard it can be to travel with 2 kids and all that luggage. I think one of them was crying or something, all I know is that I felt bad for the guy and whoever was going to be on the same flight with him and his kids.

I got me a decafe to enjoy while waiting for the gate to open. While I was checking my email and browsing the web on my Blackberry I saw the guy with the two kids sit near my gate! Of all the flights that night, why mine? Seriously! The only kids in the airport were on my flight! So I sat there wishing they’d at least be in a different cabin. I usually get on the plane after everyone boards because I’d rather wait in the airport than on a tiny seat in a crowded plane (Plus the duration of the flight is technically shorter if you board towards the end).

I show the flight attendant my boarding pass and she guides me to my seat. Guess who is right next to me? The guy with the two kids, and boy were they crying! Why would anyone cry that hard? I turned to the flight attendant and begged for another seat or another flight, but she told me that I had no choice the flight was fully booked. I sat down and hoped they would get tiered of crying and sleep. Boy was I wrong, those devils had different plans. When one would cry, the other would take a break to fuel up on crying power. Don’t they have shots to make them sleep or something? The plane took off and the pressure kicked in, and that’s when they both went berserk. There was a moment where I thought those kids might have been kidnapped and the crying was their way of asking us to save them.

I sunk my head into my pillow and tried to go to sleep wishing for at least an hour of silence, but those kids knew of my plans and wanted me to suffer. There were moments in between shifts when one would cool down, and it would take the other about 2 or 3 minutes to pick up where his brother left off. During those moments I would doze off, and right when I would fall asleep the other one would cry like crazy. I didn’t know what to do, and there was nothing for me to do but look at them and hope those kids would look at me and have mercy on me and the other passengers on that flight.

About 3 hours into the flight the kids went to sleep and I got about 30 minutes of sleep during that time. I would wake to the sounds of mommy and daddy giggling over the alone time they’re enjoying before the kids wake up and ruin it for them. During those moments I questioned why people even have kids and whether they were worth all that trouble. I woke up to the sound of a ball being sucked in by a mega vacuum. I opened my eyes only to find the baby being kissed by the father. It wasn’t a normal kiss, it looked like a Zombie trying to suck the poor baby’s brains out. Even the baby had a look on his face that said “Pleeeease save me!”. The father continued to kiss the baby until it started crying all over again. This time it was because the baby was hungry, and the mother was trying to get the flight attendants to get her hot water. The crying went on and off till we got to London. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to get off a plane in my life! Thanks to those kids the first day of my break in London was spent in my hotel room sleeping.

The moral of the story is that “child-free” flights are a great idea!!

* The photos above were taken by Jill Greenberg. She is known for taking amazing photos of crying babies. She officially has the worst job in the world!

It’s been a while

// February 19th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Personal

I’ve been really busy lately with school. Today I noticed a button on my Firefox toolbar that linked to a page I named “myBlog”. That’s when I remembered that I had a blog which I haven’t updated in ages. I opened the link and saw that I had over 100k visitors now. It’s been so long I had to try a couple of times to get the right password. Who would visit a blog that hasn’t been updated in 6 months? Well, I found that the most visited posts were on the TOFEL and GRE exams I took. I also found that many people liked the posts on the iPhone and how to process your bachelor’s graduation papers (it was a really long process). Anyways, I decided to write a couple new posts in the upcoming weeks.

Ohh, I also found out that when you search google for Feras, my blog is the first result you get back! When you search for فراس my blog is the second result, the weird thing is that my name isn’t even written in Arabic on the page! It’s because many sites have my name linking to this site.

I also updated my flickr with a couple new photos I took recently with my new Canon T1i. So, check them out and let me know what you think.

Kindle 2: Now international

// October 9th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Personal

Kindle is Amazon’s really amazing ebook reader. It was only available in the US due to it’s whispernet technology, which enables it to download your books from the amazon store using the 3G network. Yeah, 3G not wifi. They just announced on their website that it is now international, but for some reason Canada is not on the list of countries. Kindle books are a lot cheaper, for example my text book this semester costs 100 bucks, but on the kindle store it’s only 45.

I was recently looking for an alternative a few weeks ago and sony prs 600 seemed like the best choice. It has a touch screen, so no need for all the extra buttons. It also has native pdf support, and SD card expansion slots.

6 Reasons to Drink Coffee

// August 4th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Personal

Many people see me drink coffee a lot, so I’m always being reminded that it could really be bad for me. Today I saw a great article in the Los Angeles Times paper which mentions 6 reasons to drink coffee. So, here is a summary of the article:

1- Diabetes: Twenty studies worldwide show that coffee, both regular and decaf, lowers the risk for Type 2 diabetes, in some studies by as much as 50%. Researchers say that is probably because chlorogenic acid, one of the many ingredients in coffee, slows uptake of glucose (sugar) from the intestines.

2- Heart disease and stroke: Recent studies suggest that frequent coffee consumption does not increase the risk of either condition. In fact, coffee might — repeat, might — slightly reduce the risk of stroke. A study published in March in the journal Circulation looked at data on more than 83,000 women older than 24. It showed that those who drank two to three cups of coffee a day had a 19% lower risk of stroke than those who drank almost none. A Finnish study found similar results for men.

3- Cancer: Coffee research has come up empty here — with one big exception: liver cancer. Research consistently shows a drop in liver cancer risk with coffee consumption, and there is some, albeit weaker, evidence that it may lower colon cancer risk as well.

4- Cirrhosis: Coffee seems to protect the liver against cirrhosis, especially that caused by alcoholism.

5- Parkinson’s disease: With this progressive, neurological illness, it’s the caffeine, not coffee, that carries the benefit. No one knows for sure why caffeine protects. Several studies show that coffee drinkers, men especially, appear to have half the risk of Parkinson’s compared with nondrinkers. Women also get a benefit, but only those who do not use post-menopausal hormones, said Dr. Alberto Ascherio, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

6- Athletic performance: It’s clear that caffeine, not coffee per se, delivers the big boost here, said Graham, the researcher from Ontario. In fact, caffeine was once deemed a controlled substance by the International Olympic Committee. Caffeine is a powerful “ergogenic agent,” meaning it promotes the ability of muscles to work.

So don’t feel guilty to drink that extra cup.

via The Los Angeles Times

PS The picture above is of a new coffee machine which I bought, It’s called Tassimo and it’s really great. It doesn’t need filter so no need for cleaning! Oh, and I didn’t take that picture I just found it on flickr.

Bing takes over Yahoo Search

// July 30th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Personal

In 2002 yahoo offered to buy google for 3 Billion Dollars, but google thought they might be worth a bit more than that. Less than a year later google stock sky rocketed and the company became worth 147 Billion.

Now Microsoft made a deal with Yahoo. Yahoo will now use Microsoft’s Bing search engine, while yahoo will manage the ad sales. Which means all your search data will belong to Microsoft, so they get to know who is doing what online.

The part that I am afraid of is if they integrate Bing with the Windows Operating System, and use data on your PC to “enhance” your search results. That would be too much power…

Youtube’s new 3D feature!

// July 24th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Personal

Youtube has added a filter to convert your videos to 3D!! All you need to do is add the following tags to “your” video and voila:

Your viewers get to choose between different types of glasses. You can get these from Amazon.

Here is an example of a 3D video, I would have embedded the video, but the feature only works on youtube‘s site.