Musings on Microsoft

It was a random improvised visit to Virgin Megastore yesterday to purchase perhaps the most incredible audio experience we have had in some time. Miki wanted some distraction-free headphones so we plunged for the award-winning top-of-the-range Sony with some delight that Sony was still leading the charge in one aspect of its product line.

But then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a Microsoft display area, atop of which was the Surface. The gigantic touchscreen device I had seen released months or years before but never experienced up close. I was drawn in. As a decade-plus Macintosh fan (I write this now on my first generation MacBook that I adore to this day), something about a gigantic touchscreen yet also a fully-functional “normal” computer excites me.

It is also an area that Apple needs to pay attention to. The iPad-as-laptop option and constant focus on iOS as separate from MacOS is frustrating in some aspects. This may change in the near future as ARM chips infiltrate the desktop environment at the expense of Intel, allowing Apple more innovation internally, but right now Microsoft is making some incredible products.

The Microsoft pen you can use on all the Surface products feels way better than the Apple Pencil we bought a year or so ago. It invites you to use it and feels fantastic to do so, mistakes erased in the old school way of reversing the stylus and rubbing out with the other end. I am obviously a dinosaur because this just feels like the way you should erase.

My recent plea for a new work laptop to replace my aging Lenovo may need correcting – I requested a MacBook of some sort but may see if a Surface Pro is possible. I will be grateful for a newer anything, but one can always hope for something that invites you to create, the tablet-and-stylus format I can imagine will invite collaboration with clients and make for easier note taking and sketching, all for the enhancement of my client servicing.

Image courtesy of StockSnap.io

An Ode To Catboy

I think of you now, the same as before:

The first MinyCat in our MinyLife for sure.

(Don’t tell GingerPants, but the one I adore.)

You left us directly, abruptly, from the 21st floor.

They called, I came, opened the bag, I saw

Your beautiful body still in shape, thankfully no gore.

In your sleeping state, you remain purrfect and pure

To the very end. Please don’t stir with a pained miaw.

Greeted home from work  daily with a hungry bawl

To fill the food bowl your only flaw;

Integral to a life in Dubai almost four

Years, almost as much as MinyWife, even more

Than the best of friends. My shaking pale paw

Drops the phone, screen smashes. Sod’s Law.

Both of us miss you terribly, though we abhor

The way you left us, through rose-tinted we’ll pore

Through memories tied to our core.

In memoriam of our finest feline friend: Melchior.

Learning Arabic in Dubai?

Two months ago, I decided to end 3 years of procrastination, and took it upon myself to start learning my fifth language: Arabic. My greatest challenge was to select a learning path. After days of googling, emailing and reading blogs, I finally decided: 1) to go to the  Eton Institute in TECOM’s Knowledge Village, 2) to undertake the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CEFR, path. With this in mind, I used three main criteria for selecting the school, as follows:

  1. Classroom Settings, Distance Learning & MOOC
  2. FuSHa, Certification & CEFR
  3. Investment & Commitment

Continue reading “Learning Arabic in Dubai?”

First steps #خطوات in Arabic #العربية

contemporary designed staircase
“Contemporary staircase in a metro station in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.”

This weekend has been an intensive study session just before my Starter Arabic exam on Sunday. I have taken it upon myself to learn by heart the basic vocabulary we are expected to know to pass the Eton Institute-administered certification, with the long view to build my skills up through the internationally recognised CEFR levels A, B and ultimately C.

With increasing government regulations and requirements to boost Arabic and Emirati input across the board, my decision to study a fifth language – not including “Yorkshire” as the husband puts it – is hardly premature. The initiative launched by the Dubai Department of Economic Development came as an opportunity to learn the language of the city I have called home and lived for the past four years. Ahem

Learning Arabic has opened my eyes to another side of Dubai, something I already knew from learning other languages but you can pick up some finer details in a culture. Apart from walking around shopping malls slowly reading signs and sounding slightly “Special” in the process, there are some nuances to phrases unbeknown to most of us who can’t speak a language which surrounds our daily lives here in the United Arab Emirates.

There are plenty of collateral benefits that come with studying Arabic, one of them being getting excited each time I recognize a word. My favourite thing to date has been the thrill of stalking my colleagues and forcing them to watch me write their name, then holding up the piece of paper as if I am meeting them at the airport and showing it off as if I am six years old.

Regardless, I have been studiously attending my two-hour classes twice a week for the past two months. Deadlines are a curious thing; here I am just two days before the test with seemingly completely empty mind. MinyHubby has limitless faith in me to pass with flying colours but I want to give it everything I have got, which includes making sure I can read and write the vocabulary set in Arabic, even though this particular test does not require it. I am learning for the future.

Update: this post was written on Friday, July 29th. Since then I passed my class with a perfect score. I am currently looking forward to building my Arabic skills by taking them to the next level.