An Open Letter Regarding the State of MUFIX Community

To whom it may concern,

As you may know, I have rejoined the MUFIX Community ranks as the community’s Social Media Manager earlier this year; taking charge of MUFIX’s online presence, including, but not limited to, the community’s Facebook page and Twitter account.

I asked to take on this position when it came to my knowledge that several people in my network- who were not affiliated with MUFIX or Menoufia University in any way- were aware of MUFIX’s existence, yet did not know much information about. It was- and still- my firm belief that maintaining a robust presence on the social media channels would significantly contribute in establishing MUFIX as a booming IT community in Egypt.

I was greeted with great understanding by Ahmed Nagy, the leader of MUFIX Community for the 2010-2011 season, to the extent of being given complete creative freedom over the social media strategy. However, during my four-month tenure, I discovered that MUFIX had much bigger problems than merely its social media presence. These problems, which I am pointing out here, in my opinion, present considerable challenges towards branding and establishing the MUFIX name.

1. The Lack of a Clear Goal/Direction: when MUFIX was first founded, it was billed as a community promoting the use of open source technologies, with great focus on the Java programming language and the Linux operating system, as alternatives to other non-free closed source tools. The sessions, events, and speakers reflected that theme. Currently, MUFIX has no focus, theme, direction, or clear goals. The weekly sessions held cover a variety of topics that have absolutely nothing in common. Saying that “we aim to provide the students with knowledge” is not a goal. There must be a clear and focused theme/direction for the community in order for it to be correctly categorized and as a result, branded.

2. The Lack of a Hierarchical Administrational Structure: this has been a problem with MUFIX since I first joined it in 2009. The MUFIX team consists of a community leader, a vice-leader, and about 20 organizers. Apart from two or three team meetings (max) held every year, the decision making process is almost entirely being done by the community leader. Such a management approach does not provide much room for creativity or growth. An alternative approach would be for the community to have a management team- each with a specific specialty- that gets involved in the decision making process with the leader and vice-leader. This approach was already in place during my tenure in the 2009-2010 season, where some of the experienced team members-me included- were managing different aspects of the organizational tasks, yet none of them participated in the decision making process.

3. The Lack of Inner Communication: This is a direct result of the previous problem. At any given moment of organizing an event or working on a project, the team members would not be on the same page, no one would be knowing the full details or who is doing what except for the event/project manager(s).

An example of this is when I was contacted on June the 5th by Ahmed Salem, MUFIX Leader for the 2008-2009 season, to proofread a document summarizing his tenure as the MUFIX Leader. On June the 19th, I received the same request from Basem Elsherbeny, MUFIX Leader for the 2007-2008 season. When asked about the purpose of these documents, I was told by Basem that the MUFIX Alumni group is working on a “web page” that illustrates their efforts. I explicitly asked Basem if they were working on the MUFIX official website (mufix.org) and I was confirmed by him that they were not. On June the 26th, I met Abbas Adel, MUFIX Co-Founder, at the Google Serve Not for Profits event in Cairo, where he told me that they were indeed working on the MUFIX official website.

4. Focusing on Brand Extension Instead of Brand Establishment: in six years, the MUFIX Community logo and slogan were changed over three times, making it extremely difficult to establish the MUFIX brand name. Instead, much attention has been given in attempts to affiliate MUFIX with other big “names”, such as JUG and GTUG. To well-establish a community, its logo and slogan must be consistent enough to stick in audiences’ mind, and then consider affiliating with other brands.

5. Taking Pride in Half-Baked Events: for about three years now, members of the MUFIX team has been taking pride in their ability to organize a “major” event in a few days. This approach results in predominately amateurish events that may appeal to the student of Menoufia University, but garner little or no interest from people unaffiliated with the community, and hence get no publicity and end up like they were never held.

A prime example of that is the Egy Techs Meetup event, scheduled to take place on the 23rd of this month. A quick look on the event website is a clear indication of the level of amateurism the organization of this event suffers from. I have absolutely nothing against the concept of the event, on the contrary, I think it is very interesting and I firmly believe that such an event would significantly aid in placing MUFIX Community on the map, but ONLY if it was held in September as I suggested numerous times to Ahmed Nagy, the leader of the organization team. The event is too big to be planned and organized in only one month. Pushing to do so will only result in another half-baked event that would only waste resources and eventually promote MUFIX as a community unable to organize an event that can live up to its promise.

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Due to problems aforementioned, and my firm belief that my efforts would be ineffective as long as these problems remain unaddressed, I have decided to step down as MUFIX Community’s Social Media Manager. However, I would still act as a consultant like the rest of the MUFIX Alumni members when needed and when my time allows.

Last but not least, my recommendation for this period is to suspend all of MUFIX activities, including, but not limited to, the Egy Techs Meetup event. The MUFIX team for the 2011-2012 season should address these problems as soon as possible for a fresh and focused start in September.

Thank you.

Ahmed El-Sadek

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The Difference Between A Good Professor And A Bad One

Earlier this week, Dr. Kamel Arram, former head of Information Technology department, and one of the oldest staff members of the Faculty of Computers and Information, passed away after over a 6-year spell at Menoufia University. Dr. Kamel was one of the most respectable staff members at our faculty, known for his kindness, fairness, and tendency not to overcomplicate the subjects he taught, always well-dressed and wearing a nice perfume. He was a favourite to many, and loved by all. His door was always open to any student who needed help or advice.

Now, I do not have many memories with Dr. Kamel, since he only taught me one subject in my four years at the fculty- and I did not attend most of its lectures anyway- however, one event is clearly present in my mind.

It was the last lecture of the semester, I was sitting in the middle of the classroom almost half asleep, only to find him stop what he was doing and asks me to stand up, asking him what was wrong, he told me that he saw me talking several times during the lecture, accusing me of being a disturbance and disrespectful to him. Being the rebel that I am, and especially since I did not do what he said, I refused to swallow his accusations and apologize like what most of my colleagues used to do. Instead, I firmly told him that I did not do what he said and that I respected him just right. He stared at me for a second, then surprisingly, unlike what most faculty staff members do in such situation- kicking your ass out of the classroom- he asked me to sit back down. Right there and then, I knew I was screwed.

You see, in situations like that, especially when the teacher does not give a furious reaction, one of two things are bound to happen to the student, he either gets a very low grade at that teacher’s subject, or fails it altogether. To my complete and utter surprise, that did not happen to me; I got a B+ at the subject, exactly the grade I deserved. Needless to say, my respect for him was immeasurable.

Upon receiving the news of his passing, many of the faculty’s former and current students paid tribute to his memory on Facebook by praying for him using their status updates and changing their profile pictures to his picture. Someone even started an event suggesting fasting and praying for Dr. Kamel’s soul this Thursday. Already over 180 people have RSVP’d to the event as “Attending”. You can clearly see that this man was truly loved and respected.

Now, let me shift gears to another person; Wael Shawky. He is also an old staff member at the faculty and the current head of the Information Technology department, and the person I despised the most at the faculty.

Allow me to elaborate, despite being a very, very well off person, he does not look the least bit like a department head in a respectable faculty; always dressed in disordered, unironed clothes, having uncombed hair, unpolished, dusty shoes, and smelling like a bucket of garbage. He is an egomaniac disrespectful control freak that is famous for his deliberate tendency to overcomplicate the subjects he teaches and taking pleasure in making as many of his students fail as possible except for a specific group of students. This group, I used to call “The Lackeys”, is a group of students that do nothing but behave obsequiously towards him. You see, this is a win-win situation, the students get a free pass in the subjects he teaches, and maybe even given a slack with their master studies, and he gets to be shown the respect he will never earn.

Wael Shawky is also one that I (gladly) did not have any kind of relationship with, except for this one event. It happened on one of the finals last semester, I was standing on the door of the exam room, leaning on the nearest desk to get my pens and calculator out of my bag- like I always do- before he stepped into the room, looked at me, and rudely told me to get my stuff out of the bag outside the exam room. Knowing that I was not doing anything wrong, I paid him absolutely no attention, I did not even look his way and continued what I was doing. He said the same once again and again I paid him no attention until I got my stuff out, put my bag where it is supposed to be, and went to my seating, only to find him saying that I am an impolite, ill-raised person. I turned my head towards him, stared at him for a second, then turned around and continued my way.

Needless to say, I failed his subject, one that I completely deserved to pass. You see, the likes of Wael Shawky- and unfortunately they are a lot in our faculty- expect to be respected and feared unconditionally, he was probably angered that I did not tremble in fear and said “Yes, sir!” like what his lackeys do, so he decided to make me fail his subject in my final year, making me graduate in September instead of July. He is that sick.

Now, assume that Wael Shawky was the one who passed away instead of Dr. Kamel, would we have seen this burst of emotions from the students? I do not think so. I have not met a single person in the faculty that truly likes him. I do not even think his lackeys would grieve for him, since it is the benefits they respect and love, not the person.

All that we leave in this life is our legacy, Dr. Kamel left a legacy of love and respect. What Wael Shawky has left so far is a legacy built with despise, hatred, and contempt. With death so near, specially that he is not young at all, Wael Shawky should start working for what he is leaving after his inevitable death, that’s if he does not want to be remembered as the scum of the earth he is being now.

One last thing, when I heard about Dr. Kamel’s passing, I prayed for Allah to have mercy and forgiveness upon his soul. If I heard of the death of Wael Shawky, I would pray to Allah to avenge me for what he had done to me and hundreds of other students who suffered injustice by that tyranny.

Rest in peace Dr. Kamel. May Allah forgive and have mercy upon your soul.

MUFIC Batch #6 Graduation Ceremony: A Mediocre End to an Epic Era

  • Date: Thursday October 14th, 2010.
  • Time: 10:00 AM.
  • Location: Menoufia University Ceremonies Hall, the one where President Hosni Mubarak announced the amendment of Article 76 of the Egyptian constitution in 2005 itself!
  • Event: Faculty of Computers and Information batch #6 graduation ceremony.

You would know it a mile away, the guys were overdressed, the girls were overusing and abusing makeup to the point that it becomes a hard task not to throw up whatever you had for breakfast, and everyone was seen wearing ugly red and blue coats similar to the uniform of the French Campaign army that invaded Egypt in 1798. It was THE annual graduation ceremony of the Menoufia University’s Faculty of Computers and Information students.

Now that's what I DON'T call fashion!

Now, our faculty is famous for two things regarding its graduation ceremonies: first, it is the only faculty in Menoufia University that organizes a separate ceremony for its alumni. Second, these ceremonies are guaranteed to be the worst 2-3 hours of your life! They almost always suffer from chaotic floor organization, feeble speeches, and horrendous acts performed by our so-called theatrical team. That year was no exception, although I have to admit that it was slightly better than last year’s nightmare.

The organizers spent over an hour queuing us (graduates) outside the hall so that we can be seated in order, which didn’t happen! I can almost assure you that none other than the people in the first two or three rows where they were supposed to!

The ceremony started with the presence of the faculty dean and vice dean, I could not help but notice a big sign in the background saying that the ceremony is sponsored by the Menoufia University president, who was NOT present, nor any official representative of him or the university administration!

Things kicked off with a speech by our ranked-1 student Ibrahim Abdullah, which felt more like hearing someone read the phonebook rather than a speech. I have absolutely nothing against Ibrahim, he is one of the politest, kindest people you will ever meet, but he was reading his speech with absolutely no heart or enthusiasm, making it so obvious that he was given that speech to read, and maybe even given it an hour or so before the ceremony!

Next were the speeches of the dean and vice dean, which were, least to say, forgettable. At an event like this, you expect the speeches of the big guys to be… big! You know, to give you a sense of achievement, make you feel how well you did, and inspire you to take your next step. And that simply did not happen.

The speeches were followed by honouring the top ranked students and then calling out everyone else to get their certificates. At that moment I was confused; you see, the reason any graduate of Menoufia’s Faculty of Computer and Information sits through the 2-3 hours of hell, also known as the graduation ceremony, is getting their certificate and taking a picture with the honourable dean so that they may print, enlarge, frame, and hang it out on the wall so that they may tease the neighbours coming to say congratulations whose kids are majoring in Arabic at the Faculty of Arts or something. So if they get them their moment then, what would make them sit through the not-so-jolly rest of the ceremony? Then I realized it, a four-letter word; FOOD! The “benefits” we get in exchange for the ceremony fees- yes, we pay to attend our own graduation ceremony- included a lunch meal, and sure as hell no one would go home without having their lunch. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are a nation motivated by our lust for food, not scientific degrees or even the desire to brag about them!

The ceremony resumed, and as soon as I saw the faculty’s own theatrical team on stage, I knew that the nightmare would truly begin; unfunny people trying- so hard- to be funny by doing acts that are NOT funny. This year though, it was not that bad, as matter of fact, the three acts they gave were surprisingly really good, funny, and well performed. The reason behind that was the fact that the acts were COPIED from a great but not so famous play called Qahwa Sada (Black Coffee). I had absolutely no problem with re-doing parts of good plays, what I had a problem with, however, is exploiting the obscurity of the play and take credit for the acts by NOT mentioning that they were from another play.

Other segments of the ceremony included a forgettable poem, some religious song, and a song by a kid who can play the violin well, but trying to be the next Tamer Hosny, enough said!

What really caught my attention was a poem given by one of our students called Hagar, who is famous for being one of the faculty’s political activists and a fierce attacker of our government. As expected, the poem contained implicit and explicit attacks directed at the government. I could not believe that someone gave her the green light to read such a poem in the biggest faculty event of the year. Someone must have definitely been on crack, and a good kind as well.

All in all, it was not horrible. I actually quite enjoyed it. It was not great, but definitely better than last year’s chaos. It was nice having all the students of batch #6 under one roof for the last time.

And, to my dear fellow graduates, congratulation on the big achievement. It has been an epic four-year era, but we are finally done. The rest of our lives begin now, make sure you make the best of it.

Cheers.

Cartoon – Traditional Exams Vs. FCI Exams!

Well, since I have been through a “painful” midterms season for a while, I was inspired to do a little cartoon that points out the difference between the type of questions in our (Faculty of Computers and Information) exams and everyone else’s. So, here goes. Hope you like it:

:)