All entries for December 2011

December 29, 2011

Muslims and Christians in Syria

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JZC_x1vZO9k#!

In my country; Syria, Muslims and Christians live together, this video is just another story of this true brotherhood;

a group of teachers and students from a school visit the near Church, on Christmas day, bringing a gift.
The school is called Al-Mosiniah and it is the oldest school in Syria, most of its teaching staff and students are Muslims, and it is are considered one of the major institutions of the Shia Muslims in Syria
The Church is the Mariamite Cathedral of Damascus and it holds the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.
Now why I love this video, for two reasons;
1- the school that send the group of teachers and students is my schools, I studied 12 years in this school, since I was 5 years old until I finished high school and went to college.
2- this is also the school that my father and mother work in, in fact they appear in the video and my father in featured in it, He is the one leading the visit (since he is a member of the board in this school and has been a teacher in it for the last 40 years) He appears holding the gift; a painting that recaptures an image which can be seen close to the place where the school and the church are; a minaret of a mosque and a bell-gable of a church (in fact the mosque and the church share the same wall), and my father is basically saying that this image is probably the most beautiful and peaceful image in Damascus (capital of Syria and the oldest Capital in the world)
At the end of the video His Beatitude the Patriarch of Antioch and the rest of the East for the Greek Orthodox thanked the guests expressing his feelings of true gratitude to his true brothers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JZC_x1vZO9k#!


December 10, 2011

Personal impression on Jaguar assembly plant visit

Follow-up to Industrial visit to Jaguar from Mohammad's blog

SpitfireJaguar logoThis blog entry is about my visit to Jaguar assembly plant in Castle Bromwich, it's aimed to show my personal overview of the experience;

So, needless to say, I had been looking forward for this, I mean its JAGUAR baby :D

The plant itself is a historic plant that goes back to 70 years and was a main producer of the famous Spitfire fighter that was essential in WWII, the sculpture on the entrance of the plant captures the essence of the legend's manoeuvrability.

First of all, I never considered working in a factory to be a particularly interesting job, but my god! Once we entered the huge space that is the inside of the plant I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of it, it had a lively atmosphere and a lovely non repetitive noise, like an experimental electronic music track by non but Merzbow! In fact I was so impressed that I actually starting liking the idea of working in factory in the future, being just an assembly line worker.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the guided tour, and the commenting made by an employee from the Jaguar, although I think he might have been a bit annoyed by me, because I kept asking him a question after a question, until he would say "I don't know" :)

Did you know that the Jaguar XJ -the biggest Jag- costs anything between £80,000 up til '???' in other words no actual limit is set, since its highly customizable, it could be fitted with virtually any feature, for example the H.M. the queen owns one that cost £0.5Mil.

me at Jaguar plant 1me at Jaguar plant 2


Industrial visit to Jaguar

On the 8th of December I had a field trip to Jaguar's Castle Bromwich assembly plant, located on the outskirts on Birmingham, this is about the plant, and a brief of what I learnt there:Jaguar Castle Bromwich

At first, this plant is an assembly -no manufacturing is done- of the Jaguar XF, Jaguar XJ and Jaguar XK models. With parts coming form 1200 suppliers the plant is a very busy bee cell.

Inventory is basically moved only twice; from the suppliers to the warehouse and from the warehouse to the assembly line where it will be fitted in the final product, taking into consideration shortest trip possible. Also the production line holds an only 2 working hours of inventory, which can be renewed when recahed a pre-defined threshold, providing an example of a KANBAN method.

I was looking foreword to find out whether or not the SIx Sigma approach is implemented (taking into consideration focourse that its highly customizable, so I was actually looking for indicators of the application of some of its methods) and was I overwhelmed by the limitless graphs and figures hanging on borads, It appears that so many quality & improvement initiatievs are implemented, it was hard for me just to keep record of what the guide was talking about; TQM, KANBAN, JIT, RFT, Lean, Six Sigma... among many other that I couldn't recognize.

However, it was really interesting when I saw a real control chart on a big board, they seemed to be in a fair control of a stable process, also there was a chart that I really liked about minimizing non-value adding time the product spends on the assembly line, the chart had colored bars in which green represents value-adding processes, and red represents idle time (which is basically waste) and when comparing this month's chart with the previous months' (which were stacked behind this month's) it showed improvement very clearly.

Another interesting control technique was a big board hung high in the middle of the plant showing daily history of each of the four assembly sub-lines; the board showed number of processed cars, number of pauses, stops and faults. The guide told us this was introduced by Toyota, but implemented by almost every car manufacturer, it was clear why, basically one look shows you exactly what has been going on all day, and yes it also uses colors; green for "it's all good", orange for "something isn't right" and flashing red for "big trouble ahead" (usually the trouble is ahead of the assembly line manager who has to give a daily report to the plant manager)

The plant view ended soon, and right after it there was a short presentation about Lean manufacturing, followed by questions and answeres, and off we went back to WMG.

now the whle experience was very informative, and there's something special about visiting a world class mega-factory, especially if it was producing .... Jags :)

article-0-06919f2d000005dc-595_468x293.jpg


presentations in action

Follow-up to A real engaging experience with delivering presentation from Mohammad's blog

In this blog entry I will overview the skills I'm applying/intended on applying in regard to becoming a better presenter.

Before that, it's worth mentioning that presentation is not necessarily standing up in front of a group of people telling them about a topic; in fact, every human contact could be viewed as a presentation that either goes well or bad. In this concept whenever we meet a new person or have a discussion with others we are presenting our ideas to them.

So back to the original idea, what are the most important skills I'm applying?

1) A practical skill: exercise

I decided to practice giving presentations by introducing myself to new people and leading group discussions; I have been somewhat successful in meeting a couple of new people, however more practice in the near future.

The application of this skill will be practice -as mentioned- and it will help me get more self-confidence and experience in viewing my ideas in a logic and clear way, so people can get the main point easily

2) A personality skill: assertiveness

Being assertive usually means being trustworthy and confidence, thus more convincing which is the whole idea of giving effective presentation. I know I want to sound convincing when I’m presenting to the board of my future company so they will adapt my ideas.

the application of this skill s in the body language; in my future presentation I will own my ground by standing upright without leaning forward or backward, with my hands half raised so I can use them to make gestures easily

3) A body-language skill: gestures and tone

Speaking in a clear tone as well as implementing deliberate pauses (...) the silence helps people understand what was said, it also lays emphasis on the main ideas.

The application of this is very straightforward; I will employ pauses to let my audience digest the main ideas.


December 06, 2011

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try

Writing about web page http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2011/11/50-lessons-i-wish-i-had-learned-earlier/

i recently stumpled upon this anonymous quote:

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try

and wanted to share it becasue:

- I have two PMAs and research proposal to work on and I am afraid them

- making decisions is a hard thing to do, especially if you are absolutely terrified of failure

- we need to make progress in hour personal, academic and professional lives, and making achievements in each is essential to this progress

- all excellence students and practitioners should strive for ispiring accomplishments

and the list goes on and on.....

I hope you keep this quote in yourmind for a while, think about it! It might gives you solace -as it did to me- that all you actually need to do is try.


December 05, 2011

A real engaging experience with delivering presentation

Last week I participated in a workshop on delivering effective presentations, strong emphasis on ‘participated’; as it appears, this is the probably the most engaging workshop, and I have been to five so far. This is brief description of what went on and what I learned from it:boring presentations

1) Everyone must participate, the first 10 minutes were spent on networking with all the workshop attendees, and we were asked to meet and have a small chat with everyone, and since there were around 15 of us, no one was able to accomplish the task. However, I think the task was meant not to be accomplished, so we realize how much of inefficient communicators we were; its said that realizing the problem is the hardest part of solving it, and I think we all realized the we had a problem

2) We had to stand up and shout to fill up the room with our voices! Awkward? Not really, because we had to do it again in the building hall in front of all other students, who seemed a bit confused I must say. This was the shocking part, but probably the most assuring, once you did this you realize that you don’t fear raising your voice in front of strangers, and for an effective presenter its important they are well heard all over the room. In short, I belief this was the ‘face your fear’ part of the workshop

3) We all had to give individual presentation of two minutes, but first we had to introduce the presentation in a 30 second mini presentation; stating the essential information that will be discussed in a clear and crisp way

Now plenty of things were learnt that day, here’s are a list of the most impressive things I picked up:

1) Confidence -probably the single most important criteria for delivering effective presentations- can be faked! Because it’s all about the body language; stand straight, shoulders up, own your grounds by positioning your legs parallel and a bit away from each other, and speak in a strong tone.

2) Use objects if you want your audience to memorize something, this woks like magic; the workshop tutor used an apple and a cup when talking about specific details of a shopping mall which has three supermarkets and an Italian restaurant which offers great wine, linking the seemingly homogenous information with distinct characteristics of the objects, I was able to remember everything she said when she was done. In fact, I’m still amazed at how clear I can still remember the details that was given back then, and this is a week later!

3) The slides are aiding tool not the presentation itself, so be wise in how much time you should give them, and how much time you should give to practicing the presentation

4) Always test run the presentation, even if you know the subject matter very well, like say the city you were born in and spend the first the first 20 years of your life in, you will be amazed how hard it will be to stand unprepared in front of strangers

Finally, a very important note or a best practice advice; exploit every chance to present to others, because it comes down to practice. In fact, you can practice each day by imagining you’re resenting to people while having small chats with them, for this, put on a smile and say ‘hi’ to the next stranger you meet!


Speedy reading in practice

Follow-up to Speedy Reading REALLY works !! from Mohammad's blog

First impressions on speedy reading exerciseseffectice clustering

I’ve been trying speedy reading for almost a week now, here I will share my experience so far as well as write what I’ve learnt so far:

First the experiment conditions:

1) Read for a continuous 10 minutes, no more, then have a break for at least 2 minutes. I was able to repeat this many times a day

2) Use a pointer and position the book properly (good distance from the eyes while being well-lit)

My observations:

1) There’s a learning curve to speedy-reading; the more you train yourself the faster you become, also there’s a short-term learning curve; I noticed that when I read for many consecutive times (each time of 10 minutes) I speed up slightly each time, about 5% faster. This might be a result of shifting in the mindset, or becoming more focused on the subject matter (becoming accustomed with the style of writing)

2) When you time yourself you might get competitive! This can only reduce understanding of the material you’re reading. However, I’m not quite concerned about this now, because I’m reading a complimentary book

3) Keep a piece of paper close, you might read an interesting idea an worry about nod forgetting it, which causes you to lose focus, so underline it or right it on a piece of paper

Useful tricks

As well as the usual techniques that help speed up reading, I’ve found some simple tricks which can furthermore speed up reading:

1) Don’t look up strange words in a dictionary, just underline them and continue reading, when you finish the paragraph you would have guessed the meaning!

2) Try to create a photo cluster in your mind; by imagining the important words bigger in size or different in colour, I believe if you practice this enough, your mind will become faster in creating those which boosts up your reading speed (see the photo)

I hope this is as helpful to you as it is to me.

Finally, if you remember in my last blog I wrote my speed reading result in words per minute (WPM), after one week of practice, now I can read at 320-335 wpm J


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