Thursday, 8 January 2015

New Year at Oman Dive Center with Axis Events

New Years Eve was spent in Muscat at Oman Dive Center. The evening was all about the music with Muscat's very own Darren Shortt and DJ Gemma, who flew in early that morning from Manchester, England. Click the link to see her in action. New Year with Axis Events

Ascander and DJ Gemma

Ascander and Darren Shortt

We were lucky enough to spend the night in one of the beach cabins and this is the view we woke up to....

The next day was spent at mum's house, always get fed well there...

Here are a few photos I took at mum's house, yes she had three Christmas trees! 

It was a great long weekend, shame it had to come to an end and I had to return to work!

Happy New Year everyone :)


What's Happening Muscat, Oman has made the local paper.Click WHMO Names and Shames to read more.


What would you do if you were threatened, stalked or abused by a stranger on social media? 
“Tell his mother,” is how one Australian journalist with over 40,000 Twitter followers on the web, decided to fight back her male harassers. The 21 year old media-savvy scribe tracked down the culprits’ mothers on the Web and sent them screenshots of what exactly their sons were up to. Her approach though rather amusing, was novel enough to embarrass the trolls, not to mention their families.

Unconventional measures to tackle trolls is gaining steam everywhere. And avid social media users in the sultanate are only taking the cue.
What’s Happening Muscat, Oman? (WHMO?), a popular group on Facebook with close to 10,000 members, recently upped its ante after several women members complained of being inundated with offensive messages and friend requests.
When the offenders did not stop despite repeated warnings, the group administrators - Ian Bradley, Dr Feras al Hamdani and Jo James - brainstormed an innovative plan.
“Name and Shame,” a post dedicated to trolls was up for its members, where they could publicly shame the trolls by tagging them, mentioning how they were being harassed, and even share screen grabs of offensive messages.
“We came up with the idea to ensure that our group is a pleasant place for everyone, unlike many other groups on Facebook, where some take advantage and violate privacy of other members. In a group containing thousands of members, such incidents happen on a daily basis. The principle behind this idea is the fact that human beings by nature don’t like to be known as the bad ones. Moreover, this way other members, who aren’t affected already by this intruder can easily block him from their own Facebook pages, preventing future incidents,” the administrators said, adding, “We want an active, yet safe environment for all our members.”
The administrators also clarified that the suspects are screened before any action is taken, with members having to provide some physical proof - like a screenshot - to check the veracity of their claims, before they go public. This is done to ensure that trolls do not misuse such a system. “Every screenshot is kept in a file, and when necessary, will be submitted to the right authorities to take further action,” they said.
Does it help?
The popularity of the post notwithstanding, the group administrators of WHMO? claim to have successfully forewarned suspects and even deleted notorious members.
But do these ingenious tactics really help deal with the troll menace. Experts feel that it only fuels trolls further.

“Internet trollers are attention seekers looking at disrupting any kind of communication. They just need a platform - one that has an audience, traffic and a meaningful discussion going on. He or she could post or comment on any random topic where a discussion is taking place, just to disrupt the conversation or lead the discussion into an unfruitful outcome,” says Tariq al Barwani, founder, Knowledge Oman. Reacting to a troll would mean giving them  unnecessary importance. “In doing so, one is just fulfilling the purpose of troll behaviour, which is of thriving on such attention,” he added.
Roma Fernandes, clinical psychologist at Whispers of Serenity Clinic says that if a tough approach makes the offender feel guilty, it could stop him or her from harassing people in the future. “The intention of letting people know who these offenders are is good and that should be done. But sometimes it could make them more vengeful. It could lead to worse consequences for both the parties involved,” she says.
Silent treatment
“In my opinion, the best response to a troll is silence,” claimed Barwani.
Riyadh al Balushi, avid blogger and PhD candidate at SOAS, University of London agrees.
“The best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them. Depending on the situation in question, I recommend blocking them entirely from accessing your page and deleting their comments if that is practical for you to do,” said Balushi.
He added, “There have been incidents when an individual troll would write lengthy, rude comments on my blog. I would just delete them without reading. This would drive the troll crazy because he put so much effort in writing his hateful messages and his effort goes to waste. When a person sends me hateful messages on Twitter all the time even though I don’t follow him, I just block him. I love using the ‘block’ feature on Twitter. More people should use it for sure!”
Both Barwani and Balushi recommend complaining to the right authorities if the situation goes out of hand.
“The Omani cyber crime law is applicable to any incident where someone is insulted or harassed on the Internet. There are also criminal offenses for those who disclose private information of another person. Many people in Oman have made complaints to the Public Prosecution for actions that took place on the Internet and succeeded in getting these people punished,” said Balushi.
He added, “We as a society need to grow and learn that offline manners should also be exercised online.”
Tackling troll behaviour
Maintain privacy: On networking sites, only accept requests from people you know. Make your social media accounts private and accessible only to family and friends. Private accounts allow only those you approve to see your updates and interact with you. This will significantly reduce the amount of unwanted messages you get.
Avoid public accounts: People should have public accounts only when there is a specific practical need that requires them to do so. Here too, one must have a certain privacy setting in place and avoid giving out any basic information about himself/herself.
Ignore/Block/Complain: That’s the best formula to fight a troll.
When one doesn’t react, they automatically disappear. Also delete their comments if necessary. If that doesn’t work, block them. In extreme situations, complain to the concerned authority.
Source: Riyadh al Balushi, Tariq al Barwani