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Google Earth

Visitors and residents interested in learning more about Qatar’s most popular venues should now find them easier to access on Google Earth.

The 13-year-old program, which offers satellite views of places and landscapes around the world, was relaunched last week in a more user-friendly format.

A search of Qatar highlights hotspots like Souq Waqif, the new Msheireb Museums, Katara Cultural Village and the Corniche.

London Eye, as seen via Google Earth

As part of its update, Google Earth is offering 3D tours of some landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the London Eye, a ferris wheel off of the River Thames.

But there don’t appear to be any cool such features for Qatar.

Museum of Islamic Art, as seen via Google Earth

That said, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) does stand out more than other attractions when in 3D mode.

Street view

The MIA is also one of the only places in the country that can be seen via Google’s “street view,” which offers a panoramic look at each of the building’s three floors.

Charlotte/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In 2015, the government said it had signed an agreement with Google to bring the street view tech to Qatar, but no timeline was ever given.

And privacy concerns continue to abound.

Google would need permission from authorities to take photographs of locations. This is usually done from cameras mounted on cars, and the photos are then stitched together in panoramic views.

Google Earth features

For those interested in planning vacations – or just satisfying their wanderlust vicariously – Google Earth now also offers a Voyager feature.

This takes people on interactive trips around the world, from big cities to rural parks.

Google has also teamed up with Sesame Street to present 10 “Girls Around the World.” These Muppet ambassadors share information about their countries, which include Afghanistan, China and India.

Finally, there’s an “I’m feeling lucky” button that take users to random locations when they click.

Google Earth is now accessible via one’s Chrome browser or on Android phones. It will be coming to iOS devices “soon,” Google said.

A new storytelling feature so that others can create similar Voyager tours is also in the works.

Thoughts?

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Court of Appeals and Cassation

Qatar residents will soon receive court verdicts via SMS and see justice delivered more promptly as the judicial system takes steps to embrace technology.

After years of complaints, the government is now planning to electronically overhaul the country’s courts, QNA reports.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) and the Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC) signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect.

By Shabina S. Khatri

Number of court cases heard in Qatar

The move to “modernize” comes as Qatar’s courts grow more crowded than ever.

In 2015, the most recent figures available, the judiciary heard 100,000 cases, an 8 percent increase from the year before.

Morning chaos

For years, Qatar has faced pressure both at home and abroad to revamp its judicial system.

It was formed a quarter century ago when the population was less than a million people.

The lower criminal court in Al Sadd is often chaotic, with at least 50 people crowding into a courtroom to wait for their cases to be heard each morning.

Additionally, hearings often end with a postponement. This means the defendant must return to court at a later date.

And even if a trial proceeds, testimony must be given slowly, as all official notes are handwritten by a clerk sitting near the judges.

Verdicts via SMS

But some strides are being made. The Qatar Tribune reported this week that the courts have begun notifying defendants and plaintiffs about rulings via SMS.

This helps save time because people do not necessarily need to attend court hearings to hear verdicts, the newspaper said.

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Additionally, courts have started to digitally archive cases.

Just yesterday, the SJC published an electronic version of all the rulings made by the Court of Cassation from 2004 to 2014.

The encyclopedia is available in Arabic only and aimed at helping “facilitate research,” QNA reports.

Thoughts?

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Smartphone usage is ubiquitous in Qatar, but many users aren’t aware of all the risks that come with owning and operating one.

In a Facebook post this weekend, the Ministry of Interior has offered this advice to help keep your information safe:

Lock your phone

To prevent unauthorized access, ensure that your mobile is only accessible via a personal identification number (PIN) and/or fingerprint scan.

Install apps wisely

Shop in reputable app stores and be sure to check reviews and ratings, as well as the app’s privacy policy.

Back up your data

This can be done wirelessly (think cloud) and comes in handy if any information on your phone is lost or accidentally deleted.

Accept updates

Don’t delay when your phone prompts you to update your operating system and apps. This will help keep your mobile secure and working smoothly.

Don’t store passwords

While convenient, saving passwords can pose a great security risk if the wrong person gets ahold of your phone.

Avoid public WiFi

Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth when you’re not using it. These services make it easier for cybercriminals to access your information.

Guard personal info

Avoid storing, texting or emailing personal details because this could create a security risk if your phone is lost or stolen.

Install mobile security apps

Make sure they’re reliable by reading user ratings and and keep them updated to detect any threats.

Remotely wipe your phone

If your mobile is lost or stolen and you don’t think you’ll get it back, consider remotely wiping all the information off of it. This can be done following different protocols, depending on your operating system and security apps.

What advice would you add? Thoughts?