Introduction Link to heading
Hello 👋 I’m Nour, a computer engineer and software developer from Lebanon. I’m an INFP, dreamer, writer, gamer, and a progressive and uplifting electronic music listener, producer and DJ. I’m currently working in a support role in the computer guided surgery field in digital dentistry, helping and enabling dental professionals to design, craft and spread more smiles.
I’m a free and open source software (FOSS) enthusiast and a privacy, security, digital freedom and humane technology advocate. I’m interested in science and philosophy and I’m passionate about STEM, academically and professionally. My favourite literary and entertainment genres are sci-fi and fantasy. I enjoy music, writing, gaming and football as hobbies, and I have a beautiful cat called Lucine.
Background Link to heading
My background covers my main areas, passions and interests which include some of my personal stories, experiences, achievements and goals.
Education Link to heading
I have a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Computer Engineering and graduated from the University of Balamand in Koura, Lebanon. I had previously spent two years at the American University of Beirut where I lived on campus in Bliss Street, studying Electrical and Computer Engineering as a major. Both programs are ABET accredited. My focus is computer science, software and programming with experience in algorithms, data structures and object-oriented programming, and I have a strong foundational background in electric circuits, electronics, microcontrollers, microprocessors and embedded systems, in addition to operating systems, cybersecurity, networking, telecommunications, digital and analog signal processing, automation and programmable logic controllers.
I attended The International School of Choueifat (SABIS) in Koura, Lebanon for fifteen years from kindergarten to high school, where I graduated with a Lebanese Baccalaureate certificate in General Sciences. Mathematics, physics and computing were by far my best and favourite academic subjects which I excelled at, and majoring in computer engineering and becoming an engineer was always a clear and easy choice. I also enjoyed learning other sciences such as biology and chemistry, and philosophy, literature and music when it came to arts.
Software Link to heading
Programming Link to heading
Software and programming are my ideal and preferred profession and field. I enjoy problem-solving and writing, and I’m obsessed with and love organization and detail. I find the structured, organized, detailed and precise nature of writing code to be highly satisfying, and designing, building and programming something to give exactly the desired behaviour, effect or solution to be very fulfilling. Software is a daily and essential part of our lives and digital future; almost every interaction, task or system in today’s digital world involves software. It’s a greatly fulfilling and rewarding field that enables me to make a significant impact on society by being able to affect and transform the way people interface with and experience the world, making their daily lives and jobs easier and better. As an engineer, I highly value simplicity, minimalism and efficiency, which is what my design philosophy is based on, and I love writing simple, clean and efficient code.
I’m experienced and familiar with C/C++ and Java, and I’m very interested in and currently learning Rust and Go which have recently emerged as my favourite modern languages. Python is also a language I never got the chance to learn, even though it’s a lot simpler and I aim to eventually familiarize myself further with its concepts and syntax. There are a lot of other languages, apart from frameworks, I’m interested in learning later on such as Ruby, Kotlin, Dart, Lua and more. I’m familiar with basic shell scripting which I use to automate some tasks on my system, and I’ve been working on and building some projects recently using frameworks such as Hugo, which this site is based on, and Next.js. I have a server on DigitalOcean which I use for development and self-hosting some personal services, and when it comes to web projects I usually prefer to go serverless with Netlify and Vercel.
Free and Open Source Link to heading
Over the years, I grew very passionate and enthusiastic about free (as in freedom, or in other words, libre) and open source software, and I enjoy developing and contributing to projects, especially ones that I use and rely on such as the theme of this website and popular and widely used privacy and security tools like Cryptomator. Open source software promotes community, trust and transparency and allows for endless possibilities and innovation through interoperability, collaboration, inspiration, learning, knowledge-sharing and freedom which collectively benefit and improve society. The largest example of this is the Linux kernel which the computing, networking, server and cloud infrastructure of the world is built on, and powers most people’s smartphones through the Android operating system. I prefer to and almost always use free and open source software, but I don’t mind using proprietary and closed source software if there is no viable or better alternative or if it helps achieve or get something done much more efficiently, especially if it has good design and practices.
I use Pop!_OS, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution by System76 as my daily driver for development, productivity and gaming. After having used Windows exclusively before, I greatly enjoy the amount of customization and configuration and the level of control and freedom I have over my system, and I like tinkering with different tools, software and games which have also happened to allow me to learn a lot when it comes to troubleshooting and solving technical issues and problems. On mobile, I’m planning to use GrapheneOS in the near future once I change to a Pixel device, due to its privacy hardening and security compared to Android.
From a very young age, I liked taking things apart that no longer worked to understand how they functioned. I was also particularly fascinated by padlocks, which were my favourite tool, and how a simple locking mechanism provided a strong and satisfying sense and concept of security.
Privacy and Security Link to heading
Privacy and security became a main topic of interest and the subject of my research in university which included encryption and cryptography. As our lives increasingly became digital, I identified this as a massively impactful issue of global concern and one of the biggest challenges facing humanity, freedom and democracy. A lot of software today is written and designed to exploit the user or person through unhealthy, unethical and unsustainable practices such as invasive personal data collection, user tracking and dark patterns in the name of for-profit and ad-funded business models, and most significantly, surveillance capitalism. I find this to not only be against the design ethics, moral code and social responsibilities of an engineer, but also against our human values and principles.
In 2020, I started taking my online privacy a lot more seriously after realizing the great extent of the risks and dangers associated with the current state of software and the internet, especially to our health, wellbeing and future. I also realized that a better digital reality is not only possible but already exists, and all it takes is us deciding to care about and protect our privacy by switching to privacy-friendly, humane, ethical and usually open source alternatives, where Privacy Guides has been an excellent, well-curated and comprehensive resource and community. The Social Dilemma by the Center for Humane Technology is also a very important, highly impactful and eye-opening documentary that highlights a lot of today’s issues and the amount of harm and threat they pose to our society and future.
As the speed at which our technology is advancing grows exponentially, we have a social and moral responsibility as people, designers and engineers to advocate for humane design principles and technology, since regulation continues to fall behind significantly while regulators fail to understand how the underlying technologies work, apart from often being influenced by powerful corporations. Historically, legislation tends to only be enacted when it’s too late, unless the harms are physical and immediate. I have found that the main issue is not one of indifference but of a lack of awareness, as there is not enough education to make informed decisions regarding these technologies and issues, and most people are simply unaware about the extent to which they are regularly being tracked, profiled and targeted.
Music Link to heading
I grew up listening to everything like a lot of people, with my background mainly in rock music through different bands and early influences such as Linkin Park, Green Day and Muse. I was heavily drawn towards the electronic sounds produced by the electric guitar which became my favourite instrument, and I started taking guitar lessons in 2006. We also had an electronic keyboard at home, apart from a grand piano, and there are only a few things I love more than some good piano chords. It did not take me long before I found myself exactly where I needed to be.
My electronic music journey started in 2007 with trance and house music, through legendary acts and pioneers such as Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Paul van Dyk, Above & Beyond, Cosmic Gate, Dash Berlin, Ferry Corsten, Markus Schulz, David Vendetta, deadmau5, Eric Prydz, Dirty South and more. I was introduced to a lot of new sounds and styles, and the energy and emotion in some tracks was unlike anything I had ever heard, felt or experienced before.
Tiësto’s Elements Of Life album and Copenhagen world tour served as my intro to the genre and changed my life, which included the Cosmic Gate and Dirty South remixes of Everything and In The Dark. Cosmic Gate’s Sign of the Times and Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy are among my special and top albums, and Armin van Buuren’s A State Of Trance 2009 & A State Of Trance 2010 are my all-time favourite mix compilations as artistic masterpieces that perfectly encapsulate the peak of a golden and genre-defining era of progressive and uplifting trance music. I’ve been following Armin van Buuren’s A State Of Trance (ASOT) and Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy (ABGT) weekly radioshows for many years including their milestone episode celebration events, and it’s one of my favourite ways to discover new music, artists and labels. I was fortunate to see Cosmic Gate live during my first gig at the Forum De Beyrouth in Beirut in 2011 followed by Armin van Buuren in 2013 during A State Of Trance 600 Beirut, and Above & Beyond and Aly & Fila ten years later in 2023 at Future Sound Of Egypt 800. I have also seen other trance artists and legends such as Kyau & Albert, Dash Berlin, John O’Callaghan, Ferry Corsten and Markus Schulz.
My favourite and primary electronic genres are trance, house and techno. I also enjoy chillout/downtempo and drum and bass (D&B), especially liquid. My favourite and preferred styles, sounds and subgenres are progressive, uplifting, deep and melodic. I like harmonic, orchestral, epic, classical, oriental, ambient, tech and dark elements and influences. In general, I believe good music is good music, regardless of genre or subgenre.
Music is much more than a hobby or passion; it is deeply philosophical, and one of my main creative outlets and best forms of self-expression. Music is a universal religion and universal language – it speaks directly to emotion and transcends all communication barriers. Music has had a profound impact on my life and is a huge source of inspiration as my dream fuel. I have never seen anything more powerful in uniting people, and I always witness the magic happen when people come together regardless of their differences or backgrounds for their shared love of music. I love sharing music and being able to spread happiness and tell stories through crafting uplifting, emotional and thoughtful musical journeys.
I used Ableton as my digital audio workstation and took a step back from working on music during college to focus on my studies, but I have a lot more to learn and I’m looking forward to getting back into it soon. I worked on a small project at the time as my first entry into mixing and originally planned to be part of a larger series, and I have a lot of exciting projects planned and a big announcement coming in the near future. I am also planning to move my mixing and production setup from Ableton Live to Bitwig Studio, especially since I am now using Linux as my daily driver.
Gaming Link to heading
MMORPGs are my favourite game genre due to their high fantasy, social, living worlds and roleplaying, and my top and main games are RuneScape and World of Warcraft which I’ve dedicated a significant amount of time to. I also enjoy and play a lot of other games in between such as Minecraft, Overwatch, FIFA, and I’m planning to get into League of Legends in the near future.
RuneScape Link to heading
I spent a lot of my childhood playing RuneScape and have a Completionist account which I have been playing on and off since 2005 as a game veteran. RuneScape helped me grow a lot as a person and taught me many skills, and it was somewhere I had met a lot of people and built long-lasting friendships. I enjoyed helping people and owned a clan of more than a hundred players which was focused on helping players progress in the game and achieve their goals, apart from being an admin/moderator in other player communities. I am also an owner of a community that helps thousands of players which I have been managing and leading since 2016, where I had been an admin for months before being passed on the ownership by its founder. As a community leader, I created, managed and developed social and community systems, documentation and resources, including public sheets and Discord communities, which have been relied on by and helped many players, improving their daily game experience and making their lives easier. I enjoy both PvM (also known as PvE) and PvP in the game, where I’ve defeated most high-level bosses and participated in and helped lead many events, including some very memorable, massive, thrilling and highly competitive player wars as a member of the most dominant and successful PvP group in the game. I also play Old School RuneScape and have a unique appreciation for both versions of the game.
World of Warcraft Link to heading
I got into World of Warcraft at the end of 2017 during the final patch of the Legion expansion, playing on EU and the Alliance faction. I started as a Retribution Paladin which I got to max level before eventually later switching to a Windwalker Monk due to its high agility and mobility, and earned my first Ahead of the Curve achievement after defeating all eleven raid bosses of the Antorus raid on Heroic difficulty with my guild ahead of the Battle for Azeroth expansion in 2018. During Battle for Azeroth, I earned another Ahead of the Curve achievement after defeating all eight bosses of the Uldir raid on Heroic difficulty following weeks of raid progression during the first patch of the expansion and then moved up into Mythic difficulty, the most challenging and hardcore raid difficulty in the game.
For the second patch of the expansion, after my guild had become no longer active and stopped raiding, I joined a new guild and large social community which consisted of hundreds of members and became a member of one of the guild’s two 20-30 player raid teams for Mythic raid progression, raiding on a fixed and semi-hardcore schedule of three days a week for three hours each night. After months of progression in The Eternal Palace raid on Mythic in 2019, our team was struggling on the fourth boss and was hit by a huge setback after the resignation of the team’s raid officers which included the raid leader and raid assistant in addition to several leaving team members and quitting players, which not only left the team leaderless during the middle of progression, but also put us below the minimum of 20 raiders required to raid and progress. In order to keep the team together and continue progressing, I decided to step up and take on the role of raid assistant to co-lead the team with a new raid leader, as part of the guild’s leadership team headed by the guild owner.
As a raid officer and co-leader of a team of 25-30 people from different countries and age groups, apart from raiding with the team and spending many hours a week grinding to keep my player character at the highest possible level for raid preparation, I was in charge of and responsible for managing the team which included recruitment, onboarding and trialing new team members, analyzing raid stats and logs, reviewing team performance, providing feedback to members, resolving team and member issues, making team decisions and announcements, organizing and planning events and team strategies, and managing, improving and designing new and efficient team systems and resources through various community tools, software, sheets and websites.
After undertaking a period of intensive and active recruitment through applications and interviews, and with the support and backing of the guild owner, I helped lead a reinforced and highly organized team back into progression raiding, defeating the fourth boss and an even more difficult fifth boss which was an incredible challenge and test to overcome (aptly referred to in progression as a ‘wall’), and kept on pushing further beyond over the following few months to achieve a very strong finish of seven out of eight raid bosses defeated before the new patch released. For the third and final patch of the expansion in 2020, after five months of progression in the new twelve-boss Ny’alotha, the Waking City raid which included more than a month and over three hundred attempts to defeat the final boss, I co-led the team to and earned my first Cutting Edge achievement and the guild’s third in its 10-year history, awarded for defeating all bosses of a raid on Mythic difficulty – the most difficult, prestigious and highest achievement in the game, which also saw our guild become ranked among the top five guilds on the realm and server. We maintained form going into the next expansion despite increasingly difficult recruitment, and achieved another and the guild’s first consecutive Cutting Edge achievement during the Castle Nathria raid of Shadowlands in 2021 after defeating all ten bosses on Mythic.
I made some unforgettable memories and experiences in the game alongside a lot of amazing and supportive people and guild members which will stay with me forever. There is no experience like the nerves at the end of a twelve-minute boss fight and the adrenaline rush of finally defeating a raid boss after hundreds of failed wipes in an extremely high-pressure environment where everyone has to know exactly what their role is and be able to execute it perfectly at the right times, since there is almost no room for error in Mythic, especially on the later and final bosses of a raid which each typically take hundreds of wipes or attempts and several weeks or tens of hours of raid preparation and progression to defeat. The level of preparation, performance, focus, awareness, coordination and communication and overall stakes were so high that one mistake, misstep or death from any team member almost certainly meant the whole team wiping and restarting the fight. I decided to take a break from the game and competitive Mythic raiding as a whole for now since it was hugely demanding and acted as a full-time job which required lots of effort and time which I no longer had or could commit to especially after the Lebanese economic crisis, and I’m aiming to play the game again and raid more casually on Heroic in the future.
One of my favourite things about the game is its developer community, which includes a lot of third party addons, mods and tools from complete UI overhauls using ElvUI to powerful customization frameworks such as WeakAuras. I enjoyed using WeakAuras to create, design and program graphical interface elements for combat, which I publicly shared to be used by thousands of other players and were officially endorsed and recommended by the Monk player community.
Football Link to heading
Football is a huge passion and important part of my life, and I’m a big fan of sports in general and like other sports such as basketball, NFL, F1, tennis and more whenever I get the chance to catch and follow them. I played a lot of football growing up and eventually stopped after recurrent knee injuries, and I enjoy watching, talking and writing about football.
Germany Link to heading
My earliest footballing memory is the FIFA World Cup in 2002. I really liked Germany and supported them throughout the tournament and final and became interested in German football. My favourite German national team player was Michael Ballack and I naturally liked his team Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, although I did not watch or follow league football at the time. Bastian Schweinsteiger, who had also played for both Germany and Bayern, similarly became one of my favourite footballers of all time. I have great admiration and appreciation for German football, which includes the Germany national team who I’ve followed internationally, the Bundesliga and Bayern Munich – a club I like, respect and have a soft spot for.
Chelsea FC Link to heading
Around 2004, especially with all of my friends supporting Arsenal, I became very interested in the Premier League in England and started following and supporting Chelsea. A couple of years later, Michael Ballack joined Chelsea, and the rest is history.
I have been a Chelsea supporter since and they went on to become one of the most successful sides in English and European football history. I was very active on Twitter since its early years, where I mainly wrote about Chelsea and football. John Terry and Frank Lampard were among my favourite English players and Chelsea legends.
Philosophy Link to heading
My philosophy is based on free, progressive and independent thought. I don’t usually follow ideas, people or trends unless I truly believe in and like their rationale and perspective. I have a highly analytical perspective and approach to problems and issues, and greatly value personal autonomy and originality. I always prefer and like to do my own thing or apply my own touch when possible, which can lead me to taking unique and unconventional approaches and perspectives. I’m heavily guided by, trust, rely on and follow my strong sense of intuition. I’m an idealist and dreamer at heart, but I’m realistic, flexible, open-minded, adaptible, and I’m very pragmatic, especially when it comes to making decisions and getting things done.
I’m driven by strong moral, ethical and humane principles and believe in freedom, justice and equality. I ultimately believe in being an overall good person and decent human, and I respect the freedom to follow any belief or lifestyle that is fundamentally based on the fact and reality that we’re all equally human and promotes love, togetherness and unity, and does not, directly or indirectly, incite or call for discrimination, hate or violence against others. All belief systems are based purely on faith; none of us truly know. As a species, we are not yet capable of knowing, and share the very fact and quality that makes us all human – not knowing. Anyone should be free to live the way they want as long as it allows them to be a good person, does no harm to others, does not infringe on any rights and freedoms, and brings them solace and inner peace.
My purpose and mission in life is to make an impact and leave the world a better place by enabling people, transforming their lives and driving change through meaningful and thoughtful software and music experiences. The world would be a much better place if we focused on what unites us rather than what divides us. The world would also be an infinitely better place if we could focus more on knowledge, science and human advancement, rather than on securing our fundamental human rights and worrying about meeting our basic necessities, such as healthcare and education, or even nutrition, safety and security.
My vision and dream is an uplifted and progressive society – a united, peaceful and secure place where these worries are eliminated and basic needs are met and guaranteed, allowing everyone to be an educated and productive member of society and able to aim for and reach their full potential. This leads to an advanced society and world that is collectively better for everyone, where our focus would be primarily on science, progress and innovation, and our aim would be to build and sustain our future through advancing and evolving the human race, apart from protecting and preserving our only home and planet. Humanity or human intelligence is a small lit flame in the dark and vast universe. Our obligation and duty is to not only keep it alight, but also grow and spread it further, which is only possible through expansion by becoming interplanetary, and ultimately, interstellar species in the future. Otherwise, it remains at risk of being extinguished along with all of our history, achievements, hopes and memories, which can happen either any instant through natural or man-made disasters or eventually over the lifetime of our planet, its finite resources and overpopulation, especially as the average life expectancy increases with scientific advancement. We spend a lot of our time looking judgementally outward, conservatively backward and hopelessly downward, when we should instead be looking introspectively inward, progressively forward and imaginatively upward.
While a very advanced society is possible, a utopia is neither achievable nor desirable. In nature, nothing is perfect, and most importantly, balance must always exist; there is no light without darkness. Order and discipline are important, however, on the other hand, chaos and entropy are fundamental elements and aspects of life without which many natural, cosmological and ecological processes, such as evolution, are not possible. Moderation and regulation are essential for all aspects of life, especially on a physiological, ecological and legislative level. I have learnt that there are three basic rules to life; everything happens for a reason, everything in moderation is good while anything to the extreme is bad, and nothing lasts forever.
When it comes to the universe, I’m interested in both physics and metaphysics, and believe there is very likely a lot more to the world than what our five human senses or developed scientific tools can sense and detect, such as spiritual and supernatural forces. I’m really fascinated by cosmology, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s ‘Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey’ documentary series were deeply insightful and changed how I see life and the universe. My main influences were science and philosophy as disciplines throughout my academic studies and the philosophers I have read which helped shape some of my perspectives, and I’m always attracted to and inspired by free, independent and forward-thinking people.