Tuesday 25th November 2003
The Iranian Vice President's Blog
It seems that Mr. Mohammad Ali Abtahi has joined the world of bloggers, though the blog is in Farsi. Here is some info in English:http://www.webnevesht.com/en/about.asp
Until recently, I thought Iran was pretty backwards when it came to information technology, but looking at the huge number of Persian blogs and the activity on tech mailing lists, it seems that they are further ahead and more progressive than a lot of nations.
Maybe some of the Pakistani Ministers should work on setting up their own blog.
Monday 24th November 2003
Good Coffee, Pepsi and the Tea Menace
It was about 3 years ago that I got hooked on Starbucks's coffee while at Vanguard. One of us would call the office on the way to work and take an order from everyone present. Not only did the coffee help us get through the day, it was an incentive to come in early enough to get our order in.
That routine eventually stopped when somehow Starbucks dropped out of all of our routes to work and when we moved office. I could still have coffee almost anywhere else though. Even forgetting the Starbucks shop on almost every corner, there is no shortage of cafes in Tokyo. My Italian friends are also responsible for exposing me to some of the best Expresso in the world.
Forward a few thousand kilometers to Pakistan, a whole country addicted to milk Tea. Finding your caffeine intake can be quite a feat, unless you happen to enjoy Pepsi (which I don't btw). Coffee (as well as Coke) is as alien to Pakistanis as well, ice to Saharan's. One of the first things people do when you meet them is order tea (something I hate much more than Pepsi, though I really love simple fruit, mint or herb tea). If you happen to refuse you'll get a puzzled (or shocked) expression, followed by an offer of Pepsi at which point you are forced to lay down your weapons and accept the "generosity".
You could make your own coffee, but it's just not the same as enjoying it with others. There are Cafes around, but they are usually rare, expensive and mediocre. I tried some coffee at a fast food joint recently time ago and it really sucked, though the Cappucino last night at "Cafe Grind" was great.
My point is that this might be a good chance for a coffee vendor to come in and liberate us coffee lovers while at the same time making a profit off of the 140 million+ potential customers. Starbucks, are you there?
The Relaxed Month
Well, Ramazan is almost over. Depending on when the new moon (which marks the start of the next Islamic month) is sighted, we'll be celebrating the festival of "Eid", either on Wednesday or Thursday.
It has been a pretty slow and uneventful month. Most offices, banks and schools close early here during the fasting month, some as early as noon. This means that there's a limit to what you can get done. To top it off, I'm used to working late into the night so after waking up at around 4:30am for the morning meal and pr@yers, I have to sleep again for a few hours. That leaves hardly 4 hours to get anything useful done.
Here's to a more productive next month ...urm after the holidays next week.
Saturday 22nd November 2003
Bill Gates Phones President Musharraf
Looks like he wants to meet the President and discuss Microsoft's investment plans in the local IT industry:http://pakistantimes.net/2003/11/22/top4.htm
I wonder if by "investments" they mean implementing copyright laws more strictly. Off course it couldn't have anything to do with the government's recent policies of switching to open source software wherever possible.
Friday 21st November 2003
WarMarketing and a Quote from Goering
Someone posted a comment about this site on Joi's blog:http://geocities.com/warmarketing/
"Of course the people don't want war... that is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's Deputy Chief and Luftwaffe Commander, at the Nuremberg trials, 1946
Found this on the BBC:http://www.interwebnet.org/
It's a site that asks volunteers to use their mobiles to send in info on the where@bouts of the president and disrupt his stage-managed coverage.
Wednesday 19th November 2003
Undercover Reporter Inside Buckingham Palace
First, the comedy terrorist. Now this reporter who got a job as a pal@ce footman at Buckingham just 2 months before President Bush's visit:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3282625.stm
Tuesday 18th November 2003
Somebody has an identity crisis.
Friday 14th November 2003
Just realised that my first recorded blog entry was on the 25th of October last year. The second was on the 14th November so I guess I could firstname.lastname@example.org birthday of my second post.
What presents do I have for my Blog? I'm thinking of adding Trackback support and some extra fe@tures for comments. Will also work on the design and more RSS feeds if I can find the time.
Thursday 13th November 2003
Two Towers DVD and the Cutting of Saruman
Having full knowledge that the extended version of The Two Towers will be out soon and that I won't be able to resist it, I went ahead and bought the 2-DVD normal version yesterday. After Fellowship of the Ring, I realised that having the extended version alone can waste more of your time than necessary so it's best to have both, specially if you'll be watching it with other people.
Last night was only the second time I watched TTT and it somehow felt better than the first when I was dis@ppointed by quite a few things. Still, they slowed the movie down too much at places and some scenes were totally unnecessary (anything involving Arwen).
Return of the King should be awesome, though I'm afraid I won't be able to see it until it's too late. The only theater that might have shown it a bit earlier (Melody cinema) was burnt down and I don't see any signs of it rebuilding.
Speaking of RoTK, Director Peter Jackson cut out all of Christopher Lee's scenes from it, though they'll be in the extended version. More details here:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3265475.stm
Kind of makes sense since the 3rd volume is mostly about the battle with Sauron and Saruman's character becomes irrelevant if they take out the "scouring of the Shire" chapter. I'm still disappointed that they removed these parts from the end of The Two Towers due to time constr@ints. That Warg battle and the confusing and out of place Arwen scenes were more important, weren't they?
Fedora Core 1 Review
I was going to say something about Fedora, the free "reincarn@tion" of RedHat's desktop Linux distribution, but it failed to install properly on my home machine (it failed to configure my GeForce3 Ti300 video card properly, just like Knoppix 3.3). Here is the comprehensive review from OS News:http://www.osnews.com/printer.php?news_id=5111
Doesn't look good, but then ag@in most of Red Hat's x.0 releases have had similar problems. Hope to see it improve with the next release.
Tuesday 11th November 2003
Another Sp@mmer Revenge Technique
In his latest blog entry, Stu@rt writes about Justin G@rdiner's suggestion of throwing random @ marks in public messages so they get picked up by spammers as em@il addresses. I'm also thinking of finding (or building) a list of known sp@mmer's email addresses and inserting a r@ndom one in every post. Either we be@t them now or forfeit email altogether.
Salam Pax - The Baghdad Blogger
Before the war, his account of everyday life and preparations for the war gained him a number of readers and made him a celebrity on the net. This short video adds some interesting views to the usual news you get.
Salam is an architect himself so is interested in what is happening to some of the best designed buildings around him. It seems that almost all of them have either been bombed away or are occupied by US troops.
Also funny to see some of the Iraqis stocking up on alcohol for Ramazan. I mean what's the point of fasting if you're breaking such an important rule?
Saturday 8th November 2003
Beren Minyatur - My Elvish Name
Beren Minyatur sounds so much cooler than my Hobbit name of Grigory Frumblefoot of Bywater. Now if only someone could tell me my Orcish/Wraith name so I can make my enemies tremble.
Thursday 6th November 2003
Guy Fawkes Anniversary
Yesterday, 5th November, was "Guy Fawkes Day" in England. Here is an article about how these people calculated the actual amount of damage the gunpowder would have done if Guy had succeeded.
Would have had a profound affect on world history. Imagine how dull our lunchtime discussions at Vanguard would have been without mention of the British Parliament. Also, as Stuart mentioned, in 2 years time, it will be the 400th anniversary of the event.
Trying out IPCop as a firewall/proxy distribution on Junaid's recommendation. It was only about 22MB to download and will run on virtually any type of hardware. Comes with a 2.4.20 kernel, Squid, a DHCP server and ssh login support. After the first reboot, brings up an easy to use web interface.
On the downside, it's not easy to figure out how to customize it just the way you want and the performance doesn't look that great (though that could be because of my hardware). Worth a look if you're into these things.
Wednesday 5th November 2003
From the people that brought you Highlander and war driving, here's a way to freak someone out by sending them an anonymous Bluetooth mobile message. For best results, target a crowd or mobile shop where you're more likely to find another Bluetooth-enabled phone:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3237755.stm
I'll have to wait until I can get a better phone before I can do this. Should be fun.
Tuesday 4th November 2003
RedHat Support Discontinuation
Received an email from Red Hat about how they will be discontinuing support for all 7.x and 8 distro versions on 31st December and that for Red Hat 9 on April 20th. More info here:http://www.redhat.com/apps/support/errata/
This really doesn't look good. For a lot of reasons I can't drop Red Hat completely, but will be seriously looking at other options now. I thought at least Red Hat 9, their current desktop version should last a couple more years. Apparantly not.