Monday 24th January 2005
Eid-ul-Azha Mubarik (or Selamat Hari Raya Haji for those who speak Malay) to everyone. It's a three-day celebration to remember the sacrifice made by the prophet Abraham and the first day here was last Friday. Though you are supposed to make a sacrifice on one of the three days, the price of live animals has sky-rocketed in Islamabad and has put it out of reach for many people. It's also almost impossible to find a goat/sheep/bull with everything intact (animals being sacrificed can't have broken horns, cut ears, be too young or have other anomalies).
Sorry you couldn't see it this year Victor, but maybe once was enough for you.
Wednesday 19th January 2005
Linux Harder to Crack
This article talks about how Linux distributions have improved in the area of out-of-the-box security. From the tests a group of researchers ran, only 4 out of 19 Linux boxes were compromised while only one of the four Solaris systems was left standing secure. More details on the Honey Net project's homepage and this PDF.
Brute password attacks were responsible for cracking two of the four Linux systems compromised. This points out the importance of having strong password protection.
The tests do seem a bit dated since they were using older distributions, but maybe that was part of the test. Anything before and including Red Hat Linux 9 doesn't have official support from Red Hat and therefore should be considered insecure unless an alternative, such as the Fedora Legacy Project, is being used. Other distributions, such as Slackware and Debian, which have a good track record for security, were missing and probably would have fared even better.
Another thing I saw today. Someone turned "Linux" into one of those recursive acronyms: Linux Is Not UniX.
Tuesday 18th January 2005
Thank you Poland
According to this page, Mr. Wlodzimierz Marcinski, the Undersecretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Science and Technology, is single-handedly responsible for blocking the dreaded European software patent vote on 21st December last year. This means that Europe will remain software patent-free which in turn will help open source software and software innovation in general.
Since a lot of good, free software ( Mplayer, Linux, Knoppix to name a few) has come out of this region, the benefits aren't limited to just the EU. Countries like Pakistan, which are starting to rely more and more on open source software, have a lot to gain from a patent-free Europe.
Gnu has issued banners to thank Poland for this effort, one of which I'm putting here. Looks like Poland doesn't have an embassy in Pakistan so we can't write a thank you note to them.
Monday 10th January 2005
Rahat and Gastronomic Issues
Rahat Bakers recently made their debut in Islamabad after running a popular and successful outlet in Rawalpindi. Their new setup in Blue Area has the same design as the one in Pindi with the addition of a spacious parking lot and a nice exterior. They have a huge variety of junk food (burgers, sandwiches, breads, pizzas), salads and sweets, not to mention the "Safilo" ice creams, coladas and shakes next door. Unfortunately, the only thing missing is a proper seating area which was also a big problem at the Pindi outlet.
After it's opening a week or so ago, my colleagues and I have found a delicious and affordable solution to the lunch problem. As I mentioned earlier, there aren't many good options around our office. The likes of Cafe Grind and KC Grill have excellent menus, but are just a bit too costly for regular lunches. Rahat is about a 5 minute drive/ride away and their salads, though high in creamy, meaty stuff, taste good.
That brings up an important issue. Once we started having regular lunches (before we moved to F-7), some of my colleagues started gaining weight dangerously fast. I usually tend to eat more than them while doing a similar amount of work, but there was hardly a change in my physique yet they continue to count tires around their wastes. My first problem is that I can't work when hunger pangs set in and secondly, I need good, relatively healthy food which rules out most commonly available Pakistani dishes.
Once I start planning for lunch, the others usually can't resist the temptation to follow me. The week I was in Karachi, my colleagues usually skipped lunch, but it's coming back into full gear again. All this makes me feel a bit guilty about fattening up these poor souls by tempting them with gluttony while wondering why I'm (thankfully) immune from these after-effects. One fear I have is that the extra energy is being used by my remaining and slowly dwindeling muscle tissues and once they are gone, I'll suddenly turn into a Homer Simpson (or that inflated tire mascot).
Majed and I have been looking around for gyms/swimming pools nearby though admittedly, not too actively. I better find something fast before time runs out.
Saturday 8th January 2005
2005 marks 100 years since Albert Einstein published his papers on Brownian Motion, the Photoelectric Effect and his theory of Special Relativity. This year has been marked as "Einstein Year" and there seem to be lots of fun things happening. This site has lots of interesting facts about the man and physics in general:
2004 in 25 Words
It was a turbulent year and I didn't achieve much of what I was aiming for. Was reading Mediatinker after quite a while and saw Kristen's summary of her year in 25 words which reminded me that I haven't done mine yet. I did one a year ago (when I was a more active blogger and blog reader) so here it is for 2004:
Took on another job
Made more friends
Had a scary car accident
Got aquainted with Pakistani law
Attended lots of weddings
Thursday 6th January 2005
Silly Exercise Video
Via Jim's blog:http://nimportequi.com/v_d_o/lecteur.swf?vid=126
Silly, but fun.
The Einstein Game
"Aliens have stolen your time machine! You've reached their base, which is travelling away from earth close to the speed of light. Problem is .... because of relativity, your twin on earth is aging much faster than you"
An action game (flash required) where you try to get back your time machine before your twin is old and smelly:http://www.einsteinyear.org/games/EinsteinGame
Monday 3rd January 2005
I'll keep it simple after the tsunami tragedy of last week and the ensuing aftermath. Hope that this year eases the suffering of the victims and brings about peace and prosperity to all.
Friday 31st December 2004
Banned by Slashdot
Relating to my last blog entry, I was quite surprised to see a message saying that my IP was banned when I tried to open Slashdot (News for Nerds) yesterday. The banned IP belongs to our proxy server so it means other users also can't access it, though it seems that not many of them are regular Slashdot readers since I received only one complaint and that was from another Linux geek I know.
The page said that it was probably due to multiple requests from the IP. It also said that they are usually able to distinguish multiple requests through proxies from multiple (and most likely malicious) ones by individuals. Either they didn't or there really is something fishy going on. The instructions said I should ask my proxy admin to contact them if I'm behind a proxy. Since I am the proxy admin, I checked the proxy logs and sent them an email asking them to unblock it or give me a solid reason for the ban.
Still no reply so I can't read Slashdot unless I change the proxy IP or bypass my own IP so it doesn't go through it. Well I did manage to read it, but only after logging in to another server and running "lynx". I'll try sending another message if there's no response by this afternoon.