Pakistan, Japan, Linux and lots more
Monday 30th April 2007
Mobile theft prevention using IMEI
There was a recent post on Karachi Metblogs about the increase in the number of snatched mobile phones (and other crimes) in Karachi. The figures are quite alarming. This is from a leading newspaper and is becoming more and more common:
The bandits in various parts of the metropolis snatched at least 69 cell phones, 17cars and 25 motorcycles on Wednesday
Things seem quite desperate and no amount of law enforcement (if you ignore the allegations that they themselves are the culprits) or cries from citizens have been effective at stemming this trend. Though the situation is much better in Islamabad, you do occasionally lose your mobile and it isn't fun. I lost one to a mugging very soon after I arrived here though thankfully, there hasn't been any incident after that.
So how do you deal with this threat? Haven't all the big players in the mobile market managed to come up with a solution to something as simple as mobile theft? Try IMEI.
The IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) is a unique 15-digit code used to identify an individual GSM mobile telephone to a GSM network
According to UK Police's National Mobile Phone Crime Unit's website, this ID can be used to lock and effectively immobilize a mobile (no pun intended). The site has details on how this works and how you can find out your phone's ID.
For Pakistanis, you may report your stolen mobile on the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee website. I have no idea how well it works, but if all the victims of this crime started doing this, it may just be the deterrent that is required to put an end to this menace. Happy mobiling.
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Thursday 26th April 2007
Block spam using virus scanner
This is an awesome idea that we just implemented and that caused another large improvement in the amount of spam that is successfully detected and dropped by the mail servers. Sane Security provides virus, phishing and scam signatures for ClamAV that can detect most known mails with such content. Quite clever and effective.
Using a virus scanner to check for known content signatures is much more efficient than pushing an email through a bunch of algorithms to analyze individual words of an email. Both Bayesian filtering and Spam Assassin are generally quite CPU-intensive so this should give your system a break.
More info here.
Monday 23rd April 2007
How Pakistani are you?
I'm pretty much sick of online quizzes, but this was kinda funny. Not surprisingly, it seems that I'm only 38% Pakistani, but hey, that's still more than what I (or most of my friends) would have expected.
Give it a try here.
Friday 20th April 2007
Real life dog humor
A friend of mine went to talk to an infuriated customer who was fed up of the Internet issues he has been facing. He also happened to be South American and very hot-tempered. Though most of his speech was a tirade against my friend's company and this country, this part stuck out and has been making the rounds around our group ever since:
Your engineers were all over my house. The best thing they could do was make my dog run away. In typical Pakistani fashion, they left the door open.
If the thought of his dog running away doesn't tickle the funny bone, try imagining the customer running after it since that's exactly what he did.
It was only me who ran after the dog. I had to chase him all over before bringing it back.
It is kind of sad that there is not much that a customer, especially a foreigner, can do about such things in this country, but it was funny nonetheless.
Friday 13th April 2007
The deadly mobile virus
In typical Pakistani fashion, here is another hoax that is causing fear and disarray among Pakistanis. This time it is a killer virus that rings your mobile number, appearing to come from a strange number such as "331m", and emitting a deadly sound that will kill you instantly. We were just discussing the carnage this would cause if you switched your speakerphone on at the time of the call.
As with most hoaxes, there are confirmed reports of a death of a friend of a friend of a friend. Nobody actually knows a person who actually fell victim to the virus.
Please do not pick any call from any unknown number like 888 etc, as there is a virus in circulation targetting mobile users, resulting in severe ear damage. Two deaths are reported from lahore just now.
This was the first message I received about the killer virus. I got it yesterday evening from a very close friend. Then my uncle called from Lahore this morning, telling us to be extra careful and my mother was also extremely worried, forbidding me to attend any calls.
Finally, a simple Pakistani has outsmarted even the Pentagon and come up with an ingenious way to commit mass murder by the simple use of sound from the tiny speaker of your mobile. How brilliant. It is even smart enough to know that it is a mobile that is being called and not a land-line number. Else, we would have had piles of dead telephone operators and customer care people.
In the end however, the culprit may have been successful by causing unnecessary panic and God knows what losses due to people ignoring important calls. Ignorance rocks.
Thursday 5th April 2007
An ex-boss of mine once said that it was much easier for him to code for 10 hours straight than sit in a 2-hour company meeting. Now I know exactly what he meant. Though it is something new and interesting to an excent, just sitting in one room with dozens of people from various departments and trying to come to a conclusion is pretty hard, mundane work. Especially if it lasts not 2 hours, but upto 8 or 9.
This becomes especially tough when you're a person like me who usually can't get enough sleep. Maybe it is just the way my brain is wired, but I tend to lose interest and start going into sleep mode if there are too many clueless people talking. Add to that the retarted attention spans that technology and the Internet have inflicted upon us, and you get a nice recipe for a terrible time.
Tuesday 3rd April 2007
Strong jolts in Islamabad
Just had a pretty strong shaking. Still not sure of the intensity, but my estimate puts it at around 5.0. This was the first earthquake in quite a while and lasted pretty long.
Warid numbers inaccessible
I mentioned mobile number portability a few days ago. It seems that its implementation hasn't gone as smoothly as we thought and the main issue is with phone numbers belonging to Warid.
Though not all Warid numbers are affected, certain cell numbers can't be called from my phone (Ufone) or from other services such as Mobilink. Strangely, those numbers can call me and we can SMS each other just fine.
The issues aren't really limited to Warid numbers either, though I have seen them to be most common with their service. Some of my friends are also having problems calling Mobilink to Mobilink. It is also strange that none of these numbers have applied for "portability" to another network and have been running fine for a long time.