Pakistan, Japan, Linux and lots more

Monday 30th April 2007

Mobile theft prevention using IMEI

Mobile Security

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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Posted at 18:16pm PKT  Comments(24) |

Thursday 26th April 2007

Block spam using virus scanner

Internet Technology

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.

Posted at 19:08pm PKT  Comments(4) |

Monday 23rd April 2007

How Pakistani are you?

Pakistan

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.

Arey, you are 38% Pakistani!
 

Not bad, but not good enough to call yourself a real Pakistani either! You seem more London than Lahore, so why not try wearing a shalwar kameez for a week and maybe that'll bump up your rating...

How Pakistani are you? (first class number one!)
Create a Quiz

Give it a try here.

Posted at 22:01pm PKT  Comments(76) |

Friday 20th April 2007

Real life dog humor

Entertainment

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.

Posted at 23:28pm PKT  Comments(3) |

Friday 13th April 2007

The deadly mobile virus

Mobile Pakistan Security

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.

Posted at 15:53pm PKT  Comments(226) |

Thursday 5th April 2007

Meeting blues

General

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.

Posted at 13:20pm PKT  Comments(4) |

Tuesday 3rd April 2007

Strong jolts in Islamabad

Earthquake

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.

Posted at 08:46am PKT  Comments(108) |

Warid numbers inaccessible

Mobile Pakistan

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.

Posted at 03:22am PKT  Comments(40) |

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