Blog about the Internet, Pakistan and lots more

Tuesday 14th August 2007

Happy Independence Day and Goodbye

Blogging Pakistan

Happy 14th August to all Pakistanis, especially to those that can't read this due to the lack of something as basic as electricity. Hope you find a way to enjoy this holiday.

This also marks the last of my free blogging and is pretty much a goodbye for now. But don't be so shocked. I'm making a big change in my life which will probably leave me unable to blog the same way that I have been doing lately. It has nothing to do with shortage of material and I still have lots of half-written posts and ideas. It's just that I'm leaving my current employment this week which means no more virtually unlimited Internet access and no more company-sponsored laptop.

This Thinkpad had literally taken over my life and has been with me pretty much 24/7 for the last year. I had come to rely on it heavily, but alas, all good things must end. I have no idea where it will go from here. I may get a laptop from my new employer or might decide to buy my own, but the chances are, for the first time in years, I won't have a personal computing device (not counting mobiles) or an Internet connection I could use to my heart's content.

However, don't fret. I know myself well and won't be able to survive for long without the same kind of fodder. I'll find a way to return. In the meantime, keep reading and keep posting and I'll be around whenever I get the chance.

 

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Posted at 00:34am PKT  Comments(8) |

Monday 13th August 2007

A dark 60th Independence day

Pakistan

August 14th marks 60 years since Pakistan gained independence. The day is supposed to be one of joy and celebration, yet after 60 years, a large part of the Capital, supposedly the most developed place in the country, is still under darkness. Power lines were effected by last night's storm and even in the better areas, the supply was only restored in the evening.

My house, just out of the jurisdiction of the Capital Development Authority, has been without power for almost 24 hours now. With another storm coming and no sign of any restoration of power, things will be quite unbearable on Independence Day and who knows how much longer this will last.

 

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Posted at 20:03pm PKT  Comments |

Power outage after storm

Islamabad

Islamabad has always seen a lot of rainfall, especially in the annual monsoon season. However, storms here are getting more and more violent for some odd reason. I remember that a very long time ago, it was strange to see any part of the capital flooding more than once in a couple of years. Yet now, it has become a monthly, if not weekly, routine.

Last night's thunderstorm submerged pretty much every road and though most of the water disappeared, some areas are still flooded. But more importantly, a disproportionally large number of trees have been damaged. I even saw fully grown pine trees that had been uprooted or at least bent to dangerous angles.

Worst of all, a number of areas in the capital are still without electricity. I have been up most of the night and am blogging using the power from a generator running on petrol (for almost 10 hours). My previous post was also made from the collocation because that was the only place that had power at the time.

The electricity guys attempted to restore the power a couple of times during the night, but each time, it went out with a bang within a few seconds. My guess is, trees have so badly damaged the lines that any restoration attempts are causing short circuits. And this is the capital of the country of 150 Million strong.

 

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Posted at 08:08am PKT  Comments(14) |

The Meizu M8 miniOne and other iPhone clones

Mobile Technology Linux

While those of us outside the US wait for Apple's iPhone to arrive (sometime next year for Asia), China is rushing in to fill the demand with clones that in some ways, outdo Apple's sought-after gizmo.

The most promising of the clones looks to be the Meizu M8 miniOne, identical to the iPhone, but superior in many ways. It boasts a 3 Megapixel camera vs the iPhone's meager 1.3 Megapixel, has 3G support and runs applications that the incumbent doesn't. A side-by-side photo is given below.

iPhone vs M8 miniOne

One that aims to be pretty much a replica of the iPhone is the P168, seen below next to a photo of the original. It seems to have a very cheap look and feel, but if it costs less and is available NOW, it will definitely do some damage to Apple's market share. The 6-speaker surround sound and dual-SIM support are also plus points for the P168.

P168 iPhone clone

The main feature that is missing from these clones is iPhone's multi-touch display. Without it, these clones are missing out on something big, yet despite this drawback, they pose a formidable challenge to Apple due to the low pricing and worldwide availability. Besides, the multi-touch display technology was developed in China. It shouldn't be long before the Chinese cloners figure out how to incorporate it into their clone army.

All this may be old news now. However, it is a small demonstration of the growing power that China has these days over the world's economy. This article, titled "China's iClone" is an interesting read and offers some interesting suggestions on where China is headed. It looks like it will follow the same path of progress that Japan and Korea followed during the last 30-40 years, but at a much much faster rate.

 

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Posted at 00:11am PKT  Comments(20) |

Wednesday 8th August 2007

List of free proxies

Internet Web

I tried to search for a good free and open source software that could be used to create an online directory, but didn't find anything useful. Just something as simple as DMOZ would have been sufficient, but I didn't have much luck with finding something that I liked. So I did what I always do. I created my own. I mean how difficult could it be to create a simple listing software?

Enter Pylist (written in Python, if it isn't obvious). Though I'm not releasing it as open source yet, it will happen soon (just cleaning it up a bit). To demonstrate, here is a List of free proxies that I've created and am hoping that it will grow into a full-fledged site. If you're running your own proxy, submit it here. Link to the site, promote it. Whatever makes you (and me) happy.

I'm still working to make the URLs more friendly and SEO optimized. There are a few other things I'd like to add like user signin, more templates etc., but at least the whole thing works TODAY. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

 

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Posted at 11:17am PKT  Comments(5) |

Tuesday 7th August 2007

Lenovo to offer Linux laptops

Linux Technology

One of the world's top laptop makers, Lenovo just announced at the LinuxWorld conference that it will start to offer laptops with Linux pre-installed. It looks like they've gone into a deal with Novel, though I'm not too excited about that after the recent Microsoft-Novel agreement regarding Linux.

I'm strongly considering buying a laptop of my own and it is very likely to be a Lenovo. However, it's quite likely that I won't get this option here and I'm already very comfortable with installing my own OS. This is still a big thing and should come as a welcome news to a lot of people who are sick of all the hassles and licensing issues of Windows.

BBC article, Yahoo News

 

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Posted at 11:36am PKT  Comments(10) |

Monday 6th August 2007

Crops in the midst

General

I was taking a walk with my brother and cousin near my house yesterday and decided to do a little exploration. Soon we entered a previously unexplored neighbourhood and found this crop field surrounded by houses. It looked beautiful and eery at the same time (pics courtesy of the P990i I just blogged about).

Crops in the middle of houses

I don't know what crop it was (barley maybe?), but the stems were so tall and dense in some places that it reminded me of the Velociraptor scene from the Jurrasic Park movie.

Path around the crops

 

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Posted at 16:52pm PKT  Comments(10) |

P990i new phone

Mobile Technology

My nokia communicator (9500) had lasted me almost a full year and I had decided that it was sufficient for my needs. I had even managed to convince myself that switching to a Sony Ericsson P990i mobile new phone at this point would just be a waste of money better spent elsewhere. Still, something always kept telling me that I ought to be sick of the communicator by now. That I should get a new phone, even if it is one without a camera and has a simple, monochrome display.

So the stage was set and as soon as someone offered me their Sony Ericsson P990i, I readily accepted without so much as batting an eyelid. Though I know a lot more about the P990i's nuances now and the reviews I found were some of the worst I've seen for any phone, I still don't regret my decision. The phone looks good, has an excellent camera (there are better ones out there, but this is the best I've seen on a mobile) and seems to do a decent job of handling calls and simple messaging. Any additional requirements and I'll just have to make do with my laptop or something.

Now for the things that suck. The interface for one. Though you can assign tasks to shortcut keys, the menu system overall is pathetic. Everything from writing an SMS to checking your WiFi status requires going through lots of menu options. It ain't stable either. I've had a number of apps crash upon startup and the phone has rebooted by itself twice. It even had the nerve to tell me that the phone was rebooted to "improve performance". Bah!

I haven't used it for browsing through GPRS yet, mainly because of the pain of configuring such a simple thing. However, browsing seemed to be fine through WiFi. There's also an RSS application which I have yet to try out, but this much fun would only be possible if I ever got GPRS working.

The multiple input methods (I counted 4: stylus, numeric keypad, alphanumeric keypad and scroll wheel with its buttons) are quite awesome though people have complained that the scroll wheel is only 3-way, unlike the very successful 5-way wheel of previous models.

Sony Ericsson P990i mobile

On the bright side, data transfers aren't an issue on a P990i since Ubuntu Linux (7.04) on an IBM Thinkpad needs no additional software to recognize the flash drive. The moment I connect the phone to the laptop using the included USB cable, I get a prompt asking me what I want to do with the clear and high quality photos that I took with the phone's camera (look forward to seeing more of these, one coming up in my next post). Transferring music and other files is just as simple.

The phone's flap, containing the numeric keys, can be detached and I'm planning to do this as soon as I have a good cover for it. Next objective is to make moblogging with this phone a reality.

 

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Posted at 10:32am PKT  Comments(21) |

Sunday 5th August 2007

Pharmacy spammer gets jailed for 30 years

Legal Security

If you are reading this with a nice, triumphant feeling and thinking that this is the beginning of the end for spammers, sorry to disappoint you. I was disappointed too. Though the spammer, Christopher Smith, got his comeuppance, the 30 year jail sentence wasn't for spamming. It was for illegally selling prescription drugs and related charges.

Spammer

I wonder when we'll have tough laws that deal with the most despicable creatures on earth, like the guy above. Execution may be a bit messy and too simple a punishment, but I'd definitely vote for giving spammers a taste of their own medicine (literally).

Dear lawmakers. Please realize that there is something worse than you on this planet and tough action needs to be taken against it. When can we expect to have laws that effectively deal with the damage that spammers cause?

 

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Posted at 11:24am PKT  Comments(18) |

Friday 3rd August 2007

Office humor

Humor

Real life is sometimes a lot funnier than fiction. There were two recent incidents that will continue to amuse us for a while.

Today's incident was related to the torrent of rain we experienced this morning. One of my engineers got his feet wet on the way to the office and went to the rooftop to dry out his shoes and socks. Just as he had laid his socks to rest, a crow came flying out of nowhere and disappeared with one of the socks. He will thus be remembered as the "one-sock spartan" ("spartan" is his Counter-Strike nick).

The other day, I accompanied another colleague of mine to the ATM, just outside the office. He went in and came out after a while, half cracking up, half blushing. Apparently, he had decided to use the peace and solace of the ATM (as well as the lengthy processing time) to practice his Musharraf impersonation routine. And trust me, he's loud.

We know they have a camera in ATMs, but they can't hear you right? So you should be able to say pretty much anything in there. What my friend said can be nicely translated into, "Cut the crap, give me the damn money".

Just then, he noticed that the "wall" of the ATM was just a very thin partition, separating it from the rest of the bank and in this partition was a small opening. Through this could be seen a rather shocked lady, petrified at the obscenities she had just heard. He won't be banking with them again.

Posted at 11:34am PKT  Comments(2) |

Thursday 2nd August 2007

IPv6 migration plan

Internet

An engineer from the Internet Engineering Task Force has formulated a plan for the transition to IPv6 from the current IPv4 standard. According to the plan, we'll have IPv6-only networks by 2011. However, judging by the lukewarm interest so far from major players and the lack of any way to enforce such standards on the Internet, this will likely be another disappointment.

Ever since I launched my IPv6 site, Showmyip6, there have been accesses from only 18 IPv6 addresses, as opposed to hits from more than 200 IPv4 ones. That doesn't look so bad, but remember that this is a site designed specifically for IPv6 visitors.

Reading the comments on Slashdot etc., Asia seems to be the likely candidate for the push towards IPv6 due to its limited v4 addresses. It seems that certain universities in the States have more IPs assigned to them than the whole of Asia.

Posted at 19:41pm PKT  Comments(11) |

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