Blog about the Internet, Pakistan and lots more

Wednesday 28th November 2007

Wind power

Kite power

Alternative energy is something I check up on every once in a while and something I have a keen interest in. However, the usual talk just focuses on what could be built or achieved in the near future. I'll share two articles that describe some cool projects already underway and which should see the light of day very soon.

The first is this one about a kite-powered freight ship that utilizes wind power in a novel way to cut down on its fuel consumption. Apparently, the wind at higher altitudes contains much more energy than that at sea level so this should provide enough power to pull a large freighter. From the article:

A kite the size of a football field will provide most of the power for a German heavy freight ship set to launch in December.

I wonder why something like this wasn't attempted in the days of yore when sailing ships were the primary means of sea transport.

The second is about a Maglev wind turbine the construction of which is already underway in central China. These turbines use permanent magnets that levitate the structure, replacing the ball bearings that conventional wind turbines use and which require periodic replacement.

Maglev turbine

These turbines are many times more efficient than the standard offerings, last much longer and require a much smaller area to operate. They look like something out of a sci-fi movie and I'd love to see one in action.


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Posted at 22:18pm PKT  Comments(1) |

Saturday 24th November 2007

Limo service in Islamabad

Cars Islamabad

Just a few years ago, Islamabad was considered a city bereft of life. A quiet little capital city consisting mostly of government employees who lived a simple life and where opulence was generally unheard of (maybe with the exception of certain elite circles). With most citizens struggling to make ends meet, you would have been hard-pressed to find a racing bike here, much less sports or luxury cars.

Limo for hire

How things change. Finding a Corvette, McLaren or a Z3 isn't very difficult these days and even people like myself can now at least consider getting a decent saloon car (a Honda Civic or something, nothing very fancy). There was a really cool Jaguar parked outside today and I saw another one earlier in the day. I've had only one or two glimpses of truly luxurious cars (Bentleys or Rolls Royces), but they're definitely around.

Limo for hire

The above "Limo for Hire" was seen around F-7 and looked pretty awesome. There's also a black, BMW Limozine that's usually parked in front of a building about 2 minutes walk from my house. Next to it is a list of packages displaying what an hour or a day of luxurious cruising around the city will cost you. At Rs.6,000 per hour (or Rs.40,000 for an 8-hour wedding package), it should be within reach of many Islamabadiites.

Some might call it an unnecessary indulgence, but in this country of parallels, anything works. And if you have any qualms about ruining the environment, maybe you can get away with it if you consider that Pakistan has the world's biggest fleet of cars powered by relatively environment-friendly natural gas instead of oil.


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Posted at 20:07pm PKT  Comments(300) |

Monday 12th November 2007

End world hunger through Free Rice

Web Food

When I first read about it, chain letters came to my mind. Like Free Rice the one about Bill Gates donating his wealth as a result of you circulating the blasted email to as many people as possible. Or a Nigerian scam that centers around someone wishing to donate their life savings to a charitable cause. However, the Free Rice project appears to be authentic and has some credible names behind it.

The concept is simple. Just visit the site and take their vocabulary quiz. For every correct answer (and mind you, it can be a tough test) the project will donate 10 grains of rice to help end world hunger. Feed the world while improving your vocabulary.

I'm not too sure how the project would sustain itself in the long run though. Currently, it is just a simple quiz which many would grow tired of quickly. And for some reason, the advertising method doesn't look too feasible. However, they must be doing something right if they have crossed the 1 billion grains of rice mark.

It's no doubt a wonderful initiative and the idea could be put to use in many other areas. Why not setup similar infotainment sites with advertising as the primary means of income? The proceeds can all be donated towards a good cause and since it would be both fun and noble, people will come.


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Posted at 22:38pm PKT  Comments(272) |

Saturday 10th November 2007

State of emergency may soon be lifted


Just one week after a state of emergency was imposed in Pakistan, there are signs that it could be lifted soon. There is also talk of the news channels being allowed back on air again, though it is likely that they have had to agree to a number of new guidelines that were being drawn up by PEMRA (the electronic media regulatory authority).

Whatever course things take from here, President Musharraf seems to have made one mistake too many and alienated many people in doing so. I'm not sure who is to blame here. The General for being too soft a dictator and making some terrible political mistakes or the politicians and judges for stirring up trouble whenever the opportunity presented itself. For the common man, all have been nothing but a nuisance.

Here's a piece titled Deja Vu in Pakistan power struggle about interviews that the correspondent conducted with former prime minister Benazir, before and after Musharraf took control. Some interesting comparisons.

When considering the current state of affairs, this article about Pakistan and its Army has an interesting point of view (thanks Jim W for sharing it). It starts off with some background history and then goes into details of what military rule means for Pakistan and what the chances of everything plunging into chaos are.

Whether Musharraf himself survives is not a historically significant issue. What is significant is whether Pakistan will fall into internal chaos or civil war, or fragment into smaller states
As long as the generals are united and the troops remain under control, the existence of the regime is guaranteed ...... Under these conditions, with or without Musharraf, with or without democracy, Pakistan will survive.

Though many would disagree with some of the points made, it all kind of makes sense and generally puts Pakistan in a more positive light than how it currently appears to the outside world.


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Posted at 19:22pm PKT  Comments(3) |

Saturday 3rd November 2007

Breaking News: State of emergency imposed


A state of emergency has been imposed in Pakistan. This was broadcast by a number of TV channels, just before all of them went off air (BBC news blurb here and more reports on other news websites).

Things seem calm in the capital and at least the Internet connectivity I have access to is still working. Otherwise, there aren't any physical signs of this new development.

I don't see what the need was to do this at this point in time (off course there's the political unrest, terrorist attacks and all that, but when was the last time things were frickin normal with regards to these?) or what the consequences will be, other than the population spending a very boring weekend, but let's see.


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Posted at 18:13pm PKT  Comments(15) |

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