Blog about the Net, Pakistan and more

Friday 29th February 2008

Signs of a scorching summer?


It is still February, yet even in the evening, the cooling fans have come on and I'm down to a single t-shirt. During the day, it feels as hot as summer which officially is still almost half a year away so the actual hot season may be the hottest I've ever seen. We've even started thinking about the air conditioners we should add in the new office.

Islamabad temperature

If I look at what has changed since last year, the main thing I notice is more roads and less trees. Maybe that is a contributing factor. Global warming maybe? Whatever the cause may be, the extreme heat, combined with all the power shortages which are bound to return at the most inopportune time, will make this summer a scorching and unbearable one. Be warned.


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Posted at 21:15pm PKT  Comments(72) |

Wednesday 27th February 2008

YouTube service restored in Pakistan and elsewhere

Internet Pakistan

As of this morning, YouTube is opening fine on the different connections that I have tried. The ban has been lifted and the offending video(s) have presumably been removed (looks like they could have just asked YouTube to remove the objectionable content).

Whatever the motives of the ban were or what long-term effects it will have on Pakistan, at least this incident showed how vulnerable the Internet is and how even a clueless engineer (I'm sure it wasn't intentional) in somewhere like Pakistan can bring down a website as big and global as YouTube.

This article (thanks Stuart) explains what happened when the PTCL/PIE guys attempted to block access to YouTube for Pakistan, but ended up blocking it for everyone else.


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Posted at 01:09am PKT  Comments(13) |

Saturday 23rd February 2008

YouTube banned in Pakistan

Internet Pakistan

You read it correctly. YouTube has been deemed unsuitable for 160 million people by some morons who haven't a clue as to what the Internet is or how it functions. It's hard to believe that there are people who can come up with such backward ideas and yet wield such power and authority that they can govern what we need and what we don't.

YouTube banned

There is so much dirt out there that attempting to block any of it is akin to putting up a banner announcing its presence. Why do this if it will only attract more publicity and spread the message farther? Sometimes I get the feeling that these monkeys do this kind of thing deliberately. Either they want to spread the very filth they are claiming to censor or they're covering up something that would expose their own incompetence or that of their masters (like the vote rigging videos some people have mentioned).

In the words of a fellow blogger, maybe these guys consider our brains to be so puny that we are unable to decide between right and wrong. Their faith may be so fragile that it can be shattered by something as simple as a cartoon or a few-minute video clip, but it doesn't give them the right to block everything like this.

With broadband Internet spreading really fast in Pakistan, sites such as YouTube were proving to be very popular and useful for us Pakistanis. They provide an outlet for creativity while being a great source of entertainment and information. What exactly is this ban meant to do? Stifle all the wonderful work that we have lately been producing?

The whole design and concept of the Internet is such that attempting to restrict access to specific content is quite futile. Because of a single offending video, they blocked the whole YouTube site. What next? Wikipedia? Search engines? Might as well block the whole Internet while they're at it.


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Posted at 11:05am PKT  Comments(7505) |

Sunday 17th February 2008

Help save the shell people

Linux Humor

Before reading this excellent piece, I didn't realize how endangered my species is becoming. The first few sentences sum it all up and nicely describe the peril that our dwindling numbers face:

There is a sad truth to the world today. I am part of a dying breed of people known as "shell users." ...... We use ssh, scp, and even occassionally ftp... , our kind is facing extinction.

Come to think of it, I have lately been active on a couple of webmaster forums, and though a positive sign is that a vast number of people are running their sites on Linux, it is alarming that only a handful of them know the difference between a Bourne shell and a bomb shell.

The UNIX shell

For us shell people, it would be blasphemous to run a server without knowing the MTA it is running. Yet these kids today can clear their email queue with a simple click, without ever bothering to know what they just did. No wonder spammers and viruses are spreading so fast. Just think what would happen when we shell people have disappeared.

So, if you are a woman between the ages of 23 and 43 who is ready to raise a child in the way of the shell, let me know so we can begin the process.

Don't let us die. Help us and you'll receive a 30 percent discount on all shell services we offer, and that includes setting up virus and spam protection.


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Posted at 22:16pm PKT  Comments(6) |

Saturday 16th February 2008

Vote for Obama

Pakistan General

I have never voted before. This is mainly due to never being around in my home country of Pakistan during election time. Have never even seen a ballot paper before. This time around though, I have a chance to see what the fuss is all about. On the 18th February, when Pakistanis go to the polls, I'll play my part and cast my vote.

The problem is, there's nobody running that I want to vote for and the lesser of the running evils is still pretty evil. Musharraf would definitely have gotten my vote if he was running, though I'd be one of the very few voting for him.

So rather than stay home and leave it up for abuse (that's what a lot of people say will happen to it if I don't vote), I'm going to vote for Barack Obama. The vote may not count, but at least I'll be satisfied.

Why Obama? Well firstly, the next person in the White House will have more of an impact on our lives (hopefully a more positive one) than whoever is elected from within Pakistan. Secondly, he doesn't belong to any one of the major ethnic or religious groups of the country, thus will be less likely to favor his "own" family, tribe, caste or whatever (the same can't be said for the rest of the candidates).

Lastly, he seems like an intelligent and capable person who genuinely wants to do what's right (his speeches somehow remind me of a fictional cyborg policeman I used to love watching as a kid).

Go Obama!


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Posted at 13:35pm PKT  Comments(5) |

Thursday 7th February 2008

Cyber war declared on the Middle East?


Amazingly, a fifth breakdown in the Middle East's Internet connectivity has occurred within the span of just a week. This is far from a simple coincidence and can only mean that something big is going on.

cable cuts map

It all started with the two undersea cable cuts on Wednesday, last week, and this was followed by a series of cuts, stretching from the Mediterranean, all the way to Malaysia. Though we in Pakistan hardly felt any of the effects, a number of Middle Eastern countries suffered as much as 70% loss in connectivity.

There's more info on this, as well as the above map, here, while this article, posted on TGP, attempts to "connect the dots". Very interesting read.


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Posted at 12:14pm PKT  Comments(11) |

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