Thursday, November 27, 2003

Eid Mubarak Everyone:)

Saturday, November 22, 2003

This is what I got in mail from an IT consultant today. Read.

IT Consultant
Once upon a time there was a shepherd looking after his sheep on the side of a deserted road. Suddenly a brand new Porsche screeches to a halt.The driver, a man dressed in an Armani suit, Cerutti shoes, Ray-Ban sunglasses, TAG-Heuer wrist-watch, and a Pierre Cardin tie, gets out and asks the shepherd: "If I can tell you how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?" The shepherd looks at the young man, and then looks at the large flock of grazing sheep and replies: "Okay." The young man parks the car, connects his laptop to the mobile-fax, enters a NASA Webster, scans the ground using his GPS, opens a database and 60 Excel tables filled with logarithms and pivot tables, then prints out a 150 page report on his high-tech mini-printer.

He turns to the shepherd and says, "You have exactly 1,586 sheep here."

The shepherd cheers, "That's correct, you can have your sheep." The young man makes his pick and puts it in the back of his Porsche. The shepherd looks at him and asks: "If I guess your profession, will you return my animal to me?" The young man answers, "Yes, why not?" The shepherd says, "You are a n IT consultant." "How did you know?" asks the young man. "Very simple," answers the shepherd. "First, you came here without being called. Second, you charged me a fee to tell me something I already knew, and third, you don't understand anything about my business... Now can I have my dog back?"


Thursday, November 20, 2003

Eid Mubarik

Another dimension added in centuries old custom of social communication! With the advent of computers and the Internet, electronic cards are becoming increasingly popular. No shopping for cards, no envelops, no licking of stamps, and no looking for the nearest post boxes. And you can send those with instructions to be opened on the exact date you want them to be seen. There are number of famous card web sits. They electronic cards are easy to send, in large number of designs to fit each and every one's choice and occasion and you can even edit them to suit your particular requirement. Are the people switching over to electronic cards? Can electronic cards ever replace the good old cards? Eid Mubarik to you all

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Growing web-wise with weblogs? Read this!It's mine.

Monday, November 10, 2003

The days of Ramadan are simply flying by. No, they have mounted a Boeing 747, which travels faster than the speed of light. I can’t believe we’re halfway through the month already. No sooner than we get used to the routine of Ramadan, than we realize its ending in a few days. On a very exciting note, I just received an email from Zunaira informing me that my article about Ramadan and Eid websites (“Spiritual Connection”) which appeared in the November issue of the magazine, was published by Asian Age, an Indian newspaper. Like, wow!

Read the article.
Hello all, I just noticed that I can also post here! So this is my first post... it's great to see Spider has started a blog, but the layout does need some work and you need to add comments. (The sidebar appears after all the text). Haloscan provides a free commenting system for weblogs that could be added.

Also, a msg for Z.Durrani (I've since lost her email): I had sent you a review of WorldCall for Spidermag, and I just thought I'd tell you if you are planning to publish it that as of today, 3 months after having written the article, things with WorldCall are still as bad!! So the article's still valid (hint hint!!).
Microsoft offers $5M in rewards vs. virus writers - Nov. 5, 2003*

I feel it's more of a image building measure than a security amendment from Microsoft's end. Keeping in mind the Liberty vs Money battle of software hoarder and open source advocates, it's hard to purue hackers - the actual driving force of OS phenomenon. May be M$ can gauge some kids from the league but I still say Gates is not offering real money yet, ZD! Just read this again:

"This could totally backfire," said Richard Williams, strategist for Summit Analytic Partners, a research firm that focuses on software. "Virus writers are very much driven by the same motivation that makes people climb mountains. To put a bounty on their heads will just increase their notoriety and increase their ego."

On the side note: If you've hailed India's recent progress enough, try to look around, chances are you may find some small Island making waves in the IT ocean! BusinessWeek

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Abbas Khan writes this in his book Din Mein Charagh

There is a statue in a square of Rotterdam downtown in Holland. This effigy has been carved out of stone.

It is a human looking up into the sky, trying to stop what is coming with his hands raised, and with a hole where his heart should be. Disproportionate, parts of the figure are not at the right places nor are seemingly fitting in the scheme of sculpture – neck is not exactly in the centre of the shoulders and is sticking out, elbows are at a little distance from arms. Similarly, legs, ankles, feet, stomach and chest all seem out of place. Seeing the sculpture from a distance gives an impression that it will wither away with the wind.

This Artwork was put on display in Rotterdam in 1951. Reflection of thoughts of sculptor Ossip Zadkine, thinkers of the city as well as the municipality, this statue was erected here after the World War II to commemorate bombing and burning down of the city.

What does it reveal? The statue reveals human inner conflict; Disorder in times of turmoil deep within.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

i have a little something to say about PTCL and its services ... it happened abt a week ago when i was trying to get Ufone's headquarter's telephone number.... thinking highly of PTCL's somewhat newly established Call center... i decided to check out the services... (i knw... my mistake!) ...well i called 17... after only a few seconds wait... ( a first for me as far as 17 is concerned!) the operator on line #4 came online... well... instead of saying hello to me ... i heard the gracious gentleman talking to 'Nazia' (another operator i presumed) and was kind enough to ask'Nazia' why her eyes seemed so puffy... and i in the meanwhile waited for him to end his trivialities... after a lapse of one minute (which for a contact/call center is important) the gentleman asks me wht my trouble is... i quietly asked for ufone's number... i was asked to hold ... and while on HOLD... i heard the kind gentleman again asking 'Nazia' wht she had brought for lunch (the incident occured on Oct 27th)... and by accident the gentleman remembered (very gracious of him...i might add!) tht i was on Hold... he asked me wht my query was.... and then he asked his colleague to 'get' Ufone's number.... after another long wait i was told to call again in a few minutes... and the phone was then hung up....

So i called again.... this time the same fellow picked up the phone... i asked him again and this time told him i needed the number for an article... he then said there was a problem with the computer so i should call again.... the third time i called, a female operator on line # 1 picked up the phone... after i took the number, i complained abt the fellow i talked to before... and the reply i got was.... that i had the number NOW!!!

hmmm now this is wht i call great service! three cheers for PTCL!!

Monday, November 03, 2003

Right, while every one seems busy thinking, may be you need to know what Pico Iyer writes about why people travel. He says, “It (travelling) whirls you around, turns you upside down and make every thing you took for granted on its head.

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again -- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more. The beauty of this whole process was best described, perhaps, before people even took to frequent flying, by George Santayana in his lapidary essay, "The Philosophy of Travel." We "need sometimes," the Harvard philosopher wrote, "to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what."

Want to explore with me. Go visit this river of life here . . .

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Customising in another context

During his visit to England, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817 - 1898), the modern Muslim educationists, writers and reformers was attending a formal dinner in his honour. As per their customs, the hosts served liquor in place of water, not realizing Muslims’ aversion to drinking. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan wanted water but resisted asking.

After the last course, a bowl of warm water was placed in front of every one for washing hands. Sir Syed thankfully drank that water. Others attendees saw this, exchanged meaningful looks and did the same as the guest of honour had done. They never wanted to embarrass the guest.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Those trying to tamper with blog template should look at this as well. It helps

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Dot plea

Came across this while Blogger was experiencing “planned” but without prior notice outage. (You too? I though outages are only for us!)

Mufti Sadar ud Din Azurda was Judge during period of last Mughal King Bahadar Shah Zafar. War of Independence 1857 activists forced every religious leader to sign a decree declaring war as an obligation for Muslims. Any body refusing was put to death. Last of all the religious order was presented before Azurda for his signatures. Every one had written fatwa bil kher (order for good) and signed. Azurda also had to do it and he did it.

After victory in the War, British started punishing those who had been fighting or helping the freedom fighters (British called them mutineers). Azurda was also summoned in the court because he too had signed the decree favouring the War. The signatures on decree are yours,” asked the Judge. “Yes, but the words written on the decree should be scrutinized carefully,” Azurda requested. It was revealed that there was no dot on the words fatwa bil kher making then fatwa bil jabar (meaning order by force). Azurda was quitted on the plea.

Sometime it feels good to read things that are not on the Internet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

shakir warned me a week back about this. have a look:

"Pakistan's electronic data becomes insecure as Indian company acquires
Flag Telecom"
Imran Ayub writes in today's The News [Business pages]
"KARACHI: An Indian company, Reliance Gateway's acquisition of Flag
Telecom, undersea fibre link provider to which Pakistan subscribes, has
rendered insecure electronic data as it will enable the arch rival to
eavesdrop on the country's communications, Internet service providers

This is followed by Ansar ul Haque's (CyberNet + ISPAK man) comments stating they have requested PTA, PTCL to look into it. What I find interesting is that this dead horse Flag Telecom was pitted as a solution to Pakistan's net connectivity problems by our young minister Awais Laghari when I met him in April. Some thinking!

anyone looking for the link to the excellent article Shirazi mentions, its here:
The Tale of the Promiscuous Software by Katheryn Potterf.
I didnt know about Profit -- this is good! :~)

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Ramazan Mubarak to everyone!
Let us pray that this Ramazan brings more blessings and fortunes to all of us!
Happy holy month of Ramzan to every one.

BTW, has any one thought of commonalities between IT and Literature. Oracle e-business magazine Profit in August 2003 issue has published a story entitled ‘The Tale of the Promiscuous Software Application’ drawing technological lessons from ancient philosophers and literary classics to contemporary literature. The writer Katheryn Potterf, Senior editor for Oracle Publishing, PhD in Comparative Literature, starts with Chinese philosopher Zhuang Zi (circa fourth century BC) and comes down to Madam Bovary fame French writer Gustave Flaubert.
Like I said, our cable wallas know better and they dont go to MIT ;P

Though seriously, does this mean campuses all over the world [with high speed cable connections] are likely to follow suit? what fun!

Monday, October 27, 2003

Two students from MIT find a loophole in the music copyright legalities, and start streaming music on campus, over cable wires.

With Cable TV at M.I.T., Who Needs Napster?

Sunday, October 26, 2003

As the dust settles, may be we agree here for an exclusive platform for closely knit community; sharing what is found in more obscure corners of the Web, in local Web contents, and also what is not on the Web – over 95 percent of the knowledge still is not. Why consider ‘the 5 percent’ as a whole.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Online Music battle continues...
12-year-old Brianna LaHara and 71-year-old Durwood Pickle were sued by the RIAA about a month ago for sharing music via P2P. They are facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties, and all because the record industry won't adapt to advances in technology and a changing culture. This is a gross injustice and their plight is a clear indication that the laws are rusty, the landscape is changing, and multi-billion dollar corporations are unwilling to adapt. is a new organization that advocates for the rights of people who use digital technology. Among other things, we believe Congress should legalize P2P music sharing that rewards creators and we are inviting people to join us in this cause. Suing children and grandfathers are real life examples of how technology has moved ahead of the law and we want our representatives in Washington DC to address the problem.

The movement is also supported by the biggest community of online artists - Dig out more!

Or maybe we can have a few suggestions....:)

Here are some things I would like to see in Spider (I have subscribed only in June 2003 so I have no clue if these have already been covered):

Interview with an O’Level/A’Level high achiever: to what extent did they use the Internet for their studies (if they did at all); what do they feel about the Internet as a study guide, did they look up the websites in the syllabus? – Something on those lines to make it relevant to SPIDER. There are quite a few people this year who have received a world-highest distinction – how about getting their numbers from British Council and going about it?

Something on email hoaxes: common email hoaxes, about all those things which will supposedly happen if you do not forward it, where to go and search whether the email is legitimately from Microsoft or AOL (it hardly ever is) and it would be interesting to actually ask some people and print their responses: why do they forward such mails? Do they really believe in them or the threats? Even the webmasters of the websites about email hoaxes can be approached for their opinion. (In fact, I’d like to do this one, if it hasn’t been covered).

This I guess will have to come from an expert in the field. How about a piece of career advice for those looking to join the IT field? Something on how to gauge whether or not one has the aptitude or right attitude to go in this field, pre-requisite subjects, how to choose the area to specialize in (hardware engineering, software designing, website development etc.). How to make the right choice of the IT institution to join, what is the scope of the different fields of specialization, and which are the areas in which our country actually needs experts.
Bull's eye! I agree with nikhat (with all due respect!). I'll only add more to her suggestions - we can actually do some positive work here; I remember Let's Talk Tech magazine from Sir Hatim. It was a pretty good effort until the last couple of months.
1) The one section in SPIDER which I thought always lacked some way was Signals. There's so much happening around and so quickly that it's hard to remember it after a month. That's where this blog can come in.
2) We can run test sections before adding them to the actual print. My 2 cents!
3) Excuse me for being too geek-ish; we can have series of topics and have experts say what they want - i.e. like that Microsoft offering discounts to Government and those all-dead-now Linux initiatives. Anything we couldn't before.
It's just a few...

Friday, October 24, 2003

Zunaira, you brought back so many memories when you sent me the link to this blogsite. I used to have a blog up here that I kept for a month and then never went back to visit (having since moved to desiplanet and put up a regular journal there!). So I copy/pasted my old blog from Nov 2002 (circa London times). Tres excellent.

I find blogging to be at once a therapeutic and cathartic exercise for angst-ridden artists; a space for intellectual exhibitionists to flash themselves; an exercise in community building; a space to build knowledge and share information. So I'll ask you, what's the point of the Spider blog (when it goes public?) -- what is it trying to achieve?

I'll refer you to our fave site -- the guardian -- where they've archived hundreds of personal and work related blogs and they even held the Best British Blog Contest no. 2 recently (or they're about to) as I'm sure you know. So I'd recommend, that if Spider puts up a special blogspot, that you have a number of them themed accordingly e.g. TechBlog (various ones under that); CyberDate (will end up being the most popular); CyberLoveAdvice... basically transferring the various things that you're trying to achieve in the magazine onto the internet, to build up a community of die-hard blogger Spider fans. Maybe even a section on what they'd like to cover (in terms of tech) in upcoming issues. And over time you'll get more ideas from this brainstorm exchange.

Having said that, if this takes off, you'll have to employ someone to read through all of this on a daily basis (or you can set up something maybe whereby certain words get highlighted -- like a search engine -- and you can definitely read those blogs). Then again, you could get die-hard volunteer bloggers who could read through blogs and offer their 10 best suggestions for the month or something. Just shooting arrows here.
Here's the background about the incident I was talking about earlier. There's a fair probability that you would have heard about NR3C, may be not. National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes (aka NR3C) is a department of Federal Investigation Authority, formed to curb computer and Internet crimes. It's not until last August that they got first real incident to deal with. Reported in many cities of the country, many Western Union transactions were manipulated and given to the persons with fake identities. Initially four suspects were held and case was over to FIA (NR3C actually, as they had the self-proclaimed expertise (of God knows what!) to deal with such things). Fortunately, the moment the case was reported, I was sitting right in the office of NR3C Project Director in FIA HQ, Islamabad. The investigation (all conducted by conventional means to tell you the truth) revealed more members of the gang from Karachi and Lahore namely, later on. Later, they were remanded and shifted to Islamabad even for investigations. I was just pursuing thing closely just to present the real picture of the situation. Without any offense to anyone related to media/journalism here, everyone was reporting what was told to them by NR3C/FIA. They never had the real taste of the situation. I don't realize off course, why even they were covering these issues. The real atmosphere at the most celebrated department of FIA today is just like any other Gov office you can find in the country. Their motto seems to be "Jesus is coming, look busy!" I can't help but think when we're actually going to take things seriuosly.

NOTE: And I hope nobody has seen Johny English yet! ;)
LOL Zunaira, yeah I was (and still am) waiting for intelligent thoughts to strike before I write something here.
A new CERT in the making...
After the much raved PakCERT and stuff, there's another Computer Emergency Response Team in the making. It is lead by one of the biggest newsmaker in the security field from Pakistan. Well, you guess the name now! Will it provide any better for the current situation? Nobody is sure, not even me. But let's have our fingers crossed once again.

Actually ZeD, this is something you can't find in any newspaper or online news sources -- that's why I've posted it here. You can always expect from me something that is not told anywhere on this planet! ;)

New, notable and hilarious:
NTK says: "HAVEN'T THESE PEOPLE SUFFERED ENOUGH?" to the UN's ICT program in Afghanistan [top most entry].

Also: Amazon's now searching full text of books as reported on Slashdot.

Thanks Azeem. I intend to clean out anything that might look out of place [read: abuse/offensive terminology which doesnt fall under breach of free speech ;) ].

The goal: To create the immediacy I feel Spider lacks. We have a platform and connections with a lot of voices that drown out in the media storm. I've passed invites to a number of people and hoping to see a direction emerge here when relevant observations and news get posted. Its too soon now. Anyone disagree? Please do.

Obviously, relevant snatches will make it to the print version [always looking for content you know ;)].

Dont worry too much about the test phase. I used that phrase so people dont get too intimated -- why are so many people waiting to post "something intelligent" [revealed over email to me] ? Cmon, this is a BLOG!

As-Salaam Alaikum Zunaira,

Nice idea for Spider. Can get some good ideas from this. Not too mention all the 'not so useful' points which will also have to be read and filtered.

What is the eventual goal of this? Will it be linked up to Spider in terms of content passing over to the print version? Assume the goal is also then to open up to the general public? Once we know what this test phase is attempting to test we can then participate accordingly.

Take care.
E-mail is incredible. We've just had a breakthrough in a story we have been mulling over for weeks. I could shout for glee! Good suggestion Salman.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Bienvenue. Sabeen has raised an important question, one I was anticipating. Before hammering out a focus for this blog, I'd like everyone to offer their 2 pennys on it. This place can be used to ponder over anything we feel deserves a public hearing. It is a spider forum of sorts so lets keep thinking.

Gosh, that sounds posh. Anyways, we can keep it 'free for all' [members only] until we realise its getting chaotic or narrow it down to defining the boundaries of cyberspace? Lets hear what every one thinks.

Meanwhile, post any rants and raves. Yasir not every one is sitting happy at the cyber crime's unit so we dont hear anything. What is this all about? Mind posting a link to the news story -- as per blog tradition -- mate ;) ?
Zunaira! I never miss a chance to post the link to my blogs:)

This is my personal one: Life is Full of Little Surprises

Daily Dose of Articles
Well ppl let me start. There's an update from my side. I don't know exactly that it would be real good to talk about this here; but let it be. One of the guys, Samir from Karachi, involved in that Western Union fraud has been released. I don't know why or what's going on but just as I was working on some Cyber Crimes stories recently I had to put up with these things. What exactly comes to your mind?
Hello all ...

Spider: just curious about whether you plan to categorise this blog or whether it's a free-for-all ... there's so much to talk about ranging from whether the Internet should be regulated to interface design to hardware/software vendor consipiracies - and a colossally wide world in between ...

Perhaps you just want people to start posting and see how the blog evolves before you make a decision?

Irrespective, blogging platform providers are some of my favorite people these days as they have brought some much needed simplicity back to software offerings. They don't try to do everything and the kitchen sink, which is such a refreshing change from the bloatware that clogs our hard-drives. Content Management for the "rest of us" ...

Cheers and Peace
Sabeen >>
assalam ualaikum everyone!!!
Just the other day a guy was so vocal that you guys still don't have a forum where I can actually pour my thoughts. Good to see some thinking activity afterall. And yes, thanks for the free world story! I missed that earlier.
Great to see you here. If anyone has a blog I can add to the modest bunch of links on the right, send away!
Very welcome idea. Will hear more, soon!
Speaking of grumps, note how the spider website is getting boring - again! okay, my five secs are up.
It sure is a great idea. Why go to Chowk when we have our own right here. Atleast now I know where to turn to when I am being grumpy about my work and need a channel to communicate.
Begin blogging
So I'm rolling the first ball here (after having dreamt about it for a few weeks). Anyone seen WIRED this month? Linus Trovalds is the new age geek, moussed up hair, tux on a t-shirt and hailed as the leader of the 'free world'. All I can say is, it took Wired an aweful lot of time seeing this one. ;)