Wednesday, December 29, 2004

NADRA will 'authorise' phone connections?

Heard this on the radio to work: "New cellular phone and landline connections will be given after online verification by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)," says Interior Minister. The story offers no other details on the statement. So, if NADRA keeps giving a server error for extended periods, does it mean getting a cell or landline connection will become a pain? Could there have been another way to curb "terrorism" through the phones? I thought the ID card copy attached to the forms is supposed to serve as a verification anyways.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

TIME and Blogs

This is courtesy NJ: TIME has announced its Person Of the Year and bloggers get a special mention. Here are 10 Things We Learned About Blogs in 2004!

Monday, December 27, 2004

China Welcomes IPv6 Internet

China has broken the United States monopoly on the Internet by launching the first backbone network of the next-generation Internet popularly called as CERNET2 (China Education and Research Network).

According to reports, CERTNET2 is now being called the biggest network running the next generation Internet since it connects 25 universities in about 20 cities. Tests have proven that the network is capable of reaching speeds of about 40 gigabits per second, setting a record for real-world applications, while the average speeds are about 2-10 gigabits for universities.

About half of the key equipment, including routers is being provided by Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecom giant, and Tsinghua Bit-Way. The network is expected to spread to about 100 universities soon.

Source: Link

Friday, December 24, 2004

This is to announce the sad demise of Suprnova.org.

'They' got em too! Suprnova.org, one of the most popular bittorrent website, will be forever be loved and remembered by the traces of torrent files it has left behind on our harddisks.

Hotmail Reloaded.

Hotmail finally decided to do something for its customers without extorting money from them, and is now offering a 250 MB inbox for new users after a one month verification period, along with 10 MB attachments. However, the older accounts of Hotmail are still stuck at a paltry 2 MB. So do we now have to sign up again to get a larger inbox or are they imposing a one month period for 3 year users of Hotmail as well?

2004 Year-End Google Zeitgeist

Based on billions of searches conducted by Google users around the world, the 2004 Year-End Zeitgeist offers a unique perspective on the year's major events and trends.

Top 3 Winners of selected Categories are: -

Popular Queries : britney spears, paris hilton, christina aguilera.
Popular Men : orlando bloom, eminem, usher.
Popular Women : britney spears, paris hilton, christina aguilera.
Popular Television Shows : the simpsons, pokemon, south park.
Popular Tech Stuff : wallpaper, kazaa, mp3.
Popular Country Queries : france, china, india and #10 pakistan.
Popular Sports Topics: david beckham, tour de france, euro 2004.
Top Public Figures: george w bush, janet jackson, john kerry.

Lots of Other Categories @ Year-End Google Zeitgeist

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Blogger Confession

Blogs have turned me into a nervous person. Reading them makes me want to run around in circles squeaking like a beaver,” excuse me, Annalee Newitz says this. I say, “It was already in my heart.” Bloggers! confess this or discuss this.

Habib Bank selects Symantec to secure IT operations

Habib Bank selected Symantec Client Security and Symantec Enterprise and Corporate Anti-Virus Solutions for roll out across 3300 users in the organisation in partnership with IBM Pakistan and IOP. Habib Bank joined Symantec at their executive meeting rooms during the GITEX 2004 exhibition in Dubai held earlier this month. Symantec,the leading company in Internet security services, has worldwide operations in 38 countries.
Source

Federal Cabinet approves Broadband Policy

Quote from a press release: "The Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari on Wednesday unveiled the government's broadband internet policy, setting the stage for what he called 'an affordable, always-on, broadband high-speed internet service' in the corporate and residential sectors across Pakistan.
He also announced reduction in IP bandwidth rates from US$ 3,950 per E1 per month to US$ 2,000 per E1 per month with monthly copper rental for DSL reduced from Rs 771 per month to Rs 250 per month, monthly PRI rental reduced by 50 per cent, domestic bandwidth rates reduced by 25 per cent of the existing prices to facilitate peering services, and DXX connectivity also reduced by up to 63 per cent. 'We expect that as a result of the implementation of this policy, the number of broadband subscribers will increase from the present 29,000 to about 200,000 in about two years as tariffs drop substantially and the number of operators providing broadband services increases rapidly,' said Awais" Really? What do you guys think of the policy?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Microsoft to open 20 training centers in Pakistan

Computer giant Microsoft will set up 20 training centers in Pakistan, says the Microsoft Middle East Region Chairman Emre Berkin.

He met Pakistan Senate (Upper House of Parliament) Chairman Mohammadmian Soomro and lauded Pakistan government's investment-friendly policies, according to an official statement.

Berkin, currently visiting Pakistan at the head of a five-member delegation, said these policies had created conducive atmosphere for foreign investors.He briefed the Senate chairman on his organization's future plans for investment in Pakistan.Berkin said the Microsoft Corporation was in contact with various Pakistan government departments to promote information technology in Pakistan.Soomro appreciated the Microsoft Corporation for taking keen interest for investment in Pakistan's IT sector and said the setting up of the training centers would motivate people to actively participate in strengthening the national economy.He assured Berkin that the government would extend full cooperation to the Microsoft for the implementation of its investment plans.Soomro said the telecommunication sector in Pakistan, especially in the IT sector, had grown at a rapid pace and undergone an impressive transformation during the last five years.

Source: Link

Story on local IT companies from employees' perspective

Spider is doing a story on the working conditions of IT professional in the local industry. We'd like insight and comments from people working at different software houses/ IT companies/IT departments in Pakistan. We are not approaching the companies directly as we want to hear the employees' point of view.

Payscale
  • What's the Initial Payscale for entry level in your organization?
  • Whats the payscale for people with experience?
  • Does your company have a formal appriasal(pay increase) system? Is it followed? If its not a formal process, do your employers live up to their promises of pay increase?
  • Do you get ad hoc or scheduled bonuses in addition to your base salary?
  • Do you get any other perks in addition to your base salary e.g. medical insurance, a car, etc.? If yes then, please specify which ones.
  • Salary appraisals are [pick one]: Annual, Half-yearly, Quarterly, Ad Hoc.

Work timings

  • Usually at what time do you reach home after work when you are on a deadline and under normal circumstances?
  • Do you need to work on weekends to complete your assignments? (At least one weekend per month.)
  • Do you need to work during later hours of the day (i.e. after sunset or late in the evening) to accommodate activities with international customers?
  • Is your job goal-oriented (i.e. need to complete assignments irrespective of the time taken and working hours are generally flexible) or time-oriented (i.e. you work from Xam to Ypm irrespective of the workload)?
  • Does your company have a formal policy for off-time (vacations, sick-leave, paid-leave, etc.)?

Organization Structure & HR Issues
  • Is your organization partnered with any industry leaders such as Microsoft, Sun, Cisco, etc.? If so, which one(s)?
  • Is your company certified under any standard such as ISO or CMM? If so, which one(s)?
  • Does your company have a formal, documented employee hierarchy?
  • Approx. at what rate does your company hire or induct new manpower. Pick one: Monthly, Quarterly, Half-yearly, Annually, Ad Hoc.
  • Does your company make use of internees i.e. people who are in the process of getting a degree and also working in some capacity while they are studying?
  • Organizational Stability -hire, fire, quit rate?
  • On an average how long do employees stay with your organization?
  • How long has the senior most employee been with the organization?

Project Management
  • Do you have a dual-role as far as working on projects is concerned? E.g. you are a coder and also a technical writer, or an analyst and also a QA person?
  • Is the project well managed?
  • Does your company have people with specialized job descriptions? Such
  • as analyst, coder, tester etc.
  • Do you have formal and experienced project managers on your team(s) or does a senior technical person play a dual role?
  • Do you use any formal tools for tracking and working on projects e.g. MS Project, bug tracking tools, project communications tools, etc.?
  • Does your company's project management function take into account the input of your whole team before drawing up milestones, deadlines and plans, or commit those based on their own judgement? Are the project deadlines realistic?

Any additional comments? Insight?


Send the answers/comments to zq@spider.tm or you can post your comments here.

Please mention the name of your organization, the name of the institute you studied from, along with the year of graduation.This is important so that we know how many different organizations/institutes we have covered and the demographics of those who have responded. If you dont want to be named in the article then please mention that in your mail. I ensure the confidentiality of your mail. The last date for sending in your answers/comments is January 15th 2005.

[more questions added on Dec 23 2004. Thanks Merlinx]

10 Worst Spyware

For those who use Cool Web Search please now know that it's a spyware!

You can read them all here and from this threat list too.

Be warned!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Google Launches "Print" Service

After putting Google Scholar on BETA, the search engine giant just announced another cool new service called Google Print.

Just do a normal search for anything related to a book, some books are included on the top of the search results.
Usually, only two or three books that match the searched item most will be displayed together with the authors and page numbers. If you follow the result links, you will find more information about the book, including the cover page, ISBN, bookshop informaiton and some pages (scanned image) from that book. As claimed by Google, if this book does not have copyright, you can read the entire book online. However, the main purpose of this Google Print service is to tell you how to find the book instead of providing the content of it.

The beta service seems to working for US based google servers for now. Screenshots and Example Query here

Saturday, December 18, 2004

A 'critical' bug in IE 6.0

The bug, which has been confirmed on a fully patched Windows XP system with IE 6.0 and Service Pack 2, could allow a scammer to display a fake Web site with all the attributes of a genuine, secure site, including the URL and the icon indicating SSL security, according to researchers.

"Ordinarily, to spoof a site you have to have some issue on the Web site that you want to manipulate, which restricts what you can do," said Thomas Kristensen, chief technology officer at an independent security firm Secunia. "Because this is embedded in IE by default, it's possible to inject content into any Web site. There's no way for a Web site to protect itself against this."

For example, you go to say, paypal.com. Following best-practices, you even look for the little padlock icon on the bottom right of your Internet Explorer, thinking the website is surely safe. Not so. With this bug exploited, the scammer/hacker can 'hijack' your browser. The address bar will show paypal.com with all its attributes but all the content will be provided by the hacker.

"After you set up Microsoft Windows Firewall in Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), you may discover that your computer can be accessed by anyone on the Internet when you use a dial-up connection to connect to the Internet," Microsoft said in a knowledge base article.

The update was not included—or mentioned—in the five critical updates Microsoft released earlier this week, also mentioned in this blog.

Gary Schare, director of Windows product management at Microsoft, said it was "an unfortunate oversight" that the SP2 update was shipped without notice. Notice to whom?

Anyways, Microsoft did release a patch for the vulnerability after it was found by the security firm Secunia. The patch can be automatically downloaded through Microsoft's updates website.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Yahoo Introduces New Video Search Site

Today, alongside a re-vamped front page, search engine Yahoo! has added two new features on its website.Yahoo is launching a video search (beta) tool to compliment its other search options. In a similar layout to Google Images, the tool allows you to search through online movies (example) and offers a screen caption of video results. Yahoo has also announced that they will be adding traffic information to their existing map service for US.
In an ongoing and fierce battle for dominance of the search market, companies like Yahoo desperately need to innovate, or face death. Increasingly, users see little difference between the search engines in terms of core functionality; the differences are in the extra features offered, and it's these that make the difference between success and flop. Yahoo might just have scored a long needed victory over its rival Google with these two features.

View: Yahoo Video Search Example
Visit: Yahoo Video Search (Beta)


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Firefox 2-page New York Times advertizement

You might have remembered the compaign launched by firefox people to gather enough money from donations to put up an advert in NYT. Well its due on December 16. If you donated more than 300$ you might see your name in the advert too.

Below is a preview and large scale image links: -



Here are the links to the high quality pics:
http://www.mozilla.org/press/nytimes-firefox-final.pdf
or
http://www.mozilla.org/images/nyt_ad_2004.png

Visit: Press Release

National NCR IT Excellence Awards 2004 - 7 Days to go

NCR is proud to announce the launch of nomination campaign for the 6th National NCR IT Excellence Awards 2004 as it calls for nomination from all over the country.NCR National IT Excellence Awards are considered to be the most prestigious IT awards in Pakistan. These awards have now become an integral part of the IT industry recognizing various professionals associated in the field of Information Technology – be it software developers, researchers, electronic and print media journalists, youth, university students, exporters, educationalists, pioneers in the disciplines of IT and life time achievers.
The winners are honored at a grand ceremony where their achievements are highlighted in front of an august gathering of dignitaries and press. The recognized individuals are awarded gold medals, certificates and IT Awards. The last date for nomination is December 24,2004


Visit: http://www.itexcellenceawards.com/

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Most Bloggers Women

Where are the tech savvy women? Word is that women blog more and abandon less than men.

Microsoft Issues 5 New Critical Security Updates

Microsoft has released 5 new security-focused updates for NT-Based operating systems, including Windows 2000 and Windows XP. All updates are labeled as "Important", and should be applied as soon as possible.

Users of Windows XP SP2 need to apply these updates: Link

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Virtual Library in the Making

Google is planning to announce an agreement with the major research libraries as a result of which printed material from these libraries will be put online. Apparently Google is looking to make a searchable database of books and research material - a virtual library. More details in this news story

MSN Toolbar Suite Beta Released.

Find anything anywhere! Thats what Microsoft people are saying.

Download here : http://beta.toolbar.msn.com/

Demo Videos and System Requirements: Here

Monday, December 13, 2004

IT-related seminars in Pakistan

How many of you find seminars conducted here useful? Ever attended one? Do you find yourself slouching at the backseat for the heck of attending or looking forward to anything related to "IT" put together in local hotels? Recall any that proved a cut above?

From personal experience, seminars conducted to explain "internet security threats", "ebanking", "ecommerce in pakistan", and "digital divide" have rarely provided anything one hasn't come across on the net. The programs put together by most organization combine "basic definitions" with "case study"--an approach that comes off as very theoritical and dry. My pick: TMT Ventures once hosted a very good roundtable on "VC funding problems and prospects" where the audience was as proactive as the guest speakers.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Cisco Turns 20

Cisco Systems traces it roots back to 1984, when Stanford University computer scientists Sandy Lerner and Len Bosack, with the expertise of Greg Salz and Kirk Lougheed, set out to enable disparate networks to talk with each other.

View: Cisco Celebrates 20 Years of Innovation (News Release)
View: Cisco Corporate Timeline

Mozilla Celebrates 10 Million Firefox Downloads

The Mozilla Foundation has announced that its Firefox browser has been downloaded over 10 million times in the last 31 days. On average, Firefox has been downloaded 4 times per second since its release on November 9th. The Foundation originally estimated 10 million downloads to be reached after 100 days of public availability.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Yahoo Adding Tool to Search Hard Drives

Yahoo is adding a tool to search computer hard drives as it scrambles to catch up with Google. Unlike Google's desktop search tool, Yahoo's won't operate within a browser.

Google New "Suggestive" Feature

Google Suggest quietly debuted this week on the company's Labs site, which showcases Google features that "aren't quite ready for prime time," according to a message on the site. When a user starts typing a request into the search box, a drop-down menu appears with possible suggestions as to what the user could be looking for. For instance, typing in "Mi" generates a list starting with "Microsoft" and continuing with "miniclip," "Michael Moore" and "miserable failure," among other suggestions.

Wild, wild internet

In his latest article on BBC's Technology News, Bill Thompson writes about the newest techniques on the block (a mixture of phishing and browser hijacking) to fool uncautious users into thinking they're browsing through legitimate bank and auction websites.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

China Tops DSL Subscriptions Worldwide.

The DSL Forum released figures showing the top 20 subscribers up to the third quarter this year.

The figures show that by region, the European Union has the largest regional DSL population worldwide for the first three quarters of this year - amounting to 26.5 million for the period. But such comparisons with other regions such as the Middle East and Africa and the Americas are a little misleading, given the spread and population demographics of these areas.

A better guide is by country. The DSL forum said that China added 5.14 million subscribers during the period, which accounts for over 90 per cent of the South and South East Asia totals. Latin America is showing a surge, with 1.2 million subscribers between January and September, amounting to 1.2 millions - half of these are accounted for by Brazil, with Mexico, Argentina and Peru the next three major countries in line.

Here's the DSL Forum's top 3, by country.

Top 3 DSL Subscribers: -

1. China:13,700,000
2. Japan: 12,739,564
3. USA: 12,594,346

Microsoft sets second Longhorn event for September

Microsoft has set a date for a second Longhorn-themed Professional Developers Conference (PDC). The event will be held in September 2005, almost two years after the company first detailed the Windows XP successor at the 2003 PDC.

Longhorn has undergone a lot of changes since the unveiling. Microsoft has sacrificed some key advances it had planned for the operating system to be able to make a 2006 ship date. Also, Microsoft now plans to offer updates for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 to support technologies that previously were reserved for Longhorn.

At the second Longhorn PDC, to be held Sept. 13 through Sept. 16 in Los Angeles, Microsoft should be able to give developers more concrete information on the operating system. A first Longhorn beta is scheduled to be available in the first half of 2005, several months before the event.

Visit PDC Homepage: Microsoft PDC 2005

All men with Laptops Read this ...

Thousands of men across the country will be crossing their legs and groaning in despair today when they learn that their trusted friend, the laptop computer, has become the latest threat to their manhood.

Just months after they were warned that carrying mobile phones in their pockets might damage their sperm count, men now have to absorb the news that laptops can similarly threaten their fertility.

Under the title "Increase in scrotal temperature in laptop computer users", researchers today reveal in the journal Human Reproduction that a combination of the heat generated by the computers and the position of the thighs needed to balance the machines leads to higher temperatures around men's genitals. Yefim Sheynkin, who led the research team from the State University of New York at Stonybrook, said it was possible that years of heavy laptop use "may cause irreversible or partially reversible changes in male reproductive function".

Until there was further research, teenage boys and young men might want to limit the use of computers on their laps, he said.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Indian movie to debut on cell phones

An Indian cellular phone company (AirTel) plans to air a new Bollywood movie on mobile handsets for free and in full Thursday in a bid to promote its video-streaming service.

"Rok Sako To Rok Lo," will be available to Bharti Tele-Ventures customers in 11 Indian cities, provided their phones have the supporting technology. To be among the first to see the movie, Bharti customers' phones must have EDGE, or Enhanced Data Rates for Global System for Mobile Communications Evolution. EDGE enables mobile phones to connect to the Internet and transfer data at high speeds. A maximum of 200 people will be able to connect and watch the movie simultaneously, and the movie cannot be copied or replayed.

The company hopes to air more movies, and may charge a fee depending on customer reactions to Thursday's preview, another Bharti official said.

Bharti Tele-Ventures: http://www.airtelworld.com
Movie Web site: http://www.roksakotoroklo.com

IBM Sells PC Business ... Its Official Now.

After speculation last week, it's become clear that IBM has sold its PC business to the Chinese company, Lenovo. In a deal worth $1.75bn, Lenovo will take buy IBM’s PC unit and its debts. As part of the deal, IBM will maintain an 18.9% stake in the company. Lenovo will be the preferred PC supplier to IBM, and will also be allowed to use the IBM brand (e.g. "Think") for the next five years.

Post purchase, Lenovo will be selling ~11.9 million units per year, making it one of the top ten PC makers worldwide. Lenovo, previously known as Legend, was formed in 1984 and has since become the largest PC maker in China. After a failed attempted at entry into foreign markets in 2002, the purchase will allow the company to expand out of China, and conversely allows IBM further entry into Asian markets.

Although IBM sees several billion dollars revenue from its PC business each year, it makes very little profit. The move highlights IBM's shift towards services and software, as well as providing high end (and high profit) computer systems like servers. IBM is one of the longest players in the PC market; the company founded the "Personal Computer" in the 80's, and its departure from the market highlights the changing times that PC makers are facing.

Moreover on the Ironic Side,there missing on the IBM UK home page today.
If you flip over to here, before the web developers develop a sense of irony, you'll see an interesting little picture of a chap looking to heaven and asking the question, "Something missing?".




Visit: IBM | Lenovo

Toshiba and disc maker develop dual format DVD

Toshiba Corp. and a Japanese disc maker said on Tuesday they had developed a disc that can store content in both conventional and high-definition DVD formats, in a move they hope will strengthen their hand in a battle for the next-generation DVD.

Toshiba, with NEC Corp. and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd., is backing a next-generation DVD technology called HD (high-definition) DVD. Sony Corp. and several other giants of the electronics and computer industries have developed a competing standard dubbed Blu-ray. Both HD DVD and Blu-ray technologies use blue lasers, which have shorter wavelengths than conventional red lasers and allow discs to store more data, enabling the clearer and sharper pictures of high-definition films and television.Toshiba and disc maker Memory-Tech said they developed a dual-layer ROM (read-only) disc which stores data in the conventional DVD format on the upper layer and content in the HD DVD standard on the lower layer that is further from the DVD player's optical head.

The DVD layer holds 4.7 gigabytes of data, while the HD DVD layer has enough room for 15 gigabytes, the two companies said.

'Thinking Cap' Controls Computer in New Experiment

Four people were able to control a computer using their thoughts and an electrode-studded "thinking cap".

U.S. researchers reported on Monday. They said their set-up could someday be adapted to help disabled people operate a motorized wheelchair or artificial limb. While experiments have allowed a monkey to control a computer with its thoughts, electrodes were implanted into the animal's brain. This experiment, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, required no surgery and no implants.

"The results show that people can learn to use scalp-recorded electroencephalogram rhythms to control rapid and accurate movement of a cursor in two dimensions," Jonathan Wolpaw and Dennis McFarland of the New York State Department of Health and State University of New York in Albany wrote.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 Release Candidate 1 (32-bit)

Microsoft posted the RC1 of Service Pack 1 for Windows 2003 server.

It's worth taking a closer look to get up to speed with the enhancements, including the Security Configuration Wizard (SCW) and the Post Setup Security Updates (PSSU). SCW allows for the configuration of roles for a server to ensure that the firewall is configured for this role. PSSU locks down the computer to prevent it being hacked after installation.


File Name: srsp1.exe
Download Size: 31,6343 KB
Date Published: 12/6/2004
Version: SP1

Download: Link
More Info: Link

Note: Beta versions of software are intended only for installation in a test environment.

Yahoo goodies

As strange as it was for consumer electronics giants Philips to re-join the PC market, Yahoo has started branding a few of its own consumer goods.

I was skeptic at first at the idea of seeing a Yahoo DVD player (I mean a Yahoo DVD player!!!) but the designs are really cool.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Trend Micro to launch Mobile Antivirus Software

Trend Micro will become the latest major antivirus software company to provide protection against mobile phone viruses, with new antivirus and antispam software for mobile phones running the Microsoft Windows Mobile and Symbian's operating systems.

The company plans to introduce Trend Micro Mobile Security Version 1.0 and will allow so-called "smart phone" users to download and use the software for Free until June 2005. The product contains protections against mobile threats like the recent Skulls Trojan and Cabir worm, as well as filtering for SMS (Short Message Service) spam, according to a statement.

Trend Micro hopes to attract hordes of new customers who will purchase or receive sophisticated new handsets as gifts during the holiday season, allowing them to install the new Mobile Security product and receive antivirus updates at no cost until June 30, 2005 said Todd Thiemann, director of device security marketing at Trend Micro.

Homepage: Trend Micro Mobile Security

IBM's Cell Microprocessor

When IBM gave a sneak peek at its new Cell microprocessor this week, it was short on specifics about what it calls a supercomputer on a chip. But details are leaking out thanks to a recent patent awarded to IBM and Big Blue's own disclosures for an upcoming conference.

The Cell chips -- jointly created by IBM, Sony and Toshiba -- are expected to have a wide impact on everything from handheld computers to supercomputers. But the biggest potential use is for Sony's PlayStation 3 video-game console, which is expected to debut in 2006. Many analysts believe that if the Cell is successful, it will become the biggest threat to Intel's dominance of the chip industry.

In a disclosure to the International Solid State Circuits Conference, IBM said it has made Cell chips that run at 4.6 gigahertz and operate at 1.3 volts.

That speed is notable in part because Intel canceled its 4-gigahertz Pentium 4 chip this year. IBM earlier in the week would say only that a rack of Cell chips could compute 16 teraflops, or trillions of precision math operations, a second. The world's fastest supercomputer currently deployed in the commercial market is NEC's Earth Simulator, which computes 36 teraflops.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Firefox is Microsoft's Friend

Dont Believe it... Open up firefox and pass the URL: -

http://http://www.spider.tm

You will find yourself surfing the Microsoft Website.

Infact any site with double http:// prefix ends up at microsoft instead of a invalid URL error.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

MSN Web Messenger

Some long time back I posted a link for an online web based MSN Messenger (Messenger on-the go) however there were concerns on the credibility of this non-Microsoft service would save and use your password.

However, worry not Microsoft now offers the same service MSN Web Messenger and you now know your password is safe. Handy if your corporate environment has blocked the MSN port. You can now beat the administrator ;)

Just make sure to allow pop-ups from the site for it to work.

You will never look at you Inkjet the same way again.

Looking for a place to toss your old inkjet printers? A team of scientists working to create human tissue may have a good use for them. Inkjets that are ten years old, they say, are perfectly suited to create sheets of human skin and other tissue that one day may help burn victims and even manufacture organs.

Vladimir Mironov, director of the Shared Tissue Engineering Laboratory at the Medical University of South Carolina, is one of the scientists who has rigged Hewlett-Packard and Canon inkjet printers to shoot out proteins instead of ink, and to capture tissue on specialized gel instead of paper. Older printers work well because their spray nozzles have larger holes and are less likely to damage fragile cells.

It would be great to have a use for these old printers instead of searching for a place to recycle them safely.

IBM may exit PC business, Up for Sale !!!

International Business Machines Corp. has put its personal computing business up for sale in a deal that could be worth as much as $2 billion, the New York Times reported Friday.

IBM (Research), now the No. 3 PC maker behind Dell Inc. (Research) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (Research), is likely to include all of its desktop and laptop computers in the sale, which could earn it between $1 billion and $2 billion, people close to the negotiations told the newspaper.

Lenovo Group Ltd., China's top PC maker, and at least one other company are said to be in talks with IBM, the Times reported. There have been media reports that Lenovo, which controls more than a quarter of China's PC market, was poised to set up a joint venture with IBM.

Gartner Inc., a leading research firm, forecasted earlier this week that three of the top 10 personal computer makers would exit the market by 2007, citing slower growth rates and narrower profit margins. It did not name any companies.

Despite its large size relative to smaller competitors, Gartner added that IBM and HP's PC divisions were vulnerable to being spun off "if their drag on margins and profitability are deemed too great by their parent companies."

IBM could not be reached immediately for comment

IE losing its market share

All the doomsayers who hoard anti-microsoftism (you are right, it’s not a word) deep within their hearts, rejoice! The market share of Microsoft Internet Explorer has dropped.

More and more people are using alternative browsers like Mozilla’s Firefox and Opera to view the Internet in all its glory.

The total usage share of Microsoft declined 5 percent and the total usage share of Mozilla (the company behind FireFox) increased 5 percent

Yeah, the market share dropped like 5 percent. Microsoft still holds the lead at a comfortable 87-88 percent. Big deal?

Friday, December 03, 2004

'A potential Achilles' heel'

When will the net stop endangering geographical boundaries? This via SQ: 'Former CIA Director George J. Tenet yesterday called for new security measures to guard against attacks on the United States that use the Internet, which he called 'a potential Achilles' heel..."in this age when we still think the Internet is a free and open society with no control or accountability...ultimately the Wild West must give way to governance and control." The director is concerned about more and more organizaitons linking up to the net, making 'the system' vulnerable.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

SANS Top 20 Vulnerabilities - The Experts Consensus

These are the top rated vulnerabilities that folks at FBI found. In fact these are two Top Ten lists, one being for the Windows platform and one for the Unix platform.

Another good thing is that it not only shows the problem, it gives out possible fixes and related links. Comprehensive.

I'd say that this list is not for the casual surfer. Reason? Well, most of the TOP vulnerabilities are for stuff like remote access services or web servers like Apache etc, to name a few. Unless of course you run your own servers or the system registery is your playground, you might find all of the list not that helpful. But as expected, web browsers and email and even messengers are on the list of vulnerabilities. It is worth a look...even an attempt at prevention is always better than the cure.

MSN Messenger 7.0 Beta Open to Public

Microsoft has just opened its "Public" release of MSN Messenger 7.0 Beta.Winks: Express yourself with impact. Send animations with sound to really get some attention. Drag and Drop Backgrounds: See an image you like? Drag it to your MSN Messenger window to set it as your background. Set Status Before Logon: See who's online before others know you've logged in by setting your status! Subsequent logons can start you up in stealth mode. Send Feedback: Tell us what you think. Send the MSN Messenger team feedback right from the MSN Messenger Help menu. Download:MSN Messenger 7.0 Beta

And in other News ...
MSN Spaces is now OPEN for English language. You can easily create and manage your blog from your computer or your mobile phone.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Blogging War - Episode 1

According to eWEEK, MSN is set to launch its own blogging service titled MSN Spaces, which will also allow users to share music lists and photo albums easily. MSN previously launched the Japanese version of MSN Spaces, still in the beta version. I'm personally looking forward to MSN Spaces - hopefully they'll introduce features Blogger has yet to offer. I suppose MSN really is feeling the heat, what with Google's purchase of Blogger. After the recent browser and e-mail wars, maybe a blogging war is next?

Why blog?

Why do you blog? To gratify your ego, eliminate frustration or be a wannabe writer? Sounds cynical? This is what John C. Dvorak details in his latest article in PC Mag: The Blog Phenomenon.

NCR: First big-time hire by a tech MNC

NCR, represented in Pakistan by Teradata, have established the first "global consulting" center by a tech multinational. This means that the company no longer just sells software [as most big companies do]. It now supports services for its CRM setup for clients in Middle East, Europe and Africa through skilled techies based in its Islamabad office. 75 locals have been hired and the target is set to reach 150 by next year at the Center of Expertise and Teradata Professional Services. The company also became the first software house to reach CMM Level 5 certification. Sigh. I hope certification speeds up for some players in the industry.

Entries are also invited for the 6th NCR Awards. Deadline: December 22nd. Some categories allow 'self-nomination'. Hurry ;~)

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sick of spam? Attack the spammers!

No seriously! BBC reports in this article of a new screeensaver developed by Lycos that repeatedly sends data to spammers websites. In effect, it increases the bandwidth usage for their websites and causes them to pay a lot more money -- and driving them out of business.

Currently only launched in Europe, you can download the screensaver here. Thousands of people have already downloaded it and have started bombarding spammers. Lycos has maintained that the screensaver will not cripple the spammer's website by causing a DDOS attack (because they will be monitoring traffic). It will just increase their bandwidth by orders of magnitude. Here is the Slashdot story on it too.

Download the screensaver to be part of the War Against Spammers!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Latest in Blogosphere

This is a pretty amusing read: The 10 Habits of Highly Annoying Bloggers. I must say that after going through these habits, I definitely consider myself an annoying blogger.

On a different note, has anyone noticed the new "Media" section on Orkut? This brief article (?) wonders if this is an Orkut blog minus comments.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Flicker

Has any photo fan tried Flicker –photo management sharing application, so far free.

Pirated XP swap offer for Britons.

Microsoft has recently launched a scheme in the United Kingdom to freely replace your copy of a pirated Win XP (Pro/Home) with a genuine one.

The offer is for those individuals who have purchased systems with Win XP pre-installed. In return to their gratitude, you will sign as a witness and disclose the vendor from whom you purchased the system. Up to 5 submissions per person allowed.

This will eventually help Microsoft crack down on piracy of its products in the UK.

Spider readers in the UK, what are you waiting for? Go get your copy. Hurry, offer ends Dec 31, 2004.

Now, will we ever see such move reaching our shores?

Want a Philips PC?

Netherlands electronics giant Philips has decided once again to venture into the PC market in Europe.

Coming to think of it, I doubt the company will have success this time around. I am used to idea of seeing a Philips TV, monitor, refrigerator but having a Philips branded PC "with Intel side" does not seem appealing enough.

Who's next LG or Dawlance? : P

Thursday, November 25, 2004

New game stirs controversy

I am an avid gamer too, but the idea of a game to replicate the assassination of J. F. Kennedy and paying a $100,000 bumper prize to the one who can perfectly execute it in the game seems to have gone too far.

May be not the best theme to base a game on. Visit the game site for more.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

News of the Day

A number of you have shown interest in contributing to this blog. Have a news or post to share? Post it under this topic.
**Add: Please hyperlink the news item and include only a brief excerpt [with a comment on it, if you can] in the text.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Telecom news: Old and New

PakistanGulfEconomist has a summary of telecom deals struck and changes expected. I think the punchline of the article should have been the intro: "It must also be kept in mind that retaining the subscribers will not be an easy job, without bringing in further improvement in quality of services being offered."

Monday, November 22, 2004

TIME thinks Centrino surfboard is cool

TIME dubs a surfboard with Centrino as one of the coolest inventions this year. Having traveled around with a Centrino notebook for a year, I’ve found it pretty functional—wait for the gripe. The wireless scene is cluttered with jargon and labels and Intel’s marketing arm helps push this ‘wireless package’ above many. But if one or two players are out with a mobile technology that talks to Wi-Fi hotspots, I wish they would push their brand to handheld manufacturers (I know Centrino has been recently bundled in one), along with other portable devices that let users surf the net—why are MP3 players left out? Intel Pakistan claim there are about 40 hotspots up and running in the country. Would anyone know of an online Wi-Fi hotspot tracker exclusively for Pakistan? I’ve only accessed them at major hotels. Here’s help for Linux notebook users who want to install Centrino.

Here's a list of other inventions—SpaceShipOne made it too—TIME found cool. Anyone for alternative voices on coolest invention this year? Not the iPod? Not the Simputer?

Spider and Orkut

Finally! We have a Spider Internet Magazine Community on Orkut

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Browsers vs. IE

"Dear IE," writes Vamosi, "I'm leaving you for good". And a few of us have switched over, converted from IE forever. About 65% Spider.tm blog visitors access us via Internet Explorer while the number of Netscape based browser users has shot up from 10 to 20% since August 2004. There's all of 2 Opera users amongst us who have been visiting this blog [do say hi/salaam, I'd like to know who you are] for a while. To all Internet Explorer users, Firefox is worth the switch! Read Vamosi's column, if you've missed Spider reviews of the other browsers. Reinvigorate, the site tracker this blog uses, has stats on platforms/browser usage.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

"Pakistan's IT challenges"

Thanks to Irfan Khan (S-Asia-IT) for following up on the positivity lead ;~) and sending the sequel to Anthony Mitchell's first article. The writer takes an indepth look at last mile and connectivity issues (such as our dependence on FLAG) in addition to offering a word of caution to American investors.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Eid Greetings

Eid greetings to all bloggers and readers

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Watch what you blog

A blogger named Annie made sure that the whole world knew that she was against Bush and the next thing she knew, the Secret Service Agents were knocking on her door. You can read the full news story here or read what Annie herself has written about her ordeal on her blog
Moral of the story: keep your political views to yourself!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Great Gmail

Gmail (still with Beta tag) is down for the moment. . .

Saturday, November 06, 2004

something 'phishy' is going on

I knew I should have suspected foul play the minute I got the following email. But naive as I still am, I ended up submitting my email address and password to pick up an Eid card before realizing that something 'phishy' is going on.

Here is a part of the email I received yesterday:

From : MSN Greeting [sumera323ali@hotmail.com]
Reply-To : "MSN Greeting" [sumera323ali@hotmail.com]
Sent : Friday, November 5, 2004 5:45 AM
To : Hafsa Ahsan [my email address]
Subject : Sumera Ali sent you an Eid Card.

Dear Friend,
Sumera Ali [ sumera323ali@hotmail.com ] has sent you an Eid-Card from Msngreetings.com
123Greetings.com is all [standard 123greetings.com text]
To view your e-card, choose from any of the following options:
--------
OPTION 1
--------
Click on the following Internet address or copy & paste it into your browser's address box.
http://www.lordsgreetings.com/view/BV30213092911104


Clicking on the link above took me to a website cleverly designed to resemble MSN Greetings where I was required to enter my email address and password to pick up my card which I stupidly did. Upon entering it I was told to select a card to send it elsewhere. Frustrated, I closed the window. Today, after re-clicking on the above link I noticed that it redirects to a website http://www.geocities.com/smartfaiza323

Interestedly if you copy and paste http://www.lordsgreetings.com/view/BV30213092911104 into the location bar the message that the "website cannot be found" turns up.

Maybe this is a false alarm. But it does look like someone is out to get people to enter their email addresses and passwords through a sophisticated form of hacking.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Pakistan's broadband policy draft released

You can download the 453KB PDF file from the IT Division's page. Email address provided for feedback.

Bloggers Beware

Blogger gets fired from her job. But this is not due to blogging. There is more to it

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

"Pakistan Now a Hot Spot for IT Outsourcing"

A dose of positivity by Anthony Mitchell who says, "Americans who have worked in both Karachi and Mumbai report that there is no discernable difference in the safety and security situation in both cities." The story is positioned to give Pakistan a green light in outsourcing and I've emailed the author asking for his inspiration in writing it.

Here's the real catch: "The biggest boost to Pakistan's efforts to break into the global IT marketplace came on September 28, when India's finance ministry announced an income tax of more than 36 percent on foreign firms with software, R&D and customer service operations in India. This tax proposal had been in the works since the beginning of the year and is expected to prompt U.S. firms to follow GE's lead in selling off assets in India."

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Netscape 7.2

The newest version of Netscape is available for download here. But I still can't access my hotmail and gmail accounts with this one.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Cybernet Home DSL

Cybernet has finally started it's home DSL service.

Rates:
64K ...Rs 1570 or $26
128K ...Rs 2270 or $37
256K ...Rs 3770 or $62
Setup: Rs. 6500 including installation and modem.

They say this bandwith is shared between 4 users. It is uncapped, I specifically asked them about this. 64K will give 8kbps downloads, 128k 16kbps and 256 32kbps.

I told them I am currently using WorldCall, and why should I switch to Cybernet, he asked me to please not to compare cybernet to Worldcall. He did say Cybernet is a lot faster. About quality of service, he said cybernet will email at least one week before any planned downtime, which is currently only once a year, and will also email if due to ther factors the internet will be slow for a while. They also have 24hr phone support and home support also.

I don't know about the coverage area, but they are giving connections in some parts of Karachi. I am getting one, so will have both WorldCall and Cybernet for 2-3 months (as I've paid WC in advance) so will compare/contrast these two services and post my findings here. My one concern is my phone lines, both of which were not working for 9 straight months, but a few hundred complaints later they finally started working a week back. The bad thing about DSL is that it goes through PTCL, who are not to bothered about noisy or non-working lines. At least with cable the network is in the hands of the provider. Regardless, on Monday (1st Nov) I'm signing up for a 128K DSL connection - will post about the process here. Does anyone know if Supernet or anyone else is also about to start home DSL services? If I sign up to Cybernet and later on want to switch to another (cheaper) dsl provider then will I have to pay the full installation amount again?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Gmail Galore

All gmail users will definitely benefit from this website. It collects news from around the Internet on Gmail. Issues like privacy, new gmail features and their analysis and opinions and editorials on gmail are all discussed in detail. But I don't think all the fuss about privacy will actually put off people hunting around for an invite. Heck, some are even selling gmail invites on Orkut.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

India: Broadband, Indo Mail and Open Sky

Last time I heard, Pakistan's broadband policy was to be announced two weeks ago. But what do PR managers for the Minister of IT know, eh? ;~) If you've seen any news confirming anything about the policy, do comment.

Meanwhile, the Indian broadband policy is serious about spreading the 'always-on' bug and getting 'Indo-Mail' back to India. Thanks to my friend Murali for the pointer.

From The Hindu news item of Saturday: "The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will monitor the speed offered by the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and consumers can cite the broadband policy and take the ISPs to court if the speed is less than the minimum of 256 kbps. 'There was no broadband and no classification. We were stuck at the dial-up network stage. My feeling is that people using dial-up will migrate to the `always-on' 256 kbps. They are paying Rs. 1,000 per month for low Internet speeds. Our initiatives will bring higher speeds for less than Rs. 500 per month.' The broadband policy has also attempted to cut through red tape. VSAT dish owners can start operations one month after all the documents are submitted for approval."

Friday, October 15, 2004

Google's newest tool!

Google's newest tool is out for beta testin!. Its called Google Desktop. Its like having Google search engine for your local drives. Its a tiny 400kb application which sits in the system tray. Here, google explains it better:
http://desktop.google.com/about.html

In case somebody is wondering, the indexes are kept at:
/documents and settings/USERNAME/Local Settings/Application Data/Google/Google Desktop

No data from your PC is ever sent to Google! The listing you see on google.com for your local drive is a feature of the desktop tray application. Read the privacy policy for more info.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Blogging to Learn

This is a very interesting paper detailing how blogging can be used in the educational process to enhance learning. Its abstract reads:

"There are claims of over 500,000 blogs published on the Internet. What is a blog and how could it be integrated into pedagogical practices to enhance learning? This paper will introduce the blogging phenomenon and present some options for educators. Some theoretical principles and guidelines for practice will be presented, along with some
further resources for exploring the blog-o-sphere and creating a blog for either personal publishing or to be integrated into pedagogical strategies."

Digital Dialogues

Exploring blogosphere, I came accross this thought for today ....

"When you say you're going online - where exactly are you going???"

Monday, October 11, 2004

Twist in the tale!

If any of you had a chance to use the illegaly leaked MSN 7.0 Beta, than you might have probably degraded to MSN 6.2 by force.

After security vulnerabilities being posted on the Internet and its availability to end-users has prompted MS to postpone its release to testers.

There is no way you will be able to sign-in with it as of now.

Spyware deemed illegal

The US government has passed a bill that would make spyware illegal.

This was long over due considering that most of the spyware/adware... on the Internet originate from US!

Victory at last (or is it?).

Saturday, October 09, 2004

New Google Services

Still under Beta testing (and not officially launched), Google is about to launch two new services.

1. Google Print, which will be simliar to Amazon.com's "Search-Inside-the-Book" feature. This will allow you to perform a Google search on any book that has been indexed by Google (probably many thousands).

2. Google SMS, that will allow you to submit queries to Google via SMS and get your results back within a minute. This is currently only available in the US.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Rich Archives

Young scholars, explore science and humanitarian subjects here. No time wasting clearinghouses

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Local goodies.....

Ata kirmani has developed an Urdu desktop for Windows XP. That is having a start menu in Urdu (left to right), having desktop icon names in Urdu.....

For more details and those interested can contact him at ataullahkirmani@yahoo.com.

Yayha Noor has developed an interactive training for Win 98 in Balochi language. He can be contacted at yahya_noor@yahoo.com. Good for those institutes giving basic computer training to the totally new.

Hats off to both of them for their efforts.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Gmail updates

Gmail has updated. Gmailers using Window 2000, XP or more recent version can download Gmail Notifier. Google could have done a better job. They say more is to come . . .

SMW3 Outage - Monday 11th October 2004

PTCL has informed its customers that there will be an outage of four (4) hours on the SMW-3 submarine optical fiber system on 11th October, 2004 from 0300 hrs to 0700 hrs. The outage, conveyed on 5th October 2004, has been attributed to an emergency repair work that must be carried out.

FLAG customers (another service sold by PTCL) will additionally face an outage on 7th October 2004 from 0300 hrs to 0330 hrs as announced by PTCL.

The last major planned outage was in October 2003 which lasted for days (but luckily, alternate satellite bandwidth was procured and we were saved from a complete blackout). This, however, renews the urge for having more satellite gateways in Pakistan, preferably in the private sector. Commissioning of the SMW-4 cable (which will be an alternate path for International connectivity) would also contribute towards adding to the stability of the system.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Posting on this blog

So far, the number of entries I've deleted from this blog = 1. It was irrelevant to this blog.

The number of comments deleted from this blog = 4 out of which 1 was a mistake.

I respect your point of view and expect you to respect mine. This is the only way to encourage discussion, simply put. If at any point I feel a comment is out of place and aimed at generating a bad vibe towards a person or an organization [including Spider], I will delete it.

ONLY healthy criticsm is welcome. Not all of us will find everything on this blog useful but plenty of us do. As an informed and aware visitor, you are free to say anything sans throw verbal punches at or abuse anyone. Thank you for stopping by.

Donations required....

After the success of SpaceShipOne and winning the US $10 million Ansari X prize, Sir Richard Branson new company Virgin Galactic ventures into a new market of space tourism, registration is open.

Flights expected as early as 2007 will allow you to gaze the stars for about US $200,000 per person (at least we don't need to apply for a visa :P) for a two-hours trip and three days pre-flight training.

Donations accepted, send in your US $1 bank drafts (minimum) to me.

Your favourite Spider Magazine is also in contact with Virgin Galactic for an agreement or sorts to give a complimentary copy to each tourist on-board the trip. Plans also underway to release a few issues of them into space. Going global in style.

Yipee, SPIDER Alien edition ;)

Gates: Microsoft to offer anti-spyware

It's about time. Hope they build it in IE by defualt just like the much need pop-up blocker given to IE 6.2 (XP SP2).

And may be, we might some day hear of Microsoft Anti-Virus 2007.....

Ansari X-Prize Won, Space Travel To Start

News Media around the world, including BBC and CNN, had lead stories about SpaceShipOne's second flight into space this week -- making the team the winner of the $10 million Ansari X-Prize. Even Google's Logo today features SpaceShipOne making contact with aliens.

Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways (and the Virgin Group) has recently set up Virgin Galactic, a company promising flights into space (aboard SpaceShipOne) for $200,000 by the end of the decade!

It is a historic day, indeed.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Clusty searching

I am begining to like looking at search results in clusters. It is far more organized than Google's gazillion pages. You too should give Clusty.com, a brand new search engine from a Carnegie Mellon computer scientist, a spin!

MSN 7.0 Beta on the way....

MS might have released to testers the beta version, by the time you read this.

What's new:
- Contact cards
- New Display Pictures
- Set status before signing-in (appear offline while signing-in).
- MSN Search Bar at the bottom (has been there with YM 6.0)
- Search words within conversation in chat window
- Maybe Avatars and emoticon packs (YM 6.0 ???)


No More Spam

AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, Earthlink and Comcast have agreed to adopt some technical standards that will significantly reduce the amount of spam emails received. Their plan is to authenticate the sender's email address for bulk emails. Other ISPs will probably follow suit. But the question is, how long before the spammers find a workaround...?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

PASHA: ICT Awards on Saturday

On Saturday, Pakistan Software Houses Association, the trade body representing ICT companies in Pakistan, is celebrating its first ever awards ceremony.

Nearly 14 awards are being presented to various software houses for their products. See the website for details on nomination. 300 people are expected at the ceremony taking place in Karachi. One of the more interesting cateogries is a prize for student projects and I'm hoping publicity by the media will help both PASHA and educational institutes and varsities to pursue this more actively next year. All details courtesy Jehan Ara, president PASHA. Will bring you up to speed with how the colorful ceremony turned out. If you know students who are interested in volunteering at the event [they are needed on Friday and Saturday], then email me [zd at spider dot tm]. Both the Minister IT and Black Fish are expected to show up ;~)

The only national IT awards Pakistan has seen so far have come from NCR. For the past four years, NCR has celebrated the IT industry's various assortments and achievements including a variety of categories. The process is self-nomination, followed by an evaluation by an NCR selected panel.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Microsoft To Sell Win XP Starter Edition In Russia

Microsoft plans to distribute in Russia the low-cost, stripped-down version of Windows XP, called 'Starter Edition.' This release of Windows is aimed at markets in developing nations, and is known for not allowing more than three aplications to run at the same time and not being networking capable. This product will not be avaiable on retail, but will be distributed by OEM vendors in new PCs, at an aproximate price of US$36. On a side note, the article also states that the MS tax payed by vendors to Microsoft for Windows XP licenses is $70 or more.

Now if only Microsoft had also removed internet access, they would have actually gotten a good sight closer to a truly secure OS! The real question is when will they set up shop in Pakistan? Though 36 dollars is still way to expensive, especially for the limited features this offers. The interesting thing is, considering your average pc is running a ton of spyware/adware programs, even a new installation of this windows will be rendered unusable in about 2 minutes or so of being on the internet. It'll reach the program limit and then... and then what? Since spyware can't be terminated easily, and you won't be able to run an anti-spyware cleaner (remember, 3 programs only) the only remaining is a reinstall every three minutes! Tech support around the world are already cursing Microsoft for this smart move...

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Piracy losses in Pk.

According: "to the latest global software piracy study released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a group of the world’s leading software manufacturers, 83 percent illegal software installed on computers last year represented a loss of over $16 million to the Information Technology (IT) sector." Only $16 million? I thought the figure would have been in billions.

NetSol Technologies to Grabs contract with State Bank

NetSol Technologies Inc. has been awarded the contract to design and develop the country's new central banking Electronic Credit Information Bureau (eCIB). The project will enable more than 40 state banks to access credit information electronically, as well as share information with government agencies, other financial institutions and large corporations."

Internet Fraud at AKD Trade

According to this scoop: "Last July some employees at AKD Trade,an Internet trading arm of brokerage house AKD Securities, from the information technology, settlements and trading divisions colluded to conduct unauthorized trade. This resulted in a loss of Rs 29 million of which Rs 9 million has been recovered. Brokers estimate the losses on those trades to amount to Rs 100 million to Rs 150 million.
The Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has asked AKD Trade to submit a report to the apex regulator about this recent incident at the firm."

Want to join Orkut?

Read this by Bill Thompson. Any body who is not on Orkut and still wants to join; email me and give at least one reason for wanting to join. I will send the invitation.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Ufone to expand its GSM/GPRS Network

"Pak Telecom Mobile Limited (PTML),a wholly owned subsidiary of PTCL, has selected Nortel Networks to expand its Ufone GSM / GPRS network over the next year under agreements estimated at US$125 million. Nortel Networks will upgrade Ufone's existing wireless systems and supply new GSM/GPRS core network and radio access equipment, including Mobile Switching Center, Home Location Register (HLR) and advanced Base Transceiver Stations (BTS).
PTML launched Ufone on January 29, 2001 and, later that year, deployed a GPRS solution to enable a wireless Internet capability. Since its inception, Ufone has been a highly successful venture both in terms of subscriber uptake and network coverage. In its first four months of operation, it attracted some 100,000 subscribers and in its third and most recent expansion, in 2003-4, it raised capacity to over 1.5 million subscribers." Also has anyone noticed that ever since Ufone gave out about 4 lakh free phone connections, one gets frequent network busy messages when trying to make a call?

More evidence of a Google browser

On April 26, 2004, Google registered gbrowser.com. Here's the relevent bit of the WHOIS for gbrowser.com:
Registrant:
Google Inc.
(DOM-1278108)
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View
CA
94043 US

Domain Name: gbrowser.com


Very interesting. Now all Google needs is a instant messenger... a web based word processor and a few other bits and pieces and one could live in a entirely google world. There's more speculation at Slashdot.

Why You Should Never Lose Your Digital Media

What would you do if you found someone's digital media card from their camera in your taxi? One such individual has decided to provide the world with 227 days of entertainment. I Found Some Of Your Life will post a photo a day and accompanying fictional narrative for the next 227 days using the photos found on a digital media card left in a cab. Is it pure genius or pure evil? Who cares? Just be thankful they're not your photos.

Long as it's someone else...

Thursday, September 16, 2004

New DSL service providers

Daily Times reports: "Around 10 Internet service providers are gearing up to launch digital subscriber loop (DSL) based broadband services in 15 cities within one month.Currently, only four major players monopolise DSL-based Internet operations including, Micronet, Multinet, Rafiq Habib and WorldCall. "

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Apocalypse, when?

First it was to be machines vs. us. Then a huge network breakdown. And finally, a computer-assisted [hmm, not sure if I used the right word] terrorist attack that would leave the world in utter darkness. Sci-fi writers are never short of doom theories. But the press picks it up and soon the wires start spilling it out as the last word in science. Intel's CTO is quoted all over the net saying "WWW is 'running up on some architectural limitations'", thanks to spammers. Noticed this one on Slashdot two days ago and I forbid you to go anywhere else for the real story for its there in what the Slashdotters have to say [financial, networking, expansion, technical--they've covered it all] about WWW's ultimate death ;~) Besides, all the online newspapers need a password to get in. In this case, that's a bliss.

I found this one hilarious: "Pentel, the world's leading provider of 0.5mm mechanical pencils has predicted the World Wide Web cannot continue to function at its present level for much longer. Pentel is offering an alternative, called WSD, or Writing Stuff Down, that is virtually immune to scaling problems currently plaguing the Web. Industry experts have been slow to respond to this proposal but their responses are expected any day now, via another new technology called the Post Office."

Internet cities, IT parks and us

Last month, I received a letter from the CEO of National IT Park who said our coverage of the building on Shara-e-Faisal, Karachi was not justified. I was reviewing the actual outcome of setting up such spaces. I visited the 'Park'--five floors dedicated to IT shops in Ceasar's Tower, sponsored by PSEB. Although getting paperwork and KESC to follow through took years, its taken just over 5 months for these floors to be taken over by small offshore BPO/call center units and software houses. Up in Islamabad and Lahore, Software Parks have fared cosiderably better over the years. I suppose the assumption is: if you build it, they will come, as they did.

Sameer just pointed out another 'grand' project: the UAE governemnt will help GoP to build three internet cities [obviously in KHI, LHR and ISL]. According to our fairly new Sindh IT minister, an "arrangement of 200 acres of land in the outskirts of the metropolis for the setting up of internet media city, close to the proposed educational city" has been mapped. Good on us! We are set to follow two remarkable experiments by Dubai [Knowledge Village and Internet City]. Does anyone agree such facilities should not be launched, funded or built without research, or am I being skeptical what's good for UAE [superb infrastructure and delivery] isn't neccessarily good for us?

Carnegie Mellon Receives $20 Million from Bill Gates

Carnegie Mellon University announced today that they have received a $20 million gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build the new "Gates Center for Computer Science".

When Bill Gates made his first visit to Carnegie Mellon's campus last February, he said he believed "the most interesting problem of all in computer science -- the one that's always been the most appealing and the toughest -- is artificial intelligence. Carnegie Mellon...was a pioneer at looking at those problems and thinking about what progress could be made."

Stanford University already has a "Gates Building" for Computer Science. I wonder how many buildings a person could want bearing his name...?

Brazil is the world's Hacking Capital

To all those out there who think they're great hackers, I hate to break it to you... Brazil is the world's Hacking Capital, with 80% of the world's hackers based there. And last year, the number of hack attacks launched from Brazil were six times those launched from any other country!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Broadband over Power Lines

I accidentally discovered that this is quite a hotly debated topic. The idea is instead of physically laying fiber, coax, or some other kind of cable and building a whole new network -- use an existing one. And what is the largest network that already exists in any country? The power grid!

So the idea is to use the already existing power lines to transmit data -- at broadband speeds. Wired has already covered this here. So have ZDNet and PCWorld. Everyone has differing opinions about the idea -- some think it's great while others think it's bad. However, AT&T and PG&E are already running trials for this in Menlo Park, California (which is about 10 minutes from where live -- and I didn't even know about it!).

A Google search for "broadband over power lines" (without the "") will show innumerable results on this topic.

This could really be something great if we can utilize it in Pakistan. WorldCall would no longer need to lay cables anywhere in the country. Where there is bijlee, there will be Internet. The downside, of course, is that when there is no bijlee, then there is no Internet. But when there is no power, you're probably not using your computer anyway.

Worth an article in SPIDER, I think...

Hal named 'top sci-fi moment'

BBC reports here that a panel of experts has decided that the moment when "HAL" goes insane in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey as the most important moment in our science-fiction history.

Personally, I think that "To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before" was the most important moment in sci-fi history. But that's just me.

Another fun fact: The computer was called "HAL" because they took "IBM" and used the previous letter of the alphabet for each of the three letters: "H" comes before "I", "A" comes before "B", and "L" comes before "M".

Booming, yet facing an imminent shortfall!

So yes, India is still booming. However, the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) has predicted that despite graduating 2.5 million IT graduates each year, India will face a shortage and could lose market share to other countries.

Can Pakistan be smart enough to capitalize on this? Or do we first need to make a policy on how to do that -- taking long enough on the policy that we lose the window of opportunity?

India is still booming

CNN reports in this article, that India's software industry will grow about 30% in the next fiscal year. In the 2003-04 fiscal year, software exports totalled $12.5 billion. That puts next year at about $16 billion!

Friday, September 10, 2004

A 'spatial challenge' at MIT

MIT spends $3 million to design and construct a 'spatial challenge' so why should educational brands in Pakistan fall shy of such challenges simply to innovate? Rodney Brooks writes a motivating note on the newly built Ray and Maria Stata Center on the MIT campus. Designed by Frank Gehry, it will inspire technophiles who will learn to do/undo traditional approaches to research. That is my humble summary. I encourage you to read his article appropriately titled "The Idea Factory" and see the Center in all its complicated glory.

Should porn have a place in our society?

Did you know that according to BBC statistics, 60 per cent of Internet users in Pakistan regularly visit pornographic websites?
In an essay titled 'The East is Blue', that is also set to published alongside images of American porn stars in a book entitled XXX:Porn star, Salman Rushdie claims "A free and civilised society should be judged on its willingness to accept pornography". In her recent article Miranda Husain, a writer for the Daily times, supports this view saying that "we should perhaps modify Mr Rushdie’s assertion: only a society that accepts the existence of pornography and also accepts the need to promote the forming of emotional bonds between the sexes can be described as a truly free and civilised society." What do you say?



ITU Telecom Asia 2004 Report

Report::
"-South Korea has offered to impart training to 30 Pakistani experts in the broadband, Internet and e-government sector.
-Awais Leghari says Pakistan is aggressively working on the formulation of a broadband policy, which would be out very soon to roll out.
-Awais Leghari offers the Chinese minister to set up software technology parks in Pakistan.
-Advance Communications, an Islamabad-based software company draws appreciation from all the global telecom giants exhibited at the ITU 2004 event."

Call Centers in pk

The daily times reports:
"-The turnover of call centres operating in the country is expected to double to $20 million this year, from $10 million last year, the equivalent of about 9 percent of total software exports of $110 million.
-Of the 90 call centres currently operating in the country, more than 60 were registered in 2004.
-In India IT-enabled businesses is worth $2.8 billion and employs over 285,000 people.
"

9/11 Commission Report Online

For those interested, the 9/11 Commission has published its complete Report online (without any copyrights attached to it), in PDF and HTML formats.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Keeping regulation at bay

It is music to one's ears when regulators talk like this: "Broadband voice services are a new and emerging market," said Stephen Carter, Ofcom Chief Executive. "Our first task as regulator is to keep out of the way."

Ofcom, UK's communication regulator, is currently working on a framework to make voice over telephony services user-friendly and popular. Their plain english summary is worth a read for people not keyed into VoIP.

Solar Powered Computers

Two weeks ago, it was InfoThelas. Now, India is planning to power computers with solar energy in villages where there is either no power or frequent power failures.

Solar energy instead of KESC, anyone?

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Political blog?

Unfortunately not yet! This article on BBC News claims that politicians still have a long way to go where blogs are concerned.

The Economist Survey on the Car Industry: Perpetual motion

For much of the 20th century, carmaking was the “industry of industries”. Now it has to reinvent itself, says Iain Carson

Happy Birthday Internet!

Yup, the Net turned 35 on September 2. Here's a short commentary on some of the good stuff it has given us.

SETI@Home Finds E.T.?

How many remember SETI@Home? The first piece of software that used some real distributed computing world-wide? Well, it may have found extra-terrestrial life somewhere out in the universe.

CNN reports here that a signal has been picked up three times, causing great excitement amongst astronomers world-wide. However, SETI@Home's Chief Scientist is claiming that these reports are highly exaggerated.

E.T. Phone Home?

Saturday, September 04, 2004

A new blog-related service

There seems to be no dearth of websites offering services to track visitors coming to a certain blog. However, Blabble seems to be a little different. According to a Yahoo news item, "Blabble releases beta of blog tracking service", this new service can "track, aggregate and evaluate opinions from more than two million blogs."

Dealing with spam email

Microsoft has come up with a new way of tackling spam email: authenticating email users by a sender ID. However, in this article Keeping How the Net Works Open to All, the writer argues that this new way to combat spam email is actually bad news for the Internet users, and yet another way being adopted by Microsoft to monopolise power on the Net.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Cybercafes

Can anyone guess when/where the first cybercafe opened in Karachi [or Pakistan]? Any intelligent guesses are welcome.

I first spotted one in 1996 [main University Road, Karachi] and started using it. I had heard of singer Shehki's cybercafe in Clifton earlier, though can't recall when.

This BBC news item says the first cybercafe opened in Britain 10 years ago. I found the news item more interesting because within the report, the webmaster has inserted a note asking if the reader is in a cybercafe: "Are you reading this in an internet cafe? If so, tell us where and what it's like. Send us a picture too."
Cool! The response this news item generated has been significant so far. This is how a news organization is supposed to serve its community today--by involving them.

CDMA2000 1X Data Services Come to Pakistan

Telecard has launched what is the first CDMA2000 1X Data Service in Pakistan. Using its digital CDMA2000 platform which offers fixed (land line) telephone services topped with digital services like VMS, SMS etc, Telecard is now offering Internet services to its WLL customers.

The users can buy scratch cards from retail outlets for use with their CDMA 1X terminals. The connection is portable and offers a better-than-dialup experience to the users. Due to the regulatory fact that Telecard is a WLL license holder, the service is currently not available through a CDMA PC card that could slide into the notebooks of the roadwarrior although there is technically no bar in having that available. The product is similar to the GPRS service provided by Ufone, one of the cellular service provider but the user experience is far superior as GPRS service is limited to 20 kbps while the CDMA2000 1X users can experience up to 153 kbps (bundle of 17 channels of 9.6 kbps each) while using Internet.

In the next upgrade which is already underway with the help of Lucent's solution, Karachittes would be able to enjoy the upgraded version of CDMA2000 EVDO which offers an average 600 kbps of end user experience over the same infrastructure.

The cellular coverage is currently out-door only and is somewhat patchy with the network rolled out keeping in view the voice aspect of the business. However, as the company puts up more base stations, coverage is expected to get better.

Microsoft Launches MSN Music

Microsoft vs. Apple

MSN Music vs. iTunes

IBM Recalls Notebook Adapters

Affects IBM ThinkPad i Series, 390 and 240 Series and s Series notebooks mostly in the Asia-Pacific region. Free adapters exchange program. Read more.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Tecnomen to deliver MMSC and VMS for Telenor

While there can be too much information about who is signing up with whom and for what, my thanks to our friend Murali in Isloo for pointing this one out.

"Telenor Pakistan and its network infrastructure provider Siemens Information and Communication Mobile have chosen Tecnomen to supply its Voice Mail System (VMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service Centre (MMSC). Delivery will take place this month."

A Whole City Going Wi-Fi

And not just some small city, mind you. CNN reports in this article, that the city of Philadephia is considering providing wireless internet access over 136 square miles! It will either be free, or significantly cheaper than commercial broadband that is currently available. One of the aims is to make high-speed internet cheap (or free) for poor neighborhoods. They're planning to install their transmitters on lampposts.

That reminds me of a company I interviewed with once -- Metricom. In those days, Wi-Fi and GPRS were unheard of. 3G cellular technology was just beginning to make some news. Metricom would install their transmitters on lampposts too, and provide 128K of bandwidth. But then the world caught up to Metricom. They filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

India to construct five IT parks in Iran

IT parks in Iran:: "Besides providing training to 5,000 people the project will set the stage for creating 300,000 jobs in local industrial sector worth 300 million dollars"

Muslim marriages over the net declared illegal

According to this report: "The decree came in response to a question asked by a man in Pakistan. Mohammad Zahirullah Haqqani, of a seminary called Darul Uloom Haqqaniya of Naushera town in Pakistan, had sent a query to Deoband. He sited an example of a Muslim man in the US who married a woman in Pakistan over the Internet. The two saw each other through a web camera and spoke to each other by voice mail. They then got married over the Internet.Haqqani asked Deoband scholars if the nikah was valid.
At the department of fatwa in Deoband, the committee comprising Maulana Mahmood Hassan, Maulana Zafiruddin and Maulana Habibur Rehman pronounced the nikah invalid."

Innovative 'spam'

Haven't come across this one before: "I have visited this website and I found you in the spammer list. Is that true?" The email came with a virus attached to it. I say, these guys are getting creative with their writing skills.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Video Conference Systems for the Judiciary in Pak

Here is an interesting article that suggests how a video conference system can improve the judiciary process in Pakistan.

IT minister or crooks?

the Daily Times reports: "Member of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) Kashmala Tariq alleged that Punjab Minister for Information Technology (IT) Abdul Aleem Khan was involved in land grabbing for his Park View Housing Society."

PML Website Launched

When you read this press release you get the impression that something really flashy awaits at the PML site. However on reaching there you get to know that none of the PML members at the site have their profiles listed there-infact on opening the profile section the Pakistani flag is found fluttering there instead.The headlines in the current affairs section are in an annoyingly very large font of size 30 plus. This lousy site is actually supposed to give a 'modern' look to the PML, according to the Party's mouthpiece Mushahid Hussain.

ISLAMABAD : Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain Saturday inaugurated the Website of Pakistan Muslim League that contains the 98-years history record of the PML."

Ericsson pulls the plug on bluetooth devices

Just the production, not affecting support.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

DAP is a pest!!!

Be warned.

There was something fishy going on as one of the systems I was working on went bizarre and both online and Norton AV scan came up with nothing.

However an online scan for pests from www.pestscan.com detected Download Accelerator Plus (DAP) as the culprit, even after uninstalling it from the system! Spybot –S&D was able to take care of it.

Read more about it and what it does at:
http://pestpatrol.com/pestinfo/D/Download_Accelerator_Plus.asp

I suggest Meta Express Download Manager (www.metaproducts.com/), its small, fast and to the point.

Friday, August 27, 2004

The Next Six Big Ideas

Yahoo! and Forbes.com outline the next six great ideas for Internet technology in this article. None of the ideas are brand new -- they've been around for a while. But I'm guessing that some of these ideas will take off in the next few years. My money is on "Voice Over The Internet".

Anyone care to counter?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Pakistan 'Type' open source community

Thanks to Irfan K for pointing this one out. More from his email: "Other than Nafees Nastaleeq font of CRULP, other decorative Urdu unicode fonts are available here.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

InfoThelas in India

No more Walls-Ice-Cream-wala with the famous jingle outside your house. "InfoThelas" are taking over in India. Conceived at none other than IIT, CNN reports in this article that "it aims to use technology to improve education, health care and access to agricultural information in India's villages, where most of the country's 1.06 billion people live."

Instead of investing in IT Parks, maybe the government should invest in InfoThelas?

Monday, August 23, 2004

1.8 Billion Rupees Only!!!

The daily times reports that: "The state-run Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited %28PTCL%29 has hired a Chinese firm to computerise its billing and customer care operations at the cost of Rs 1.8 billion. Officials at the company said the Chinese firm %97 ZTE Technologies %96 will be responsible to automate the whole system within 18 months and complete the task in accordance with international telecom standards."

Cheaper Bandwidth Rates For Pern Universities

According to this report: "Higher Education Commission has negotiated a special package with National Telecommunication Corporation %28NTC%29 and Pakistan Telecommunication Company %28PTCL%29 for provision of broadband internet services to Pakistan Educational Research Network %28PERN%29 connected universities. %0D%0AUnder this new arrangement universities connected with PERN will get at least 2MB of international bandwidth at the rate of US%24 2500 per month"

Urdu email without sign up hassles

From Spider's marketing whizz Mir Abbas comes this cool find: Urdu email No need to sign up. Just type it out and send away. It works!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Argo, Argonauts and IT Projects

Once upon a time, there lived a Jason, son of King Aeson of Lolcus.

Before Jason was born, King Aeson’s half brother Pelias, overthrew Jason’s father. When Jason was full-grown he returned to Lolcus to regain the thrown. Pelias agreed to give up the thrown if Jason brought back the Golden Fleece from the kingdom of Colchis. Jason asked Argus, a master shipbuilder, to build him a great ship with fifty oars. Then he sent envoys to every palace in Greece, asking for volunteers to help capture the Golden Fleece. The ship was called Argo, and the fifty volunteers, the Argonauts.

What has Argo, Argonauts have to do with IT project management, find out in CIPS across CANADA Summer 2004 issue (that will be online any time now).