Wednesday, June 30, 2004

E-Museum for Pakistani treasures

the BBC reports on an e-museum in Pakistan : "Many would scoff at the idea of launching an 'e-museum' in Pakistan, where national museums are constantly derided for their low numbers of visitors.
'They have got to be kidding,' says artist Qaiser Khan. 'Just how many hits do you think they're going to get?'
The e-museum, the first of its kind in Pakistan, hopes to launch in August.
It is the brainchild of the Faqirs, a family counted among the nobility of Lahore that traces its ancestry back to the holy city of Uch Sharif. "

WorldCall selects Intec DCP Real-Time Charging Technology for Billing IP and VoIP Services

Intec Telecom Systems, a global provider of operations support systems for the telecommunications industry, announced that it has signed two contracts in Africa and Asia for its real-time charging solution, Intec Dynamic Charging Platform (DCP). Cameroon's Douala1, the country's leading Network Solution Provider (NSP), and WorldCall Telecom Ltd, a major telecom operator in Pakistan, have licensed Intec DCP to assist in their IP billing initiatives

Internet enabled trains in India

The Indian: "rail ministry has announced that Internet for passengers with laptops and cyber kiosks will be available on select trains from June 30, 2004."

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Indian IT Minister in Town

Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran, arrived in Pakistan :on Monday to attend the two-day SAARC Communications Ministers meeting being held here.
Maran, the first Indian Minister to visit Pakistan after the Congress-led coalition Government took over power arrived in Lahore today from New Delhi and later flew to Islamabad.
Ahead of the Ministers meeting, SAARC Communications officials held a meeting to finalise their agenda.
The second SAARC Communication Ministers conference is slated to adopt a new plan of action on issues like complete digitisation of inter-country links, universal access and setting up of a regional bandwidth hub.
The meeting would also discuss issues like bridging digital divide and evolving performance indicators for the telecom sector in the region, officials said. "

ITCN-Asia 2004 To Be Held From Aug 9

ITCN-Asia 2004 : "Exhibition and Conference will be held from August 9 to 11 this year. This was announced by organisers of the event in a statement here on Monday."
The ITCN Asia 2004 will be held at the Karachi Expo Centre Under the auspices of Ministry of Investment and Privatization in collaboration with Ministry of IT and Telecom, Sindh government, Ecommerce Gateway Singapore, CommerceNet Singapore, Jamal's Yellow Pages of Pakistan and City District Government Karachi (CDGK).

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Laghari out too?

Has anyone heard about Minister Laghari quitting/resigning/being booted out of MITT?

Trying to come up with his contribution to the IT scene--cant think of any. Maybe I'm too cynical.

Internet freedom?

According to an online report: "China is the worst violator of Internet freedom, says a report by Reporters Sans Frontieres, which also finds that Internet journalists in South Asia are vulnerable to frequent attacks because they lack the legal protection traditional media enjoys.

The report, 'Internet Under Surveillance 2004,' examines the situation in 60 countries and zeroes in on China as the worst violator of online freedom.

It says four countries throw people in jail for posting 'subversive' topics online - China (with a whopping 63 cyber-dissidents in prison), Vietnam (7), the Maldives (3) and Syria (2). "

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Hotmail joins the race

To match up to its rivals, Gmail and Yahoo, Microsoft has announced that the storage space of Hotmail will increase to 250 MB soon.

Here's the entire story

Microsoft to Increase Hotmail Storage

Telecard to enter Fixed-line Market

Daily Times reports that: "Telecard Ltd. is set to enter the country�s fixed-line telephone market this year with plans to invest more than $50 million over 12 months, a top company executive said Tuesday.

Sham ul Arfeen, head of business development at the Karachi-based telecommunications company, told Dow Jones Newswires that Telecard is aiming for 500,000 subscribers in the first year of operations and more than a million customers over two years once it obtains the necessary licensing.

�All costs included, we are looking at a capital expenditure of $50-$60 million in the first 12 months and maybe a similar amount in the second year,� he said.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority is expected to award licenses for wireless local loop, long-distance and international operations in August as part of the government�s deregulation of the sector.

Telecard, which currently operates 45,000 public pay phones using local loop wireless technology, is taking advantage of deregulation to enter the fixed-line market. Its planned expansion likely will increase competition in that market, now dominated by state-run Pakistan Telecommunications Corp., with over 4 million subscribers. "

PTCL to double its budget

Pakistan Telecommu-nications Company is set to double its development budget for 2004-05 to around Rs 25 billion to cope with rising competition in a deregulated telecom sector, a company source told Daily Times."

Also: "New projects in the pipeline: He said through the development budget, ongoing projects would continue at a faster pace while several new projects would also be initiated. “Major service projects include VoIP (voiceover Internet protocol) WLL (wireless local loop) and broadband Internet services while in infrastructure development, undersea fibre link and the OFAN (optical fibre access network) would be undertaken,” said the PTCL official.

"

Internet Cafe Laws

Are there any laws on the regulation of the Internet cafe in the offing soon? Would anyone know? Tee Emm

Asian citizens on the Net

ITBusiness.ca reports that: "Asians have become the largest group of Internet users in the world, with an estimated 173 million people accessing the Internet, according to Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC). But surprisingly, this only makes up 4.5 per cent of the total Asian population. "

Also "The Pan Asia Networking (PAN) Local Language Project, an initiative of the IDRC, is designed to get more Asian users on the Net by developing a framework for local language computing. The IDRC, a public corporation created by Canadian Parliament to help communities in developing countries, is spending $1 million over three years on this project, in partnership with the National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences (NUCES) in Lahore, Pakistan. The Centre for Research in Urdu Language Processing at NUCES was established in 2001 to conduct linguistic research, helping to develop computing standards and promote content development for the Pakistani language."

PTCL vs ISPAK again

Daily Times reports that: "Bandwidth rates to be reviewed: In the upcoming board meeting, company directors are also expected to take up the proposal of a 10 percent rate cut on bandwidth for Internet service providers and call centres.

�The company in July last year made a rate cut of 10 percent in the Internet bandwidth, from $6,000 per 2 megabytes per month to $5,400,� said the PTCL official.

For call centres, the cost of International Private Leased Circuit (IPLC) was reduced from $9,900 per month per 2 megabytes to $6,500 per month, he said.

�A similar proposal would be considered for this year,� he said.

ISPs and call centres had raised objections to last year�s rate cut terming it an eyewash and have approached the company this year again seeking a larger reduction this time around.

�If this happens again, this would be another eyewash and joke with the Internet users of the country,� said Wahaj-ur-Sairaj, Co-ordinator ISPs Association of Pakistan (ISPAK).

�We have asked them to reconsider the proposal and enhance the reduction to 20 to 25 percent,� he added.

However, PTCL does not agree and says bandwidth rates are already economical and frequent large cuts should not be expected.

�We are already one of the cheapest bandwidth provider in the region,� said the PTCL official and added that the company�s target was to favour more general consumers than corporate customers.

The relief steps, the official said, were being taken in the wake of competition that the telecom giant would face post-deregulation.

�The company has registered a sharp growth in the past few years so now it is the customers turn to benefit,� the official said.

The company�s 56-year monopoly on land telephone l"

DVD Piracy

Guess which country leads the DVD piracy market? Need a hint?
According to a piracy report online: "Amaral conceded that some of the pirated goods were of very good quality and said this was because they were copied off the original sources. 'Such DVDs are fundamentally ripped from the original sources and manufactured mainly in Pakistan and Malaysia and distributed worldwide.'"

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

PSEB's conference in Lahore

PSEB wrapped up its IT's Made in Pakistan conference plus exhibition in Lahore where I am right now. Thanks to PC's 'working' Wi-Fi set up, I can quickly write about the highs and lows of today's conference.

The event wound up on panel discussion between Amir Wian [i2c], Saleem Ghauri and Khurram of Techlogix. Interactive and extremely engaging for the audience which had been sitting dormant throughout the day-one wished the day was split up in interactive sessions alone. better luck next time!

The conference was split up in two tracks taking place simultaneously--comprising of company presentations and case studies. My vote goes to the VC funding session where Dr. Altaf Khan spoke about creating a good business plan. Suhaib of TMT Ventures talked about Yevolve's success with the company.

The exhibition showcasing 28 software houses and their products including a booth for Young Entrepreneurs will be open to general public tomorrow.

BBC to reunite Kashmir families

The BBC: is launching three days of internet webcasts on Monday to reunite families separated across the Line of Control dividing Kashmir.
In the first initiative of its kind, families who have not been in contact for decades because of the lack of phone services and direct travel, are being given the opportunity to get in touch with their loved ones.
An hourly video conference between Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir and Muzzafarabad, on the Pakistani side, will be webcast on BBCUrdu.com from 1100GMT until Wednesday.

Telenor News

Morten Lundal takes over as new DiGi CEO: "Morten Lundal takes over as new DiGi CEO

MORTEN Lundal has been appointed chief executive officer of DiGi.com Bhd and DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, succeeding Tore Johnsen who has been seconded to Telenor's new mobile operation in Pakistan as chief executive officer.
Telenor owns a 61% stake in DiGi.com Bhd.
Arve Johansen, Telenor's deputy chief executive officer and head of international mobile, said in a statement yesterday that the group was sure that under the management of Lundal, DiGi would continue to be at the forefront of the Malaysian mobile industry.
Lundal, 39, a Norwegian citizen, takes over on July 26."

Monday, June 21, 2004

A Pakistani Entrepreneur's Success Story

Read this rare success story of a Pakistani guy IMRAN Khan whose company Picsel Technologies Limited softwares allow users to browse documents over the internet via their mobile phones and palmtop computers, and is widely used by Motorola, Sony, NEC, Sharp and Samsung.

Rediff vs Gmail

Rediff has jumped on the 1GB bandwagon too. No more invites? ;~)Btw, we're offering 5 Gmail invites to readers as giveaway from July. Do read about in our next issue--should you still care to Gmail.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Global Website Blackout

Did anyone notice the massive attack on Internet websites: that took place the world over on 15th June 10:45:00 EST Tuesday (which converts to 20:45:00 Karachi time)? According to a news excerpt: "Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and several other major sites faltered as a result of the attack, which started at 10:45 EST on Tuesday and lasted for over two hours. The problems were traced to Akamai, in Massachusetts, US, which provides support to the internet giants though a vast network of distributed servers for all of the sites.
Technical experts said the incident was consistent with an attack on its domain name system (DNS) servers. These servers translate web browser requests for a worded domain name into the numerical information used to route packets of data around the internet.
Akamai confirmed that its servers were affected by 'large-scale, international attack on internet infrastructure'. But the company suggests the attack was actually directed at a number of its customers, and had a knock-back impact on its distributed servers."

Internet Advertizing Revenues to grow to 13 Billion

It says here that: "Internet advertising revenues topped $10 billion in 2003, and are forecast to grow to more than $13 billion by 2006. The growth has been steady from 1999, when it stood at over five billion dollars.

In the United States and Canada, internet advertising revenues increased 7 per cent from 2002 to 2003, while in the Asia-Pacific region, internet advertising revenues grew 11 per cent in the year. European internet ad revenues grew 5.9 per cent. "

Friday, June 18, 2004

'AirBlue' Operations to be Paperless

Pakistan Times | Metro: Pakistan's Newest Airline, 'AirBlue' Takes off to Skies on Friday: "Paperless Operation

Operation of the AirBlue will be paperless, he said by adding that any person who has access to Internet can get reservation from our web-site with PNR numbers and get out the print, which is acceptable even in the airport restricted area.

The AirBlue management had planned eight workshops, four in Karachi, two in Lahore and two in twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The objective of these workshops is to build understanding among all stakeholders of the airline."

Islamic militants take jihad to the Internet

An interesting piece on Islamic Militants is here:
The Internet is becoming an increasingly vital medium for Islamic militants. Whether through websites featuring videos of Westerners being executed or texts inspiring attacks, the Internet has become a key tool for propaganda and for the exchange of ideas among militants. As RFE/RL reports, the latest dramatic example of its use came yesterday when a militant group posted a video of a blindfolded and bandaged US hostage in Saudi Arabia."

Pakistan to participate in ITU Asia 2004 - PakTribune

Pakistan to participate in ITU Asia 2004 - PakTribune: "ISLAMABAD, June 17 (Online): Pakistan would participate in ITU Asia 2004, being held from 7-11 September 2004 in Busan, Korea. "

Under the theme Asia leading the future, ITU Telecom Asia 2004 will comprise a major exhibition, featuring the latest products and services from across the spectrum of the telecom industry from fixed line to mobile, internet, broadband and components and accessories.

Pakistan Post to launch E-Money Order Service

'Pakistan Post to launch E-Money Order Service' - PakTribune: "ISLAMABAD, June 17 (Online): Pakistan Post will soon launch Electronic Money Order Service as part of re-engineering its Management Structure and diversifying its core competencies .
'To meet the needs of the modern day postal users, Pakistan Post would shortly be launching the facility of electronic money order service throughout the country,' said Chairman Pakistan Postal Services Management Board, Major General retired Agha Masood Hasan while inaugurating the three day Postmasters General Conference being held at the auditorium of Postal Staff College ."

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Broadband Policy - What's Worth Looking For

Microsoft PDC opening ceremony brought Leghari to Karachi and had him announce that some sort of a new broadband policy is about to be announced.

With the DDSL (latest technology Desi DSL, brought to you by the current matrix of PTCL, DSL operators and the government policies) greeting those who could afford the high cost of DSLs for home use with a paltry 128 kbps Internet throughput, one of the most important thing worth watching in the policy would be whether the 'unbundling' of the PTCL cables for DSL uses without any obligation is allowed to all licensed ISPs or not.

Of course, this will not help better the prices of the current DSL offerings nor would this help remove any of the existing DSL problems. Still, the consumers will have a larger number of service providers to ask for the service, more competition and better customer services.

The second thing to watch out is whether the policy mandates high-speed interconnects between the DSL operators or not. In case it does, the immediate benefit would be 'cheap inter DSL operator' bandwidth being available to the DSL users. Essentially, this mean that while users of (say) Dancom DSL and WOL DSL will still be having a meager 128 kbps Internet throughput, they can at least enjoy video conferencing with each other at a good 768 kbps, swap files faster or play a high-bandwidth network games.

Local content hosting, too, could get a boost.

Outsource World, UK

Email from Jehan Ara, President PASHA, who is currently in the UK:

Jehan writes:
As some of you already know I am here in the UK at the invitation of the Oxford Internet Institute to participate in a panel discussion on the 17th and 18th of June.

I decided to come here a few days early so that I could check out Outsource World UK to see if things had changed since the last time that Pakistan participated. Today was the opening day and if it was any indication, then I am glad we decided not to participate. They had 4 different events going on in the same hall - Outsource World, Smart Business, Mobile Enterprise and Internet World, each one a very small event on its own and even together they didn't form a very large show. As for buyers, I didn't see many.

There were several country pavilions Romania's being the largest. Other country pavilions included China, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt and South Africa. The Indian companies that were represented were all very small players most of whom i had never heard of before - none of the big companies were represented, nor was Nasscom as an entity. The China pavilion was a very small one. Romanian companies were the largest in number - they are actually quite popular in terms of outsourcing from Europe. Their chunk of the outsourcing pie has grown quite a bit over the past two years especially from Germany. The UK and Germany are now equal in the amount of work that they outsource. The market size has grown by about 67% in the past year and is expected to at least match the US, if not surpass it, within the next year or so.

So although Outsource World doesn't seem to be the show to come to, we need to increase our marketing efforts to the UK and Europe.

Dubai made an announcement at Outsource World today. The CEO of Dubai Internet City says that they are launching Dubai Outsource Zone to add to their existing portfolio of the Internet City, Media City and Knowledge Village. They will provide the infrastructure that is needed for BPO/Call Centre set-ups. Some of the incentives similar to those availabe in their other zones are: 100% tax free, 100% ownership by foreigners, 100% repatriation of funds, Visas for workers on a 24 hour fastrack.

This was announced during the inaugural session. It was said that Dubai provides the environment, the stability and the efficiency required by most customers in Europe and the US. I wonder what this will mean for all of us. Apparently many large companies are already planning to open up offices in the Zone. Just wanted to share this with all of you. That's all for now. Be back home on the 21st and will probably be seeing many of you at the PSEB Conference/Exhibition.
END>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Yahoo 100 MB Mail Accounts

Something to look forward to in a dull and extremely humid day. Finally I too can now get 10 MB email attachments.

Too many blogs

With all the free weblog services out there, and especially this one, it's too easy to make new blogs. I went through 2-3 author profiles on this weblog, and everyone seems to have created multiple weblogs. (me too for that matter). So how does one deal with so many weblogs? Reading them is bad enough, but aggregators like bloglines help too a great extent. It only takes about 20 minutes a day to catch up to approx 150 weblogs using bloglines, but heaven forbid one doesn't sit in front of the pc for a few days - it'll take hours to catch up!

For those on the other side of the fence, actually writing the damn things, group weblogs are one solution and they work great for weblogs such as this one, but personal weblogs are a different matter altogether.



Aside: Zunaira, you were wondering/debating about the usefulness of a Spider weblog... well I (or someone else) could easily turn the above into an article. Wouldn't have thought of it if I hadn't started writing this post.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Telecom Deregulation - What to Expect

PTA is all set to award licenses to the scrutnized applications (there are around 90 odd companies that have applied) for the LDI and LL operations in the forth week of June 2004.

With the LDI and LL operations finally spilling beyond the hands of mom PTCL, there is just too much in the air of what will happen and how would the end-users of voice and Internet be affected.

Here is an imaginative 'expected' menu:


  • Cheap voice-calling cards for International use.

  • Cheap voice-calling cards for Local long-distance use.

  • Options for getting a fixed-line phone from someone besides PTCL.

  • Options for using a PTCL fixed-line phone but making all long-distance and international calls thru a chosen service provider

  • Fixed-rate International/US numbers delivered over IP platforms.

  • Cheaper Internet bandwidth for end-users (lower DSL rates and higher data rates)

  • Nicer customer care by the new LDI and LL operators. Pretty faces trying to compansate for the fledging networks that take some rest every now and then!...and of course,

  • More dug up and unpatched roads

  • Same old, powerful, evil line-man for the PTCL customers

  • More operating and financial confusions for the end users

  • More lucrative telecom jobs (ummmm...)



What else...use comments to add more to the above that you could think of.

Interesting Infrastructure States, an add-on

Got email from a traveler Bear Falugo who intends traveling to Pakistan from China through Khunjerab. Part of it reads, “Shall I be able to use the Internet in Pakistan.”

Reports

Now this is amusing. Sometimes, the obtuseness of Americans as a whole stuns me.

This here isn't much better.

And when I read this, I wish that the parachute hadn't opened. If only because I'd like to see a war on "Iraqi parachutes of mass destruction manufactured by Al-Qaeda".

'The Web'::Special report in TNS

Here's something refereshing [sarcasm intended].

The News on Sunday's special report looks at 'Computer Lifestyle'.
Lots of interesting angles and masala to explore.

Special report: The Web [imaginatively titled ;~)]

Comments?

Haj Data to be made available online

Haj data to be made available Online: According to our religious affairs minister Ijaz-ul-Haq (Can anyone explain how this a** became the 'religious affairs' minister? I wonder if he has ever even prayed in his lifetme.)that experts from Saudi Arabia will soon be visiting Pakistan soon to connect Madina Munawara with Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad through networking and the data of all Hujaj will available on Internet. No date has been specified as to when all of this will be happeneing though.

Cyber Cafe news: Misuse of Power

Think twice before entering a cyber cafe now. Chances are you'll be picked by the government hounds on some stupid charges. Just read what happened to our friends at the Peshawer University.

Asia Pacific Media Network :: PAKISTAN: Students, newsman held at cyber cafe: "PAKISTAN: Students, newsman held at cyber cafe
Local police on Tuesday arrested some students, including girls, and a local journalist from a cyber cafe on the Peshawar University campus
Dawn
Thursday, June 10, 2004
PESHAWAR, June 9: Local police on Tuesday arrested some students, including girls, and a local journalist from a cyber cafe on the Peshawar University campus. The campus police arrested the students and the newsman, Mujeeb Khan, when they were busy in their routine work.
Later, they were released on the intervention of senior police officers. NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani has suspended the officials involved in the arrests - an ASI Mehr Ali and Head Constable Alamzaib. He was informed about the incident during his visit to the Peshawar Press Club on Tuesday evening. "

PSEB's Internship Project

PSEB has taken the initiative to act as the middle tier between the software industry and academic institutions. In the first phase, PSEB plans to place 1000 students from 75 different universities and institutions in the local software industry. The website has a listing of students who have done internships through them.

The project appears to be quite old but I recently got to know about it. By the way... Hi all!

Henry Olanga to release his music album online

Remeber Henry Olanga from the Zimbabwe cricket team, famous more for his wierd hairdos than his cricketing skill? Well what do you know...he's planning to start his music career sometime later this year now and will be releasing the tracks online.

:-)


Redemption song - [Sunday Herald]: "this engaging fellow, whose album of classical arias (and R�n�B) will be released via the internet this year, has a habit of hitting the right note, in contrast to those who have let Zimbabwe�s malady linger on. "

Interesting Infrastructure Stats

Please check out the bit on the Internet infrastructure stats: 1800 plus cities are now connected to the net...:-O....like hello? do we really have that number of cities in Pakistan to start with? Also is there a technical possiblity to estimate in real time, how many nodes are active at any given time all over Pakistan? All techies on board keep your suggestions flowing on this one please.


Hi Pakistan: "Telephone connections rose to 4.2 million

Teledensity in Pakistan has registered a stable growth over the past few years as fixed telephone connections have doubled from 2.4 million in 1996 to 4.2 million till February 2004, the Economic Survey 2003-04 said. "

At present, four companies are providing cellular mobile services in Pakistan like Mobilink, Paktel, Instaphone and Ufone. In 1999, there were only 0.2 million subscribers across the country but with the introduction of CPP regime (calling party pay) and Ufone entry into the cellular market, a sharp increase in the number of subscribers was observed resulting in a rise to 1.2 million in 2002. Currently there are a total of 3.7 million subscribers in Pakistan.

By the end of February 2004, the PTCL had deployed 5.05 million lines out of which 4.2 million were in service (a capacity utilization ratio of 84 per cent). The PTCL network has a 99.5 per cent digital switching system exchange, an optical fibre cable backbone, subsidiary routes, long distance media, digital radio systems, satellite communications and alternative arrangements with international gateway at Karachi and Islamabad.

Besides, a total of 1,812 cities, towns and villages have so far been provided with internet access. There are more than 1.6 million internet users across the country.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Microsoft South Gulf - Events - Microsoft PDC Launch � Pakistan

For anyone interested to learn about the coming Microsoft's PDC event to be held on the 15th, visit the above link

PSEB's Gaming conference

Finally tracked a URL for the Gaming conference I've been hearing about for the past one week. PSEB is apparently hosting a workshop for animation artists in efforts to create an industry here. No doubt, some one has been whispering the prospects of 'a $$$ billion multimedia industry in Pakistan' and this is one of the first (of last?) excercises to make the revolution see the light of day.

Worthwhile to mention where I tracked PSEB's press release from. A Linux blogger Always great to chance across Linux finds such as this. I discovered a nicer one for Red Hat a list of Pakistani LUGs.

2004-2005 Budget

There is now a 5 percent tax on computer parts. According to the govt. since computers are 'manufactured' here this will provide relief to the local computer manufacturers. Well, if they can call most of the local car assemblers manufacturers, and I presume bolting together a pc with 100% imported parts is also manufacturing. Impressively enough, the entire budget is online. I'm not sure if they also taxed software imports also.


The new budget is due tomorrow - how will it effect the IT sector? I hear they are going to be putting sales tax on computer parts. Does anyone have more information on this?

As it is, computer parts are already double and sometimes triple the US and Far East prices. T>o be fair, the Western market is massive, but we're located pretty close to China and Taiwan where most of the world's computer parts are made.

Update: The Business Recorder says that the new budget will tax the IT industry. I would link to the exact article but their website is impossible to navigate.

The Undead Zone - Why realistic graphics make humans look creepy. By Clive�Thompson

A nice read for all gaming buffs and digital artisits.


The Undead Zone - Why realistic graphics make humans look creepy. By Clive�Thompson: "In 1978, the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori noticed something interesting: The more humanlike his robots became, the more people were attracted to them, but only up to a point. If an android become too realistic and lifelike, suddenly people were repelled and disgusted.
The problem, Mori realized, is in the nature of how we identify with robots. When an android, such as R2-D2 or C-3PO, barely looks human, we cut it a lot of slack. It seems cute. We don't care that it's only 50 percent humanlike. But when a robot becomes 99 percent lifelike�so close that it's almost real�we focus on the missing 1 percent. We notice the slightly slack skin, the absence of a truly human glitter in the eyes. The once-cute robot now looks like an animated corpse. Our warm feelings, which had been rising the more vivid the robot became, abruptly plunge downward. Mori called this plunge 'the Uncanny Valley,' the paradoxical point at which a simulation of life becomes so good it's bad.
As video games have developed increasingly realistic graphics, they have begun to suffer more and more from this same conundrum. "

Urdu e-books

Kitaabghar is posting urdu e-books on their site. About 20 titles so far, and inviting people to submit their 'work' for consideration. Any 'zauk' wallas might want to stop by.

Pir Sahab Online

Remember Professor Nagee B.A. and his wall chalking all around Karachi claiming to get rid of demons from your households? Well he just met his match with Amil Professsor Syed Ali Shah who has just gone online and is also spamming everyone about his magical ways.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Dialup powered WiFi

I am trying to convince SMC (one of the major vendors of WiFi equipment) to sell one line of their WiFi AP in Pakistan that they have now stopped making because of very low demand in US. It's called SMC7004AWBR. The said WiFi AP has a dialup port so that one can connect it to a dialup ISP and extend that dialup connection via WiFi in and around the office/home space.

With broadband almost pervasive in NA, almost 100% of all WiFi routers assume a broadband connection and hence come with an Ethernet interface. If you want to use such an AP here in PK and aren't lucky to have a broadband at home/office, the only way to get going is to run a machine, connect it to an ISP and run some proxy/NATing software that keeps on breaking every now and then.

Apple makes an AP called Apple Airport that comes with a built-in modem and you just need to plug an RJ11 to the device to extend the dialup internet over the air in your home/office. The price of Airport is an mood tripping $450.

In Pakistan, where WiFi has arrived before broadband, WiFi APs with dialup support can get a lot of buyers and I am trying to explain just this to SMC. If they get the point (and the right numbers), we might have a good product that all of us can use at our places.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

PSO launches online ordering system

It's been reported that Pakistan State Oil (PSO), in collaboration with Citibank N.A. Pakistan, has launched a web-based Online Ordering System, the e-Marketplace, exclusively for PSO dealers who can now place orders on the Internet and make real-time payments for their product requirements.

This solution, the first of its kind in Pakistan, has been designed to communicate on real time to both PSO’s database and Citibank’s financial transaction settlement system. The solution facilitates complete order management and financial information.

It will help PSO dealers to view available oil products and their updated prices, prepare and submit orders for product requirement .

Select date and time of product delivery at the outlet, view real-time status and summary of orders and authorize payments to PSO through direct-debits, crossed cheques, credit facility extended by Citibank. PSO and Citibank have become pioneers of web-based Business-to-Business (B2B) online banking services in this part of the world.

PIA & e-ticketing

PIA would start e-ticketing across the world from September. According to the plan, tickets can be bought and the passenger name record (PNR) could be confirmed on the Internet.

Cybercafes and porn ruckus

As picked up by Salman.

"How a discussion gets derailed"
By Khalid Hussain

Hafiz Hussain Ahmad described the caf├ęs as prostitution dens. Surely
this was not the intent of the host who prepared the discussion. He
just stood there and let the discussion be taken out of his hands and
buried in nonsense. Hafiz Sahib then fell upon coeducation in Pakistan
while the mixed audience sat there like fools clearly cowed down by a
semi-literate Deobandi leader more powerful than the President of
Pakistan

Monday, June 07, 2004

Spiffy enough?

Thanks for the push Khalid ;~) Comments enabled for 'anyone'. *groans inwardly at spam bots

What do you think of this template? I ignored the maroon-version of the same look since it reminded me of a school uniform and hospitals. Had my finger on another chic template-Neon green top and white base. But I'll wait for your verdict.