Friday, July 30, 2004

Coming soon: Tech Talk on TV

A little bird tells me the Ministry of IT and Ufone are joining hands to roll out a 26-episode TV show imaginatively titled "Tech Talk" [Zaki, they stole our slug!]. Who's behind the scenes, Production Underground from Lahore. More when ITCN Asia comes to town and I get to see the team with me own eyes.

Jobs?

Received an email from "LUMS Research Team" requesting IT professionals to fill out a survey Other than get an idea about what kind of salary figures prevail in the industry, this excercise is determing 'Pakistan's case for outsourcing'.

I peeled off the URL and went to Rozee.com.pk Nice website! No About Us page :~( Other jobs related websites I googled out: Jobshejobs.com;Jobjinn.com [not operational anymore];Final Job; Tip Top Job; Pakistan Jobs and Employment

One of the better mailing list I'm subscribed to: PAK-Jobs-IT

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Cash-on-delivery & E-Letters

Anyone knows of websites offering Cash on delivery option for payment? I know Liberty Books, eAdab,
and Awami Markaz ['study notes'] are offering the service for Karachi.

On a sidenote: I wonder how many people actually utilize Pakistan Post's E-Letter Service
If you can send your rant on a post card or a letter to:

Pakistan Post E-Letter Centre,
E.Post Division Post Infotech
Post Mall,
F-7 Markaz,
Islamabad-44000

Then
wasim@pakpost.gov.pk will email it on your behalf to a 'loved one' abroad. Lets see if his email address still works.

Cyber terrorism

Computer Crime Research Center reports: "John Hamre, Deputy Secretary of Defense (1997-1999) said that on [Al Qaeda's] laptops, which they had got our hands on, there had been all these probing of sites dealing with programming of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and control of SCADA systems within electrical and other power company scenarios.

Osama bin Laden showed the importance of Internet to him when he created an original hacker school at the faculty of electronics in his university. This importance is also displayed by introduction of cyber university in Pakistan to study these SCADA systems controlling water distribution networks, dams, gas and oil pipelines and nuclear power plants." Would anyone know which cyber university is this report talking about?

HEC to establish internet access for UET Peshawar

the Daily Times reports: "The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has decided to establish a network of internet terminals for the NWFP University of Engineering and Technology in Peshawar. The Departmental Development Working Party approved a Rs 35 million project in its meeting on Monday. The main objective of the project is to establish a university intranet that will include all its officials, departments, hostels, remote campuses and affiliated colleges as a part of network that will not only communicate and interact amongst themselves, but will also link universities all over Pakistan. Such a set-up will automate offices as well as improve the academics of the university. The project will also benefit the general public in terms of getting remote access to UET Peshawar for information."

Dubai's new export: the Internet City

Dubai is taking : "its development record one step further: It is exporting its experience.
What's being taken abroad to countries such as India, Pakistan, Iran, Malta, New Zealand, South Africa and Central Asian nations, is the concept of the 'Internet City'. In deals signed recently by Dubai with some of these countries, large campuses will be built to house some of the world's best-known technology brands - such as Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Siemens, IBM, Logica, Canon, Cisco, Sun Microsystems and Sony.
The central objective of the Internet City is to establish tax-free economic zones. In Dubai, for example, foreign companies together employ nearly 20,000 people from 185 countries on a bucolic campus. Together, they constitute the world's largest IT tax-free zone, from which they re- export their information and communications technology. Their location in Dubai enables them to target a regional population of 1.8 billion people in some 50 countries with a combined gross domestic product of US$1.6 trillion (S$2.8 trillion)."

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Infrastructure

The project site where I am working these days is located near Pattoki only 1.5 kilometers from Karachi-Peshawar National Highway in the rural hinterland of Punjab. It is an industrial hub and the PTCL landlines are there. Pattoki town that has a claim to an international fame due to flower nurseries already can boast of the Internet service. But what surprised me was that it is not possible to connect to the Internet and go online just about 20 kilometers outside the town.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Musharraf's statement

Our dear Musharaf told Intel wallas that: "Pakistan has a fast-growing market for computer and other information technology related products, saying economic measures and policies have resulted in an investment-friendly environment in the country." No word on piracy there.

Pakistan has tightened Internet surveillance: RSF

Daily Times reports: "The current government has stepped up regulation of Internet usage for a crack down on access to pornography and enforcement of tighter security online, according to the recent report �The Internet Under Surveillance 2004� published by the France-based organisation Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF)."

SMEs To Be Provided with Export Information Access Facilities

: "As a practical support to develop export business, the Export Promotion Bureau will initiate a project to extend facilities of internet connectivity, computers and printers to the country's Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). "

Punjab Governor initiates Project

Daily Times reports: the Punjab "Governor kicks off project to link universities to workplaces"

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Govt. broadband policy roll out on August 14?

Once again, the Pakistan government is going to take a whack at creating a internet policy. Let's see what they cook up in August. Any suggestions? What should they be aiming at?

On the flip side: You know, most countries seem to get by just fine without any govt. broadband policies. It would probably be cheaper for local isp's to get together and spend the 50-100 million dollars or so it'll take to lay a undersea cable once and for all and just do away with the ridiculous fees they pay currently to ptcl and for satellite internet. that would make an interesting analysis...

Interesting factoid: A typical university dorm in the West at one of the better places has many many many many many times the bandwidth of Pakistan. And if you wander into their labs, a single pc there is going to have more than Pakistan's bandwidth also! (at least a single pc connected to the Internet2).

See Broadband Policy - What's Worth Looking For.

Also see this google search.

90 Billion$!

New Scientist reports: "Internet gambling is a lucrative and rapidly growing business and some estimates suggest $90 billion will be bet online in 2004 globally."

Friday, July 23, 2004

Communication City Planned in Islamabad

The government has declared that: "A communication city will be established in Islamabad to provide all infrastructure facilities to IT, telecommunication and media companies to promote the export of information technology products." However no time frame or date has been announced. Let's hope this plan doesn't meet the same disasterous fate as the national IT parks did.

Pakistani Players Don't know How 2 Use the NET!

It's been reported that the Pakistani players participating for the Int'l Satellite Circuit Tennis Championship dont know how to use the net. : "Most of the Pakistani players are unfamiliar with Internet and Fax and they have not registered their names and filled the forms. "

FrontPage magazine.com :: Symposium: The Muslim Convert by Jamie Glazov

Read this interesting discussion on faith conversions. It deals with the conversions of people from Christianity to Islam, Islam to Christianity and Islam to the Jewish faith. The personalities discussed are: "Thomas Haidon, an American lawyer who was raised in the Catholic faith but converted to Islam.
Nonie Darwish, a US citizen of Arab origin, a former Muslim born and raised in Cairo, Egypt and the Gaza Strip. She converted to Christianity ten years ago. and

Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist who has become an ardent Zionist and an evangelical Christian."

Buy computers through your Phone Bills?

the PakTribune reports: "Federal Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari Thursday constituted a committee comprising officials of the ministry and Intel Corporation to prepare recommendations for the promotion of computer literacy in the country.
He took the step following a meeting with Mr John Davies, vice president & general manager solutions group at Intel Corporation, who met the minister to discuss ways 'to best use technologies to transform business processes and increase the competitiveness of the country'.
Kamil Hasan, country manager of Intel Corporation Pakistan, Federal IT Secretary Khalid Saeed, Pakistan Software Export Board MD Dr Amir Matin and other officials of the ministry were also present in the meeting.
The minister directed the committee to submit its recommendations to him within a week to roll out a scheme for provision of computers at affordable rates to the people. Under the scheme, country's telecom provider PTCL will provide a facility, which will enable any of its subscribers to buy a computer and repay the installment through monthly phone bills.
The minister told the delegation the scheme will initially be launched for government servants and employees of affiliated corporations and at a subsequent stage university and college students would also be incorporated. 'We believe this single step will dramatically increase the penetration of PC ownership within the country besides generating tremendous growth in the computer literacy.
He said PTCL would also provide Internet connectivity to users of this scheme to access Internet at affordable rates.
Earlier John Davies shared with the minister the experiences of Intel in promoting widespread compute literacy and PC ownership in 18 countries around the globe. He said various models had been adopted in"

Incentives in the Trade Policy 2004-2005

Daily Times reports: "As practical support to develop export business, EPB will initiate a project to extend facilities of internet-connectivity, computers and printers to SMEs. This will be done through business support centers to be located in existing Export Information and Advisory Centers in industrial and commercial cities like Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi, Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Quetta and internet cafes to provide access to business enterprises to browse commercial intelligence or data on the world-wide web. Access to such export information shall also be provided in a user-friendly manner for foreign customers at five star hotels."

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Global CD piracy trade tops $4.5 billion

Music piracy pricetag: $4.5 billion : "Study: Over 1 billion illegally copied CDs sold in 2003; 1 in 3 discs purchased was pirated.More than one out of every three music compact discs bought by consumers in 2003 was pirated, according to global trade body the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

And at $4.5 billion, the pirated music market represents nearly 15 percent of the worth of the global record music market, the IFPI estimated.

The IFPI named its top ten offending countries in its annual report, including G8 member Russia and Spain, the only European Union entry on the list.

Other perennial hot spots on this year's list were Brazil, China, Taiwan, Ukraine, Thailand, Mexico, Paraguay, and first-time entry Pakistan, which replaced Poland.

"

The Seer

Finally, I know a little bit more about Wired's fantastic illustrator. Meet Kenn Brown on Shift.com.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Not Even 100 Million$s

Shaukat Aziz has been saying this: "Other South Asian countries earn billions of dollars from information technology but we do not even earn a hundred million dollars, in fact it is between $ 10 to $ 15 million."

Software Piracy

Software Piracy Report:: "Software piracy rates have crept up, and software makers are losing sleep because the problem is worst in regions with the highest market growth.



Take China and India for instance. While the IT markets in these two countries are growing at a blistering 20%�five times the rate in the developed world�piracy rates are also sky-high at 92% and 73% respectively.

These figures top the Asia-Pacific average piracy rate of 53%, and are more than double the worldwide average of 36%.

The losses sustained by software vendors in China and India are staggering. They amounted to US$3.82 billion and US$367 million respectively last year, and are a sizeable chunk of the worldwide loss of US$28.79 billion.

These results are based on a Business Software Alliance (BSA)-commissioned IDC survey, which covered business software applications, operating systems, consumer software and local market software.

Other Asia-Pacific countries which made it to the hit list�s top 20 are Vietnam (92%), Indonesia (88%), Pakistan (83%), and Thailand (80%). "

Fiber Optic Link with India

the Daily Times reports that: "Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, federal minister for IT and telecom, has said the government is currently holding talks with India to establish a dedicated fibre link between the two countries.“Both the sides have shown concerns on security-related issues,” Mr Leghari told Daily Times from Islamabad. “Both the sides have these concerns but at our end, we are working internally at various levels to resolve these matters.”
Emerging telecom industry in the country sees the fibre link with India, if materialises, as a major breakthrough that would benefit the industry to run cost effective operations. “We still have telephonic linkage with Indian via satellite and Internet,” said V A Abidi, secretary general of Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK).

Mr Abidi said the proposed fibre link with India would benefit the local industry, which is about to take off in the wake of telecom deregulation.

“It would definitely have a cost effective impact on the operations of long distance international (LDI) companies,” he added.
"

German police track September 11 suspect to Pakistan

German police track September 11 suspect to Pakistan: "
A GERMAN-MOROCCAN fugitive allegedly involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks has been sending email messages from Pakistan to his wife in Germany, according to a report to be published today.
The German news magazine Focus says in its latest edition German police have traced Internet messages from Said Bahiji from Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan.
The report, which does not quote sources, says investigators have intercepted 14 email messages between March and the beginning of July. " Although it may seem very technical, tracing back emails to individuals is quite a simple process. Check out the Nov 2003 cover story of SPIDER for the technical details.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Will US$5b make mobile calls cheaper in PK?

Why are mobile charges so costly? Our SMS rates are extremely economical but roaming is sky high.

While watching BBC's report on Asian business, I saw about 20 mins on India followed by a 2 minute bulletin annoucing Telenor's US$5b investment in Pakistan. I've heard Telenor might be taking help from Nokia to expand their network. Not confirming this for now.

Century's LDI put off

PTA is playing tit for tat with its Indian counterpart TRAI. 'Agar aap nay kissi pakistani company ko licence nahi diya, tu hum bhi nahi dain gay'--is my guess ;~)

The Daily Times story on Century's [Cybernet owners] LDI licence blues has the official details.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Communities for developers?

I came across Asian Open Source Center which links to Pakistan. I saw the usual suspects for Linux Pakistan there [just a joke, no offence please!].

CGExpanse for digital artists created recently.

Is it that we don't have developer communities from Pakistan or do I simply not know about them?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Long Distance International licenses offered

PTA has offered LDI licenses to 19 players, domestic and foreign. From the press release issued yesterday:

"The companies qualified for the grant of LDI licenses included M/s.AG Telecom, M/s.ARY Communication (Pvt) Ltd, M/s.Bestel Communication (Pvt) Ltd, M/s.Burraq Telecom, M/s.Callmate Telips Telecom Ltd, M/s.Circle Net Comm, M/s.Dancom, M/s.DV Com, M/s.Link Direct Int’l, M/s.Micro Tech Links (Pvt) Ltd, M/s.Redtone Telecommunication (Pvt) Ltd, M/s.Spell Telecom, M/s.Telecard, M/s.Telecom Development (Pvt) Ltd, M/s.Telenor, M/s.Utel Pak Ltd, M/s.Warid Telecom, M/s.Wise Communication (Pvt) Ltd and M/s.Worldcall Telecom."

"Chairman PTA Major General (Retd) Shahzada Alam Malik said that the Authority had made all preparations to grant LDI licenses to the concerned parties in July provided they fulfilled the condition of submitting Performance Bond of US$10 million each as laid down in the Information Memorandum. The Chairman said that the Authority had given 30 days to the successful companies to remit the requisite Performance Bond fee to expedite the process of issuing LDI licenses. The term of the licenses would be for 20 years. He said that the companies applying for LL licenses involving Wireless Local Loop (WLL) service, auction for the allocation of spectrum would be held between July 13-19, 2004."

Monday, July 05, 2004

Google seeks expert computer scientists

Scientific American's latest issue carries a cute box ad about Google's search for 'great people'. Jobs in Santa Monica and New York.

Goodluck?

Got Gmail? Get spammed for invites

As of last month: I've received around a dozen spam emails requesting that the sender be sent a Gmail invite. This one is 'creative':

-------
From: Hassan Latif
Date: Fri, 25 Jun 2004 15:47:55 +0500
Subject: hi
Well I guess I'm gonna get busted but anyway..... can you send me a google invitation if you have one? Ok now I'm gonna close my eyez.
bye
-------

The rest are simply: 'hi i noticed you have a gmail account. can you please send me an invitation?'

Any one else meeting same issues with their accounts? The senders are all local names: 'sana', 'saima', etc.

Wired tracks win cash email hoax

Thanks to Isa. The July issue carries a story on the oldest hoax around: forward this email to 20 fans and win cash from Bill Gates. Worth a read.

"None of the recipients reported earnings. But in the dozens of responses, I received a windfall all my own: I stumbled upon the Internet equivalent of a perpetual motion machine. Here was a hoax that had been in circulation since 1997, laden with factual improbabilities and logical contradictions, widely reviled and frequently debunked yet thriving on a Net strewn with spam and other causes of universal cynicism..."

Online Drugs

According to the U.S. General Accounting Office: ", drugs bought online from other countries - including Argentina, Spain, Thailand, Pakistan and Turkey - are more likely to contain harmful substances or inadequate instructions than those purchased in the United States or Canada. Last month, the GAO released a study about online drug sales."

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Musharaf for Better Fiber Optic Connectivity

An Indian news channel reports that: "Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was keenly interested in improving communication links with India and was also keen on fibre connectivity, Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran, said today.
Maran, who arrived here from Bangkok after participating in the Asia Pacific Telecommunity ministerial conference, told reporters that during his meeting Musharraf had shown keeness in improving relations between the two countries."

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Microsoft confirms security issue with IE

Download.Ject is the newest threat to the users of Internet Explorer. Not sure exactly what the fuss is all about, but Microsoft has put up a number of actions for home and enterprise users to ensure protection.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Citi banking online

Citibank Pakistan launches online banking
: ", the banking facility which uses the Internet to give customers direct access to a complete range of bank facilities.

Customers can access Citibank online at www.citibank.com.pk from most desktops or laptops linked to the internet, wherever they may be Citibank online allows customers to view their account details and statements online, said a press release issued here on Wednesday.

They can pay credit card and utility bills online and transfer funds between their accounts at Citibank Pakistan. Customers can also obtain updated deposit and exchange rates, make payments from their accounts, redeem reward points on credit cards and send queries online to customer service."