Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Google Offers a Bird's-Eye View, and Some Governments Tremble

The New York Times carried this story about several governments becoming jittery at the thought of what Google Earth can freely provide. Excerpts from the article say:

India, whose laws sharply restrict satellite and aerial photography, has been particularly outspoken. "It could severely compromise a country's security," V. S. Ramamurthy, secretary in India's federal Department of Science and Technology, said of Google Earth. And India's surveyor general, Maj. Gen. M. Gopal Rao, said, "They ought to have asked us."

India may be particularly sensitive to security issues because of its long-running border disputes with Pakistan, its rival nuclear power, and recurring episodes of terrorism. Since 1967, it has forbidden aerial photographs of bridges, ports, refineries and military establishments, and outside companies and agencies are required to have those images evaluated by the government. High-resolution satellite photos face similar restrictions in India, which has its own sophisticated satellite imaging program.

----

P.S. I'm the only one posting to this blog. Is anyone reading...?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Earthquake Footage from CCTV Camera

Google Video has a clip from the closed-circuit tv cameras that shows what happened inside the office of LMKR Islamabad when the earthquake happened.

Pakistan to have Root Name Server Mirror

Business Recorder reports that CyberNet will host the first "root name server" in Pakistan. The Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre, alongwith the Internet Systems Consortium coordinated the deployment with CyberNet. The root name server will improve DNS resolution times, and thus improve Internet access.

For more information on Root Name Servers, please read "DNS Root Name Servers Explained For Non-Experts" written by the Internet Society.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Humain Bhi Koi Poochay Ga?

Intel Plans $1 billion India Investment
BBC Story
CNN Story

And then one day later...

Microsoft invests $1.7 billion in India
BBC Story
CNN Story

Friday, December 09, 2005

Bill Gates launches hunt for top Indian student geeks
BANGALORE, India, Dec 9 (AFP) Microsoft chairman Bill Gates launched Friday a talent hunt for India's top student technologists and urged developers to cash in on the digital age. Addressing more than 5,000 developers at the grounds of a historic palace here in India's high-tech capital, Gates said the search dubbed "Code 4 Bill" recognised India's role in nurturing technical talent.
"This is something we have never done before anywhere," Gates said. "It is aimed at pre-final and final year students. The best amongst the participants will get an opportunity to work with my Technical Assistants Team for a year. "I will get to know them. I am very excited about this," he said.
Registrations for the contest will start in January 2006 and students will be tested for their technical and analytical skills. They will also be interviewed by Microsoft technical teams. "Twenty selected students will also intern with Microsoft India before the final selection," Gates said.
India's software industry clocked revenues of more than 17 billion dollars in the last fiscal year to March 2005 and is driven by a large pool of skilled professionals working for almost one-seventh the salaries of their counterparts in the United States.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

New cable link b/w UAE-PK

[WAM News agency reports] Emirates Telecommunications & Marine Services FZE- e-marine- a subsidiary of Etisalat, has announced the completion of a new submarine cable connecting UAE and Pakistan, branching to Oman. The project to lay over 1200 kms of submarine cable, awarded to e-marine by Tyco and owned by Trans World Associates (TWA), Pakistan, was completed ahead of planned schedule. Read the news item here.

Friday, December 02, 2005

PK and Iran linking via fiber optic

Pakistan and Iran have decided to establish a working group to address any operational problems ahead of building an optic fiber link between the two countries within the next one year. The decision was taken during a meeting between Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari and Iran's deputy communication minister Kamal Mohamedpour here on Thursday.

The two countries have also decided exchange expertise and technical know-how in the area of telecom training for which officials from the both countries would visit each other to view the status of training facilities and find ways to further coordination and cooperation. Read more here: http://www.iranian.ws/iran_news/publish/article_11238.shtml

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

'Vignettes from Tunis': Bytesforall is at WSIS

BytesforAll team Frederick Noronha, Partha Sarker and Shahzad Ahmad are reporting on the World Summit on the Information Society.

The APC blog is your front row seat to the event where our friends are blogging as well. Partha is podcasting here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Whose Mind Do You Want to Read Today?

Yes, the blogging world is now after 'attention'. And it is in this connection that the RSS hype is now being followed by the Reading Lists. From Dave Winer's Blog:

"Reading lists are OPML documents that point to RSS feeds, like most of the OPML documents you find, but instead of subscribing to each feed in the document, the reader or aggregator subscribes to the OPML document itself. When the author of the OPML document adds a feed, the aggregator automatically checks that feed in its next scan, and (key point) when a feed is removed, the aggregator no longer checks that feed. THe editor of the OPML file can update all the subscribers by updating the OPML file. Think of it as sort of a mutual fund for subscriptions."


Reading Lists is a great idea but it makes me think if we will ever be left with enough opinion/technology leaders whose mind we could read & follow through their published reading lists?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Etisalat CEO Resigns

Information & Technology Publishing ran a story a few days ago about Obaid Saied Bin Mes’har (CEO of Etisalat International) handing in his resignation. He had been heading Etisalat International since it was established in March 2005.

ITP claims that while Etisalat is yet to release any official statement about Bin Mes'har's resignation, there is a suggestion that his departure might be linked to the failure of the Etisalat-PTCL deal.

The Daily Times, however, claims in this article that Etisalat has been given yet another two weeks to pay the remaining money -- and other news media have reported that Etisalat wants to raise some of the money from Pakistani banks, to lower their risk and investment.

WLL Companies vs. Cellular Companies

The Daily Times reports that DVCOM and other WLL licensees have filed a case in the Lahore High Court, demanding that their WLL license fees be returned.

The tussle is between the new WLL providers and the new and existing cellular companies. PTA is trying to restrict WLL mobility because of pressure from cellular companies. (If a WLL phone can used just like a cellular phone, and is cheaper, then the cellular companies will lose market share.)

A similar situation arose in India a while back, and the Indian telecom authorities did restrict WLL mobility so that cellular companies don't get hurt. Our WLL providers should stop whining and realize that they are supposed to provide a service meant to replace (and compete with) landlines -- not a service meant to replace (or compete with) cell phones.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Google Desktop 2.0

Google Desktop 2.0 is finally out of the beta. My favorite list which previously included the ‘To Do’ panel has now two more members: Quick Launch (which I call windows ‘start button’ on steroids and done just the right way) and Dictionary Panel. However, the find-of-the-day panel is DNKA which allows me to set up a machine in my workplace where all of my team members can dump the official documents and we can then use the GDS search to find files from that server off our respective PCs browsers. The freeware panel is just the right thing that is needed by busy teams to get them to the right documents and needed information quickly.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Flock is out!

Flock is out! The promised social-phenomenon-to-be is still in its beta. But I hope it will impact the audience of this space. Some quick-and-dirty review is already here.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

World Bank consortium launches Web Portal to update quake damages and relief operation

The World Bank (WB) on Thursday launched an information-sharing web portal on Pakistan quake relief activities and related Information Systems for Earthquakes (RISE). The Web-Portal has been prepared in collaboration of academics, research and policy makers of US and Pakistan universities, multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations and various government departments. It includes information about 727 villages of Muzaffarabad District and (387 of Tehsil) while 494 villages of Mansehra District(258 of Tehsil) in the largely rural North Frontier Province (NWFP) and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) in Pakistan. The portal will operate while using most recent portal technology to integrate demographic, geographical and satellite images searchable at village level and overlaid with distances from major roads and epicenter. It will continuously update information received via fax, phone, text-massaging and through www.risepak.com during 8 hours turn around.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sue, Sue, Sue Google

More people want a piece of the $$$$ pie.
 
The Authors Guild on Tuesday filed a class action lawsuit against search engine Google, alleging that its scanning and digitizing of library books constitutes a "massive" copyright infringement. 
 

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Future for Microsoft

BusinessWeek's latest issue has a cover story on Microsoft.

The first story talks about how and why Microsoft is in trouble, given that numerous Microsoft employees (such as Kai-Fu Lee) have left for Google or other tech companies. It also mentions how employees are getting disgruntled and how two senior researchers have said that a "crisis is imminent" within the company.

The second story is a Q&A with Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO. He shrugs off concerns about Microsoft being bureaucratic, and says that employee morale is pretty much at an all-time high.

The third story is a Q&A with "Mini-Microsoft" -- a Microsoft employee whose anonymous blog has become very popular within the company. "Mini" is trying to rally support to change things at Microsoft.

This cover story is definitely worth reading!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

State of e-governance in Pk

The Centre for Civic Education (CCE), with support from the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), released a report on the state of e-governance in Pakistan after conducting a thorough web watch exercise of six official and six political party websites, during the August 15 to September 15 peak local body elections period. Their verdict? E-governance still in fluid state.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

More Google News

This past week, Google has been interconnecting a lot of its affiliates with Google - Orkut users now have to login via their Gmail address, and Google's just launched the Google Blog Search, a search box to it has also been provided on the main page - Yahoo for Google! ;)

What does Google have up its sleeve?

Google has recently hired on two serious big-wigs in the tech industry.

The first is Kai-Fu Lee, former vice-president at Microsoft. Microsoft in turn sued him and Google for violation of a non-compete agreement that Lee had signed when he became a VP. But as CNN/Money reported yesterday in this piece, the ruling judge cleared the way for Lee to be hired at Google as long as he does not work on projects that might relate to confidential information that he acquired while at Microsoft. He probably still is a very useful catch for Google.

The other is Vint Cerf. As BBC reports in this article, Cerf has been called the "father of the internet" for his pioneering work that he did to create what was Arpatech. As the Chief Evangelist, Cerf will be working on new applications and worry about what direction to take the net in... He will still remain the Chairman of ICANN.

So the multi-billion dollar question is...what tricks does Google have up its sleeve? What rabbit will Google pull out of its magic hat?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

PTCL charging ISPs 15% CED, violating CBR rules

I nearly missed this new one from Imran Ayub at Daily Times: "In a recent move, the ISPs have approached the Central Board of Revenue, disclosing that the PTCL has been charging 15 percent CED on the broadband DSL service, violating the CBR rules and the government policy." Read the entire news item here: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_30-8-2005_pg5_1

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Musharraf sees bright future for IT. Do you?

DAWN, The News, and Business Recorder have stories in today's paper about how President Musharraf sees a bright future for IT and Telecom in Pakistan.

How bright do you think it is...?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

15% GST on computer parts !!!

Just as I have been waiting for the prices on my killer graphics card to go down, yippee, the government hikes the prices up.

The tax-free prices were a welcome and should have remained so. So far computer parts were not what exactly what I call cheap but some how affordable.

First the government announces tax-reliefs in the budget 05-06, public goes happy, government realizes loses in revenues in tax cut, government resorts back to old dirty tricks......... ;)

Where's ma piggy bank, oh shit, I am still Rs. 1557.75 short. If save Rs. 1 a day how long will it take me to.......

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What's with Vista!

It's been some time since "Longhorn" the successor to Windows XP has been officially named Windows Vista.

I ponder does 'Vista' sound catchy or has M$ got a blooper on their hands? Though, the logo turns out to be pretty flashy.

MSDN subscribers can download the Beta right away. I'll try to get my hands on it for a preview for our lovely mag and readers of Spider ;)

This is why you should never use AutoComplete...

BBC has a story which reports a very serious ID theft scam that was uncovered very recently. Using a Trojan, all information from Internet Explorer's Web Form AutoComplete was extracted -- given the perpetrators access to usernames, passwords, credit cards, bank accounts, and potentially anything else that was accessed with IE using a form.

Don't ever use AutoComplete, and don't ever save any passwords locally on your machine!

Google to launch IM

CNN reports in this article, that Google is going to launch their own Instant Messenger, called "Google Talk" very shortly. It will be a full-featured messenger, supporting voice as well as text. Using Jabber as their platform, Google Talk will interact with ICQ and iChat.

This should mean that it is compatible with AIM also (or so I think), but the article doesn't say that. For obvious reasons, it will not be compatible with MSN... :-)

Update: Google Talk has been released!

Friday, August 05, 2005

PTCL's Games.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Company has agreed to pay damages for the losses during the 11-day Internet disruption due to a fault in a key submarine cable in June, but said it would compensate only the Internet service providers.

In a recent development, top PTCL officials held a meeting with the ISPs representatives, but said the compensation would not match the claims made by the operators.

Read the entire story here.

The statement that PTCL will not be paying the full amount of claims of losses made by ISPs is disturbing, to put it mildly. PTCL screws up, makes businesses suffer losses to the tune of millions of rupees, and boldly claims it will not compensate the companies. How very nice of them.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Top 10 web fads

CNet has a listing of the top 10 fads ever. Bring back memories, don't they? Or you have any of your own craze?

Hampsterdance
Mahir All your base are belong to us
Dancing baby
Hot or not
Friendster
Ellen Feiss 3
Star Wars kid
Blogger
JibJab

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Good find: Many-to-many

MANY-TO-MANY: A useful group weblog on social software. See: http://www.corante.com/many/

Courtesy: SA-IT List and Fred@BytesForAll.
 

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dailytimes site hacked

The dailytimes site was hacked today... the message on the site read "hacK3d bY ic3d r0s3
security is ~~ :) This is the end beautiful friend. This is the end my only friend".....

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Pakistan cut off from world by under-sea cable fault

Pakistan's Internet and cell phone links with the rest of the world were severed Tuesday by a fault in a key submarine cable that engineers said could take two weeks to repair. Millions of people were affected by the breakdown in the main fibre-optic link beneath the Arabian Sea 35 kilometers south of Karachi, which was detected late Monday, officials and Internet service providers said. The complex repair work may require a complete shut down, potentially causing disruption in India, the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and Oman, which are also linked to the damaged cable, officials said. "This is a highly sophisticated operation and only specialised companies can undertake such a delicate task under the sea," Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) chief engineer Shahid Ahmed said. "Pakistan has no such ability." The cable is owned by a consortium of 92 countries with Singtel of Singapore acting as its operating agents. "We are holding a multilateral conference to fix the problem and asked Singtel to arrange for the rectification of the fault," Ahmed said. He said Singtel has appointed E-Marine, a UAE-based company, to fix the fault. They had dispatched a ship which may take 18 to 24 hours to reach the site, he added.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

'Open Source Adoption' conference

Karachi June 25: PSEB is hosting a conference on Open Source Adoption where international and local experts from Government, Banks, Corporate Sector and Software Houses have been invited to discuss and share their experiences to help you achieve true leverage from Open Source.
 
Registration open to business professionals from the private and public sector. For invitations, please fax your Business Card to 051-9204075 or hosman@pseb.org.pk

Monday, June 13, 2005

Pakistan Technology News

Pakistan Technology News (XML feed) is a forum targetted exclusively toward news related to the Pakistan technology frontier.

It aims to keep its readers informed and up-to-date with current developments in the Pakistan technology landscape. Its fate depends on its user community so your participation is highly encouraged.

Macintosh: Intel Inside

This year at the WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference), Steve Jobs had very interesting news to share:

“When we look at future roadmaps, mid-2006 and beyond, we see PowerPC gives us 15 units of performance per watt, but Intel’s roadmap gives us 70. And so this tells us what we have to do,”
Jobs explained.

“Starting next year, we will introduce Macs with Intel processors,” said Jobs. “This time next year, we plan to ship Macs with Intel processors. In two years, our plan is that the transition will be mostly complete, and will be complete by end of 2007.”

The new OS X versions for x86 will be dubbed "Marklar".

Apparently Apple did consider IBM, but IBM already has its hands full with a contract for making XBox console chips and revamping some of its assembly plants for the next 2 years for its future investment in cell processors.

More interestingly though, Jobs claimed they have been compiling Mac OS X on PowerPC and Intel for the past 5 years in the Apple labs.

Other surprises included Theo Gray, cofounder of Mathematica who claimed porting the application from OS X to Marklar took only 20 lines of code. Mathematica is an ideal example since it relies heavily on ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit), the crux of any processor.

There is also an emulation layer called Rosetta which runs existing Power PC apps on Marklar making the initial transition quick and smooth. Emulation layers are inherintly slow, however, so time will prove if Rosetta can live up to it's name.

Some in the Mac community are prematurely enraged by this and this may even slow down sales of their existing Macs amongst the geeks. Further, this bizzare twist of events means that all the time Microsoft has been developing Microsoft Office for Macintosh, will now actually backfire on their strategy (to get Apple users familiar with the MS environment and lure them toward Windows) and prove to be a big plus for users to migrate over to Macintosh since they can still retain their Office environment (spreadsheets, word processor and email software). Microsoft's Roz Ho who took the stage after Jobs, affirmed they will continue to work together on Office. Whack! Maybe Microsoft feels their .NET platform will take them to the next level and that might be understandable as the OS and Office markets are already stagnated (Office 2005's biggest competitor for example is older versions of Office. Same for most the OS and other products which have already matured and aren't adding much value with subsequent releases).

This will also undermine efforts within the linux community to write a GUI for linux architectures as the OS X on Intel will now fill that void.

It will also mean that Apple won't be cashing in as much on it's proprietory hardware architecture and design but they have plans to disallow their OS to run on just any x86 hardware (this lock-in will likely be circumvented by hardware hackers within the first few weeks, if not months). Further, Apple has never faced much piracy of their OS because it came bundled with hardware; in contrast there are likely more pirated versions of Microsoft than there are legitimate ones which has plagued Microsoft for a few years as they have had to support illegitimate software (which is also the cause for a lot of security issues as unsupported, unpatched machines get infected first and plague the others). As Mac breaks out of the shell and hits the mainstream non-hippie, average Joe they will be in for a culture shock.

Other interesting reactions will be those from current PC Harware assemblers like Dell, if they can react at all--currently their fate relies heavily on the sale of MS Windows.

This might even be leeway for Apple to squeeze into the cellphone market (which might explain why they initially had talks with IBM who is investing in cell processor plants). The landscape will take a very interesting shape in the upcoming years.

I have never wanted to drop a couple grand just so I could experience a one-button Mac. The investment was too risky--if I didn't like the Mac what was I or any other user to do? Mac has never had the concept of a Demo version but that is about to change. How do you feel about this (as a PC or Apple user)? Got your own speculations or insights you would like to share?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Night vigil with 'gaali' music

Just came across this interesting article at the times of india site: "HYDERABAD: Apart from the snazzy accent, confident diction and good communication skills, call centre executives can do with an ability to endure an earful of swear words every day at work.For customers can give free rein to their vocabulary from their secure distance. And Indophobia inching higher in the west over the loss of jobs, call centre conversations can turn nasty once the caller discerns from the accent that he is talking to an Indian. "Hearing gaalis (abuse) are part of our job. If you cannot handle them, you can't work here," says the HR manager of a call centre. Agents say four-letter words are casually flung by many US customers. Some of the abuses are not part of what they teach you in accent training classes. Not being familiar with the street language of Tacoma, Texas, call centre executive can be left baffled by some of their conversations, sometimes not even knowing whether one has been sworn at. " read full article here. Anyone here in pk got nasty stories to share with us from a call center?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Claim of 10.5m cellphone subscribers misleading

DAWN reports today: "The number of mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan is much lesser than 10.5 million as being claimed by cell phone companies and relevant quarters. The figure, in fact, reflects the collective sale of SIMs (connections) and not the number of subscribers. Analysts in the cellphone industry, while talking to APP, also questioned the claim of phenomenal growth of 110 per cent over the past 10 months."

Friday, May 20, 2005

Really?

Just came across this news item in a news agency: "KARACHI, May 20 (APP): International film, music and software producers on Friday commended the Pakistan government for taking urgently-needed actions to curb the mass-scale violation of copyright. "Pakistan is showing that it takes seriously the need to address its severe levels of copyright piracy," said a joint press statement issued here by the senior representatives of International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI), Business Software Alliance (BSA) and Motion Picture Association (MPA). "We applaud the Pakistan government efforts for strongly protecting the intellectual property of the musicians, film makers and software developers and believe these will benefit the country," the three international groups unanimously said. The response follows administrative reforms and strict enforcement actions announced by the government in recent weeks. Pakistan Intellectual Property Rights Organization (PIPRO) has been created to oversee copyright, trademark and patent protection issues, while the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested nine persons and confiscated more than 400,000 pirated CDs, DVDs and audio cassettes, besides 10,000 Master Discs (stampers) and closing down six illegal optical disc plants around Karachi."
How come I'm still able to buy the pirated goodies from the shops right across the streets in Karachi even now?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Let's talk telecom...or so they say

Attended a 'dialogue' about Telecom in Islamabad today. True to tradition, the organizers had no clue about the need for AN agenda.

It was as bland as the title suggested: A Dialogue on Telecom Scenario. So much information, so much hype, so much money and so many talking heads yet there is no concept of orchestrating a public speaking forum. The panel consisted of our IT Minister, mighty IT secretary, a cell company CEO, MD PTV and the sponsor newspaper's editors. Each guest spoke for 10-20 minutes starting with "history of telecom"--the editors majorly mixed up their IT with their telecom [always a BIG blunder!] and moving on to issues cellular companies are facing today.

Telecom in Pakistan? I see lots: PTCL, poor customer service, lack of superb HR, regulatory issues, landlines, wirless, cellular [and not only cellular], VoIP, the Internet....so why was the discussion so narrow and cliched?

Questions from the audience? Miserable. Gentleman to Minister, "I have a specific question for the Minister....[breaks into 10 minute monologue about how soon we will push a button to transport from Pakistan to America since this is the 'e' age]....and the specific question is this, there is so much emphasis on 'e', so why isn't the goverment recognizing e newspapers?" The question met with stunned [numb, dumb] silence all around until the poor Minister said he would put this before the Minister of Information. Yee ha, I say!

Secretary IT quotes: Internet is universally accessible in OVER 2000 cities in the country.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Internet Cafes Told To Remove Covered Cabins

From Dawn

Sindh Home Minister Rauf Siddiqui has warned the internet cafe owners that they are allowed cabin partitions in their cafes up to the height of 4.5 feet only. These should be open cabins and covered ones will not be allowed, the minister said. Rauf Siddiqui said that he had been continuously receiving complaints that the internet cafes were so designed that these had totally covered cabins wherein videos were taken of the people inside with the help of cameras which was totally an illegal and immoral act.

Such complaints were causing problems of serious nature leading to creation of moral declination in society, while the fact was that a constructive and positive use of internet did serve as a source for a lot of youth in building up their academic career.

The minister gave one week time to the owners of internet cafes to modify the cafe designs as per standard rules. He said that after one week from May 23, all DPOs and TPOs would check the internet cafes in their respective areas. In case of default, not only strict legal action would be taken against such owners but the punishment would include sealing of their cafes.


And the government realizes they must take this step now, almost a year after the infamous Rawalpindi cyber cafe incident?

Console Wars

Just last week, Microsoft announced the XBox 360 -- scheduled to go on sale this Christmas. Yesterday, Sony announced the PS3. Even though the PS3 won't go on sale until sometime early next year, Sony is trying to convince gamers to hold off on buying a console this Christmas (read: XBox) and buy the PS3 when it comes out next year.

Me thinks that both consoles look surprisingly similar. Coincidence?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

TRG DC secretary works in Pakistan

Too much info, too little novelty. Here's one that forced me to say hello to the few who stop by here:

"In a chic downtown lobby across the street from the Old Executive Office Building, Saadia Musa answers phones, orders sandwiches and lets in the FedEx guy. And she does it all from Karachi, Pakistan. As receptionist for the Resource Group, Musa greets employees and visitors via a flat screen hanging on the lobby's wall. Although they are nine hours behind and nearly 7,500 miles away, her U.S.-based bosses rely on her to keep order during the traffic of calls and meetings."

Full marks for thinking cool, Zia ;-) Thanks SQ, for the tip-off.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Spider's website

Is it just my PC or is the website of Spider down at the moment? I manage to get to the homepage but then it gives me a 404 error for almost every link i click on...

Monday, May 02, 2005

9 Year Old Girl in Pakistan Is a Microsoft Certified Professional.

At just 9 years old, Arfa Karim Randhawa , of Faisalabad, Pakistan, is one of the youngest MCPs in the world.

The Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) credential is for technology professionals who have the skills to successfully implement a Microsoft product or technology as part of a business solution.

Arfa recently received her credentials from Emre Berkin, chairman of Microsoft's Europe, Middle East and Africa region, and Jawwad Rehman, Microsoft's country manager for Pakistan.



View: Arifa Karim Interview

Source: G3Technews via Microsoft.

Mobile number portability


Just came across this editorial in today's DAWN issue: "Mobile number portability: MOBILE phone users will find some respite thanks to the proposed introduction of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) for which Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has constituted a supervisory board that plans to implement the scheme by January 2006. A central database administration which will house a database of mobile subscriber number references is being developed to implement this portability facility. MNP, which allows mobile phone users to switch mobile phone operators but retain their existing number, is available in many countries of the world but its proposed arrival in Pakistan was being strongly resisted by two of the largest mobile operators, perhaps because they feared a loss of the market share. However, PTA was not convinced by their arguments and has gone ahead and decided that the facility will be made available next year which it believes will boost fair competition among all mobile phone operators.This decision is one that will benefit consumers who are already frustrated by the poor service current mobile phone operators are providing. Despite certain mobile phone companies being threatened with severe legal action, not to mention heavy fines, if their quality is not improved, consumers periodically face frequent problems in connectivity, poor network services and other customer-related issues. Many who complain of such problems are hesitant to switch over to another company because they do not want to switch their number, a concern that will no longer apply once MNP comes into force. This will also force mobile phone companies to ensure better service to their customers or face losing their subscribers to better companies. Either way, it seems the customer is in a win-win situation — provided PTA is able to ensure that the implementation of MNP goes through smoothly.
"

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Why do you blog?

I am asking bloggers this question: Why do you blog. Please answer here.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Adobe & Macromedia

This news is specially interesting for the designers - graphic, web whatever! - as the two giants Adobe & Macromedia have merged together. Well, not merged. Adobe has bought Macromedia for over 3 billion US Dollars. That's right, that's a 'b'.

Adobe has also announced that the although the Macromedia products such as the famous Macromedia Flash etc will be maintained and built upon, the Macromedia brand itself will eventually be phased out. Now we be buying Adobe Flash!

Adobe website Macromedia website

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Microsoft Mystery Web Site !!!!!

A few days ago a mysterious site popped up that is owned and maintained by Microsoft. With it is a minute long video telling us:

  • something is coming
  • something fun
  • something with reward
  • something with recognition
  • something with style
  • something inspired


It promises to disclose the offering on April 25th.

View: Microsoft's Start Something PC
CrossPosted : G3TechNews

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Network busy?

Yesterday, Mobilink's network crashed (yes, again). Although Telenor has launched and Warid is due to offer its services this year, Mobilink is the largest cellular service provider, and one cannot expect all Mobilink users to switch over to other cellular service providers. However, PTA's just announced it plans to suspend Mobilink's license within 30 days and impose a Rs. 350 million fine on the company if they doesnt respond to a show-cause notice (source: Dawn). While Mobilink has added another dialing code (0301), it hasn't made much of a difference, and the crash yesterday is only proof of that. One can only hope (in vain methinks) that this threat makes Mobilink do something about their utterly horrendous service.

Monday, March 28, 2005

This is Pakistan

In blog directories {(1), (2), (3), (4) }, services, rankings, we do not see tangible evidence of blogs by Pakistanis. However, during my hunt, I have seen Pakistan blogsphere growing exponentially. Blogging is also not an economic hobbyhorse here yet but one can see some business blogs, sponsored ads at some. Though, English is a predominant language at the Web but look for it and you may find blogs in all languages including Urdu.
Light Within intends compiling a list of blogs by resident and non-resident Pakistanis. This does not imply that these are the best or busiest blogs published by Pakistanis, although in some instances, they might be, nor is the list conclusive. The list is intended to showcase blogs by Pakistanis. Moreover, blog worth attention will be reviewed here.
Leave your blog URL in comments here. Also, add any other Pakistani blog that you might have noticed.

Friday, March 18, 2005

PTCL considering yet another relief package

The PTCL in January this year announced cut in international calls by over 20 percent - a second major relief offered by the state-owned telecom after July 2004.

The PTCL in July 2004 announced a relief package for domestic and commercial consumers including free-of-cost local calls during late night hours, reduced international and domestic tariffs and telephone installation fee and cuts in Internet bandwidth rates and other related services.

Is PTCL running a business or a refugee camp? It's things like these which shows they still just don't get it. At first I thought it was this particular newsreport, but on the PTCL website the words major relief package is plastered all over the place.

For those wondering what the it is that they don't get, it is the fact that all PTCL seems to do is charge till it bleeds and introduce nothing at all till they absolutely have to, and that too only with kicks from the govt. Relief packages!! PTCL has much lower costs than the cellular companies yet they still charge more. Their internet bandwidth costs are criminally high, and they regularly shaft the companies who're using their exhanges for DSL. So now they're going around providing relief - will someone wake them up and tell them the 21st century has been around for a while now? While I'm bashing PTCL, here is a must read rant by Shakir Husain: The customer strikes back:
Today is a brilliant day for me as I get to deprive my (at the time of print ex) cellular service provider of my hard earned money. Ladies and gentlemen, I just voted with my wallet. Mistreated, overcharged, ripped off, treated without an ounce of respect, and utterly exasperated; we, the customers, get to hit back for the first time. I have personally waited for about two years to dump my existing cellular company. For two years I have fumed every month when I've had to pay my ten grand plus to my service provider though I don't know if I can even call it that, because service is hardly what I've got for the past two years.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

XP Starter Edition: Cheap and Poor

Microsoft has launched the XP started edition in India with the Hindi language interface. The XPSE is slated to match the Windows XPPE (the pirated edition).

I wonder when the Pakistan launch will happen? WinXP is about 8000 Pakistani Rs. here, which is just too expensive, especially considering a complete pc with a pirated OS is available for Rs. 20,000.
XP Starter Edition will allow users to execute only three programs at any given time and will display lower resolution graphics. The OS will lack multiple user accounts and home networking options.
...The company is also expects that cheaper software will discourage piracy, where the ratio of unlicensed software is five times greater than that of licensed copies.

Crippled? No networking options? Good luck to MS on this. Cheaper is one thing, but crippled?

Blogathon

An Irish blogger is organizing a Blog Maraton - registered bloggers will have to put up a post every 30 minutes for 26.2 hours. The date is 1st April 2005, which has caused many people to term it as an April Fool's joke. However, since the lady is looking to the Guinness Book of World Records, I have a feeling that this Blogathon is very genuine. Check out the latest at Blog Marathon.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

E-mail scans

Just when one thinks that the government can do nothing more to shock you or make you want to bang your head against the world, especially regarding their decisions for the IT sector, they go around and do something like this.

What does this mean in terms of internet security in Pakistan? Does the government really think that tracking e-mail accounts (and that too for a month) will help solve e-crimes? Dear God, is there no end to this madness?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Yahoo Launches Mobile RSS News Feed

Yahoo Inc. on Thursday launched a service that allows mobile phone users to access news and other information either from the portal's personalized news and information service or from websites that offer RSS content syndication.

How to Access Yahoo RSS feeds on Mobiles :

First navigate to http://mobile.yahoo.com in your phone's WAP 2.0 minibrowser and navigate down to the News link. From there click on My Headlines, log in with your Yahoo! ID and all the RSS headlines that you've added to your My Yahoo! page are listed, ready to be read on the go. Clicking on the individual feed links will let you read a summary of the stories (about 1024 characters, which is actually more than appears on the My Yahoo! Web version) and if you've got a phone which has a browser that supports full HTML web pages, each of the headlines will be live links to the original article.

Source: Link

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Behind the Scenes

Online encyclopedia, Wikipedia has always come to the rescue whenever one needs information on any subject possible. This article pays a tribute to the people who have worked selflessly to create this encyclopedia which has 490,000 articles in its English version alone.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Google : Eye Tracking Consumer Response Study.

Two search marketing companies and an eye-tracking firm called Eyetools have produced one of the most interesting studies of consumer response to a Google results page.

By tracking eye movements, a picture emerges of the hot spots on a results pasge, outside of which a listing or sponsored listing is not likely to be noticed.

See the eye-opening (so to speak) screen shot here.

The study indicates that any listing below 7th place stands a less-than-50-percent chance of being seen. Sponsored ads become invisble to more than half of viewers if they are not in the top spot of the AdWords column. Intriguingly, most people’s eyes are glued to the left-hand side of the page, not even completing a scan of entire listings.

Read Article: Did-it, Enquiro,and Eyetools uncover Search’s Golden Triangle
Cross Posted : Link

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Those who don’t write the blogs, don’t read the blogs


Blogs on any topic under the sun have created millions of online communities. Those who have blogs read other’s blogs for ideas or simply to reciprocate – that is how bloggy fraternity is proliferating. The problem is with the overwhelming majority of Web users that don’t have blogs yet. They don’t visit the blog sites at all, exceptions and chance apart. Which is why blogosphere is smaller than the entire users’ base, though it is thriving, nonetheless? Solution: Every user should have a blog, more so in Pakistan.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Google Web Search Features

In addition to providing easy access to more than 8 billion web pages, Google has many special features to help you to find exactly what you're looking for. The "Google Web Search Features" page lists the features along with instructions how to use the features.

Apart from the latest Google Movies search feature, the (US only based) Google Weather is interesting to read and apply.

View: Google Web Search Features

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Oh boy whose happy, it's Billy boy ;)

Bill gates received an honorary knighthood from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on March 02 at Buckingham Palace, for his charity donations through Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and his contribution to high-tech industries in Britain.

You can read his official statement of glee :) here.

There you go Bill Gates KBE.

FCC Fines Company for Blocking Access to VoIP

According to PCPro, the FCC has handed out a $15,000 fine to Madison River Communications Corp for blocking access to VoIP calls. The action is seen as a warning to other telcos not to prevent the growth of VoIP over their networks.


Nice to know that somewhere at least the govt. is looking out for the consumer. The Pakistan govt. in earlier times used to do the exact opposite of the above - now with the introduction off the broadband policy, does anyone know if things have changed for the better? When I got a DSL connection at home, I had to sign a paper saying I would not use VOIP. Now, I was planning to use VOIP so I asked someone at Cybernet, and they sorta jumped when I asked them about VOIP so I said fine fine I'm not going to use it and completed the paperwork. Needless to say, it works just fine, and with a good headset the voice quality is better than a mobile phone call, and sometimes as good as a landline.

At work, with our DSL connection they specifically said that VOIP is not allowed. It works, but it's illegal to use it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Windows XP Pro x64 Edition coming soon

Finally, for all those Athlon 64 owners. Microsoft will be releasing the highly anticipated 64-bit version of Win XP for the desktop by April.

The new OS will take full advantage of the 64-bit capabilities of the Athlon 64 (and the new 64-bit P4) and lead to a noticeable performance increase.

Check out the homepage for more information.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Red Couch

This I got vis Blogsphere News Box: Recently, recently, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel have published a draft of the first chapter – Village Blacksmiths of the Information Age of a book they have been writing about business blogging titled The Red Couch (Though they’re contemplating changing the title). Yes, they should change the title.

Excerpt: Every few years, something comes along to change the way everything is. In the middle 1990s, it was the Internet. Previously, email, computer networks, PCs, fax machines and copiers altered our lives. The continuum of change extends all the way back through TVs, phones, trains, the telegraph, electricity, the printing press perhaps to when the wheel was first rolled out. Draft chapter of the book is here and it is very interesting.
They’re looking for feedback including reviews, comments and revisions.

Cross posted at Light Within

Telecom, telecom

Special features on telecom have appeared well before Intl Telecom Day this year. The News carried two reasonably interesting pages last Sunday while DAWN carried an advertising supplement today [not online yet]. The Nation ran three articles, two on WLL on its Business pages. PTCL has also been mass mailing an article titled 'Roti, Kapra aur Broadband' to all newspapers, with two appearances today [DAWN, Nation] and one last week [business recorder].

Read these from cover to cover in hopes of getting more than mere market indicators. A good time to ask: Are we getting dazzled by all the 'estimated' stats alone? Where's the hardcore analyses regarding what actual benefits one can obtain from a 'telecom revolution'. What does broadband boil down to in a country like Pakistan for instance?

Monday, February 28, 2005

GMail Offers HTML View.

GMail has offered HTML view. (Not all users have it yet) You might ask ....

What's the difference between 'standard' view and 'plain HTML' view?

Standard view is what you'll see when you sign in to Gmail from a fully supported browser.In case you don't have access to a fully supported browser, you can now have access to Gmail using a basic HTML view, that is compatible with almost any browser. If you sign in to Gmail using a browser that isn't fully supported, you'll automatically be directed to the basic HTML view.

The basic HTML view is a little different than what you're used to because the following features aren't available are : Filter creation, Settings (Including Forwarding and POP), Spell checker, Keyboard shortcuts and Address auto-complete.

Here is how basic HTML views looks like : Preview.
Source : Here

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Nokia may invest $300m in Pakistan

Finland's Nokia cellular company has indicated to invest $300 million to set up its production plant in Pakistan during 2005.

However, informed sources said that Pakistan has been asked by Finland to early finalise a bilateral investment agreement to help Nokia phone company to invest $300 million within this year. Final round of talks between the two countries is expected to be held in Islamabad shortly to sign the agreement. Earlier, both side had met in Finland last year.

Read More : Here

Friday, February 25, 2005

Opera 8 Beta 2 Released

What a week ... first Firefox and now upgrade to Opera.

What is important to note that Gmail and Google Maps works flawlessly in this version, and Hotmail supposedly works better. The security fixes include Fix for IDN spoofing

The Final version of Opera 8 is expected to be released very soon by the end of this month.

Change Log
: Here
Download: Opera 8 Beta 2 (For Windows)
X-Posted at : Link

Mozilla Firefox 1.0.1 Officially Released.

Mozilla Firefox 1.0.1 has just been released.

This version fixes a few security holes and some other bugs. Firefox 1.0.1 is a "branch build" serving as an interim update to Firefox 1.0. It addresses critical security and performance issues that resulted after the release of Firefox 1.0. This build is NOT to be confused with recent Mozilla 1.0+ nightly "trunk" builds.

Best Practice:

Do not install it over previous version. Export your favorites first, backup any other data.Uninstall the current version, and then install the new one.

View: Release Notes
Download: Mozilla Firefox 1.0.1 (4.7MB)

President dotcoms

Its been a long time coming. The Prez of PK has a website and BBC reports he's thrown a little party to celebrate his dotcom day.

Designed by J Walter Thompson's web partner, its a cute PR excercise which offers an auto-bio, wallpapers [!], and the chance to see what emails he will respond to. Make the most of it, Prez! Think they've left something out? Hotline numbers anyone? ;-)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Firefox Post 1.0 Updates Start Rolling.

The next beta of Firefox 1.0.1 (candidate builds) are done, probably will be released Tomorrow. The beta will include (much needed) large number of security patches plus about 900 bugfixes. Details and Download link for nightlies : Here

While you are at it you might want to read some IE7 related facts and speculation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Provincial Ministers do it better?

A classic 'mission' at Spider was to argue against official blocking of pornographic websites. Responsibility lies with parents, teachers and end users--not goverments. So this news comes as no surprise:

"Pakistan's Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications has said that it has accepted defeat in its "battle" against pornographic material available on the Internet."

The good Minister persists that it is now up to Provincial governments to prevent prongraphic content from reaching users in their territory. I advise all rational people to refrain from throwing their hands up in frustration and instead say a little prayer that those officials have their plates full with disaster management, environmental conservation, education+health, and any other constructive activity where our taxes are spent well!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Popup Trouble : First It was Firefox now IE

As if Firefox problem was not enough, now Microsoft Internet Explorer Pop-up Window Title Bar Spoofing Weakness has been discovered.

Internet Explorer is reported prone to a pop-up window title bar spoofing weakness.The weakness is reported to exist due to a flaw that manifests in script-initiated pop-up windows. This issue may be leveraged by an attacker to display false URI information in the title bar of an Internet Explorer pop-up dialog window. This may facilitate phishing style attacks; other attacks may also be possible.

The popup problem includes Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 SP2.

Exploit Code: Here
Source: Link

Friday, February 18, 2005

Microsoft to Recall Xbox Cords Due to Electrical Issue

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, said on Thursday it will recall 14.1 million power cords for its Xbox video game console after a defect gave some users minor singe burns and scorched carpets.

Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer for Microsoft, told Reuters the recall covered all Xboxes made for continental Europe before Jan. 13, 2004, and units made for the rest of the world before Oct. 23, 2003. Read the article.

Bill Gates: Microsoft created PC industry

According to an interview ABC News conducted with Microsoft CEO Bill Gates yesterday,according to the transcript Bill says, "We're responsible for the creation of the PC industry".

GATES: We're responsible for the creation of the PC industry. The whole idea of compatible machines and lots of software - that's something we brought to computing. And so it's a responsibility for us to make sure that things like security don't get in the way of that dream. You know, its individual empowerment, information at your fingertips - we need to drive that forward.


Well thats an Arguable statement !!! Whats your opinion?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Firefox : 99 Days 25 Million Downloads.

Firefox has been downloaded over 25 million times since it's 1.0 release exactly 99 days ago.

The question is can it keep up the pace and tackle the increased threat of malware comming its way.

Visit : http://spreadfirefox.com/

Monitoring Students

In a country where students bunking classes is considered 'something that cannot be dealt with' by Pakistani teachers, perhaps something like this is needed?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP.

Today at RSA, Bill Gates talked about Internet Explorer 7. Betas of IE7 will be available this summer.

Details: Here

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Web-Browser Speed Benchmarks.

There is a speed war on the web. Browsers compete on many fronts; security, standards support, features and speed. Most people are aware of which major browser fails on three of these, but one of them is still open for grabs. Speed.

Many organisations and users try to claim that their browser is the fastest. The Opera site claims that Opera is The Fastest Browser on Earth!. The Mozilla site claims that Firefox 1.0 empowers you to browse faster (faster than what?). Mozilla itself is quoted as being an alternative to Microsoft IE and it's faster to boot. Apple's Safari pages claim that Safari loads pages more quickly than any other Mac web browser (although they failed to show any results for Opera, and their charts fail to show results for pages that contain images). Internet Explorer users often claim that they use it because of its speed, as the alternatives take longer to start and load pages.

Read: Browser speed comparisons
Results: Windows browsers | Linux browsers | Mac browsers

X-Posted at: Link

Blogger.com : Changes in Commenting System.

The commenting system blogger.com uses, has been modified.

It now lets you post comments without having to signup for an account or post anonymously instead you can just type in your name and, if applicable, your website address.

X-Posted at: Link

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ghost in the CELL

Sony, IBM, and Toshiba reveal technical information on its forthcoming CELL processor.

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI), IBM, and Toshiba unveiled new details on its CELL processor at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco today. Positioned as the "first technical disclosure" on CELL, the presentation offered a glimpse of the makeup of this powerful and versatile processor.

The Cell processor, which will drive Sony's PlayStation 3, will run 10-times faster than current PC chips, its designers have said.

Read : Full Article

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Microsoft Security Bulletins for February 2005.

The thirteen Security Updates for February 2005 include several high-priority updates for Microsoft Windows that also affect Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Media Player technologies, has been released. If you dont want to download and patch individual updates, skip the following details and download the patches using Automatic Updates.

View : Details and Links of Individual Patches

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Google Maps Beta Launched.

Google has released it's beta online mapping service.

Google Maps allows users in the U.S. to find location information, navigate through maps, and get directions quickly and easily.

Visit: Google Maps FAQ.
Visit: Google Maps Beta

Browser Exploit for NON-IE Browsers.

Most Mozilla-based browsers (Firefox 1.0, Camino .8.5, Mozilla 1.6, etc), Safari 1.2.5, Opera 7.54, Omniweb 5 are victim to a complex International Domain Name [IDN] spoof.

This new attack allows an attacker/phisher to spoof the domain/URLs of businesses. Every recent gecko/khtml based browser implements IDN (which is just about every browser except for Internet Explorer).

Crossposted at: Link (Read More for Details)
View: Advisory | Proof Of Concept (Use Non-IE Browsers for this)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

MSN Messenger W32/Bropia Worm Removal Tools.

MSN Messenger is under attack of W32/Bropia Worm that comes with a seductive name and download link. The user clicks on the link and gets the copy of attached worm for his PC. The worm can spread on the network and shared computers. The worm can disable the Anti-Virus software and then infect the Files in PC, It can also spread easily after it disables anti virus program.

Here are couple of sites with instructions on how to remove the worm:

View: Trend Micro Removal Instructions
View: Symantec Removal Tool

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Google Launches "LOCAL" Search.

Google has launched a new service for locating local businesses called Google Local.

Google Local, Google's search engine for locating neighborhood stores and services, based on zip (or postal code) or the name of a town or city.

Still marked as "Beta", and only searches for locations in the United States and Canada.

Google plans to expand its reach in due time. The company also expects to provide a way for businesses to add themselves directly to the search results.

Visit: http://local.google.com/

Yahoo "contextual" search !!!

Yahoo is offering a new search service designed to help people find more-relevant content online. The Yahoo Y!Q service offers “contextual” search that analyzes the page being read and gives a list of related search results.Instead of starting a search from a text box, a person would search while reading a specific page.

The company, which has released the service in a test format, said it is making the coding available to Web designers to embed in their sites, so that the tool can search their pages. Yahoo is also offering versions of the tool for its news site and as a toolbar that readers can download and run on their browsers.

See Demo of Yahoo "contextual" search in Action : Link

Visit: Y!Q Beta Information Page
Visit: Yahoo! next
According to this source: "Security clearance has been given for the direct India-Pak fibre link between Amritsar and Lahore.

The Daily Times quoted the Pakistani Information Technology and Telecommunications minister Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari as saying that security clarance was needed for the formal approval of the project. He said that talks with India regarding the project is already going on and the link is likely to be set up soon.

Earlier, Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited had been given the contract to prepare the feasibility report on the proposed fibre link. The project would be operational within six months and would cost between 150 million to 200 million rupees, to be shared equally by the two sides.

Experts believe that this proposed low-investment fibre link will strengthen the IT and telecom industry infrastructure and internet services in both India and Pakistan. (ANI) "

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

"The Network is the Computer" ...Sun to Launch Grid Computing.

Sun have announced their plans to offer businesses a simple way of doing I.T., by utilising the power of grid computing. For the price of $1 per cpu hour, business customers can tap into massive computer grids run by Sun.

Sun believe that by doing the service "on-demand" they can offer a more cost effective way of computing to businesses worldwide. The company claims to have thousands of CPUs accessible on a truly global scale; so far they have announced centers in Texas, Virginia, New Jersey and Scotland; the company plans to announce more new centers in the USA, Europe and Asia in 2005.

Read More: Here
View : Overview of NC05Q1
View: Sun Homepage

Google is now a domain registrar

Google is now an ICANN-accredited registrar of domain names, providing it with yet another potential line of expansion. The fast-growing search provider is approved to sell names in seven top-level domains (TLDs) including .com, .net, .org, .biz., info, .name and .pro.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

MSN Search Launched

Microsoft has finally launched MSN Search, the long-awaited rival to Google. With Google launching numerous new services in the last few months, I doubt MSN Search will pose any threat to Google anytime soon.

After trying it out, I'm not happy with its results. Let us know what you all think!

Monday, January 31, 2005

Windows XP SP2 "Data Execution Prevention" Vulnerability Discovered.

This is not so good for XP SP2 Users. Russian security outfit, Maxpatrol, have discovered CRITICAL vulnerability to defeat Microsoft Windows XP SP2 Heap protection and Data Execution Prevention mechanism.

Data execution prevention (DEP) is a set of hardware and software technologies that perform additional checks on memory to help protect against malicious code exploits. By default, software-enforced DEP only protects limited system binaries. Hardware-enforced DEP relies on processor hardware to mark memory with an attribute that indicates that code should not be executed from that memory.

View: Maxpatrol bypass article

Saturday, January 29, 2005

PTA to suspend cell phone companies' licenses

From Dawn:

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority may suspend the licences of two major cell phone companies if the reports of its secret survey, which is starting on Feb 1, establishes poor quality of their service.

They said the survey would be completed by Feb 15 and action would be initiated on its recommendations. The survey was being launched on customers' complaints. The PTA had already served notices on the two companies for their poor quality of service, congestion, wrong messaging, frequent call drops and fake billing.

They said the companies had already been given enough time to remove these problems, therefore, no leniency would be shown if the survey found them persisting with shortcomings. The PTA might also impose heavy fines on them, they added.

The sources said the firms were trying to capture more market at any cost before the launch of service by two new companies this year. "In a bid to capture more clientele, these companies have been compromising on service for long," they said. "The PTA is very sensitive to its obligations and will do every thing possible to protect interest of its customers."


P.S: If its supposed to be a 'secret survey', why are they discussing it with the press? Mobilink for one has already been fined in the past, but instead of being repentant, it has proceeded to provide the worst service in its history. If they had spent the crores on improving their service, instead of on their 'Indigo' advertising campaign, they could have boasted of at least some satified customers. I wonder if a satisfied Mobilink customer actually exists..

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Celebrate International Internet-Free Day

January 30 has been dedicated as Internet-Free Day. So don't use it on that day. Seriously. Check out the story here.

Microsoft to protect Windows against piracy

This is relevant to the BSA story that we are having a discussion about. BBC has a story on how Microsoft is planning to restrict security updates to only licensed copies of Windows. CNN also carried the same story mentioning that users will have to prove that their copy of Windows is genuine before they can download security updates.

This would mean that if you have a Rs. 40 pirated copy of Windows, you will not be able to get any security updates for it -- and that will make your computer more vulnerable to attacks.

So will someone be able to come up with a Rs. 40 solution to that?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Blog togs


Bloggers who are found of blog buttons and stickers (who is not) must visit blogsticker.com and find over 1877 blog stickers there. What is more, anyone can make own in Blogsticker Factory or add one. I found this:

Google to Debut Video Search

Google announced yesterday that the company is currently testing a prototype serviced used to search TV programming.

The engine dubbed "Google Video" allows users to search across text from TV shows like Fox News and ABC News. Google started indexing TV shows in late December aiming to compete with various other TV search providers.

"Now users can search the content of thousands of TV programs, find the shows that have the information they're looking for, and learn when they can watch them," Google co-founder Larry Page said in a statement.

Currently, providers of TV search like Yahoo and Blinkx TV are said to be stepping up their technology after the Google announcement.

Visit: http://video.google.com/

BSA to crack down against piracy

According to Daily Times, Business Software Alliance (BSA) has announced that they will be taking strict action against national and multinational companies after the 60 day truce period ends on January 29th. According to a BSA study, Pakistan's software piracy rate is 83%, which causes a loss of US$16 million to Pakistan's IT sector. What puzzles me is how Pakistani multinationals can spend billions on advertisements and sponsoring a gazillion shows, but can't purchase licensed software. However, buying licensed software is still not an option for the common user - its high time BSA realizes that unless they don't lower the cost of the licenses, no one will give up paying Rs.40 for Windows XP.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Texas acts to stop spammers

The US State of Texas has filed a lawsuit against two men believed to be among the world's top five spammers, BBC reports in this news article.

Hacker penetrates T-Mobile systems

SecurityFocus reports in this article that a hacker broke into T-Mobile's systems, and was undetected for one whole year. In that time, he was able to monitor the US Secret Service's email, obtain customer passwords, photos, and Social Security numbers.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Google has unveiled Google Mini

Google has unveiled Google Mini, a new search appliance designed for small and midsize businesses, and an upgrade to its existing Google Search Appliance for larger organizations.

Google Mini leverages the same technology as the larger appliance but is limited in search capacity to 50,000 documents. The hardware and software appliance is sold exclusively online, priced at $4,995, which is a fraction of the cost of the larger capacity appliance versions.



Visit Website: http://www.google.com/enterprise/mini/

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Give me an iPod Shuffle and nobody gets hurt.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, launched a bunch of new Apple products at Macworld Conference and Expo. First up on my shopping list is the Flash based iPod Shuffle. Coming in two sizes - 512 MB and 1 GB and costing $99 and $149 respectively, the iPod Shuffle claims to be smaller and lighter than a pack of chewing gum. It doesn't have a screen, but with such low prices, no one will really care. One can also fill up the iPod by connecting it to the PC via the USB port.

Apple also launched the Mac mini, a $499 budget PC, consisting of a processor, hard drive and optical drive. The Mac mini is truly mini - its 6.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall! Apple also showcased iWork, iLife's new version and Final Cut Express HD - tools designed to make the Mac user's life simpler and easier.

So who wants an iPod?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

New Microsoft January Security Related Downloads.

The wait is over. Three critical patches regarding security concerns and the much discussed Microsoft Virus Removal Tool (officially termed as Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool ) has been released. More Details Here

Visit : Malicious Software Removal Tool Site.
Visit: January Security Patches.

Yahoo! Desktop Search Beta Launched

Yahoo! has become the latest search giant to jump into the desktop search market. It has this morning unveiled its new program which it hopes will allow it compete in the growing war for scanning files on users' home PCs. The release of Yahoo! Desktop Search comes after Google and MSN unveiled similar products.

The new program, currently in beta, has many of the same features as its rivals. However, it's claimed the Yahoo! program searches more than 200 file types and is the most comprehensive of all those released so far. As well as files, it indexes e-mails in Outlook and Outlook Express and it also promises to offer web searches - through its own search engine.

Visit: Yahoo! Desktop Search

Monday, January 10, 2005

E-Mail Icon Generator


Visit here to generate icons for GMail, Hotmail, MSN, Yahoo!, AOL and many more...

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Video Clip of Bill Gates with Windows Media Center PC froze up on CES.

Recently at the International Consumer Electronics Show, during a demonstration of digital photography, a Windows Media Center PC froze and wouldn't respond to Bill Gates' pushing of the remote control.

See the video clip of the event Here. (Requires Quicktime Installed)

Update : According to Sean Alexander, Media Center Product Manager, it was the IR repeater on the stage that failed. An IR repeater was used to transmit the remote control commands from the stage to the MCE PC running backstage. Details Here.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Mind mapping software

This a free Java-based tool which is supposed to help you organizing any idea that you may have. See the Screenshots here.

Watch out for Microsoft Antivirus Beta Soon.

Continuing its recent spate of security moves, Microsoft has layed out its plans to release a virus detection and removal tool on Jan. 11. The antivirus fighter will be updated on the second Tuesday of every month as part of the company's scheduled software patching cycle.

The stocks of major antivirus software vendors were trading lower today after Microsoft announced the release of beta anti-spyware technology it bought in December and said it would begin giving away an improved tool to remove worms and viruses from its customers' computers. Following Microsoft's news, shares of Symantec were down by more than 6 percent and shares in rival McAfee were down by around 4 percent in Thursday's late-afternoon trading. While the free antivirus and virus removal tools are not an immediate threat to the products from those companies, the releases could signal tougher times ahead for desktop security vendors, as Microsoft uses its size and influence to expand into markets now dominated by those companies, industry experts say.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) Released

Windows AntiSpyware (Beta) is a security technology that helps protect Windows users from spyware and other potentially unwanted software. Known spyware on your PC can be detected and removed.

The user must be an administrator to install this application.

Download: Windows AntiSpyware 6.4 MB

First Look Screenshots and Discussion : here

World’s First ‘Paid to Blog’ Network


Bloggers finally have a new way to make a fast buck with their weblogs. BlogKits.com has launched the BlogKits BlogMatch Network, an opportunity for anyone who owns a blog to be matched with businesses, marketers and/or advertisers looking to partner with niche-filled, content specific, quality blogs. There is a possibility of wining an iPod as well.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Watchout: Project 'Jawbone'

Must-read story about audio tech startup called Aliph who's Pakistani CEO Hosain Rahman's success in California and The Adaptive Headset for mobile phones that's making waves [it reduces background noise while you talk]. The company website states its focus is on speech processing products for govermental and private organizations. Verrry interesting!

Pakistanis in Ahmedabad

[Jan 4]The Press Trust news story states that interaction between scientist across the border has been limited, and rightly so. "Pakistan participated for the first time in the 92-year-old Indian Science Congress, being held in Ahmedabad. The four-member Pakistani delegation will be presenting three papers in the congress, Dr Anwar Nasim, chairman of the Pakistan's National Commission on Biotechnology and a member of the delegation, told reporters in Ahmedabad." The Commission was created by Dr.Ata-ur-Rehman in 2001.

In September 2004, The Nature carried a more sensational lead on a similar event stating that verbal collaborations have ended "more than five decades of scientific impasse between the two nations." I think the two need to look at 'education' for any collaboration, even if its bound to be research on malaria and agriculture as per the news story.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

2005.

Happy New Year to all SPIDER readers, contributors and the people who make SPIDER happen. Here's to hoping that this year will be spam free and that good things will happen in Pakistan's IT sector. Wishful thinking, but wishing is good.


P.S: The January issue of SPIDER is on sale now. Let us know what you think about it at letters@spider.tm