Saturday, January 21, 2006

PK CDMA Forum

From Irfan Khan's SAIT-list:
 
"The main objective of the Pakistan CDMA Forum is to create awareness, encourage dialogue and promote CDMA technology and its use in Pakistan for telecom operators, broadcasters, manufacturers, software companies, government, academia and the general public. We aspire to provide, through Pakistan CDMA Forum, a platform to people to openly address their queries and provide a resource and database that will provide them accurate and reliable information about the latest news and developments in CDMA."

Friday, January 20, 2006

US DoJ sues Google to get access to its data

This was inevitable. Google is being sued by the US Deparment of Justice, no less because Google refused to turn over 1 week's worth of queries and the million email addresses requested of them. The reason DoJ wants this is so they can monitor sexually explicit content and material on the Internet and possibly take preventative measures. The fact that they want to "monitor", alone is enough to raise an uproar among privacy advocates. Some time back I wrote an article for Spider on Google, in which this was posed as one of the biggest risk factors to Google's integrity. There have been mixed results with ISPs facing similar issues. Many turn over the user logs and IPs to the authorities while others refuse to do so and take shelter under the privacy umberella.

Google justifies business models like scanning your email and showing ads relevant to it by arguing that your email is being scanned by bots, not humans and as such there is no malevolence (a socio-philosphical debate can ensue here). This, however, becomes a problem when the database administrators and developers have access to the databases and user accounts which creates a vector for security breach. It also becomes a problem when a court-ordered subpeona is issued.

A centralized portal managing all your data is becoming a growing concern and runs counter to the decentralized philosophy of the web. Google for example has your search history, emails, pictures, videos, IM conversations, buddy lists, web surfing (if you use Google Proxy), credit card and/or bank account information (if you signed up for Google ads) and a bunch of other stuff. It's not only Google but MSN, Yahoo and other major internet players as well who offer single sign-on services that are susceptible to such subpeonas. If Google complies to the demands of DoJ or loses the case, it will be a big blow to them as well as the privacy rights of users all over.

It's a good thing Google is standing up but it's a multi-faceted issue. Under US laws, the DoJ very well might have the right to access the data in interest of national security (to investigate or disrupt a terrorist plot) or in interest of social welfare as it is doing right now (slamming down on sexually explicit content).

Further, by resisting the demands of DoJ, Google is in a way saying that they won't help the DoJ with is anti-porn efforts. At the same time it's trying to protect it's users. Whether or not the DoJ should have the authority to invade the privacy of users for whatever reason and get access to Google's data will set the precedent for future cases (if it happens today, it won't stop hereafter).

While on the issue of privacy, here's a funny/scary ad. It's closer to reality than you might think.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Windows Live - Expo

MS returns with an answer for eBay as well as Google (recently announced) Base - Windows Live Expo. An online community intended for bying, selling and swapping. And of course, like the rest of the Web 2.0, its all Beta for now.

Windows Live Ideas – Product Page
What it is:
An online marketplace and social networking site


What it gives you:
• Free ads that are easy to post

• Browse through a wide range of categories ranging from merchandise,
events, personals and services

• Keep your dealings within a trusted network like your MSN Messenger Buddies , friends or co-workers; or open them up to anyone
• Find listings just in your area, nationwide or anywhere in between

• Add your listings to your MSN Space with one easy click

• Get detailed maps and directions for things like garage sales, homes for sale or concerts

• Communicate with people via MSN Messenger right from Expo’s site

Friday, January 13, 2006

Google Exposes Regional Biases!

Interesting. Even Google is confirming what the imams in the local mosques blast on a dialy basis ;)

The Prejudice Map
The Prejudice Map According to Google, people in the world are known for...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

It takes a lot of smart people to keep launching products constantly that make consumers sit up and take notice. Apple is one such great example. They havent looked back after the iPod, and have made sure its now part of the fashion / lifestyle trends of this century, like Hafsa posted below. Apple have just released the new MacBook Pro. I was excited to read that its four times faster than G4s, but this analysis is the only thing that's stopping me from placing an order for the MacBook Pro right now. Anyone here who disagrees with the analysis?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Really, what next?

Just came across this news item on BBC's Technology News

Levi makes iPod controlling jeans

Denim giant Levi Strauss has designed a pair of jeans able to control a wearer's Apple iPod music player. The RedWire DLX Jeans will have an iPod remote control and docking station fitted in its pockets, and comes complete with attached headphones.

Read the whole news story here

Looks like everyone is 'packing it' hein Zunaira?:)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Google Packs it

Thumbs up to Aleem's post and the ensuing dialogue since we identify with most of it. Will keep this Google post for a few days only. Would you download a Google Pack too?

In a blog entry, Google advertised why they are packing software as one--to make computing simpler. What does it contain? Google goodies [Earth, Picasa, Screensaver to display ur pics, Desktop, Toolbar, Norton for 6 months, Adware, Acrobat 7, and Mozilla. No office, yet.] Nice for school kids.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Technological and Global Pakistan

If you haven't read "The World is Flat", I highly recommend you add it to your reading list. It's a great overview of the events that transpired and led to the global economy of today.

Reading a section about India's IT boom I couldn't help but relate Pakistan's current state.

Education: India began it all with a great infrastructure when Nehru established IIT in 1951 and whose graduates claim that its standards are higher than the Ivy Leagues of America. Currently there are 6 of these intellectual "factories" among other private institutions. As an academic institution they are highly competitive for admission (and there is no greater catalyst for innovation and hard work than competition).

Leadership: India has also had good role models and as such a sense of direction and ideals, Gandhi being the most prominent. The nation listened to him and he proved to be an excellent role model by way of example (As an example, the Aga Khani community is also very united because of a common role model and ideal).

Arts and Culture: India is also enriched by the Arts. The Bollywood industry provides them with a sense of self and a rich Indian culture that they can claim their own. It not only gives them an identity but it also gives them an escape--they go to the theatre and watch a movie on the weekends with friends and family but Pakistan has no such escape (in Karachi atleast, Clifton beach is probably the most popular venue for the masses on the weekend and Funland I believe has recently been shutdown). Bollywood caters to the masses and it binds them together the same way cricket brings us together seasonally (and provides us with an excellent past time and to some extent cultivates our competitive spirit).

Economy Policy: Then there is India's socioeconomic policies. Before Manmohan Singh opened up India's economy to foreign investors in 1991, India's economy was suffocating from lack of local competition and much of its intellectual work force went abroad (primarily America). This is currently proving to be a good mishap. These same people who migrated abroad in the 1950s are now well settled and have established jobs and businesses in America. They are able to bring business back home and being alumnis of institutes like IIT are also able to recruit people abroad. They have created a Silk Route between India and America and bound to their country by their sense of culture and unified leadership.

These factors together have put India on the atlas and provided an excellent mix for growth and prosperity. Pakistan in comparison is just beginning to gain some liberty. The Pop culture is mushrooming (having come a long way from the emergence of its first popular pop icons like Vital Signs). We are also opening ourselves up to foreign investment and privatization which is another healthy indicator and in line with the steps India took a decade ago. With a track record of self-serving leaders and the resulting corruption in the ranks, a dictatorship is not so bad after all.

One stifler, however, is PTCL's strong-arming and monopolistic practices. Telecommunications is the most critical industry for global and technological growth--it ingrains a technological mindset in the masses and connects the entire nation locally and globally. In a "flat world", a strong communication infrastucture is what will gain us opportunity in the global economy the same way India achieved it (data punching, call centers and then moving up the intellectual ladder by getting into media, graphics and so on, all of which piggybacked on its rich communications infrastructure for collaboration and management).

Without growth in the telecommunications sector we can't fully participate in the global economy. We need fast broadband, satellite uplinks, redundant connections and so on. A single failure of our Internet pipe (which lasted 10 days no less) shutdown all call center businesses and showed us just how frail our infrastructure is. Our prior leaders lacked any vision of economic growth and prosperity, atleast in the global sphere and the developments right now and the stock market growth are all positive indicators.

As we step into the new year, let's hope for political stability and continue to incubate this growth and prosperity irrespective of the political climate.