"Computing" Archive

Randy Paush's last lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Almost all of us have childhood dreams: for example, being an astronaut, or making movies or video games for a living. ... all » Sadly, most people don't achieve theirs, and I think that's a shame. I had several specific childhood dreams, and I've actually achieved most of them. More importantly, I have found ways, in particular the creation (with Don Marinelli), of CMU's Entertainment Technology Center (etc.cmu.edu), of helping many young people actually achieve their childhood dreams. This talk will discuss how I achieved my childhood dreams (being in zero gravity, designing theme park rides for Disney, and a few others), and will contain realistic advice on how you can live your life so that you can make your childhood dreams come true, too.

September 26, 2007 | America , Computing | Comments

Google Docs in plain english

The future of documents, all online, all the time.

September 19, 2007 | Computing | Comments

One Laptop Per Child

The BBC reports that the OLPC project could launch by mid 2007, and the first countries to sign up to buying the machine include Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan and Thailand. For a nice change, Pakistan is actually doing something right in the field of education. At the moment however, Pakistan has only made postive noises without actually commiting to the project. Another possibility in the works is that the UAE might buy the laptops and donate them to Pakistan - but again the details still need to be ironed out.

Wikipedia on the OLPC:

The Children's Machine, also known as 2B1 or XO-1 and previously as the $100 Laptop, is a proposed inexpensive laptop computer intended to be distributed to children around the world, especially to those in poor countries, to provide them with access to knowledge and modern forms of education.

A trial batch of 2500 laptops are shipping out to eight developing countries this month,including Pakistan!

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February 14, 2007 | Computing | Comments

Windows Vista RC1

Years and years in the making, Vista finally arrives on the scene. For more details than you care about, head over to Paul Thurrot's Winsupersite and of course read the Wikipedia article on windows vista - but for a quick overview from a user's perspective read on.

Now, there are a ton of changes under the hood, but frankly speaking, I really don't care anymore. What I want is consistent performance, and a easier way to actually use the damn computer. Windows XP had a annoying habbit of slowing down over time1, so my only key test for Vista is whether or not it survive on the internet without catching all the dieseases that XP was prone to. Oh, and it should be at least as fast as XP on the same pc.

Vista RC1 will not time out until the end of May 2007, and that Microsoft will support RC1 with hot-fixes and security patches through the RTM (release to manufacturing) of Windows Vista, currently slated for the second half of October 2006. Which means that you essentially get to use Vista for free till May 07, by which time Vista should have hit the discount bin. Heck, hell might freeze over and Microsft just might come out with more reasonable prices for the "third world".

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September 13, 2006 | Computing | Comments

Interview with ISPAK and Cybernet

Read the interview here for a good overview of internet connectivity in Pakistan. A short summary:

  • Govt. policies and PTCL's monopoly ensures that broadband remains beyond the reach of 99.999 percent of Pakistan.
  • Competition to PTCL is coming in the future, and that might help.

Sadly, the many govt. announcements over the past year just show that they aim small - to increase bandwidth penetration to 0.02 percent, up from 0.001 currently. The regulatory authorities are too busy wasting time on crap like internet censorship to even hire a consultant to at least draft bigger goals. Aim for the sky, and you might get somwhere. Aim for 0.02 percent and you might as well stay on the ground.

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June 3, 2006 | Computing , Pakistan | Comments

2001 Report on Internet Content Filtering

The following is a report from August 2001 by the Ministry of Science & Technology regarding the feasibility of internet censorship in Pakistan.

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May 4, 2006 | Censorship , Computing , Pakistan | Comments


Announcing the launch of a new website: wiredpakistan.com. At the moment the only thing there are the tech forums which had previously been on this site.

In a nutshell, these forums had grown large enough to justify their own domain name, plus this way more features can be added as needed.

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May 2, 2006 | Computing , Pakistan , Technology | Comments

Internet Censorship the Pakistani way

On March 2nd 2006 the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to block 12 websites. This list was in addition to the hundreds of thousands of websites which Pakistan already blocks. Up till now, most internet users in Pakistan had never really cared to speak up about this censorship, but this new blacklist caused millions of personal websites hosted at Blogspot to be banned. There are hundreds of Pakistani websites hosted at Blogspot, so this action by the government led internet users to form an action group against this ban.

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March 29, 2006 | Censorship , Computing , Pakistan , Technology | Comments

The filtering matrix

Increasingly, states are adopting practices aimed at regulating and controlling the Internet as it passes through their borders. Seeking to assert information sovereignty over their cyber-territory, governments are implementing Internet content filtering technology at the national level. The implementation of national filtering is most often conducted in secrecy and lacks openness, transparency, and accountability. Policy-makers are seemingly unaware of significant unintended consequences, such as the blocking of content that was never intended to be blocked. Once a national filtering system is in place, governments may be tempted to use it as a tool of political censorship or as a technological "quick fix" to problems that stem from larger social and political issues. As non-transparent filtering practices meld into forms of censorship the effect on democratic practices and the open character of the Internet are discernible. States are increasingly using Internet filtering to control the environment of political speech in fundamental opposition to civil liberties, freedom of speech, and free expression. The consequences of political filtering directly impact democratic practices and can be considered a violation of human rights.
>> Click here for the complete article

Required reading for anyone using the Internet - especially in those countries which attempt to censor the Internet. In Pakistan, the governments stated aims are to filter out pornographic and blasphemous content. However, the national filtering system is being used to silence criticism and control political speech online.

March 28, 2006 | Censorship , Computing , Pakistan , Technology | Comments


Wiki's are fascinating. They are the first major advance in the written word since the invention of the typewriter, or possibly ever since the invention of the printing press. All previous forms of written communication, whether over the Internet, in magazines, books or encyclopedias present one point of view, generally written by one, or at the most a small collection of individuals. These are sometimes revised to reflect new developments as needed - the encyclopedia Britannica issues a new version every year, and webpages are updated at the discretion of the webmaster.

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July 18, 2005 | Computing

Internet links in Pakistan

SEAMEWE-3 is Pakistan's main pipe to the global internet. Pakistan's total internet bandwidth from this cable is about 600 mbps1. PTCL has 3 satellite links of about 34mbps each. So, Pakistan has a grand total of 700 mbps. ISPAK says that Pakistan was getting 600mbps of connectivity from the currently broken fibre optic cable, which sounds about correct, but PTCL says that SMW3 provides 155mbits. Now, PTCL might be controlling the bandwidth, but I don't think their cheif executive knows what he was talking about when he said the cable provided only 155mbits. 600mbps or 155mpbs, both numbers are extremely low.

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July 3, 2005 | Computing , Pakistan | Comments


I had posted earlier about Gmail's superiority to every other email system, but now even the competition is saying the same thing:

What I've discovered is that GMail is rather amazing. Like Flickr, it's on a very short list of Internet applications that are at least as good as their desktop counterparts. In the case of GMail, it's faster and easier to use than any desktop mail application I've tried.

Let me say that again, to reinforce my point. GMail is really damn fast. Faster than desktop email. And the interface feels no more complicated than it needs to.

The above post is from someone with a super fast computer, and even then Gmail responds faster then a local application! If anyone still needs a Gmail invite, this site has a million of them.

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May 22, 2005 | Computing | Comments

Tech Forums

I've set up a forum for tech discussions - it's more suited for discussion then posting on a weblog. Some of the posts on this weblog, especially the ones on tech and computing issues have hundreds of comments - in a sense being used as an adhoc message board. So it seems a good idea to use something more suitable for such discussions - hence these forums.

For a long time, I've felt the absense of a Pakistani technology discussion site. There is one, the Spider weblog, but blogspot is very unsuited for discussions. Once posts move of the front page they're impossible to find again, and all posts are given equal importance, so often times active topics suddenly move of the front page, effectively killing the discussion. With a forum, active topics are moved to the top, and one can easily go back to old topics.

I used the WorldCall forums for a while, but they are very slow and limited to WC users only. Even then, despite the massive spam problem they had, those forums had a few very informative/helpful discussions.

For many months now, I had been discussing with a few other people of buying a domain and starting a Pakistani tech site. That hasn't happened so far, but if/when it does, I'll move these forums there. For the time being, I'm putting them on this site: http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/forums

This is an experiment - I don't suppose in the beginning these forums will be that active, but as people join, it should develop to become a viable community.

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April 7, 2005 | Computing , Pakistan

For Whatever Reasons

New Windows updates, new anti-virus software, new ad-blocking software � regular people are starting to realize that the cycle never ends, that they are never going to successfully secure Windows, and that the easiest and best solution to the Windows security problem is not to use Windows at all.

The masses are restless.
>> For Whatever Reasons

Windows is at a dead-end. For the majority of users these days their computers spend more time as paperweights or at a computer hospital than in use. Most regular people don�t even realize that there exist any choices other than Windows. It�s not they haven�t heard of Apple or Linux, but that they don�t really understand what they are.

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February 8, 2005 | Computing | Comments

Internet connectivity in Pakistan

Here I attempt to answer an age old question - is there any halfway decent internet connectivity option in Karachi?

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January 24, 2005 | Computing , Pakistan


...WiMax, which promises fixed wireless 70 megabit-per-second data service over a distance up to 50 kilometers, scares the phone companies because it will be for the most part a licensed carrier-class service that is capable of completely replacing the current local telephone network. If you are a bloated and conniving phone company, WiMax is bad news.

So of course, they'll try to kill it.

Many people think current WiFi technology also threatens the telcos, but it doesn't. For one thing, WiFi networks are just too darned small...
>> Robert X. Cringely: What If Wal-Mart Got in the WiMax Business?

This is exactly what Pakistan needs. More on wimax:

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December 16, 2004 | Computing | Comments

An open letter to all Pakistani ISPs

This article rant was published in the December 2004 issue of Spider magazine.

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December 1, 2004 | Computing , Pakistan | Comments

Cybernet Home DSL diary

Getting a decent internet connection in Pakistan is just about impossible - see my past experiences with Worldcall as a shining example. So news of Cybernet starting up home dsl at affordable rates came as a great relief - finally after long last a professional company was entering the slightly-faster-than-dialup arena! But in Pakistan however, nothing comes easy - so, this here post chronicles my attempt to acquire Cybernet home dsl... read on for the gory details:

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November 22, 2004 | Computing , Pakistan

Real Life Calling

This article was written for Spider Magazine, published July 04. The following is the unedited version:

Computer gaming in Pakistan is a strange two headed beast. Gaming is a great pastime, enjoyed by millions all over the world, yet somehow that’s not the impression one gets in Pakistan. Walk into any of the numerous gaming cafe's in Karachi - they all seem seedy, with the dim lighting and the funky furniture topped with large second hand monitors failing miserably to make the place seem 'cool and happening'. The very same faces are visible day in and day out at these places - hey, don't these people have other things to do? How is it that they can spend so much time at these places?

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July 4, 2004 | Computing | Comments

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