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

bq. 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.

One Laptop Per Child

The BBC “reports”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6224183.stm?ls 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”:http://paktribune.com/news/index.shtml?161609 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”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children%27s_Machine:

bq. 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”:http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSN0517553520070212 this month,including Pakistan!

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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”:http://www.winsupersite.com and of course read the “Wikipedia article on windows vista”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 time[1], 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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Interview with ISPAK and Cybernet

“Read the interview here for a good overview of internet connectivity in Pakistan”:http://wiredpakistan.com/2006/06/02/interview-with-ispak-and-cybernet/. 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”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2006_03/internet_censorship_the_pakistani_way.html 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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Announcing the launch of a new website: ‘wiredpakistan.com’:http://www.wiredpakistan.com/. At the moment the only thing there are the ‘tech forums’:http://www.wiredpakistan.com/forums/ which had previously been on ‘this site’:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/forums.

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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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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The filtering matrix

bq. 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”:http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue11_1/villeneuve/

Required reading for anyone using the Internet – especially in those countries which attempt to ‘censor’:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_cyberspace the Internet. In ‘Pakistan’:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Censorship_in_Pakistan, the governments stated aims are to filter out ‘pornographic’:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography and ‘blasphemous’:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy content. However, the national filtering system is being used to silence criticism and control political speech online.