Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Food for Thought

  • Could the Internet ever end?
  • Would it ever be 100 percent secure?
  • Would we ever see the end of virus attacks?
  • Could the organizational investment in IT be happily and fairly justified by IT managers, ever?
  • Would the Internet ever be free of spam nuisance?
  • Could the Internet ever be free?

Has Competitive Intelligence Gone Too Far?

Companies today recognize the dynamics of the new digital economy: customization, digitization, personalization, Just-in-Time processes and lack of inventory. In their bid to leverage the new model to their benefits, companies have found the Internet to be a reliable and efficient information arbiter. Gathering data about the consumers' behavior to gain competitive intelligence is the first priority for most of the enterprises. While the traditional methods of soliciting information such as surveys and questionnaires are pretty much still there, the Internet has made these largely obsolete by providing information that is just a click away. Although market research firms such as Forrester and GartnerGroup, Internet detective agencies and search engines can accruately yield consumer information, these were not enough.

The lust for a share of the electronic pie forced companies to take the market research to the next level by introducing questionable techniques such as the adwares and popup advertisements while surfing the Net. Whereas the marketing research firms use authentic ways to solicit information, the end-users are negatively affected by the proliferation of malware. It has also costed billions of dollars in lost revenues to companies.

The spread of adware is probably the most infamous means of gathering consumer information. By exposing the end-users to frequent advertisements, recording the clicking pattern and sending it to a remote location, companies can quickly and cheaply create consumer profiles. But where do the consumers fit into all of this? Do they have anything to gain with this sudden and extreme intrusion of privacy? They may - in the form of better services which could even be free- but a violation of personal space is hardly the price that the consumers should be made to pay. Besides, apart from a relatively small number of genuine intelligence accumulation efforts, most adware programs today are equipped with malicious code that propagate viruses.

The race to outcompete the rival has not spared even our inboxes. Gmail's main source of revenue is the targeted text ads which are relayed after scanning an individual's email content. Though not the sole ethics violator, Gmail's extremely bold stand is just incredible. While the industry heavyweights have always used some means of scanning an email message - the junk mail filters would seldom work without such scans - it has always been a hush hush affair. Come Google and we hear of scanning as part of the official marketing pitch!

The latest craze is about weblogs. Weblogs are largely of a personal nature. As such, companies can easily form and maintain consumer profiles, all without you ever knowing about it. The companies that used to spend millions of dollars on market research and paid for each consumer survey answered have to just click the mouse button today.

The interesting thing to note is that it is not only the companies that try to solicit information. More and more online consumers are increasingly contributing their information willingly at various web sites. In a recent study by Pew Internet and American Life Project, more than half of all web site visitors contribute by providing personal information, taking surveys or offering feedback in some other way.

Could the Internet Ever Replace the book?

I am always hearing my friends degrading the status that a book has. Some claim that whatever is found in the books is hardly applicable in the real world, so why bother reading them. Still others from the same school of thought attribute their belief to the Internet.

Here is an interesting article that talks about why the Internet may never replace a conventional library of books.Perhaps, it is the declining culture of reading that makes for such stupid comments and beliefs or it could be ignorance. Anyway try reading this article and see some long held myths challenged.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Google Scholar

Google has an amazing sense of business. It's engineers and business analysts seem to be more competent than of any other in the industry. Take Google Scholar for example. There is nothing new that Google couldnt already do.

Google had allowed the use of prefixes that allowed filtering of online documents through its entry point. The service is basically a front-end that simplifies the whole ordeal.

Google Search Techniques

Students these days are well aware of the power of search engines for their assignments, reports, presentations, etc. The load of information accessible via the Internet has made the use of search engines very popular among students, especially those enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. Search engines amass a wealth of information on a daily basis and sorting through the results could be a very hectic task for time-strapped students. The most popular search engine indexes more than 8 billion web pages! Surely, sorting through such a huge database is not trivial. However, search engines also include special mechanisms to tweak the search queries, that could restrict the results to only the most relevant, and make sorting through the junk a breeze.

The first thing to know is that the Google engine is programmed to exclude several common words such as "where" and "how." Therefore, if you search for "How do networks work?", your results would most likely be distorted because the common word "how" was ignored. The proper way to query Google is to place these words in quotes. Google also restricts certain other words such as "and" and "of". Suppose your query was "History of Pakistan". In all probability, you would end up with redundant results because the "of" was ignored. Simply precede the excluded words with a + sign to solve the problem.

Google search engine is popular because it is based on indexing technology - unlike Yahoo. The Google spiders continuously move around the cyberspace looking for newer sites. It is, thus, quite possible that you may want to search through a specific site for your required information. If you want to query a specific site for a search term, Google makes that possible too. Suppose you wanted to search for the phrase IT at DAWN. Using Google, type "IT".

Searching through the information databases requires some careful thinking. Most of the search engines like Google tend to return results based on the number of links to a particular site. It is a popular practice by academic web sites to link to other web sites that host similar content. Therefore, if you have an authentic reference site and would like to find others that are similar to the one you found, try "". Sometimes you may have to work your way backward to find sites with similar content. If you have tried tweaking your queries and are still unable to get the related sources, it is quite possible that Google has not yet indexed the appropriate sites. However, your required site may exist on some other sites' links that the Google spiders have crawled onto. In such a case, you can try to find sites that have links to a particular web page that Google has already indexed by typing "" . This would yield sites that have links to the - sites that link to a particular site such as are likely to have similar content, more or less.

Apart from web pages, there are other documents such as MS-Word and Adobe Acrobat (PDF) documents that may be of interest to you. Since a pdf or a word file is convenient to read, easier to print and does not clog the telephone line, you may also carry out a search that returns only these file types. Using Google, type "IT filetype:doc OR filetype:pdf". This would search for MS-Word or PDF files that contain the phrase IT. Once you have the required results, you can download the file and read at your leisure.

The WWW started getting popular in 1995 with the introduction of HTML. Today, in 2004, there are more than a billion pages. As such, it is quite likely that your queries may turn up pages that have obsolete information. To rectify this problem, Google searches can be carried out for a specific time period that would ensure that the search results are current. A date restricted search can be carried out by typing "IT datarange:2902322-2902422". The range takes the start and end dates in Julian format. The Julian date is calculated by the number of days since January 1, 4713 BC. You can simply query Google to find a Julian date for any date range that you want to use. Alternatively, you can use for conversion.

The Google engine returns query results based on the words that are found in either the Title, URL or the body of the web pages. However, a matching result in the Title or the URL is hardly the kind of search that most students are looking for. More often, people require content and the content is found within the body of the web pages. Therefore, to restrict results to those with all of the query words in only the body text, use "allintext:IT in Pakistan". This would yield results that carry the term in the body. This technique has become more than necessary because of the amazing number of sites that carry misleading titles and URL's that are only discovered on accessing the site. This would also prevent you from navigating to sites that spawn worms or download adware.

The Google search engine can also be used as a virtual dictionary. You no longer have to roam the cyberspace for sites to find meanings for a particular word or phrase. Using Google, type "define:retrospective" to find the meaning for the word retrospective. The define operator shows you a list of definitions aggregated from various sources.

The query strategies shown above can be combined with one another to target the most appropriate site of your interest. For example, if you want to search for PDF files in the a sub-section of a web site you would use "outsourcing+opportunities filetype:pdf". This would show all the pdf files at that deal with outsourcing. You can also redefine your search terms with a tilde operator "~" to also search for synonyms. In the end, it is important to emphasize that a search engine is only as good as the query it is fed. Cyberspace is loaded with informative sites - all it takes is a little tweaking of the query to find the one that is most relevant.

End Note: Please make sure that all operators that end with a colon ":" have no space between the colon and the search term. Example:

Sunday, November 21, 2004

IT Education : Time for a Radical Change

IT is an acronym for what many people consider to be the path to more money, a better career or land at the highest echelons of the social circle. Judging by the existence of various round-the- corner IT institutes in various localities of Karachi, demand for an IT education seems to know of no limits. The abundance of institutes and universities offering courses in the various disciplines of IT is often used to assess Pakistan's relative strength in this area. However, we fail to realize it is the quality of education and not its quantity that would actually determine Pakistan's place in the field of IT.

Information Technology (IT) refers to the various means to facilitate the collection, transmittal and storage of information. The most common means for information processing is the use of computers. However, it would be a huge mistake to equate IT with computer sciences. In fact, this mistake has often been made by some of our IT gurus. The American Heritage Dictionary defines technology as, "the application of science." Hence, an accountant managing the ledger books is just as involved with IT as a network engineer. However, since a computer makes the processing of information rather easier, IT has become linked to computers. This article discusses the state of IT education in Pakistan and how we can improve our chances to out-compete IT monsters like India and China.

Unfortunately, the state of IT education in Pakistan is pathetic. The principle problem is the obsolete material that is taught by most of the universities in Pakistan. Instead of a curriculum that would prepare the students for the future, most of the courses fail to adequately address the needs of even the present. A student pursuing a computer science program is offered a preliminary course in the C language. However, the days of C language are numbered and its scope is quickly fading out. With the extreme penetration of Internet and use of mobile devices, the curriculum should instead focus on technologies that would enable production on such medium. Preferably, the curriculum should include Java language as an introductory course followed by courses in the .NET Framework.

However, this is not to say that the entire syllabus is out of sync. Although, universities do offer courses that are in line with the industry's demands, such courses are not industry or business oriented. Most of these advanced courses fail to impart the analytical skills.

Just like the construction of a building is based on a blueprint design, the construction of an information system and all its components (including the software) also requires careful planning and designing. The lack of adequate analysis and design skills has left us far behind our neighboring IT giant, India. Most of the IT projects outsourced to India are those that require analytical skills. Unfortunately, the curriculum in Pakistan emphasizes more on the programming side of things, rather than the design. It is not the shortage of programmers but of people with analytical and design skills that has slowed our growth. To fill this gap, universities must include courses that can help the students build their analytical and conceptual skills. Business administration courses can help, especially courses related to finance and economics. This integration of business education with computer science and engineering should be a priority for the government and schools offering professional degrees.
The teaching methodology also deserves some remarks. Teaching a course in the classroom and flipping through the PowerPoint slides is a tactic that needs to be eliminated for good. Instead, teachers should adopt creative ways to impart knowledge. Teachers need to find ways to make the students learn by using the means that they love; for example Internet chatting. Internet chatting is quite an addiction worldwide. The technology also supports voice chatting and video conferencing. Using Voice and Internet chat, students can easily be taught communication skills, customer service skills, skills required to run a call center, etc. All chatting is not bad and using MSN as a teacher's aid would increase the students' interest, and consequently the level of motivation, in the course.

With the advent of video conferencing, holding classes over the Net has become a reality. Why not arrange for that extra session on a Sunday over the Internet, rather than asking the students to commute to the university. Since attendance is usually short during these extra weekend sessions, distance learning might be just the cure. Besides, making the students aware of video conferencing and chat etiquette is just as important as teaching them conventional manners, because professional careers would require the IT graduates to make the most of these technologies.

This training to use the latest technologies is also needed to tap into the outsourcing opportunities provided to South Asia by the corporations of the West. According to a research conducted by Gartner Group and IDC, about 80% of the IT based projects would have been outsourced by the year-end. Unfortunately, Pakistan is not part of the statistics and is seldom the location of preference for any major project. Although outsourcing has solutions to some of the most sought after macroeconomic problems such as employment and poverty, the IT curriculum in Pakistan remains oblivious of such global trends.

Another major problem lies in the editions of the textbooks that are used. Most of the universities prefer to use outdated editions even though revised editions are easily available in the market. Most of us are aware of the exponential pace of technological changes, yet the students still using editions published in the late 1990's. Although this situation holds true for many of the other disciplines, it has greater consequences for students enrolled in a technology-based curriculum. In fact, the very use of obsolete material fades the purpose of IT - IT required Information to be relevant and timely.

Apart from the traditional classroom instruction, IT education is also promoted through electronic media. The media, which is most often credited with having the potential to mass educate and bring about societal changes, has failed to bring about any substantial changes or IT awareness amongst the masses. We cannot reasonably expect the entire Pakistani population to benefit from any educational program as long as the channels continue to use English as the medium of broadcast.

The education system is quite unique from the IT perspective. Information Technology education is actually a subsystem of a system that also includes (besides schools) ISP's, Internet, VPN's, and utilities such as the telecommunications (PTCL) and electrical (KESC and WAPDA) agencies. We are all well aware of the problems experienced while browsing the Internet. We have all faced poor bandwidth, connection problems and disconnection. It is high time that the government takes measurable efforts to revamp the infrastructure that is so crucial in developing an information based society. Without an extreme overhaul of the facilities, the IT graduates cannot produce substantial gains. The system must be changed. There is no way out.

First it was the Industrial Revolution now it is the Information Technology Revolution. The way that information has penetrated into all parts of our life and, inevitably, would continue to do so is remarkable. A revolution brings about changes in a nation's socioeconomic structure, which the IT seems to be doing. However, instead of embracing it as a revolutionary force and implementing it in all walks of life, IT has become akin to a fad for most of us. Fads come and go while revolutions almost always bring about some positive change. Introducing a radial change in our educational system is the only way to bring about this positive change.

SWOT Analysis for Firefox

a) free of cost

b) integrated download manager

c) integrated popup blocker

d) integrated spyware detection

e) integrated adware detection

f) makes for a small download - 4.9 MB

a) in competition with Microsoft - which as we all know is loaded.

b) doesnt come integrated with Windows

a) more feasible for markets where intellectual property rights are acknowledged, respected and protected.

a) IE

b) Netscape Navigator

c) Opera

d) from a developer's perspective, IE comes bundled with OS, IE components are used to develop applications using Visual Programming languages and IE has its own XML parser. Firefox lacks a parser.

As long as Microsoft Windows continues to be a defacto standard for home PC's, firefox would have a hard time competing with IE. It's one thing to download a 4.9 MB application and entirely another to actually make a complete switch over. With the versatility that comes with IE, I doubt anyone would ever ditch IE completely.

If you guys disagree with something or would like to add some to the SWOT, please do tell me. Thanks

Friday, October 29, 2004

Digital Pakistan News Aggregator Launched

Hello, I have recently put out my news aggregator for beta testing. Users can quickly add ATOM feeds of their blogs and then generate code to add live content to their blogs.

Please give me your comments on the service. The URL is

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Has BLUETOOTH replaced the Singles' Bar in Europe?

There is a trend these days in Britain to find a date using BLUETOOTH. BLUETOOTH technology allows people to send anonymous messages to people in a close vicinity. Read this article to find out more. It's quite interesting.

Who is the Culprit: MSN or GMAIL?

For the past few days I have been receiving strange emails from a known email address with a domain! What happened was that a person contacted me on my GMAIL account via an email address with a Pakistani SMTP and IP address. I added this person to my MSN. After about an hour of adding this person, I received a sex email with an attachment that my hotmail account detected as infected. The ID was that of the person whom I had added - what differed was the domain. HOTMAL.COM, instead of (notice the I missing).

I was a bit surprised at having received such an email for my eye had interpreted the address as HOTMAIL's rather than HOTMAL's. It was only after a long and hard stare at my monitor that I managed to notice the mal.

It's kinda strange receiving an email soon after I have added someone on my contact. I wonder who could be the culprit. Was it MSN that somehow manages to leak addresses or was it GMAIL that patronizes such activities. Or could it be the Pakistani ISP?

Got any ideas guys? I, for one, am quite perplexed.

Congratulations LUMS!

An international panel of experts has selected the work of the students of Lahore University of Management Sciences who made it to the top ten of the IEEE Computer Society's 5th Annual International Design Competition (CSIDC), 2004 held at Washington DC- USA. Their project was titled "SensUS Structure Security System." The system is actually a sensor based for security purposes. It can detect deviations in real time.

The LUMS team included Dr. Zartash Afzal Uzmi (Project Consultant), Tashfeen Suleman, Zaheer-ul-Qamar Khan, Muhammed Azfar Khan and Ahsan Akhlaq Mughal (students).

The theme of this year's competition ws "Making the World a Safer Place."
Congratulations LUMS!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

CBR Plans Reference Value Database

According to the DAWN Business, Friday Oct. 22, 2004, CBR has decided to establish a database with the intent "for maintaining uniformity in assessment of imported goods at all custom stations." The effort is worth a pat on the back.

How manu custom officials would actually consult such a database is anybody's guess. Unless the plague of corruption is carefully diagnosed and eradicated, such projects would fail to deliver and end up as losses showing up on the national income statement.

I wonder whether a feasibility study was conducted for this.

Federal Govt Data Center and Intranet

The federal government has decided to setup a data center and an intranet. The strategy is to construct a data warehouse and automate the federal government operations. Seems encouraging.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Spam Mail on Rise

Spam Mail is at it again! The back to school season and the US Presidential Elections in November were subjects of about 82 percent of spam mail sent this August.

India under the Spotlight Again

Offshore outsourcing has come under the spotlight as an antagonist because of stolen code. According to Computer World Pakistan, Australian companies have began to rethink their corporate IT strategies while outsourcing projects to India. According to Ajoy Ghosh, a IT security consultant at Jolly Technologies in Mumbai, jacked code is partly due to the lack of strict laws relating to intellectual property rights.

Would foreign confidence in India decline due to such stories, and consequently, is our industry also about to face some serious consequences? Although Pakistan has never been high on the "foreign confidence manifesto" and has always been subjected to a lethargic attitude, the recent code jacking issue in India could work in favor of Pakistan.

Added Live Content Syndication to Digital Pakistan

I have recently added a content syndication for this blog. You can see it right above the shoutbox.

If you would like to add content syndication to your blogs, please email me at I am also working on a script for a membership based site that would automatically allow people to create content syndication individually. Wish me Luck! I need all that I can get :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Use Blogs to Earn Money

Ever wondered how to make money using your blog? Stop wondering and start clicking.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

FREE Internet Access in Pakistan

Are there any possibilities of FREE INTERNET ACCESS in Pakistan? Even if an advertisement supported ISP model is adopted, there is much too corruption for this to become reality.
What do you guys think?

So 9-5 isn't Your Cup of Tea?

So you have pondered over it a bit at sehree and a little more during the iftar tea. Working 9-5 just doesn't suit your temperament and you would rather be your own boss. You heard of it, read about it and now dying to try it. The Internet entrepreneur-ship makes sense to you. You are certain that you've got what it takes to succeed in the digital economy. Good!

"Now wait a second... Don't I need an Internet merchant account to accept credit cards", you think out loud. Luckily, NO YOU DON'T! Third party processors can handle your payments. For your convenience, I have compiled a list of credible processors. Please download it at The zipped file has 1 MS-WORD document.

If the 9-5 work schedule isn't helping, then Internet just might have the solution. Don't be afraid. Give it a try!

Word of Caution: Third party processors do charge a lot per transaction. It is recommended that once your business picks up, apply for a merchant account.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

XML Standards for the Financial Sector

I am working on a XML project for the financial industry. It is my belief that the Pakistan Financial Sector should have its own XML schemas (or DTD's) so that industrial cross-communication can be easier. You can read more about this project at

If you can't beat 'em,join 'em

  • Did you know that 31% of all of Claria's sales come from Yahoo
  • Google Desktop may carry a virus. Read more about it at
  • Some search engines categorize their sites by vulnerability. This categorization is available for anyone to access. Hence, a potential source of worm attacks to web sites! According to a report in ComputerWorld Pakistan -July 1, 2004- both Google Inc., and Yahoo Inc. maintain such lists.
  • According to Jupiter Research, 12 percent of companies that advertise online utilize some form of adware marketing
  • From Jan 2004 - April 2004 EarthLink's SpyAudit has detected more than 7 million copies of adware programs and another 32 million instances of adware related cookie files.
There is no way out for the wired user, especially when trusted names like Google and Yahoo indugle in such activites. Malware is part of the digi-society much like criminals are of the real world. Learn to live with it. For IT professionals, I think we need to start developing adware of our own. At least this way we can mass advertise the local industries in the global market.
That is exactly what I am doing by endorsing malware in all its forms - of course, as long as the wares don't spread any Trojan horses or system jackers.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Integrate IT education with Business Administration

The curriculum for most computer oriented disciplines such as computer science and engineering lack one crucial ingredient: business domain studies. Consequentlym the professionals floated in the market are unable to engineer visionary solutions. The comprehension of business domain is mandatory as, eventually, the professionals have to work for some organization.

The computer experts should excel in enabling innovative markets, integrating transparent supply chains and strategizing ubiquitous relationships as they do in harnessing and delivering robust information systems.

One of the first programs to integrate the disciplines of Computer Sciences and Business Administration was started by Hamdard University, City Campus. Known as BSBI (Bachelor of Science in Business Informatics), the program:

"is a unique blend of Business Administration and Computer Science courses. The Program has been designed to develop modern managers in the application of Information Technology in business activities to bring about changes in concepts, systems and organizational structures."

Other institutes like KASBIT have also started such a program. Other universities in Pakistan should also offer such degree programs.

What Hinders E-commerce in Pakistan?

As the Internet continues to infiltrates our lives, the digitization of business processes is becoming akin to enterprise survival. While the western corporations have shifted some or all of their processes to the digital world, Pakistan has yet to trap the monster. Amongst a number of other compelling reasons for this failure, the consumers' skeptical attitude towards the electronic paradigm is the most visible hindrance. According to market research firms, over a trillion dollars in revenue would be generated through the Internet by the year-end. Clearly, Internet may just have the answer to some of our macroeconomic problems like employment and poverty.

The customer awareness is mandatory for survival of e-commerce in Pakistan. Customers must be made to understand that a transaction over the Internet is only as risky as its offline counterpart. The digital world is no different than the real world in terms of fraud and theft. On the contrary, Internet is a haven for consumers with a restricted budget that offers convenient and cost-effective access to the global markets. Building the customers' confidence should, thus, be the cornerstone of any ecommerce promotion initiative in Pakistan. The companies must take a proactive approach by educating the customers on the pros of e-commerce.

As a first step, e-enabled companies should use the Internet to facilitate business processes that do not require the customer to delve out any personal information over the Internet. Since the aim is to alter the perception and the misperceptions of ecommerce, customer services and customer relationship management (CRM) programs are the optimum candidates for rudimentary digitization in Pakistan. According to Gartner Group, 68 percent of all customers switch over because of poor customer service. If this is not enough to make our IT pundits and managers listen, then what is?

CRM is the fundamental means of increasing sales. Whereas, such initiatives involved significant costs in the past, the digital era seeks to impress upon other investments such as organizational commitment to customer satisfaction. Money is no longer a stress factor. In other words, CRM via Internet comes really cheap if you consider the long-term benefits of a solid and trustworthy relationship with your customers. There are plenty of sites that offer CRM programs - just do a search on Google. You can also check out and

We have to understand that customer confidence is a function of organizational commitment to the customers. In the digital era, where there is a massive influx of quality information, customers have to be pampered and treated like royalty. Trust is the key element of any relationship and the one formed with your customers should not lack it. The goal of customer satisfaction should be communicated subliminally to smooth out the public's apprehensions about transactions on the Internet.

The e-commerce mantra also dictates an expansion of services to facilitate transactions. Currently, Citibank is the only one to offer Internet merchant accounts that accept Pakistani Rupee credit cards on the Web. It is not about growth of e-commerce in Pakistan. Rather, the question remains whether Pakistan has what it takes to capitalize on the tools of e-commerce. Just as malls and markets characterized the pre-digital era, the future is almost certain to be dominated by e-commerce.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Google Desktop in Beta Testing

Google has struck again. This time the company has launced a search engine for your desktop - much like Google pitch claims that the users' data would never be transmitted over the wires. I find it hard to believe. How does a company continue to provide free services at no cost? It goes against the corporate nature - there are COSTS involved!
Obviously, adware and spyware is the what such free software transmits. So Google pitch is a pure lie! Dont believe it.
However, I am also a stauch supporter of advertisement supported software. Therefore, as long as Google can promise that no malicious code or virus would be transmitted through its network, I am willing to give it a try. I dont mind someone snooping on my online activity because I know that the benefits of advertisement based software are ultimately passed on to me - the consumer. Free email, Free chat, Free web hosting, Free blogs, Free business cards, Free voice mail is all because of advertisements on the Net.
Pakistan Developers need to start transmitting adware of their own!

Pakistan has what it takes to be at the TOP

SPOTLIGHT: Pakistani Web Developers Community

A good attempt by Muhammed Bilal has been made to revive the dying Pakistani Web Development scene in Pakistan. The web site at is a fantastic forum based site to discuss Web Developement related issues.

Good Job Bilal !

Where do WE stand?

According to SPIDER, Oct. 2004:
  • India targets to quadruple software exports by 2010. Currently, software exports are worth US $12.5 billion!
  • X-box is about to launch in India
  • Sybase Inc. has decided to setup a development center in Pune

According to The Gartner Group:

  • About 80 percent of IT projects from major firms would have been outsourced to India by the year-end (end of 2004)

Food for Thought: Where are We?

Internet Media City for Karachi

The Government of Pakistan has signed an agreement with UAE to setup three Internet Media Cities in the country: Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Good for Mr. Mustafa Kamal, IT Minister for Sindh. For the rest of us, we should wait and see how the project materializes before getting all enthusiastic about it. The Internet Parks (yes, those glossy buildings at Sharah-e-Faisal) have yet to prove their worth to the IT scene. Let us just hope that this new media city project is not a waste of the hard-earned and accumulated national exchequer.

I fail to see the logic behind opening one up in Islamabad. An Internet Media City in Sialkot, Faisalabad or even Peshawar would be feasible. Feasible in terms of spreading IT literacy amongst the masses. The only feasibility feature of Islamabad is the inflow of some real hard cash.
What do you guys think?

Anti-spyware Legislation

The US has drafted an anti-spyware bill and it would soon be moved in the Senate and the House for approval. I think the whole exercise would be fruitless. How would such a law, if ever passed, be implemented across international borders? And imagine the amount of monetary committment such an act would require in the form of a new law enforcement agency, a new department to deal with it (if not given to existing department), etc.
I just hope we Pakistanis dont follow suit and try to draft our own version of the bill to demonstrate our IT awareness and committment to the world.
Allah Hafiz

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Thanks to Allah

No new post tonight. Was having a bit of rough time for the past few days and I got through them.
Allah ka lakh lakh shukar hai. Guys, dont forget to tell me what u think about my spyware post.
Allah Hafiz

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Spyware has a good side

The purpose of spyware software is not to illegally monitor your Internet activities. Rather, it is to obtain information aboutconsumer tastes, preferences and behavior on the Net that wouldhelp the merchants in providing better goods and services. It is a giventhat consumers while on the Internet have very different attributes than when offline. And, market research is an absolute necessity to figureout this behavior pattern. Spyware is just another way to conduct this marketresearch about the wired consumer.

Like other things, spyware and adware technology has been exploited bycertain individuals/groups. The provision of net-adverts is whatkeeps necessities like email, MSN, Internet (in some countries), web hosting, 1000 MB Gmail service, voice mail, etc. FREE!

I have just come to know that the US has passed an anti-spyware bill. Absurd is all that I have to say. Even if spyware was all badand had no value-strings attached, how would such a bill be enforced?Internet has no boundaries; it has no demarcations; it has nolaw enforcement of its own; it has no judiciary and neither are thereany lawyers. The bill is a waste of time and money.

And what about the spam mail? Could it ever be stopped? Hardly.So before we Pakistanis think of following suit by adopting the bullshit legislations, THINK TWICE! We hardly have the resourcesto go chasing after something like this.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Freelancers Make Money Now!

Internet presents numerous opportunities for freelancers to show off their talent and earn some serious money. There are numerous web sites that offering projects for freelancers to work on. Some good sites are:
You can register for free, and then start to bid on projects that you want to work at. You can get paid easily through Western Union, paypal and a host of other options.
There are a number of categories available - from writers to programmers and any other field that you can imagine. Try it out. Its easy and it works.
Pakistan's unemployment rate has risen to 8.7 percent. We have a large underemployment rate. Speaking for IT graduates, supply is more than what the domestic demand can swallow. If you are just out of school, trying your hand at freelancing may not be such a bad idea. All in all, these web sites are a good bet to check out.

The Other Side of Chatting

Chatting as a medium of communication has gotten loads of attention. It is, perhaps, an activity undertaken by all netizens- surpassed only by our familiar friend, the email. It is, however, unfortunate that most people in Pakistan use chat as a means to satisfy their lust or, as they say in the local lingo bachee set karna. Don't get me wrong. I have probably tried to catch a girl's attention once or twice over the chat. Personally, I feel that there is nothing wrong with trying to find that one true love over the net. However, I do desist the fact that chatting has become akin to a singles' bar to most Pakistanis.

All chatting is not bad. As the world gets digital by the second, and a Net connected PC become synonymous to owning a TV, chatting can serve as a good tool to groom the Pakistani students' communication skills. Why not teach students how to provide top-notch customer support by means of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) - afterall, the future would demand our IT graduates to know the digital etiquettes. More and more web sites now offer customer support via the chat rooms.

The problem, in my opinion, remains on the academic side. Most of the universities in Pakistan ban chatting in the computer labs. By banning something, we force the students to put on their rebel's hats and do what they shouldnt be doing in the first place. We need to change our education system to accomodate the latest Internet technologies in the curriculum. After all, in order to prepare students for the future, we need to make use of tools that are for the future. And, what better tool than the massive Internet.

Are Prime Minister Aziz, Dr. Atta-Ur-Rehman and stakeholders of major universities listening?