Thanks to global warming even in april there is quite a heavy snowfall in surrey. I took a few pictures in the campus today. You can see from the picture of my shoes how deep the snow is.
Archive for the ‘Random Writings’ Category
Surrey’s climate is really unpredictable. It is shiny one day and the same night it snows. Yea even in late March when Founders is full of daffodils we got ocassional pour down of snow. Not to mention whenever Im out without my umbrella it starts raining. A took some pictures of a whole lovely bunch of daisy’s and daffodils at the back of Founders Building. One with an ancient touch is below.
The world celebrated the Software Freedom Day on 15th September 2007. We had some 100+ countries and more than 300 groups covering the free software world in different form of activities, presentations and events. The webmasters of FAST-NU Karachi also organized an event and talk series on the day and I felt really honored and delighted when I got an invitation to speak before the undergraduates of what open source is and how it is used in the industry.
I chose the topic “Open Source in the enterprise” picking up the best open source projects I use frequently and have known to be used as solid, industry standard applications in different domains. It was a wonderful experience going back to my university and meeting with a bunch of brilliant future computer scientists.
The slides of the presentation can be found here.
Im had been passing through a period of writers block since months now, where I had a feeling of just nothing to write or say. Had been running away from people too (which is my usual nature) so this blog entry is just an effort to break some ice and start over from where i left.
Life had been busy (with work), sad (for leaving home), happy (for studying again), exciting (for joining ISG) all at the same time. After evaluating a couple of options (and fed up with H1 visa issues) i decided to move on and do my masters.
Surrey is a cool place, lots of greenery, lots of rain, lots of old British buildings and not to mention the cool campus of Royal Holloway. I took some snaps of the Founders Building which is the most awesome thing to see in the campus.
The university is huge (from my standards at least), somewhat spread over 200 acres. Every building has a different taste, built and look altogether (depending upon the department off course). I still havent had the chance to roam about and look at the entire university but will post my pictures and details as time moves along. I posted a few snaps on flickr and can be seen here.
Freedom of speech, upgrading of the network infrastrucure, internet facilities in all parts of the country is what our government claims. but starting from the new Year they gifted us with another ban on the worlds leading free blog provider: wordpress.
Earlier last year the Pakistani authorities blocked blogspot. Earlier this year they suddenly realised there is another blogging engine (wordpress) gaining popularity, why not block it as well, and there you go. As of 1st Jan all outgoing traffic to *.wordpress.com is being filtered and blocked. This time they’ve been a bit more wise though. They’ve also made an attempt to ban and filter some public proxy lists and open site relays (for e.g unipeak.net , xroxy.com , openproxyservers etc)
Blogspot ban was sad and irritating but many people found workarounds (TOR, pkblogs, google caches, anonymous and open proxies) to access them. Eventually the same will happen to wordpress. Little pity they do not realise they are just irratating the mass who only takes a little time in finding another way to get the content they want.
I am not against censorship, I believe countries like China and the ones in Middle East do a pretty good job in blocking porn and lame sites like orkut (im calling it lame due to the PURPOSE it is used specially in pakistan, and with the increasing number of teenagers subscribing and wasting their time and bandwidth); but our dear policy makers will not ban morally questionable material, they will not block a limited number of blogs which they could find harmful, they could not
filter traffic based on content, they just block all *.wordpress.com, phew. More irritating is the fact that there seems to be no news, no prior notice, no press release, no NOTHING about whatever they do, block, allow or filer.
I am not saying that there is no illegal or censorable material on the wordpress blogs but i believe the boom of Web 2 and specially open blogging have contributed more in the postive sense to structured and organised information / idea distribution.
Living in a country which is already very behind in education, reasearch and more importantly freedom of speech and press, internet censorship to worlds two of the major blogs and numerous other linked (subnet and ip) sites will only harm the growth of personal expression of talent, ideas, information and knowledge.
For the first time in Pakistan, the responsible in a “cracking-for-ransom” case was arrested by authorities.
This was the announce made by The Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last week and immediately reported by the Daily Times of Pakistan.As a FIA agent declared, authorities arrested a man named Waqas Abrar for hacking into e-mail systems of the Center for Development and Peace Initiative (CDPI).
Once he got the access to a account, Abrar changed its passwords in order to prevent other accesses to the data and demanded over 40,000 Pakistani Rupees as a ransom to restore the access.
Abar (23) was arrested in an Internet cafe. Police firmly believe that this is not his first experience as cyber criminal. If convicted he will face up to 7 years in prison and a 1-million-rupee fine.
I was recently requested that the liscencing of RCE (GPL Liscence) is too restrictive. I do not wish to debate over the difference liscences available for the open source community, yet I personally believe any kind of a restrictive clause in a liscence hurts the cause and the spirit of the foundation on which free software movement was built.
I tend to be quite flexible in distributing whatever code i write, so even though i was informed that my code will be used in a closed source proprietry application, still i did not hesitate in changing the liscencing structure.
So as of today, RCE is available under a revised BSD liscence.
Last month was sad (my beloved lappy got stolen) termed by mom as my 2nd wife (the first being the old system i used to have at home), losing all ur technical belongings in one go is surely very painful (not to mention frustrating) as well.
Last month was busy – Had to go 8 days in a row dealing with the local police authorities for filing a damn FIR . Ran around in the office to get the documentation done. Finding / recovering stuff from my backups, source servers, internet, personal harddrives, workplace CVS and what not.
Last month was happy – Met some of my old university friends after a long time. Had a great time together.
Last month was boring – With almost quite some activities coming to a halt with no laptop (no blogging / coding / studying / designing)
Some of my friends thought im sick, with some whom i had some professional comittments thought i ran away :), some thought im dead, oh no im not im still here and back with a bang !!
Some time ago i wrote about internet privacy and some steps to hide your online presence. I have been an aggressive user of Tor lately running a Tor server myself. Lately i was asked by quite a many (not so technical people) to have an instance of Tor running on there systems (whatever purpose they wanted to achieve i wasnt interested) but for many even the simplest instructions for setting up Tor + Privoxy + a switch proxy plugin wont do and probably on mass install (say for e.g in a test lab network of hundred pc’s this could be a little time consuming).
Searching for some automated scripts / installers for Tor i found the TorPark Project. The project description says:
Download Torpark and put it on a USB Flash keychain. Plug it into any internet terminal whether at home, school, or public. Run Torpark.exe and it will launch a Tor circuit connection, which creates an encrypted tunnel from your computer indirectly to a Tor exit computer, allowing you to surf the internet anonymously. How much does Torpark cost? IT’S FREE.
I dont see anything more simpler at the moment.