A blog by iFaqeer
about life, technology and getting by in Silicon Valley

Wednesday, June 28, 2006



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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pilot for Commentary on WBT TV  

I am starting a regular commentary segment on WBT-TV, a Business and Technology program on Comcast Channel 15 in San Jose, California. This is the pilot edition and will be reposted in final form next week.

The online home for this commetary is on my own website at http://ifaqeer.wikispaces.com/Technology+Society+and+You Please drop by there and engage in the discussion—or leave comments below.

The WBT-TV website is at http://www.wbt-tv.com

The media file for this segment is available directly at: http://ia310129.us.archive.org/0/items/TechnologySocietyandYouPilot/Sabahat-On-WBT_64kb.mp4

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Enron Verdicts...And the Lessons for Us  

The Enron verdicts came down today. Just heard the Prosecutor in that case say that the jury had "sent a strong message to boardrooms" against "lieing to the shareholders" and "puttting themselves above the interests of their employees".

Now that's an interesting message. I'd love to talk about how that kind of message, if really conveyed, and really received, means for Silicon Valley.

Let's have a conversation about that. Please leave a comment here, or on the Wikispaces space, or email me.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Personal, Electronic Testament on Pakisan  

Adil Najam's Pakistan- Based on Faiz Ahmed Faiz's "Hum Daiykain Gay".
6 minutes and 35 seconds
April 24th, 2006

Here's a personal testament from one Pakistani about his country. It's also a very interesting piece of electronic art incorporating one of the most popular pieces of Urdu poetry written in the 20th Century:


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Hufftington Post, Online Branding and Monetizing...and Muslim Voices  

Apologise for the stream of consciousness nature of this post. And for being MIA again. Been a little tied-up and distracted. (Moving to new digs this week! is the good news.)

I went to this month's Stanford/MIT VLAB's monthly event in the Bay Area (thanks McGuj, for hooking me up!), which was on "How to Monetize New Media Channels and Make Ad Revenue Real". That's Silicon Valley-speak for "making money out of your readers/users online". I'll try to do a detailed post on my notes from that event later, but a couple of the loudest messages from that event seemed to be that firstly, there's more money being pumped into online advertising than there is "compelling" (that word keeps coming up) content that advertisers can put it on and get good results. And secondly, the ad industry, or at least that panel, seemed to be focused on the need to better qualify and value (in the sense of setting the right price for) page views. Right now, it seems they are being sold and valued in bulk. These thoughts should be worth following up on with time.

But being in that state of mind, the column in the New York Times today titled "Building a Brand With a Blog" and about how Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post have done since that website started caught my eye even more. Of course, the trail of how it started seeming like it would be a celebrity blog site and morphed (we say "reinvented" here in Silicon Valley) into a place with lots of different voices is something we are familiar with here in Silicon Valley in the context of how ventures, particularly those related to the Internet, evolve and change to become successful.

iFaqeer has some more things to say about the number and quality of Muslims voices on the HuffPo. Check out the post on that blog. On balance, I have to say I am impressed by what the HuffPo is doing in this regard. One thing I think might be worth doing--maybe as part of the The Muslim Center's efforts is to do a "HP Blog, Muslim Edition". I wonder how they'd react if I approached them for a co-branding discussion...

Another rather interesting discussion I had with someone at the event was exciting. Will keep readers posted if anything develops.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Window into Pakistan; The Karachi Photo Blog  

Friend and fellow writer/blogger Cemendtaur is in Pakistan for a while and has a photoblog providing a rather nuts and bolts stream from The Land of the Pure:


My favorite post is the very first one; scroll all the way down to the bottom of:


PS, February 15th, 2006: As a postscript to that review, almost as if on cue in the last couple of days, there've been some reports of a McDonald's being torched in Pakistan. The only thing I can say for now is that the latter report seems to be from Islamabad, while the picture above is of the Mickey D's in Karachi.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Urdu Tech News: "The Marriage of Google Mail and Google Talk"  

Back in September, I was invited to join a new blog in Urdu about technical topics. It's at:


I haven't been able to contribute to it much. But the other folks are doing good work, if a little slowly. And they're having fun with it! Take the following post; a headline like the one at the top of this post would not be out of the ordinary, right? But Shoaib Safdar has taken that and written pretty much the same thing in Urdu--with very interesting results! I guess it will take a while for us--or me, at least--to get so comfortable with this kind of thing in Urdu to take this kind of thing in my stride. Until then, it's rather endearing; enjoy!


I mean, the traditional way to say that would be "GMail aur Google Talk ka milaap", but Shoaib takes it a step further, to "GMail aur Google Talk ka biyaah".

Hey, what can you do! It's a brave new world, this blogosphere; and new ways of expressing ourselves are the whole point, no?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Help is for Experts  

Interesting insight, that. Friend of mine just forwarded the following link:


Thursday, February 02, 2006

IRC Briefing on Quake Relief--live blogging  

I am at the IRC briefing and will be posting updates on my blog--and will try to do as much as I can real-time:


[See the bottom of the page for the posts from the event.]

Monday, January 30, 2006

Wire-less, PC-less, and other Tales of Woe..and Enlightenment  

We've been spending weekends in a (relatively) small town an hour inland from San Francisco. I usually hang out with the kids, go fishing and the like. One thing I wanted to do was buy a laptop that we could use on the weekend and I could catch up on blogging and other sundry things I've been wanting to do.

Which brings me to my trying to decide what computer to buy. Back on the 4th of July, I'd taken the plunge and bought my first Mac. I've used them before, but this was the first I bought. So now that i was time to buy a laptop, I have been agonizing about whether to buy a G4 PowerBook or wait for the new Intel machines. And that whole issue is a long story I want to discuss some time, but to cut a long story short, I realised that all I needed was a machine that could surf and which worked enough to let me do e-mail and blog. And maybe wiki.

So what did I do?

Instead of buying a V 1.0 machine from Apple--or a product that was at the end of its lifecycle--I bought a previously owned Apple PowerBook G3 that came complete with a wireless card--off Craigslist. For 200 bucks! Honest!!

Of course, the first weekend I took it out...the internet connection at the hotel wouldn't work! I spent most of Saturday trying to figure out if it was just the Mac OS 9 that wouldn't work with the broadband provider's configuration (of course Tech Support said "We don't support Mac's, sir.") or what...and by Sunday, the little business center in their lobby didn't have working Internet, either. Spent some time investigating what the other options in the neighbourhood were--and in each case, I could just drive up next to a hotel and use my wireless card for a blazing fast connection. I still don't know why I put up with it all weekend long! Maybe because we didn't want to move the the family; maybe because this was the newest, spiffiest, cleanest hotel in the neighbourhood? But tell me this; if the plumbing in your hotel didn't work, would it be okay to wait till monday to get it fixed?!

The bright side of all this was that I realized that if you have a laptop with a wireless card (and a 110V "inverter") in your car, you really have high-speed access on demand almost anywhere you happen to be motoring in the US--when you've gotten your sandwich at the nearest rest stop, just pull up closer to the Motel or Inn there and fire up that machine!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Stop Badware  

Interesting new initiative:


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Outsourcing Plastic Surgery...to Pakistan  

When we talk about "Outsourcing", especially here in Silicon Valley, we too often think almost purely in terms of IT. But here come a couple of stories about life beyond our little bailiwick. Interestingly, they both came in yesterday on the same list and, come to think of it, it is a list for people in Pakistan. I guess on the "receiving end", so to speak, there's life besides IT.

The only other comment I can think of is that the US-based diaspora communities--and particularly in Silicon Valley--are just not, shall we say, mature enough to get to where they are doing things like this...
LONDON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The number of Pakistani women returning to their home country from England for discount plastic surgery with no waiting is on the rise.
Dr. Abdul Hameed, the president of the Pakistani Association of Plastic Surgeons, told The Independent the trend began four years ago when doctors noticed "waves of British clients" coming during the summer and winter holiday seasons. About 400 women were visiting the country to visit families and include some cosmetic surgery every year.
"The women know that the waiting lists for good cosmetic surgery in London are maybe three months long," he said. "In Pakistan, there is no waiting list. We do them whenever we get them."
Nose jobs, tummy tucks, liposuction and breast enlargements are the favored treatments for many, Hameed said.
Pakistan has about 70 plastic surgeons, mostly in Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi.

LAHORE, January 22 (Online): The Tools, Dies and Moulds Center in Karachi will be equipped with 100 seats of UGS' NX Software for Computer-Aided-Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) Systems for teaching, training and developing human resources for the rapidly growing engineering industry in Pakistan.



Wednesday, January 18, 2006

AutoCAD was a Girl's Software All Along?  

Was reading in the 'Merc (San Jose Mercury News, hometown newspaper of Silicon Valley) that the AutoDesk was changing CEOs after fourteen years. Now this is the company that makes AutoCAD, one of the first pieces of software I ever heard of, and have had friends that use it all along. Most of them mechanical engineers. Why do I mention that last point? Well, the article revealed to me, so to speak, that the CEO for the last decade and a half or so was one "Carol Bartz"...wha-!!! So my macho mechanical engineer friends have been using a girl's software all along?! Wha-! How do they show their faces every day?! I mean especially when we started, this was a very patriarchal community. I say "when we started" because, at least in the classroom, that rapidly changed even while we were still in engineering school.

But then, that was Pakistan; in the US, engineering remains still very heavily male-dominated, no?At least that's how it seems here in Silicon Valley. I mean, have you looked around you lately? And the funny thing is that if you look at the gender balance on any of those "offshore" teams out in India and other places, but especially in India, what's the gender ratio you see?

Sorry for ranting; but think about it!

American Jugni  

Just caught a bit of a song I rather liked on BBC Asian Network (in itself a new phenom worth discussing--desi, South Asian, radio the way it should be done!) and went looking for the name I thought they told me at the end of the set (this late afternoon listening in the UK): American Jugni.

I found another song by the same artist (Bikram Singh), and one which actually addresses the topic of an American Jugni (a "jugni", as best I have been able to understand it, is a Punjabi celebratory song):

aik amrikan jugni yaaron bangRa pondhee aa!

I'll dance to that!

Of course, the wording does point out what went through my mind when I heard the phrase: "Shouldn't that be 'Amrikan Jugni'?" since this is supposed to be in Punjabi? And yes, that's how the song identifies itself. There seems to be a whole album with that title. I will have to explore this further...

So, an American Jugni, friends, a new beat to dance to! We're moving past the "Patel Rap" that was not our own sound and now on to dancing to our own tune!

Let's try this again  

I've had several starts and stops on this blog. I guess one issue is bandwidth. Namely mine. The other thing is that Silicon Valley is such a close knit community, that it is a little odd to talk about things in public. Or is it? Or rather, isn't Silicon Valley a bunch of close-knit communities that often don't mix with each other?

But hey! Let's try this again; so here goes!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"Installing Urdu" (or other script) on Windows XP  

I just posted the following on a few blogs I contribute to. It is specific to Urdu, but should apply to other scripts like Devnagri (for Hindi), Arabic, Farsi, etc...

I have made a lot of noise along the way about blogging in Urdu and I promised instructions on how to install Urdu as a language that your Windows XP machine can handle. Here are the instructions, from the website of the Center for Research in Urdu Language Processing in Pakistan:


Once you have followed those instructions, you can use Urdu not just for blogging, but for pretty much anything you now use English and the English script for on your computer. And as I have said before, no, it is not the same as using InPage or some other editor to write Urdu, but using Urdu all the time. With the InPage solution (which is wonderful for "kitaabath" and page layout), what you have to do is convert your text in to a graphic and put it on your website or page, etc. But with this procedure, you can actually write directly in your HTML file, or Word document--or even while chatting with people over Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger or other IM client!

First published on Urdu ke Naam

Friday, September 16, 2005

Heckuva Deal!  

This has got to take the cake for cool devices...or just a sign of the times...


Personally, I think I will wait till I have an urgent need--or we get up to about a terabyte for that price ;)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Damn Small Linux  

Just discovered this:



Opera Gives Away Free Version on 10th Anniversary  

Opera, the fastest browser around I am told, is giving away ad-free versions today. Go to opera.com or download.com and get it.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Energy Efficient (mostly hybrid) Vehicles  



Saturday, July 23, 2005

Is Urdu Ready for the Information Superhighway?  

July's cover story in Spider magazine (the Dawn Group's Internet Magazine) is titled "Sifting Scripts: Is Urdu ready for the information superhighway?".

Details and links are on the "Urdu ke Naam" blog:

[Main blog at: http://urdu-ke-naam.blogspot.com/ ]

The cover package includes a story on the Urdu blogosphere by yours truly:


Friday, June 24, 2005

Down is Up...Electrical Engineering Edition  

The old cliche about down being up in certain cases just came up in my day job as a tech writer in the semiconductor industry; apparently, in this industry, sometimes, DOWN can be UP and UP can be GROUND.

My Mailbox is Bigger Than Yours  

Used to be a time when one's work e-mail address was often the primary address you had. One of the main reasons was that Hotmail's 1 MB and even Yahoo's 5/6 MB just couldn't be where you could hang your hat and receive brickbats and bouquets (especially if they were high resolution pictures of bouquets). Of course, some people also felt that having the words "Hotmail" or "Yahoo" in your address didn't sound too "professional", either. But over the last few years, that reason has faded, both because the pervasiveness of Hotmail and Yahoo Mail made it a moot issue, and because those that still had a hang-up about it started using other services like PoBox.com or domain forwarding services like the one that gives you the choice of becoming you@yourprofession.com and so on. Which brought us back to the size limitation as the main reason.

And then it hit me yesterday; with the Gmail-initiated increase in mail quota by almost every online mail provider, we are not at the point where, in a lot of cases, the online services are providing you with a larger mailbox than your employer!

Not My Problem  

The Silicon Valley zeitgeist can throw up some interesting bumper stickers. There was:
You're not a millionaire till you've sold the stock—and paid your taxes.
And who can forget the ad for a brokerage that went:
Last year, you were 29 and a millionare. This year, you're 30.
And now I read about the:
Your failed business model is not my problem. T-shirts.
(Available from: http://www.cafepress.com/crankyproducts. Thanks to the daily Good Morning Silicon Valley update for pointing it out.
I would really like to give honorable mention to a couple of stickers I saw within the span of the same day that said about the same thing:
My dog is smarter than your honor student.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Google, Yahoogle!  

Keeps getting better! First, Google announced sattelite imagery on its maps site:

http://maps.google.com (look for the "sattelite" link in the top righthand corner)

and now someone forwarded this:


PS: I don't like setting links to open in new windows. But if, like every wise person today--even my wife--you're using Firefox, you can right-click the links and open them in a new tab.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Stomp on a Website  

Interesting little service that let's you have at any site you hate...or love to hate...


Saturday, March 26, 2005

Inside Bluetooth 2.0  

I actually haven't read this article, so if someone does, please e-mail me (iFaqeer@Gmail.com) your thoughts?


Inside Bluetooth 2.0
By Glenn Fleishman MacCentral

When Apple included USB (Universal Serial Bus) in its first iMacs back in 1999, the company faced widespread ridicule from throughout the computing industry. The gist of those taunts from analysts and other computer makers: why include a new technology when few products available at that time worked with it?

Gentlemen...Lock and Load...er...Plug and Play!  

Someone just exclaimed "Plug and Play!" in a way that reminded me of the old "Lock and Load!" Is that the new war cry for the Yuppie Cubicle-Dwellers of Silicon Valley?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


New HTML Editor

Some of us that made the transition from Mozilla to Firefox wondered where the Composer went. Now we know. It's hiding at:


Seriously, a colleague just pointed me to that site, and Nvu ("N-View") seems to be the answer to all our prayers--and a perfect counterpoint to Firefox, the browser that has people like in a tizzy. It's a free and, I think, full-featured Web Authoring tool. It is not just a "lite" HTML editor--I had been making do with Netscape Composer and copies of FrontPage Express downloaded from back allies on the Internet since Microsoft forced it underground.

The moment my colleague showed it to me on his screen, I said, "that looks like it's based on the Netscape Composer--and sure enough! the website says it is "based on the Mozilla Composer code-base". It doesn't put in any HTML codes that you don't want it to; you can just use it like I would a light HTML editor. And it can handle whatever you want to do if and when you need some really hardcore HTML editing with styles or even style sheets; tables with lines on three sides; you name it!

Hallelujah, Eureka, Mubarak! and all that jolly stuff, what!

Monday, March 21, 2005


The Dream Lives On!

Last week it was a bidding war between Oracle and SAP; just as this week starts, Ask Jeeves sells for 1.85 bn; just enough to keep us cubicle-dwellers toiling away day and night, I guess:


Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Gender Imbalances in Technology

Reality sometimes clashes with perceptions. I just had reason to say the following on a mailing list I am on:

It's been a decade since I worked in Pakistan, but my experience is that the average electronic design or software software house has more women in R & D jobs than the average one in Silicon Valley.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Following FireFox

Firefox made both BusinessWeek and Newsweek in the same...er...week: in the January 24 edition of the former, it was mentioned on the cover and had piece on it in the latter.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Firefox Progress

The website stats on a blog or two I maintain tell me that 18% or visitors were using Firefox.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Gas Buddy

The Silicon Valley/SF Bay Area is definitely one of the most expensive places in the country for gas. To find out what the price of gas is at a pump close to you (and not just in SiliValley) and how far you will have to go to save money, check out:


and, specifically for this area:


Friday, January 28, 2005


Seen on a number plate frame in Silicon Valley—well, the East Bay, actually:

Don't Tuck With My Fruck

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Linux To Go!