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

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!