Friday, December 30, 2005

Each man for himself

My dear friend Adnan used to say, "Saqib sahab, each man for himself" on certain occassions that he knows and I know, too. Something happened a few weeks earlier that reminded me of that saying of his, immediately. It also reminded me of what my Software Engineering teacher, Saima Sheikh often said, "You have to know when to put the foot down."
I was merrily checking my email in the academic block at the university on my laptop sitting on a bench using wifi. Along came a boy and asked me "Yahan pay wifi hay." I get asked that a lot by people who own a laptop and discover that they can actually access the Internet from on campus using wifi when they see me doing it. So, I told him, "Yes."
Now he took the next step, "Can I use your laptop for 'a minute,' I just need to update my address on LUMS admission system." This was kind of outrageous, but I thought, well, I just have to go in five minutes for asr prayers, let the boy use it. So, down he sat and went about his business.
Then he went off. A minute later, he returned telling me that the admissions office people were asking him to do something else, too, right away. That was irritating, but I thought, OK, maybe he really does need it, so I let him do it. During his use of the laptop, he kept chatting asking me whether I taught here or what etc, and I spoke only as much as necessary.
He received a phone call and guided someone to where he was sitting and told them that he'd be over a minute or two. A minute or so later, he then got up with the laptop and told me that he was going to the admissions office, which wasnt too far, for just a minute to show them his progress.
This is when I recalled both these quotes I have mentioned, and I decided enough was enough. I asked him to stop right there, return the laptop right away and that he could do whatever it is that he wanted somewhere else, because I had to go for the prayers and I had waited enough. Everyone has there limitations and he should learn to live by his limitations. If he doesnt own a laptop, he can not do what he was doing, period. Plain and simple. He needs to find a nearby cyber cafe or lab or something to do what he wants to do.
At that moment, I also made a mental note to add 'laptop' to the list of things never to lend out, which already contained, 'wife' and 'car.'
So, if you lend someone your car, your wife, or your laptop, expect them to be returned after identical treatment.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

What does MVP stand for?

OK, some kidding.
Most Voracious Professional
Most Vulnerable Professional
Most Voluminous Professional
Feel free to comment and give more, but kindly avoid foul language.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

More irony

Military cadets have to "guard" the final resting place of the founder of the nation. How ironic! I havent seen military guards on monuments in other countries that I visited.


Some of the advs you see contain some real un-natural stuff. For instance, the Pepsi adv featuring Reema coming out of some sky scrapper in New York, Islamic Republic of USA, and getting into a cab. When the cab finally stops, the Pepsi can flys over to the back seat. Gee, I thought that when a brake is hit, we are pushed forward in our seats, not backwards.
Also, see the new Paktel GSM bill by the second advertisement. Two ladies talking for a mere four seconds? Duh!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Comrades, get some, get some, fire at will

This post is a reply to an earlier post. I am a bit uncomfortable with reading posts with too many replies myself, so I decided to post this as a separate post so that the largest possible audience could read and take joy.
My dear friend Adnan. I value your commitment and contribution. In the present age, the only thing of value is information. It's what makes or breaks you. Most people keep it to themselves because they feel that it is what gives them the edge over others. Few believe that information should flow freely from mind to mind. You fall in the latter category. I've seen you evangelizing at academic venues with great zeal and effectiveness. I'm sure your intentions are very pure. People with such attributes over the entire human history, have faced criticism and opposition, so why should we be an exception? Time will soon tell who was right and who was wrong. But to me what matters is not to be proven right, but that there is an end to the suffering not of my own, but of all the people I live among. Alas, it seems like a far cry. One thing that keeps reviving my faith are my students, like Sohail Sarwar, Salman Mehmood, Faisal Nasim, Sabrina, Sarfaraz, Shoaib, and so many others that I can not name but I can see them on the screen of my mind's theatre. You, my dear students, are my heros. You, my dear students, are my warriors of the truth. Whether we win or lose, I'm glad we're fighting this war battle after battle, shoulder to shoulder, till the last man, till the last bullet. No retreat, no surrender.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Sara is here

Sara finally arrived in Lahore in an HP Brio carton today.


In case you're jealous of my MVP status, I offer it to you. MVPs are for one year renewable and new nominations are done. By the next nomination cycle, if you can prove to me that you've got what it takes, I'll be happy to nominate you instead of myself. You have my word.


Yesterday there was a report in the TV news that the Hyderabad, Pakistan cricket stadium was being used for wedding receptions and also doubled up as the helipad for VIPs. The DCO was contaceted last night in another news program and asked about that. The DCO said that there was only one wedding on that venue, and it will be ensured that this doesnt happen again.
I guess that the DCO was lying, just like his beloved leader because no wrong is done only once. If a wrong is done once, it is bound to be repeated.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Well, in response to my last post about Edu blues, qspasta gave a comment and I would like to comment to his comment, but it will be long, so I decided to make another entry.
First, I take back my word "nation" because we are a few hundred million individuals living on a shared piece of land, dying to get out of it whether we admit it or not, and have little else in common. A nation has a share destiny, a collective conscience, and a few other ingredients and we lack all of them. I dont know whether we were born this way in 1947, or something changed us afterwards, and I dont care either, because that is immaterial. What matters is whether we are ready to realize that we are thinking and acting in all the wrong ways, which we are obviously absolutely not interested in.
I agree that there's no use pointing fingers, firstly because it wouldnt solve any problems, but more importantly, because I would run out of fingers, even if I borrow fingers from everyone I see over a period of the next month. The solution as I said, there is no silver bullet. Everyone has to realize their shortcomings and try to improve. As I said, it seems to be our deepest desire to be able to inflict pain and suffering on others in every possible way. Societies are based on cooperating individuals, hence we have no society either. Once again, I can give so many examples, but all of us have been through situations every day that are indicative of this tendency, and there needs to be no reminders and proofs, in my opinion.
In all of this situation, the tiniest motivation that I can see to do right is, that too many wrongs dont make a right. If everyone else is doing wrong, I shouldnt join them. I wouldnt be let off the hook, in a worldly court or the court of the Almighty on the ground that, hey, everyone else was doing it. Unlike most worldly courts, where most of the wrongdoers in such situations get away and a few unfortunate ones get caught, everyone will pay in the court of the Almighty. And even if you dont believe in such a being, then at least, at the end of the day, when the last breath is upon you, it would be nice to look back at your track record and have a smile on your face, that you played well, and went down fighting "the good fight."
Behaving like the rest of the mob, makes a contribution to chaos. Refraining will make problems a little bit less complicated. Yes, you'll be late to where you are trying to get, because you'd be giving way to the other traffic waiting your turn which will be once everyone else in the city has used the road, but, hey, is anyone ever on time anywhere in this country? I'd rahter be late for a good reason.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Image improvement progam

So, it is reported that the US government has sanctioned US$ 300 Million (if I remember correctly, but the exact figure doesnt matter much) for improving the image of US abroad, especially in the middle eastern, muslim countries by airing news items etc. The debate of whether this is right or wrong is besides the point and futile. What I would like to remind you is that US isnt the only one in this. Dont our beloved heroic armed forces spend a fortune on their image building? We'll talk about why they do it sometime later.

Edu blues

I am very concerned about the standard of education especially so-called higher education in Pakistan. And I dont keep things wrapped in sweet coating, so I name people and institutions openly in my discussions.
Recently, a friend of mine was delivering a seminar at PAF KIET. Now, we already know that the intake in IT related programs in all so-called universities is very poor lately and the intake at PAF KIET, unfortunately, isnt Stanford quality either. What's even worse is that except for a few, the teachers are even worse than the students. Take a load of this.
When my friend talked about polymorphism, inheritance and generalization etc to final year computer science students, every single one of the students were stumped, which embarassed the dean and faculty present at the moment. On their way to the Dean's office, they ran into a faculty member, to whom the Dean complained that he was very disappointed that the students could not answer basic questions about polymorphism, inheritance, generalization etc. To this the teacher responded, "I'm not the Database teacher." When asked what he taught, he said, he taught MFC.
This is a crime and everyone involved should be hung. These idiots are destroying a whole generation. I'm sure it is not limited to computer related institutes, either. And to think that PAF KIET is one of the institutes who are most active in shaping their curricula in line with the industry's requirements through active collaboration and reviews. The Industry keeps complainig of inferior quality output from IT institutes. No wonder.
No one cares! You expect the government to take action in this regard? Parents have a responsibility they dont feel. Students have a responsibility they dont feel. Teachers have a responsibility they dont feel. I'm wasting my Internet dialup time here. I cant think of one walk of life in Pakistan that feels responsibility, so let's suffice at that.
Have you noticed that the nation is looking at Geo as their saviour lately? Just look a bit harder and you'll see. People are reaching out to Geo with their complaints hoping that they'll get them solved. No one can solve our problems except ourselves, and one thing is for sure, we dont want to solve them. We wish there were a magic stick, we're waiting for a miracle that will never come.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


We often overlook blessings, and I just realized that since September, I am so much relaxed now that I dont get bombarded by unexpected advice seekers. You wouldnt believe that people actually came, multiple times, from areas of the country that I hadnt even heard of to seek my advice on matters of academic significance. Now I am not complaining for the value that people lay upon my advice, and I'm not saying that they were taking too much of my time, all I'm saying is that it was taking a toll on my professional duties to my job at times. Now, here, no one knows me and I am in peace for once. :-)
But till when will the mother of the male goat celebrate goodness.


Excel is a tool that never ceases to surprise me with its capabilities. Here's a spreadsheet that demonstrates the vlookup() function in an attempt to model and simulate a queueing system. The interarrival time of customers is uniformly distributed between 1 and 8 minutes. The random number is generated with the help of the rand function whose output is uniformly distributed between 0 and 1, meaning that it is equally likely to be anywhere between 0 and 1. We needed a non uniform distribution for service times, where service time is 1 minute with probability 0.1, 2 with probability 0.2, 3 with probability 0.3, 4 with probability 0.25, 5 with probability 0.1, and 6 with probability 0.05. I used a table in excel and the vlookup function. In connection with the above defined distribution of service times, we generate a random variable between 0 and 1 and use vlookup to find the row in that table that this random number lies in. The value from another column from that table in that row is picked. For example, if the random variable is between 0 and 0.1, we pick 1, if it is between 0.11 and 0.3 we pick 2 and so on according to the above described distribution. This is one way of generating non uniformly distributed random numbers in Excel. Check out the sheet and pay attention to the formulae. Never underestimate the power of Excel! That's serious advice.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

New blog

I started my new blog: Research direction. It has a rather cryptic URL. I tried several simpler ones but none of them was available. I'll leave this space only to myself and to miththu and the other blog for posts regarding my research direction. You could bookmark that blog if you have difficulty remembering that URL and want to visit it from time to time.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

MSDN Launch Event

I am blogging from Khorshed Mahal, Avari Towers, Lahore from the MSDN and TechNet Launch event. Here are a few photographs of the event. I am manning the INETA Pakistan booth right now. The Wireless LAN is not working well, keeps disconnecting, so I'll blog in more detail later.
Last night, Vaqar Khamisani called me to shock me with the news that the speakers coming in from abroad, their flights had been delayed and I should prepare an emergency presentation, which was no big deal. I was ready, but the speakers eventually did manage to fly in, so I only had to sit back and man the INETA booth.
Jawad Rehman, Country Manager, Microsoft Pakistan is barely visible in this photograph, but you can see how crowded the hall is. They had to put extra chairs in.

Here's a photo of two of the speakers, Asseel and Chad.

I took off at 11:15 am because of class.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 05, 2005

One line humor

Here are a few one liners that I stole from a mailing list:

  • Regular naps prevent old age, especially if you take them while driving.
  • Having one child makes you a parent; having two you are a referee.
  • Marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right and the other is the husband!
  • I believe we should all pay our tax with a smile. I tried - but they wanted cash
  • A child's greatest period of growth is the month after you've purchased new school uniforms.
  • Don't feel bad. A lot of people have no talent
  • Don't marry the person you want to live with, marry the one you cannot live without, but whatever you do, you'll regret it later.
  • You can't buy love, but you pay heavily for it
  • Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.
  • Marriage is give and take. You'd better give it to her or she'll take it anyway.
  • My wife and I always compromise. I admit I'm wrong and she agrees with me.
  • Those who can't laugh at themselves leave the job to others.
  • Ladies first. Pretty ladies sooner.
  • A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
  • You're getting old when you enjoy remembering things more than doing them.
  • It doesn't matter how often a married man changes his job, he still ends up with the same boss.
  • Real friends are the ones who survive transitions between address books.
  • Saving is the best thing. Especially when your parents have done it for you.
  • Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools talk because they have to say something
  • They call our language the mother tongue because the father seldom gets to speak!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Life on the edge

Some people love to live life as El Paccino would say, "on the edge." Just dont look down. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 25, 2005

To our society

Our prophet wed four daughters. Only one of them, Fatima, was given dowery. What was she given? Anyone who's read elementary level Islamiat knows that. The only reason she was given dowery and others werent is that she was being wed to Ali, who was also under the Prophet's kifalat. Whatever little dowery was given to her was purchased from the mehr amount paid by Ali himself. There was no meal served.

This is "laanat." I give this laanat to myself, to you, to everybody for being part of this sick society. Here's a couple of letters that were published by the editor of a newspaper recently and were read to us today by the khateeb in the Friday prayers. The first one was written in the blood of the writers. I am only providing the account in my own words, not exact quotation, the letters were in urdu.

Letter number 1, I quote:
We are four sisters. Our father died years ago, and our mother raised us with a lot of effort. Instead of supporting, us, this society only hurled us around. Our mother is now on her death bed with several terminal diseases. We given tuitions and teach the Quran to the neighborhood kids to keep the bread going and to manage to stay indoors. Whenever we are forced to go out for some necessary chore, the beasts of this society await us to peal off our skin. We request someone to kindly do us a favor by wedding us all off so that we can finally live a safe, dignified life.

Letter number 2, I quote:
We are four sisters. Our parents are old and I work on computer composing to keep the livelihood. Whatever little I earn is hardly sufficient to pay the bills and for us to be able to cook pulses (daal) and vegetables. We never even cook beaf. People offer us huge sums to commit adultry, but our parents are asked for huge dowry for marriage. Islam made marriage simple and sin difficult, but our society is making sin inexpensive and marraige expensive.

Laanat on this society, and on you and me for being part of it. I wish that either Allah guide us to correct our ways, or send a bigger earthquake throughout the country to destroy us all, because all we are doing is spreading evil. It is better for a few good men to die alongwith the sinful rather than be supressed and watch evil spread.
If you look at it, women are the most suffering in all this scenario, at least as far as this world is concerned, yet, women are the only flag bearers of these stupid customs that we acquired from the hindus. I dont know if I can convince my parents, but perhaps I can convince you that what is wrong is wrong. Perhaps you can convince your parents, or perhaps at least, as parents ourselves, we would become a wall against this idiocy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

My editor

I think there's an error in the third paragraph here. Posted by Picasa

Dead fish

One of my brother's fish died. Here's a post mortum snap of it. It is reportedly a specie termed as Angel. I was wondering why one of the fish was near the top permanently, head upwards. Posted by Picasa

Raqimul huroof

Did I tell you I taught him to write? Posted by Picasa


and we just erase it if we make a mistake Posted by Picasa

Do the maths! Posted by Picasa

Turning over a new leaf

Oh the sinful life! But now, I'm going to turn over a new leaf. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Well, I have changed my blog settings so that anyone can post comments, and not just blogger members.
Also, I've got some really interesting photos to post to the blog, but there's something wrong with the hello picture sharing networking apparently.
Stay tuned.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Quotable quotes

  • On success: A successful man is one who can make more money than he can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

  • And talking of success: Behind every successful man is a woman. Behind her is his wife.

  • On necessity: Necessity is the mother's invention.

The only prayer I'll ever need

Well, the only prayer I ever need answered is that Allah keep my parents well, because as long as they are with me, all the prayers that I'd never even asked for would be answered for me.
I got my marks for Stochastic Systems I mid term today. Even though 50% isnt a good score, but that's the top 3rd or fourth score in the mid term. The class average is 26. The course is tough, no doubt. I was very sceptical about the mid term and never expected to be anywhere near the top 10. Lo and behold, the result is beyond my expectations. The only reason is my parents' prayers. Otherwise, my own acts wouldnt warrant acceptance of my prayers.
Now I'm preparing feverishly (well, if you'd call taking time out for blog and stuff feverish, that is) for the final that is on Monday next week. I hope the final is easy because most of the final content was covered in the last two weeks with plenty of extra classes. We didnt have enough time to practice.


When I went to Sialkot for Eid this year, my aunt told me that one of my cousins was in Balakot on eid. He had gone there earlier in ramazan, too. When he called home, aunt asked him to come back. He told her that if she'd see what he was seeing their, it would make her wish she could give her life to help the people there. Later, most volunteers had gone to their cities on Eid. A doctor whom he had made friends with, called him up and asked him to come to Balakot, so my cousin went to Balakot a few days before eid. He has been a boy scout for several years and has also done weight training with Junior Mr. Punjab, so I'm sure he's an indispensible person for such a situation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Distance vector routing assignment complete

I completed and submitted the distance vector routing programming assignment for the course on network protocols and standards. As I posted earlier, the first part of the assignment was to use pre-built simulator code to implement a fixed static four router topology. The second part was to modify the simulator and to implement a generic distance vector routing protocol that can also handle link cost changes. You can download the code.

Boojho to janain

Can you guess what this is?Posted by Picasa

You will not like me when I'm angry

"Insan banta hay ya bahar a kay lagaoon aik hath" Hamza is upset and he's about to let all hell loose. Posted by Picasa

The professor is in the class

Alright class, so last time, we were discussing the centrifugal rotation of the nth derivative of the subatomic particle neptutron of the element Boron. Posted by Picasa


HEY, CUT THE CAMERA! GEE, YOU CANT EVEN HAVE SOME PRIVATE MOMENTS. Thank God, I had this hand fan to cover up.Posted by Picasa

EVERYBODY has a blog

I'll tell you, everybody has a blog these days. Even miththu is blogging. He is seen here typing out his message to the world. He hasnt had the time to actually sign up for his very own blog, so he shared mine. To see what he had to say, view this entry.Posted by Picasa

ASP.NET 2.0 membership providers

If you set up Visual Studio 2005 Beta 2 and try out the login controls that use the membership providers, you may come across a situation where the create user page comes back asking you to choose a different password. I consulted google and came up with this useful result.
The following was typed by my bhai's mitthu:

Just kidding

By the way, I was just kidding. Nothing like it has ever actually happened. Just fiction.


Oh, OK. Now I get it! So, it is CPR (acknolwedgement to S.G.). At night, when you turn a corner at LUMS, you trip right over a couple and I was always pissed off and confused exactly what the hell are they doing in that corner or sitting inside those window slots. With that description on S.G.'s blog, now I understand it all. They're practicing CPR. How stupid of me, I should've known. Those are very community minded people, who believe in being prepared. They're practicing civil defense. I salute them.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wedding reception

So, last night was the valima reception for the same wedding I was whinning about earlier. I excused myself from the torture on the pretext that a couple of programming assignments are due, one was tonight and the other one is on Sunday. My brother and his in-law(outlaw) went there. The dinner was even more unruly than what I saw on the wedding night. Thank God, I wasnt there.
My bhabhi said that she put a plate down on the table to get some food onto it, and as soon as she took a spoonful out of the serving dish, she discovered that her plate wasnt there. Someone took it. Since people were after anything they could get their hands on, they had taken multiple plates with servings of everyhing, most of which they would never eat. So, there was a shortage of plates, and hence, she was unfortunate. On the gents side, things were even worse and several relatives of the groom resorted to eating in the women's dining area.
Hamaree niyyatain kab bharain gee?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Distance Vector

The second programming assignment for the course Network Protocols and Standards had been given to us prior to the Eid Holidays. It had two parts. Part one was to build a simulation for a static four router topology of distance vector routing. I completed that task in Sialkot and forgot to upload it here. Feel free to use it if you find it useful. The assignment handout is available for download and a resource page is available here. This is my solution. I'll upload the second part of the assignment when it's done.

The funniest thing on the planet

When MQM talk of protection, and they do it quite often, there is nothing funnier than that. I found Police Squad to be a very funny movie, but this talk of "protection" beats even that movie. I wonder if they've considered "rubber" for "protection." Its a bit old fashioned, but it works most of the time.

I hate weddings

If it were upto me, I'd ban marriages altogether for a long time. I was at a stinking wedding tonight. We left home at 9:30 pm when I was told we were leaving at 8:30 pm, housewives stink. The baraat left the groom's house at 10:30 pm after lots of video shooting. They were filming the newest tragedy/comedy film.
The wedding was extravagant in terms of expenses. The groom's family are goldsmiths, so no shortage of money, and money was really spent like crazy. That, after the recent earthquakes, and the women were complaining that it was too simple a wedding and a lot had been cut off. Yea, right! The world would be a better place without these women.
Their were fireworks as they finally left the home. Then, there was traffic problems. To cut the long story short, the unfortunate documents were signed just before midnight and we had dinner. What I liked was that the groom's family were giving out itr (perfume) to the guests. The dinner was tragic. People stormed the meal as if they had either assurance that this was their very last meal, or they had been hungry for months. I hate the way people behave on the dinner tables at weddings. Even educated people. They'd push people around to make it to the dish, secure the serving spoon, take out biryani, notice that no spoon is available on the chicken qorma dish, so they'd reach out over the neighbor's coat clad arm, hopefully dirtying it in the process, and serve the qorma with the same dish, and if possible, use the same spoon for everything else. If the dish happens to be "not up to the mark" they'll confiscate the spoon and hold their ground waiting for the server to fill it up again. And there's lots other mess. Then there is further shooting of that tragedy/comedy which goes on till early morning. And when they finally kidnap the stunningly beautiful bride (thanks only to the twenty four hours spent at the parlour) of the ugliest possible groom, there are hours of further shooting and customs execution. Geez, weddings stink. Cant we just be simple. Sign the stupid papers, make the vows, say the prayers, good night. No, sir, that way, we wouldnt be able to piss off the entire remaining nation.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I had been promising to upload photos of the bouquets I got for various farewells before I came to Lahore. I am finally uploading a few of them. I guess I'm getting old, because I cant remember which was given by whom, and I only got about ten or so bouquets for my farewells in the last three or four days.

Posted by Picasa

Another bouquet Posted by Picasa

And another farewell bouquet Posted by Picasa

Yet another onePosted by Picasa

License plates

Talking of license plates. Here's one registered in Lahore.Posted by Picasa

There were others such as GAS, GAL in Gujranwala and LOS (Line Of Sight) from Lahore.

Traffic jam

There was a huge jam on the toll booths at Lahore on the motorway as we returned on Sunday morning. That's what I hate about most married couples. They're unable to keep schedules, they're unable to leave for road trips early in the day. They always unnecessarily get into traffic jams. The queue on the six booths were at least a kilometer long. Posted by Picasa


A view of the sunset on our drive back to Lahore on this Eid holiday Posted by Picasa

Another view of the sun as it is about to set over the sky on our drive back to Lahore from Sialkot this eid holiday Posted by Picasa

Sialkot buildings

Industrialists in the Sialkot area are very active in the community and they build absolutely beautiful office and factory buildings. They are complete campuses, if you ask me. I could only photograph some of the ugliest of them because it took time for me to empty my 128 MB stick onto the laptop during the drive. Next time, I go there, I'll bring you photos of some of the real big buildings. Posted by Picasa

Trip to Sialkot

We went to Sialkot on this eid holiday by road in my car. This is a shot of the Lahore Islamabad motorway as we climbed it for a short while before getting off to GT Road. Posted by Picasa

My brother's miththu enjoyed every second of the trip. Photographed here, he is sitting on the back seat enjoying the scenic route. On the back seat were two golden chickens inside a box, which is not visible in the photo, but that explains the cloth on the back seat. Posted by Picasa