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!