Giving thanks where it is due

Two things have happened in this week that are well worth mentioning.

Well, OK, three things.

The first thing was that I was finally convinced to have a topic for my blog (this blog that you are reading right now). It does not sound like that big a deal, but for me it is.

I have grappled with the idea of finding a niche for my blog here since, like, ever! From religion to academia, from technology to self-improvement, from society to music, I have seriously considered all. But it took the writing prowess of this new bloggerette (that is NOT a word yet though) that I stumbled across, to finally knock some sense into me.

Penelope Trunk writes about careers on here blog http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/ and she nailed it for me. The whole post was talking directly to me and that hardly happens, as any piece that comes off as written just for you is not easily found. Obviously, that post is highly, highly recommended for any blogger (or bloggerette) out there who wants to take blogging a bit more seriously. A humongous, insanely-large THANK YOU to Ms Penelope Trunk for that.

Second big thing that happened was that I was thumbing through a book by Anthony Robbins, and in that book, while writing under the topic of ‘Keys to Success’, he goes on to mention the necessary step of handling complacency. I did not remember reading this bit when I first read his book (which was oh, I dont know, 10 years ago). Because at that stage, being complacent after being successful was too far fetched an idea for me. But as I have mentioned a few times before, I have seen success Alhumdulillah and now I live in the realm of complacency as if I own it. Pathetic, I know.

So again, a big shout out to Mr. Robbins for writing something so long ago, that still has the potency to change attitudes. God willing. (The book’s titled Unlimited Power – Check it out at Amazon)

Third big thing was my birthday. My wife yet again managed to make it the best birthday so far, with friends coming over at 12 midnight to surprise me (felt like college all over again :) ). And the surprise worked. At 12:30 AM, there were about 15 people, friends and family that made this all the more special. Thank you.

I turned 29, and the sorriest bit is that for the last two years, I have felt like 50. That is why the above two ‘discoveries’ feel so important to me. The first one gives me direction and focus, and the second one gives me direction and focus. I sometimes think it is this very passion that one’s focus gives that can make a 29 yr old feel 50 (if he hadn’t found the passion) and a 50 yr old feel 18.

God Guide Us All. Aameen. :)

(If you wish to avail this momentous occasion to give me a gift for my birthday, there is a great way for you to do that. The birthday was on the 5th of Nov, but you still have time. Head over to my Wish List and give me a gift right this moment. Remember, chances like these come once every year. Due to popular demand, I am extending the date to receive presents till today. Act now!)

How to waste your money

There must be simpler ways of wasting your money, but this is surely a unique way of doing it:

Ad for a web portal, without the web address
Ad for a web portal, without the web address

I saw this in today’s The News. The Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce & Industry (OICCI) invites us to “walk through the doors of history on a journey into the rich heritage of the Chamber which has been navigating the country’s economy since 1860″. I think this is just swell, given that the country in question came into existence in 1947.

The ‘Overseas’ Investors Chamber was created three years after the war of Independence against imperial British was lost (in 1857), so their loyalties back then can easily be inferred, if not judged. Point being, it is nothing to be proud of.

So a score of 0/10 for delivering the message the ad was supposed to deliver (that ‘we have a website’). And a score of -5/10 for claiming that they have been providing services to a country for well over a 100 years, when the country only recently turned 63.

P.S. The actual website of the Organization in question is very much present at www.oicci.org. A small note on web dev of the site: The website itself is designed entirely in CSS (and not using tables), which is a relief given that the development was done by a Pakistani company (http://www.e-creatorz.com).

I am not proud to be a Pakistani

That is a powerful line, that. “I am not proud to be a Pakistani” sends a very strong message indeed. If I say this, you are thinking, “OK so this guy is sick of one or the other aspect of the society that we all feel bad about. And has taken his feelings perhaps a bit too far,” or something like that.

So what is the counter to that feeling? You say “I am proud to be a Pakistani”.

Did you get it? No? Thought so.  Let me try again.

Quite some time back, there¬† was this sudden surge of badly printed t-shirts that had ‘Proud to be Pakistani” written on them. You’d see a fair amount of people wear them, from your average Bashir (our generic version of average Joe, of course) to celebrities like Shoaib Akhtar etc. Here’s what this shirt is actually saying:

I know that you wouldn’t be proud of being a Pakistani, but hey, guess what, I am. I am proud to be a Pakistani.

What the hell? Is that’s how it is now? You already assume that people think you ought to be shameful of being a Pakistani, as if you have something to hide. Much like a little girl blabbering out to her Mother, “No mommy, I didn’t eat that chocolate cake,” without the mommy even asking. That’s guilt written all over it. Heck, it is gawddamned understood that I belong to this place, it is called Pakistan, the flag’s green and white with a crescent moon and a star, and no, our flags don’t really have Mickey Mouse on ’em or anything. This place right here, this place right here is my country, my home and my two by two or four by four or whatever. This is me and I don’t need to tell you that I own it.

P.S. Wearing yourcountry’s flag’s colors on your person is not the same thing, people. That shows association and nothing wrong with that. Boasting your flag on your blog or ‘Going Green’ is all good, as it is an exercise in assimilation. Saying something like ‘Proud to be a Pakistani’ just does not cut it, folks. I have more than one foreigner poke mild fun at these so-called ‘slogans’, and that only proved what I had been saying, stop being so defensive, find the truth and stand by it.

Will Amazon’s Kindle fight back?

Amazon has been lazy, has been slow. The Kindle was introduced with the dinosaurs it seems, yet only recently was it upgraded to include countries other than the US. Fantastic, because I would finally be able to take my book-skimming habits with me – well, not so fast, the damned thing STILL does not work in Pakistan, where we ride to work on camels and use rocks to light fire and use pigeons for emails. Putting the ‘US-is-the-world’ bias that runs through pretty much any high-tech company, let’s see if the new Barnes and Noble e-reader will give Amazon a run for its money.

Short answer: Hell yes.

On with the long answer now:

Continue reading Will Amazon’s Kindle fight back?

Keyboards are on the way out, seriously

Image: <a href=Let’s get one thing clear, the keyboard is not a good thing. It doesn’t matter if I can type at a million words per minute, which obviously I can, the bottom line is: it is not ‘natural’. Before you go all Darwin on me with this, what I mean by ‘natural’ is that the keyboard itself has no value – it is a separate piece of hardware that just ‘has’ to be present if you want to interact with your computer. Think about it, it was and is a necessary evil to communicate with a machine. The introduction of touch screens was a step closer to a natural way of doing things – it removed the clutter of input devices such as the mouse and the keyboard. If anything, Microsoft’s Courier is a very exciting product that is not a concept and is to hit the markets any time now. If the introductory videos of MS Courier is anything to go by, the new wave of technology will change the game itself. (Of course, Microsoft’s Windows 7 is geared for the touchscreen world, so this evolution of Human-Computer Interaction is no surprise).

The Blackberry-owners would disagree that keyboard is much faster than iPhone’s touchscreen. Well, I own a Blackberry. Say that to any hardcore iPhone user who will set you straight. And note, iPhone is the ‘first of its kind’ – give this touchscreen technology a few more evolutionary cycles, let Microsoft steal it properly (via the super-awesome MS Courier tablet) and then come back and tell me that keyboards are a good thing. Ha!