Monday, December 17, 2012

Saving the Pakistani drama

Nowadays Pakistani media industry is criticizing the airing of dubbed soaps on the local TV channels. They say that our local drama industry will be destroyed as these foreign plays will replace the domestically produced dramas if the matter is not taken care of. Specially they will occupy the prime-time hours which have a significant history of showing us some of the finest Pakistani dramas that gained popularity not only in Pakistan but abroad as well. Last night, I saw a talk show on a news channel in which celebrities from our drama industry were invited to discuss this issue. I was deeply touched by a statement of the famous actor, Faysal Qureshi. He said, 'I'm very surprised to see that we need to explain it to people to give priority to the Pakistani dramas'. That is the point. Apart from the debate about the quality of our dramas. We should have a patriotic feeling about our TV dramas. At least it is something of our own, of our own country. It belongs to us.   

Pakistani drama industry has a dignified and glorious past of producing the unsurpassed dramas like 'Dhoop Kinaray', 'Tanhaiyaan', 'Chand Girhan', 'Dhuan', 'Alpha-Bravo-Charlie' and the list goes on. These plays were famous for creating a pin-drop silence on the streets. Even in the recent past we saw some noticeable plays like  'Manay Na Ye Dil', 'Qaid-e-Tanhai', 'Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishan' etc. The DVDs of the aforementioned and many other plays were interestingly seen overseas not only by Pakistani expatriate community but other nationalities also. Pakistani dramas are also shown in the acting schools of the neighboring country as inspiration.

There was a period when an attempt was made by the Indian TV channels to invade this industry through their low-quality soaps that had weak concepts and senseless stories. Those dramas left negative impact on our society such as hatred, jealousy, greed and revenge. These behaviors entered our houses and females of our country were largely affected. These substandard plays also influenced the fashion sense of our people. Honestly, I never saw a man wearing a shocking pink embroidered suit before. 

Then enters the dubbed plays. Urdu1 ventured into dubbed programming with a Turkish soap 'Ishq e Mamnu'. Pakistanis loved the Urdu-speaking ladies of the Bosphorus and the play went viral as far as the ratings are concerned. For channels, this is a jackpot. With minimal production cost, just buy foreign content, dub it in Urdu and you are good to go. I've read some arguments on the web that dubbed programming is a common feature of primetime across the world. I say, this might be a trend worldwide but the countries where this practice is followed might not have their own quality content. Pakistan is a different case. Pakistan has a legacy of producing good quality dramas. From writers to actors, from producers to directors, Pakistan has a vast variety of talent which is increasing day by day. We don't need any foreign content to amuse our television viewers. I agree that there are some shortcomings in our dramas but those deficiencies could be fixed. 

I'm not against the screening of foreign content of on our local TV channels. People like change and I agree with that. But, it should be controlled, it should be limited. The prime-time should be reserved for the original Pakistani drama only. We should also keep in mind that local production of the drama is also connected to our economy. A huge number of people are associated with this industry. Display of too much foreign content on TV channels will ruin the careers of people (including many labor and low category technical staff) associated with the drama industry. Let us save our drama industry from foreign influence before it is too late.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Internet of Things - The next level of technology

LeWeb is Europe's biggest technology conference and it takes place twice a year in Paris and London. This December, at the event in Paris, LeWeb is focusing on hyperconnectivity and 'The Internet of Things'. The idea is, it's not just us who are connected to the internet, but the objects around us too. The “Internet of Things” (IoT) will likely be one of the most important technological advances of this century. It is said that by 2020, an estimated 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. This hyperconnected world is driving the formation of an IoT that will bring devices, infrastructure and people closer. It’s about blending of the physical world and the virtual world.

We have been talking about connected objects for years now, but with smartphones, systems, networks and software platforms enabling them to communicate, it is finally becoming a reality. Any physical object can connect to the internet and can communicate with other objects to transfer information to people. In the future, many everyday objects will be connected to the internet and many tasks that we do with our hands can be automated through the information exchanged between these objects. 

The appliances and devices will work through radio frequency identification technology (RFID). RFID chips are small and inexpensive. These chips use radio waves to send data to the RFID readers that are connected to the internet. The IoT will use smartphones and devices containing embedded chips and sensors that allow them to connect and talk to each other.

In the house of future, appliances will communicate with each other to make our routine tasks easier and simpler. The shower will be on before a person wakes up. The breakfast will be ready by the kitchen appliances as soon as one comes out of the shower. The car will start as soon as you plan to leave for office.  Appliances like refrigerator would be able to place online orders as soon as the level of the stock goes low and you can pick them up from the stores on your way back home. All this would be possible through a task scheduling application running on a smartphone and is connected to all the appliances. 

The self-driving cars would become a norm in the days to come. These cars would take us to any desired location as scheduled or simply through a command if not preset. The data they transmit would adjust the tasks scheduled at the office according to the calculated arrival time suggested by the satellite traffic monitoring feature of the navigation system.

China seems to lead the IoT race. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao identified IoT as an "emerging strategic industry" in an interview on state media, Beijing has focused on developing technology by which devices can communicate via infrared sensor, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and other Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology. The government has established state-owned enterprise zones such as the Chengdu Internet of Things Technology Institute in Sichuan province, which is developing a health care system in which rural villagers can step into a telephone booth-sized "health capsule" to get a diagnosis and prescription from a doctor in a distant hospital.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will make our lives easy and organized, but on the other hand we would be completely relying on technology even for our simple daily routine tasks. The design standards of appliances and devices will dramatically change in the days to come so as our lifestyles. The next version of internet will impact a broad range of industries that are involved in making products and services for the humans.    

Monday, November 19, 2012

The workplace transformation is taking place

Our working environment is swiftly evolving. The new generation is demanding freedom and flexibility so that they could work at office, at home or even on the go. Technology and the tech-savvy generation is changing the expectation of how we go to work today. Office is where you are. Going to work no longer means travelling to a certain place, employees can work where they are, when they want. Work has now become a task, an activity, rather than spending hours at some place. 

The vision of the 'future workplace' is surfacing. The employee is seldom bound to a physical location and performance is measured by the quality of the output submitted on a pre-decided timeline instead of the number of hours spent. Transforming the workplace to follow these growing trends in order to achieve high-quality performance in today's challenging and competitive environment is the top priority of the organizations and technology is playing its role to change the environment and work culture.  

The future workplace model follows a connected, collaborative and socially engaged work-space. So it is high time to say goodbye to permanent desks, cabins, structured meeting rooms and hence embrace a free and social workplace setting where employees are encouraged to choose between different environments that best suit their task on any given day. If people are working collaboratively and using technology instead of face-to-face they are able to meet more often and can make decisions quickly. 

It is already happening in companies and Microsoft's office in Amsterdam is an example. For instance, staff no longer have a desk, quiet areas are built for people who need to concentrate on their work, large open areas are made for workers who need to work with the collaboration of other team members, open refreshment zones like restaurants and coffee bars are prepared for meetings between employees. They are also encouraged to work from home. The bottom-line is to gain maximum productivity. According to Microsoft, the results of implementing the new way of working are as under:

- Reduction in real estate costs
- Increased productivity
- Benefits for the environment
- Satisfied and happier workforce

Microsoft is not alone in making the future work environment flexible and smart. Dell, Google and Unilever are also among the companies that are striving to make this world a better place to work. The new way of working is spreading all over the world with the help of technology to bring positive change in the traditional working practices, transforming the way people work, communicate, collaborate and finish their day-to-day tasks in efficient and effective manner. 

Environment is also a major part of the shift, helping companies reduce their carbon footprint. Also, consider the amount of pollution we produce by coming to our offices in the morning and by going back home, causing massive traffic jams. This could also help us save some money.

Finally, it reduces cost of business. According to, people will use other spaces to congregate and work outside the office. With around 45% of office desk space vacant at any one time, this could lead to significant savings. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

U.S. Elections - Lessons to be learnt for the Pakistani society

Before I start, let me make it very clear that I have no interest in United States of America, I've never been there and have no such future plans either. If this had happened in some other well-known country, I would had taken that as an example. Secondly, this is not a political write-up rather it is only about the ethics and behavior of a society.

U.S. elections are now over and Mr. Barack Obama has been re-elected as the President of the United States for the second term. There was a massive election campaign by the Republicans and the Democrats and there was a close finish between the opponents on the election day. During the campaigning we saw large public gatherings of the supporters of both the parties on several occasions but not even a single incident of riots, violence or injuries was reported. The candidates were seen in intense head-on debates but none of them lost their nerves on a single occasion and hence those debates ended with a positive and fruitful manner.

Again, on the election day the polling started peacefully throughout the country and no polling station was declared dangerous or any additional security deployment was seen. And again not a single violent event was reported. Instead, Obama was seen on media calling his opponent Mitt Romney to wish him 'good luck'. The polling suspended as planned, votes counting process was initiated and eventually the results were announced. No claims of rigging were made by the losing side (just a system malfunction was reported in one case). Instead, the losing opponent Mitt Romney accepted his defeat gracefully and passed on good wishes to Barack Obama for the next tenure. In return, the winning candidate promised to work together for the betterment of the nation.

We witnessed a flawless, smooth, peaceful and well organized elections in the U.S. while Pakistan has a history of violent and deadly elections on the other hand. The candidates can't even face each other face to face, passing good wishes is something out of this world. Bogus voting gets reported at several polling stations and not even a single losing candidate spare himself from the claim of rigging. Many polling stations become warzones and several injuries and deaths are reported in crossfire. In some cases in the past candidates were also shot dead or injured.
Keeping the ferocious history of elections in Pakistan, I do not foresee a dissimilar case in the upcoming elections. Specially when all the negative symptoms are evident around us. Law and order situation is at its worst. Ethnic and sectarian killings are on the rise. People killing each other for reasons they are not even aware of. Street crimes have become a norm these days. In a nutshell, morality is at failure in our society.
In my opinion, this is not a matter of politics. This is a matter of the level of tolerance and ethics exist in a society, which our society clearly lacks at the moment. We can't tolerate a simple difference of opinion whether it is a political, religious, sectarian or ethnic ground. This is not learnt overnight, instead, it takes ages for a society to learn and change.
But I wish all my predictions go wrong and we experience a dramatic change in the conduct of our society. I wish we see a nonviolent, peaceful and corruption-free election. When all the candidates, voters and supporters show positive energy towards each other and together as a nation we form a countrywide harmony to make a better Pakistan. I hope one day we will set an example of tolerance, acceptability and peace.

Pakistan Zindabad!  


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Windows 8 in my opinion

Microsoft is set to release Windows 8 on October 26th. This new windows is a major re-design of the operating system since Windows 95. As I write this article, just few hours are left in the official launch of Windows 8. I speculated Microsoft's win amongst the other tech giants Apple and Google in a post earlier this year in April. Time has come for Microsoft to show some real game or become a loser in this battle and fade away. I think Microsoft is ready for a long term play.
Windows 8 will likely be the software that determines Microsoft’s success over the next few years. I have the privilege to experience Windows 8 Pro before its official release as part of its availability for the Microsoft Software Assurance customers. I did test the Windows 8 Developer Preview version and Window 8 Consumer Preview version as and when they were released.
The new Start screen looks completely different than the traditional Desktop, although the interface still exists on just a click. And that's the beauty that will take Microsoft a long way. A whole new UI experience that connects Microsoft users to the tablet and smartphone world while keeping the confidence of prior windows user experience. At least for me it was the biggest motivation factor to upgrade to Windows 8 from Windows 7, specially after having the assurance that applications working on Windows 7 will work fine on Windows 8. By the way, I'm also running applications designed for Windows XP with the compatibility mode feature.
Coming back to the Start screen, it is entirely chrome-less, even the standard taskbar items like battery indicator, clock and network indicator are hidden until you click or touch the settings button. As a part of fact, Windows 8 is designed for the connected user experience. In the past, the role of the operating system was to save a file created by an application into a folder and opening that file later on. The only source of connecting to the internet was a browser.
Microsoft revamped that old user experience. On the new Start screen,  apps now have live tiles that serve the updated information and give a connected experience instead of dead app icons as on other platforms like Android and iOS where the icon just represents that the app is installed.  For instance, the People app in Windows 8 connects with the social networks and provides the user latest activities, notifications and photos. The News app keeps the user informed with the latest headlines. The Metro UI lets the user arrange two windows at once, so you never miss an important email while watching a movie or browsing the internet.
The Windows Store is another Microsoft step that will provide its consumer to install and run apps on laptops, tablets and smartphones at the same time. Again, this is an edge that Microsoft has over its rivals who are yet to provide cross-platform apps as Google still finding it hard to run the apps on tablets that are designed for smartphones.  
The corporate world is also seeking a pc-tablet combination that can handle their business and mobility needs, only Windows 8 tends to meet these requirements in the form of a full-fledged operating system. As far as the hardware is concerned, I suppose that the traditional PCs and Laptops will phase out and the convertibles and hybrids will take the place of business computers eventually.
I still predict that Microsoft will get over its past experience in the mobile and tablet market if they follow a sensible and long-term plan. Let's see what happens in the days to come.
Wishing Microsoft a happy October 26.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Google Nexus 7 tablet details leaked, competition ahead for iPad and Microsoft Surface


According to Gizmodo Australia, an allegedly leaked training document revealed Google’s new tablet. Nexus 7, as it is named, will feature a 7-inch screen, 12-core GPU, and built-in near-field communication (NFC) technology for mobile payments using Google Wallet. It will include a 1.2-megapixel front camera for chat applications, and a battery capable of powering the device for 9 hours.

Google will offer a model with 8GB of local storage for $199, and a 16GB model will run $249. These prices are similar to Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet hence it can become a trouble for Amazon. Nexus 7 will also give a tough competition to Apple’s widely famous iPad that starts at $499. The tablet will also be a clear threat for Microsoft’s upcoming tablet Surface, pricing for Surface is yet to be announced but it is expected to cost around $600.

The document says that the Nexus 7 will run Jelly Bean, the new version of Android. Asus will build the tablet and Google will promote and sell it. The tablet may hit the streets in July.

Google's I/O conference is set to start on Wednesday of this week, so expect to hear more about the new Nexus 7 tablet in days to come.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microsoft ‘Surface’ tablet is coming soon


Microsoft on Monday introduced ‘Surface’, a tablet computer that runs Microsoft's upcoming operation system known as Windows 8. Initiating a strategic shift as the company has completely overhauled Windows to compete with its rival Apple and the tablet is the first computing device directly produced and sold by Microsoft.

The first version of the Microsoft Surface tablet is built on microchips designed by ARM, microchips generally used by other smartphones and tablets. This Microsoft Surface version comes in 32GB and 64GB memory sizes and will be available in the market with the general release of windows 8.

Another, heavier version of Microsoft Surface tablet will be built on traditional Intel microchips and will be running a fuller version of windows 8 operating system. This Microsoft Surface version will come in 64GB and 128GB models and will be available about three months after the ARM version, the company has said.

The tablet has almost every standard tablet feature including a 10.6 inch HD display touchscreen and front and rear cameras. However, Microsoft Surface has some other must mention features. A pressure sensitive device cover that flips down to become a full keyboard and an integrated kickstand.

The company did not give specific details about pricing but said they would be comparable with the other tablets available in the market.

With the release of Surface, Microsoft will put itself directly in competition with its hardware partners such as Samsung and HP. However, the company has said that it will not be the exclusive manufacturer of Windows tablets.

Microsoft Windows is running on 90% of the world’s computers and devices. The company has reinvented the operating system with a touch-friendly interface called ‘Metro’. Revamping such a successful model is usually not a good idea but time needs change.

Apple’s iPad has been taking away windows customers for two years now. PC sales have been dropped to a flat line. Consumers look for more portable and simpler devices.

Microsoft has been into the hardware business for 30 years, mainly producing keyboards and mice. But after overcoming the problems and investing billons, Xbox game console became Microsoft ‘s first successful manufacturing venture.

Microsoft’s Zune music player was also not a success and was taken off the market soon after launch. RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook is another example of failure.

Microsoft is not the only company trying to follow Apple’s strategy, Google is also expanding to become a smartphone maker.

For further details about Microsoft Surface, please visit

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Google expands 'cloud-computing', offers Google Drive


Google has expanded its cloud computing services with the rollout of Google Drive. Initially the service offers 5 GB of free space with an upgrade option of 25 GB for a monthly charge of around 2.5 USD.

The product is ready for PC, Mac and Android users with a ‘coming soon’ message for iPhone and iPad on the product’s homepage. With the introduction of the service of cloud storage, Google has entered in a competition with Microsoft, Apple and some other famous services like Box and Dropbox.  

Google Drive allows users to store documents and files on the cloud, making it easier to share with other users as well as devices like PCs, laptops, phones and tablets. Google already provides the facility to store emails and other documents.

The product’s homepage reads, “Google Drive is everywhere you are—on the web, in your home, at the office and on the go. So wherever you are, your stuff is just...there. Ready to go, ready to share. Get started with 5 GB free.”

Cloud storage is rapidly becoming popular among people, specially those who work on multiple devices and platforms. Google aims to make storage on physical hard drives less worthy. “Things happen. Your phone goes for a swim. Your laptop takes an infinite snooze. No matter what happens to your devices, your files are safely stored in Google Drive”. Google says.

Sharing has also become hassle free with Google Drive. Instead of bulky email attachments on Gmail or upload a photo album on Google+, users can easily provide a link from their Google Drive to fulfill the requirement.

Search is also a powerful feature of Google Drive. Helps users to get their files quicker. The feature can also recognize objects in images and text in scanned documents.

Google Drive supports 30 file types that can be searched and viewed directly into the browser including high definition videos and Photoshop documents, even if the program is not installed on the user’s device.

With Google Drive, users can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations instantly, enabling users to view, edit, share and collaborate together and at the same time.

On the other hand, Microsoft has recently launched SkyDrive app for PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Windows Phone. Facilitating users to keep their important files on their device in sync with SkyDrive. Providing 25GB of cloud space as a free upgrade.

Let’s hope that Google finds its place in the already saturated market of cloud storage filled with Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Apple’s iCloud and Dropbox being the leader in cloud storage service.

Some technology critics are considering Google as late in the cloud storage market while others say that Google will still make an impact.

Integration with Google Apps will attract existing Google Account holders (Individuals and companies) to use Google Drive instead of some other storage service as they are already using Google Apps and other services like Gmail and now they have cloud-based storage solution to satisfy their needs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Why Microsoft will beat Apple and Google


Apple says we're in a "post-PC" world, keeping mobile devices like iPad and iPhone in front, considering PC as a completely different platform. Mobile devices are for consuming content and Macs are for creating them.

Google focuses on web as the platform of future, which is a device-free approach but requires constant connectivity. Once your internet connection is lost, your link with Google is gone.

While Microsoft’s vision is to provide the same user experience on all platforms. Whether you use PC, tablet, phone or TV, you will be able to access your apps, content and settings. Plus Bing, SkyDrive and Windows Live will give access to Microsoft’s cloud services platform. Just sing in through windows live to any of the devices and you will have it all.

Apple and Google shared the same vision but their execution is different.

Meanwhile, Apple is leading the smartphones and tablet market while google is leading the search and cloud platform leaving Microsoft in an unusual situation by depending on its PC sales.

By building Windows 8, Microsoft seems to understand that PC won’t stay what it is today and has also learnt lessons from its former mobile platform experience, which is filled with failures, when Microsoft tried to provide an interface that behaves like Windows.

Windows 8 Metro-Style interface that replaces Forms received good reviews and was tested on devices like PCs, notebooks, tablets and large touchscreen displays. Blending cloud services like Bing and SkyDrive will take Windows to a next level. Bing will give a enhanced and integrated search experience and SkyDrive will cater the cloud storage solution.

This won’t be a overnight success but Microsoft is getting ready for a long-term plan. Microsoft is preparing for a comeback through windows 8 and this is something Apple and Google should be worried about.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Revolutionize the classroom

In my previous post I wrote about how to bring revolution in education by introducing smart devices to replace traditional textbooks and copies. Here we will talk about how to revolutionize the classroom by introducing smarter ways of teaching, collaboration and social networking in the field of education.

To revolutionize the classroom we need to introduce engaging and interactive ways of teaching through the use of technology. Replacing blackboards by projector based presentations through smart devices is one way. It can save the time spent in writing during the class and the content can be made available for distribution inside and outside the classroom instead of being wasted by rubbing the blackboard as soon as the class gets over. The content produced by teachers should be interactive and be more like a game.

Useful tools, applications and platforms should be developed for teachers to make productive classroom presentations quickly and easily.

Collaboration is another key factor in making education smarter. The classroom content should be made available online for students to navigate, access and interact outside the class thus creating a shared learning environment.

An educational social network can become an important platform for students where they can collaborate, contribute, discuss and seek real-time assistance from both teachers and fellow students. Hence the classroom can go beyond physical boundaries.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Revolutionize my School Bag

My daughter while hanging her heavy school bag on her shoulders before leaving for school in the morning looked at me as if she is saying, can't you do something for it? As she left I thought seriously about the options to make her life easier and smarter by using technology. And honestly speaking, having so many technology platforms available today, carrying heavy school bags is unfair to our children.

So what do we need to do? there are several solutions available in the technology world and one of those is an iPad with iBooks. But the problem is that iPad is an expensive device for school education and specially in countries like Pakistan where children carrying an iPad is a bounty for street criminals. So the challenge is to come up with a cheap device for the sake of both affordability and security as these devices would be of less advantage for criminal minded people.

In my opinion, in Pakistan the roadmap to smart education starts from a smart school bag and eventually to a smart classroom. The need is to find a suitable device with eBook reader to replace traditional textbooks and a writing tool to replace traditional copies. I know there are plenty of eBook readers with handwriting recognition tool are available but again the challenge is to be affordable and child friendly, a customized educational device.

The next step is to revolutionize the classroom by introducing engaging and interactive ways of teaching through the use of technology in order to replace traditional textbooks. Replace the blackboard by projector based presentations through smart devices to save the time spent in writing during the class and to make the content available inside and outside the classroom rather than wasting the content by rubbing the blackboard at the start of every class.

Last but not the least, introduction of new tools and technologies in education will reduce the use paper and printed material to keep the environment clean and green. Its time for all of us techies to jump in and do our part to revolutionize the area of education.