Friday, December 26, 2008
We're all aware of the fact that cooking isn't exactly a forte of us desi men (most of us anyway). I was no different when I left home for abroad couple of months back as I had to learn the not-so-canny art of cooking the hard way, following recipes written on a piece of paper like an engineer. They tell me it's common sense really, but it's all french to me to be honest. I remember once I added HALDI (Tumeric powder) to mashed potatoes, only to realize later that I was supposed to mix ZEERA (Cumin seeds) instead! Go, as they say here in the US, figure!
Anyway, blunders (although, admittedly a lot less dumb) were the order of the day during the entire semester. I did, however, get much better at it progressively through the course of the semester. A proof of that follows. Below you see a snap of me multi-tasking and preparing spaghetti, bhindi (okra) and beef patties at the same time. A first, I tell you, for a novice like me :P
I would still consider myself a n00b when it comes to cooking. I still cannot make any meat-dish yet. I would love to try out QEEMA (ground beef) and maybe even Chicken Biryani, although I'm told it ain't that easy. Oh well, I guess I'd have to content myself with my "watery" daals, bhindis and bhurtas (mashed potatoes) for now. I know they say practice makes perfect, but I know Razz the Chef wouldn't have lasted a day in this world!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
The US of A can be a pretty weird place for a desi as far as first impressions go. For those who've been here before, you'll totally know what I'm getting at. The fact is, this place is a another world in it's own and no wonder Americans are generally found wanting when it comes to not-knowing-shit about the rest of the world. Some real weird / uncommon / stupid / strange things I've noticed in the time I've been here so far are listed here. Oh, and for those who may get the impression that this is somehow a lame attempt at poking fun at our goray overlords, let me state it very clearly - it's not! kapish?
1. Confederate flags
I'm in North Carolina, a southern state. You'd think that since the North won the civil war, there'd be more of a support for North or remembrance for what North stood for, right? Heck no! Imagine my surprise when I saw a blue-cross confederate flag on car bumpers, rooftops, outside homes etc. etc. It's crazy! It's amazing that some people still choose to wave that flag, after all that South stood for.
2. They use Fahrenheit
I think this is probably the only place in the world still sticking to a temperature scale that makes no sense. Why use it when the whole freaking world runs on centigrade? A 0-100 scale is intuitive; water freezes at zero, boils at hundred. How much simpler can it get?
The alphabet Z is pronounced "Zee" as opposed to "Zed". You would think that's pretty straight-forward and, to be honest, it is ... it's just that I can't tell you how many times I've ended up saying "Zed" out loud when spelling out my name at banks, university, shops etc. only to realize later when I noticed the bewilderment on the face of the person on the opposite side of the counter!
4. Stupid commercials
I thought some of our commercials were bad, but wait till you see some of the ones they show here. I mean you could tell they didn't cost much to make but concept-wise, they suck. I'll try and find some of them on youtube or something to show you guys.
5. Fans can run in either direction
This is actually kinda cool. There's a button on a ceiling fan which can make the fan run in opposite direction. An awesome thing for a place which gets lots of summer and winter both.
6. Obsession with trucks
Everywhere you see, there are trucks - freaking huge ones at that. Perhaps this obsession is now taking a back seat to smaller, fuel-efficient cars with the rising gas prices, but you could easily spot trucks more often than nought no matter where you are in the US.
7. Difference with UK English Vocabulary
Americans like to be different. They play different sports, use different temperature scales, use different terminologies to address things, drive on the different side of the road (to name a couple of things). Pubs are bars, biscuits are cookies, petrol is gasoline, current accounts are checking accounts, torches are flashlights ... the list is endless!
So, my friends, while it is a great experience to come here and explore their culture, it does take some getting used to due to the radical differences that exist between our cultures. Diversity is another important thing you get to notice over here. When I went to say my Eid prayers, I was standing in line with people from Africa, India, Middle East and of course Pakistan. It felt great especially when I got to view the universal nature of our great religion first hand. Traveling around the world and meeting new people really helps broaden one's horizons and gives you a new perspective about the world and it's ever-so-different people. That is why, I would love to travel to more places across the globe, if I ever get that chance. It also helps develop a new respect and appreciation for your own homeland, cuz there's no place like it, and it really is something we all should treasure for as long as we live.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Some of the world's biggest banks have revealed they are victims of an alleged fraud which has lost $50bn (£33bn).Banks hit worldwide by US 'fraud'
True, corruption is rampant back home at both lower and higher levels but while they have little corruption here at the grassroots level, frequency of reports like the one mentioned above suggests that it is pretty prevalent at the higher level - and not just here but everywhere in the world.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Eid Mubaraks to all my readers! (Yes, all three of you)
God I miss those ridiculously long eid holidays of home. Going from that to this where I have a final exam on eid day is so not cool! Hope you have a blast though! (and while you are having a blast, spare a thought for poor me sitting in an examination hall on eid of all days!) sigh!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Instead of speculating who may or may not be behind the horrific attacks in Mumbai that couldn't be condemned enough, and instead of giving in to the ridiculous finger-pointing being done by the media right now, I would just like to say a prayer for peace. Because if we don't, we will be doing exactly what these inhumane people want us to do. Peace is our birthright, and we must do everything to preserve it.
Our city, country, and religion are all going through trying times. Being blatantly labeled as `terrorists`, being squashed on either sides by mindless accusations, there's no telling what the future holds for us. Remember, there is strength in unity. And so we must unite, unite against this plague that threatens to engulf our entire region, and the world.
I, therefore, say a prayer that things improve back home - be it the ethnic killings in Karachi, or the situation in Mumbai that has threatened to derail the peace process. Amen.
Monday, November 24, 2008
You may or may not know this, but Google Image Search has recently expanded to include photos from the LIFE photo archive. To those who do not know what this means and/or have never heard of LIFE photo archive, check this out: LIFE represents hundreds of thousands of works of photo journalists dating back to the 18th century, and perhaps more importantly, we now have access to hundreds of unpublished images back form the old days. I just ran a simple query for 'pakistan' and it brought back some astonishing images, including the one on the right of the great Quaid. Just add the word 'source:life' to your google image searches to search the LIFE photo archive.
More from the Google blog post:
Only a very small percentage of these images have ever been published. The rest have been sitting in dusty archives in the form of negatives, slides, glass plates, etchings, and prints. We're digitizing them so that everyone can easily experience these fascinating moments in time. Today about 20 percent of the collection is online; during the next few months, we will be adding the entire LIFE archive — about 10 million photos.
So please take a look for yourself and experience these great photos. Your exploration will be limited only by your imagination and your desire to keep on clicking. Be sure to check back often as more photos from the LIFE archive will be added regularly to Google Image Search. We hope that you enjoy them as much as we do!Pretty awesome eh?
I've been running into one blog analyzer after another, so decided to try them all out in one go and post the results here. These are the ones most popularly used on the web: Typealyzer, Blog Gender Analyzer, Readability Test, Blog Rating and lastly, an analyzer that determines how much is your blog worth. So here goes ...
We think http://razzita.blogspot.com is written by a man (80%). - Cool!
I guess I need to up the standards a bit eh?
ISTP - The Mechanics
The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.
Hmm ... not sure what to make of that.
Fair enough. I can't quite recall when I cursed heavily on a post (although, I would love to).
How much is my blog worth?
Your blog, razzita.blogspot.com, is worth $10,161.72
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
It feels so great to be winning cricket matches again .... doesn't it? The last two games could be described as close but today's victory was the icing on an already sweet cake. Long may this streak continue. Amen.
P.S. `Go Pack` is a term used to cheer teams of NC State since they're popularly known as the `Wolfpack`.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
He did it! And what a crushing victory too! Congratulations to the American people on this momentous occasion. They haven't called North Carolina yet, but looks like it's going BLUE alright. Amazing how it was considered inconceivable only a couple of years ago that the states of Virginia and North Carolina, which are hard-core red states, could ever become battleground states - let alone go BLUE!
I'm just glad there's a sensible person in the White House for now. What remains to be seen is how he handles the Middle Eastern and Pakistan situation. Time will tell.
Update: North Carolina goes for Obama
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
The clock is about to strike midnight here on the east coast, and polling is set to begin in the morning in an election that's being billed as pretty historic. Speaking strictly from an American point-of-view, I think there's no doubt Obama's the better candidate. He represents a kind of change that is needed here after 8 years of idiotic rule that has resulted in mindless invasions and shit leadership culminating in an economic meltdown the likes of which they haven't seen since the Great Depression of the 20s.
But speaking from a point-of-view of a Pakistani and a Muslim, there's little distinction to be made among the two candidates. They're both ridiculously pro-Israel, and they both want to continue bombing border areas of Pakistan in an attempt to kill militants. There's one thing about Obama that has pissed off more than anything, his incessant drivel and posturing about Pakistan "not doing enough" in the war on terror. I've said many a times now on god knows how many blog comment sections: would you just look at the current condition of Pakistan for a freaking second? We're reeling with suicide bombings for the last couple of years the likes of which we haven't seen before. Our army is fighting anti-establishment forces in Baluchistan and FATA with no end to that in sight. And lastly and perhaps most worryingly, there's an ever-growing influence of Taliban in the country. The once peaceful and stunningly beautiful region of Swat now lies in ruins, with its tourism all but finished. Need I say more? There have been several other instances where Obama has made such reckless comments about Pakistan and how it is still not doing enough, when we've been dealing with the effects of their invasion into Afghanistan all along. Joe Biden, on the other hand, seems to have a much better and sensible head on his shoulders when it comes to Pakistan and the War on Terror. I'd rather have him as the President to be honest. But anyway, we'll have to wait and see who the American people choose as their President tomorrow. Here's hoping they don't end up regretting it once again.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
You know, anything can happen come November 4th. :)
A cousin forwarded me this funny video below depicting one such scenario:
This and other similar videos have been doing the rounds on the web lately; the other cool one I found was about an ordinary person (like yourself) running for president except that this one is perhaps closer to the present situation as far as the elections go.
North Carolina is one of the battleground states in this election, for the first time in many years and both candidates are neck-and-neck over here. That is why Mr. Obama is speaking in downtown Raleigh right now urging people to vote early. I'm really hoping this state goes BLUE, which would be the first time it's done that since 1976 would you believe! So, fingers crossed over this one.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
As you all know, I proudly proclaimed myself to be a proud owner of a DELL Inspiron 1525 couple of months back here. Little did I know that it was infamous for it's sleep and hibernation issues. Apparently, this model has had this problem for a while and it's amazing that DELL are still rolling out new models without fixing it! :S
The problem has been reported in Inspirons that have been rolled out pre-installed with Vista SP1. For some reason, I did not come across it until after a couple of weeks of using it. The problem is that whenever I tried hibernating my system, it would hibernate and then wake up immediately; if I tried putting it in sleep mode, the system would restart and take me to the screen with safe mode options that come up as a result abnormal windows shutdown. Also, this problem did not occur everytime and was sort of random at first (at least thats what I thought). Apparently, the problem lies with the 1395 Dell wireless adapter and turning it off manually seems to solve it.
Therefore, to save other people some distress and hours of scouring the web for possible solutions to this annoying problem, I'm listing some helpful web pages that describe the problem in detail and offer other users' accounts of the problem and how they solved it. Don't get me wrong though, the laptop is still fantastic and worth every single penny, it's just that you'd expect a company like Dell to do away with such problems quickly or maybe it's more of a Vista problem than Dell's - frankly, as an end-user I don't care!
Browsing the Dell forums, you'll find posts by people venting their frustration over the same problem here, here and here. There's even a Microsoft TechNet article about the problem here. The solution that worked for me can be found here and here, and I'm reproducing it below. So, here's what you need to do:
Go to Control Panel > System > Device Manager. Expand the node that says 'Network Adapters' and look for Dell Wireless 1395 WLAN Mini-Card under it, as shown below. Right-click on that, and from the context menu that appears, click on Properties.
You'll find yourself on the window shown below. Click on the Power Management tab, and uncheck the option highlighted in the screenshot below.
This is of course a workaround to a problem that shouldn't really occur on a Dell system, and even if it did, should have been fixed by now. There are other solutions to it, like reverting the BIOS to an earlier version (A09) but I didn't wanna get into the hassle of that, especially with so much important data on my system. So, here's a quick way of fixing this problem but it does come with some side effects. You'll notice a slight power drain on the batteries since the Wifi-card would never be automatically turned off by Vista now, hence the extra power consumption. You could still manually turn it off though when you're not using it, to save yourself some power.
Hopefully, this saved you considerable time in debugging the problem and finding a fix for that. I know I could've done with a straight-forward answer since I ended up playing with the settings of all hardware that could potentially wake up my computer. Anyway, alls well that ends well I guess. I'm a bit disappointed at Dell about marring this great laptop with a nasty problem like this. Hope this solution helped!
Update: Turns out it is a Vista issue - specifically an issue with SP1 - and has been witnessed on other laptops as well. Here's one example.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Too bad the Karachi Dolphins ended up being second-best to Sialkot YET AGAIN! Why is it that every team I support either performs miserably or fails at the very last hurdle? My beloved team Toon aka Newcastle United are struggling at the bottom of the English Premier League, my beloved country Pakistan is reeling from an economic crisis of epic proportions right now with no end to it in sight. Our president is proudly begging for a $100 billion bail-out, as if the rest of the world is waiting in the wings to help us. Frankly, they have enough problems of their own right now owing to the great economic recession that has engulfed the world. So don't hold your breath on that, but you know with all the doom and gloom surrounding the country at the moment, it was nice to see attention diverted to something fun and light-hearted, even if it lasted for just a few days. The harsh reality is that we will not see international cricket in the country for god knows how long and us fans will be starved of quality cricket for the foreseeable future. Also, our national team hasn’t lived up to its expectations lately (come to think of it, has anything associated with Pakistan done good of late?) and I would, personally, love to see them getting back to winning ways whether they play at home or abroad. I'd rather bet on them than on our President when it comes to turning around their respective fortunes.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Zardari: India 'not a threat to Pakistan'
So, we were just fooling around with them when our two armies almost went to war in 2001 was it? And the Kargil conflict, and the two wars, and the seemingly never-ending arms race - as ridiculous as that may be given how poor both countries are!
What the !@#% is he talking about?!
Friday, September 12, 2008
I was at a talk today given by Mr. Kevin Wright of IBM regarding Service Science Management and Engineering. He had this great quote at the end that I'd like to share with you all. It's got to do with the immense competition we have in the professional world today, and whether you're a businessman or an IT professional, there's no "easy" way to get around and be successful anymore!
Here's the quote:
It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.
It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or gazelle - when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the largest and most complex scientific instrument ever built and the highest energy particle accelerator in the world. The accelerator is located 100 meters underground and runs 27 kilometers through both French and Swiss territory. It really is an amazing creation! Watch this great video to know how it works:
Sunday, September 07, 2008
I had been wanting to do a post about the dire situation prevalent in Parachinar for some time now. Ali Hasnain posted a good blog entry about it the other day, and this is more or less along the same lines of what he said.
First of all, I am shocked and aghast at the lack of coverage given to such a grave situation inside our country. Just doing a query on Google News using the keyword 'parachinar' reveals the amount of killing that has been going on over there - and this is just what is being reported. Sad stories of people's livelihoods being destroyed - like the one on Ali's blog - are surely more common than this news stories would have us believe. People are dying by the scores in an all-out war reminiscent of the stone ages, the only difference is that both sides claim to be "Muslims". Sectarian violence is rife in the Kurram Agency and Parachinar area as the tribes are at each other's throats. Where are the self-proclaimed "Independent" news networks now?! Do they not not consider this news-worthy because it's in a desolate region of the country?! I urge local and international news organizations to do justice to the people of that troubled region and let the world know of the air of inhumanity and sectarian strife that is prevalent over there at the moment. People are being butchered over there every day and nobody seems to give a damn anymore!
A handful of stories have been on the local and international front but certainly not enough. Yesterday, we saw a positive development in the region in the form of a peace jirga. Here's hoping things materialize on that front before the Taliban get a chance to screw things up again. Parachinar and Pakistan's other frontier regions have been the victim of a Taliban insuregency ever since the Americans invaded Afghanistan. The ensuing conflict has literally obliterated the tourism industry of that region, and such beautiful places and others (Swat etc.) have sadly been marred by conflict for months now.
While our leaders are busy flirting with the likes of Palin, things back home are spiraling out of control, the Marriott bombing being the perfect proof of that. If they can hit us in one of the most "secure" areas, then there's no telling what kind of death and destruction they can bring provided they get their hands of bigger, stronger and more advanced explosives, which they seemingly are now getting. The future, in the meantime, does not look bright.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
I think I'm gonna be sick! :S
You know they've been going on about what little executive experience Obama and Replublican V.P. nominee Sarah Palin have. Come to think of it, how much of it does Zardari have?
Funny how all the cases against him are being disproved all of a sudden, and how the government has conveniently withdrawn it's case against him from the Swiss courts. He must think he's in heaven or something!
Check out the story in International Herald Tribune about him.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
It started with "Developers everywhere are in terrible pain", and I just knew where it was going. Its true for *most* software projects, which are mishandled and either end up being a total failure or, if they're lucky, realizing less than half of what the software was originally capable of. A sad story, repeated all over the world for myriad reasons.
Note there's no mention of testers or software testing. That probably because there's nothing to it! :) I mean how hard can it be?! :P Devs and test, as you can imagine, don't always get along. But perhaps I'll save my anti-QA rants for another post some other time :)
Friday, August 22, 2008
That's a DELL Inspiron 1525 Notebook people. A budget-machine that packs enough punch for a non-gaming machine to be branded cool (especially for college students like me!). This baby's got 3 gigs of RAM along with 250GB HD among a host of other cool features like Integrated web cam, card reader, DVD writer and not to mention Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 processor running at 2Ghz. So, all in all, it was a pretty good deal I got at best buy and am extremely happy with it so far.
Needless to say, it is the object of my affection these days. It has a sleek silverish look to it that I really really like. You can read its full review here.
Monday, August 18, 2008
So, Mushy finally gave in to all the pressure and decided to leave his post before they put him on trial. Let's make one thing clear folks, I used to be a die-hard Musharraf supporter back in his early days because the country enjoyed a lot of stability in those days, and in turn, we made great strides economically. All this talk of impeachment just puts a wry smile on my face. Sure, I have left no stone unturned in speaking out against Mushy on several occassions -his insidious emergency plus action, his approval of NRO, his support for MQM in their inhumane display of strength, his dismissal of Chief Justice among others. But the fact of the matter remains, the very people that are governing right now are far worse than Mr. Mushy himself and if anybody must be put on trial, it is these very goons. They've looted hundreds and millions of dollars worth of state wealth, not to mention distributed acres of land amongst themselves, which is partly the reason they are yet to restore the judges. Justice, apparently, cannot prevail in this country because if it did, it would open a door that would reveal 60 odd years of rampant, unabated corruption by the people in power!
Musharraf sahib, you gave us some real good years, but then you turned into something I did not like. I don't know what it was - the lust for power, the support of America or maybe something else. But some of your actions just defied belief - even if they were under your much-publicized slogan of "Pakistan First" (which I do wholeheartedly agree with tbh).
I would like to see you given a fair trial, but not before the very people you've forgiven via that hideous NRO bill.
Some quotes you can't help but chuckle at:
"Russia has invaded a sovereign state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century."
“With its actions in recent days, Russia has damaged its credibility and its relations with the nations of the free world. Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century,” - George Bush
So its ok when they do it? Lying and falsifying evidence to invade a sovereign nation (Iraq) and threatening, bullying and intimidating another sovereign nation (Iran) when it all it wants to do is pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Jon Stewart was so right when he said on The Daily Show that: "Russia is soo 20th century! This century is all about preemptive strikes!". Watch the video here.
The world knows better than to be lectured by these goons - who have a long history of
meddling in other countries' affairs and invading them whenever they liked. I totally agree with David Remnick of the New Yorker when he says that: "Why would any leader, much less Putin, respond to moral suasion from Washington? That is America's tragedy, and the world's."
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I've been a computer gaming-freak for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to this monstrosity called a Computer back in 1993, when we bought a 386SX-33Mhz that had 2MB RAM with a 113MB Hard Drive. SVGA monitors used to be cool back then and possessing one drew your friends and cousins to your place to check it out. Kher, it started with that game Dangerous Dave, LOL! Yes, that little guy jumping around dodging creepy spider-like enemies on its way to the door out of each level. I remember I used to copy games from other friends on 14inch-floppy disks, now extinct of course (but I've still got those disks stashed somewhere!).
Prince of Persia 1, Skyroads, Wolfenstein 3D (The first 3d-shooter ever!) were some of the highlights of those early days.
After a couple of years, we upgraded to an 8MB RAM just so that I could play Mortal Kombat 3 :P. It was totally worth it, the game was awesome and had me glued to it for many days. Crazy Cars 3, BC Racers, Wolfenstein 3D extensions, Warcraft 2, Duke Nukem 3D, DOOM, Lemmings, NFS, Starcraft you name it I've played it! FYI, you can find a lot of these classic games up for download on DOSGamesArchive.com. In terms of 3D gaming genre, the next breakthrough of sorts was when Quake was released. Fast, beautiful and realistic (for those times), it was an instant hit! and with multiplayer support and several patches/mods, it was there to last.
So, as you can imagine, the list is endless :). Some games that have occupied me for the least couple of years include Unreal Tournament, NFS Series, GTA Series, Warcraft 3, Call Of Duty series, Medal of Honor series - again, to name a few. Right now, I'm playing Assassin's Creed, a bloody fantastic game with enough detail to put your graphic card in overdrive!
You'll notice the ever so famous Counter-Strike missing from the list. That doesn't mean that I haven't played it ... it's just that I haven't developed quite the liking for it that has others glued on it for hours and hours no end. I used to play it a lot too back in the college days, but there came a point when it became too addictive, not to mention a total waste of time. Do you find the time to still play a few games every now and then?
Friday, July 25, 2008
I just finished watching the Star Trek Enterprise series (previously referred to here). This series had the misfortune of being the first to be canceled by the network airing it rather than it being ended by its producers. And now that I've seen the whole thing, I must admit I could see where they were coming from. Enterprise Season-1 went on air in 2001, and its last season (Season 4) aired in 2005.
The total flop of Star Trek - Nemesis movie didn't help matters at all, and to this date, I haven't a clue about exactly what they were thinking when they made that movie. Given it had extraordinary special effects, yes, but it also had a very ordinary storyline and worst of all, they decided to kill DATA! Horrible! Anyway, back to Enterprise: ratings for the series in question took a plunge after Nemesis debacle and Paramount decided to pull the plug on it, making it the first trek series to meet this fate and ending a 17-year run of trek shows on tv!
If you ask me, it just didn't live up to the high standards set by its predecessors. There were no captivating story-lines of DS9, fantastic acting of TNG and Voyager nor the character-development of all three. It just lacked in all departments and even though it was still good in its own right, but, like I said, not good enough. Incidentally, the next trek movie is being produced by J.J. Abrams (of LOST fame), and its set to be released in May 2009. Although I'm not a great fan of LOST, but here's hoping that J.J. Abrams would do a good job of directing it and hopefully bring back the glory-days for the franchise.
Dr. Randy Pausch, whose last lecture I posted here on my blog, has sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and has passed away today. Rest in Peace doctor, your last lecture was something truly worth remembering.
Read MSNBC Story
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Following on my post earlier on TOEFL iBT Preparation tips, I'm penning down some helpful links and tips for doing good on the GRE. I managed to rake up 1350 in GRE last April, with 630 in Verbal, 720 in Quantitative and 5.5 in Analytical Writing. While I was pretty satisfied with my verbal score, my quantitative score was pretty disappointing. Read on and you'll find out why. Btw, this post also includes excerpts from my post on TestMagic forum here.
Beating the GRE isn't exactly easy. You need to put in some time in the preparation before you can expect a real good score. Preparation-wise, the books I consulted were Barrons, NOVA and ARCO (for the Analytical Writing section). Besides these, there are some pretty cool websites out there you can use to prepare including mygretutor.com, number2.com (funny name I know), 800score.com, Peterson's free online practice test, missiongre.com to name a few. Then there's PowerPrep ofcourse whose tests offer a real measure of your prep - at least for Verbal.
I did the entire prep thing in 2 months time. I had just graduated, and wasn't working so had ample time to draw up a schedule for this duration. During this time, I did the entire Barrons master word list (3500 words), quantitative prep from the books mentioned above, and not to mention writing practice from NOVA, ARCO and mygretutor.com. Like I said, I did the entire Barrons list in 2 months time, averaging roughly 1 word list per day. Initially, it took a lot more effort to memorize the words but once I got used to memorizing, it wasn't overly difficult at all. Be sure not to break your momentum though, for e.g., if you go 3-4 days without doing a list, you start to struggle. In other words, draw up a schedule and stick to it. Also, the important thing is to keep revising! I revised all the lists done in the preceding 7 days at every weekend. I finished the entire list 20 days before the test, and revised 3 times more before the big day, and every time the cycle of revision was less. The result of all this effort was that I remembered 99% of the words. I scored 670 in verbal in my first PowerPrep and was overjoyed! I guess it wasn't to be in the real thing. Still, this should get you into the 90% percentile on verbal like I did.
Speaking of PowerPrep, I scored 1420 and 1400 on the two powerpreps I gave a couple of days before the test. I thought the quantitative questions on Powerprep are a lot easier than the actual test. After the initial Writing section, I had quant. and it went horrible to be honest! (in terms of time-consumption that is!) , and for that I think ALL books are useless because none of the questions there were remotely as difficult as the ones presented in these books. They were, however, extremely complicated and time-consuming! I couldn't manage my time very well and ended up guessing on the last 7! Yes, last seven !! I honestly believe I could have scored more in the verbal section that followed had I done quant. better! So take my advice, don't rest assured of the fact you've done Barrons quantitative prep, YOU NEED TO DO MORE!
The tension level invariably rises as the big day comes closer. I had stopped studying 3-4 days before the test and would do 1-2 exercises per day at most. This helped me relax leading up to the big day where the most important thing is to stay calm and not to panic. If you can manage to hold you own in the test center, you'll do just fine otherwise if you panic, time flies at warp speeds and you'll be guessing on questions before you know it. I guess I don't need to emphasize the importance of getting the first 5 questions right in GRE's Adaptive testing format. You are allowed to take your time on the first few questions as their importance cannot be stressed enough, but after that you need to pick up the pace and work your way towards the end before time runs out. It really is a time-management test as much as it is a test of your verbal and analytical skills. So, good luck and remember it's not the end of the world even though it may feel like it. Just stay cool and you'll be fine :)!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
So, it's been over a 100 days since those elections that were reveled as if they were a panacea, as if they were supposed to solve everything. Oh how terribly wrong we were! This is not a pro-Musharraf post by any means, but you can't help but think if things would be just as bad had he been in charge. I mean, we're still fighting the militants in FATA, we still have a puppet PM, and to make matters worse we have just witnessed the highest rise in inflation in Pakistan ever! And where are our political leadership when needed the most, in London? Dubai? Washington? Why are they there in the first place? What is wrong with staying in PK and solving long-standing disputes vital to the stability of the country? Is everything to be blamed on the past government?
I don't know about you but I think this government's days are numbered if they continue to act like muppets appeasing god-knows-who and acting in everything but Pakistan's interest. Good riddance, if you ask me.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Readers of this blog will vouch for the fact that I tend to stay away from religious debate, as we seem to have different interpretations and after all, everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs. But this time, Dr. Israr has really crossed the line for me. His comments, aired on June 12th on a QTV program, are shockingly sacrilegious and leaves one wondering: what the ?#@$ was he thinking?! I addressed the following letter to PEMRA and sent it to the editor of DAWN. Hopefully it'll get published.
The recent deplorable comments by Israr Ahmed on QTV are a cause of shame and disgust for all Muslims. One can only judge the true intentions of a speaker by the selection of issue. By narrating a highly controversial tradition from a dubious source that contradicts the very essence of Islam - as Imam Ali (as) embodied whatever Islam is - Mr. Ahmed has shown an incredible lack of rationality and objectivity. Mr. Ahmed deliberately tried to put doubts in minds of the unwary and stoke flames of sectarianism, in pursuit of fulfilling his satanic agenda. However, the responsibility of this act does not end with Israr Ahmed. The team of QTV responsible for producing this program share equal blame for their severe lack of competence in screening this venomous content, which has the potential of causing great social strife. Subsequent apologies from the ARY Network notwithstanding, this is a case-in-point for taking measures against incompetence of a media outlet by PEMRA.The damned video in question:
In this regards, we ask the regulatory authority to severely reprimand the administration of QTV along with imposing a hefty fine as a reminder for the channel to rectify it's conduct. We also demand the QTV administration to name-and-shame people involved in broadcasting the program in question. Furthermore, speakers/preachers such as Israr Ahmed should be barred from writing or voicing comments through the electronic media, in view of the disturbance of public order these people can and have caused. We sincerely hope that by taking such strong measures in view of the controversy created by the speaker will restore public confidence viz-a-viz the credibility of the media and governance credentials of the people in power.
Friday, June 27, 2008
If you've been living under a rock or something, you need to get hold of this great new
program called Ankahi. It airs weekdays on SAMAA TV from 10-11PM, and is hosted by Faisal Qureshi (of Loose-Ends fame) - a humble and down-to-earth fellow (surprisingly for a media man). Do check it out!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
When a dying man gives a talk on how to "live", you're bound to listen carefully. Dr. Randy Pausch is one such unfortunate person, who has sadly lost the battle against pancreatic cancer and has been told by his doctors that he has only a few months left in him. While that would send most of us in a deep comatose-like depression, it's had a different effect on Dr. Randy altogether. It's made him more determined to share his view of how to make the most of your life - a true believer in the adage that it don't matter how long a life you have, but it is how well you live it that matters. A truly inspiring talk that you absolutely must see!
There's also a TIME article on him:
Monday, June 16, 2008
And so it's supposed to be! I am going back to SCHOOL ladies and gentleman - the very thought of which sends shivers down my spine tbh. I am sure no one would welcome the prospect of taking up books again with open arms but you gotta do what you gotta do eh? At the same time, I am also excited that I'll be pursuing the subjects of my interest and possibly end up doing some serious research in them (ending up with a Doctorate), but time will tell how far I'll go. Fingers crossed for that.
So I resigned yesterday with a month's notice and now prepping for the new semester by selecting the courses I'm going to be studying this Fall. Classes start August 20th, yikes!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years.
We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We've conquered outer space, but not inner space; we've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we've split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less; we plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait; we have higher incomes, but lower morals; we have more food, but less appeasement; we build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; we've become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.
These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
I had almost forgotten. Today's the last day before we switch to a daylight saving time and push our clocks one hour forward in an attempt to utilize more daylight and in turn, save us some of that precious power. It was when I paid a visit to the market today that I found out that it was the talking point of the day, and everyone was busy giving their opinion of the whole time-changing thing. Some thought it was a futile attempt at fooling people into thinking that the government is actually trying to do something for them, whereas others were a bit more hopeful and thought that it might actually work this time.
Whether this attempt will fail like the last one remains to be seen, but you're likely to run into a lot of confused people in the next few days - most of them, sadly, poor who couldn't care less tbh. A friend regaled something funny he encountered on a bus the last time we did this daylight saving thing. While on his way to work, he inquired the bus conductor about what time it was, to which the conductor asked back: konsa? naya ya purana wala? :)
In my opinion, it is a very useful thing indeed - provided it is utilized properly and the masses are educated about it. If everyone starts doing things one hour later then there's no point in it. Except for namaz, everything should be done at exactly the same time. Some public service ads aimed at raising awareness ought to help IMO. With filthy rich telcos around these days itching to get some attention, it wouldn't be hard attracting sponsors for these ads either.
I guess we'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, here's something that oughta put a smile on your face:
Saturday, May 24, 2008
These stupid billboards, they do your freaking head in don't they!
I'm talking about the stupid bullcrap JAZZ ads that have "taken over" the billboards at several places in the city. Since when does speaking up and being free involve doing semi-nude poses that could at best be described as raunchy? Come to think of it, almost all mobile ads project some sort of hollow made-up dream society where all the kids are jumping around in night clubs - in some cases, with grannies joining them - and singing as if they're high on drugs on something.
Is this the kind of bull we'll be serving now that our media is finally FREE? Is this how we become an "enlightened" and "tolerant" society? One that accepts freedom of expression? By the looks of things, I'm beginning to think it was better the other way around to be honest! Who the hell approves these stupid billboards/television ads/dramas anyway?! (that is, if there is an approval process in place in the wake of millions in advertising revenue - especially from the telcos). And there's another of these totally inane billboards on Sharah-e-Faisal of Shezan twist that would probably look better on a poster of an X-rated film. I am not kidding people, it really is that bad! See for yourself (the twist ad). I'll try and get an image of the JAZZ ads as well. It freaking does my head in sometimes, really.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
I don't know about you if I were to somehow ended up with a considerable sum of money, the first thing I'd do is build a multi-story car park on Sharah-e-Faisal! If you happen to work in and around the area, you'd realize how desperate the plight of us poor drivers has become these days. The service roads are jam-packed almost all (if not most) of the time, and driving through them is no less than enduring hell.
I think it's a fantastic business idea too. One that would do everyone concerned loads of good IMHO.
What say you?
Sunday, May 11, 2008
A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”
The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”
“You must be a programmer,” said the balloonist.
“I am,” replied the woman, “How did you know?”
“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”
The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.”
“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”
“Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”
If you happen to work at a software house like me, you'd know exactly what she's talking about! :)
Friday, May 09, 2008
I am absolutely, totally and completely addicted to Star Trek these days - their TV series, movies, the whole franchise basically. It started when a friend introduced me to Star Trek - Deep Space Nine (a series that premiered in the 1990s). Then for me, came the most popular of them all, Star Trek - The Next Generation with the famous starship Enterprise and it's captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart). Last week, I finished watching Star Trek - Voyager. and now, I'm onto Star Trek - Enterprise!
I guess I'll be hooked until there are no more movies or tv series' left to watch! This is the last and I've seen all the rest! :P
Monday, May 05, 2008
Death is an uncomfortable topic for most, yet we cannot deny the fact one way or another, we ARE going to die one day. In other words, the odds of dying are 100% - an absolute certainty that is. However, the manner of one's death can be numerous. It is disconcerting to even think of our death, let alone thinking of the manner in which we're going to die! According to LiveScience journal, our odds of dying are something like in the picture shown below (click on it to view the original size).
Apparently, you are more likely to commit suicide or fall to your death than be killed by a tsunami or any natural disaster. Hmmm ... and for once, I shall not end with with my customary footnote of 'Enjoy!' :)
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Oh boy! Do you remember MacGyver? The handsome handyman on TV who could get almost anything done with only a basic set of tools and some duct tape! :P
If you grew up watching his super-cool tv shows like me, then you'd be thrilled to know that there's a MacGyver movie in the making! Can't wait!
Friday, May 02, 2008
I like to point and shoot once in a while too, time permitting of course. I bought a Canon Powershot A560 last year, a budget camera but an extremely good one. While there are no snaps I took with it online, there are a couple I took with my friend's Nikon back in the university days. These were taken during the rainy season of year 2006 (my final year at NED). Enjoy!
More "White House"
Friday, April 25, 2008
Sure, it was fun for a while but hasn't this Twenty20 thing gone too far? I mean it's great for entertainment and all, and sponsors love it on the evidence of the recent ICL and IPL series, but come on, it's not cricket!
BBC Sport published this story - Twenty20 'to conquer world sport' - on their website today. It is an interview with Allen Stanford, a billionaire who thinks that Twenty20 can turn out to be the most lucrative sport in the world!
I can understand why Mr. Stanford and several other businessmen and women are excited about this latest money-making prospect, but too much Twenty20 will take the excitement away in my opinion. With the way the interest in holding more tournaments is growing, it might end up seriously damaging the sport altogether. Your thoughts please.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
If you stay informed of the latest happenings in IT in Pakistan, then you must remember that little girl Afrah Shafquat, who became the youngest Sun-certified Java Programmer in the world at the tender age of 11 years in 2002. I remember seeing her at PDC 2005, the last one I attended and couldn't help but notice how small she was for doing computer programming, let alone completing certifications! Well, she's continued to make great strides culminating in the form of an MIT scholarship that she's just won. Congratulations to her and her family who must be very proud!
You can read the article on ArabNews website here:
Previously, her elder sister Afsah had also won a scholarship from MIT last year. More on that on the same website:
It is so refreshing to see something positive being reported about Pakistan for a change. With all the doom and gloom that's been surrounding the country of late, this couldn't have come at a better time.
THE scientist who led the team that cracked the human genome is to publish a book explaining why he now believes in the existence of God and is convinced that miracles are real.
Francis Collins, the director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, claims there is a rational basis for a creator and that scientific discoveries bring man “closer to God”.
Click here to read the full story at TimesOnline.co.uk
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Barring the April Fool prank pulled on us by our own KMB guys (which was good btw), here are some other of the "believable" pranks witnessed around the web on April 1, 2008:
YouDigg - A new collaboration between YouTube and Digg where users can now digg videos to the frontpage.
BBC's Flying Penguins - Film maker and writer Terry Jones discovers a colony of penguins, which are unlike any other penguins in the world - they can fly!
ThePirateBay - They're moving to Egypt - in the middle of nowhere!
Google's Project Virgle - First human colony on Mars! Want to be part of it?
Gmail Custom Time - Apparently, you can now send emails with custom timestamps - in the past.
Google Docs' Paper Plane - They've added a "New Paper Airplane" option to the File menu for Google Docs' word processor, which produces a template for folding an official Google paper plane. This was genuinely funny!
Google Future Search aka Gday - Search into the future with Google's latest innovation.
InfoWorld - Microsoft and Yahoo agree on buyout price. Gotta admit, we half-expected this prank.
PostgreSQL Ends - They announeced they're going down for good (remind you of anything?)
I hope you were able to see the funny side, I know I did :). For a full listing of all pranks pulled on this date, check our this page. Some events were mistaken for a prank, due to the date, most notably the standardization of Office OpenXML format. I guess they forgot what the date was, like me when I found out KMB was no more and jotted down a post before checking the calendar :P
Another shining example of the restive and quarrelsome populace of Karachi and our great country who can't manage to sit together and indulge in a goddamn civilized discourse. Karachi MetBlogs, which used to be an epicenter of all things Karachi, and one of the few places on the web I used to visit regularly, is closing down. The MetBlogs' admins in LA posted this entry a while ago announcing its closure.
Our belligerence knows no bounds apparently.
Update 1 [1 PM]: I don't know why it never occurred to me before, but the fact that this occurred on APRIL 1 cannot be discounted!
Update 2 [11 PM]: Damn! It is an April Fool Prank!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Sometimes the inanity of our people really does strike me - none more so than in this instance which I'm about to describe. At a time when the city is going through its worst power crisis ever, devout followers of the Prophet (PBUH) have put up green lights on all major roads, thoroughfares and intersections of the city! And this is just what I have observed myself, I'm sure they've found plenty more ways to waste what little energy we have on such displays of religiousness that do no one no good. If they must show off, why not put green flags instead of lights? Why are they bent on wasting power on green lights that are turned ON for hours into the night, and possibly till the morning?!
And what is even more inane is that all this is being allowed with no checks at all. What is wrong with us? Why do we have to be so showy about everything?! And every year, there's news of some clash occurring between members of different rallies being taken out on 12 Rabbi ul Awwal! It's sad really! We've practically destroyed ourselves in our attempts to be better followers of the Prophet (PBUH) than others while our enemies sitting far away can't help but smirk as we self-destruct.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Another day, another suicide attack! As frail as the law and order situation is in Pakistan, it would be naive to think our enemies would not want to take advantage of this opportunity and seek to further destabilize us. Today's attack (combined with others recently) is aimed at weakening Pakistan's strong institutions and furthering the gulf between the people and the state, not to mention make Pakistan one of the most dangerous places in the world to be. No wonder the Aussies don't wanna come here.
It stands to be reasoned that the likes of India, Israel and the US would have their vested interests in the destabilization of Pakistan. They already have an alliance, and all claim Pakistan harbours terrorists and that they'd wouldn't miss the chance to take out some given the opportunity. If the fiascos of May 12 and Dec 27 are anything to go by, things could get real ugly in a matter of minutes if someone prominent is gunned down. The suicide attacks have left the nation reeling - not a week goes by when we hear of such attack in some part of the country. Will they even stop with the new government in place? I don't think so, especially if some foreign hand is involved.
Here's an aptly drawn cartoon by Carlos Latuff that I came across while visitng The Olive Ream:
There are more from the same artist here. Also, please be sure to check out his fantastic collection, most notably his images denouncing Israel's latest assault on Gaza.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
You're bound to have come across this elusive question upon Graduating from college that whether you should continue your studies by joining a Masters program immediately or should you instead find some work. The answer to this question is subjective, in my opinion. MS Jobs Blog recently posted an entry on the same topic here, and I've decided to pen my thoughts on it too.
Like I said in the comments section of that post, the ultimate decision rests with the individual depending on their long-term goals. Like their post suggests, there are no RIGHT or WRONG decisions here; both courses of action can yield good results, again, depending on what path a fresh graduate wants to follow in their career. Readers of this blog would remember a post I did some time entitled 'Choosing a career path' in which I expressed my bewilderment at the apparent lack of consideration given to a person's interest when choosing a field of study for their career, and instead going after a field that will simply "pay well" in the short-term. I fully understand why *some* people might adopt this approach, due to their family's economic conditions et al, but certainly not ALL of them, as we do end up witnessing sadly.
Back to the point in question, I don't think there's any doubt that a person should try and attain a specialization in their field as it becomes necessary at some point in their careers for their own growth. As for the WHEN part, I've seen a lot of people enroll in Evening Masters' programs that they choose to manage alongside their day jobs. Hectic I know, but a lot of people are going for this option nowadays, which isn't bad IMO, and it's certainly better than enrolling in a full-time Masters program straight-away if you ask me. Lets just say I think it is better to have worked professionally for some time before you decide to pursue your Masters. Working has its own benefits; you develop your skill set, learn new technologies, learn the way things work in the REAL WORLD in your field, make good contacts and what not. All these things can prove to be invaluable and can possibly give a new direction in terms of what you want to specialize in. All in all, I think it is definitely better to acquire some set of professional skills and experience before pursuing a specialization, as it undoubtedly adds a new dimension to the person that is YOU and possibly gives you a fresh perspective about your field that you may want to follow-up on later when you do enroll in your Masters.
On the other hand, some people choose to enroll in a Masters right after their graduation. Again, not a bad choice since they have just graduated and are used to the ways of the academic world. They certainly wouldn't have to spend any time getting used to a studying schedule, attending classes no end , meeting assignment-deadlines and all that else that is part of academics. If someone feels strongly about their field and the specialization they want to acquire, this may end up being a better choice. This is especially true for those individuals that plan on staying in the academic world as teachers, or possibly want to pursue research at some institution. But, you would find that many schools do not admit students in their Masters program without prior work experience. Besides, who would you choose to admit in your school if on one hand you had a fledgling young fellow with a 4.0CGPA straight out of school and on the other, a relatively mature person having considerable experience in their field and with good recommendations from his co-workers and teachers? Obviously, the latter!
Lastly, this is just my take on this. I am just another person who's asked himself this question before, and am penning down what I believe is the answer - at least for me it is. I would love to hear what others think of this; for and against both.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
For the avid downloader that I am, there's nothing more I detest than power-outs and fluctuating voltages during Summers. Oh yes, the abominable power cuts are back now that Summer has arrived and our ever-reliable KESC's systems have started caving in to extra power demands. I am posting this today, because for the first time in months my PC restarted due to voltage fluctuation (a horrible reminder of things to come) and believe me, last Summer was easily the worst on record from a power-outage standpoint.
They may have a nice-looking website. If only their quality of service was half as good as that. They're certainly holding true to their motto, Power for
Sigh! And I was just beginning to enjoy leaving my PC ON all night for downloads. With fluctuating voltages, you just can't risk it.