Logic is Variable

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Discount Culture

Internet today is filled with millions of web shops for single product sales to thousands of products on a single site and business to business. Then there are varieties of services available for doing business using online solutions. Net result is that this combination is accelerating new economic activities. Ironically, it is assumed that online shopping is best suited for businesses in developed markets due to their economy and better buying power. Analyses of the cost and benefits show that shopping online is more beneficial for under developed countries like Pakistan.

Since the internet developed mass market potential with the invention of a simple to use browser for surfing the World Wide Web, it is easy to see its effects on businesses and on the daily lives of common people. On the one hand the internet is turning business upside down and inside out and on the other, it is proving as an integrated point of service for ordinary people who have chosen to have an access to the internet as an addition to their lives. In urban Pakistan, saying that everything glamorous is happening to businesses in the developed world is no more valid.

Shopping online - global behavior that goes beyond time zones, geographical locations, cultural and political boundaries - is not only fun but also a convenience. It saves time and money in more than one ways. Shoppers can see more, compare and find good deals sitting in the comforts of their homes. That is not possible for those who still go and shop on ground.

In Pakistan, online shopping that started with sending flowers, cakes and gifts on Valentine Days, New Years, birthdays and similar festive occasions is now maturing. We see discount coupons websites. Katoti.Pk serving local customers in Islamabad, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi is one point in case. I can see discount vouchers culture growing fast here.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:47 AM, , links to this post

Spider Cover story - High and Dry

This article appeared in Spider.tm

Pakistan's '1%' Internet population is divided between those who literally live on the Web and those who are clueless about its true potential. In the past, few technologies have affected the attitude of users of technology as the Internet. Although every one seems to be getting online these days but the fact is that the Internet is still in a formative stage with only a tiny percentage of Pakistani population having access to it, writes on S.A.J Shirazi

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 2:45 PM, , links to this post

Once upon a time, there was life offline

Having to survive without the Internet when every one seems to be living in the cyberspace and achieving is a new king of anxiety. It is very hard to perceive life offline especially for those who have integrated Internet in their lives and work.

The Internet is a shorter route to many things: obtaining information, conducting business, making decisions, socializing or spending leisure time. Researchers are trying to find out Internet's impacts on life on and offline. Celebration of the Internet Free Day or the 20-year net veteran Steve Cisler's expedition to put himself "in other people shoes who are not online" are some cases in point.

For generation that is growing up with the Internet, the essence of existence lies in their presence online and being disconnected in their totally connected circle means like living in a digital dark age. This fraternity thinks that every one in the world is online. They forget an overwhelming majority of humanity which is without the Internet. Convinced that there is nothing that cannot be done online, this generation looks up to the Internet world for help and support for every thing from writing term papers to writing emails 'to the future' or doing what many will not try in real life -- even shy adolescents are active and bold in the virtual world when engaged in Internet communications as a passionate past time. I browsed MSN Member Directory with my search preference (Pakistan, single and looking, age 20-29) and found 20 pages of results showing Pakistani males and 20 pages of Pakistani females. Well, in today's world, the Internet does net people in a well knit circle together!

Always looking to own new gizmos, experience new technologies and find ways to do novel things online, it is the youth who are future computer scientists, engineers, programmers, developers and end users (also the Web queens and the Net princes). Youth are worst affected by no access to the Internet or outages. How do you perceive life without the Internet? "Without the Internet my life is unimaginable. It gives me feelings of being a dweller of the Stone Age if all of a sudden I were to quit use of the Internet. But like radio, television, or telephone, or cars and microwave ovens, the Internet is not going to go away. So I think of making best of it rather than thinking about living without it," says Sara Kazmi, editor Ravi, a magazine of Government College University Lahore. Jaffar, a Syrian student of de'Montmorency College of Dentistry Lahore says, "A lot of thrill and interactivity is attached with the world online so it really is painful to perceive life without the Internet."

The other categories hit by no access or disconnections are of IT professionals and those end users who are supplementing their earnings by pursuing income generating activities online. Zahid Shahzad, a techie says, "When I am disconnected, I attend to those assignments that otherwise keep piling up in the in-tray waiting for my attention. And, I keep jotting down things and thoughts, what I would do when online." Hafiz Munir is an urbanite computer engineer with his roots in the village where his mother, brothers and sisters live without telephone or possibility of the Internet access. He says, "I have always been going to my village to refresh my urban attitudes but going has become greatly difficult since I have put my work and life on the Internet. And it is no only me. No IT professional can afford to live without continuous connectivity. One of the reasons is that others assume IT people as 'on call' every time."

Users who have been online all their life have started taking it for granted. Any interruption, short or long, is frustrating. What do you do when you have to live offline for reasons beyond control? "Me and every one in my circle (presence on the Internet seems to be defining social circles) groans and grumbles when ever there is a disruption in connectivity; and there are so many," says Sara. Enthusiastic users have connections from more than one ISP (and the Internet cards at hand) and still "the first thing I do is to ring one or two ISPs and inquire, then I ask my friends before I decide what to do. One has to run around if there is a hardware or software problem that needs a repair or reinstallation. In our country you can do nothing in case of electric failures, telephone line disruptions or ISP 'maintenance' problem. Even respective departmental inquiry stations and help lines will not tell you what is happening," laments Arshad Mahmud. And Hafiz says, "After ascertaining the cause, I look for alternatives to remain online till things are back to normal at my own work station."

Acquiring necessary skills and hooking on the Internet at later stages in life was a major shift for those who were in the middle of their life when Internet necessitated changes in job specifications and descriptions as well as in societal norms. It is comparatively easier for this class to strike balance in on and offline life.

For Maryum Yunus, switching from the position of a sub editor in a print publication was a major shift -- especially in terms of Internet access and experience online. "The usage of the Internet mainly depends on what sort of work one is doing. I have Internet exclusively available to me at work as well as home. For my newspaper job, use of the Net was essential for me. I would logon and remain online more though I never was a freak. My present job as the Assistant Manager Image Marketing does not require active use of the Net. I only need to go online every now and then for a short duration to download my emails, fire off replies, weed out spam to keep the inbox under limits, exchange Hello Hi with friends if I can could catch someone online or to surf any specific site and look for particular information. Life never stops for me if I am disconnected or do not go online for days. After all people had been living, working and communicating even before IBM launched the personal computer. No?"

Life offline is rather harder for those who are yet striving to go online; those who are aware of the Internet and what people are accomplishing online. In our infrastructure poor country, majority of people are not online, for a variety of reasons. "I always dream about life online and what all I will be able to do when I join college in the city," told Mumtaz, a metric student from village Mong who is using computer since last one year and is to go to the city for college education where he will be able get connected. "People are migrating to cities for providing opportunities to their wards in the online world," says Hafiz.

There is an equilibrium point between the virtual and real life though it is getting difficult to point out where that point is. Life online is difficult but life can be much more enriching for those who are online, can take control of the Internet and are not mesmerized by its rhythm.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:58 PM, , links to this post

Dot on the map

Flying over Astola Island (Pakistan)‚ my first sight of the Island and the speed boat anchored in a bay far below quite took my breath. Pointing hull of the boat lay in pale blue shallows‚ riding on the swell. Even a hardened seaman would have melted at the sight of a creature as beautiful as the speed boat. I looked forward to the promise of sailing around the Island in a boat and later exploring it in the company of botanist experts on a purposeful visit.We landed on a rough helipad marked with a circle in lime on the edge. Soon a sleek and small boat puttered towards us. I felt like a warrior and navigator Vasco da Gama, when he reached Calicut on May 20, 1498.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:20 AM, , links to this post

Join Katoti.Pk

Millions if consumers across the world are using coupons for shopping as a source of savings and convenience. The online coupons culture is fast growing. Ask Katoti.Pk - the online coupon market specialist in Pakistan - they say, we are number one resource to saving money while shopping online using online coupons, discounts vouchers, lucrative deals and promotions from so many retailers to help you save big when you shop online. Their site [Katoti.Pk] is a very resource rich.

Have a look and find out how much Katoti.Pk is functional, fast and users' friendly. Users can find the coupons easily. More deals are coming up on the website every day.

What users can do there? From the home page interested users can subscribe to the electronic newsletter for latest updates. Users can browse the site, select what they line and want and avail the offers all with a click of mouse right sitting in front of their computer.

In order to facilitate online shoppers Katoti.Pk is doing a good job is Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar to start with. Join the fast growing community. What is more, you can also join Katoti Referral program and make some extra cash for your ice cream. That too is saving.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:59 AM, , links to this post

Celebrating Abbas Khan – a great story writer

Abbas Khan is one of the moist celebrated story writers of our time. His other published work includes three novels and seven short story books (Zakham Gawah Hain, Tu Aur Tu and Mein Aur Umrao Jan Ada (novels), Dharti Binam Akash, Tensikh-e-Insan, Qalam, Kursi Aur Wardi, Us Adalat Men, Jism Ka Johar (short story books) and Reza Reza Keenat and Pal Pal (afsancha -- shortest story books) and a philosophical compilation Din Mein Charagh.

Though there are many in Pakistan, both in English and Urdu languages, with claims to be masters of the fiction writing, what makes Abbas Khan the standout by a distance is that his is no ordinary story writing. One only calls it such as a matter of convenience, or perhaps for wan of an expression capable of summing up his piece in one work. In effect, what Abbas Khan gives you is substance that goes far beyond a fiction piece, for he just doesn’t write about social issues and society. Each of his story is a free flowing specimen, with most knowledgeable description of dreams, wishes, culture, vision and yes, love woven into the story - and in language that is fluent and crisp, and also at places containing a fair dose of humor and sarcasm. The work that he presents turns most of his work into literary masterpieces.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:12 AM, , links to this post

Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Qura tul Ain to Umrao Jan Ada

Societies pride in different strengths: Some give importance to bravery, some to democracy, and some nations think that freedom of expressions, development and or education are the hallmarks for their long-term sustenance. “The nations should be judged on how they look at their women,” writes Abbas Khan, the author of Urdu novel Mein Aur Umrao Jan Ada, his eleventh.

There is a famous saying that every thing in fiction is true except dates. But in the novel written by Abbas Khan even dates are true because he has based his novel in the back ground of five very famous women in the history: Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Qura tul Ain Tahira (Iran), Mughal Princess Noor Jehan and Umrao Jan Ada.

Helen of Troy was the daughter of Zeus and Leda and wife of Menelaus, considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Her abduction by Paris caused the Trojan War and made thousand ships drown.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 1:29 PM, , links to this post

Krakoram Express

Spanking new Krakoram Express (42 Down) running between Lahore and Karachi is already old and no more a rarity in Pakistan. When i traveled, all the original fittings like coat hooks, locks, handles and seat covers were in place. No more.

Six passengers have a compartment to themselves. No streams of persistent vendors. No one can have the pleasure of hanging from an open train door as they are locked stop to stop. Like Lahore-Islamabad motorway the train is for many a symbol of modernity and progress.
Most of my journeys begin from the hinterland and on foot with very little provisions on back. But this one began on the train. This time suitcases were packed instead of backpack days in advance and phone calls were put through to friends and relatives en route to alert them to our arrival. My starting point, the Lahore Railway Station, fourteenth gateway of Lahore, is sturdy and imposing. It is an interesting place to hang around in any time of day or night. At the Station there are bookstores stocked with spiritual tracts, Internet guides, archetypal books of love poetry and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Other shops sell everything from souvenir (crude) clay ware to artificial jewellery, not to mention a fast food chain outlet and countless tea shops. The platform is always clogged with goods going and coming to and from up and down the country. There is a grumble of departing passengers’ trains and the maddeningly frequent station announcements and attacks of red shirt porters (called cullies) and cab drivers on every passenger. Every porter has per trip rate written on the shirt but none charges that. Every one asks for more. In all this, behind one barricade of luggage on the floor of the station slept a family with their belonging tucked under their heads. This is because the utility of waiting rooms has been excessively marginalized over the years. In the holy month of Ramadan, the station becomes a huge eating joins. Every tea stall is shrouded in curtains. And, if you have seen one railway station, you have seen all.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:00 AM, , links to this post

My homepage

Homepage is a new genre brought into existence by the Internet. Every one who uses connected computer has a homepage. Some users keep having the same homepage that came when they bought computer? Some others pick new ones: blank or showing their main interest on the Internet.

Homepage, also called as a default page, "is the main page or the first page of a Website that a browser opens with, or where the browser will return if the Home button on the Navigation toolbar is pressed." Good homepage should attract, hold the attention of the visitors and direct them to content within the rest of the site. Webmasters and designers obviously go a long way in their endeavors that users make their sites' Homepages as their own, apart from tweaking them for the search engines. Most Websites have options like this: 'Make us your home page, click here to make us your home page, click to make this as a default page. But that is not enough particularly with savvy and choosy users.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:48 AM, , links to this post

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