Monday, March 31, 2008

AdSense logic: Sarah Bareilles is a gay man


This is a screenshot of my Love Song post. I don't get it: how does Sarah Bareilles connect to a gay dating site, and not the tons of products and websites springing from the music industry? Too bad we can't do without AdSense.

AV Scan is up

I've finally relocated my anti-virus related articles to their own new blog: Now it should be easier looking up reviews than on techqi; I'm leaving the old posts as they were with a note mentioning the change. I intend to transform techqi to a sort of webzine in the near future. Hm, what do I do next?

bX-ti1gkd solution for Blogger

My site overhauling process met a roadblock that was hard to get rid of: Blogger's error code bX-ti1gkd. What I was trying to do: I wanted my post titles to appear (for instance, now I have "Oxymorons and Tibet | techqi") on my pages. The benefit is from now on search engines will consider keywords from the page titles while indexing my site. To cut a long story short, you can copy-paste the following code to your blog (don't worry if you can't see the whole code. Just highlight it as you normally would, and go ahead and copy-paste it. It works fine):
<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == "item"'>
<b:section id='titleTag'>
<b:widget id='Blog2' locked='false' title='Blog Posts' type='Blog'>
<b:includable id='nextprev'/>
<b:includable id='backlinks' var='post'/>
<b:includable id='post' var='post'><data:post.title/></b:includable>
<b:includable id='commentDeleteIcon' var='comment'/>
<b:includable id='status-message'/>
<b:includable id='feedLinks'/>
<b:includable id='backlinkDeleteIcon' var='backlink'/>
<b:includable id='feedLinksBody' var='links'/>
<b:includable id='postQuickEdit' var='post'/>
<b:includable id='comments' var='post'/>
<b:includable id='main' var='top'><title><b:loop values='data:posts' var='post'><b:include data='post' name='post'/></b:loop> | <data:blog.title/></title></b:includable>
  1. You must paste the code above the <head> section
  2. You must delete the following pre-existing line in your code from under <head>:
Thanks to Mr. Geek who paved the way. Note: check out the comments if you still have issues.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Oxymorons and Tibet

  1. Linda Cullen on Tibet's humanitarian crisis: "... they've banned American Idol in China, and I hear that's why the monks in Tibet started rioting."
  2. Same page (Vancouver 24 Hours, March 26): Bobbie Gill via email responds to a letter: "Why should we let a little thing like human rights get in the way of our two-week extravaganza? It's party time people! If we simply follow the example of VANOC and bury our collective heads in the sand, then things like human rights abuses in Tibet and China will just simply disappear."
  3. On November 23, 2006 four Tibetan students attempted self-immolation, protesting Chinese president Hu Jintao's visit in Mumbai.
  4. According to scientists, immolation (death by fire) is the most painful experience known to man.
  5. March 26 is Independence Day in Bangladesh.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Google falls for the dark side


Okay, isn't that cool? Forgive my obsession with the search engine giant, but the way Google manages to catch your attention with the most trivial facelifts is nothing short of amazing. I was almost looking for Darth Vader, when I found out it's Google's way of promoting Earth Hour. That's awesome too.

Really Useful Stuff: RocketDock


Okay, this is the first post in this series. Really Useful Stuff is really hard to find, so expect posts once a week. This week's RUS: RocketDock.Okay, this is the first post in this series. Really Useful Stuff is really hard to find, so expect posts once a week.

RocketDock is developed by an Apple fanboy and fangirl on OS X.
Consider it a peace offering from the Mac community to you.
Together we can end OS persecution :)

Now isn't that cute. It's not the single greatest piece of software ever, as its website claims. But RocketDock is really good. It's a smoothly animated, alpha blended application launcher. English: it's a kind of transparent hovering toolbar that makes life easier.

I like a clean desktop (because it gets messy so often! I keep saving files on my desktop), and desktop icons do eat up a bit of your system memory.

But with this thing, you can happily have your desktop icons hanging on a toolbar; you can also have shortcuts to folders, files and webpages. RocketDock claims you can even have small applications running within it, such as a weather widget or a clock.

And of course, it's skinnable, you can dock it anywhere on your desktop, choose to auto-hide it, customize actions, change icons, etc, etc.

Check out the screens: I've customized RocketDock with mostly default icons, so it's not as pretty as it could be. On my desktop, icons on RocketDock balloon when I hover on them. Check out RocketDock's website here for a video demonstration. Here's the download page.

For: Really simple and useful, looks nice too. Hundreds of community resources (skins, wallpapers, icons) available. Latest version includes taskbar support, which makes minimized windows appear as icons on your dock.

Against: Deleting icons from your dock deserved a confirmation pop-up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Harvard prof, Glenn Beck on counter-terrorism ethics

This happened a few weeks ago, probably in early March. I was back home from university, exhausted; there was nothing going on on TV. A few channels later I stumbled on the Glenn Beck show on CNN, and my respect for the media and the academia hit an all time low. I'm not really into CNN. I think the way it presents information is overgloss and hype-pitched. If you don't believe me you can tune into the Nancy Grace show (she did a full investigative report on Heath Ledger's death, when the only thing that could be confirmed at that time was the fact that he was dead). Hence I didn't really intend to engage my already befuddled brain there, or anywhere. But one really needs to stop and listen when a famous news personality (is that even the right term? I really don't want to call him a journalist) accuses university students for wearing Islam-supportive or Che Guevara t-shirts, and has a Harvard prof backing him up. The reason I'm posting this so late is largely because I don't have any links I can forward you to. I've ran all across the Glenn Beck website, and CNN's website, but couldn't find anything, not even text material, that suggests that the talk even took place. But trust me, it did. As far as I recall Glenn Beck was interviewing this Harvard bigshot regarding his latest book (which Beck repeatedly said he was a huge fan of) and the then-recent shooting at a Jerusalem Jewish seminary that left eight students dead (I'm guessing this was the news they were talking about; to Israel's credit, the peace talks went on). Beck argued that university students, who have no idea who Che Guevara was, or have no idea about Islam, wear t-shirts with Che Guevara pictures or Islamic messages, thus breeding terrorism. Fantastic, isn't it? I can't help wondering which university this guy graduated from, in case he ever went to university in the first place. He reportedly makes $10m from radio shows alone, has written two bestsellers, and suggested that all American Muslims must prove they are not enemies on two separate occasions. Now the Harvard guy: talking about the seminary incident, he proposed that preemptive attacks on terrorists ought to be legalized, and rued that the UN General Assembly and the international community would never let such good things happen. I don't get it: isn't a Harvard teacher supposed to be smart? What exactly will his students learn from him? What's wrong with the world? In case you are siding with the diddlesome duo's preemptive tactics against Palestine, you might want to check out this post. Wait, there's more: the two actually concluded that civilian casualties in such preemptive strikes would be necessary sacrifices. And, while one pointed out and the other cheered, if civilians threw themselves in harms way, knowingly or unknowingly using themselves as human shields protecting the terrorists, they ought to be dealt with... Observe: if you knew who was a terrorist, wouldn't you be jumping on (I'm not using the term 'arresting' here) him/them by now? What are law enforcement agencies for? If you're asking to legalize preemptive strikes against terrorists, in that case, aren't you acting on suspicion? Isn't that like searching for WMDs when there are (were) none? Thoughts? I know a team of one bad prof and an irksome newsman can't ruin the world. But here in the West, being on exile prompted by fancies of higher education, things almost always appear more troubling than they usually are. And it generally permeates your writing, and somehow leaves you downtrodden.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Palestine vs Israeli land occupation

You don't want to, but despite your best efforts, sometimes you come across the kind of news that completely knocks you off your feet, and leaves a hole in your world. Unfortunately that's what happened to me -- and this blog.

My apologies for having vanished. A few weeks back I came across a very disturbing image that I'm sharing with you here. It depicts Palestinian land loss since 1945. I found it on Digg (it's been dugg a total of 2363 times till date), and apparently it isn't really hosted on any authentic news site. Nevertheless, lots of people are clearly interested in it; many are claiming it's authentic, while others are pointing out that it's fake.

I have no idea whether it's real. I'm not really interested in the Middle East crisis, or any crisis, in the sense that due to my many years as a journalist, I've learnt that there are many sides of a story that go untold. Take the history of my country, for instance: every time a party comes to power it revises history textbooks religiously. And newspapers follow suit: one chunk of the media devotes itself to the interests of the government, while the other (often the larger chunk) sells its heart and soul to serve the wishes of the main opposition. It's like a live Wikipedia effect.

(Elongated clarification: it's not that some newspapers and TV channels have ethics and prefer being patient with a new government. Or that some newspapers and TV channels are dedicated towards the interests of the people -- a concept that seems to have largely dissolved in the West -- and are therefore always at daggers drawn with any party in power. It's the painful opposite: some newspapers and TV channels have already sold their hearts and souls to particular political parties, and will go any distance to serve their interests, because they have common interests, which usually involves money. From my experience and associations, I know that similar traditions exist in almost every country -- actually, in every country; hence, I'm not willing to jump to conclusions.)

I often come across Stop Genocide in Palestine and Israel Celebration Week camps on campus. Growing up in a predominantly Muslim country, I wasn't blind to the fact that almost everyone around me accused Israel of violating human rights. Irony: the Quran is addressed to the Israelites, the people of Israel, the children of Israel, the Bani Israel tribe, whichever you prefer...

To get back to the human rights part, Canada recently removed US and Israel from a torture watchlist, "responding to pressure from close allies". The Amnesty International page on Israel reports that

More than 8000 Palestinians, most of whom are nonviolent prisoners of conscience and few if any of whom have received trials that meet international standards, are being held as political prisoners. Over the past five years, close to 20,000 Palestinians have been made homeless and thousands of others have lost their livelihood as the Israeli army has destroyed over 4,000 homes, vast areas of agricultural land and hundreds of other properties.

AI also notes that

The construction of the fence/wall inside the Occupied Territories violates international law, is based on land confiscation and is causing grave human rights violations. In addition, military checkpoints, blockades and a barrage of other restrictions confine Palestinians to their homes or immediate surroundings. As a result, the Palestinian economy has virtually collapsed.

I'm lost, and in shock: the AI accounts (and thousands of news reports worldwide, which I'm innately less inclined to believe) seem to insist that the disturbing picture isn't (at least) entirely imagined. On the other hand, violence always requires a counterpart. What are your thoughts?

This is already turning out to be a long post, but I ought to point out that I probably would have dismissed the image as just another internet hoax, had I not spoiled an evening (which subsequently ruined a few days) unintentionally watching a CNN program. I'll leave that for another post.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Love Song video

Sara Bareilles' Love Song. Her album has already gone gold, and the lyrics are fantastic! PS- Sara doesn't want everybody embedding her videos, so her YouTube profile has embeds disabled by default. I got this from her MySpace page (the MusicBox thingy is still in beta though, which you'll find out).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Randy Pausch's last lecture

Randy Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. You might remember him as one of the developers of Alice, a free open-source object oriented educational programming language developed in Java. He's dying from metastatic pancreatic cancer; he has a few more months to live, and presented a 'last lecture' at Carnegie Melon a few months back. Prof Pausch's lecture was also aired on Oprah, which you can see here. It's astonishing. Take ten minutes off your life and see it. It might just make you think of your life differently. Update: you might also want to view the original version of this lecture. In case you want to send this link to your loved ones, use the envelope icon below (on the line that starts with 'Posted by'). Spreading hope is, after all, no mean task.