Tech Ramblings…

By Dr. T

Pakistani ‘daughter of the soil’ to go on VSS Galactica..

“Cap’in Archer. The Andorian ship is hailing Enterprise. What should we do”…”Hello Pink-skin…”…

This looks like an early episode from the first season of Star Trek (Enterprise). Since my last post is tagged in the ‘space‘ category, my interest in the dark expanse has been reignited. I recently learnt that a Pakistani artist Namira Salim, is part of the crew of seven people who will head into space in Virgin Galactica’s and Scaled Composite’s  “VSS Enterprise” in 2008. This is the first commercial venture taking people to space and will mark as a forerunner to the space age tourism.

Last year, I was hooked on a documentary on Discovery Channel titled “Black Sky: Winning the X Prize“. ” Continue reading

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August 31, 2006 Posted by | Space, Technology Talk, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

— Pluto stripped of title, watch out Goofy

Here’s a question that has baffled me ever since I was young. Mickey is a mouse, Donald is a duck, Pluto is Mickey’s pet dog…then whats Goofy. Isnt the spot for the clumbsy dog already taken :o. And how come Goofy is a bipod, talks, and wears clothes while Pluto is left on all fours, sniffing, and barking :P. Sounds like this judgement has affected astronomers and scientists in the past as well…but no more.

Just this week, astronomers and scientists from The International Astronomical Union (IAU) finally passed a verdict defining what ‘planets’ are. And in the process, unravelled that our heavenly body, Pluto, is no longer categorized as a planet  (remember Steven Spielberg’s  E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – thats what ET was trying to tell us when he pointed to the solar system mde of stress balls and the geometry set in the movie). Finally someone listened to the alien. 

Look at him, so dumbfounded. I feel for you Pluto ol’ boy.

                       pluto.JPG

Pluto, the lovable Mickey Mouse dog, the Greek God of the underworld, the controversial planet X now finds itself amongst the smaller celestial bodies of the solar system ie asteroid… ” Continue reading

August 30, 2006 Posted by | Earth Bio-Sciences and SETI, Space | Leave a comment

–Tech Ramblings goes “Technorati”

I’m quite fascinated by this blog. I recently searched up my feedstat and blogstat and am surprised I have quite a few readers to this blog already. This is really humbling considering this blogs only been up for four days. I thought I’d see how my blog is doing in terms of a graphical form and this is what wordpress turned up:

Continue reading

August 29, 2006 Posted by | Technology Talk, The Human genographic Project | 2 Comments

— Kevin Bacon, Angelina Jolie, and I…

Kevin Bacon, Angelina Jolie, and I (aka me) are related…

Interesting thought right, if only it were true. But its not entirely false either. Let me explain… 

Since I’ve been researching a lot on the human genetic lineage, I thought it’d be interesting to look around in the present and see how many people I am related to (through ancestral DNA or anyone who I might know directly or indirectly). We’re all aware of the phrase “six degrees of separation“,  a hypothesis that states that “anyone on Earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries.”

Related to this hypothesis, a lot of social networking projects started up and gained a lot of momentum. Two such off-shoots are the Bacon Number and the Erdos Number

The first number is related to Kevin Bacon (yup the Hollywood actor). How did Kevin Bacon suddenly become the centre of the Hollywood universe. Seems like he’s the most linkable actor (meaning any star can relate to either working with him directly or know someone who has) according to the Oracle of Bacon website which houses a large IMDB (internet movide databae). So Angelina Jolie has a Bacon Number of 2 since:

Angelina Jolie was in Life or Something Like It (2002) with Melissa Errico, while Melissa Errico was in Loverboy (2005) with Kevin Bacon.  

So how do I calculate my Bacon number.  ” Continue reading

August 29, 2006 Posted by | The Human genographic Project, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

— Out of the African desert, into the fire – A journey of my ancestors…

As I mentioned in my previous post, “8 sons of adam, 7 daughters of eve” (pingback link), I’ve found a new found passion, about tracing my genetic lineage. It would be interesting to note where my ancestors travelled enroute to where I am right now. Where I can find major clusters of distant cousins in present times and how far back can I connect with them through the same mother (mitochondria DNA – mDNA) or same father (Y-chrom).

What is more exciting to explore, is the idea of me belonging to a Mongolian trible (maybe Genghis Khan), the Ottoman Empire (maybe Suleman the Great – after which my surname is :)), or any other major civilizations of the past. Also, which geographical locations my distant cousins are living in modern times…

Continue reading

August 26, 2006 Posted by | The Human genographic Project | Leave a comment

— 8 Sons of Adam, 7 Daughters of Eve…

I recently finished two books titled “Seven daughters of Eve” by Bryan Sikes 

and “The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey.” by Spencer Wells.

These books provide in insight into the human gene pool – the Science That reveals our genetic ancestry. Scientifically proving that the modern human beings are all sons of adams and daughters of eve. The scientific explanations, technical anecdotes, and visual feature contrast in both books help detail where human beings originated (Africa), why they spread out to different parts of the world (Panacea, lower sea levels, receding Ice ages, competition for food and growing human numbers), and what routes they followed. I’ll write in more detail about the method these scientists used. But what is interesting to note is that people can use this technology to discover where their ancestors lived over the past 50,000 years, what route they followed to reach where you are right living in right now, and also who your distant cousins (from mothers side) are and where they are living in these days.

In brief, the first book, “Seven daughters of Eve” highlights that any person in Europe (and the author says Europe because of large volumes of DNA analysis in that area), is directly related to every other person in that area through any of the seven daughters of Eve. My father in law had his DNA analyzed and it turned out his forefathers followed a very intersesting route out of Africa during the first receding of the Ice Age some 45,000 years, all the way to modern time:

More explanation on this in a later post…

Eager to find my own ancestors, I am in the process of ordering the the DNA analysis kit from DNA Heritage and finding my own ancesteral route. At the same time, I was browing the internet when I came through My Heritage, courtesy of Mian Fahim.

This URL, matches facial features between any person and their celebrity matches based on higher percentages of similarities. Interesting to note how far the science of genetics and facial recognition have come along.

So this post titled “Eight sons of Adam” has been inspired by this book “Seven daughters of Eve”. Through this, I can possibly find 8 of my distant cousins living anywhere in the world at this time, who might be related to me through any of the seven daughters of Eve (who could have lived anywhere between 50,000 years and 50 years). Sounds exciting, lets check it out…The first few test results are:

Take 1 Hollywood

Here is another one…

”Take 2 to Hollywood

…And there are bunch of other pics showing similarities. An interesting datamining set to create a close match of people resembling each other. Maybe I’d pick this project up in the coming days…

— Tashfeen.

August 26, 2006 Posted by | The Human genographic Project | 3 Comments

— Microsoft Interviews, Recruiter hospitality and a Surgery…Part 2..

As a follow up to my previuos post (Microsoft coming to town part 1, ), a lot of people ask what the on-site interview is like. It is a lot like the phone interview in terms of intensity of the questions one can expect. The only difference that you can actually see the interviewer and read his/her expression as to whether he’s happy with your answers or not (just kidding). But one can use this visual advantage to their favor. One important distinction that I’d like to make here is that once you make it ” Continue reading

August 25, 2006 Posted by | Microsoft | Leave a comment

–…as Microsoft is comminggg to townn…(PART 1)

I thought I’d sidestep from my current project “adopting a house in a village for technology hand down – ref: One small step for a child, one giant leap for a village”, to an interesting post. As Microsoft sends its international recruiting team to discover new talent from the Middle East, Russia and Pakistan, I cant help but hum this song that I was made to learn in Kindergarden and performed in a Parents Day Function, “The Circus is coming to town”. No pun intended, but the adrenaline gush that we as children get during a circus visit to town can be analogous to the excitement that most passionate developers, testers and prospective Microsoft employees may feel at Microsoft current visit to the regions.

I thought it would be fun to look back at my interview experiance at Microsoft and share it thorugh a post. ” Continue reading

August 25, 2006 Posted by | Microsoft | 1 Comment

—One small step for a kid, one giant leap for a village…

I’ve been meaning to write about some social welfare project that highlights using technology that is currently available to us. And transferring the expertise and usage to the people who have no access to it. And what better place to start than home.

A few months ago, a fellow reseacher Muneeb Ali and I were discussing some technology ideas. Through our techno mumbo jumbo we struck an idea to use technology to better affect the lives of people who have no access to it. We were trying to come up with an effective plan to bring on board the internet bridge, the underprivelege people who currently have no idea, usage, or hardware infrastructure to make this possible. Although this idea is not old, (Ref: $100 laptop and 1 computer per child, http://laptop.org/). But this idea hasnt really kicked off in many parts of the world. Mainly because the 100 dollar computer is still in research and construction/advertisement phase, I came up with a more immediate solution to the obvious.

In my recent visit to Pakistan, I adopted an under priveleged house. Seeing that there were a lot of technology gadgets, some computers and a lot of interesting things from my childhood just lying in the attic, I thought of transferring these childhood amusements and things of learning to younger people. But I felt that that wasnt enough. To further this, I’ve decided to educate them on how to better use these technologies such as the computer, the internet, emails and how they can search various things on the www platform to broaden their knowledge base. I must say that I was overwhelmed by the number of people who showed their interest to learn. A great human potential just waiting to get an opportunity. As the saying goes,

“Teach a man to catch a fish, and he will never go hungry”…

This idea is not new to the region. India has been using the transfer of technology from the urban to the rural areas for a while now. And the success of this idea stems fromd the fact that as technology progresses, we find that we have a lot of things that we dont use in our daily lives. They are just stocked in our attics most of the time.

Since, I’m just beginning this project, it will be a while off before we can see some positive change, but I’m hoping that its a step in the right direction. Currently, I’m just hooking up various off the shelf components and rebuilding/refurbishing a 486 computer and trying to make it run using open source. I’ll post more details in my next blog regarding the hardware, software and price that one such computer unit cost me in rebuilding. In short, I want to make this as feasible as possible so that people have no issue in adopting such a model and hopefully, transferring their childhood toys and gadgets to the little children.

I hope through time, and through smaller numbers, we can gain momentum on this project. In the long run, I hope that through one house, we can adopt one whole village, and through one village, a greater part of the underpriveleged society. We can do a great service to people by becoming positive change agents. In effect, using technology to better peoples lives.

I’ll post more updates on this blog as Gilanis son uses the internet for the first time and creates his own email account to send his mail to the world wide web. His ‘hello world’ will be one small step for a kid, one giant leap for a village…

August 24, 2006 Posted by | Social steps.. | 2 Comments

—Big OHs and Macro discoveries…

Hello World. Blogging as a way of expression has fast picked up pace. I thought it would be fun to jump on the band wagon. I read in a ‘Readers Digest’ that 80 percent or more Americans feel like they should write a book. I guess this is true for all people around the world. That is why so many blogs are popping up around the internet. And what beter way of expressing oneself than to point-and-click, and put up a blog in under five minutes. And finding a medium and way of expression allowing the innate writer to wake up and be heard.

“From inconsistency we find uniformity, from chaos we discover rhythm…”

Like any aspiring author, I spent a bit of time to name the blog. Hence, an expression of form ‘daily ramblings’ came to mind. Coming up with Eurekas and light bulbs on the head is what has helped us create, discover, and invent out of seemingly useless and at times impossible ideas. In my spare time, I too love to sit around and think big. And after that spend hours and hours trying to bring my Frankensteins to life. Hence the motto,

“Give me a pen, paper, and a thinking seat, and I can design an intergalactic cruise ship”.

Well not exactly…but through this blog, I wish to approach technical issues from the social welfare and community service point of view. In addition, provide a nice feedback on various personal experiances and uses of technology in order to give people another view of the obvious…

More on this topic in a later post.

August 24, 2006 Posted by | Social steps.. | Leave a comment