Technology Article, Issue V

TECHNOLOGY MINUTE…Morning tea and newspaper go hand-in-hand. However, with the “shortage” of time that everyone so very lovingly flags, more wired users are turning to the web to keep them abreast of the what has transpired – i.e. news! During a recent (personal) survey done by myself, I found out that surprisingly almost half of my friends and associates rely on the web to read the today’s edition of their newspaper. Many complain that at breakfast newspaper handling is just not timely enough, driving to work and reading at the same time – a big no-no. So the only relaxed time for them to read through the newspaper is during the day – is either online – of towards the day – offline. Most office going folks complain that they are the unlucky ones in getting their hands on the newspaper in the morning – others evidently snap it up before them and the paper makes its random office route before ending up on their desks. With this in mind – its easier to type in the URL of their favorite website and be on with it.

DAWN (www.dawn.com) – albeit one of the larger circulations in Karachi – loses out on the morning crowd, reason being DAWN doesn’t get updated early enough – although Dawn makes up for it on the “Updated Section”. The morning rooster medal goes to Daily Times (www.dailytimes.com.pk) which updates its newspaper early enough for readers to enjoy. The other big benefit of Daily Times that was pointed out to me is that on “one” page, all the relevant information is there to read. Sadly, Daily Times does not offer an Updated Section of breaking news. Other two competing sources are Business Recorder (www.brecorder.com) which I presume gets updated at night – since its always up to date when ever I have look at it in the morning, and The News (and to some extent Geo News) by Jang Group (www.jang.com.pk). Most of the North American ex-pats look at these newspapers when its almost evening time here in Pakistan (by which time almost all the websites have been updated – even the most laziest ones!). Europe almost wakes up to the same tune. Middle East and others – sometimes have to wait for websites to be updated; sometimes they don’t, all depends on which website you are accessing and your time zone. There are scores of other news related websites out there, but typically the four websites mentioned are the ones that are getting the traffic. Needless to say, each publisher would like to showcase their own statistics on how many “hits” they get per day (which by the way is a totally INCORRECT measure of the number of people viewing their site). Others would lead you to believe that they are unique in this field and no competition (wake up is what I would say). I really don’t care what statistics have to say, its what my friends, family and colleagues (and myself) are accessing and viewing is what counts. Reading the newspaper – online is far more efficient at times (when at work on in front of the computer); sure – you will lose out to the glamour advertisements and tender notices and other important information that might be necessary for you to read (like Soyem notices and condolence messages – which NO newspaper might I add is offering for free – sad!). Newspapers in Pakistan are bent on the commercial angle only it seems (of which I am against). Count the number of in-your-face advertisements online and its not even funny. A reasonable balance of online ads and content has not yet zoom passed the marketing managers at these publishing houses to catch on…yet! However, progress is being made, slowly but surely. So the next time you are experiencing a busy day, give online reading a try, I am confident you will fine it more pleasing and accommodating.

SECURITY
A lot many cases have been made headlines world-over on how important information pertaining to bank client’s has been compromised on the Internet, I’m not talking about how a “transaction” was made, but just how “client information” and information alone was compromised. Banks in Pakistan are now also slowly offering online banking (or a flavor thereof) which begs the question – how are they guarding my information? (and yours too!). A recent explanation given to me was that “we use so-and-so firewall and Intrusion Detection System…etc.”. Well – I was not convinced. In the online world, deterrence is challenging factor. Merely placing a gate lock and a security alarm will not prevent intrusions. Banks beg to differ. Well – gate locks are just that locks – meant to be opened and closed. Security alarms are again just that – alarms – meant to be armed and disarmed. I recently offered an open-challenge to a bank on their security, confident that it “can” be compromised, my challenge was that the break-in attempt would be done in public and with members of the Press present. The offer was turned down (I wonder why?) – the offer still stands to any bank that might want to take it. On the whole, IT Managers in Pakistan are not seasoned enough to know everything about security. Banks should not be afraid to have their systems under go rigorous penetration and intrusion testing on a continual basis. A single penetration/intrusion test passing is not indicative of a secure system – it’s a beginning. Likewise, in Pakistan, online information handling by banks is a beginning – there will be incidents and abuses within the setup, before it gets better. Institutions storing our data online have a fiduciary duty to protect it. Just as we have the right to question the charges on our financial statement, we must not feel shy or intimidated in exercising our right to question the security measures.

DOT.PK
The President of Pakistan – has his own very website. No – this is not just a cheesy design or a PR stunt. The website is truly informative, interactive and if one can say entertaining. Visit www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk to get a glimpse of the man in charge! From the President’s views and thoughts, personal/family life information, photographs, videos, and many others facets to both the Presidency and the man who is called President. The site has been design by J. Walter Thompson (an advertising agency) and they have done a great job. Compare it to other official website – this one is rated up there. Best of all as per the site’s claim, you can even send a message to the President – lets see if he responds back!

This Article was originally written for Money Magazine

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