Why I’m leaving facebook

I’ve had enough. Some of my friends initiated the boycott a few months back but I wasn’t convinced. I was mistaken. Facebook has, time and again, refused to take action against hate speech and hate groups that operate within the platform. I came up with many excuses to keep using the platform and fabricated many arguments in its favour. Fortunately, I gave it time and now realize that facebook is to blame.

Down the Drain

I started teaching at IMSciences around a month ago. Today, I got the news that I’m being kicked out, mid-semester. I’m not surprised because I knew what was going on behind my back. I’m not mad. I’m not angry. I’m not even sad. I am a little bit disgusted though because in the past two years, I have given IMSciences more than 15 publications. I’ve written two books. I’ve helped bring in two projects with a combined funding of over 25 million. I’ve played my part in creating jobs for around twenty people. I even contributed in starting a PhD programme. After all that, they didn’t even have the decency to come up with a better excuse than, “some of your students had some objections on your teaching style”. That is obviously an offense which mandates termination without even a show-of-cause notice.

Pathetic, really.

Kaghan Valley

I recently went to Naran in Kaghan Valley of NWFP (Pakistan). The place is amazing and I’d just bought a new SLR camera. So, my friends and I shot quite a few pictures of the place. I’ve uploaded them in many places but this being my primary blog, I’ll be putting thumbnails here along with links to the full versions. Click on the thumbnails for full versions and details.

Mountain Peaks in Kaghan

Using Twitter

I’ve been an ardent fan and promoter of all social networking sites for a long time now. I’ve brought many people to twitter and I’ve even setup my own local laconi.ca server. However, in light of recent news surrounding twitter, I feel it necessary to inform the people I know about the hazards of using twitter without care. Here’s why:

Twitter is a mass communication medium. It’s falls under the same category as a television channel, a news site or even a printed newspaper. As with all mass communication devices, it can and is being misused. I’m not talking about spammers here. I’m talking about the use of the media as a (to put it mildly) opinion shifter. You keep listening to a news channel long enough, you begin to follow their line of reasoning. You keep reading a newspaper long enough, you begin to believe the perspective of the editor. Similarly, if you follow your political news on twitter, you begin to think like the 10% of the twitter “actives” before you know it. (I got that 10% from @erictpeterson’s talk at the “140 characters conference” on twitter.) Twitter is one of the most convenient brainwashing tools if you’re in that 10%.

So, when you use twitter, here are my suggestions:

  1. Use twitter for your own domain only. Use it to communicate with your friends, follow the leaders in the area that you’re familiar with. Do not follow news sites! For me, I follow only computer scientists, bloggers and physics review sites.  Things I know I can trust my own logic and knowledge with.
  2. Tread with care around controversial issues. See everything with skepticism.

These are the two golden rules I follow for any mass communication media. For twitter, they’re just as important.

Second thoughts

For the first time in my life, I’m having second thoughts about living in Pakistan. I’ve always argued that there’s no shortage of opportunities or resources in Pakistan and that if someone wanted to work here, it can be done. I still stand by the first opinion but I’m not so sure about getting things done. The problem is mostly the people here. They’re not only ignorant and non-professional, they’re also selfish — this is what annoys me the most. Many people tell me that it’s because of the poverty but I don’t buy that. Most of the people I know are not poor. They’re pretty well-off. They drive expensive cars, they have big homes, they’ve never gone unfed. They still act like there’s a famine coming and if they don’t collect all the money/stuff, they’re going to die of hunger.

It doesn’t stop there either. We’re all so rigid that we’re not willing to let go of things that we don’t even need. Try standing in a line and see how much space you get. Everyone will be trying to push you, for reasons known only to them. Of course, I’m not counting those who cut lines to get things done quickly because they’re so busy.

I’m not good at writing this stuff so this post probably doesn’t convey the extent of my frustration. I’m not up to the point of trying to find a job abroad but I’m getting there. I still like it here — I’m just not sure how much more I can stand.

City University and Me

The update is a little late (a week late to be precise) but it’s here.

I’ve been hired by City University as a Lecturer. I’m still to sign a contract but it’s really done. The only trouble is that I’m not used to the long hours of sitting in an office. Good thing I have a computer with unlimited internet.

The hapennings…

Well, it’s been a long time but I’m finally back. The reasons for such a long absence are countless but boil down to just one: I got lazy.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been working on lately:

  • Formal Mathematics (Set theory and logic)
  • Isabelle (automated theorem prover)
  • LaTeX (lovely, lovely typesetting engine. I don’t need a word processor any more)
  • My MS thesis
  • My MS research publication (more on this later)
  • My “Software Engineering Education” paper – that one’s going to be published by IEEE inshallah very soon.
  • And moving my stuff on to linux. I have to live with my conscious

Well, enough for the time being.

MIT Video Lectures

I’m always surprised when someone tells me that MIT’s OCW is not free. It stands for “Open Courseware” for God sake!

Anyway, I’ve been studying Linear Algebra and Differential Geometry from the Maths section and of course SICP from Computer Science.

Just recently, I found audio lectures for Psychology and I must say, even though I had no visual, I could tell that the guy teaching was good. I didn’t think an audio lecture could be so interesting.

Why do I bother with these lectures? Well, some may say I have nothing better to do. (They would be right to some extent, by the way.) Actually, I take my job seriously and If my job’s going to be teaching, I’m determined to make it as good as I can. These lectures are a great way of learning how to interact with a class and to learn new ways of conveying ideas.  I’ve already learned a lot from SICP and I’m learning every day from Linear Algebra and Differential Geometry.

So please, stop calling me a nut. *sob*

Over to WordPress

Ok, since blogspot simply refuses to appear on any system here in Peshawar, I've decided to move over to WordPress.com. At least I can write my blog here. Anything that goes in blogspot ends up in a blackhole. I can read it myself using an RSS editor but since hardly anyone else uses RSS readers here, it's no good.

Hope I like wordpress.