Friday, November 28, 2014

Computer Revolution and Moore's Law: A Personal Journey

Moore's Law: Exponential increase
in transistor density and speed

In this post I trace a personal journey of my interactions with the evolutionary stages of computational machines. I feel my decisions in life have been shaped by forces which were not as clearly understood or even visible in the 1970s and 1980s as they are today and are depicted in this graph. Tremendous progress in the speed of the computers and their reduction of costs obeys Moore's law which says that speed of the computer would double every 18 months and the costs would decrease by half every 2 years. This trend has held for more than half century and is depicted in the figure in the context of the microprocessors.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Encounter Project 2: Propagating Islam as an Inflexible, Rigid, Harsh System

I am now forced to translate "Encounter-2", an Urdu column published in 2000 because I have noticed that since 9-11 there is a flood of rigid Islamic literature, likes of which were never encountered in my readings of Islamic literature during 1970s-80s. The literature that I typically came across then was published from a period extending from mid of 19th century till the 1980s. Recently, however, the frequency with which certain rigid thoughts and ideas seem to have been excavated from the ancient archives of fringe Muslim thoughts and then systematically spread as mainstream Islamic thought appears to be a part of a concerted campaign that seems to be growing in intensity. I think we need to seriously examine the proposition put forward in Encounter-2 below when we see rigid literature specifically relating to children books written from fringe Islamic perspectives that indicate:
  • Ban on fiction; reading, writing and telling of stories.
  • Ban on humor; reading, writing and telling of even decent jokes.
  • Ban on poetry; reading, creating and enjoying of poems.
  • Ban on showing the faces of animals in pictures i.e. facial hijab of animals; cutting off the heads of horses, camels, goats and other animals from their illustrations in school books of children.
  • Ban on the picture of snakes and even of vegetables such as onions!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Big Data, Management Transformation and Voyager of Star Trek Movie

V'jer of Star Trek
The growth of digitization and computerization and its assimilation of everything and everyone that it touches reminds me of the first Start Trek - Movie, where the enterprise encounters a huge energy cloud that is devouring extra-terrestrial objects and even planets on its path as it moves towards the solar system and then eventually towards earth. There seems to be nothing that can stop this energy cloud/mass and there is fear that even the entire earth may be swallowed by it. With each
star swallowed and with each planet gobbled, its size increases and so does its power and energy. What eventually happens to this energy cloud is part of the story that needs to be seen in this movie. What is of relevance for us is that the core of this ever increasing energy cloud eventually turns out to be none other than our old NASA spaceship Voyager that was released from the earth in 1977 and which only recently i.e. in 2012 teared out from the solar system and became the first man made craft to enter the inter-stellar space. In this movie, the Voyager during its two hundred or so years of its journey in the interstellar space has mysterious encounters. Through one such mysterious encounter with an energy source, it transforms and acquires the capacity to start attracting objects, gobbling them and becoming bigger and bigger and amassing more and more energy. Anything and everything that comes in its path is not only swallowed by it, but is also transformed into the energy, which accumulated on top of its existing energy, not only increases its power but also the speed with which it gobbles up things with greater and greater ferocity and an ever increasing appetite.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Companions of Hajj: Dekh mera Zauq o Shauq (Yearning and Passion)

Hajj kay Saathi (Companions of Hajj): See my Passion and Yearning

This year Arif bhai went for his second Hajj and all through the trip he kept on recalling the saathis (group fellows) of that first Hajj of 1996 in which I also accompanied. When I talked on Skype with Arif Bhai after the hajj, I found him emphasizing again and again that everything seems to have changed from what we saw during that first hajj; the fervor seems to be no more visible, the buildings that we saw at that time were gone, the bazaars that existed then are gone, the small eateries run by Bengalis and offering chatpatta desi food seem to have disappeared, the local touch from the shops is gone, the view of  haram as we witnessed then is no longer there; there is new construction everywhere, new building complexes, new malls,  upscale shops, trendy restaurants and the haram is now dwarfed and engulfed by the commercial highrises all round, and above all the local homily touch that we felt then seems to have disappeared.