Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday, November 02, 2009

50 cent baby by me video

50 cent baby by me video

-This blog post is just an experiment

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Setting up an office in Karachi

About 6 months ago I started looking for an office here in Karachi. I was tired of working out of my home ... the lure of the TV and my comfy bed was too strong to resist when working in the adjacent room. Plus I had a few opportunities to expand my work and hire some developers to do my bidding :P

And hence my search began. Following were some of my concerns at that time:

  1. The Location of the Office
    That was kind of a big debate in itself. On one side, I had the option of getting an office near my home in DHA. That would've been pretty convenient for me, but Defence is on one end of Karachi. It would've been pretty hard for other people to come from other ends of the city. The second option was getting an office on Shahra-e-Faisal. There are hundreds of office buildings and thousands of offices over there. And since it's somewhat in the center of the city, getting there would not be that big of a hassle.

    I eventually decided to get something near Shahra-e-Faisal. I knew that in the beginning, I'd need to work with freelance developers and designers and I didn't want them to make a fuss everytime I asked them to come to the office. Plus, its hard to attract good developers to come work in a startup, I didn't want to add the burden of a long commute to their decision to come work for me.

  2. Decision to get a furnished office:
    Being a stingy memon that I am, I wanted to risk the least amount of upfront cash in this venture. Because I didnt know if I'd still be needing the office after a few months. And buying air conditioners, desks, chairs, other furniture would have costed me hundreds of thousands of Rupees. After meeting with the first real estate agent, I realized that furnished offices were only 3000-5000 rupees/month more than unfurnished ones. So that decision was not a tough one. I ended up getting a furnished office for Rs. 20,000 / month and it had cubicles and cabins to seat 7 people. It even had ethernet cables in place, so all I had to do was bring my computer and get settled in from day one.

  3. Lease Duration
    The standard leases ran for 11 months and had a two month notice period if I decided to break the lease before the 11 months were over. This wasn't bad at all. Plus I was able to negotiate down to a 3 month deposit + a 3 month advance rent.

  4. Other Expenses
    Even though the office was mostly furnished, there were a few things that we needed to start off. The unreliable power supply required an electric generator. I found a diesel generator for Rs. 30,000 that works just fine. It did give us problems twice in the last 6 months, but other than that it works like a charm. I found an extra microwave oven and a electric water cooler in the basement of my house which I quickly transported to the office. With just that, the office was ready to be moved into.

  5. Internet Connection
    I got one of those WorldCall EVDO wireless routers the very first day. The speed was painfully slow, but at least I had internet access from Day 1. Applied for a DSL connection, and got delayed by the stupid beuracracy and the bribe induced stupor of our telecomunication department. The PTCL DSL department told me after wasting two weeks that they don't provide service to my number. And even though I didnt get the connection, they've been billing me for the internet for the last 3 months :(
    Finally got a LINK.NET connection, but the telephone lineman in our area wanted to wet his beak too. By this point I was just battered, exhausted and irritated by using slow internet for a 45 days (shared by 3 people) and didnt care how much bribe I had to give to get decent internet at work !!! After haggling with the lineman, I paid him Rs. 1,500 to just turn on the switch that they had purposely turned off in the first place.

And thats the story of how the office started off :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Movie Editing Skills

I was just going through some of my old youtube videos in my account (nothing better to do on a Friday evening, waiting to get off from work) and came across this home-made movie trailer that I had made last year for an upcoming trip to Colorado with some friends.

I used my trusty little Cannon MiniDV handycam and used iMovie for editing. And as narcissistic as it might sound, I'm totally in love with this work of mine !!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

random tidbits

I haven't blogged for quite some time now ... On several occasions I have started writing, but then due to my really short attention span, I would drift on to something else, leaving several unfinished blog posts in my drafts folder.

  • So, here's what I'm going to do ... I'll write several small blog posts -- in bullet form just like this !!!

  • See .... wasn't that short and sweet ? :p

  • I totally love playing tennis now (the real tennis -- not the one on Wii) ... A friend of mine talked me into taking lessons last month and now I can't get enough of it. My weekdays are crazy busy, but I've been able to manage to play tennis atleast twice during the week. Plus I've got a hookup at the Royal Rodale club in DHA which allows me to play for FREE on their rooftop tennis court :D

  • The Pakistani TV scene isn't that good, there aren't many good Pakistani TV shows and Lollywood is -umm- lollywood. So it seems like the news channels have zeroed into this gap and are providing 24 hour entertainment to the Pakistani public. They've taken reality show fad a step further by letting the politicians be the actors in their shows. And it's probably cheaper as well, since the politicians don't ask for money after blabbering incessantly on the microphone for hours. It's just STUPID that everybody in the political scene is fighting for power. The roadblocks and marches and traffic jams -- WITHOUT ANY REGARD to the needs, problems and issues of the normal public. It's just SICK.

  • I've discovered, I ordered Guy Kawasaki's 'Reality Check' online, and the book arrived within two days -- and I was able to pay cash on delivery!! Hail to the e-commerce in Pakistan.

  • I attended the most down to earth and sanest wedding I've ever seen. My cousin got married this weekend and it was elegant as well as simple. That includes all the wedding dinners and dholkis etc. Since I'm not that big fan of overly crowded events and places, I ususally do not like weddings and the tremendous amount of socializing that goes along with it. This one was pretty decent with a nice crowd.

  • I saw Jim Carrey's 'Yes Man' movie yesterday. It made me re-think about all the times I've been saying 'NO' to so many opportunities around me lately. The movie is okay, but it does make you think.

  • These days I'm totally obsessed with this old song that came out when I was a teenager. It's called 'Bolo Bolo tum ney kia dekha' by Sajjad Ali. I like this unplugged version better.

  • I really need a vacation. I've been working non-stop ever since I got here 6 months ago. Pakistani holidays don't coincide with American holidays and vice versa so it's been like a continuous run.

  • The new facebook layout is confusing -- but then, that happens every time they change something. We all get used to it after a few days.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My duplicate on facebook?

I routinely google my name to see what comes up. I have a google alert set up that emails me whenever a new listing comes up on their search results with my name. You can't be too careful these days when your identity is partially based online and very much public.

A couple of days ago, I found this really strange thing. There's a guy on facebook with the exact name as mine and I know 4 of his friends !! And out of those four, three of them are Russian programmers that I normally outsource projects for work. So I decided to email this guy and say hi to him but I never got a response back.

Why does his profile come up when you look up my name in google? Why not mine?
He only has seven friends. And I know most of them. And he doesnt respond to emails.
For some reason, I have a feeling that somebody I know created the fake account with my name. And then people who knew me added him as a friend thinking that they were adding me.

Why would anyone do that .. I don't know :S

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One Month Already? [Rant alert ! ]

I've been in Karachi for more than a month now and I don't know why my life still feels like a roller coaster ride. It's not like I wasn't expecting it ... Like all families, my family has it's own share of idiosyncrasies and issues (did I mention that I live in a joint family system? ) Combine that with a rather unstructured way everything works in Pakistan and with the fact that I've almost no friends over here. I've been having really crazy mood swings over here. Some days I'm extremely cranky and ready to snap at anybody who says anything to me, and then I start feeling guilty and become mad at myself for behaving like that. Some days I feel depressed when I think about the future, my career and etc (this can be cross-referenced with the point about my crazy family above :p) And then there are good days when I feel hopeful and optimistic and all becomes worth it.

So, I know the above description of my life sounds as if I'm suffering from bipolar depression. I've always been somewhat of an idealist and an optimistic person. There are so many things around me over here that are wrong, improper and inefficient. A lot of things are not according to my taste or liking and I keep asking myself 'How does my family live like this.' I have this continuous urge to change things, to make them better but change is hard. Especially when it's against a system that's so deeply entrenched in the daily life over here. It'll take some time ... either I'll be able to persist or maybe just give in to the system. I'm sure you must've heard the story about the frog who jumps out when you put him into a pot of boiling water. But if you put that same frog into a pot of cold water and then heat the pot until it boils, the frog stays in there and never jumps out.

Anyway, I've still kept my old job. The only difference is that now I work from the basement of my parents house, all by myself. My laptop computers, a router, a vonage phone, a cable modem and a dsl modem all sit on an old discarded dining table. My mother keeps complaining about all the wires that run all around the place and the maid manages to disturb something in there almost every time she comes in to clean the place. I havent been able to get an airconditioner installed in there because a carpenter needs to come in and create a wooden wall in there so that I could have my own little office there (everything happens very slowly here) I could go on and on about all these small ISSUES I'm having here, but I dont think I have a right to complain as the good always comes with the bad and a lot of it just needs a little bit getting used to. So I'm just going to plod on and work my way through this. I'm grateful to my friend Sam. K from Kansas City who sometimes bears with my, out of the blue phone calls and listens to my rants and my moody behavior.

btw, golf instructors are CHEAP here in Karachi. I paid Rs. 400 for one hour of instruction by a pro at the DHA golf club. Thats only slightly more expensive than a decent meal at KFC !! And I'm already hitting straighter and farther :D

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And people ask me Why !!!

Over the last few months I've been bombarded with the 'Why are you going back?' question. My response which is usually along the lines of 'I want to live with my family' doesn't seem to satisfy them. The incredulous look that they give me is often followed by something like:

  • You're crazy dude ... who wants to go back to that hell hole.
  • Or ... Are you sure that you've thought through this properly?
  • Or ... Are you having immigration issues?
  • And ... I'm sure you'll realize you're making a mistake and come back running after a few months.
All of that is usually said with a smug and/or arrogant look on their face. They like telling me about countless Pakistanis who went back and then decided later that they had made a mistake. I obviously being quite stubborn have stood my ground and insist that me and my situation WILL be different.

There have been only a few people who actually actually understood this urge of mine to move back to Pakistan. And I'm really grateful for that. I got the much needed support from them. After living here for almost six years, Dallas seems more like home than ever. All the quaint little oddities of this town, the dismal performance of the Dallas Mavericks and fun filled memories seem so endearing now. Playing golf every weekend, RV trips to Colorado, hanging out with great friends, road trips on long weekends, having Wii Boxing tournaments with friends and the list goes on. Life seems so perfect sometimes and then as soon as I talk to my father or my mother, everything I have over here begins to look kinda mundane and selfish. I dont think I'll ever find contentment over here regardless of how successful I become or how much money I make.

So here, I'll tell you why I've decided to move back; In ONE line and a link.

I do NOT wish to end up like the guy in this blog post.

p.s. And since it's the month of Ramadan, please remember me in your duas.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How marketing is done !!

Haha -- I came across this on my computer while I was cleaning up some old files ...

A couple of years ago there was a sudden rush of adrenaline when me and my friend Younas got bit by the entrepreneurial bug and the result was this really interesting promotional brochure that I created in MS Paintbrush ...

It sounds funny now when I read it after such a long time ....

(Click on the image to enlarge it)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Strategy Vrategy

Strategy Strategic Alliance

Strategic Analysis Competitive Strategy Strategic Thinking

Strategic Direction Business Strategy Marketing Strategy

Strategic Planning Strategic Management

Growth Strategy Strategic Change Corporate Strategy

blah-blah Strategy. . . . . . Strategic Goo Goo

You know .. when you were a kid .. there was always a word or a phrase that got so popular, and everybody who was supposedly 'cool' would be using that phrase to sound cooler than they really were. Well things are no different now that we've grown up.

The word 'Strategy' is being thrown around by anybody and everybody these days. Now I understand if I hear the CEO of a fortune 500 firm talk about business strategy on Bloomberg tv but what if your 10 year old son tells you that he's trying to make strategic alliances amongst the neighborhood kids . When I was in business school, all I would hear from my class mates and teachers was the word 'strategy' in it's different form and variety. Even our dean used this word several times during his speech at our graduation ceremony. I didn't realize how infectious it was until I found myself using the word 'Strategic Direction' with my friends Younas and Aman in one of our weekly meetings for Pkstudent. I immediately felt guilty about it ... just like when you find yourself caught in a stupid fad .. and realize how senseless it is.

The firm where I work right now is filled with OLD people who've been there for several 10+ years. I've sat with them in a lot of what we'd call 'Strategy Meetings' but I have NEVER heard them utter the word 'Strategy'. Apparently, it's just a bug that the newer generation has got bitten by.

I think the only other word that would come even close to being thrown around these days is 'Social Media' ..... Go Figure!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Expendable !!

Who is Expendable ??
Were the words I heard as I walked past the conference room at work.
It was the company's CEO's voice and he was waving a printout of an excel sheet in front of a senior manager.

The glass door of the room was closed, so I couldn't hear the rest of the conversation. But those two words had quite a chilling effect. I had been hearing about the firm's financial troubles, but I didn't know it had gotten this serious.

I've known several people who at one time were trapped in companies in the middle of layoffs or acquisitions and I remember them displaying helplessness about everything happening around them. Some of them worked their butts off hoping that the 'Recency Effect' would work in their favor while others updated their resumes and chatted up their LinkedIn contacts in search for a new job.

Since this was now happening to me, I decided to tap into the internal grapevine and went out for lunch with the director of my department who is coincidentally the only other Pakistani in the firm. He confirmed that the layoffs and/or salary reductions were the only course of action left for the firm to stay in business. But he did mention that I didn't have to worry about it as I was not within the axe range 'SO FAR' (his words). He said I was too underpaid anyway to be of any significance to the bottom line :P

Gee -- as much scary this situation might be, the optimist in me is already looking at the possible opportunities. With my move to Pakistan only a month away I think the time is ripe to push even more within my organization to think about outsourcing their menial IT tasks overseas.

So bear with me folks as I gear up for the choppy seas ahead. I'm going to try and keep this blog updated so that I can have some outlet for all the pent up energy.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

An interesting way of thinking about a startup

During his lecture, a Texas venture capitalist showed a really interesting video to demonstrate a startup company in its early days.

In this video, the safety of all four team members depends on perfect co-ordination and communication between each other. If one falls down or starts acting selfishly, the others could potentially get hurt.

And according to the VC, in his thirty years of experience in this industry, he found out that most startups end up the exact same way as this video.

Enjoy!! and be worried :p

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A late night post

You know sometimes when you're sleepy ... but don't want to go to sleep just yet. It's 3:40 am right now in Dallas ... and I just dont feel like sleeping. It's as if I'm trying to stretch the evening as much as I can to keep the inner peace that I've been feeling tonight. The quiet hiss of the air conditioner over the silence in the apartment seems to have a tranquilizing effect and when the air conditioner goes off .. I can hear sounds of me breathing in a strange calming rhythm.

There is probably another reason why I don't feel like sleeping. Tomorrow I'm gonna walk in my grad school commencement ceremony. And surprisingly, I'm not excited about it. First of all, I haven't really graduated yet officially because I still have to take classes during the summer. I decided to walk early because I wasn't sure if I would be here in Dallas in December, when the next commencement ceremonies are going to be held. Secondly, a lot of my friends and some aunts/uncles are going to be there at the ceremony to cheer me on and all their support really means a lot but there's this nagging feeling that I had for the last few days that I couldnt figure out. I should be happy about this right? But instead I'm actually dreading this thing. And then it finally hit me ... I have worked really hard for the last two years to get this degree. Full time school along with a full time job was one of the hardest things I have done so far and I'm extremely proud of this accomplishment. Coming from a family of businessmen, ever since I can remember, I knew that my father wanted me to get my MBA. A lot of career related discussions revolved around the idea that I'd one day get an MBA degree. I remember him telling me over and over about the son of the owner of HKB in Lahore (they were our customer at that time) who did his MBA from LUMS. And my dad was obsessed with the idea of me doing the same thing one day. It was his idea of the highest academic achievement the son of a businessman could get.

And he made sure I got the best education possible .. sometimes even if it was outside of our financial realms. It's just amazing that he never said no to anything I wanted (ofcourse within limits)

And with their Duas and Allah's grace, I've achieved all this that my parents had always dreamed of. And then tomorrow, when I go on stage to get my degree, I sooo want them to be here with me to share this proud moment. I want them to be proud of what THEY have accomplished during their whole lives by raising their kids to become what we are now. And in my mind, it really should be all about them. If they are happy and proud and content, I'll automatically be happy with them. And that really dampens my mood about the graduation tomorrow because they won't be here to see the grand finale of this whole so called formal education path that started many years ago at Les Anges Montessory School, Lahore.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Blogging Hiatus

Lately, it seems like I'm getting pulled in several different directions and I never have time to do everything that I'm supposed to do. Plus I'm at an inflexion point in my life where I'm not sure where I'll end up. And even though there's only a handful of people who check this blog ... I still feel a little guilty of not keeping it up to date. When I started blogging, there were about 20 blogs that I kept up with, and now only 4 of them are still active. Which tells a lot about soul barring/rant heavy blogging in the long run. They don't often scale over in long term unless you write about something purposeful that you feel strongly about.

I actually miss reading about lives of strangers (spread all around the world) who felt like friends because I followed their blogs & they followed mine. But now I feel like it'll take too much effort to find new people to follow. So I just follow a handful of tech blogs which gives me enough material to read while I goof off at work or fill space on sleepless nights.

So, I think I'll take a break from blogging for some time. I still do a lot of writing, but that's being done at . It's more purposeful and more rewarding than my usual ramblings.

In the meantime, help us spread the word about and if you'd like to volunteer - email me.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

My DirectTv (satellite tv) suddenly started showing HBO even though I haven't subscribed to
it. (Technical glitches in hi-tech equipment can prove to be good sometimes)

Got a coupon for two free games at a hi-tech driving range called top-golf. So you can guess what I'll be doing tonight after work.

Just received my new cell phone that I ordered a couple of days ago. And no, it's not an iphone. After using brick sized pdas/phones for a few years, I've actually transitioned towards decent sized cellphones (Still a smart phone though). I'll have to spend this weekend bonding with my new phone :p

I've got plans to go watch the Indian movie 'Race' today. Lets hope it's as good as the trailers make it sound.

And last but not the least .. it's FRIDAY!! I've had one helluva week .. so I'm looking forward to getting a little R&R this weekend.