WordPress.com Blocked and Then Unblocked in Pakistan

Pakistan Telecomunication Authority blocked WordPress.com across the country on March 22, 2015.

Government unblocked WordPress.com today. Apparently, it was blocked for Pakistan day parade in Islamabad. Pakistani Army is fighting a terrible war against terrorism in the country. Pakistani government occassionally blocks mobile phone services too based on intelligence reports. This usually happens around national and cultural holidays and in selected cities only.

The blockage of WordPress.com was not due to censorship. Even though, the country’s strong establishment has a reputation for censoring information sources like YouTube, which is banned since 2012. While the government cites blasphemous content and a court order as the main reason for the ban. Critics believe that it is due to the growing number of propaganda videos by Islamists, Baloch separatists, and other anti-state elements that triggered the ban.

These things have a damaging impact on Pakistan’s growing ICT industry. YouTube is a very important cultural phenomena in today’s world. While Pakistani internet users can still access it using VPN and Tor, but its so much trouble that many users don’t even bother.

Some experts believe that the ban will give a chance for some local businesses to grow. For example, tune.pk a local site that has thousands of YouTube videos copied and displayed illegally and without permission or consent from their publishers and without any usage rights.

This kind of moral corruption in the IT sector of Pakistan is tolerated by local IT community at large. In fact, many in the industry even feel jealous that why didn’t they cashed in the idea first.

For a real, sustainable, and powerful impact on the country’s economy our IT industry needs to be innovative, inventive, and creative. Sadly, government’s policies are a major hurdle in that path. This includes a shitty educational system which produces dumb workforce, crazy monetary policies which make online micro-transactions extremely difficult and costly, and lastly the random blocking of internet which creates uncertainty and doubt in the hearts of foreign investors.

The short blockage of WordPress.com was just a small scene from a long and painfully predictable comedy. Pakistan needs to get smarter if we want to survive in the future.

How to Send Files via Bluetooth From Android to Mac OS X

Recently, I faced this strange issue that I was unable to send files from my Nexus 5 Android phone to my Macbook pro via Bluetooth. I had Bluetooth turned on, I had my Android phone paired with Macbook pro. But whenever I tried to send a file from Android to Mac it will fail. I looked around and it seems that a lot of people were having the same issue. I was about to stop trying, when I finally found the solution.

Sending Files From Android Device to Mac OS X

First you need to turn on Bluetooth on both devices. Then on your Mac computer, go to System Preferences and click on Bluetooth.

Bluetooth Settings in Mac OS X

This will bring up Bluetooth settings page. Your Mac will now look for Bluetooth enabled devices and will show them. Click on your Android device in the list and pair both devices.

Don’t worry if your device appears not connected even after pairing.

Now go back to System Preferences and this time click on Sharing.

Enabling bluetooth sharing in Mac OS X

On the next screen, check the box next to Bluetooth to turn on file sharing service via Bluetooth.

Turning on Bluetooth file sharing on Mac OS X to  send an receive files from Android devices

You can also choose folder where you want to store files you send from Android to Mac OS X.

That’s all, I hope this article helped you learn how to share files via Bluetooth between your Android phone and Mac OS X.

Getting Rid of Information Overload

How much information do we really need? As you know that we live in an information bubble designed specifically for each individual based on our likes and dislikes. Facebook, Twitter, and Google, they are all showing us information that they know we are going to like.

For someone who spends almost all day on the internet, this means that I am getting article suggestions throughout the day. These suggestions are derived from my interests, and are written by professionals who have mastered the craft of writing catchy headlines.

For example, if I open my Facebook timeline right now I will see a dozen stories by The Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, Quartz, Buzzfeed, Guardian, BBC, etc. Most of these stories will be focused on topics that interest me and all of them will have interesting headlines.

I mean, I love reading about signs of extraterrestrial life as much as any other nerd, but do I really need to read each article speculating about possible signs of water on some faraway moon?

Why I must read every article about developments in Ukraine, ISIS, fossil discoveries, and ancient extinct species?

I love reading and it makes me feel powerful. But for someone who hardly speaks to any person other than my wife, my brother, and my boss, where I am going to use all this information? Its not like I can use these stories as conversation pieces anywhere.

I am also unable to write or blog as often as I would like to. This means I can’t share these stories on my blog. Besides, why would anyone want to read my thoughts about early humanoid species when they can learn about it from experts?

May be I should try to control what I read every day. I was thinking about trying to limit my leisure reading activities to a fixed 30 minutes period. Instead of reading things as they pop-up on my timeline, I should just ignore them till my reading time.

If I decide to read more on what’s actually related to my profession and useful for me, then I should probably read more about why cute kitten videos go viral? Any recommendations on that topic will be much appreciated.

Why Everything is Cheaper in Karachi Than Lahore or Islamabad

Recently a friend of mine asked on Facebook, why cars are cheaper in Karachi than in Lahore or other cities? This is a great question because answering it actually explains a lot about the socio-economic environment of the city.

The mentality in the Karachi’s business community is to sell quickly. They do not want to hold on to something for a longer period of time just to get a better price. They would rather sell it at low profit or even at loss than to wait for a better price.

When you hold on to something for better price your money is stuck. The business community of Karachi don’t like money just sitting waiting for higher returns. It is kind of risky, what if you never get a higher price on that thing and the first price you rejected was actually the best price that you missed.

This mentality helps the city’s business community to quickly buy new things as they arrive in the market. Lets take a look at the fruits market in the city.

Karachi is further away from the fruit farms of the country. Many other cities are surrounded by countless farms but you will find a greater variety and quality of fruits in Karachi. You will also find fruits in Karachi to be much cheaper than any other city in the country.

Traders in other cities will stop buying fruits from farms once their stocks are full. Fruits are arriving at much faster pace than they can sell. They don’t want to sell at loss or unbelievably low profits.

On the other hand, traders in Karachi will buy all fruits coming to the city. This only becomes possible because the traders in the city don’t want to stock, they want to sell quickly for lower profit margins and sometimes even at loss. This is why their stocks are never full and they can always buy more fruit from farms all over the country and even from other countries.

This mentality is not just limited to trade. You can see it in action in every aspect of the city life. For example, housing sector. Karachiites would rather invest their money in business than buying a house on their own land. This is why more Karachiites live in apartment buildings and on rent.

You can see this in action in the services sector as well. Qualified and skilled professionals would grab a low paying job rather than waiting for a higher salary.

This particular behavioral trait of Karachiites is the real force behind the city’s economic growth. Despite the fact that Karachi is the most dangerous city in the world to live and do business, the economic growth is able to maintain a steady pace. However, crime in the city is a major threat and there are signs that it has already started affecting this growth.

Slow economic growth in Karachi has extremely dire implications for the economic stability of Pakistan. Because if the money stops moving hands in Karachi, then it will affect every single person in Pakistan.

Coworking Space for Freelancers in Karachi

Karachi is the largest city of Pakistan, and it has thousands of people working online. There is a very strong need for decent coworking space for freelancers in Karachi. This post is an attempt to bring freelancers and entrepreneurs together to build a coworking space in Karachi.

As someone who works from home, I can confidently say that it is not as easy as you would think. While working from homes gives you a sense of freedom, it also comes with its own disadvantages.

We recently had an interesting discussion on the topic at Pakistani Probloggers. Many group members showed interest in paying for a coworking space. I also talked to a couple of entrepreneurs who wanted to cash in the opportunity. Talking to these folks, I have found a few key points that need to be considered.

  • Freelancers want a coworking space in Karachi for 5000 – 10,000 PKR per month.
  • They want a place that is open 24/7, has uninterrupted power supply, and fast internet connection
  • The space also need to be comfortable and relaxed.
  • Entrepreneurs who want to invest, find it challenging to offer these features at this price

To build a coworking space and boost the remote working culture in Karachi we need both parties to find a middle ground. We need freelancers to increase their budget to at least 10,000 – 15,000. At this rate, a business can have a chance of covering their costs and even make profit.

We also need the entrepreneurs to think out of the box. They can lower their operating costs by providing add-on services. Like a small cafeteria inside the coworking space, conference room, team spaces, special corners at higher rates, extra comfy chairs, pick-&-drop services, and so on.

Freelancers who would like to show their interest in a coworking space can sign up here.

Your information will not be shared. The data will only be used to show investors and business owners that there is a market waiting for them to jump in.

Entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses who would like to start this thing, here is how we can help you.

  • We can help you promote this coworking venture on social media. Believe me we are good at it, we do this for living and you will get all this promotion for free
  • We already have communities like Pakistani Probloggers with more than 10,000 members. Most of them are freelancers and many of them are doing really well in their respective fields
  • We will share the data to give you an estimate of how many individuals have shown interest in paying for a coworking space in Karachi.

If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below or use the contact form to reach me directly.

My new phone Google nexus 5

My wife bought me a new phone as an early birthday present (my birthday is on 16th May, in case anyone wants to buy me a gift ). Its a Google nexus 5, with 16 GB storage and its white. Its very light and comes with android KitKat. It is also very clean, there is no software bloat, just the usual Google apps.

Performance is very smooth. Camera is good enough for personal use. Its just the perfect fit for me.


Working on ThemeLab

Our parent company, WPBeginner has acquired ThemeLab. It was an active WordPress blog ran by  Leland Fiegel. He usually published how to articles, tips and tutorials about WordPress. Leland also distributed several free themes, many of them are still used on blogs.

Syed Balkhi, CEO and founder of WPBeginner outlined plans for ThemeLab in the announcement post. We had ThemeLab for a while and our development team was working hard on creating some amazingly beautiful themes to go with the launch. Meanwhile, our editorial team worked on the content.

These days, we are working on rewriting and updating old articles, at the same time we will be publishing new content as well. There are some very useful old posts, that we need to update with new screenshots and information. Going through old content, also reminds me how much WordPress has changed over time.

We have retired all the free themes distributed by Leland. ThemeLab will continue to offer free themes. Right now you can download Slipstream our first free theme for personal blogs. It is fully responsive, mobile friendly, comes with ThemeLab about widget, and it is super fast.

If you really want to try something even more awesome, then get ModernMag. It is beautiful and unlike other WordPress magazine themes, it is extremely simple to setup.

WordPress themes need to be simpler. The users want themes that look like their demos without going through too many complex options. Hopefully ThemeLab will be able to fulfill that need.