K-Electric & The Feeder Tripping Issue in Karachi

K-Electric is the only power supply company in Karachi. These days they have started a new drama which is called feeder tripping. Throughout the city K-Electric’s feeders turn off the power supply which is then manually turned back on by their staff.

Feeder tripping is actually a safeguard mechanism used to protect power supply stations from huge loads. When a sudden spike in power comes into a station or sub-station, this mechanism automatically switches off the supply.

Visit K-Electric’s website and you will see their promotional material on how much money they have spent on power generation. If they are spending this much money then why these systematic power failures are occurring?

There is no doubt that they have tremendously improved their customer services. By improvement I mean, a polite way to deny providing any information while still claiming to be providing customer service. They basically neutralize customers. 90% of the time I cannot even make them to issue me a complain number or provide any satisfactory information like why feeders are tripping so much and what K-Electric is doing to overcome these issues (They are doing nothing in case you are wondering).

Here is a Twitter conversation between me and their official @K-electric account:

Of course the crisis continued even after May 30th and nothing has changed.

I thought may be it is just happening in our neighborhood. But Twitter proved me wrong, when I searched for k-electric on Twitter there are hundreds of Tweets of consumers cursing k-electric, reporting unscheduled power shutdowns, and power failures.

It is 10:54 AM in the morning, lets see what Twitter users have reported about power supply in past few hours.

54 Minutes ago:

2 Hours ago

4 Hours ago

7 Hours ago

9 Hours ago

10 Hours ago

12 Hours ago

If you now start mapping the locations with the help of the Twitter, it does not look at all random to me. It looks just like loadshading, power disappearing systematically in different areas. One area gains their feeder restored, then the next area gets their feeder tripped. I am not saying that it is loadshading, but it certainly looks like it.

Does K-Electric has any reason to do such a thing?

Yes they do, by not producing electricity on the furnace oil and keep using cheap natural gas provided by Government of Pakistan at very low rates, K-electric can save millions of Rupees. This means that if it is being done deliberately, then they have a very good reason for it.

Can they do that?

Yes, actually they can. I do not think their contract forbids them from limiting their power generation capacity to a certain point. K-Electric is a business organization, not a charity and making money is the first goal of the enterprise not to serve the people. The people are actually their customers who will buy their products and services even if they do not keep up with their expected performance. The rights of people of Karachi are not protected at all under our laws.

What we can do?

Actually there is nothing we can do. People of Karachi are not organized enough to protect their rights. The city’s main political players are in K-Electric’s pocket. The legal agreement between government and K-Electric does not protect consumers. The consumers will have to pay the bills or face consequences.

Here is what’s happening on Twitter right now. These are only tweets mentioning @kelectricpk K-electric’s official twitter account.

Finding a coworking space in Karachi

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.

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themelab-thumb

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.

Image file size display in WordPress media uploader

WordPress Idea: Displaying Image File Size in Media Uploader

Many web publishers and bloggers are concerned about the page load speed and time. It is common knowledge that speed affects how search engines rank a website in search results. One of the heaviest element on any web page is often images. The more images you use the more time it takes for a page to load completely.

I noticed that when we upload an image in WordPress using the media uploader while writing a post, WordPress shows us image dimensions right below the filename. Today, I submitted an idea to display image file size as well. Even though most users are now used to optimizing images before uploading them to WordPress. However, sometimes you may upload an image without optimizing it first. This tiny little text could be a nice reminder to check your image size before you finally insert it into post.

Here is a mockup of my idea:

Displaying image file size in media uploader

If you like this idea, then I will need your help. Please visit this idea on WordPress Ideas and vote for it.

Update: I submitted a feature request ticket to the core trac. It is currently marked for future release. QasAshraf is currently working on a patch.

Shortcode Output Appearing On Top of Post Content in WordPress

While browsing WordPress support forums, I often see threads where users are asking the question ‘Why my shortcode output jumps to the top of the page content?’. Users asking this question are using a shortcode which outputs something and instead of appearing at the exact position where shortcode is placed, their shortcode output appears above rest of the post content.

The problem is actually very simple. The function executed by shortcode should return the output instead of echoing it.

Example of a shortcode using echo to display output:

function bad_shortcode_function($atts, $content = null) { 
echo '<p>This is the output of shortcode</p>'; 
}
add_shortcode('bad-shortcode', 'bad_shortcode_function');  

The code displayed above would echo the given output but when you add more content to the post or page where shortcode is placed this echo will not appear where the shortcode is placed. The correct way to use shortcodes is to use return. Like this:

function good_shortcode_function($atts, $content = null) { 
$string = '<p>This is the output of shortcode</p>'; 
return $string; 
}
add_shortcode('good-shortcode', 'good_shortcode_function');   

Now if you want to output multiple lines of HTML you can add multiple lines to your output string like this:

function good_shortcode_function($atts, $content = null) { 
$string = '<p>This is the output of shortcode</p>'; 
$string .= '<p>This is the second line of output appended to the first string</p>';
$string .= '<p>And the third line</p>';
return $string; 
}
add_shortcode('good-shortcode', 'good_shortcode_function'); 

Hopefully this will help some new plugin developers and WordPress users who are trying their hands on shortcode for the first time. PS: if you recently worked on some awesome shortcode, please feel free to share the snippet below.