Friday, 24 April 2020

Cicada 3301 - A Mystery in the Cyber World

How I came across this?

So the year was 2017 I suppose, I was newly introduced to the dark web, and started watching creepy-pastas spread over the internet. It was interesting. Fascinating yet controversial. 

That's what makes it go viral, doesn't it? We all love conspiracies.

Considering my history of watching those videos, the YouTube suggestion algorithm one day decided to show me a video by LEMMiNO titled "Cicada 3301: An Internet Mystery" [link below]. And that short video introduced almost all concepts I'd studied in Cyber Security.

Let me appreciate that guys editing skills first of all.What a lovely piece of craft, indeed! 

When I watched the video, the curiosity made me search for more details related to it. I visited the Reddit threads related to it myself and the related onion links too. (Taken down, of course.)

Here's a small introduction of what this mystery was, thanks to Wiki, Reddit and several other resources. 

What’s Cicada 3301?

The most elaborate and mysterious puzzle of the internet age. — The Washington Post
Cicada 3301 is a nickname given to an organization that on three occasions has posted a group of puzzles to recruit code-breakers from the internet.

Different Rounds

The puzzle had few rounds. Nobody from the public knew that the next round exists, let alone guess it's date or format. It was because there was no official (signed message) from Cicada.

  1. The first internet puzzle started on January 4, 2012 on 4chan and ran for about one month.
  2. A second round began one year afterward January 4, 2013.
  3. And then a third round following the confirmation of a fresh clue posted on Twitter on January 4, 2014.

The stated intent was to recruit “intelligent individuals” by presenting a series of puzzles which were to be solved.

No new puzzles were published on January 4, 2015. However, a new clue was posted on Twitter on January 5, 2016. In April 2017 a verified PGP-signed message was found:
Beware false paths. Always verify PGP signature from 7A35090F.
That message explicitly denies the validity of any unsigned puzzle, as recently as April 2017.
The puzzles focused heavily on:

  • data security
  • cryptography
  • steganography
  • internet anonymity
  • surveillance

Speculations

It has been called “the most elaborate and mysterious puzzle of the web age” and is listed as one of the “top 5 eeriest, unsolved mysteries of the internet”, and much speculation exists on its function.
Many have speculated that the puzzles are a recruitment tool for the NSA, CIA, MI6, a “Masonic conspiracy” or a cyber mercenary group. Others have claimed Cicada 3301 is an alternate reality game.

No company or individual has taken credit for it or attempted to monetize it, however.

The Cicada 3301 Puzzle

Before diving into the main points, let me clear what it’s on the very surface level. It’s a puzzle which is posted on the web with the intentions of recruiting “highly intelligent individuals”.

Solving which supposedly gets you recruited to the NSA, MI6, Hacker groups and therefore the speculations go on and on; although no official prize has ever been announced.

It all started on January 4th, 2012. An elaborate puzzle appeared on message boards and forums which read:

This image when opened using a text editor gives out a Caesar cipher string of semi-readable text, which when deciphered results in an Image URI.

The chase then continued, one clue leading to another. The puzzles used all sorts of techniques in cyber-security including cryptography, steganography etc. They even dropped some clues on physical addresses.

Finally the website closed with a line saying
“We want the best, not the followers”. 
Soon there was a month of silence and then this Image was posted on the sub-reddit on Cicada.


According the Cicada they have found the people they were looking for. But the community out there was not satisfied because of the lack of ending to what was this all about. And many termed it as a wild goose chase and waste of time

But little did we know, this was just the beginning. After an year another quiz dropped on the forum.

The second and third round went similarly. A detailed analysis can be watched in this video.
. . .
by
Shakeeb Ahmad
Abuzar Gaffari
Ashwini Ghonse
Mustafa Al-Hammadi

[This is a truncated version of a 10-page long blog submitted to the institution.]

Friday, 17 April 2020

Shakeeb Naam Ka Ik Bad-Tameez Hai Koi - Ghazal

To read in Urdu (Perso-Arabic script), click here.

English (Roman)

Hareem-e-naaz men har-dil-azeez hai koi
Ziyaad-e-rashk se phir ashk-reez hai koi

Abas hi rote hain ahbaab mere marne par
Visaal-e-yaar bhi rone ki cheez hai koi

Libaas-e-faakhera pehne ye khush-numa dunya
Baraa-e-ahl-e-tasawwuf kaneez hai koi

Tere jamaal ki taabaaniyon se raushan ho
Hamaare dil pe jo parda dabeez hai koi

Diwana waar pukaare hai jo tujhe shab-o-roz
Shakeeb naam ka ik bad-tameez hai koi



Hindi (Devanagari)

हरीम-ए-नाज़ में हर-दिल-अज़ीज़ है कोई
ज़ियाद-ए-रशक से फिर अश्क-रीज़ है कोई

अबस ही रोते हैं अहबाब मेरे मरने पर
विसाल-ए-यार भी रोने की चीज़ है कोई

लिबास-ए-फ़ाखिरा पहने ये ख़ुशनुमा दुनिया
बराए अहल-ए-तसव्वुफ़ कनीज़ है कोई

तिरे जमाल की ताबानियों से रोशन हो
हमारे दिल पे जो पर्दा दबीज़ है कोई

दिवाना वार पुकारे है जो तुझे शब-ओ-रोज़
शकीब नाम का इक बदतमीज़ है कोई

Meanings

Hareem-e-naaz (हरीम-ए-नाज़): abode of beloved, महबूब का घर
Har-dil-azeez (हर-दिल-अज़ीज़): popular, liked by all, मशहूर, सब में पसंद किया जाने वाला
Ziyaad-e-rashk (ज़ियाद-ए-रशक): excess of envy, ईष्रया का ज़्यादा होना
Ashk-reez (अश्क-रीज़): weeping, shedding tears, अश्रु वर्षा, आँसू बहाना
Abas (अबस): futile, profitless, purposeless, व्यर्थ, निरर्थक, बेकार, बेफ़ायदा, बेकार
Visaal-e-yaar (विसाल-ए-यार): meeting with friend, meeting with beloved, महबूब से मुलाक़ात
Libaas-e-faakhera (लिबास-ए-फ़ाख़िरा): precious garments, worth being proud of, क़ीमती कपडा
Dabeez (दबीज़): thick, strong, मोटा, गफ़
Shab-o-roz (शब-ओ-रोज़): night and day, always, all the time, सुबह शाम, हमेशा

Sunday, 5 April 2020

LTE - Types, Features and Working

WHAT IS IT?

Assuming this is a new term for you and you have no idea what this is, “what on earth does this mean” is the first thing you should ask. Let’s know the full form first. LTE stands for Long-Term Evolution.
Ok. But evolution of what? I don’t know either. According to sources, this naming conventions were a part of advertising the technology and appeal to the customer base. Alright, enough of the intro, let’s know it’s simple explanation borrowed from Wikipedia:
Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is a standard for wireless broadband communication for mobile devices and data terminals.
You still don’t get it, did you? Remember 2G and 3G technologies? This LTE is the next stone in that journey. So the architecture was purely ased on the 3G technology by UMTS. Much of the LTE standard addresses the upgrading of 3G UMTS to what will eventually be 4G.
What’s the major difference between LTE and the third generation (3G)? Well, a large amount of the work is aimed at simplifying the architecture of the system. But is it 4G? We’ll discuss this in the end of this blog. For now, let’s jump to its classification.

TYPES

There are basically 2 mobile data transmission technologies based on 2 major factors, viz:
How data is uploaded and downloaded
What frequency spectra the networks are deployed in
So, based on these two factors, we have two types of LTE.
1. Long-Term Evolution Time-Division Duplex (LTE-TDD)
2. Long-Term Evolution Frequency-Division Duplex (LTE-FDD)
Before proceeding with this, let’s know some basics of GSM and CDMA so that you know what these “divisions” are. Afterwards, you’ll be able to digest this easily.

GSM, CDMA and LTE

GSM and CDMA are two different ways to accomplish the two things. LTE is newer.
The way GSM solves (1) is by something called TDMA (time division multiple access). When you're in a phone call, you're phone is scheduled a bunch of time slots when your phone either sends or receives data. These exclusive to your phone and different from other phones in the cell so there's no interference. This way, multiple phones can talk to the cell tower (seemingly) at once (the bursts of time are super short so you don't notice them).
CDMA deals with (1) in a completely different way. It breaks up the channel into codes/signals (Code division random access). This is a little hard to explain without some math, but there's a notion called orthogonality. If two signals are orthogonal you can pull one signal out without getting interference from the other. Every user is assigned a different code/signal and these are (approximately) orthogonal to each other. This is a more advanced technique and generally thought of as advantageous since there isn't as much waste (TDMA needs little bits of extra time between users to make sure there's no overlap, for example).
The way (2) is accomplished is also very different. In fact there are many different ways it is done even within GSM or CDMA. The way data is sent along depends a lot on how good the quality of the radio signal and other factors. That's a whole other thing. But the options for GSM and CDMA differ.
3G and 4G are kind of marketing terms that come from "3rd generation" and "4th generation". They refer to families of standards, but not specific methods to accomplish (1) or (2).
Now you know the basics, let’s get back to types of LTE.

LTE-TDD and LTE-FDD

LTE-TDD Uses a single frequency, alternating between uploading and downloading data through time while LTE-FDD paired frequencies to upload and download data.
Despite the differences in how the two types of LTE handle data transmission., LTE-TDD and LTE-FDD share 90 percent of their core technology. This makes it possible for the same chipsets and networks to use both versions of LTE.
Several companies produce dual-mode chips or mobile devices, including Samsung and Qualcomm.

FEATURES


  • Peak download rates up to 299.6 Mbit/s and upload rates up to 75.4 Mbit/s
  • Cost effective
  • Low data transfer latencies
  • Lower latencies for handover and connection setup time 
  • Higher network throughput
  • Improved support for mobility, exemplified by support for terminals moving at up to 350 km/h
  • Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access for the downlink, Single-carrier FDMA for the uplink to conserve power
  • Support for inter-operation and co-existence with legacy standards (GSM/GPRS or W-CDMA-based UMTS )
  • Uplink and downlink Carrier aggregation.
  • Packet-switched radio interface
  • It’s because of these features that most carriers supporting GSM networks can be expected to upgrade their networks to LTE at some stage


MADE OF?

What is LET made of? That means it’s working backbone consists of these things, most of which we have already discussed above. For the concepts you might not find familiar, I’ve attached link to resources so that you can have an idea of what they are.
OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) for Downlink
SC-FDMA (Single Carrier FDMA) for Uplink
MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output)
E-UTRAN (for Network)

VOICE CALLS IN LTE

One of the major problems they faced designing LTE was how to handle voice calls using it. LTE was primarily meant for (internet) data transfer, so the transfer of voice data to integrate with telecom operators was an issue.
With the adoption of LTE, carriers had to re-engineer their voice call network. The reason behind this was that the LTE standard supports only packet switching with its all-IP network. On the other hand, voice calls in GSM, UMTS and CDMA2000 are circuit switched.
3 different approaches sprang up to handle this:

1] Voice over LTE (VoLTE)

VoLTE networks support both voice and data at the same time, without hampering the other. Whereas, the traditional LTE networks may or may not support data and voice together, or may affect the quality of the voice call

2] Circuit-Switched Fallback (CSFB)

LTE just provides data services. When voice call is to be made, it will fall back to the circuit-switched domain.
Advantage: Operators can provide services quickly.
Disadvantage: Requires longer call setup delay.

3] Simultaneous Voice and LTE (SVLTE)

Handset works simultaneously in the LTE and circuit switched modes.
LTE mode providing data services and the circuit switched mode providing the voice service. This is a solution solely based on the handset, which does not have special requirements on the network.
Disadvantage: The phone can become expensive with high power consumption.

IS IT 4G?

Now the controversy (not a big one, I know… but still, it is there.)
Contrary to popular belief, LTE at the current stage was not always considered 4G. ITU (International Telecommunication Union) determines what can be considered 4G and they initially had defined all the standards which a technology had to meet. LTE couldn’t meet those requirements.
Therefore, LTE is popularly known as 3.95G.
LTE-Advanced did make the cut through. But the business and telecom operators had allegedly “influenced” the ITU to update their standards so that they can advertise their services as 4G to attract users.
As a result, there is a slight disagreement between the businesspeople and technophiles on definition of 4G. technophiles consider the original ITU guidelines as a standard for 4G.

CONCLUSION

To solve “How to get many people to share a piece of spectrum”, LTE uses OFDMA which increases throughput
Hope you get at least the gist of what’s been explained in this blog. If not, jump over to the pages linked in the article or post comment if you are reading this on ShakesVision.

SHAKEEB AHMAD
April 05, 2020

Friday, 13 March 2020

#LearnedToday 11 to 20

This episode includes following tags:

Biology (1), Computer-Science (1), English (1), GK (1), Help (1), Language (1), Literature (1), Opinion (5), Philosophy (2), Programming (1), Psychology (3), Reform (1), Self (1), Self-Help (1), Theology (2)
I learn a lot of things every day, about diverse topics. Will write these things daily, even if it's obvious-to-the-level-of-dumb for the world.
— Shakeeb Ahmad, from My New Year Resolution

#LearnedToday 11

Without reading anything on God, I had this argument in mind. Most importantly, it... feels... right. And, I still haven't found a counter for this.
The "unmoved mover", argument 1 of 5 by Aquinas for the existence of what we call God, is the most natural thought a human mind can have. Still, when I ask atheists every atheist about their opinion on this, each of them simply answered, "I don't know."
The"motion" here can actually be generalized as "change". So for every change, there's a cause and the chain goes on... but not infinitely. (See "Infinite Regression")
I personally think that being agnostic (I don't know) is good and humble, that's why most soft atheists choose to be that, but sometimes I feel they do it just to avoid the question.

Terms: Summa Theologica, Existence of God, Aquinas's five ways, unmoved mover Aristotle
Ref: Wiki

Tags: Theology, Opinion

#LearnedToday 12 

Peace of Mind

When you've got that analytical skill to run psychological analysis of what's around you and know what tricks people are trying to play with you, you have a definite peace of mind. [ NOT because now you know them and can take revenge. ]
Do their actions/intentions bother me? Maybe. But most of the time, those little acts of selfish nature bring smile on my face. Not a derogatory one, Wallahil Azeem, but for their innocence. الحمد للّٰہ علی ذلک۔
Only if they knew what this world is worth.

Tags: Philosophy, Opinion, Psychology

#LearnedToday 13 

I'd always considered "Jack of all trades and the master of none" as a negative phrase. That's not true. (With a vast range of interests, I often complain that I'm not doing justice to any of them. That's when I use this comment for myself.)
Luckily, I stumbled upon the Wikipedia page of this figure of speech, and I quote:
The full phrase is "Jack of all trades, master of none is often times better than a master of one."
The shortened version "a jack of all trades" is often a compliment for a person who is good at fixing things, and has a very good broad knowledge.
So, it is actually a complement. The "master of none" part makes it a little unflattering though.

Tags: Literature, English Language

#LearnedToday 14 

After 6-7 years, there are people who are still fighting over the same issues which rarely affect our lives, worldly or spiritual.
I wonder how many years would it take for them to realize what other chores they are leaving behind which are far more important, for them. For the humanity.
And when you try to tell them to move on, they stubbornly try to drag you in the same fight you'd left years ago.
Then you realize why Allah said this:
“And when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace.” (Al Quran - 25:63)

Tags: Theology, Opinion

#LearnedToday 15 

Just saw a TEDx talk on how schools are making kids less intelligent.
Have recently discussed this with my sister (or some friend, can't remember), that the
Inspect yourself now. Whatever you've learned, how much was the schools'/college's contribution in that?
Not saying they don't play any role, but I'm more of the idea that rather than grades, the system should be classified based on students' tendencies, skills and natural inclination. More on this in a blog post some time.

Ref: https://youtu.be/2Yt6raj-S1M and its comments

Tags: Opinion, Reform

#LearnedToday 16 

Logging the data in the console for debugging is quick and easy, and that's what you must be using too. But what do you do? console.log("output") like me?
There are a lot more you can do with console. Some of them are
console.log({var1, var2}); //Adds labels
console.table([var1, var2]); //Displays as table
console.time() and console.timeLog(); //Gives time between two console logs
I'll be using the first one definitely. Had to manually add labels everytime.

Tags: Computer Science, Programming

#LearnedToday 17 

Chanakya- an ancient Indian guru, philosopher
وہ لوگ جو کمائی سے زیادہ خرچتے ہیں، اپنے سے زیادہ طاقتور سے پنگا لے بیٹھتے ہیں اور جو عورتوں سے بہت بات کرتے ہیں ( ان میں گھرے رہنا پسند کرتے ہیں، فلرٹ کرتے ہیں)، انہیں تباہی سے کوئی نہیں بچا سکتا۔
- چانکیہ
Wo log jo kamaai se zyada kharchte hain, apne se zyada taqatwar se panga le baitthte hain, aur aurton se bahot baat karte hain, unmen ghira rehna pasand karte hain (flirting) unhen tabaahi se koi nahin bacha sakta.
- Chanakya
The last point. It's specifically targeted towards men, and there's a reason for that. They are men who loose their mind talking to women, while women usually stay normal.
All of us have seen someone who ruined/ is ruining their life after this.
Ishq ne Ghalib nikamma kar diya,
Warna ham bhi aadmi the kaam ke

Tags: Philosophy

#LearnedToday 18 

There's a trait of close friends -
“We can be with them without talking.”
That rarely happens with close friends, I know. But still, when you're with a new friend / stranger, you have a sort of responsibility to keep the conversation flowing. Nod your head nonstop mechanically, listen to completely irrelevant or redundantly told stories, just to be a part of conversation, somehow. Because if there's silence, it would be "awkward silence".
There are no awkward silences with friends.

Tags: Opinion, Self Help, Psychology

#LearnedToday 19 

Have to read this book now.
"Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini"

6 Principles of Persuasion

Reciprocity: Simply put, people are obliged to give back to others the form of a behavior, gift, or service that they have received first.

Scarcity: Simply put, people want more of those things they can have less of.

Authority: This is the idea that people follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. What the science is telling us is that it’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt. Of course this can present problems; you can hardly go around telling potential customers how brilliant you are, but you can certainly arrange for someone to do it for you.

Consistency: People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done.

Liking: People prefer to say yes to those that they like.
But what causes one person to like another? Persuasion science tells us that there are three important factors. We like people who are similar to us, we like people who pay us compliments, and we like people who cooperate with us towards mutual goals.

Consensus: Especially when they are uncertain, people will look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their e.g: Cards, signs which suggests something. We do that.

Ref: https://www.influenceatwork.com/principles-of-persuasion/

Tags: Psychology, Self Help

#LearnedToday 20 

The tear glands in our eyes are connected to the nostrils internally. So that water coming out of your nose while crying is not snot. That's mainly tears. 😁

Ref: https://youtu.be/egEraZP9yXQ

Tags: GK, Biology

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Qaafiyah Expert (Android) - Release


Links:


Download Qafia expert
Qaafiyah Expert is a simple tool which contains

  1.  A rhyme generator, with support of diacritics, filter for Urdu poetic meters and 3 scripts for search. Works offline.
  2.  A lightweight diary with offline "save" support.
  3.  An online portal for awesome literary posts, updated periodically.


For those who were waiting for this

Why did it take so long?

Like always, I'd list many reasons (excuses?)
  1. God's wish.
  2. Learning android development takes some time.
  3. The basic structure had been completed in September 2019, which I had had on my mobile phone. I used to suggest qawaafi to people asking for them using the tool. But I wasn't satisfied. At the time of Windows software version (in 2016) I was new in the programming world. Not a pro now either, but whatever I've learned in these years, I thought to improve at least few things in it and add few features of my own interest. So, the app has seen many phases before being released to the public. The basic version had the same options I'd put in Windows app.
Now, those who used to constantly poke me via email or social media to provide the basic version at least, may say unspeakable things to me; but as I've said many times:
I have a constant urge to present the things in the best way possible.
So I delayed it. Although I've recently read in a gyaani's article that this bug of perfectionism should be killed ASAP.

One more reason for releasing it late is that nobody likes to update the app too many times. So, changing few things and releasing an update would do no good. And Google PlayStore, MashaAllah, bombards you with questions in every release, making it further difficult.

Requests

The app is still in the dev mode, so if you find any bug or want something to be included in the next version, please leave a review. If the response is good, I'll try to roll out next release soon.

Few features in upcoming versions

  • App interface language switch, for those who don't know Urdu script (Complete Internationalization)
  • Meanings and thesaurus on word-click
  • Taqti (Poetic Meter calculation)
  • Poetry workshop
I've two requests for you. First, to report bugs if you find any and if you want any other feature to be included in this app (other than the 4 mentioned above) then comment on the Play Store's rating page.
Second, If you have an idea for a new app, go to "online" section of this app and submit your idea on "Ek app aisi bhi."

I've few app ideas of my own interest, have to finish them too. Remember me in your supplications. 

Shakeeb Ahmad
February 16, 2020
Telegram: ShakesVision

Thursday, 30 January 2020

#LearnedToday 1 to 10

I learn a lot of things every day, about diverse topics. Will write these things daily, even if it's obvious-to-the-level-of-dumb for the world. 
— Shakeeb Ahmad, from My New Year Resolution

LearnedToday #1

An operation as simple as copying the data to user's clipboard is not that straightforward. It requires a secure origin — either HTTPS or localhost (or disabled by running Chrome with a flag). [SO]

Packages are available for most frameworks out there, which handle clipboard operations (copy to and paste from). Can be used to exploit though. [Wiki]

Terms: Clipboard hijacking, Pastejacking
tags: Computer Science, Cyber Security

LearnedToday #2


  • Nothing matters until you finish some actual projects in a field. What you can mention on your resume (and to the world) is NOT a load of languages, frameworks and skills you only know the basics of; but the completed projects using them. 
  • Switch to other stuff after fulfilling basic functionalities. Fine-tuning can be done in updates.
  • Do your best before jumping to Stack Overflow.


Ref: https://youtu.be/YX9T4V22j-Y and its comments.
tags: Self Help, Computer Science

LearnedToday #3

حالیہ جاری احتجاجی مظاہروں میں فیض کی نظم”ہم دیکھیں گے “ کافی مشہور ہوئی ہے۔ درست موقف کی بحث ایک طرف، سر پیٹنے والی بات یہ ہے کہ کچھ بے ذوق لوگوں کی طرف سے مذکورہ نظم کو ”فرقہ وارانہ “ قرار دیا گیا ہے۔ 
لگتا یوں ہے کہ صنائع و بدائع، کنایے، محاوروں، ضرب الامثال اور استعاروں سے مزین میر اور غالب کی شاعری پر سر دھننے والی یہ ”جینیس جنریشن“ دراصل ڈھونگی ہے اور ان اساتذہ کو محض ”کول“ لگنے کے لیے پڑھتی اور سنتی ہے۔
بحیثیت ایک ادنیٰ شاعر اور ادب کے طالب علم کے، میں غور کرنے پر مجبور ہوں کہ شاعری کا اتنا سطحی مطالعہ کرنے والوں کے لیے کیا سزا تجویز کی جائے؟

हालिया जारी एहितजाजी मुज़ाहिरों में फ़ैज़ की नज़म"हम देखेंगे" काफ़ी मशहूर हुई है। दरुस्त मौक़िफ़ की बेहस एक तरफ़, सर पीटने वाली बात ये है कि कुछ बेज़ौक़ लोगों की तरफ़ से मज़कूरा नज़म को फ़िर्कावाराना क़रार दिया गया है.
लगता यूं है कह सनाए-ओ-बदाए, कनाए, मुहावरों, ज़रबुल अमसाल और इस्तिआरों से मुज़य्यन मीर और ग़ालिब की शायरी पर सर धुनने वाली ये "जीनीयस जनरेशन" दरअसल ढोंगी है और उन असातिज़ा को महिज़ "कूल" लगने के लिए पढ़ती और सुनती है.
बहैसीयत एक अदना शायर और अदब के तालिब-इल्म के, में ग़ौर करने पर मजबूर हूँ कि शायरी का इतना सतही मुताला करने वालों के लिए किया सज़ा तजवीज़ की जाये!


Ref: Javed Akhtar, Munawwar Rana etc. on IIT's case
tags: Politics, Thoughts

LearnedToday #4

Learning regex is a better option to go for, rather than mastering language-specific methods for simple string manipulation.

Also, on a more general note: Instead of forcibly modifying every problem to meet your knowledge-level, you should try to learn available methods (i.e. functions) and data types in a language.

tags: Computer Science, Programming

LearnedToday #5

YouTube is sucking a lot of our time right now. Like a lot a lot. Even if it is for the sake of entertainment, we're using it no less than 4 hours. Physical entertainment seems a thing of the past now. Even when we meet friends, the conversation revolves around the same. Sad!

Told this to Muzammil and Mubashir many times, that we scroll through useless feeds all day. If we start reading books instead, we'd have a sense of accomplishment. A feeling of enlightenment, a wow moment... it can be anything, but would benefit us someday. After all, we all want to do something we could be remembered for. At least I do.

tags: Self Help, Philosophy, Thoughts

LearnedToday #6

Averse vs. Adverse
”Adverse” is used to refer to unfavourable while ”Averse” refers to the state of being reluctant.

Example:
The adverse effects of alcohol.
A good number of people are averse to sleep at work.

tag: English Language

LearnedToday #7

My guess about hyperinflation was correct. We don't always face the inflation problem if we (the government) just print money and get rich. In fact, if USA as a developed economy wants to purchase oil, it CAN just print money and do that without the fear of hyperinflation. 
Reason? USD is the standard currency using which most of the world trade today.

The government has tricked us to believe that more money means more income. On an abstract level, that is true, but in reality, the vegetable plant your mother has grown in the backyard is the actual wealth.

Ref: Economics StackExchange, Reddit, Wikipedia, Quora
tag: Economics


LearnedToday #8

Stupidly obvious. In order to properly use a hand dryer, you have to rub your hands. Don't just put your hands under it. 😁

The goal is to spread the water out as much as possible to increase its surface area and thus the evaporation rate.

Ref: Reddit
tags: Life Hack

LearnedToday #9

Remember Dijkstra algorithm?

In English, the Dutch name Dijkstra is normally pronounced DYKE-struh, in IPA /ˈdɑɪkstɹə/. It is a Dutch name, where the 'j' is always silent or pronounced like a 'y'. So the name should be 'dyk(bike, hike in English) -stra'.

tags: Computer Science, English Language

LearnedToday #10

People don't care about your struggles. They're just going to judge you by the results. Why should we exhaust ourselves if an easier alternative is present there already?

Be it a small routine task, a project or the life as a whole, the final outcome would be the only thing you'll be judged by. The route to that destination is usually not smooth, but who cares? That struggle story would only be inspiring if you reach the success.

tags: Philosophy, Thoughts

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

My New Year Resolution for 2020

New Year Resolution 2020 by Shakeeb Ahmad

End of 2019 now. The last post as you can see on this blog was of March 2017. I was in my final year of Engineering then. At the end of the previous year, I bought this domain “shakeeb.in” and thought at least this will motivate me to finally drop a post. But nah! 

A little history of this blog

Let me tell you why I created this blog in the first place. My friends on Facebook, WhatsApp and a few forums, especially Urdu Mehfil, were asking for a place where they could read all my work. (Sounds fancy, doesn't it?) Being a polite person that I am ( :cough: ), I complied. But unfortunately, I couldn’t post anything for the reasons I still don’t. (More on these “reasons” in a while.)

The first thing which finally pushed me to move my lazy bottom (not literally, of course) was a report which I was asked to write. To be honest, I wasn’t going to write anything if that workshop would not have turned that astounding.

I dropped a few more posts and then just stopped posting anything on this blog; wasted a lot of time procrastinating (which I love BTW). On the request of few very close friends, I created the Urdu blog and posted a chunk of my tutorial/essay “How to be a good Urdu poet” as 4 blog posts, then parked the Urdu blog at the sub-domain “ur.shakeeb.in”,  (ur is ISO 639-1 standard for Urdu). I did publish few other posts there too, but still, most of them were not even part of my plan.

In every month or so, I kept checking on this  blog's stats  for some reason, and kept wondering who are these people and why are they reading these 5 posts?
Shakeeb Blog traffic

Look at that. Russia? Seriously? I hope they are all bots.

I've had a long list of things to finish in 2019, most of which are still pending, or have made its place at the far bottom of my priority list.

Priorities change. Mine did too. But it’s not reasonable to abandon the tasks altogether, leaving them incomplete for the sake of your new interest. That’s why my new year plan is to do A LOT in the least time possible.

Problems and their possible solutions

Coming to the difficult part. Let me list down the reasons why I couldn’t complete the tasks:

1. Perfection: I have the constant urge to present the things in the best way possible, which is not a wrong inclination in itself, but have somehow kept me from publishing my work. Throwing the work in pending-bucket just because you will sooomeday make it presentable and publish – is pure laziness. 
Solution: 
Present it, then refine it whenever you get the time. And for the urge part, you know you’ll not present it cringe-level-bad anyway.

2. What: The most difficult thing for me is to decide what to post. No, I'm not out of ideas. It’s the opposite. I have too many of them. In fact, as mentioned above, I’ve a lot of them incomplete. So, the issue expands to deciding what to post / complete / begin with. 
Solution: 
Pick whatever appeals you at the moment. Don’t wait. Do it.

3. Where: Each platform (social media, forums, blogging services, Q&A sites) has at least one plus point, so like a normal CS student, I am signed up for almost all of them. Every time you get something to post, the chaos starts in the mind and the post sits back in a corner, frightened. 
Solution: 
Use “length” as the deciding factor. Also, use website as the central hub.

Plans

I'm listing down my plans here publicly, because one –This post will be a reference for me in the coming days, I’ll look for this post whenever I’ll lose my focus; and two – somebody from the readers will keep poking me about something s/he is excited to see completed.

I've not added the specifics right now, and will add them as and when required.

Here goes the list:

  • Maintaining my personal log/diary/rant etc. 
  • LearnedToday – I learn a lot of things every day, about diverse topics. Will write these things daily, even if it’s obvious-to-the-level-of-dumb for the world.
  • Weekly – Start posting the stuff I learn every week
  • Sharing – Personal experience + Psychology + Self-help + Philosophy etc.
  • Works – Posting previous works/ completing work in progress + Properly arranging and maintaining ongoing projects (Website, GitHub)
  • Tutorials for absolute beginners (because why not?)
  • Reading – Minimize the time spent on useless crap of Facebook / WhatsApp and read the books I’ve left unfinished for years now

Accordingly, categories would be:

  • Personal (blog, interests)
  • Nostalgia
  • Reviews
  • Tutorials
  • Self-help
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Works (My poetry, prose, books, software, apps etc)

We all make plans. The question is, do we stick to it? This time, I hope I will. 

What are your plans for the year 2020? And what are the things you should’ve completed in 2019 but are still left in the to-dos? Share in the comment below.