A blanket and some thoughts!

Staring into a screen mounted over a desk placed alongside several desks in a computer laboratory in the University on a late Monday morning, exerting undue pressure on mind to cause it to think up of something to blog about, flapping legs in and out sideways in a fit of nervouness, gliding my gaze from top to bottom and vice versa, I came across a cute little post about 'a blanket and some thoughts' accompanying it. I loved it! It made my day.

Re: Hot!

I guess the meteorologists flat-out lied in predicting Karachi’s weather.  Evening is about to get underway here in Karachi, and I can safely say it has been anything but hot so far.  Specks of clouds are abound, and the breeze is soothingly cool.  I hope it stays like that.

Hot!

Something is seriouly wrong with Karachi’s weather.  According to an early morning weather report, which I couldn’t help but hear while sipping early morning tea, most other cities in Pakistan are forecasted with either low temperatures or cloudy weather.  On the contrary, Karachi’s weather is projected to soar in coming days.  The predicted temperature is 22 degrees Celcius on the minimum scale.

The nights here are pleasant, but throughout the day, it is blazingly hot.  It is bearable if you stay indoors, not least since power outages are few and far between so far.  I don’t know what will become of us when KESC starts going on their infamous load-shedding spree, especially considering how painfully hot it got here last year during summers.

Let’s see, and hope!

VLSI: What a joke!

If I say “we’ve been fortunate enough to have been offered the course VLSI this semester“, I am sure I would be considered, by classmates, as going out on a limb to suggest that.

Yes, VLSI is a great Engineering course, but only in the way it is taught in most other foreign universities.  In my university, we don’t even know what the bloody course outline is.  Not that we haven’t been told;  it is just that NONE has been decided yet.  Duh!

The instructor has no clue whatsoever what to teach.  He shuffles through books, highlighting snippets of information he considers to be important, clutters up all the snippets together in a piece of paper, and, during the lectures, scribbles them over the whiteboard, expecting us to copy them down.

If we were studying a course that had been introduced recently in academic curicula all over the world, it would have had been understandable.  But for a course that already has an extensive precedent to it, picking up random books, and figuring out what to teach is simply unacceptable, and moreso at this stage of our undergradudate studies, when we are less than a year and a half away from graduation.

To reproduce his words out of memory, to him, “Our goal throughout this semester in this course is to focus on the research being carried out in the field of VLSI.”  Good enough!  Which is, I believe, the sole reason why a good part of each lecture is spent calling up students over to the podium to explain what they have done by way of finding about current research in the field of VLSI.  “Um, sir, medical scientists have been able to reproduce primitive logic operations via some specific proteins in the body“, one student excitedly points out.  “OK, good!  Next?”  “Sir, Intel has been able to fabricate ICs with transitors having a gate-length of 65-nm.“, another students underlines the breaking news.  “Good.

“Sir, excuse me, but, what the heck is the point of all this?”  That is what I want to know.  Okay, so, yes, the approach is pragmatic, in that, only, the focus is on practical, current technology.  But, where exactly are we going with all this?  No where!  Am I the only one who sees this?  Or am I the only one too stupid to point it out?

Sigh!

I digged out the following links listing course outlines in detail of various courses related to VLSI design being taught in university all over the world.

I ain’t keeping my fingers crossed, trust me!

Heart-broken?

How do you console a heart-broken person?  Simple.  You can’t!  You could, say, crack jokes to see them laugh, say something to make them feel special, divert their attention to a totally different thing, etc.  While those might work, in reality, what they end up accomplishing is proving to others that the heart-broken individual feels consoled, feels happy, special, and OK.

Sometimes you just can’t kill a feeling.  It takes its time to die out itself.  And worst of all, the harder you twist the bolt into the nut, the more it hurts inside.  You can pretend you are OK, but deep within, you know you are not.  You are not OK.

In such conditions, there is very little or nothing a third-person can do to make things better, other than to force you to feign a smile, to feign laughter, and eventually, make the other person believe you’re feeling great, tip-top.  Good for them;  hurtful for you.

If it were anything like anger, you could feel better by venting it out.  If it were revenge, you could feel light by either forgiving or taking it out.  If it resembled any other feeling, you could do the appropriate thing to feel OK.  But feeling heart-broken, you don’t know what to do.  You are out of options.  You can cry all night, and expect the tears to drain it out, only in vain.  You could stay morose all day, and vent out the frustrations on people around you, without feeling so much as even a bit better.  You could occupy yourself in work, and feel relieved knowing it has not bothered you throughout the time, but, then, at that instant, it comes back to haunt you.

You just don’t have an option.

It takes time.  Give it time!  That is by far the only thing you can do to confront it.

Moving over to WordPress.com

Roughly a month ago, the Pakistani government, acting to censor online content deemed blasphemous, blocked access to blogger.com blogs. The rationale given: SOME of the blogs there re-posted the cartoons and accompany commentary that are considered extremely blasphemous [by Muslims]. Read, SOME, not all. Instead of stretching their muscles a bit, the Pakistani government, with the help of local ISPs, blocked the entire blogspot.com domain. Duh!

Ever since I started rolling a blog, I have stuck to Blogger.com for its free, easy-to-use blog service. If you are reading this, chances are good you might be reading it via my Blogger account. However, this is going to be the last blog entry I’m going to publish on Blogger.com. Depending on how things unfold, and after some time, I might even wipe out all the blog entries on my Blogger account.

Meanwhile, I’ve moved over to WordPress.com (WP). It took me an entire morning and a better part of the afternoon today to migrate all my posts over to WP.

If you haven’t already got the link to my WP blog account, it is ayaz.wordpress.com.

Keep readin’!

A Toast to FAST’s Administration Department!

As I approached the notice board in the most populated area of the University, and glanced a look at the exam schedule, I nearly passed out. A paper that was going to be held the following day had been rescheduled today, late in the afternoon. I was shocked. I had no idea when that happened.

Moving towards one of the seminars, which are used as examination halls during exams, I saw many classmates running here and there with pale faces. In the seminar, some classmates were having a field day teasing others regarding the unexpected change in the schedule. As I drew near a desk I had quickly decided I would occupy, a mate asks, “Heard the shocker?” “Yep, I did!”, I reply indifferently, in part because I still thought it was all a misunderstanding on the administration’s part. There had been no notice that I had seen, no email that I had received. Neither did any of the students. It seemed as if someone had rougishly replaced the copy of the time table glued to one side of the notice board with a corrupted copy. It was completely unbelievable.

After the exam, which went unbelievably great, a bunch of us hurdled over to the administration department, and confronted the guy in-charge. Apparently, he claimed that several notices and emails underlining the change in schedule were posted and sent four days earlier. On the contrary, it was only this morning that we had seen a single notice regarding the change in schedule — no email whatsoever had been received by any of the students. He was bent on not believing in us, until the phone rang, and the director had a word with him.

To our relief, the paper has now been moved over to next Saturday. Phew!

I have gotta’ hand it to FAST’s administration department.

Smile!

When I fell ill earlier this year, I almost gave up. I just couldn’t bear it anymore. And if it hadn’t been for mom’s support [and care], it likely would have taken a lot longer for me to recover. Despite having a fickle memory, I clearly remember mom’s words, which she gently expressed when I was shivering in fever, “It is only a bad time. It will pass soon.”

When you are down, when you are out, depressed, morose, everything sucks. As if nearly by nature, a person who is morose tends to consider the worthlessness of their life, how pointless their existence is; they tend to feel damaged, destroyed. It is the opposite of the sensations and feelings most drugs infuse: Ecstacy, for example, numbs the mind, thereby making anything the consumer does in its influence enjoyable. Depression acts in the other direction.

Being depressed, you find it hard to resist those rouge thoughts and disturbing feelings. It sucks, alright! What sucks more is your giving in to those thoughts and feelings. If you find yourself thinking how insignificant you are, and if you start believing in that, then it is high time you really should try to purge those thoughts. Period!

Being pessimistic, at times, is practical. I think being pessimistic, at times, is practical ONLY for those who know well how to cope up with circumstances, how to cope up with the sort of things that break you down real bad.

It is good to have hope, to be optimistic, to have goals you believe you can accomplish, because being morose and putting yourself into a sorry state of recline is, well, simply foolish, and, as much as I hate to have saying this, harmful.

Smile freely, because, simply, it is great to smile! :-)

Random Musings #15

This is truly a random thought, one which I typed down within the time frame of a couple of seconds.

“In no time differences arise which force one to examine things from an entirely different perspective.”

Configuring Primary Nameserver On Linux via BIND

ISC’s BIND, the Berkely Internet Name Domain system, can be set up to act as: a primary nameserver, secondary nameserver, and a caching-only nameserver (or combinations of these). While configuring a DNS system per se is a beast of a task, setting it up to act as a nameserver for a local LAN network is pretty easy.

Before setting up BIND, knowledge of how the DNS system works is absolutely necessary. There are countless tutorials spread across the Internet which not only describe the ins and outs of the DNS system at length, but also clearly explain how to configure BIND in its various configurations.

BIND reads data and configuration information from several files. Under Slackware, these are: /etc/named.conf, /var/named/localhost.zone, /var/named/named.ca, /var/named/named.local, /var/named/forward.domain.tld.zone, /var/named/reverse.domain.tld.zone. The first four files come, by default, with BIND, while the last two files need to be created by users according to their needs.

For demonstration, I am going to set up a domain “uaaa.rk” for a local network. Files required, in this setting, by BIND are: /etc/named.conf, /var/named/ayaz/localhost.zone, /var/named/ayaz/named.ca, /var/named/named.local, /var/named/ayaz/forward.uaaa.rk.zone, /var/named/ayaz/reverse.uaaa.rk.zone

The contents of these file, as favours the scenario in question, are as follows:

/etc/named.conf
options {
directory "/var/named/ayaz";
/*
* If there is a firewall between you and nameservers you want
* to talk to, you might need to uncomment the query-source
* directive below. Previous versions of BIND always asked
* questions using port 53, but BIND 8.1 uses an unprivileged
* port by default.
*/
//query-source address * port 53;
};

//
// a caching only nameserver config
//
zone "." {
type hint;
file "named.ca";
};

zone "localhost" {
type master;
file "localhost.zone";
allow-update { none; };
};

zone "0.0.127.in-addr.arpa" {
type master;
file "named.local";
allow-update { none; };
};

zone "uaaa.rk" {
type master;
file "forward.uaaa.rk.zone";
};

zone "50.168.192.in-addr.arpa" {
type master;
file "reverse.uaaa.rk.zone";
};

/var/named/ayaz/localhost.zone
$TTL 86400
$ORIGIN localhost.
@ 1D IN SOA @ root (
42 ; serial (d. adams)
3H ; refresh
15M ; retry
1W ; expiry
1D ) ; minimum

1D IN NS @
1D IN A 127.0.0.1

/var/named/ayaz/named.local
$TTL 86400
@ IN SOA localhost. root.localhost. (
2006022707 ; Serial
28800 ; Refresh
14400 ; Retry
3600000 ; Expire
86400 ) ; Minimum
IN NS localhost.

1 IN PTR localhost.

/var/named/ayaz/forward.uaaa.rk.zone
$TTL 86400
@ IN SOA ns.uaaa.rk. root.localhost. (
2
1h
15m
30d
1h )

@ IN NS ns.uaaa.rk.
@ IN MX 0 mail.uaaa.rk.

localhost IN A 127.0.0.1

ns IN A 192.168.50.1
www IN A 192.168.50.1
ftp IN A 192.168.50.1
ssh IN A 192.168.50.1
mail IN A 192.168.50.1

/var/named/ayaz/reverse.uaaa.rk.zone
$TTL 86400
@ IN SOA ns.uaaa.rk. root.localhost (
2 ; serial
28800 ; refresh
7200 ; retry
604800 ; expire
86400 ; ttl
)

@ IN NS ns.uaaa.rk.

; The first row are digits appended to 192.168.50., it seems.
1 IN PTR http://www.uaaa.rk.
1 IN PTR ssh.uaaa.rk.
1 IN PTR ftp.uaaa.rk.
1 IN PTR mail.uaaa.rk.

That is it! Start BIND, on Slackware, through /etc/rc.d/rc.bind, and voila! BIND is running.

Note: The files localhost.zone, named.ca, and named.local require no changes.

Tip: If BIND is bailing out mysteriously, execute it in debug mode by calling /usr/sbin/named -g. Doing so will, no doubt, save lots of your time.