Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year?

I would like to think it will be a good year 2009. Definitely 2008 has been a great year, we ended 30 years of dictatorship in the Maldives and welcomed a new government. Even though things so far don't look so good, there might be hope for the future. One thing for sure is Dr. Majeed will work really hard to make our way of life really hard one , like banning the new year parties in Maldives stating they are against Muslim ways. No politician will be able to stand up against this, for the fear of being labeled as anti Muslim. I am sure this guy must be enjoying all this. Blocking Internet, banning disco's, maybe allowing sick vahhaabee guys to marry 9 year old girls?. Come on who knows.

The new government is too busy with the elections for the parliament of 2009, we the people are still waiting in"hope" for a better future. Cost of living in Male' is going high, rich seem to get richer while the youth still don't have much hopes for a better tomorrow. The struggle for power seem to be endless, while NOTHING practically is being improved. "Time" maybe the keyword, but with that I guess a lot of us are loosing confidence in our leaders and "the system" we all thought would change our lives. News don't seem to be good in the media, while the world is heading for the "great depression II", I guess we already have a clue on what holds for 2009. However 2009 is a critical year for Maldives, as it will be the year when we get to lay down a new foundation for the political change that we accomplished in 2008. The political choices that will be made in 2009 will reflect into the future. Our future.

I don't know if Dr. Majeed will approve of me saying "Happy New Year 2009 to everyone", or if he will order TAM to block a few more sites soon. Like the blogs and maybe "Google". Well you again never know. This guy seem to be crazy and radical enough to do it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A bank account in MMA

May sound funny to have a bank account of yours in MMA. Maybe it does not make sense. If so why does it make sense for MMA to be involved actively in the Mobile Banking project. All the while I thought they were the regulators. For me it's the same as TAM providing telecom services.

I have been told the project is about $7.7 million. MMA is going to invest on the infrastructure and run this operation. I assume that is the case. In my point of view this should be the responsibility of the Banks and the Mobile Network Operators. Now we maybe replicating the same infrastructures that is already existing on the both sides. I feel it's a waste of money for MMA to do this and going beyond what they really should be doing.

Maybe MMA has a good justification for this, but at this point I don't understand. Maybe someone would want to enlighten me on this.

"As part of the project, CGAP will offer a parallel funding of $1.5 million to establish a regulatory framework for mobile banking." - tmcnet

Read more on the Maldives Interoperable Payments System (MIPS)

The project has good objective, however I don't fully agree with the deployment method where MMA controls the infrastructures for this. MMA should be the regulator not the implementer or the investor.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The NCIT of Maldives is outdated and wasting our money.

The National Centre for Information Technology (NCIT) is about to start a project which will install and setup (suppose to) Internet Service Kiosks in 24 islands across Maldives. I see this as a waste of money and a stupid idea at this stage in time. Maybe the Internet kiosks were a "cool" idea 5 years back, but not today. I feel there are better things we can do with that money and take better approaches (future proof). This whole thing about Internet kiosks needs to be re evaluated.

Firstly we don't have the basic infrastructure or the applications to cater to these kiosks (or maybe MS Share Point is what they call e-government) . We need to first look into the basics before we start to roll out services like these kiosks. NCIT does not have a proper plan for the e-government and the studies on which they are basing these projects are out dated and costly.

The politicians and the current government lacks the interest or the know how to make sound judgements on these kinds of projects. They seriously need to reconsider these type of projects and open them up for comments and re evaluation. The so called "Big IT Projects" are common in Maldives and never produce the results. We spend (WASTE is the word) money on these kinds of projects and never achieve anything productive.

We always bring down a few consultants who have worked in some African countries and copy some ideas from maybe Singapore and base our projects on them. Most of these projects are never practical. I feel the present leadership in NCIT needs to be changed and we need to think more broadly into this e-government projects.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nation for Sale! Sold?

I just was reading haveeru. What I realize was for 30% share of the nation (Maldives) the cost is 5 million 400,000 MRf. Maybe my interpretation was wrong.

Gasim seems to be demanding for his share and Zaki said they (Gasim and Jumhooree party) did not make the full payment as per agreement.

Welcome to Maldives Pvt. Ltd.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Weak Opposition

One of the biggest disadvantage I see today in the Maldives is a weak opposition. The so called "Wataneydhey goteh" alliance composes of all the previous major oppositions. It is true that this alliance was the key to over throw of the previous dictatorship. However almost all of the key members of these opposition parties are in the current government (they are the government). I think this is a major disadvantage for the people. True democracy is not complete without a proper opposition.

DRP who was practically the previous ruling party is almost unheard of now. I think I do understand why too. I guess the answer is Law number 42 of "The 48 Laws of Power", book by Robert Greene

Law 42 Strike the Shepherd and the Sheep will Scatter

The shepherd was ex president Maumoon. Now the sheep's are no where to be seen. This was very much expected too, as DRP was revolving around him only.

I still think it's too early to make a sound judgment of the new government. Having said that, at the same time I am not very happy with how things are moving too. We all have different expectations and demands. I know all will not be entertained too. I do understand that, but I feel things like the present housing crisis we have in Male' is a must to be addressed. We need to know about the plans and when we would have an affordable life. The promised "އަތް ފޯރާފަތް" stuff. Other issues like Ministry of Islamic affairs trying to take basic rights away from us in the name of religion concerns me.

The way I see it still the election is not over. I feel MDP and others concentration is totally on the up coming parliamentary elections. I thought we got over the issue of what kind of governance, we the people decided on a presidential system. I don't think many people get this or have come to accept this including the present government.

What ever it is I feel there is a strong need for a good opposition. This needs to come now, before it's too late. If there are responsible political leaders they need to act now not when the 5 year term is about to end. At the same time the opposition needs to be serious and responsible too, not just talking about useless stuff and fighting against meaningless things.

'Will Kutti Nasheed take over DRP or form another party?' This is one question that is often asked at coffee tables but never 'will Maumoon come back'. I think I am happy with that, I for one don't want to see Maumoon back. I need to see a New Maldives with fresh ideas and fresh blood in politics. I don't even like the idea of people like Zaki in the present government. They can be as advisers but I feel they had their chance and blew it.

Maybe some may see an opposition to be damaging to the present government, I see it the other way. A good opposition is who will save this government from making major mistakes and will act as a watch dog. That's very logical and I don't think need to be explained.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Recommendations to Dr. Majeed of Min. of Islamic Affairs.

Dear Hon. Dr. Majeed,

Please consider the following actions to be submitted to the Parliament of the Maldives and to be brought to immediate action.

1. Block all Internet use.

If anyone want to browse they have to submit a form indicating the URL and the reason to visit the web site. After this (form) is submitted with a MRf 500 Revenue stamp this will be evaluated within 60 days.

After the approval (if approved) (s)he will be granted access to that specified URL (strictly only that URL ONLY! again ONLY).

No direct emails from outside the country without screening of the emails from the Ministry. No web mail will be granted access. Mail usage should be pre approved by the Ministry too.

All other protocols to be block! only HTTP via firewall/proxy will be allowed. This will be monitored 24/7. Access only will be granted to approved URL's.

Anyone found not following this policy will be shot dead! Before that he will be taken off his rights for being a citizen of Maldives.

... These are some of my initial recommendations. Further to this I also propose the following which need to be more detailed.

2. Block all Cable TV access. Only Arabic speaking and Ministry approved Channels will be allowed. Please note that for the approval Arabic channels is a MUST!

3. Hold all passports of all Maldivians. People needing to travel should state where they are traveling and the purpose of travel. A faith test needs to be conducted before they depart / approved for traveling. The score needs to be above 98%. On return they will again have to take a test and if results are below 98% they will be shot dead.

Thank you and I fully support your ideas and remain loyal to you and your party.

عزيزي هون. الدكتور مجيد ،

يرجى النظر في الإجراءات التالية لتقديمه إلى البرلمان للوجزر المالديف والتي ستعرض على اتخاذ إجراءات فورية.

1. منع كل استعمال الإنترنت.

وإذا كان أي شخص يريد تصفح لديهم لتقديم شكل يدل على عنوان الموقع وسبب لزيارة موقع على شبكة الإنترنت. بعد هذا (شكل) ويقدم مع MRf 500 الإيرادات الطوابع وسيتم تقييم هذا في غضون 60 يوما.

بعد الموافقة على (إذا وافقت) (ق) انه سيكون من الوصول إلى أن العنوان المحدد (بدقة إلا أن العنوان فقط! مرة أخرى فقط).

لا رسائل البريد الإلكتروني مباشرة من خارج البلاد من دون فحص رسائل البريد الإلكتروني من وزارة. لا البريد الإلكتروني وسيتم منح الوصول. وينبغي استخدام البريد قبل وافقت عليه وزارة للغاية.

جميع بروتوكولات أخرى لعرقلة! HTTP فقط عن طريق الجدار الناري / بالوكالة لن يسمح. هذا وسيتم رصد 24 / 7. وصول فقط سيكون لمنح الموافقة على عنوان 's.

العثور على أي شخص ليس بعد هذه السياسة سيكون بالرصاص! قبل انه سيتم اتخاذ قبالة حقوقه لكونه مواطن من جزر المالديف.

هذه هي بعض التوصيات الأولية بلدي. وبالإضافة إلى ذلك أقترح أيضا التالية التي ينبغي أن تكون أكثر تفصيلا.

2. عرقلة وصول جميع المحطات التلفزيونية. فقط تكلم العربية وافقت وزارة القنوات سوف يسمح. يرجى ملاحظة أن للموافقة على القنوات العربية أمر لا بد منه!

3. عقد جميع جوازات السفر للجميع الملديفيين. الناس يحتاجون إلى السفر إلى حيث ينبغي أن الدولة هي السفر والغرض من السفر. وهناك نية لاختبار احتياجات تجرى قبل سفرهن / وافقت لسفره. النتيجة تحتاج إلى فوق 98 ٪. على العودة مرة أخرى أنها سوف تتخذ لاختبار النتائج وإذا كان أقل من 98 ٪ أنها ستكون بالرصاص.

شكرا لكم وأؤيد تأييدا كاملا أفكاركم وتبقى موالية لديك ولدى الطرف.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Alternative OS's in Maldives

10 years back people joked when you talked about Linux. 98% of the IT guys in Maldives and alike would not have thought of a world with out Microsoft Windows. Today things have changed.

Linux is no longer an alien OS in Maldives. It's run on many of the major companies in Maldives as application servers, DB servers, web servers and network servers (relating networking operations like firewalls, etc). While Windows is still dominant at most office environments that may change too. Examples like Resorts / Hotels might be moving to Linux too. There is many advantages to it, which I don't need to state here. The government is still reluctant to move to Linux, one major reason being lack of expertise and fear factors. I am certain that this will change soon too, once fresh blood comes in to places like NCIT.

On the desktop slowly people have started to use Linux as well. Application like Open Office can be credited for the adaptations. While the adaptation of Linux is slow Mac OS have gained a big popularity. While we still have some people who still run Windows on Mac's many use Mac OS X as the primary OS on their Mac's. I think more people are switching to Mac's these days.

While we still have those people who want to try each and every application designed for Windows in the world, who always have the excuse of CorelDRAW not running on other OS's (latest versions), etc. I guess a lot of us are looking into alternatives and sticking with them. Like we now know the sun will still rise without Maumoon, we know we can do without Windows too.

The application development methods have changed too. Mostly today we are moving to web based appliactions. Most of these applications are build on open standards and do not restrict to certain web browsers too. This is also a factor which has contributed to the change. Not everyone is a graphics designer, music composer or a gamer. For those people it's easy to switch on the desktop level. I still agree if you are a gamer Windows is the best choice.

People do often select alternatives not the defaults. One good example is firefox. If anyone has access to web server logs, or alike do look into the version of browses who hit your web space. I guess 90% and more is firefox. Which really proves a point.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Breaking News!

Min. of Islamic Affairs proposes to block and

.... I mean why not?

It's funny them instructing to block certain web site(s); cos they are in Dhivehi. Do they think we can only read Dhivehi?. What about all the web sites in English?.

Anyway I think it's plan stupid to think that today in Dec 2008 people can be stopped from access to information. For me blocking web sites is just stupid. I think Islamic extremism is more a threat then fearing Maldivians will convert to Christianity (just by reading a web site written in Dhivehi). Maybe the people who made those decisions can only read Dhivehi?. If anyone wants to convert I don't think the choice will be just only based on a stupid web site. Come on. Is this is kind of thinking we voted for?

The next funny part is the people whom we expect to raise this (the so called politicans) won't talk about these things in public. Reason being they fear to be labled as pro christian. It's not about religion here; it's about basic human rights and standing up against plan stupid things in this political areana.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Software Piracy a Crime ??

It's no big deal in Maldives, everyone uses pirated software. Starting from the games that the kids play to the OS and software's used in the government. It is not considered to be "THEFT". There is no respect for Intellectual Property rights here in Maldives. Simply this does not exist and no one is concerned. It's a damn shame ; ethically this is totally wrong. I know 98% of the people in this country either would not give a jacks ass about it or would be against this idea of intellectual property rights. However my thoughts are very different on this subject to most.

Among the disadvantages we face today include that some technology providers simply refuse to come into Maldives. I have had cases where the legal department of such companies has raised concerns over lack of adequate Intellectual Property, copyright and patent protection laws in the Maldives.

Here we are talking about the financial problems we face today. We can't provide proper housing and other development due to the lack of funds, etc. We fully depend our economy on tourism and fishing. There is no thoughts on other means like technology. Look at India, they export technology and generate high revenues which we all know. Today some of the leading companies in the world are technology companies, like Microsoft, Oracle, Google and so many others. This is enough to conclude that investing on technology has major returns financially. I am in no way saying here in Maldives we can create another Google. I've seen and worked with companies in Sri Lanka who are exporting technology, and I always ask myself why not we?. Why is that our investors don't see such things or our governments encourage this. We don't need oil wells, or other natural resources to generate revenues. All it takes is dedicated and creative people, and investing on these people with a broader vision for the future. The starting point is the education system. Today it's a shame. Our parents are happy to know they teach computers in the school. What do they know? Teaching kids to use MS Paint and MS Word is not the type of education that we should be looking at. What are all the knowing and great minds of our nation thinking. Someone needs to kick them in the ass and tell them they are f**king us up?.

To start off; I feel it's important to make the people realize that software has a value, it's just like any other goods that you buy from any other shop. People should respect that and stop being thieves. That realization helps the people to understand and accept the importance of this industry. It can't be achieved by a few "keyna bahlha" like me or just one person. We have such potential kids in this nation, who really could make things a lot better for the future of this small country. People just need to help these kids and provide them with opportunities. They need to be managed and marketed. Most of all they need to be trusted and valued.

Monday, December 01, 2008

e-voting in present Maldives

I've seen some news on indicating that the elections commission is considering e-voting. My view is this will be a very stupid move at this stage in time and holds too many unknown risks. To start off we all know there is obvious problems with national registration, while these issues still exist moving to e-voting simply makes things worse. From the last round of presidential elections I am not very confident with the IT capabilities and the reliability of the databases hosted by elections commission. They still remain to be addressed.

I am also against any voting (electronic voting) system which does not have a paper trail. Meaning if anything goes wrong, or any disputes come up; there should be a paper trail to verify the votes. Just only depending on an electronic vote is not good enough at this stage, especially when that is done over the Internet.

Also there was indication about users having a user id and a password. If so would the commission hold any records on who I voted for?. In other words will those id's be linked to the votes they caste in anyway like stored in a database, etc. If so such a system cannot be accepted.

Lastly, any such system should be fully open source. The full source code of such a system should be published to the public. This is to make the system fully transparent.

Before even considering all of the above, we need to verify that the identity information of the Maldivians are accurate and have no flows. I have seen many repeated records of same individual during the last round. This is totally not acceptable, no excuses to this. If the elections commission so much looking to automate and have an e-voting system, they should move step by step. Trying to take the people for a rise using technology as a means is not the right way. Just cos most people are not aware of technology, using it for such sensitive tasks is purely taking advantage of them. That's my view. Now views may differ.