Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year

2009 is almost gone. Hardly blogged in 09 compared to the last few years. Reasons are plenty, been busy for the most part of the year. Year started off with an exciting project with a great team, by October project was completed. It was a good experience and was a pleasure working with the team I had. November I left Maldives and have moved to Malaysia with a new company.

The future looks exciting. I am happy to get back to developing software and back to studies. Leaving Male'/Maldives was not hard except for one or two factors, which I soon hope to resolve. I am not from Male', and it practically makes no difference for me living here; infect cost of living is much cheaper here. There are better opportunities and less headache/frustrations. I am not a politician or own a resort, so no future for me in Maldives. :P

This year also came with loss of close people. I will miss them always.

Anyway wish everyone a happy new year 2010.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

15th November

Today use to be a very special day for many years. Today still is, only difference is some things and people have moved on. So would we; someday.

I dedicate today to all the great people I've known and are no more with us. May god bless them and keep them happy where ever they are. I'd smile when ever I'd think of them.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

3G/Internet ?

Mobile broadband is something that is interesting and has a good future. I wonder if the ISP/MNO's will introduce affordable internet packages ?. I don't see why they should not, there is a good business case to this, and great benefits to the public.

Speeds between 384kbps to 7.2/14.4Mbps can be given over the GSM Network. Today Wataniya and Dhiraagu should be capable of providing such speeds anywhere Male'.

Maldives has a total population of 300,000 people I don't see a reason why good service cannot be provided. We do have a good demand for such services too. What we lack is a good regulator and political will to improve services.

The present internet service providers are going a great job in providing bad services to the individuals and getting the services is costly and hard. I think it's high time we changed this. I see 3G as the best opportunity to do so. My argument is MNO's can make money too; they just need to first give up on the old ways of thinking and try to be more service oriented. Government and the regulators has a key role to play here too; so far they have also successfully failed to do so. I hope this will change too.

It is critical that we get rid of the digital divide in this nation and change our views towards internet as a luxury. Internet should be made a basic human right. Everyone should have the means and the rights to access information and share information.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Change" ?

On the menu today is Climate "Change". Saving the World, passing an important message to the rest of the world. "We are sinking". Waves? Yes! Tsunami ? Maybe.. or Honda Waves. I am not so sure.

We Maldivians don't pollute. No sir, we don't (we never do). So our great president decides to have a little event to pass a very bold message to the rest of the world. "We are sinking". "Save us"; aham! or maybe "come visit us before we sink; stay in one of the five star resorts.. spend some money" ? .. Now I fully support this idea and the cause. (yet; some of my friends tell me our tourism minister sucks and he is not creative. I don't agree)

Besides the tourism ministry, the ministry of Islamic affairs has a plan too. That is if we are sinking we need to be prepared. This one calls to build an Arc much like the one like Noah's Ark. Now we know who will be on the priority list. I am sure Mr. Gasim Ibrahim will be among the top 10, for he has 4 wives (btw that is not my reasoning, it's by the Adaalath) .

.. and so
the president decides to hold an underwater cabinet meeting. " In that event he and the country's ministers will sign a resolution calling for CO2 level to be reduced to below 350 ppm. And the President himself will deliver the resolution to governments at the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December."

So what is my feeling toward this? I am happy and proud. Yes I am. If our politicians can go deep down to get the numbers down this is a good sign. I only hope this won't be the last time they would go to this level to get the "numbers" down. I am happy at least CO2 levels coming down to "ayfoara fashah".. It had to start somewhere be it CO2.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Busy/Interesting days ahead

Can't be at two places at the same time, don't have that upgrade installed in me yet. So always the first priority is the paying job. I've got a project to be completed and rolled out in two months. Involves around 5 different vendors working together and seamless integration between all these vendors is a must. More of my responsibilities are on the project management side, so it's not so bad. However I think I am in for a lot of long and sleepless nights for the next 2 months.

In parallel the MOSS teams are busy with FLOSS projects (advocating) which is very much focused on to the Government of Maldives at this time. Main aim is to run a pilot project which will migrate an existing government office to OSS. This would help the government to decide if they would consider deploying OSS solutions government wide. Role of MOSS is to facilitate this and provide help where needed. The actual deployment would/should be done by NCIT or a commercial company(s) appointed by NCIT; who would provide the neede support. I think yet this is to be finalized. Hopefully for some interested local IT companies this might be a good opportunity. I would still say or my personnel view is in the long run NCIT or local Ministry staff should be trained on OSS and they should take over. Having commercial support is good to where needed. This needs to be discussed at a policy level and the best method will/should be adopted. I think the people who are involved right now are in the right direction and I wish them all the best. It's too bad I can't provide much support or be involved as I have other commitments.

Hopefully MOSS registration will be formal within the next few days and they will officially be operational as a formal NGO. We started off with MLUG and officially now going under the name MOSS with fresh blood and new faces. I think I am happy with the team who will be running the show and I have my confidence in them. Though I am not officially part of it, I would always be more than happy to help where I could; if and when needed. Best part is I know they are doing good and they have a good vision of what they need to do and achieve. It's their show now and hopefully they would work for the best interest of the community as always.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A great day for freedom

Yesterday registrations forms were submitted to register a NGO in the name of Maldivian Open Source Society (MOSS). This is a great step forward in the direction of promoting and advocating FLOSS in Maldives (officially).

Today we had a presentation on FLOSS and Cloud Computing at NCIT. The Minister of Civil Aviation and Communication was also present at this presentation. I think this was the first official such presentation of this nature. I am very happy with the support we got and the feedback.

I think this is a great start and a positive one. At the same time I realise this is just the start, there is a lot more to do and achieve.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Open Source

It's been almost 10 years since I have been advocating Open Source Software (Mostly Linux). During this time, I've met many people who loved the idea and also people who never understood the concept or totally hated it. It took time but eventually I knew OSS is here to stay and will soon dominate the computing world.

The first time I openly expressed the idea of open source governance is back in 2007 on as one of the contributors to the blog. Since then the idea have been brought up many time and a lot recently. Today I don't think it's a "crazy" concept anymore. Even NCIT have proposed in it's proposed policy paper that they will look into OSS. This is a good step forward. However I feel not many in the government are ready for such a change/adaptation. Concepts like migrating the OS from Windows to Linux is a scary idea for some sysadmins who don't have much experience or only have exposure to Windows only. Even most of the technology vendors and IT firms don't have the knowledge for such adaptations. This does not mean we should step away from better alternatives just cos we don't have the confidence.

Advantages are many! First of all the cost factor. Even if we can use pirated copies of Windows today, this will come to an end sooner or later. IP laws are something that is expected to come soon. Paying close to USD 200 per computer with OS, Office Applications and Anti-Virus will become a BIG financial burden when this is multiplied in 1000's. This factor is expected to be the biggest driving factor for most to consider OSS in Maldives. Maybe not soon, but in the few years to come.

Other factors like the open nature of software will also be a driving factor. Examples like the current localization of Ubuntu to Dhivehi is happening due to the open nature of Linux. Alternatives like Linux are more secure, stable and flexible compared to the existing OS (Windows) in use. Slowly more people are getting to understand this and explore into alternatives. Today more and more nations and companies are migrating to such alternatives in the world, so it's just a matter of time before Maldives also will have to follow this path. Maybe the policy makers will waste money investing software in millions and give 100's of reasons NOT to migrate, but they would be proven wrong in time. This is my view.

The change should come from the policy level. Not by public pressure or media. This is the responsibility of the people who are assigned to make such choices. They need to be more open minded and responsible towards the greater good than submitting to fear and uncertainty. We may end up saving millions of USD and routing that money to our education, health care and much needed service if a right choice is made today. However I am not very hopeful for such a positive change today. The mindset needs to be changed of the policy makers, which again I don't think will happen soon. Sad part is we will again be left behind when the rest of the world steps ahead of us. We need a new generation of individuals with vision and a feeling of responsibility towards the nation and greater good of everyone for such change to happen. I don't expect this in the post 1st generation of Maumoon era... but it's a dream .. that will come true someday..

Linux has started to slowly influence the IT industry of Maldives too. Presently this is mostly or totally at the back ends. Examples like Island Aviation, Allied Insurance, Wataniya and Dhiraagu are some examples where Linux is deployed at various levels. Next level is the desktop.. I feel distributions like Ubuntu and OSS applications like OpenOffice will soon be adopted by Maldivians just like Firefox replaced IE.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Maumoon and the lust for power!

1978 to 2008. 30 bloody long years we had. What is the result ? Living expenses sky high (No it did not happen after Nov 08). We slave all day and end of the month all the hard earned money is given to some people, if you won't call this slavery what else do you call this?. Who engineered this business model for the benefit of a few and survival of the elite? Any Tom Dick can tell you no one else is to be given credit for this except for Maumoon. Yes, this guy fucked us for almost 30 years and still does not want to give up.

If anyone is to blame and to be held responsible it's no one but Maumoon. A few may forget or many, I won't and will not forgive. There is no f*cking way I am accepting him back in. Only over my dead body.

They come and tell you what improved, what changed. Yeah! we today cry for the change and even fight to improve things why?. Did you guys ever wonder the reason for that?. That is today we have hope we want to fix things and have a better life. We did not shout out like this and ever had the expectations like this, when the dictator ruled over us. Today we do. Yes! we are not happy today. We are not happy cos this is not what we deserve to have, we could have a far better life and should not be suffering like this.

As humans we always have expectations, high hopes. After Mumoon this have reached to a very high level. We try to give opinions and have expectations. Which we did not from Maumoon. Which we would never have had from Maumoon. So friends when I complain and say I am not happy. I am right, but that does not mean I am telling I need Maumoon back. The day he comes in, that hope will die and I will never complain.

You show me Male' and tell me this is great. This is what Maumoon gave us. I tell you FUCK you. This is HELL!. So don't try to play your mind games on me you dick heads. Go plan how to rule over us and how to suck on the peoples blood like you have been for the past 30 years. That's all you can think of and are good at. Don't talk of democracy and a better future, does not sound good when it comes from you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Musical Chair(s)

We finally are done with the elections. This is the second Majlis elections since I started this blog. Nop! I did not vote! I have my reasons and I need not explain. Yes it's my right to vote and NOT to vote too.

Before the last presidential elections we had the elections for which type of governance system we need. That was done, so was the presidential elections. With every elections we had hopes, we here I mean the people. I feel there is a difference between the normal poor citizens and the politicians. However today everyone seems to be a politician too. The results mean different things to these two category of humans.

We voted to over throw the dictator who ruled over us for 30 years. Today it seems the people who won the majority of seats (in this Majlis elections) want to get back the dictator in the palace/office/power. So it's an endless struggle for power in this rat race.

All the recent votes is all focused on ONE MAN! Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom! It was either to throw him out / to get him back in or to keep in out! Where do we come in? When will a government/vote focus on us? When this guy dies? If so I sure hope this happens soon (Sorry but I have no choice, but to wish for that for the benefit of most of us)

I don't understand a lot about politics. I admit to that. Some times I am right and often I am proved wrong. Like now I don't get why the present government says Mr. Maumoon and his cronies have ripped off our nation and are the grass root behind all the bad (namely Drugs, killings, etc). If they can claim this, I feel they should go and arrest these guys and bring them to justice without any delay. That is the responsibility of the government and such people cannot be let loose. So why are they free?. Not enough evidence? If so that mean they did not do anything bad. So it's ok even if they get elected and come back to power? Logically YES! Since they did not do anything bad, why should we oppose them?.

This whole thing again is like the musical chair which we use to play. Only difference is Maumoon and his cronies are the chairs. We run around them. We take chair by chair, still one chair remains till the end game. This whole political thing won't be complete without Maumoon now. That's what I feel. The ruling party came to power not by the great 5 promises they made but by showing this man Maumoon to the people. For the last few years all what we heard was "Golhaaboa faibaa" Not the 5 promises and the flower of hope! We actually voted to get rid of this man! That's the reality that's the truth! But did we get rid of him? NO! Will we get rid of him? I don't know!

I don't care who rules over us, as long as we get a better life and we don't have to suffer like we do today. Yes! we suffer and anyone who tell me we are ok and doing fine! FUCK YOU! in caps! We are not. I can blame Maumoon for that, cos this did not fall on us over night. This came down to us in his regime and still we are struggling. I hope the existing government is trying it's best to fix this shit and give us a better tomorrow. However I don't yet see anything materializing and I see the biggest obstacle to be this political fights over power! Someone/some people need to end this and bring a solution to this curse. Please!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Power Hungry Politicians

I feel the biggest threat today to the nation is corrupted, selfish and power hungry politicians of this country. In the name of justice and the people; they just use us.

It's all a power struggle and trying to prove that "my party" or "my family and friends" are right and should rule over this country. It's again never about us the people. I repeatedly say this cos I feel this. I don't see a any future in this country and any chance of development. We'd just rot and die here the political leaches will suck on our blood till we are dry.

They don't simply care for you. They only need your "Votes". Trust me!. They don't. By they I mean everyone. From the father of fuck ups, Mr. Maumoon to Flat Kudey (Anni) and the army of Doctors (Dr. Hassan Saeed and the gang). I am sick of you guys fighting over power and giving a blind eye to the sufferings in this country. I am sorry but FUCK YOU ALL.

Friday, April 24, 2009

National Teleportation System

Dear Sirs,

I am an alien living in Male', Maldives. I am a legal one as I am a "Daftharu" man in Male'. The cost of living in Male' is so high compared to the incomes we get, I some times wonder if we are sane enough. As in why we still have not committed mass suicides.

I don't need to go into details of the costings, as everyone knows even the very basic one room apartment will cost close to USD 700. I have no choice but to live in Male'. Moving to the provinces is no option for me. I am sorry as I do not AGAIN agree with force migrations. I would have if you would provide me with the same job oppertunities and basic services.

I know you have been saying that this is your long term objectives and this is not brought to us by you and your government. However sirs, I would have no choice but to complain to you. I would complain to God, but I don't think he is too much interested in me and my country men.

Please once you finish developing your National Teleportation System and make the world a greener place. Please do hear our plea.

We can wait and hope that our children will be able to Teleport from point A to point B in split seconds. The other option is while we wait please make potassium cyanide available to us for FREE for those who need. This would be a great help and will be most appriciated.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Platform as an Open Cloud

Idea is simple, cloud computing is really a culmination of many technologies such as grid computing, utility computing, SOA, Web 2.0, and other technologies. The definitions may vary but the concept remains the same.

One of the key ideas behind the model is on demand hosted services with the ability to scale and provision computing power dynamically in a cost efficient way.

This is the ideal platform for the Maldivian government today. We have invested on the infrastructure (network wise) and we (the ministries) are all connected. Why do we want to replicate the same services?, The government can easily save money in this deep economic downturn while moving to a superior technology infrastructure. This also is a way to follow what they preach. By moving towards using green technologies for the functioning of the Government helping to reduce the negative effects to environment, etc.

In plain English; this means we should not be spending on computer hardware/software, electricity, and human resources for each and every ministry in the government. This is a total waste of public money, when other better alternatives are available. This also justifies the money that the government have spend on building the network interconnecting all the ministries.

If the government can get power from Stelco and telecom services from Telecoms why not have a government controlled IT company?. This makes more sense. Even right now web sites are hosted in Dhiraagu, the very sensitive emails are hosted in Dhiraagu. Looking at that point of view we have up to some level adopted off site hosted services in governance. To move towards this model the present government needs to realize that the public expects from its government highly coordinated, timely responses to all challenges and promises made by the new government.

Government coordination depends upon consistent decision making across multiple business units, departments and projects. This cannot be done via letters, or even modern technologies like emails. To achieve this government needs to work as one unit, instead of many individual ministries. These are factors that lead to the “good governance”, this is what the people need. Service!. The main responsibility of the government is to provide better services to its people. Today they can’t hide behind political excuses and prolong this.

The solution is an enterprise-wide architecture which tries to create a framework for effective decision making across multiple business units. Otherwise, independent groups decide alone resulting in inconsistency, information islands, isolated business processes, and inefficient technologies. This mixture is a recipe for poor performance which we have been so used to.

Adaptation of an EA also enables computer systems, networks, software, and data/information systems that support government functions and services to more effectively and efficiently communicate, interoperate, and share resources. Therefore this should be decided at the policy level of the Maldivian government to implement and utilize such architecture. Such policies should focus and utilize common, secure, industry-wide, open-standards-based technologies and standards, identified by industry standards organizations, and based on documented methodologies, principles, and best practices.

One of the key focuses should be on effective utilization of technology to achieve business functions and services, increasing citizen access to those services, sharing information and resources at all levels of government, and maximizing investment in IT resources. This is the major motivating factors for the development and implementation of such a model.

The other advantage to such a model is, it leads to a proper transparent system of governance.

Today the biggest problem is we don’t have people with such visions in the decision making level in the government. We had the same problem for 30 years and still we seem to be stuck with the same problem. The other reason maybe they are too busy focusing on trying to keep their noses above the water and survive this political madness which we are going through. If the so called “Sadoom” was filled with gays, today Maldives is filled with “politicians”. This has become like a curse upon us. The religious Imams have turned out to be politicians and latest edition to the list is the medical doctors.

To conclude; I’d have to say “Hopeless”! Things will just remain as dreams.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Friday preachers

Every Friday we hear the Adaalath talk about social issues in relation to Islam and what we have become. Namely things like we follow our own man made rules (Constitution), and don't follow gods ways (Quran/Sharia), etc. This week we got to know why fishing is so bad, and why it does not rain. We were given the solution too, however the case of the captured terrorists (Maldivian Jihaadees) in Paakisthaan was not addressed. It was not addressed while every other week they talked about killings and suicides.

I have not many comments on the thinking Adaalath is trying to spread and what it's vision of our country is. However I don't think they support the moderate Islamic views that we have been following all these years. May god bless the people of the country and not make this country another Peshawar. Seems like it is slowly starting gear in that direction, or some people are motivated to take us there.

From what I see from some people, I feel they are under the impression that Mohamed (PBH) was born and raised in Pakistan or India. We ask them why dress the way they do, and they will tell you "this" is how Mohamed (PBH) lived and dressed.

P.S. I know religion is a controversial subject and opinions may differ. I fully understand that, however what I publish here is my view, just like what Adaalath preaches on Fridays their views.

Just another style of dressing. I don't see any relation to religion here. It's more a cult thing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Parliamentarians (F you)

I don't have a reason to be nice or to lobby certain people, so I'd just shoot what I feel. I feel this rat race which we know as the parliament election is just another show. Waste of time and money. I don't think electing anyone will do any good or will improve anything for the common people like me.

The election only holds benefits to the business community and the serving politicians. If you look at the list of some of the candidates you begin to wonder, why the parties will even give a ticket to ride for these individuals. They will not have anything to give back to us politically or being parliamentarians. However the parties brought this people to the front and now are asking us to vote for these people. Then you start to wonder why?.

The way I see it, this is a very simple power game. The opposition parties are looking to win this election so they might have a chance to over throw the existing government. The government is trying their best to stay in power by electing members who will back MDP. This is the game, there is no right and wrong here, or you and me. It comes down to a simple power game. Nothing to do with defending our rights or improving our lives or anything in those lines. For the candidates it's a good offer too, 65k or so a month salary. So why not?

Shame on the political parties too. Recently all they do is to blame each other. Hardly any party comes out and tries to help the public by contributing in a productive way. All they ever do is just play the same old "point" and "blame" game. Maybe this is democracy for them, or the political way. Which by no means benefits anyone in the public. I am getting totally sick of these stuff, as I had hope like many of us for a better future. The present government too is making so many mistakes and hardly have any time to even listen to the concerned people in the public. The total focus in the last few months have been securing seats. All political activists have been transformed to politicians. They sing a new song or don't care anymore.

Next fear I have is that if MDP wins this election they might try to change the system of governance to a parliamentary system. This is something that is totally unacceptable by a lot of us as this gives the business community more power. Even as of now the government is controlled by a lot of influential businessmen. We for sure don't want to see this expand.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

MoIA to export content filtering technology

Ministry of Islamic Affairs (MoIA) of Maldives has decided to develop and market Internet content filters for countries world wide. This initiative is taken to save the economy and cater to the growing demands by countries like China and Pakistan.

Presently the ministry is actively testing the product in Maldives and are happy with the results. The devices are also embeded with special technology to improve peoples faith (not much details of this is available as of now, as it's in the process of being submitted to the patent office in Maldives).

It is also expected that MoIA will very soon take over the local telecom authority under it's wing along with education ministry.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dr. Majeed, Please bless my blog.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Transparency needed?

Obviously we all talk about transparency in governance and we all support the idea but do we really understand what transparency all about?. Maybe the definitions may differ, however there is a major difference between outreach and transparency.

We have seen a major flood of outreach during the last presidential elections in 2008 and this continues on. Outreach means governments and other political parties telling us what it wants us to hear. Media plays a major role in this, this is one reason why politicians take so much interest in owning the media. We have seen the media being used and abused too. I don't need to go into details here.

Transparency means giving us the information that we, the citizens, want to get. An ideal government provides both outreach and transparency. Outreach lets officials share their knowledge about what is happening, and it lets them argue for particular policy choices -- both of which are good. Transparency keeps government honest and responsive by helping us know what government is doing.

We have seen a major form of outreach from the government and the opposition during the last 4 years. Technology played a major role here. This is where my interest is. We have seen forms of outreach like Minivan radio, the famous Dhivehi Observer run by Sappe', Fact Maldives, The Maldivian, moving on the YouTube videos and finally even twitter/blogs and mass SMS via GSM networks. These obviously worked and we expect to see more of this in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Obama administration named Vivek Kundra as the Chief Information Officer of the U.S. President Nasheed 2 days back appointed Mr Ahmed Shafeeq Ibrahim Moosa (DO Sappe'/Kuda Sappe') as the Envoy for Science and Technology. Maybe Sappe' is more like the Chief Technology Officer for the government (the job scope I don't know, never published). I have no clue, but I feel part of the responsibility should be facilitate more transparency in governance via technology. Today technology has become a daily part of our lives. Not everyone carries a TV with them, or a news paper but almost everyone carries a mobile. These are things that the government need to understand and utilize. We need to move away from traditional forms of governance and evolve with the life style and demands of the citizens.

The use of technologies can serve a variety of different ends: better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management. The resulting benefits can be less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth, and/or cost reductions. It is very important that when decisions on technology are taken, to ensure that we go with the right technologies. We need to break away from vendor driven models and shape our government to be technically competent. It's a shame that for simple things we advertise for consultations and RFP's. This for me shows that the government is not capable of supporting and developing the basic infrastructures when we have heavily invested on them.

Today the world is moving toward a Internet-enabled government transparency model. Presenting important government information to citizens is one area. This is done via simple web sites with content management systems but today we need to move beyond this. We need to evolve to models like where government needs to provide reusable data, rather than providing websites, as the core of its online publishing responsibility. The focus should be on creating a simple, reliable and publicly accessible infrastructure that exposes the underlying data. Private actors, either nonprofit or commercial, are better suited to deliver government information to citizens and can constantly create and reshape the tools individuals use to find and leverage public data. The best way to ensure that the government allows private parties to compete on equal terms in the provision of government data is to require that ministry websites themselves use the same open systems for accessing the underlying data as they make available to the public at large.

Maybe my definition of transparency is very different or more on the technical side then political. I think it's practically right to conclude that in some areas like ICT many things are inherently more difficult to do inside of government. The best approach would be for the government to open/enable a marketplace for ideas in the private sector and from individuals.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Test Post!

According to CIA 5.5% of our (Maldivian) GDP is the Military expenditure. We rank 15th in the world. Yeah! Something to be proud of? Sure I am.

It's a dream job we all should be proud of, being maybe an officer in the MNDF. You get to enjoy a motorbike , a car with a driver and value adds like the best food. This is on top of all the other benefits you'd get to enjoy. Why should they not?. After all they will be the people who will be saving our asses WHEN/IF AND WHEN someone will come and bomb us or shoot at us (even in the islands).

Even though on Nov 3rd 1988, the NSS was locked inside the base; that won't be the case next time. Hell yes!. Even on that day if they were not locked in, they would have kicked the asses of those terrorists/Baagee's and we did not had to ask the Indian Army to come help us. Even on days like DEC 26th 2004, when the tsunami hit us, if the weather was good they would have left the same day to help the islanders.

No one can even beat MNDF when it comes to entertainment too. There is so much that the Maldivian movie industry can learn from MNDF (even Hollywood). They always make us happy and give us a good time. These are services that we should always admire and appreciate. So all that money that is spend is well worth it all. God yes! I am really proud of them.

My next request for them is to invest on R&D into such a system like in minority report. "Huh bul" .. "Watan"!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

National Center for Information Technology

Times have changed, world have changed, technology has evolved. MCST/NCC/NCIT never changed, or progressed. Many of you may not even know about NCIT (National Center for Information Technology); don't be surprised. Many of the existing government top level official also have no idea. Maybe it was one of the best kept secrets in the government of Maldives.

Prior to being called NCIT, it was called NCC (National Computer Center) which was under Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology. If I recall it was established in the mid 1990's. The e-government project has been active since early 2000 or 2002. The first major project was the establishment of the fiber network which was first awarded to CET Technologies Pte Ltd in early 2005. It was also projected that Installation and Commissioning of the network and selected applications will be completed by 2006. The project at the time was almost 100% driven by NCIT. Hardly advise of the privet sector or other government Ministries was considered, I was told that there were meetings held to get views but it was never practical. This is the feedback I have from friends who attended some of these meetings, including government employees from presidents office, other government owned originations and National registration.

The scope at the time was

(i)networking of government agencies in Male by installation of a fiber optic cable, and connecting 20 atolls by carrier service for government agencies to share their information and for the public to get access to government information electronically

(ii)enabling electronic delivery of public services including the provision of applications for national citizen identification; public health services; and registration for vessels, vehicles, and aircraft

(iii) establishment of the National Computer Center, which will centrally coordinate ICT policies, standards, and practices for government work;

(iv) building of Internet kiosks, which will provide the public with better access to government information and services; and

(v) implementation of telecommunications sector reform, which will eventually enable the public to get access to the Internet at an affordable price.

I must agree if the responsible parties did deliver this would have been great. However if you think today in 2009 how much of this was delivered. Ultimately this became the biggest among other “BIG IT Projects" in this country. Funded by ADB (It is estimated that the ADB loan is worth US $9.50 million or more). Now the way I see it NCIT is under pressure to deliver what they started a few years back. All they achieved was a big building with a nice lift, big meeting room and an expensive data center. Which services no purpose. Today they are talking on TV about a portal (kind of like web site) which will have a lot of content from all of the Ministries that say what you should do, etc. This is much like the travel web sites, where you get all the information about the resorts. Maybe a few services included. The point to note here is after almost 5 years or so, this is what we get?. Surely somethings have gone wrong, or need to be reevaluated.

There was also a committee established under the name of Information Technology Advisory Committee. I am not sure who were in this committee or if it ever existed, but according to the published documents the mandate of this committee was as follows.

1. To review policies, procedures, guidelines and strategies with respect to issues concerning information technology deployment in the Maldives and make recommendations on these issues

2. To periodically review and advise the NCC on the implementation of Information Technology policies and plans

3. To ensure that IT policies are in line with the nation's development objectives, mission and goals.

4. To review the strategic IT planning processes and to make recommendations to ensure that the Government's policies on IT are fully realized.

5. To review, assess and make recommendations on the IT programs, initiatives and projects

6. Advise on the changes including (but not necessarily limited to) process changes, innovative ways of deploying IT that will result in bringing about the full benefits of information technology to the government and citizens of Maldives.

7. To assess and advise on the mechanisms that is in place to evaluate the success of IT policies and strategies.

8. To review, assess and make recommendations on the IT standards and guidelines

9. To advise on human resource and training requirements for Information Technology

10. To advise on any legal changes that may need to be taken into consideration for the deployment and use of Information Technology in the Maldives.

I am not sure how much of this was completed. For sure I don't see any policies, standards and guidelines. Maybe we have them as top secret documents. Maybe we just don't know are are not well informed.

However I must agree that at the foundation level we had good visions or a plan. If this materialized at that stage and if the people who were given the responsibility did a good job, it must have be something to be proud of. Sadly this is not so.

I think we don't have people with the visions, the interest and the know how. Even today if you look at the NCIT web site you see them requesting for the so called “IT Experts” to help them with the e-government deployment. I don't know how many guys came with Masters and PHD's in computer science yet we are seeking outside help to implement our projects. What have we been doing?. I think they are now procurement officers. They release PO's to the vendors and sign contracts. At least if they don't wanna do the dirty jobs, least the policies and standards document could have been some contribution. Which too we don't have.

Next NCIT will tell no one is willing to help or no good staff is willing to work for NCIT. Maybe so, but if that is the case, for sure there must be something wrong about NCIT or the way they operate. You can't blame all the potential staff and other IT staff in public sector. I've been told by people who left the center that there is no room for them. None of their views are heard or will be heard. Simply the place has outdated philosophies and sticking to out dated methods or depends too much on the vendors. There is no internal developments or R&D work.

Today we need to analyze and think or rather rethink the whole model of e-government and the role of NCIT. NCIT was a hope when it came in to existence. One of the stated objectives of the NCIT was to help diversify the economic base by attracting IT companies and IT enabled service companies to be established in Maldives, and provide job opportunities for Maldivians in this sector.

Furthermore it was stated the following.

  • ICT Infrastructure: ICT Precinct; assist in providing key infrastructure necessary in seeding joint ventures with offshore firms.
  • ICT Infrastructure: Applications Development Centre; act as the catalyst required to establish necessary capabilities in application development expertise.
  • ICT Infrastructure: Technology Incubator; provide a vibrant environment for young people to establish IT ventures and to learn valuable business and technical skills.
  • ICT Usage: Project Loan Support; ready access to development funds and financing.
  • ICT Usage; Mobile Commerce and Payments Trial; provide a new base line of activity and facilitate a real working demonstration of the broader benefits and efficiency of electronic based commerce to the Maldives.
  • ICT Facilitation: Strategic Alliance Program; creating the right environment for skill, knowledge and technology transfer and promote partnerships between local enterprises and offshore companies.
  • ICT Facilitation: ICT Cadets; provide the opportunity for young individuals to explore career and entrepreneurial opportunities in the IT sector.
  • ICT Facilitation: Skills Certification; aims to raise the level of professionalism and commercial orientation of the Maldives local industry capability.
How much of this was archived?. Where is the IT industry in the Maldives. Just cos we have a few shops selling computers does not mean we have an IT industry. This is not what is called an IT industry. Today India is a leading country in this industry, Sri Lanka is catching up. Malaysia is another example. Where are we?. The government never saw this, or does see this. Economically speaking this could have been a potential industry. Which would have been highly profitable but no we were blinded and still are blinded ONLY by tourism and fishing. Selling our land and seas and making money is all we think of. Maybe again there is so much I don't know or maybe I have a different view. Then they tell me IT guys are lazy and can't depend on them. At the same time they proudly tell you we have the best telecommunications infrastructures banking facilities and hospitality solutions. Who implemented them the fishermen?, the finance guys?. There have been a lot of projected implemented by local Maldivians which we should be proud of even in the IT industry. However they come with proper funding and project management. So who ever says IT guys are lazy can fu*k off! Most of us work 7 days a week and work more then 12 hours a day just to earn for the bread and butter or rather for the peanuts that you guys pay and to meet with the sky high demands of yours. On top of that we love what we do and most of all we enjoy what we do. Very often contributions done by the guys in this industry is taken for granted. Things we have done, for no money, unlike the lawyers and the doctors in this country. Simple things like when someone's PC is broken you just call the next IT guy you know and fix it for FREE. Maybe pay the guy with a coffee. Where when you take a lawyer even for a coffee they charge you minimum Mrf 1,000 per hour.

Today NCIT it on TV talking about the e-government after almost 10 years and blaming the rest of the Ministries for no cooperation. I don't get it or understand it. I still feel the foundations are wrong, the method that we are going is not the way it should be in 2009 and we can build a better e-governance system just by looking at how others in the world are deploying e-government projects and the present trends in the industry. You don't need to listen to a few of us in the public. However I am personally totally against things like vendor-lock in the government where we go on closed technologies and pay royalties.

I think NCIT is making simple things complex and taking us all for a ride. I think what we are trying to do is since ADB paid us and will demand some results, we are just trying to meet that. Get rid of this, and say “we done it”. Not looking at how we done it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Standardization of IT in GOM

Recently the cabinet of the present government decided that they will ensure that within 3 years all government offices will use licensed software. This was a good start, maybe technology was not the main reason behind the decision but it was a good move in the right direction.

Furthermore I was told that there were discussions on “Developing standards and guidelines for system procurement based on need, OS to be installed, basic criteria for websites – to enable easy procurement and significant savings, as well as harmonization” and “Full assessment of ICT capacity, capability and competency (equipment, systems, software and liveware) of all GOM”

We must again welcome this. I feel having standards for procurement purposes is good but based on what? I feel what is lacking is some kind of government IT Interoperability Standards which very clearly defines and supports the fundamentals of e-governance and general IT standards to be deployed government wide. Such standard should be recommended in all public sector procurements and major upgrades to other legacy systems.

Some of the focus of the technical policies which are essential for such standards/policies should be Interconnectivity, Data Interoperability, and Information Access. However again considering the evolution of technology the main thrust of the specification should be to adopt Internet and World Wide Web standards for all Government systems. While we are going ahead and deploying the present “e-government” systems we should also be discussing and looking at data coherence across Government. The ministries along with NCIT need to agree upon data schemas for use throughout the public sector. Maybe as of now these are dictated by the NCIT (In reality the vendor(s) from Singapore), but I feel these should be open for discussions and views outside the vendors and NCIT should be considered. As discussed in a previous post the e-government project should not be limited to NCIT alone. Successful deployment of e-government is the responsibility of all government ministries, state owned organizations and citizens (stakeholders); should not be limited to one or few departments/Ministries. This is a complex task and an on-going process. The technical standards must not only support and enhance government’s business processes, but must also ensure that new technological advances and innovations are leveraged to their full advantage. Maybe the best approach should be to review and update such standards on an annual basis.

While formulating such standards we should also consider Interoperability, Market support, Scalability, Security and Open Standards. Key emphasis should be put on open standards. Definition of open standards may vary, however most commonly standards maintained by a non-commercial organization are considered to be open which are possible for everyone to copy, distribute and use the standard free of cost. It is also important to consider standards which have multiple implementations and are irrevocably available, without any royalties attached. Maybe the best approach is to follow standards set by standards development organizations (SDOs) like ISO, IETF, OASIS, W3C, ITU, IEC, ECMA, IEEE, ANSI, OGC, FIPS, ITU-T and ETSI.

After such standards are set then funding and purchasing of IT products and solutions should dependent on compliance to these standards. Making sure the compliance of these standards are met should be the responsibility of the Finance/IT departments in the individual Ministries/Departments and the Auditor General.

Finally standards for what and where might be the question. The answer is simple. It’s for everything from Security, Network, e-Mail , Directory , Domain Naming, FTP, Terminal Emulation, Data Interoperability, Content Delivery, Web-Services, Enterprise Architecture, Digital Signatures, Encryption algorithms, Document formats, Character sets and alphabets are a just few examples.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


OpenDocument is a file format (ODF) created by Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) consortium based on the XML format originally created and implemented by the office suite by Sun Microsystems.

ODF is a file format for electronic office documents such as spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents.

Might not sound big, but if you look at the adoption of ODF in governments and other organizations around the world it's become huge. These are some of the "small things" that governments like Maldives chooses to ignore but will have a major impact financially and technically.

Among the governments who have adopted ODF include India.
Chandershekhar, India's secretary of Ministry of Information and Technology, said, "We are glad to note that with formation of a National ODF alliance, India too would be playing a pivotal role in spearheading the ODF revolution. Further, considering the huge potential of eGovernance in the nation as well as the need to adopt open standards to make our data systems more inter-operable and independent of any limiting proprietary tools, we feel that ODF is a great technological leap and a big boon to further propel IT right to India's grass root levels. I congratulate this initiative of leading private & public organisations and wish them all the best in this endeavor."

The Allahabad High Court of India has decided, as policy, to use OpenDocument format for its documents.

- from Wikipedia
Other countries in Asia include Japan and Malaysia who have made the use of ODF mandatory within the public sector from April 2008.

In Europe countries like Belgium, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden and United Kingdom.

NATO with its 26 members (Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the USA) uses ODF as a mandatory standard for all members.

Other nations include Australia, Argentina and Brazil.

Why ODF?

One objective of open formats like OpenDocument is to guarantee long-term access to data without legal or technical barriers, and some governments have come to view open formats as a public policy issue. OpenDocument is intended to be an alternative to proprietary formats, including the commonly used DOC, XLS, and PPT formats used by Microsoft Office and other applications. Up until Feb 15th 2008, the specification for the Microsoft Office binary formats were only obtainable by writing directly to Microsoft Corporation signing a license to use the formats. As of Feb 15th 2008, the specifications for the Microsoft Office binary documents are available for download. Microsoft will support the use of OpenDocument in Microsoft Office 2007 starting with Service Pack 2. Several plugins allow use of Opendocument in earlier Microsoft Office versions. - From Wikipedia

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another Male' Road Project ?

I am not sure how many of you remember the Male' Road Project (cement roads) which paved the roads with concrete then destroyed and replaced with bricks. I am not sure how much money we did spend on this project. Maybe Millions?

Did we not learn from those experiences?. I don't know we are still doing things the same old way. That road project was a big joke, paving the roads was nothing new to the world. We did not have to reinvent the wheel, but we did.

I think the same concept is being applied for the existing e-government project. Where it's obvious that we know that this is not the best approach or the right way. Still we have to do it, the way it's documented 10 years back, since we have invested and have committed.

The sad part is there is no concerns over this. We don't have any proper standards or policies, rather now it's a massive IT project. In my view this is not the ideal approach. It should be more about establishing common standards across government, delivering services more effectively, and providing ways for Ministries to work together using technology.

It is obvious that the public money need to be spent efficiently to improve the service continuously, and e-government is the key. The government should give more priority to this project which I feel is lacking right now. The actual delivery of e-government should be the responsibility of all government Ministries. NCIT should work with government Ministries to achieve the Government's vision for e-government. The NCIT should lead, facilitate and coordinate e-government activities. However I don't know how many individuals know what is this vision or if we really have any; or is it just an idea?.

To transform Maldives towards e-governance there needs to be goals set for the government. These goals should reflect judgments about the key things that need to change at a system-wide level if we are to advance to the overall goal of establishing an e-government in the Maldives. Some of the key dependencies include : Content, Confidence and Connection. These needs to be addressed before we can move on technically. I feel before we move on with the technical implementations of the existing e-government model, we need to revise our visions and objectives of e-governance. Better understand and plan the so called "e-government project". To do so we need to start with the basic fundamentals, like setting up government wide IT standards, etc.

E-government should not be a fashion item; it should be a major step forward in communications that has been accepted internationally. It's not an option. It's important the government helps minimize the time the public and business community spend on transactions with government.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Work in progress

It's been a long time since I have been trying to establish a company based on the open source software business model. I guess there is no better time to do it then now, so along with a close friend of mine we started it off.

Our philosophy is to follow open standards and open architecture and be open minded. We feel the success of such a start up is based on a few key factors. I see good potential if we can keep up with the demands. At some areas we have to create demand and confidence. I know it's a challenge but I am confident that we can make it.

Obviously financing such a start up is one of the hardest things. Presently we are trying to keep our expenses to a minimum. A work space, a motivated team and some level of funding is what we have now. I am sure this is more then enough, though it's tight we can see a good future.

Personally for me I can't quit my day job as of now, but I am really looking forward to being full time involved with the teams on the projects. I feel exciting times are ahead.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A cyber law?

I was watching news on the local TV and came to know that the communication minister thinks that a cyber law is the most needed for the IT industry. I can understand this coming out of a lawyer. This kind of gave me the impression that we are all criminals. Is this the most important thing? What about the crimes committed by the government. Why does he not address that?

Yes CRIMES. Using pirated software and no respect to intellectual property rights in this nation. Who will address them or are they covered in this so called 'cyber law'?. What are we doing to contribute to this industry, who is taking responsibility in building this?

Selling computers, mouse, and couple of servers does not create an IT industry in the Maldives. Keep aside the job of building a proper IT industry which is creative, responsible and most importantly profitable we don't even have the basics covered. Simple IT policies and procedures in the government. Over spending on "Big IT projects" is famous in Maldives. Hardly anyone gives a rats ass on these issues and here we are talking about a cyber law. This was frustrating to me, specially this coming out of the communication minister. I feel the cyber laws and all is important but it should not be the priority right now. If the law enforcement sector like the police and AG took this up I can understand. Now I don't, specially having an idea on where we are on the IT sector.

I feel the ministry of economical development, ministry of finance along with the communication ministry should give more importance to building a better IT industry. Maybe they do not have a clue on the potential of this industry. Maybe people think fixing the computers, setting up a printer, etc is the only IT. They are dead wrong. IT/technology industry can be made a real profitable industry if planned well and supported. We could be exporting technology and making good fortune out of this, which can compete with the tourism industry and the fishing industry. Yes! I believe this can be achieved. Sri Lanka is already doing it, India is a big player, why can't we. We don't need oil wells, and diamond mines to achieve this. So why is no one bothered. Why don't our leaders have this vision and the faith in our people.

Presently we have no respect for technology. None of the audit reports shows that the government is steeling from software vendors. We don't budget for software and we take them for granted. This leads to a lot of problem and people take technology for granted, they don't see the potential in it. On top of all it's ethically wrong. Good governance means we should also respect things like this, and a proper IT infrastructure which is well planed is important for good governance. Which is totally ignored now!