Friday, April 30, 2010

sudo apt-get upgrade -d

If your update manager is not working and a new LTS version of Ubuntu is out there. Follow this method as I always does.
Hit Alt+F2 and in the run box type
sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
Now replace 'karmic' with 'lucid'. Save the file and now write in terminal
sudo apt-get update
and then
sudo apt-get upgrade -d
Put your computer on a scheduled shut down and sleep. As I always does. :-)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

HP Buys Palm

Ohh, my goodness HP Buys Palm. Ohh, what a hot topic it is. The whole world is going mad to tweat it, share it and talk about it, HP just announced to acquire Palm for 1.2 billion dollars. That's great man, really great. But let me ask one thing, DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS PALM?
Ops, if you don't know let us try to know what is Palm, or more specifically Palm OS :-).
Palm OS is a mobile operating system which was introduced in mid 90s and since then it is being used on mobile and hand held devices like PDAs. Palm was sold and purchased by several other companies in the past also. Palm Inc. was suffering these days so HP came to rescue them. Now they would be a sub part of HP and a new addition to HP's product line.
What next? Well next would be a new player in the smart phone market. As Nokia enhancing its business capabilities buy acquiring various software and hardware related companies, Google has entered into the market by introducing Android and NexusOne, Apple is a big stack holder as an iPhone producer, Microsoft is already producing Windows Mobile OS so why not HP? HP will enter into the market with the experience and goodwill of Palm and its products and both will get benefits. You may hear in a few days that Palm OS or its products are open sourced, HP is going to introduce a new smartphone and things like that. So next days are going to be really interesting regarding the smarphone market.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sentence Analysis through Systemic Functional Grammar

Systemic Functional Grammar is based on Michal Halliday's Systemic Functional Linguistics. It addresses lots of basic issues regarding grammar and sentence analysis which cannot be tackled by traditional grammar. It has a very systematic way to analyse sentences and understand their constituents.
  • At clause level it has simple structures of α and β.
  • At group level it provides constituents of Subject, Predicate, Complement, and Adjunct (which is the default category for any non-sense word or group)
  • At word level it has structures like modifier, head, qualifier; before verb, auxiliary, verb, extension; preposition and completive.
  • While at morpheme level it provides various labels to address the issues related to word construction: infix, suffix, prefix, ending, base, addition.

We are having a course titled Advance English Grammars in which we are studying Systemic Functional Grammar as a component. We are being taught the model of Margret Berry. Using the model I have tried to analyse a sentence from a Pakistani news paper (The News). Below is the image having the tree diagram.
From My Thoughts in Remote Language

I have spent 3 hours to create this diagram. :-) It doesn't mean I do not know the grammar but it indicates the limitation of computer based tools. It was not of more than 15 minutes by hand but by doing it with Draw application, it took me 3 hours to complete it.And still it may not look very smooth. Anyhow, that was not the point to post this diagram here. The aim was to highlight the deficiencies in systemic grammar. This model is very well organised and have a clear cut straight forward style to analyse sentences. But as the sentence is complexified, this model goes on failing to address the issues. And it becomes really difficult to handle larger chunks having complex relations with each other.

In this sentence I had to add two qualifiers after the head noun because I did not know where to put the extra relative clause. The extra long prepositional phrase the crucial issue of immediate hosing down of the crime scene of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination made me think and think again: from where should I dissect it so to put which led to the destruction of all critical evidence (the relative clause) in a parallel alpha-alpha construction. It was really difficult to decide because the apparent function of this clause is a sentence (or at least a phrase level) modifier. But in Systemic we have no such mechanism so I have to put it down as a qualifier.

Systemic does not ends here. The same sentence can be analysed in a different way. Would you like to add something?

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Rise of Android against iPhone: Google, Apple and Adobe

Apple Mac is too much conservative regarding iPhone. There are pretty much sufficient restrictions on the development process of iPhone applications. And recently Apple has announced to restrict the developmental platform should base on Objective-C, C++, C and Java Script. This step blocked the development of other third party tools which several companies were offering to develop applications for iPhone in different languages and frameworks.
One of the third party frameworks was Adobe's development tools for iPhone, which were used to develop flash applications for iPhone. But after this move Adobe stops the development of these tools although the previous version would be shipped with Adobe CS5. A similar framework is Mono which provides a compact framework for iPhone named Mono Touch. It is very interesting to see that Mono Touch applications wont affect very much as this link says. I was expecting the same for Mono Touch also, but it looks that Mono is more integrated into the native APIs of Mac and iPhone that's why they will take the advantage of being on the platform.
This was the move from Apple, what from Adobe? This is the move from Adobe. Adobe and Google partner to bring Flash and AIR technology to Android. Android as you know is the famous and creating its market quickly, new smart phone OS which is based on Linux and Java. While iPhone OS is proving itself too much conservative, Android is proving its flexibility. The other advantage is that it is installed on multiple phones, devices while iPhone OS is used on iPhone only. Adobe and Google's partnership is not ignorable in the present scenario when Apple just has banned somehow the entrance of flash on iPhone. Although they have (at last) provided a framework for flash on Mac OS X.
The scenario is going to be very interesting in the coming days. Flash is something which was always a powerful RIA framework and multimedia format. Microsoft Silver Light is lacking behind somehow now and Java Flex is still in coma. We do not hear what is going on under the cover in Flex. So lets wait and watch, what's gonna happen.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Should A Translator be a Native Speaker of Target Language?

This is the question my juniors were asking last day from me. They are actually having a course titled Translation Studies in their second semester of Masters in Applied Linguistics. And this was the assignment topic they got from Javed Sahab. I was moving to my class room when they surrounded me and asked Shakir bhai we need your help. And after knowing about the topic I tried to convince them why a translator should be a native speaker of the target language.
There may be other cases as well, like native speaker of source language but having good proficiency in target language. But my point of view was that in today's world, translation agencies and firms restrict recruitment of only those translators which are native speakers of the target language. I am a native speaker of Urdu and Punjabi and work as a freelance translator from last 3 years, so I know the rules of the business. Why they do so? What are the advantages of all this restriction? I tried to explain in the light of my personal experience. And below I'll try to summarize the points I discussed with them.
  • Translation studies moved from a textual focus to contextual focus and now a days having a focus on culture and cultural meaning and information. If the translator is a native speaker of the target language it would be easy for him to understand his own context and to select appropriate structures while translating.
  • Cultures have differences. While I am a native speaker I can work better to bridge these differences because I know my culture very well than any one else who may be proficient in my language but may not be equally aware of the culture.
  • We have two kinds of knowledge of language: productive and receptive. I am a native speaker of Urdu and I have thousands of words for expressing my thoughts in Urdu, but at the same time I know English very well, but as compared to Urdu I do not have that such a wide range of words and vocabulary available to express my thoughts in English. There is a certain kind of hesitation. I personally prefer to translate from English to Urdu rather than Urdu to English (even the reverse is done by me several times, but again the preference is the first choice). So I have very good productive knowledge of Urdu but not of English. So I take help of dictionary to help me in understanding English and then I translate it to Urdu.
  • Being a native speaker of Urdu, I have the communicative competence. Although the same I have for English as well but the knowledge of usage, idiomatic expressions, phrases etc which I have for Urdu, I cannot have for English because I am not a native speaker. So I would always have more than 1 choices available while translating from English to Urdu which would be less likely true in case of Urdu to English. And I would choose best word or expression according to context and formality level.
  • One of the participants was disagreeing with me, she had the opinion that to understand the sense of the word we should be a native speaker of source language. While this may be helpful to understand the sense, again the point is the cultural knowledge, productive knowledge and usage conventions are the areas where a native speaker proves his superiority over a second or foreign language speaker.
Nothing is perfect in the world and so are the translations. We have to risk one thing for another. Meaning can never be conveyed 100%, there are always connotations, associations and hidden meaning which are left behind in the source language. But the goal of a translator is to get the maximum out of source language through the process of translation. This is the essence of translation.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Ubuntu Sources List Generator

    Ubuntu Sources List Generator is a simple web page based GUI which helps you to generate a sources list for your Ubuntu installation. It includes official repositories, partner repositories and other 3rd party tools' repositories like Skype. If you are new to Linux, and wondering what is a repository? A repository is a software store for a Linux distribution which contains all the software packages you can use on that distribution. Thus you use reliable sources for software installation. This strategy increases the security and defense against badware.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    The State of Affairs at Government College University Faisalabad

    GCUF is the university created in the 'revolutionary' period of general retired Pervaiz Musharaf. It is one of the govt. colleges which were converted to universities in bulk after the 'revolution' back in 2000. It was given the status of university in 2001 and since then this newly born university is in problems.
    The biggest of all is the attitude of the administration and students of this university. The administration of the university always tries to create monopoly. They pull each other down to progress and they do not want to bear anyone who is 'outsider'. Here outsider means someone appointed as vice chancellor from an other city/university. The administration is too corrupt, monopolist and seeking for their own benefit from the official funds of the university. Current vice chancellor is on his designation because he has a link with the current governor of Punjab Mr. Salam Taseer, otherwise this person is not of worth to even be considered as a dean of university. Far more superior and having high impact factor officials who can run the university far better are waiting outside to be considered for this post, but the governor just wrote a line on the appointment letter of this vice chancellor 'till November 2010', so he is enjoying this job politically. There are two lobbies in the university, pro-vc and against-vc. And the pro-vc lobby is obviously dominant, always suppressing others and always seeking for their own benefit. The corruption of the administration and illegal usage of the funds let the university at a state that sometimes it does not have funds to pay for daily expenses of the departments e.g. the stationary expenses. There are four blocks in the university, 1 is funded by a former student and it was the very first constructed portion of the newly born university, a new block is constructed by govt. funds and other two are left unreconstructed, the structure is complete but for the furnishing university has not funds and so the case with government which also does not have any funds. Like other universities, it has the problem of political parties. After the rehabilitation of 'democracy' various sub-organizations of parties like PML-N and PPP started showing their power on the walls of university. Now they have groupings within themselves, they quarrel with each other, they break the rules of university but no one can stop them because of their strong political back hand. At last the teaching system of university is too week, their is a reputation of this university in the marked as a time-pass university: people say that it is the best place in Faisalabad where you may go and have a date with your partner. This negative image is being 'positivised' by banning 'couples' and even mixed groups of students sitting in university, they are fined and warned but again the ones with political back hand are exempted. But there are no serious efforts made to create a study oriented environment.
    The current problem is related to study. We are always facing new marking schemes, GPA rules, passing criteria and soforth. Same happened last weak when the passing and marking criteria was changed and students showed their anger. The next day a notification was distributed telling that the previous criteria is restored but again there were hidden problems. There was a distinction made in the criteria for morning and evening (which are studying on self finance basis) students. So the rebels created violence, they lambasted the security guards and eventually police was called. After the inner violation they marched towards district council and raised slogans for the removal of current VC. The university remained close last 2 days of previous weak and the signs are still not positive. It looks that this violence would continue. A video is shared here to let you have an insight of the current situation. More can be seen here.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Loadshedding in Faislabad

    From last day's morning, suddenly the load shedding is increased in Faisalabad. We usually have a load shedding of 10 hours or less but now it is round about 15 hours or so. Light break down started from 8:10 yesterday and lasted 12:00 am almost.Then from 2:00 pm it lasted uptil 5 pm. I was expecting a 5 to 11 non stop supply but it was again shut down before 8:00 pm and then it came after 10. Again from 11 pm last night to 4 am of this morning, the light was off. The total of all this duration exceeds 15 hours, and it is not the end still upto 8 am of this morning at least 2 hours would be of load shedding means upto 18 hours. It looks again we'll have to some 'strieky' things and violence. I am unable to understand where the lite is going, why they do not tell that the exact situation and why they are doing so. They give light to one city while other cities are doing strikes and violence. Then they suddenly stop providing enough light to one city and start giving it to another becoming more violent city to calm them down.
    That's Rubbish

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Oracle: Death Eater or Lover for Open Source?

    Sun Microsystems 'was' one of the biggest competitors of Microsoft in open source world. It is true they ruled the world with Java and its bi-products but when Microsoft challenged the rule of Java on internet by introducing .Net framework and a new Java like language C#, Sun became more open. Whether it was a business decision or it was really the love of open source world that Sun opened up regarding Java. Sun opened up Java round about 3 years ago. Sun was the biggest contributor to, the one and only open source office suit which can some how face MS Office. Sun was going well and every thing was going happily. But........ real world is not like the stories of princes and princesses who live happily always, so Sun had to face the challenge. A big fish Oracle proposed Sub to be eaten, and Sun agreed. And now Sun is gradually being eaten by Oracle.
    That is the fate of small companies that they are eaten up or in more 'technical terms' acquired by bigger ones. First MySql was acquired by Sun and then Oracle acquired Sun. And the result was that the only open source and low cost competitor of Oracle Enterprise Database is no longer harmful for Oracle. Because they are now (step) brothers. Though Oracle is promising to run MySQL as it was run previously but they are in better ever position to keep MySQL 'on track' now.
    Java is something for which Sun is known in the open source world, specially after the opensourcing of Java. Java introduced new competing technologies under the banner of Sun as JavaFX. But it is moving slowly since a year or so, obviously it is due to the replanning which is taking place in Sun after the acquisition by Oracle.
    Open Solaris is a Unix like operating system and again it was open source. But the community governing the matters of Open Solaris is now being frustrated by the silence of Oracle regarding the future of the operating system. Would it be of worth for Oracle in the case that they already have a fork of Redhat Enterprise Linux names Oracle Unbreakable Linux. Well, people at Open Solaris community are even willing to fork the project and continue it independently. Whether it would be good or bad, or whether Open Solaris would continue its existence or die slowly, the time will tell about it.
    Sun was a big contributor to open source OOo, Java, Open Solaris and MySQL are now looking at Oracle for the future. Out of all, I think OOo is somehow independent and is going well. MySQL is now more business oriented and no more free bits as yummy as they were some time in near past. Java is still in a state of coma, and Open Solaris: there looks something hot under the surface of calmness. Let us see what happens.