Category Archives: Technology

Future Challenges: MOOCs and their impact on Pakistan’s traditional education system

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Future Challenges: MOOCs and their impact on Pakistan’s traditional education system

Originally published at Future Challenges.

Future Challenges: MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and their impact on Pakistan’s traditional education system

Since the past few decades, technology has not only developed itself at an exponential rate, it is also revolutionizing other aspects of our life. Food, communication, health, businesses; many industries have gone through disruptive innovation because of technological advancement. Interestingly, tech didn’t take much long to revolutionize the education industry, that too at a major scale. With this massive recent influx of technology inside education, educators are worried if this trend would prove to be fatal to the traditional pre-determined learning track.

Will MOOCs promote education or worsen it?moocs pakistan

It hasn’t been too long since Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) started reaching out to us in the form of platforms likeCourseraedXUdacity and more. While MOOCs is relatively a newer concept, ICTs resources required in classrooms are at a rather smaller scale as online discussion forums, tutorials, lecture videos, and collaborative online projects substitute the traditional learning environment. It is not until recently, though, that the prestigious names of the educational world have joined the race and their offerings have attracted eyeballs worldwide. Enrollments in these free online courses are ballooning by thousands with each new offering.

Educationists worldwide are discussing if MOOCs will disrupt the way education has been since past many decades; having a strict Read the rest of this entry

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How to Stay Secure Online

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Whether you’re an internet newbie or an expert, you are equally vulnerable to all kinds of cybercrimes. While the internet offers many opportunities to explore, create new things, collaborate on exciting projects, or take online MOOCs from top ranking universities of the world, it also has some serious trade-offs that we often choose to neglect. There is a basic rule of thumb: your private information remains private only if it never leaves your own head.

We aren’t saying you shouldn’t trust anyone in life, but trusting someone with your private information (passwords, accounts credentials, security questions, PINs etcetera) always puts you at risk of losing that information, and the valuable services they allow you to access. There are a few tiny tips that you can follow to ensure your own security online. And like they say, “since you never leave the main gate of your house open for thieves and murderers and whoever”, (clichéd as that may be), you should be vigilant about the security and safety of your online life as well.

Stronger passwords

In the digital world, passwords are like the keys to your gate; never to be shared! It is the most essential element as it is used to get into your personal accounts. So how do you create stronger, more resilient passwords?

Use mnemonics: They improve memory by using the words from your favorite rhymes, poetry or say, a movie title, for example, yaar ko hum ney jab ajaadekhaa can be turned into yKhnjBd. You can make passwords even stronger by using digits for letters: 0 for o/O, 5 or 2 for S/s etcetera. Play with variations that would be more easily memorable for you. If not mnemonics then simply make sure your password contains a combination of capital letters, small letters, digits and signs and not just a single sentence with all small or capital letters.

Always use different passwords for high-value or sensitive services. For instance, don’t use the same password for Twitter and for online banking. And use a different password again for your e-mail account: after all, where do your password reminders get sent to?

Use KeePass (keepass.info) to store your passwords, credit card PINs, computer passes and any other sensitive information. Do not write it on paper or save it in email/mobile drafts. Also, do not store passwords on your browser’s password manager. Browsers store passwords in a single known location – which means an attacker will always know where to look, even if the passwords are encrypted, increasing the chance that data will be compromised.

How to be secure on social media

Most of our time online is spent on social media sites. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are increasingly becoming a vital part of our daily life. While things are pretty simple on Twitter, (everything is public OR hidden if you keep a protected account), it’s a bit different when it comes to Facebook. We add our friends, acquaintances and family members on Facebook, which means more private information is shared, risking a much wider view of your online identity. Facebook accounts can also be used to harass, create fake accounts using your publicly shared information and photos; and it can become messy, with you having to ask your friends to mark your account as spam, and then going through the process of getting your account deleted and establishing a new one. But that frustration can be avoided with a few privacy settings. Also, please do not add just about everyone who sends you a friend request. You not only expose your private information, but also that of your Facebook friends and family members. Always make sure if that guy who used to be in your school and you two never actually spoke to each other is genuinely interested in friendship with you, or whether he is trawling for your private information? If that account which seems to be of your college teacher really belongs to the teacher or is it a fake account?

Spend some time on your Facebook privacy settings to make sure they are set to how you want them to be. Go to the settings gear icon on the top right corner and click on the Privacy Settings on the drop down menu. In the privacy settings window you can set who can look at your profile, who can search for you by e-mail or name, who can tag you in their photos and other important settings. Go through each of them to make sure you do not miss any important point. Remember in particular that ’friends of friends’ can be a very large number of people you don’t know, even if you have been careful in who you accept as your own circle of ‘friends’.

When you update your status or share a photo, there is a little icon to edit the post/photo’s visibility from public to friends to custom, etcetera. Do make use of it, rather than just accepting the default settings, as the default settings on Facebook may not necessarily be the best ones for you.

Some important browsing tips

• Always use HTTPS!
• Keep location feature/GPS disabled when not necessary.
• Use two-way verification (available on Gmail, FB, Dropbox, etc) for that extra security layer.
• Change your passwords every couple of months as a precautionary step.
• Use proxy services when you intend to remain anonymous because of the security issues – particularly while blogging about sensitive issues.
• Set your browser to ‘always clear cookies and browsing history’ – especially when using a machine which is not exclusively being used by you.

Your online persona is a part of you, and it is as valuable as any other information you may have. The more you ‘live online’, the more care you should take of your online life.

Published on Dawn Spider Magazine

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FinFisher Commercializing Digital Spying – How You can be a Victim?

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FinFisher is surveillance software by Gamma International UK Ltd marketing the surveillance solutions to government security officials through exploiting security lapses in anti-virus programs. It is basically a spyware suite designed to allow someone to spy on a computer or mobile device. Described by the company as “Governmental IT Intrusion and Remote Monitoring Solutions”, FinFisher has its command and control servers installed in around 36 countries globally, according to a report and analysis by Citizen Lab. Pakistan is one of those countries, and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) owns the network where FinFisher server is found.

The FinSpy malware – tool of FinFisher intrusion kit – was often injected in the potential victims’ machines by sending them malicious email. In the analysis, Citizen Lab found that email addresses which were used to send these emails were on the names of some popular Read the rest of this entry

Does changing the script kill the language?

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Note: Before I get attacked by the linguist-purists (if that’s a term), I am making it clear that I am NOT an expert on any language(s), nor this is any sort of an opinion post. I am most of the time an end user and sadly, I belong to the generation which feels sh*t to speak in its regional/native languages.

It was during a social media summit organized here in Pakistan when a debate on using regional languages for weblogs and epapers came in discussion. From the comments of not getting much viewership because the Google’s default English search to getting writers type in those languages was being discussed. I suggested how Romanized (representation of the spoken or written word using Latin script) versions of languages could have a better reach to younger readers and also easier to be typed into computers. The purists’ approach is to never play with the language script or it dies. Recently, this hard stand is being fought against though.

Do languages really die when their script changes? Read the rest of this entry

انٹرنیٹ کی سکیور براؤزنگ کرنے کے لئے نعے سال کے ١٠عزم

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.یہ ترجمہ گلوبل وائسز کے لئے کیا گیا تھا. بلاگپوسٹ کے لکھاری ہشام المرات ہیں
Global Voices Advocacy  پے ہم نے ہمیشہ انٹرنیٹ پے اظہار ے آزادی پے فوکس کیا ہے. ہم اپنے فیلو انٹرنیٹ یوزرز کی انٹرنیٹ پے سیکورٹی, censorship سے بچنے اور خود کو محفوظ کرنے کے لئے گائیڈز اور ٹولز پبلش کرتے رہے ہیں.

ہمارا اس نعے سال 2013 میں بھی یہی عزم ہے کہ ہم آپ کے حقوق کی حفاظت کرتے رہیں. اس کے لئے ہم رپورٹس اور گائیڈز پبلش کرتے رہینگے جو کہ citizen privacy journalism، online activism، surveillance، anonymity، advocacy جیسے بیشتر ایریاز پے مشتمل ہونگی.

سال ٢٠١٢ کے ختم ہونے کہ ساتھ ہم اپنے ریڈرز کے لئے ١٠ ایسی ریزولوشن پیش کر رہے ہیں جو مختلف ٹولز اور سٹریٹیجیز کے ذریعے آپ کو آن لائن اپنی حفاظت کرنے میں مدد کرینگی. ہمیشہ یہ یاد رکھیے کے کوئی بھی ایک تکنیک یا طریقہ آپ کو ١٠٠% تحفظ دینے کا واعدا نہیں کرسکتا. ہر وقت اپنے شعور اور ادراک سے خود کو مسلح رکھیں.

#1 موبائل فون استعمال کرتے وقت اپنی شناخت کو چھپائیں – Read the rest of this entry

Have 2 free minutes? Become a Forest Hero

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35% of tigers left in the wild are at stake in Central India if the government doesn’t stop cutting forests down to get the coal that lies beneath.

It is time we thought more about alternative energy resources to save the rich forests of Central India. And what better way than through a cool Facebook app? Give it 2 minutes, and it gives you some pause for thought, besides some cool messages.

Greenpeace’s new Facebook app named Forest Hero is a personalized video engaging with user giving them a feel of protecting trees and forests.

One can’t help but feeling a bit young when visiting this app –  it brings back memories from a few years back when we all used to try those WANTED! photo editors to see ourselves in magazines and news. Here it comes back for a good cause.

The Forest Hero Facebook app asks you to click to become a hero, no super powers needed.

Read the rest of this entry

Should I Wait for iPhone 5S? iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S

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With iPhone 5S release date coming closer, the most heated question these days is “should I wait for iPhone 5S or just buy the iPhone 5”. The question got more serious in last few weeks when iPhone 4S owners started receiving the “upgrade to new iPhone 5” notifications. This early upgrade option is making people moving towards a two-year contract with iPhone 5. Before you go ahead with the upgrade or decide to switch to Android; it is a good time to start considering to wait for the iPhone 5S. Let’s see, who should wait and who should buy one of the currently available smartphones.

Must read: Apple iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5

Considering that Apple iPhone 5S is only about a month and half away – rumors suggest release date beingsomewhere in September – it won’t hurt you much if you decide to wait for the 5S; which you might be carrying for the next two years. Even if you have to buy iPhone 5, with the launch of newer Apple iPhone, the current smartphone will cost you much less as compared to the prices now. Read the rest of this entry