Archives for HidayahTech

Getting back on track

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, nothing can take away from the blessing & joy of being a father, but one of the obvious side effects of having an infant is the drastic change in priorities.  So, naturally, most of my projects have fallen on the wayside.  Even work has suffered.  But, alhamdulillaah, this just means I have to reshuffle schedules and be more prudent about my time usage – I’m still figuring this out.

To help me get back on track, I wanted to revisit a recent post I had made about unfinished projects.  The two projects that I feel I need to put some extra time into, due to their nature, are the AlMaghrib in Malaysia project as well as the Global Homeschooling project/business idea.  The former needs attention because people are waiting on me for further action, while the latter is important because I am convinced it is the future for my family, in shaaʾ Allaah.  Although the other points on the list are quite important as well (and some are, actually, more important), I am choosing these as examples because I think making progress on them is something of a “low-hanging fruit”.  Therefore, I need to make some kind of schedule or plan for getting both of these done.

Getting back on track continued »

Fedora 11 Beta LiveCD

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, I’ve successfully loaded the Fedora 11 Beta Live CD onto an SD card.  This allows me to boot directly from the card using my USB card reader, much as if it were a USB key/flash drive.  In short, after a few attempts, everything just works.

Fedora 11 Beta LiveCD continued »

It’s a boy!

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alḥamdulillāh, on Monday, the 19th of Rabīʿ ulʾawwa, 1430 (16th of March, 2009) at 5:38 PM Malaysia local time, Allāh blessed us with a 2.3 kg (~5 lb.) blessing we named ʿAbdurraḥmān (عبد الرحمن), which, in Arabic, means “slave of the Most Merciful”, which is one of the beautiful names of Allāh in Islām.  In fact, the Messenger of Allāh, ṣalallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam (may Allāh peace & blessings be upon him) mentioned that the two most beloved names to Allāh are ʿAbdullāh & ʿAbdurraḥmān (slave of Allāh), which is why we chose that name for our first son.

Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Book 025, Number 5315:
Ibn Umar reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: The names dearest to Allah are ‘Abdullah and ‘Abd al-Rahman. (link)

Both mother & son are doing fine, alḥamdulillāh, and we all came home earlier today.

Picture requests will not be honored.  😉

HDR Scooter

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, I am quite pleased with the following HDR image I was able to assemble.  While not as good as the best that are out there, it is definitely a step-up from my other attempt I shared here.

HDR Scooter

HDR Scooter

HDR Scooter continued »

My first Fedora

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, to my pleasant surprise, I discovered that I started using Fedora personally with Fedora Core 4, and not 5 like I had previously thought.  This makes me feel better as I’m glad I started using Fedora earlier, because I like to think I recognized the importance of a completely (or as close as possible) free operating system (free here means freedom, not just free of cost).

My first Fedora continued »

Removed microblogging updates

Bismillāhir Raḥmānir Raḥīm

Alḥamdulillāh, I’ve gone ahead and removed all the microblogging updates to my blogs (the ones titled, “Identi.ca updates for yyyy-mm-dd”).  I thought it would be a neat idea, since I had started using identi.ca, to add some unique content to my blog, but the result was all I was doing was spamming my own blog.  How terrible is that?  Since I already have a sidebar widget that displays my identi.ca activity and anyone can subscribe to my dents directly from the site, I felt the blog updates were just too much.

In an ironic twist, I’ve now enabled my blog to make a dent (the identi.ca term for Twitter’s “tweet”) whenever I make a post using the same plug-in.  In shāʾ Allāh I won’t have the reverse problem.

Unfinished Projects

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I have the bad habit of starting things and not completing them.  This is bad for numerous reasons, just a few of which I’ll list shortly.  I will warn you now that as this post is meant to help me organize my thoughts, it will list-heavy, as I do find lists and other types of grouping structures to be beneficial and help in making relationships (e.g., database schemes).

I already know that as I type this I will revisit this post in the future as I will be unable, in one sitting, to be think of all of unfinished projects.  Therefore, I will come back and add to the list as I recall more things (and find the time and desire, a rare combination these days, to update the blog).

For

  • Unfinished projects tend to clutter your mind
    • I tend to turn to unfinished projects whenever I work (i.e., get paid to do something) and hit a stumbling block.  This severely hinders my progress on work, which ultimately leads to less getting done.
    • Time when I could be brainstorming solutions is usually spent wondering about these myriad unfinished projects, which, lacking much focus, tend to yield few to no tangible solutions.  This includes walking/riding to the masjid, showering, and other activities that tend to leave the brain free and, ideally, well-suited for addressing beneficial thoughts.
    • If I try to focus on something, I can have a hard time preventing my mind from wandering to these unfinished projects.  This is related to the point about work above.
    • It’s just not healthy to have so many things on the mind at once.  There is a point at which the benefit of multitasking is overshadowed by the overhead of just trying to keep track of everything.  It’s not efficient.
  • Having so many unfinished projects means that it can be hard to pick just one to work on.
  • Playing catch-up may give a false sense of achievement, because the value of these unfinished projects are not equal, and therefore, I may complete one that is really not that important while one that is more valuable was never completed.  Therefore, just trying to clear out the backlog of projects may yield a net result of close to zero.
  • There are many more, and I may amend this list in the future as I recall them.

So, here is the list of my unfinished projects (at least those that I can recall at one point or another).  I am including some thoughts on the different ideas as well.

  • Redesign the Audio Islam website
  • Write a script to automatically tag all the audio files, especially the ones containing Qurʾān recitation, with reciter & sūrah information
  • The Fedora Documentation manpage coverage project
    • This is basically an idea I had related to the Fedora Documentation project to ensure that all executables had an associated man page (manual page, a low-level documentation system for Unix-like operating systems such as GNU/Linux).
    • The first step in this is to canvass the existing packages & executables and see what already has a man page.  I have already started on this, but there is much work left to be done.
    • There are plenty of sources for documentation that can be used as baseline manpages, including the Debian project.  So, this project doesn’t require as much work as it does just coordinating and facilitating.
  • A Paltalk replacement
    • Paltalk is a voice conference & chat application (video is also supported, but I don’t care about that right now) that is widely used, but terribly proprietary.
    • My goal is to create or synthesize a replacement for Paltalk using only free software and open technologies
      • The best candidates for this are SIP (for multimedia) and Jabber/XMPP (for text chat).
      • The landscape for software that can do this in a simple fashion is rather bleak, but there are some solutions.
      • I’m currently focused on FreeSWITCH as the SIP server and ejabberd as the chat backend.
      • Linking them such that it will be one service will be quite challenging, and still requires a free software client that has solid support for both SIP & XMPP
        • I’ve been looking mostly at Qutecom, SIP Communicator, and Psi
        • On GNU/Linux, the Empathy client for the Telepathy framework is outstanding, but, is limited to free-software operating systems.  I think Windows support is a long way out still.
  • AlMaghrib in Malaysia
    • I am trying to catalyze the establishment of AlMaghrib Institute seminars in Malaysia (almost surely in Kuala Lumpur, at least at the beginning).
    • I’ve already purchased the domains almaghribinmalaysia.com/net/org, and I just need to get the site setup.
      • To start off, I think just a blog with some information about AlMaghrib is fine.  It can be fleshed-out later.
    • Alḥamdulillāh, there is already a lot of interest both within and without Malaysia.  I have several contacts here that are also excited and may be able to facilitate the first few steps.
      • I see the first step being getting a group of excited & enthusiastic locals to get behind the effort.
      • After that group is identified (and it is really an ongoing process), see about getting the support of existing organizations.
        • From an initial perspective, it seems like this is going to be easy, in shāʾ Allāh.
      • With this support, we will want to schedule some kind of event to gain a wider audience interest.  Something like a conference or teaser seminar, perhaps a week-long program with some of the AlMaghrib instructors.
        • Many of the AlMaghrib instructors are already known or well-known here
        • Having Suhaib Webb might be particularly nice, as his wife is Malaysian.
        • Waleed Basyouni has expressed an interest in coming to Malaysia, and some work is already in progress regarding that, but it may have stalled (temporarily only, in shāʾ Allāh)
        • Yasir Qadhi is another instructor that has some reknown here, apparently (from what I’ve been told).
  • HidayahTech
    • My own technology consulting business
    • Although HidayahTech is currently the name of my blog, I have also resolved to use this as the name for my own consulting business.
    • Services will include
      • Audio recording, editing, mastering, and production (I did this, for example, for the Texas Dawah Convention in 2007)
        • I am consider splitting this and other audio-related services into it’s own business, namely, Hidayah Audio
      • Web technologies
        • Hosting (this is generally quite easy)
        • Moodle (an open-source learning mangement system, for putting schools online, for example)
        • Audio services, including hosting my “replacement for Paltalk” solution above
      • Consulting
        • This will include a wide variety of services ranging from system administration, general IT, infrastructure, to web development
        • I may take some partners or hire some friends for this aspect of this business, as I will need help for some points of it
  • Global Homeschooling
    • This is my premiere project, if I had to pick one.  I consider this to be something great if I can achieve it, by the Permission of Allāh.
    • To sum it up, I want to develop a system whereby Muslims (and truly, anyone) can homeschool their own children easily.  Homeschooling may be too specific of a term, though, because I want the scale to include a plan that can be implemented by governments.  I would like children, and really anyone, to be able to be educated within their own homes, utilizing the bevy of technology that exists.
    • Technology creates options & opportunities, and this is a belief I take strongly.  Therefore, I think we should utilize it.  I see education as one of the most important investments that can be made, whether it is Islamic or related to the worldly sciences, both of which are important.  I actually believe the distinction to be artificial, but it will take time to get there.
    • So, to put it in a few words, I would like to develop a system of education leveraging technology that is globally accessible allowing education to be released from the confines of school buildings.
  • Learn the Python programming language
    • I think learning Python has a high return value on the types of applications I would like to write, including graphical ones.  Also, it is quite the preferred language for many platforms, not the least of which is Red Hat & Fedora.
  • Memorize the Qurʾān
    • Please keep in mind that this list isn’t in order of importance…;)
    • I think this is a goal every Muslim should have.  I started this goal, seriously, while I was staying in Egypt with my parents, even semi-regularly visiting the imān of the nearby masjid to review my memorization.  Sadly, since arriving in Malaysia I’ve not really resumed, and I am afraid I may start regressing.  This is the kind of project that can be achieved through a little, regular & constant work every day.  I really should commit to something, even if it is as simple as one āyāh per day.  That would be better than none.

TODO

finish this post

High Dynamic Range photography

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, I’ve just managed to produce my first HDR (high dynamic range) image the results of which I’m pleased with.  Once again, I have CHDK to thank for enabling this feature easily.

High Dynamic Range photography continued »

$PATH in Fedora 10

[basilgohar@beta ~]$ echo $PATH
/usr/lib/qt-3.3/bin:/usr/kerberos/bin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/sbin:/sbin\
:/home/basilgohar/bin

Note: This is for future reference as I try to make some progress on an old project.  I do not think the last value is a default for Fedora, but rather, something added later.  If someone knows otherwise, please correct me!

Update: I’m starting to dislike fixed-width templates…corrected the last $PATH value so it will fit on my blog without overflowing into CSS “Elsewhere”.

Update 2: Ahhh!  WordPress!  WYSIWYG, not WIWIWYG (What I Want is Why You Get)!

screen is my new best friend

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Note: This is a post I started writing back in November, but only got around to updating now.

Alhamdulillaah, I cannot believe I’ve lived for so long without knowing about screen (Wikipedia article).  To put it as simple as possible, think of screen as a “tabbed” interface for terminals/shells.  This is a weak analogy, however, because it enables so much more than tabs do for browsers, for example.  Onwards for more details.
screen is my new best friend continued »

March of the Ants!

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

As bugs are normal around the house here in Malaysia, I have just gotten used to them for the most part.  Yes, the wall next to me is a veritable graveyard for mosquitoes, but most other insects don’t bother me much, alhamdulillaah.

This includes ants.  Ants are usually very benign, they mind their own business, and they even are basically the bottom chain of clean-up around the house.  That is, anything biological that we failed to remove, they take care of for us.

So, it was only with a casual non-alarm that we regarded the increased amount of ant activity in our bedroom.  They were more apt as of late at finding our food and swarming it, but that’s just ants.  Until I came into the bedroom one day in the afternoon and found the following.

March of the Ants! continued »

Reorganized blog categories

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I just finished re-reorganizing my blog categories after pondering the difference between tags & categories.  Incidentally, I will attempt to start using tags on my blog posts as well.  Subsequently, I will be recategorizing a lot of posts that are categorized in both a category as well as its parent, since that is no longer necessary.  Consequently….hehe, just kidding.

I did add a new category called “Blog” under “Personal” for these kinds of updates.

Alexandria balcony panorama

panorama-alexandria-balcony-a-cropped-1600

60 Minutes segment on apartheid in Israel

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/01/23/60minutes/main4749723.shtml#ccmm

Watch at the link above for a bold & frank look at the living conditions of the Palestinians under apartheid in Israel, specifically in the West Bank.  Interesting to note is that the story only mentioned the West Bank.  Keep in mind when viewing their situation that Gaza is far, far worse off due to the blockade imposed by Israel & Egypt and also the sheer density of the region.  Without justice, how can people be calling for peace?

LDAP for authentication back end

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

For a long time now I’ve been wanting to setup an LDAP back end for various Hidayah Online Network resources, especially the Columbus Dawah project.  This has become particularly pressing as the Columbus Dawah website has three primary public services – the blog, the forums, the school.  Additionally, in the future I want to roll out webmail (publicly) for volunteers & administrators within the project.  The problem with running these disparate services is that they all have their own authentication built-in, which means someone needs to register on each site independently to access any services that require one to be logged-in.  Therefore, a system that would unify user authentication for all services (i.e., LDAP) would save a lot of hassle for both the users and myself.

LDAP for authentication back end continued »

En route to Malaysia

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, my wife & I are en route to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where we’ll be staying one night with her brother & his family before continuing on our way to home in Kuala Terengganu, in shaaʾ Allaah.  Right now we’re in the Kuwait International Airport, and, alhamdulillaah, they have free wifi throughout the airport.  This is even more wonderful given the fact that we have a 7 hour layover here.  Alhamdulillaah.

En route to Malaysia continued »

Flock of Seabirds

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, from our apartment in Alexandria, Egypt, we have an outstanding view of the Mediterranean Sea on clear days. On foggy days, we’re treated to an eery sight where the sea is ambiguously “missing”.

flock-of-seabirds-thumbnail

One of the amazing sights I discovered while looking over the sea was the hypnotizing landing sequence of a flock of seabirds that had chosen a rather colorful spot on the top of the one of the nearby buildings on the coast.  The video captures the beginning of the landing sequence, so click the thumbnail to check it out.

Concatenating compressed files

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I have my new server (aalimraan.hidayahonline.net – the one hosting Audio Islam) setup to log web accesses each day to its own file which is then bzip2-compressed.  This is convenient for a variety of reasons.

  • Firstly, I can easily access statistics for each day by processing the appropriate file.
  • B, I can see the relative activity on each day at a glance by seeing the size of the file, keeping in mind it’s only a rough estimate since compression can skew the results (e.g., many requests for the same, exact URL may compress much more than fewer, disparate URL requests, resulting in a smaller file and a seemingly less active day)
  • 3, by being compressed text files, they take up very, very little space.

Concatenating compressed files continued »

International Year of Astronomy 2009

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day featured an announcement for the International Year of Astronomy.  This alone would be noteworthy enough, but they also have a downloadable trailer (warning: contains some music, but it’s not prominent until the end).  This is great for geeks, and especially video geeks like Belal & me (him much more than me, of course).

Best of all, the content on the website is licensed under a Creative Commons license (albeit, including the non-commercial restriction, which is the worst of the available standard CC licenses).