Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So, a Staring Contest it is: When will the other fellow blink?

Due to the economic meltdown that we have hearing about so much lately, many governments are nowadays searching for a better manner in which to carry out business.One of these governments is the Canadian government.

Because of the need for a stimulus package akin to that launched in the US, the Canadian economy has registered the first deficit in so long as a decade. Usually, when in a recession (or its wicked brother the depression) governments tend to spend more in order to revitalize the economy. The Canadian government therefore, is not looking for ways to decrease expenditure, rather, the government is thinking of ways to "spend smarter". Along comes open source software. The government has merely " issued an official Request For Information (RFI)". However, the fact that they are willing to go down this innovative road is in its own right, quite interesting. You can read the full story here. This move was also augmented by another one calling for a move towards Open Source Software when an open letter was sent to president Obama calling for the US government to rely more on open source software in its upcoming projects.

On the other side of the Atlantic, things are not looking so good for closed source software either -in this case Microsoft. The EU has much stronger antitrust laws than those in the US(antitrust laws are those that ensure that a specific company is not gaining enough clout in the market to become a monopoly), and the EC (European Commission) has determined that Microsoft has abused its position as a dominant company in the OS sector through bundling IE to Windows. There are a lot of accusations to Microsoft that it does not follow the standards and some are arguing that building software strictly along set standards should be mandatory. You can read this story here .

There is a staring contest in which closed source software companies were looking their counterparts in the open source industry eye-ball to eye-ball, and I believe the former just blinked and that the latter still have a lot to reveal. To view some of the interesting developments for Open Source Software see

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Netherlands? Holland ?

One of the most interesting, vibrant and advanced countries in the world today is the Netherlands. This beautiful small country in northern Europe is one of the most interesting nations worldwide. although it is quite small, this country has been quite opulent throughout history. The Netherlands has also obtained a number of colonies in Africa and South East Asia. Its control over some of these countries has ebbed only after the end of the second world war. At this time, it is one of the leading global countries when it comes to international law and international tribunals.

Today, I want to answer a very important question pertinent to the Netherlands namely is the Netherlands Holland? It turns out the answer is : no!!! The two names are not interchangeable. North and south Holland are both constituent states of the Netherlands. Parts of the Netherlands (the lowlands) are actually below sea level. The sea was literally dried to allow the area to be inhabited. This lead to the well known Dutch aphorism "God made the earth, but the Dutch made Holland".

Hope that I could clear up that misunderstanding!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Done at last

It is all over. The stay-up all night working on the report. The exams. The books. The endless bickering over how to solve something. All over. I can hardly believe it myself. However, I think it quite important to go back throughout the past four years and think about the effect this incredible endeavor has left on my character.

First and foremost, I think it is fairly easy to say that Tawfiq today is nothing like Tawfig of 2004. I understand now many things I did not before. My horizons have been widened. Most importantly however, I think that it is the people whom I met throughout this period of time that affected me the most. I will not name any of them since I am destined to forget a name or two. They know who they are and they know how important they are to me.

The most important and enduring effect of my university years will not be the sleepless nights, neither will they be the endless bickering, they will be the great friendships I have built in these five years. It is important to note that the effect of people on one's life is in some ways stronger than that of books, lectures and exams.

To all those who have been friends to me in the past five years, I say thank you and I hope we will remain to be friends for years to come. You have each made my life, the life of the featherless, a bit more tolerable in one way or another!! WOO HOO