Yearly Archives: 2009 - Page 2

Election Day 2009

Election Day is Tuesday (I support Why Tuesday? in changing it to a weekend or a holiday), November 3. Since this is an off year, there aren’t any big contests.

Here in the city of Milton in North Fulton county, we have some city council elections.

The current mayor, Joe Lockwood, is running unopposed. So we are left with three city council members. Interestingly, the council members are elected at large, i.e. by all of Milton, with the condition being that the candidates must reside in the district which they want to represent. The at-large election means that voters like me have to think strategically about the balance of power in the city council rather than just the suitability of individual candidates.

Two good resources for the election are the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Voter Guide, which provides information about all of the Atlanta metro area, and the Access Milton blog for local Milton news.

The main issue for the city council election is development and growth. This area of Fulton county used to be very rural in the recent past and even now there are big farms in most of Milton. However, there has been some development too, especially in the Crabapple area and on Highway 9. Lots of people here want to keep the “rural character” and oppose extension of sewer and “high density” development. I put high density in quotes because around here 1 acre lots count as high density. We come from much higher density of course. We lived in the AtlantaPiscataway, NJ (density: 2,688.6/sq mi). Milton’s density is about 556/sq mi.

I don’t mind growth. In fact, I like growth. And I don’t like the idea of local governments limiting growth and encumbering the free market. Of course, growth can be dumb or smart. And mindless growth at the time of a real estate boom can leave lots of ghost neighborhoods. But that is something that can be managed such that the city grows naturally and in a smart and sustainable way. I should probably also mention that I live on a quarter acre lot which is tiny by Milton standards. I don’t know why the people who like free markets and dislike the government, like they do here in North Fulton, are so big on using the municipal government to stop the evil developers.

Let’s look at the individual races for the Milton City Council.

In District 1, where I live, the contest is between the incumbent Karen Thurman. According to her detractors, Thurman is in the pocket of developers. Wolff wants to keep the rural character of the city. I was leaning towards Thurman but what pushed me over to her was the discovery that Wolff was part of the dishonest Swift Boat Sailors & POWs for Truth campaign against John Kerry in 2004.

In District 3, incumbent Bill Lusk is the only one on the ballot but Al Trevillyan is running as a write-in candidate. Al’s basically the anti-sewer candidate. I am not entirely sure about this one, especially since I can’t find much information about Lusk’s position on the issues. But I am leaning towards voting for Lusk.

In District 5, incumbent Tina D’Aversa is running against Joe Longoria. D’Aversa is supporting the challenges to Lusk and Thurman, so she’s on the anti-development side, though Milton’s local politics has been very acrimonious and personal, so there might be more to it than a difference of opinion on the issues. I must say I have found reading D’Aversa’s website, press releases and campaign literature difficult because of over-the-top self-praise. Also, D’Aversa has an ethics complaint filed against her for trying to bribe her opponent to withdraw. I agree with Longoria that Milton’s top challenge is raising enough revenue to provide good services and infrastructure. Thus, I am supporting Longoria.

Going over the candidates’ biographies, it’s interesting that I am supporting a Georgia Tech graduate (I am one too) and two engineers (Software and Civil Engineering) while I am an Electrical Engineer.

UPDATE (Nov 3 11:57am): Just voted at my local precinct. There was almost nobody there.

UPDATE (Nov 4 8:09am): The candidates I endorsed for the city council, Thurman, Lusk and Longoria, won. The turnout was 19.4%.

Related Reading

The World's First Love (2nd edition): Mary, Mother of God
Georgia, 4th (Bradt Travel Guide Georgia)
Lonely Planet Georgia Armenia & Azerbaijan (Multi Country Guide)
Life is Worth Living
Medical Terminology: A Text/Workbook (4th Edition)

Amadeus

Amadeus is a movie about the rivalry between two composers, Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

It is a delightful movie with the period setting and costumes looking good. It also has an interesting satirical feel to it.

I liked it and rate it 7/10.

Related Reading

How Music Works
Music: An Art and a Language
Music
Music Theory for Guitarists: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask (Guitar Method)
Music

Flashcards for Kindergarten

I am a parent, a nerd and love gadgets. So of course I had to create flashcards on my iPhone for my daughter to learn reading.

My daughter is in Kindergarten right now and she’s learning to read. Her teacher sent us a list of 122 (Dolch) words that she will be learning to read by sight this year.

To help her, I printed flashcards. Then I thought that since she uses my iPhone to play, draw and learn, I should look for a flashcard app at the iTunes store. After trying several apps, I settled on Flashcard Deluxe (developer’s website).

I created a spreadsheet of the word list based on the Flashcard Deluxe format. The front of the flashcard shows the word and the back has the word along with a sound file pronouncing that word. That way, Michelle can use it independently.

For the word pronunciation, I downloaded the sound files from Wiktionary and converted them to MP3 using WinLAME.

You can access the final result here.

To download it to your iPhone/iPod using the Flashcards Deluxe app, start the app. Press the + button on the Decks screen. Then click on Private Deck and then Deck Code. Type the following in the text box:

http://www.zackvision.com/wp-content/uploads/kid/sight-words/sightwords.txt

Save it and then tap on Download Cards.

You can also download all the files together in a zip archive to your computer.

It’s been a success with Michelle who’s doing well ad enjoying the flashcards on the iPhone.

Related Reading

Phonics for Kindergarten, Grade K (Home Workbooks)
Best 100 Kindle Fire HD Apps (Updated With Top Apps for the Kindle Fire HD!)
SIGHT WORDS: I Can Read 1 (100 Flash Cards) (DOLCH SIGHT WORDS SERIES, Part 1)
Kindergarten, Here I Come!
Software Testing and Continuous Quality Improvement, Third Edition

Now Watching Plugin

If you are wondering where I have been in the last three weeks, I have been busy. I had to transfer all the non-bloggy content of my website to WordPress.

Since I do book and movie reviews, I started using the Now Reading Reloaded plugin for book reviews and links to Amazon. However, I couldn’t find any similar plugin for movie reviews.

After getting permission from the developer, I forked Now Reading Reloaded 5.1.1.0 to make it work with movies and DVDs.

This plugin which I am calling Now Watching is now available on the WordPress plugin repository.

If you find any bugs or issues or have feature requests, please let me know.

Related Reading

Learn to Program with Minecraft Plugins: Create Flying Creepers and Flaming Cows in Java
Software Testing Bibliography
The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life
Beginning Software Architecture
Software Requirements (3rd Edition) (Developer Best Practices)

Movable Type 3.34 to WordPress 2.8.4

As you can see, I have moved my blog over to WordPress. Actually, the whole domain, ZackVision.com, is powered by WordPress.

If you see any problems, please comment on this post or contact me.

I was using Movable Type 3.34 which came out in January 2007 and was now badly outdated. The reason why I hadn’t upgraded is because I was using a lot of hacks and had made my own modifications to the core code.

A few months ago, I ran into major problems with spam comments. That got me thinking about an upgrade. I was, however, able to solve the spam issue with MT-Akismet.

I downloaded Movable Type 4.2, the latest version, and played around with it. I liked it, but I realized that none of the plugins I was using had an upgrade for MT4. Also, I could find very few amateur bloggers on Movable Type. Professional websites and blogs were mostly using Movable Type, but the rest of the bloggers had switched to WordPress long ago.

I had already been using WordPress for a private blog and so I decided to take a look at the latest version of WordPress and how I could migrate my blog to it.

There were a few things I had to give up: No more MathML or serving all pages as application/xhtml+xml; no OpenPGP signed comments.

I also had to modify the Movable Type export script and WordPress’s import script so I could keep the same post IDs and slugs (basenames) as well as import tags and convert the content based on the text filter used in Movable Type.

Here are changes required in Movable Type 3.34′s lib/MT/ImportExport.pm file:

--- ImportExport.pm.orig        2009-09-23 11:25:12.975789000 -0700
+++ ImportExport.pm     2009-09-23 11:25:12.764003000 -0700
@@ -529,27 +529,27 @@
     $tmpl->text(<<'TEXT');
 AUTHOR: <$MTEntryAuthor strip_linefeeds="1"$>
 TITLE: <$MTEntryTitle strip_linefeeds="1"$>
+BASENAME: <$MTEntryBasename$>
 STATUS: <$MTEntryStatus strip_linefeeds="1"$>
 ALLOW COMMENTS: <$MTEntryFlag flag="allow_comments"$>
 CONVERT BREAKS: <$MTEntryFlag flag="convert_breaks"$>
 ALLOW PINGS: <$MTEntryFlag flag="allow_pings"$>
+POSTID: <$MTEntryID$>
 -----
 BODY:
-<$MTEntryBody convert_breaks="0"$>
+<$MTEntryBody$>
 -----
 EXTENDED BODY:
-<$MTEntryMore convert_breaks="0"$>
+<$MTEntryMore$>
 -----
 EXCERPT:
 <$MTEntryExcerpt no_generate="1" convert_breaks="0"$>
 -----
 KEYWORDS:
-<$MTEntryKeywords$>
+<MTEntryTags include_private="1" glue=","><$MTTagName$></MTEntryTags>
 -----
 <MTComments>
 COMMENT:
@@ -558,7 +558,7 @@
 IP: <$MTCommentIP strip_linefeeds="1"$>
 URL: <$MTCommentURL strip_linefeeds="1"$>
 DATE: <$MTCommentDate format="%m/%d/%Y %I:%M:%S %p"$>
-<$MTCommentBody convert_breaks="0"$>
+<$MTCommentBody$>
 -----
 </MTComments>
 <MTPings>

And here are the changes required in WordPress 2.8.4′s wp-admin/import/mt.php:

--- mt.php.orig 2009-05-05 12:43:53.000000000 -0700
+++ mt.php      2009-09-23 11:49:00.182602000 -0700
@@ -375,6 +375,15 @@
                                        $post->post_title = $title;
                                else if ( 'ping' == $context )
                                        $ping->title = $title;
+                       } else if ( 0 === strpos($line, "BASENAME:") ) {
+                               $postname = trim( substr($line, strlen("BASENAME:")) );
+                               if ( '' == $context )
+                                       $post->post_name = $postname;
+                               else if ( 'ping' == $context )
+                                       $ping->post_name = $postname;
+                       } else if ( 0 === strpos($line, "POSTID:") ) {
+                               $postid = trim( substr($line, strlen("POSTID:")) );
+                               $post->import_id = $postid;
                        } else if ( 0 === strpos($line, "STATUS:") ) {
                                $status = trim( strtolower( substr($line, strlen("STATUS:")) ) );
                                if ( empty($status) )

I also added the following to the .htaccess file to handle the redirects needed from my old URLs to the new ones:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
# Old Monthly archives
RewriteRule ^weblog/archives/([0-9]{4})/([0-9]{2}) weblog/$1/$2/ [R,L]
# Old single entry links
RewriteRule ^weblog/archives/000([0-9]{3}).html$ ?p=$1 [R,L]
# Another old single entry links
RewriteRule ^weblog/archives/entry/000([0-9]{3}).html$ ?p=$1 [R,L]
# Old category archives
# Change underscores to hyphens
RewriteRule ^weblog/archives/([^_]*)_([^_]*)_([^_]*)_(.*)$ weblog/category/$1-$2-$3-$4/ [R=301,L]
RewriteRule ^weblog/archives/([^_]*)_([^_]*)_(.*)$ weblog/category/$1-$2-$3/ [R=301,L]
RewriteRule ^weblog/archives/([^_]*)_(.*)$ weblog/category/$1-$2/ [R=301,L]
RewriteRule ^weblog/archives/([^0-9]*)$ weblog/category/$1/ [R,L]
# To handle the old MovableType feeds.
RewriteRule ^weblog/atom\.xml$ feed/atom/ [R,L]
RewriteRule ^weblog/index\.xml$ feed/ [R,L]
RewriteRule ^weblog/index\.rdf$ feed/ [R,L]
# To handle old Movable Type permalinks.
RewriteRule ^weblog/([0-9]{4}/[0-9]{2}/.*)\.html$ $1/ [R,L]

I liked the iNove theme and installed it with some modifications done via child theme.

I have also installed the following plugins:

  1. About Me widget
  2. Akismet
  3. AmazonFeed
  4. AVH Amazon
  5. Collapsing Archives
  6. Contact Form 7
  7. Easy AdSense
  8. Efficient Related Posts
  9. Google Analyticator
  10. Google XML Sitemaps
  11. Lifestream
  12. NextGEN Gallery
  13. Now Reading Reloaded
  14. Page Links To
  15. Recommended Reading: Google Reader Shared
  16. Rich Text Biography
  17. JanRain RPX – Authentication from Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Windows Live ID and OpenID
  18. Search & Replace
  19. Search Meter
  20. Sociable
  21. Thread Twitter
  22. WP-Syntax
  23. XML Google Maps

I am also working on a fork of Now Reading Reloaded. It will be for movies and will be called Now Watching. Once I have tested it, I’ll release it here and on the WordPress site.

While the blog itself has been completely moved over to WordPress, I am still working on migrating the other static pages. Also, my list of books read and movies watched is still not back yet.

Related Reading

Industrial Internet
Open Source Web Applications for Libraries
Syndicating Web Sites with RSS Feeds For Dummies
The Internet For Dummies
Internet, Mail, and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method

Italy Day 7: Venice to Rome

We woke up early in the morning and, after breakfast, headed to the Santa Lucia train station to go back to Rome.

The Italian train system has some strange seat numbering. When making reservations, I had asked for seats together and the numbers were consecutive. But the seats were not really together. There were four seats, two on each side of the aisle, facing four other seats. Instead of having three seats together on one side of the aisle, however, we had three seats that were diagonal from each other. So two two diagonal seats on one side of the aisle and one seat on the other side. That was odd, but there was a nice South African couple there who were also split on both sides of the aisle and we switched seats.

In about four and a half hours, we were in Rome. We went to Hotel Amalfi and checked in. After lunch, we decided to do some sightseeing. We took the metro to Spagna and walked to Ara Pacis Augustae. The ticketperson there was really surprised that we wanted three audio sets, but Michelle did want her own.

Ara Pacis
Ara Pacis
Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major
 

It was a hot day, the hottest during our trip and Michelle wanted to get into the water fountain just outside Ara Pacis when we went back outside. After she had cooled down in the water, we walked around looking at the Mausoleum of Augustus, which is not open to tourists. We also looked at every church in the neighborhood.

Then we decided to head south. Passing by the Chamber of Deputies and Pantheon, we stopped for some gelato. We wandered around Campo dei Fiori and Piazza Farnese and on Via Giulia.

As we stood in the long line at the popular pizza restaurant, Da Baffetto, we realized a mistake: We were almost out of cash and the restaurant didn’t accept credit cards. Instead of looking for an ATM, we decided to go to Da Sergio instead. Their pasta was good, but the waiter didn’t know any English, so communication was a bit difficult.

The next day, we took the train to the airport. There we realized that our flight was not from Terminal C, the main terminal for international flights, but from Terminal 2, for which we had to take a bus in front of Terminal C as it wasn’t within walking distance. That terminal looked like it was for all US-bound flights. At first, we had to go through security counters and then check in at the airline counters. Finally, after checking in, we realized that our gate at Terminal 2 didn’t have any aircraft. Instead, we got on a bus and went to the plane which was parked next to Terminal C. It was an odd situation and reminded me of Pakistan and other strange places.

Ten hours later, we were back in Atlanta and home.

Michelle has been saying since we returned that she wants to go back to Italy when she’s 10 years old. Sometimes, she even wants to go live in Italy and eat gelato every day.

Photographs from Venice and Rome are below the fold on Google Maps.

Read more »

Related Reading

World Decorator Wall Map Laminated (Reference - World)
Italian Survival Guide: The Language and Culture You Need to Travel with Confidence in Italy
Restaurant Success by the Numbers: A Money-Guy's Guide to Opening the Next Hot Spot
The Restaurant: From Concept to Operation, 6th Edition
Freight Train Board Book (Caldecott Collection)

Italy Day 6: Venice

Our second full day in Venice we focused on what tourists do immediately on reaching Venice: Piazza San Marco or St Mark’s Square. Part of the square was closed off with chairs in that area due to an event later. There was also some work going on to prevent flooding of Piazza San Marco.

We got in the line for St Mark’s Basilica. It is a great church with mosaics and decorations on the facade. Inside the church is full of mosaics depicting St Mark’s life as well as Virgin Mary and other subjects. Pala d’Oro is dazzling and we liked the Treasury too.

Going upstairs to the Galleria and the Museo di San Marco was of course required for us museum lovers, but it also gives a good view of the church interior and you can go outside for a nice look at the square. The four horses that you see outside on the Basilica in the photograph below are of course replicas and the originals are inside in the museum.

Since we were getting hungry, we decided to have a light lunch at Caffè Quadri.

Piazza San Marco
Horses of St Mark
Piazzetta
Palazzo Ducale
Procuratie Vecchie
 

Doge’s Palace or Palazzo Ducale is where the Venetian rulers lived and of course it’s worth visiting (I could even live there, especially with artwork from such luminaries in every room).

Museo Correr has some Venetian art and history, though its collection isn’t great.

Then it was time to go up to the top of the Campanile. Fortunately an elevator takes you up to where the bells are housed. It provides a good view of Venice, the lagoon and the mainland. You can see the photographs I took from there at the end on the map.

We went for dinner at Osteria al Garanghelo which had decent food and was not expensive.

Lots of photographs on Google Maps follow under the fold below.

Read more »

Related Reading

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Venice & the Veneto
BetterPhoto Basics: The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro
Insights From Beyond the Lens: Inside the Art & Craft of Landscape Photography
Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo
Photography Business Secrets: The Savvy Photographer's Guide to Sales, Marketing, and More

iTunes U and Podcasts

Specs listed the podcasts she listens to and Razib also mentioned a podcast recently, so I thought I should list the stuff I have been listening to on my iPhone and may be Razib and others can chime in with some suggestions.

Here’s my current list of podcasts:

In addition, here are some courses and lectures on iTunes U and as podcasts that I have been listening to or that are in my listening queue:

What do you recommend?

Related Reading

How To Date Online - Find Love Online and Questions To Find Date Online Easily (Online Dating, Find Date Online)
Lectures on Faith
iTunes and iCloud for iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch Absolute Beginner's Guide
Online Dating Smarts: 99 Important Questions To Ask Someone You Meet On The Internet
Make Money Online - 10 Ways to Make  $500 Extra Per Month

Italy Day 5: Venice

Venice is a strange city. It seemed like a ghost town to me. There were lots and lots of tourists but where were the locals? May be they live away from the center or go away during the tourist season. Also, in Rome, tourists are spread out all over the city at all kinds of sights, but in Venice, it looked like there are only a couple of places a majority of tourists were interested in. There was a large crowd at Rialto bridge and St Mark’s Square was of course packed, but otherwise one could lose oneself in the alleys of Venice without encountering too many people.

Venice is also where I realized how useful bringing my GPSr loaded with maps (covered by a Wired article now. The narrow streets and alleys didn’t seem to have a pattern and there were lots of dead ends and branch canals blocking your way.

We started the day by going to the Rialto bridge. At the market, Michelle bought a face mask which you can see in the photographs below.

After wandering about there for a while, we decided to go for a gondola, a traditional Venetian row boat, ride. Of course, all tourists want a ride and these are expensive costing 100 euros for about 35-40 minutes. The gondolier took us on the Grand Canal and then some side canals, pointing out different landmarks.

Then we wandered about in the San Marco district carefully avoiding Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Sqaure). Since we are museum geeks, we went to Gallerie dell’Accademia which has some really nice Venetian art. Unfortunately they have a “no photography” rule.

Later we walked about looking at different squares and buildings and eating gelato.

To see the Grand Canal we decided to ride the ferry (vaporetto). First we rode it to San Zaccari and then back towards the train station but we got off at Ca’ d’Oro, a Venetian Gothic palace. We took the traghetto, a gandola ferry, across the Grand Canal from Cannaregio district to San Polo and Santa Croce.

We had gelato at Gelateria San Stae and then went to see the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. Around the corner from there was Scuola Grande di San Rocco. There was a very nice chocolate shop there, but unfortunately it was closed on the weekend.

Crossing the bridge into Dorsoduro district, we visited Ca’ Rezzonico, a palace that now houses a museum. I have a couple of photos from their courtyard.

It was time for dinner for us, but Italians eat late. So we wandered aimlessly, enjoying the narrow streets and narrower canals. Finally we got to Vecio Fritolin where we had a nice dinner outside and also a good conversation with a French couple.

Photographs are below (click “Continue Reading” if you are on the main page) on the map.

Read more »

Related Reading

Trains
Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities
Rick Steves' Walk: Three Walks in Venice
Lonely Planet Italy (Country Guide)
United States Decorator [Laminated] (National Geographic: Reference Map) (Reference - U.S.)

ہفتہ بلاگستان: یوم ٹیکنالوجی

ہفتہ بلاگستان آج اختتام کو پہنچ رہا ہے۔ سو آخری قسط حاضر ہے۔

ٹیکنالوجی اور انسان کا چولی دامن کا ساتھ ہے۔ کچھ لوگوں کا تو کہنا ہے کہ یہ ٹیکنالوجی ہی ہے جو ہمیں جانوروں سے ممیز کرتی ہے۔ اگرچہ کچھ جانور بھی محدود طور پر اوزار کا استعمال کرتے ہیں مگر انسان اوزار ایجاد کرنے اور مختلف ٹکنیکس استعمال کرنے میں ایک علیحدہ ہی کلاس میں ہے۔ اس کا آغاز لاکھوں سال پہلے ہومو ایریکٹس کے پتھر کے اوزار بنانے سے ہوتا ہے۔ مختلف ماہرِ عمرانیات و آنتھروپالوجی ٹیکنالوجی کی تاریخ کو مختلف طریقوں سے تقسیم کرتے ہیں۔ ماضی کی اہم ٹیکنالوجی میں پتھر کے اوزار (25 لاکھ سال پہلے)، آگ کا استعمال (شاید 10 سے 15 لاکھ سال پہلے)، کپڑے (ایک لاکھ سال پہلے)، جانوروں کو پالتو بنانا (15 ہزار سال پہلے)، زراعت (10 ہزار سال پہلے)، تانبا، کانسی اور پھر لوہے کا استعمال، پہیہ (6 ہزار سال پہلے)، لکھائ (6 ہزار سال پہلے) وغیرہ ہیں۔ ان مختلف ٹیکنالوجیز کی بدولت انسان شکار اور چیزیں اکٹھی کرنے سے بڑھ کر گنجان آباد زرعی سوسائٹی کا حصہ بنا۔ پھر اٹھارہویں اور انیسویں صدی میں صنعتی انقلاب نے پہلے یورپ اور پھر دنیا کو بدل دیا۔

آج ہم post-industrial دور سے گزر رہے ہیں جہاں انفارمیشن کے انقلاب نے دنیا کے مختلف خطوں میں رہنے والوں کو قریب‌تر کر دیا ہے۔ کمپیوٹر، ٹیلی‌فون، انٹرنیٹ اور سروس اکنامی ہمارے دور کی اہم ایجادات ہیں۔ نہ صرف یہ کہ ہم باہم رابطے میں پرانے وقتوں سے بہت مختلف حالات میں رہتے ہیں بلکہ آج ترقی‌یافتہ ممالک میں صنعت سے زیادہ اہم انفارمیشن ہے اور بہت سے لوگ manufacturing کی بجائے information سے متعلقہ جاب کر رہے ہیں جن میں معلومات کو اخذ کرنا، انہیں شیئر کرنا، تعلیم، ریسرچ وغیرہ شامل ہیں۔

کل ہمیں کیسی ٹیکنالوجی دکھائے گا؟ اس سوال کا جواب ایک لحاظ سے مشکل ہے کہ ہم اپنے کل کو آج ہی کے تناظر میں دیکھتے ہیں۔ جیسے بیسویں صدی کے پہلے حصے کے لوگوں‌کا خیال تھا کہ جیسے ان کے زمانے میں گاڑی اور جہاز کی ایجاد سے سفر بہت آسان ہوا اسی طرح مستقبل میں اسی فیلڈ میں ترقی ہو گی اور انتہائ تیزرفتار اور فضائ کاریں دستیاب ہوں گی۔ ایسا نہ ہو سکا بلکہ تیزرفتار کنکورڈ جہاز کچھ عرصہ پہلے بند ہو گیا۔ مگر آج ہوائ سفر اتنا سستا اور آسان ہو چکا ہے کہ سال میں کروڑوں لوگ دور دور کا سفر کرتے ہیں۔ اسی طرح 1969 میں چاند پر قدم رکھنے کے بعد انسان کا خیال تھا کہ چند ہی دہائیوں میں انسان خلاؤں کا سفر کرے گا مگر آج ہمیں لگتا ہے کہ unmanned space exploration ہی پر اکتفا کرنا پڑے گا۔ روبوٹس اور آرٹیفیشل انٹیلیجنس اگرچہ کافی کامیاب رہے مگر ساتھ ہی انتہائ مشکل ثابت ہوئے۔ روبوٹس کا استعمال صنعت میں تو عام ہے مگر سائنس فکشن کے انداز میں مصنوعی ذہانت سے بھرپور جنرل پرپز روبوٹس دیکھنے میں نہیں آئے۔

ہم انفارمیشن کے زمانے میں رہتے ہیں تو بہت سی انفارمیشن آج ڈیجٹل شکل میں دستیاب ہے اور اسے کمپیوٹرز سے پراسیس کیا جا سکتا ہے۔ اس سے جہاں معلومات کو دنیا بھر میں پھیلانا آسان ہو گیا ہے اسی طرح انٹلیکچوئل پراپرٹی اور پرائیویسی بھی متاثر ہوئ ہے۔ آج بہت لوگ آسانی سے گانے اور فلمیں کاپی کر کے مفت میں بانٹ سکتے ہیں جس پر میوزک اور فلم انڈسٹری نالاں ہیں۔ مگر اس کے ساتھ ساتھ ہمارے متعلق بہت سی معلومات بھی ڈیجٹل فارمیٹ میں دستیاب ہیں۔ مثال کے طور پر ہم آجکل ای‌ٹکٹ پر جہاز میں سفر کرتے ہیں اور ہماری جہاز، ہوٹل، کار وغیرہ کی بکنگ تمام آن لائن ہی ہوتی ہے۔ کریڈ کارڈ اور بنک اکاؤنٹ کا تمام ریکارڈ بھی آن لائن ہوتا ہے۔ یہ تو پھر پرائیویٹ ڈیٹا ہے مگر ہمارے بلاگ، فورم، ٹویٹر، فیس‌بک وغیرہ بھی ہمارے متعلق بہت سی معلومات رکھتے ہیں۔ اسی طرح فون‌بک بھی آن لائن ہیں اور بہت سے کالج اور یونیورسٹی کی ڈائریکری بھی۔ ہم آن‌لائن سٹور سے خریداری کرتے ہیں تو وہ ڈیٹا بھی ہے اور اگر کسی لوکل سپرسٹور سے تو اس کے ڈسکاؤنٹ کارڈ ہیں جن سے آپ کی خریداری ٹریک کی جا سکتی ہے۔ بہت سے پبلک مقامات پر کیمرے نصب ہیں اور ہمارے سیل فون میں بھی اکثر assisted GPS موجود ہیں جن سے یہ معلوم کیا جا سکتا ہے کہ آپ اس وقت کدھر موجود ہیں۔ چہرے پہچاننے کی ٹیکنالوجی بھی اب کافی حد تک میچور ہو رہی ہے اور وہ وقت شاید دور نہیں جب آپ کہیں بھی جائیں تو خود بخود آپ کو پہچان لیا جائے۔ اس سب ڈیٹا کو کون کب اور کیسے استعمال کر سکتا ہے اس بارے میں ابھی فیصلہ مشکل ہے البتہ یہ لازم ہے کہ کچھ نسلوں بعد انسان کی پرائیویسی کا آئیڈیا آج سے کافی مختلف ہو گا۔

سال کے شروع میں ایج نے سائنسدانوں، مصنفین اور نامور لوگوں سے پوچھا کہ ان کے خیال میں ان کی زندگی میں ایسا کونسا سا سائنسی آئیڈیا سامنے آئے گا جو دنیا کو بدل ڈالے گا۔ ہر کسی نے اپنا خیال پیش کیا۔ اگر مجھ سے پوچھتے تو میرا جواب ہوتا: بائیوٹیکنالوجی۔ اس میں سٹیفن پنکر کا اپنا ذاتی جینوم sequence کرانا اور اس کے نتیجے میں آپ کی جینز کے مطابق آپ کے ڈاکٹر کا آپ کا علاج کرنا بھی شامل ہے اور جینز یعنی وارثت کے ذریعہ پھیلنے والی بیماریوں‌کا تدارک بھی۔ اس کے ساتھ ساتھ جینز کی بدولت ہم شاید یہ بھی معلوم کر سکیں کہ ہمارے اباؤاجداد کہاں سے تھے۔

کیا ہم مستقبل کی ٹیکنالوجی سے مثبت فوائد حاصل کر سکتے ہیں؟ ایک ٹیکنوفائل کی حیثیت سے میں تو یہی کہوں گا کہ بالکل بلکہ سائنس اور ٹیکنالوجی ہی ہمیں کئ مسائل سے نجات دلانے میں ممد و معاون ثابت ہو گی۔ گلوبل وارمنگ کے نتیجے میں انسان اور دنیا جس تباہی اور تبدیلی کا شکار ہو رہی ہے اور ہو گی اس کا تدارک energy conservation کے ساتھ ساتھ نئ ٹیکنالوجی کی ایجاد اور استعمال بھی ہو گا۔

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