Defining Terrorism

A couple of years ago, I came across this interesting paper titled “Defining Terrorism: Philosophy of the Bomb, Propaganda by Deed and Change Through Fear and Violence“. In those days, Afghanistan and Iraq were still the countries with the most terrorist attacks and casualties, and we had not yet reached the current weekly terrorist attack frequency of the last couple of months.

Two years later, as terrorist attacks have slowly become a part of our weekly (if not daily) lives, I believe that this paper has become a must-read for us (Pakistanis) to understand terrorism a bit better. The author, Arthur H. Garrison, who was the Director of Criminal Justice Planning and Senior Researcher at the Delaware Criminal Justice Council at the time of writing, defines terrorism as:

The use of force or violence or the threat of force or violence to change
the behavior of society as a whole through the causation of fear and the targeting of specific parts of society in order to affect the entire society.

A few more quotes worth reading from the paper:

There is a consistent ideology that connects terrorists regardless of their desired goals or social context. Although there are clear differences in political ideology, philosophy, desired goals and the social context between terrorists through history, an examination of their writings reveals that terrorists share a common understanding of the utility of terror.

Terrorists, regardless of issue or cause, hold at least one of ‘three basic concepts [about society]:
(1.) Society is sick and cannot be cured by half measures of reform.
(2.) The state is itself violence and can be countered and overcome only by violence.
(3.) The truth of the terrorist cause justifies any action that supports it. While some terrorists recognize no moral law [they] have their own ‘higher’ morality’. (Parry, 1976, p. 12)

The use of rocks, stones and suicide bombs is as much about regaining Palestinian selfrespect by not accepting the occupation of the territories by Israel and keeping the attention of the world as it is a tactic to force Israel out of the territories.

The use of terror has always been an appealing option to the young and those who espouse terror have always sought to recruit and use the young to implement terror.
Bakunin wrote in 1869, ‘the healthy, uncorrupted mind of youth must grasp the fact that it is considerably more humane to stab and strangle dozens, nay hundreds, of hated beings than to join with them to share in systematic legal acts of murder, in the torture and martyrdom of millions of peasants’ (Laqueur and Alexander, 1987, p. 67).

Read the complete paper here.

Increase WiMax USB Modem Signals Even Further – Cantenna Version 2

An improvement over the Wimax Cantenna I shared in my last post, this configuration has taken the signal strength to new heights – ie. from the 40-60% of v1 to a consistent 80%!

The principal is the same as version 1: take a 330ml can, cut it into half (but laterally this time). Chop off both ends so that we are left with a concave sheet, make a slit in the center to insert the USB modem in, and try it out. I used scissors to cut the can, but be careful not to cut yourself. Plug the modem in, and find the angle and orientation that gives the best signal.

I get an 80% signal when the modem is almost parallel to the table surface, which is very counter-intuitive (as we expect antennae to be upright), but it may have to do with the relative position of the tower from my home in this small valley – and as long as it works, who cares!

Cantenna Version 2 Cantenna Version 2

Please do share your experience in the comments if you are a(n unfortunate) Wateen customer and if you try this hack out.

Cantenna and Plantenna for Wimax

A fixed line PTCL DSL is not a viable option for me in Abbottabad, so as luck would have it, I ended up owning not one, but two Wateen Wimax connections after moving to Abbottabad from Lahore – I believe this irony has something to do with god deciding to punish me for my sins in this world rather than the hereafter.

My first Wateen router, the indoor CPE, did not work out of the box, as I live on the ground floor and Wimax was probably invented exclusively for people higher up. After trying a hundred locations all around the house, multiplied by a hundred different angles and orientations, the best signal strength that I could find was a measly 2/5 bars, which translated to a 20Kbps out of the 1Mbps speed that I was paying for. Out of sheer desperation, I tried placing the device sideways and facing upwards, which is the exact opposite of how it is supposed to stand, and placed it closer to the floor, under a plant – and in a eureka moment (anything that increases bandwidth is pure bliss, right?), the signal strength shot from 2/5 to 4/5 and even 5/5 bars! Apparently, the plant catches the signals and throws them downwards using some kind of druid magic.

Since then, my experiments show that most plants and small trees act as great Wimax antennae – for the USB modems, for example, if you are working from a park, sitting below a tree will give you at least a 20% increase in signal. Now I understand what Buddha was up to when chose to spend his life beneath a tree. So here it is, my plantenna

plantenna plantenna

Perhaps Yateem can resuscitate their business by giving out a plant with each modem. If you try this configuration, do let me know about your results.

A few months ago, Wateen released the USB version of its Wimax modem, which would be perfect for the “location independent professionals” if not for the same signal strength situation as the larger modem. Their towers are a kilometer from my house, but the USB modem failed function inside my house. As I did not intend to die by frost or mosquito bites, I was planning to return the device the next day when I decided to experiment with cantennas. The cantenna I made took the Wifi signal inside my home from a non-functional 0%-20% to a fully functional consistent 40%-60%!

cantenna wimax cantenna

The instructions are simple. Take a cola can, chop off the top half, create a slit wide at the base that is enough to place the can between the modem and its USB adapter and you are done. No wire loops to make, no can diameters to calculate and no need to wrap aluminum foil around concave surfaces.

I think this hack should also work with the EVDO USB devices, as I hear a lot of complaining regarding the signal strength from the PTCL EVDO users. If you try it out, I’d be very interested to hear about it in the comments.

P.S. Being away from one’s blog for months isn’t a great idea, but I have been busy coping with a lot of change – the deliberate kind (like moving from Lahore to Abbottabad for a while – more on that later) and the uncontrollable kind (my family getting into a car accident – more on that later).  I will resume the brain-dump here in the days to come.

Pakistan Iftar Timing Alerts via Twitter

UPDATE: For iftar timings for Lahore in 2009, you can follow iftartime on twitter.

If you use twitter, you can follow iftar2008pak to get iftar (and later on, sehri) alerts for Lahore (and later on, other cities).
Right now, iftar2008pak will send out a tweet 15 minutes and zero minutes before iftar – due to various lags, it won’t be entirely accurate (but close enough), so please don’t blame me on judgement day if anything goes wr
ong 😉
Do add me up on twitter too, I’m ReallyVirtual there.

UPDATE: I’m a bit too busy to enter data for other cities like Karachi, Islamabad etc. but if anyone wants to help out (it should take a few minutes of your time), do get in touch and I will share the login details and steps to take.