5 Reasons GreenWhite.org is a Success

A guru blogger once shared the following piece of wisdom with me:

Posts with lists are more ‘successful’.

Here is a list of reasons why I think GreenWhite is a successful blog. I have to write this post as a lot of people have approached me this week and asked what GreenWhite.org ( GnW) is all about and whether it actually is a successful blog or not. Among the people who have asked this question are:

GnW, for those who don’t know, is a technology blog focusing on the news, innovations and emerging trends in the Pakistani IT industry. I am no blog analyst, but I would call GreenWhite a big success because:

  1. GreenWhite has built a community – In the two years of its existence, GnW has managed to gather and engage a strong bunch of IT professionals around itself – people who are writing and participate in valuable discussions on the Pakistani IT industry. As a Pakistani IT professional who follows 400+ Pakistani blogs semi-regularly, I do not know of any other IT blog focused on the Pakistani IT industry that comes close in this regard. Do share the address in the URL if you know of one.
  2. GreenWhite serves a small niche successfully – This post is intended to be read by a dozen or so people – it does not matter if 50 or 5000 people read it, as long as the intended target audience gets the message. Similarly, if we stop fooling ourselves, the Pakistani IT industry is TINY – GnW aims to serve this small niche, and if you will go through any 10 random posts on GnW, you will agree that it does the job well, which is another measure of success.
  3. GreenWhite has original content – Since our tiny IT industry does not generate hundreds of news items every hour, so GnW authors have no option but to write original content. The posts on GnW are not ‘originalized’, which is my term for picking up a few dozen ‘blogworthy’ hot news items from a few hundred (preferably before the competition does it, so that your post gets listed for a few Google keywords) and quickly remixing and rewording the resultant body of text before pressing the publish button. To use a hackneyed expression, GnW usually has something to say, while most local blogs have to say something.
  4. GreenWhite has been a catalyst My first introduction to GnW was through the Startup Insider sessions, which was a commendable series of informal sessions between the wannabe entrepreneurs and the veterans, held in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad in collaboration with P@SHA. Dozens of CEOs and IT professionals were speakers / panelists, and hundreds of people participated in the series, but apparently that endeavor did not get the projection that it deserved, as many IT bloggers say they have heard the GnW name for the first time only recently. Just as the Bloggers’ Meetups are attempting to bring the wannabe bloggers together, the Startup Insiders brought people interested in IT startups together and gave many of them the push needed to ‘do their own thing’. Not many other blogs can claim to ‘walk the walk’. GnW can.
  5. GreenWhite has decent statistics – I think many of the worlds’ best blogs are undiscovered, and usually have less than 100 regular visitors, and yet there are many people just want safety in numbers, so they go by analytics figures, don’t waste time on any blog that doesn’t get trackbacked by a million other blogs and dont read a book until it is a bestseller or a movie based on the book is in production. For people measure success in percentages and clickthroughs, GnW has around 1000 subscribers, is usually in the top 100K blogs on Alexa (and has #666 rank in – though I am not a stats freak, but achieving a sub-100K Alexa rank with 90% audience coming from Pakistan and a few hundred thousand visitors a month, all without explicit SEO might mean something to the statistician sort.

So there you have it, for what ever it is worth, GreenWhite is a successful blog IMHO.

Before I go, here is a bulleted list of pointers:

  • I was approached by strangers (now friends) during the LBM08 event, and then on Skype during the KBM08 event – they wanted to meet and congratulate GnW representatives, and I had to tell them that the blog was based in ISB. I wish GnW was represented in the meetup, but regardless of whether GnW attends any meetings or not, this is the only measure of success that I would aim for if I owned GnW – actually no further justification of success should be required.
  • Hot Chick - reallyI read some twitter friend LOLing and saying that people believe that the success of a blog is limited to those who aim to create a difference in their society. That would be wrong, though I don’t know any blogger who would generalize success like that. I believe that boobie blogs may have their need in the world, just like gadget blogs, social welfare blogs or porn. The measure of a blog’s success is whatever its owner and readers want it to be – sometimes it is thoughts and dreams, sometimes it is rants, sometimes it is monetization by prolific content generation, and sometimes it is pics of hot chicks – but that is just my simplistic view of things, and you are welcome to disagree.
  • To answer another (very enthusiastic, judging from the !!!s) friend who said “… success story? honestly, this is the FIRST time I read this blog or even heard about it!!!” – it is simply because you belong to a different segment. You are facing the west, GnW is facing the east. In the blaagosphere fruit market, you are an apple, GnW is an orange, and there are melons and mangos and hundreds of vegetables, fruits and nuts like me around. Sorry to burst your bubble, but your knowledge of a blog’s existance is not a measure of success – after all, ten years ago, you didn’t know where babies come from!!! (I kid).


I have written 3 odd posts on GreenWhite.org so far. They are:




Wateen Spampaign on Pakistani Blogs

I can’t say that I’m disappointed with Wateen, as I don’t really care at all about that brand or whatever they sell, be it bandwidth, cell connection or water-balloons. I do have a serious problem though, when there is an intrusive attempt by corporations to use my belongings (this blog being one) or my surrounding to  sell their products – and Wateen did just that!

Today, around noon, I received a comment spam from Wateen advertising their broadband packages on a post that has nothing to do with broadband.

Exhibit A - Spam by Wateen
Exhibit A - Spam by Wateen

The spam was sent by a certain H. S. Kiani (probably a desi John Doe) from the IP, with the email waristerrorism@yahoo.com.

I whois’ed the IP to verify that it was official Wateen spam generated from their own servers (and not a negative marketing campaign by one of their competitors), before trying to call their tollfree number and asking them about a certain Mr. Kiani, and was amused to see that the IP belonged to PTCL.

Despite being a very satisfied PTCL customer, I sent an email to Mr. Kiani, showing my interest in their amazing offer, and I also added him up on Yahoo Messenger, but so far there has been no response from him. If he does reply (one can dream, no?) I intend to ask him a LOT of questions.

A quick look at my analytics plugin (Open Web Analytics) revealed that the visitor had hit the same post twelve times before submitting the spam.

Rasala Group Spam
Wateen Spam

In parallel, I was also asking my tweeple on Twitter if they had received the same spam today, and not surprising, many of them confirmed their blogs, or the blogs that they read, were targetted by Wateen today as well. Here are a few tweets from this noon, recording things as they were uncovered. The ones in italics are mine.

  • Nice! Wateen (or some Wateen rival) just sent some comment spam about their broadband on my blog, including their URL and phone #! about 2 hours ago from TwitterFox
  • Has anyone else from Pakistan received comment spam from Wateen about their 1mbps package today? about 1 hour ago from TwitterFox
  • UzEE @reallyvirtual Lol. Tell them you wont remove the comment if they give you 6 month subscription free. about 2 hours ago from mobile web in reply to ReallyVirtual
  • @uzee I’m emailing the guy who spammed me, and calling the Wateen # mentioned afterwards. Funny thing, they used PTCL IPs to spam! about 1 hour ago from TwitterFox in reply to UzEE
  • phpgurru @ReallyVirtual I also received wateen spam from the IP 40 minutes ago from TwitterFox in reply to ReallyVirtual
  • aqeeliz @ReallyVirtual Quite a few other Pakistani blogs I read have gotten comment spam about Wateen package. less than 5 seconds ago from web in reply to ReallyVirtual
  • harisn @aqeeliz @ReallyVirtual I also got that Wateen spam comment. Infact I still have it in my pending comments hehe 8 minutes ago from m.slandr.net in reply to aqeeliz

Shafiq from Shafiq.pk also shared that the text in the comment spam is the same as the one broadcast in Wateen’s radio ads, so this is a coordinated campaign. Aamir Atta pointed out this article by Bites85 on his blog propakistani.com that notices the recent rise in spampaigns by Wateen and other telcos very recently, so at least a few other bloggers have noticed as well.

This is the normally the point in the post where I start my rant, but it is almost my bedtime so I will not spread a lot of negativity, and instead, I will just ask a few questions and hope that the relevant people (read Mr. Kiani & Co.) will step up and answer them. What I really want to know is:


  • How could you possibly conceive a spampaign in the Pakistani Blogosphere and not worry one bit about it backfiring? Do you think the Pakistani bloggers are so naive that we will let your comments pass by unnoticed and let them stay on our blogs?
  • How can you support bloggers’ meetups all over Pakistan one month and spam the same bloggers the very next month?
  • I wrote down my email and blog URL on paper during LBM08 , which was supported by you. Did you take the URLs so that you may add me to your spam list? Did I opt-in? or are you spamming all the blogs aggregated on bloggers.pk ?
  • Do you think I will trust your brand in the future, after you abuse my contact information?
  • I was all praises for LBM08 and still think its effect as a catalyst was significant, despite whatever motivations you had as a supporter. Do you think that I’ll feel the same way the next time you support any event?



  • Did you receive the same spam from Wateen this week? Care to share your  blog URL?

Enough questions. Time to sleep.

Installing Microsoft Reader on Linux (and why Microsoft Reader rules)

As I suddenly found myself using Linux as my primary OS last year, I had to do something about my bookworm’ey itch, and tried a few solutions to the lack of Microsoft Reader on Linux.

  • I tried using a second computer as my “book computer” – 50 minutes of work, one chapter of a book is what works for me. Too much fan noise (my PCs, like me, are pretty old by now) and sheer waste of electricity.
  • I tried a virtualbox XP installation – the problem with a virtual OS is, if I run it fullscreen, I can’t use the linux software, and if I run it windowed, the Microsoft Reader window is too small. I can dedicate my second monitor to the XP virtual installation, but that is plain inefficient.
  • I tried keeping my pocket pc with me while working, but what is the use of a large LCD when you end up reading on a 3.5 inch screen.

This weekend, I finally managed to make Microsoft Reader work on Linux with Wine. I had to waste use a couple of hours doing so, but at the end, it was worth it. So here is the fast and clean way of installing Microsoft Reader on Linux, what you need is:

  • Have a Linux installation (obviously) – I’m on Kubuntu, this should work with *buntu.
  • The following software installed: wine, msttcorefonts, cabextract – You can install it with the usual: sudo aptitude install wine msttcorefonts cabextract
  • IE for Linux – for some reason, this is a pre-requisite of Microsoft Reader on Wine.
    • Instructions on how to install IE6 for Linux can be found here: http://howtoforge.com/ubuntu_internet_explorer_p2
    • You might need mfc42.cab – in which case, just follow the link on the page, and copy the cab to the folder used by ies4linux, which was /home/rv/.ies4linux/downloads
      for me.
  • Now you need to visit the Microsoft Reader download page in IE6, and when prompted, “Open” the file from its current location. If everything goes well, you should end up with Microsoft Reader installed – now you just need to run it.
  • To run the program, you can either tinker with the Wine configuration settings to export the required wine prefix or you can create a shell script containing:
    • #!/usr/bin/env bash
      # Script to run MS Reader
      export WINEPREFIX=”/home/rv/.ies4linux/ie6″
      wine “/home/rv/.ies4linux/ie6/drive_c/Program Files/Microsoft Reader/msreader.exe”
    • Save it as something like msreader.sh, modify the /rv/ part (which is my username), set the file rights to a+x via: chmod a+x msreader.sh and perhaps, create a shortcut to the file on your desktop.
  • Running the msreader.sh should run MS Reader now!
  • There is the small problem of actually opening .lit files in it – you have two options. You can either:
    • Modify the script above so that the filename/complete path is passed to the shell script and used in the wine… line. This can also be set up with the ubuntu file associations so that you can open .lit files directly by clicking them. Or, you can
    • Copy the .lit files you have in your “My Library” folder (which is what I did).
    • I ended up with a library folder at: /home/rv/.ies4linux/ie6/drive_c/windows/profiles/rv/My Documents/My Library
  • Start the reader, and the new .lit files should be automatically detected and populated inside your library!

UPDATE: June 2009 One year later, things are a lot simpler with Jaunty Jackalope and Wine 1.0.1! Here are the rough steps to follow:

  • Make sure you have wine 1.0.1 – 1.1.x has issues that I was too busy to debug. If you have a later version or have the wine repository added to your sources.list. You might want to “Force Version” for that.
  • Install ie4linux using the instructions here. Ignore the wine version warning. You may have to run the script multiple times if it crashes, but you’ll get ie6 installed eventually. I had to uncheck the Flash plugin installation option.
  • Make sure you have the wine-gecko package installed (this may be a redundant step)
  • Download the MSReaderSetup.exe file from the Microsoft site using your regular browser and save it somewhere.
  • Run the installer .exe via double-clicking, or right clicking, or via command-line
  • The reader should install. The first time, try running it via command-line after going to ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Microsoft Reader and typing ./msreader.exe
  • If you get an msvcirt.dll error, download the dll from here and extract the dll to your ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/system32 folder.
  • Now running the .exe again should work, and you should also be able to run it after searching for it by ALT+F2.
  • To be able to open .lit files by double-clicking, you need to set up the file associations. To do so
    • Right-click any .lit file in Dolphin and select ‘Properties’.
    • Click the settings icon besides the line Type: Unknown
    • Press the Add button to add the associated application (msreader) and use the file dialog to browse to the msreader.exe file. You will need to enclose the path in double-quotes or escape the spaces. For me it was:  “/home/rv/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Microsoft Reader/msreader.exe”
    • Unwind the open dialogs’ stack
  • At this point, you should be able to open a .lit file by double-clicking it. If you encouter any issues or had to follow a different path, do share in the comments to help out others.

I was experimenting with tellico this weekend (which deserves its own post), and realized that in the last 20 years, I have read a lot more ebooks than paper books (which makes me happy when I think of all the trees I have saved). At this point in time, I can safely say that Microsoft Reader is the best ebook software around. Of course, you can read books in other formats, plain text, html, pdf or even doc, and there are lots of other readers (like Mobipocket) to choose from, but nothing beats Microsoft Reader so far. A few reasons why…

  • the Microsoft proprietary ClearType technology is simply the best option for long reading sessions on LCD/TFT screens. Once you get used to the lack of paper texture and the smell of an old book (one does miss it the first few months), you will probably find yourself reading more and more books on MS Reader.
  • The Microsoft .lit format works on Pocket PCs transparently, and the PPC version of Microsoft Reader comes pre-installed with most of the Windows Mobile versions. So, like an ipod, you can keep your library synchronized, and pick up on your PPC where you left off on your laptop/desktop. I can’t part with my ancient XDA II (now 5 years old), and iphone is a little bit less attractive due to Microsoft Reader – strange but true.
  • You can use the “Read in Microsoft Reader” plugin for Microsoft Word to convert most of the standard text formats that Word can open – to .lit format, and have a single interface for most of your digital library.
  • If you are comfortable with IRC and DCC, channels like #bookz, #ebooks etc. on Undernet is all you need to download and read sample hundreds of thousands of legal (and otherwise) books that are already converted to the .lit format.

It took me a couple of hours of search and experimentation (mixed with answering a few emails) to get all the steps right, so I hope this post saves somebody a few minutes of their lives.

Desktop Tower Defense – An Inspiration to Young Entrepreneurs

DTD turned one week old recently. I used to play a lot of Desktop Tower Defense (or DTD as it is more commonly known) when it was launched and went crazily viral, thanks to a bunch of popular blogs that covered it.

Paul and Dave, the two guys behind DTD, shared the figures (100,000$) that they have earned in the first year of this small but addictive game on their blog. They also shared the story of the creation of DTD. It is a must read for the young web entrepreneurs of Pakistan (and elsewhere). This one small flash game enabled them to quit their day jobs and start their own casual game firm by the name of Casual Collective. So go read it!

Bomb Blast in Islamabad Today

An italian restaurant in Islamabad that had the misfortune to be a popular foreigner hangout was blown up by a planted bomb a few hours ago. You can read all about it on google [link] so I won't regurgitate the facts here, but I just need to get a few thoughts off my chest, that came to my mind after hearing the news.

Firstly, the terrorists are finally getting some common sense and not blowing themselves up – which is bad new for us. Secondly, how come nobody has taken the responsibility for the last few bomb blasts?! Normally, Taleban/Al Quaida etc. rush forward and tell why they did it, but unless I have missed some important news, these attacks are the work of an anonymous peace-hating terrorist entity. Why aren't Al-Quaida/Taleban etc. being blamed explicitly this time? I thought their sole purpose of existence was to take the blame for terrorist attacks, bombings, floods and earthquakes etc. Thirdly, can we please stop "strongly condemn"ing these attacks please, its getting irritating now.

Bell Canada was researching a possible outsourcing setup (which would have turned into a big thing eventually, them being Ma Bell and all) a couple of months ago, but they dropped the idea right after the GPO blast happened. I know of two small software shops whose investors have lost their confidence in Pakistan and are pulling out of here next month – and the security situation played a significant part in driving them out. The last time I saw a similar mass exodus was post-9/11, when Align Technology pulled out of Lahore and left 1000 or so odd people jobless in Lahore, with an expertise that had no other potential employers (virtual orthodontics treatment).

With this latest attack aimed at the foreigners, we won't exactly be attracting more international business, which is a real pity. Perhaps the indian IT industry has hired this new generation of freelance terrorists to push the tiny share of business that comes to Pakistan back into India. Yep, that's one good scapegoat.

We don't need to be bombed back to the stone ages by the US of A, they can save their bombs for Iraq and Afghanistan. We are a self-sufficient nation and will gladly do the job ourselves TYVM.