PTCL Broadband Cuts Rates (or Doubles Bandwidth) And removes the download limit

I heard the (semi-verified) rumor that PTCL is doubling its bandwidth from tomorrow (1st March 2008). They will be dropping the 256k package, and bringing all costs 1 step down, so the new rates are going to be 512kbps for 1200Rs. and 2Mbps for 5000 Rs.! That is a step closer to the rates that should have been the last few years.

With the frequent bans (youtube last week, blogger/blogspot today), I can't see what we will do with all this extra bandwidth, but it is generous of PTCL nonetheless. Lets see if knows how to limbo.

UPDATE: It is official now! [link] They are also removing the download limits.

Election Commission of Pakistan “Hacker Free” Website

flag(Sorry about the waving flag, couldn't resist the temptation). With nothing better to do, I just visited the Election Commission of Pakistan Election Results website (yes, that's the sequel (no pun intended) to the state-of-the-art live voter database website that I wrote about here , the one that can't find me, thereby making me a dead voter)… and was refreshing the results page every couple of minutes, when I finally managed to come across the crash that my brother had mentioned a few minutes earlier. He had also mentioned that the site is extremely slow (he is sitting in Cambridge right now) but since our CEO promised us servers and bandwidth not found anywhere else on the planet, so I'm pretty sure it must be the UK ISPs that are too slow for the site.

Anyway, I digress… so here are the screenshots for your forehead slapping pleasure:

It seems that an Index was out of range… take a closer look… yep, the site is still running in debug mode, and the path to the files on the server are visible. ecp-dotnet-crash

And here's another screen-shot, a 'Parser Error' this time… Oops!


The vsite in the url probably means they have multiple applications hosted on virtual servers. If you compare the Election Results website with this website, you will probably come to the conclusion that the talented developers (read interns @ 10,000 per month or less) weren't exactly familiar with either web design or the way ASP.NET membership/roles framework works, but were rescued by Google and were able to "borrow" and copy/paste from the example to save the day.

I wouldn't be too surprised if there are a half dozen SQL injection possibilities in there, or if the website has an /admin/ folder somewhere in the URL schema (as an 'admin' section is found in 90% of websites developed by our Pakistani programmers), or if there is some left-over code from the examples that will allow anyone to register and mess with the website.

10 years ago, one message on any Pakistani IRC channel would have been enough to take this website down, but at this point in time, I can only pray that the website stays online for the next couple of days so that the guys get their 10 hours of crash-free fame (I think they've already had their fortune delivered to them in Canada). I also hope that they find and fix the flaws before the site gets hit by hackers, and only because I don't want the rest of the world to have one more chance to laugh at us, we can do that job ourselves.

Memory Hungry PHP Applications on Shared Hosting

If you run your WordPress on a shared hosting server like / (which have excellent service by the way), and have several memory-hungry php applications or WordPress plugins installed, you must have run into an "Allowed memory size exhausted" fatal error a few times. For me it happened yesterday while uploading a mere 12MB of images (1MB per image) and trying to ask the NextGen Gallery plugin to discover them and generate thumbnails. WordPress ran out of memory after 32MB and died with the above exception.  Though one can't ask a lot from a 6$ per month hosting provider, and since 32MB ought to be enough for everyone (hehe), I decided to spend some valuable time in trying to find a workaround to the limitation, before deciding to dump the NextGen plugin. Here's what I found out: Read more “Memory Hungry PHP Applications on Shared Hosting”

On the Clueless Ministry of Information Technology Pakistan

I originally started this post to share this spanking brand spanking new report on Broadband penetration in Pakistan by our Ministry of Information Technology titled "Is Entire Pakistan Underserved?", and was just going to write something weakly funny about it like "Yes, you bet it is, you could have asked me instead of wasting money on publishing a 39 page report about it"… but here's what went wrong….

Read more “On the Clueless Ministry of Information Technology Pakistan”

PTCL Triple Play Project

LESCO, teamed with my local ISP (who gives bandwidth on LAN, and therefore, dies with every one hour power failure) finally made me bite the bullet and move to the PTCL Triple Play Project aka Broadband Pakistan today. The PTCL techs just left after installing the connection (in 10 minutes) and the speed tests so far are not bad at all.

PTCL speed

Contrary to my expectations, I have had a very smooth customer service experience till now. One of the few good things about Broadband Pakistan is that you can get it upgraded and downgraded for free with one phone call, and you will be charged according to your usage. They didn't give me a wifi modem though (they save them for the 1Mbps lines, discriminating 8@$tards!), but told me to call their office after 4-5 days and they will change the modem (I hope they are true to their words). Now I just need to test the one dozen UPSes lying around to find a working one and I'll be a bit less dependent on LESCO.