TechLahore

Musings on technology, startups and software

Pepper.pk completes Hat-trick of World #1 titles with Ninja Fruit Bash!

Pepper.pk's Ninja Fruit Bash is their third World #1 App on BlackBerry AppWorld in 2011

Pepper.pk's Ninja Fruit Bash is their third World #1 App on BlackBerry AppWorld in 2011

Lahore-based Pepper.pk has been in the news quite a bit recently and that’s only because they’ve been doing newsworthy things! They’ve just completed a previously unparalleled feat – their third application, Ninja Fruit Bash, has hit World #1 on Blackberry Appworld. With over 25,000 applications now listed on the marketplace, this is no small achievement if you accomplish it just once. But three times, and that too, within the span of a single year, is just unbelievable.

The Express Tribune has covered their achievement here. And you can learn more about the application at this Pepper.pk micro-site focused on the game. Once can see that the finesse in these apps is continuing to become more and more pronounced. [Read the rest of this entry...]

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Pakistan’s foreign reserves rise to all time high of $18.25B

Despite challenges, Pakistan's resilient economy continues to strengthen and grown

Despite challenges, Pakistan's resilient economy continues to strengthen and grow

There’s been a flurry of economy related news about Pakistan recently, and we’ve tried to hit the highlights at least. Another positive development is the substantial growth in Pakistan’s foreign reserve position which has now reached an all time historic high of $18.25B. This increase is due to many factors, the two most important being the increase in foreign exchange remittances being sent to the country by Pakistani workers abroad, and the improvement in the import/export gap. That this high has been achieved at a time when global oil prices are relatively steep, is even more expensive. One would imagine that as oil prices ease – which seems to be an almost universal expectation – the rate of growth of the national foreign exchange reserve would accelerate further.

The implications of this rise are interesting. In the near-medium term, one would imagine this addresses any fears of weakness in the Pakistani Rs. So for near/medium term investments of foreign moneys into Pakistan, value loss due to a depreciation in the Pak Rs. presents a much reduced risk. With that being considered, the KSE is still posting tremendous returns and numerous banks in the country are offering 11-14.5% returns on deposits, CDs and TFCs. 10-11% is fairly typical on CD-like instruments with a 90-180 day maturity. Research has shown that, in Pakistan, the foreign exchange reserve position actually has a positive correlation with the stock market levels. So a rise in the reserve levels almost certainly implies a rise in the KSE index. Thus, with the foreign exchange rising continuously, remittances increasing and hence the Pak Rs. stabilizing, an 11% return on a 90 day note presents a great opportunity for short term, almost no risk exposure to the Pakistani market, with tremendous return potential. There is nothing to suggest that a large number of folks have picked up on this opportunity, but we’ll see if this becomes a popular option in the weeks ahead.  [Read the rest of this entry...]

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US-Pakistan Internet connectivity vs US-India connectivity: How do the two countries stack up?

I’m travelling in the US on business and one of the things I’ve been pretty impressed with is how great my remote desktop connections with my office in Lahore have been from pretty much every US city I’ve visited. I’ve been regularly pulling down large (multi-gig) files stored on our servers in Lahore and also conducting latency sensitive remote control practically on a daily basis. It’s not just the bandwidth, but also the relatively low latency (considering that I’m connecting to the other end of the planet) that makes things work well. Since there is so much software and IT outsourcing now happening from the US to Pakistan, I decided I would try to measure the quality of connectivity between the two countries and compare it with another outsourcing destination, for example, India. Here are my results:

[Read the rest of this entry...]

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How Hate Makes Money

I don’t usually share stuff like this, but this particular piece of garbage is so preposterous - while at the same time – villainous, that it just has to be commented on. I chanced upon it at a financial website I visit quite routinely. The “presentation” in question is basically an ad for a company called Agora Financial, and what they’re peddling is financial/investment information. Their premise on why you would be interested in their crap is the “fact” that they have uncovered a gigantic coming tsunami that has been almost 1,400 years in the making!

Built on the illogic of ridiculously warped history which includes gems such as the, shall we say, “innovation” that the (“controversial”, according to this presentation) Prophet Muhammad passed away due to the consumption of poisoned lamb, this glorified ad goes on to suggest that a war between “shias and sunnis” is coming, and that it will engulf the entire Middle East. Yeah, right. That war between the shias and sunnis predictions of which have been tucked away in the back pages of 50c evening tabloids. That very same war which certain vested interest groups tried to spark within Iraq, but which never quite took off… why? Because, frankly, the shia/sunni divide is hogwash. Shias and sunnis have lived together throughout the muslim world, and but for the funded hatred by certain despots who also happen to be the favourite customers of the world’s largest arms vendors, there ain’t much raw material to work with there. We’re not talking about South African apartheid, or American Civil Rights era discrimination… but when did logic get in the way of fear mongering? And especially when such fear mongering is driven by the motivation for profit. [Read the rest of this entry...]

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VDIworks VDP: A great connection broker and management platform for Desktop Virtualization

The Virtual Desktop Platform by VDIworks is a great connection broker and also provides a single place for you to view, deploy and manage your entire Virtual Desktop environment

The Virtual Desktop Platform by VDIworks is a great connection broker and also provides a single place for you to view, deploy and manage your entire Virtual Desktop environment

The Dawn of Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization is all the rage these days, with all the leading industry publications evangelizing its virtues day and night. We’ve tried our hand with numerous VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) products and find that the set of tools are now rapidly maturing. One of the products that’s particularly impressive is the Virtual Desktop Platform (VDP) by VDIworks. In this post, we’ll try to explain why.

One of the core challenges with desktop virtualization has been complexity. The complexity of deploying all the required components, the complexity of managing the environment, the complexity of changing existing desktop support models and workflows to account for the new infrastructure, and so on. One of the sorely missed features in VDI management technology has been integration. In other words, the ability for an administrator to quickly and simply visualize their environment and solve their problems from a single management console. Not everyone has the ability or time to install and monitor six or seven different management solutions just to support their VDI install, but yet, this is what most vendors push you towards. Let us give you some examples. [Read the rest of this entry...]

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Four pieces of good news for the Pakistani Economy

There’s quite a bit to feel good about with respect to the recent news regarding the Pakistani economy. Here is a quick summary:

1) When the floods hit, there was widespread reporting that the budget deficit would hit 7% and in fact, some commentators from across the border even speculated that it would reach 8%. In the Finance Minister’s budget speech, it was confirmed that the budget deficit actually reached only 5.1% for the year, a far cry from 7 or 8%. This is perhaps just one more indication that on the subject of Pakistan, whatever negativity you see in the press, you should generously discount. This economy was able to weather the WoT, the global financial crisis and the floods quite well in 2010. [Read the rest of this entry...]

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Karachi Stock Exchange says loud “meh” to the media and closes at 3 1/2 month high

Hello Reality! The KSE heads to a 3 1/2 month high despite tipsy anti-pakistan diatribes being pushed in the US media

Hello Reality! The KSE heads to a 3 1/2 month high despite tipsy anti-pakistan diatribes being pushed in the US media

With all the nonsense in the press since May 2, you would think the world was about to come to an end. But no. As usual, the NY Times and WaPo have about as much credibility on the subject of Pakistan as do the predictions of that nutcase  Denver based right-wing priest, Harold Camping, and his Christian Family Radio on the subject of the Earth’s longevity. And if a loud echoing, face-reddening slap could be delivered to such naysayers for the animal excrement one now finds plastered on the front pages of the Post and the Times, it was this: The Karachi Stock Exchange, Pakistan’s largest bourse, has closed on a 3 1/2 month high at 12,198.12 points. Forget the PM’s speech in Parliament and forget whatever Gen. Kiyani has to say. Let’s focus on reality and the facts on the ground. Let’s focus on what thousands of investors and business people who are connected to the core of this country and are clued in to tens of thousands of active projects actually think about the future. [Read the rest of this entry...]

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The Power of Distribution

Generic brands are gunning for Starbucks' bottled products business. And this can teach us a lot about the power of distribution.

Generic brands are gunning for Starbucks' bottled products business. And this can teach us a lot about the power of distribution.

I was in the US on a business trip when I walked into one of my favourite grocery stores over a lazy’ish weekend. This was a large regional chain that has hundreds of locations and huge stores. The variety of products they carry is pretty wide ranging and I usually find I can get everything I need in one trip, so I prefer going there when I can spare the time. Now, one of my regular purchases are those 4-packs of Starbucks bottled coffee that I typically enjoy with breakfast. When I visited the aisle where they stock these, I was greeted by something rather amusing: the big grocery store chain was still carrying Starbucks, of course, but right next to it there were almost identically packaged products being sold under the grocery store’s generic brand. The bottles were shaped almost exactly the same and though the package had different colours, the form factor of the package was identical. But that wasn’t the least of it. On top were bright yellow coupons which said, “Buy one Starbucks 4-pack and get our coffee 4-pack free!”. So in other words, everyone who buys Starbucks bottled coffee would be absolutely crazy not to try this… I certainly did. [Read the rest of this entry...]

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Pepper.pk’s LED Notifier becomes the World’s #1 Blackberry App

Another Pepper.pk app hits the Global #1 on Appworld!

Another Pepper.pk app hits the Global #1 on Appworld!

Ok, I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but when the news is this awesome, I hardly mind! You may remember that a few months ago we covered Lahore-based Pepper.pk’s Photo Editor application which had made it to World #1 on Blackberry Appworld. Well, they’ve done it again, and this time with a different app, called LED Notifier. How awesome is that?

There are a number of companies in our local industry doing excellent application development for mobile platforms. Some of these are gaming outfits like TinTash and GenITeam, while others are more generally focused, such as TkXel. Pepper.pk’s string of hits – which by the way are not restricted just to World #1 on Blackberry Appworld – but include other honours, such as placement on Handango’s Top 10 list, being picked as a Blackberry Regional Selection, producing a World #4 iTunes utility and much else. [Read the rest of this entry...]

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Forex Remittances to Pakistan break all records, exceeding $1BN in a single month.

A huge slinky made of $1.052 dollars hops into Pakistan in March 2011

A huge slinky made of $1.052B dollars hops into Pakistan in March 2011

We usually keep a close eye on indicators such as the influx of remittances, our foreign reserves and stock indices. But what we’ve just learned about remittance trends for March has actually caught us off guard… and in a good way! Over the last several years, rising remittances to Pakistan have been part of an amazing – yet undercovered – story. Pakistanis working and living abroad continue to demonstrate their confidence in the future of Pakistan by investing ever larger sums of money in their homeland. According to the State Bank of Pakistan’s figured, the influx of dollars exceeded $1.052 Billion in March alone, marking an almost 40% increase over the same period last year! [Read the rest of this entry...]

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