Volunteer Computing

15 September 2017
Volunteer Computing
Distributed Computing

Volunteer computing is an arrangement where volunteers provide or donate their computer resources to projects. That way, these projects are able to do really advanced and time-consuming computations. Most of these projects are scientific trying to solve different problems. Some are run by universities and other not for profit foundations. According to Wikipedia, the first volunteer project started in 1996. Since then, the technology has progressed and many volunteer projects are now out there trying to solve real world problems; some, perhaps, not too real-worldly.

Over the years I have taken part in different volunteer computing projects.  My first one was SETI@home. It is a distributed computing project based at UC Berkeley. SETI@home had its own software at the time. Now along with many other projects, it uses BOINC–an open source software for volunteer computing. Around the same time, I also contribute to Folding@home,  which is a volunteer computing project that researches protein folding based at Stanford university.
Currently, I am participating in multiple projects, such as Citizen Science Grid, World Community Grid, Asteroids@home, POGS, SETI@home, ClimatePrediction.net and MindModeling. For some I give more resource than the others, depending on my own set of priorities.

How does BOINC work

BOINC Screenshot

Once you install BOINC, you choose one or more projects to contribute to. Each project will download a set of tasks to your computer and start computing. Upon completion, the results are uploaded to the project server. Once each task is completed, the volunteer receives points which is used for ranking purposes. It also gives the volunteer a sense of achievement.
There are teams where a group of people have come together and created a team based on their geographic location or other attributes. It gives it a more sense of community and positive competition. Some people prefer to join such teams, other choose not to.

Because of the large number of PCs, smart-phones and tablets in the world, volunteer computing provides more computing power to science projects than any other type of computing. BOINC works within your available resources. You can set it up to only use your computer processor when it is not busy or is least busy. You can install it on your mobile and run it while you are charging your phone.

Join Volunteer Computing

By joining any of these projects, you will only give your device’s idle time. These projects are researching diseases, looking out for asteroids, predict climate changes, work with number theories and even try to find aliens. So when you participate, you will be doing a world of good. Become part of a great network of people who are contributing to solving real problems all the time. There is no better way to use your device’s idle time.

qmake: command not found…

11 January 2017

QT - qmake I have started to learn QT and when I tried to compile my first practice program. I could not. qmake was missing. It was a silly oversight on my part or too late into the night. Nevertheless I am sure I am not the only one and someone might find this useful.

So you have installed QT and all the necessary libraries and every time you tried to run qmake, you  got  the “command not found” error message? Well…. it is not necessarily missing.

This exact problem happened to me. I was a little frustrated and decided to call it a  night when I did the simplest of things. I hit the tab key after typing qm and there it was:


You may have a different version, but it seems that the issue has been there for some time. Either use that command or create a symbolic link:

sudo ln -s `which qmake-qt5` /usr/bin/qmake

You may want to create the link somewhere in your home directory and add the location to your PATH. I have a local bin directory in ~/.local/bin/.

Muslim Lives Matter: Bias in the Mainstream Media

12 February 2015

While main stream media is a little confused as to how a crime can happen against Muslims, I can confirm that it can and it did. I would also like to clarify that the shooter of the three Muslims in Chapel Hill was an atheist, Richard Dawkins fan, Inspired by Sam Harris rhetoric, a lover of guns and promoter of new-atheism. He is a non-Muslim terrorist and this was an act of terror, not just a simple hate crime, like painting hateful graffiti on the wall of a Masjid. Muslim lives matter!

And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: “They are dead.” Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not. Qur’an 2:154

Media coverage has been disgusting. It took a very long time for media to start properly reporting on the issue and when it did, they made it sound as if Muslims lives are not as important.

Media Bias
Fox news website reporting the Chapel Hill shooting right at the bottom of the page

So do not worry, it is not Ghaza that gets imbalanced media coverage, if something happened here in Australia, in the states or any other country, unless Muslims can be blamed, the news will not get enough coverage.

I personally  first read about the shooting on Twitter:

It appeared that the the idea of reporting by mainstream media was also to collect twitter feeds and republish them on a page, like this:

It didn’t seem important for mainstream media to send a reporter to the scene and instead relied on social media.

Activists and cartoonists have been quick to condemn mainstream media for their bias and sub-slandered reporting of crimes against Muslims. Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) Tweeted this gem:

Muslim Lives Matter by Carlos Latuff
Muslim Lives Matter (#ChapelHillShooting) by Carlos Latuff

The three Muslims who were murdered in cold blood were Deah, his wife Yosur and her sister Razan were three exemplary young people who enjoyed life, worked hard, did voluntary work, helped the poor and less fortunate. You can see Deah in this video trying to raise funds for Project:Refugee Smiles, a dental relief program for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Deah and Yosur had just got married less than 2 months ago. Surely they had plans to live a long life happily, finish their studies, settle down, bring new lives into this world and whatever else a young couple dream of. Alas they were not given the chance to do any of those. May Allah disgrace this murderer who has robbed a family of their future.

The man charged with this crime, many have already anticipated will be deemed mentally ill and put into an institution. I hope this is not the case and he faces the full force of law and is given the maximum possible sentence.

No amount of condolences and sympathy will lessen the pain their family is feeling right now. All we can do is to pray for them.

May Allah forgive and make Jannat al-Firdaws the abode of Deah, Yosur and Razan and bestow upon their loved ones patience and comfort in the face of such calamity.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan – A Review 2 Years too Late

30 January 2015

I rarely watch Bollywood movies anymore. The rate of Bollywood movie consumption dropped dramatically in early 2000s and eventually reduced to maybe 1 or 2 movies a year. I only watch when someone who I know that knows my taste suggests a movie. Most of the time it works. Sometimes, they sneak in something that is not up to par. Jab Tak Hai Jaan was one of those.

I had no intention to blog this. It started as a Facebook status update, but I thought it was a bit too long for that. So I decided to bring it here; after all it is the BlogEtcetera.

Since the release of Jab Tak Hain Jaan, I had been told to watch it. “It is such a great move, Yaar.”, “Qasam se Yaar…. It is very good film.”, they kept telling me, followed by consistent follow ups whether I did or not. Eventually I decided to give it a try. It was horrible.

Dear Shah Rukh Khan fans, When Shah Rukh Khan is in a movie, it doesn’t automatically make it a good movie. It is a fact of life that you have to deal with somehow.

Adding to my shock was Katrina Kaif’s performance. It was the first Katrina Kaif movie I watched, I think (unless I have seen one that was so bad that I no longer remember). She may be ‘hot’, if you are into that kind of thing, but as far as acting is concerned…. she is not!

When you tell someone a certain movies is “great”, it means it is 9/10 or 8 at the least. New story line, innovative cinematography, exceptional characters, astonishing cast and great set of songs in case of Bollywood, unprecedented story, or if Sanjay Dutt is in it. Any combination of two of the above might work.

In JTHJ, the only good thing was the song, Challa. The video clip was not bad, except the guitar playing. It was as if he didn’t try to learn the cords.

The movie is full of fails and epic fails. I would have liked to start from the worst one but I think I will go in the order of scenes in the movie. Mind you, I am just picking the ones that I thought was major stuff-ups!

Fail No. 1 – She is drowning: To win a bet, Akira dives into a river and the water is so cold and then she cannot swim and is about drown. Samar saves her. She later on mentions that she was national level swimmer.

Fail No. 2 – Sir Jesus: They thought it would sound cute if Shah Rukh used this to talk about Jesus Christ. It is not cute. It is silly.

Fail No. 3 – One of the most typical scenes, riding away on motorbike, turning around to say I love you and the accident. Then, the girl making a deal with God to save him.

Fail No. 4 – Saving Akira from the explosion: Akira was supposed to film him during action, but she is busy filming something else while listening to Music. She is so out of it, that she doesn’t see or hear Major Samar. Then she walks backwards. Major Samar runs away from the explosives towards Akira but then explosion happens on the other side away from the car where the explosives were. Let’s not forget that the explosion didn’t happen with Major Samar pulled the wire to uncover the detonator. No wonder he had defused about 100 explosives to date.

Fail No. 5 – I am not a journalist and I have not worked in any major media outlet, but I am pretty certain Discovery channel wouldn’t ask an Indian major to fly all the way to London to verify his story. There are easier and cheaper ways.

Fail No. 6 – The accident number 2: This is the 3rd time he saves Akira. At some point one has to wonder how had Akira managed to stay alive before meeting the major.

Fail No. 7 – Memory Loss: Are you kidding me? This is probably the most overused and abused scenario in Hindi movies and the best one is probably Ghajini, which is a ripoff of Memento. I will not go on about this. If you are familiar with Bollywood movies you would know how ridiculous some of those memory loss scenarios are.

Fail No. 8 – Putting down the Pakistani guy: “Yeh Jahel Lahori?” I am sure they could have come up with something that the word Lahori in it. How about just “Yeh Jahel?”, “Ye Ulloo ka Patha”, “Ye bewuqoof aadmi”. The subtitles, don’t say “this ignorant Lahori” it just says “this Lahori”. Bravo for making sure your racism is not discovered by none-hindi speakers.

Fail No. 9 – Should we tell him?: The scene where the three women are discussing whether to tell Samar the truth is extremely poor. The acting is bad! The dialogue is ridiculous. The worst is, when Dr Khan says that she wanted to do this in another 2 weeks time but maybe it is a good time now. Maybe? Are you a doctor or an astrologer? Three sentence later she says it is the best chance. What is it? Maybe now or two weeks or now is the best chance? All cannot be true at the same time.

So when Akira meets Samar and pretends that she didn’t know him before and when they were going around filming. It hit me. I just knew how he would gain his memory and this leads us to fail No. 10 and the worst of them all.

Fail No. 10 – The Bomb in the Train: So as I mentioned, I knew this would happen. Believe me when I tell you that I had not read about this or watched the trailer or anything. I just knew it that major Samar will defuse a bomb in London and will get his memories back. The whole thing is ridiculous but let me tell you the worst of them all. London cops, underground train station, let a man who appears middle eastern, south-central asian near a bomb to defuse it, simply because he mumble some technical jargon? If he had discovered the bomb before cops showed up, then that would make it a tiny-little-bit plausible, but this was too much.

It should have been the last straw, but I thought let’s just watch on and hopefully he will ditch Meera and hook up with Akira. I knew I was only lying to myself to watch this to the end.

That Friday Energy

10 October 2014
That Friday Energy
That Friday Energy

You have got to love Fridays for the sheer amount of energy you feel thinking it is the last day of the week. It is weird. One should feel more tired, worn-out after a long week of work, yet it is not the case. It is obviously all in our heads. We could score the same amount of energy or thereabouts other days if we were to think.

There is no doubt we all like to be in the comfort of our homes with our loved ones or out there doing something fun. But if we manage to change our workplace to accommodate some level of comfort or fun, then perhaps we could manage to feel as energetic as Fridays, every other day. So what is stopping us? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons we might feel like crap at work:

  • We no longer enjoy the work we do (or we never did)
  • We no longer like the people we work with (or never did)
  • We see our work as means to an end
  • Our work environment is boring/unpleasant
  • Our work hours are not flexible

There could be a lot of other reasons but we suffice with the above.

If you do not enjoy our work but you used to do, maybe something changed or you changed or it probably became very routine. In these cases there are things you can do change things around.

Obviously, you can always look for new opportunities within the organisation you work for or elsewhere. You can also ask around for secondment opportunities which is a good idea to move away from that routine day-to-day work you do. But the way to make things interesting in your current work is to suggest new ideas to management to improve the way you work, experiment with methodologies, use your break time to do something different every time.

You cannot change people’s attitude easily, if someone’s negative attitude is causing you grief at work. Sometimes it could be the way we perceive things and they may not be that way in reality. See, if your issue is you and not that person. In which case it is simpler, because you will have to change your attitude. But if it is definitely the other person’s fault, then perhaps speak with them. It could be a misunderstanding or if you are right and reasonable and they are reasonable, then they might agree to adjust. Let go of petty disagreements. Be accepting of people as long as their behaviour is not harming you in any way. At the same time, don’t be a pushover. Stand up for yourself.

For a lot of us, our work may be just a means to an end. But there is no reason one should suffer under it. You shouldn’t think of your work as only a source of income but also as a way that you are contributing to the society (of course unless you are doing dodgy and/or criminal stuff in which case you should suffer) and should feel proud of what you do.

Think about the last person you served or worked with or your last achievement no matter how small. Think about how it may have made a difference or made someone’s problems diminish or go away. Right about now, you should feel good about yourself.
It is not about how big a deal it was to you but what it meant to them and how it would have them a step closer to their goal. Think how you do this all the time, day in and day out. This way, your work will be a source of happiness and you will feel a sense of accomplishment.

I am sure these are very simple common sense issues that everyone at some point thought about, but it is a good thing to remind ourselves every now and again that we are important and what we do is important, if not to everyone, to those who are directly or indirectly impacted positively by it.

Now tap that Friday energy every day and feel the best you can feel every day of the week.

Pretend Democracy Campaign in Afghanistan takes a blow

14 July 2014
Carrey, Abdullah and Ghani
Carrey, Abdullah and Ghani

A national unity government now in Afghanistan means that the struggles and oppression that people of Afghanistan went through since at least 2001 when NATO invaded Afghanistan were basically for nothing. It is like saying, “We made a mistakes. Let’s go back to drawing board and start over. Democarcy has failed.”

The idea that we are somewhat better off than 1992 is laughable at best.  A government of coalition is basically what was agreed upon in Berlin back then and this is what we are going back to. As a matter of fact it is the same as when the Mujahideen took over Kabul in 1992. Hundreds of thousands of people killed by kinds of murderers from Jihadis and Talibs to foreign fighters since then and the ending is where it all began.

The naivety of us to think that somehow we would become civil and incorporate some form of democracy in our society boggles my mind. But then again I said this several times. My friends with whom I had similar discussions over the years will attest to that.

The fact that supporters of Dr Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah embarassed themselves on social media belittling each other was not surprising either. This was exactly what happened back in 1994. Hekmatyar was on about the fact that Rabani had joined with Kuffar but the moment he had an opportunity to make a deal with Dostum he did not think twice. Similarly, people in Dr Abdullah’s camp throwing all sorts of hypocritical statements that Ashraf Ghani has joined with Dostum while they were the ones who empowered Dostum to being with.

The idea that somehow one of these people will make a difference in the lives of common Afghans is a tall tale. The fact that people are so up in arms to defend these symbols of neo-clonialism is shameful. I am just hoping that at least some issues are addressed in the next couple of years, provided thugs do not jump each other before some order is established. However, political allegiances in Afghanistan being tribal and ethnocentric, it would be too much to hope for.

It is clear from what is happening in Iraq, Palestine and Syria that America has no intention of letting peace finds its way in the middle east. Similarly, this development in Afghanistan is a proof that the same is true for Afghanistan.

Thus a Thug Becomes an Afghan Hero

11 March 2014
Marshal Fahim
Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim

 I will not mourn the death of Marshal Fahim for a moment let alone three days.

This idea of holding national mourning is absolutely ridiculous.  I have not seen a single positive achievement from Fahim to make his death a sad occurrence.

There is a saying in Dari, “Morgh kam Goish kam” which roughly translates, “The fewer the chicken, the less chickenshit.”
I am being very insensitive here but none of the warlords who brought death and destruction to Afghanistan have any right on people to hold three days of mourning. Frankly, this is embarrassing for the government to announce three days of national mourning for a person whose sole interest was his growing wealth. Will all government high ranking officials get three day national mourning? I doubt it.

Fahim was not a hero by far and not a man who deserves kindness and prayers from people.  Throughout his time, there have been several reports of human rights violations and corruption, including occupying land illegally.
In 2005 Human Rights Watch described Fahim as “one of the most notorious warlords” and implicated him of torture and murder. In recent years he was associated with Kabul criminal gangs that were involved in abductions and smuggling of weapons and drugs.
He has also been refereed to as “semi literate, self appointed field marshal, and one of the principal obstacles to Afghan unity because of his alleged ruthless threats, beatings and general thuggery, ” in The Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan.

His legacy a long with his friends, in addition to all deaths and destruction that he is directly and indirectly responsible, is also the invasion of Afghanistan by foreign forces.

In few days or weeks, they will probably name a street after him, if they haven’t done that and few year later a statue will be erected for him and he will be named a national hero.. and thus a thug becomes a hero.

A Shared Ramadan Experience

7 August 2013

We are only two Muslims in our company, but every Ramadan almost everyone else fasts one day to share the Ramadan experience with us. Our work organises a dinner for those who fast. This year, one of our colleagues emailed us the following and with her permission I decided to post it here.

Iftar at Lazzat Kadah

When we were first approached and invited to be a part of Ramadan we all thought that it would be a breeze, a lot of us are constantly forgetting to eat lunch anyway, skipping dinner or breakfast because we are too busy too.

What we realised as we inched closer and closer to the day (Tuesday this week) was that there wouldn’t be a cup of tea on arrival at the office in the morning. No afternoon coffee and banana. No glass of water to sip on to keep us refreshed throughout the day. What we all also didn’t realise is that we would have to wake up before the crack of dawn to eat. I know that was my plan, but at 5.30 in the morning just didn’t happen for some reason 😉 zzzzzzzz

So, at 8.30am when I arrived at the office I was already hungry. Mainly because I knew there was 8 hours and 6 minutes until anything was going in my mouth. I know I wasn’t the only one on the countdown to 5.36pm.

I think the biggest struggle throughout the office was not having a comforting, refreshing cup of tea or coffee and having some kind of fruit or snack to get us through the afternoon slowdown.

Anyway, all 12 of us made it as far as I am aware (unless someone did a sneaky). 8 of us then made the journey, which seemed to take forever on an empty tummy, to Lazzat Kadah, a Pakistani Restaurant in Coburg for our well deserved Iftar.

I know that I will be taking part in Ramadan fasting next year and I hope that others will continue to do so. It wasn’t only my first time taking part in fasting (I don’t count the 40 hour famine when I was 8, I had 2 packets of barley sugars and a carton of just juice) it was the first time for a few others in the office too. I have heard that the first time is the hardest, and that it gets easier. I hope this is true. I guess we will all find out next year 🙂

Thanks for organising this great experience. I really, really really appreciated my tea this morning.

Ramadan 2013 is around the corner

7 July 2013
Ramadhan (Photo credit: ihtatho)

By now most preparations are done. Muslims around the world will be celebrating the holy month of Ramadan in few days.
For us in Australia it is going to be rather easy with short and cold days. May Allah make it easy for those brothers and sisters who live in the places where they have to fast for 16 hours and more. With heat from one side, hunger from the other and on top of that, other temptations will sure make things rather unpleasant, but remember that in Allah’s pleasure rests our pleasure.

Let’s evaluate what does Ramadan mean to us. What do we see in Ramadan? Do we use it as an opportunity to leave our sinful past behind or just as a bridge to connect two sinful parts of our lives?

I have witnessed many people who use this month as a month to repent their sins and afterwards go back to their old life. While, it is not for us to judge their actions, it becomes our duty to remind them that this is a month of refinement and improvement. If one intends to go back to old habits, then there is no point in improvement. Sure, our good deeds will reap rewards from Allah, but this is not the sole purpose of Ramadan. It should be seen as one of many doors out of the world of sin and our intention should be that once on the other side, the door should never open again for us to go back.

Inshallah, this year like every other year, the month of Ramadan will bring joy to the lives of Muslims and fill their hearts with Taqwa (God-conciousness).


May Allah give Barakah to all Muslims and the ability to fast the month of Ramadan.
May Allah allow us in this holy month to worship Him as we have never before.
May Allah make this month a time to repent our sins and not go stray.
May Allah bring and keep our children to the right path, the path of those who He has bestowed His mercy upon.
May Allah cause those of us and our loved ones who have strayed from the straight path, to return.
May Allah’s forgiveness showers our deceased.
May Allah cure our ill, solve our problems, open our hearts to words of Hikmah, strengthen our hearts and make us steadfast on His path.


Aameen Ya Rab-el-Alameen



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AWK: Sum of a Column

29 May 2013

Imagine you have a file with multiple columns and you need to quickly get the total of a column in command line in UNIX. The easiest way is to use AWK in the command line.

Let’s take the following file:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 12

To get the sum of column number 7 execute the following command:

awk '{sum+=$7} END {print sum}' datafile.txt

You will get the sum of 7, 8 and 9


Let’s now write a small script to calculate the sum of a column and also print a running total.


2010 191 291 391 491 591 691 791 891 991
2011 144 286 391 491 591 691 791 891 991
2012 112 254 354 454 554 654 754 854 954
2013 191 291 391 491 591 691 791 891 991
2014 191 291 391 491 591 691 791 891 991
2015 178 291 391 491 591 691 791 891 991


#!/bin/awk -f
# scriptname: calc_sum
# input: column number, data file
    printf ("\tValue\tRunning total\n")
    sum += $colnum;
    printf ("%s:\t%.2f\t%.2f\n", $1, $colnum, sum)
END { 
    printf ("Total:%.2f\n", sum)


$ calc_sum colnum=8 datafile.txt


        Value   Running total
2010:   791.00  791.00
2011:   791.00  1582.00
2012:   754.00  2336.00
2013:   791.00  3127.00
2014:   791.00  3918.00
2015:   791.00  4709.00
Total:  4709.00

Of course you can run the above program from the command line, but it is neater and readable this way.