To the wanderer, traveller, or the seeker traversing the digital highway or roaming aimlessly, if you find yourself reading the content without any context, then the following should suffice as a perfect introduction in a few words: as an individual and professional, I find at least a couple of different mediums of expression quite enticing and either have had or still have a marked interest in a few other activities and fields.

List of Contents

  1. Computer Science
  2. Words and Authorship
  3. Cars and Machines
  4. Typography
  5. Photography
  6. Travel
  7. Gastronomy
  8. French Language

If the pithy introduction has only fortified the desire to acquaint yourself fully with the individual behind this website and other works, then before you proceed any further, I feel duty-bound as an author to disclose to you the following: As I wrote this section with the intention to shed light, as concisely as possible, on all that has over the years fascinated me as an “adult” or that in which I have had to invest time because of a lack of options, therefore, you would have to set aside at least a few minutes of your time to peruse the whole document; if you just want to read any particular section, then you can always rely on the “List of Contents” on the right hand side. Considering that it focuses on the years since leaving the college, therefore, I would like to add that I have left out a couple of activities that I not only participated but also excelled in during the early to mid teen years of my life.

To those of you still reading, as your persistence indicates the desire to know more, so without further ado, I divulge succinctly the technical and personal pursuits that now take up most of my time. As the list consists of at least a few items, so I should add that the time spent on each has shaped its order, starting with the subject or the field of study consuming the most time and culminating with the interest which these days gets least attention.

Interests: Acquired and Lifelong

  1. Computer Science

    Although I joined a CS institute in 1997 and now have a degree in CS — which, owing to an initial utter and unequivocal lack of interest in Computer Science, I largely obtained in absentia[1]: yes, if you try hard enough, then you can do that as well — the need and desire to learn computer science only started to take shape in the mid of 2002. Since then, owing to a multitude of factors, the progress towards the goal of becoming an expert software engineer has stalled many a time. Nevertheless, despite all of the issues, I now know a few languages and have successfully implemented a dozen or so small to medium size projects. During the course of this transformation — which involved plenty of learning, implementing, stumbling, some more stumbling, regrouping and more learning, and then some more stumbling — from a person utterly uninterested in computer science to an individual who now spends most of the day in front of the computer, I’ve discovered that the desire to find the optimal solution, irrespective of such a quest’s outcome, generally dictates the approach to problem solving.

    Regarding whatsoever little I now know as a CS professional, some background information should allow you to better understand why, even after an investement of over 7 years, I continue to remain an incomplete article in the aforementioned capacity. Despite attending lectures rarely[2] during the years at the university, by the end of the stipulated duration of the course, I had acquired an above average ability in implementing data structures — wonders of taking a repeat course from an exceptional teacher — and an average knowledge of and programming competence in C++ programming language. However, only after spending a couple of years in the industry did I eventually realize that an incontrovertible need existed to improve and expand the professional repertoire vastly.

    To remedy the situation, I started off the proceedings with a thorough study of the principles of software engineering and the C++ programming language. Although I managed to take the unsatisfactory ability to program in C++ to beyond just the good mark, owing to a combination of dearth of options, extremely poor working conditions, and systematic manipulation to ensure a certain type of outcome, I had to discontinue the study of said subjects. Furthermore, despite the newly discovered enthusiasm for computing in general and C++ in particular, I had to abandon the desire to gain guru level ability in C++, as well. To the perpetual skeptics and those of you who usually respond to such statements with a shrug of the shoulders or rolling of the eyes, I can only say this much that after reading the first dozen or so problems discussed in Exceptional C++ by Herb Sutter, I had to put it down as I simply could not find much more than C++ in those discussions. Based on the foregoing, I probably can claim that I had the guru status within sight, unfortunately, circumstances prevented me from triumphantly negotiating the last few hundred yards. The aforementioned effort to enhance the skills lasted for almost a couple of years, starting in the mid of 2002 and continuing until the end of the first quarter of 2004.

    After spending the next few years reading material not even remotely concerned with CS, I eventually switched to front-end development at some ponit in the last quarter of 2007. As I initiated the transitioning process without any guidance, hence, instead of following a slightly unsatisfactory course, the journey began in an utterly shambolic manner with JavaScript proving the savior on more occasions than anyone would like to admit. However, with the “essentially insignificant” exception of any financial gains, the persistence has paid off in more ways than one, as other than acquiring an above-par dexterity in frond-end development[3], I have not only developed an acute interest in matters concerning user experience but also become fully immersed in the field of computer science. I have, in all likelihood, read too many papers on topics pertaining to various aspects of CS, yet the list of unread articles and papers continues to grow steadily.

    1: In case of around 75 percent of courses, I managed to find successfully an agreeable and sympathetic individual who would shout “Present” whenever the teachers announced my name or registration number.

    2: The use of the word ‘rarely’ fails to capture the entire picture miserably.

    3: Since developing a better understanding of how Mr. Håkon Wium Lie’s brainchild works, I have only experienced further growth in fondness for the technology: extremely simple yet exceptionally useful.

  2. Words and Authorship

    I grew up watching American and British sitcoms and other programs — Perfect Strangers, Full House, MacGyver, Mind Your Language (who can forget Mr. Brown’s class, especially Giovanni), to name a few — and as many cartoon shows as I possibly could during the day — Tom and Jerry, Quick Draw Mcgraw, Pink Panther, Speedy Gonzalez, Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner, Hackle and Jackle, Danger Mouse, He Man, Voltron, Dynomutt and Blue Falcon, Harlem Globe Trotters, and probably a few more. To those of you now wondering about my academic performances, worry not my fellow beings, as during the initial 9 years in the educational system, I almost always remained a contender for the top spot, even if just within the current institution and not on national scale (an incomplete and modest introduction). Regarding the remaining 3 years, in 10th grade, owing to some exceptionally insightful decesion making, I ended up representing the school in 5 different extracurricular activities, as a result of which my grades plumeted from the usual 86-87% to a, from my personal standards, paltry 78.8%. Digression aside, meant to reassure the readers that they do not have at their disposal the narrative of a dumb average Joe, although this childhood exposure to English language programs only sparked an interest in mastering the art of verbal sparring, conversing freely for the uninitiated, in English, the decision to juggle research and development activity with quality content creation — whether blog posts, research papers, or books — around half a decade ago sparked an interest in the written word, as well, an interest which instead of losing steam continues to flourish.

    Granted that all of my efforts to win critical acclaim and approval of learned individuals have yet to produce results, however, at least for the foreseeable future, I plan to continue to publish well researched papers and proposals on aspects of computer science that I find captivating and most engaging, other matters of personal interest — of course, I live in an interconnected world in which statements made by an individual can greatly affect the lives of many — and an occasional poem or piece of fiction, as well.

  3. Cars and Machines

    Considering that when it comes to a teenager’s right to choose even the field of study, Pakistan should certainly rank amongst those countries still marooned firmly in the 18th century, consequently, I now find myself writing and testing computer code instead of devising ways to improve the thermodynamics of petrol engines and designing cars. Although I had a profound interest in machines and cars, however, through some incisive parental decision making, I found myself enrolled in a CS institution; well, as I usually only used to show up on the semester’s enrolment day and to appear in the final examination (slightly exaggerated description of the reality), hence just an enrolled student.

    Although the foregoing should have provided you with a clear picture of the level of interest majority of parents show in a teenager’s life, even if the narrative failed to paint a clear picture, you should, by now, have at least some vague idea of the extent to which most parents in this part of the world immerse themselves in the upbringing of their children properly and responsibly.

    That pithy digression aside, after spending some five or six years roaming the corridors of the CS institution and a few software development organizations aimlessly, I ultimately realised that a real need to learn exists, therefore, I should acquaint myself with the bits and bytes and learn a little about computer science, as well. Ultimately, the interest in machines started to take a backseat and at long last, around the year 2008 or 2009, it became more of a passing study than what used to consumes me; since then, that interest has experienced further erosion only, as the investment of time in acquisition of CS skills and knowledge has gradually increased. Visiting Top Gear, Road and Track, and on occasions, some other website on vehicles, and an occasional read on aeroplanes should capture perfectly the current level of interest in vehicles in particular and aeroplanes in general.

  4. Typography

    I first encountered a somewhat formally documented typeface[4] at some point during the last three years of the high school. That exposure to a calligraphic typeface spurred an interest in calligraphy and typefaces. With the interest piqued, I soon started to find the initial letter set either simplistic or flawed. When you have the tools, a bit of imagination, the ability to find flaws, and the desire to improve existing artefacts, then all of the aforementioned can lead to following eventualities: a revised artefact with improved elements or an entirely new entity with the flawed article as its base form. In my case, it only resulted in a few revised and improved letters. However, once the stimulus to recreate vanished — at that age, with the refinements in place, I apparently had in my possession a perfect letter set — a hiatus of more than a decade ensued.

    With the transformation to a digital way of life complete, which happened approximately by the end of the year 2003, the interactions with digital content, in all of its shapes and forms, not only became an essential but also a substantial part of the work day. With these interactions with the digital content returned the stimulus to recreate, refine, or rework.

    However, unlike the earlier manifestation of the interest driven largely by the desire to improve the visual appeal of the letters, dealing mostly with aesthetics, the desire to recreate or reform in its reincarnated form mostly derives energy from a need to improve the readability and polish the design of the fonts that capture the fancy. Although since the switch to the digital workflow, the embers of the desire have never lost their color, however, an exciting base font always, or almost always, sets those embers ablaze. An attempt to forge a partnership with an American typeface designer failed to materialize, therefore, although I have my eyes set on at least a few different typefaces, I only have a revised typeface to my name.

    With the focus still on typography, I believe resolutely and unwaveringly that either every font should have a medium weight typeface or the browsers should provide a guaranteed ability to render a medium weight font face.

    The document, which belonged to an acquaintance, accompanied the now defunct Parker Pen Company’s calligraphy pen set, included the basic forms of the gothic black calligraphy letter set.

    4: The Gothic Black typeface and the lettering instructions contained in the concise instructional booklet that used to accompany the now discontinued Parker Company’s Calligraphy pen set.

  5. Photography

    When it comes to photography, I enjoy ogling at high quality pictures of cars, planes, some more pictures of cars, animals, natural wonders and scenic locations, architecture and architectural wonders, and plan to buy an entry level DSLR soon, despite the feeling that DSLRs may as well become obsolete soon. Update: April 27, 2016 I now own a Nikon D7200.

  6. Travel

    Although I have only been to Dubai and Sharjah (the less said the better), however, I plan to launch a campaign to fund a world tour soon — I promise that the backers would receive perks in one form or another. Following should, however, provide a glimpse into the current state of this interest: no money, no fun; currently, even avoiding the sun.

  7. Gardening

    Although an avid gardener as a teenager, I have failed to find the time and the energy (the spirit of an 85 year’s old occupies my body — time to lookup the word exorcism) to pursue this interest lately. However, I plan to have a few indoor plants around me soon. To make the foregoing palatable for the aficionados of gardening, I would like to add that at one point, during those teen years, I used to know the botanical names of many of the plants that used to form a part of my small — around 50 or so plants — personal collection.

  8. Gastronomy

    With the interest in the CS yet to mature and reach the current peak, during the first decade of the 21st century, I used to spend at least some part of day watching Heston Bluementhol, Gordon Ramsay, James Martin, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal, Gary Rhodes (almost decidedly, the most soft spoken TV cookery show presonality of them all), Giorgio Locatelli, Rachell Allen, Laura Calder for their skill and ability to prepare an enticing, inviting, and altogether luscious plate of food. For those shellshocked not to find another noteworthy name in the aforementioned group, I must admit that I certainly used to watch Nigella’s shows, as well, however, surely not for the aforementioned reasons; I just failed to notice the presence of those reasons, either owing to the lack of their presence or for some other as yet unestablished reason or two. Since the start of the year 2008, an approximation, not only has the time spent on studying the fine art of cooking has decreased dramatically but the focus has shifted from TV shows to the written word, recipes whenever I can find an enticing one.

  9. French

    With a rocky start to life as a graduate, who had shown no interest in graduate studies and attended around 10 — 15% of the total lectures, at one point, owing to it all and the disgusting state of affairs in Pakistan, I started learning French to find a footing in some other career and somewhere else. Considering that Pakistanis specialise in derailing the progress of their best performing students, after a couple of years, having attained some proficiency in spoken French, I had to quit because teachers in Pakistan can, well, almost, do whatsoever their heart desires in a classroom; whatever led to an altogether unexpected and entirely abrupt end to my participation in that French course transpired around 2004-2005.

    With a vague description of the reasons for the departure stated, I feel the need to add that if your desire to learn French language always finds itself burdened by the weight of the rhetoric that learning French language strains the faculties immensely, then know this with certainty that although learning French grammar and vocabulary pose a marginally, and just marginally, steeper challenge than their English counterparts, however, by no means should the task create an unmanageable situation for an average individual. With that said, to the members of that elite group which finds even the easiest of tasks a monumental challenge, I would say only this much that whenever the desire to acquire fluency in French raises its head, smash such a desire’s head with the heaviest hammer that you can find.

    With the myth surrounding the complexity of the French language shattered for the respective audience and advice furnished, as well, I would like to add that I still have not lost any interest in the said language. With Twitter making it ever so easy to keep an eye on matters of interest, I surely now keep an eye on those Tweeting a word or two, or even a phrase, in French per day.