True Champions behind Team Pakistan at APICTA 2016!

APICTA 2016 polished my pitching skills and boosted my art of storytelling. It made me realize there is more to be done. Being ‘comfortable’ for any ‘startup’ is devastating, I never was, but it firmed my belief more.

I participated in a category called, “Tools & Applications” but the teams from Hong Kong rocked that category. They truly deserved the win with their idea related to Augmented Reality. A Social Media Tool needs to be way more than it is now to compete with a tool related to Augmented Reality.

When my expectations crashed as the winners from Hong Kong were announced, my immediate thoughts were that I’ll never participate again, but it was a moment when I paused, it was a moment when I reflected back, it was when I felt that there is more to do, much beyond than the technology of Augmented or Virtual Reality itself. The process and learning I went through to win, the friends I made in Taiwan, is far more important than winning itself. I’ll do more and move forward with the amazing support of my family and friends!

The love and support, the training’s, the mentoring – everything I experienced is far more greater than anyone can ever expect from a competition. Thank you Jehan Ara for making it happen and enabling startups to compete at such a level. The way you listen to us, fight for us and help us in making a change is beyond one can ever imagine. It takes more than a lifetime to help so many selflessly.

My slide deck kept changing every single day, the story, the start, the end, the pictures, the content – everything. There were times when I thought it was too much for me as the script in my head kept mixing and overlapping. But in the end, I came to know my product more than I ever knew it before. Thank you Jawwad Farid for this gift. Thank you for training us aggressively, for reviewing the story deck, for being so apt in responding to my emails, for helping me in graphs, for training me at The Nest IO, in your office, home and even in your car! This is the way he worked with not only me, but many startups that participated in APICTA 2016! The way he conducted the 30-day experiment on Social Champ boosted my confidence more. Thank you!

The reason I could focus on my pitching was because Rumaisa handled everything related to our travelling, visa, ticket and hotel. Her constant reminders of upcoming events, schedules, made me relax and focus on my pitch. Her constant design suggestions made me significantly improve the dark black and white presentation design I previously had. I’m so glad that she was always there for every startup, advising, suggesting and forcing us to make things right in her own way.

Pakistan broke all its previous records in APICTA 2016 by winning 3 Golds, and 6 Silvers! The details of winning teams and judging criteria can be read here.  It couldn’t have been possible without the support from PASHA and THE NEST IO, the team and the mentors that started training us 3 weeks before APICTA 2016.

Thank you Jehan Ara, Jawwad Farid, Rumaisa Mughal, The NEST IO and PASHA for a memorable and productive trip to Taiwan. I owe the experience and learning I received, to the next upcoming startups. My pitch deck is ready and final, it will stay that way for many months to come, with ofcourse some minor data changes as Social Champ continues to grow!

Thank you!

 

Obtain a NOC from PTA (For smartphones and devices…)

This is one troublesome job. But I managed to get through it “legally”, however it took around a month for me and mainly because I had no clue of what to do. I hope my experience saves time for most people.

I had my Lumia 1020 device stuck in customs and the guys from TCS told me to obtain an NOC from PTA, which they’d provide to Customs and clear my device. Anyway, it’s a long story of how I was demoralized that I should forget my device from friends but I tried and it worked..

Here are the steps that I took:
You gotta write a letter requesting for NOC and email it to [email protected], and then keep calling (051 9207079) or (051 9225329-0) and ask them politely to forward and approve the letter and “post” the NOC at your address. (They also email it, but CUSTOMS don’t accept the email, they need hard copy with the “blue” colored signature).

Then, after having NOC in Karachi posted to your home, attach the required documents (told by TCS) and submit it to TCS office, they’d forward it to Customs here. Eventually in few days you’ll have your respected device at home.

PS: I had to keep telling customs that all cost has been paid and further if any costs are there, they would be paid by the sender!

Sound simple eh? Even the guys at PTA didn’t knew that on smartphones I needed an NOC! That’s how I did it.
Worst part, this is Karachi so…. I lost my Lumia 1020 after all that struggle. *sighs…

Good luck.

Peace!

Nokia Asha 503 Review

Nokia Pakistan sent me a new Nokia Asha 503 to try out. The experience with this low-end device was quite different & surprising.

 

Nokia Asha 503

The first thing you’d notice in Nokia Asha 503 is the icy plastic coating over the phone, making the phone look really attractive. I tried Nokia X too, yet miss this icy touch over it. And then, the next best thing is its Gorilla Glass 2 covering. I can fearlessly use it roughly as I use my Lumia 920. Yes, I still own that heavy master piece.

The Nokia Asha 503 is available in six different colors: yellow, white, black, green, red & blue. I was provided with a pure white colored device. Well, this device comes with a 5MP camera with LED flash, 3G and a Wi-Fi connectivity. It also got an optional dual-SIM support plus expandable memory. I got a preloaded 4GB SD card in it.

When it comes to hardware, the display on Nokia Asha 503 is 3” TFT unit of QVGA (240 x 320), sliding into pockets easily. The colors are very charming or bright or HD displays however, you can’t expect much in this price range. All the hardware controls are on the right side. There you can find the power/lock button and the volume controller. The soft touch experience of Nokia Asha 503 is delighting thanks to the nice matte plastic. The back button is replaced by a capacitive control and is the only means of navigation. The taps & swipes do the rest magic. At the top you’d find a microUSB port for charging & data connections, and also a 3.5mm headphones jack. And at the very bottom of phone, you’d only see the microphone pinhole only.

 

Nokia Asha 503

To be honest, at first I had a hard time removing the back cover and popping in the battery, however later when I mastered the trick of pushing the nub at the bottom, it went easy. The SIM slots were at the back, with the swappable microSD on the side. The battery is 1200 mAh Li-Ion and is quoted at 840 hours of stand-by time and 12 hours of calls over a 2G network.

 

With the software capabilities of Asha, Fastlane cannot be just ignored. With Nokia Asha 503, you can just swipe to view the stuff you love. Tap to share instantly and get all the updates in the new homescreen. From your recent text message to your last played song, it’s all saved to scroll back through. No more digging through your phone looking for your cool stuff previously accessed. The WhatsApp support with better Fastlane UI features spices up the phone more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GotqJmo7IWE

Another worth mentioning feature is the ability to launch the camera right from your locked screen since no Asha comes up with dedicated camera key (As we have in Lumia series). To see it in action, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

There is also Glance Screen option available in Nokia Asha 503 powering the notification experience.

I also noticed that the Qwerty keyboard is redesigned and makes texting really easily despite of the small screen display.

The classy soft touch of Asha 503 made me realize that the soft body was missing in Nokia X. The overall experience, with Nokia Asha 503 low-end device, was better than many other devices out there in market. The phone is highly durable, classy and fits perfectly in pocket!

The 3 Families; Lumia, Nokia X, Asha

Still criticizing Shahzeb’s parents?

shoThe Shahzeb Issue? If you blame or criticize Shahzeb’s parents for giving up or being sold to Shahrukh Jatoi, the murderer of their son; perhaps you’re being quite selfish here.

This is not about money. God Forbid, the pain the family has gone through, the loss of son, the pressure of government, the possible future threats received from the gangster family, all could have worsened their mental state towards insanity.

For humans, their is a limit, be it emotional or rational.
Once crossed, the person no matter how strong -breaks!

Lets not hear just one side of story…
Justice always finds its way -always!

Peace!

Pakistan Tour Images & Cinemagraph

Hello readers,
Finally after sharing few Panorama Shots & Closeup Shots from Nokia Lumia 920, here are final pictures from my recent Pakistan tour this summer. I feel quite lucky to be in Pakistan covering most of its hidden beauty.

I say this again that I’m not a professional photographer, but a programmer who lives mostly in his binary world.
The tour proved to be an excellent change from my older geek world though.

The first & last two images are shot using Nokia Cinemagraph! Quite an innovative app .

So here it goes,

Our first stop was Kewai Mountains. The water stream gushed beneath our chairs & tables as we enjoyed hot tea & paratha served with fried omelet. I tried dipping my foot in water for a while and found it getting numb in few minutes!

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This is from where the water stream appeared, somewhere far from the mountains, melting its way down.
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As we visited places, we found Honey Farms almost everywhere. They sold two types of honey, one was Yellow in color & the other was Red. Luckily no honey bee turned me yellow!
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Traveling in those shaky jeeps was thrilling, specially when I got the window seat and glancing down gave me goosebumps. It couldn’t get any worse when on a One-Way jeep track and another jeep comes out of the blue & starts honking you from ahead!

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Finally at “Saiful Muluk” which is at an approx altitude of 10,500+ ft. The wind was chilled with dew at night, we stayed there for a night in camps. Later next morning we went trekking at “Ansoo Lake” ahead.

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I met and interviewed this kid who named his horse as “Sooraj – The Sun” and lived there at “Saiful Muluk”. He was full of excitement, happy & content with his life!

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Boating at “Saiful Muluk” gave tourist at good time, however many devalued nature and polluted the lake.
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The sun rising in morning at “Saiful Muluk”. The beautiful dark mountains gradually turning of gold.

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So our trekking began for “Ansoo Lake” at morning, we saw wild horses, oxes, goats, sheeps, donkeys etc. And one my seniors tried having a shot with horse and instantly got kicked from that horse! Luckily no bones were broken but he was badly hurt!
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I tried talking to her and heard nothing from her side, not even a slight acknowledgment. No offense but she reminded me of someone from Mama-2013 Movie!
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Up up and we went having all instant energy edibles with us. The walk to Ansoo Lake included 6 hours of hiking and trekking on muddy mountains, stony mountains & then snow covered mountains! (And then 6 hours more to return back).
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There was a point when I made a decision to never look back down from such height, it made me feel dizzy and quite nervous. Fighting & taming the thoughts & mind is a tough job. Those continuous noises within questioning “What if you fell down?”, “What if the stick slipped away”, “What if the stone slipped”! But eventually I muted all those questions and chewed Mentos!
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Finally we reached at “Ansoo Lake” (Ansoo = Tear Drop) and watched it from the height of approx 13,000+ ft! The clouds were below us and hid our view, but soon they flew away. It was worth it all.
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Our next spot was “Siri Paye Meadows”, this place instantly became my favorite spot because of the peace & serenity here. The cold soft breeze, the green fields, people riding horses and the best was when clouds went past us.
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I just love the below image, I may frame this one for sure.
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This is the closest I could get (recalling the kick which my senior received from a wild horse)
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We gave few biscuits to these goats and soon the whole herd headed straight to us. I wonder through what medium do these goats pass messages.
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Found something weird below ? The lost animal indeed!

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Beautiful view of “Siri Payee”. The lake seemed heart shaped.

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Happy Family! When a mother is with her child, its necessary to keep distance, specially when daddy is nearby watching!

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Then we arrived at “Sheran Forest”. Every place had its charm, during night wild tigers, bears and monkeys were found here. Oh yes, I ate loads of wild berries growing in this forest. Do see my earlier “Closeup Blog” where I shared that juicy wild berry!

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This monkey! We gave him Corn Sticks and he ate them before us. As soon as he started eating, I mischievously shouted to give that Corn Stick back, to my amazement the monkey nodded twice and when I raised my voice slightly more, he jumped unto the closest branch near me and started shaking it aggressively. I ran and stopped recording all this! He was really pissed off! I’ll share the video soon.

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There were thousands of pictures I shot from Nokia Lumia 920, recorded videos, captured panoramas, closeup shots, using total memory space of 12+ GB! It was worth it, every minute I was ready to shoot any beautiful scene, flower, insect, food -anything!

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Pakistan is indeed a beautiful country, with so much negativity filled in our minds through media lets focus on the brighter aspects that unite us together. The places I visited made me fall more in love with Pakistan, the people were very welcoming and friendly. Nature is a gift that brings harmony and peace to our withered hearts and lightens it up, I could never complain of anything here!

Whenever you pay a visit to Pakistan, be my guest!

Cheers &
Peace!

Note: I had to compress above images due to uploading limitations, don’t hesitate to contact me for better quality images.

Pakistan Tour Panorama Shots (Nokia Lumia 920)

Few days back I shared few Closeup shots here, incase you missed those here’s the link “Pakistan Tour Closeup shots”

I’m not a professional photographer but a geek who lives in the world of binary 1’s & 0’s. This summer I returned back from Pakistan Tour and luckily had my Lumia 920 for shots. I had no idea how perfectly it’d stitch the images resulting in amazing Panoramic Views!

Most of the below panorama images were shot at first attempt!

So let me introduce you to few amazing sights I managed to capture on my way.

I just loved the greenery and peaceful atmosphere at Siri Paye Meadows. The clouds there played hide n seek with us and we loved passing through them. (I wonder what would’ve happened in a thunder storm then!)

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The following is the view from Shogran village situated on a green plateau at  Kaghan Valley.

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Here appears the “Queen of Mountains” – Malika Parbat! We were on our way hiking & tracking from “Saiful Maluk” to “Ansoo Lake” and came across the beauty of this queen!

 

Finally we reached at “Ansoo Lake” (Ansoo = Tear Drop) and watched it from the height of approx 13,000+ ft! The walk to Ansoo Lake included 6 hours of hiking and tracking on muddy mountains, stony mountains & then snow covered mountains! (And then 6 hours more to return back) To refill ourselves we carried loads of Yogurt, Boiled Eggs, Vitamin Tablets & my favorite Mentos mints that I kept chewing all my way, somehow those helped me in controlling my headache at such altitude! Oh yes, I might soon compile a video of our hiking and tracking visit to Ansoo Lake shot again by Nokia Lumia 920! It fitted in my hands perfectly and came up every time I needed it!

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And few side poses of our Queen “Malika Parbat”

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Perfect timing here! The sun was setting at Saiful Muluk which is at an approx altitude of 10,500+ ft. The battery life of amazing Nokia Lumia 920 survived here when we had only 4 hours of electricity per day (thanks to generators there) and then we had also our “Ansoo Lake” quest to be done in morning too!

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Humans invading “Saiful Muluk” here! A perfect tourist spot but for only those who value nature and respect in cleaning the environment.

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Far across those mountains was our way to “Ansoo Lake”, we began next day early in morning and returned just few minutes after dark!

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Few Random shots, I some loved this round shape!
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Finally, I must say that the Northern Areas of Pakistan are amazingly beautiful. Gifts of Nature is what I understood back then, peace & serenity was all I found in it. In our minds we have somehow removed this beautiful image of Pakistan into something worth not explaining. Now before I go out exploring other countries, I have yet many more places to explore in my country.

You can give suggestions for better photography, I repeat myself again, I’m not professional in it. Next summer I’d take Nokia Lumia 1020 with me. I fear these devices might turn a geek into an adventurer!
Till next time on few more amazing pictures captured!

Note: I had to compress above images due to uploading limitations, don’t hesitate to contact me for better  quality images.

Peace!

Pakistan Tour Closeup Shots (Nokia Lumia 920)

Last week I returned from Pakistan Tour visiting many Northern Areas here. I must say that Pakistan is blessed with many beautiful sights. The perfect peaceful atmosphere here is quite freshening for the human soul.

Following are few “Closeup” shots I managed to shoot in various places using Nokia Lumia 920. I’ll release more pictures soon!

 

I found these delicious Wild berries growing in Sheran Forest, they had a taste similar to Strawberries! Later I called my human friends to invade that region & fill themselves up!

Wild Berries (They tasted like Stawberries) Location: Sheran

Wild Berries (They tasted like Stawberries) Location: Sheran

 

 

On my way  I found this pretty spider (could be highly poisonous) and oh look at the charming “Yellow” color on its back. Reminds of Lumia 1020 eh!

Location: Sheran

Location: Sheran

Location: Sheran

Location: Sheran

 

Oh yes, this snail was taking a nap

Location: Sheran

Location: Sheran

Location: Sheran

Location: Sheran

 

Here is another snail found on my way to Hotel Room. Later that night we had BBQ at the garden and one of these snails managed to crawl half way towards my knee! You should have seen me dancing there! I could feel the moisture of it against my skin

Location: Paras

Location: Paras

 

Now this one was way over grown Mushroom, seemed more like an Ice cream to me.

Location: Sheran

Location: Sheran

 

Finally I found a  normal Mushroom growing on Siri Paye Meadows, finally what I saw in movies was real!

Location Siri Pai

Location Siri Pai

Location: Siri Pai

Location: Siri Pai

 

I was amazed to see such beauty in nature, look at this beautiful insect. All set for modeling!

Location: Sheran

Location: Sheran

 

And ofcourse, who wouldn’t encounter LadyBird in forest!

Pretty lady bird! Location: Sheran

Pretty lady bird! Location: Sheran

 

And here we have this amazing insect that had a shiny body reflecting shades of blue!

Location: Sheran

Location: Sheran

 

I loved this butterfly, she posed as if she wanted me to capture her pictures! She was quite friendly to Lumia, as soon as my friend brought another *ABC* camera for the shot, she snapped her wings and bid farewell!

Location: Sheran

Location: Sheran

 

I just loved blowing it after!

Location: Siri Pai

Location: Siri Pai

 

Siri Paye, the place where clouds play Hide and Seek with you!

Location:Siri Pai

Location:Siri Pai

Location: Siri Pai

Location: Siri Pai

 

Ah! The Gushing stream at Kewai, it came from mountains and local people  had placed chairs and tables there and served Hot Tea, Paratha and Egg! We sat there,  dipped our foot in that cold stream, had hot tea &  later found that we could hardly feel our feet! It was amazing!

Location: Kewai

Location: Kewai

 

These beautiful flowers were considered to be wild there and grew in hundreds!

Location: Kewai

Location: Kewai

 

The feeling of cold breeze following through the icy cold water is beyond words

Location: Kewai

Location: Kewai

Location: Kewai

Location: Kewai

 

This is just a peak of big rock at Saif-Ul-Malooq, however that place has its own beauty. I’ll probably share more images soon and ofcourse, our walk to Ansoo Lake aswell. A walk to Ansoo Lake included 6 hours of hiking and tracking on muddy mountains, stony mountains & then snow covered mountains! (And then 6 hours more to return back before it gets dark, and we returned in  the nick of time, it was about to RAIN!)

Location: Saif Ul Muluq

Location: Saif Ul Muluq