An Update

Its been very long time I updated my blog due to busyness / laziness. In the last few months different things have happened:

  1. Completed my masters degree.
  2. Visited Kashmir area for first time. I will try to write and post its details soon, it was an amazing experience.
  3. Posted final year project EME code to github.

I will try to keep this blog updated both with travel / trek tips and technical writings.

Final Year Project Cleared

As I had been posting about my final year project progress here and here. Allhamdullilah, I have cleared it with 3.67 GPA. While working on my own project, I also emailed a number of students and those who responded I continued to share some of my tips emails. I am really happy to see that my tips emails were very useful for some students and some of them were able to create their project and clear it.

I plan to continue with this and would be looking forward to help further students in upcoming final year projects. But I would like to clarify one thing that help doesn’t mean copy. It means I would only try to provide some guideline (for any project on which students are working and I have idea about that project) and with that guideline students would be able to make progress on their projects.

So those who require help could contact me by leaving comments here or sending email at naqoosh AT gmail DOT com. I will get back soon inshAllah.

LESS and node.js

Recently I when I was studying and trying to use some new HTML5 code, I also got to know about node.js and LESS.

When briefly read about them, I was amazed the features and functionality they provide. I strongly believe both of these will simplify the life of a web application developer. I am looking forward to learn and work on them in the near future.

I will try to write some of my experiments here.

Kindle Touch Review

I have got my Kindle Touch a few weeks ago and I have been using it very regularly.

Reading Experience: When I bought it my main question was will I be able to read the PDF books? I knew it is one of the best device for English books reading but I was going to use it both for English and Urdu PDFs. So even before ordering, I was a bit nervous if it would handle it or not. But it is opening and rendering the PDF documents I have in both languages smoothly and the touch system is also a blessing as I have to do a lot of zoom in/out. So I would give 9/10 for this PDF support.

Also, I have used it both in sunlight and power lights at night / room and it is easy on eye and gives a good feeling.


Reading Ashfaq Ahmed's Zavia on Kindle

Touch System: This is Amazon’s first touch Kindle device and I would say it is not bad. I agree it doesn’t match the quality of touch from Apple but at this price and the purpose for which this device is used, I am pretty satisfied with it.

Size and Weight: I really liked this device’s size. One could hold it in one hand and read for hours without any difficulties as this is very light weight.


Kindle Charging

Battery Life: This was one of the high point for me to buy this. Daily I read for about 1-1.5hrs on average and while reading due to the PDF documents, I have been zooming in / out and the battery it consumes is very less.

Experimental: There are some experimental features in this like web browser and mp3 player. Although I am not using them regularly but they worked pretty fine.

Connectivity: Being registering this device in Pakistan and using it from here, I don’t have access to the amazon services directly but via WiFi, I am able to browse Amazon Kindle Store and other websites via its experimental web browser. It was pretty easy to setup my WiFi in Kindle.

Overall I am very satisfied with this and I would recommend this for any one who likes to read. There was only one negative point which I didn’t like was to not have the power adapter included in normal purchase. It is sold separately. I didn’t know this when I ordered it and it was not easy for me to order a separate item again as my friend was bringing this for me from US.

Nanga Parbat Rupal Face Trek


Duration: 6 Days
Distance: 37 Km
Standard: Easy
Season: June ~ October
Start / Finish: TARASHING
Zone & permit: Open
Public Transport: Yes

Summary: A Quick approach through lovely meadows leads to the base camp of NANGA PARBAT’s enormous RUPAL face.

NANGA PARBAT’s awesome south or RUPAL face rises 4572m from the floor of the RUPAL GAH, creating the greatest vertical rise from base camp to summit of any peak. The easy trails and two short no technical glacier crossings bring you directly beneath it for breathtaking close-up views, is less frequently visited than fairy meadows.

Guide & Porters
It’s prudent to hire a reputable, licensed guide who is accustomed to dealing with RUPAL porters and villagers. Porters come from TARASHING and CHORIT, which have decided that an equal number of porters for any party are to be from each village. This holds true even if you have just two porters. Porters, who transport loads on donkeys, ask for a flat rate of Rs.300 per stage, including payment for food rations and expect large parties to buy a goat at SHAIGIRI.

Stages
It’s a six stages total round trip from TARASHING:
1. HERRLIGKOFFER Base Camp
2. LATBOH
3. SHAIGIRI & (4-6) there stages to return via the same route.

Nearest Village:
TARASHING

Hotels / Rest Houses:
NANGA PARBAT TOURIST COTTAGE: owned by Mohammed Ashraf, has a large garden. The Camping fee is Rs.100 and rooms cost Rs.250 ~ 400.

HOTEL NANGA PARBAT: has a Rs.100 camping fee and rooms cost Rs.200 ~ 300.

Unless you organize a Gilgit ~ TARASHING special hire (Rs 2500/4000 one way / return), it’s necessary to change transport in Astor. The narrow jeep road to Astor leaves the KKH at Jaglot, 60Km south of Gilgit and 30Km north of Raikot Bridge, crossing a bridge over the Indus river and heading 40Km south – east up the Astor Valley skirting NANGA Parbat’s north east flank. Gilgit ~ Astor jeeps (Rs 100, three to four hours) go all day from Gilgit’s Jaglot bus stand on Domyal Link Road. Gilgit ~ Ator special hires cost Rs 1200 ~ 1500 one way. Astor ~ TARASHING Jeeps cost Rs. 50 (two hours) and special hires cost Rs 1000.

THE TREK:

Day 1: TARASHING to HERRLIGKOFFER Base Camp
5 Hours, 10 Km, 639m Ascent

From TARASHING (2911m) climbs the TARASHING Glacier’s lateral moraine, near the village’s north edge, and crosses the glacier on a trail, continues up to the gentle valley through RUPAL village.

Rising gradually through RUPAL’s lush fields, the trail follows the valley’s north side up a narrow green valley, through groves of willow, poplar and juniper then you pass a small lake and round a corner of the BAZHIN camp, a flat, green meadows between the lateral moraine of the BAZHIN Glacier and the mountain. Ahead towers the solid ice wall of the east face of NANGA PARBAT. This is a perfect campsite with clear spring water, a wood full of birds this spot is called HERRLIGKOFFER Base Camp (3550m), a beautiful, although much used meadows along the BAZHIN Glacier’s east margin. The camp site is named after Dr. Karl M HERRLIGKOFFER the leader of eight German expeditions to NANGA PARBAT, including the first successful expedition in 1953.

A side trip of several hours up this ablation valley leads to a point on the moraine directly above the BAZHIN Glacier and across from icefall coming from the summit.

Day 2: HERRLIGKOFFER Base Camp to LATBOH
4 Hours, 3 Km, 20m descent

Crosses the BAZHIN Glacier over a trail in 1½ hours along a donkey path, the local shepherds come and go frequently, so you can follow their path or them but be careful there will be a lot of hidden crevasses and you can listen to the voice of flowing of under ground water so you must walk slowly and don’t stop at the BAZHIN Glacier. From the top of the lateral moraine on the western side you look down on a huge grassy field known as LATBOH (3530m), the broad level meadows frequently by RUPAL herders. LATBOH is also known as TUPP Meadows because it’s like a TUPP which must once have been the bed of a lake. Herds of horses, sheep and goats graze in the centre. The summer villagers churn butter in goatskins and spin sheep wool while they sit and chat, offering bread and buttermilk (LASSI) to visitors.

Day 3: LATBOH to SHAIGIRI
4 Hours, 5.5Km, 125m ascent

A further two hour takes you around the end of a second moraine, with a lake on the top (Basically this Lake is less frequently visited & has no name and it exists at the foot of NANGA PARBAT so that is why I gave it a name “NANGA PARBAT Lake”) to another broad field, LATBOI (meaning stony place) also called second Base Camp, with a summer settlement on one side, from here the path climbs gently over some moraine then follows the north bank of the river through the woods to SHAIGIRI (meaning “white stone” in Shina) 30 minutes away. This is a good campsite at about 3660 meters, with fresh water, firewood and superb views of the south face of NANGA PARBAT.

Day 4 ~ 5: SHAIGIRI to TARASHING
2 days, 18.5Km, 744m descent
Retrace steps to TARASHING, Camping at base camp on day 4.

Custom WordPress Themes

Recently I worked on a few wordpress themes. It was a great experience and I found it easier to work with WordPress themes as compare to Drupal, Joomla and other CMSes. I was able to map my requirements into WordPress easily and use this a full fledge CMS. Some of the things I liked about WordPress are:

  • Open system, good documenation and help available online.
  • Hundreds of plugins availability.
  • Map pages (or category) directly to their ids/slug as page-7.php or category-development (where 7 is page id and development is category slug).
  • Use custom fields for storing custom information. These fields were very helpful and I believe one could use it many different ways while developing a custom theme.

I hope to continue my journey with working on further exciting and complex themes. I also plan to share some tips / code in the future in this regard.

Email Moderation Engine Update

This is just an update regarding my final year project ‘Email Moderation Engine’.

I have been working on this but till now had been mostly doing the documentation and design document as per the university requirement. I hope to start working on the actual project skeleton and code in 2 weeks of this semester. I plan to share my thoughts and code samples here for those who would like to get an idea.

I am also trying to help a few fellow VU students along the way. I hope we all could make it on time and it is accepted.

Those who are interested in discussing / getting any help in this regard, should contact me via my email address (from Contact) or this comments on relevant posts. Please don’t post your questions on other posts on this blog which are irrelevant.

Murree Tour

Noor ul Ain - Kashmir Point
Noor ul Ain - Kashmir Point

In February 2011, I started planning a vacation plan in May 2011. I was planning this trip for Kaghan-Naran or Murree with my family and cousin. Later after some discussion with my cousin we finalized upon Murree.

We left for Rawalpindi from village Teri, Distt. Karak on 9th May early morning and arrived in Murree by Zuhar time. I had done my booking at Usmania Restaurant(aka Civic Hotel) on main mall road. We had planned to stay for night in the same hotel and visit the surrounding areas in the day.

9th May – The same day after taking some rest, we left for Kashmir point at afternoon. It was a really fun place to be. We enjoyed the pleasant weather and surroundings. I believe one could spend days there with his family 🙂

10th May – Next day we hired a hi-roof and went to Nathiagali and Ayubia. While driving there we stopped at many places and did some trekking, photography and other stuff. Children especially enjoyed the bandar point and monkeys jumping in the Ayubia National Park.

On way to Neelum Point
On way to Neelum Point

11th May – We went to Bhurban and Neelum River. We especially enjoyed Neelum River. The river Neelum was on its full swing and it was an amazing view. After spending sometime there, we left Neelum Point at afternoon. We went to Patriata and had a ride on chairleft. My cousin and his family were first time riding in chairleft so they were abit afraid but overall enjoyed it.

12th May – We left Murree back for our village. On way back, we had an excellent weather and had some rain on our way at Jhand. It was simply an unforgettable experience.

Overall this short trip was an amazing and great experience. Last time, I visited Swat back in 2007 with my family and now this time again with family and cousin. Murree and surrounding area is an ideal vacation spot for families. It is good, secure and everything is available at reasonable costs there.

As far as my hotel experience at Usmania Restaurant is concerned, it was good except for one issue which was a bit irrating for me 🙁 as I am an early morning person and I enjoy the sun rising in such places. For my breakfast, I had to wait till 8AM which was not good. It wasted quite some of time as doing breakfast and then leaving would take quite sometime. Due to my family and children it was also not possible to do the breakfast easily on our way. When I asked the staff, they couldn’t do anything about it. So if they could improve this, this hotel is highly recommended.

It was the first time for my cousin to go out on vacation and he really enjoyed it. In fact he asked me to arrange for such programs at least in two years 🙂 I do it once a year already.