The million dollar question at COP19: Where’s the money?

The COP 15 at Copenhagen was probably the most hyped up one of all the Conference of the Parties, and one of the most disappointing. Despite the presence of so many Heads of State, including the newly elected US President Obama, there was hardly any outcome that could be called encouraging, especially for the countries most threatened by climate change. No wonder people called it a COP-OUT!

Be that as it may, these Conferences are extremely important. Four years down the road, COP19 opened its doors in Warsaw, Poland, buoyed by the IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change) report that has actually taken the wind out of the sails of all climate change deniers, by presenting incontrovertible proof of climate change.

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said: “This Working Group I Summary for Policymakers provides important insights into the scientific basis of climate change. It provides a firm foundation for considerations of the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems and ways to meet the challenge of climate change.”

And challenge it is, especially for countries like Pakistan, who have once again figured high on the Global Climate Risk Index. Prepared by Germanwatch, the Global Climate Risk Index 2014analyses to what extent countries have been affected by the impacts of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves, etc.). The most recent data available — from 2012 and 1993-2012 — were taken into account. The countries affected most in 2012 were Haiti, the Philippines and Pakistan. For the period from 1993 to 2012 Honduras, Myanmar and Haiti rank highest.

As far as the current COP is concerned, the lead author of Pakistan’s Climate Change Policy, Dr. Qamaruzzaman Chaudhury, former Director General Meteorology Department, and currently Senior Advisor to LEAD Pakistan does not see anything groundbreaking happening in Warsaw.

According to him, “COP19 is being held in the context of growing threat from climate change yet limited actions are taking place. We cannot expect a great deal from this COP 19, as it is essentially a preparatory to COP 21 planned during 2015. As such Pakistan should try to focus on the following areas where some progress is expected:

a) implementation of the Durban Platform around adaptation, loss and damage,
b) finance and,
c) an agreed process on national commitments to the 2015 deal.”

This is essential as most experts and those who have been following the negotiations over the years feel that it is about time some real financing saw the light of day, especially as all the mechanisms and organisational structures are in place.

Developing countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Haiti and now Philippines, who have been so badly hit by extreme events, need financing from the Adaptation Fund to develop adequate coping mechanism. Dr. Pervaiz Amir, who was a member of the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Climate Change in the previous regime, and is a leading agro economist, says, “Cop 19 in Warsaw Poland will try to break the stalemates of SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice ) which ended at a deadlock in Bonn which I attended this year. Indications are that countries will try to get some timetable in place for carbon emissions reduction.

IPCC warnings need to be heeded to and its 5th report provides new knowledge for debate and discussion. Pakistan should stress for funding for adaptation and urge for urgent action for the most vulnerable populations. It requires much help in agriculture, water and energy adaptation. It should highlight its plight and seek joint venture funding for the above priority areas.

At Copenhagen, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, as well as the Minister for Environment had both represented the country. After the 18th Amendment, the subject has been devolved to the provinces, and the Ministry is now a Division. However, to look at the upside, now the Prime Minister himself holds the portfolio of Environment. Will that fact have any bearing on Pakistan’s stance at the COP 19, still needs to be seen.

The official delegation to Warsaw has as its members the Director General Environment, and the Secretary Environment. What should they be pitching for and how should they safeguard Pakistan’s interest there?

Malik Amin Aslam, former Minister of State for Environment and Global Vice President, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature, believes that Pakistan,

Being a country extremely vulnerable to climate change, Pakistan has a direct stake into the success of the climate negotiations at COP19. In particular, the country negotiation team needs to press for the climate finance architecture to start delivering on its promise for adaptation finance and for the Durban platform negotiations to shape up into a truly robust post-2015 climate agreement. Pakistan is already facing climate adaptation costs to the tune of billions of dollars every year and can ill afford another round of procrastinated political negotiations. The country needs to ensure that its climate vulnerability is reflected in all UNFCCC categorisations and it also need to remain closely aligned to the debate on the “loss and damage” instrument so that its contours can be framed to compensate countries like Pakistan.

The Conference has commenced and already many feel it is a run up to the 2015 one, where the Kyoto Protocol will be up for review. For Pakistan, it is important that the focus remain on getting a good bargain for the country due to its extreme vulnerability. For that to happen, however, the climate change narrative needs to be mainstreamed in the media, at the policy and planning level, and at the community level as they are the ones facing the brunt of the disasters that keep visiting due to the changing climate.

The richer, developed countries, especially those that are responsible for much of the effects on the climate, need to shoulder their responsibilities not only by mitigating the causes, but also by making the resources available to the countries which need to take adaptive measures. They may not be the cause, but are certainly being impacted by the results of climate change, and need to be compensated.


Apple still rules in Japan as carriers battle to sell iPhones

Tokyo – Apple Inc’s disappointing third quarter was nowhere in evidence in Japan, where sales increased more than 40 percent as the highly anticipated launch of the new iPhone by Japan’s biggest mobile firm boosted sales – at rival carriers.

Japan accounted for nearly 10 percent of Apple’s global revenue in July-September, its gadget-loving consumers enticed by discounts and cash-backs from carriers under threat as industry leader NTT DoCoMo Inc finally began selling the iPhone after years of foot-dragging.

For Apple, that price competition has helped to cement iPhone’s dominance in the market.

“Japan is Apple country,” said Serkan Toto, a Tokyo-based technology consultant. “(It) was positioned as a cool gadget to have, not because of its advanced features – it doesn’t have a lot of things feature phones have, no e-Wallet, no digital TV tuner – it’s a lifestyle product.”

The California-based company is considered well placed to extend its lead in Japan over Samsung Electronics, whose Galaxy smartphones dominate in China and Europe, after DoCoMo’s entry helped boost the iPhone’s share to a record 34 percent in September, according to Counterpoint Technology Marketing Research.

Ironically, DoCoMo was not the main beneficiary – at least not yet – from its leap into the iPhone market.

The carrier’s net subscriptions fell 66,800 in September, its biggest monthly loss ever, while rivals KDDI Corp and SoftBank Corp each had net gains of about a quarter of a million, company data showed. The data also showed DoCoMo lost a net 133,100 of its subscribers to rival carriers, while the other two posted net gains.

4-week wait for gold 5S

While the carriers battle it out for market share, however, Apple is sitting pretty.

“Japan is already one of the best countries for Apple in terms of iPhone market share before NTT DoCoMo started to sell, and its share could reach half of (all) smartphones, if all the major three carriers continue to sell as they have been doing,” said Atsuro Sato, senior research analyst at Gartner, who tied the iPhone’s popularity in part to aggressive pricing campaigns.

But it wasn’t the 5S, which customers still must wait two weeks to buy in Japan – or four weeks for the gold version – that sold best after the launch.

Those long waits spurred many smartphone buyers to opt for the ‘older’ iPhone 5, drawn by the deals and discounts that DoCoMo’s rivals offered to protect their market share. As a new iPhone vendor, DoCoMo has no older iPhones in stock.

SoftBank, for example, is offering 21,000 yen ($210) in cash back for customers buying the iPhone 5.

Analysts not only see potential for Apple to boost its market share, but also for the smartphone market overall to grow faster than in other developed economies. Its smartphone penetration is still relatively low, at 25 percent against 55 percent in the United States, according to One Mobile Research, a project commissioned by Google Inc.

Cutting-edge features such as streamed TV, animated email and electronic payments were available on Japanese mobile phones well before the advent of smartphones.

The crowded ranks of Japan’s smartphone makers have also seen a shakeout in recent months, in part as DoCoMo has focused on a few models for its sales promotions, such as Sony Corp’s Xperia handsets. Sony was the second-biggest smartphone maker in Japan in April-June, according to IDC.

For DoCoMo, while the 5S launch caught it flat-footed when stocks ran low and rivals were able to grab business by offering discounted older models, the embrace of the iPhone is beginning to staunch an exodus of customers to rival carriers.

“The iPhone effect is clearly working,” NTT DoCoMo’s CEO Kaoru Kato said on Friday, when the company announced quarterly earnings. “The number of users who have shifted to other carriers has fallen 30 percent from last year.”

Kato said the iPhone would help the company reach its full-year handset sales target of 24.5 million, making up the shortfall of the first half, when it shifted 10.5 million units.

Google stock crosses $1000 mark

New York – Google’s stock surpassed the $1,000 mark for the first time, helped by strong third-quarter results.

Shortly after the markets opened Friday, Google Inc. shares jumped 14 percent to $1,015.46 and closed a day heavy trading at $1,011.41. The gains marked Google’s biggest one-day jump in more than five years.

The stock had never been higher than $928 in regular market trading since Google went public at $85 per share nine years ago.

Late Thursday, Google reported a 36 percent jump in third-quarter net income that beat Wall Street’s predictions. The numbers showed that while the company’s average ad prices continue to decline, they’re being offset by a larger number of people clicking on ads.

Over the years, Google has expanded its reach far beyond the powerful search engine that made it famous. It now includes the video sharing site YouTube, along with the Android operating system that runs on close to 1 billion smartphones and tablets. The company ranks as the No. 1 digital ad company by revenue, leaving rivals such as Yahoo Inc. and Facebook Inc. far behind.

Google’s stock has climbed steadily in the last five years, more than doubling in value. But the stock slipped slightly in recent months, while the overall market has risen, amid worries about deteriorating ad prices.

Google’s average ad price has fallen from the prior year in each of the last eight quarters, primarily because advertisers aren’t paying as much for mobile ads because the screens on smartphones and tablet computers are smaller than those on laptop and desktop computers.

As more people rely on mobile devices to connect to Google’s search engine and other services, the trend is driving down the company’s average ad price, or “cost per click.”

But the number of so-called “paid clicks” on Google’s ads helped offset the lower prices in the third quarter. The clicking volume increased 26 percent from last year, an indication that Google’s data analysis is doing a good job matching ads with the interests of its services’ users.

Friday’s stock surge takes Google’s market capitalization to about $333 billion, which still pales in comparison to that of technology industry rival Apple Inc. The iPhone and iPad maker ranks No. 1 in the world with a market capitalization of $462 billion.

It’s unlikely that Google shares will stay above $1,000 for very long. The Mountain View, Calif, company plans to issue a new class of stock that will likely cut the value of the shares in half, though its market capitalization will be unaffected.

HTC offers larger phone, with fingerprint sensor

New York – At your neighborhood coffee shop, you can order your beverage in small, medium or large. Now, you can do that with phones, too.

HTC Corp. is introducing a larger version of its popular HTC One phone, becoming the latest phone maker to offer its flagship device in three sizes – and, of course, three prices.

The new HTC One Max has one feature unavailable on the smaller models: a fingerprint identification sensor similar to that on Apple’s new iPhone 5S. It’s an optional way to unlock a phone without using a four-digit passcode. Unlike Apple’s version, however, the Max can be programmed to automatically open one of three favorite apps, depending on which finger is used.

HTC spokesman Tom Harlin said the company designed the Max with a fingerprint sensor to make the larger device easier to operate with one hand. Engineers also moved the power button to the side. On smaller models, it’s on top of the phone, when held vertically.

The Max has a screen that measures 5.9 inches diagonally. That compares with the 4.7 inches on the standard version and the 4.3 inches on the HTC One Mini. HTC is designing its software to take advantage of the larger screen. With many Android phones, images and text simply get larger on bigger phones. With the Max, the layout of selected apps is reformatted to fit more content.

The Max also has more battery capacity than the smaller models, but otherwise shares their design and hardware features. Like the other Ones, the Max has a camera that can capture better low-light shots than the typical smartphone camera, but images are of lower resolution, at 4 megapixels. The Max weighs 7.7 ounces, which is more than the 5.9 ounces for Samsung’s 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3.

The price hasn’t been announced, but it likely will be comparable to the $300 for the Note 3 and Motorola’s Droid Maxx. That price typically requires a two-year service agreement and is $100 more than the regular HTC One, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and Motorola’s Droid Ultra when they launched.

Harlin said HTC is offering variety to meet consumers’ differing needs. Some might prefer a small device that is cheap and can fit in the pocket of skinny jeans, while others might want more screen space.

As for the fingerprint sensor, HTC is including similar security safeguards found in the iPhone 5S. A mathematical representation of the fingerprint is stored on the phone in a secured location, inaccessible to other apps or remote servers. However, HTC does plan to eventually offer a way for other apps to use the ID system, without accessing the fingerprint data directly. Apple has no current plans for third-party access.

Despite assurances of security from Apple, a German hacking group claims to have bypassed the system using a household printer and some wood glue to create an artificial copy of a genuine fingerprint. Apple hasn’t commented on that.

HTC said Verizon and Sprint Corp. will sell the HTC One Max in the U.S. in time for the holidays. AT&T Inc. has been offering the Mini since August. All four national carriers, including T-Mobile US Inc., have the standard version.

Career Paths in NADRA

Career Opportunities
NADRA offers a wide range of career opportunities to technical and non technical people both. NADRA hires highly specialized human resource, therefore, majority of the designations/specifications have been tailored according to the needs of the organization.

Careers at NADRA encompass the following areas:
 Identifies and implements improved streamlined processes
Customer Business Development: It helps business enhance its capacity by enabling proactive interactions with customers
Customer Services/Integrated Logistics: Management of the flow of materials/products and services and process finished products through the supply chain.
Engineering: Develop new products or design new processes.
External Relations: Functions as strategic business partner in various areas of public relations.
Finance & Accounting Management: Provide financial leadership at all levels. Assist in budgeting and financial resource allocating and risk management
Human Resources: Partner with management to set direction, develop and implement strategies. Manages, develops and deploy the human capital of the organization.
Information Technology: Impact global market, leading business objectives by employing the state of the art technology.
Marketing: Deploy plans to initiate innovative products, attractive for the stakeholders and the customers. Devise and develop promotional activities.
Procurement: Providing support to the main function of the organization in all areas.
Research & Development: Create and develop innovative products, processes and technologies so as to help improve the quality of life of the masses.

Job Environment
NADRA’s technological orientation has enabled it to provide a well equipped and a diverse working environment to its employees. It introduces them to a realistic challenge where an employee discovers experiential learning with a supervisory support. This challenge and support inculcates confidence and belief in his/her abilities which becomes a part of the employee’s personality.

Career Development 
Professional development of its employees is at the heart of NADRA. Management has strong belief in professional development of employees that are asset to the organization. The career graph of NADRA employees moves with the growth of the organization, since both the organization and the employees grow on reciprocal bases.We arrange extensive training programs for our employees to improve their existing skills set and help them grow in their career. A fully dedicated team at the HR Directorate works full time to find the best trainers and training programs available across Pakistan. Our training and development team has developed a strong association with renowned training institutions and universities like LUMS, NUST and IBA etc.

Potential Career Path
NADRA offers internship as well as employment opportunities for those who are willing to work in a competitive and diverse environment

Internship Program
NADRA has developed extensive paid internship programs for the energetic and competent university graduates looking for challenging careers and diverse work environment. NADRA reachs out to the fresh graduates through job fairs which are a valuable opportunity to meet and induct fresh talent. Most recent participations are GIK and Bahria university job fairs. Internship programs are offered in the following three categories

Senior Internee: Candidates having 2 years Masters Degree or 4 years Bachelors Degree with one year experience are inducted as Assistant Manager (non-technical) or System Engineer (technical) for a period of six months

Junior Internee: Candidates having 2 years Masters Degree or 4 years Bachelors Degree are inducted as Assistant Manager (non technical) or System Engineer (technical) for a period of six months
Student Internee: Current students taking projects as part of their course are inducted for a period of three months in early June.

Our internship programs are exciting, providing valuable opportunities for student interns and the fresh graduates both. Our internships provide invaluable opportunity to put theory into practice, apply knowledge and skills to real-life business situations. It is a great prospect of experiential learning where internee may find permanent place at the end of his/her probation period. Our supervisors/managers guide our interns in every possible way.

Employment Program
NADRA is an equal opportunity employer where people, irrespective of their gender, age, ethnic background and disabilities are encouraged to apply against advertised jobs. We offer jobs in the fields of information technology, engineering, operations and management. As an employee, you will take on significant company projects, strengthen your professional skills and gain a wealth of career and professional opportunities available at NADRA. 

Accountability court summons Zardari on Oct 29

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court in Islamabad summoned former president Asif Ali Zardari to appear before it on Oct 29 in relation to five National Accountability Bureau (NAB) references against him which were re-opened last week.

Despite earlier notices from the court, NAB officials failed to turn up for the hearing on Monday.

Moreover, the former president also failed to submit a response in accordance with the court’s earlier orders, upon which the court took a recess to wait for his response.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed chairman of NAB, Maj (r) Qamar Zaman Chaudhry took notice of the absence of NAB officials from the hearing and issued instructions to ensure the implementation of the court’s order and directed the NAB prosecutor to appear for the hearing.

The court was also informed that the former president had not complied with its earlier order after which the bench hearing the case issued another summon for Zardari to appear before it on Oct 29.

Taking a suo motu notice, the accountability court’s judge Bashir Ahmed had reopened five references against the former president.

The references against the former president include SGS, Cotecna, ARY, polo ground and Ursus tractors.

Microsoft awards hacking expert, repairs browser bug

Boston – Microsoft Corp said on Tuesday it is paying a well-known hacking expert more than $100,000 for finding security holes in its software, one of the largest such bounties awarded to date by a high-tech company.

The software maker also released a much anticipated update to Internet Explorer, which it said fixes a bug that made users of the world’s most popular browser vulnerable to remote attack.

James Forshaw, who heads vulnerability research at London-based security consulting firm Context Information Security, won Microsoft’s first $100,000 bounty for identifying a new “exploitation technique” in Windows, which will allow it to develop defenses against an entire class of attacks, the software maker said on Tuesday.

Forshaw earned another $9,400 for identifying security bugs in a preview release of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 11 browser, Katie Moussouris, senior security strategist with Microsoft Security Response Center, said in a blog.

Microsoft unveiled the reward programs four months ago to bolster efforts to prevent sophisticated attackers from subverting new security technologies in its software, which runs on the vast majority of the world’s personal computers.

Forshaw has been credited with identifying several dozen software security bugs. He was awarded a large bounty from Hewlett-Packard Co for identifying a way to “pwn,” or take ownership of, Oracle Corp’s Java software in a high-profile contest known as Pwn2Own (pronounced “pown to own”).

Microsoft also released an automatic update to Internet Explorer on Tuesday afternoon to fix a security bug that it first disclosed last month.

Researchers say hackers initially exploited that flaw to launch attacks on companies in Asia in an operation that the cybersecurity firm FireEye has dubbed DeputyDog.

Marc Maiffret, chief technology officer of the cybersecurity firm BeyondTrust, said the vulnerability was later more broadly used after Microsoft’s disclosure of the issue brought it to the attention of cyber criminals.

He is advising computer users to immediately install the update to Internet Explorer, if they do not have their PCs already set to automatically download updates.

“Any time they patch something that has already been used (to launch attacks) in the wild, then it is critical to apply the patch,” Maiffret said.

That vulnerability in Internet Explorer was known as a “zero-day” because Microsoft, the targeted software maker, had zero days notice to fix the hole when the initial attacks exploiting the bug were discovered.

In an active, underground market for “zero day” vulnerabilities, criminal groups and governments sometimes pay $1 million or more to hackers who identify such bugs.