Sunday, December 24, 2006

This morning around 6AM my wife woke me up as she has felt an earthquake. Accodring to her the appartment building was swaying which was fairly scary. I couldn't feel anything in my sleep so I was actually wondering if it was only a dream. However, just few minutes later I got an SMS "Moderate earthquake (M5.7) occured on 24-Dec 05:59:47 (WIB/GMT+7) 52km (SW) from Labuhan (West Java), 148km (SSE) from Bandar Lampung.". It was an SMS from Earthquake Information Service offered by one of the local companies - I subscribed to it sometime ago. It is a really useful service which informs about important earthquakes within South-East Asia region, often long time before you even hear about it in radio.

If you wish to subscribe just send SMS with content "REG EARTHQUAKE" to 6768 (works with all Indonesian operators i.e. Telkomsel, XL, Flexi, Mobile 8 etc.) - costs Rp1000 per received SMS (US$0.1). Anyway, this just shows how useful mobilephones can be in informing/alerting people about all sort of threats, thus I believe few years from now mobile phones will not only be used as a communication device, but also help to save our lives by providing all sort of threat warnings and information to citizens.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Long-awaited rainy season clearly arrives as we finally have some rain in Jakarta. This certainly brings risk of floods, horrible traffic jams caused by massive rainfalls, need for an umbrella etc. which all is obviously nothing fun. Fortunately, there are some positive aspects of heavy rains such as less pollution after the rain or cooler weather. Strangely, I've always had strong interest in extreme weather especially strange cloud formations. I'm often amazed with storms that I can observe in Jakarta and I'm pretty sure there will be lots of opportunities to shoot some interesting pictures over this rainy season. I'll try to post it on my blog if I have something interesting.

Anyway, there is something strange about me that relates to the rain. All important events in my life (including my wedding this year) were accompanied by rain. The wedding was especially interesting as hotel already prepared outdoor wedding ceremony at the beach, but frankly speaking I was already sure it will rain for the ceremony, thus I've already asked about the possibility of moving everything indoor if it rains. Not surprisingly, it started to rain just before the ceremony and we had to move everything indoor. Rain can be seen as either a blessing or a curse, and it is up to us to determine which way we will perceive it. Fortunately, in my culture rain means blessing thus I take it positively and simply look forward to see what rain brings me.

Anyway, I browsed through my photos and found one photo that I've been trying to find for quite some time.

I took it at Lovina (North Bali) while swimming around the coast and trying to shoot some photos of Dolphins, which as you can see on the photos below, was quite successful.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Recently I've been on a very short holidays to North Sulawesi, to be precise the Siau island. It is rather remote area as it takes 7-8 hours by ferry from Manado to get there - it is very close to the Philippines. I must say it is an amazing place that offers multiple tourist attractions such as incredible white sand beaches, amazing ocean life, active volcano, hot springs, great seafood and lots of incredible views. Unfortunately, the place is poorly developed and there is not a single hotel available and not a single restaurant. However, it is possible to stay with local family who can offer room and cook meals, yet don't expect air-conditioning or European style toilet. I also have to mention that there are so few tourists travelling to Siau that every tourist who manages to get there becomes local tourist attraction. Fortunately, locals are extremely friendly and very helpful, just stay calm, smile and wave when everyone gathers to look at you. I also have to mention that there are no souvenirs sellers, thus you can truly enjoy your holiday just laying down on the beach and not having to explain every 10 minutes that you already have bought enough souvenirs. Was it worth to travel by ferry 8 hours to get there? Judge yourself looking at my travel photos from Siau.

I had a great holiday and the place was simply incredible. Indonesia is a truly beautiful country.

Note: If you plan to travel to Siau I can provide contact information to families offering rooms for tourists, just drop me an e-mail. I've been staying there with one family and really enjoyed it. I had a fresh fish every day, could go fishing with the house owner, boating around the bay, also the house owner's friend was my driver and tourist guide around the island. Overall the family provided a great service for extremely low fee.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Jakarta is such a fun place to live that I just can't stop enjoying living here. One of the things that often makes ma laugh is use of English language in advertising. In Jakarta you can often see a big advertisement in a major newspaper written in English language and full of grammar and spelling mistakes.

I'm not a native English speaker, thus my English is not perfect either, but in my professional work such as writing project reports I actually try hard to use proper grammar and try to make sure there are no basic spelling mistakes in the text. I think in advertising industry much stricter rules should apply and in my opinion companies should verify content of the advertisement with professional English copywriters before releasing an advertisement for print. Unfortunately this is rarely the case and often results in extremely ridiculous advertisements – actually highly embarrassing to the advertiser as many Indonesians speak good English.

I also have to mention about advertisements with content mixed between English and Indonesian language which often results in extremely hilarious advertisements. The most disturbing example of such poor advertising practice you can observe at Kelapa Gading area, just next to McDonalds: As you can see on this huge banner PT. Venus Ceramica Indonesia have a special Lebaran promotion which is "Free 500kg Semen"! Myself I'm very curious how they organise such massive supply of semen as I think it requires thousands of men to produce this huge amount. Maybe it has something to do with the number of "executive clubs" and "massage places" in the nearby area or maybe something to do with the Mona Lisa herself? You'll probably have to ask the advertiser.

Actually, the name of the advertised product "Monalisa Tiles" has some interesting language background. The product name sounds like the tiles are produced somewhere in Europe and definitely must be a very exclusive masterpice produced by Italian artists ... right? Well, not really. The tiles are actually produced in China by entirely Chinese company! Gosh, I think I was wrong all my life as apparently Mona Lisa comes from China, not Florence. I should also start to pronounce it correctly as I think it should be Mo-Na-Li-Xa, of Chinese painting Si-Fu (master) Da-Win-Ci.

Note: Indonesian word "semen" means "cement" in English, "free" is not an Indonesian word.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Following the previous post with photos from Bali, this time I'd like to post few photos from my trip to North Sulawesi ...


Island around Bunaken

Cruise around Bunaken

Fishing at Sangihe Island (7h by boat from Manado)

Beach at Sangihe Island

Manado from boat

Bunaken was certainly an amazing place to visit and corals were indeed incredible beautiful. I really enjoyed swimming by motorboat around the Bunaken and eating fresh seafood on the islands. I've also found Sangihe Island to be very unique place and taking seven hours cruise by ferry from Manado was worth the effort. I’ve had a chance to eat the best "kelapa muda" (young coconut) I've ever eaten in my life, admire the almost untouched wildlife as well as enjoying snorkelling around incredible beaches. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to visit Siau Island, but plan to go there around October 2006 and I will certainly bring some photos with me.

Update: Photos from my trip to Siau island can be found here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

If you are tired of spam, here comes an idea of good revenge. In a brief summary Nigerian scammer got tricked and sent two guys to travel 1.400 miles (2253 km) from Nigeria to Chad in order to pick-up nonexistent money from nonexistent camp.

The story is ongoing and to this date two guys from Nigeria already travelled 931 miles and I believe everyone is waiting to see how the story ends.

Mr. Williams

One of the two lads sent by Barrister Kuku to steal money from Rev. Belcher

Mr. Okonji

Read the full story here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

On May 12th, students at Jakarta's Trisakti University, many of them the children of the elite, planned to march to parliament to present the government with their demands for reform. The police prevented the students from marching. Some time after 5pm, uniformed men on motorcycles appeared on the flyover which overlooks Trisakti. Shots rang out. Four students were killed.

Several bloggers including Jakartass (Part 2) and Jakarta Kid recall their memories of May 1998 events in Indonesia. If you want to know more about Indonesian history I strongly recommend reading it.

Finally, Indcoup's version.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Very good news! Google Maps and Google Earth finally provide high quality satellite map of Jakarta. Finally, after waiting for so long, I’ll be able to use this precise satellite map of Jakarta in my own applications (through Google API), I can also measure the distance between various points of Jakarta (using Google Earth), record location of various places in Jakarta, use this map in my research etc. The list of possible use of this map is very long and I bet many of you will find it extremely useful in your own projects.

Unfortunately, the map is approximately 2 years old, so if you need a very accurate current map of Jakarta or it is a commercial project, you’ll probably have to buy a commercial map. The area of West and South Jakarta is also not included, thus you won't find Blok M there nor Fatmawati street. However, considering that Google provides this map free of charge, I think this is not a reason to complain about.

Anyway, find links to satelite zoom of some well known spots in Jakarta:

Cool isn’t it?!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Indonesia is an amazingly beautiful country. I feel very lucky to be able to experience its beauty and I feel it compensates all the madness of life in Jakarta. The best way to express what I feel is to share my favourite personal travel photos. For a start Indonesia’s no.1 tourist destination which obviously is Bali.

Kuta Beach.

Beach near Candidasa.



Traditional Boat Harbour.

Traditional boat ready to swim into the sea.

On the boat.

Balinese restaurant.

As you can notice silence is what I often miss after living in Jakarta for so long.

Copyright © 2006 Marek Bialoglowy. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Majority of Jakarta’s middle class families employ at least one domestic servant. For few hundred thousands Indonesian Rupiahs monthly (US$40-100 + food) servants cook meals, wash dirty dishes, clean the messy house or apartment, wash and iron dirty clothes, take care of kids while parents are away etc., the list goes long. Overall they save their employers lots of time which they can spend in a better way. Due to the nature of their work, domestic servants are also those trusted the most. They are the one with easy access to our food, kids and our property and are almost like member of the family. But, can we trust them as much as our family?

Most expatriates living in Indonesia used to do the house work themselves. This is why they quickly tend to notice and truly enjoy the benefit of employing domestic servants. It is something new, very enjoyable and unfortunately very addictive. After several years of living in Indonesia life without maid becomes difficult. Lack of domestic servant is actually one of the most common elements of Indonesia missed by expatriates returning home. Suddenly, after few years of being lazy again they have to do all the housework by themselves. It actually gets shocking to this point for some, that they ask their Indonesian maids to join them.

The benefit of having maids (called here “pembantu”) or drivers (“sopir”) is so great for an average expatriate, that they often tend to forget about the risks involved. As previously mentioned domestic servants are almost like member of our family as they have very easy access to food, our children and our property, definitely highly trusted individuals. But, how did they get to this position? Well, in fact most families employ their domestic servants fairly quickly and very irresponsibly. Usually expatriates get their housekeepers by asking around, getting some recommendations and after little bargaining hire the person.

The result as I’ve learnt can be often very surprising.

Early experiences (if this article sounds boring skip this chapter)

I employed several house keepers over the period of living in Indonesia. The first two house keepers were not hired by my employer, thus I had not much to do. I think they were relatively good. The next one I hired myself when I moved from house to apartment. She was from Java and had a children and husband. I found here thanks to the recommendation of my friend living in the same apartment complex. Since there was not much work at my place, she used to come once a day to clean the apartment. She continued to work for me for about 6 months and then she decided to go back to her village – as far as I remember she was expecting a baby. Overall I had no problem with her and the apartment was always well maintained. In fact I’ve even rarely seen her as she had the copy of the apartment key and we’ve met only on the salary day.

My next maid was recommended by security guard at the apartment. He vouched for her and asked me to let him know if I’d ever have any problem. This maid also came once a week except weekends and as previous maid she didn’t have much work. Two hours a day and everything was done – I paid Rp400K (~40$) monthly which considering that she had to work only two hours a day was very high, if compared to the local standards. As my friend was looking for a maid I recommended her to him and she started to work for both of us, making pretty decent income I believe.

Then I decided to move to my new apartment and my house keeper started to work full-time for my friend and take care of his kids.

It would be long story so I’ll just briefly mention that sometime later I got married and my wife moved to my apartment. Since there were two of us living here, it added some housework, and since both of us are pretty busy working, we decided to get some house keeper.

Mba Sri (here it gets interesting)

Mba Sri was a house keeper at my wife’s home. She was working there for only six months, as the previous maid got some rich sailor as her boyfriend – actually my wife’s uncle - and she moved to his place and proudly quit her maid position. Her replacement was Mba Sri, woman around 40 who was recommended by our driver. Mba Sri was a bit overweight Javanese lady who dragged her little son everywhere. The kid was actually really something, but I’ll leave it for another story. Anyway, as we decided to get maid we asked her to come once or twice a week (Saturday and Sunday) for few hours and clean our apartment. To make it easier for her we asked our driver to pick her up and drop her back, plus we paid her Rp300K (~30$) on top of her current salary, which increased her earning to more than double of an average maid’s salary. As expected she always came with her kid, who definitely enjoyed that as he was getting some sweets and some enjoyable stuff such as drawing something with colour pens. One Sunday he seem to enjoy drawing a lot so I gave him some blue marker to draw and after he could keep it to himself. His mother was cleaning the floor and after my driver took all of them home.

Well, frankly I must say I didn’t like Mba Sri since the first day I met her. The kid was funny, but I had rather negative feeling about his mother – actually for no specific reason, there was just something wrong in her.

Where is my mobile phone?

I used Telkom Flexi for internet connection and sometimes to make a phone call. The phone is Nokia 6585 and in fact it is replacement for the original Nokia 6585 that I’ve bought. The phone I’ve bough was stolen from an organiser of charity event that I supported in many ways, which also included providing my CDMA phone for the event information line. I got Nokia 6585 owned by event organiser as the replacement for the one which was stolen from him. Anyway, one Saturday I ran out of credits (ind. “pulsa”) and left my phone on the desk. I bought new credits (ind. “pulsa”) on Monday and wanted to reload my phone and surprisingly couldn’t find it. Half an hour of searching and still nothing, thus I decided to call it and find it when it rings. I called. The phone was on but no ringing around and suddenly something surprising happened.

Some guy: “Halo?”

Me: “Eeeeee … Halo?”
Some guy: “Ini Siapa?” (eng. “Who’s that”);
Me: “Eeeeee?! Huh?! Ini Marek? Ini numor berapa. Ini siapa?” (“This is Marek. Which number is that?”)
Some guy: “Saya tidak tahu. Itu bukan telepon punya Saya.” (eng. “I don’t know. This is not my phone.”)
Me: “Ya?” (eng. “Yes?”)
Some guy: “Saya di rumah Mba Sri. Mau bicara dengan siapa?” (eng. “I’m at Mrs. Sri house. Who do you want to talk to?”)
Me: “Itu hand phone saya. Kenapa anda punya telepon saya?”. (eng. “This is my mobile phone. Why have you got my phone?”)
Some guy: “Tidak tahu. Saya perlu tanya dulu.” (eng. “I don’t know. I need to ask first.”)

The guy disconnected and 15 minutes later the phone was off.

Well, I checked the number on my phone display and everything was correct, it was a phone number of my Telkom Flexi phone. Surprisingly, this guy was in possession of my mobile phone! But wait, he said “Saya di rumah Mba Sri.”, this name sounds familiar. I called my wife and asked about the name of our maid, so my wife answered “Mba Sri”. Well, this definitely was name of my maid who was here yesterday with her kid cleaning our apartment! Dot to dot and I believed I had a good idea of where my phone could be and how it got there.

I explained all this to my wife. She called her mother and sister, explained everything and asked to talk to the maid when she comes.

“It is always the best policy to speak the truth--unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.” - Jerome K. Jerome

When Mba Sri came to my wife’s house her sister immediately asked where the mobile phone is. Mba Sri surprised asked which mobile phone and later assured that she doesn’t know anything about the missing mobile phone. The conversation lasted for several hours and included my wife’s mother and sister and crying Mba Sri. When we said to Mba Sri that we will call Police, she said to do so as she is innocent. Anyway, to make it short I’ll just summarise the top statements of Mba Sri:
  • “I swear to my husband's life that I didn’t steal any mobile phone”;
  • “You rich people accuse me poor servant of stealing. I would never steal anything. I’m poor but not a thief”;
  • “You people are cruel. I want to tell this to Marek. Please ask him to come, I want to tell him how cruel he is to accuse me poor innocent servant of stealing”;
Right, this is so convincing that most of you already think I’m the pure evil expatriate who abuses his domestic servants. Because of me poor Mba Sri was sitting there crying with her kid also crying and assuring everyone that she is innocent. In fact this was convincing to this extent that my wife’s mother was already thinking I’m cruel and I accuse this poor maid of stealing while she is innocent. My sister in law also started to think the same about me. Moreover, my wife started to question if I really had my mobile phone on the desk or maybe I’ve lost it somewhere. Things were getting bit out of control and I started to get upset with everyone around, thus I decided it would be better to deal with Indonesia's famed Police.

The Police

Fortunately, there was one fact which assured me that I was right. Someone on the phone did say that the phone was at Mba Sri’s house. This just couldn’t be a coincidence and even if almost everyone was against me I knew I was right. She was the only one who could have stolen the mobile phone as there was no one else at the apartment. Moreover, my driver added credibility to my story by saying that Mba Sri once tried to sell a mobile phone to him explaining that she had found it on the street.

All this looked rather feasible so I hoped Police officers will believe in my story. I went to the Police station accompanied by my wife and my driver. After short description of the problem to two police officers, they said it would be best to talk to Mba Sri or maybe visit her house first and see if someone remembers the mobile phone. I must say that since beginning the Police officers were very professional and helpful – they didn’t even ask for any payment, really.

Accompanied by two police officers we went to her house. Doors were shut, lights were off etc., so we went to my wife’s house and meet Mba Sri there as she continued to cry and assure my wife’s mother that she is innocent. When we arrived and she noticed us walking with two police officers she started to look bit panicked. She immediately stopped crying and in fact she got into pretty positive mood, even laughed a bit. When questioned by police officer she assured that she didn’t take the phone. She repeated this many times and said that I’m wrong, that I’ve lost my mobile phone sometimes - not true - and she didn’t take it.

As someone who does not understand everything she says I was paying more attention to her face expressions rather than words and in my feeling she was clearly lying. Whatever she said was not convincing to me at all.

The best part of the story starts.

When my wife explained that her position is very weak as there was nobody else at home, just us, things started to change. Also, my wife explained about the phone call and that we can get location of the mobile phone and if it is in the area of her house she will go to jail. We also said that if she gives back the phone, we will not press any charges against her. If not, she will be arrested tomorrow. After hearing this she suddenly started to talk in a bit different way.

- “Pak Marek must have put his phone somewhere at the apartment and forgot. I am sure it is in his bag or somewhere. Let me go to the apartment and find it”;

Huh? I said to my wife “This is totally ridiculous! Does she think I’m an idiot?” However, my wife said that it seems she wants to return the phone. After short discussion we agreed to this scenario as my wife started to believe that she wants to return the phone pretending that I’ve put it somewhere at the apartment and forgot where. After this discussion we went back with Police officers to the police station. On the way police officers told us that after three minutes of discussion they were already sure she was a liar. They investigated number of criminals and it was really obvious when talking with her that she was the theft.

Anyway, now it gets even better. Half an hour later Mba Sri calls my wife’s sister and says “The mobile phone was found”. “I called the number and some rubbish man answered and said he has found it among rubbish! I already have this phone at my place and I’ll return it tomorrow.”

Can you believe this?! The best thing was that SHE DIDN’T KNOW THE PHONE NUMBER OF THAT MOBILE PHONE. Plus, there was another thing that really knocked me down. She asked some money from us for the rubbish man as a gratitude for his kindness of returning the mobile phone. Can you imagine? We just caught her on stealing mobile phone and she wants to get some money to return it! Unbelievable! All this after we treated her extremely well, gave lots of stuff to her kid etc. and paid her a very high salary.

I got my phone back next day. The power button and Infra Red sensor were all scratched as they tried to switch it off and didn’t know how. We were all totally shocked for a few days. It was just unbelievable that someone we trusted, someone we treated so well could be such a liar and a theft and most of all lie to us in such a convincing way. We have also found out that she had stolen not only the mobile phone but also some of my wife’s clothes.

Shocking, isn’t it? Anyway, the positive meaning of this story is to learn that we can actually count on the local policeman. They can be very helpful and actually solve our problem. However, if you are an expatriate just remember to consider they extremely low salary and also remember about the policeman day. This way you will assure they will be maximum helpful to you, not the criminals.

Yes, I’ll do the same thing again, give you some useful advice, sorry just can’t resist. If you’re the kind that hates advices just skip this part:

  • Find your house keepers by recommendation, not by newspaper advertisement. The best people to ask are apartment security guards, security guard in nearby shop or apartment, your friends etc. However, keep the concept of ‘segregation of duties’, thus if you live in a house and have a security guard for the night, I’d rather advice you to ask the security guard at the housing complex or nearby house; otherwise you may end up being robbed by your security guard and house keeper working together – this happens often in Jakarta;
  • Beware of the most common trick used by house keepers, I call it “hide and seek”. House keeper simply put some of your belongings in a place that you most likely won’t check. Then she waits few weeks or even a month and check if you ask about the missing thing or found it by yourself. If you didn’t, she just takes it. If within few weeks you suddenly ask about it, she can still tell you that she’ll try to find it and then she just says she has found it (in that place). By observing how frustrated you are trying to find it she will evaluate if she keeps the thing or returns it;
  • Keep photo copy of your house keeper documents and at best know where she lives – try to verify this from time to time, as house keepers tend to move often. This will be extremely useful in case you need to deal with police;
  • Know where your house keeper family lives;
  • When you hire new house keeper, tell her that the previous one was arrested by police for stealing. Put on your desk some photos of you and police officers;
  • Trusted housekeeper will be most likely skinny, shy and speak quietly. The least trusted will be most likely loud and arrogant, overweight who talks often about money or her poor financial situation;
  • Avoid hiring domestic servants when: they are in debt, are in very difficult financial situation – this may sound cruel to some, but one of the major reasons for stealing is the financial pressure. Also when in general they don’t like rich people or expatriates (if you’re expatriate) or your ethnic group – this could give them motive to steal;
  • Pay your domestic servants fair and on time; consider supporting education of their children;
If you know some other stories or advice, just post it in comments. I myself heard many stories about car stolen by drivers, anyone could write more about this?

PS1: I know this story sounds like a top quality “Sinetron” (Indonesian soap opera) thus I’d like to remind that I reserve all rights to it. PS2: Should I order coffin for her husband?

Copyright © 2006 Marek Bialoglowy. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, April 17, 2006

While browsing through Indonesia related blogs I’ve hit on a very good article by Duncan Graham on his Indonesia Now blog.

Let me quote few lines of the article for you:

Thanks to the TV companies’ commitment to lifting the national knowledge base I’m smarter, wiser - and more evil. You thought TV means television? Wrong, foolish reader. It stands for Teaching Violence. I now know how to commit suicide, raise the devil, fleece the poor, torment the vulnerable, hide the loot then corrupt the evidence. And kill. By gun, knife, poison, pillow, car, pitfall, rope, fire, electricity and water. Much of this information is fresh. I wasn’t aware of the best cord for a good hanging or the appropriate knot. Thanks to TV these details are now clear. Shooting and stabbing was old hat. I’d been taught gun skill in army cadets by a sadistic sergeant (is there any other type?) Don’t fire at the head – it’s too small a target. Gut shots disable best.

Full text can be found here.

Me myself I rarely watch Indonesian TV. It’s not about my understanding of Indonesian language, but almost entirely about extremely poor content broadcasted by local “Teach Violence” stations. It’s full of idiotic movies, extremely ridiculous locally made soap operas called here “Sinetron” and most of all full of advertisements.

For instance the TV stations can extend 1:30h movie to three hours, simply by putting 10 minutes advertisements every 10 minutes of the movie – if movie is too long they can even cut some of the scenes and replace it with advertisements. Moreover, when you skip channels there is an advertisement on almost every channel. Like this would not be enough the TV stations also use all the dirty tricks that are forbidden in many western countries. This includes sudden volume increase when the advertisements are played, thus if you were just doing something else and don’t pay your attention to TV, you’ll definitely notice the advert after sudden TV volume increase, also there is no special notice before the advertisement will be played, it just suddenly pops up. The advertisers also use all the dirty tricks they could use such as constant use of kids in the advertisements, use of psychological tricks base on comparison (she looks better than me!) etc. Thus, considering all this I think I should be paid to watch the local TV stations. Since they ignore the invoices I send them, I watch movies on DVDs and read the news on the Internet - trying to avoid the propaganda.

Regarding the movies content itself it’s pretty much clear that TV censors are so focused on cutting out all the kisses and nudity from the movies (no kidding, any kiss will be cut out by the Indonesian TV censors, even if it’s a wedding kiss) that they they are too lazy to censor the violence, all the blood and body parts everywhere on the TV screen. If you happen to have kids, they can also happily watch murder victims full in blood, victims of road accidents, suicides etc. and all on weekend day time! Most of these scenes would never appear on any western TV station even after midnight, while here you can watch it together with kids while having your breakfast.
Can watch this in Indonesia with kids daytime.

Come kids. What an interesting TV program on local TV.

Kids, come quickly. There's something for you on local TV!

CENSORED. Can't see this on Indonesian TV even after midnight.

Yeh, that's local TV. I hope I won't get deported for publishing this cartoon.

Finally I have to talk more about the “Sinetron”, which gets enormous popularity here. The plot of these Indonesian soap operas is pretty much simple. There is always some poor maid / step daughter / orphan or a girl / wife oppressed by sadistic husband / father / white expatriate (called here “Bule”) / evil wife / drug using son / gay son / prostitute daughter etc. There must be always some doze of mystical or religion related unexplainable events, lots of psychological and physical violence, thefts and lots of talking about money etc.

Photo: Samson Betawi - Sinetron version of mythical Samson

To summarize the local operas I’d say “life sucks and then you die”, or suddenly become rich etc. unless your dead mother is magically protecting you or you have some magic skills. Most of all the rich people must be shown as evil, while the poor uneducated people are always shown as the good ones.

I’ve had a chance to talk with one of the major producers of these soap operas and I bluntly asked: “I think your production is piece of crap. I can’t believe people watch this!” his answer was very blunt as well “Me neither! I know it is rubbish but as long as it is cheap to produce and people still watch it I really don’t care.”

If you wish to know how ridiculous it can get, read the first paragraph of the following article. Although I totally disagree with the author's conclusion "For lower class families, watching Sinetron provides for symbolic consumption and strengthens the moral values they adhere to" as I think Sinetron is brainwashing people and disconnects them from reality and definitely does not improve their lifes. Moreover, imagine if people watching this crap would read something valuable or study rather than waste their time on watching Sinetron. I think we would have better educated population here, spend less on electricity and have people more focus on improving their own lifes, thus I could even say that Sinetron is causing serious loss to the state. Anyway, browse through the text and judge it yourself.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Following the previous post Copyright Piracy in Indonesia I've asked lawyer to prepare a short guideline on how to ensure protection of your copyright in Indonesia. Following is the response from known Indonesian lawyer Rakhmayanti Esther Makainas:

Just like in many other countries, copyright in Indonesia is protected under the law (Indonesian Copyright Act No.19/2002). Most of the Indonesians are not well informed about this exclusive right everyone here is entitled as the first creator, or they just do not know how to process the registration of their creation.

Thus, if you create: books, computer programs, pamphlet, speech, science, drama, choreography, architecture, map, photography, cinematography, design industry, paintings, drawings, calligraphy, sculpture, collage, database etc. then you should protect such exclusive right by registering your Copyright in Indonesia through to the Office of Intellectual Property Rights Directorate General (Dirjen Hak Atas Kekayaan Intelektual called also Dirjen HAKI, a unit in Department of Justice and Human Rights). Even though a creation should be protected fist time when it was created, and NOT when it was registered, for anticipation on possible future claim against our copyright, it is necessary that we have sufficient evidence in a form of Registration Certificate to be presented as evidence before the court.

By having your creation copyright-ed or you’re a beneficiary of such copyright, then you’re entitled to announce or multiple that creation or to grant right to exercise the aforementioned. However, not like the other Intellectual Property Right such as “Patent”, in Indonesia, the entitlement for that Copyright generally apply for a life of the creator plus 50 years, or 50 years from the first announcement or publication or creation (except for broadcasting production which is 20 years from it’s first broadcasted).

Registration can be submitted directly to the Office of Intellectual Property Rights Directorate General - estimated fee of IDR 150,000 (USD 15) will apply (not included "additional costs"). Then you have to provide:
  • Sample of creation or substitute;
  • Proof of citizenship such as ID Card (KTP) or Passport of applicant or his/her Proxy:
  • Copy of Tax Registration Certificate (NPWP);
  • Specific Power of Attorney (if you appointing an Attorney);
  • Statement of Ownership affixed with Stamp Duty of IDR 6000;
  • 3 copies of Identification Card (KTP);
  • Letter of Transfer of Right (if any);
  • Certified copy of establishment deed of a legal entity or a- public notary-legalized copy (if the applicant is a legal entity);

I had additional questions related to this response.

Q: Someone steal my design. What would ensure my stronger position?

A: The copyright over such creation should be protected when it was first created, and NOT when it was registered. However to avoid any future claim or dispute, it’s always best that you register your copyright. The court trial will involve lots of procedure including evidencing. In that case, a copyright registration certificate could be presented as evidence in proving your right.

Q: Do I have any chance of winning the court trial?

A: If you don’t have enough evidence to proof that you’re the first creator of such creation, then you’re most likely going to lose the trial, especially if you don’t have enough "budget" and your opponent is wealthy;

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I was pleased to see Google launching Google Calendar service today, thus additionally to extremely useful GMail service, you can now use Google Calendar, all FREE.

The following features are supported - starting from the one I like the most:

Notifications: you can receive notifications about your calendar events to e-mail, pop-up messages or via SMS (unfortunately not supporting Indonesian providers);

Calendar sharing: you can share your calendar events within a group of users, i.e. your company, family or club or through your web-site. This is excellent tool for organising collaborative work within your organisation or simply announcing some organisation events to public;

Invitations: Works similar as event invitations in Microsoft Outlook and allows you to invite others for a meeting or event;

Integration with GMail: the most beneficial aspect of integration with the rest of the Gmail services is certainly single-sign on login,

iCal support: which helps you to integrate the Google calendar with your mobile phone calendar.

I tested the calendar myself and found it very useful. I still see some bugs that need to be fixed but overall it is an excellent service that in my opinion will become extremely popular. I already see a way it can benefit me, such as sharing important calendar events to my blog readers via publicly shared Google calendar events.

There are certainly some features that I miss the most, that is:

• Ability to schedule delivery of e-mail sent from Gmail using the Google calendar,

• Not everyone lives in US guys, support of SMS notification for telecommunication providers from other countries would be nice.

Unfortunately, I notice one serious problem that can dangerously affected users of Google services. Most likely your Gmail accounts already stores tones of e-mails among which many can be rather sensitive or highly confidential. Now with Google Calendar service we additionally trust Google to store our personal scheduler and all this information combined can pretty much become extremely useful to malicious hackers or intelligence services. Thus, when Google account with all services linked to it is protected with only a simple password this becomes a serious threat. I really think Google should implement two factor token based authentication for customers willing to pay for this type of service. I’d definitely subscribe for paid two factor authentication service the first day it launches.

See some screenshots:

There is no doubt of a common lack of respect for copyrights in Indonesia. This problem not only affects most frequent victims such as music or movie industries, which is the most noticeable if you just happen to visit Mangadua or ITC near Mal Ambassador. Several other business areas while less noticeable are also heavily affected by copyright piracy.

One of such areas is architecture, which cause a very big problem in Indonesia resulting in serious employment problems among Indonesian architects. I myself know several locals holding architecture degree (few of them even from prestigious overseas Universities) and unfortunately none of them makes their living out of architecture. In my home country Poland, being an architect is one of the most profitable professions that guarantee a very high income, while here being an architect in Indonesia is almost none profitable. This was very surprising to me, thus I tried to understand why and I got pretty clear answer from one of the local architects. He explained that it very often happens that that he designs a house or office for a client, make as real great design that he is even proud of and after presenting this design to client, the client just takes the plans and drawings and ask some student or fresh graduate to change few elements. Sometime later he can see his design as read house with few changed windows. This actually happened so often, that it maid him seriously stressed, gave him so much disappointment that he decided to give up architecture and pursue his career in trade.

I think this partially explains why architecture in Indonesia is so ugly. Some may think this is about money, but surprisingly even in the extremely rich villa areas, there are number of houses featuring extremely ugly architecture with classic stylised plastic statue in front symbolising lots of money and lack of basic taste of the owner o the house.

If you do search on Google with "famous Indonesian architect", you will find around 30 links only and all talking about one person. In fact, the most famous architect linked to Indonesia is not even Indonesian. I’m talking about Made Wijaya, Australian who started his career in Indonesia as tourist guide, photo journalist and even tennis teacher and who later became well recognised garden designer. If you happen to visit Bali Hyatt, you won’t be surprised why, as Bali Hyatt’s garden designed by Made Wijaya is simply a masterpiece, a truly amazing garden full of tropical animals who are its natural habitants (Note: Although, I love the Bali Hyatt garden, I seriously dislike the hotel after serious troubles with their service).

It seems the foreign hotels are probably the only places where you can make a living out of architecture in Indonesia. Meanwhile, local architects due to lack of respect for their creation will simply continue to copy & paste foreign designs as why they should care to be creative as nobody will pay them for that anyway.

This apparently also happens in other fields such as graphics design. One of the most appalling examples of obvious copy & paste graphics work was the design of “ASCO Automotive” logo which looks incredibly close to well known software company called “SCO”. Compare it yourself:

Smart huh? You just search "A SCO logo" on Google Images, take first logo from the list, remove the tree, add "A", change the colour and PROFIT. Now it just makes me wonder how much they got paid for that. What is in fact shocking is that "ASCO" is not a small "toko", but a pretty big company linked to ADIRA, which makes it even more disturbing.

I just wonder what ASCO Automotive is aware that "SCO" is well known for it's copyright infringement lawsuit against major companies using Linux, and spending lots of money on their lawyers. I wonder what SCO will do when they find out. I think ASCO Automotive should better start saving money for the lawsuit.


Bali has talented architects that I should have also mentioned here. As pointed out by Made Wijaya in his e-mail, I should definitely mention the following architects:

Popo Danes, honoured with the ‘Indonesian Institute of Architect’ award for his efforts in promoting contemporary Balinese architecture in its proper way, awarded Indonesian Construction Award in 2003 as well as 2004 ASEAN Energy Award Efficient Building Tropical Building Category (Natura Resort & Spa project); Yoka Sara (designed the palatial Kama Sutra, the Waka Gangga resort in Tabanan, both in Bali, plus a deluxe resort in Bentong Pahang and a private home in Kuala Lumpur, both in Malaysia, amongst portfolio of more than 100 successful projects!); Gusti Sarjana (Villa Kirana project).

Also, as pointed out by Made Wijaya, having a small claims court to protect architects from corrupt clients, developers and contractors would improve the situation. I'll consult this with lawyers and try to post here a simple copyright protectiong guideline for architects and other professions.

You can also find lots of interesting information on Made's web-site.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Since my holidays, I haven’t got much time to publish anything on my blog. I’m working on a bigger research paper covering banking security in Indonesia, which unfortunately requires lots of work. Beside that, I’m still heavily occupied with my current projects, thus hardly can find spare time for anything else, such as my blog. I hope to be able to write some security related articles when I clear up my TODO list a bit.

Anyway, I wanted to write about something else. The rainy season is almost over and a heavy rain such as the one yesterday won’t happen to often. I personally love to watch storms, thunders and some other crazy weather conditions. This fascination is not rare as around the world there are number of “tornado hunters”, “storm hunters” and other enthusiasts of extreme weather condition. They even got clubs, web-sites with amazing photos and lots of papers on the science aspects of weather.

Jakarta is an extremely interesting place for everyone interested in extreme weather conditions. The weather here can change rapidly and often turns into very heavy storms or thunderstorms accompanies by heavy winds.

Here is some of the best photos from my collection of most interesting weather conditions from the ending rainy season.

The three photos bellow document one of the most interesting weather conditions that I’ve ever seen in Jakarta. As you can see on the photos below, a massive low-level cloud formed and hanged at a very low altitude leaving clear air pocket below. What I’ve found interesting is the almost uniform altitude of the massive dark-gray clouds for distance around 10km from the center of Jakarta towards the sea, while a clear pocket of air without rain appeared bellow.

It looks very interesting on the photos, but in real it looked simply amazing, especially when the storm became very heavy and clouds got very dark. I’d call it a dooms day effect.

One of the other interesting aspects of weather in Jakarta is the difference in weather conditions depending on the area of Jakarta. You may have crazy storm in Mega Kuningan and not a single drop of rain near Merdeka Palace (only a few kilometers away).

I think this photo is a perfect example of this effect.

As you can see we got a heavy rain above Kota, Merdeka Palace and nice sunset over Sudirman, Kuningan, Kemang. One more photo:

The most impressive weather condition I’ve ever seen in Jakarta happened two years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a digital camera with me thus I could shoot some photos only with my mobile phone. Just take a look at this:

Believe it or not, these photos were taken around 3:30pm. Normally, at 3:30pm we got a bright shiny day here, but that time it was almost dark.

Heavy rains in Jakarta certainly bring floods, creates massive traffic jams and cause lots of problems. However, beside these negative aspects, it's just interesting to see this amazing power of nature. I think heavy storms just remind us that we are not so powerful when it comes to the weather and that we should respect the environment.

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