Friday, December 28, 2007

If you are a foreigner who plans to travel to remote areas of Indonesia, you may be surprised when visiting a toilet. Imagine you've just had too much spicy saus sambal and are in some serious need and instead of something that you'd normally expect to find in WC, you'll see something like this: indonesian toilet Ooops, a major problem here! How to use this thing?!?! Fortunately, folks in India are using similar toilets and apparently foreigners have quite a problem using it, so a little manual was painted on the wall aimed to help silly foreigners to use this unique toilet. Obviously it's applicable to Indonesian traditional toilets, so you may find it useful:

indonesian toilet indonesian toilet indonesian toilet indonesian toilet indonesian toilet indonesian toilet I hope it's clear now. Please Visit Indonesia Year 2008.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

BiZNET has launched a very interesting service, a FREE on-line file storage with almost 1GB of free space to store any of your files on a remote server! It is easily accessible via web interface and I must say that access from Indonesian networks is incredibly fast. It is a fantastic service and I’m seriously surprised to see that local ISP could come up with something like that and offer it for FREE. It’s definitely a cool service for exchanging large files, keeping your backups on remote locations, sharing data for larger number of users etc. and I definitely recommend using it. Yet, knowing BiZNET’s reputation in the area of information security I think it is better not to store any sensitive data there. Obviously, a simple solution to this problem is to use encryption, such as encrypting ZIP files, using PGP or TrueCrypt which will ensure that content of your files will remain confidential - just make sure you keep backups in case it incidentally disappears from the server.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We're getting closer to NetBeans IDE 6.0 Beta 1 was just released today. NetBeans is definitely my favourite Java development IDE, thus I try to follow its development. Some of the really cool updates are: smarter code completion; editable Diff (screenshot below); support for Ruby/JRuby/Ruby on Rails (including Ruby debugger) – for all those fans of Ruby programming language; finally NetBeans profiler has been integrated into IDE - now no need to download and install the NetBeans Profiler separately, thus you can immediately start optimising your Java apps; built-in visual designer for web applications including a Visual Page Flow editor (wow!). However, my favourite update is the new game builder for mobile applications, with API that supports animated sprites and the ability to arrange tiled layers into scenes – mobile game development has never been easier! There are actually quite a few updates related to mobile app developers such as Visual Mobile Designer (VMD) – finally it’s more stable – or integrated UI for CLDC/MIDP and CDC development. If you’ve never used NetBeans you definitely need to try this. The tool is absolutely FREE and provides lot more features that commercial Java development IDEs. If you live in Indonesia, I'd also recommend subscribing to NetBeans Indonesia Community. You'll have a chance to meet some of the best Java developers around.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

This morning, there was another strong earthquake near the shore of Sumatra. Since yesterday, the area was hit by multiple earthquakes, including at least three really big earthquakes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Today, there was a major earthquake very close to Bengkulu (~130km) (Sumatra/Indonesia) around 18:10 (WIB/GMT+7). As seen on the ShakeMap below [source USGS], it could be felt even in Jakarta, that is around 620km away!

The scale of the earthquake is difficult to comprehend, just notice the huge area of the Sumatra island that was affected. Actually, it was a string of multiple strong earthquakes in the area. Almost two hours later, there was another magnitude 5.7 earthquake in the same region:

And another one at 21:40 (GMT+7/WIB). I must also mention about the SMS based earthquake information system that I developed - sorry for boasting. After almost one year of testing, optimisation etc. it really worked well. The first SMS was sent to subscribers on 18:24:49 (WIB), that is only 14 minutes after the quake. From the user perspective it was like that, I was on the car and noticed lots of people going out of office buildings, something that looked like evacuation, so I wonder what was going. Within few minutes I already got details of the earthquake in SMS message. The precise message was "GREAT earthquake (M8.0) occurred on 12-Sep 18:10:19 WIB 146km (SW) from Bengkulu (Sumatera), 416km (SSE) from Padang (Sumatera).", or for Indonesian language subscribers "Gempa berkategori !! SANGAT BESAR (M8.0) terjadi 12-Sep 18:10:19 WIB 146km (SW) dari Bengkulu (Sumatera), 416km (SSE) dari Padang (Sumatera)". Most people working in tall buildings in Jakarta got really scared as you could really feel building swaying, or even see furniture shaking. I was on the car that time so I didn't feel much. The great thing about informing about earthquakes via SMS, is that after I received SMS informing about earthquake, it took another 10 minutes for any radio station to inform where was the earthquake. Every station just reported that there was an earhtquake felt in Jakarta, but none could specify where - and I already had this information delivered to my mobile phone. I think all this worked really well and I'm quite happy to see it functioning. The only issue was that some of the users called complaining about receiving 3 messages informing about earthquake, while they expected one. The reason for this was simple, there actually was more than one erthquake in the area and system decided to report all, because the magnitude was above 7 - in application everything above magnitude 7 is reported, even if similar earthquake was already reported. Obviously, the application does not report all earthquakes in Indonesia as it would sent more than 10 SMS a month, it only reports the earthquakes that are somehow important. FYI it took one year of optimisation to make all this work well and systems sends now from 4 to 5 SMS a month. Anyway, if you live in Indonesia and are interested to subscribe, simply sends SMS with content "REG EARTHQUAKE" or "REG GEMPA" (for Indonesian language version) to number 6768 - works with all subscribers, and when there's earthquake anywhere in Indonesia, you should know details within 15 to 45 minutes (depending on magnitude and location), that is often lot faster than you'll hear anything from TV or Radio! - the cost Rp1000 per received SMS (~US$0.10).

Update: I got information from Radio Elshinta 90,00 FM that out of 4 systems that should warn about possible tsunami (there was a risk of tsunami here), none worked! So much money put into this by various government agencies after the Sumatra tsunami, and not a single tsunami warning system worked and warned about possible tsunami - can you imagine this? I'd just say that they all are really lucky that this time there was no tsunami, otherwise lots of people would lose their lives for incompetence of people responsible for this.

Update: Quoted from news "The National Weather Service’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said sea level readings showed that the earthquake, which had a magnitude of 8.2, did indeed generate a tsunami, and that it may have caused destruction along the coast. A wave of up to 9 feet was reported to have hit Padang about 20 minutes after the quake, said Suhardjono, an official with Indonesia’s meteorological agency, the A.P. reported. But there had been no sightings of strong tidal waters two hours after the earthquake, usually the critical time for the formation of a tsunami.". Unfortunately, what I've wrote in my first update was not accurate. There was a tsunami after the earthquake. Now, I just wonder what government will do considering the fact that none of the four systems that was supposed to warn about tsunami worked. Let me guess, KKN?


KKN - indonesian term for corruption, collusion, and nepotism.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

On Saturday, Sept. 1, a very rare meteor shower will take in the skies. The peak time is 6:30-7pm WIB (Jakarta time), which is not a favorable time for a Jakarta observer, because of two reasons. First of all, the sky is still relatively bright before 7pm, and the second reasons is that unfortunately in Southern hemisphere the meteor shower will be less visible as Auriga constalation - source of Meteors - is far below the Horizon during the peak time.

Those of you who live in North-Eastern Indonesia are obviously more lucky, as meteors will be easier to spot on a dark night sky and the Auriga constalation is also closer to the horizon. The best spot to observe this unique event is obviously Jayapura:


Myself, I plan to observe it from Puncak area as Jakarta’s sky during night is little too bright to have a clear view of meteors. For those who also plan to watch this interesting event from Java, just look at the North-East side of the sky after 23:00.

Actually, this week is full of interesting astronomical events, as last Tuesday we could observe a total lunar eclipse. Good luck in observing meteors.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Most likely you've already heard about shooting at Virginia Tech University, where Cho Seung-hui, a 23-year-old student of South-Korean origin has killed more than 30 people. Today, more news about the story emerged including information about one Indonesian who has been killed during the shooting, that is Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan. In less than 2 weeks, on April 26th, it would have been his 35th birthday.

One of the interesting aspects of Internet is that it is a memorial for those who died, permanently storing information on various pages, web-archives, forums etc. One of such examples is the master's thesis prepared by Partahi. It's sad to see such a briliant person dying in such a terrible tragedy. Partahi's knowledge could potentialy save thousands of lives in earthquake disasters and sadly his life was brutally ended.

I'm glad to see CNN publishing a special page in the honour of Mora Lumbantoruan and other VT shooting victims. Let this message spread over the Internet.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

How long does it take to remotely hack fully patched Solaris 10 installation with telnet enabled? As long as it takes to type this simple standard system command:

telnet -l"-fusername" host


telnet -l"-fbin" solaris10-server


telnet -l"-fsys"

Yeh, it's that simple. Here's a screenshot:

Information about this 0-day vulnerability appeared on a security news list today and spread like wildfire.

Certainly, most organisations which take security seriously will use SSH and disable telnet. However, considering that this vulnerability affects a default system installation, it is likely that companies using Solaris 10 and not implementing strong security configuration, will be seriously affected.

That's truly a return of the "good" old days for hackers, when hacking into any server was a trivial task that required only a simple command. To see this type of vulnerability these days is extremely unusual and pretty much shocking for IT security community. Most of all, it is a terrible embarrassment for Sun Microsystems.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I went back to Kelapa Gading to copy some data from my workstation. I moved out of Kelapa Gading on Monday evening, so I had the opportunity to see how the flood condition changed. The news is good. Basically, the flood is off the major streets of Kelapa Gading area, but most houses are still flooded. It is also rather difficult to get into the area using a regular car as all the access points to Kelapa Gading are still flooded:

Jl. Kayu Putih

Jl. Kayu Putih, on the left people waiting for submarine busway


To get to my place I first went with some truck from Superindo (near Pulomas) to La Piazza - driver didn't request any payment but accepted small tip. Then I was picked up by some truck whose driver was heading to Priok - this time driver didn't even accept any tip, shake of my hand was enough, nice to see such a good people around. We've brought some powder milk for children 1-3 years old and water for refugees and it seem that's exactly what they needed as small children don't like instant MSG loaded food to much and instant food is a type of food usually distributed around. Beside, the support for refugees in this areas seem to be working well. No people starving, just looking for some place to stay for a while.

Area near Mc. Donalds Kelapa Gading

I'm already starting to think about the best methods of helping local communities. In my opinion the best method of helping victims of Jakarta 2007 flood is to help in restoration of local schools that were affected by the flood. According to a brief report by Sampoerna Foundation, “As many as 1,489 schools in Jakarta were inundated. Specifically 1,295 SD, 174 SMP, and 30 SMU,'' said the Head of the Elementary Education Department of DKI Jakarta, Sylviana Murni". Definitely lots of help is required to rebuild all damaged schools.

When I was a kid and our school was badly damaged by the flood, I must say as a kind I truly appreciated to see rebuilt school that looked even better than before. I hope I can do something to make local kids enjoy the same feeling. Thus, if you know of any schools that need help in flood damage restoration, please let me know. I'll try to make list of such schools and try to organise some help.

Note: More information about the flood on WHO web-site.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Living isolated in Kelapa Gading has become unbearable, thus yesterday I moved out of the area. My evacuation vehicle was a Teh Botol SOSRO truck. More than 10 trucks from SOSRO were picking up people all around Kelapa Gading area and transporting to safe location. I'm not sure if SOSRO knows about it, I've tried to ask but they web-site is not updated since 2001, all contact details are wrong and I can't get their phone number.

SOSRO truck - evacuation vehicle

Several things surprised me over past few days:

1. I've found this on The Jakarta Post web-site "Less rain will be fall in all municipalities in the capital. If the rains fall, it will not be so heavy. Heavy rains may occur in Puncak, Bogor".

Oh, that's very interesting what Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) says, because it was raining like crazy in Jakarta last night. Has BMG prognosis been correct at least once? I've also tried to use their RSS data feed but it never worked, their server was down like half of the time. I start to be more curious about this agency.

2. Thuggery. Well, I had to pay to cross the only path across the river. Few thugs controling the path ensured that those who could not pay had to go thorugh shoulder deep stinky water. The SOSRO truck drivers have also told us that some areas of Kelapa Gading were controled by criminals who stopped their trucks and demanded money.

3. Attitude of some people. The SOSRO drivers were very helpful, didn't ask any money and took something like 30 people out of the area on the same truck. Many of those people had cars waiting for them around Arion mal. When we arrived, truck driver stopped near a gas station (around Superindo mal) and informed everyone that he needs to buy gasoline to get back for more people. He asked for any contribution. Now guess how many people contributed? Just me and my wife. All the other people on the truck just left without even saying thank you! I could not believe my eyes. Note: Most of those people were not poor. They were shooting pictures with fancy digital cameras all over the truck like they were on some safari or something.

4. Profesional building management. I'm very surprised how Gading Mediterania Residences building management handled the disaster. They were truly prepared. They had enough gasoline to run power generators for a few days, organised well managed flood refugees centre servicing neighbour areas. Clean water was available at all time and the place was well secured. I must say I'm impressed. Great job guys!

I'll try to post some updates when I get back to Kelapa Gading. However, I'm not sure when as it looks like the current condition is not getting better.

By the way finally I understand why so many villas in neighbour areas like to use Venice/Greek a like motives:

Water is a perfect match, isn't it?

PS: Lots of people have sent me e-mails asking about safety of travel to Jakarta, thus let me answer. It is safe to travel to Jakarta, you can get from the airport to main business district, but before you come here please make sure that you have a hotel room booked. Most hotels are at almost full occupancy rate, thus it could be a problem to get a room without prior booking.

Flood related posts by other bloggers: bricolage, Jakartass (aftermath), Unspun.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Another day of the Jakarta flood. Today, I had to go through the flood to Cempaka Mas to buy some food. Surprisingly, there was actually more water in Kelapa Gading area than yesterday and I barely managed to cross the river to get to Cempaka Mas mal. Well, and when I already got there it was a completely different world. Business running as usualy, shops and restaurants open, supermarkets full of food etc. Meanwhile in flooded areas of jakarta the flood forced around 300,000 from their homes. Anyway, here are some photos that I took on Sunday afternoon:

Jl. Gading 7 on Sunday afternoon

Jl. Gading 7 on Saturday afternoon

Clearly the water level has increased since yesterday. It also does not look like the conditions would get better anytime soon.

Flooded school.

Area of Cempaka Mas.

As I've previously mentioned I'm amazed with the way locals handle various disasters and keep their positive nature in worst conditions. Today, I got several SMS representing positive nature of Indonesians, one goes like this: "BREAKING NEWS. Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso proudly WELCOMES TO THE GRAND OPENING of his new project, the Jakarta SUPER GRAND WATER WORLD 2007. Full of special attractions such as submarine-bus way and spectacular views of largest WATER WORLD in ASIA. FREE entry for all citizens, don't miss it!".

I just wonder who came up with this funny joke, but it could be related to this post at Blog Tempo Interaktif.

Water is an excellent conductor of electricity which makes electrocution a number two cause of death in floods. Knowing this Indonesian state electricity company PLN (Perusahaan Listrik Negara) has cut electricity in areas of Jakarta affected by the February 2007 flood:

I took the above photos on Sunday around 4AM, just after a heavy rain. The first one shows area of Cempaka Mas (view of South-West skyline), the second photo shows area of Sunter (view of city's West skyline). It is an extremely odd view as during regular night Jakarta shines with tens of thousands of lights. Last night most lights were still on but today it is just dark space with only a few lone candlelights. A truly gloomy view of Jakarta.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

This week Jakarta experienced disastrous flood triggered by the high intensity of rain in the city and surrounding areas. It all started with a very heavy downpour on Thursday night which caused floods in some areas of Jakarta. Next morning number of offices reported missing employees who most likely could not get through the traffic havoc caused by the flood. I was myself stuck in the traffic jam on Friday morning and could not attend several meetings. Soon after I got informed that several of my clients have executed their Business Continuity Plans (BCP) and switched to teleworking. It wasn't without problems as telecommunication networks were also affected by the flood - apparently some telecommunication firms did not plan their DRP well. Fortunately, wireless networks were working well as I was able to access my e-mail from the car using 3G service.

Looking at the horrible traffic conditions and worsening weather, I decided to get back home. Luckily, I was back home early enough to avoid major downpour that happened around noon and caused major floods in South, central and North Jakarta. The area of Kelapa Gading was isolated by flood since 2pm and only trucks could get in or out of the area. I've spoken with taxi drivers who parked on a dry piece of road in front of Gading Mediterania Residences. They all were seriously troubled with the flood, as not only they were not able to make any earnings, but also they could not get back home. Moreover, they were all surrounded by people asking for a ride just to hear that there is no way out of the area as every road out is flooded.

Most shops and restaurants in the Kelapa Gading area were flooded. Those few which were still open were all out of stock by 10pm – fortunately I bought some additional supply earlier, fearing the rain will continue.

On Friday night very heavy downpours - an I mean heavy even by Asian standards - caused even greater flood. Water raised quickly and most roads turned into rivers. On Saturday morning I walked through the flood from Kelapa Gading area to Cempaka Mas mall. There was basically only one way through a very small bridge covered with water, the other option was to rent "mini-boat" which were quickly built by locals.

Anyway, here are some photos of the flood that I took around Kelapa Gading area:

Some shots from the local news:

Kelapa Gading (left), Sunter (right) - massive traffic jam on the Priok-Cawang tollway.

Sunter flood near Menara SMR - just near the Sunter exit from Cawang-Priok tollway

Flooded train station.

In summary, more than 100.000 people had to leave their homes and electricity was cut in several districts. To make it even worse, more rain is expected on Saturday evening.

Updates: flooded jakarta at night, Sunday, evacuated, Wendesday.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Jakarta has some interesting three-in-one rule, in which a car must carry at least three passengers when passing through a restricted zone - applied from 7AM to 10AM and from 4:30PM to 7:30PM. The regulation was put in place by Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso in order to reduce traffic jams in Jakarta. You might think that this could be a very fairly annoying obstacle. Well, not for some clever Jakartans who surprisingly managed to make a living out of this regulation. If you happen to drive your car alone and need to cross three-in-one zone you can always get a "jockey", a person who for a small fee will join you for a ride across three-in-one zone. For those unfamiliar with Jakarta "jockeys" look like someone just like hitchhikers trying to catch a free ride and if you happen to see no "jockey" around and really need to get across three-in-one zone, make sure you take two friends along with you to avoid problems with police :-)

Monday, January 22, 2007

A number of earthquakes occurred today in the Molucca Sea region close to small Islands of Gureda and Maju. String of earthquakes started with major 7.3 magnitude earthquake which occured on 18:27 WIB (GMT+7) time and shook surrounding islands:

The first earthquake caused damage to buildings in North Sulawesi cities of Manado, Bitung, Tongkoko and also Island of Ternate located on the East of the earthquake area. Due to the strength of the earthquake a tsunami alert was issued, yet no significant tsunami wave was later recorded. Several moderate and one strong 6.1 earthquake occured within next 7 hours (WIB/GMT+7 time):

Magnitude 5.2, 2007/01/22 02:59:50 Magnitude 5.5, 2007/01/22 02:50:51 Magnitude 6.1, 2007/01/22 00:32:54 Magnitude 5.1, 2007/01/21 22:12:36 Magnitude 5.6, 2007/01/21 21:39:19 Magnitude 5.2, 2007/01/21 21:11:40 Magnitude 4.9, 2007/01/21 21:10:35 Magnitude 5.5, 2007/01/21 20:55:17 Magnitude 4.7, 2007/01/21 19:50:13 Magnitude 5.8, 2007/01/21 19:32:35 Magnitude 4.9, 2007/01/21 19:17:19 Magnitude 5.6, 2007/01/21 18:54:11 Magnitude 7.3, 2007/01/21 18:27:42

Previously, I informed about an SMS based earthquake information service provided by one local company. I got seriously interested in the ability of such system and spent some time developing my own earthquake reporting engine. In current beta version it uses complex algorithm to quickly determine a strength of an earthquake and decide if it should be reported or not. Analysis is performed based on zones defined in GIS system with additional parameters involving direction of earthquake and distance to cities. The new version which I'm still developing additionally uses geological maps and some interesting algorithms. I'm also experimenting with pattern recognition in earthquake occurrence, but frankly I don't believe I'll be able to warn about erthquakes before it occur. Anyway, I'd like to inform that the service is currently using my earthquake analysis engine.

Export of earthquake monitoring zones from my engine to Google Earth.

The earthquake information service worked correctly and informed about today's earthquakes in seven SMS :-) Frankly speaking, I'm surprised with the number of earthquakes occuring within just 6 hours. I just hope users of my system were not anoyed with a string of SMS reporting each new earthquake.

If you'd like to test the service yourself simply send SMS with content "REG EARTHQUAKE" to 6768 (works with all Indonesian operators i.e. Telkomsel, XL, Flexi, Mobile 8 etc.). It costs Rp1000 per received SMS (US$0.1).

PS: I've prepared some interesting gifts for those of you who decide to test the service and send me some interesting comments about it.

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