Monthly Archives: August 2006

It’s all in your head

When testing a new medication, researchers usually pit it head-to-head against placebo to a group of victims, er… volunteers, to see whether the recovery rate is higher or lower than the placebo’s. So it’s medicine against placebo.

What happens though when it’s placebo vs placebo ?
One thing for sure – me having a hard time controlling my laughter in front of the computer.

Ted Kaptchuk used to practice acupuncture, but his colleagues claim that the effect is purely psychological. That got him thinking and interested, and he ended up researching for placebo effects on Harvard Medical School.

On his article titled “Sham device v. inert pill: randomized controlled trial of two placebo treatments” which was published by British Medical Journal (for real), there are actually volunteers who got side effects from this placebo treatment.

Words failed to be heard from my dropped jaw. Moments later, only uncontrolled laughter.

Quoted:

The reported side effects exactly matched those described by the doctors at the beginning of the study.

It’s all in your head.

This research, which was conducted to find out if doctors can manipulate the placebo effect, was sponsored by The National Institutes of Health, which ponied up $1,614,605 for the answer. All in the name of research, of course. So, what do we got to learn from all of it ?

Quoted:

Kaptchuk says that the rituals of medicine explain the difference: Performing acupuncture is more elaborate than prescribing medicine. Other rituals that may make patients feel better include “white coats, and stethoscopes that you don’t necessarily use, pictures on the wall, the way you reassure a patient, and the secretaries that sign you in.”

Careful manipulation of such rituals could make all types of treatment more effective, Kaptchuk suggests.

Well, that DOES explain the effectiveness of various so-called alternative medication here in Indonesia. We must be very grateful that he has went to all this trouble for our benefit.

So what does he has to say about himself ?

Kaptchuk’s title is assistant professor of medicine. “It could have been ‘quackery,’ ” he says, “but they didn’t have a position in that.”

Good, honest man. We need more men like him.

Well done Ted !

Indonesia never got any share of profit from ExxonMobil’s operation in Natuna

After 12 years of operation in Natuna, it was revealed by Alvin Lie, a member of the parliament, last week that Indonesia never got any share of the profit from ExxonMobil, the company which got the contract to manage the natural gas resources in Natuna. It’s among the most interesting, with an estimate of 46 trillion feet cubic of natural gas when surveyed on 1973.

This has been confirmed by Kardaya Warnika, Head of Oil and Gas Management (BP Migas). He said that from 1980 to 1994, Indonesia still got a percentage of profit share from ExxonMobil’s (then Esso) Natuna operation. But on 1994, Pertamina and Esso changed the contract, entitling Esso to 100% of the revenue from the operation. Indonesian central government only got the tax payment from them.

Oil expert Kurtubi said that this is very strange, considering that normal profit-sharing agreement usually divides profit in 60% – 40% scheme — the government getting 60% of the profit, and the contractor entitled to 40% of it. And this is after paying the tax.

ExxonMobil’s speaker, Deva Rahman, refused the allegation. He said that the Natuna situation is different. With over 70% CO2 content, it require high cost and technology for its operation. He said that the agreement has been understood and mutually agreed between the parties involved.

Speaker for Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM, Jaringan Advokasi Tambang), Andre S. Wijaya, said that this is not the only case. He said that ExxonMobil also works on a scheme that put Indonesian government and people in a losing position in their Aceh operation.

Source: Radio Nederland

Ada apa Kompas ? Opini Kompas 30 Agustus 2006 : Enaknya menjadi Menteri

Kutipan :

Kekuasaan wartawan amat besar… tulisan koran seperti Kompas amat dapat mempengaruhi opini publik… , dia bahkan jauh lebih tajam dari pedang…bahkan bisa lebih berpengaruh dari pada senjata…

Jadi mengingatkan kita pada sebuah pepatah yang sudah sangat terkenal : The pen is mightier than the sword

Email dibawah ini saya posting di milis Forum Pembaca Kompas pagi hari ini :


> http://www.kompas.com/kompas-cetak/0608/30/opini/2917890.htm
> Enaknya Menjadi Menteri

Enaknya jadi editor πŸ™‚ bisa menyerang terus, tanpa menampilkan data berimbang.

> Pertanyaan lain, apa yang sudah dilakukan Departemen
> Pertanian? Apakah Deptan telah melakukan tugas
> utamanya untuk mendorong petani meningkatkan produksi
> dan menerapkan teknologi terbaru?

Di radio Elshinta beberapa hari yang lalu saya mendengar reportase soal ini yang lebih komprehensif daripada editorial ini.

Ternyata, stok beras sebenarnya cukup, apalagi memang sudah/hampir panen. Hanya saja, ada terdeteksi usaha untuk menimbun / menahan stok beras oleh mafia / kartel. Sehingga terjadi kelangkaan stok, sampai stok Bulog pun turut menipis, yang berujung pada kenaikan harga beras.
Pejabat yang diwawancarai mengakui ini (menipisnya stok Bulog), padahal Bulog makin ditekan untuk melakukan operasi pasar (agar harga beras turun kembali), yang tentu sulit dilakukan jika stok Bulog sendiri tidak mencukupi.

Saya tidak tahu alasan mafia ini melakukan ini, apakah ingin melakukan aksi profit-taking menjelang puasa/lebaran, atau ingin menekan DPR & pejabat pemerintah yang anti impor agar menjadi setuju untuk impor beras, atau lain-lainnya, wallahua’lam.

Seorang pendengar kemudian mengirimkan SMS, yang mendukung pemerintah untuk membasmi para cukong beras ini. Saya kira ini langkah yang lebih tepat, daripada hanya mencaci tanpa solusi seperti ini.
(tanpa data yang akurat pula)

Salam,
Harry

> Di sini sering kali kita merasa terganggu. Seremoni
> untuk melakukan panen raya begitu sering dilakukan.
> Namun, kenyataannya, produksi nasional tidak mencukupi
> dan terpaksa kita harus mengimpor.
>
> Terus terang yang ingin kita gugat adalah kebiasaan
> untuk begitu mudahnya melakukan impor. Bukan hanya
> terbatas pada urusan beras, untuk komoditas lainnya
> pun kita begitu entengnya untuk mengimpor. Dengan
> alasan agar masyarakat bisa mengonsumsi daging, maka
> impor daging akan dilakukan. Buah-buah impor terus
> berdatangan masuk. Di Brebes, petani bawang merah pun
> melakukan protes karena bawang produksi mereka
> tertekan bawang impor. Dan yang sekarang menjadi
> kontroversi, tepung daging dan tulang (meat and bone
> meal) akan diimpor dari AS, padahal negeri itu
> terjangkit sapi gila dan oleh Badan Kesehatan Hewan
> Dunia (OIE) komoditas itu dilarang untuk
> diperdagangkan.
>
> Kita ingin mengingatkan, salah satu tugas para menteri
> itu seharusnya mendorong produksi. Bahkan, dalam
> kondisi negeri yang sedang terpuruk seperti sekarang,
> tugas para menteri untuk bisa membuka lapangan kerja
> dan menyumbangkan devisa kepada negara. Bukan justru
> berlomba menghambur-hamburkan devisa.
>
> Selalu kita ingatkan bahwa kehormatan itu membawa
> tanggung jawab, noblesse oblige. Sebagai seorang
> menteri, menjadi pejabat negara banyak privilese yang
> diberikan rakyat. Di balik kenikmatan yang dirasakan
> itu, ada tanggung jawab yang harus dipenuhi, yakni
> menyumbangkan tenaga dan pikiran untuk kemajuan
> negeri.
>
> Jangan hanya kenikmatannya saja yang mau diterima,
> sementara tanggung jawabnya tidak mau dilaksanakan.
> Tidak mau turun ke bawah untuk mengetahui apa yang
> dirasakan oleh rakyatnya, tidak peduli dengan realitas
> bangsanya. Enak betul jadi menteri di Indonesia kalau
> hanya kenikmatan yang diterima, kerja kerasnya tidak!


Dari : http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Forum-Pembaca-Kompas/message/37174

Dari : Haniwar Syarif
Subject: Re: Tanggapan utk Enaknya Menjadi Menteri

Betul Mas..kita bisa tinggal nanya, kalau Mentan anggota FPK .

Tapi kalau gaya tajuk Kompas yang pasti bisa nanya , jangankan nanya… malah nuduh saja…

Soal beras kasusnya jelas…menurut data ..produksi beras lebih gede dari konsumsi…tapi..stok bulog nipis…, Mentan juga sudah nyalahkan mengapa Bulog tidak berhasil melakukan pembelian cukup utk stoknya pada saat panen raya.

Lepas dari itu, stok Bulog saat ini tinggal 300.000 an dari seharusnya 1 juta tonan. Nah BULOG punya tanggung jaWab utuk suplai raskin, beras utk bencana, dan juga OP didaerah tertentu yg krn satu dan hal lain harga berasnya melonjak, belum lagi mau hari raya keagamaan, krn itu kabinet
memutuskan mau impor . Mentan sdh bilang nggak boleh masuk pasar, tetapi utamanya utk raskin dan kalau ada bencana.

Hari ini Kompas mengutip Wakil Rektor IPB bahwa ” saat ini memang stok beras banyak dipakai untuk penalanggungan bencana bencana nasional , sehingga impor beras memang diperlukan ”

Bandingkanlah dengan tulisan Tommy dalam tajuknya yang menyerang Mentan tanpa ampun sebagai orang yang mau enaknya aja nggak mau susah ..apa apa tinggal impor…

Di coba kesankan seolah Mentan ini mahluk ajaib, yang kerja di bidang pertanian tapi nggak bebruat aopa apa untuk meningkatkan produksi pertania..

Dalam tajuk sebelimnya tanggal 26 Juli Tommy juga nulis menyerang mentan dgn nada sama , bahkan implisit menuduh bhw buka kran impor mungkin krn terima kick back, sebelumnya berita Kompas menyebut issue adanya kepentingan partai tertentu ( mudah ditebak partai mana yg asalnya pak Anton) dalam mencari dana..

Perlu saya ingatkan sesudah tajuk 26 Juli , awal agustus MenTan mengundang umum termasuk kompas, utk dialog terbuka dimana beliau menjelaskan alasan kebijakan impor nya…dan tidak dimuat secuilpun oleh wartawan kompas dalam berita esoknya….:(

Lha …saya kan jadi bertanya…ada apa dengan Tommy… ???? Pak Yacob Utama..ada apa dengan Tommy ??

Di tajuknya terus memberi kesan..bhw Mentan nggak kerja apa apa..maunya enak dan gampang terus..

Faktanya , soal beras misalnya, di jajaran pimpinan Deptan ada Prof.Dr Djoko Said yang dianggap Mpunya perberasan…bahkan ditingkat dunia , ada Kaman yang juga tokoh yang mumpuni dalam ketahanan pangan..

Saya tahu benar bagimana mereka berusaha meningkatkan produksi beras ( dan menurut data memang meningkat)

Lha memangnya sumber berita Kompas pasti lebih jago dari mereka..??? Nggak pasti kan…

Perhatikan deh yang menggebu gebu menyerang kan hanya KOmpas..koran lain maupun media elektronik lain kan nggak..

Kekuasaan wartawan amat besar… tulisan koran seperti Kompas amat dapat mempengaruhi opini publik… , dia bahkan jauh lebih tajam dari pedang…bahkan bisa lebih berpengaruh dari pada senjata…

Di tangan Pemred lah kekuasaan besar itu ada..

Power tends to corrupt…

Siapapun pemegang kekuasaan sebesar itu…haruslah di kontrol…

Siapapun pemegang kekuasaan sebesar itu..haruslah merasa itu adalah amanah
Allah yang akan dimintai tanggung jawabnya

Dia lebih berkuasa dari pada George Adi Tjondro… dia lebih
bisa berpengaruh di banding orang yang punya senjata sekalipun.

Bayangkan kalau lalu tulisannya ternyata bukan untuk kepentingan umum ,
pakai issue populis.seperti kepentingan petani, atau tolak impor cintai
produk dalam negeri, . tapi sebenarnya..ada hal lain yang jadi
motifnya..yang bisa jadi bukan kepentingan bangsa..Bayangkan kalau opini yg
tercipta ternyata sesat dan merugikan bangsa ini..

Selalau ada lebih banyak dari satu sisi..misal ada kepentingan produsen (
petani) ada juga kepentingan konsumen..

Bagaimana ya caranya atau mekanismenya kalau misalnya kita berpendapat ada
sesuatu yang perlu dipertanyakan dalm kredibilitas pemred ??? just a
question…

Saya nulis disini karena masih percaya kredibilitas Kompas.. koran
kesayangan kita yang saya sudah jadi pelanggan sejak lama… Saya sudah
nulis pula langsung ke pembuat berita ( Maryoto), tapi nggak
berjawab…jadi coba liwat FPK..moga moga aja…

Banyak yang mudah di jawab..tapi nara sumber yang digarap Kompas itu itu
juga ..DR..Sudrajat, … misalnya ..kalau lain dikit aja..seperti Wkl
Rektor iPB ..langsung terlihat ada yang salah dr tajuknya kompas..dia jela
sbilang wajar saat ini impor kok..

Salam,

Haniwar

SBY mengijinkan Lapindo membuang lumpur ke laut

Demikian judul posting Agus Setiawan. Di posting ini dipertanyakan berbagai hal, seperti :

Tapi, masa sih di dunia ini tidak ada satupun teknologi yang bisa menyumbat lumpur yang keluar akibat kecerobohan manusia yang bekerja di industri pengeboran minyak?

Kebetulan di milis FPK ada beberapa informasi tambahan seputar masalah tersebut. Saya mencoba meninggalkan komentar di blog ybs, tapi gagal (mungkin komentar di-disable). Jadi saya kutipkan disini saja :

Dari

From: rzain
Subject: Sido Lumpur

Seperti saya posting 3 bulan yang lalu bahwa satu2nya cara untuk mengatasi lumpur di Sidoarjo ialah mengadakan sumur miring ke lokasi sumur lama untuk menutup kebocoran; dikui hari ini (MetroTv) segera akan dimulai dengan terlebih dahulu membuat platform beton di atas pasir yang sudah mengeras di dekat sumur lama.

Kabarnya rig utk membuat relief well yang akan digunakan sudah tiba di perariran Indsonesia dan akan dimulai bor miring yg mudah2an sebulan lagi akan kelihatan hasilnya seperti yang selalu dilakukan di belahan dunia lain dan berhasil.

Meskipun demikian pembuangan lumpur selama sebulan yad harus dilakukan yang menurut Bupati Sidoarjo cuma ada dua pilihan, pertama merusak lingkungan perairan yang berisi biota laut atau merusak lingkungan daratan yang berisi manusia. Kelihatannya pilihan kedua (ed:: pertama ?) yang lebih manusiawi.

Yang perlu diwaspadai nampaknya ada usaha2 agar sebagian besar biaya akan dipikulkan ke Pemerintah instead semuanya oleh Lapindo apalagi kalau ada yang menumpang untuk mencari keuntungan pribadi.

rzain

Dari http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Forum-Pembaca-Kompas/message/37139

From: rzain
Subject: Re: Semburan Sulit Distop

Sabar2, mudah2an satu2nya cara yang pernah dilakukan di belahan dunia lain yaitu yaitu menyumbat melalui relief well berhasil 40 hari lagi.

rzain

Jadi kelihatannya pembuangan lumpur ke laut itu memang tidak bisa dielakkan, dan merupakan tindakan darurat. Dan tentu seharusnya dihentikan begitu relief well telah berhasil dibuat.

Mungkin kini kita perlu memfokuskan kepada PT Lapindo sendiri – bagaimana perlakuan mereka kepada korban bencana alam buatan mereka ini, apakah mereka akan melemparkan tanggung jawab mereka kepada pemerintah, dst. Perlu dibangun fokus dan public pressure kepada mereka; jangan sampai perhatian kita teralihkan kepada hal-hal lainnya.

Sisi lain George Aditjondro

Dari milis FPK :
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Forum-Pembaca-Kompas/message/36995


From : Manneke Budiman
Subject: Re: Pertanyaan Sangat Kritis Untuk Staff Harian Kompas

Ikut nimbrung, ya. Saya tak tahu motivasi Kompas untuk tak membuat tinjauan buku atas karya Aditjondro. Tapi saya mau berkomentar soal pernyataan Rekan Lama yang berbunyi:

Mengapa harian Kompas tidak mengkover dan menginvestigasi tentang buku “Suharto Sehat” karangan Adicondro, Asvi W, dst? Apakah benar redaksi Kompas telah tersusupi militer dan pro regim Orba? Sebab setiap kali orang yang benar2 bermoral bailk dan idealis, peristiwa dan tulisannya justru tidak ada, atau tidak dalam, atau sekedarnya.

Saya kebetulan mengetahui sebagian tindak-tanduk George Aditjondor meski tak mengenalnya secara pribadi. Dan saya berkeberatan jika beliau disebut “bermoral baik dan idealis.” Sebagai info, saat ini banyak organisasi dan aktivis, khususnya perempuan, yang ‘memboikot’ ybs karena kasus perceraiannya dengan mantan istrinya yang menghebohkan.

Saya bagi sedikit ceritanya: demi untuk bisa kawin lagi dengan perempuan lain, ybs memperkarakan istrinya di pengadilan dan meminta pengadilan mengesahkan upaya ybs untuk menceraikan istrinya. Sebagian dari alasan yang dikemukakan adalah bahwa istrinya itu tak cukup dapat memuaskan ybs secara seksual, dan dari segi intelektualitas “nggak sebanding” dengan ybs.

Namun, dalam persidangan hampir semua saksi dan bukti mematahkan dalih ybs, dan hakim akhirnya memenangkan sang istri bahkan menganjurkan supaya istrinya itu mengajukan tuntutan balik. Diduga tujuan Aditjondro berperkara adalah agar ia tak harus menafkahi mantan istrinya.

George Aditjondro mungkin tak diragukan kehebatannya dalam membongkar kebobrokan rezim orde baru, tapi ini tak serta merta membuat ia menjadi orang “bermoral baik dan idealis.”

Mungkinkah Kompas tak meliput buku mutakhir ybs karena faktor ‘boikot’ itu juga?

manneke

loekyh wrote:
Rekan lama,

Boleh bertanya, tanpa bermaksud merendahkan berbagai buah pikiran cemerlang dari Adi Condro, di antara ratusan buku2 anti orba dan anti militerisme yg sekarang banyak bertebaran di toko2 buku, apakah buku “Suharto Sehat” yg anda rujuk adalah yg buku TERBAIK dan merupakan buku YANG AKAN MENARIK BANYAK PEMBELI/PEMINAT?

Untuk saya, cukuplah apabila anda bisa menjelaskan bukti2/analisis anda bahwa isi buku tsb adalah yg TERBAIK dari isi puluhan atau isi ratusan2 buku2 lain (tentu saja setelah anda membaca buku2 yg lain tsb), maka saya akan ikut bersama-sama memprotes Kompas, mengapa buku TERBAIK dari semua buku2 anti orba dan anti militerisme tersebut tidak direview oleh Kompas.

Salam, dari rekan baru anda πŸ™‚

Quicklinks: PageRank info & Webmaster resources

The most comprehensive list on PageRank’s DO ‘s / DONT’s I’ve ever found :
[ Google Ranking Factors ]

Note that at the end of the day, content is still king – when you’ve got excellent content, high PageRank will usually be yours automatically. But when that’s not the case, that article above may help you to find out what you did wrong.

For Webmasters :
[ Icons, Buttons, and Badges For Your Website ]

Lorelle’s website also contains other top notch articles / tutorials – please make sure that you have some time to spare before clicking on the link above.

[ ColorSchemer.com ] – a valuable help when you’re doing a design/graphic work. ColorSchemer helps you to choose the right color scheme – just pick a color, then ColorSchemer will suggest other matching colors for that.
Very useful.

Enjoy.

(open source) System Management solutions

When you manage one server, it’s easy to have control of every aspect of it.

But when you’re managing tens or hundreds of them, even Superman will have problems.

System Management and Monitoring (SMM) software can help. By enabling you to monitor (and control) everything from a single application, it will drastically simplify your job.
However, until just about a year ago, the following condition is true for OSS (Open Source Solution) SMM :

Pick any two :
1. easy to setup
2. robust
3. easy to use

Fortunately, things has changed now.

On NetworkWorld’s article titled Open source companies to watch, there are no less than 3 companies providing OSS SMM software. And there are still more OSS SMM software out there.

Things has started to change for the better for OSS system administrators.

Data Recovery in Linux

Willy posted an article discussing how to recover lost data in Linux.

I just would like to add a few more software that you can try for this purpose:

1. [ Foremost ]
Developed by the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations and The Center for Information Systems Security Studies and Research, this may prove very beneficial in time of trouble.

2. [ DDrescue ]
This is the tool to use when you have a hard disk which is dying and have a load of bad sectors in it.
The tools is fully automatic, just run it and it will try its best to recover your data. It’s loaded with features; such as automatic merging (when there are several copies of the file, it will merge them to get the most complete version of the file), and robust recovery system; when run multiple times, it may be able to recover more of your data.
It also has logfile feature, which enable it to continue from the last point if it was interrupted.

Thanks to Willy for his post.

“RULES OF THE GAME” LIPUTAN MEDIA DI TIMUR TENGAH

Sumber: http://satrioarismunandar6.blogspot.com/2006/08/rules-of-game-liputan-media-di-timur.html

Sejumlah pernyataan di bawah ini saya kutip dari sebuah posting di Internet. Terkesan simpel, tapi bagi saya –yang kebetulan dulu sering meliput politik Timur Tengah– memang ada kebenarannya. Hegemoni wacana pemikiran, yang merugikan posisi Palestina dan Arab, memang banyak menghinggapi insan media. Kita juga bisa membandingkan dengan pemberitaan media atas agresi Israel ke Lebanon, Juli-Agustus 2006.

Tetapi penilaian tentu terserah Anda masing-masing. Ini adalah sejumlah “rules” yang sering dipraktikkan media, dalam meliput konflik di Timur Tengah:

Rule No. 1: In the Middle East, it’s always the Arabs that attack first and Israel that defends itself. That’s called retaliation.

Rule No. 2: Arabs, whether Palestinian or Lebanese, have absolutely no right to kill Israeli civilians. That’s called terrorism.

Rule No. 3: Israel has every right to kill as many Arab civilians as it wants. That’s called legitimate self-defense.

Rule No. 4: When Israel kills too many civilians, the Western powers urge for restraint. That’s called the reaction of the international community.

Rule No. 5: Palestinians and Lebanese have no right to capture Israeli soldiers, even if their numbers are limited to three.

Rule No. 6: Israelis have the right to capture as many Palestinians as they wish — over 10,000 prisoners as of today, of which 300 are children. Uttering the magic word, “terrorist,” is all that’s
needed to throw Arabs behind bars without charges.

Rule No. 7: When you say “Hizballah,” you should always add “supported by Syria and Iran.”

Rule No. 8: When you say “Israel,” you should never add “supported by the United States and Europe” lest the conflict appear imbalanced.

Rule No. 9: Never mention “occupied territories,” or “UN resolutions,” or “violations of international law,” or “the Geneva conventions.” That might perturb television viewers and lead them to ask questions.

Rule No. 10: Israelis speak English better than Arabs. That is why we always give them — and their supporters — more air time. That way, they can explain Rules 1 through 9 to us. That’s called media objectivity.

Rule No. 11: If you don’t agree with any of these rules, or if you think they favor one party over another, that’s because you’re a dangerous anti-Semite.

Ubuntu menjadi makin mudah dengan Automatix

Ubuntu adalah salah satu distro Linux yang paling mudah digunakan. Dengan Automatix, maka menjadi semakin mudah untuk meng optimize dan mendapatkan berbagai software untuk Ubuntu.

Daftar tweak dan software yang disediakan Automatix bisa dilihat disini.

Alternatif lainnya adalah EasyUbuntu, tapi setahu saya Automatix menyediakan lebih banyak software daripada EasyUbuntu.

Automatix kini juga sudah mendukung versi terbaru Ubuntu, yaitu Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake)

Semoga bermanfaat.

Turbo series is back

Just read on Koen’s blog that the Turbo products line will be revived. Great stuff !

I started my serious programming works on Turbo Pascal around 1990. It’s clear that the Turbo products was a breakthrough because of the following reasons :

  1. With the simple IDE (Integrated Development Environment), Borland significantly lowered the barrier of entry to programming. People can start to program and see results in very little time.
  2. Excellent documentations – it’s not easy to find product documentations that’s of equal quality of Borland’s. For example; a Turbo product manual also includes a programming tutorial, aiming at complete newbies. So you don’t need to buy additional “Idiot’s Guide To ..” book – Turbo product already got you covered. Before O’Reilly’s book series, there were Borland products and its excellent user manuals.
  3. Cheap – it was priced within a lot of people’s reach.
  4. Because of the reasons above, Borland’s Turbo series has helped Microsoft to dominate the PC platform, even though they’ll hate to admit it. Among the reasons of the OS/2’s failure (much to my grief) was lack of a big enough developer community (a vital ingredient to grow any platform).

Too bad there’s no Linux version yet, I think that would really help to entice more newbies to Linux programming. Oh well, later perhaps.

In the mean time, kudos to everyone involved.

George Monbiot

One of my favorit journalist. The reasons can be seen for example here – unorthodox, but down to earth, career advice.

Some quotes:

“What the corporate or institutional world wants you to do is the complete opposite of what you want to do. It wants a reliable tool, someone who can think, but not for herself: who can think instead for the institution”

“The idea, so often voiced by new recruits who are uncomfortable with the choice they have made, that they can reform the institution they join from within, so that it reflects their own beliefs and moral codes, is simply laughable”

“Even the chief executive can make a difference only at the margins: the moment her conscience interferes with the non-negotiable purpose of her company – turning a profit and boosting the value of its shares – she’s out.”

“my second piece of career advice echoes the political advice offered by Benjamin Franklin: whenever you are faced with a choice between liberty and security, choose liberty. Otherwise you will end up with neither.”

“People who sell their souls for the promise of a secure job and a secure salary are spat out as soon as they become dispensable”

“If you can live on five thousand pounds a year, you are six times as secure as someone who needs thirty thousand to get by”

“Learn the trade by learning the issues, and gradually branch into journalism”
(eg: non-journalist can have the chance to become an excellent one)

“Remember that even the editor of the Times, for all his income and prestige, is still a functionary, who must still take orders from his boss”

“You know you have only one life. You know it is a precious, extraordinary, unrepeatable thing: the product of billions of years of serendipity and evolution. So why waste it by handing it over to the living dead?”

To see examples of his past articles, just browse around here. Loads of enlightening writings, which will be hard to put aside. So don’t click there until you have time to spare.

A few selections :

[ Growing My Own ] – In UK, you can have small pieces of land in your town strictly to be used to grow your own fruits/vegetables.
One day Monbiot decided he’s had enough with the verocious superstores killing local farmers and making ourselves dependent to them; he booked 4 plots (!), and started his journey to self-sufficiency — with quite spectacular results.

[ The Atheist met The Prophet ] – although written with a tone of seriousness, the ending is funny as hell. Find out why.

Enjoy.

LowFatLinux.com — panduan bagi pemula Linux

Bagi yang sudah selesai install Linux dan kini kebingungan, “mau apa lagi ?”…. situs LowFatLinux.com bisa membantu Anda.

Ditulis dengan bahasa yang sangat sederhana dan mudah dimengerti oleh siapa saja.
Saya sempat takjub juga pada awalnya melihat bagaimana newbie-oriented situs ini, dan bagaimana isinya membuat siapa saja merasa nyaman membacanya.
Kemudian saya perhatikan nama webmasternya, lha…. ternyata, Bob Rankin, salah satu dari 2 orang pembuat Tourbus.

Tourbus adalah salah satu mailing list (tepatnya, newsletter) yang pertama kali saya ikuti. Isinya adalah panduan ke berbagai resources / fasilitas yang ada di Internet. Ini adalah zaman ketika Google belum ada, dan berbagai search engine lebih banyak berisi link iklan daripada content yang relevan πŸ™‚
Tourbus, sama juga seperti LowFatLinux.com, ditulis dengan bahasa yang santai, mudah dicerna, namun tetap penuh dengan informasi. Milis ini telah membantu saya sampai akhirnya mampu untuk “berkendara” sendiri di information superhighway. Hebatnya lagi, milis ini masih terus exist, dan menurut pemiliknya, kini telah memiliki 100.000 pelanggan. Luar biasa.
Hanya di Tourbus : Warning: squirrels. πŸ™‚

euh, jadi melantur…. jangan lupa, segera bookmark [ LowFatLinux.com ].

nb: satu lagi situs seperti ini yang cukup lengkap dan bagus; LinuxCommand.org

Kekejaman Indofood

Saya kaget sekali sewaktu membaca posting Thomas yang berjudul Indomie Gempa Goreng Kriuk.

Saya sendiri tidak terlalu memperhatikan iklan tersebut. Tapi jika ini benar (Kriuk-nya mie ini “mampu membuat gempa”), maka saya kira ini cukup keterlaluan.

Perlu ada klarifikasi dari pihak Indofood untuk menjelaskan kejadian yang sebenarnya; apakah memang maksudnya mengeksploitasi musibah2 gempa kemarin ini, atau tidak sengaja, atau lain-lainnya. Kalau tidak, maka saya kira sah saja jika para korban gempa mengasumsikan bahwa Indofood memanfaatkan musibah2 kemarin ini untuk keuntungannya sendiri.

Berbagai iklan di Indonesia sekarang ini makin memprihatinkan saja. Sudah saatnya disusun kode etik periklanan Indonesia dan sebuah badan yang mengawasi penerapannya (dengan wewenang untuk menindak para pelanggarnya). Mudah-mudahan bisa segera terwujud.

A peek on corruption in Indonesia

A few days ago I had the pleasure of meeting with a few of my old friends. The initiator, I’ll just call him DL, chose Bakoel Koffie, because he’d like to “support local companies”. Fine with me. Can’t really stand Starbucks coffee anyway (the one I drank back in UK tasted quite terrible).
I made the mistake though of ordering an exotic one by name of “Turkish coffee” – hours after I finished the drink, my heart was still beating faster than usual. Pretty scary, come to think about it. But I must admit, it tasted really nice.

Anyway, a bit of chit chat, and I found out that DL now works for ICW, Indonesia Corruption Watch. I congratulated him and feel very happy. This is a man who hated himself even years after he had to bribe a Customs officer (in order to save his friend’s belongings from getting confiscated unjustly). A man of his words, and one who’s always on time (a notable achievement for Indonesian).
DL is also pretty known for his scepticism. He won’t just believe everything he heard or saw, until he’s really sure about it. He’d also say things as it is, especially if it’s bad. Which is good, for a man in his position.
I imagine he’d fit right in right away, and indeed he did.

So I joked a bit about SBY’s high-profile war on corruption, and asked him whether it had caused any effect at all.

To my surprise, unflinchingly, DL responded “yes”.
Despite what the news said almost everyday – DL actually confirmed that indeed, SBY’s war on corruption is working.

Seeing my speechless, amazed face, DL quickly explained his answer. Among the proof he’s seeing is the fact that while we’re already on the 8th month of year 2006, yet only 20% of APBN (yearly spending budget) is used. Reason being the bureaucrats are too scared to use the budget; they’re too scared that if they use it up for a project, they may fetch some for themselves out of habit – and got busted by KPK (Committee for Corruption Eradication) for it.

He further explained that even though the reformation has now been running for 8 years (since the fall of the dictator, Soeharto), it’s yet to touch the bureaucrats on the lower levels.
Finally SBY got on it, and it is scaring them.

His opinion is that this is good, but this is just the first step – the shock therapy. The bureaucrats finally realized that they’re not invincible anymore. Now SBY need to go through and finish it – actually eradicating all corruption, while keeping the development projects up and running.

We had to interrupt our short chat because others interrupted, and we joined back the group chat.
But I know that if it was he that said it, that really means it. Finally there’s hope.

Note that I was not a supporter of SBY back in the last election, among other things because I don’t know him well enough (a rather common problem with implementation of democracy anywhere – most of us choose someone we barely know). Now, I don’t feel so bad about my choice failing to become president.

Anyway, the road is still long and it’s a hard journey. Hopefully the good men in our government can overcome certain oppositions wanting to exploit our country for their own gain again (it’s a story for another post). Here’s one hoping it, for our own sake.

Thanks DL for the good news. Please keep up your good work there.

Quicklinks – Israel vs Hizbollah crisis

Israel was just defending itself from Hizbollah ? Wrong, the kidnapping of 2 Israel soldiers (previously thought as the cause of the war) were caused by Israel’s (almost daily) violation of the border :
http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0801/p09s02-coop.html

The current war is premeditated and already very prepared. Hizbollah’s kidnap of 2 IDF soldiers provided Israel with the excuse to finally launched it :
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1839282,00.html

To Israel with love – why the Americans are so overwhelmingly pro Israel ?
http://www.economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7255198

Israel ranked better economically than even Brunei, but it’s also the top receiver of aid from US gov’t :
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1834555,00.html

Earthquake and Vertical / EQ Cloud

There have been quite a buzz lately in Indonesia in regard to Earthquake (EQ) clouds. News have been broadcasted about sightings of (allegedly) EQ clouds, and the fact that there were EQ of great magnitude that happened afterwards.

Rovicky was kind enough to share his geological expertise, and have concluded that predicting EQ through cloud sighting is not scientifically feasible.

I found the topic, earthquake prediction, interesting. Personally, living very close to a fault (running through west of Sumatera then continues on south of Java), I would really love to be able to know when a quake would occur. So I set aside a bit of time and did some research on the subject. Especially on the vertical / EQ cloud, since it’d be the easiest for us.

Found an article on LA weekly, about an interview with Shou. Quite interesting, and reveal more about this Shou’s person. The journalist himself was probably driven to write this piece after a personal experience – his wife acquired the ability to accurately predict earthquake when she was pregnant.

Still, there’s a showstopper with Shou’s current work:

“How do you know it’s not just a regular cloud?” I ask him.

“Experience tells the difference,” he says

Scientists will need to make this a measurable process, not just one based on intuition. If Shou died, the knowledge may be gone with him, and we’ll have to start from the beginning again.

Returning back to Rovicky briefly – he complained that Shou’s work is not yet of practical application, but still of research quality. I agree with that.
On the other hand, he also complained that of all websites the discusses this, none are from .edu or .gov domain. I must say that I found the contrary.

For example, Rovicky noted the paper on GIS development.net as an example. However, this paper was actually published on a UN workshop on Tehran. GIS development.net just republished it again.
It was originally published by UNOOSA.org. Despite its .org domain name, I think it can be considered as a reliable source since UNOOSA is short for United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

I also found links/discussions to Shou’s work from GEsource.ac.uk, PSIgate.ac.uk. There were other academic sources, but many of them are in Turkish or some other language I don’t understand at all.

Also I found a discussion among (I assume) geological scientists, where it took a report of a vertical cloud sighting, and even proposed another explanation for it.

This seems to be in the line with this paper published on Taiwan gov’t website, where the appearance of EQ cloud was considered as “important”.

Conclusion :

  1. The Earthquake (vertical) Cloud theory still needs a lot of work. Particularly in exposing the exact science of the cloud shape, differentiating EQ cloud with other cloud, etc. This can be started for example by giving Shou access to more satellite images, getting scientists on other fields to work together, and so on.
  2. Therefore (point #1), it is not yet fit for public consumption. This is to avoid public chaos in case of appearance of similar clouds, and other concerns
  3. On the other hand, it is also not in the best public interest to just dismiss Zhonghao Shou’s work and theory. Noting the rather good track record (60%) and that even the misses (according to Z.Shou) are not all prediction errors.
  4. One day we may be finally able to predict Earthquake; but not by just using a method. It may very well achieved by implementing several methods, cross examining the results, and making a more accurate predictions based on those.
  5. In the mean time, we need to work on our preparations. We need to get used to live with earthquakes. Buildings that won’t fall down, educating people, getting crisis plan prepared and implemented by local governments, and so on.
    If we can do this comprehensively, then our need for EQ prediction may become much less

Blogging in English

Just would like to say “well done” to Fatih Syuhud for his excellent post about why we should blog (more) in English.
I especially like point #6, this is after reading far too many news / article written by outside journalists but with very little information on Indonesia. I can’t blame them because sometimes the article was written in good intention, only lacking in in-depth information. We can only blame ourselves in that case I think.

Note that you don’t have to blog 100% in English. Create a special category (I just created “In English” and “Indonesiana” category), and post more in English, that’d be already much better.

So here again kudos to Fatih, and hope a lot of people will follow.

Indonesian Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a novel project. An effort to build an encyclopedia, which content is contributed by anyone willing to do so. The content then will be examined by anyone as well, and anyone may have their say regarding whether a specific content is appropriate or not. A form of the true democracy indeed.

When I first experienced the Internet back on 1996, I thought, wouldn’t it be great, if this (the Internet) can be used to pool our collective knowledge ? With Wikipedia (among others), the idea became a reality.

Even better – Indonesian Wikipedia has shown up for some time now. It’s the same Wikipedia too, built by Indonesian people, for Indonesian, in Indonesian language.
The amount of its contents has reached about 1000 MB (this is just the texts, not yet including pictures). This is quite an accomplishment and we should salute all of the contributotors of the project.

However, there’s one problem – the server (Indonesian Wikipedia) is located abroad. Due to limited external bandwidth, most of the time, access to this encyclopedia can be painfully slow.
Also there has been ideas to compile an offline version of it, which then can be distributed to schools and anyone who may need it. This would be rather troublesome with the current situation.

Thanks to Groups.or.id efforts, we can now enjoy Indonesian Wikipedia at blisteringly fast speed. This mirror will be updated roughly every week.

Note that the mirror is read-only. Which means if you wish to contribute to Wikipedia, then you’ll need to go to its main server.

Information is now not only free, but also can be obtained speedily. Thanks to everyone involved.

Link:
[Mirror of Indonesian Wikipedia ]