Category Archives: In English

The Elite’s economic system

Back at the dotcom era (do you still remember that?), I was tempted to try the stock market. Before that, I managed to escape from Indonesian’s 1998 economic crisis relatively unscathed, thanks to the habit of my father — he has routinely put some of his savings in foreign currency (and some other forms) since I was little.

He doesn’t know that there’s a term for that – risk spreading. To him, it’s just common-sense. I followed his way, and when the Rupiah crashed, some of my savings were in US$ dollars.

The gain was really crazy. I bought the dollars before it reached Rp 10.000, and I sell when it’s close to Rp 20.000. The gain covered my losses – and then some.
I don’t like it though, and felt uneasy.

I’m used to hard work, and earning my income. My colleagues in my first job (Takaful) probably still remember how our job was in its IT department; long hours, impossible tasks, razor-thin budget, sky-high goals.
And low pay. But, I earned it. And I was happy.

This money I got from my foreign currency savings was like magic money. Out of thin air **poof** loads of money.
I don’t really understand the economy system back then, but I got the suspicion that while I benefit in this way, others losses. I just didn’t know who exactly, confused at the intricacy of the world’s monetary system.

Back to my interest in stock system – dotcom era were the time of crazy, easy, massive profit from unknown stocks. Nearly any dotcom company can go IPO in a few months, and their stock’s value will multiply faster than rabbits in no time. This is really intriguing to a layman like me.

I almost (really close) to putting my money on the market, when I got thinking, shouldn’t I test the waters first ?
So I started looking for software or website, which will enable me to get a feeling of the system, gain knowledge, and hone the skills needed. Soon I signed up to a website where we were given virtual money and able to trade it in its stock exchange – with real time data from real stock exchanges.

Soon I realize that there’s something wrong : if you’re with the masses, you’re bound to become losers.

When I’m learning something new, I immediately try to get the feeling of it as a whole; not bothering with the details at first.
On this system, it quickly became pretty clear that it’s been designed to profit the few. Not us. I got dismayed, but I continue my (then practice, now) experiments.

My conclusions after some time :

[ 1 ] You need information (loads of it) to make informed (thus, profitable) decisions
[ 2 ] This is not doable for most people. You need to specialize in this, else you’ll end up overloaded with information, and made the wrong decision instead.
[ 3 ] However, many are doing it anyway. They ended up losing, while the experts are profiting.
[ 4 ] Most disturbing however the non-experts who are rich enough to hire experts to work for them. They can rack obscene amount of profit, at the expense of the people.
[ 5 ] Then there are those who have access to the elite circles. This in turn gives access to various obscure knowledge of the system. They exploit it, and kept each other safe.

Quoted from Wikileaks :

One can only guess at how many insiders profited under JP Morgan’s “insider trading program,” leaving small investors holding the bag.

This economy system, one basing itself heavily on virtual items & predictions, is not a good one for the small people; like me.

So I drew myself from pursuing the stock market, and continued working as usual.

Then the dotcom bubble imploded. Too many people were left way poorer, holding in their hand worthless junk, used to be prized at millions. Many became unemployed, and scrambling to find a job, anything at all.
I was only able to watch them sadly. Some of my friends loses their entire savings.

It was deja vu when I read the news today – The fall of the investment house giant – Bear stearns.
It’s just the effect of the worsening economy. Bear was still healthy just a year ago. But now, when JP Morgan acquired it, it’s stock was only valued at one-hundreth of what it was last year. Yet The Feds still have to put US$ 30 billion guarantee for the deal to go through.

Quoting Dean Baker :

There is something a bit obscene about billions of taxpayer dollars going to the country’s richest people, when average workers can’t afford health care for their kids.

This bubble economy is going down again.

The crazy interest system – I was shocked when I find out several years ago that loan rates ARE variable / it can (and according to Murphy’s law: it will) change; that’s like gambling my car/house/etc on a lousy bet, for easy pickings to others.

Sharia economy is coming to rescue here – even non-Muslim financial institutions are adopting it as fast as they could.
Here’s one tip : get rich quick – become a sharia economy specialist. Also, an IT specialist with knowledge of sharia economy would become the target of many big institutions – it’s harder to find than a Dodo bird. Several days ago a friend just called me and offered me a job at Dubai, which I politely denied (since I’m still having too much fun with this linux/open source stuff here). And so on.

Back to the topic – there are more problems which may not be too visible at first. Among them are the US dollars. Since world economy is pretty much intertwined with US dollars (because US gov’t are promoting it heavily for international transactions); if the US$ is going down, many are going down with it. And the US$ is going down.

First we got the crazy crusade done by Bush to enrich him & his cronies. It’s already costing the US economy at least US$ 1 trillion – a more exact number would be twice or thrice of that. This is the money which can be used to empower real economies, instead it’s being used to blast innocent people to smithereens.

Then we have that interest-ing problem : sub-prime mortgage trouble. We’re talking about US$ 8 trillions market here. When it’s in pain, others is bound to feel it as well, one way or another.
Even the big institutions at the other side of the world have begun to feel the pain – Europe’s interbank lending is in the same trouble spot as it was back at 9/11.

Quoted :

“Banks and institutions are just scrambling for cash, any cash they can get their hands on,” said a money market trader at a European bank.

Third, US economy fell into an even worse shape by the Bush’ policies of heavy borrowing to cover their spending spree. Bush administration has now been confirmed to have borrowed more than ALL previous US president combined.

No idea how he will pay them. He’s going to leave the office soon anyway.
This democracy-thing works really well indeed for him – he can fool so many other with ease, and immunity from being held responsible for those actions.

Brace for impact.
According to Ron Paul, at the end of this, we may even see USA fell as a superpower, and others taking its place.

So back to us again, the little people. What’s the solution ? How can we save ourselves from a few crazy elites ?

[ 1 ] Press our government to focus on real economy. Not the virtual ones.

[ 2 ] Sharia economy system works, and it’s friendlier to small people like us in the bigger picture too. Support it.

If you don’t like the name, then change it. I don’t care. But do please adhere to the its basic, sanity-based system.

[ 3 ] Us, myself : stop losing in the virtual economy, and start to get real.
Be a trader, but trade real things. And so on.

Here’s hoping that we’ll start going on the right direction. And when the world crashed, we’ll be able to stay afloat.

Before I close this posting, this is the time where I’ll salute my friends & my mentors who have struggled very, very hard to get the sharia economy system up & running here back then in Indonesia.
People didn’t believe them at first. Even other muslims were actually ridiculing them.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you…

But they stood fast at the opposition. They clenched their fists, kept their mouth shut, and deliver results. Even when Asia was engulfed in financial crisis.

Then you won

Now even non-Muslim financial institutions are racing to the sharia system. It’s the most sensible one, the one most beneficial to all.
Not just to a few.

It was a privilege & a honour knowing these people. I was most lucky to be able to learn a lot about life from them. May Allah swt reward your hard work in abundance, amin.

Reality Tours – tourism with difference

Tourism is a huge business. Some countries are almost solely depending on it. For other countries, even though they have other revenue streams, tourism is still big. China for example, enjoyed an income of US$ 137 billion on 2007 from tourism alone.

Imagine when a portion of this money is spent on the poorest areas instead.

That’s what Reality Tours ( called it Poverty Tours) can do.

First time I heard about it is in that Wired article linked above. Actually I have thought about it, but for my own family. I asked my wife to think about & arrange visits to poor areas with the kids. This will help to expand their horizon.
Last time we went around, my kids were surprised that there are houses with no (ceramic) floor. There are houses with no electricity, no taps. There are people who had to walk very far, just to get a bucket of water. And so on.
We took too much for granted, this makes us less grateful at times, and I aim to fix that.

This Reality Tours idea expanded it for others. This is truly brilliant.
For the tourists themselves, this would not be only fun, but also an eye-opening experience.
Visiting the poorest areas is a totally different experience than your standard holiday, where the aim are just for fun – and nothing else. They will find out totally different things. They will see humanity in all sorts of conditions – and still thriving.

Some of my best mentor are the poorest ones. It’s amazing to see them always smiling, while facing hardships daily. Actually it may be only my opinion, because they doesn’t seem to think of their problems as hardships. They are able to enjoy life in any kind of situation.
Simply beautiful.

Us ? We are stressed when the roads are jammed. We are panicked when the computers are down. We don’t know what to do when the internet access is disconnected.
I am always humbled whenever I met with these great people.

Also I noted that spending is only an instant gratification. It tires you SO much later – so much stuff, what to spend next, where, how, etc. Especially spending on a holiday. At the end of it, sometimes you were left gobsmacked – did I bought all of that? what for? How much ??? And so on.
But, when you’re spending on something that you know are helping others, the effects are so much more lasting. It seems that this is the way the deepest core of humanity were coded.
This is what Reality Tours are offering – a truly refreshing experience. Unlike normal holidays, which may left us tired at the end, and made us unhappy to go to work at the next day (seems familiar?).
The new horizons gained from the Reality Tours will energize us, and brings out the best from us. You don’t aim for fun in these tours, but trust me, you will have a lot of it, and will be enjoying it for a lot longer.

In Indonesia, however, I don’t think you can bring foreigners into the deepest slums in Jakarta. Probably in some areas, but generally this can be very dangerous. Unless you know the people and the gangs in that slum very well.

A much better destinations would be the countryside. The landscape are beautiful, and the people are far more graceful.
A taste of this may be enjoyed in JAM (Jika Aku Menjadi), a unique TV programme created by the well-known Satrio Arismunandar. In its episodes, an urban dwellers will be selected and then taken to a family at the countryside to live there for some time.

A truly touching example is the episode where the actress lived in a duck herder’s family. It’s very hard to imagine a family of 5 living on a cup of rice – for 2 days.

Yet they’re still happy, and they’re grateful with what they have. Imagine how joyful they were when someone gave them Rp 1 million (about US$ 90), so they were able to increase the size of their herd.

It’s a truly humbling experience, and makes you realize about things that really matters.

So, if you’re going to arrange Reality Tours, let me know. If it’s any good, we’re signing up.

Old & tired:: Open Relay. New Hotness:: Brute-force SMTP AUTH

Bloody spammers.

Got complaints from my customers that their websites are going up & down like a yoyo. Checked, and that’s true enough. Although at first it seems okay, but when you hit reload, you got the error message.
Thank God for squid, so even when the server is having problems, it’s not instantly obvious to the visitors. Only to the admins. (hint: admin pages are usually set with no-cache header)

The error messages are related to mysql. So I checked it, and indeed MySQL was overloaded to the max. mysqladmin -h localhost -u root -p status showed that it’s handling crazy amount of queries per second.

I was a bit baffled. Normally, that will cause MySQL to fell straight away. But at that time, it’s “just” going up & down. So I looked for more clues using top.

I quickly noticed that there are huge numbers of smtpd processes. What’s going on ?
So I checked the mysql query log.

Turned out that the spammers are trying to brute force their way to my smtp server πŸ™
They’re trying various combinations of username & password. They doesn’t seem to be anywhere successful, but they sure caused MySQL to act funny.
smtpd authenticate to a table in MySQL. The table is small, so it must be cached already by MySQL.

But even cached, when the requests are coming very rapidly, it’d still hurt.

Checked /etc/postfix/, and surprised to see that by default, max number of smtpd that will be spawned by Postfix is 100.
In normal situation, this won’t be a problem because it’s lightweight. But when there are 100 smtpd processes servicing brute-force attacks of spammer bots, the server will be disturbed.

So I changed this line in /etc/postfix/ :

smtp inet n – – – – smtpd

Into this :

smtp inet n – – – 10 smtpd

Now postfix won’t spawn more than 10 processes at maximum, slowing down the spammer considerably.

Personally, I think old punishment styles such as, oh let’s say “hanged, drawn, quartered” should be reestablished again just for them, spammers.

No, I’m not joking.

OK, ok… but I think that’s the only punishment that would be able to effectively stop people from spamming. So sue me πŸ™‚

Wink : SWF to FLV

I looked around on how to do this (converting Wink‘s SWF output into FLV / other video format), but to no avail.
Apparently, the SWF produced is not really a video file (however, in return, the size is usually much smaller than if saved into a video file). Both mencoder & ffmpeg failed to convert Wink’s SWF file into FLV, both giving error message “No media found in SWF”.

But of course if you’re going to upload them to YouTube or other video sites, you’ll need the Wink screencasts in video format.

There’s a workaround for this.

**WARNING** I don’t claim to be the expert on the topic (video encoding / transcoding) and comments to make this guide better is most welcome. Make backups before proceeding with this short tutorial. Although the steps are safe to my knowledge if you’ve made backups of your original files, I give no warranty whatsoever.

1. In Wink, choose menu File – Export As HTML
2. Save As : /tmp/sss.htm (for example), then on “file type to save images” choose JPEG. click OK.
3. Get mencoder. If you’re using Ubuntu, it’s as simple as “aptitude install mencoder”
4. Now we’re going to convert it. Type mencoder “mf:///tmp/sss_files/*.jpg” -mf fps=2 -o /home/harry/cool.flv -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4 (pretty simple eh?)
5. Done !


  1. Sharp-eyed reader may noticed the vcodec=mpeg4 parameter and wonder why it’s not vcodec=flv. Reason is because the resulting file can’t be played, with both VLC & Totem confused looking for flv codec. And they both play flv files from YouTube with no problem. Since vcodec=mpeg4 gives a playable file, so I used that.
  2. There’s a slight problem where Wink saved the screencast as 1.jpg … 10.jpg … 100.jpg, and so on. As you can imagine, they’re listed as the following :

    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 84658 2007-08-20 11:20 sss09.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 52921 2007-08-20 11:20 sss100.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 53043 2007-08-20 11:20 sss101.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 53345 2007-08-20 11:20 sss102.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 53382 2007-08-20 11:20 sss108.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 98914 2007-08-20 11:20 sss109.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 84702 2007-08-20 11:20 sss10.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 98681 2007-08-20 11:20 sss110.jpg

    The naming convention messed up the order of the files, and as the consequences, mencoder’s output also got messed up.

    We’ll need to rename these files so the filenames order will be similar to this :

    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 84658 2007-08-20 11:20 sss07.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 84658 2007-08-20 11:20 sss08.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 84658 2007-08-20 11:20 sss09.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 52921 2007-08-20 11:20 sss10.jpg
    -rw-r–r– 1 helen helen 53043 2007-08-20 11:20 sss11.jpg

    The easiest way is to use mmv tool. Again in Ubuntu this is as simple as “aptitude install mmv”. Then execute the following commands :

    ## assuming number of files reaching thousands
    mmv -v “sss?.jpg” “sss000#1.jpg”
    mmv -v “sss??.jpg” “sss00#1#2.jpg”
    mmv -v “sss???.jpg” “sss0#1#2#3.jpg”

    That should fix it in a few seconds.


  3. There’s a discussion here saying that this (SWF to FLV) can be accomplished with a command as simple as ./ -o cool.flv cool.swf

    However, again VLC unable to play the resulting flv file, complaining about missing “undf” codec.

Bridge Blogging

This past several weeks I’ve been put under so much work, I’ve been unable to post a blog article. Thank God I usually have a few posts set on drafts, so the posts will still show up for a while in this blog. So you thought I blogged routinely? Ha ! πŸ™‚ oops…

Anyway, just now I realized I’ve missed a very interesting topic – bridge blogging. Yay, now everyone knows that I didn’t blog routinely πŸ˜€

Back to the topic, I agree with Unspun that he’s not the first to propose the idea. Personally I was told about it by Budi Putra, and according to Unspun it’s already proposed by Fatih Syuhud before that.
And since the first time I’m in fully agreement with the idea.

Why is it a good idea ? Because blogging in other language (in this case, English) can be really useful & helpful to others. It helps one to widen his/her perspective.

Two excellent examples :
[ The beautiful Iran ] : Most wouldn’t know Iran as potrayed here – btw, we’re talking about photoblogging here (ok, ok, so I’m really stretching even that term, but hopefully you got the point πŸ™‚ )
[ The Real Myanmar ] : Truth-spreading blog (no, it’s not a happy one)

Also from personal experience – at the time of 9/11, we (muslims) have been subjected to ridicule because we have not spoken against the terrorists.
Well guess what, we DID. But at the time, the media chose not to air it – effectively silencing us; thus creating the impression of approval of terrorism from us. We suffered a lot, up to personal level : my wife even got harassed.
So then I made a vow to try spread any useful information & knowledge as much as possible. Blog has made it easy for us to share our thoughts, and Google has made it possible for others to easily find it.

I think most of you by now will agree that bridge blogging is indeed a good, and important, idea.

So what’s left is the problem of its execution – how should we do it ?

Personally I say : up to you !
Say whatever you want to say (except, of course, things that breaks the law: stealing others contents, libel, harassment, etc). In whatever language, English or Indonesian.
Positive or negative, blog them all. The single most important criteria is : try to post (even what may seem remotely) useful things.
(of course it’s still okay to post other stuff than that, but at the moment we’re talking about an idea which goal is to benefit others)

Anyway – however, for maximum reach, do try to blog in English too sometimes. I’ve had contacts with people from all over the Earth because of this; Middle East, USA, Morocco, France, Italy, and so on.
They’ve been able to benefit from me because of my English blog posts / articles.

That’s just too cool.
Without Internet/Google/Blog, we’ll be busy with just ourselves under our own rock (hi Patrick!)

Also people have been very surprised when I told them how it is in Indonesia. The fact that I don’t have to live underground. From what they’ve seen in news, they thought it’s riots & disasters & misery all over the place.
Well, sorry, but no πŸ™‚ It’s mostly very peaceful here, as my recent holiday to the corners of beautiful West Sumatera proved. I was very much recharged from it.

I just found that nadia febina share similar sentiment. Yes guys, Indonesia looked **really** bad from the outside.
When you’re out there, indeed you’ll know (and personally experience) too about what (the heck) is it that I’m talking about.

About blog politics : I could NOT care less πŸ˜€

I’m blogging to share (whatever that can be shared), not to play some games. As the result, I’ve been targeted quite several times, especially in the open source topic (so far I’ve had to disable 2 blog posts to avoid collateral damage).
People are angry with me and calling me (really) bad names. Some call me naive. In return, I’m calling people to blog.
I don’t care if you’re from this community or that community (high five with treespotter) – just blog the truth. We are bound to the same universe anyway (so yes, I’m calling you too, my Martian & Plutonian friends).
So there πŸ™‚

I’d like to offer my opinion on 2 things while we’re on the subject. First, if I’m Unspun, I’d rather not use the word “most” in the sentence most of them are droll, since, if you haven’t done a proper research, it’d be way too close to generalization. “Some” would be much more closer to truth.
Still I’m very thankful to him for bringing us the term “bridge blogging”. It’ll make further conversations on the topic with fellow bloggers easier for me πŸ™‚

Second; I feel really sorry to what happened to Jennie. It seems like she’s been in quite some hardship, she found it hard to talk about Indonesia positively.
No worries there Jennie, do speak out about it, and be happy knowing that you’ve contributed in creating the big picture !

I’d like also to comment on her comment here :

I was able to see how Ò€œparochialÒ€ Indonesian bloggers are based on that incident. Why canÒ€ℒt they just show one small sympathy?

Well, similar thing has happened before in the past. Curious what fellow Indonesians have to say to the accusation, I asked several of them.
To my surprise, some of the responses are rather amusing – they thought America is the land of the rich, and therefore very much able to help themselves in case of disasters like this.

Guess how surprised they were when I told them how bad it’s over there – unemployement, 50% spending budget allocated for military, there are hungry & poor people, how they’ve been screwed so bad by their own government (Bush has cancelled the children’s health safety net, and the latest he tried to cancel the budget for critical water projects. Even after Katrina, can you believe that? Cruel, indeed he is)

So Jennie, it’s down to our naivety. Hopefully you (and others) can forgive it.

Back (again) to the topic – I strongly believed that knowledge wants to be free, and still do.
Blog has enabled us to do so easily. Let’s make full use of it !

Let us build the bridges to better understanding.

FYI – others posts on the topic :
[ Unspun ] – [ 2 ]
[ Jakartass ]
[ Jennie S Bev ]
[ Marisa Duma ]
[ augustmist ]

Funniest videos

I don’t watch TV nowadays for relaxation / breaks since we intentionally didn’t buy one for our new home. Instead, we browse the Internet. It’s never boring, there are WAY too many better contents out there than in TV channels.
One of my current fave is Some of the videos there are so hilariously funny, it’s unbelievable. Great for those 5 minutes breaks.

A few example :


Chair Jumping

The harder way to order a Big Mac

Best aim ever with a champagne bottle
Hey, your jaw just dropped to the floor !

Those Crazy Japanese

People are commenting Japanese movies on that there are no way they’ll see them on US televisions, due to the possibility of lawsuit. Thanks God there’s

Rocket Chair
Wait until after the middle of the movie, that’s where it become really crazy !

Japanese obstacle course from hell
This is one tough guy, amazing.

Japanese Tetris
We were reduced to roar of laughters watching this. Hazardous to watch while eating / drinking πŸ˜€

The Accurate Japanese
As one commenter said – “dang japanese people – why do they have to be
so smart and accurate??”


Looks simple, but I know it’s REALLY hard to do. Wow.

Amazing Waterfall
1.5 mile of waterfall. Breathtaking !

Korean Freestyle Slalom Rollerblading
I’m speechless …

Freestyle street biking
I think they shot this at Birmingham, I recognize some of the places. They’re using a special bicycle it seems to do these amazing feats.


Arctic Surfing
Cool, and VERY scary at the same time

And the best :

I want to buy an Isuzu Gemini NOW

Isuzu Gemini : Dancing in Paris

\/\/ ( ) \/\/ !!!

Eyes, feast. So many high-level driving skills shown in this movie.
Including jumping a REALLY wide river, using a boat in the middle as a platform to enable the drivers to reach the other side, coordinated driving in an airstrip, shows off on the streets (and subway!) of Paris, and many more. Amazing cinematography as well.

I used to love watching Machine Hayabusa as a kid, where the hero do impossible feats such us racing on two wheels, driving in a really narrow street with only a few centimeters to spare on each side.
This movie shows that it’s not impossible, in fact there’s a scene where the drivers did BOTH. Bloody hell !

Guys, this movie was made in the eighties. Shouldn’t somebody make a new, better one ?? Or is it impossible to top this ??

Anyway, EVERYONE should see this. Now. πŸ˜€

Enjoy !


I found out the outrage about SiCKO rather late, to be precise, on how Michael Moore donated to, thus helping the webmaster to recover from his financial problems.

What I found a bit funny (and sad at times) is how he accuses Moore of misleading people, while he’s been contradicting himself several times, found just within a few minutes of viewing his website :

He goes on to say the site was in trouble “because his wife was ill, and they could no longer afford to pay for her health insurance.” Now, that’s a half-truth at best.

But then he said :

Of all those things, the most immediate and the easiest to lose (Ed: to offset the financial problems) was the dedicated server

To me, that’s indeed the definition of “the site was in trouble”.
This he does several times, and I feel sorry for him.

Personally I don’t think that Michael Moore is flawless. It should be visible from various live interviews clips on Internet (and you’ll find plenty of it on for sure). However, he tend to put up clarifications later on his website, such as here and here.
That, in my book, is good. also took an opportunity to show how bad the Cuban healthcare really is. Well, I wonder if they ever heard the phrase beauty is only skin deep ?

Among the best healthcare my wife & our child ever received was in a hospital similar to that portrayed in that posting. The hospital was very old, it’s dark, dim, looks very outdated (did we mention that it’s old?), dirty in places (not in the patients’ places though), and so on.
But my wife was handled by the best doctor we know, the nurses are kind and most understanding, and both my wife & our child simply had the best care. And the cost was very reasonable. They have yet to enjoy similar level of quality care again to this day.

By contrast, my mother was taken by my father to (among) the most expensive hospital in Jakarta when she was about to deliver my youngest brother. Everything is shiny, gorgeous, beautiful, flashy.
However, she was scared by the doctors there, at the time when she was most vulnerable, into staying longer than necessary, so the bill will end up much higher than it should. She was pissed off when she found out about it, and the service was not that good too.

Don’t be deceived by looks. I thought the intellectuals in would have understood this, but anyway.

Personally, I hate sensationalist journalism, and it’s quite clear that there are elements of it in Moore’s movies.
However, I also understand that we don’t live in Utopia, that people’s skulls can be pretty thick, and a bit of sensationalism can sometimes help to drive the message home.

What really matters is the point. If the sensationalism is just being used as the “spices”, without distracting from the main point, or rendering it pointless, then I’ll tolerate it.

This is the case with Moore’s movies.

The movies raised topics which otherwise would be buried deep and hidden beneath the US gov’t propaganda. Gun control, nationalism (or was it fascism), expensive and broken health “care” system (well at least in UK it’s just “broken”), and so on.
Moore bravely, and effectively, challenges those who has oppressed the American and citizen of the world; the very very rich and the US gov’t. For that, he has my gratitude.

To the webmaster – you can still do better, make it even more useful to the people. Blindly just obliging to the intellectual aspect of something is losing sight to the bigger picture, and this is just what the oppressors wants us to do.
I wish you all the best.

Petition : Save Babar Ahmad

If you’re a UK citizen / resident, please spend 5 minutes and help save Babar Ahmad from injustice; by signing the online petition here.

Babar Ahmad is a British citizen who has been cleared by British authorities of any wrongdoing. The US has requested his extradition to face charges related to fundraising for Chechen and Taliban rebels. The offences are alleged to have occurred on UK soil. It is only proper that Babar stands trial in the UK. Were he to be extradited, he faces a serious risk of human rights abuses and torture. (Guantanamo, US secret prisons, etc)

Different than other online petitions, this one is hosted on UK government’s Online Petition server ! Wow.
I usually ignored online petitions, but when I realized this, I signed up instantly.

Since the petition is hosted by UK gov’t itself, it has more chance to be listened to. Now, it’s up to us to actually use it.

So far there are almost 2000 signature. Many of the signer are not Muslim. Naturally, since this is an issue that concerns all – who know if next time it’ll be you ?

Here’s a chance to stop the crazy US gov’t crusade. Sign now.

Firefox Sucks : And a look at Tamarin

I’ve been an open source advocate for years now, and I think open source software is among the best thing that can happen to us. Bottom line; it empower people. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m a zealot, where for example I’ll try my best to cover its various problems.
I’ll say things as it is, so my clients will be informed, and can face it prepared (instead of caught off guard).

But **I** was caught off-guard by Firefox.

Nowadays I’m very much dependent to Firefox. It doesn’t crash as often as Opera on me when opening a lot of tabs (don’t ask me why, it just do), and it’s much more secure than Internet Explorer. Not to mention the extensions – I’ve been saved by LiveHttpHeader and various other tools many, many times.

However, speed-wise, especially with Javascript-heavy pages, Firefox is a snail.

I didn’t notice the problem because there wasn’t that many Ajax-ed websites back then. Firefox was snappy, secure, and made me very productive. Even if it’s consuming available memory rather happily, I didn’t mind.

Then Web 2.0 arrived. To my surprise, opening just a few of those can slow down Firefox to a crawl.

Many times I was typing my email on Gmail with the speed of around 1 character per second. Indeed I can type much faster than that, but then I’ll be watching the characters that I’ve typed slowly appeared on screen, one by one.
This is on 2 GHz machine with 1.5 GB of RAM, and little else running.

I tried Swiftfox. Unfortunately, it’s still the same. So clearly, the problem is not with machine-specific optimizations.

Day after day, this continue to cause me problems. Finally, I set myself on the journey to find the reason for this, and how to get rid of the problem.

After much browsing around, I think the main culprit are :

  1. SpiderMonkey, the Javascript engine used by Firefox, sucks. Really sucks
  2. Firefox uses SpiderMonkey for itself. Therefore, if a website is heavy on Javascript, then Firefox itself will be blocked while it’s processing that website, and become unresponsive.

I suspect that the 2nd point is actually the biggest issue. I don’t mind when it takes more time to render a website, if I can still switch to another tab and continue my work there.
Unfortunately, not only it’s really slow in most cases, sometimes it’ll even freezes for minutes.
Add extensions processing load on top of that, and it can get really ugly.

The first idea may be to make SpiderMonkey multi-thread. However, for various reasons (including portability, backward compatibility, and platform issues), and also other technical problems, this does not seem feasible to be done anytime soon. At the earliest, it will be on Firefox 5.

That leaves us on SpiderMonkey itself. If we speed it up, then it will speed up Firefox too.

Thankfully, on November 2006, Adobe decided to donate Tamarin to Mozilla foundation.
In short, Tamarin will be used in SpiderMonkey’s core; enabling various optimizations to be performed, thus speeding it up considerably.

Naturally, I was too happy and got all psyched up when I found out about it. Then it dawned on me, is this simply too good to be true ?

No, the Tamarin stuff is for real. However, there’s a bad news in relation to this.

The earliest we can expect to have a taste of Tamarin is on the Mozilla Application Framework 2 (aka “Mozilla 2”) which is used in Firefox 4, which is due on 2009.

We’re still 2 years away from a (much) faster Firefox !

Even then, there’s still no guarantee that Tamarin will speed up Firefox 4 (FF4) significantly, if the UI still freezes everytime FF4 is working on a time-consuming script.

Unless somebody managed to develop a clean hack to speed this up, please excuse me while I’m browsing the Internet in slow-mo.

Nowadays browser competitons are increasing, with Safari for Windows just released, Opera team stepping up for 9.5 release, and IE no longer a stale project — Firefox definitely could not afford to have slower progress than them. Let’s raise awareness on this issue, so we’ll all benefit from a faster Firefox.

Asia Blog Network launched

Finally Budi Putra has revealed another project of his, Asia Blog Network. Since he quit his full time job as a journalist, people thought he “just” blog, since that’s his current title anyway – professional blogger.

Well, now you know that’s not really the case πŸ™‚ professional blogger doesn’t mean a limitation to just “blog and slap some adsense adverts on my blog. then lay back on my couch wait for the money to pour in“. I can’t blame these kind of opinions at all, especially with the previous “failure” of professional bloggers such as Kottke. In reality, professional blogging nowadays can be so much more than that, the great thing about it is that you’re only limited by your creativity. Trust me when I say that Budi still has many more up his sleeve.

Budi has been working hard behind the scene on various creative projects related to blog. Asia Blogging Network is just one of it, and it’s quite spectacular in my opinion. Of course I’m highly biased πŸ™‚ since I’m one of its co-founder. But I do like and agree with his visions, and admire his creativity; and that’s why I agreed to assist him on this project. I especially most interested to empower the citizens’ voice — you, me, all of us. Blog is one of such platform which enable us to do just this. And all of the founders are passionate about it. I’m so lucky to be able to find such group of people.

Here’s looking forward to the success of Asia Blogging Network.

Geek-style Sex

make clean, date, look, talk nice, touch, talk, unzip, showmount size, touch, gawk, top less, gawk, strip, gawk, grep, finger, dig, do head, mount, make love, fsck, comm, more, yes, fsck, suspend, fsck, suspend, fsck, comm, umount, do periodic ?, accept, leave beforelight

Requires: Unix & GNU

Sorry, no Windows version yet.
(ask Cygwin for a good time)


Bush’s Illegal Wars Creates More Terrorists Than Osama Could

Not only it costs American (and other nation’s – hello Britons) taxpayers TRILLIONS of US dollars, it failed to reach its objective; to destroy terrorists. Instead, it creates more terrorists than ever. At more places all over earth.

No wonder Osama keeps on hiding. He can sleep all day, and still there will be more terrorists out there than he can ever dream of creating.

One may be compelled to curse, “Stupid Bush”. But the problem is, Bush is not stupid.

Bush’s family & friends are richer than ever before.

Bush is a war criminal, guilty of illegal wars AND profiting from it. He should be hanged, drawn, and quartered.
But that still won’t be enough to bring back hundreds of thousands who have perished because of these illegal wars….

Blog Menpera: New design, New team

Menpera / Indonesian Housing Minister’s blog, has been redesigned. Big thanks goes to Thomas, who skinned the new template in just a few days.

Behind the scene, the blog now also has a new team maintaining it. The previous one got caught up in other priorities, so the blog was rather lagged behind in updates. Now the blog is more often updated, and hopefully will continue to be so in the future.

And pak Yusuf still reads his emails and reply to comments in his blog. So what are you waiting for ? Go comment there on your housing issues. Although his department’s budget is severely limited, and it’s very hard running projects when it require inter-department co operation; rest assured that he will try his best. Let’s give us our support too.

Building Edge Server With Squid 2.6

I have built a few edge servers using squid, one was discussed here. I just realized that I haven’t wrote down how I did it. So here it is :

note: squid 2.6 introduce a new syntax for httpd acceleration. This guide is specific to squid 2.6 or later. (httpd_accel directives are not used in this guide)

1. Install squid

Prefereably using your distro’s package management software (example: “aptitude install squid” on Debian-based distro, or “yum install squid” on Fedora)

But in certain cases you may wish to download the latest version, which you may download from
When I wrote this, 2.6 is the latest stable version.

But you may wish to install version 3.0 instead, for example; if you’re going to install squid as a proxy server, and you wish to save bandwidth by making all of its outgoing requests to specify compression.
However, at this time, squid version 3.0 is not of production quality yet. You have been warned.

Anyway, if you install squid from source, it’s usually as easy as :

mkdir /usr/local/squid
./configure –prefix=/usr/local/squid
make all
make install

## prepare directories
mkdir /usr/local/squid/var/cache
mkdir /usr/local/squid/var/logs
## setup the correct permissions
chown -R nobody:nobody /usr/local/squid/var/logs/
chown -R nobody:nobody /usr/local/squid/var/cache/

2. Setup squid.conf

Here’s the minimum settings required to make squid work as an edge server :

http_port 80 accel vhost
cache_peer parent 1234 0 no-query originserver login=PASS
http_access allow all
icp_access allow all
### Disk cache: 4096 MB, 16 top directories max, 256 second-level directories max
cache_dir ufs /usr/local/squid/var/cache 4096 16 256

You may need to change more options, but in most cases, these would be enough.

Some optimizations :

== cache_mem 512 MB : set the cache memory to 512 MB. Adjust to your own situation.
== collapsed_forwarding on : imagine when there are 50 requests for the same page that’s not in the squid’s cache yet. Normally, squid will pass all of them to the webserver. But with this option turned on, squid will pass just one request to the webserver, get the result, and then reply to all 50 of them. Very nice.
== maximum_object_size 4096 KB : More than this, and we’ll be using up the cache disk space faster than we’d like.
== maximum_object_size_in_memory 1024 KB : More than this, and we’ll be using up the cache memory faster than we’d like.
== access_log /usr/local/squid/var/logs/access.log combined : this gives most details in the logfile, but will eat up disk space faster

3. Move webserver from port 80

In the squid.conf above, we specified that the webserver will be listening on port 1234 instead.
So make the necessary adjustments to your webserver’s settings.

4. Restart webserver, and then start squid

Restart your webserver, and then start squid with :

## create the cache directories first
/usr/local/squid/sbin/squid -z
## start squid

5. Done !

That’s it, now squid will be answering all the requests for your webserver, and will only forward the requests to the webserver if necessary.


6. Problems ?

  • Some Linux distros by default can only have max 1024 files opened simultaneously. When you have squid running in a busy server, this limit can be very quickly exceeded. When that happened, your server will lock up in a rather spectacular way. Yes, you definitely don’t want this to happen to your server.

    Fortunately, this can be easily fixed, by typing ulimit -n [some numbers]. Example; ulimit -n 4000 will increase the open file limit to 4000.

  • Make it all automatic : To avoid doing these again and again, insert the following lines in the startup script (probably /etc/rc.local or something like that) :

    ulimit -n 4000

  • Squid still will NOT cache your pages?
    Sometimes this can be caused by lack of any hint from webserver/PHP, making squid unsure whether to cache this page or not — and to be on the safe side, it default to NOT caching the page.

    To assure squid that it’s okay to cache, put the following lines in the right place of your Apache configuration file :

    <IfModule mod_expires.c>
    ExpiresActive On
    ExpiresDefault “access plus 1 week”

Finally, enjoy ! Your server will now serve incoming slashdotting / digg / other kind of massive incoming traffic without breaking a sweat.

Fun with Google Earth & Google Map

I just realize that there’s a version of Google Earth for Mac. So I downloaded it and had fun browsing around Jakarta & Indonesia.

Then I tried to find Aston Villa FC stadium. Found it here.
Since it’s located right next to the backyard of my house in UK, I browsed a bit to see if I can see my house there.

To my surprise, I even managed to found my car in the photo, a red Toyota Estima Lucida X 2.2 liter (Turbo Diesel) 4WD, 8 seaters MPV. Yay !
(I’m so helplessly geeky)

Here’s the My Toyota Estima Lucidascreenshot of Google Earth, in case they updated the photo (which will erase the car from the old photo).

The Toyota Estima is a joy to drive. Smooth, stable, easily takes over other cars despite its bulky size (hey, it’s a 8 seater), fits the whole family with room to spare (massive cabin size), rotating / folding seats (you can even set the backseats to face each other). Will easily pass over the speed limit if I’m not careful.
On the roads with no speed camera (such as Scotland’s highland / countryside), it takes no time to get close to its maximum speed, thanks to its automatic turbo capability, while still a joy to handle (low centre of gravity, heavy weight, excellent power steering).

I have an especially fond memories of its 4WD (seriously) capability — at a time, Birmingham was under a snow storm, and the roads are covered with thick, (very) slippery ice. I was trapped in the traffic jam in the middle of the road, while we need to see my wife who just gave birth to our 4th daughter.

After telling the kids to brace themselves, I activated the 4WD switch, went over the lane separator, and over into the icy, snow covered fields just next to the lane. We quickly arrived on an empty road leading to the hospital, and arrived there safely.
On the way back we went offroad in the city again, and arrived home in no time.

In the morning, people told stories on how they were trapped on the road for hours, some for 12 hours, some were even trapped until the morning. Told my story, and people were having problems believing that an 8 seater is a 4 wheel drive; much less the in-city offroad adventure that night.
Whatever πŸ˜€

Anyway, my house is located not far from where the car was parked. It’s right here.

Loads of fun. And not only that, I’ve started to got projects which will be using Google Maps extensively. More in a few months time inshaAllah.

Horror Stories

Watching horror movies, much to my wife’s dismay, I usually complained incessantly about everything; cheap “special” effects (especially in indonesian horror movies), the stupid victims that do things exactly the opposite ways, the unbelievable plot, etc. I was complaining so much when watching Apocalypto, we stopped the movie halfway.

But [ this one ], oh my, it made me cringe. And felt the fear, that it will happen to me someday.

Please God have mercy. Don’t let it happen to me. Just let me laugh at them.


Firefox: Save As Image

Save As Image is a little-known Firefox plugin/extension which is very, very useful. Last time I checked, there’s only 27 webpages pointing to it. But if you’re a web designer / developer, you’ll be able to save precious time by using this small plugin.

Part of your work as web designer / developer is to take screenshots of website and then present it to your client as mock-up, or to quickly point out errors, etc. But most of the time, the website won’t fit on your computer screen.

Usually you’ll take a screenshot, scroll down a bit, take another screenshot, scroll down again, and so on. At the end, you’ll have to stitch the screenshots together into a single file.

No more such hassle with this plugin. Just install, and then you’ll be able to generate the whole webpage screenshot in a snap.

For Firefox 1.5.x users, you can download the plugin from here.

Subversion @ Ubuntu

After the confusion when synchronizing my document repositories using rsync and SMB, finally I’ve had enough. I think this is a good time to give SVN (Subversion) a try.

Pretty simple in Ubuntu, as usual :

sudo aptitude install subversion
sudo aptitude install subversion-tools

Create the repository :

svnadmin create /home/harry/svnrepo
svn mkdir file:///home/harry/svnrepo/docs

Before we can run the server, first we need to edit /home/harry/svnrepo/conf/svnserve.conf and edit as necessary.
(hint: anon-access = read, auth-access = write, password-db = passwd)

And then don’t forget to setup the usernames and passwords in /home/harry/svnrepo/conf/passwd.

Now we can run the SVN server :

svnserve -d -r /home/harry/svnrepo/

Import my documents into the just-created SVN repository :

svn import /home/harry/documents svn:// -m "initial import" --username sufehmi

That’s it ! Now you have a fully functioning SVN repository and have it host your documents.

Good reading on the subject :

1. THE Book on Subversion
2. Subversion Cheatsheet
3. Subversion FAQ

That should do for now. Gotta run.

Macintosh Plus

Saya sangat tertarik ketika menemukan bahwa kini sudah ada emulator Macintosh Plus, dan cukup mudah instalasinya – bahkan bisa dijalankan dari Flashdisk. . Setahu saya, ada banyak aplikasi yang bagus di platform ini. Salah satu yang ingin saya coba adalah HyperCard, untuk mengenalkan anak-anak ke computer programming.

Proses instalasi berjalan dengan cukup lancar. Dalam waktu yang tidak terlalu lama, di Ubuntu telah berjalan Macintosh Plus dengan memory 4 MB dan hard disk 1 GB πŸ˜€

Awal proses instalasi :
Macintosh Plus - instalasi awal

Up & running. Perhatikan bagaimana di komputer keluaran tahun 1986 ini sudah ada perhatian untuk orang cacat, fasilitas sharing file via network (bahkan fasilitas monitoringnya juga), dan bahkan special effects – ketika window di maximize / minimize maka ada efek zoom nya :
MacPlus - up and running

Rencananya nanti disk image yang dihasilkan akan saya sharing disini. Stay tuned. Atau mungkin sudah ada yang selesai membuatnya? Share lah πŸ™‚