Archive for October, 2006

Ten Years Online

October 20, 2006

Click here for the original article

It has been more than ten years since I use internet, and now it has been one of my basic needs. Now I can’t imagine being somewhere with no internet connection, I may experience severe withdrawal syndrome. It’s really cute to look back at how internet was like more than ten years ago.

My first encounter with the internet was around 1994, when my brother Reza returned from his study in the US. He brought a laptop with 9600 kbps modem that he connected to a telkom line that is linked to BPPT or something (if i’m not mistaken) which I don’t remember the name. It was not the same telkom line which is available now. He was still using windows 3.1. and it required Trumpet Winsock to get connected. It involved a lot of steps to get connected and certainly was not easy. He then connected to a terminal window to check his mail using Pine.

We then tried to connect to a website, and he showed me the White House website with its sleek white background. I was really fascinated. At that time, I didn’t see browsing a website as downloading a page, but rather, I felt like I really visited the White House virtually. Suddenly I felt that my world is compressed and distance do not matter anymore. I felt I could send email to Bill Clinton anytime. Stupid huh? But really that is what I felt about it.

Then my brother went away to pursue further study abroad and I didn’t use internet anymore. Instead I bought some books (by Elex Media Computindo) about the basics of internet. Finally in 1995, there was a computer fair in Balai Sidang Convention Center and we bought a new computer together with internet connectivity package by IdolaNet. The computer comes with 14.4 US Robotics modem. The first email address (now defunct) was djojos1 [at] idola.net.id . The address didn’t use my name because we intended to use it for the whole family.

The computer was preinstalled with Windows 95, which made internet connection a lot more easier using Dial-Up Networking. The CD from Idola installed some basic application such as an early version of Netscape, Eudora Mail, IRC, and Hotmetal (a basic WYSIWSG HTML editor which is really crappy). The WWW was really basic at that time, and Yahoo website was just recently founded with its ugly gray background. Default HTML always had gray background at that time, and I don’t know whether it is still the case now. I think Yahoo now has white background rather than gray. I used yahoo very much at that time, and sometimes also Hotbot and Altavista.Google was practically non existent.

Then Geocities came into existence and I registered with the address Paris/1472 and set up a website made in Notepad with really ugly fabric-like pink background and lots of animatedgif. With the internet I discovered image format such as GIF and JPG.

With Eudora, I educated myself on setting up mail server. I joined mailing list Piano-L. At that time, there was no spam and email traffic was really manageable.

An application which I really used at that time was mIRC (by Khaled M. Bey). Not many people chatted at that time, and most people who got onto IRC were students. They were polite and not pretentious. I never got to know weird and perverts. I joined EFNet and Dalnet indonesian channels, as well as other channels. I quickly learned the IRC terminologies such as Ops, Bots, DCC connection, etc etc, and actually met up with people from the IRC, mainly Indonesian. There were many groups of Indonesian at that time, from Perth, Sydney, Germany, etc. Interestingly most of the people are no longer traceable online now. I really do not know where they are now. Definitely they don’t do blogging, except for only a few (such as Yanti, Priyadi, and Shinta). The IRC communities at that time were also scandalous and had a lot of gossips. But it was a lot more exciting compared to now. Now people are less polite and more pretentious. For example, now in YM or other chat application, people will just ask “A/S/L” or “Wanna talk dirty?” or “I love you”, which really turned me off. I think ten years ago the chat etiquette were more sophisticated, where people would actually take slower pace in getting to know somebody. I was totally addicted to IRC at that time.

I then moved to Bandung in 1996 and set up an indosat email address for me (that enabled me to connect from different cities in Indonesia). I was still addicted to chatting, and I also joined usenet. The internet was one of the push factor for Indonesian reformation in 1998, because it enabled free flow of Information. It was really exciting to see debates going on the mailing lists and usenet. And spam didn’t exist at that time. I remember during the days in May 1998 there were a lot of live underground reportage of what’s going on in the parliament house. Plans for demonstration were also distributed through emails, pagers, and smses at that time. Political and religious debates was alive in usenet in an unprecedented openness. Indonesian internet community went through a steep learning curve in the socio-political debates. I remember that there was a big hoo-ha on “Juan Paul Valdez” prophecy, which I was very skeptical about, and when I incited the debate to question the veracity, the credibility of that “prophecy” began to plummet. I personally felt it has been a good learning experience for me.

Internet connection also began to enter campus around 1996-1997 and in the computer center we had to use Unix terminal and learned to use Pine and Lynx.Hotmail emerged around that time and followed by yahoo mail, and I managed to register my name as the user names there.

Right after 1998, I felt that there was a rise of new mailing lists along with the establishment of Egroups and its later acquisition by yahoo to becomeyahoogroups. Also, ICQ emerged as the first instant messaging application, and I got seven digit registration numbers. These two internet applications (mailing list and IM) played an important role in my life (cie ileh!) because that’s how I got to know my husband. I met him through an architecture mailing list and got intouch with him everyday through IM. Around 1997-1998 I got to know google too, and I was impressed by the accuracy of the search result (I felt google was really good in its early days and currently the search result is not as good as in late 1990s.. anyway now google needs search through a lot of junk and spam websites, maybe that’s why there’s a decline in its search quality).

From 1999 to 2003 my internet life largely revolved around mailing lists and IM, I didn’t spend too much time in the websites, until Iqbal set up our wedding website in indrani.net and he taught me about blogging, a way for me and Indi to update our family members back home in Indonesia. 2003 was also marked by a rise in social networking websites (it started as a genuine fun or even a productivity tool, but now it becomes more of an annoyance and a distraction for me..). Currently, I felt quite involved in blogs and wikis, while emails and IM has become an indispensable “given”. And, what’s next? I can’t really predict.

The funny thing is that, the people who were actively involved during the 1990s (the chatting community) disappeared now. People seemed to prefer to stick to only one medium or application that they’re familiar with. For example, the people who were active inusenet can’t be found in blogs. People who blog do not really involved in usenet or wiki. And usually, wikipedians do not blog (at least the indonesian wikipedians). Most of the members of the chatting community dissapeared, and only a few continued to follow the current platform such as blogs or wiki (i.e. Yanti, Priyadi, Shinta0). I dunno, I might be wrong with my conclusion here.

Looking back, in 1990s I perceived getting online as “a visit”, and I saw the internet as a little virtual town which acts as a virtual mirror of our daily life in which distance and traveling becomes insignificant. Now I don’t see it that way, but rather, I see it as uploading and downloading chunks of remote information (gladly I don’t seeinternet as tubes, though).

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Blissful Beverage

October 19, 2006

For full article, click here

When my son latches hungrily onto my bosom and drinks from my body, I always discover a feeling that I have never felt before. It is a blissful feeling, full of love and joy. Time stops. Relaxed. Giving and taking unconditionally to each other. Embrace. Calm. And we look at each other closely and smile. Sometimes he touches my nose and lips too, playfully, curiously.

And when he is finished, he looks drunk and contented. Intoxicated by mother’s milk. A big burp will follow. Happy!

He is so lovely! And what a beautiful feeling, breastfeeding is.

And it is a great painkiller for him too. The only thing that can soothe his feeling after a painful fall, is my milk!

Damn Haze!

October 19, 2006

For full article, click here

Damn haze. The whole house is coughing and I have sore throat with slightly runny nose and sneezing (allergic reaction). Noe became fussy and lethargic. The blockage in my nasal area caused disturbing headache. ARRGH!! And we don’t have air conditioning system at home, so we had to keep the window open or else we would be steamed inside the house. And all Indonesia does is apologize without doing anything.

Update: AC does not make any difference in avoiding the smoke (unless the room is equipped with air cleaner). From NEA Website:

During a smoke haze, the fine particulates enter an air-conditioned building through the fresh air intake and by infiltration through openings and gaps. The particulate levels indoor can thus build up to unacceptable levels. This could have undesirable health effect on the occupants of the building and adversely affect the efficiency of the air-conditioning system.

Noe’s First Haircut

October 8, 2006

Cliek here for the full article

Finally, after 18.5 months after he’s born, Noe had his first haircut. We had to form a special team at home to perform this act, consisting of three people. Indi as the chief haircutter, Rani as the cameralady (photography and video), and Yodhi as provider of the logistical matters and training (for using the electric hair trimmer). We grateful for Yodhi’s electric hair trimmer which he uses everyday to trim his goatee and armpit hair. Luckily he didn’t use it to trim his other hairy parts.

In doing this task, we used the following method: confining the toddler into high chair in front of computer monitor while screening Sesame Street sing along video. It had worked really well, Noe has not been protesting against the fact that he needed to sit down still for an extended period of time, due to Indi’s inexperience in toddler hair cutting. We are glad to have saved $20 (equals to Rudy Hadisuwarno Kiddy Cut in PI) or more (other kiddy haircut place in Singapore). And the following is the photo documentation of the big event:

This is “BEFORE”

This is during the process

This is right “AFTER”

This is uncle Yodhi doing the finishing touch, since he is the expert of trimming hair, while mummy Rani is patiently documenting the video in the background

This is the lock of hair which we safely put into the IMF/Worldbank Singapore Conference 2006 Souvenir Pen Box

Like father, like son!

Noe seemed to be more comfortable with the short hair which do not get into his eyes while bathing and swimming. And he looks more macho and neat.

By the way, we haven’t really updated you guys on Noe’s development. Well, a lot of thing has happened. Noe has been eating on his own using spoon and fork and plate and bowl since few monhs ago, and with little mess. Also, he’s able to drink from sippy bottle as well as cup with little spillage (he’s particularly fond of drinking yakult directly from the bottle).

In terms of communication, he’s able to understand basic word like sit, come, go, take a shower, eat, drink, etc. And he’d respond according to his mood. If he doesn’t want to take a shower, he would run away from the bathroom when we said “mandi”. And although he doesn’t really talk yet, he is able to convey to us what he wants or needs through gesture and sound. He laugh a lot too. He sings in the shower (I could tell that he is singing, because he repeats the same pattern of rhythm and approximately the same tone). He loooooveee balls and baloon and to throw and kick them around. He masters the art of ball kicking (not a person’s ball luckily). He would politely clap his hands after the song that he watch on TV finishes. And he would clap his hands when he’s proud of his achievements. He loves broccoli and spinach, but he hates sweet stuff such as milk or ice cream (except yakult and ribena). He is able to lift one foot off the floor. He has discovered how to leap across the drain in the garden. He can go down and up the stairs, but still prefers to be carried by hand. He loves escalator and he would go up and down many many times together with me or Indi.

flickr map and moo cards

October 8, 2006

Click here for the full article

I just found out that there is a new link inside my flickr page. Take a look!

It’s really cool. Now you can see how your photos are plotted into the world map / street map or sattelite photograph. It’s neat, the points representing photos are not cluttered in the screen because they are lumped together into one big blob, and this blog would be more dispersed as you browse into a higher resolution map. The interface is really clean and neat.

This is the map’s interface in flickr’s organizr. You can do drag and drop too.

The downside is that it is not yet integrated with google earth. Instead, it uses yahoo maps and yahoo’s satellite photo which the resolution is not as high as google earth’s.

Also, we received our free moo minicards. They are sooooo cute, and sturdy too. Sure enough we intend to order more of these later on for our calling cards.

Smog

October 6, 2006

For full entry, click here

The air in Singapore has been really unpleasant. When you look out the window you wouldn’t be able to see really far because there is blurry fog all day long. But wait, it’s not foggy at all!

Fog happens when the weather is cold, but in Singapore it’s as hot as hell (almost).  It’s actually smog or smoke, air pollution that came from Indonesia. The newspaper reported that the smoke level reaches its highest today. And we’re like, thousands of kilometers away from the smoke source. I wonder how it feels to live in Pekanbaru or other cities in Sumatra.

No wonder I have been having sore throat and shortness of breath these past few days, and I haven’t smelled fresh air either. Noe has been a bit cranky too. Because I don’t use air conditioning at home, I always kept my windows wide open, and I could clearly smell soft smoggy / smoky aroma. I wish it smells like satay instead!

A month ago Blass-Hernandez gave us a pack of Minnesota wild rice. Last weekend we cooked it using the following simple recipe:

Wild-Rice-Stuffed Things

The things to be filled up

  • One pound of cuttlefish: Clean up the cuttlefish, separate the ink, and chop up the head. Leave the body hollow to be filled
  • Bell pepper, cut off the top and clean the inner part to make
  • Portobello Mushroom, chop up (or you can also scoop up the inner part to make hollow part for the stuffing)

The stuffing

  • A cup of Minnesota Wild Rice
  • Water, just enough to cover the rice.
  • One Onion, chop it up
  • Garlic to taste, chop it up
  • Herbs (Basil, rosemary, oregano)
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste, a bit of sugar too
  • Toothpicks

To make stuffing

  1. Boil water with a dash of salt
  2. Toss in the wild rice and the cuttlefish ink.
  3. Stir so that the wild rice is well covered in water and break the cuttlefish ink.
  4. Put the stove power to low, and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until the rice grains breaks and the water is reduced significantly. You can drain off the excess water.
  5. In the pan: melt butter, and then mix in the garlic and onion.
  6. When the onion becomes transparent and soft, mix in the chopped cuttlefish head.
  7. Saute for several minutes, then mix in the rice.
  8. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs.
  9. Saute for several more minutes until the rice is moist with butter and is dry but fluffy. Set aside.

Stuff the thing!

  1. Fill in the things (Cuttlefish body, calamari, mushroom or other things such as tomato, aubergine) with rice mixture.
  2. Seal the cuttlefish with toothpicks.
  3. You can bake it in the oven for few minutes, or wrap the things with aluminum foil and grill it over charcoal.

Last Monday we went to IMM and I discovered these funny signs (please click for details):

After dinner Widyo came to our place to bury his son’s placenta. Congratulations for the new baby boy, Widyo! We hope he would be able to join you to play tennis soon.

Cuban Visa

October 6, 2006

Link to the full article

We are getting one step closer in the preparation for our upcoming Christmas trip to La Habana. When we were in Indonesia last week for our cousin wedding, we managed to obtain our Cuban visa (tourist card). Yay!

Initially, the outlook of smooth application of the Cuban visa has been quite bleak because it has been very difficult to talk to the embassy secretary over the phone. Ms. Yuli, an Indonesian lady who’s also the secretary is always unavailable and always goes home early, so by that time I call the embassy at around 4pm Indonesian time, she would have gone home already. We spoke to her over the phone prior to our departure and she would say, “Just come over to the embassy”. Basically, we got the impression that she is a kind of lady that needed to be asked a lot of questions before giving out necessary information, and she won’t spend any effort to proactively assist visa application. Sort of typical Indonesian civil servant. Nevertheless, we were hopeful that visa application would be easier once we visit the Cuban embassy.

On Friday 8 September, we rushed to the Cuban embassy after attending Santi’s wedding ceremony. We really had to rush because Ms. Yuli told us that the embassy would close early on Fridays. It turned out that the embassy building was just a simple house in a housing estate inside Permata Hijau. It looked just like any other houses nearby, only simpler. If there’s no cuban flag at the front porch, we wouldn’t know that it is the embassy building.

We enter the tiny office on the ground floor of the embassy and finally met Ms. Yuli, who seemed to be all set to leave the office and was barefoot. We told her that we intended to apply for visa. Her response was, “You know, I was about to go because now is my lunch time, from 11am to 12.30pm. Also the office closes at 1pm on Fridays”. I don’t know what that means, so we just apologized that we disturbed her (long) break.

Then we asked her whether it is possible to get the visa on Monday, because we would need the passport for our flight back to Singapore.

She said, “I dunno, it is up to the ambassador. Right now, the ambassador is away and will only come back next month. Why don’t you just apply through mail?”

We said, “Well, there must be a deputy that takes care of visa application?”

She said, “Hmm yes, but she very busy and fairly new, and not very familiar with the visa procedure. Also I don’t know her very well yet. Right now we’re very busy with Visa application for government officials for a summit in Havana, so we prioritize on that. It’s unlikely that your visa would be finished on Monday. Why don’t you just apply through mail?”

We said, “well, you said that we can just come over to the embassy, and that the procedure would only take two days. Your website also said that”

She said, “Yes, but still I cannot promise that your visa would be finished on Monday. We are very busy”

We said, “It’s OK, we just try to apply for visa and we’ll come back on Monday regardless the visa is finished or not”

Ms. Yuli finally relented to our persistence. “OK, up to you, but I doubt your visa would be finished on Monday. When do you intend to go to Cuba?”

We said, “27 December 2006”

She said, “What? 27 December? It’s too long! Why don’t you come back closer to the date, like early December? The visa would be valid for only one month.”

We said, “Well, there is nothing in the website that says that the visa would be valid for only one month! Also, you never told us about this over the phone. We spoke to you several times about it already, do you remember?”

She said, “Yes. But the ambassador won’t issue any visa if the departure date is too far”

We said, “But we emailed the ambassador already and discussed with him about our problem”

She said, “Yes but now the ambassador is away. You won’t get any visa, the departure date is too long. You better come back closer to the date or apply through mail”

We explained that we live in Singapore and it would be difficult for us to come back and forth. We said, “Well, we won’t be able to fly back to Jakarta again. Anyway, we have emailed Mr. Ambassador about our intention to come to apply for visa here directly, and he welcomed us. Also since we’re in Jakarta already, we just want to try to apply for visa. If we can’t get it this time, then we will apply through mail. We have emailed the ambassador about this visit. Obviously you were not informed by him about this. Can we meet with consular official??”

She said, “Yes, but the ambassador is away right now”

We said, “Since he’s away, can we meet with the deputy so that we can explain to her about our situation?”

She said, “The deputy is very busy and does not like to be disturbed. And also you don’t have prior appointment”

We said, “Well, please book us appointment with her on Monday morning”

She said, “Let’s see, hmm yes she is available on Monday morning… you know, why don’t you just email her directly and set up appointment with her? Doesn’t have to be through me”

We said, “Well, we don’t have internet access here, so we’d like to just do an appointment with her through you” (anyway we didn’t see the logic why we should go home and email the deputy for the appointment, whereas it’s obviuosly the duty of the secretayr to arrange appointments for the deputy. Was she just lazy to deal with us?)

She sighed and relented to our persistent request.

We said, “We still want to submit our visa application today”

She sighed again, and said, “It’s not my responsibility if your visa wasn’t approved. I have warned you about it. Anyway, you haven’t got the required documents, right? If you do the application by mail then you can send the documents together”

We were getting tired with all the circular arguments that she brougth forward, and we finally said, “It’s OK if it’s not finished on Monday, at least we tried. Also we have all the required documents ready. Can we have some blank forms?

She reluctantly handed the forms to us and looked at the clock, indicating that she really couldn’t wait to leave the office much longer. So we filled up the forms really quickly. We handed the filled forms and documents to her. She wasn’t interested in being chatty and friendly to us. We could feel the negative aura that exerted by her unwillingness to help us.

So we went back and pray that she would despatch our application to the deputy.

On Monday morning, we went back to the embassy. It turned out that Ms. Yuli was out of the office. So the helper in the house asked us to wait in the living room.

A few minutes later, the deputy walked into the room. She was a beautiful young cuban lady, and really really friendly, really unlike what Ms. Yuli negatively described about her.

Indi and Yodhi stood up, greeted her and introduced ourselves, “Buenos Diaz, Senora Rodriguez! Como esta usted?”, and she said, “Muy Bien, Gracias! How can I help you?”.

After proper introduction in jibbrish mixed with Spanish and English, we finally sat down.

We said, “We’d like to find out the outcome of our visa application on Friday”

She said, “Ah, Si, not a problem!” and she quickly ran upstairs to her office to get our passports and visas. In less than 15 minutes, we got our visas in form of a Tourist Card (so you don’t have to have a chop in your passport that shows you are going to or have been in Cuba for practical and political reasons). Evidently, there is nothing in the Visa that says that the Visa only valid 30 days from approval. What’s true, is that, the visa is valid 30 days after our arrival in Cuba. So all along, Ms. Yuli had been informing us with false information, and has been reluctant to help us.

We learned that her full name was Senora Liurka Rodriguez Barrios and that she had been on a humanitarian mission for three months in Yogyakarta area alongside Ambassador Leon and dozens of medical doctors and surgeons from Cuba. We expressed our sincere appreciation for what the Cubans have done to Indonesia.

We were so relieved.

Additional note:

After returning to Singapore, I found out from Google that Senora Rodriguez had written this touching story about Cubans serving Yogyakarta people right after the massive earthquake.

Also, we begun to take a quick course on Latin American Spanish, by borrowing tapes from library and buying course set. I bought Latin American course set (books and CD) published by Oxford as Indi’s birthday present. Also, we use Pimsleur Latin American Spanish tapes and CD borrowed from library, which I think the best method of teaching languages through audio.