Archive for July, 2008

Bad Technology Week

Modern technology has not been good to me this week. After losing my internet connection due to a seemingly-harmless Microsoft update a few days ago, today I lost my cellphone/mobile/handphone connection. I woke up to a non-functioning Optus network and so far it seems I will be going to sleep with it too. I first realized mid-morning when I tried to send a text message to a friend who will be leaving this week. When it didn’t go through I thought she had cancelled her number (in preparation for her move back to Indonesia). I tried sending the message to another friend, and tried calling another friend. Both efforts failed miserably (my phone just dropped the call within two seconds after dialling the number). I knew something was up when I couldn’t even go through to the Optus customer service number (I was trying to recharge my phone because I thought maybe my credit has ran out).

I still, however, thought the problem was with my phone and not the Optus network. Early this year, when I was in NYC, my SIM card there just decided to stop working one fine day. T-Mobile, the network I was with, couldn’t figure out the problem and I was forced to buy a new SIM card 😦

I was afraid the same thing has happened again.. and was quite upset about it. If my phone is the problem (i.e. it’s messes up SIM cards for some random reason), that’d mean I’d have to buy a new one, even though I really like my current one and I only bought it in January 2008!

So, I was actually quite relieved when I found out, via the radio, that the problem was with Optus network and not with me 🙂 And it also explained why I haven’t received any love on my phone since the morning. Poeple out there still love me, they just couldn’t get through! *phew*

Oh, and apart from a network down, my own physical health is currently “down” too. Itchy throat, runny and blocked nose (go figure how that works..) and a heavy head. Bah.

Little Microsoft Update Rant

Today was not a good day. I got disconnected from the Internet due to a little Microsoft update. Bah. I’m done with my I-trust-Microsoft-update-so-I-will-always-click-on-the-yellow-shield-with-exclamation-mark attitude. It cost me my morning and a phone call to (and visit by) my IT-helpdesk (read: Mika).

Windows Update

When I told her that I could no longer get online after installing what I thought was a regular and trustworthy Microsoft Windows update, she informed that she herself does not automatically allow these updates. She dislikes the fact that these updates do not say which part of the registry/system/whatever it is changing. I guess being an IT student she is more aware of the potential conflicts these hidden system changes can cause.

Anyways, clearly I am now back online after we (read: she) lowered my ZoneAlarm firewall setting from high to medium. Something even I know is not a good choice: an update that forces me to live with a lower security setting?? Please.

But apparently I am not the only one. BBC reports that

“Many users of the ZoneAlarm firewall have been floored by a fix to the net’s addressing system. Those hit found they could not get online after installing a Microsoft patch to close a security loophole.”

Good choice, man: close security loophole by not letting us go online in the first place 🙂 I just wish these updates would be more informative. I’ve certainly learnt my lesson and will scrutinize these seemingly-innocent yellow-shield updates before allowing them.

Image taken from here.

My Indonesian Pride

A friend asked me recently, after listening to my not-so-Indonesian life history, whether or not I am proud being an Indonesian (the question of my Indonesian-ness, which also came up, is subject to another post). My immediate reaction: I held my breath. I honestly could not answer that question straight-up… but after a few seconds’ pause, and a fast battle between logic and heart, I said “yes….but.”

But the “but” is not why I write this post. There are lots of blog posts, newspaper/journal articles, essays and books out there that can better express this “but” than me. I too have had my share of “but” stories on Indonesia with my friends, family, colleagues and random strangers.

But, no. This post is on the “yes” part.

I personally found writing on this subject harder than I initially thought. But no country is perfect. Perhaps mine is further away from perfection than others, but it is no reason to dismiss it. Beauty is, after all, in the eyes of the beholder. I realize that, when it comes to anything, it is always easier to complain than to compliment. That’s why we have customer complaints call centers, but no customer praise ones. So I will perhaps try the other side, pray, cross my fingers and hope someday I can just say “yes, PERIOD.”

In the meantime, here are my current “yes” reasons.

1. Cultural/Ethnic Diversity

Spanning from Sabang to Merauke, I love Indonesia’s breadth of ethnic and religious diversity. I enjoy standing side-by-side with my friends from Papua, Java, Kalimantan and Sumatra friends (have yet to make friends from the other islands) and seeing my non-Indonesian friends’ mouths open in disbelief. I love having to think when answering the questions “What is Indonesian food/national dress/dances like?” only because there are so many to choose from… that we are not tied to a single particular type of food or clothing or even house. From Minangkabau’s Rumah Gadang to Toraja’s tongkonan (more description here), from Java’s wayang kulit to Madura’s bull racing to, from Aceh’s Saman dance to Bali’s Kecak. Let’s not forget the breadth of ethnic languages, some of which have their own alphabets and are totally unrelated to Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia). I regret that since my parents are from different provinces, I can only speak Indonesia and none of my parents’ languages.

2. Natural Beauty and Resources

With over 17,000 islands (another fact I like to boast to my other “islander” friends), and a width spanning 5,271 km (3,275 mi) (in comparison, Dublin to Moscow is 2784 Km (1729.9 Miles)) Indonesia offers some breathtaking natural wonders. I have personally taken the role of Indonesian tourism ambassador (since our official tourism department seems to be defunct*) where I tell them Indonesia has beaches, mountains, lakes, rivers, rainforests and biodiversity that should not be missed. In fact, we have the world’s largest lake on an island (Toba Lake) and also the largest island in a lake on an island (Toba Lake, too). Puncak Jaya, Papua is one of the few equatorial glacier mountains and is Indonesia’s highest point (extra point: we have the highest number of volcanoes in the world). Indonesia supports the second highest level of biodiversity and is also second in its endemism. Don’t forget that we have the world’s largest flower and lizard (weird combo, but it works.) (info from here).

3. Food

My favourite subject, but will not dwell on it for too long because I’m already starving. Closely related to cultural diversity, our food diversity ranges from its taste, ingredients (for example, some provinces use weed as a cooking herb), cooking methods and even the way it is being served (if in doubt, check out any Padang restaurant where the waiter carries on average ten plates at once and where all of the restaurant dishes are brought to your table. No need to put pictures on the menu! Come to think of it, there’s no need for a menu either.) From Padang’s spicy satay (oh-so-different from Madura’s sweet satay), Palembang’s pempek, Java’s rawon, the numerous sotos.. Not to mention the tropical and so-called exotic fruits such as durians, mangoes, salak, rambutan, etc.

4. People

I have met many Indonesians abroad and at home, and recently in the blogsphere, who are intelligent, able-bodied, analytical and realistic about Indonesia’s current situation but yet are hopeful, optimistic and committed to its betterment. They have experienced the other side and have the choice to stay where life is arguably easier, and yet some still choose to go back. While family is a common reason to return, not a small number of them profess that they hope to change Indonesia for the better, to change “what should be” to “what is.” Within Indonesia itself I also see this new batch of optimistic, well-educated generation that is tired of the status quo and want to change it (for example, the JBRB and BUAB team). In a conversation with an Indonesian lady here in Brisbane:

Lady: “Nanti selesai kuliah, nanti cari kerja aja di sini. Balik ke Indonesia-nya nanti kalo udah bener Indonesia-nya.”

My friend: “Yaaa.. mendingan bantuin nge-benerin 🙂

*I will not complain.

Note: I found through Indonesia Anonymus these interesting feel-good facts about Indonesia:

3rd biggest producer of rice
4th biggest producer of coffee
5th biggest producer of tea
8th biggest producer of fruits

(source: Pocket World in Figures, The Economist, 2008 Edition)