Saturday, February 26, 2005

Brain fatigue?

I was reading a book. It was in "the about the author" section, where there is a list of work the author has done, when I had to stop. Should I read this long list of stories, novels, that the writer had written? Do I really want to know? Or to be exact, do I need to memorize them?

I always have this idea that if I use my brain too much it will detoriate. It's like using a floppy disk too many times. It wears out. Thus, if I memorize things too much, my brain will wear out? I don't like to memorize things for this [silly?] reason. Or, if you use a battery - charge and discharge - too many times, the quality will go down quickly. But is our brain really like that?

On the other hand, if I don't use (anything), then whatever it is it will not function proprely either. An example of this is exercise. I don't work out regularly. So, when I play badminton with my kids, my body aches. I concluded that if I don't use my brain regularly, it won't be in a good shape. But I am still afraid of using it too much.

I was reminded with something that I read earlier in Jack Foster's "How To Get Ideas."

"The brain is not a muscle that gets fatigued."

Whoa! Does it mean that I don't have to worry using my brain too many times? Is it true?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Petualang Blog

I think I need help. I am addicted to blogs.

I go many (free) blog providers and setup account in each one of them. I have not done this extensively though. But looking at the trend, it probably will. If you tell me another place to create a blog, I would probably go there and set it up. Please, please, please, ... tell me ...

My latest blogs are:

Yours truly,
Petualang Blog

Monday, February 14, 2005

Here's a picture of me in a Microsoft Security Ads. It appeared in "Bisnis Indonesia" newspaper today (14 Feb 2005). Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Dee's Supernova Petir

As I've promised before, here is the review of Dewi Lestari (Dee)'s latest book: "Supernova: Petir."

Before I start, I should make some disclaimers. It this common? It shows my inexperience. But, who cares. First, I am not a literature expert. I am just an ordinary book reader. Secondly, I have no relation what so ever with the author and publisher. I have no financial gain from this review. Come to think of it I have met the author once in quite an extraordinary situation. It was in a seminar. Dee, the book author, was giving her presentation. I was about to go the back (I forgot why) when she called me from the stage. She said, hang on, don't leave yet. (I wasn't going to leave, though.) I have sent you an email but you have not replied to it. I was shocked. How did she find my email address? The problem is not finding my email address. It's finding the most effective email address to get a quick response. I have too many of email addresses. In any case, I told her that I didn't get any email from her, but I would check. I never got the email.

Let's get on to the review.

This is her third book that I own. They are all Supernova sequel. I don't think she wrote anything else other than the Supernova books. This book is the "softest" in terms of writing style which I will describe next.

Her writing style reminds me of someone. Oh, it was me. Not that I am good at writing, but I used to write stories with short sentences. Direct. No beating around the bush. Abrupt. And frequently, harsh. I have not written non-technical essays in quite a while, but the use of short sentences still sticks on me. The direct and harsh style still shows in my emails. Many times, it hurts people. Another similar thing, she uses footnote in her book. I do too. I was told that most readers do not like this. But, I do it anyway. By the way, I hate my writing style. I thought this will take me nowhere. But, seeing acceptance to Dee's book, I see that there is a future.

The story of "Supernova: Petir" relates to me in many ways. First, growing up in the same city I know the context of what she wrote. Part of the Sundanese culture – in terms of language and jokes – crops up here and there. Then, the main character, Elektra, does many things that I do; using (addicted to?) the Internet. Even the character of her father is an electronic man who challenged electricity. My formal background is in electronics.

I could remember during my university year. At one time we had this "orientasi studi (OS)" – I'll find a more proper translation (it's in the tip of my tongue, damn it!) – where new students were asked to do silly things. One of them was to be "electrocuted" with a "small" electricity voltage. To do so, I had to test the equipment whether the electricity is to high or ok. I had to electrocute myself with small voltage and increaed the voltage to a value that gives a little "surprise", but do not knock them out. So, when Elektra's father – and Elektra herself later on – played with electricity, I smiled. Yeah, I've done that. I wonder if the readers relate to the story as I am.

In any case, I enjoyed reading the book. It's a good book. It took me two days and one night to read the book during my regular trip to Jakarta. I read in in the train going to Jakarta, between meeting, in coffee shops (Sandro and Starbucks), at night, and on the train on the way back to Bandung. One thing that I noticed, when I read the book in public place, many people recognized it as Supernova's book. Any many gave me an unusual look as if they never seen a man reading Dee's book in public. I even heard one girl said, he's reading supernova. I take it as a good comment. (I am interested in knowing the demographic of the reader of this book.)

As for you, Dee, did you really send me an email? I don't even think you still remember saying that.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Do you backup your blog(s)?

Well, do you backup your blogs? If, yes, how do you do it? Do you copy (duplicate) your blog entries? I am especially interested if your blog is hosted somewhere else, not in your own machine. (Even if it's in your own machine, how do you do the backup? Do you backup your database separately, or is the db backup part of OS/system backup?)

Right now, I don't do backup. I don't know what's gonna happen if blogspot goes down. (As if my articles / entries are important, therefore worth backing 'em up.)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Computer to FM transmitter (part 2)

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I am looking for a computer to FM transmitter. I decided to get a portable FM transmitter with an audio input instead.

After posting to various mailing list, I got a lead that there is a store in Jakarta that sells such as device. I went to the store, Wasabi Gadget. Sure enough, they have an Arkon Sound Feeder SF 150. This little device takes an audio input and broadcast it in FM between 88-95 MHz. I bought the device.

I turned out this device only works in a short distance. In my first experiment, I plugged this device into my notebook (running winamp) and put it close to an FM receiver. I could listen the song in the radio. I then moved the notebook away from the radio. The quality of the signal faded away. Three (3) meters was the maximum distance. I tested again with another FM receiver. This time it was even worse. It faded quickly. 30 cm was the maximum distance.

My original idea was to broadcast around the house, or at least 10 or 15 meters. Perhaps FCC regulation forces it to limit the power? I don't know. But this is not what I want. Although it is still usable, since I have two (good) boomboxex without line in. I could use this device to feed sound to the boombox. Of course, the distance has to be really close.

Another problem is the frequency range. Recently, there was a frequency reorganization(?) in my city. The frequency of some FM stations were relocated. They were pushed to the "left side", which is the range of my sound feeder. So it was difficult to find an empty frequency.

In any case, I am still looking for a computer to FM transmitter which can cover up to 10 meters.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Friday, February 04, 2005

Showing bipolar technology to junior high-school students

This morning my daughter class (junior high school - equivalent to grade 8 or 9) went to my lab. I explained what I do at the university; research in VLSI. My background is in IC design and verification. In this picture I showed them how we make bipolar transitor. Unfortunately, we could not enter our clean room. (We can make a 10um transistor.  Posted by Hello

Showing VLSI chip

In this picture I showed them a VLSI chip that we designed in our lab. You can't see it. I am holding it in my hand. It was an image processing chip. I was not the designer though. Also, we did not fabricate it in our lab. We only designed it. Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Beautiful morning, beautiful day

It's a beautiful morning. Sipping my Earl Grey tea, I am enjoying this beautiful weather. What a beautiful and enjoyable life ... Thank God for this.
(Picture was taken 5 minutes ago. 9:00 AM, 3 Feb 2005.)

This afternoon I am going to make a presentation (on broadband network). Hopefully, it's going to be a beatiful presentation too. (Define 'beautiful presentation'? What is it, eh?)
 Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Damn you, EE school!

When I was in high-school, I used to write things. From poem to short stories. Some were beautiful. Some were trash.

Then, I went to university. I was thinking of going to Arts, but ended up in Engineering. Electrical Engineering, to be exact. It's a long story. When I wanted to buy an electric guitar, I came back with an Apple ][ computer. The same story over and over again. It seems that I was destined to be an engineer. When I went to Canada to do my post graduate studies, again, I went to an EE department.

If anything, engineering taught me to be logical, responsible, practical. I sounded like Supertramp's "logical song." From then on, my mind was molded into a logical machine. I could no longer be able write beatiful sentence. It's got to be logical, responsible, and practical.

Damn you, EE school!