Saturday, October 29, 2005

What to do with used CDs (DVDs)?

I still don't know what to do with all of these used CDs. Blank CDs are cheap around here (around 20c a piece). Burning CDs is common, just like copying to diskettes. Pirate CDs, VCDs and DVDs are popular here. To make the point short, CDs and DVDs are everywhere.

Now, what should we do when these CDs (and DVDs) are not being used anymore?
Should we just toss them away?
What kind of environmental damage would these CDs cause?
Recycle? How?

In a science competition, there were 3 high-school students who arranged these used CDs to generate (very small) electricity. Other interesting usage out there?

Friday, October 28, 2005

straight 24-hours

I am already up for 21 hours for no apparent reasons. Will I stay up for 24 hours? I don't know.

It started this morning at 3 AM. This is the month of Ramadhan, where Muslims fast during the day. So I did my breakfast at around 3-ish. After that, I checked my emails and did some writing, preparing for my presentation tomorrow (or today, since it has passed midnight).

Morning came and I took my daughter to her school. Back from the school, I worked on my presentation again and checked on reports that my company must submit. By the time I was finished, it was already close to afternoon. I had to pick up my daughter. So I did. Then, I went straight to Bandung High Tech Valley (BHTV) workshop. [BHTV web. BHTV blog.]

At the workshop I listened to presentations and tried to get some insights. Armein Langi's presentation was good. The discussion was lively. I am excited with the possibility of actually realizing our BHTV's dream. Although, it wasn't what I expected since I thought that Bandung would pick up the idea. But, nooo... the city of Cimahi is probably who is going to realize this dream.

After supper, I was back at home and was waiting for a meeting. The meeting got cancelled. Fine. Actually, I kind of hoping it get cancelled because I would then have time to work on my presentation.

I was thinking of making a bit different presentation, since I've got sick with plain Power Point presentations. I've got the idea after watching Dick Hardt's presentation at OSCON 2005. It is a very good presentation! You have to watch it. (I ended up making a regular presentation. I hope it is still good.)

At the end of his presentation, there was a text saying that his presentation was modelled after Lawrence Lessig's presentation. For those who don't know, Lawrence Lessig is a professor in [cyber]law. He's one of the few lawyers who dig open source. I knew Lessig from his web site. I often visit his site. But, I usually read his stuff, not listening or watching his video. After watching Dick Hardt's presentation, I decided to search of Lessig's video archive. I found some, but I could not download most of them. I have to view them online. My Internet connection is not that fast (128 kbps, shared). So, it is out of the question. I have to use the offline version. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a good Lessig's video.

At the same time, I decided to check PBS' Nerd TV archive. One of my friend here has downloaded a copy. So I watched Andy Hertzfeld's interview. Bob Cringley was the interviewer. (I knew him from his "Triumph of the Nerds" documentary. Like the film a lot.) I knew Andy's from the many book of Macs that I have. I also visited his Foklore.org site.

Having done all of this ... it's 15 minutes pass midnight. I am still awake and still excited with all of this. I wonder if there's other people like me (crazy enough to get excited with technology)?

Well, I decided to go to bed. I have to wake up at 3:AM. I should have a good 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Good night.

Or, should I say, Good Morning!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Learning CSS

In my previous post, I lamented about Content Management System (CMS). I am still search for the most suited CMS for me.

While doing that, I decided to learn CSS. Currently, the design of my web sites are based on table. It is considered out of date and difficult to maintain. Perhaps CSS is the solution? So, I searched the web for CSS tutorials. Lo and behold. I found a very good tutorial.

I found Selectutorial CSS selector to be the best CSS tutorial. It explains CSS step by step without watering it down. One of the things I like about this is that the author took the time to give a step by step example with a sample output of each step. I could progress from one step to another by reading the description and viewing the result. This is an example of good e-learning! I spent a couple of hours playing with the examples. I hope it's a good investment.

After that, I looked around for CSS examples or templates. I kinda like 3-column layout. All of my web sites are done with 3-column. I did it intentionally, but did not know the reason. (Could somebody tell me why people like 3-column layout? Any scientific reason(s)?) Here is an example of a list of interesting 3-column layout. A List apart is also an excellent source for web design.

Okay, it is time to roll my own CSS. Or ... before doing that, perhaps just "borrow" somebody else's design first and re-layout my web site. (Update: my trial page is here.)

Searching for CMS producing static files

I am still search for a Content Management System (CMS) that produces static (HTML) files. The reasons I want static files are:

  1. Security. I was bitten many times by CMS / CGI-based / other tools that produce dynamic HTML files. Sometimes the problem is due to the scripting language being used (PHP, perl), and other times it is due to the backend database (eg. MySQL).
  2. Performance. My server's resources are usually limitted. For example, one of our servers is still using (GNU/Debian) Linux on a Pentium III. It was upgraded from Pentium II, though. Yes, I know that this is 2005. Although my current web server is Pentium 4. Generating dynamic pages on the fly may tax my server.
  3. I don't really need dynamic pages. The contents of my pages are mostly articles, presentation files, PDF files, and the like. (Examples of my sites are: my main web site, web at campus, BHTV, ID-CERT, my Indonesia, and many more. Don't laugh at the designs - or lack of.) I just have to build a nice themed index to these files. I don't even need a search engine. Let Google or Yahoo works for me.

My original plan is to create my pages on my desktop (or mobile) computer and then publish the updated pages to my web server. I also want to change the look-and-feel of the pages with a simple scheme. (Perhaps with CSS?) Currently, I have to hand change all the pages. The result is an inconsistent web pages.

My requirements:

  1. Produce static files
  2. Work on any platform (Linux, Mac OS X, MS Windows)
  3. Free (as in "gratis")!
  4. Open Source / GPL (if possible)
  5. No databased backend required (if possible) [I like flat files]
  6. Has a variety of templates/themes (if possible)
  7. Has a simple learning curve (if possible)


I thought I found the solution when I found blosxom. After trying it out, I is still not what I wanted. Blosxom is great for blog-type web pages, but not so great with the type of web sites that I am maintaining right now. I am still using blosxom for one of my blogs though; budi.paume.itb.ac.id/blog. One thing I like about blosxom is that it does not require a database backend and it is written in perl (my favourite language). Without the database requirement, I can work on any platform I am at (UNIX/Linux, Mac OS X, MS Windows). If I can find a blosxom-like tool that is not specific to blog, I would party!

Right now I am looking at Bricolage, TYPO3, and HTML::Template. (I have tried many many many CMS, and will continue trying. I am kind of partial to Drupal, but the learning curve is steep and it does not produce static files.)

So, I am still looking... If you have a suggestion, let me know.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Engineers vs. Lawyers

I was reading Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat," book and found an interesting paragraph (and quote):


One problem we have today, though, is that so many Amarican politicians don't seem to have a clue about the flat world. As venture capitalist John Doerr once remarked to me, "You talk to the leadership in China, and they are all engineers, and they get what is going on immediately. The Americans don't, because they're all lawyers."


I love if when they talk dirty :-). Not all lawyers are clueless, though. Lawrence Lessig seems to be an anomaly. What do you think about leadership in Indonesia? Are they clueless?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Masih tentang kurang responsifnya mahasiswa

[Catatan: backup dari posting di rahard.modblog.com]

Dalam posting terdahulu saya mempermasalahkan kurang responsifnya mahasiswa di kelas saya. Ternyata ini tidak terjadi di kelas saya atau departemen saya saja, akan tetapi sudah mewabah ke seluruh kampus. Ada seorang dosen di Departemen Planologi yang mengatakan sebagai berikut:

Saya tanya "ada yang tidak mengerti?", tidak ada yang menjawab atau mengacungkan tangan. Kemudian saya tanya "ada yang mengerti?", juga tidak ada yang mengacungkan tangan. Jadi sebetulnya mengerti atau tidak?

Ada dosen lain yang mengatakan bahwa ketika dia masuk ke kelas, dia dihadapkan dengan pandangan mata yang kosong. Menerawang. Dia berpendapat bahwa sekarang mahasiswa inginnya serba instan.

Lepas dari itu semua, ternyata masalahnya lebih dalam lagi karena tidak sekedar di kelas saya saja. Berarti ini masalah yang lebih besar! Aduh!

Mengenai soal slides power point, sebetulnya saya tidak menyukainya karena slides tersebut seringkali gagal menjadi alat bantu. (Ada banyak sudah yang membahas hal ini. Saya memiliki beberapa URL yang membahas soal ini.) Dengan kata lain, sebaiknya mungkin tidak menggunakan slide lagi.

Tapi, ada atau tidak ada slide power point, tetap perkuliahan hanya membuat mahasiswa mendengar dan melihat. Ini tidak cukup! Saya ambil kutipan dar A. S. Neil:

I hear and I forget;
I see and I remember;
I do and I understand


Jadi, saya berharap bahwa mahasiswa lebih banyak "DO". Melakukan. Mengerjakan tugas. Praktek. Khususnya dalam kuliah pemrograman, tentunya harus banyak DO-nya karena kalau tidak, hanya menjadi teori semata. Padahal aspek skill juga tidak kalah pentingnya.

Praktek. Ini juga ternyata masalah karena institusi sehebat ITB pun tidak memiliki fasilitas yang cukup untuk programming. Di dalam kelas saya saja ada sekitar 65 orang. Padahal ini kelas paralel - 4 kelas. Jadi total kebutuhan komputer - hanya untuk kelas programming saya saja - sudah mencapai 260 komputer!

Nah, lagi-lagi ini menjadi keluhan mahasiswa Indonesia. Mahasiswa kita terlalu cengeng, kalau saya bandingkan dengan mahasiswa di India dan China. Mereka (mahasiswa di India dan China) lebih miskin lagi dan fasilitas lebih tidak memadai. Tapi, toh mereka tetap menjadi world class juga dengan jumlah yang tidak sedikit. Artinya kekurangan fasilitas ini tidak membuat mereka gagal. Bahkan kekurangan ini lebih memacu mereka.

Saya masih ingat ketika belajar komputer saya harus membeli majalah bekas di jalan Cikapundung (di Bandung). Di sana banyak dijual majalah bekas yang halaman depannya sudah digunting. Sekarang, di toko buku sudah banyak majalah dan buku yang membahas masalah komputer. Kemudahan ini mungkin malah membuat mahasiswa menjadi lebih manja lagi?

Saya melihat bahwa mahasiswa kita kurang memiliki "sense of urgency". Tidak ada dorongan yang kuat. No passion. Mereka masih tidak melihat adanya ancaman dari lulusan sekolah lain, khususnya lulusan dari luar negeri. Mereka tidak tahu bahwa India menghasilkan 70 ribu lulusan yang terkait dengan IT setiap tahunnya. Ya benar, 70000! Lulusan ITB yang terkait dengan IT mungkin hanya 300-an setiap tahunnya. Dibutuhkan 200 ITB hanya untuk menghasilkan jumlah yang sama. Kita belum bicara mengenai kualitas.

Sense of urgency ini perlu ditumbuhkan. Mahasiswa harus tahu bahwa pekerjaan mereka bisa diambil oleh lulusan India! Serius! Beberapa waktu yang lalu saya mendengar dari seorang kawan yang mengatakan bahwa dia bisa mendapatkan seorang lulusan perguruan tinggi di India yang mau dibayar Rp 700 ribu sebagai programmer di Indonesia. Mana ada lulusan kita yang mau dibayar segitu? Lebih jauh lagi, kualitas lulusan India yang murah tersebut seringkali lebih bagus. Perusahaan akan memilih orang India daripada orang setempat. Ini penting!

Ayo kita lebih serius!

Mahasiswa Kurang Responsif?

[Posting ini saya ambil dari blog saya yang lain di http://rahard.blogsome.com/2005/10/06/mahasiswa-kurang-responsif/ karena waktu itu situs modblog saya down. Saya tampilkan di sini sebagai backup. Mungkin saya akan banyak menulis di rahard.blogsome.com untuk membackup blog di modblog.]

Saya tidak tahu apakah saya lebih tumpul dalam mengajar atau mahasiswa saya yang kurang berani dalam bertanya. Dalam kuliah yang saya ajar kali ini, mahasiswa saya terkesan lebih “loyo” daripada angkatan (kelas) sebelumnya. Kalau saya tanya, mereka terkesan tidak antusias dalam menjawab (atau bingung). Padahal pertanyaan yang mirip dalam kelas sebelumnya masih bisa dijawab.

Saya tidak tahu apakah mereka tidak mengerti apa yang saya ajarkan atau hanya malas / malu menjawab saja. Hal-hal yang saya tanyakan adalah hal yang sederhana dalam pemrograman yang sepantasnya mudah mereka ketahui. Paling tidak, hal tersebut diketahui oleh mahasiswa universitas lain atau bahkan siswa SMK (STM) yang sedikit kursus pemrograman. Dugaan saya adalah mereka bingung dengan apa yang saya tanyakan. Artinya ini menyedihkan. Mereka tidak paham apa yang saya ajarkan. Waduh! Bagaimana mereka akan kompetisi dengan saingan mereka (lulusan India, misalnya)?

Bagaimana mengubah hal ini? Apakah teknik pengajaran saya perlu berubah? (Mungkin mahasiswanya terlalu banyak disuapi sehingga malas berusaha sendiri? Artinya saya harus lebih keras lagi terhadap mereka.) Atau memang kualitas mahasiswa menurun? Apakah dosen lain merasakan hal ini?


[Catatan: Ternyata dosen-dosen lain pun di ITB mengalami masalah yang sama. Waduh. Permasalahan ternyata lebih berat dari yang saya perkirakan!]

Friday, October 14, 2005

Break fasting with friends



Yesterday (Thu, Oct 13, 2005), I went to Cyber building to break fasting with friends. This is the month of Ramadhan in which we fast during the day and break the fast after it is dark (evening). Our friends at IDC organized the event. Lots of young people were there. I understood that these folks are from Opisboy mailing list, the guys who run the Internet engines and pipes in most ISPs. Unfortunately, I don't know most of them. Boy, I felt old. (I wonder if they know me?)

I was late. It took me two hours from my apartment to the place! There was a BAD traffic jam. I mean, really bad! Without traffic, it would take only 10 minutes. Normally, I'd say it would take around 20 minutes. But, hey, there are good food and good friends. I enjoyed it very much.

(I felt sorry for those who were not invited. Yup, those ISP owners / CEOs who know nothing about the fun stuff of running Indonesian Internet. Let's leave them worrying about their association. [wink])

Let's do it again ... ;-)

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Reading (and writing?) history of computing (and business)

You know that I am a sucker for history of computing (and business related to it). So here I am ... reading a very interesting site (Folklore.org, mostly about history of Apple and the people behind it), reading an interesting book (Tom Friedman's "The world is flat'), and reading Fortune magazine 75th anniversary speacial issue. (Actully, I am reading a couple more books. But they are, kind of, getting a lower reading time.) Yes, I am doing a context switching between them.

I am actually tired and need some sleep, but cannot resist reading them. I want to write my opinion(s) on things that I read, but I just didn't (and still don't) have enough time to do it. Everytime I read a bit ... or byte ... from the {site, book, magazine}, I stopped and thinking of things that I wanted to tell (the world). The reading is very slow ... and I get less sleep. I should just stop reading and write more.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Warta Ekonomi e-Government Award 2005

This is the 4th year Warta Ekonomi magazine initiated its (Indonesian) "e-Government Award." As usual, I participated as one of the juries. The result is listed below.

Kabupaten/ Kota Category

  1. Kota Yogyakarta (skor: 815)
  2. Kabupaten Bantul (765)
  3. Kabupaten Sleman (685)

Province Category

  1. Jawa Timur (760)
  2. DI Yogyakara (720)
  3. Jawa Barat (705)

Departemen

  1. Departemen Pekerjaan Umum (715)
  2. Departemen Pertanian (650)
  3. Departemen Koperasi dan UKM (610)

Non-Departemen

  1. Badan Koordinasi Survei dan Pemetaan Nasional (730)
  2. Badan Pengawas Pasar Modal (705)


Sorry, I have not had a chance to translate the names into English. Well, you get the idea by guessing the names. For the Indonesian version of this page, have a look at my other blog at http://rahard.blogsome.com/2005/10/07/warta-ekonomi-e-gov-award-2005/

One interesting thing is that the winning list is dominated by Yogyakarta and its surrounding area (Yogyakarta, Sleman, Bantul, and of course its own province). This is interesting. I don't know whether this is a good sign (that Yogyakarta's e-Government is moving along) or just an indication that there were many e-gov projects in that area (and perhaps they are losing their stats). I hope the former is true.

In any case, congratulation to all the winners.