Archive for December, 2005

Roy Suryo : pakar pemlesetan fakta ?

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

Karena kasus Herman Saksono baru-baru ini, tentu saja Roy Suryo jadi banyak berkomentar, sebagai salah satu pihak yang terlibat. Namun, sebagaimana biasanya, ada saja kesalahan yang dilakukannya :

1. Herman Saksono bukan lulusan University of Melbourne
2. Priyadi tidak pernah kuliah di jurusan Teknik Informatika ITB
3. Priyadi tidak diperiksa intensif oleh Polda dan Kominfo, melainkan hanya diundang diskusi oleh Judith MS.
4. Priyadi bukanlah pemilik domain name roysuryowatch.org

Mudah-mudahan di masa depan, media massa bisa mengkutip dari pakar yang lebih teliti, dan tidak sedemikian banyak kesalahannya dalam menyampaikan fakta.

Roy Suryo versus Bloggers ?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

Hari ini saya membuka Planet Terasi, cukup terkejut karena membaca bahwa ada seorang blogger Indonesia yang ditangkap polisi, karena dituduh menghina presiden (hukuman: beberapa tahun penjara atau denda maksimal 4500 rupiah — bayar denda saja deh :) ).

Lebih kaget lagi ketika mengetahui dalangnya, yaitu “pakar” kita, Roy Suryo. (ref)

Ketika para blogger marah karena hal ini, saya justru melihat satu hal yang menarik — ternyata, akhirnya blogger Indonesia telah diakui sebagai sebuah potensi kekuatan massa !

Kalau Anda tidak percaya dengan statement tersebut, coba saja klik disini.

Nah, kini tentu Anda sudah sadar, mengapa Roy Suryo sampai merasa perlu untuk mengatur ini semua - hasil search namanya di Google menyebabkan berbagai kesalahannya terungkap secara telak.
Hal ini karena para blogger Indonesia, setelah melakukan publikasi selama bertahun-tahun di Internet, mendapat ekspos yang spesial di Google.

Ketika old media (koran, majalah, dll) menelan mentah-mentah semua statement dari Roy Suryo, new media (blogger Indonesia) justru mengupasnya dengan kritis; seringkali dengan kesimpulan yang sangat negatif.
Ini jelas sangat berbahaya bagi kredibilitasnya, terutama lagi setelah ybs menduduki jabatannya di Partai Demokrat.

Jadi ? Mungkin ini solusinya - para blogger Indonesia perlu bersatu untuk menghadapi ini, yaitu serempak melakukan:

1. Memasang banner solidaritas untuk para korban kasus ini
2. Banner tersebut me link ke suatu halaman yang menjelaskan kasus ini secara detil - namun tetap dengan bahasa yang mudah dimengerti, oleh pembaca yang sedang terburu-buru
3. JANGAN menghapus halaman yang berisi kritik-kritik kritis kepada Roy Suryo
4. Dan yang paling penting: Terus membahas kasus ini, tanpa henti, sampai kasus ini selesai dengan baik.

Dengan kekuatan yang telah dikuasai oleh blogger Indonesia pada saat ini, saya kira kans kita cukup besar untuk memenangkan kasus ini.

Mari bersatu kita teguh, bercerai kita runtuh.

Writing the fastest code, by hand, for fun

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005

Amazing… I know that there are still people out there who optimize software down to the processor-level, but to actually read the story of one of them really brings back memories.

Back when PC-XT (Intel 8086 / compatible) still rule the world, every processor tick is precious. A tick saved in a loop can be very visible to the end user. Also, there were no drivers - most of us (programmers) access the hardware DIRECTLY.
Feeling the chill down your spine ? Yes, that’s how many of us code back then.

When others busy playing games, I was busy hacking the games. I think I even managed to package a few of those hacks and upload them to a local BBS.
When I coded a Sysinfo-like software for a competition, I found out that the screen benchmark routine was very slow. I changed it to access the video card directly, and it ran way faster afterwards. Also developed other stuff; hard disk auto park TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident), etc.

Let me tell you; it’s great joy to see your creation (software) performs excellently. Even though I was almost alone while doing all of those (no Internet yet at that time, not enough people with similar interest on local BBSs), I still managed to accomplish a few things.

It’s no easy task, however. A small mistake can send you in a goose chase for hours, while you’re trying to spot the error in the assembly language. Turbo Debugger was very helpful, but with limitations. A great help came later when a friend informed me of SoftIce. Way more powerful than Turbo Debugger, it’s also harder to use.
Sometimes I also had to resort to DEBUG, the built-in debugger from DOS. The ultimate pain :) however, in certain situations, it can be quite handy; especially because we can script it in a batch file (.BAT) and it’s available in virtually all PCs (since it’s bundled with DOS).

Then I saw a software package, I forgot what it was called, which let us code by creating the flowchart on its GUI (Graphical User Interface) - instead of coding by hand. It came on 10 (ten) 360KB floppy disks. Took a long time to install, ran very slowly on my PC-XT, cost me a fortune, and ate up almost all available DOS memory.
But once it ran, I realize that this is the future of software development.

Years later, Visual Basic showed up, and pretty much revolutionize software development on PC.

It has been about 10 years since I created code that access the hardware directly. So I’m very touched that there are still people out there doing it, enjoying it, and actually profit from it. Simply amazing.

Regarding the software competition that I mentioned above - I was sent by Al-Azhar (AA) High School as their representative, along with my friend Isa (Istiqfar). Actually, we had to beg so AA will allow us to participate (not sponsoring, mind you) in the contest - the two of us were pretty much the only ones that can work with computer at the moment, and they didn’t have any interest on IT. AA were more interested to sponsoring students on things like basketball, bands, sports, etc.
We were very happy when they allow us to join in the competition (at Kanisius High School). On top of my head, we prepared everything ourselves, with our own money and equipments. AA just allowed us to list ourselves as AA student in the competition.

We were awed when we arrived in the event. Scores of students, mostly from Christian schools, showed up their projects. Most of them work in teams. Many of the projects were multimedia-related; this is amazing considering 8-bit SoundBlaster card costs an arm and a leg at the time, and it’s very hard to find the reference on how to access it (I finally managed to purchase a book on the topic several years later when I visited Singapore). Almost all of them were accompanied by their teachers, and their hardware provided by their school.
In contrast, we brought our own PCs there, no teacher, only 2 of us, and showing up a software (Sysinfo) with no multimedia capability.

I’ve lost my confidence at the time, and quite ashamed by our situation. Then the jury came. I showed the software, and tried to present it as best as I could. Alas, I’m not a good presenter (even now), and it doesn’t help when you’ve lost your confidence.
The presentation was soon over, and not much comment from the jury. Of course, bells and whistles considered, a Sysinfo software is plain uninteresting. It’s just not shiny enough.

However, then he spoke with me, encouraging me to keep on learning.
I was surprised, since I didn’t see him talking like that to the other kids. He wore a name tag, but I couldn’t remember his complete name though. I think it’s “Samaun” or something.

To this day, when I was feeling down, the memory of that event always cheers me up again. It’s because it was my inspiration to develop my career in IT. I’m forever thankful to the jury in that event.

btw; I sure hope AA now has (MUCH) better IT education programme.

Right, back to the topic - I wish I can do direct hardware coding again, but it’s just not feasible at the moment. Perhaps when I have more time, some time…

20 ways securing Apache

Monday, December 12th, 2005

Jika Anda berurusan dengan Apache sehari-harinya, maka Anda perlu memperhatikan aspek security-nya. Apache memang lebih aman secara default dibandingkan dengan berbagai rivalnya, namun ini bukan berarti Apache 100% aman. Masih ada celah-celah yang bisa dimanfaatkan oleh hacker untuk menyusupinya.

Artikel [ 20 ways securing Apache ] akan memungkinkan Anda untuk meningkatkan security Apache secara signifikan, dalam waktu yang relatif singkat.

Selamat membaca.

Google Quick Reference

Monday, December 12th, 2005

Ability to utilize Google effectively should be a requirement to any IT employee. This is because it will enable him/her to tap into the massive information/knowledge database, which we call Internet, efficiently.

I’ll let a secret out - in my previous job (at Birmingham City Council), people thought I know everything. The real truth is, I know some stuff, and I work harder that some people; but my ability to use Google helped me significantly to accomplish my missions on / before deadline.

Therefore, the following guide should not be ignored, since this will enable you to do things you may not realize possible .
Print it out, and put it next to your computer. You may just be able to impress your Boss with your sudden “enhanced skill & knowledge”.

[ Google Quick Reference ]

The best deals on dedicated servers

Friday, December 9th, 2005

Note that this is not spam. This is simply the BEST deal on dedicated servers I ever found.

123-reg.co.uk now offers several dedicated servers packages, and I’m sure many would find the first one very attractive for several reasons:

1. It’s already fully loaded; webserver/database/DNS server/etc, already setup and running.
2. Very easy to use: you control everything listed above via a Control Panel
3. Flexible; you can also request root access should you need it. However, this will make the server to become unmanaged, because otherwise, 123-reg’s staff will take care of the server’s maintenance (updates / upgrades / patching / etc). This brings us to the next point:
4. Managed dedicated server at only 39.99 poundsterling per month is simply unheard of. If you need such kind of service, this is the best of such deal.
5. True unmetered bandwidth; where others said so but in reality have artificial limits and WILL kick you out if you use too much of their (unmetered) bandwidth, 123-reg is able to truly offer it because of their partnership with PIPEX. Also,
6. True unmetered bandwidth at only 39.99 poundsterling per month is simply unheard of. So if you need such service, you can’t go wrong with them.

I’m currently is weighing on whether to move from my current hoster to 123-reg. I don’t need the unmanaged service, in fact I’d rather have full control of the server, so I can learn the nitty-gritty details of maintaining a live server on the Internet.
However, the unmetered bandwidth is VERY tempting.

I’d probably ended up ordering one …

New mammals seen in Borneo woods

Friday, December 9th, 2005

BBC reported that 2 new mammals have been found in Borneo (Kalimantan), Indonesia. They were spotted by automatic cameras, planted at Kayan Mentarang National Park.

According to Callum Rankine, head of the species programme at WWF-UK (the sponsor of this study), “You don’t find new mammals that often, and to do so must be extraordinary”.
Actually, not really.

My brother in law, Firman, said to me that he already discovered several new species, by himself. And they were in Java island (where human have almost fully populated it). Not in some virgin places like Borneo, or Irian (Papua). He’s a biologist working in a University in Jakarta, Indonesia; and sometimes goes around Indonesia in relation to his work.
Problem is, Indonesian institutions & governments lacks interests in these stuff. So this kind of discoveries tend to be done by foreign scientists, and they’ll get all the credit.

Indonesia, he said, is very rich in regard to this topic. We can use this to our own advantage, and it can raise Indonesia’s status in international academic societies. However, our government simply doesn’t have enough interest.

Maybe another day.
It might be too late by then, though.

How to get the best knowledge workers

Friday, December 9th, 2005

From our favorite technology company, Goo gle, here comes 10 tips on how to get the best out of your skilled employees.

There are excellent ideas there, and managers would do well to consider them.
For example, “hire by committee” is the kind of ideas which would make people goes “why didn’t we think about it”. It just makes sense.

They seem to like Peter Drucker, and do exactly what Drucker said - “cater to their every need”. At their office, you’ll be able to find gyms, laundry, car wash, dry cleaning, shuttle bus, etc. Their staff, even the unmarried ones, can get all (literally) their jobs done at the office. A serious productivity boost, and something that a company as big as them can afford, considering the benefit out of it.
As an engineer myself, I know that sitting all day and pushing your brain to the limit tend to deteriorate your body. I visit a gym regularly to keep me healthy, but having the gym inside my office would really, really help indeed.

“Encourage creativity” - this may sound cliche, but their implementation of it certainly is far from it. It is, shall we say, very creative.

“Data drive decisions” however, might not always be possible. Certainly you’ll need to strive for this, but there WILL be situations when there just isn’t enough data available to make a fully informed decision. Make no mistake, as a manager, you WILL be in this situation.
There will be situations where, for example, there are several options available. To make things worse, taking the wrong decision may harm the company.

This is where another tip comes in - “strive to reach consensus”. You’ll need to involve your people on such important decision. Let them have their say heard.

However, when you fail to reach a consensus, it’s a manager’s job to decide. The buck stops at him, and so he must make the judgement, based on whatever data he has.
The employees must obey AND fully committed to make the decision a success, even if they disagree with it.
This is how a good team works.

This, however, would only be possible with a solid team, where each and every one trusts each other. To accomplish this, you’ll need to “communicate effectively”.
Team members need to be able to communicate freely to build trust. Don’t make it hard for them to do so.

Anyway, go now and read the article. You can’t afford to miss it.

LTSP on Mandriva 2006

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

Just returned from a client, yet another internet cafe converted to Linux / LTSP solution. Even after paying my consulting rate, he still saved a LOT of money by doing so, and therefore shortening the time for ROI drastically.

I’ve had a few problems though with Mandriva 2006. But it’s nothing serious, just glitches.
Some are quite strange tho. Like, how the start menu shows the image “KDE free 3.4″, but there’s no KDM in the display manager choices (there are only GDM and XDM ….)
Couldn’t create icons on the desktop - but this is probably a restriction on root account, since we can do that just fine on normal accounts.

Had problems with Compaq machines with ESS Audio drive chip (ES1869F), got around that by using sb module, thanks to this post.
But the strangest is 3Com’s 3C900B-TPO network cards, they just won’t boot to the LTSP server. When replaced by other NIC, the machine boots up normally into the server. We might have to replace these NICs.

The DHCP server doesn’t work properly, workstations are unable to get IP address from it. A friend then suggested that we used older version of dhcpd, to be exact, from Mandriva 2005. It then works without any more problem.

Mandriva 2006 seems to be quite a nice distro. Hopefully it’ll prove itself stable and reliable too for this server role.

God I am so tired. Gotta rest.

Firefox 1.5

Monday, December 5th, 2005

Beberapa bulan yang lalu, saya biasa browsing dengan Firefox, namun kemudian saya perhatikan bahwa Firefox sangat banyak memakan memory, dan cukup lambat performanya. Setelah beberapa waktu, akhirnya saya memasang Opera v8.50, dan lebih banyak menggunakannya sehari-hari.

Namun, kemudian saya perhatikan bahwa Opera juga ada masalahnya. Yang paling menyebalkan adalah, jika kita membuka beberapa situs tertentu (contoh: digg.com), maka Opera seperti hang. Semua situs lainnya yang kita sedang load menjadi tidak pernah selesai dibuka.
Jika situs yang bermasalah tersebut kita tutup, maka situs-situs lainnya kembali jadi bisa dibuka lagi.

Kebetulan Firefox 1.5 kemudian dirilis. Maka kemudian saya mencoba Firefox kembali.”

Alhamdulillah, ternyata Firefox kini lebih cepat; tidak kalah dengan Opera. Penggunaan memory nya juga lebih efisien, dan belum terlihat adanya memory leaks (seperti di beberapa versi sebelumnya).

Dan bonus terbesar - ekstension untuk Firefox kini sudah sangat banyak, dan berkualitas tinggi.
Pada saat ini saya telah memasang AdBlock, Fasterfox, dan FlashBlock; sehingga performa Firefox meningkat drastis. “IE tab” memungkinkan saya untuk melihat bagaimana suatu halaman akan ditampilkan di Internet Explorer. “Web developer” tidak boleh sampai terlewatkan oleh para (tentu saja) web developers. “Download status bar” membuat proses download file menjadi nyaman & praktis. “gTranslate” mempermudah saya untuk menterjemahkan suatu halaman ke bahasa lainnya / Inggris. “WikiPedia Lookup Extension” mempermudah saya untuk mencari keterangan lebih lanjut mengenai suatu hal. “View rendered source chart” sangat mempermudah dalam memahami source code dari suatu halaman HTML. “del.icio.us” mempermudah saya untuk me manage bookmark saya di situs del.icio.us. “StumbleUpon” memungkinkan saya untuk menemukan situs-situs yang menarik & bermanfaat.

Dan masih banyak lagi yang lainnya.

Internet Explorer, yang tidak memiliki fasilitas extensions seperti ini, saya rasa akan sangat kesulitan untuk bersaing dengan Firefox.

Get the fox now ! Insya Allah Anda tidak akan menyesal.