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British Customer Services

Being stranded in Kualalumpur, the most uncomfortable thing was the very-very limited access to the Internet. I could not easily contact the hotels, train & coach operators, and others to rearrange my plan. Somehow I could partially do it. I contacted the hotels; Chris Prakoso (@mahadewa) helped me contacting the National Express; and at last I could also contact the train operators. The results varied. Hotels were accommodating (pun intended). National Express expressly and positively responded. Train operators chose to be the parties to gain the benefits from the catastrophe (I mean it).

Here’s their responses to my requests of rescheduling:

Hotel Bowen:

Hi Koen
It is certainly an unusual situation and we will endeavour to accommodate you when you are on the move again.
Please let us know any information as soon as you can.
Diane and Peter Ford

Ibis Coventry:

Dear Mr. Wastuwibowo,
We would be happy to amend the reservations to a future date, i have temporarily changed the dates of the reservation to beginning of May till you could provide us with a new date. Please let us know when you would require these reservations and we would make alterations depending on our availability.
I look forwards in hearing from you.
Best Regards,
Ranuka De Fonseka

Ibis Cardiff:

Dear Mr Kuncoro,
Thank you for your email.
I have changed the booking for next sunday the 25th. Once you know the date let me know and I will change it for the correct day.
Kind regards.
Jane Hanuskova

National Express:

Dear Kuncoro Wastuwibowo,
Thank you for getting in touch with us.
If you are rearranging your flight and need to reschedule your coach travel, we will be happy to amend your ticket, even if your original departure time has passed. All amendments will be subject to our normal amendment fees. However, if you are cancelling your ticket we will not be able to offer you a refund. We appreciate your patience at this time and ask that you refrain from calling us until your new flight details are confirmed. Amendments can not be made via email, please call us on 08717 818181 (0044 8717 818181 from overseas). I hope this information is helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information.
Yours sincerely, National Express

Cross Country:

Dear Mr Wastuwibowo,
Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
I’m sorry to read that your flight has been cancelled due to the recent volcanic activity in Iceland. Unfortunately, I can advise that the advance ticket you have purchased is non refundable and we are unable to amend the date or time of travel. I am sorry that I can’t be of more help in this case and hope you are able to travel despite of these disruptions.
Kind regards,
Chris Dade

First Great Western:

Dear Kuncoro,
Thank you for contacting First Great Western.
Unfortunately, we have been experiencing a high volume of contacts recently and although we are working hard to reduce our response time, we are still experiencing delays. I understand that you wish to get the refund on the booking. You have booked an Advance ticket for the journey. Having reviewed the terms and conditions of your ticket, I can confirm that this is a non-refundable ticket. To view the terms and conditions of this and all other bookings made in the last 90 days please log on to ‘My Account’ then click on ‘order status and refund applications’ on our website. If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Kind regards,

Thumbs up for those, who in the greatest post-war European transportation catastrophe still have clear and great minds to make exception policies for their customers who get stranded in other part of the earth. For Cross Country & First Great Western, congratulation for your great revenue taken without using too much brainware. Even in a great country, not all things are perfect 🙂


Boarding on an Air Asia airplane, usually we’d see a typical scene: the fog wind from the AC slots. Other planes won’t show a similar view. But last Thursday (April 15th), I didn’t see that fog inside the Air Asia X. But I felt tired, so mindlessly I put my little backpack to its storage, then sat in the seat 26K. Warm and humid. I closed my eyes uncomfortably. One minute, five minutes, fifteen minutes. Immediately I recalled the ground crews at that Kualalumpur LCCT, from immigration officers to the officers of who-knows department that successively checked and rechecked all the documents of the passengers too carefully, even with a magnifying glass. Then the passengers had to walk along under the blazing sun to the plane parked in the middle of the port. My recollection was interrupted by a strange feeling that there was no engine noise.

Then an announcement heard, told the passengers to patiently wait a moment, because the plane had not obtained permission from the ATC to fly. Waiting. Another fifteen minutes. Whazzup? And then: “We are sorry to announce you that the British aviation authority has temporarily banned planes to land at Stansted and other airports because of safety problems caused by ash from volcanic eruptions in Iceland. Please wait until our crews prepare to bring you back to the airport. ” I reluctantly opened my eyes. But I got off and walked back to the gate T48.

We had to wait for 3 hours before the next announcement: the plane was actually postponed. Then we were asked to return to Malaysian civilian area, through a gate where unfriendly immigration officers handwrote our passports with the words “flight cancelled.” Then we had to form a long queue. Really long. A senior lady fell, slipped on a wet floor caused by spilled liquid that was not cleaned. We could still see the bottle flakes on the floor. Ah, a long queues. And when my turn came, I was just told to choose one of three options: to wait until the plane might fly, to change the date (but not sooner than Tuesday), or to take a refund. I chose option 1 (did I really have a choice?). Then I had to pass the arrival gate (which is otherwise forbidden) to take my luggages.

Air Asia did not provide information about the hotel to these hundreds of stranded passengers. Some fellows tried to find information, individually, to the tourist information centre. A kind officer helped me finding a transit hotel, and made a reservation. RM 100 for the hotel, plus RM 42.2 for the taxi. A careless taxi driver drove us fast without knowing the direction and dropped my stuffs. But we eventually arrived. It was nearly midnight. I fell asleep in the room which equipped only with the bed. No, no bathroom inside.

The next morning, a Friday, at 6am, an SMS from Air Asia woke me up. A flight was prepared at 11am. At 7:30 the hotel manager knocked our room. We showered, and immediately taken (freely) to the airport. At 9am, we already queued up neatly. A long queue. The Air Asia crews were friendly, but they didn’t have any idea what to do with us. After waiting for the manager who made long distressful phone calls, I might check in. But then the decision was changed. So the others could not check in. We must wait for further announcements at 3pm.

Malaysians are proud of their information supercorridor. But surely the LCCT is far from the famous supercorridor. GPRS, UMTS, HSPA? Data roaming always failed (it worked in Singapore and Cebu). WiFi? None gave IP address other than 169.254.x.x. There was an Internet Lounge charges RM 25 per half hour. I reluctantly took it. There I just knew that the erupting mount in Iceland was Eyjafjallajökull. And that the ash (mix of glass and sand) flow could not be predicted until the afternoon. I sent mails to the hotels that I had reserved in the UK, also to the reporter in Yorkshire. Then I returned to the queue that had been out of shape. The officers had been replaced, still friendly, but still told me to wait until 3pm or to call a call centre number.  I had read the predictions on the BBC. So I decided to flee to Kuala Lumpur.

Paying RM25, we went by KLIA Express to KL Sentral. Then proceeded  to KLCC. I didn’t even know what KLCC is (I planned to visit KL on May, not this month). But in KLCC we could have a meal like normal persons, enjoyed the nasi lemak, and took pictures in front of the Petronas twin towers. Calling Air Asia, I was told that there was no further info. It’s annoying that Air Asia could never give predictions based on expert analysis, etc. They just monitor the information from the NATS, the current decision, and no more. A bit helpless. Yet we returned to the airport (LCCT) to take our checked-in luggages.

The Air Asia officers said that we should schedule our departure to the additional plane scheduled on Sunday, because on Saturday the chance of flying was very small. I went to the counter, where an officer kindly helped me changing the date for KL-London. But I had to take the printout in a long queue at the sales counter. Then having dinner at Mary Brown. It was a Friday night, and we had not reserved a hotel. All hotels near LCCT were full. But two fellows stranded passengers told us to stay in De Palma Inn Sepang (they stayed there, but then they chose to fly to Medan that night). Without making a reservation, we went by taxi (RM42.2). De Palma Inn charged RM125 per room per night (promotion fee). But there was an in-room bathroom, a TV set, coffee, and there was WiFi in the lobby. The TV shows only regular, free on-the-air channels, not a cable TV. News on TV1 was amateurish and embarrassing. They chose spooky words and tones to describe the situation of European aviation. A figure of ash everywhere without explanation of the location (I guessed it was in Iceland, not in mainland Europe). And, they did not give any predictions, other than narrative with excessive tone. The other TV show soap operas. Useless like Indonesian TV, haha. With WiFi, I explored Twitter and BBC. Mas Budi Putra had managed to escape from Berlin, but then stuck in Frankfurt, could not fly home. BBC said that the ash was still expanding. I fell asleep.

I woke up on Saturday morning with ease. Nice hotel. Then we were taken to the Nilai station by a car. We took a train to KL. There we chose to walk along the streets in the area that has classical buildings, around the Masjid Jamek. We prayed at the Masjid Jamek. Also we had an impressive visit to the Petrosains. Returning to KL Sentral, we had a rendezvous with Simon Lim, a young businessman working in WordPress-based web development. We talked long enough. Meanwhile, with the WiFi in the corner of KL Sentral, I read: the mount continuously sends ash to the sky. I decided to go back to Jakarta. There is an Air Asia sales office in KL Sentral. But the crew there really stupid, unfriendly, and asked me to pay a premium to change the date of the return flight to Jakarta. I don’t believe a moron like that might wear an Air Asia uniform. Hmm, I could even buy new tickets at lower prices. I went back to the LCCT. There, the kind officers of Air Asia helped me changing the date of my return to Indonesia at totally no cost.

Many other stranded passengers did not as lucky as us. They did not have money to stay at the hotel, so they made fences with the trolleys at the LCCT, then slept on the floor among the trolleys. There were also some couples who slept separately without joining the large group. That night we had a meal at Mary Brown again. It is surely better than McD. One of the fellow stranded passenger entered Mary Brown. He hesitated to approach us. Seeing we were eating, he stepped back. He tried to sell food vouchers to other visitors who have not bought food yet. Being refused, he went out with embarrassment on his face. We were depressed. Really depressed. We met one of them, and forced them to accept some RM we had. That evening we returned to De Palma Inn, still annoyed each time we remembered our fellows who did not have money to sleep in a hotel, or to eat. This is crazy. Crazy. Nobody’s fault, I guess. But it’s crazy. Disgusting. Annoying.

On Sunday, we returned to Indonesia. And still annoyed.

Oh, while we were gone, our house was renovated, because the roof was collapsed a bit. Threatening. But because we returned too early, the renovation has not been finished. Full of dust we found. And we slept like some stranded passengers, in the house.

Monday, I returned to the office. Still could not stop thinking about our fellows passengers that are still stranded in LCCT until now.


Memristor is too significant not to discuss. But, wow, this is my last day in the office before my leave. So, here’s a Spectrum article discussing the matter :).

The memristor is as fundamental an electronic component as the resistor, the inductor, and the capacitor. Still, it hasn’t even been two years since a group of researchers at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, in Palo Alto, Calif., reported that they were the first group to produce such a component—which means there’s a lot more to learn. But in research reported last week in Nature, R. Stanley Williams and his collaborators at HP provided a glimpse into what they’ve learned so far.

The component’s use in computer memory was a foregone conclusion. The memristor can reversibly change its resistance depending on how much current flows through it. The researchers’ surprising new discovery is that a memristor can handle either data storage or logical computation depending on the amount and duration of the current sent through it. Three memristors can complete a NAND operation, the researchers report, so any Boolean function can be implemented if you string enough of the devices together.

But Williams is quick to note that using memristors as pale imitators of the logic gates common to silicon circuitry is probably not the smartest thing to do. ”Silicon naturally wants to implement the NAND function,” says the HP Senior Fellow. A memristor, on the other hand, wants to perform something called the material implication, or IMP, function, says Williams. Logically, IMP can be thought of as pimplies q, or if p then q. The reason IMP is such a natural for the memristor, according to the HP researchers, is that IMP is easy to implement with a device in which resistance—rather than voltage or charge—is the variable physical state.

One of the conclusions Williams and his team have reached is that ”it’s important to take what nature gives you.” To do otherwise would be like forcing basketball star Shaquille O’Neal to squeeze his 2.15-meter, 147-kilogram frame into a race car simply because you know more about speedways than hard courts. Williams explains that you could use silicon components to carry out IMP operations, ”but you’d have a very complex and ugly circuit.” The converse, he says, is true for the titanium dioxide–based memristor. So in a sense, HP’s results serve as a brief how-not-to manual aimed at preventing the engineering community from wasting this newly created component’s potential. The HP team says it has already proved that memristors using the IMP function are capable of universal computation and can compute with circuitry no more complicated than whatever you can produce by stringing together NAND gates in silicon.

Williams acknowledges that memristors won’t completely supplant silicon logic gates. Because memristors can’t inject energy into a circuit, silicon transistors are needed to drive them. The good news, he says, is that a single operation in a silicon transistor can trigger computation in multiple memristors. He notes that a processor featuring a grid of memristors that operates parallel to a grid of silicon transistors might be two or three times as large as it would be if it only had the silicon. But because the number of simultaneous calculations achieved by the memristors is the square of the number of transistors, tripling a 1000-transistor chip’s size by adding memristors would yield a thousandfold improvement in computing power with a negligible increase in power drawn.

The HP researchers say there is still much work to be done before a commercial version of memristor logic appears. ”But we are learning at a tremendous pace, discovering new things, such as the fact that the memristor can do much more than just storing a bit,” says Williams.

Thirsk or Bust

Some days ago, the prominent blogger Iman Brotoseno suddenly asked me whether I have an interest of flying to London. A crazy question. I almost considered nothing before answering with only one word: Deal. In the following correspondence, Iman told me the T&C. Air Asia will pay the flight ticket for me, and only the ticket. I will have to pay all the taxes, the accomodation, visa application, and anything else. I must also plan the travel, and I will have to blog it, with a link to Air Asia. I might go with a partner, but the partner I chose must be a non-newbie blogger, who must also report on blog. Coincidentally, my partner is a long-time blogger too. Here we go!

It needed days before I could actually get  the ticket from Kualalumpur to London Stansted and return (I had to pay for the airport tax to confirm the ticket). Until now I haven’t received the ticket from Jakarta to Kualalumpur and return. But today I have submitted the UK Visa application. It will need about 10 days for approval. Wow :).

Meanwhile, here is my brief plan: London -> Thirsk -> York -> Coventry -> Cardiff -> London

  • London. Air Asia will terminate at Stansted around midnight. We will need a rest before our terrestrial journey. So, Day-1 will be occupied by short cultural visits in London. British Museum, or London Symphony Orchestra, or others.
  • Thirsk. All started here. In this tiny town, the late Alf Wight used to work as a veterinarian, and then wrote his book If Only They Could Talk, with his pseudo James Herriot. Thirsk was altered as Darrowby. The translation of this book in Indonesian — Seandainya Mereka Bisa Bicara — started my interest of writing my diary — and then blogs. Anything Andrea Hirata wrote, Edensor has nothing to do with James Herriot.
  • York. The voted best UK city. The cemetery of James Herriot. And the squirrels.
  • Coventry. In english, the idiom sent to Coventry means excommunicated. But here in Coventry I pursued my master degree in telecommunications. A reunion with my alma mater and the city I lived years ago must be interesting.
  • Birmingham. The perfect couple of Coventry, it is also the biggest city in the UK after London.
  • Cardiff. I have visited Scotland, including the capital Edinburgh and the highlands. So I decide in this session to visit Cardiff (Caerdydd), the capital of Wales (Cymru). In Wales, they speak both English and Welsh (rooted in celtic).
  • London. London has many uniqueness worth another visit, before the return fly to Indonesia.

Oh, if anyone wants to sponsor the travel: to pay the hotels, the train & coach tickets, etc, don’t hesitate to contact me :).

IEEE Region 10 Meeting

Cebu Island. Its name immediately reminded of my teacher in junior high school who taught history with such enthusiasm. She told us about the exploration of Fernão de Magalhães, a Portuguese sailor who had reached Malaka with d’Albuquerque, and then served Isabel the Spanish Queen, and explored to the west to prove that the earth is round. The mission was accomplished quite successfully. But from the hundreds of sailors, only a dozen could return to Spain, led by Juan Sebastian Elcano. Magellan (that’s how his name is spelled in English) was too busy conquering the islands around Cebu. But at the beach of Mactan, Magellan was killed in a battle against the leader of the Mactan tribe: Lapu-Lapu. Of course at last Spanish conquered the islands, which was later called the Philippines. Spanish colonialism was replaced by the United States, and is now replaced by the local rich people. Mactan has become an integral part of Cebu, which is connected with two major bridges. Cebu Airport was located in Mactan. In the city of Lapu-Lapu :).

At a resort at one end of Lapu-Lapu City, only about 5 minutes walking from the location of the Battle of Mactan, the IEEE Region 10 Annual Meeting was held last week. Indonesia Section sent 2 representatives, plus 1 from Indonesia Comsoc Chapter, and 1 from the organiser of TENCON 2011 (that will be held in Bali in 2011). The conference was quite comprehensive. In addition to the Officers of Region 10 and the entire Sections below, also attended the IEEE President Elect Moshe Kam, and a representative from Region 8 (Europe Africa) Joseph Modelsky.

Interesting to listen to Kam’s presentation. The IEEE is the result of the merged AIEE and IRE. AIEE was a classical organisation occupied by an electrical engineers; while IRE was the organisation that possessed the young engineers who focused on electronics technology. Just like NEFO and OLDEFO, haha. Both had a growing number of members; but IRE grew much faster than AIEE. The mergers in 1963 to form the IEEE could overcome the problem of dualism. Then the societies, regions, sections, etc were formed. The IEEE is now recognised as the authority holder in various fields of science and engineering. From 20 most referred journals in electrical engineering, 16 is from the IEEE. From 20 most referred journals in telecommunications, 15 is from the IEEE. And so on. But from 20 most referred journals in medical informatics, only 2 is from the IEEE. And from 20 most referred journals in nanoscience, none is from the IEEE. Kam concluded: IEEE could have become the established power as the AIEE before the merger; white the life science develops in the direction that is favoured by young scientists and engineers, just like the IRE before the merger. Then he delivered the BOD mandate: the IEEE must be directed to the relevant technology. IEEE is not just an association of the learned, but an organisation of engineers and professionals. Related to it, Region 10 launched programmes that lead to increased benefits to members and the community through the development of the organisation, profession, and technologies that are relevant to the present.


What is the benefit IEEE membership? This is a question that was examined even since I was an Associate Member. I stay here long enough, with my own reasons. But I don’t think my personal reason could effect the same to my colleagues, or make the other engineers interested in and participate actively in the IEEE. Some interesting things often mentioned include: access to engineering knowledge, increased professionalism, networking opportunities, community service, career opportunities, and others. But for the engineers in Indonesia, maybe they are not enough, especially since this organisation apply an ‘attractive’ annual fee. So we in Indonesia Section (and the Communication Society Chapter I am managing now) wish to create more benefits: opening new opportunities for networking, increasing professional image of IEEE members (technical expertise combined with the human communication expertise), and arranging a series of activities to share knowledge.

These strategies, and others, were explored and discussed those days, to form a breakthrough in the development of organization, profession, and technologies. Other things include the concerns over the lack of role of women engineers, and has been embodied in the Women in Engineering (WIE). Also the necessity to increase the role of new engineers (GOLD – graduation of the last decade). IEEE philanthropy-wing is also in development by the HTC (humanitarian technology challenge). And many other ideas.

BTW, I like Cebu. The people is friendly. They speak English quite well, but they speak Cebuanos among themselves, with some similar vocabularies to Indonesian. Haha. Almost all essential information is written and printed in English. Unlike other cities in South-East Asia; Mactan and Cebu sprinkled with warm sunshine all day, with almost no clouds. The sea sent cool breeze all day. The atmosphere of the city is a bit like small cities in Indonesia, with various types of public transportation (the Jeepney), the food sellers on the edge and in the middle of the streets, the taxi drivers who charged with no rule.

UPH Seminar on 4G Technologies

I spent two weeks discussing the infrastructures for network services & contents in Gegerkalong Campus, the Learning Centre of Telkom. On the last day, almost without break, I had to fly to Surabaya for preparing a seminar. This seminar is a part of the seminar series Opening The Gates to 4G Mobile Technology that we have carried out in Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogyakarta. In Surabaya, the seminar is hosted by Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH Surabaya). It was held at Hotel Mercure Surabaya on 20 February 2009.

The seminar was coordinated directly by Vice Rector of UPH, Prof John Batubara. Unlike the previous seminars in this series, this one was attended by the IEEE Indonesia Section Chair, Mr Arnold Ph. Djiwatampu, and the Rector of UPH Jonathan Parapak. The presenters, in succession:

  • Arnold Ph. Djiwatampu (IEEE Indonesia Section Chair), Opening Speech
  • Jonathan Parapak (Rector of UPH), Welcome Speech
  • Muhammad Ary Murti: Introduction to the IEEE, societies, Indonesia section, chapters, membership.
  • Kuncoro Wastuwibowo (IEEE Comsoc Indonesia Chapter Chair): 4G Mobile Technologies, network & service aspects, cognitive radio, 4G candidates
  • Arif Hamdani Gunawan (IEEE Indonesia Section Vice Chair): LTE -> evolution, features, architecture
  • Prof. Dr. Dadang Gunawan: IEEE Student Branch
  • Arif Hamdani Gunawan: LTE -> radio access, OFDMA & SCFDMA, implementation plan
  • Kuncoro Wastuwibowo: WiMAX II -> evolution, features, architecture

Participants came from UPH Surabaya and other campuses around Surabaya, as well as some professionals who study the field of mobile telecommunications. And just like the way I came — i.e. with almost no break — I also had to leave Surabaya the same way. Signed the certificates, and run for the flight under a heavy rain under Surabaya sky. But I was delighted — it was a very successful seminar. Thank you, UPH Surabaya :).

IEEE Seminar on Digital TV

This year IEEE Indonesia Section and its chapters plan to intensify seminars & lecturing in several cities in Indonesia. Since last year, its Communication Society (Comsoc) Chapter had conducted a seminar series on 4G Mobile Technology. While still running it, now we start another series in parallel (series in parallel, haha). So today we carry out a seminar in the new series: Digital TV. As the previous series, this one also commenced in Bandung; this time in the Hotel Nalendra, Cihampelas.

The seminar is still going on now. It is amazing to see the participants who attend the seminar today. From Mrs. Kusmarihati of Mastel (previously, she was Telkom’s Director of Development, CEO of Telkomsel, and Chairperson of BRTI), some Heads of Department and officials from Universities (Universitas Hasanuddin, Universitas Ahmad Yani, Maranatha University, ITENAS, IT Telkom), the representatives of the operators & providers (Telkom, XL Axiata, DAAITV, Nasio), and several other professionals. Heavy enough:).

The materials in this seminar:

  • Muhammad Ary Murti, IEEE as a Professional Organization
  • Arief Hamdani Gunawan, Digital TV & IPTV Network
  • Kuncoro Wastuwibowo, Video Coding, Compression, & Formats
  • Prasetya Irwan Gunawan, Quality of Service & Quality of Experience
  • Satrio Dharmanto, IPTV Implementation in Several Countries

I guess it is because of the weather of Bandung, with a combination of warm sunshine over chilly air, the discussion took place very warm. Or hot. We were not only arguing about business implementations and engineering decisions, but also the decision to select some mathematical formula. Why do we use DCT instead DFFT? Haha. Funnily I had an answer for that one :D.

This seminar is also supported by Multikom as a sponsor. Next Digital TV discussion will be delivered in the form of lecturing at Bina Nusantara University next weekend.

Any Question?

Just yesterday my fellows bloggers/tweeters introduced me to an interesting site: Well, it’s a long holiday, so I gave it a try. Quite funny. Here in Indonesia we have a significant number of bloggers, tweeters, Facebook users, and other intensively-connected social networkers. I guess it will take only days for Indonesians to grab and use this service — cuz we have had the network! Finding friends etc is not a problem.

Here’s my account: If you know me personally, you would know that I always reluctant to answer personal questions. But with, I feel it is obligatory to answer all questions. So far. Until I’m bored, I guess :). So, while I have no FAQ here, you may ask me questions there. You must signup, login, but you can make an anonymous questions then. I only accept questions from logged users just to avoid spams. itself is a new service provided by FormSpring. It is a service offering forms management for web sites.

A fellow, Wibi, said he was exploring the site. I asked if he found anything interesting. And he just gave me these links:

A question for social networking observers: will last long enough?

Palapa Ring

The current edition of E&T is again mentioning Indonesia. It is about the Palapa Ring: the fibre-optic development project for eastern part of Indonesia. Only three companies remain from the initial seven-member consortium awarded the contract to lay 11,000 km of optical-fibre cables starting at Manado through to Ternate, Ambon, Kendari and Makassar. Telkom Indonesia (NYSE:TLK) is leading by investing US$90m, while lesser companies Indosat (NYSE:IIT) and Bakrie Telecom are putting in $30m each. Four other companies pulled out from the consortium due to lack of funds: Excelcomindo Pratama, Powertek Utama, Macca System and Infokom Elektrindo.

The construction should be completed in early 2011, providing over 70,000 villages with access to telecommunications services.

The initial plan for the project, to cost a massive $1.6bn, was to have the Palapa Ring project as the backbone of a network connecting 33 provinces and 440 cities across Indonesia via an estimated 35,280km of undersea cable and 21,807km of fibre-optic cable. It was to involve the construction of seven rings connecting Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua, with an eighth to connect them all. But financing has been a major issue. The project was first initiated in 1997 but on a smaller scale, then shelved due to the Asian financial crisis, which crippled Indonesia.

Telecommunications penetration in Indonesia currently stands at only 21.3 per cent with fixed line a mere 5.86 per cent. Inadequate backbone infrastructure has been widely regarded as crippling the country’s telecom sector. Many parts of Indonesia currently do not have access to basic communication and those that are connected have some of the world’s highest leased line and Internet prices.

Nielsen's Fifth Symphony

A couple years ago (it looks like just yesterday), I attended a performance of Nielsen Symphony #5 by Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at Warwick Art Centre. Only a couple months ago I found the CD of symphony, and only a couple hours ago I had the time to fully listen to it with no distraction, on a short flight from Yogyakarta to Jakarta. I cannot not exactly describe what I felt, but I guess it was a sensation even Nielsen had not imagined.

Last night I worked in the front of a mirror. Facing my own face, I realised that I was carrying the me I was not really familiar with: another me with awkward ways to express his ideas and feelings. Funny that I could see it, yet without having idea whether it should be overcome, on only to be laughed at. I chose the second. But when entering the plane, I figured that since this is not the real me (you know what I mean), why don’t I create simply create another me. It should be as simple as instantiating a class into an object :D. So I chose not to listen to Wagner or Beethoven; and there came Nielsen ;).

You could read my Indonesian blog or the wiki page discussing the symphony. But I must tell you: it is sensational to listen to it while viewing the sky-wide white clouds among the scarce blue sky. The annoying percussion, the cloud, the misplaced consistent motif of the clarinet, the bluish violet sky, the rich variety of dancing strings, the scarce green land below, the annoying pain inside my head, and I see the soul, of human, of the universe, its history, its law, its mathematic formulas, its perceived causality. Then I realised: I could not create another me. I found the old me that I have so far no time to see and to talk to.

For some obvious reasons, Nielsen would not be as famous as Beethoven or Wagner, or even Debussy or Stravinsky. And I know tomorrow I will listen to Wagner or Stravinsky like a maniac, and I will work like crazy so I will be blind again :). But today I want to (like a grammy awardee) express my deep gratitude 🙂 to Nielsen. Even only for a couple minutes, the symphony had filtered the thick clouds inside my mind, so I could see myself.

Here’s an excerpt of the first movement. Play it only if you have enough time and patience. And, sorry, an excerpt surely cannot replace the complete symphony 😉