Anything is possible, unless it's not

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Internet in Indonesia

Hello, world!

Internet connection speeds in Indonesia is ranked lowest in ASEAN, and it's among the lowest in Asia [1]. I'm not lying or exaggerating! Government agencies in Indonesia should be aware of this fact! I also have references to make things clear. Please note that numbers presented in this blog post is taken at the moment this post is written.

If you are not Indonesian, you may feel that your Internet connection is very slow. How slow is your Internet connection? Is that 2 Mbps (while the global average is 9.68 Mbps [1])? Well, it's not that slow, according to Indonesians. According to the statistics at Net Index (by Ookla), average Indonesians are downloading at 1.67 Mbps, ranked 150th among the countries [1]. It's ironic that fast connection in Indonesia is actually terrible connection in other countries [2].

The situation worsened when Google started to endorse cloud computing. According to Forrester analyst James McQuivey, "Every other software solution Google has tries to push you to the web rather than your hard drive. Google’s vision is that in the future everyone will have wireless high-speed access on any mobile or fixed device, so going offline to watch videos is unnecessary since you’re never offline." [3]

This situation is certainly not expected in Indonesia. While you have the convenience of having all of your data online, you cannot get much of it if you use Indonesia's crappy Internet connection. (The word crappy is actually an underestimate. It is even worse than crappy.) According to Sales Director of First Media Indonesia Dicky Mochtar, the ideal connection speed nowadays is at least 3 Mbps [4]. Indonesia's neighbor Malaysia even have attained this speed in their Internet connections [1].

This problem may be related to the number of underwater cables of which Indonesia is connected to. While many countries are connected to many, many cables under the sea, Indonesia connects itself only to a few cables [5]. I hope the government agencies to be well-read and aware of these facts, and fix Indonesia's Internet connection in near future.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

GOTO considered useful

if(it_failed) goto hell;
printf("Hello, world!\n");

I don't understand why people call GOTOs harmful. In forums, typically GOTO-opponents post a Goto-laden (pseudo)code like this.

if(simon_says_A) goto do_A;
if(simon_says_b) goto do_b;
do_A: print("i'm doing A"); goto_C;

I don't know any programmers in this earth who likes to program like that. That's clearly an ex(goto F)(E:)erated(return)(F:)agg(goto E) spaghetti code, which "modern proponents of Gotos" even don't want to code like that. But, Goto statements aren't always bad! I do believe that there are some good use of Goto, which make development time shorter, algorithms more efficient, and (of course) code more readable. I think the Goto statements should not be deprecated, before structured programming can ace in loop control, like this: ("The MISRA C++ coding standard allows the use of goto to cover this exact kind of situation."--Richard Corden)

//Compare this one
if(it_failed) goto next_item;

//with this one :D

flag = 1;

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Note for vi fanatics

(print "Hello world,")

Emacs is not that bad.

  • I'm tired of pressing Escape every time. I use laptop keyboard, so it is much easier to reach Alt than Escape.

  • Emacs supports mouse. This suits my (and many programmers') style of making small changes at many places within a document. I'd rather type with one hand and move around with the mouse. This is much faster than vi can do.

  • Emacs is a true real-time editor. Some versions of vi are not.

  • Emacs also support inline images. This makes editing (La)TeX documents easy to do.

  • Contrary to popular belief, metakey chords sometimes much easier to type. Commands such as C-x C-s C-x C-c can be typed effortlessly, especially on my Dvorak keyboard. HJKL are more difficult to remember on Dvorak layout, while W/w, E/e and B/b, they are not so ergonomic, right? Oh. You cannot rub out words quickly while typing. You can do them in Emacs.

  • There is no need to switch between modes. Switching between modes is not so easy in vi, and it can disturb typing rhythm having to press Escape key. Keys such as C-n or C-f (I map them to Super-n and Super-c) do not disturb typing rhythm. Plus you don't have to switch modes.

  • The features do not sit there for nothing. They are valuables especially for programmers, and they are real time-savers. You don't have to switch to Micro$oft Outlook to check your email, calendar, notes, etc. All out of the box. Also, I won't install more games in my computer, they are all in Emacs!

Asian Physics Olympiad preparation

Hello world,

I am currently in preparation for the Asian Physics Olympiad. Along with other activities, they are the reason this is my first time posting in last two months. So don't expect me to post much within next few months. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Hello world,

For easier low-level math-ish programming, I chose to learn Fortran. Actually, it is the free, GFortran implementation of Fortran 90. And it ran very fast! It could calculate the Euler-Mascheroni constant in up to 2,147,483,647 iterations quickly.

Using a simple method, I tried to numerically solve a non-linear second-order ODE... Well, actually it is a pendulum motion with a large amplitude. It solves and produces the time versus angle data in a blink with a fair precision (dt = .01 s)...

Out of the box, GNU Emacs integrates nicely with GFortran, with code highlighting and debugging (I haven't tried the debugging yet).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's time to upgrade!

Hello world,

Recently, I chose to upgrade my GNU/Linux distribution from Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) to Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal). It was a pain in the butt, because of my slow Internet connection, here in Indonesia. After hours of downloading updated packages, unfortunately the automated distro upgrade did not work as expected. It freezes after booting.

So I tried to give it one more shot. Fortunately, I have got a copy of Knoppix live CD to rescue my files to an USB stick, reformat the drive, and installed a fresh copy of Ubuntu 11.04. The installation went flawlessly. Also the installation of my wireless network card driver went flawlessly, unlike my previous installation. But there's another pain in the butt to download all the softwares and packages I have installed before... I wonder if there is a way to backup all of the packages...

Oh no! I forgot to backup my .emacs file!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to ace Physics and Maths properly

Hello world?

Basically you don't need big eyeglasses, neither being a nerd, nor Asian to ace Math and Physics. Yes, it is possible to ace them, yet still being a cool guy (girl). Just imagine how it feels like, umm, girls waiting in line for you to help doing their homework problems!

Yes, I'm Asian. And (I think) I'm a nerd. I have actual girls (but not many) asking me to `teach' them Physics or Maths, in my real life. When I was graduated from my secondary school, I was voted to be `high quality single' (it's `High Quality Jomblo' in Indonesian. Well, I don't have a girlfriend, and currently don't want one). But I don't think I'm the smartest nor of the best quality. And I think there always a person that's more successful than me in Physics and Maths and in girls (guys)... and s/he can be you!

Contrary to popular belief, you might be more successful at taking these steps if you're already a cool guy (girl), rather than being a nerd.. If you think you're a nerd, just skip to Step two. And if you think you're cool enough, you can skip steps two and three.

Step zero: If you can't do that, study harder, even harder! You cannot be smart if you don't actually learn. Don't ever try to remember any formula if you don't know the reasoning behind them. Simply learning the reasoning really can help the understanding of the formulas, thus you can have easier time before the exam, and you can actually store formulas in your brain and recall them years after, by simply understanding the reasoning behind it. Oh, if you're dealing with definitions, it's best to memorize it, but try to answer "Why is it defined that way? Why not this way?"

"In physics and math, learning by asking `why' is much better than learning by asking `what'."

Learn algebra, if you can't do that properly. This is very crucial.

In maths and physics, the concepts are beautifully interconnected. Pay attention to the classes, and spend a night `playing around' with math and/or physics, and hopefully you will understand it better and better. It's not really as hard as it sounds... And it really works for many students!

"Why W = mg? Hmm. This page states that W is the weight force. What is force, mathematically? F=... erm... F = ma. Ah! I remember my teacher said that all objects in a free fall are accelerating at some acceleration, and it's called g. And the force that drives the object to fall is the weight, then it's reasonable to have W = mg!"

Step one: Do you think Step Zero is too lengthy to be practiced in a month? Then stay ahead of the crowd! Many nerds learn something well before the actual lesson in the school. Nerds browse the Internet for the differentials, Laplace transforms, or multivariable calculus, months before the actual lesson. Fortunately, you don't have to be a nerd to do that! Learning Physics or Maths in your spare time is really fun if you can appreciate it.

It's important to do Steps zero and one, before taking the step two. Steps zero and one hopefully shapes you to be `smart'. Do we lose our `coolness' if we're smart? Fortunately, the answer is no, if you take these following steps.

Step two: Learning how to solve 100x100x100 Rubik's Cube, or memorizing the Pi to the zillions of digits don't help you to be smart, although they may help you to look smart. But, if you want to get a girlfriend (boyfriend) easily enough, just don't look smart! Look cool as usual. Just be yourself. Don't talk mathematical or physical jargons in daily conversations.

Step three: Be helpful. Offer help to someone who can't. Don't forget to smile! And (hopefully) this will attract girls (guys) too.

Hope that helps! In the spirit of freedom, feel free to improve, and redistribute your own versions!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Hello world!

Holiday is coming! And I spend most of my holiday re-learning Electronics. It has been a very long time since I abandoned electronics.

I think electronics is fun, and it poses much more challenge than programming a computer software. Included in electronics, is a joy of building things, too!

If you want to comprehend electronics fully, reading books and articles about it is not enough. We must experiment with it, too... In the age of computers, we can take advantage of them if we want to fully comprehend electronics, easily. If we don't want to experiment with real wires and components, we can run it in a computer simulation. Computer simulations often provide a good way to visualize the electricity flow, enhancing our concepts of electronics. This also is a good way to test our projects, too!

You can find a bunch of them on the Net if you type `circuit simulator' on Google. Personally, I use Paul Falstad's cross-platform circuit simulator. (Requires Java)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Trying Scilab

disp('hello, world!');
Since I was a little kid, I have been dreaming myself as an engineer. So then I, recently, took my first step to be an engineer: installing a numerical computation software. It's Scilab, a free alternative to MATLAB.

According to Wikipedia and some others, Scilab is powerful enough to do technical computing, and model dynamical systems. And I'm learning (albeit slowly) its features. So far, I learned enough to plot an electric field caused by two points of charge, and to simulate a falling stick.

It integrates nicely with my favorite text editor, GNU Emacs. I do not use the original user interface, because it is slow and memory-consuming. (But I had to recode some parts of the ELisp plugin code to get it working in Emacs 23. The plugin was released in mid 2001!)

It is an interpreted programming language, with matrices as its main data type. I like it because it provides an integrated features suitable for simulations (plotting, 3d graphics, etc).

My second step will be grabbing books that relates to continuum mechanics and the mathematics underlying the theories.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Compiz vs Aero: a(n un)biased comparison

Hello World,

For those who is unfamiliar with Compiz, let me introduce it first. According to this site, Compiz is an OpenGL compositing manager that use GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap for binding redirected top-level windows to texture objects. In other words, Compiz is an open-source equivalent of Microsoft's Aero.

I have made some comparison between Linux's Compiz vs Windows' Aero. 0.5 points is awarded when one beats another in appearance, and 1.0 points is awarded when one beats another in functionality.

Firstly, they differ in their appearances. Compiz has many special effects that Aero does not. One example is the wobbly effect. Wobbly effect is the main reason that my friend V. T. installed Linux in her laptop (although she could not get it working). And it comes with plugins. Even I can use it to embed a terminal (command line) input in my desktop wallpaper. My friends, even my biology teacher, amazed at my laptop's extraordinary look. Compiz beats Aero in appearance. 0.5 points for Compiz.

Score: 0.5 - 0.0

They also greatly differ in customizability. Besides having many special effects, in Compiz I can turn off effects that I do not want, and turn on effects I want. It also accepts plug-ins. Sadly, I cannot add any plug-in in Aero, nor I can program any window rules in Aero. In Compiz I can use it to embed a terminal on my wallpaper, mentioned above. I also can set the spring constant to model window oscillations in the aforementioned wobbly effect. 1.0 points for Compiz.

Score: 1.5 - 0.0

But, without proper tweaking, Compiz can show clumsy desktops. Provided that you have a fast-enough computer, Aero, always show the elegance and the beauty of glasslike windows, no matter what. 1.0 points for Aero.

Score: 1.5 - 1.0

Wait, have you experienced that Aero is a memory-consuming giant? Aero is responsible for making V. T.'s laptop so slow when running Windows. But, with Compiz, this is a completely different story. 1.0 points for Compiz.

Score: 2.5 - 1.0

What about hardware support? Linux (and therefore Compiz) supports fewer graphics cards than Windows. This is the reason why V. T. could not get it running on her aforementioned laptop. 1.0 points for Aero.

Score: 2.5 - 2.0

Compiz pwns Aero when it comes to customizability and features, but, remember that in reality Microsoft still pwns Linux in terms of hardware support. Aero excels in its default elegance and hardware support.

J. S. Bach - Prelude and Fugue in C Minor, from the Book I of Well Tempered Clavier

Hello world! (Expect to read some garbage from this post)

Currently I'm learning this difficult piano piece. I like this kind of song, and I'm learning it at a very slow rate (about 1 bar/week). So far, I have mastered 9 (of 69) bars.

According to my (and many musicians') opinion, Bach is a genius in music. I have been listening to his masterpieces since I was a baby. But I think one needs a great musical sense to appreciate jerky notes in the Prelude...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

emacs = love

writeln('Hello, World!');

I installed emacs by accident on my Linux. I got it installed, somehow. Maybe it is included in a software's package, (or is it a part of Ubuntu updates? I don't know).

I have heard that emacs is sort of text editors, just like Windows notepads. I tried to use emacs the first time, 2 days ago. Hmm. Looks bland. It looks like vim at first (I have used it before, 2 years ago, but now, I completely forgot vim's multitude of keyboard shortcuts). But actually, emacs is not vim. They are completely different. I thought that it is a strange text editor. Much stranger than vim, at first.

Ok. It is difficult to learn at first, with daunting multitude of keyboard shortcuts. But, at least, I can use it to work on my Pascal programming assignment in just 2 days of learning emacs (Task: Write a program that inputs two matrices of user-inputtable sizes, and then multiply them both, and display it *neatly* on the *terminal* screen, with numbers and, of course, lot of whitespaces). Emacs integrates neatly with the Free Pascal Compiler (after copying and pasting some emacs customization codes. I cannot program in Lisp)

It has many awkward keyboard shortcuts (such as Alt+Shift+1, Ctrl+x+b, or something like Alt+5+0+Shift+8). It is designed to be used with the space-cadet keyboards or at least full size keyboards. I use laptop keyboard.

But, lovely, it allows itself to integrate interactively with the shell. I tried to use the Ctrl+U Alt+| and then typing fortune | cowsay:

Also. Now, I don't need to go to wxMaxima while on emacs! Just invoke its back-end Maxima with emacs shell interaction (but I have to read some ugly equations in plaintext). It also come with variety of usable features such as calendar, calculator, and games.

I love those little emacsen! (emacsen /ˈiːmæksn/n. pl. of emacs) It's not just an ordinary text editor...

It's extraordinary.

Some Useful Keyboard Shortcuts
(C = control, M = meta (or alt, in standard keyboards))

C-x C-f -- visit file (open/create file)
C-x C-s -- save file

C-g -- abort commands

C-x k -- kill buffer
C-x b -- switch to buffer

C-x 1 -- remove any potentially distracting buffers
(I mean, close all buffers excepting the active one)

M-x -- 'human-readable' commands.

I don't need the C-p, C-n, C-f, C-b, the emacs replacements of arrow keys (to keep the hands on the main part of the keyboard, said the makers). Arrow keys are easily accesible by my right pinky.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Linux (vs Windows)

Hello world,

I have just installed Linux on my laptop. My reasons are:
  • I'm bored with Windows
  • I'm bored with Windows
  • I'm bored with Windows
  • for(int i=0; i<57; i++) printf("I'm bored with Windows\n");
  • I heard that it is good and legally free. It is better to get free softwares (and OSes) than pirated ones.
My friends said, "Why Linux? Why not Windows?"

I always answer that kind of question with "I'm bored with Windows"

Yeah, I have read informations about Linux. Linux fans said that it is nicely customizable, flexible, and reliable. Meanwhile, Microsoft's pointed out (in 'Get the Facts') that Linux is insecure, difficult to use, and lacking 24/7 support. I disagreed.

Actually, I have used Linux for 3 years, (but not on my own computer). Until this minute, I do not have any feeling of preference of Linux over Windows or Windows over Linux, but I disagree with Microsoft's anti-Linux propaganda. I still like them both. They excel in different kinds of tasks. Windows is good for starters, and Linux is good for experienced users, because Linux is faster but slightly difficult to configure (It requires the user to learn the command line interface). But Windows is slower, and consumes more power, but more software compatibility.