Friday, September 21, 2007

Simplifying globalization: wealth redistribution and comparative advantage

IMO, for the majority of heated debate on globalization, there are 2 sides of globalization that rarely mentioned together. Globalization as method of wealth redistribution, and globalization as method to capitalizing comparative advantage.

In theory, if you're relatively poor because your work result is undervalued relative to world average valuation, you can benefit a lot from globalization. Once the whole world has access to your work, it will be valued higher. You will be richer. The bad side is that if you're relatively rich because your work result is overvalued compared to world average valuation, globalization will lower the valuation of your work. You will be poorer.

Is this mean that people from rich country is always at disadvantaged when joining globalization? Not really. Rich countries can benefit from globalization because of the second aspect of globalization, which is comparative advantage.

With comparative advantage, people can concentrate on doing what they do best thus driving down cost and increasing profit margin. People from relatively richer country can benefit from this by having access to superior product/service or cheaper product/service. The relatively poor can too.


Globalization is also a game of give and take. A country give up protection to certain aspects of it's economy, and take up the opportunity of certain aspects of economy in other country.

Unfortunately, many countries choose to selectively open themselves to globalization. They only open aspects of economy where they will be hurt the least, and force other country to open up it's aspect of economy where they will gain the best result.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cosmic joke of

First Media is the new internet service provider in town, and it's playing a joke on me.

I planned to install First Media cable internet service as another redundant internet connection. But none of the 3 locations is connected by First Media.

The first location is on a major street. I'm disappointed but if they decide not to serve that street, so be it. I can live with that.

The second location is on a somewhat middle size street. They actually have a connection there, but the connection ends on the building next to mine.

The cosmic joke is on the third location. Almost every building on that street is serviced by First Media, except mine which is right in the middle of that street. So all buildings whose number below mine are serviced and all buildings whose number above mine are serviced, except mine!

I am feeling sour.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Experience using Telkomsel 3G/GPRS (kick ass dude!)

1. Per today (April 7th, 2007), speed of 42KByte/sec (using 3G) is still achievable. This is awesome, especially for me who is used to CBN XL 7 KByte/sec speed.

2. After I'm connected, web access is redirected to Telkomsel homepage. There I can click on package I want to choose.

3. The billing is based on time spent connected to internet, after choosing the package above.

4. At anytime in the session, I can see the time I had spent online or time left on the selected package. After each session, I received SMS stating the time I had spent.

Update: 9 April 2007.
Disconnect incidents are too many, about once every 15 to 30 minutes.

Update 24 April 2008. Cbn XL unlimited 3G has been reduced to laggy 3KBytes/sec.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Experience using Cyberindo Network Exelcomindo (CBN XL) 3G in Indonesia

Overall: Pretty good.

1. In spite of 3G theoretical bandwidth of 384 kbps, CBN XL bandwidth is limited to 64 kbps (that's kilo bit per second), which translated to 8 KBps (Kilo byte per second). In practice, it's around 6 to 7-ish KBps. But early on March, it was around 20KBps according to Sony Ericsson update manager.. I guess they cut it down.

2. The connection is pretty stable. Disconnect is rare even when your 3G modem moves around Jakarta while connected.. Maybe 1 out of ordinary disconnect every 2 days. That's excluding a what seems to be a pre-programmed disconnect every 24 hours period of connection. I guess it's their method to enforce the so called dynamic IP..

3. Sometimes it's difficult to start connection. When that happens, wait for a while and repeat. I give up trying to find the culprit (either from CBN or from XL). Some other time, you can connect but you can't resolve any website name. Reconnect until you're assigned to the correct DNS.

4. The latency seems higher compared to dial up. In short, the connection might take a while before responding to a request. For example, if you click a link, it might take a while before the modem start receiving data on the link.

Self-ping takes around 300ms to 400ms. That's above a healthy people average reaction. Consequently, I think real time online gaming is not feasible, but I haven't tested it yet..

5. For a quick reference, bluetooth 1.2 can sustain CBN XL bandwidth.

Edit 24 April 2008: It seems since 15th March 2008, Cyberindo reduce the bandwidth to a paltry 3KBytes/s. The lag is also unbearable. I guess they decide reduce the quality of this unlimited subscription service to make people move to their new service, which are volume based.

*sigh* I hate entity who don't have the guts to be frank..

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

An anecdote of an assholeness of ex-(civil/army/police) officer

I hate this one specific ex-officer.

Based on what I gathered, ever since he lived in this one exclusive residential estate, permits involving every construction project in that area become his business. The procedure to get a permit is very bureaucratic, EVEN WHEN WE GIVE MONEY to his staffs. You really don't want to know how worse it is when we hadn't give any money yet.

Even after we get the permit, we must still endure a painstakingly long procedure to have the gate keeper allow any delivery even if it's delivered using a fucking small 4-wheels truck. Such delay may cause problem in a project profit since no material means no work can be done.

And this whole permit business is not even acknowledged by government. Basically, he unofficially control this area and pulling out rules from his asshole and apply them as he sees fit.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Vendors compliance with specification

In my somewhat limited experience, vendors of materials in Indonesia, particularly in construction industry, is rather bad in complying with promised specification.

There is one high profile company whose product did not satisfy advertised specification. What they did is quite scandalous given it's position as a market leader and it's name affiliation to a highly reputable multi-national company with highly significant presence in it's field..

People whose work specialize in that field can easily identify the specification change. On the other hand, although the change is visible with naked eye, it's quite subtle. I don't think I will ever realize the change if noone point it to me.

Sadly, not many field worker point it to their supervisor. Maybe they they thought they don' want to complicate their daily work because of this "whistle blowing".

There is another company, whose brand is very strong on the Indonesia's public eye (depending on province), who changed it's product specification recently to the one with far less production cost (as of today..). But this company is more upfront. They actually state their new specification in the packaging. They also tell their distributor and large customer about the change.

Sadly, they don't tell the retail market about the change. Although not telling the retail market is arguably a good decision in marketing perspective, what they do might make many new buildings become unsafe...

Anyway, the market of material that has no specification in Indonesia, is bad.
Given equal price, the materials are getting worse these days. They are so bad that you might end up with better materials if you take used materials of an old building.

Many contractors know this for a fact, but they rarely try to reuse used materials. There are many reasons.
1. The using of used materials are not specified in a construction projects even though used materials might be superior than new materials of the same type (for example un-ovened wood).
2. Incorporating used materials in project specification is going to make the contractors looks bad..
2. With the relatively high price of second hand materials, it's more profitable to actually sell the old materials. But the administration of gathering and selling used materials are difficult to do accurately thus prone to corruption. Therefore, attempt to sell used material might negatively impact workers morality.

btw, there is a reasonably sized market of second hand materials in Jakarta, Indonesia. The group who benefit the most from this market are poor people who want to build housing.

NB: The poor people will be hit the most with the specification change of the 2nd company mentioned above. It's because they usually build with as less materials as possible and they don't know that current specification requires more materials.

I had mentioned this specification change to a major customer of mine and suggesting other product with less prominent brand name, but they disregard it. Maybe they don't want complication.. Anyway, a few days ago they asked about the detail of the product change (which means that they never forget what I said before), it seems that they begin to have some.. problems..

Mark my word, this can later become a PR nightmare for this company..

Too bad I'm not perfectly anonymous, not to mention the relationship I had..

Friday, March 09, 2007

Is anger a proper reaction?

I don't know why but this week my mood is pretty bad. Although I do get angry from time to time, I rarely explode in front of everybody. Well, not that rarely but I may say relatively rare. Anyway, a couple of days ago I cracked. I threw a fit of anger and do lots of yelling.

What particular about this anger is that I don't really know whether the situation deserve such an extreme reaction or not. In addition, by being angry I lost a key advantage in doing business with them..

The event is really simple. That particular day, the quality of materials delivered to me is really pathetic. It's so pathetic that I, the one who usually tolerates many defects by allocating the materials usage so that defects become irrelevant, end up rejecting up to 90% of what they sent.

All supposed to be well. Bad goods, relative to their price, get rejected. It's fair. But the supplier had the guts to talk to his friend, saying that I should not order those items if I don't know how to identify good materials, in a deragatory tone. He said all of that it in a language that, given the situation, it's safe to assume that I don't understand.

But I do understand the language. And boy oh boy, I yelled at them, in front of everybody. I challenged them to show people the materials they had sent before. And let everybody be the judge of how bad their goods were.

Luckily, they had the decency to not take the challenge and just shut up. Unluckily to me, now that they know I can speak their language, I don't have the chance to eavesdrop while doing business with them..

Anyway, this event made me think. I'm not supposed to be that angry to them considering that they do not intend their conversation to be heard by me...

Oh well..

The independent business woman, cancelled

There goes again another blog posting I wrote due to my effort to anonymized the parties involved.. Anyway, I'll just post the footnote.

In Indonesia, resolving a receivable due (by parties who do not really trust each other yet) is done by exchanging money or giro with invoice and/or delivery order. The seller usually send his debt collector to buyer office to do the exchange on site.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Flood early warning system

Since my comment on someone blog is still stuck in moderation mode, I decide to post it here.


After giving it some thought, I still unable to find simple things that we (read: ordinary outsiders) can do to make people more prepared for flood or preventing flood. Many schemes need cooperation of people in charge, or a simply need a LOT of people.

One prevention scheme I can think of that requires a lot of people is: an alarm system to notify possible floods in various part of Jakarta. It requires a comprehensive survey of Jakarta.

First we identify pockets of water that happen when raining. For each pocket of water, we calculate the average height of the ground of water pocket relative to sea level. Then for every pocket water nearby this one water pocket (name: A), we identify the minimum amount of water required before water in A flow to another pocket water. Note that, we can also treat dam as pocket of water. Note also that we can consider usual places where clog in drainage system as borders of water pocket.

Thus we have a rough approximation of jakarta’s capacity to receive water from rain or other places. And using the above data, computer can simulate the movement of water that may cause flood in different water pockets (early warning system). We can also identify which clog in drainage system is vital to clear to minimize flood. We can also calculate the effect of building new malls in area of water reservoir.

The easiest time to get this data is when flooding happens. It’s too late now..

This is an ambitious project with questionable result..:-) And I don’t trust the government to do the survey since there are incentives to manipulate the data..

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A kickass salesperson!!

I am currently considering a change of career from construction (the messy, high temper, callous, corrupt prone industry) to IT (the full of compromise, image managing, strategic obsessive industry). Pursuing that, I applied for a sales position in my old company, selling a supposedly high end solution. It's gonna be a radical change, especially in comparison to my current job of selling a "normal solution" to practical people who don't like strategic talk.

Anyway, in my current line of work, I have the honor to meet people with shitty sales skill, mediocre sales skill, good sales skill, excellent sales skill, and KICK ASS sales skill!! This kick ass sales guy is so amazing that I'm gonna tell his tale for this blog.

In the middle of December, Semen Padang Tbk (a public company in Indonesia) sent invitation to companies/shops who buy the most Padang cement in Java island of Indonesia, to take a vacation in Padang city and visit Padang cement plant for 3 days. Considering the rumor that invitees will be given awesome souvernir, I decided to come.

The first day of the visit was quite fun although many people use the events to negotiate or lobbying for better terms with Semen Padang company. Too bad many of the events, such as karaoke, bingo games, are geared toward old people. I was so bored on the first night that I slept early. But strangely, on the day after, people seems unable to stop talking about how great this one particular guy, a guy who seems to be a typical guy..

On the lunch of the 2nd day, people start talking about demanding special "treat" for being the top resellers/consumers. The demand was quite specific but I think it's inappropriate to mention it in internet. Anyway, somehow everybody unanimously agree, even the ones who exhibit excellent negotiation skills, to make the guy I mentioned before as our representative in getting a special treat.

I was thinking, what's so great about this guy?

The final night was held in the complex of Padang cement plant. It's basically a dinner + meeting with director and managers of marketing + entertainment. After dinner, and after representatives of Semen Padang talked, we are invited to ask questions to the representatives. Our representative, who we elected earlier, go over the mic start his action.

I suck at narration so I really cannot do justice to his action. But it was very awesome! He talks very smoothly, arguing without seemingly arguing, elevating the director without seemingly kissing his ass, singing a song he composed that was funny and talked about our demand without pushing the topics.

Yes, he sang. He not only sang one song, he sang many songs. Basically, without coordination with the event organizer, he TOOK OVER THE WHOLE NIGHT EVENT! It's not a metaphor. He took over the whole night event.

He held games, dance events, karaoke events, while pressing the issues and making our demands seems to be a natural request. And I can tell you that our demand is actually quite outrageous. I never expect Semen Padang management to cave in. But somehow management was so impressed that they invite him to sit on their dinner table to talk to them in private.

The result? Semen Padang management tentatively agree, but they change the demand to something of equal monetary value... It was so surreal that he was successful..

Anyway, true to management word, they gave something although it's only one per third of the original monetary value. Oh well :-)

NB: As for the souvernir, they gave us lots of snacks. The snacks was so much that we will have to throw away some of the snacks if Garuda Indonesia airline do not gives special dispensation in baggage policy.

NB2: imagine if this guy work in sales...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hooking up with intelligent girl in internet

I was reading "The guys guide to geek girl" when I found one tip (of finding a single intelligent girl) I can personally testify as effective. The tip is to post intelligently in a forum or mailing list.

Yes, it works. If you're insightful or consistent enough in your writing, people of all genders are bound to email you personally, especially if your view on an issue is very similar to theirs. Depending on the community, you will soon get email from one or two girls, hopefully single :-).

But do remember that if you write better than most, some girls might treat you as if you're an old, untouchable guru. They will not initiate a close friendly discussion with you. If that happen, it is you the one who should initiate a personal communication.

Of course if you're specifically interested in someone, you can zero in her posting by disputing or clarifying it. She will feel appreciated.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The inflexibly stupid vendor

Today is a slow day that I have the time to review the paperwork generated from our vendors. One particular vendor stand out as one of the most hillariously stupid vendor I have ever dealt with.

This vendor, who shall remain anonymous yet will be nicknamed "sky" (a very representative name with many layers of meaning due to translation, words play, and it's own choice of nickname..), has a bad choice of volume discount. For items with a packaging of 10 per package, they insist on giving discount only for more than 10, not 10 or more.

Let that statement sink into your mind..

So if I buy 10 items, which is conveniently packaged into 1 "box", I don't get any discount. If I buy 11 items, which is in a form of 1 "box" and 1 annoying additional item, I get the volume discount. Now, considering that the item (roughly 12cm x 18cm x 7cm or 5in x 7in x 3in) is delivered on a motorcycle inside a cube which side roughly 50cm (25in), the process of retrieving the items I buy (they sell many types) is unnecesarily tedious because getting that 1 extra item from inside the box is difficult, with so many extra items. It's their lose..

To be fair, I think this awkwardness in the minimal amount of volume discount, has something to do with their computer system. I suspect someone hardwired the volume discount minimal amount to 10, and accidentally set the logic to more than (>) 10 instead of at least (>=) 10.

Anyway, in a redeeming twist, their delivery order has places for 11 entries of items. This arrangement is excellent for a class of product they sell, which has many colors. By buying 11 boxes of different colors, I can get the volume discount and all those items can fit one delivery order! Yay! Good for them and good for me.

But in another twist, that particular class of item has 12 colors..

I have too much time.. :-)