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...