According to Jetstar you should visit Santika in Bangkok!

I travel on Jetstar from time to time and usually enjoy reading their inflight magazine – especially the part in the back of the magazine that introduces various Jetstar destinations and places to visit while there. They use celebs or regional luminaries that share their top picks. I always find new places this way. Love it.

However, while reading the March 2010 issue, I was stunned to see a spot about Bangkok that was using Julian Moss, CEO of ASM Liquor, suggestion that travelers to Bangkok, Thailand should visit Santika. Wait a sec. At first I thought I was reading an old issue but I made sure it was the latest.

For the record, Santika had a horrific fire on New Year’s Eve 2008 with many people dying or seriously injured. One of the worst tragedies in Thailand. I am just a tad stunned that this suggestion of a location would be in a March 2010 magazine. I am not sure who to blame. Either the CEO of ASM Liquor is out of touch with reality or this is an old piece that was just recently printed. If so then the editor of the Magazine needs to be blamed.

Either way – someone needs to fall on their sword. This is hugely insensitive and hopefully not many Thai people were forced to read this issue and remember the tragedy.

Here is a photo of the magazine so no one thinks I am making this up:


Fireball at it again…

Love reading Daring Fireball and every once in a while buried in his topics are some goodies.

His latest about Mozilla is so another one of those nuggets:

Mozilla, as an organization, doesn’t seem to value mobile computing as a top priority. Yes, they have mobile initiatives. But the only platform they have a mobile browser for is Nokia Maemo. All of you using a Nokia Maemo, please raise your hands. Crickets. Compare and contrast with WebKit, which I suspect will soon have more mobile than desktop users.

The needs of mobile computing are driving the adoption of H.264 HTML5 video more than anything else, but Mozilla doesn’t feel that pressure because it isn’t a mobile company. And at this point, “not a mobile company” is getting hard to distinguish from “not a relevant company”.

Ouch. Not so much about Mozilla in general but about the harsh realization that if you are not focused on mobile you might as well pack it in. As tough as it is to swallow it probably will become a realization of the computing world’s future.

Oh and Nokia – you are so screwed. The n900 probably has a chance to get you back in the game and I can’t even get my hands on one.


Reminiscing over Up in the Air…

travelChecked out the new Clooney flick last night. Great movie – worth seeing for sure. Clooney at the top of his game and lots of cameos from some great people.

It brought back so many memories for me during my 4 years of pretty much non-stop domestic travel – back before 9/11. Domestic US travel is horrible now and I would not wish it on my enemies but prior to 9/11, if you had some status, it was not too bad. Priority check-in, no nutty security and the staff from the various airlines was actually nice. Gone are those days.

The movie captured the experience so well – the hotel bars, the airports, and the various little scenarios at the rental car place to the on the road hook-ups. Just nailed it.

It reminded me of an incident I had once since the movie centered somewhat on Omaha, NE. I was due to be in Omaha for some meetings and needed to fly from SFO to Denver to Omaha. I had a travel assistant so I would book stuff via email and then just show up at the airport with my United card. Check in, check bag (I always checked bags for ease of use and lack of back injuries for loading bags into the overhead) and then proceed to lounge for breakfast. Upgrade comes through – sit in business and eat again. During this phase I noticed some guy bitching about not getting his upgrade. Of course I was the one who bumped him and I felt some satisfaction in that – all frequent flyers secretly do.

After stopping in Denver I went to the lounge and checked in on my upgrade to Omaha. Turns out I did not have it yet and it looked like I had not even a confirmed seat yet which was strange. So the good lady at the counter is looking at the debacle and then asks for my ID – at that time one did not need to draw blood but simply show their driver’s license. So I did. Then she laughed and said that I was suppose to be on the plane Tuesday – not Monday. I looked through my emails on my 2 ton crackberry and noticed she was right. It was Monday. I was suppose to be in San Francisco. Turned out the dude who I had bumped had my same name so the first attendant in SF booked me in his seat. Shows you how laxed security used to be. 🙂

I felt so stupid – I said any flights back to SF? I got back on the plane I came on and headed back to SF. Went home and back to bed. Got up on Tuesday and did it again. This is when I started to ask for an international transfer.

Check the movie out to get a sense of road life. It is not too far off the mark. Funny, that it is, sometimes life on the road is more fun than normal life. Clean hotel rooms, big beds, room service, random hook ups, and just the road culture coupled with all the interesting people. Sometimes returning home was the letdown – not the travel.


Roger Ebert is my hero!

I love reading Daring Fireball, except for his love of Google, and always find that he leads me to some of the more interesting non-tech posts out there. So I guess, apart from the tech, John Gruber has some very  interesting tastes and opinions. One day  I was scanning his blog and saw the link to the Ebert Esquire article – if shit like that does not bring tears to yours than you are just not even human.

It is also worthwhile to read Roger’s own opinion piece on the article.

Well – this will make your eye moist:

Johar and the IDC’s freedom of expression…

Indonesian version

It all started simply enough when I asked Pontus, Yahoo’s! head of Indonesia, if he had any judges he would like to suggest for Yahoo’s! first Open Hack Day in Southeast Asia which would take place in Jakarta. Pontus mentioned Johar Alam – founder of IDC Indonesia. To get a sense of how different IDC is from most hosting providers one only has to read their byline:

IDC Indonesia the First Neutral Data Center in Indonesia.

At first you might pass over that statement without grasping the significance of it. First Neutral Data Center in Indonesia but from my experiences around the globe I would argue that this is a first for the world.

rack_idcTo my left is a common photo one might snap in any hosting center in any part of the world. Some might say that the rack looks a little cluttered, if not overstuffed and in need of organizing but the photo cannot properly describe what it is you are witnessing. This photo shows that every single Indonesian internet service provider is connected across one rack and all plugged into some gigabit switches hooked into the main IDC backbone. No peering arrangements, no contracts and no funny business – the entire Indonesian Internet is hooked together and one man made it happen – Johar.

When I first met Johar I had no idea of this situation and the impact of it did not fully hit me until I toured the original IDC center to witness this marvelous cabling phenomenon for myself. Most Internet geeks when faced with this revelation will usually gasp and wonder how Johar pulled it off. I still wonder how he did it but as I spend more time with Johar at the IDC I realize that his open Indonesian attitude is at the heart of everything he does – including this amazing situation at IDC. Johar believes in the ultimate expression of freedom – the local Indonesian internet and Indonesian’s access to the global Internet is the most important part of this freedom.

Visiting Johar at the IDC allows one to experience Johar, his and his wife’s warm Indonesian hospitality and the open arms attitude of the IDC. I have been there enough times now that I know the drill. Introduce myself at the so-called front office to let Johar know I am in. Then I move to the meeting room, pour myself some tea and quickly log in to the free IDC wi-fi connection. No passwords needed – that would be very un-IDC. I usually catch up on my email and if I did smoke – I would have a cigarette while waiting for Johar. Smoking is also allowed in the meeting room since well – Johar smokes but more importantly preventing smoking would be so un-Indonesian.

A month back on one of my regular trips to the IDC Johar mentioned he had something to show Pontus and I. He told us it was a secret and he could not share it. Working for Yahoo! I am always burdened with secrets so this request was nothing new to me and keeping a secret usually means I am seeing something new that not many people have seen. And so it was to be.

Pontus and I went to the large IDC presentation room with Johar and his wife. Johar darkened the room, poured everyone some tea and proceeded to play us a movie from his laptop. I can’t really confess to understanding what I was witnessing at the time but mentions of seasons, self-expressions and upbeat music married to colorful, almost psychedelic, swaths of imaginative wall coverings had me intrigued if not slightly bewildered. Knowing Johar, this was probably his plan and within that I took comfort knowing that Pontus was probably just as confused as I was.

Lights back on and with Johar looking pleased with himself – I proceeded to ask the question that I am sure Johar anticipated, “What is it?”.

“That,” Johar replied – “Is the new IDC!”.

Then it hit me – we were seeing images of what the new IDC would be decorated as. Imagine if Tim Burton and Johnny Depp decorated a data center using the four seasons, color and a hint of well – freer times as inspiration. I was stunned but I got it – Johar wanted to not only technical create a freer Indonesian Internet but he was also wanted the actual data center to embody this as well.

Fast forward to today and I just had a tour of the new IDC while it is still under construction. Below is a photo I snapped while touring the new IDC. On the left is Johar Alam, in the middle is Juny Maimun (founder of Indowebster), and on the right is Jimmi Kembaren the newest Yahoo! employee in Indonesia. Juny is responsible, in his spare time, for building a site that is probably the biggest consumer of internal Indonesian bandwidth.


The new IDC is not complete and only two seasons have been built but I look forward to its completion and applaud Johar for his insistence on not only creating a brighter future for the Internet in Indonesia but for creating a brighter data center. Stay tuned for Yahoo’s! first event from the new IDC.


for more photos of the new IDC check out these sets on Flickr.

What’s up with America?

Before I start I will just continue with my plea to the guys over at This Week in Asia – please – have me back on. I think I will keep this up until they relent. 🙂

Moving on…

I had a week in Philippines and now another one in Indonesia – so much going on in these regions. Sure the ad spend is not there, the bandwidth is not the best but the growth is astonishing. In both countries I picked up a USB data dongle with pre-paid plans. Pretty much works everywhere you need to be – which means not being tethered to the office. This is where Thailand is so messed up but I won’t get into it.

So on one of my mid-morning blog rolls I came across this piece:

If empires are complex systems that sooner or later succumb to sudden and catastrophic malfunctions, what are the implications for the United States today? First, debating the stages of decline may be a waste of time — it is a precipitous and unexpected fall that should most concern policymakers and citizens. Second, most imperial falls are associated with fiscal crises. Alarm bells should therefore be ringing very loudly indeed as the United States contemplates a deficit for 2010 of more than $1.5 trillion — about 11% of GDP, the biggest since World War II.

It is heady stuff and maybe even a tad outlandish but probably not as crazy as it sounds. America is in trouble and when I glance at it from afar I wonder what will turn it around? Higher education is being priced out of reach of normal folks, taxes just keep going up, debt is out of control, infrastructure is aging and to top it all off we seem to be fighting wars we shouldn’t.

I made the choice close to 10 years ago to be in Asia – mostly because I could. For others that is not such an easy option but something excites me about being in an area of growth and new frontiers while hanging out with people possessing a sense of optimism. Last trip to the states when I cruised around SF the thing I noticed most was how people just felt a little down.

It is scary but what scares me the most is our government, repubs and dems – seems more focused on their own agendas then they are focusing on turning the ship around. I actually thought Obama had a chance but he now appears to be just like the rest of them.

I wonder what will change it all?