The #1 Secret of Writing Indonesian Novels: Write in English ;-)

Gw sih jelas-jelas bukan novel writer, not even close. (= “tidak bahkan dekat”? oh… “nggak sedikit pun”?)

(Note: the parenthesed sentence at the end of a paragraph illustrates what would have been if I had written the sentence in Indonesian. I wouldn’t even dare to have the slightest thought had I written this entire message in Indonesian!)

But since I first started trying to write blogs… the first dilemma I had was… language. What language should I use? Actually it’s easy to decide, if my audience is Indonesian then I’d write Indonesian, else English. However, if my articles actually get read, I expect that Indonesian readers won’t actually “give me anything”. This is, of course, talking about AdSense. (= “ini, tentu saja, berbicara mengenai AdSense”)

Writing an English article is beneficial for several reasons. It’s officially supported by AdSense, and related context ads will show up on your page. With Indonesian article this is not always the case, and as far as I know AdSense actually forbids exclusively Indonesian language sites. English readers generally are larger markets than Indonesian readers. Of course this brings competition, but hey, no competition won’t give you any advantage if nobody gets something! English visitors are more likely to click on ads and actually buy products they like, even cheap products for $5 or so, since they have a credit card at hand that to them shopping online is already the norm, not something you’d think twice or seven thousand times like the case here in Indonesia. (= “bukan sesuatu yang kamu akan berpikir dua kali atau bahkan 7000 kali seperti kasus di sini di Indonesia”?)

Another thing is… expressiveness. I’ve heard that Greek and French are the best languages to write a poem in (why bother counting the number of words you can express in Greek, if you could just get a pile of books on medicine, science, botany, zoology, biology, in ANY language and you can be sure more than 50% of the words there are Greek?). I’m not sure if that’s the case, but I’m pretty sure that Indonesian language lacks many things that English have. I’m much more fluent in Indonesian than English (of course, it’s my native tongue), but I have to say that I have lots more difficulty expressing something in Indonesian than English. No, it’s not just technical terms, where a sentence like “plug the joystick into the server’s port and install the driver” is understandably impossible to be translated to Indonesian “properly”. But overall. How many words can *I* think when saying I love someone? Cinta, sayang, suka. “kasih” doesn’t even in the list since “aku mengasihi kamu” doesn’t really fit well into any novel. Same goes for “peduli”, “aku peduli banget ma kamu, nggak ada orang lain di dunia ini yang kuinginkan untuk hidup bersama” really can’t beat the simple “I truly, deeply care about you, there’s no other person in the world I’d desire to spend my lifetime with”. There are words like sophisticated, intricate, delicate, fragile, brilliant, supreme, adorable, hilarious, escalating, fuzzy, … I can’t believe how much time I’d need to express these words in Indonesian, then deliberately trying to fit it in to a sentence, then endlessly rephrasing until it sounds “good enough”… if it’s even remotely possible to be accomplished at all in the first place. (=”bila itu bahkan sedikitpun mungkin untuk dicapai sama sekali sejak pertama kali”?)

Other than expressiveness, that Indonesian severely limits, I really think it’s just very difficult to properly construct a “good” Indonesian sentence than English. Individual’s mileage may vary, maybe someone spending 23,5 hours per day to study Indonesian will say exactly the opposite. But I have this kind of experience. I’d be very interested in your opinion on this. (=”saya akan sangat tertarik dengan pendapat Anda mengenai ini”?)

I know that my English grammar is far, far from good. Yeah, my grammar sucks. So does my pronouncyatioun. But considering the fact that it’s hard to spel English correctly (but very easy to misspell) and write a proper English grammar, I find it hilarious (as well as ridiculous) that to me English is easier to write than Indonesian? (=”saya menemukan bahwa sangat lucu (dan juga sangat konyol) bahwa bagi saya Inggris lebih mudah ditulis daripada bahasa Indonesia?”)

When developing software, I sometimes tried to write identifier names (functions, variables, etc.) in Indonesian and also the comments, and also file names & directories. Guess what? They never work out (and no, I won’t tell you why, because I don’t have time to analysis such stupid kid stuff, but I surely strongly suggest anyone majoring “Sastra dan Bahasa Indonesia” to consider “Why Indonesian language sucks at software projects and why this final paper is written in English” as the topic of their final paper). Just naming these things Indonesian alone gives me more headaches than the bugs the program has. Now, even though if I’m developing a project specifically for Indonesian people/company, I use English exclusively for everything (including column names in database tables) except for user interface elements (of course) and maybe some in-line documentation. Some people wonder why “Kode Karyawan” in the form dialog maps to “EmployeeId” in the database table, but that’s the way it’s convenient for me. (=”tetapi itulah jalan yang bagi saya nyaman”)

There’s no way you could write an Indonesian novel without first banging your head against the wall. “Tidak ada jalan kamu bisa menulis novel berbahasa Indonesia tanpa sebelumnya memukulkan kepalamu ke tembok.” See? I don’t have to think twice to write the former, English sentence, but to translate that to Indonesian, at first it was ugly, very ugly. You might be able to do better. I also might be able to rephrase that so it reads better, but that takes too much time and effort. Forget it. (=”tapi itu menyita terlalu banyak waktu dan usaha. Lupakan saja”?)

I’m not sure if other people has the same dilemma/complaints. Do you? Do other Indonesian novelists? I know that some novelists intentionally put non-Indonesian words & sentences in their novels. Some are truly understandable, like in your first novel since, well… the story doesn’t even take place in Indonesia. But I’d also consider it fair if a novelist get so frustrated trying to write something in Indonesian, that she (preassumption, eh? It seems that most novelists are female) decides to write the whole goddamn idea in English. Sometimes, it just wastes too much time & effort to try to write that perfect Indonesian sentence, that you’d be better off writing English (or some other language that’s far more expressive that you’re familiar with) in the first place. After that you’ll get frustrated again because you’re afraid your readers won’t understand even the slightest tiny bit about what you’re talking about. But at that point you’d think to yourself “Ah, nowadays Indonesian readers are smart… There can’t be possibly even 1 in a zillion chance that they don’t understand this simple English sentence…” And you continue to finish the novel written entirely in English. (=”Dan kamu meneruskan menyelesaikan novel tersebut ditulis seluruhnya dalam bahasa Inggris”?)

Come on, if Microsoft with their Windows XP Indonesian Language Pack and Google can’t write decent Indonesian sentences, it just means that you have truly extraordinary talent if you actually can create attractive, immersive novels using _only_ Indonesian. You should probably work for Google or Microsoft, for they’d most probably pay you much more in a day than you can afford to earn here for an entire month. (=”karena mereka mungkin akan membayar kamu lebih banyak dalam sehari daripada yang bisa kamu dapatkan di sini selama sebulan penuh”?)

So much for complaining… 😉 (=”Banyak sekali hanya untuk protes?”)


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Microsoft Money 2007 Home & Business Review: “Definitely Gonna Try Quicken 2007 ASAP”

After much desperation and frustration (for some undisclosed reason), finally I got hold of Microsoft Money 2007, Home & Business Edition. This is because the financial software I was currently using was Microsoft Money 2004 Deluxe, I guess an upgrade after 3 years will be great. Or so it seems…

Installation was… very quick, despite my Windows XP Professional SP2 system was running under VMware. There was no message whatsoever while installing, weird. True, none of the “Copying files to…” or “Preparing installation script…” messages. It seems that Microsoft actually expects Money 2007 installation to be superfast, and this is completely true. I just hope Microsoft won’t hide the installation messages on the next version of Visual Studio or SQL Server setup, or we’ll get very frustrated, hahaha… 😉

The first impression is nice. Definitely much better interface than Money 2004, and it’s not slow as I had imagined. The conversion process for the Money 2004 data file was fast, only about 1 minute. The homepage doesn’t change much. Especially the charts, which seems to get no improvement whatsoever. Shame on you, Microsoft.

Home Page

This is the home page. Shows some stuff. Note that this homepage is highly customizable. Rumor is that Quicken 2007 has even much better home page.

Spending by Category Report

One of the most useful reports. It shows how much you spend on each category (for lack of better description, heheh…) 😉

Cashflow

This view is interesting. It shows your past financial history as well as forecasting your future financial state. I find it’s more eye candy than useful. But it’s actually very useful to predict your spending, although I’ve never been able to get it right.

My Cash Account

A typical view for any account register. This is for a checking account. But all other account types look roughly the same. The transactions and the displayed columns differ, of course.

Monthly Report

This is actually a relatively long report, showing you many things you may want to know about your financial during that month. Quite nice, and I’ll have 3 million rupiahs after 12 months?!?! Come on, am I really that poor?! 🙁

Net Worth Over Time

This shows your overall “richness”. Hey, I’m much richer now than any previous time during this year. That means I’m in good shape. 😉

Income and Spending Over Time

This is one way to control your budget, besides the buggy Budget feature (more on this later). It shows you how much you spend and how much you earn. You should automatically know that you want more earnings than spendings. Doesn’t seem to always be the case for me, does it? Hehehe… For people like Ollie, though, I’m sure her blue (spending) bars are waaaay higher than her yellow (income) bars… Bwahahahaha!!! 😛

WARNING: Buggy Budget!!!

As I start playing with the features, the Budget feature is what interests me the most. It has a new model, so-called Savings & Spendings. This is because the budgeting feature in Money 2004 was buggy, there are transactions that shouldn’t show up on the budget that incorrectly shows, and duplicate transactions, very frustrating. I was expecting Money 2007’s budgeting feature to be better, or at least not so buggy. Was I ever been more wrong:

This rendered the Budget feature of Money 2007 almost completely (?) useless. I’ll definitely try Quicken 2007 if I can import my data into that (supposedly better) program.

Other Features

I haven’t had time to play yet with the “Business” side of Money 2007 Home & Business, I’m not sure if I’m gonna need it. I don’t even know what “accounts-receivable” means.

Conclusion

Money 2007 seems to be very good. If at least it works the way Money 2004 works, then it’s good, since I’ve been using that one for a long time. The buggy Budget feature though, may really disappoint you, as it clearly disappointed me. If you’re new to financial software, I suggest you go to Quicken 2007 (they definitely owe me a dollar for referring you to their product), even though I haven’t tried it myself (but I will be, definitely). Use Money 2007 only if you need to upgrade from previous Money versions, as Quicken 2007 hasn’t yet (and their employee says, will never) have a convenient upgrade path from Microsoft Money (yes, that’s official, try reading their FAQ). While on the contrary, Money offers “Import Quicken…” directly in its menu. Some companies are funny.

UPDATE: You want to know what I use now? GnuCash, an open source accounting software, running on Ubuntu, an open source operating system. I’ve described Ubuntu before, I hope I can write about GnuCash someday.


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New Financial Software… Required?

Recently I’ve had a conversation with my good friend Aulia Halimatussadiah. One of what we talked was about our financial management. She said her financial was horrible (she earned enough but spent lots more, hehehe). So I suggested her to use the software I’m currently using, Microsoft Money (I’m currently using Money 2004).

It turns out that Money 2007 is already out. I wanted to try it too, but until now can’t get hold of the best version (which is Money 2007 Home & Business edition). Along the way I found that people say Quicken 2007 Home & Business is a better deal.

What I worry so much is not whether Quicken 2007 is actually better than Money 2007 (from the reviews, I’m very eager to try Quicken 2007 because for me Money 2004 was already good enough, I just can’t wait!). But whether Quicken 2007 imports Money 2004 data. Considering that Money is the primary competitor to Quicken, I’d expect that this would be the case.

In several days I should be able to report how I’m doing with Quicken 2007. I’ll also test Money 2007 though, especially if Quicken doesn’t import Money data.

Update: From Quicken Forums, it seems that Quicken 2007 doesn’t support importing Money data directly (although there is an inconvenient workaround available). And many of its customers are cursing. I would call them (Quicken) insane since Quicken 2006 supports importing using an external data converter program that can be downloaded free of charge. I’ll see what I can do, I expect myself to be just continue using Money (but upgrade to 2007) to avoid problems. It’s just a software afterall.

Personal note: If you read my previous post about Building a Dream House, I promised you a review of Chief Architect 10. Don’t worry, I really still had that in mind. But at current rate, I’ll be so lucky if I can get it in a week. So I’m just gonna be patient and you’ve got to be patient as well. If you have a fast Internet connection though, you might as well try it yourself. 😛


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Building A [Dream] House

Recently I wasn’t happy with “my” current house (actually, it’s my parent’s house). Actually not with the house itself, but with what’s inside it and the way I live in it. I began to think “Just wait, one day I’ll have my own house and I’ll have things the way I want them to be…” I know I’m going to wait for a long enough time and even so that wish may never come true, so I decided to get started just now… by dreaming.

So I got copies of several home designer software. Several were just plain bad, old, etc. I want, among other things, these:

  • The program has got to be flexible enough as not to limit my creativity.
  • It must have lots of objects to put in the house. (I want to design a house with all the stuff, furniture etc. even family photos on the wall and desks, not just walls, floors and roofs).
  • The 3D final rendering must be good (e.g. with reflections & shadows). I’m going to use these to print to a photo paper, full color & full resolution, then put them somewhere. So it has got to be good.
  • Super ease of use is not a must, but I just want to be able to use it quickly, and not have to learn AutoCAD.
  • If it runs well under… VMware, then it’s definitely a plus. Though this is not a requirement. In practice most (or all?) of the programs I tested use OpenGL, which doesn’t perform as well in VMware as DirectX programs.

So, after cutting out the “bad” ones, I had these programs left:

Broderbund 3D Home Architect 6

Generated by Flickr Album Maker

I’ve just known that this program isn’t sold again by Broderbund. They now sell FloorPlan 3D 11, which I didn’t test. I like the user interface, it’s good and colorful. The choice of objects isn’t very nice, they are text list with preview if you click one item on the list. I like Punch’s way better. And most of the object libraries are “the same item but different size”. For example, you’ll get several cabinets or tables with almost exactly the same model, but in different sizes. If I want to resize stuff I will scale, not use a different model. So far this program is good. 3D view is slow though, most probably because of running in VMware. The final rendering includes reflections, which definitely adds a wow factor.

Punch Home Design Architectural Series 4000

Generated by Flickr Album Maker

This program looks “advanced” from the first time I launched it. I think this is the most flexible one when compared to the rest of the pack. I like the library view, they actually display previews of items in the listbox. I can’t get the roof to look fine, I think it needs some manual work. What’s so good about this program is the 3D view works very fast, even under VMware. So I say their claim that their 3D rendering is much faster than others is quite true. I also like the way they seem to pay attention to every detail. Things like electrical connections and plumbing can be done, though I’m sure I won’t use these (I’ll just rely on the contractor for that, and for networking, I think it’s safe to say I’m gonna use purely wireless). I think this program is able to generate the large part of details I had in mind about the shape of the house. Although maybe not the objects inside.

Chief Architect Better Homes & Gardens Interior Designer 7.05

At first impression, this program really has a messy interface. Not professional looking. I’ve also caught not being able to resize the splitter between panes, and at that time the sizes aren’t comfortable (one pane is too small it’s impossible to view anything in there). The way it lists the library objects is nice, it has a “folder preview” not only item preview (but very slow on large folders). Final rendering is good enough and when I resize the window small enough it’s quite fast to render with shadows.

So?

Even so, I do get the impression that all of the above programs are buggy and far from perfect. After you use something like Word 2003 then switch to these, you’ll definitely expect them to be a lot better than in their current form. They have their weaknesses, you can try searching Google or Amazon for customer reviews on these products, and most of them will tell that these products suck.

I’m trying to get a hold on another program, which is supposedly to be the best, most flexible, and more complicated than these, which is Chief Architect 10. I’ve not had it yet, but I hope I will be. The content on the web site looks very promising, and the generated houses are quite advanced. So I’m very looking to this, and I guess I’m willing to learn, as this will be a long-term spare-time project (rather than a short-term full-time project).

As for now, which one I’d recommend? I’d say if you’re just making rough ideas, any of the 3 programs above will do fine. If you want flexibility I’d say go for Punch’s. If you want easy of use I guess 3D Home Architect is good, it also has lots of icons to entertain you. Interior Designer is also usable, although the interface is somewhat weird.

Note that I haven’t thoroughly tested all 3 programs, so I may post another article sometime later after I have more results. Keep watching. (or just keep bugging me to do so)


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Why I’m Good at Being Late (and Sony Ericsson K600i is One of The Buggiest Mobile Phones Ever)

I’m sooo good at being late, for work, for school, for college, for dates, basically for anything. Some factors:

  1. I need lots of sleep, 12 hours or more. This makes it hard for me to get up in the morning.
  2. I need to be waken progressively. This is a physiological defect in my body. I have to be waken, then snoozed, waken, snoozed, a few times before I can become fully awake.
  3. I don’t want to get up too early. I like to wake up during the “perfect period”.
  4. My family doesn’t care about this. They alert me around 1-2 hours before the actual event and then forgets.
  5. The stupidest thing: My Sony Ericsson K600i’s alarm is flawed, by far the most ridiculous and dangerous factor of all of the above. When I snoozed it, it’ll wait 9 minutes before waking me back. But there are times when I snoozed it and it never wakes up again. But the “alarm” icon is still there. Among of the other defects this phone has (it restarted during the first 24 hours of operation after I bought it, and several more times later), it certainly is the buggiest phone I’ve ever had. The value/features is quite good though, if only it works right.

The solution(s):

  1. Fix my family. Will never happen. I’ll definitely try to find a wife that understands this. Or maybe not try, REQUIRE.
  2. Fix my phone. Maybe get a fixed firmware or buy another new (hopefully not flawed) phone. Not a very good solution for a simple (yet disastrous) problem.
  3. Fix myself. Generally hard. I’ve had all the defects myself: habitual, behavioral, and physiological / bodily.

Still stuck at the moment. 🙁


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Sambil Menyelam Minum Air == Cari Duit…

Ah… meskipun aku di sini udah kerja, tapi nggak ada salahnya kan nyoba2 cari duit tambahan. Emang sih kerja di sini nggak banyak dapetnya (kayanya semua orang bilang gitu deh ya…) tapi yang enak di sini tuh ada koneksi Internet yang sering bisa dipake kalo warnetnya lagi nggak 100% penuh plus akhir2 ini aku jarang dikasih kerjaan (programming). Jadi bisa bebas menjelajah dunia maya, belajar, dan bereksperimen…

Eksperimenku cari duit yang pertama duluuuu banget waktu SMA tuh bikin program bernama MidMaze, semacam Winamp. Dijual shareware seharga US $20, lumayan bisa dapet beberapa ratus ribu sampai lebih dari sejuta setelah beberapa bulan. Tapi akhirnya kandas juga, terlalu menyita waktu & tenaga apalagi pikiran.

Yang sudah berjalan kira2 setahun tuh masang banner Google AdSense di GaulDong. Emang sih nggak banyak, satu kali cek cair harus nunggu ngumpulin sen demi sen selama kira2 4 bulan, itupun pas ngecairin cek dipalak US$ 30 dulu ama Bank Mandiri. Ya nggak papa… yang penting dapet. GaulDong sendiri sudah beberapa kali terseok2, gara2 PHP 5 nggak jalan mulus padahal seluruh enginenya udah diupgrade pake PHP 5, akhirnya mbikin script dari awal pake PHP 4 yang sederhana, jadinya ya seperti yang ada sekarang ini. Tapi ternyata pengunjungnya masih ada aja, dan masih ada yang berbaik hati mau ngeklik bannernya Google AdSense. Saya amat bersyukur…

Dari situ saya mencoba untuk cari duit dengan cara lain tapi nggak jauh2 dari AdSense. Bikin blog… Yang saya seriusin sekarang adalah blog Web 2.0 with Ruby on Rails, tapi saya juga masang banner di semua blog saya yang lain termasuk blog pribadi ini dan blog Jejak Petualang Ubuntu. Bahkan (sssttt… rahasia lho) saya juga bikin blog yang isinya “menegangkan”… linknya untuk sementara nggak akan saya kasih langsung di sini tapi kalo mau tahu bisa didapetin dari Kaskus maupun BlueFame.

Selain Google AdSense, saya lagi mencoba pake Amazon.com Affiliate. Trus lagi mencoba advertising network yang lain seperti AdBrite (untuk topik umum) dan AVNads (untuk yang “menegangkan”). RSS feed telah saya ubah agar memakai FeedBurner, jadi pelanggannya bisa di-tracking (itupun kalo ada yang berlangganan, *sigh*).

Bila FeedBurner untuk tracking statistik RSS feed, untuk tracking website sendiri saya menggunakan Google Analytics. Ada juga sih yang lain yaitu CrazyEgg tapi kegunaannya sedikit berbeda dan CrazyEgg mempunyai keterbatasan kalo versi free-nya.

Ah… Segitu aja deh laporan saya kali ini… Nyari duit kaya gini 100% halal lho, nggak ada MLM-nya sama sekali… Dan yang paling penting, fun, nggak dikejar target… Saya ngeblog pun menulis topik2 yang saya suka. Kalo dapet duit ya Alhamdulillaah, kalo nggak dapet ya paling2 males ngeblog lagi hehehe… 😛 Kalo Anda belum mencoba dan pingin mencoba, monggo saja… Kalo Anda sudah mencoba dan dapat duit banyak, bagi2 dong tipsnya!!! 😉


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Free Promotion: Digg, Slashdot, Del.icio.us, Technorati, Furl, …

There are several ways you can promote your site or a page in your site for free, that may drive some traffic or maybe lots (if you’re lucky and the quality of your content is high), some of them are:

Note that in community-based services like Digg and Slashdot, you’ll most likely get negative results if you try to abuse it. As long as you stay within limits you’ll be loved by the community.

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Google Analytics ROCKS!!

Despite some bad things I’ve heard about Google Analytics, my first impressions about it is that it’s an excellent tool. I’ve had used AWStats and Webalizer before, and I’ve had to say Google Analytics somewhat ate them all right from the front overview page:

You’ll immediately notice that the site still has low number of visitors, even there’s no history data since I’ve just started using it only very recently… not to mention that the site itself is also new. 😉 But the point is that Google Analytics works and the reports are very useful. Using it is also very easy, too, just sign up then copy-paste the generated code into all of your pages (or your footer HTML template), and you’re done.

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