Minggu, Juni 22, 2008

Lyra's Oxford

Last week on weekday, I spent my time after office hours to PIM. I needed a little bit moment to refresh myself by walking around and buying some books. I really enjoyed going to PIM on weekday, since it's not too crowded of peoples. So I could walking around quietly.

When I went to Kinokuniya, I saw a Pullman's book. Yeah, it's Lyra's Oxford, a book which I had been looking for after finishing The Amber Spyglass. I accidentally found it. I recognize the book from it's red cover. I was so surprise that the book was only contains about 50 pages. And it's shape is far smaller than His Dark Material collection. I felt quite disappointed. Moreover, it's more expensive than HDM books. Nearly 100 k rupiahs. But I didn't care. I had to bought and read it.

Even it has no direct relation with the HDM series. It told the stories related with Oxford, witches, Will, Lord Asriel's war, etc. It's even told that the plot was taken 2 years after Lyra and Will were parted. About the witches and hers daemon which has the power of separation. And about Will's characters: encouraged and brave.

The story itself told about Lyra's life in Oxford. One time, there was a kind of bird which later was a witch daemon came to Lyra and asking for her help to find an elixir for his witch. The witch daemon told Lyra that there was a new disease which both of them were suffering from. When a witch died, her daemon remained alive, alone. Too horrible and miserable for daemon.

Along their journey of finding someone who could make the elixir, there were several uncanny things. Whenever the witch daemon met a flock of birds, he would have been attacked by them, begin with the starlings, pigeons, and swans.

At the end of the story, it was told that the witch and her daemon intended to trap and kill her and all the blame would be addressed to the one who in the book could make the elixir. They're all lying about the disease and the elixir. Finally Lyra was saved by a swan. And eventually she and her daemon realized the reason why the birds always attacked the witch daemon. They are all protecting Lyra. Yeah, and I had just realized why the chapter title is Lyra and The Birds.

I was quite satisfied of the book. HDM lovers should read this book I guess. Not too bad, but not too good. I would give 3.5 of 5 stars rating. The minus from this book is it has only around 50 pages, too short I think. The story is not profoundly explained. Moreover, I didn't understand why it's price is higher than HDM collection.

Nice Puzzle

Finally, I finished it. I bought it 3 months ago, and I never tried to arrange each piece into a complete picture. It has only 300 pieces, so it didn't take to much time to solve.

Jumat, Juni 13, 2008

Trip to Hong Kong

After waiting for about one month, last week became my first journey to go abroad. I and my three colleagues went to Hong Kong in a business trip. We're invited to visit and benchmark one of mobile TV and one of mobile operator in Hong Kong. It took about 4,5 hours to travel from Jakarta.

My first impression when arriving at the airport: it's so big, clean, and futuristic. The technologies used is so advanced compared to Jakarta, made me dream when will Jakarta achieve this advance. From airport, it took about 30 minutes to carry us to hotel. We used airport train to Central station, and then we used taxi to hotel.

The most amazing thing is everything is well managed. Yeah, almost everything. One of them I observed is its public transportation infrastructure. You can go everywhere in city using bus, taxi, and MTR. Every two minutes, a train will arrive to station to carry peoples to their destination. So people don't need to wait too long. Unfortunately, we had no time to try bus. So I didn't really know about this kind of transportation.

Hong Kong is a free-tax city. Everything sold is tax free but car, alcohol, tobacco and perfume. I have no idea how many percent the car is taxed by local government. If you have a car, then you're supposed to be very very rich. Anyway, parking fee for cars is so expensive. I saw a banner showing: 11 HKD per half hour. And I was told that it was the cheapest one. Sounds crazy. So peoples prefer walking and using public transportation than using their own cars. It seemed, Hong Kong is too crowded. Buildings were built everywhere. It's lack of free land. So, it's lack of parking lot as well.

Because everything is well managed, the city is clean and tidy. It's amazing I didn't see any BTS tower in the city. I wondered where the BTS tower are really installed. I found later they are installed on rooftop of each building. And some of them placed behind advertising banners that no one would notice its appearance. Every BTS is shared by local operators. It of course would spare some spaces. It's very contrast to Jakarta, which is full of BTS forest.

On secod day in Hong Kong, we visited Speed Cast and PCCW company. Speed Cast is a company who has license to broadcast video content (news, sports, etc). Whereas PCCW is a telecommunication operator who operates in Hong Kong.

Speed Cast sells its video content to some operators in Hong Kong, but not exclusive to operators only. The operators sells the content to its subscriber. In Hong Kong, 60 percents of subscribers are postpaid users, who have more advantages compared to prepaid. Prepaid users can only use basic services like voice, sms, and MMS. Whereas value added services, even like 3G, Video Call, and GPRS, are not available to prepaid users. So, mobile TV contents are only available to postpaid users. Operators use subscription based when selling the contents. It differs from what we used in Indonesia, where charge is applied on each content. In Hong Kong, users subscribe to a service and will be charged monthly. The subscripton model is cheaper. You can subscribe for 7-channels on Mobile TV services by paying not more than 20 HKD.

PCCW, on the contrary has its own license. It doesn't buy license from Speed Cast. Moreover, it's not only an telecommunication operator. But also Wireless Network and IP TV provider. So amazing, because PCCW could integrate all of its services and ease its subscribers to use the services.

The one thing I dislike from this city is it's too crowded by peoples. I could see a sea of peoples walking everywhere. In my opinion, the city is too busy and too loud. It doesn't really fit with me. I like silence and quiet environment. For this, Jakarta is better I guess. :(

Unfortunately, because of our strict schedule during our visit, we had not much time to explore the city, even for buying some souvenirs to be carried back. When we arrived to airport on the way home, we had only 15 minutes to buy some souvenirs there. While buying, we expected our plane would be delayed. Luckily, it came true, so we continued buying more souvenirs there.