Trishanku and Byte This

July 14th, 2014

Attention /////// Moving on!

You may have noticed this blog is not getting much attention these days. I now blog more or less weekly at The Jakarta Globe’s Tech Column “Byte This” which is taking up most of my blogging time.

Also, I have just started my own company, trishanku-digital. Like Trishanku’s Facebook page to get news and analysis about the effects on digitization on the arts, culture, and media.

On here, I will continue to publish photos, translations, and random stuff in irregular intervals.



Have you noticed the giant LED display on Mall Taman Anggrek has a new feature?

December 22nd, 2013

As a resident of an apartment complex with unobstructed westward view, I’ve become a big fan of the Mall Taman Anggrek LED facade. As the sun sets over Jakarta’s milky skyline, colors and advertising messages come to a flickering life. Soon, the massive building begins to glow. And watching this, I feel part of a grand, futuristic, urban scenario.


Photo by Standard Vision (This company built the Taman Aggrek’s LED facade)

So, naturally, last time on the way home from Soekarno Hatta Airport, I made a point of greeting my beloved wall from up close. A pleasant surprise that, instead of the usual ads, there was somehting new going on: The central tall column of the setup invites passers-by to send tweets with the hashtag #TAmonsters. Cute cartoon monsters with your tweet in a speech bubble then proceed to crawl across the screen. “yoo the interactive LED  wall at taman anggrek is.pretty dope! #tamonsters!” I tweeted, then craned my neck in vein as I had passed before I could see “my” monster in action.

“Still”, I said to myself, “Still! – this is pretty cool. I want to find out who did this.”

My first hunch was that it was the PR project of a big toy or games company. Are TAmonsters the new Pokemon? Who knows what kids play with these days.

But it’s actually better than that. The people behind this project are Toge Productions, a small local game developer. These are real geeks given a free pass to experiment with the giant display by Iris Worldwide, an agency which creates content for the Taman Anggrek Billboard.

I asked Kris Antoni, one of the two founders of Toge Productions, a few questions about the project.


Q. Why did Iris invite you to do this project?

A. The LED Billboard on Mall Taman Anggrek is very very big. The LED Billboard actually consist of 4 separateLED panels. 2 smaller screens with high resolution and 2 largre screens with lower resolution.


Screen Configuration at Mall Taman Anggrek LED Billboard. Image courtesy of Toge Productions

Before we got on board with the project, most of the content shown in the LED Billboard were either videos or images. Iris often created and rendered 4 different videos for each segment of the LED Billboard. When viewed together, it appears as a seamless video. But the creation of these videos can take days. This approach can clearly not be used for interactive content.

Iris once tried to make the screen interactive for their “ASK TAMI” campaign in 2012, but they faced a lot of technical challenges that were left unresolved.

In early 2013 they decided to attempt another interactive wall campaign, to take it to the next level. And to overcome the technical challenges, Iris asked for our help. Our company is a small independent game development studio. We work on our own game projects. We don’t usually accept work for hire, but this project got our interest because it’s cool and unique.

Q. As I gather from your blog, your initial ambition was to create an interactive humans vs. zombies multiplayer game on the screen. However, you finally decided to simplify it a lot. What do you think could be done improve the gameplay and to make the experience last longer for passers-by?

A. Most of the “players” or audience right now are in a car passing the mall. They only have a few minutes to understand what is going on with the screen. This is why we decided to reduce the concept to its essence. We want people to understand the concept and play with the screen as quickly as possible.

We are going to work on a companion mobile app with a lot of cool new stuff in it. We would also love to add a few mini-games and more interactions on the LED Screen.

Q. Can people inside the Mall interact with the wall?

A. Not at the moment. But that too will hopefully change once we have the companion mobile app.

Q. How did the Mall Taman Anggrek Management react to the idea?

A. They are great people to work with. They are very open to ideas and suggestions, they gave us full creative freedom, with some minor legal guidelines. It’s awesome!

Q. How long will #TAmonsters still be visible?

A. Taman Anggrek has not set any timeframe. Right now it seems it will run indefinitely.

Q. What was the most creative use from a player?

A. I would say traffic reports. Some also tried to use it as a tool to promote their twitter account or sell products. We had to remove these posts though. Most are random but funny rants.

Q. What did you do to promote the project?

A. Nothing much, only a few posters inside the mall, a few tweets and blog posts.

Q. Do you think this experiment could be the start of some more creative use of the TAMI LED wall? Is Mall Taman Anggrek open to the idea? 

A. I think there will be more cool stuff in the future!


The project has already won several awards at Citra Pariwara 2013, which Kris calls “The Oscars for Indonesian Advertising.”


TAmonsters in action. Image courtesy of Toge Productions

Crocodile Pit

August 31st, 2013

These are some photos taken at the “Lubang Buaya” complex in Jakarta, near the Halim Airport. An old military facility, this is said to be the site where seven high ranking Indonesian Army officials where tortured and murdered by “communist traitors” in an attempt to overthrow the government in 1965.

The memorial site consists of huts containing “relics” and life-size figures, depicting scenes of the capture and intimidation of the generals, the well into which the bodies of the generals were disposed of, the Pancasila Monument with a bas relief showing a sequence of events starting from Sukarnos presidency under the NASAKOM priciples until the handover of power to General Suharto, who later became president.









Pretty impressive and haunting piece of state propaganda. The whole place is designed to give you the chills and conjure a sense of indisputable “truth”. Nearby is the “Museum of Communist Treachery”. I can imagine visiting this place as a child can have a long lasting traumatizing effect.

Wiji Thukul – aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri

May 24th, 2013

Tempo magazine last week brought out a special about the poet and activist Wiji Thukul, who “disappeared” in 1998 along with 12 other activists. Thukul is still missing until today. The magazine included a booklet with some of his poems. I’m sure they have been translated to English and Dutch before, but I could not find one in German. So here is my go at one of the poems I liked most: aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri


aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri

Ich werde von meiner eigenen Regierung gejagt
als trüge ich
eine gefährliche Krankheit in mir

Ich bin nun ein Gesetzesbrecher
Doch gegen das Gesetz einer Regierung zu verstoßen
die tyrannisch ist
ist kein Fehler
Selbst wenn sie mich hineinwerfen
in eins ihrer Gefängnisse

Nun liege ich rücklings
auf der Ladefläche eines LKWs
der sehr schnell vorankommt
Tasche und Handrücken
stützen mich als Kissen

ich nehme
die Frische der Nachtluft in mir auf
der Himmel ist ganz klar
von Millionen von Sternen

erst heute Nacht
sind meine Lungen auf diese Weise frei

Die Nacht ist ganz klar
wie meine Gedanken
Obwohl die Mächtigen planen
alles aufzuwühlen

Doch wer schafft es
die Ruhe der Sterne zu stören?


Indonesian original by Wiji Thukul

aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri
layaknya aku ini
penderita penyakit berbahaya

aku sekarang buron
tapi jadi buron pemerintah yang
bukanlah cacat
pun seandainya aku dijebloskan
ke dalam penjaranya

aku sekarang terlentang
di belakang bak truk
yang melaju kencang
berbantal tas
dan punggung tangan

kuhisap dalam-dalam
segarnya udara malam
langit amat jernih
oleh jutaan bintang

baru malam ini
begitu merdeka paru-paruku

malam sangat jernih
sejernih pikiranku
walau penguasa hendak
tapi siapa mampu mengusik
ketenangan bintang-bintang?






Tiger Kingdom Inside

May 24th, 2013


























Chiang Mai

Harlem Cake

February 23rd, 2013

Last night I took my new camera out for the first time.  Of course I hadn’t familiarized myself with anything, so I just put it to automatic mode and snapped away (= mostly blurry photos, must do better next time)

This is what happened at Paola’s birthday party in Jakarta, Febuary 22, 2013.

Some of it.



























Needless to say, I wasn’t the most popular party guest. I was the creepy person taking candid shots. Thanks everyone, what a crowd!

Oh, this also happend:

I stole the title “Harlem Cake” from him.

All photos by @texastee


V-Day #1billionrising in Jakarta

February 14th, 2013



We danced. For women, against violence, for equality, against discrimination, or something.


Strike, dance, rise.






She was the best dancer.


The organizer took a minute to smile at me before an interview.


Ibu Mardiyah Chamim.


Metro TV crew.




She did not want to be photographed.


These guys rolled up.


He was sketching.


Rainbow dancers.


We met in the crowd, smiled at each other, took this photo and each went our way.






Strike, dance and rise.




All photos by @texastee at V-Day Jakarta

Some nights and days of rain

January 17th, 2013











Took these on my way to work today, ca. 9am. Bunderan HI and Menteng area.

<Edit: this is just in my area, which can be considered the central business hub of Jakarta with the main roads and office towers. Now wading knee deep in water and watching traffic chaos unfold may make it sound like fun rather than a real disaster, but other areas were far worse hit, with entire streets drowned, houses flooded and electricity shut off.>

Tiny Carbon Footprints in the Sand

July 24th, 2012

Pulau Macan – Working towards a small “sustainable” island community

Part of what I love about living in Indonesia is that I have friends here who have created unconventional careers for themselves. One of these friends is Roderick, he runs a small Eco-Resort on a tiny island just 1.5 hours off the Jakarta harbor.

This island, Pulau Macan or Tiger Islands, is a speck in the clutter of islands called “Thousand Islands“. In reality, there are about 120. Less than 10 of them have tourist resorts on them, most of them are uninhabited, and some of them have larger island populations of up to a couple of thousand people. Even though they are easily accessible by speedboat from Jakarta for a weekend trip, they have not been that popular with tourists.

Some of these islands are privately “owned” (long-term-leased from the government) oftentimes by wealthy businesspeople who rarely ever make it out to “their” island and usually have a caretaker family looking after it. Tiger Island is one of those islands, it´s owner however agreed to let my friend Roderick rent and manage the island into an Eco-Resort that would be attractive enough for tourists from Jakarta.

This was about 4 years ago, and Tiger Island is now mostly booked out during weekends with a capacity of up to 40 people, and is still quite busy during weekdays. In these years, Pulau Macan has evolved from a tiny island with a few run-down buildings on it into a beautiful weekend getaway for the eco-conscious, with a form of open air lab for green technologies attached.

On my last visit I asked Drigo to give me a tour of the status quo of the island´s eco technologies.


The island was dependant on importing gasoline from the mainland or other islands in order to power its generator. Importing gallons of gasoline on boats which in turn run on gasoline is, as one can imagine, costly and ineffective. This may have been ok when there was only one family living, but would become increasingly more difficult with more and more guests visiting the island.

One of the major improvements for the island was the investment in a “stand alone” solar panel system which charges up batteries when the sun is bright and makes this energy available at night and on overcast days.

Solar panels on jetty

To install the system was not cheap, but since it offers a  free source of energy and the technology is guaranteed for up to 10 years, it can be easily calculated that the investment pays back.

The "battery pack". Excess energy is stored during the day, converted and released by night if needed

The island requires about 200 Watts of energy during the day, this mainly to run kitchen appliances such as the fridge, and 1000 watts at night, when all lights are on.

Currently 80% of the island´s energy needs can be covered by the solar panels. The rest still needs to be supplemented by generator. A way of improving this might be the successive exchange of energy saving lightbulbs to LED and the installment of an additional power source such as a wind turbine. Or simply more solar panels?


The other major issue on the island is water. This encompasses the freshwater needed for drinking, showering and washing, as well as the management of wastewater on the island.

Rainwater collecting system

Like gasoline, fresh and drinking water needs to be imported from the main land or neighboring islands. Pulau Macan does not have a well.

Bamboo pipe system drains rainwater off roofs and filters it into a large container

To ease the need for expensive water, a simple rain water collecting system was installed. Basically rain is cought in drainage pipes off the roofs of the larger buildings. The water is transportet through an above-ground bamboo piping system and filtered into a large drum. However, in the process the water picks up particles from the bamboo and disintegrating leaves, so that the water is eventually not clean enough to supply guest huts, due to brownish color that is in itself not harmful but looks unhealthy.

The rainwater collected is momentarily used for watering the island and cleaning around the house and boats.

Right now, only a small percentage of potential rain water is collected, which makes sense since its use is so limited. Fresh water still needs to be imported for drinking, cooking and showering. If a way was found of storing more and cleaner rainwater, this might reduce the need for the island to import fresh water significantly.

Wastewater management

The water from showers and sinks is captured, filtered, and reused for watering the gardens. This requires the use of biodegradable, non-harmful chemicals in soaps, shampoos and detergents.

The toilets don´t factor into the use of fresh water, because they flush with salt water from the sea.

Most of the wastewater from the toilets is captured in septic tanks. One pilot toilet so to speak, has a more sophisticated “artificial wetland” attached to it.

artificial wetlands - here saltwater version with baby mangroves

In this system, the (salty) wastewater seeps through a series of gravel/sand/coral/pineleaves filled tanks, and on top of these mangrove plants grow, freeing the water from some of the harmful nutrients before the waste water seeps back out into the sea.


Compost and Gardens

Kitchen wastes are composted in deisgnated areas around the island.  This compost is used in the gardens…


Growing some aloe vera, chillies and papaya

… however, the gardens are still the problem child of the island, at is has been very difficult to grow anything substantial so far, most likely due to the overall high salinity of the soil or an acidity problem which might stem from the many pineleaves from surrounding trees.

Compost pit and chicken playground

The compost pits are a favorite with the island chicken, which roam around freely and dig happily in the dirt. Their job is to hunt for worms and centipedes, which can become a nuisance if they have no natural enemy. Some mice were also introduced to the island to help with the hunt for centipedes. The mice in turn are hunted by the local monitor lizard and some hawks and owls.


A lot of dirftwood reaches the thousand islands, and Roderick and his team occasionally collect driftwood on the beaches of the neighboring islands.

Roderick on a pile of wood

A lot of the island furniture is made out of the driftwood that finds its way there. It makes the interior of each hut unique, like in this beautiful open air, ocean facing coral hut.

Some ideas

Pulau Macan is not a zero-carbon footprint self-sustainable miracle yet. But I do find 80% of energy use from solar pretty impressive. I guess made possible by the fact that very little energy is needed, especially during the day.

Some ideas are floating around, still waiting to be imeplemented and tested.

1. Would planting in a greenhouse environment lead to better results? The soil might be healthier, and pine leaves would be kept out. Should be easy to try on a small scale.

2. A fish farm would be an obvious asset. Right now fish is bought on farms on neighboring islands. Fishing in the waters surrounding the islands is not advisable, since they are already largely overfished.

3. Windturbine to assist the solar panels. There´s always a nice breeze.

4. Of course: algae farm. As additional food source and fertilizer? Or even energy source?

5. Live there? The obvious major flaw to the eco-conscious mind is that you still need to get out there, usually on a gas-eating speedboat. Yea, you could sail, but this takes too long for a weekend trip. Of course living there longer term and cutting back on the number of trips to the mainland would help. 3G connection is pretty stable…

Cryopreservation: If they can do it, why can’t we?

February 24th, 2012

Loved this piece of sciency news today: common fruit flies, apparently, can survive being frozen at -5° Celsius for more than an hour, continuing development regularly afterwards and even producing healthy offspring.

cc by Joe Jimbo

One simple trick made this possible: the fruit fly larvae were fed a mixture of an amino acid called L-proline and glycerol. Both components act as cryoprotectants. Researches got the idea after they found out that an arctic variety of drosophila produce this amino acid to withstand the cold. The arctic flies are in fact so good at it that they can survice being dipped into liquid nitrogen (!), that’s about -196°Celsius.

How absolutely cool is that? Thinking this further, Does this mean that soon all those deep-freeze fantasies, allowing humans to preserve their bodies to be awoken several years, sometimes hundreds if years later, will soon become reality?!

There’s one possible application of the cryoprotectant amino acid L-proline which could become useful in the not-so-distant future: to preserve organs just a little longer before transplantation.


Outsmarting traffic with Jakarta’s Go-Jek

February 21st, 2012

cc by Shanghai Daddy

Whoever has been to Jakarta knows how it is to be stuck in traffic. Epic, hopeless congestions will make you want to tear your hair out, especially if you are trying to get home after a long day and you KNOW your home is – in theory – only a few kilometres away.

Unfortunately, Jakarta does not have a rail-based public transport system like tram, underground or similar. The only other means of getting around slightly faster is… by motorbike. Because bikes can weave though the traffic and thus get to the next traffic light just ahead of the pack.

cc by tb smith

DIY motorbike taxi

Jakartans have known this for a long time, and unsurprisingly, Jakarta’s streets are full of motorbikes;  in fact I believe they are key contributors to the traffic problem, but let’s leave that aside for now.

Motorbikes are pretty affordable, and a small industry has sprung up around the idea of motorbike taxis. Normally, the way this works is that some motorbike-owning emang with not much to do offers his services to whoever happens to walk past. This type of informal, unlicensed transportation service is called “ojek”.

Motorbike taxis clearly have potential, but most of the wealthier Jakartans are reluctant to use this service. Of course, riding a motorbike means being exposed to heat and rain, to smog and dust. It is not very safe and the average ojek driver isn’t necessarily experienced or well trained.


Smart move of Jakarta based starup Go-Jek to tackle that problem. Of course they can’t away take the heat and dust, but their mission is to make ojek smarter, safer and more convenient by providing a more formalized service. However, instead of putting new drivers and bikes on the street, they choose to work with already existing drivers that are selected by 3 criteria: their experience, their reliability and whether they have a valid drivers’ license. The call-an-ojek hotline now makes it possible to give drives additional rides, leading to less idle time. (App to follow soon, I hope!)

This is what their website looks like. Apart from transporting people, Go-Jek also offers courier services for goods.

So simple, so brilliant! Go-Jek has received quite a lot of attention, also from international media such as this time magazine video and won numerous Indoensian business innovation awards.

On my next visit, I will definitely use this service.

A typical trip from Kemang (South Jakarta) to Menteng (Central Jakarta) would cost me 40,000 IDR, which is about 3.8 Euros. By car, this trip could easily take 60-90 minutes. By bike, perhaps half that time.

I have to say it is rather expensive (a regular taxi ride would not be that much more), but if I get there way faster it may still be worth it. I hope Go-Jek has plans to provide training and more long-time security for drivers under its program as the company grows.