The Future of Writers in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Can human writers outpace and outdo the tech development, especially Artificial Intelligence? (Photo source: Wim van Rossem / Anefo at Wikimedia Commons)

Everyone is alarmed at the speedy development of technology. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) gaining momentum these days, I become more conversant with this topic.

And of course, the conversations about  AI are mostly about how much the potential that AI can offer for us to solve many current issues. On top of that is the ever growing anxiety that AI will take place humans. More unemployment can be foreseen in the future if AI is not controlled.

As a writer myself, I’ve seen some news about some machine or algorithm or software that writes hard news on sport events or natural disaster hard news.

So if you ask me if I should feel worried or not about the ongoing circumstances of the writing market, I guess I choose to stay optimistic.

Why so?

Well, all I can tell is that this thing dubbed as AI is not competent of analytical writing. And because they are machines, they don’t have unique personalities at all. They are just machines. So they can never ever write any opinion pieces just like you and I do!

In spite of all this optimism, I know some perils lie ahead of us writers.

We cannot just sit idly in our chairs and casually wait until they devour us as a whole.

Just recently, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (popularly known as MIT) informed public that a team of researchers managed to develop AI that has the ability to read scientific papers and summarize these cumbersome manuscripts into a sentence or two. In other words, they are trying to invent a summarizing machine!

It is said that the AI may be useful for wordsmiths like me to scan heaps of papers to get a preliminary sense of what they are about.

But the AI is also showing promise in some other fields such as speech recognition and machine translation.

Speech recognition is technology that has the ability of recognizing spoken words. And all these can be changed into text. According to Research and Markets research firm, speech recognition market will be worth US$18 billion by 2023.

What’s so special and beneficial about speech recognition?

It is claimed to be very time-efficient and energy saving. For example, if you have to communicate with multiple people/ companies over email, with speech recognition and AI you’ll never need to type emails and send them manually.

Head of Revenue at ClaraLabs Briana Burgess stated that Clara (a rebranded version of the Siri virtual assistant technology you see on iPhone and other iOS devices) has helped her send a lot of emails to schedule and reschedule meetings. All this was achieved only by simple voice command. No typing on a cumbersome laptop, fatal typos and wrong email addresses. So hassle-free. Compared to composing emails for the same purpose, she could amazingly save more than 9 hours! That means you can actually be efficient and get more work done. Beast!

Results of AI may not be quite elegant and literary but they do compose and collect substantial points of information. And readers will eventually find them still readable and informative. No big problem whatsoever.

But that is email and hard news.

I still don’t believe that AI can match human’s ability and knack for writing a beautiful, touching, emotionally provocative, literary work.

Machines are machines.

They do have memories, and intelligence, and consistency.

Humans are humans.

We may not be lacking in the consistency department but I bet we excel more at the creativity aspect. We have imagination. Something an ultimate machine can never learn.

And when we’re now too absorbed with writing cheesy click baits, ‘trivial’ and technical content for the web traffic or page views, we’ll soon lose the competition. Our web is more about “how-to”, and less about “why”.

Why do we need to know and learn THIS instead of THAT? That’s the big question.

And this philosophical, profound question can never be answered by machines.

 

Sources:

Sciencedaily.com

https://emerj.com/ai-sector-overviews/ai-for-speech-recognition/

https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2017/05/19/artificial-intelligence-will-impact-professional-writing/

https://www.wired.com/2017/02/robots-wrote-this-story/

Posted in writer, writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Hack: A Documentary That’ll Make You Hate Social Media

In 2009, I was signing up for Facebook for the first time. I was online on my Motorola phone and the idea of hyperconnected-ness seemed very cool and futuristic at the time.

Unbeknownst to me, I had also traded my online privacy. I poured down my private data like crazy ever since. I uploaded a lot of photos, videos, and also private texts in the Messenger. Until last year, I opted out of the social media service. Not again was I on that notorious site. I deleted my account in hopes that it stops tracing my online behaviors and influence my changes of mindset and behaviors. Scary.

I simply started to hate Facebook after the company has been involved in some incidents of privacy violation of its users. And the amount of hatred and hoax that circulate in it during the presidential election in Indonesia and the U.S. also made me so appalled and disgusted.

The notorious, massive scandal of online privacy violation that involved Facebook and Cambridge Analytica has even made me feel more disgusted.

I’ve been trying so hard to leave Facebook. And I made it.

But it has become a major global economic power that acts like an octopus. It has so many tentacles. Facebook is now the owner of Instagram, a social media app that I love so much. And to add to the horrid condition, it also acquires WhatsApp, a chat platform that Indonesians cannot live without. I too experienced a major failure in leaving it. The network of people that I know of sucked me back into the app once again until this very second.

So when I watched “The Great Hack” (2019) today, it triggered my emotion button. Now that I am actively involved as a volunteer in Mozilla Foundation, I have learned more knowledge on the importance of online privacy and data privacy and all the related issues.

Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, the movie was a reminder that everyone of us is now a pawn that is manipulated by a group of masterminds. From Mr. Trump’s victory to personality quizzes as baits for Facebook users to relinquish their personality tendency data, we can learn a lot here that humans and their data are now commodities.

Again and again, we are faced with the constant conflict between ethical-moral compass versus greed triggered by the use of technology. There are a cycle of it: first, people think technology is a savior; second, they use it without limits; third, they regret that they didn’t set the limits once it is too late. Humans are the most intelligent yet most foolish creature on the planet.

Brittany Kaiser is one of key figures here. And she is rather strangely acting as the bitch and the heroine in the documentary. How is it so? She is the bitch because she worked for Cambridge Analytica and allegedly heavily involved in pro-Brexit campaign and Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. In dire need for money to save her family from financial hurricane, she accepted the job offer from its former CEO Alexander Nix. There is no big deal if you steal bread if you’re starved but if your crime has affected more people than you can imagine, even death penalty is never enough. Go read this article to learn more about her.

Paul-Olivier Dehaye is a protagonist here. He is staunchly campaigning for online privacy and relentlessly strives for the internet users’ fundamental rights.

This documentary managed to force me to sit still and ponder, asking inside my conscience, why this should not considered a light crime. And it is right to be enraged and thus take actions against these kinds of most subtle mind and behavior manipulation.

Once again, I see how humanity fails in the temptation of greed of power and wealth. This has gotten me thinking into the question: “What’s next?” (*/)

Posted in social media, technology | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orang Kudus soal Hukuman Mati untuk Bupati Kudus

Saya yakin sepenuhnya bahwa para pemimpin adalah cerminan dari rakyat yang memilihnya. Dan jika ada yang salah dalam diri pemimpin, seharusnyalah kita sebagai rakyat perlu tidak hanya mengoreksi pemimpin tersebut tetapi juga mawas diri. Apa saja yang sudah kita lakukan sehingga kita terkena musibah memiliki pemimpin yang kurang membanggakan para pengikutnya?

Karena itulah, saya menulis “Begini Cara Jadi Pemilih Cerdas dan Bersih di 2019” lalu. Karena saya sendiri juga sudah muak dengan masyarakat Indonesia yang rata-rata terlalu pemaaf atau berlagak sok lupa dengan rekam jejak para pemimpin yang sudah jelas-jelas mengkhianati amanat rakyat di masa lalu dan masih saja memilih oknum-oknum tersebut di periode setelahnya.

Di tulisan tersebut, saya menekankan bagaimana kita sebagai rakyat yang memiliki hak pilih untuk tidak memilih orang-orang yang sudah terbukti tanpa keraguan sudah melakukan tindak kejahatan korupsi, kolusi atau nepotisme.

Yang saya takutkan terjadi juga di kampung halaman saya, Kudus. Sebagai putra daerah, saya sangat malu dengan apa yang terjadi dengan bupati Tamzil yang sebenarnya dulu sudah pernah menjabat kemudian terpilih kembali.

Sebelumnya Tamzil sudah pernah terpilih sebagai bupati pada tahun 2003 hingga 2008. Tahun 2014, ia dicokok aparat karena dugaan keterlibatannya dalam korupsi dana bantuan sarana dan prasarana pendidikan kabupaten Kudus untuk tahun anggaran 2004. Ia ditetapkan sebagai tersangka dan tahanan bulan September di tahun yang sama. Cuma dipenjara selama 1 tahun 10 bulan dan denda Rp100 juta, ia kemudian melenggang bebas Desember 2015.

Perbuatan nista yang terbukti di pengadilan itu tidak membuat surut niatnya untuk mencalonkan diri lagi. Tahun 2018 ia terpilih lagi sebagai bupati dan kembali terperosok di lubang yang sama setelah bebas selama 3 tahun 7 bulan. Kali ini soal jual-beli jabatan di lingkaran pemerintah kabupaten Kudus yang uangnya dipakai untuk melunasi cicilan mobil pribadi. Ia terseret bersama dengan staf khususnya Agus Soeranto dan Pelaksana Teknis Sekretaris Dinas Pendapatan Pengelolaan Keuangan dan Aset Daerah Akhmad Sofyan. Tak cuma Tamzil, ternyata Agus juga pernah dipenjara gara-gara korupsi pula. ’Luar biasa’ berani ya!!!

Kini lagi-lagi ia menjadi bulan-bulanan orang-orang di sekitarnya. gubernur Jateng Ganjar Pranowo mengomentari ulah Tamzil sebagai “nekat dan cenderung ndablek (Jawa: keras kepala, susah dinasihati)”. Parpol yang mengajukannya, Hanura, pun mengutuk perilakunya dengan menyatakan seruan untuk menghukum dengan seberat-beratnya.

Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK) menambahi dengan melemparkan pertimbangan dan wacana untuk menghukum mati Tamzil karena tersangkut kasus korupsi sampai dua kali, seolah memandang enteng hukum di negeri ini.

Memang susah untuk memberantas korupsi di negeri yang mengutamakan nilai-nilai kekeluargaan ini. Menurut Elizabeth Pisani dalam bukunya, memang kecenderungan budaya orang Indonesia mengedepankan kekeluargaan dalam mendapatkan solusi. Sayangnya, nilai luhur itu kerap diterapkan juga untuk urusan merampas hak-hak orang lain.

Kudus dengan citra relijiusnya (dua makam Walisongo berada di sini: Sunan Kudus dan Sunan Muria) menjadi tercoreng karena kasus ini. Dan sejatinya bukan cuma soal citra daerah tetapi juga integritas seluruh jajaran pemerintahannya. (*/)

Posted in save our nation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Kawat Gigi: Perlu atau Tidak?

Ada banyak faktor mengapa saya ingin memasang kawat gigi meskipun sudah di usia yang tak bisa dikatakan remaja lagi. Banyak yang berkata merapikan gigi idealnya dilakukan saat masih anak-anak atau saat remaja sehingga hasilnya lebih optimal dan juga cepat.

Bagi saya sendiri, dahulu kesadaran perawatan gigi baru hanya sebatas memeriksakan diri saat ada gigi yang berlubang atau goyah atau perlu dicabut segera. Sekarang, dengan tinggal di kota besar dan memiliki akses yang lebih lebar pada perawatan gigi, saya kemudian berpikir untuk merapikan gigi meskipun memang biayanya tak bisa dikatakan murah meriah.

Saya sendiri memilih kawat gigi konvensional yang mungkin secara estetis kurang menarik. Tapi tunggu dulu, meskipun aspek estetikanya kurang, kawat gigi yang berbahan metal justru lebih efektif. Anehnya menurut riset, orang kebanyakan memilih jenis kawat gigi yang terbuat dari bahan non metal agar terlihat lebih menaik. Ironisnya, bahan-bahan non-metal tadi justru membuat perawatan menjadi lebih rumit dan sukar.  Riset ini dilakukan oleh tim peneliti dari Ohio State University dan dipublikasikan di American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.

Kawat gigi konvensional yang terbuat dari bahan stainless steel justru paling awet dan efisien. Kawat jenis ini dapat dirawat dengan mudah namun dianggap paling tidak menarik.

Jenis tray memiliki keterbatasan dalam mengakomodasi jenis gerak gigi, kunyahan dan efisiensinya. Sementara itu, jenis keramik kadang bisa retak dan pecah sehingga aspek ketahanannya tak sebagus kawat gigi stainless steel.

Jenis tray mengatur gigi-gigi kita dalam cetakan yang setiap dua pekan diubah serempat milimeter. Tray ini bisa dicopot saat makan atau sikat gigi namun harus selalu dipakai sepanjang hari, 7 hari seminggu, 24 jam sehari.

Seperti pernah saya katakan di cerita saya mengenai pencabutan gigi geraham bungsu saya tempo hari, posisi gigi geligi yang kacau balau kadang memang perlu dirapikan dan diintervensi agar mencegah masalah. Dan meskipun secara langsung perapian gigi dengan kawat tidak berkaitan dengan pencegahan lubang atau pembusukan gigi, secara tak langsung dengan letak gigi yang lebih rapi akan memudahkan kita dalam membersihkan gigi dengan sikat. Ini terjadi dalam kasus gigi geraham bungsu saya. Gigi geraham bungsu saya yang posisinya kurang pas membuat saya susah membersihkan gigi geraham di sebelahnya, dan ini membuatnya lebih rawan terhadap risiko masalah gigi seperti lubang dan sebagainya.

Karenanya, meskipun sebuah temuan ilmiah dari tim penelitian University of Adelaide menyatakan bahwa perawatan perapian gigi dengan kawat ini memang TIDAK menjamin secara nyata perlindungan dari risiko gigi berlubang di masa datang. Tetap saja meskipun gigi Anda sudah rapi tetap harus menggosok gigi secara teratur dan mesti memeriksakan gigi secara teratur ke dokter gigi.

Penelitian berbeda yang dilakukan tim peneliti universitas yang sama menyatakan bahwa perawatan ortodentis ini juga tak seratus persen menjamin naiknya kepercayaan diri pada seseorang. Hanya karena memiliki gigi yang rapi, tidak secara otomatis Anda akan bisa mengalami perbaikan kepercayaan diri karena kepercayaan diri lebih luas cakupannya daripada sekadar kerapian dan keserasian gigi. Yang cukup mengejutkan bahwa dibandingkan merapikan gigi, kita bisa menaikkan kepercayaan diri hanya dengan rajin menggosok gigi (setidaknya dua kali sehari) dan berkonsultasi dengan dokter gigi secara teratur (setidaknya enam bulan sekali).

Portrusi atau gigi depan yang tidak rata dan cenderung menonjol keluar ternyata juga tidak cuma lebih sedap dipandang tetapi juga membuat risiko gigi itu patah atau rontok jika kita terjatuh dalam kecelakaan atau terbentur pada permukaan yang keras secara tak sengaja. Hal ini terutama berlaku bagi mereka yang aktif secara fisik. Inilah alasan kenapa anak-anak yang memiliki gejala portrusi disarankan meratakan gigi mereka sedini mungkin. Dan terutama karena alasan inilah saya melakukan pemasangan kawat gigi.

Setelah dua minggu mengenakan kawat gigi, saya bisa katakan bahwa minggu pertama bukanlah pengalaman yang nyaman. Di masa penyesuaian ini, saya merasakan kunyahan saya terasa aneh dan saya tidak bisa secara nyaman menggigit makanan.

Bahkan karena dinding mulut saya masih belum terbiasa dengan kehadiran kawat gigi yang merupakan objek asing dalam mulut, saya sempat mengalami sariawan terutama di sekitar area pipi yang berdekatan dengan gigi samping. Inilah area yang terus bersinggungan dengan kawat gigi terutama saat proses pengunyahan. Jangan ditanya bagaimana rasanya. Kadang jika saya kelewat giat mengunyah, saya lupa ada kawat gigi dan sedikit darah keluar dari dinding mulut akibat gesekan kawat.

Karena itulah, beberapa teman berceletuk bahwa memasang kawat gigi bisa menyebabkan si pemakainya malas makan dan tidak heran berat badan mereka bisa turun. Untuk mengantisipasi agar hal itu tak terjadi, saya melumatkan makanan dan menambahkan air agar lebih encer dan lunak sehingga mudah ditelan tanpa banyak kunyahan. Jika memang tidak ada makanan lunak, saya berusaha sedemikian rupa agar makanan tadi bisa dihancurkan menjadi potongan yang lebih kecil sehingga tidak terjebak di antara kawat gigi.

Satu lagi yang patut menjadi perhatian ialah proses penyikatan gigi yang lebih menguras waktu. Kawat gigi membuat lebih banyak sisa makanan berada di dalam mulut usai makan. Sehingga mau tidak mau, saya harus banyak berkumur daripada biasanya. Tak cukup berkumur, saya juga mesti segera menyikat gigi begitu usia bersantap karena membersihkan sisa makanan di gigi dengan tusuk gigi atau jari jemari di depan orang lain terasa kurang sopan. Saya harus ke toilet untuk menyikat gigi dan berkumur sehingga kebersihan mulut tetap terjaga.

Untuk pengalaman selanjutnya, tetap akan saya teruskan di sini. Nantikan saja update dari saya. (*/)

Posted in health | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Miserable State of Online News

Now I’m less and less visiting online news outlets. Especially ones with clickbait headlines and listicles.

I’m enough with all the hoaxes around the web.

I quit Facebook altogether without remorse. Though still on Instagram, I’m trying to restrict my time on the app.

Mostly because I am hugely disappointed with its validity and accuracy.

All this chaos is partly caused by the rise of FREE online news. People are now more into free news because they are not charged with any fees.

But if you get sick with fake news and hoax, I think paying or subscription scheme is a must.

Why?

Because this is how news or media outlets can be freed from the requirement of making money through online ads.

Online ads do kill us slowly. The democracy is withering. People misunderstand each other. Messages are twisted, contorted, and manipulated. All is done in a massive, unprecedented scale.

I start to turn to print media now.

Magazine and books are where our hopes lie.

And this is why I now am reading more and more magazines and books instead.

The knowledge and news in these print media are much more worthwhile and timeless.

Words are carfeully edited and arranged, which is a pleasure to the eyes.

And the experience of reading online articles is worse. Full of distraction. Banners, pop-up ads, affiliate links, etc.

Print media is now becoming more like a luxury, something that no financially challenged people cannot afford. Because you have to pay to enjoy the content. And even if most people can afford, they still have to prioritize their own expenses.

And I’m truly amazed by Tempo Magazine is doing now to stay afloat in the middle of hoax deluge.

Gems stay gems no matter how deep muds bury them.

This is why I am now inclined to enjoy news offline. I read Times, HBR, nonpartisan newspapers, and so on. I prefer news outlets that still stand by their journalism ethics and norms and long-built reputation.

News that are less likely to be found on Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp. Some indepth coverage that are longer to produce but more satisfying, not emotionally, but factually. Because fake news and hoax play with your emotions more than real news. Real news allow us to get a deeper understanding about issues. All around as a whole – not in bits. (*/)

Posted in journalism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“La Grande Borne”: Mengintip Diari Pribadi Pengarang Progresif

Membaca beberapa bagian awal buku tulisan pengarang perempuan Indonesia ini, saya sempat terkesan dengan gaya berceritanya yang tidak cuma mengalir tetapi juga sangat blak-blakan. “Tanpa tedeng aling-aling”, kalau boleh menggunakan jargon bahasa Jawa yang kadang ia masukkan dalam tulisan-tulisannya.

Yang cukup mengguncang ialah keberaniannya mengutarakan ganjalan-ganjalan hatinya yang ia pendam selama berumahtangga dengan diplomat Perancis Yves Coffin serta dua anaknya Lintang dan Padang.

Dan yang tidak kalah memalukan juga ialah bagaimana ia memiliki keberanian untuk mengungkap perselingkuhan yang ia lakukan dengan seorang pria yang ia panggil “kapten” di dalam bukunya ini. Perselingkuhan tersebut memang patut dipahami (meskipun secara moral dan agama pasti dianggap salah) apalagi setelah ia banyak mengalami keperihan dalam hubungan rumah tangganya dengan si diplomat yang menurutnya pelit bahkan pada keluarga dekatnya sendiri. Jika merunut keluhan-keluhannya dalam hubungan rumah tangganya, tidak heran jika akhirnya bercerai juga.

Sebagai penggemar karya-karyanya sejak saya masih duduk bangku sekolah menengah atas dulu, saya terkejut dengan gaya bertutur Nh. Dini di buku ini yang agak ‘gelap’, pesimis dan nakal. Ternyata itu karena pernikahannya dengan seorang pria asing tak membuahkan kebahagiaan sejati. Alih-alih bersetia sepenuhnya dan bungkam menerima takdir, pengarang yang bangga dengan latar belakang Jawa-nya itu malah menghentak dengan sikap dan pemikiran serta tindak-tanduknya yang dianggap melenceng dari budaya Jawa.

Berkali-kali saya saksikan perjuangan Nh. Dini dalam himpitan dua budaya: Barat dan Jawa. Misalnya saat ia dan anaknya Lintang menerima perlakuan yang dingin dan kikir dari suaminya, ia kerap mengucapkan bahwa mereka seharusnya bersyukur karena masih banyak orang di luar rumah mereka di dunia ini yang masih harus mengais-ngais tempat sampah untuk sekadar makan dan tidur di luar karena tak memiliki rumah. Ini adalah pendekatan hidup ‘nrimo’ ala Jawa yang ditanamkan oleh ibunda Nh. Dini pada dirinya sejak kecil dan susah sekali luntur. Namun, karena memang jiwa Nh. Dini tidak bisa dikekang oleh norma yang tak adil, ia pun melanggarnya sendiri.

Singkat kata, “La Grande Borne” ini memang lain daripada karya-karyanya sebelumnya, terutama “Sekayu” yang mengisahkan masa kecilnya di Semarang. Materi cerita dan nuansa serta gaya penuturannya sudah lain karena memang sang empunya cerita sudah mengalami perkembangan karakter, dari kanak-kanak menjadi dewasa.

Dan menurut saya, di titik inilah Nh. Dini mengalami krisis hidup paruh baya (midlife crisis). Ia mengalami keresahan yang amat sangat dengan kehidupan pribadinya (baca: ketidakharmonisan dengan suami) sehingga ia terus menyibukkan diri dengan anak-anaknya, menyibukkan diri merawat kucing bernama Miau yang biaya perawatannya mahal, menyibukkan diri juga untuk belajar dan mengambil ujian SIM di Perancis yang terkenal ketat dan tidak mengenal kata Korupsi, Kolusi, dan Nepotisme (KKN).

Saya sangat mengagumi keberanian Nh. Dini yang dengan tak gentar mengangkat sendiri kisah hidupnya untuk dipertontonkan kepada khalayak ramai. Ia lebih mirip David Sedaris daripada J.K. Rowling bagi saya. Sedaris misalnya mampu membungkus kisah hidupnya yang pedih sebagai pekerja serabutan tanpa keahlian yang membanggakan sebagai kisah-kisah humor yang menggelitik. Sementara itu, di ujung sana J.K. Rowling ialah jenis pengarang yang tidak menyangkut pautkan kehidupan pribadinya dalam karya-karyanya. Rowling bahkan mengaku dirinya tidak pernah menulis diari atau catatan pribadi harian.

Entah apakah ia bisa disebut sebagai pengarang feminis atau tidak tetapi yang pasti mendiang Nh. Dini ialah seorang penulis berpandangan progresif, terbuka dan kritis terhadap kondisi dalam masyarakat di sekitarnya. (*/)

Posted in writer | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Let’s Talk About Midlife Crisis

As we sat down together after a Bikram Yoga class that very sizzling morning, my boss and I exchanged some jokes and stories.

My first yoga class in a heated room ended gloriously. I walked out of the room losing only water in my body. Ego still in check and intact. No injuries caused. No dizziness. It was all good and smooth.

Being a younger subordinate, I was on the receiving end, all ears. Ready to absorb more knowledge of life he has to offer.

After we told each other our age, he said,” At your age now, I was experiencing midlife crisis….”

Then I knew our conversation glided towards something serious.

Following a morning prayer, he had a whim that he wanted to run 35 km on his 35th birthday.  It was not something I wanted to do in my wildest dream. Well, maybe not if I don’t have a strong reason to do so.

This kind of challenge is somewhat familiar if you are an endurance sport enthusiast. If you’re 35 you bench press 35 kg, or you do 35 push ups, or 35 sit ups or 35 pull ups. Anything challenging for whatever repetitions that equals your chronological age.

He did so partly because – as he admitted – he dealt with what we call now  “Midlife Crisis”. It is a period of emotional difficulty and instability leading to be more curious than usual about who someone is really and what his or her place in the world is.

Individuals in the crisis experience distress and feel uncertain but scientists say this is the right time as well to open ourselves to novel ideas and propositions. Midlife crisis also leads us to a supply of new insights and creativite ideas.

This type of crisis in fact commonly occurs in the world. No one seems to be immune to that. So if you’re now in this crisis, don’t think you’re all alone. You’re just unaware that fellow midlife crisis sufferers are around you.

And I think most of us don’t know that happiness varies throughout life. Scientists said it follows a U-shaped curve. Which means, humans normally feel happy in their childhood or early years of adulthood and then they feel most unhappy during their midlife period and when they reach old age, things seem to get better once again.

That said, if you’re in midlife crisis now, consider NOT to commit suicide or do something stupid or useless or hamrful both for yourself, your own immediate family or friends.

Keep pushing forward.

Do the best thing you can do to reach the finish line. Sound and kicking still even if you feel wretched and wrecked. (*/)

Posted in miscellaneous | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

This Is Why You Should Install Mozilla Firefox and Ditch Chrome

HEATED conversations on the web regarding  online privacy post Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal months ago keeps gaining momentum. Though most people find it boring, the issue is in fact crucial so as to prevent such unhealthy domination.

One of the best ways to avoid abuse of data by large internet corporations is by using by needs and avoiding use of all products in a centralized manner. In other words, if you have an Android gadget, the risks are getting higher if you are on Chrome, using Google Docs and Google Maps. That translates to living in a closed ecosystem, as if you have no alternatives. That way, all your data is held by a single company, i.e. Google. It will be better to use several services by different companies according to your needs.

One real step to take in order to restrict data abuse on the web is by using Firefox of Mozilla and abandoning other web browsers which do not show more concern about their user privacy.

Why Firefox?

These days according to Statcounter, Chrome browser dominates browser market share worldwide, partly thanks to the Android invasion. In the meantime, Firefox only ranks the fourth after Safari and UC Browser.

In Indonesia, Chrome still champions and Firefox is at the fourth rank after UC Browser and Opera, competing against Safari and other browsers.

Firefox was first introduced in 2004 so it is no longer new actually. To general audience, it looks just the same with Internet Explorer, Chrome and Opera. However, what is important to know is that other than Chrome, Firefox was made by Mozilla which is a non-profit organization with a mission to realize an open and healthy internet. Privacy and security are two main concerns of Mozilla.

Chrome does NOT prioritize your privacy as users. This is clear when you take time to sit down and peruse its policy that Chrome actually saves your internet exploration data locally unless you sign out of your Google account. In addition, Chrome also allows third party websites to access your IP address and other information which is traceable by cookies. If you are very concerned about privacy, this is something not to be taken lightly as your data can be sold to advertisers and third party companies that are able to trace your behaviors on the web.

Freedom

At Firefox, Mozilla offers a number of options of search engines. This freedom is not found in other browsers. Or if you may find it, it is not regarded as the strong unique selling point. Users can opt for Google as their search engine but here the difference is that anyone can choose deliberately. And if they are not willing, users are possible to choose another search engine. This is what we mean by “freedom”.

Protection

You can take control of data with comfort and protected from unwanted tracking  by using Firefox browser. It’s a well-known browser that can also prevent advertisers from tracking you down. Have you ever accessed an ecommerce website, haven’t checked out and completed the payment and at the samee time you’re visiting another site that shows you an advertisement of the previously product you are just about to purchase? That’s what I mean by “tracking”.

Privacy for All

Not everyone on the web is a geek or an internet savvy user. There are more lay people out there who don’t even know the urgency of internet privacy but they do have and use smartphones on daily basis. These people are in fact a group of internet users who enjoy most benefots from using Firefox because they find it hassle-free to turn on the “Do Not Track” feature. On Firefox, such a feature is on by deafult. However, on Chrome such a feature is not turned on by default so non-geek users would find it more challenging to turn the feature on.

firefox-focus-hero-crop-1000x573

Even if you think Mozilla Firefox is not giving enough privacy protection, you are encouraged to download Firefox Focus, the latest browser from Mozilla. It focuses primarily on protecting your online privacy. This abrowser is available for both Android and iOS handhelds.

And good news for Android users, Mozilla plans to launch this year a new browser called “Firefox Preview” that focuses more on privacy than any other browsers existing in the market.  And Firefox Preview will be better than Firefox Focus in terms of privacy and online security in the near future. (*/)

Posted in technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

On Experiencing Ageism in This Real Life

I can relate to what James Hamblin of The Atlantic is experiencing.

He is a year older than I am but he looks like in this video a twelve year old boy.  He is Caucasian, which I can make sure he is way taller than I am.

It’s not because he makes conscious efforts to look like one but it’s more because of his natural tendency.

Some people just find it hard to ‘man up’, to be mature, to grow masculine, stable and OLD.

Being brutally honest, ageism can hit you at any age.

If you are seen too young, you can experience humiliation and get disrespectful attitudes or behaviors from people under your own age.

I have my own fair share of being in this complicated situation.

Not only once.

But many times.

But here I’ll be only take two incidents as an example.

So I was once working as a part-time lecturer and what was required for me as a lecturer is to show at the office first and then come in my classes.

What struck me most is when I came in, a senior lecturer approached me only to ask,” Are you going to meet a lecturer here? What student are you? Freshman? Because I’ve never seen you before on campus…”

That was in the office.

When I came in classrooms, the problem was different.

“Hi class. Welcome to our Grammar Class this semester. I’ll be teaching you for the whole semester,” I told them all.

Though they didn’t show disbelief, somehow I could sense that expression of ridicule.

“This can’t be happening. We can’t be taught by someone only a year older than ourselves. We want some considerably older lecturers with more convincing looks to learn from. He is way too unexperienced.” That’s the conclusion after I observed the way they reacted to my being a lecturer for them.

Even worse is that there were few students who were older than I was, making all the situation was becoming a little bit more awkward.

And still, I did look like a high school graduate.

I felt pathetic, at first.

But then things improved as time went by.

I accepted it as is.

No resistance.

No remorse.

I just turned my own attitude towards this situation of being seen too young to do something worthwhile into an attitude of total acceptance.

And when I changed my career (because I am not quite an extroverted teaching type of person) to become a professional writer in the corporate setting, I was also once again experiencing this ageism-related discriminative treatment.

Being quite senior in my job as a copywriter, I once called “too childlike” by a recruiter.

“It’ll be more convincing for you to meet clients without this shirt,” he pointed at my rather slim-and-fit batik shirt.

I did — and still do — look childlike with or without my tight shirt so his advice was actually useless. As far as I’m concerned, clothes won’t help me much to look mature and authoritative.

He went on: “Try to wear a suit. A formal one. You’ll look way better than this. It helps with your boyish looks that won’t help .”

Still I got hired and then I wore no suit, walking down the hall at my clients’ offices with my unicolor t-shirt. (*/)

Posted in miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Garmin Vivosmart HR+: Best Buy Activity Tracker cum Smartwatch

So here’s a brief background of my purchase of this Garmin Vivosmart HR Plus. First, it is blue. I previously wanted a Samsung smartwatch but I got disappointed to discover the fact that the brand does not offer a blue color variant. Yes, because blue is always my favorite color.

And this Garmin gadget has what Samsung offers at a lower price. I am a customer that is easy to please actually. I just want the basic features of an activity tracker these days. It must be able to count heart beats, steps, etc. And of course it shows time because I need something more than a wristwatch. I demand more functions especially ones related to fitness and sports considering my interest in well being, gymnastics and yoga.

By purchasing this gadget, I can save IDR 1 million. While Samsung cheaper smartwatch costs more than IDR 3 million, the Garmin Vivosmart HR Plus just costs me around IDR 2.3 million. It is a best buy for a strong strong reason.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment