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Book Summary: The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Title: The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told to Alex Haley
Link to Amazon.com: The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley

I was interested to read this autobiography because of a book titled "Impossible Man", story of life of Michael Muhammad Knight, who read Malcolm X's autobiography upon a friend's suggestion, who was so inspired by the book that then he embraced Islam, and even further studied Islam in Pakistan, although for some reasons he had later said his goodbye to Islam.
Link to Amazon.com: Impossible Man

Summary of Malcolm X's life in this book:

- Born on May 19, 1925 as Malcolm Little, he spent his childhood years in Lansing, Michigan. His father, Earl Little, a Baptist minister, was murdered allegedly by white supremacist group, and this made her his mother suffered from mental breakdown and sent to an institution; around 1937, Malcolm and some of his siblings was to leave their home and stayed at different houses.

- For a trouble he had with a teacher he was expelled and moved to a detention home in Mason, Michigan. He then studied at Mason Junior High School, good grades and even elected as a class president. A turning point was when a teacher told him to be realistic in his career plan, to consider maybe carpentry instead of his dream to become a lawyer. He then drew away from white people and after finishing eight grade he moved to Boston to live with his half sister in 1940.

- In Boston he was attracted to the town ghetto section, get a shoeshine job at a dance ballroom, exposed to the night life and enjoyed dancing so much; he was known as Red (for his reddish hair). In 1941, his sister, who disliked the things going on with him in Boston, found him a job in a Boston-to-New York train as a dishwasher and later a sandwich man.

- He later settled in Harlem, New York, working as a waiter in a restaurant, where he was exposed to experts in crime: drug peddlers, those involved in numbers industry (lottery), pimps, thieves and burglars. He eventually involved and did all crimes he learned from those experts. He was then known at as Detroit Red (for he was from Michigan and Detroit's more well-known than Lansing), and finally was caught for burglary and got ten-year sentence in 1946.

- And so began the prison episode of his life. He was called Satan for his anti-religious behavior, but later was introduced to Nation of Islam by his siblings who learned about Islam being the natural religion for the black man (Islam in the version of Nation of Islam). This Nation of Islam was founded by Elijah Muhammad who was appointed as prophet by Mr. Wallace D. Fard, the "Allah in Person". Nation of Islam's important belief is that Original Man was black and all white people are the devils (originally created by black scientist in the past). The devil white men then had murdered and kidnapped, brought many black men to the West and enslaved them and cut them from all knowledge of their own kind, their language, religion and past culture. It's in the Nation's belief that Christian religion was injected to the black men as a curse, to teach them to worship an alien God with the same pale skin, blond hair and blue eyes as the slavemasters, to brainwash the black men that white men are superior. These teachings affected Malcolm so much, it's so easy for him to accept them as truth from all his experiences living as black man in America. He read a lot in prison and wrote letters to Elijah Muhammad.

- After being released from jail on parole in 1951, he formally joined Nation of Islam, received his "X" that symbolized his lost true African name, so he became Malcolm X. He was then appointed by Elijah Muhammad as minister, active in recruiting members and building the Nation's temples (later called mosques) in some cities. As the Nation became larger, it got more media attention, and Malcolm X was like a spokesperson for the Nation talking to the media, academic institutions, and talking at rallies. Nation of Islam's followers were known as Black Muslims.

- In 1963 Elijah Muhammad expelled Malcolm X from the Nation for his comment on JFK assassination. But Malcolm X believed that the real reason for it was his discovery that Elijah Muhammad had been betraying Nation of Islam by conducting adultery. Since then he got constant death threats. He then formed Muslim Mosque, Inc., an organization aiming to eliminate political oppression, economic exploitation and social degradation suffered by Afro-Americans.

- In 1964 he made the pilgrimage to Mecca, which transformed his belief. He was touched by the spirit of brotherhood practiced by people of all colors and races in the Holy Land. He met muslims from all over the world, he met white muslims as well. That changed his former belief that all white men are the devils. He wrote about this experience to America, his "Letter from Mecca", signing it with his Islam name: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. (He later confirmed Muslim Mosque Inc.'s religious affiliation with mainstream Islam). He met important persons from the Islam and Africa World. He then visited Lebanon, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal, Morocco and Algiers. He realized that there need to be communications between the independent nations of Africa an the American black people. In 1965 he again visited Middle East and Africa.

- February 21, 1965, he was assassinated while speaking at a rally at Audubon Ballroom, New York. Some allegedly Black Muslims were indicted for his murder.

Additional Facts:
Elijah Muhammad died in 1975, and soon after his son Wallace or Waarith Deen Mohammed renamed the organization "The World Community of Al-Islam in the West" (became the American Society of Muslims and rejected his father's theology and accepted whites as fellow worshipers and forged closer ties with mainstream Islam. Later in 1978 Nation of Islam was revived by Louis Farrakhan.

Link to Amazon.com: The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley

Upgrade to Snow Leopard: Newbie Experience

So I received my Snow Leopard Upgrade DVD two days ago (Sep 8, 2009). Since I bought my macbook end of June 2009 (yes, I'm a n00b to mac by all means), I paid only US$9.95 for it under the Mac OS X Snow Leopard Up-to-Date Program (visit www.apple.com/macosx/uptodate/), instead of US$29 (or US$25?, here is a link to Amazon.com: Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard).

I took my time before actually doing the upgrade for these reasons:

- First, I needed to finish some works I thought better to have them done under the old system, just in case the new system gives problems.

- Second, having read some useful online reviews/walkthroughs of actual updates, I learned that I'd better buy an external hard disk for backup purposes. Actually, I have already one (sharing with my wife's Fujitsu for backup purposes) but it just felt great to buy a new one , and especially because I felt that I should get one with firewire compatibility. It's fast with this firewire thing right? Right. So I bought one Western Digital 500GB. And later I found my macbook does not have a firewire port!!! Oh dear, dear, dear… So boys and girls with MacBooks, don't you buy this one as I did:
Western Digital WDMT5000TN 500GB My Passport Studio Portable Hard Drive (link to Amazon.com),

but buy one like this instead, it's cheaper without firewire:
Western Digital My Passport Essential 500 GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive WDME5000TN (Midnight Black) (link to Amazon.com).

OK, moving on, having learned from those reviews/walkthroughs, I do the followings:

- Clean up the system (only a little bit)
- Get system backup: get a re-bootable backup and also a backup using Time Machine (just in case)
- Install the upgrade (with the Snow Leopard Upgrade DVD)

Well, I read that there are 2 ways to do it: install on top of my current system (very easy and simple), or install from scratch and get it fresh. Since I want to get a fresh start with Snow Leopard, I chose to install from scratch.

First result: Unfortunately, somehow I did not do the right thing, that Snow Leopard was installed on top of the old Leopard, not a fresh install as intended. But hey, then I thought maybe it's a good route also. So I was thinking that maybe one should really take this route for the upgrade:

1. Install Snow Leopard on top of the old system since it is very easy and simple; then

2. When all is OK, one can decide:
    a. to have it as it is; or
    b. to re-install from scratch, that is by cleaning up the hard disk and then install Snow Leopard afterward, but of course after having backup(s) after point 2.a.

So I moved on to 2.b. And this time I got it right: after clicking "install" don't click "continue", but chose "utility" which will lead to language option. One should not go for install, but on the top menu choose "utility" and click on "disk utility". After that choose to clean the hard disk, I chose to just clean all, bravely. It just worked fine, after cleaning done, the Snow Leopard DVD prompted to install Snow Leopard, and once finished there's a shiny beautiful welcome animation.

Then after that there's this option whether one would want to migrate data from any connecting computer/disk now (or choose to do it later using migration assistant). I chose to migrate user and system info, and left out migration of applications for later (by choosing 'copy info from another volume', that's my external hard disk containing the re-bootable backup).

Once the above migration done, I found that all my documents intact, no problem. But since I opted not to migrate applications I could not find non native OS X apps (such as Open Office and all), but strangely the icons of iPhoto and iMovie are shown as question mark on the dock and I found one unknown icon in there.

Later, using Migration Assistant, I migrate the applications. I was disappointed that I could not choose which applications I would not want to migrate. Maybe I just could not find the right way to do it, but migrating all applications (without being able to exclude unwanted applications) will get me the same result as point 1 above, installing on top of the old Leopard…

So my conclusion on this is that if one wants a fresh start, that is to choose an install from scratch, one will have to install non-native applications manually, not through migrating from backup. It'll be hard work, I won't have time to search around for the apps I used to have and install them one by one. But then, maybe I'm wrong .

Well anyway, I'm grateful that I've got my Snow Leopard installed, my system settings, documents and applications migrated just fine. I'll have yet to see what refinements I got with this Snow Leopard.

Update: My upgrade was done by Sep 10, 2009 7 PM (Jakarta time), and on Sep 11, 2009 7 AM (Jakarta time), my Snow Leopard has just been updated, now it's Mac OS X Version 10.6.1. I read it's something to do with Adobe Flash.

Recommended Book: The Origin of Financial Crises by George Cooper

Link to Amazon.com:
The Origin of Financial Crises: Central Banks, Credit Bubbles, and the Efficient Market Fallacy (Vintage)

This book argues that if we are to break out of the damaging cycle of booms and busts, all participants should recognize the proper role and limitations of macroeconomic policy. The writer points out that there are inconsistencies in macroeconomic policy, wherein:

(i) policy makers will let market move freely when asset prices are increasing even further when warnings of bubbles are all around, with the defense of the Efficient Market Theories (EMT, that  assets prices are always and everywhere at the correct price, that markets move naturally only toward equilibrium, and new equilibrium only exists if a new external event occurs);

(ii) but strangely when asset prices begin falling policy makers will take corrective action immediately, not letting the market correct itself (by keep cutting interest rates or other means, which only delay crises, and at worse times by means of bailouts).

Interesting question regarding validity of EMT: if EMT holds true, why do we need the existence of central banks if the theory tells us that markets are efficient and should be left to their own devices?

The writer offers a better theory, that is the Financial Instability Hypothesis developed by Herbert P. Minsky, which suggests that financial markets are not self-optimizing, or stable, and certainly do not lead toward a natural optimal resource allocation. In other words, in contrast to EMT, financial markets are inherently unstable. Accepting this new theory means we need better tools to deal with randomness, better risk management, new monetary policy (the one that accepts economic contraction as a normal part of a healthy vibrant economy).

In its concluding remarks, this book stresses the importance of changing our mindset from one unquestioning faith in market efficiency to one that accepts the need for governance of aggregate credit creation.

For me, it's refreshing to read this book's simplified history of money (and history of central bank and its changing and conflicting roles), in the attempt to show when in the history market/price instability or inflation appeared:

1. Barter exchange evolved eventually into gold exchange. Gold exchange made it easy for everyone in exchanging goods; then gold became a store of value (there would have been inflation/deflation cycles linked to harvests, wars, disease etc, but on average markets are stable).

2. Gold money (coins) made trade easier. Further development: Occasionally government will do recoinage or debasement (by demanding population to turn over their coins and have them replaced by new worth-less coins) and thus extra money will flood  into the system and there would be inflation (but once price established inflation would stop).

3. Gold certificates and the start of credit creation: Since gold coins were troublesome, merchant banks then started issuing certificates of gold deposit (depositors would hold certificates stating entitlement of gold coins deposited in a bank). Merchant banks soon realized that they would have always available gold coins deposited with them (since depositors very rarely came back to collect it and inflows and outflows of coins on most days cancel one another out), thus came up with their own money making ruse by issuing their own certificates and lending them to merchants in return for interest. This started first serious instability (and note that financial instability could occur under gold standard): as more banks lent this way, there were risks of bank runs that was when defaulted loan(s) could psychologically brought rumors that a bank will have problems in fulfilling its obligations to depositors since it had less coins than the total of certificates it issued.

4. Creation of central bank: Problem of bank runs was resolved by a system in which risks are pooled and shared and any troubled bank would be supported so that panic would be prevented, by creating a bank for banks: a central bank, as lender of last resort. Central bank will defend any troubled bank by honoring its obligations; the unintended consequence was moral hazard: depositors would treat all banks as equally secured and so would seek out the ones paying highest interest thus would make banks enter risky lending practices. This problem was then resolved by a new system in which banks could not lend unchecked, gold reserves would be collected together at the central bank, only one type of certificate issued by government (i.e. money). So now government took control of monetary system, it could print money based on the gold reserves and at times change the conversion rate (in time of needs, government will print more money using the same base of gold reserves, creating inflation or declining value of money).

5. Bretton Woods and the global gold standard: Post World War II agenda was to ensure global currency regime that would help all sides rebuild their economic infrastructure. At a conference in the American resort Bretton Woods, it was agreed that all major currencies would be valued against the US dollar at a fixed exchange rate. US Dollar was fixed at USD35 per ounce of gold. Further development: By late 1960s re-industrialization outside America was so successful that trade position was reversed that America was buying more than it was selling (i.e. trade deficit for America, net outflow of US dollar). To maintain the fixed exchange rates, non-US countries were obliged to recycle the trade surplus back into America in the form of US government debt (in other words, trade deficit created debt for US).

6. End of gold standard (fiat money): US debt became even larger due to Vietnam War and so US government had to resort to printing itself more money to pay off its debts, thus more number of dollars for constant gold reserves. Some informed non-US government then decided to request to convert their dollars into gold. On August 15th 1971, Nixon decided to refuse all requests for conversion, devaluate the currency and US dollar ceased to be a certificate of gold deposit currency, thus the end of gold standard. Governments were now free to print money at will; some governments printed more and more money thus created inflation spiral. After this departure from gold standard, central banks were given the job of maintaining price stability by preventing governments from printing too much money, and additional role to ensure economic recessions were avoided.

Tahapan Pendirian Perseroan Terbatas (PT)

Catatan:
  • Untuk mendirikan sebuah Perseroan Terbatas (PT)  jasa/peran Notaris mutlak diperlukan. Pendiri PT akan terbantu oleh Notaris (serta penyedia jasa terkait lainnya), yaitu dalam hal pelengkapan berbagai dokumen yang diperlukan/disyaratkan.
  • Tulisan ini menggambarkan tahapan-tahapan yang dilalui untuk pengurusan yang dilakukan secara elektronis melalui Dirjen Administrasi Hukum Umum (www.sisminbakum.go.id).
  • Permohonan/penyampaian secara manual (non elektronis)  dimungkinkan oleh peraturan, yaitu dengan tahapan-tahapan yang kira-kira sama.

1. Pengajuan Nama Secara Elektronis
- Akan ditolak bila:
  1. sudah dipakai secara sah oleh perseroan lain
  2. mirip dengan nama lembaga negara/pemerintah/internasional, atau merek terkenal (kecuali telah mendapat ijin dari yang bersangkutan)
  3. bertentangan kesusilaan
  4. tidak sesuai dengan maksud/tujuan/kegiatan usaha
  5. hanya terdiri atas angka/rangkaian angka; terdiri dari huruf/rangkaian huruf tanpa membentuk kata
  6. ditambah kata dan/atau singkatan yang mengandung arti sebagai perseroan, badan hukum, atau persekutuan perdata (contoh-contoh yang tidak boleh: PT ABC Sukses S.A., atau PT Firma ABC Sukses)
  7. hanya merupakan nama suatu tempat
- Nama yang disetujui akan expired dalam 60 hari
2. Pembuatan Akta Pendirian
(yang isinya adalah Anggaran Dasar dan Keterangan Lainnya)

- Anggaran Dasar, sekurang-kurangnya berisikan:
  1. Nama dan tempat kedudukan (harus di daerah kota atau kabupaten dalam wilayah negara RI, dan merupakan kantor pusat Perseroan)
  2. Maksud dan tujuan serta kegiatan usaha
  3. Jangka waktu berdirinya
  4. Besarnya jumlah modal dasar, modal ditempatkan dan modal disetor
    Catatan penting:

    a) Pendiri Perseroan minimal 2 orang, kecuali untuk Persero yang dimiliki Pemerintah, yang mengelola bursa efek, lembaga kliring dan penjaminan, lembaga penyimpanan dan penyelesaian dan lembaga lain sebagai mana diatur dalam UU Pasar Modal);
    b) Modal dasar paling sedikit Rp50 juta, kecuali untuk usaha dalam industri/bidang tertentu sesuai peraturan;
    c) Paling sedikit 25% dari modal dasar harus ditempatkan dan disetor penuh
  5. Jumlah saham, klasifikasi saham (bila ada), dan nilai nominal setiap saham
  6. Nama jabatan dan jumlah anggota Direksi dan Dewan Komisaris
  7. Penetapan tempat dan tata cara penyelenggaraan RUPS Tahunan
  8. Tata cara pengangkatan, penggantian, pemberhentian anggota Direksi dan Dewan Komisaris (termasuk juga tugas dan wewenang direksi dan komisaris; apabilaDewan Komisaris terdiri atas lebih dari 1 orang, maka anggota DewanKomisaris tidak dapat bertidak sendiri-sendiri tetapi harus berdasarkan keputusan Dewan Komisaris)
- Keterangan Lainnya:
  • Nama lengkap, tempat dan tanggal lahir, pekerjaan, tempat tinggal dan kewarganegaraan pendiri perorangan; atau apabila pendiri adalah badan hukum: nama, tempat kedudukan dan alamat lengkap dan tanggal pendirian/pengesahan pendiri
  • Nama lengkap, tempat dan tanggal lahir, pekerjaan, tempat tinggal dan kewarganegaraan anggota Direksi dan Dewan Komisaris
  • Nama pemegang saham yang telah mengambil bagian saham, rincian jumlah saham dan nilai nominal saham yang telah ditempatkan dan disetor
3. Permohonan Akta Pendirian dan Dokumen Pendukung Secara Elektronis
  • Permohonan dilakukan paling lambat 60 hari setelah Akta Pendirian ditandatangani, diajukan oleh Notaris dengan mengisi formulir isian dan kelengkapannya secara elektronis
  • Format isian elektronis sekurang-kurangnya memuat:
    a) nama dan tempat kedudukan Perseoran
    b) jangka waktu berdirinya Perseroan
    c) maksud dan tujuan serta kegiatan usaha
    d) modal dasar, modal ditempatkan dan modal disetor
    e) alamat lengkap Perseroan
  • Kalau ada kesalahan/kekurangan dapat ditolak atau dimintakan perbaikan/kelengkapan; kalau sudah lengkap akan ada 'Pernyataan Tidak Keberatan' dan dapat dilanjutkan ke tahapan selanjutnya
4. Penyampaian Dokumen Permohonan Secara Fisik
- Dokumen-dokumen yang harus diserahkan:
  1. Salinan Akta Pendirian perseroan
  2. Nomor Pokok Wajib Pajak atas nama perseroan
  3. Bukti pembayaran uang muka pengumuman akta pendirian dalam Berita Negara Republik Indonesia
  4. Bukti pembayaran Penerimaan Negara Bukan Pajak (PNBP)
  5. Bukti setor modal dari bank
  6. Bukti pembayaran biaya akses transaksi elektronis dan pemesanan nama perseroan beserta pajaknya (tidak berlaku untuk yang menyampaikan permohonan secara manual)
Catatan penting:
- Berdasarkan hal-hal di atas berarti harus sudah dilakukan berbagai hal antara lain: pengurusan NPWP dan dokumen-dokumen yang disyaratkan Kantor Pajak (Tanda Daftar Perseroan, yang untuk itu sebelumnya perlu diurus Surat Keterangan Domisili Perseroan, Surat Ijin Usaha Perseoran, dan lainnya), juga pembukaan rekening bank atas nama perseroan.
- Untuk perseroan dalam industri tertentu harus melengkapi dengan dokumen lain sesuai peraturan; demikian juga untuk perseroan dalam rangka penanaman modal asing.
5. Menteri Hukum dan HAM Mengeluarkan SK tentang Pengesahan Akta Pendirian
(paling lambat 14 hari setelah seluruh dokumen lengkap)
6. Menteri Hukum dan HAM Mengumumkan dalam Tambahan Berita Negara Rep. Indonesia
(paling lambat 14 hari sejak diterbitkannya Surat Keputusan tentang Pengesahan)


Hal-Hal yang Perlu Diperhatikan Setelah Berdirinya Perseroan Terbatas:
  • Pelaporan Perubahan Anggaran Dasar dan pelaporan lainnya yang diwajibkan peraturan
  • Pelaporan rencana kerja, laporan tahunan dan penggunaan laba, termasuk kewajiban pencadangan modal
  • Tanggung jawab sosial dan lingkungan (berlaku untuk yang kegiatan usahanya mengelola dan memanfaatkan sumber daya alam
  • Ketentuan-ketentuan lain sesuai peraturan-peraturan yang berlaku

Sumber:
UU RI No. 40 Tahun 2007, Keputusan Dirjen AHU No.: C-01.HT.01 01. Tahun 2003, PP No. 26 Tahun 1998 tanggal 4 Februari 1998, dan sumber lainnya.

Disclaimer:
Informasi diatas
dibuat secara teliti berdasarkan sumber-sumber sebagaimana tertulis, namun Penulis tidak menjamin keabsahan tulisan ini karena peraturan dapat sewaktu-waktu berubah. Informasi ini ditujukan untuk bahan edukasi/pembelajaran/pengenalan suatu masalah. Pembaca hendaknya mempelajari, meneliti lebih dalam dan memutuskan sendiri mengenai informasi di atas. Penulis tidak bertanggungjawab apabila terjadi hal-hal yang menimbulkan kerugian bagi pembaca sehubungan dengan penggunaan informasi di atas. (http://blog.hendraharahap.com)

Recommended Book: Slideology by Nancy Duarte

Title: Slideology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations (Author: Nancy Duarte)
First edition, Sep 2008

Highly impressed by how Al Gore presented his "An Inconvenient Truth" (which landed him Nobel Prize and Academy Award), I am interested in finding lessons on how to create good presentation slides and non-boring charts/diagrams. I tried to find samples/templates on the net to no avail.

Then I found this book (I decided to buy it because I saw it featured Al Gore in one of its case studies). I think this book gives valuable insights on how to create great presentations, excerpts are as follows:

1. We humans are visual communicators; presentations should be delivered more in forms of images/diagrams as visual aids. Slides should be simple, text should be reduced, avoid bullet points (use images/diagrams instead). The audience is there to hear the presenter giving ideas/message, not to read slides. Slides are there to enhance the story, to help the audience see what the presenter is saying so that ideas/messages are easily transmitted.

2. To give powerful presentation, one should prepare highly on knowing the audience in order to prepare for effective materials and delivery.

3. Think like a designer to create effective slides. 3 things should be handled creatively in a consistent way to avoid noise or confusion:

    a. Arrangement elements: contrast (to help audience see main points), hierarchy, unity, space, proximity and flow
    b. Visual elements: background, color (proper color palette), text, images
    c. Movement: timing, pace, distance, direction and eye flow

5. Corporations should pay more attention (and more investment) on creating great presentations as in many instances presentations are the last impression a customer has of a company before closing a deal. It's useful to get expert help on building an organized and effective system so that all messages/slides transmitted outside are consistent with company/branding philosophy.

6. How many slides to present? It depends, but one good rule to follow is the 10/20/30 rule from the venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki (10 slides, 20 minutes, no font smaller than 30).

Link to Amazon.com:
slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations

Recommended Book: Bright from the Start

Title: Bright from the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind from Birth to Age 3 (Author: Dr. Jill Stamm and Paula Spencer
- Re-published from my old blog @FriendsterBlog (Jan 2008)

I like this book for the fact that it is so logical. It teaches parents how to get babies’ attention, to form bonding and communicate with babies through much care, singing, talking, playing, and all activities. All seems too simple, but the author assures you with scientific researches and studies in psychology, neuroscience, etc.

The book focus more on what parents should do to get a bright baby, instead of the milestones of what baby should have been able to do at certain ages.

These are things to do to nurture a bright baby according to the book:
- provide a loving and safe environment
- talk and sing a lot to baby
- hold baby often (not to let her cry for too long)
- make sure to get the right caregiver, if needed (if both parents are working)
- get baby a piano or violin lesson starting age 2 or 3 (the author does not agree to the hype of mozart effect; so it is better for children to know how to play a music instrument instead of just listening to classical musics)
- teach baby a second language (I think I will start talking English with baby soon)

I recommend this book for first-time parents like me. Though the author says it’s never to late to give love and care to babies, I think if your baby is already older than 2 or 3 yo, you will feel awful for not doing what the book suggests from after birth.

Link to Amazon.com:
Bright From the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind fromBirth to Age 3

Recommended Book: iWoz by Steve Wozniak and Gina Smith

Title: iWoz (by Steve Wozniak and Gina Smith) - Re-published from my old blog @FriendsterBlog (Jan 2007)

This book is about Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, who single-handedly created the Apple I and the famous Apple II. He’s also inventor of many other less-known amazing things.

Steve Jobs may be more popular, but I think I like Steve Wozniak more, I believe he is really a kind, honest man. And of course, he’s a genius, brilliant man.

The story starts from his childhood time, when his father (worked in secret projects for US government)  taught him a lot about engineering things, making him understand how things work. He was champions to many science projects in school. The story ends in present time, where he spends his time doing charity works although still officially is an employee of Apple Inc (by the time of this book written).

His knowledge about electronic circuits, his experiments, his works have changed the computer world forever. While working at Hewlet-Packard (making calculators), he joined a group of friends interested in computer related things and so he came up with the idea of building a computer called the Apple I, but it was the Apple II that gained huge success. Apple Computer, the company which he co-founded with Steve Jobs and some other friends, went public and became a huge company and so he got rich very rich.

Steve Wozniak is the one who changed the looks of computers. Back then, computers are strange machines with panels and switches, without keyboards and monitors.

I really enjoy reading this book. It’s amazing to learn how things have changed so fast in about 20 years in the computer world, how an inventor like Steve Wozniak works (he described the logic behind some of his inventions).

Link to Amazon.com:
iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It

Book I Read: The Walmart Effect

Title: The Wal-Mart Effect - How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works and How It’s Transforming the American Economy
Author:  Charles Fishman
- Re-published from my old blog @FriendsterBlog (Jul 2006)

This book shows us the effects given by the giant company Wal-Mart to the US economy (and to the world to some extent). The company is so big that the average American is within 10-25 miles of range to its stores. It is one of the biggest employer (if not the biggest) in the US (and also maybe Mexico), consistently delivers its famous promise ‘everyday low price’, so hard for its competitors to beat. It is so powerful that many companies are trying hard to be its suppliers, maybe only to find that they suffer being its suppliers because of its demand to push low price over time to suppliers (or otherwise the shelves in the stores will be offered to other companies).

Wal-Mart changes the way people shop, the way its suppliers deliver their products, the way its suppliers produce their products. Wal-Mart maybe has the most efficient logistics and delivery management. It is never clear on the magnitude, but Wal-Mart is believed to play a big role in keeping US inflation low.

On the negative side, there are allegations that Wal-Mart squeezes its suppliers that they don’t have enough profits to keep them innovative. Wal-Mart may even have killed many businesses for its demand to keep low prices. Wal-Mart also is criticized for being the driver of massive imports of cheap products from China and other countries; those cheap products may be produced in factories where working conditions are very very bad.

I don’t think the book reveals many things on Wal-Mart, not as much as I expected. Wal-Mart keeps its secret well, and its suppliers are so loyal not to reveal those secrets too. But this is an interesting book, and easy to read.

Link to Amazon.com:
The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works--and How It's Transforming the American Economy

Recommended Book: The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Title: The Long Tail (Author: Chris Anderson) - Re-published from my old blog @FriendsterBlog (Jan 2007)

Chris Anderson learned that in the web culture (and then in every other things), when so many things are supplied demands follow. I think it’s like Say’s Law "Supply creates its own demand" (although this Say’s Law has its different interpretations).

The title "The Long Tail" comes from the shape of the curve (this book used Rhapsody.com’s sales) with volume (of sales, etc) in the Y-axis and inventory in X-axis. In the left side where the hits are, sales are high. That’s the head. And the tail is in the right side where all the non-hits when combined are bigger than the hits.

In case of Rhapsody and iTunes, musics are offered not in the same way as the traditional shelves in music stores. They are downloadable, cheap in storage, many non-hits are offered, many obscure songs are there, and everybody from everywhere can buy, and it turns out that the non-hits have buyers.

So it’s a big change from the traditional hit-driven market to niche (non-hit) market. All niche producers (individuals or small business who are empowered by many technologies which are cheap now) can compete with all the big companies and may have customers. Not just in music and movies sold in the net, but the long tail phenomenon can be observed in many other things, as Chis Anderson studied. Many interesting stories, a good read.

Link to Amazon.com:
Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More

Recommended Book: The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman

Title: The World is Flat (Author: Thomas L. Friedman) - Re-published from my old blog @FriendsterBlog (Oct 2006)

This book points out that the world is now flat, where all the playing fields are leveled. The fall of Berlin Wall in 1989 had triggered more openness throughout the world (end of Cold War, no more Soviet and so on). Coincided by many breakthroughs and advancements of information technology, the openness has quickly and dramatically empowered individuals, groups, companies and even countries to work, collaborate and compete more equally, creatively, intelligently in a new platform which operates without regard to geography, distance, and, in the near future, even language. Everybody everywhere can plug and play with everybody else.

It’s interesting to know how Mr. Friedman as an American was worried that the US is not preparing the current generation well enough to face the future competition to China, India, East Europe and the others. Well, look at us here in Indonesia, with the current educational system, the poor will have limited access to good quality education, and, with most of us here are poor people, how will we compete...

Mr. Friedman also admitted that in many ways many parts of the world are still unflat, being left behind, which are the unflattening forces: many people are too sick (by AIDS, malaria, TB, etc), too poor (no access to participate), too frustrated (al-Qaeda and other Islamist terror organizations), and too much consuming natural resources (big cities eating up fuels and polluting the earth).

This is an exciting read, pointing out our modern history. Mr. Friedman’s comments on Arab-Muslim world should be read by Muslims as valuable critics (most left behinds are in the Arab-Muslim part of the world).

Link to Amazon.com:
The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

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