Saturday, 29 September 2012

Internet of Schools in the Jungle


Another computer company had sent me another letter regarding their offer. I have to decline as being in the States requires me to leave behind my family, friends and my students. I did inquire them regarding the offer as I would like to serve within Malaysia. I am yet to receive news on the issue.

Internet connection had worsened day by day as I cannot update my blog as well as carrying out my role as one of the developers on **a. Most of the time, I would engage myself in standalone programming or development.

BTW, this time I am going to blog about satellite internet in schools in the jungle. Currently, the schools are using Schoolnet which uses a satellite dish to upload and download data. After carrying out research, test and analysis on the system, I have found out a few issues that have constantly being misinterpreted by those using it. Some issues are basically raised due to lack of knowledge in the field and it is believed that by following the norm, one will be able to solve the riddle. But it is not easy to change the norm that has taken place for a long time.

Internet Speed
"I'm having full bars on my laptop yet I couldn't surf the net."
Well, being said that, there's not much you can do. Many factors contribute to the speed of satellite connection. Some would be the humidity level around the satellite dish, alignment of the satellite, which way the dish is facing, server limitations by the ISP and so on. Therefore, it is better to be patient as in the jungle; internet (or maybe satellite phone) is your only mean of communication. Getting full bars on the laptop basically means that you’re near the router. It’s very simple yet most would prefer to believe that the server is having problem.

Using cable or wireless
"A colleague is using LAN cables to get connected. It is unfair for us who uses wireless. He's definitely getting better connection than any of us!"
The statement is wrong on so many levels. There's numerous explanation for this issue. It is believed (and not proven) that those using CAT5 or CAT6 cables will end up having better connection than those using wireless. To clarify things up, here is the explanations as well as results of the test. Routers will divide the connection evenly across all connected device be it laptop or mobile phones (even tablets). From the table below, we can see that the upload and download speed remains nearly the same between all connected device be it connected using cables or wirelessly.

CAT5 Cable (UL/DL)
Wireless (UL/DL)
Laptop 1
10.5kbps / 73.4kbps
10.1kbps / 72.1kbps
Laptop 2
11.1kbps / 80.5kbps
10.9kbps / 76.7kbps
Laptop 3
10.1kbps / 70.1kbps
9.8kbps / 70.5kbps
Mobile Phone 1
9.6kbps / 72.2kbps
Mobile Phone 2
9.5kbps / 73.1kbps
*Results are based on the average within 30 minutes connected time.

Other variables that need to consider is range and whether it will affect the connection. But after the test, I find it unreliable as the result is the same except when you are situated at the long end of the range where connection will drop to 40% - 20% of normal speed.

Therefore, it is unacceptable for those who know nothing about computer and networking to brag something beyond his or her knowledge. The one thing that differentiates between the two methods is consistency. As we are all know that wireless devices would allow us to move around within the range of the router to get connected. Some would even bring along their device to the toilet and still get connected to the internet. However, those using cables are not allowed to do so as they have to remain still in one spot. The most they can move around while still getting connected is a small fraction of what others can do.

Turning on/off to get connected
"I couldn't connect to the internet. Its time to turn it off."
This is true for the satellite receiving server and not the router. Most of us believe that by turning it off, it will solve the situation but it is strictly for the satellite receiving server. The one that couldn't connect you is the router. So, the router is at fault, not the server. Therefore, it would be wise to turn off the router and not the server. The router might have reached the limit of maximum client allowed. When the satellite receiving server's alarm (red light) is not blinking, it means that the internet connection is present. It would be unwise to turn the server off because it is practically very difficult to get connected again to the ISP server due to the environment such as humidity and temperature level. So, once you get connected, it’s better to leave it as it is. Turn off the router only and not the whole system. I used to tell this to my colleagues but none of them really believe in what I've said. Maybe it’s because I'm new here and they thought I know nothing about it.

The router’s so-called antennae
I think this is the most foolish thing to be taken into account as one of the internet connection issue. You know that on some routers, there are so called “antennae” sticking out of them. For me, it is unbelievably ridiculous to assume that by moving the antennae towards your direction, you will get a better signal. I found that incident to be very childish in the networking world. The antennae will spread the signal in the form of sphere and not direct. If it really does, nobody would get internet connection when the antenna is facing the sky. So it will be clever if we stop assuming what we see is what we perceive. In science, there are a lot of things you cannot see like atoms, wireless signals and even your own fart.

These are some issues that I'm addressing regarding internet connection of schools in the jungle. I may not be socially good person but as an expert on this, I'm talking based on hard evidence and research and its definitely not some empty talk to boast about my ability. I did not take on programming or any networking courses but guess why companies would pay a lot just to have me in their team? I would love to work with them but going overseas again? Not in a million years. It’s nice to spend a holiday abroad but definitely not staying there.

I hope that my post this time would help clear things up for everyone using satellite internet. Such issues should not be brought up as it would portray one inability to analyze the situation critically. I hope that this post would not offend those who don’t know anything about networking. My intention of posting about this is to inform as well as to educate those who don’t know.

I will carry out further research and study on this matter to improve the situation as well as giving a clearer picture to everyone.

That's all for now. Thank you for reading.


Saturday, 23 June 2012

From Bees and News


I thought it was a leaf but it isn't
Hi. I have mentioned in my previous post that every day in SKOT is a new day with new challenge. Now the danger has risen to a whole new level.

The room I'm staying last time are occupied by a swarm of honey bees and I gonna tell you once. These bees are always angry and I'm always their victims. Well. After being attacked by them on the morning of 21st, I didn't feel any pain. Seriously. But the consequences comes afterwards where my body started to get itchy after a while.

Now, while writing this blog, my body is still itchy. Even hot ointment is not working anymore. Damn. But hey. At least I'm immune from those bees.

Apart from the bees, I also made it into the news (KOSMO! 16th May 2012). You can read it here.

Shot of the page
Well. Next week will be Teacher's Day celebration in my school. Hope I'll get well enough to carry out the awesome duty as the MC.

See you next time.


Monday, 18 June 2012

Daily Schedule in School

40kg food that will last around two weeks

Imagine what would you do when you are teaching in the jungle. Yes. There's a no-no for everything. Here's a bit of what I did.

0700 - 0720
Woke up. Prepare myself and head for class

0720 - 1330
Go for class. With some occasional return for breakfast or toilet etc.

1330 - 1500
Either I sleep or carry out my work on RPH, Test Papers and ect.

1500 - 1700
Training and playing with students. Sports like volleyball are the students favourite.

1700 - 2000
Rest and get myself ready. Get the dirty clothes done.

2000 - 0000
I sleep. Yes. That is normal.

0000 - 0600
Get connected to the net. Facebook, blogs, key-in students marks in SAPS, email and others. The only time I'm feeling alive. Hahahaha....

0600 - 0700
Took a nap for a while.

There you go. What I normally do on normal days. Weekends will be quite different. Having fun in the river or taking shots of those exotic critters is a routine for me.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.

Yeah. A quicknote for everyone. I changed my blog's name from happydailypost to fromuktouk as I won't be posting stuff on a daily basis like before. It's difficult getting connected here.


Saturday, 16 June 2012

Middle Oyan Primary School


Oyan Somersault
Middle Oyan. Get it? Middle of nowhere is more like it. Yes. It's SK Oyan Tengah or SKOT. I used to called it SK OHSEM TAW just to express how "awesome" the school is. Pay close attention to the word awesome.

It is a school situated near Oyan River and it is around 50 - 60 km from the nearest town which is Kapit. In case you didn't know where is my school, here is a map.

How far is the school? Ignore the yellow dot. I made it up as there are no straight road to my school.
The school? 16 teachers and 40 students. A class for each standard. And in a week, I managed to get a hold of everyone's name. Jukri, Thierry, Fhandy, Lawrence, Raveena, Ranti, Susie, Diesmond, Jones, Nora, Nantie, Gulin, Ugom, Muncih, Justin, Jeffrey, Geloria, Eliana, John, Muna, Jelayan, Sabrina, Aman, Juna, Sara, Linsa, Tracy, Jeshua, Alas, Severina, Magdeline, Esterina, Emilia, Ilan, Nyangau, Greg, Hebrew, Johan, Bonny and Maxwell.

Still unable to define what is this
Students here are quite ok with their behaviour. My death stare works like charm. I guess I don't have to throw their desk outside. What about their English? I guess I was sent here just for the job. English had taken a toll on the students and from my observation, they are just not interested. Well, I'm gonna put some meaning in your brain my lovely students. I managed to pick up words that they often use and get them to use English instead. Here are some examples.

Apuuu!  =  Oh my god!
Nda nemu  =  I don't know
Ngai ku  =  I don't want
Bedau  =  Not yet

And everytime I'm about to reach the class, students will go "Oh my god!". At least there's some English.

Le me room
I got there and I believe I am staying in the most dangerous place on earth. Bee hive in the wall, spiders as large as my palm, giant lizards and scorpions. Three are in my rooms and one just outside the door. My first month there, I was stung by scorpion and more by bees. Its like everyday I am being stung by bees. But after a while, I got immune to it and another stung are just like another ant.

Le school
As I'm into photography especially macro photography, I was like in heaven. The school is full of exotic insects. Most of them are unknown even to the locals. I don't even know them but I know 1 thing. If they move when I'm taking a shot, I'll kill them. Seriously. Seriously I'm kidding. I don't even dare to touch them what's more to kill them. One night I saw one insect as big as my arm! I'm frozen in terror. Seriously. Luckily I just went to the toilet. If not, I would wet my pants.

Storm during one evening in school
Electricity is from a generator set and unless it's going to be a holiday for at least 2 weeks, the one in charge will not turn it off. Internet? Its worst. Though we have a satellite dish, still a no-no. So my plan is to sleep at 8 or 9 and wakes up at 2 or 3 and get connected.

Underwater macro shoot at water reservoir
Water comes fresh from the waterfall somewhere around the area. However, the pipes are quite old and sometimes, male teachers have to travel deep into the interior to clean up the rocks and stuff that was stuck in the pipes or the area around it. To get to the water reservoir area, we need to get across the river and walk along the stream connected to Oyan River. Its around this time of the year that the pipes need maintenance. We just cleaned up the pipes on Tuesday morning and I believe we will do it again and again.

Headmaster worried about the water supply
Foodstock is very important. Never take this very lightly. No food, you die. No one to pity you in the jungle. You are on your own. If you are lazy to buy food (like my housemate), you can eat dust or beg from others. I always buy foodstock around 20-30kg that will last for 3-4 weeks. Don't pity others who bring nothing as they never pity you carrying all the food by yourself until you are about to break your bones. I'm saying this so people will realise how to be responsible. If you don't know how to cook, at least buy some stuff to be cooked. If your teacher never taught you how to be responsible, THIS TEACHER WILL TEACH YOU HOW! It's either you suffer first or you die later.

Shallow water means PUSH!
Students mother tongue is Iban and I'm very lucky to have a lot of Iban friends. Everyday I keep learning the language and I'm very excited to learn it. I can't make a full sentence but at least I can understand and reply with confidence. Students here already think of me as an Iban teacher and started to converse in Iban. I understood them but I still reply in English and Malay.
Le kids during assembly
Up until now, I never consider any of the difficulties that arises as problems. I love the challenges here and everyday is a new day for me with new challenges. Be it stung by bees or depleted water supply or even unable to get connected to Facebook, I can always do a lot of other things. Photography and swimming are the two that I enjoyed the most.

I hope to write more but being unable to get connected made me frustrated. Apuuuu. Oh well. All well, ends well.


Thanks for reading.


Friday, 15 June 2012

I am le teacher


A shot from the jetty in Sibu
Hi and yeah. It has been quite a time. I stopped writing on January as I'm getting myself prepared for the new working environment and suddenly... WALAWEI!! I AM A TEACHER! Alright, enough with all the bullsh**ting and rubbish talking involved. I am now teacher. Yes. OMG? Yes I am.

Nice view along the way to school

A whole new environment. A whole new level. And definitely unbelievable. Why? My school is in the jungle. Yes. You heard me right. MY SCHOOL IS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE JUNGLE! What's the name of the school again? Sekolah Kebangsaan Oyan Tengah or formerly known as SKOT. I couldn't tell you guys where is the exact location of my school because I don't even know where it is. It is somewhere out there.

Road not taken? No. This is road to school
Yup yup. Nice bluff right? No I'm not. Its true. The call from JPN Sarawak definitely made me blur. It goes like this.

Le madam: Cigu, tahniah. Cigu dapat posting di SK Oyan Tengah, Kapit. (Congrats. You just got posted to SK Oyan Tengah, Kapit)
Le me: Ya? Orait. (Yeah? Alright)
Le madam: Boleh cikgu bagi nama cigu? (Can you give me your name?)
Le me: Faris...
Le madam: Faris anak? (Faris son of?)
Le me: Faris Syimir.
Le madam: Cigu asal Sabah ka cigu? (Are you from Sabah?)
Le me: Bukan Sabah. Kedah. (Bila masa aku jd org Sabah?) (Not Sabah. Kedah. [Since when I'm a Sabahan?])
Le madam: Ok cigu. Nanti cigu ambil flight, turun Sibu, kemudian cigu ambil express pi Kapit. (Alright. On Monday, take a flight to Sibu and then an express to Kapit.)
Le me: Ok...(express kalo dlm otak aku, mksudnya bas express dan bukan bot express!)

Boat to Camp B
Basically, everything that was told and I have been through is so different compared to what I have in mind. My understanding is totally out of the ordinary. Well that's just the beginning of the story.

So I got off the plane, head to the jetty, took an express to Kapit and..... I got blur for the second time. Searching for PPD Kapit was a pain since I know nothing about Kapit. And mind you, I was ALONE. All alone. No officers were accompanying me, no friends, no nothing. Well, then I asked around, and get myself into the office with a little sense of relief. A little. And another story started. A female officer asked me why I'm there alone and I told her that I'm reporting myself for duty. She asked if I have any letters from JPN and luckily I don't. I told them that JPN called me regarding my posting without any papers. Then there were a little chaos as most of them are trying to get the JPN and I am still stuck in the middle.

R&R Oyan Tengah

After a while, I met Cikgu Thomas. My school's PK1. He introduced himself and lucky me, there was a meeting at PPD and most headmasters are there. They asked me to stay in town for a day as they will be heading for school tomorrow.

How to go to school? Well, we took a van to Rumah Tuan, then we took a boat to Camp B and then another few hours of 4-wheel adventures before reaching the school. When I got to school, cleaned my room a bit and doze off.

That is how I got to Kapit. Next post will be about the school. Better check it out!

Thanks for reading.