2008/07/08

Gone XL BIS... Welcome Telkomsel Prepaid BIS!

So after enduring 5 months of horrendeous BIS service from XL, I put my foot down and switched to Telkomsel's prepaid BIS starting this July. I did try out Telkomsel's BIS a while back with high satisfaction so this was a no brainer move. There was one hick-up during the activation process that left my wife and I without BB for 3 days.

The not bad news is I have to content with 3 GSM phones at the moment. My XL number is my work number, so I can't let that go. I also have a Telkomsel's postpaid number for my friends and family. And last but not least the new Telkomsel Simpati for my BB. I'm thinking of forwarding calls to either one of my postpaid number to my BB. My Telkomsel's postpaid would be the better candidate because of the discounted rate for in-network calls, but my XL number would've make more sense. The problem is, I can't get sms to be forwarded to my BB :(

2008/07/01

Windows Live Messenger/MSN on my BB

UPDATE: Seems like some people are having problem with installing. I'm updating the steps to take into account some of the issues reported by my friends.

I got word today that Windows Live Messenger aka MSN Messenger is now available on BlackBerry.

To get it, you have to do the following steps:

  1. Uninstall any MSN client installed in the BB (some T-Mobile's BB has MSN installed already). You can do this from "Options->Advance Options->Applications", you should see "Windows Live Messenger".
  2. Re-send your service book from .blackberry.com or from "E-mail Settings" icon on your BB.
  3. Hard reset your BB. Pull out the battery, while the BB is turned on, for 30 seconds.
  4. After your BB is booted up, go to "Options->Advance Options->Host Routing Table". Select the BOLD item, press Menu button and select "Register Now".
  5. Go to your main window and you should see "Windows Live Messenger" icon. Click the icon and it'll will direct you to the process of installing the client.
  6. Once it's finished downloading and installing, you can use the "Windows Live Messenger". Should you get an error while going through the motions of downloading, retry from Step 2. As my friend mentioned persistence is the key :) (Thanks for Daniel Armanto for mentioning this)

Hope that helps? :)

2008/05/23

Up to 40 minutes of delay...

Some of the emails I received on XL BB service yesterday was delayed up to 40 minutes. I can now understand comments I've got from friends about how XL BB service is pretty much crap. I'm still constantly getting only GSM signal instead of GPRS with my XL, which may contribute to the delay receiving emails. I wonder how the corporate customers of XL feels. Do they have better experience?

I'm done comparing the two, XL and Telkomsel. As much as I hate Telkomsel on their gauging prices, they are in my opinion the superior against XL. Now all I have to do is wait until the end of my XL billing cycle to disconnect BB service. I've made up my mind to suck up the premium price of Rp 150.000/month with 20MB quota (compared to XL's Rp 200.000/month unlimited ) on my Telkomsel postpaid mobile number. My friend in Telkomsel have told me, yet again, that the new price for BB service for Telkomsel postpaid will be revised next month.

Sad to say I have to ditch Telkomsel's prepaid Rp 180.000/month unlimited, that I've been testing, cause I can't see myself carrying 3 mobile phones. I still need my XL for my work, since all the clients contact me through that number and I have a sentimental attachment to my Telkomsel number.

I think it's fair to say that if you are currently looking for a BB service and you are not a postpaid customer yet, you should go with Telkomsel prepaid BB service. If you are already a postpaid customer of XL, seriously consider Telkomsel's prepaid offering. If you are already an Indosat's postpaid customer, get their offering for BB service it's still a whole lot better than XL and it's unlimited. If you are on Telkomsel postpaid, well, just suck it up right now or you can go prepaid with them (if you haven't already carrying so many phones :).

2008/05/21

Telkomsel prepaid BB service first impression (against XL BB service)

Borrowed a BB Pearl from a friend yesterday and switched my Curve to Telkomsel SIM and Pearl to XL SIM, updated the service books and voila! Now I can compare the level of service when I'm using BB Messenger.

My initial impression, right of the bat I can see the difference when I send a message from Telkomsel BB service compared to XL BB service. Using Telkomsel, it feels instantaneous while using XL, there's like a few seconds lag just to get the check mark (notification that the message has gone through the BB infrastructure but haven't been delivered to the recipient end).

I sent a message to my wife (she uses XL), who was sitting next to me, from my Telkomsel BB. The message has a check mark right away, yet it took 15 minutes for my wife to received it. Something is really wrong with XL's infrastructure.

Gonna use 2 BB devices for the next two days and do more comparison. For now I'm pretty satisfied with Telkomsel and it warrants my consideration for my next BB service provider.

By the way, none of comparisons I made is by any means scientific, so don't take my experience as the word of truth in settling down and choosing your BB service provider in Indonesia.

2008/05/19

Signed up for pre-paid BB service by Telkomsel...

Last week, Telkomsel, the largest GSM provider in Indonesia launched a new service for pre-paid customer. What an innovative service! The first in Asia they said. Now, wait a minute... pre-paid BB? What happen to all the hassle signing up for post-paid service to have BB service. Again post-paid customers in Indonesia got screwed!

I've been contemplating to move to Indosat's BB offering of unlimited monthly plan for around Rp 190.000/month. But in order to move to Indosat, I need to get a post-paid service and that takes a while to do, plus I'm kinda in waiting list for a "cantik" number (my own vanity phone number).

Moving to Telkomsel has been my last choice to get out of my XL misery since I have a post-paid service with Telkomsel still going as my second semi-private line. I've been thinking really hard wether to swallow the 20MB quota for Rp 150.000/month. Plus my friend has been telling me that Telkomsel will give better offering for price for their post-paid BB service. That hasn't happened yet.

So when Telkomsel introduced pre-paid BB service, I thought I give it a try. Especially since my friend who works for Telkomsel has been bragging about their BB service. I bought a pre-paid card last night and decide to give it a try. Took me a day to register, but it finally it's active as of late afternoon.

Haven't have much comment yet. I'm using my old trusty Nokia E61 with BB Connect for now. Going to borrow a BB Pearl tomorrow because I really need to compare the service head-to-head using a BB device to know the difference. My complaint with XL has been about their unstable GPRS connection that makes my IM through BB Messenger impaired. BB Messenger was one of the selling point for me to get a BB device instead of using BB Connect when I activated XL BB service. Using BB Messenger has lowered my bill significantly.

So stay tuned for my experience with the service...

A few things that has got me thinking really hard 


2008/05/16

Help! My ISP blocked privilleged ports, I can't sync to ntp time servers...

I've been having problems syncing my local linux server time to a public internet server in ntp.org.

After doing tcpdump on my internet connected interface on my firewall, I found out that my isp, fast.net.id, blocked any reply to privilleged ports, 1-1024. Since ntpd uses udp port 123 as source and destination port, replies from ntp.org public servers got cut off from my isp's router.

What's interesting is ntpd on Mac OS X uses unprivilleged ports. Another utility in linux, ntpdate has an optional argument, -u, which make the request source port uses unprivilleged port. It puzzles me why ntpd doesn't have that option as well. Nevertheless, I have this problem in my hand.

I kinda figured out a workaround (short of calling my isp and ask them not to block udp port 123). I have to put a little disclaimer here, this workaround that is by no means recommended (from what I can gather) so use it at your own risk.

What I did was setup a cron job to run ntpdate every 15 minutes to sync system time with ntp.org public servers using unprivilleged port.

15 * * * * /usr/sbin/ntpdate -s -u -B pool.ntp.org

-s option tells ntpdate to print output to syslog; -u tells it to use unprivilleged port; -B tell it to adjust the time incrementally as oppose to instantly.

Then I setup ntpd as a local ntp server for internal use. This ntpd uses it's localtime as the source instead of syncing from another ntp.org public server.

2008/04/06

My rant on XL BlackBerry service!

It's been more than two months now since I've activated my BIS on XL. I have been through some personal trials and tribulation with the service during that time.

I'm beginning to seriously doubt that I'll be staying much longer with XL and switch to either one of the other two, Indosat or Telkomsel. Now if only I can just get my nerve to be patient until the end of my billing cycle (stupid XL is the only BIS provider in Indonesia that doesn't pro-rate the service fee!)

Let me begin the story of my frustration with why all of this came about. No, wait. How about if I get started with a little primer on how cellular network works, in the case of GSM.

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WARNING on GEEKY/TECHNICAL CONTENT: what I'm about to write is a bit technical, if you're not interested just skip the next few paragraphs.

In cellular phone technology, there is what you called base transceiver station, BTS for short. They are strategically located to cover an area so it provides wireless mobile services. Handsets must register themselves to the network via BTS.
GSM uses TDMA, Time Division Multiple Access, a multiplexing technique that slices a channel based on time. So a given channel can handle multiple phone conversation and separate each conversation by slight time delay.
GSM in itself wasn't designed for data transmission, for that GPRS was created. It was a half stop measure until they can get data services on the next generation technology. Now to get GPRS working on the GSM network, it needs to share the channels available on the BTS. They have a builtin mechanism to load balance channels between GSM and GPRS.

---

Now back to my rant...

So for the past few months, GSM providers in Indonesia have been doing tarriff war in the prepaid market. Like real life war, there are always casualities. In this war their fighting the casualities are postpaid customers. Postpaid customers only make up a small percentage of customers for providers in Indonesia. It's not easy to become one, you need to register, have financial background check, etc. And to have BlackBerry service you need to become postpaid customer. Unlike postpaid, to become prepaid customer you only have to buy a 'perdana' card and refill your credit anytime.

Yet postpaid customers are treated like second class citizen by the providers. First we don't get the benefits of lower tarriff from the providers. Second we get substandard service because of the influx of new prepaid customers and higher usage; the providers don't do capacity planning homework. Third, we don't get the simple perks like free activation of international roaming, free caller ID blocking, like prepaid customer. If we want to have those, we need to signup, put up a deposit and pay monthly fee.

Out of the three big GSM providers in Indonesia, XL is the most aggresive one in this tarriff war. Because of it, it's network gets hit the hardest. The load balancing between GSM and GPRS channels in it's BTS' causes BlackBerry service get distrupted very often. The last few weeks has been really horrendous experience bordering insanity.

My handheld would shift in and out of GPRS service for no apparent reason. Rendering my BlackBerry service useless. I've ask their customer service rep about it, and the best answer they gave me was I need to just restart my handheld because it's a problem with BlackBerry services from RIM.

I know BlackBerry handheld is not perfect and has some issues, but I doubt RIM designed such a bad product so I have to restart it multiple time in a single day. And the issues I'm having are known to happen with XL customers, not Indosat nor Telkomsel.

This answer, honestly makes me chuckle while be pissed at the same time. First, I have an 8320 with wifi capabilities which when I'm in wifi coverage my BlackBerry service is just fine. Second, it's an assault on my intellegence. They think their customers are just plain stupid and they can get away it.

So if any of you work for or represent XL read this, better get your act together and improve your service!!! You are about to loose a customer. Yes you might think it's only one customer, but realize that I'm not the only disgruntled customer. And I'll make sure for any potential customer who are thinking about signing up for your service know how bad is your service and should just consider the competitions, Indosat or Telkomsel.

Enough said...

2008/04/04

Talk about somebody that knows absolutely nothing, yet he's opinionated!

So Indonesia's parliament just recently ratified a new law governing electronic transaction and internet use in Indonesia. One of the provision is making illegal to acces pornographic content in Indonesia (regardless of origin of the website). Some Indonesians are up in arms rejecting this law since it's actually a pretty hard and almost 'impossible' to enforce plus it's money better spent in other public services. Not many Indonesians have access to internet!

Some hackers take this matter into their own hand and defaced the Depkominfo (Indonesia's ministry of communication and information) website. Not that I condone the action but an action nevertheless. This action generates a lot of response from the community.

One in particular caught my interest, Roy Suryo, who was interviewed by the media, Indocommit.com. This person is widely believed in Indonesia to be the authority/expert in telematika (information and communication technology). Yet he is making some stupid and uneducated statements about things that he's supposed to be an expert of.

He kept referring people who defaced the website as blogger (???) and refer us, general internet user, as hacker. What the F**k??? He goes on to put on a smear campaign against an Indonesian blogger, Enda Nasution, by accusing him and his group as the mastermind behind the attack on Depkominfo website.

I don't have anything personally against this guy but I do have some reservation about his comments and opinion. I don't think he's an expert/authority in anything. And this comments he's making in the media just shows me that he's not a qualified guy to make such statements.

Head on to http://bloggerdanhacker.wordpress.com/2008/04/02/mulutmu-harimaumu/ to read about excerpts of his comments and the debunking opinions. Please beware that it's in Indonesian.

Note:
Thank you for avianto for bringing this up on twitter. Interesting read :)

2008/03/20

More crackberry addicts?

So, I got 6 more people converted to BlackBerry including my wife (she got hers for this year's birthday; happy birthday dear...)

A few more people are thinkering... If only the price of BlackBerry isn't so expensive.

BTW, yesterday my provider, XL, lost it's GPRS service so my BB got stone cold (except when I have WiFi). Seriously considering to switch to Indosat since they just recently introduce a new pricing scheme that is competitive to what XL is offering.

2008/02/11

Addicted to crackberry...

Getting cocky with one's blackberry... Re-activated id-mac mailing list membership, signed up for id-blackberry and id-ruby mailing list...

What do you get? Neverending stream of email... Hahahahaha...

2008/02/10

A few days with my BB...

So it's been a few days since my BIS is active. Quite a good overall experience.

I have to agree with my friends who told me that I will soon be addicted to crackberry and become somewhat autistic (getting that in denial feeling, don't you? :). Not a minute goes by without me thumbing a message to my friends via BB Messenger, YM, GTalk; or updating my facebook; even 'twitter'-ing using twitterberry.

One quirk that I found out is that you definitely need additional SD memory for your BB if you don't want constantly finding out sms/messages disappearing from the inbox. Ended up buying a 2GB micro SD memory; can't believe how cheap it is.

I still don't understand why the BIS connection won't switch from mobile network to WiFi some of the time. Most people would say that's because XL service sucks compare to Telkomsel and Indosat. I don't agree, yet can't seem to debunk their assertion.

My wife now wants one too and yes I'll be buying her a pretty one for her birthday :)

2008/02/06

The Police!

BTW, went to The Police reunion tour concert in Singapore on Monday. Boy oh boy it was awesome. These dudes are old but they can still rock.

Yes there were a few minor solo guitar mishaps by Andi Summers but Stewart Copeland played awesome drums and percussions. My friend told me he shed some tears during 'Wrapped Around My Finger' because the percussions was so moving! I've seen Sting concerts about 4 times and man he still got the energy and the passion.

Other than that, lots of Indonesians were there for the concert. Even the so called Indonesian celebrities was all there watching this legendary band. Awesome!

Check this out!

This is my first post from my blackberry! How cool is that?

I'll be reviewing more of my new BIS service in a few days. But so far I'm impressed, been pin-ing (BB messaging) and YM-ing with my friends.

2008/01/16

New BlackBerry Curve 8320

Got my new BlackBerry Curve 8320 yesterday, YAY! Still no BB service yet, waiting for next month billing cycle to sign up. What oh why you can't pro-rate the service is beyond me, maximizing profit I guess...

A few quirks have kinda bothered me, such as you can't have multiple mobile number label. I have to settle to eye-balling some 500 contacts to check for multiple mobile number. God I love Nokia for making things simple on Symbian. (On the flip side, I have been complaining about how slow and stupid my e61 have become though!)

I have to say though the BB is pretty compact and lighter compare to e61, though look more plastic-ky compared to e61 (which is mostly metal).

Overall quite impressed and satisfied. Let's wait for the final judgement when I turned on the BB service next month. Will my phone bill shoot through the roof???