Cooking up a tasty meal… of information (and data)

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“To cook…. yes, it’s to cook,” laughed Onno Widodo Purbo, who calls himself “an independent ICT writer who dreams to see a knowledge-based society in Indonesia.”

Dr. Purbo showed every sign of enjoying his joke tremendously.

PANALL2009 - Penang by you.

But in a little while, things were up and running. It was about information, not steamed rice or sambal.

As participants at the PANALL2009 camp finished lunch, the diminitive former academic turned tech-campaigner mounted the stairs and began his strange demo.

By the time he finished, everyone was astounded by the simplicity of the technology he used. And it’s power.

In short, what he was doing was to take a wok — the versatile round-bottomed cooking vessel originating in China — added on a wifi pen drive, and manage to create rough-and-ready and cheap tool to extend the wireless capacity of your computer. In this way, one could link up dozens of others while sharing a single fat pipe to the Net.

This makes Net access a whole new ball game, specially in resource-poor, talent-rich countries where most can’t afford the luxury of the internet.

Purbo, a PhD, counts among his current priorities “spreading knowledge — through many workshops, demos, seminars in Indonesia — on low cost Internet access using wokbolic, neighbourhood network, open source software, internet telephony etc.”

To know more about his work, search for the terms “wokbolic” or “wajanbolic” (the “wajan” is the Indonesian term for the “wok”). The second part of the name, of course, refers to the parabolic reflector, which is what it is, even if of an unusual kind.

Some of the papers he has written are in Indonesian, but there’s enough images to guide one around.

See this Bahasa Indonesia note which gives a detailed design and step-by-step guide on how to create a “wokbolic and bazooka” antenna for 3G.

Caution: PVC tubing and aluminium tape is to be used to create this low-cost weapon against information-poverty.

Measurements have to be precise too, explains Dr Purbo, as he talks in fractions… so as to get the exact size and shape to reflect the wireless link and connect computers, almost magically it would seem.

By using this ingenuity, Purbo makes a USB wifi stick — which could link computers a few metres away — to connect over hundreds of metres. Someone was asking about using such a tool “in series” — as kind of repeater stations.

Yes, that’s possible too! This author of a thousand articles, and over 40 books, should know!

An earlier article on Dr Purbo.

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3 thoughts on “Cooking up a tasty meal… of information (and data)

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