Indonesian History

Although hundreds of ethnic groups have been known as the indigenous of Indonesia for hundreds and thousands of years, Indonesia did not exist in its present form until the turn of the 20th century.

Of the so-called natives of Indonesia, archaeologists have speculated that the first people to populate Indonesia migrated from mainland China some 1,000 years ago and inhabited a stretch of islands along the equator, later known as Nusantara.

Over the centuries they built and refined their statecraft in the form of kingdoms and principalities. Sharing similar characteristics with other Southeast Asian kingdoms, these Nusantara kingdoms based their conception of state more on people than on space or territory. But intercourse with the western world changed the course of history in Nusantara.

In 1511, the Portuguese conquered Malacca, located on the Malay peninsula, which was then still an inseparable part of Nusantara. The Dutch followed in 1512 and landed on Banten shore in Java. At first, the Dutch came more as traders under the trading umbrella of the Royal East Indies Company (Vereniging Oost Indische Compagnie, VOC). For the next two centuries, the Dutch conducted business with the natives, although in many cases the trade was not on equal terms. Often, trade was accompanied by violent pacification processes.

Then the VOC went bankrupt and the Dutch government took over the business in Nusantara (called the East Indies by the Dutch). Starting from about the mid-seventh century and lasting until the arrival of the Japanese in 1942, was the "real colonization" called "high colonialism" in literature. The period was disrupted briefly when the British took over colonial rule in 1811 to 1814. Among other things that the natives learned from colonization was statecraft based on territorial conception rather than on people.

In the early 20th century, the natives of Nusantara learned that as diverse as their ethnicities were, they could imagine themselves as a unified community. A nationalism had grown in a process that Benedict Anderson, a doyen of Indonesian studies, calls an "imagined community". During the first half of 20th century Nusantara, its people built an imaginary nation called Indonesia -- the name itself was borrowed from the West. By the end of the 1930s, it was clear that the end of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia was only a matter of time.

Indonesia’s mountains of fire

While Indonesia’s volcanoes are often noted for the beauty of their spectacular peaks, steaming craters and view of the earth’s bubbling core, Mount Merapi, the country’s most active volcano, took centre stage this past October as a clear reminder of their deadly activity. Many of Indonesia’s volcanoes do erupt, sometimes with shocking consequences.

Due to Indonesia's placement on a significant segment of the Pacific "Ring of Fire", two large crustal plates (the Indian Ocean and western Pacific) are forced under the massive Eurasian plate, where they melt, approximately 100km beneath the surface. Some of the magma rises and erupts, forming the string of volcanic islands across Indonesia.

But with tectonic activity comes devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, such as those of Boxing Day 2004, off Java in July 2006 and Sumatra in 2009, and just recently around the surfer's paradise of the Mentawai Islands. Here is the lowdown on Indonesia's most beautiful, and its most volatile, volcanic monsters.

Volcano peaks, part of the huge Tengger Massif in Java
Gunung Bromo, Java
A landscape of epic proportions and surreal beauty, Gunung Bromo is one of Indonesia's most breathtaking sights. Surrounded by the desolate Sea of Sands, its peak is sacred and eerie. It may not be Java's tallest volcano, but it is easily its most magnificent. From the summit you can see two other volcanoes (one in various stages of activity), all set in the vast caldera of yet another volcano.

Compared with Java's other major peaks, Gunung Bromo is a midget. But this volcano's beauty is in its setting, not its size. Rising from the guts of the ancient Tengger caldera, Bromo is one of three volcanoes to have emerged from a vast crater that stretches 10km across. Flanked by the peaks of Kursi and Batok, the steaming cone of Bromo stands in a sea of ashen, volcanic sand, surrounded by the towering cliffs of the crater's edge. Nearby, Gunung Semeru, Java's highest peak and one of its most active volcanoes, throws its shadow - and occasionally its ash - over the whole scene.

Gunung Semeru, Java
Part of the huge Tengger Massif, the classic cone of Gunung Semeru is the highest peak in Java, at 3,676m. Also known as Mahameru (Great Mountain), it is looked on by Hindus as the most sacred mountain of all and the father of Gunung Agung on Bali. Semeru is one of Java's most active peaks and has been in a near-constant state of eruption since 1818. In 1981, 250 people were killed during one of its worst eruptions, and it exploded as recently as March 2009.

Google Working to Make Search Engine Smarter

Google says it is retooling its search machine to go beyond recognizing words in queries and begin understanding what it is people are asking for.

The California-based Internet titan is intent on adding "semantic" capabilities to automatically comprehend meanings of phrases and questions to better fetch the online information being sought.

To make search smarter, Google is tapping into the virtual brain of a Freebase database of knowledge regarding what things are and how they relate to one another.
Google acquired the "open-source knowledge graph" when it bought San Francisco-based Metaweb Technologies in 2010 for an undisclosed sum.
Traditional Internet search formulas recognize words typed into query boxes and then deliver links to websites that appear relevant.
Google did not reveal a timeline for the evolution to "semantic" capabilities.

Google is perpetually tuning its search engine, and in January wove content from its social network and Picasa photo-sharing service into its search formula to serve up personalized results to online queries.
"Search, plus Your World" lets people signed into Google accounts get search results that include content approved for sharing by them or friends at Google or Picasa.

Chatting with Omegle

The beauty of Raja Ampat (Island Archipelago)

Raja Ampat Islands
Raja Ampat is a group of islands in West Papua (formerly Irian Jaya) and consists of 610, mostly uninhabited islands. The four largest islands are Waigeo in the north, Salawati (southwest of the second largest city in West Papua, Sorong) Batanta (north of Salawati) and Misool in the southwest. The name Raja Ampat is also based on these four islands and literally means "the four kings.

Raja Ampat is a relatively unknown area in Indonesia, but this destination among divers enjoy great fame. This is due to the large supply of various species of fish and amazing coral reefs, ranging from hard to soft coral. But the islands themselves are impressive. The Raja Ampat islands have hidden lagoons with crystal white sand and water that varies from bright green to bright blue colors.

The Raja Ampat islands are so well known among divers. Some lovely dive sites are:

Pulau Wai
The coral reefs around this small island off the north coast of Batanta home to rare species such as the recently discovered Raja epaulette shark, wobbegong shark, crocodile fish and great mantras. Also here is an old American fighter plane wreck from World War II.

Teluk Kabui
Between Waigeo and the smaller island of Pulau Gam are many small jungle islands of limestone. The Nudibranch Rock is definitely one of the highlights of this location, as this rock an overwhelming population lives on ... brightly colored nudibranchs.

Manta Point
This location between the Gam and Mansuar Islands is a paradise where rye. In this area, swimming is more than 15 different species of Ray, some even get a wingspan of 5 meters! Remarkable is that this location is like a washing station for manta rays. The Rays are going on the coral and are then "cleaned" by small wrasses.