14 Dec 2006

Labels are back

Since Blogger is no more in beta, many issues have been solved. Therefore, I'm resuming labels. So you may read/search articles of your particular interest.

Happy reading!

13 Dec 2006

Playing Half-Life 2, the best game ever

Half-Life is a shooter-game developed by Valve Software and published by Sierra. It was released in November 1998. By brother and (he-)cousin were really crazy about the game at the time and played it for more than 12 hours a day for a whole month at least! No wonder, the game was rated 'best game ever' by PC Gamer many times. That's because the game was innovative in terms of technologies that are used.

Then came Half-Life 2, released in 2004. It's only now that I have started to play it and I must admit it really is the best game ever. All Half-Life games have been given the award many times. It is a real pleasure to play such a nice game. I love it because it tries to achieve perfection for its

  • advanced facial animation
  • respect for the laws of physics, such as that of mass, friction and gravity
  • high graphics
  • good AI
Then there's Counter-Strike, an online game and Half-Life 2 Episode One out. Phew! What an array of games! I think there's more than enough for me to enjoy!

Some related sites:

Half-Life at Wikipedia
Half-Life 2 at Wikipedia

5 Dec 2006

Tom Snare live in Mauritius

Tom Snare is a French association of DJ Steed, guitarist Steve Watt and producer Xavier De Canter. They play techno, dance and electro music. Tom Snare's first album Tom Snare's World was released in October this year (2006). It contains the following 16 tracks:

  1. Waterfalls (Radio Edit)
  2. Philosophy (song)
  3. My Mother Says
  4. Homeworld
  5. Electro Choc
  6. Love Sensation
  7. Lick It
  8. Running (I Can't Stop Loving You)
  9. Rock On You
  10. Fashion Avenue
  11. More Than A Surprise
  12. No Dreams
  13. Philosophy (Le Remix)
  14. My Mother Says (Extended Mix)
  15. Waterfalls (Electro Extended Mix)
  16. My Mother Says (My Piano Mix)
The group has made a phenomenal success with the track Philosophy. A second album is to get out soon.

The group is ranked 1564 on TheDJList.com.

On Saturday 2nd December, Liquid and The Hippies organised a fantastic techno night with guest DJ Tom Snare (DJ Steed) at La Citadelle, Mauritius. The event was broadcast live on Kool FM's Liquid/Essential Kool Mix.

I was happy to attend since I obtained a Liquid key-holder and nice discount at all Liquid shops.

There was a long warm-up session by DJ Prakash Samputh, DJ Patrice D'Avrincourt, DJ Giovanni Paul and DJ Bernard Desmarais prior to the world star DJ session.

The music was really nice and nicer when DJ Steed got his hands on the mixer. I should say that mixing is DJ Tom Snare's second nature. He's in always in phase with the track that he's mixing and he makes the audience feel the music. I should admit that Tom Snare will soon be among the world's top DJs and that his ranking will climb considerably. DJ Tom Snare even presented us with an exclusive track that they will be releasing shortly.

Here are some pictures which I took:

More pictures of the night are available here.

Apologies for no recent updates

I am really sorry for not being able to write at least once a week for the past month. I was really busy at work and was so tired that I couldn't even post updates from home. However, I should also say that I tasted some games and played for hours and hours and looked at TV too much at other times.

6 Nov 2006

Enter Fedora Core 5

It's only after a long time that I finally decided to install the Linux distro from Redhat, Fedora Core 5. Yes I know, FC 6 was released last week. But I cannot afford to download such a huge OS DVD using my rather slow 'broadband' connection...

As I feared, the installation process reminds me of Window$. I only have to press the famous 'Next' button, unlike Debian, which asks me for different configuration options.

The only problem that I encountered while installing was where to put the GRUB bootloader. I first put it in the second partition but the bootloader didn't load. Instead the Windows XP bootloader loaded. So I re-installed FC 5 and placed the GRUB bootloader in MBR and this time it was OK!

However I do agree that Fedora Core might be good for those who 'fear' Linux and who are not so technical. Debian might be better for experienced computer users who know their hardware well. But installing Debian Linux is nice since we are 'forced' to know our hardware better!

To make things better, I decided to do a Google Fight to see which one wins!

And great, it's Debian Linux who wins!!

Exit Windows Vista and removing Windows Vista boot menu items

OK well, Windows Vista RC 1 has a long way to go. So better remove it, right? So I just formatted the partition hoping that I will boot in Windows XP automatically. But oops! The Windows Vista boot menu showing options to boot in 'Earlier version of Windows' or 'Windows Vista'.

I downloaded a software called Vista Boot Pro to remove the Vista bootloader. And it works! Great!

29 Oct 2006

Enter Windows Vista RC 1

I finally decided to download and test the upcoming Windows Vista OS that Microsoft's been promising for more than a year.

Last month I was able to download the RC 1 version; RC 2 had been removed from Microsoft's servers. I've been given a license number that may be used on 10 computers. And unfortunately, the license expires on 1st July 2007... And once the software is installed, I have 14 days to activate it, else some things won't run...

There's an excellent review of the new features of Windows Vista at Wikipedia.org. Here's my personal addition though...

The good

  • There's a lot of transparency effects on menu bars
  • There's some nice fading animation when minimising and maximising windows
  • The gadgets seem OK
  • Nice Flip3d
  • New Internet Explorer has tabs
  • New 'cooler' font
  • Here's my desktop:

  • I also like the snipping tool that's good to take part of the desktop's screenshot.

The bad

  • Flip3d is not new; it's a package that exists since a long ago in Linux distro and used in Mac OS X Tiger
  • Gadgets also is an idea from Mac OS X
  • Tabing was introduced by Mozilla Firefox
  • Though the Windows sound setup plays 5.1 surround sound, Windows Media Player 11 does not do so. It plays tracks in 2.0 only!
  • My Wanadoo USB ZTE modem drivers are not compatible, so I can't connect to the Internet (more precisely it's the PPPoA WAN adapter that doesn't work)
  • The new font resembles more like the one used in Mac OS X

Enjoy Vista while it's free! But don't spend on it!

Or more: test it to see why you shouldn't buy the final version!! Use a Linux distro...

25 Oct 2006

Using Windows Live Messenger with other email address accounts

No need to have an email address of the type Hotmail.com or MSN.com to use Windows Live Messenger! You can use the Live Messenger with your existing email address, whether it's of GMail, Yahoo! or any other email address.

By following the steps, you register your email address with the Microsoft's Passport Network service.

The only hic in the Live Messenger: you can't check your mailbox, write new mails, see your contacts in your email's address book...

Step 1: Go to http://www.passport.com

Step 2: In section "
Use an e-mail address you already have", click "Get started"

Step 3: Enter your existing email address and any other relevant details

Step 4: Click "continue"

Follow any other steps required.

In Windows Live Messenger, enter your email that you registered and password.

Bingo! Have fun :)

17 Oct 2006

Envoyé Spécial passe à la guillotine sur la MBC-tv

Cela fait quelque temps déjà que la MBC-tv, la station nationale de télé à Maurie, passe l'émission Envoyé Spécial à la guillotine. En effet hier, le 16 aout, les présentatrices Guillaine Chenu et Françoise Joly ont été tout simplement "couper" afin que l'émission puisse entrer dans la grille de programmation de la chaine locale. Cette pratique donne l'imprésssion que l'émission est un condensé de reportages. On n'a pas pu avoir les commentaires, mises-à-jour et éclaircissements des présentatrices.

De plus, dans les émissions diffusées précédemment, la MBC-tv n'a pas diffusé certains reportages. Nul ne sait si la MBC-tv est en train de censurer certains. Tout ceci ajoute à mon exaspération car déjà les émissions diffusées sont très en retard dès celles diffusées par la chaine France 2.

Peut-être qui'il ne me reste plus qu'à regarder l'émission en direct sur TV5 Monde Afrique! Mais dans ce cas-là, je fais quoi de la redevance télé que je paye chaque mois?

15 Oct 2006

Cascada's Everyime We Touch

While surfing the net, I came across Cascada's Everytime We Touch track. It aroused my interest for the artist since it falls into the trance category. I downloaded the album for preview and I instantly fell in love with the artist and the album. I even love the tracks that are not trance!

Everytime We Touch features 14 magnificent tracks that are worth listening. I am sure that it will suit all those who like dance and trance music. It also features Savage Garden's Truly Madly Deeply, with Cascada's beautiful voice. Here's the tracklist:

01 - Everytime We Touch
02 - How Do You Do
03 - Bad Boy
04 - Miracle
05 - Another You
06 - Ready For Love
07 - Can't Stop the Rain
08 - Kids in America
09 - A Never Ending Dream
10 - Truly Madly Deeply
11 - One More Night
12 - Wouldn't It Be Good
13 - Love Again
14 - Everytime We Touch (Yanou Candlelight Mix)

Her picture gallery and tour dates are available on her official web site. Her blog features testimonials from many MySpace users. Her lyrics may be found here.

We should also give credit to the two producers/DJs who made the superb music - Yanou and DJ Manian. Cascada's real name is Natalie Horler. All of them are German. More.

The music's style makes me think of Alice Deejay, the first trance group that I loved (though their styles are somewhat different). I appreciated Better Off Alone, Will I Ever and Back In My Life, amongst others. Unfortunately, the Dutch group is no more on the scenes. Alice Deejay comprises of producers Pronti, Kalmani and DJ Jurgen. Judith Pronk gives the melodious voice, accompanied by Gaby and Jane. More.

Note: Now, I just want to buy the original album. That is a pain in Mauritius since stores don't yet sell her disks. I hope that I may soon do so before I listen to the album so many times that I would no longer consider this option.

11 Oct 2006

Low-cost laptops in Mauritius

Last year, the MIT make a really nice move to leverage technology and bring some hopes to the poor developing world. In fact, the team at MIT planned to give governments laptops for USD 100 each so that the latter gives them away for FREE to the poor children and students. Details about the project.

The laptops run Linux OS, and have great advantages, as per the specs.

A few weeks ago, the Government of Mauritius announced that it has partnered with Microsoft to sell laptops at MUR 15,000 (USD 450). Report from the local newspaper (sorry, in French).

So how are the Microsoft laptops different from those of MIT? And is the Government making a move to oust MIT and Linux and favour Microsoft? And as it can be seen, the Microsoft laptops are far more expensive than that of the MIT team. So why has the Government chosen such a move which is not logical in an economic point of view and going away from the free software movement?

(As an aside, I have heard that the IT Minister has close links with guys at Microsoft.)

4 Oct 2006

CSE programming contest

The Computer Science and Engineering Department (CSE) at the University of Mauritius is organising a programming contest these days. I think that this is a very good initiative that has been taken. This will bring some fresh air to the department. Students and lecturers will enjoy some sort of interaction apart from classes and the lecturer-student relationship. They will be able to talk other things apart that in the syllabus.

Students and lecturers in the department will also be more friendly I think. It will be time to make new friends and share ideas.

The important thing is to participate and enjoy, not winning! Good luck to you guys (and gals) participating and have a nice time and lots of fun together!

Unfortunately, I'm not able to join them since I'm no more a student. But I'd love to participate in one way or the other.

My.T critic

It has been a few months since the local telco Mauritius Telecom released a new subscription-based service My.T. It has three services bundled together:

My.T Watch
Digital television which includes 6 free TV channels
Video on demand (VOD)
Plus some interactive services

My.T Talk
Lower price rates for international calls

My.T Surf
Internet package

So far, the move is a good one by the telco. In fact, we may argue that MT has done this to maintain its leadership in the sector in Mauritius.

However, the digital TV is nothing than analog programmes being recieved in digital mode. So saying, there's no EPG information associated to the programmes and no choice of language, which I regret.

The Surf option guarantees a 2 Mbps download only for sites residing on MT's servers. Access to international sites remain at a low transfer rate. It's a shame that we say 256 Kbps, 512 Kbps and 1 Mbps "broadband", knowing that my friends studying in the UK enjoy a 12 Mbps access!

However, I do appreciate the move made by MT to stop charging for the extra bytes in excess that we transfer. But still, MT has not said how the lower priority packets are different than the higher priority ones and how will they affect our Internet usage.

The Talk service is only the 'Sesam' scratch cards tariff reloaded in a new service. And those who use their phones only for local calls a lot do not benefit from the service.

5 Sep 2006

Companies use Mauritius flag colours

The Mauritian flag is made up of four colours: red, blue, yellow and green. Each of the colours represents one aspect of Mauritius:

Red: symbol of country's independence
Blue: the marvellous blue sky
Yellow: the bright future
Green: the fertile land of the island

Over the past few months, I've noticed that many companies are using the four colours as part of their logo. The first example is a very old one and any Mauritian should have noticed it: Microsoft Windows! Yes, it uses the four colours of the Mauritian flag! Here are a few logos of Windows (old logo and new one as at Windows XP):

After a bit of analysis, you will find out that the red-blue-yellow-green sequence is in anti-clockwise direction in the windows.

Now here's Google logo:

It has all four colours, but not in the red-blue-yellow-green sequence.

And now comes that of eBay:

This one is remarkably similar to the Mauritian flag not only in the colours used but also in sequence. This is the one that really caught my attention!

In the light of the above, I should say that I am proud to be a Mauritian!

Note: All images and logos of trademarks are the property of their own companies. They have been taken from Wikipedia and follow the same copyright notice for fair use.

4 Sep 2006

Problems with labels

After playing a bit with labels for this blog's posts, I found that Google's having problems with them. In fact, labels are sometimes in lowercase and sometimes in uppercase. After a bit of googling I noticed that other users are having such problems too as described here.

Not all posts are found under the appropriate labels. Therefore, when you want to view posts under a specific label, you will always have some posts missing. That's why I removed all labels for my postings. I will add them again when the issue is solved.

3 Sep 2006

Joined LUGM

It's been quite some time now that I've been participating in the LUGM (Linux User Group Mauritius) forum. It's a really nice one where we can share our thoughts and help people using Linux or any *nix.

After many weeks, I finally made my mind to attend the meetings. In fact, yesterday I attended my first LUGM meeting that was held not far from where I live. These meetings are open to the public, so I wanted to discover a little.

I got up at 09.15, did morning things like having a bath and taking a breakfast, and was at the meeting place at 10.15, after some 10 minutes' walk. Phew! I couldn't risk being late the first time! There, I met two guys that were already there, and they told me that I were the first one to arrive!! Hmm... And the others reached there by 11.00 - an hour late!

However, I should say that I was impressed by the friendliness of the guys that were present. I was able to meet other guys really passionate about the free software movement. They are really warm and have a lot to share. A guy did a presentation about the tweaks on the X Window System. Then, it was discussion time though nothing was discussed. I discovered that there were other newbies like me too at the meeting.

The LUGM gives away CDs and DVDs for free. They have a library and members are able to take books that are sponsored by O'Reilly.

I took a Fedora Core 5 DVD. I will be happy to give you a copy if you want to. This is legal since according to GPL, I may make copies of DVDs and give them away for free. I am also able to sell the copies that I make and thus make profit! Therefore, I will more pleased to sell the copies to you at some Rs 15000, the price of the licence for the new upcoming Windows Vista! (That last few words are for kidding, right.)

1 Sep 2006

Windows filesystems better than Linux!

Yes, according to me, Windows filesystems are better than Linux!! I made a bad experience a while ago when my Linux box crashed.

As I stated earlier, I cannot boot on Linux. However, I would greatly want to recover some data found on that partition. So I downloaded a small application called Ext2 IFS. This application is just great since it mounts the filesystems that are used in Linux under Windows. Like this, I get new drives when I click on My Computer in Windows. Then, I am able to read or write to EXT2/EXT3 filesystems!

So far, so good. However, here's my bad experience. Since my Linux OS crashed,
EXT2 IFS could not access the EXT3 partition! In fact, EXT2 IFS gave me the error message "The disk in drive X is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?". When I looked up what caused this on its website, I found out that I could diagnosis this issue by downloading and running another program called moundiag.exe. When I ran it, I got another error saying that my EXT3 filesystem has some flag set that EXT2 IFS does not yet implement, and that there are some transactions left in the journal. However, if the Linux OS had shutdown properly, I wouldn't have such problems.

So, my only hope is to re-install a Linux OS without deleting my data.

As such, the EXT2/EXT3 filesystems are not as "recoverable" as that of FAT, FAT32 and NTFS that are used in Windows. Whenever the Windows OS crashes, files on the partition may still be recovered by mounting the drive in Linux or mounting the hard disk on another computer.

So Linux users, beware! Don't let your Linux OS crash!

30 Aug 2006

GM v. Microsoft

I couldn't resist re-publishing this post found on one of my favourite blogs which I usually visit: Smile of the Day, on August 28th.

At a computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates once reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry, stating, "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving twenty-five dollar cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon." In response to Bill's comments, General Motors has issued the following press release:

If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, re-start, and drive on.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to re-start, in which case you would have to re-install the engine.

5. Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT." But then you would have to buy more seats.

6. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but would only run on 5 percent of the roads.

7. The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single "general car default" warning light.

8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.

9. The airbag system would say "Are you sure?" before going off.

10. Occasionally for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

11. GM would require all car buyers additionally to purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally road maps (now a GM subsidiary), even though they neither need them nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car's performance to diminish by 50 percent or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Department.

12. Every time GM introduced a new model car, buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

13. You would press the "start" button to shut off the engine.

28 Aug 2006

24 wins awards at the Emmy's

For all the fans of 24, the US-thriller drama, produced by Fox Television, it's time to celebrate! Yes, this year 24 has been awarded best drama and actor at the annual Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards. (But the celebration is more for the producers than the public since they're getting the money and fame, not us!)

More in-depth information available 24's Web page on Wikipedia and on 24's official Web site.

There's more to just the TV serial! Here are some cool things which you could get along with:

  • 24: The Game
  • 24: Conspiracy, a mobisode spin-off
  • 24: The Soundtrack
  • 24 DVD Collection
  • 24 Mobile Game
  • 24 wallpapers
  • 24 screen-savers
  • 24 photo gallery

24: The Game is available on PS2 only. It has been developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. More information about the game is available on Wikipedia.

24: Conspiracy is a mobisode based on 24 one-minute episodes.
24: Conspiracy on Wikipedia
24: Conspiracy IMDB (Internet Movie Database) link

The 24 DVD collection, 24 soundtrack and 24 mobile game may be bought from outlets or at online shops, and also on Fox's 24 Web site. The 24 CD does not only feature the soundtrack. It has more than that as stated here.

24 photo gallery is available on Fox's 24 homepage.

The BBC's 24 Web site also features goodies like screen-savers and wallpapers. It also features some games and e-cards. I've taken the "24: How long would you last?" quiz. I've got

You are Gaines: You aren't ever going to let anyone take advantage of you. You're not going down without a fight. The only trouble is that you have an underlying air of menace and you are bound to come unstuck in the end. There are times when perhaps you should try being a little more open to the good in the world, and maybe you could make it through.

Personal note: The 24 mobile game may appear to be below the your expectations since the graphics are in 2-D and that you may navigate only in "top-view". It's more of a strategy game! Forget the nice graphics of Jack Bauer and others!

24 Aug 2006

Downloading latest Debian packages with Jigdo

It's been a long while now since I've been using Debian flavour of Linux on my box at home. Recently, while playing with settings to install the drivers for my ZXDSL852 USB modem provided by the local ISP Telecom Plus, I did something wrong and my computer doesn't boot up.

Since I love Linux, I'll have to re-install the whole thing again. So I've decided that it were high time for me to update to the latest packages. In fact, I have an old Debian Sarge v 3.0 Testing version. Downloading the new DVD from the Internet would take me an awful amount of time. Here's some facts:

ADSL download speed: 128 kbps
DVD ISO image size: 4.6 GB
Time to download = approx. 20 days in all (approx. 6 hours per day)

Buying a DVD: I don't have a credit card yet.
So the only option is to download, or to get the DVD from a magazine or from the local Linux User Group (LUG).

I opted to download. But that would take ages! Fortunately, folks at Debian developed Jigdo. This piece of software has many advantages to download large files over the Internet. From its Web site, I quote one of them:

It is possible to "upgrade" a CD image: If a new version of an image is released, jigdo-lite can download only the data that has changed, the remaining data is read from the outdated version.

So, happily, for the next few nights, I'll turn my computer ON and see what happens. In fact, the latest Debian DVD has some 7500 packages. Jigdo will download only 5000 since 2500 repeat themselves in the distributions.

If you are wondering how I'm doing this with my Linux corrupted, then it's not that hard at all! You may guess: No, I'm not using two computers, I have a dual-boot computer which also runs Windows XP. Simple as that!