10 Nov 2007

Facebook censored! What a shame!

It's been a real buzz among the Mauritian Facebook community: yesterday Facebook was put offline in Mauritius just because the Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam wanted to remove a humorist parody of a profile bearing his name! Le Mauricien reported the news yesterday's morning. Eddy's blog entry, Pascal's blog entry and Avinash's blog entry have serious thoughts about this stupid act.

I join the cause since this is an insult to free speech, especially since Mauritius is a democratic country.

And second, what about the other humorist parodies of Paul Beranger, our President Sir Aneerood Jugnauth and the very funny minister Gawressoo? Shall they also express their concerns and shut Facebook for a while in Mauritius, while 'their' profiles are being cleaned, as expressed by Pascal?

After going against the press, the Government is now going after the online community. Are we going to see another Great Firewall of China in Mauritius, as expressed by Eddy?

The picture shows what I get when I search for 'Navin Ramgoolam' today. Of course, there are other profiles and groups that have been created in the same spirit, which I have not shown. Is it only us in Mauritius who don't have access to Navin's profile? Or has Facebook genuinely removed them? I'd love to know if we're being fooled and if there's a special Facebook page for Navin for Mauritian users generated by local ISPs...

1 Nov 2007

Wikimapia describing the whole world

Last week I wanted to see what's there around me and how the things around me look like. You may not agree with me over what I did, but I think that it's a nice way to get what I wanted.

In fact, I went discovering some magnificent satellite pictures of the earth! The following sites proved to be very attractive:

But you'll agree that there aren't that so many things for a small island like Mauritius. Perhaps some user-generated content could bring some more excitement about the maps. So welcome to Web 2.0 maps: Wikimapia.

Wikimapia is based on Google Maps. But here, registered users may say "here is my home", "this is a garden", "that's a football pitch", etc. by defining areas, tagging them, and describing the places in their own words!

For the more enthusiastic, for whom 2D is not so exciting, 3D satellite images come handy. Google Earth is certainly well known. NASA World Wind is another service that's as enjoyable.

Happy discovering :)

24 Sep 2007

My first report goes in style with LyX

I'm finally very happy about being able to give my first report for Software Architecture in style! In fact, I've used LyX (pronounced 'licks').

So what's LyX? It's just a simple word processor which does "What You See Is What You Want", and not "What You See Is What You Get", as with other word processors. To put it simple, it's a simple word processor with pre-defined styles for headers, footers, paper format, font size, and so on. You don't change them. You only bother about your content. And then apply the pre-defined styles to your text! After all, is it not that content is the most important thing?

LyX is a graphical front-end for LaTeX (pronounced 'la-tek'), a markup language for TeX (pronounced 'tek').

28 Aug 2007

Back to school!

Photo courtesy: T.H.I.N.K.

After months of wondering about goals in my life, I've finally decided that I'm better back to school!

Yes! In fact, I've joined the University of Mauritius again, doing Computer Science...

I should say that it's an all new exciting adventure with new friends and new things to learn, share and have fun at!

29 Jun 2007

Safari: exploring the net

A few weeks ago, Apple announced the public free release of Safari, it's legendary web browser. As an enthusiast, I downloaded it. And started to adventure on the Internet to see what's so amazing at it.

Safari's website claims that it's got major advantages. I do admit that Safari's indeed faster than any other web browser I've used; may it be for surfing or for downloading. Of course, it's not going to beat a download manager which supports threads!

The other feature which I think is new is the idea of 'private browsing'.

I get all the other features in my favourite Mozilla Firefox on the other hand.

But I've got a question: why has Apple made a release for Windows? And not for any distro of Linux? Well, I think it's following the same concept as it did for iTunes. Apple wants to make Windows users shift from their OS to Mac OS.

So how does it do so? Simple:

  1. introduce some new idea
  2. work well on the graphics part - that's what every user want nowadays
  3. make things as simple as possible
  4. don't give too many options that will overwhelm users
  5. make it free!
So saying, I don't find the download rate in Safari nor the status bar to know what's happening, like a page is loading, it's fethcing some images so I should wait, etc. (Not to confuse with the percentage a page has loaded!)

19 Jun 2007

NFSU2 LAN experience

Last Thursday, Yanesh, a friend, invited me to his house for a LAN party. Our plan was to connect some PC's and to play NFS Underground 2 on LAN!

That was just fantastic!

Our plan was like this:

  • Connect as many PC's together. However, we had no network hub. So we decided to do with only two computers.
  • No hub also meant to modify existing LAN cables! We had to arrange for a crossover cable. Luckily, I use one at home. So I brought it to Yanesh's.
  • Another friend, Kavin, brought his computer too! Great!
We started our first hour by configuring LAN (simple using Windows XP). But the great challenge was to be able to start a game on LAN! Wow, after an hour Kavin and I succeeded in finding the right sequence of buttons to push!

Here are the steps in some simple words:
  • Select a PC to be the server and create a game with server mode
  • With other computer, select "filter" and choose the right settings
  • Then click the game to enter
  • Click "Ready" on top
  • Click "Start" on server
And did the game start!

We were seven in all; we made three teams and each team played against each other team a few times...

We did not encounter any technical issue.... that was cool.... NFSU2 played well....

The tournament finished at three in the morning!

Yannick, a friend, had to go to an interview at eight! We accompanied him home.

As for me, I had to get to work at nine. So I went to bed at Yanesh's at four! Got up at seven-thirty.... and obviously wouldn't make it on time!

No need to say that I was a bit sleeping at work that day!

But it was all great fun! Thanks very much guys!

Next time we're planning to play with more computers and using a network hub, of course!

14 Jun 2007

Open source in the news

It's good news that Click has finally talked about open-source and more specifically about Ubuntu since the last few weeks.

A few years ago, Stephen Cole (remember that Click Online presenter?) said that he did not consider Linux to be an OS since it was not enough user-friendly and many hardware wouldn't work. But nowadays, all this has changed. Most linux distros have a superb GUI (Gnome and KDE, amongst others) and many devices like printers, scanners, webcams, ADSL modems, and others, have drivers in-built in the Linux distro.

And on top of all, open-source is everywhere today!

I'm using Ubuntu Server at work and Kubuntu Desktop at home. I should say that the server is really easy to install and deploy. Apt-get is really a nice thing (thanks Debian!): installing and upgrading packages are simply a pleasing thing.

29 May 2007

Yahoo! Mail becomes limitless

When Google launched GMail, they gave us plenty of storage space - now nearing some 3 gigabytes! They told us that we'd never have to delete any of our emails... And everyone was talking about it....

GMail also introduced AJAX.

Yahoo! Mail and Windows Live Mail followed later - they too gave us a few gigs of storage space and reworked their interfaces using AJAX.

But now, Yahoo! Mail has taken a lead - they say that they're no more imposing quotas on storage!


Let's now see other more innovative and mouth-watering features...

16 May 2007

Man Utd champions once again!

Despite losing 1-0 against West Ham at Old Trafford on Sunday, Man Utd are champions once again! 16 FA Premiership titles in all! That's just great!

Fans of either clubs had good reasons to celebrate - Man Utd champions and West Ham relieved from relegation!

26 Apr 2007

Battle for the Macs

It's no secret in Mauritius:
IF you want a Mac THEN
So simple as that, isn't it?

But now, it's not just Leal selling Macs. Cash & Carry also has stated to bring the powerful and pretty Mac! The piece of code is now:
IF you want a Mac THEN
CASE 2: GOTO Cash & Carry
The prices are a bit lower at Cash & Carry. For instance, the iMac Intel Core 2 Duo, 120 GB HD, 1 GB RAM is at R 49500 at Leal and R 45500 at Cash & Carry.

Leal's after-sale service is superb.

As with all Macs, both are offering 1 year warranty...

There's now some sort of competition between those two. Hopefully, customers like us will benefit from better services at a lower price!

18 Apr 2007

Event 777 coming soon

Liquid's bosses announced the next big clubbing event in Mauritius on last Saturday's DJ's Challenge . After Tom Snare's night, they are bringing Pakito, who's going to perform live at La Citadelle on 7 July 07 (so the name 'Event 777').

DJ Pakito made a phenomenal success with its popular track Living On Video, very famous in Mauritius, last year.

I hope to get going once again. And I hope that the event will be held at La Citadelle itself, not VIP Club at the last minute, as it has been the case for DJ Laurent Wolf, on Saturday last.

DJ's Challenge at Caudan

I was at the DJ's Challenge organised by Liquid on Saturday last at Le Caudan Waterfront with some friends from college.

There was a nice atmosphere and many DJ's perform really well. Each DJ had to mix a number of tracks in a certain amount of time. DJ Giovanni Paul and DJ Bernard Desmarais, Liquid's founders, and DJ Master L, who performs Liquid's Essential Mix each Saturday night on Kool FM as from 21.00, formed part of the jury.

After each participant, the members of the jury explained how good the mix was and explained how the DJ's were given points. That's very interesting for to-be DJ's since it was a pleasure to see how to evaluate mixes.

Basically, the jury talked about

  • frequency -beats
  • effects - flanger, echo, equaliser
  • beat-matching
As far as I know, these are the very foundation for the perfect mix!

10 Apr 2007

IRC reloaded

When I was in Form 5, that's back in 2000, there was a craze about IRC in Mauritius. (Nearly) All guys and gals had a superb nickname and used to chat in different channels. I should say that was a superb occasion to make new friends and to find some nice people with whom we'd go out for a while or for a long time.

Here's a list of channels on DALnet servers that were putting people on fire. I've to add that each secondary school had a channel and students could join them and have a nice chat.

#mauritiusThe Mauritius channel
#mauriceMauritius in French
#morisMauritius in Creole
#drcsssDr Regis Chaperon SSS
#dmcDr Maurice Curé
#raynalGaetan Raynal SSS
#cseCollege du Saint Esprit
#drsssDrupnath Ramphol SSS
#bpsCollege du Bon et Perpetuel Secours
#qecQueen Elizabeth College
#lcqbLoreto Convent Quatre-Bornes
#lccLoreto Convent Curepipe

Unfortunately, by the end of 2000, if I'm making no mistakes, the DALnet channel was hacked and we all IRC users lost contact.

A few months after, a new server – GigaIRC – saw the day. Unfortunately, it couldn't bring so many users back to IRC.

Nowadays, #mauritius on DALnet is back again with some life with some great people who participate in some quizzes in which I love taking part. Thanks guys!

There's also #mauritius on GigaIRC.

And all of the secondary school channels, except #cse (now on GigaIRC, not DALnet), have disappeared. What a pity :(

However, I've discovered some new channels by fellow friends: #linux on GigaIRC and #linux.mu on Freenode.

I've been a bit nostalgic here but that's life: life changes and you have to adapt, but memories last as long as we're alive.

30 Mar 2007

Good or bad product manager?

When I was studying, I came across two great books on software engineering:

  • Software Engineering: A Practitioner's Approach by Roger S Pressman
  • Software Engineering by Ian Sommerville

These books provided me with an awful lot of concepts and ideas that helped me a lot for the exams. But also for after-university life, at work.

How To Be A Good Product Manager is a fantastic blog about more insights and tips for to-be or existing product managers. It tells you what you could possibly do bad and what's the right thing. The good part of it is that it's not only from theories but also from past experience of the authors.

Perhaps a new material for students? Hmm, ...

22 Mar 2007

RSS has changed the way I visit the Web

I've heard RSS for almost three years now. I tried reading feeds 2 years ago, but I was overwhelmed by the vast amount of information that I had stopped using it.

Then I discovered blogging: I read other's blogs. It's here that the interesting thing happens: I no longer get standard feeds from around the world which pour too much information that I don't read but I get friends' feeds and that keep me updated with what's happening at their blogs and which I'm interested to read!

As you can see, I'm using Google Reader. It's Web-based, meaning that I may bring my feeds on whatever computer I use: at home or at work.

Abortion should be legal

Nowadays there's a somewhat huge debate popping up again in Mauritius: should women (and girls, of course) be given the right to abort legally?

Christina has started a nice debate and it seems that in a modern society, it's the right of women and girls to abort. If they don't want to, they don't. And if they want to do it, they should be allowed legally.

This is a nice topic but as far as the discussion is concerned, people will always discuss. Now, it is high time that we take some serious action: legalise it! For God's sake! Let's not kill girls who have become pregnant, girls and women who've been raped, etc...

18 Mar 2007

Discover Gaim: a multi-protocol Instant Messenger (IM) client

May I chat with friends who use Yahoo! IM or Windows Live IM on a Linux platform? That's the question I've been asking myself for the past few days. Luckily, there's some whole bunch of IM available to do this. I've been marvelled by Gaim: a multi-protocol IM client.

The main advantage as compared to other IM clients is that I may log on using the same client instance for accounts on Yahoo!, Windows Live and ICQ at the same time! Isn't that fantastic?! Gaim also supports other protocols as well.

I'm using version 2.0beta6 for Debian archives, the install package used by Kubuntu, from http://download.ubuntu.pl/_Edgy_Eft/gaim/2.0.0-beta-6/.

If you're using Gaim 1.5 for Windows, you might expect some problems: it would crash for Windows Live accounts. Just download an updated library dll at the project's bug tracker.

I've not yet tested if the problem persists for 2.0beta6 version for the Windows platform - a bit of laziness from me - yuk!

Happy chatting!

8 Mar 2007

USB modem ZTE (ZXDSL) 852 install success on Linux

It's been a week now since I've successfully installed the modem's driver on my Kubuntu.

The tutorial at http://doc.ubuntu-fr.org/materiel/zxdsl852 has a good explanation.

Basically, you need to have the latest kernel - i.e. 2.6.19 or greater as stated. I downloaded kernel 2.6.20 from http://www.kernel.org. Else, you have to mess with codes to add vendor ID's.

The tutorial at http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=85064 helped me in downloading all necessary packages and steps to follow to install the new kernel.

Then as stated also in the tutorial, I downloaded the firmware at http://ftp.linux.it/pub/People/md/warez/cxacru-fw.bin.gz.

I untarred the firmware and placed it in /lib/firmware/$(uname -r) directory, e,g. /lib/firmware/2.6.20/ directory.

Then I disconnected my modem from the USB port and reconnected it. After a few seconds, orange lights flashed, stopped, flashed, stopped , flashed and lit on!

Bingo! Modem firmware loaded successfully.

Then I created a connection as stated in the tutorial from Ubuntu.

Now each time I start my PC on Kubuntu, my modem's firmware is loaded automatically. I only have to pppd call zxdsl to connect to the ISP.

Huh, I didn't find a way to disconnect other than shutting down...

And I'm having fun....

This article also appears at http://www.lugm.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=5243#5243.

19 Feb 2007

Beer testing

OK - here's something to cheer about, taken from Smile of the Day (Beer Testing, February 8):

Yesterday, scientists for the USDA suggested that men should take a look at their beer consumption,considering the results of a recent analysis that revealed the presence of female hormones in beer.

The theory is that drinking beer makes men turn into women. To test the finding, 100 men were fed 8 pints of beer each. It was then observed that 100% of the men gained weight, talked excessively without making sense, became overly emotional, could not drive, failed to think rationally, argued over nothing, and refused to apologise when wrong.

No further testing is planned.

Live CD saves my files

After having changed my mainboard due to a terrible thunderstorm (see previous post), my Windows and Ubuntu OS wouldn't boot. I had gigabytes of data-files to back up, including saved Need for Speed Carbon games and Half-Life 2 games (see post), personal files and music. That would have been impossible unless to transfer the hard disk to another computer as slave and then perform the operation.

However, thanks to Live CD technology from Linux, I was able to boot my computer and transfer my files via LAN to my old P3 for backup! Mounting the drives using Kubuntu Live CD was a breeze and a fun experience.

Unfornately, I couldn't test to see whether we can burn DVDs using Live CD in Kubuntu since I have only one DVD-drive on my P4 - that's why I had to make a LAN transfer!

Pain of a thunderstorm

Usually, people who use their desktop computers frequently know that having an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is important - it helps protect the computer from unexpected power disruption. So saying, it should supply some amount of power to allow us to shut down our computer, after having saved all our data, nicely when a power cut occurs. And it should also protect us against voltage spikes which may occur, especially during thunderstorms.

However, my UPS did not achieve the second goal three weeks ago during a thunderstorm. I should admit that it might have achieved it during the last three years since my dad bought it and that we had no problems at all, but not three weeks ago, despite the fact that it is labeled 'surge protection system'.

Consequence: the power supply and mainboard on my P4 burnt! However, my P3, which is also connected to the same UPS, was working fine!!

My dad and brother took the P4 to BBCWYSE Ltd which is found near where I live. The guy there told me later that the UPS does not protect against voltage spike! despite the fact that it is labeled 'surge protection'!!

So far, no huge pain - we only have to buy a new mainboard... But alas! When we bought the P4 three years ago from Leal Informatics Ltd, we had a Gigabyte socket 478 mainboard with 5 PCI slots and extension bracket for 5.1 surround sound. However, we couldn't find one which matches this criterion - socket 478 with 5 PCI slots! Why we're after this: because as the years passed by, we bought PCI modem, firewire (IEEE 1394) PCI card, PCI LAN card, etc...

After three weeks search at nearly all stores in Mauritius, we came to the conclusion that we couldn't replace our mainboard with an identical or near-identical one since the mainboard was no longer being manufactured. Huh, this is expected since in the IT world, everything changes fast.

But we were disappointed since we had to buy a cheap integrated MSI mainboard with no Game and MIDI ports, no 5.1 surround sound extension bracket, no serial port, etc... it provided only the basics!!

After passing three weeks without a good computer at home, I will now have to pass the next months thinking on what to invest money - a PCI 5.1 surround sound card or a MIDI PCI port... since I have only one PCI port left empty! I may get both on the same card at some store but that may be really expensive and rare... so I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

29 Jan 2007

Discover Audacity, a free, open source software for recording and editing sounds

A friend of mine was looking for some great application to record his voice and play it for his little adoring girl when he's not at home. We searched the net for the right software, but many were not available freely and were just packed with too many features that we're never gonna use. Moreover, they were not intuitive to use.

So here comes Audacity: a free, open source software for recording and editing sounds, available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems!

It has an intuitive GUI (Graphical User Interface) and is packed with many essential features. With Audacity, you may:

  • record from microphone, line input, or other sources
  • import and export WAV, AIFF, AU, and Ogg Vorbis files
  • apply a wide array of effects like chorus, flanger, echo, phaser...
  • record any sound on your sound card (through wave, CD, line in, AUX...) in crystal-clear quality

Who says that on a Windows system you're limited to the 60 seconds recording allowed in the crap Windows Sound Recorder? No more now!

Audacity is shipped with many Linux distros including Ubuntu.