Jan 6, 2017

Amazing authors I have discovered thanks to the Alliance Française library

I previously wrote about the Alliance Française library in Bell Village and the benefits of buying a membership there. For those who missed it and have a few minutes to spare, you can read my post here.

I am a huge fan of detective novels and frequently complained about how the selection of goodauthors in the genre is very limited as far as English books are concerned. Except for Agatha Christie and Sir Authur Conan Doyle, I always found that others authors could not manage to construct a coherent and interest plot and their characters were uninteresting.

Originally, I became a member of the Alliance Française library in Mauritius mainly because I did not find any other interesting library (note: I keep hearing the municipality libraries are however very good and will try them later this year). When I became a member, I did not actually check out the book selection because I was so happy that I actually had a huge collection of books to rent from. I'm even more pleased to have taken this membership now as this has allowed me to "accidentally" discover something I would have never imagined before: France actually has some absolutely brilliant authors when it comes to detective novels.

So, I decided to make a list of the authors I've discovered at Alliance Française.

1) Maurice Leblanc
Source: Goodreads.com
When I was a kid, I often thought that Arsène Lupin, Maurice Leblanc's popular character, was meant for youngsters. Turns out I was completely wrong. Maurice Leblanc's books are actually meant for adults as his stories are quite complex and often deal with mature themes. The first time I borrowed one of the Lupin books was mainly out of curiosity as I did not know much about the character and the book cover looked pretty. Since then, Lupin has grown on to become my favourite fictional character, surpassing even Hercule Poirot, something I'd never have thought possible. Maurice Leblanc is an absolutely brilliant author and his stories have the perfect combination of mystery, action and humour. And it's not just about Lupin. His other characters are also great, from Ganimard, one of Lupin's greatest rivals to Béchoux, a policeman who finally recognizes Lupin as the greatest detective he'd ever encountered in one of Leblanc's funniest books.

2) Borniche
Source: LeMonde.fr

Roger Borniche, who signs his books as Borniche, was a French policeman and detective who then decided to become an author when he retired as he already sort of had the experience to come up with good plots. And experience he does have as Borniche has been heralded as one of the outstanding detectives in France, including bringing down Emile Buisson who was France's public enemy No. 1 at the time and performing a staggering number of arrestations (although this has been disputed numerous times). It is no surprise that his books are great as he was a true detective and can thus draw on his real life experience in his books, and some of his novels are actually based on real life eents. Even more surprising however is that Borniche is also an outstanding writer. His French is simple and entertaining, and I once completed one of his books in only 3 days. Basically, once I start reading one of his books, I can't put it down.

3) San-Antonio
Source: FranceCulture.fr

San-Antonio is an alias for Frédéric Dard who still remains one of the most prolific authors France has had and follows the adventures of a police commissioner by the same name. If you're thinking it is strange that an author would decide to sign his books using the protagonist's name, think again. Frédéric Dard was also notable for his excessive use of aliases which exceeded the dozen and included names such as Colonel Milk, Kaput and Kill Him. It is my understanding that he wanted to create a new Guinness World Records entry for "most author aliases ever". Either that or he was simply messing with his publishers.

The San-Antonio novels were ground-breaking when they first came out as they were the first to successfully appeal to a broader audience thanks to a very light-hearted approach to the genre, comical moments throughout the novels, and unique characters. For example, San-Antonio, who is also the narrator, has a never-ending habit of creating new and elaborate nonsensical words as he investigates and is always sharing his thoughts with the reader. He is assisted by two almost useless detectives who nevertheless sometimes manage to point him in the right direction.

The books are quite short and a breeze to read. Even if you are not a fan of the genre, the San-Antonio books are a must-read simply because of the humour and the unique way San narrates his adventures.

4) Gaston Leroux
Source: Goodreads.com

Gaston Leroux is revered as the author who created one of the best (and in my opinion, the absolute best) locked-room mysteries ever in Le Mystère de la Chambre Jaune (The Mystery of the Locked Room) but also the ever-famous Phantom of the Opera. His detective novels are always brilliant and he has created one of the strangest detectives in Joseph Rouletabille who is only 18 years old when he solves the attempted murder in The Mystery of the Locked Room. Rouletabille then goes on to solve several other mysteries and some of the plot explanations are fantastic. Leroux additionally writes his novels in such a way as to encourage readers to also figure out what happened (and even includes maps to help readers) in his books but I have never been able to figure out the whole story on my own.

Oct 26, 2016

How to sign up for PlayStation Plus

This is a follow-up to my article on buying a PlayStation 4 in Mauritius. If you are planning to buy a PS4 in Mauritius, I recommend checking it out. Following the publication of this article, I've received several messages on Facebook asking for help with playing online on the PS4. Since I'm cool, I thought the best way to address this is by creating a new post on the topic.

The PlayStation 4 introduced a new feature for multiplayer gaming. Basically, you need to subscribe to PlayStation Plus to acess the multiplayer in both games. This is a drastic change from the PS3 where multiplayer was a free feature. Without subscribing to PlayStation Plus, your multiplayer gaming option is non-existent.

It will take over your life.

Before you start cursing Sony for this ludicrous attempt to make more money from you, there are certain things you should however consider:
  • PS Plus is not very expensive. It's USD 9.99 for a one-month subcription, USD  24.99 for a 3-month subscription and USD 59.99 for 12 months (around Rs 2,200). There's also a 2-week trial version. It is better to go for the annual membership straight away as it is cheaper and you don't need to renew that often. 

  • When you become a member, you automatically sign up to receive free games every month. Some of these free games turn out to be actually great although I have not personally really tried them out. They did give away Resident Evil collection at the start of this month (October 2016) but I already had the Bluray. You get to keep the games as long as you remain a member of Plus. It is up to your whether to want to download these free games or not.

  • Being a member of Plus also gives you access to exlusive deals and discounts on the PlayStation Store. This is by far the best feature of Play as some of these exclusive discounts on crazy. One of the best games I've played so far (Life is Strange) was bought using one of these deals. I have also bought other games simply because the savings you make online is amazing but I have yet to try them out (yes, I'm turning into a digital hoarder and I blame Sony for that). You also get discounts on all content types, including films and tv shows. Whether you are actually going to buy films and tv shows is up to you.
PlayStation Plus is amazing and is a purchase you won't regret. In any case, it's not like you can ignore it if you want to play online. I personally never play multiplayer games but I consider it one of the best things that comes with the PlayStation 4. If you need more information about Plus, you can visit the official website.

Now that you're ready to sign up to Play, here's how you should proceed. You can pay directly through your PlayStation but I don't recommend this. It's always better to buy a voucher, add the code to your PS account, and then use this credit to purchase your membership. A reliable website where you can buy your website is Offgamers.

You can find the list of all the options here. You can then either buy 12-month membership directly or go for the value cards and then use part of it for the membership. It is usually better to go for the membership directly to save the hassle. Offgamers is by far the safest bet for purchasing memberships or credits so you can buy game online. They take some time to process your purchase and email you the code, but they are extremely reliable and I have never had any issue with them (and in case you do have issues, the support is stellar). You should also note that there is a small processing fee for all purchases you make but if you own a PlayStation 4 and are buying games, that fee should not be a stumbling block.

One last thing you need to keep in mind is that US and UK memberships are sold separately. If you have created a US account on your PS4, make sure you buy the US Plus Membership. If you end up buying the UK membership instead, you will need to create a UK account on your PS4 to be able to use the code.

Sep 5, 2016

Putting your qualifications in your name on Linkedin - yay or nay?

If you are on Linkedin, you've probably seen it too: people who include their qualifications in their name on Linkedin. I recently got the request from someone who had his undergraduate degree and another professional certificate after his name. This was not the first time I got such a request. I actually often get requests from people who put their qualifications just after their name but it was usually for MBA's and PhD's. The inclusion of an undergraduate degree and the certificate got me thinking about this trend.

This post was sponsored by dark shadowy people.
How do I put my qualification in my name on Linkedin?
It's actually not that difficult. If you want to jump on the wagon and start toting your qualifications in your name, you simply edit your name and put whatever you want behind it. Linkedin has absolutely no restrictions there, as long as you are not putting in any offensive words.

So should I do it or not?
It ultimately depends. Most Linkedin users are using it to showcase their qualifications and experience, and it's pretty much the only place where you can do it without looking like a major dick since people want to know what sort of degree you have. However, doing it for only a B.Sc. can come off as annoying and retarded as pretty much everybody on LinkedIn will have at least a B.Sc. In my opinion, have your qualification in your name is fine as long as you restrict it to MBA-level and above. It also depends on what kind of career you are pursuing. There's not much point in adding it if you are an entrepreneur and have absolutely no intention of becoming an employee again.

For a B.Sc., putting it in your name may come across as an attention-seeking individual who is probably more focused on titles than actually learning and being an asset to an organization. In fact, consider that this may actually adversely affect your chances of getting that job you are really interested in. You may end up dealing with a recruiter who thinks putting your degree in your name is a cry for attention. And this may cause the recruiter to think you are not  a team player as your profile is basically screaming "Me! Me! Me!"

In conclusion, for only a B.Sc., it's something you should approach cautiously. However, if you have a qualification that is impression or quite rare, then putting your qualifications in your Linkedin name does work. In those latter cases, it is actually recommended to do so as it will allow recruiters to find your profile faster through a Linkedin search.

Aug 19, 2016

Has George R.R. Martin written himself into a cul-de-sac?

WARNING: This post contains spoilers for the TV series and the book. Click back, delete your browser history and toss the device you used to access this post in a fire if you don't want either spoiled for you.

Fire and Fire
 Yes, he has. So if you want spoilers, you have to buy the books. Trust me, they are completely worth the money and they will keep you busy forever.

Jun 10, 2016

Euro 2016 team analysis by an expert* pundit

*based on the fact that I watch football matches on TV and have a Fantasy Premier League account

This is my in-depth analysis of selected Euro 2016 fixtures, with the opening matche being played today

Euro 2016
France vs Romania

The hosts France are among the favourites to win the tournament as they have a great squad and home advantage. However, it's not just up to this. Consider the fact that France won the Euros two times before, in 1984 and 2000. Based on statistical bullshit and trends lifted straight from my arse, my money's on them to win the 2016 tournament too. I also have Giroud as the tournament's top scorer, which is awesome because everybody knows he's shit and I'm not even sure if he actually starts for France.

I know absolutely nothing about Romania, which leads to my prediction that France will win 3-0.