Jan 7, 2018

Mauritius businesses doing home delivery are still not using GPS/online maps

It's 2018, and technology keeps advancing at a frightening speed. People are searching by voice, web platforms know more about us than our families, and self-driving cars are almost ready for a launch. Technology runs the world, and the world cannot run without technology.

Yet, in Mauritius, there are amazing things going on. Businesses that do home delivery still do not use GPS or online maps.  In the case of GPS systems, it is true that there is a cost involved. However, even in Mauritius, these do not cost that much. I was shopping around last year for a system for my car and the cost back then was around Rs 12,000 for a basic system. Ultimately I did not buy anything because my phone suffices for me to get around in places where I need to look up the address and I don't go in far-out places that much anyway.

However, if you run a business where home delivery forms a critical part of your operations, shouldn't you invest in these systems? I had several deliveries scheduled in November and December, and more coming this year, and each time, I had the drivers phoning me to ask for precise directions when they already had my full address. This address can be found in Google Maps and since it is found there, I presume it can also be found in most GPS systems available in Mauritius. My house was built in 2017, and it is already found in Google Maps, which shows just how updated and precises Google's flagship tool is. For the record, Google Maps was officially launched in 2005. I was not able to determine when they added Mauritius but I presume it was at least 10 years ago.

I'm Google Maps, and I am free.
It's annoying to have to give directions to a place in 2018. Sure, I understand that the driver will need to phone anyway to confirm that I am home for the delivery, but when I have to explain a driver how to get to my place from Port Louis or Rose Hill and in some cases basically act as their aide, something is fundamentally wrong in how this business is being run. It shows a reluctance to adopt technology and ensure the best possible experience for the customer. Even if the driver himself may not be tech-savvy enough to use these tools, it should not be hard for someone else, say an officer from the organization's administrative department or a trainee, to print the directions using a key place in my vicinity as starting point. This would at least allow the driver to locate the street where I live.

Imagine being a huge business in Mauritius, doing deliveries all year round but being reluctant to put processes in place to streamline how your deliveries are run. I also imagine that it is dreadfully inefficient when the driver needs to stop, look up my phone number and ask for directions (whether they actually stop driving before phoning is another debate). So it is possible that this is actually resulting in a loss of money for the business (remember folks, time is money and in Mauritius, petrol is not cheap). So, even if the initial investment in purchasing GPS systems may be high, it would probably result in savings in the long terms. And running a business should be about one primary thing: making sure the customer walks away happy and has nothing to complain about.

The next time I place an order and they give me a sheet to "draw directions to my place", I am going to tell them to just look it up on Google Maps. And if they are not willing to do so, I will take my money elsewhere.

Nov 16, 2017

The Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) does not use encryption on its emails

Today I am in shock. In great shock. So get ready for some reading.

Google is making a bit deal about online encryption these days. Chrome is blasting warnings all over the web, websites without encryption are being penalized in Google search, and SSL companies must be making a shitload of money.

Having worked on a number of projects involving SSL myself, I was checking out some of the major websites in Mauritius to verify which ones have made the switch to SSL. It turns out a lot, and this is very good news indeed.

At around the same time I was basically stalking Mauritian websites, I received my credit card statement from the MCB in my Gmail account. To clarify, I use only Gmail anyway. I am however focusing on this solely because Gmail belongs to our Lord and Saviour Google and Google is treating encryption and SSL as the Holy Grail of the internet. (Grail and Gmail. Got it? No? The hell is wrong with you?)

Upon checking my credit card statement, my attention was almost instantly attracted to the no-encryption padlock warning Gmail shows whenever a domain is not encrypting its emails. A single click then confirmed that the MCB does not bother encrypting its email. The MCB.mu website is fully encrypted, which is critical for a banking website, but funnily enough, they did not bother extending this to their emails.

Encryption is overrated

Dat guy is encrypted

Imagine being the leading bank in Mauritius and being too cheap to encrypt emails. Well done, MCB, well done.

Apr 19, 2017

Analysis of Orange's 10M La Fibre package

I have the 10M fibre optics package with 75GB data plan. I usually only use half that amount mainly through PS4 updates/downloads, YouTube, Twitter and good old regular browsing.

Below are some tests I have been running on Fast.com.

Friday 24 March 2017 - 20.30

Wednesday 29 March 2017 - 11:40 (Ugadi - public holiday)

Tuesday 4 April 2017 - 20:15

Monday 10 April 2017 - 18:23

This last one is what I'm getting most of the time these last days. I just cannot connect to the Fast.com servers to run the test. Mauritius Telecom claim they were doing repair work on their lines for a couple of weeks, however the speeds are still really bad.

Feb 7, 2017

The two most read online newspapers in Mauritius don't bother redirecting their URLs

I stumbled upon this shocking discovery while cleaning up this blog as it contains links to specific articles on Défi Media and L' Express.

What is a URL redirection?
URL redirections basically allow a specific web page to be available under more than one address. They are convenient because as a web site grows, it is very likely (but not inevitable) that some links on our website will change. With a URL redirection, we can thus make a page exist under its old URL but also the new one.

Imagine if your web page had 1,000 links from great websites such as BBC, BuzzFeed and Huffington Post. If we had no other choice but to change the URL at one point, we would basically have to contact these 1,000 different webmasters and ask them to update the link on their respective websites. Obviously, this does not work because:

1) if you have time to reach out to 1,000 different webmasters to update one link, your online strategy is a mess
2) there is no guarantee that these guys will do it
3) it is your duty to ensure everything works on your website, not theirs

With the URL redirection, you can thus use a completely different link for the updated page but people who click on the old link will still be accessing the content, often while being unaware of the redirection. It's really amazing what you can do on the web!

I normally use Xenu's Link Sleuth to check if all this blog's links are working. It's free and is an outstanding tool any e-marketer should use. I have personally been using it for more than 10 years and have never had any reason to complain about it. It's that good.

As I was saying at the start of this article, it turns out some links I had to the L'Express and Le Défi websites are no longer working. You can verify this by opening the articles below and clicking on the links in each article.

Of course, there is a very simple reason for that. Both newspaper websites have changed over the years which makes sense as a website typically has a three-year lifespan and the emergence of web responsiveness means every website out there had to go through an update. It is normal that with the launch of a new website, URLs will change, especially if they are changing platforms. However, what is not normal is that there is no redirection for the older articles.

Yes, you could argue that it's not important for an online news site to redirect the links of its all articles, especially those are fairly "outdated". And I will counter-argue that a news website should ALWAYS redirect its URL for two main reasons:

  1. A news website is bound to have many incoming links, and I'm sure even those in Mauritius are no exception
  2. News websites are an important source for research and people will thus bookmark them offline and include them in report. If you then change these URLs without any redirection, you are basically screwing all your readers.
To conclude this article, here's a picture that has absolutely nothing to do with my rant:

You had one job.

Feb 3, 2017

Engen Extravaganza results - 2017

I know a lot of people are still looking for the Engen Extravaganza results 2017, so I did some sleuthing.

Behold (click on the image for a larger version):

Source: Engen Bagatelle
A few notes:
  1. Yes, the ticket numbers are really small on the artwork. I can't do anything about that.
  2. Engen seem to be experts at doing a huge marketing campaign around their extravaganza and being quiet about the lucky draws.
  3. The guys at Engen Bagatelle have nothing to do with the marketing and the lucky draw, so don't be dicks. If you have something to complain about, direct your comments to the Engen head office.