Jul 5, 2018

The problem with LinkedIn

I used to admire LinkedIn. It served a purpose, had a solid business model and meant recruiters could easily find me and contact me. LinkedIn had the amazing advantage of doing three things that could seemed contradictory at first glance but worked in its unique ecosystem:
  1. Provide me with a convenient place to host my resume
  2. Allow me to contact recruiters and peers
  3. Do so without being an addictive platform like Facebook or Twitter (my personal opinion)

Basically, the sweet thing about LinkedIn is that you could just create your profile and only log in when absolutely necessary such as when you changed jobs or earned a new qualification. LinkedIn had a definite purpose and everybody was using it the way it was meant to be utilized: as a platform to connect recruiters and prospective candidates and to allow professionals to grow their networks and showcase their skills.

Then, things changed. People started using LinkedIn as a way to get in touch with key executives to sell their products or services. Now, this is in itself not a bad thing. LinkedIn could potentially be a huge enabler in allowing organizations to connect with the suppliers and partners it needs. I cannot deny that this facet of LinkedIn is one that could potentially bring great benefits to a professional and the organization he works for.

The problem with LinkedIn lies elsewhere. People who scour LinkedIn to grab leads for their organizations do not actually bother reading user profiles.

Building businesses on LinkedIn

Around two years ago, I noticed that I was receiving a lot (and I really mean A LOT) of messages from users who wanted to call me to propose their services. Some of them would do so nicely but it was clear some individuals were just sending me a generic message requesting my availability for a call. My email was easily available on my company's website so it was extremely easy for anybody to check there and then send me an email to introduce themselves. In fact, the page is CLEARLY named "Management Team", so it is incredibly hard for someone to visit our website and not find the information.

I used to reply to them through LinkedIn, sending them my email and asking me to email me, which they invariably did. However, the number of messages just kept increasing and I had to log in everyday to reply. This was not convenient for me as I like to limit my time on social networks (although LinkedIn is geared for professionals and can be very useful, it is still in essence a social network).

My experiment

As my contact information was already on company website and most of these users wanted to send me more information about their products, I figured I could be clever by adapting my profile to these requests so users could just email me instead of first contacting me through LinkedIn. So I updated my profile overview to add a message directing such users to go a specific page on our website where they could obtain my email.

What happened?

The number of messages (and requests to connect) did slightly decrease, but this experiment proved that most people do not bother to scroll that far and read a regular person's profile properly. My guess is that they read the person's current title and make a decision as to whether they can contact that person immediately. I am still receiving many messages from users asking for me work email when my profile already clearly lists where to find that information.

This brings me to another point.

If you cannot bother to read my profile properly and do your research, you are giving me a lot of reasons to doubt your effectiveness. If you log into LinkedIn, search for my profile or organization and send me a message saying "What's your email?" when I have taken the time to list that information in my overview, what does that make you look like?

Mar 13, 2018

Engen Crazy Team Grand Lottery - the results

It's that time of the year again, folks! Mauritius Information is proud to publish the Engen lottery results.

Click to enlarge.
I obtained the image from the Engen Bagatelle Facebook page. They actually do an excellent job of posting the results quickly every year.

Feb 20, 2018

The Anomaly

When you take a subscription with Mauritius Telecom and they come over for the installation, all the charges are sent to your first bill. You are not asked to pay anything at one of the branches. All these charges are thus paid when you receive your first bill except for one thing: a security deposit. This security deposit is Rs 1,000 for individuals, Rs 2,000 for businesses and Rs 5,000 for foreign individuals.

Forgetting Things

While the employee initially told me about the security deposit which would need to be paid separately in a branch after installation, I of course forgot. With Netflix, PlayStation and normal life, it is no surprise that this would slip off my mind. So when I got a call in December from Mauritius Telecom reminding me about the security deposit, I figured this was one of the various chores you just got on with and then forgot about again.

Anomaly #1: there's tons of waiting involved
Paying this security deposit, while relatively straightforward, can take quite some time. I had to pay for it end December as failure to do so would have seen my subscription suspended. Imagine living without Internet access in December. If you go to the main Mauritius Telecom branch in Port Louis, you are asked to wait until an agent receives you, walk on to a different office for the payment (with its own queue and where only one person was working) and then go back to the first office to hand over a receipt so they can update your record to show you've paid the security deposit.

With all this waiting and cross-checking involved, you would think there is no way they would not know you paid your security deposit.

Also an Anomaly

Anomaly #2: they don't
In fact, everything is not "bioutifoul" in their system and anomalies do pop up. After paying my security deposit in December 2017, I received a letter last week informing me that if I didn't pay this fee, my line would be disconnected within two weeks.

The catch?

Two weeks in this case only meant a couple of days.The disconnection deadline was as from the date the latter was issued. However, I received the letter a whole 10 days after this date. Factor in a holiday and the week-end and that means I only had two days to pay something I had already paid, otherwise thunder would strike and I would no longer be able to watch shit videos on YouTube.

Anomaly #3: 8902
To sort things out, I decided to call the Mauritius Telecom hotline as 8902 since, you know they're supposed to be a convenient way to get shit done. After phoning them and explaining the situation I was in and whether they could check into their system, they told me what I absolutely did not want to hear. I would indeed need to hop into a branch so they could verify whether I had actually paid or not. They were unable to help and said I needed to take the letter and my payment receipt (which thankfully I had kept) to a branch.

Anomaly #4: Fin
After walking into a branch, they did confirm that I had already paid my security deport. When I pointed out that they had sent me a reminder by post more than 6 weeks after I did so, their only response was "It's an anomaly". Hence, the title of this post.

P.S. Yes, I'm aware that I have listed four anomalies (plural) in a post titled "The Anomaly" (singular). That's the perk of running this blog, I can basically do whatever I want.

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.

The problem with LinkedIn

I used to admire LinkedIn. It served a purpose, had a solid business model and meant recruiters could easily find me and contact me. LinkedI...