Apr 27, 2015

Why you should become a member of the Alliance Française library

I couldn't find a better resolution logo.

The Alliance Française library, like its name implies, deals exclusively with French books. This article will however still be in English entirely because I'm crazy.

It's no secret that reading is dying in Mauritius. Facebook, movies, videos games, television in general and Facebook (Twitter gets no love here) have literally ripped reading to shreds, and librarians and book stores have often pointed out that the business of selling and even renting books has steadily declined over the recent years.

I'm not sure how many paid libraries are still operating in Mauritius but I know for a fact that several libraries I used to take books from several years back have closed down. I'm mainly a reader of English novels and my quest to find a good library where I could borrow books from was an epic failure. I could not find one and eventually gave up.

I however one day read an article in a newspaper which was about the renovation and subsequent opening of the Alliance Française library in Bell Village. The pictures looked interested and I figured it would not hurt to go there and check whether it was worth becoming a member. I was especially interested in a family package deal where members could borrow 15 books for up to three months. Since my reading habits nowadays can be pretty hectic and having to change books every 3 or 4 weeks is a huge problem, the three-month deal looked perfect.

Loan durations however is not yet the holy grail of borrowing books, and my main problem was that I almost never read French books (whether these books were originally written in French or were translated from English). A trip to the Alliance Française library was thus essential to determine whether a membership was worthwhile.

One thing I forgot to mention was that I read that article in 2013 and that I first visited the brand new Alliance Française library in July 2013 to enquire about the process to become a member. The formalities were a breeze. After filling in some light paperwork, I had to choose the membership type I wanted - I opted for the 15 books and paid the annual membership fee, which is only around Rs 750.  There could be an additional fee for new memberships, but I can't remember whether it's the fact as two years is a lot of time and my memory gets flushed every two months.

It's almost two years since I joined the library. I mentioned earlier that I was reluctant about reading French books but it turns out it was just a habit thing. Once I started borrowing books from the Alliance Française and reading them, I soon started enjoying them. And there is a lot to enjoy about borrowing books from there because the collection they have is amazing. I have been able to (re)discover some favourite authors such as Pierre Bellemare, Leo Malet but especially Maurice Leblanc, the father of the legendary Arsène Lupin.

Even the other Arsène is happy.

Even beyond these authors which I already knew, I have also discovered some amazing books from both international and local authors. Three years back, I probably would not have considered even picking up a book by a Mauritian author but have since become a huge fan. The best thing about the 15 books deal is that I'm not just borrowing books for myself but for the entire family. Of course, I always pick up some books that only I will read (my family unfortunately does not seem to agree that Arsène Lupin is one of the best fictional characters ever) but there are books available for every type of reader.

It does not matter what kind of reader you are, you will find books that will perfectly satisfy your needs at the Alliance Française. There is a restriction that you can only borrow a maximum of two books by the same author at any time but it's not a big problem since you sign up for an annual membership anyway. So you can just go for two more books from your new favourite author when you visit the library another time.

The library does not have its own website but you can find a page on the general Alliance Française website.

Their contact info:
Alliance Française
1 rue Victor Hugo
Bell Village
Port Louis

Tel: (+230)  212 2949
Fax: (+230) 212 2812

Apr 23, 2015

Online moderation by the newspapers of Mauritius

The newspapers of Mauritius have often complained that they are not treated as they should and that sometimes their voice cannot be heard due to governmental interference.

Maybe they should rethink their comment moderation strategies on their website first as my comments are rarely posted on their websites. And my comments are perfectly innocent: no swear words, no insults, no trolling and no spamming. Yet, it's a miracle if one of my comments is posted on a newspaper website ,whether it be L'Express or Le Défi (which I'm not even going to bother visiting again because the layout is so bad).

Or it could also be that they don't bother moderating comments that are posted several days after the articles have been published.

...I need to rethink my comment posting strategy.

Apr 15, 2015

How to sign up for fiber optics in Mauritius

  1. Rejoice at Orange's decision for finally seeing the importance of having fiber optics in Mauritius, the "cyber island" of Africa
  2. Plan your downloads list but be aware that piracy is still illegal
  3. Phone Orange to know when your area with be covered
  4. Wait forever
Alternatively, you could just phone them every two weeks to be told that your area has been included in the North when you actually live in the centre of Mauritius. I do it when I'm bored and I need a good laugh.

Apr 13, 2015

Football betting in Mauritius

Mauritius has been branded a "nation zougadere", and football betting is now a big thing in the island. Some people bet every week, some every day after hours of research because football apparently is a fine art whose outcomes can be determined by thoroughly analysing past fixtures and results. Because, you know, the better team is always supposed to beat the crap team with a budget that's lower than the star striker from "the favourite".

"Biting Yes-No" is now a betting option whenever Luis Suarez plays

For example, I was recently on the bus and two guys were talking about football behind me. They were not just talking about the Premier League (still the preferred league in Mauritius in spite of the fact that the damn thing's wrapped up already) but were instead bragging about how they knew so much about smaller leagues such as those in Argentina, Belgium, Luxembourg and Romania through betting.

Breaking news guys:

  1. knowing "so much about football" (you'll understand the quotes through the second breaking news below) through betting means you have a serious problem
  2. if in 2015 you still do not understand that Xabi Alonso is a deep-lying playmaker and not a defensive midfielder, you should never call yourself a football fan
  3. spending hours researching past results and statistics is not going to prevent a big favourite from playing like shit (which is basically what Manchester City have been doing for 6 weeks and Borussia Dortmund FOR AN ENTIRE FRIGGING SEASONS)
  4. knowing about football is not an accomplishment unless you are a celebrated football critique like Jonathan Wilson or Michael Cox

There actually now exists a trend on Facebook (and maybe Twitter, but then football fanatics in Mauritius do not have to time to go on Twitter because "you can't stalk people there") where Pages profess to know the results of rigged matches and are selling outcomes. These outcomes range from knowing which team will win to half time/full time results, and include even scores. Football is also a script where footballs have been instructed how many times they should score. Of course, there's a catch to this. These "tips" are not for free; there is a price to pay which could be 20 Euros but I have also stumbled across people charging 200 Euros and above for so-called match fixes.

Since we live in a money-obsessed world, these Pages often have a large number of followers and fans looking forward to make a quick buck on football matches. They didn't stop one second to think about the following:

  • If they had access to fixed matches, would they also sell these as tips on Facebook, thereby attracting attention to weird patterns and potentially ruining everything?
  • If they could be making big money on such football matches, would they need to sell tips for 20 Euros? Even 200 Euros looks stupid as they should have won so much from previous matches, thus making it crazy for them to start a tip-selling business.
There's also some shrewd marketing behind these Pages to convince people that these scammers do have access to a match fixing network.

Here's a couple of techniques I have seen some pages use and which seem to be a blueprint in the "How to scam fools through football" guide:
  • Post freebies - this involves posting free tips to convince people there information is 1,000,000% reliable. I must admit that I was at first baffled by this as some tips were good and had been posted well before the matches, and in some cases, these were exact scores, meaning luck was out of the window. I eventually however figured out how they must be doing this - simply post all various outcomes and scores before the match, then delete all the incorrect ones (and of course do not forget the insults and negative comments from the correct one - easily done by banning these users)
  • Show proofs of winnings - easily done by editing screenshots with Photoshop or any other software
Bottom line: if it's too good to be true, it's too good to be true!

However, in case you are wondering, here's how to win at football all the time: bet on Niklas Bendtner to score a hat trick whenever he plays. You can never lose.

100% WIN!!!

Apr 11, 2015

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - an unbiased review

He isn't actually amazing in this movie

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man which involves Peter Parker getting spider-like powers and clinging on to the fact that "With great power comes great responsibility." Well, except for the fact that Peter actually has several powers, so it should be "With great powers come great responsibilities".

I was a big fan of Spider-Man growing up and enjoyed the first Spider-Man trilogy which I reckon was among the first good comic book superhero movies. The plots were solid (except for the third movie where the only good thing was the presence of Venom although it was played by an idiot). For reasons known only to movie executives and because movie reboots are now an integral part of box office success, a new trilogy was created after the failure of the third movie to gross more than 20 billion dollars.

I won't go into the first The Amazing Spider-Man as I don't remember anything about it. The fact that I don't remember anything from the movie says a lot about it. As an example, I watched The Raid: Redemption around the same time and I remember EVERYTHING about this amazing movie (and you should go and watch it too - forget about reading this review but make sure to come back later to finish it). The Amazing Spider-Man 2 pits Peter Parker against Electro, a villain with the power to use electricity after an accident involving eels. Yes, the theory sounds 100% plausible and works within the movie. However, Electro is a very forgettable villain in spite of what should be amazing super powers and will surely go down as one of the worst movie villains ever. I don't know if it's something directly related to the comic books or if they simply did not know how to handle the character in movie format.

Compared to the first trilogy's Green Goblin (amazingly portrayed by Willem Dafoe), Electro feels like a baby who could not cope with the "great responsibilities that come with great powers." This is made worse by the badly written plot and the crap acting throughout the movie. Jamie Foxx is usually a superb actor and someone I enjoy watching in movies, but it seems talent quickly disappears as soon as you are hired to feature in a bad movie. As far as the plot goes, the writers tried to do too much in only one movie which is evident not only by its runtime but also by the fact that you stop caring about what happens to Spiderman halfway through the movie. Every scene beyond the one-hour mark becomes tiring which is very ironic as that's when the special effects, fight scenes, and Spiderman's cheesy puns kick in (spoiler: they are not that funny).

The basic line about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is this: Do you have time to waste and shit taste in movies? If yes, it is definitely the movie you should watch next!

Apr 10, 2015

Google Plus is about to kick the bucket

Google's so-called competitor to Facebook, Google Plus, is about to kick the bucket as it never really picked up and has not become a wasteland for geeks and spammers. Google should just have released a statement saying "It's complicated". Facebook would surely have appreciated the irony.

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...