Monthly Archives: July 2020

Drive slow, drive safe & don’t receive penalties

Lately I noticed a strong presence of police officers, particularly on roads through sugar cane fields, right after a round-about, where visibility of an officer would be poor from several metres away.

I am writing this because I had to pay a fine for driving above the prescribed speed limit. No! I was not racing. I was driving at a comfortable speed not to doze off on the wheel especially when one is surrounded by green fields on both sides. Alas, what I considered a comfortable and safe speed was unfortunately above the 60 km/h speed limit on that road. I was driving at 76 km/h.

I discourage drivers from speeding, not just to avoid a fine, but for the safety of people using the road.

Since the past two weeks I have been trying to keep my focus on the road while driving slow; that is not to fall asleep. Music helps with that.

What does the law say?

Section 124 of the Road Traffic Act mentions the speed limit. In particular paragraph (4)(a) states that:

Any person who drives a motor vehicle on a road at a speed exceeding a prescribed limit shall commit an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding 5,000 rupees or, in case of a third or subsequent conviction, to a fine exceeding Rs 10,000 rupees.

I was not aware of Section 124(4)(b) until today.

An offender under paragraph (a) shall not be liable to be convicted solely on the evidence of one witness to the effect that, in the opinion of that witness, the offender was driving the motor vehicle at any particular speed.

In most cases of speeding drivers either receive a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) by a police officer or receive a Photographic Enforcement Device Notice by post. In the case of the former, if a driver refuses to accept the offence and he/she does not pay the fixed penalty then criminal proceedings are instituted against the driver; where of course the driver may plead "not guilty" and defend himself/herself. I was told so by the police officer issuing the FPN and it corroborates with Section 193 of the Road Traffic Act.

A fixed penalty must be paid within 21 days of notice.

Source: Seventh Schedule of the Road Traffic Act (Mauritius)

The amounts for the fixed penalties for exceeding speed limits were increased in a proposed amendment of the Road Traffic Act in 2018, such that the new penalties became:

  • Rs 2,500 for exceeding speed limit by not more than 15 km/h.
  • Rs 5,000 for exceeding speed limit by more than 15 but not more than 25 km/h.
  • Rs 10,000 for exceeding speed limit by more than 25 km/h.

In order to pay for a fixed penalty, the driver should attend the appropriate Court as specified in the FPN, produce his/her original driving license and National Identity Card, and pay the specified fine.

Payments are done at the Cash Office of the District Courts, between 09h30 - 12h00 and 13h00 - 14h30 on Monday to Friday. The Moka District Court's Cash Office is open on Saturdays also between 09h30 - 11h00. District Courts are closed on Sundays and public holidays.

In case the last day to pay a fine falls on a Sunday or public holiday then payment can be done the next day without any further penalty. Otherwise, the fine amount is doubled if the last day is missed. 🥺

Facebook Ad promotes Bitcoin scam in Mauritius

I stumbled upon this advertisement on Facebook today.

It opens the following link:

https://astolona-sinks.myshopify.com/products/bt21-official-merchandise-by-line-friends-cooky-character-enamel-passport-holder-cover?id=4697&id2=0pf45b&ad_id=23845080775580476&pixel=883620092130349&fbclid=IwAR10h4m8CYrlNSS_7jMler69a-TTGHQ5qWagwMCcB3s0IhZ2DnCaHagUT8I

I have put the link here for information purposes only. Do not open the link unless you understand the risk and know what you are doing.

The link opens a Shopify webpage with an article saying that "Mauritian Politician Roshi Bhadain appeared on MBC News and announced a new wealth loophole which he says can transform anyone into a millionaire within 3-4 months."

The article encourages readers to invest their money through a cryptocurrency auto-trading program called Bitcoin Storm. It provides instructions on how to deposit money.

Instructions to deposit money on the right of the article

The article also contains testimonials of people with photos, which I believe could have been ripped from social media accounts of Mauritians. I blurred two persons in the second screenshot above.

This is a scam and I would urge people NOT to click on any link on the page NEITHER to share the article on Facebook or WhatsApp.

I was surprised how this ad could stay online on Facebook as the content of the page is clearly a scam. I tried to report the article on MAUCORS but I keep getting a "page not found" error after I sign in every time. So, I gave up and instead reported it to the Citizen Support Unit.

I also reported the advertisement as scam to Facebook.

Lastly, the scam page appears to have been a Shopify hijack which is another cause of concern if Shopify apps could contain vulnerabilities. The actual Shopify page that was hijacked by the Bitcoin scammer looks as follows:

On that note, stay safe online! 😉

New legislation to replace the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act in Mauritius

The latest Cabinet decisions, of 24 July 2020, mention the Cabinet's approval for the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation to issue instructions to the Attorney General's office for repealing the current Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act in order to draft a new a legislation that meets with the evolution of technology and the internet.

This new legislation should accommodate;

  • new offences for new types of threats and conditions in the cyberspace,
  • reinforced provisions for critical information infrastructure,
  • investigation procedures,
  • international co-operation against cyberthreats,
  • international best practices,
  • provisions of Conventions to which Mauritius has adhered such as the Budapest and the African Union Conventions on cybersecurity,
  • provisions for alignment with the new proposed National Cybersecurity Strategy.

41st Annual Conference of the TeX Users Group

TUG 2020, the 41st Annual Conference of the TeX Users Group kicks off online today.

Last night, at 20h00 MUT, prior to the conference, TUG carried out an introductory LaTeX workshop. Participants could attend and chat through Zoom or stream on YouTube. Check the conference programme and join to learn more about what is happening in the TeX world.

Introductory LaTeX Workshop

Sue DeMeritt and Cheryl Ponchin covered quite an extensive list of features that will get someone ready to create his/her first LaTeX documents. Cheryl used Texmaker as LaTeX editor which is also what I prefer.

I learned something that might appear trivial but I did not know about it before and it could be useful in many cases; it's about the use of \label to reference \section later on in the same document. Say you have a document with two sections in which you speak about "randomness" and you want to refer to those sections in your conclusion. You could do this:

\section{Randomness}\label{sec:randomness}

I am talking about random stuff.

\section{More Randomness}\label{sec:morerandomness}

I go on talking about more random stuff.

\section{Conclusion}

Finally, I will stop talking about random stuff but I
would like you to know that I spoke about random things 
in Sections~\ref{sec:randomness} and~\{sec:morerandomness}.

At build time the ~\ref{sec:randomness} will be replaced by the corresponding section number. Afterwards, if you add other sections about the "Randomness" section, then the section numbers in your conclusion will be updated accordingly when re-building the document.

Facebook user in Mauritius arrested for calling Member of Parliament a “dirtbag” in her timeline post

This morning l'express reported on its website that a Facebook user, Farihah Ruhomaully, was arrested after having commented on her timeline post, calling a Member of the National Assembly, Tania Diolle, an "opportuniste dirtbag".

Image source: lexpress.mu article

Since amendments were made to the ICT Act of Mauritius, politicians, mainly Members of the National Assembly have grown "sensitive" to comments made about them on social networks and they show almost zero tolerance to critics that contain harsh words.

What does the ICT Act say?

Section 46(h) of the Information and Communication Technologies Act 2001 of Mauritius states the following;

Any person who —
uses, in any manner other than that specified in paragraph (ga), an information and communication service, including telecommunication service, —

(i) for the transmission or reception of a message which is grossly offensive, or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or

(ii) which is likely to cause or causes annoyance, humiliation, inconvenience, distress or anxiety to that person;

(iii) for the transmission of a message which is of a nature likely to endanger or compromise State defence, public safety or public order; shall commit an offence.

In December 2018 the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote that the amendments to the ICT Act of Mauritius poses risks to the freedom of expression.

Provisional Charge

The provisional charge is a criminal procedure law that dates back to the British Colonial Rule of 1852. The Deputy of Public Prosecutions, Satyajit Boolell, wrote in a newsletter in 2015 that "although no reference to a provisional charge is made in our statute books, it has survived as a settled practice and is probably unique to Mauritius."

Virtual Developers Conference 2020

The Developers Conference 2020 was scheduled to run from 2 - 4 April 2020 but alas, a pandemic caused (and is still causing) chaos around the world. Mauritius was not spared and being on "sanitary curfew" from mid-March till June there was no hope for running the conference in its usual format for obvious concerns about the safety of attendees, speakers and all other stakeholders.

Therefore, the DevCon Organizing Committee met online several times in the past months to discuss about what could be done, whether we run the conference post-lockdown or whether a virtual conference could be something worth a shot. After a lot of discussion about the technicalities and considering the suggestions & thoughts of our backers and sponsors, the decision was made to have a Virtual Developers Conference this year itself. 🤓

Save the date

The Virtual Developers Conference will run on the 9th, 10th and 11th of September 2020. Further details can be found on the conference website but bear in mind that the schedule could change depending on the availability of our speakers.

Our regular attendees know the drill. You got to start making noise on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform. 📢

Details about how the conference will run, how to attend (online) etc, will follow in the coming days. Stay tuned on Facebook & Twitter.

openSUSE Ad-hoc Board Election 2020

Back in February 2020 Christian Boltz resigned from the openSUSE Board explaining the reasons behind his decision on the project mailing list. His resignation came about two weeks after Sarah Julia Kriesch's resignation from the Board.

The openSUSE Board was left with two vacant seats to be filled. Sarah had been a board member for just about a few weeks after the 2019-2020 board elections. After her resignation, the openSUSE Board decided to appoint Vinzenz Vietzke on the board based on the results of the 2019-2020 board elections. Following that, only one seat remained vacant on the board. However, before the Election Committee could start discussions for an election to fill that vacant seat, about two weeks after Vinzenz's appointment, openSUSE member Pierre Böckmann called for a No-Confidence vote against the current board. It was unprecedented in the community and that put things on halt for a while.

The board election rules state that:

If 20 per cent or more of the openSUSE members require a new board, an election will be held for the complete elected Board seats.

The Election Committee was tasked to find out whether 20% of the community is indeed calling for a re-election. At this point I should disclose that I am an election official in the openSUSE Election Committee and the task given to us was not easy. After much consultation, we finally came up with a way to "measure" this 20% requirement of the election rule. We set up an electronic petition using the voting platform that is used for openSUSE Board elections.

A few days ago the petition ended and the result showed that only 11.6% of the community was in favour of a re-election. That does not satisfy the requirement for a forced re-election and thus an ad-hoc election will be carried to fill the one vacant seat only.

Ariez Vachha announced the ad-hoc board election schedule on the project mailing list and details are also available on the openSUSE wiki.

Starting now and until the 2nd of August openSUSE members wishing to run for this election or nominate someone from the community can do so by sending an email to election-officials@opensuse.org. I wish to remind that only openSUSE members can run for board candidacy and vote in this election.

The Election Committee is composed of Ariez Vachha, Edwin Zakaria and myself.

openSUSE Board Non-Confidence Petition result announced

Two weeks ago the openSUSE Election Committee set up an electronic petition to measure whether 20% of the community members are in favour of a re-election of the current elected Board Members. Let me remind that a non-confidence vote was called by openSUSE member Pierre Böckmann. He explained his reasoning in the email he addressed to community members.

The openSUSE election rules state that:

If 20 per cent or more of the openSUSE members require a new board, an election will be held for the complete elected Board seats.

As explained in my earlier post a few weeks ago, the Election Committee was tasked find out whether 20% of the community is indeed calling for a re-election.

We set up an electronic petition using Helios, the voting platform used by the community to run the board elections.

Voting "Yes, I want to sign the petition to call for a re-election of the openSUSE Board" would give us an idea of how many members are calling for re-election.

If a member did not support a re-election, there was no need to vote. This was explained in an email sent to community members on the project mailing list and via the voting credential email sent by Helios to eligible voters.

The petition ran for two weeks, starting on 30 June 2020. It ended on 14 July 2020. The result was published this morning on the project mailing list and members also received an email via Helios announcing the result.

Result

Out of the 509 eligible voters on Helios, 59 voted "Yes" for a re-election of the openSUSE Board. This result indicates that only 11.6% of the community voted in favour of a re-election.

Since the result is less than the 20% required for the complete Board's re-election, the Election Committee will proceed with an election to fill the current vacant seats only.

Podman – unable to pull image

Today, while pulling the latest Nextcloud container image from the docker.io repository I noticed that it is failing. Looking at the read: connection reset by peer error I assume it could be primarily due to network failure; maybe poor quality of the connection.

Note that Mauritius is far from "everywhere" else and connectivity issues are nothing new.

ish@coffee-bar:~> podman pull docker.io/library/nextcloud
Trying to pull docker.io/library/nextcloud...
Getting image source signatures
Copying blob e0276193a084 done  
Copying blob eb2d00c10344 done  
Copying blob 3a60f364b0c5 done  
Copying blob e0d3d1244592 done  
Copying blob f54006e0dc29 done  
Copying blob 8559a31e96f4 done  
Copying blob b22875b95a2a done  
Copying blob f65316e96b10 done  
Copying blob 3e309988c00b done  
Copying blob 0c78caf16ec3 [======================================] 13.1MiB / 13.2MiB
Copying blob 4fc30aae7ee5 done  
Copying blob 37b016cacdc6 done  
Copying blob fd56bf3cc539 done  
Copying blob e3cd35f544b5 done  
Copying blob 467fea8f6f80 done  
Copying blob 0dc7444f9282 done  
Copying blob 547ae6684264 done  
Copying blob 3139b6de5be7 done  
Copying blob 00e77223b529 done  
Copying blob 2b37e3b3a856 done  
  read tcp 192.168.100.6:33536->104.18.124.25:443: read: connection reset by peer
Error: error pulling image "docker.io/library/nextcloud": unable to pull docker.io/library/nextcloud: unable to pull image: Error writing blob: error storing blob to file "/var/tmp/storage720474498/10": read tcp 192.168.100.6:33536->104.18.124.25:443: read: connection reset by peer

Podman does not retry to copy the image in case of failures.

A few days ago there was a suggestion to implement a similar feature in Podman that is present in Buildah, which provides the image copy retry functionality.

For the curious, the implementation can be seen here.

Container images that are pulled by Buildah are stored in the local repository which can also by accessed by Podman, so that's an advantage. I tried pulling the Nextcloud container image using Buildah and it completed successfully.

ish@coffee-bar:~> buildah pull nextcloud
Getting image source signatures
Copying blob e0d3d1244592 done  
Copying blob 8559a31e96f4 done  
Copying blob eb2d00c10344 done  
Copying blob 3a60f364b0c5 done  
Copying blob f54006e0dc29 done  
Copying blob e0276193a084 done  
Copying blob f65316e96b10 done  
Copying blob b22875b95a2a done  
Copying blob 3e309988c00b done  
Copying blob 0c78caf16ec3 done  
Copying blob 4fc30aae7ee5 done  
Copying blob 37b016cacdc6 done  
Copying blob e3cd35f544b5 done  
Copying blob fd56bf3cc539 done  
Copying blob 467fea8f6f80 done  
Copying blob 0dc7444f9282 done  
Copying blob 547ae6684264 done  
Copying blob 2b37e3b3a856 done  
Copying blob 00e77223b529 done  
Copying blob 3139b6de5be7 done  
Copying config 327476ebe3 done  
Writing manifest to image destination
Storing signatures
327476ebe3280c7b570d8463edd136956eab120959976b643cb7dbfaa73f98c1

Now, the downloaded container image is also accessible by Podman.

ish@coffee-bar:~> podman images
REPOSITORY                     TAG      IMAGE ID       CREATED        SIZE
docker.io/libreoffice/online   latest   0586fecfa3c1   28 hours ago   2.84 GB
docker.io/library/nextcloud    latest   327476ebe328   3 days ago     774 MB

To conclude, while we are waiting that a retryCopyImage function is available in Podman, we can use Buildah to pull container images that are troublesome due to network issues.

75 years old man arrested for Facebook post after the Prime Minister of Mauritius lodges police complaint

The ICT Act of Mauritius was amended in 2018.

Following those amendments what we saw in the country was mostly people being detained or questioned for posts on Facebook, which in many cases, are simply political satire or citizens taking out their frustration against the government through memes and posts. Likewise, a former Ambassador of Mauritius in Madagascar, aged 75 years old, posted an edited photo of the Prime Minister of Mauritius sitting over a pile of currency notes, along with the text in creole that translates to "Motto of Pinokio. Let's kick ass as much as we can before we leave."

That can probably also be translated as "let's steal as much as we can" if the creole slang is taken into consideration.

I am assuming the creole word for "ass", i.e "fesse" raised eyebrows and the cybercrime officers considered it along with the edited photo to be enough material to arrest a 75 years old man. Oh come on! What threat was caused here or how annoyed could you, as a Prime Minister be, in order to lodge a complaint to the Police for such a matter? #Facepalm

Before supporters of the Prime Minister jump to the latter's defence I am referring to the l'express article that mentions that the person was interrogated following a complaint by Pravind Jugnauth, i.e the Prime Minister of Mauritius. I quote from the article:

Il a été interrogé suite à une plainte du premier ministre Pravind Jugnauth concernant une photo postée sur Facebook.

Meanwhile plenty of edited photos of the former Prime Minister, Navin Chandra Ramgoolam, former Opposition Leader, Paul Bérenger, the current Opposition Leader, Arvin Boolell, and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Satyajit Boolell, still lurk on the Facebook page of the MSM Party.

Vire Mam

The one political party that has benefited the most by editing photos and videos of people, particular their political opponents, is non other than the MSM Party itself. Till date they still mention the "virer mam" video in their Facebook page; see the left menu on their page.

What about edited photos of their political opponents?

The above edited photo was posted on the MSM Party's Facebook page on 7 February 2015, after the then Lepep Alliance won the General Elections. If the Prime Minister condones such images on his party's Facebook page, then why is he annoyed when others do the same with him?

The above photo posted on the MSM Party's Facebook page caught my attention particularly as the post is shared with an ex-Board Member of the ICT Authority who was arrested earlier this year for breach of the ICT Act.

The above was posted on 16 July 2015 on the MSM Party's Facebook page. That was surely around the time when the Director of Public Prosecutions, Satyajit Boolell (in the photo), was fighting against Pravind Jugnauth in a corruption case.

I certainly have no fun in posting these images but I had to make a point when I read that that a 75 years old fellow, irrespective of the political party he adheres to, was arrested for posting, IMHO, a not-so-offensive photo & text about the Prime Minister.