Linux User Group of Mauritius Promoting open source software in our beautiful island

31Mar/170

The real size of Africa

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

Africa is huge!

As seen in the Winkel tripel (Winkel III) projection above,  Africa is much much bigger than Europe and North America. Projecting the world’s surface (which is on a sphere) on a flat sheet of paper is impossible without introducing some distortions but the Winkel III projection has been proved to be the most accurate (preserving area, direction and distance).

It is high time for our schools and institutions to stop using the Mercator projection introduced in 1569 which distorts the size of objects as the latitude increases from the Equator to the poles, thus making Europe and North America appear much bigger than they really are.

Interestingly and obviously, Mauritius is bigger on the Winkel tripel (Winkel III) projection compared to the Mercator projection and this can only be a good thing for us 🙂

8Feb/170

8 bad habits Rich Dad says we have

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

While travelling in India in December, I stumbled upon Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I read it cover to cover in a few days, taking notes while discussing a lot with Christina and the kids. The book is an eye-opener on a number of bad habits or beliefs we all have:

Naturally, I do not agree with everything Robert Kiyosaki says but his arguments are very interesting to read and think deeply about.

Have fun!

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31Aug/160

Software Engineering needs to be taught by Software Engineers

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

complexity_small

Software is eating the world.

Quoting ACM:

The availability of qualified software engineers has not kept pace with the demand from industry, so that systems are designed and built by people with insufficient educational background or experience.

In other words, Software Engineering is Hard and we do not have enough Software Engineers to create and maintain all the software which is eating the world. The fundamental reason is that software is unlike all other kinds of engineering artifacts (such as a bridge, a house or a computer):

  • Software is abstract and invisible.
  • Software has both static and dynamic properties.
  • Software is intrinsically complex in terms of its organization.
  • No universal measures of quality exist for assessing a software product.

Furthermore,

  • The manufacturing cycle for software products is not a significant element in software development, and it mainly involves the needs of distribution mechanisms.
  • Software does not wear out.

Quoting ACM again,

  • Software engineering practices are therefore largely concerned with managing relevant processes and with design activities.
  • A high-quality faculty and staff is perhaps the single most critical element in the success of a Software Engieering program.

And they conclude,

  • Faculty members who have a primarily theoretical computer science background might not adequately convey to students the engineering-oriented aspects of software engineering.
  • Faculty members from related branches of engineering might deliver a software engineering program or course without a full appreciation of the computer science fundamentals that underlie so much of what software engineers do.
  • Faculty members who have not experienced the development of large systems might not appreciate the importance of process, quality, and security.
  • Faculty members who have made a research career out of pushing the frontiers of software development might not appreciate that students first need to be taught what they can use in practice.

In other words, faculty members who teach Software Engineering need to be Software Engineers themselves. And this is là où le bât blesse (the main problem) in most universities: those teaching cannot do! This is true abroad but also true in most (all?) universities in Mauritius.

Mauritius needs universities with teachers who are doers and who know how to make students become doers.

And this needs to happen now!

21Apr/160

World Creativity and Innovation Day

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20160421-panelists

Every 21 April, we celebrate the World Creativity and Innovation Day in Mauritius.

This year, the Mauritius Research Council organised a workshop on Creativity and Innovation and the the ICT Advisory Council, which I preside, was given a slot of 30 minutes. I quickly prepared a few slides like I like them to be (beautiful, memorable and witty) and I asked Logan Velvindron and Ish Sookun, both members of the ICT Advisory Council, to join me in a panel on Creativity and Innovation among Youth.

20160421-albert-einstein

The first topic was about having fun when learning and creating. I mentioned that school and teachers can be boring, especially in our age of having Wikipedia and YouTube in our pockets. I said that it was time for our education system to become fun again, where young people can enjoy creating and learning a lot of new things in the process. Both Ish and Logan explained how fun they have everyday at work and how important this is for them.

20160421-steve-jobs

The second topic was about not to be afraid to be different. In Mauritius, we have a culture of conformism. Women have specific roles to play. Kids also. And, of course, everyone should remain at his place. This is bullshit! Our world is created by people who think differently and who are not afraid to take risks and disrupt existing establishments… Logan and Ish told the audience how they discovered computers, decided to become geeks and do things differently from others. They were very thankful to have supportive parents who didn’t try to impose anything on them.

20160421-linus-torvalds

The third topic was about being a geek and the value of open source software for a country like Mauritius. I explained that open source software is free and this is very important for Mauritius which is not a very rich country. But I also explained how having access to the source code of software is essential for Computer Science teachers like me to create the new generation of top programmers which Mauritius will need in the future. Young people cannot learn complex programming just by reading a book or listening to a teacher: they need to see real source code of real complex software. Logan and Ish explained how they got involved in open source software and how we all now form part of organisations such the Linux User Group of Mauritius and Hackers.mu and the value those organisations have.

20160421-sheryl-sandberg

The last topic was about being a doer rather than a talker and that aiming for perfection, while sometimes a good thing, can sometimes prevent us from achieving. This is something I have noticed over the years in Mauritius: we love our committees. Doers are not revered though. This mentality has to change. I told the audience that we are as good as anyone from anywhere, whether it is the USA or France or India. But we should stop focusing on doing speeches. We should identify small but important problems and find feasible solutions for them.

After the panel, I got a question from Anibal Martinez who is collaborating with the Government to set up an incubator. He asked me how we can solve the Computer Science education issue in Mauritius.

I told him that in the short term, a lot can be done with ad-hoc training courses, such as the ones that I provide at Knowledge Seven. But this is not a viable model for the country. In the medium to long term, state-funded universities should find a way to revamp their Computer Science departments, which are absolutely substandard at this moment, to produce an adequate number of very competent computer scientists every year. The industry is ready to move up a level but there are not enough competencies.

Thanks to Ish and Logan for participating in the panel.

21Apr/160

World Creativity and Innovation Day

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20160421-panelists

Every 21 April, we celebrate the World Creativity and Innovation Day in Mauritius.

This year, the Mauritius Research Council organised a workshop on Creativity and Innovation and the the ICT Advisory Council, which I preside, was given a slot of 30 minutes. I quickly prepared a few slides like I like them to be (beautiful, memorable and witty) and I asked Logan Velvindron and Ish Sookun, both members of the ICT Advisory Council, to join me in a panel on Creativity and Innovation among Youth.

20160421-albert-einstein

The first topic was about having fun when learning and creating. I mentioned that school and teachers can be boring, especially in our age of having Wikipedia and YouTube in our pockets. I said that it was time for our education system to become fun again, where young people can enjoy creating and learning a lot of new things in the process. Both Ish and Logan explained how fun they have everyday at work and how important this is for them.

20160421-steve-jobs

The second topic was about not to be afraid to be different. In Mauritius, we have a culture of conformism. Women have specific roles to play. Kids also. And, of course, everyone should remain at his place. This is bullshit! Our world is created by people who think differently and who are not afraid to take risks and disrupt existing establishments… Logan and Ish told the audience how they discovered computers, decided to become geeks and do things differently from others. They were very thankful to have supportive parents who didn’t try to impose anything on them.

20160421-linus-torvalds

The third topic was about being a geek and the value of open source software for a country like Mauritius. I explained that open source software is free and this is very important for Mauritius which is not a very rich country. But I also explained how having access to the source code of software is essential for Computer Science teachers like me to create the new generation of top programmers which Mauritius will need in the future. Young people cannot learn complex programming just by reading a book or listening to a teacher: they need to see real source code of real complex software. Logan and Ish explained how they got involved in open source software and how we all now form part of organisations such the Linux User Group of Mauritius and Hackers.mu and the value those organisations have.

20160421-sheryl-sandberg

The last topic was about being a doer rather than a talker and that aiming for perfection, while sometimes a good thing, can sometimes prevent us from achieving. This is something I have noticed over the years in Mauritius: we love our committees. Doers are not revered though. This mentality has to change. I told the audience that we are as good as anyone from anywhere, whether it is the USA or France or India. But we should stop focusing on doing speeches. We should identify small but important problems and find feasible solutions for them.

After the panel, I got a question from Anibal Martinez who is collaborating with the Government to set up an incubator. He asked me how we can solve the Computer Science education issue in Mauritius.

I told him that in the short term, a lot can be done with ad-hoc training courses, such as the ones that I provide at Knowledge Seven. But this is not a viable model for the country. In the medium to long term, state-funded universities should find a way to revamp their Computer Science departments, which are absolutely substandard at this moment, to produce an adequate number of very competent computer scientists every year. The industry is ready to move up a level but there are not enough competencies.

Thanks to Ish and Logan for participating in the panel.

4Nov/140

Pygame with Fedora and Python 3

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20141104-pygame

I’m having some fun with pygame, a library to create games in Python.

The exact steps to follow to have pygame in Python 3 on Fedora Linux are detailed in the Python Fun blog. In essence:

  • yum install python3 python3-tools python3-devel
  • yum install SDL SDL-devel portmidi portmidi-devel ffmpeg ffmpeg-devel
  • cd /usr/lib64 && ln -s libportmidi.so libporttime.so

This takes care of all dependencies needed (minus smpeg which does not exist in recent Fedora Linux distributions). Then:

  • Get the pygame source code (e.g. hg clone https://bitbucket.org/pygame/pygame)
  • python3 config.py
  • python3 setup.py build
  • python3 setup.py install

That’s it! Test by running python3 and importing pygame.

Have fun creating games ;-)

4Nov/140

Pygame with Fedora and Python 3

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20141104-pygame

I’m having some fun with pygame, a library to create games in Python.

The exact steps to follow to have pygame in Python 3 on Fedora Linux are detailed in the Python Fun blog. In essence:

  • yum install python3 python3-tools python3-devel
  • yum install SDL SDL-devel portmidi portmidi-devel ffmpeg ffmpeg-devel SDL_image-devel SDL_mixer-devel SDL_ttf-devel libjpeg-turbo-devel
  • cd /usr/lib64 && ln -s libportmidi.so libporttime.so

This takes care of all dependencies needed (minus smpeg which does not exist in recent Fedora Linux distributions). Then:

  • Get the pygame source code (e.g. hg clone https://bitbucket.org/pygame/pygame)
  • python3 config.py
  • python3 setup.py build
  • python3 setup.py install

That’s it! Test by running python3 and importing pygame.

Have fun creating games ;-)

4Nov/140

Pygame with Fedora and Python 3

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

20141104-pygame

I’m having some fun with pygame, a library to create games in Python.

The exact steps to follow to have pygame in Python 3 on Fedora Linux are detailed in the Python Fun blog. In essence:

  • yum install python3 python3-tools python3-devel
  • yum install SDL SDL-devel portmidi portmidi-devel ffmpeg ffmpeg-devel SDL_image-devel SDL_mixer-devel SDL_ttf-devel libjpeg-turbo-devel
  • cd /usr/lib64 && ln -s libportmidi.so libporttime.so

This takes care of all dependencies needed (minus smpeg which does not exist in recent Fedora Linux distributions). Then:

  • Get the pygame source code (e.g. hg clone https://bitbucket.org/pygame/pygame)
  • python3 config.py
  • python3 setup.py build
  • python3 setup.py install

That’s it! Test by running python3 and importing pygame.

Have fun creating games ;-)

24Jun/110

Thank you for making OSS2011 a success

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

OSS2011: Le Logiciel Libre, 2011 et après

Thank you to all participants for making this seminar on Open Source Software in Mauritius such a success.

All the members of the organising team (from left to right: Vara Appavoo / UoM, Ajay Ramjatan / LUGM, Begum Durgahee / UoM, Anwar Chutoo / UoM, Jayantee Gukhool / AUF, Anuja Appavoo / UoM and Avinash Meetoo / LUGM) worked really hard to get everything right. Of course, we were far from being perfect but, still, we were happy as all of us, organisers as well as the numerous participants, learned a lot during the day and met interesting people.

Special thanks to LUGM members who were present on that day especially Logan Velvindron who talked about how he has managed to mitigate the effects of denial of service attacks in OpenBSD. Special thanks also to Ajay Ramjatan who brought his own computers to demonstrate a variety of Open Source Software to the participants. His focus on multimedia software was a refreshing change from what we generally are shown during such an event.

The presentations from institutions like the MIE and UoM were very interesting as well as those from the other students (I was very impressed!) and private companies.

Of course, I loved the interactive session from 13:30 to 15:00. I had the pleasure of being the chairperson for that session and I found the discussion very lively and enriching. I loved how young people and older ones (like me…) could share the same kind of vision for our beloved country.

In three weeks, Anwar Chutoo and his team will finalise a report on the conclusions reached during the event which will then be circulated to all participants.

Once again, thanks to all who helped: organisers, presenters as well as participants.

See you all for OSS2012.

(Thanks to Irfaan Lamarque for the nice picture)

20Jun/110

OSS2011: Seminar on Linux and OSS on 22 June 2011

Posted by Avinash Meetoo

As the founder of the Linux User Group of Mauritius (LUGM), I am delighted to, once again, tell you that there will be a Seminar on Open Source Software on 22 June 2011 at the University of Mauritius.

The seminar is organised by LUGM in collaboration with the University of Mauritius and the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie and will be held at the Burrunchobay Lecture Theatre at the University of Mauritius (Google Map)

The programme for the day is as follows:

  • 09:00 – Official opening
  • 09:15 – First presentation session: Policy on OSS in Mauritius
  • 10:30 – Second presentation session: Students contributing to OSS
  • 11:15 – Third presentation session: Real world use of OSS
  • 12:00 – Lunch break
  • 13:15 – Three working sessions in parallel: (1) OSS in industry (to be chaired by myself), (2) OSS in education and (3) OSS at the level of the Government.
  • 14:30 – Synthesis of discussions held

I would be more that happy if you could participate in the seminar and contribute to the discussions based on your extensive experience on using open source software at work. More information about the event can be found on http://cse.uom.ac.mu/oss/fr

Please note that the seminar is open to everyone but, because of logistical constraints, it is important to confirm your presence by IMMEDIATELY registering at http://cse.uom.ac.mu/oss/fr/inscription_invite

I would like to thank Ajay Ramjatan of LUGM as well as Jayantee Gukhool, Director of AUF, and Anwar Chutoo, Lecturer at UoM, and his colleagues for making this seminar a reality.

Please feel free to disseminate to friends, colleagues and relatives :-)