I want my kids to be hackers


I have just stumbled upon a nice article on how kids don’t really understand how computers work.

As the author writes in his conclusion, “I want the people who will help shape our society in the future to understand the technology that will help shape out society in the future. If this is going to happen, then we need to reverse the trend that is seeing digital illiteracy exponentially increase. We need to act together, as parents, as teachers, as policy makers. Lets build a generation of hackers. Who’s with me?”

His point is that, while kids are becoming fantastic users of computers (i.e. they can do Facebook using the left hand while playing Angry Birds with the right), only few of them actually understand computers. And this is going to be detrimental in the future when (i) the kids will be adults making decisions and (ii) computers will be everywhere.

There is an element of truth in that. I want my kids to be hackers. Like I was at their age!

Hurray! We are, once again, below average!


Rejoice fellow Mauritians!

Once again, we’re below average in something important: the speed of Internet in our beloved country.

According to the latest quarterly report by Akamai which is summarised in this post, the average global (i.e. worldwide) download speed is now 2.9Mbps.

Most Mauritians I know still subscribe to Mauritius Telecom’s MyT service at 1Mbps (I do…) which costs around Rs 1099 per month. Only few of us can afford the 2Mbps and 4/Mbps (available at around Rs 1649 and Rs 2649 per month!).

This means that, for a majority of Mauritians, we have only one third of the average global (i.e. worldwide) download speed others are having. This is abysmal in our age of reliance on the Internet for everything we do: learning, working and entertainment.


Linux is more popular than Windows. Finally.


When I started using Linux in 2000, it was just 9 years old and practically no one knew about this strange operating system. Linus Torvalds, its creator, had as ambition to make Linux achieve world domination status. Of course, no one believed him.

Fast forward 13 years (i.e. 22 years after Linux’s birth) and something beautiful happens: Linux is now the most used operating system in the whole world thanks to Android which powers most smartphones and tablets and which is built on Linux. According to a Goldman Sachs’ private report, Android accounts for 41% of all computers on the planet, Apple MacOS X and iOS represent 23% and Windows only 20% (from its 95% of market share in 2004).

When Ubuntu Linux was created in August 2004, Mark Shuttleworth created bug report #1: “Liberation: Microsoft has a majority market share”. He has just closed the bug because, well, the bug is not a bug anymore as Microsoft software represents a minority now…


Interestingly, this makes sense. Until the beginning of the ’90s, the world of computing was very interesting: there were a lot of competing companies like Microsoft, Atari, Commodore, Apple, etc. and this fostered a lot of innovation and major advances were made. When Microsoft Windows became popular at the end of the ’90s, Microsoft crushed all their opponents by abusing their position of dominance and resorting to anti-competitive practices.

In 2007, something special happened: Apple released the iPhone. In the same year, Google announced Android, an operating system for smartphones and tablets, based on Linux, and released for free in 2008. Since then, major companies like Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony have adopted Android.

This means that we’re now mostly in the same situation as before Microsoft crushed its competitors. We now have three platforms, Android, Apple and Microsoft, and this can only mean that more innovation is to come. At the end, we, users, are the ones who are going to benefit more from this.

Laws couldn’t get Microsoft to behave. Linux, indirectly, has.

My top posts of 2012


I started blogging in March 2004 and, like a lot of bloggers, I blog a bit less now.

Here are a few of my highlights from 2012:

Feel free to revive the posts, comment on them and share them on social networks too.


Open source DJing with Mixxx


On 31 December, my mission was to make people dance from 22:00 to 03:00 in the morning. Fortunately, I could rely on Mixxx, a fantastic and powerful DJing software available for free for all platforms (Linux, Mac OS X and Windows).

Mixxx performed admirably during the five hours.

On Linux, Mixxx supports MP3 out of the box but as I had quite a lot of AAC (i.e. M4A) files, I had to compile it from source. Here are the commands I used on my Ubuntu Linux 12.04 LTS box:

sudo aptitude install scons qt3-dev-tools libqt4-dev g++ bzr libportmidi-dev libsndfile1-dev libtag1-dev libmad0-dev libid3tag0-dev libmp4v2-dev libfaad-dev portaudio19-dev

scons -j2 faad=1 shoutcast=0 tuned=1

sudo scons prefix=/usr/local install

The first line is to install all the required dependencies, the second is to compile Mixxx with AAC support (faad=1) and specifically for the processor I was using (tuned=1). The third line is to install it in /usr/local

Have fun DJing with Mixxx :-)