Hello friends! Barcamp Chennai 2 was superb! It was 2 days of fun. What was surprising this time is the sheer number of new faces in the crowd and the number of non-tech sessions. The non-tech sessions were high this time, though the tech sessions were pretty basic ones. Lots of networking happened this time and I came across a really cool bunch of people with whom I will be in touch.

Day 1

Yesterday morning, I attended a session on Git, by Sreeni from ThoughtWorks. Its a source control system which was developed by Linus Torvalds. I recently signed up at GitHub to host the SMS Web Service program & this session was really very helpful in getting me started. Next session was intro to Ruby on Rails by Prakash from ThoughtWorks (this was in a different track). Most of the hall roared with laughter when one of the campers asked what the difference between Rails and Javascript. Hmm! With this question I came out of the hall and met Kausik, Bharadwaj, Moyeen, KAPP, Shyam and a few more guys. We were discussing about programming languages, mainly about python and various IDEs. I also struck a deal with Shyam to collaborate on an open source mobile project. More details about it will be available soon.

By the time we finished our discussion on the hallways, it was lunch time and we headed to Tiffanys. We ragged Moyeen 😀 about his GF and stuff. Moyeen is a good sport you see :) so we had a nice time. Post lunch, there was a session on linux kernel basics and then came the best session of the day.

It was on Open Street Maps by a final year engineering student named Arun Ganesh. Open Street Maps is a community effort to map out the whole world. A wikipedia of sort for mapping. Arun had done some seriously good tasks of mapping out Teynampet & sharing it with the post offices in his area to get it validated. He also pointed out that, where Google or Yahoo maps take a few years to map changes in locality, those changes are reflected relatively immediately on OSM. That’s mainly because of the volunteers who edit the maps on a day-to-day basis. Unlike Google or Yahoo maps, OSM allows you to change the underlying mapping data itself, which is pretty cool. When Arun showed the OSM website on his browser, someone asked what the software was :) The audience brought the ceiling down by laughing. I was pondering about building a mobile software for displaying OSM on Symbian mobiles. Interested anyone? I may start this in a couple of month’s time.

My session on the recent “Assign Categories” wordpress plugin was next. Response was good :) and I’m happy. After this, there was a session on web 2.0 (old stuff?) but then, myself and a few others used the law of two feet and discussed various other topics between cups of coffee. I also answered a few questions on my wordpress plugin during this time. Day 1 came to an end with this.

Day 2

Today was superb I should say. The first session was from Viru [viru {at} physicssociety {dot} com] about “Indian Education System Sucks”. The word ‘s**ks’ provoked the audience very much and what followed was very hot debate with a few solutions to the current problems. Solutions being that students should be allowed to ask questions and teachers should encourage that. Also, more amount of practicals should be introduced in the curriculum for understanding the subjects better rather than mugging up. I believe CBSE has solved part of the problem here. By making the syllabus huge, they have effectively discouraged students from mugging up & vomiting. So, to answer questions in the exams, they have to understand the subject well; else they flunk. There are lots of side effects to this. But we will discuss it some other time.

Second session was on “Global Financial Meltdown” by Syed, Sukumar and Ganesh (of Rupya). It was superb. Though I did follow the news on the financial meltdown, I learnt a lot from the discussion. One specific portion that still stays fresh is the news that India Inc. is spending Rupees 1 Lakh Crore to help the failing banks. They are buying stock at a discounted rate and imagine the returns when the meltdown ends! :) . There was also a small discussion on how it affects the IT industry. Software service companies have to be on watch was a view that was shared by everyone.

Post lunch, the talk was on “Disaster Management”. Since Mr. Mani, DSP of Police couldn’t turn up, it turned into a fun group discussion. The hall applauded when Sukumar advised the campers to take “good care” of our lives. Point well taken.

After this it was time for our discussion using the law of 2 feet & then it was time for Thomas’ session on “How to become an innovator”. Crux of the talk is that, you have to condition your mind in to thinking out of the box and he recommends the books written by Edward De Bono. Siddhi‘s session on creating a really good office space was enlightening as well. On the whole, Day 2 rocked and I learnt plenty of things today.

Wifi

Wifi sucked :( Most of the time, it didn’t connect. Wifi Gurus are most welcome to share gyan on how to setup a reliable wifi for (un)conferences. May be this would have been a great session at Barcamp.

Photos

Please search for BCC2 or BarcampChennai on Flickr and other places.

Crowd size was optimum this time, which made the sessions all the more interactive. Were you there and I missed talking to you? If so, please drop a comment and I will get back in touch with you. Thanks!

Barcamp Chennai Logo

Yay! barcamp chennai second edition is happening today and tomorrow at IIT Madras in the IC & SR auditorium. The previous barcamp was truly awesome and I sincerely hope, this one will also meet the expectations. There are lots of interesting talks lined up and whats even more interesting is that, there are lots of new faces this time 😀 

We are also planning for an all-night code camp for tonight. If its happening, I will post more details about it here. If you are attending, do let me know. I will be around. For more details about barcamp, check out http://barcampchennai.org/.

If you are taking pics/videos/tweeting about the event, use the tag “BCC2”. That would make it easier to search and find the relevant pics, blog posts and videos.

See you there!