Hey Guys,

I attended Proto.in yesterday. One of the biggest changes that happened at this event was that, it became a one day event rather than the usual two day event. Of all the sessions that happened, keynote talk by Mr. Ganesh Natarajan, CEO of Zensar and the “Angels can help you fly!” discussion from Mumbai Angels were very good.

The Event

This time, there were 15 products from a variety of areas including but not limited to Education, Internet and Mobile, Software etc. I liked the presentations from the companies namely English Seeko (a dial-in solution by phone to learn spoken English). Even though their demo was good, they would have lot of challenges with speech recognition. Then I liked the Credit Card Reconciliation System from Aerosoft. It was a very well put together presentation and I immediately understood their product’s validity from their presentation.

There was two presentations that did blow the audience away. One was from TouchMagix about their Microsoft-Surface-like product. Other was this launch of custom made bikes by Vardenchi Motorcycles in the range of Rs. 2.8 lakhs to Rs. 10 lakhs. They are already profitable and they brought 2 of their custom made bikes to the Proto.in stage to showcase them to the audience. They looked beautiful. When funds allow, I will surely design & get my own bike from them.

There was another company with the name GoVasool. Their presentation reminded me of the product named SpotEazy that presented during the first Proto.in in 2007. I couldn’t get their concept of why vendors would compete with each other to give a lower price for a select group of people. And then there was Vrixx (pronounced as vri-ksh), a end-to-end college management product, based on the all prevalent SaaS model.

Mumbai Angels

Near the end of the event, Mumbai Angels announced that they would pick two startups from the lot and give them the opportunity to present to the angels at their offices for funding. They picked Vrixx and TouchMagix. Congrats guys! It seems ConWizta (content management and testing application) missed that by a narrow margin.

Links

  1. Proto.in Live.
  2. Company Profiles.
  3. Send feedback to startups.

It was a good way to spend the weekend and this event is making me feel guilty every time because I haven’t started up yet.

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 :D 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 :D 

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!

 

Microsoft TechVista

October 2nd, 2008

Microsoft Research (MSR) India conducted TechVista yesterday, a symposium by MSR to showcase some of the hottest research that’s been happening. The talks were interesting and so were the posters presented by various students from top notch colleges, some of whose research is sponsored by Microsoft.

After the usual keynote, the real talk began by 10.45 AM. The talk was about the “Future of Computing” by Dr. John Hopcroft. It was a very insightful talk with details about ‘the cloud’ that I could relate to; and also about information storing and retrieval in digital form. The next talk was by Dr. Richard Szeliski about “Weaving the World’s Photos”. This talk was more about Photosynth and the technology and algorithms that go behind it. The talk was simply awesome; especially the place when they mentioned about the SIFT and RANSAC algorithms. SIFT determines similar points in 2 photos taken from different angles while RANSAC is able to stitch those points together and form a 3D model of the image. Considering the fact there are 1000s of photos online for a popular place (E.g. Taj Mahal), with photos taken from different angles, the SIFT and RANSAC algorithms brings about the 3D model of the place. Then these points are optimized and the resulting images are stitched together. When pictures are more detailed and where users have tagged those details, these pictures are used when users zoom in and zoom out of the 3D model. It also removes all the “noise” from the photographs and gives an almost seamless 3D experience.

The next talk I attended was by Dr. Shafi Goldwasser about program obfuscation and one-time programs. I could related to this talk because of my very recent experiment :D and paid full attention to this talk. I was smiling when one of her slides contained the last paragraph of this blog post from YUI blog. Many points in her slide were eye-opening such as ROKs and the slides that said where obfuscation fails.

It was lunch now. Somehow, most of these conferences mangle up lunch so badly that we want to give out a blood curdling yell. As soon as the morning session talks were over, myself and a few guys walked over to the Professors and were asking them a few doubts. By the time we went for lunch, most of the good dishes were over. So were the desserts :(

The talk immediately after lunch was some marketing blah blah about MSR that was putting me to sound sleep. I woke up and went to the poster presentations to check out what the Ph.D students had done. Some of the posters were really cool! I liked the ones on “Understanding the dynamics behind evolution of stable peer-to-peer networks” by Bivas Mitra from IIT-KGP, “Secure Distributed Computation and Communication” by Arpita and Ashish from IITM and PULRP by Deepthi and Kannan from IITB. It was about an hour by the time I finished looking through the posters. With my sleep vanished, I headed to main hall again to check out the next talk.

This talk was about “Computational Camers” by Dr. Shree K Nayar. It was just awesome! When I was college, I did a paper on Digital Image Processing and almost cried because of the complex equations :-) All of those were coming back in my head when this talk was going on. May be if I had known earlier, I would have applied for MSR as soon as I had passed out.

With this talk getting over, one of my friends who was a finalist of my batch’s MSAPP had come to the venue. Just as myself, Dhaval and Subhamoy were getting intro’d to him, we delved deep into quantum and relative physics, with a bit of astronomy thrown in. That twisted my brain in some crazy ways. Our discussion happened for more than 2 hours and I learnt a lot more from this discussion than from the ones that were happening inside at this time.

Oh! while I was talking to Subhamoy, he casually mentioned this story. His mobile had fallen in water & when he switched it on, it got short circuited. So, he removed the panels, took the mobile circuit to this lab, found the short circuits and resoldered everything again in their proper places. He is still using that same phone. THAT WAS AWESOME!

All-in-all, it was a day spent very well :D I enjoyed every moment to the core.

Sun Tech Days 2008

February 26th, 2008

Yay! so…. as the title of this post suggests, I’m moving to Hyderabad to attend Sun Tech Days. This is the 4th time I’m attending the event & I must say that it is a perfectly managed event with great sessions and hands-on-labs. There are some interesting labs this time; notably the ones on Java ME.

That aside, from the agenda, the sessions do not look as great as they were last time. But we actually do not know until we attend them. I’m planning to attend the ones on netbeans, mobility and a few SOA related stuff. Get the agenda here. If wifi is available at the venue, I will try to live blog the event here using my brand new device :D

The event is happening tomorrow morning at 9am. For more details, check out this link. If you are coming, do drop by and say a hi :)

Event – Pipes Camp

December 21st, 2007

Good friend and fellow ‘BarCamp’er Bosky is organizing an one day event called PipesCamp. This unconference happens on day after tomorrow (23-Dec-2007) and celebrates about the Yahoo! Pipes. Head on to the PipesCamp site to learn more about this event.

When: 23-Dec-2007
Where: Hotel Shan Royal, Koyambedu, Chennai

:)

Yay! registrations for proto.in 2008 first edition have opened :D

If you wish to attend the event, do register as soon as possible. There are very limited seats available. And for those who register before 31st December 2007, there is a early bird discount of 50% of the event fees.

 Important links:

Hurry up!!

3:11 PM

November 2nd, 2007

Yep, that’s the name of the event, which is the first of it’s kind to happen for just 1 minute (60 seconds). That’s all. Nothing more, Nothing less. Participating in this event is damn easy. All you need to do is carry a camera and when the clock strikes 3:11 PM, click whatever you see. Then upload the pic here or to your favourite photo sharing service such flickr, zooomr etc. Don’t forget to tag your photo as “311PM”. That will help us to find the photo after you upload it.

This event will show Chennai as it exactly is for that 1 breathtaking moment. Snaps taken across the city will show what other people are doing at that instant. It’s a wonderful archive to maintain and look it up later. Even if all you have is just a mobile VGA camera, it’s time to participate & show the world how the world around you looked at 3:11 PM ;-)

Read more here and here. Happy Clicking!

A few of my good friends have come with this initiative of filling up potholes in the Chennai city. They will be doing it over a period of 2 days, starting yesterday night and resuming again tonight. Please visit the wiki for more information.

I may be joining them tonight :-)

As expected, the rooms running the internet, mobile and startup collectives are packed. Will keep this post updated as the day unfolds :D