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!

Event Roundup

April 24th, 2007

Hi guys, I should say a hell a lot of exciting things have been happening for quite some time. Here are the list of events which has been keeping me busy.

Proto.in 2007 SE
Proto.in was a good success last time. Proto.in second edition has been fixed for 21st and 22nd July 2007 at Chennai. Exact location will be put up soon at the proto.in website. As usual, I’m taking care of the website along with Siddharta. An interim website for Proto.in 2007 SE is up at http://www.proto.in/proto2007se. You can also go through the old proto website to learn what this event is about.

If you are a product based startup company, you can nominate yourself now. The nomination closes on 5th June 2007. As last time, 30 companies with amazing products will get a chance to present them on the day of the event. Registrations for participants will start after the nominations are over. Read the blog for more information. Subscribe to the ProtoTalk group to keep yourself updated with the latest happenings.

MoMoChennai
MoMo = Mobile Monday. The venue for the first episode has been fixed as IIT and the event is scheduled for 6th May 2007, which is a sunday. Therefore, this event can also be called as MMS (Mobile Monday on a Sunday) :-). More details here and here.

PodWorks
This is a two day event, focussing on podcasts. This event will consist of crisp workshops on podcasting and hey, you will definitely walk away carrying a lot of satisfaction on acquiring your new skill :-). More details coming soon.

BigRace
This is a challenging race in which with just about Rs.1000/- you should to travel to the farthest destination possible and come back in 10 days. You are not encouraged to carry any money and in case you are in want of money, you can do small part time jobs on your trip :-). This should be very very exciting and if I get a 10 day off at work, then you can see me there. More info at bigrace.pbwiki.com.

*Wipes sweat off the forehead*

Exciting times ahead!!!

Mobile Monday in Chennai

April 4th, 2007

Starting this April, Chennai is going to witness a new event called “Mobile Monday”. The Chennai version of the event will be spearheaded by Varun Krishnan and interested others can pitch in. The event is supposed to be of 3 to 4 hours duration with talks on various technical and non-technical topics with new product demos etc.

You can get more info at the following places.
1. Wiki.
2. Mailing List.
3. Email Varun.

The first Mobile Monday is scheduled for 22nd April, 2007. Info on the venue and timings will be available soon.

proto.in – Second Edition

March 10th, 2007

Following the success of proto.in version 1, The Knowledge Foundation team is gearing up for the second edition called “proto.in Summer Edition”. The time ahead is damn exciting. You can get more information from the proto.in website. If you had attended the first edition proto.in and you have feedback to give, please mail us at admin@proto.in.

Sponsorship kit, media kit and other necessary items are on their way. They should be out in a couple of weeks. Preparations have started way ahead this time… Let wait and watch about how this event turns out to be.

Sun Tech Days & Wikicamp

February 26th, 2007

Yay! the last week was easily one of the most exciting weeks for me. Three days at Hyderabad, for Sun Tech Days, was 3 days well spent. Met a lot of cool people from Sun and more importantly, Moyeen and myself provided some tips to some Hyderabad based college students who wanted to do their final semester projects on their own; using java and ofcourse netbeans.

Here are some cool things that happened at the conference:
1. There was a netbeans contest stall on day 1. Moyeen and myself participated and completed the given tasks right on time. We won the contest with full score 😀
2. On the second day, right after the keynote and before the java jacket give away, we were called on stage (audience > 4000) and given a small kit that contained an ultra cool netbeans t-shirt, netbeans ide field guide, some dukes (duke is the mascot for java) and some sun bucks that were supposed to be exchanged at the stalls for more goodies.
3. Day 3 had me unexpectedly flying without wings :-). I’m a fan of Geertjan’s blog since a long time and yup! I met him and had a short chat.
4. He got my tech blog URL, visited there and made a post on converting this two minute web browser into an app that is integrated into the netbeans platform :)
5. Finally, met some of my own college juniors… was shocked to see a girl in the gang though 😀 cos’ most of the times its an all-guys show. Kudos to the girl who has shown interest in technology.

Wikicamp was an astounding success :D. It went on very well. I loved the way Jimmy Wales moved around with the crowd. Considering the popularity he has, its surprising that he is so unassuming and was always willing to join the fun, which ended up being many of us showcased in this article by The Hindu. I wasted no time in networking with the attendees, which at the end of the day proved very valuable. Photos of wikicamp.

Thus, comes to end, an excellent week. Have fun !

India’s first Wikicamp

February 3rd, 2007

Yes!!! The Knowledge Foundation team that was behind the success BarCampChennai, Blogcamp and proto.in is now organising India’s first Wikicamp 😀 and you know what, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia is attending the event.

When: Feb 25, 2007
Where: Tidel Park, Chennai
More Info: http://www.wikicamp.in/

Thanks to the BarCamp phenomenon. It has transformed Chennai into THE happening place for technology.