Crusade

Sometime back, I wrote a post about how I got inspired by a lady in upholding traffic rules. I actively took upon myself to do my bit in this regard. Just today, traffic came to a standstill due to the rains. My usual commute by bicycle took me an hour and half, as opposed to 35 minutes. I encountered 3 individuals, whom I told off for riding on the footpaths with varying responses:

Person I:
I was blocking the area from where bikers could get onto the footpath. This guy repeatedly honked at me, after which I pointed out that it was a footpath. I told him that I would not budge no matter what he does. The guy forced out a way, not caring whether he hits my bicycle or tramples over me. He rode over the footpath, and got stuck in the jam a few meters away(which is what these idiots often do).

Person II:
This guy knew what he was doing was against the rules. I shouted out to him. He replied ‘I know that I am riding on the footpath. I know that it’s wrong’. He just sped away. These people are the most dangerous. They know that it’s wrong, and still do it. This guy really infuriated me.

Person III:
Same situation as with Person I. I had the following conversation;

Me: That’s a footpath.
Him: So?
Me: You know it’s against the law.
Him: I am getting late.
Me: So am I. Do you see me riding on the footpath? I am not even obliged to follow traffic rules.
Him: This is India
Me: That is irrelevant.
Him: Look to your right. People riding on the footpath.
Me: Don’t justify. I will try and stop them as well. I am taking photos of their plates and will send to Traffic Police for action.
Him: <looks surprised> Ok. Fine

Signal turns Green

Me: Thanks.

The third conversation was interesting. I really hope that the guy respects pedestrian rights. Now, it is time to start a campaign. I will carry my cellphone with me when I ride, and take pics of those violating traffic rules, such as jumping a signal, or riding on the footpath, and tweet to Bangalore Traffic Police for them to take action. I sincerely hope others do the same and report the transgressors to the traffic police. It’s time to end this menace, and bring some semblance of order to the already clogged up traffic.

The Lone Warrior

It was a normal day at work, and I was riding back home. The traffic was busier than usual, and I was getting stuck at many signals. At one particular signal, I saw many motorcyclists using the pavement. This was nothing new, and is quite common in Bengaluru. What followed certainly was new. An old lady, probably in her mid sixties told off two guilty motorcyclists. When she them ignoring her, she stood in the middle of the pavement trying to stop others, shouting ‘I WILL NOT LET YOU PASS’. I stood there transfixed staring at this Gandalf incarnate, not knowing what to do. I thought of helping her, by blocking the other half of the pavement, but by the time I got off my bicycle, the lady had moved on, and the signal had turned green. Throughout my way back, I was thinking of the old lady…the lone warrior trying to make a difference in her own little way. Her effort may have proved futile, but she did inspire me to not look away when I see something wrong happening, especially if I can help prevent it.

The Power of Open Source Communities

This week, the open source world was rocked by Groupon staking claim over the GNOME trademark. The GNOME Desktop Environment, supported by the amazing community has held the right to the name since more than a decade. It was quite shocking to know that Groupon being large organization with a legal team could be so ignorant (or apathetic). They were filing 28 trademark applications for ‘GNOME’.GNOME came out with a strongly worded article on their blog protesting the move, and the whole open source world (yes…not just GNOME) came out to their defence, donating to help counter the move by Groupon. The intense pressure paid off, and Groupon decided to drop their interest in GNOME.

This is a massive win for open source in general. It was heartening to see that open source organizations united to defend the GNOME community. This brings to mind one image which Ralf Flaxa shared at the openSUSE Summit, about how open source communities are perceived from the outside world.

Open Source Communities

Instead, we are just one big happy family :)

I recently attended Open Source India at NIMHANS Convention Centre, Bengaluru. I was quite disappointed by the conference, which claims to be the biggest open source conference in Asia. Though the talks were really nice and informative, I felt they focussed too much on the industry using open source software. They left out the most important aspect of the Open Source Movement: THE COMMUNITY. There were no talks which discussed on how people could contribute to open source communities. What I love about open source conferences is how people from different communities get together and brainstorm about what works and what doesn’t. This aspect was totally missing. Instead, what we got was a bunch of people talking about how they are giving back to the community. I expected more from a conference of this scale.

Upgrading from openSUSE 13.1 to openSUSE 13.2

openSUSE 13.2 is out and gets a host of new stuff. Right from new desktop environments (KDE, GNOME, MATE…its got it all), there is plenty of stuff to write about. For those running on openSUSE 13.1, upgrading is pretty simple and takes only about 20 minutes.

1.) Open Software Repositories from YaST
2.) Disable all the unnecessary repositories (keep only OSS, debug, update repositories)
3.) Change the 13.1 in the Repository URL to 13.2
4.) Open Terminal. As root, run ‘zypper refresh’
5.) Once the repositories are refreshed, run ‘zypper dup’
6.) Go through accepting some licenses. Let the magic run

This should upgrade the system from 13.1 to 13.2. Have fun :)

A Truly Asian Summit

What a conference!!! openSUSE Asia Summit was unforgettable. The whole event had an amazing feel to it, and I had a rocking time in Beijing. openSUSE really has one of the best and most helpful communities, and the people are amazing. I had the pleasure of interacting with the active organization community. You guys absolutely rock!!!

Here are some of my experiences, and things I learned at the conference:

A little history:
The beginnings of the summit go back a year to Thessaloniki, where the idea of the Asia Summit was first mooted. Due to time constraints and clashes with openSUSE Summit in the US called for the event to be shifted to 2014. I had interacted with Sunny and Max in Thessaloniki and loved the idea of having an openSUSE event in Asia. At oSC14 in Dubrovnik, it was more or less confirmed that the summit would take place.

The Organization Team:
I joined the organization team a little late. The others had already done a lot of the hard work. I helped around a little with the invite letter and the promotion of the logo contest, and trying to find people to help around with the artwork. The opening session, where we welcomed the attendees in our native languages was cool. Also, Sunny’s speech in the beginning, which took us through the past one year was memorable, and I still remember each and every word of it.

I would take this opportunity to thank the openSUSE.Asia Summit
organization team. Today, now the openSUSE.Asia summit has started,
I’m reminded of the journey we took to get here.
I can not forget our weekly meetings, which often lasted to midnight.
I can’t forget 137 cards in trello for the preparation tracking.
And I can’t forget hundreds of emails about the Summit in our mail
boxes.

When we were on the way to reach this summit, we encouraged and
supported each other. Even though we were tired, we never gave up,
because we did believe we would finally be here. It is my honor being
a member of such a great team!

There are 17 people in the organization team, I won’t list everyone’s
name because we are a team, and we couldn’t have make any success
without each of us.

-Sunny

The organization committee did a fantastic job with the event and everything was planned to perfection. I would love to work with you all to host openSUSE Asia Summit next time as well (hopefully in India ;) )

New things:
I absolutely loved the concept of ‘Chops’ where the workshop speakers would put a lovely ‘Geeko’ stamp on the brochure for the participants for the performance in the workshop. More than judging the performance, it gave us a good chance to interact with the attendees and have a lot of fun in the process. The gifts for the speakers and for the chops were great and well thought out. Personally, working with the organization team was very fruitful and I learned how an event of this scale is organized from the ground up. Additionally, being a room coordinator was a novel experience as well.

The Event:
To put the event in a single word: memorable. It was a very well conducted event and the speakers did a great job. The workshops and talks were conducted both the from the point of view of newbies as well as seasoned contributors. I particularly liked Richard’s opening session where the direction that openSUSE (with respect to Factory and Tumbleweed) is taking became clear. There were workshops on Bugzilla and OBS which were really helpful for getting new contributors involved.

Talk is Cheap. Show me the Code:
This was the single biggest lesson I learned during conducting my sessions. While taking the Qt Workshop, I was talking about basic object oriented concepts like Inheritance. The attendees (mostly students from the university) gave me a blank look. I was not sure whether they understood me or not. I ultimately decided to show them some code. They understood that. At that point I realized that there is one universal language that we could communicate with: CODE. That made the job a whole lot easier, and the rest of the sessions went well. I also made some ‘brilliant’ errors during the workshop, which demonstrated some or the other concept with respect to Qt. Overall, had a fun time conducting the workshop.

Food:
Being a vegetarian, I was not sure how I would survive in China. I absolutely indulged myself and tried out plenty of stuff. I have never eaten so much in a conference than I had in Beijing. Thanks to the awesome community guys, specially David who helped me a lot in finding out things to eat. The food was amazing. I can safely conclude that the Chinese take their food seriously. Plus, I learned how to use chopsticks properly. Thanks ftake for that ;)

China and Sightseeing:
This was one trip where I did not do much sightseeing. I had talks for both the days and could not spare the time. To my dismay, I found that visiting the Great Wall requires a full day, and I had just about 6 hours to spare. In the end, I just visited the Forbidden City and the Bird’s Nest (Olympic Stadium). I should have made my travel plans a little better and stayed an extra day.
I found Beijing to be an excellent city. I managed to get around pretty comfortably on the subway despite the language issues. I found the subway system quite effective and very cheap (2 Yuan is dirt cheap). The only problem I faced was the air pollution, which was a little unexpected. Other than that, the people were amazing and really helpful.

TSP:

Thanks to the openSUSE Travel Support program, that I, and many others got to attend the event. It is really an amazing program, and I hope that contributors use it very effectively.

Geckos at Beijing

oSA14

Geckos are taking over China, at the openSUSE Asia Summit to be held this coming weekend in Beijing. It is the first time that an openSUSE event of this scale is being held so far east of the Geeko Meridian. The organizing committee has worked their socks off for the event, and things are shaping up well. The schedule is ready and their are some great talks lined up. Overall, it promises to be a great event. As for me, I am going to speak about the Google Summer of Code, openSUSE Activities in India and a workshop on the Qt Framework.So, see you in Beijing ;)

http://summit.opensuse.org

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GSoC 2014 Experiences

Whew…Another Summer of Code done with. New experiences, Lessons learnt, a lot of code became mainstream. Overall, an excellent program. So, here are my experiences for this years program:

1.) We participated with ownCloud, Zorp and MATE desktop. I personally think participating with other organizations is a good think and fosters collaborations between the open source communities. It is something we expect to continue in future versions of the program.

2.) As opposed to previous years, all our students managed to complete the program successfully. Their work was praised by the community as a whole. A big Thank You to all the students for their awesome work, and specially to the mentors who keep the wheels rolling.

3.) Me and Manu tried to address the shortcomings of the previous year. We decided on two ‘rules’ for selecting students

– All students must be vouched by a professor (to try and solve the problem of disappearing students).
– All students must send weekly update mails to the opensuse-project mailing list.

The first proposal was met by stiff opposition by some mentors. We even discussed this on the gsoc-mentors mailing list. While well intentioned, I admit that we did not expect many things. We assumed it would be as easy to get a vouch from a professor in Europe and the US as it is to get in India We realised much later that professors don’t have the level of interaction with the students as they do here in India. We scrapped the rule. The original problem is still not solved, and though we have not been hit by it this year, we are open to suggestions on how we can address this problem.

About the weekly mails on the mailing list, I feel it was a good decision. While students may feel that it is excessive ‘red tape’ and totally unnecessary (blogs and project specific ML’s serve well enough), it does help us in the off chance that something goes wrong. We had some experiences in the last edition and felt that it was better to enforce it as a rule. Additionally, it gives community members to provide feedback and improves the visibility of the student’s work.

4.) A lot of work done for openSUSE. Projects such as TSP (Travel Support Program), OSEM (Open Source Event Manager) benefited a lot from the program.

5.) This year, Google is celebrating its 10th anniversary of the program, and having a reunion meet for the same next month. Dominik Bamberger and Artem Chernikov are going to represent openSUSE at the summit.

6.) Mentoring is a tough job and it takes a lot of the mentors time. Henne pointed out that the program is not so rewarding to a mentor, and that we could incentivize mentoring. A lot of ideas were bounced around and we hope to work on them as well.

Lastly, I will be speaking about the Google Summer of Code, and our own experiences at next month’s openSUSE Asia Summit (Yay!). So for this year, over and out :)