April 20, 2009

Rocking - A fitting adjective for the day

When I got up in the morning, not looking my best, I never thought that this 19th day of April, 2009 was going to get etched so deep into my memory. Unexpected, as it was, made us realize the place the department hold in our hearts. It was an amazing adventure and drove us crazy; crazy with fun and laughter.

It was going to be just another 'exam time' day and we were supposed to study like hell. The twist began with a phone call which invited us to the department for a 'puja'. We were to go there, have 'prasad' and 'shanti jal', come back and get busy studying. This was just the beginning. On reaching the department we learned that it was our dear Vinod's(Macha) birthday(Happy Birthday Vinod). So after a round of GPLs and us singing' the'  birthday song for him,  Vinod was pestered with requests for a treat to which he couldn't but agree. In comes the idea of sugar cane juice and we were off to have it. Campus main gate is the place where one can get these delicacies for a very nominal sum. That was the place of origin of the second , so unexpected, twist.

After being acquainted with the goodness of Vinod, we were just hanging out, taking photos, whiling away time with random chatter, not to forget the teasing people and couples act. Put simply, we were having loads of fun. Suddenly, not satisfied with the 'ganna' treat, Pratik came up with a proposal for Rohit. Rohit is the guy who cracked IIM L and is currently the departmental topper. Pratik, soon backed by everyone else, managed to get the ball in Rohits court, the timing and placement being insurmountable. Within the next half an hour we were off for an awesome treat at DI. Food was good and varied and so were our activities. People were being characterized by songs being sung exclusively for them. Hardik and Durga, for the most part, were the bull's eye for our mischiefs. The treat ended with Rohit footing a huge bill and Abhik, later Aniket  too, managing to entertain us.

The squad then moved to Suhatta where we had another bunch of photo sessions and a stunning performance by Sandeep. Time for yet another unplanned treat. This time it was Saumya, who was apparently 'chaapless' . "Soft Drinks for all", was what Pratik shouted at the highest of his voice. What an IDEA sirji. I was really late to realize that Suhatta could be such a fun place. How stupid of us to have missed such a good spot. Though we were really enjoying the cool of the centrally air conditioned lobby, it was getting late for the IPL match and there are people who would rather miss a Megadeth concert in order to watch a cricket match. So we set out again but this time the destination was 'Hostel Sweet Hostel'.

Stop stop stop. Did you expect our amazing day out to end so early. I hope not, cause there is more to come. 'Nimbu Pani nahi piya to kya kiya'. If you haven't got it till now, guess who was the next scape goat. and it wasn;'t even my birthday and if I remember correctly, the last job I cracked was almost a year ago. Still thank you, thank you for welcoming me and Suraj into the wonderful group of 'treaties' or 'treaters' or whatever you call them. Atleast we got off easily. The bill was only 205 INR. Phew. Chilled by the iced drinks, the entourage kept going. Next stop, Campus main gate, back to where it all started. A few clicks here and a few clicks there and it was already time to part. Someone ws proposing an ice cream treat but then again we already had too much, so that didn't pull off. We gathered near the fountain, full with live saving/taking water, for some more snaps. We were enjoying like crazy while parents of WBJEE examinees were staring surprisingly at us. Aniket was asked to end the day by some wonderful words of his. He is a great orator and what he said become the G-Talk status message for majority of us including me. Going by his words, I would like to think forever that "This day is the first of many celebrations to come" and that there will be no "Last celebration". We shall and we will keep celebrating and keep on enjoying together for the years to come till unforeseen future( read whatever you want to)  may part us. As the itle of this post says "Rocking" is the fitting adjective for this day.

April 10, 2009

Interactive Fedora Know How Session

Yesterday, 9th April, an interactive session was held at NIT Durgapur. This was planned as a follow up to the previously held install fest and was mainly aimed at making people familiar with the various contributing avenues besides being a problem solving session for the attendees. This was also going to be a first speaking opportunity for two of our junior LUG members. One was Vikas Singh who was supposed to speak about common configurations and package managing using rpm, yum and another was Roshan Singh gave demonstration of IRC and mailing lists.

Publicity was done well. Posters and notices were put up everywhere. Announcements were also made on various mailing lists. This session was going to be similar to the session done by Kushal Das last year when he came to our college along with three other ambassadors from Durgapur.

The session was to start from 6:00 pm and people started arriving. We finally started the session at 6:30 pm. Around 25 people were present there out of which almost 20 were new faces. It was exciting to find so many new people interested in FOSS. The session began with package management. Yum and rpm were demonstrated. Dependencies were explained. Then it came to basic configurations like proxy settings, samba, SELinux etc., which needed to be done to make ones Fedora system universally usable. The various important packages and codec packs were named. Packagekit was also demonstrated. Vikas also did a good job in showing the local language desktop and keyboard layouts.

Roshan was next and and he demonstrated IRC and mailing lists, starting with IRC. Thanks to www.mibbit.com for being there to help us out as IRC client do not work in our college due to firewall. He showed how to join the various channels like #nitdgplug, #dgplug, #fedora-india, #fedora etc on freenode.net. He even pinged Sankarshan da telling him that he was on a big screen in front of future FOSS contributors. Sankarshan da waved at the people. He also demonstrated other stuffs like nick registration, nickserv commands, whois command and etiquette of talking on IRC and mailing lists. Next came the mailing list and people were shown how to join a mailing list. They were also told about the various mailing lists like fedora-list, fedora-india, nitdgplug etc. The redhat mailman index page address was also given to them.

I was next and started with installation from source. The steps were explained to them in details and debugging flag was also illustrated. After that came the very important thing of bugzilla. They were explained what a bug is and how do detect it. GNOME Bugzilla was shown to them, how to search bugs, how to file bug reports were parts of it. Bug triaging was also demonstrated with a gedit bug. The various links were given to then. Redhat Bugzilla was also shown. Then came the time for Fedora project contribution guide and they were told about the various sub projects, what are their roles and how to join them. Artwork, Peoples' person, localization were a few that were mentioned. live.gnome.org and code.google.com were also shown to them since upstream contribution was the theme of this session. I also told them about Linux Chix project and the girls seemed pretty excited about it. I also mentioned the wonderful site by Shakti Kannan. That was almost all of it.

I called upon Debayan to conclude the session by sharing his experience as a FOSS contributor and he did a good job in motivating the people present. He told them about planets and showed them planet-floss India. He ended the session with the I am Linux contest videos and the new motto that came up in our mailing list "Just do it because you can".

The session seemed to be pretty productive one and only time will tell us if we actually moved the people's hearts. The various links given to them were as follows:


Fedora stickers were in abundance which were distributed to the attendees and extra were given to them for distributing them to their friends. Since then I have noticed some new people on the mailing list and the session seems to be successful but this is too early to say something like this. Hope it helps the FOSS world and in turn the world.

April 2, 2009

First IOTA Teachers' FOSS Training @NIT Durgapur

This semester has been full with loads of events. Cultural and Technical fests swept past with high speed. Seminars, parties and so many different kinds of them. But last weekend something happened that was a first of its kind for our college. But before that let me tell you that NIT Durgapur is a IOTA resource centre an is the third of it's kind. IOTA offers courses on Basic Linux and Open Office. It is a program of West Bengal Govt. and is aimed at improving the training and support scenario of Open Source Softwares.
The program, organized by IOTA Cell, NIT Durgapur, was a three day training program, from 27th to 29th March, for school teachers. It objective was to introduce Linux and various Open source softwares available and consisted of training sessions to make them able to use FOSS in their day to day use. Around 75 teachers from various schools in and around Durgapur an Burdwan registered for the program.
First day was dedicated to basic computing concepts like software, hardware, open source, linux etc and acquainting them to the various flavours of Linux and applications available in the open source area. Some amount was also dedicated to GNOME, KDE, and basic usability. This was done over three sessions spread throughout the day and were taken by Debayan, Shreyank, Kaushik Nandy, Roshan Singh and Amit Daga. Fedora, Open Suse, and Ubuntu were demonstrated to them.
Second day started with the instructors demonstrating the Linux installation process and helping the teachers do the same on the computers in the LAB. This took almost the entire first half. Post lunch, OpenOffice.org basics were demonstrated to them followed by a demonstration and hand on workshop on OpenOffice.org Writer. The lecture stressed on various issues like open document format and compatibility issues with MS Office Suite. Everyone was provided with a hard copy of "OpenOffice.org for Beginners" documentation. All different steps of creating, saving, opening and formatting a document were demonstrated. The enthusiasm of the attendees could be understood from the volume of questions the instructors, which included me and Avishek Basu Mallick, had to answer. The hands on session was pretty productive and we tried to attend to almost all the problems faced by them. Thus ended another very fruitful day.
Third day was rather a continuation of second day had 3 sessions. First one was on OpenOffice.org Calc, second one was on OpenOffice.org Impress and the third one was dedicated to internet basics such as emails, google search, bengali search , groups, web pages etc. All the three sessions were followed by hands on workshops on the topics demonstrated. The instructors were the same as the second day except for Abhishek Gupta and Koushik Nundy. The attendees were pretty excited to find out how easily they can do their office chores with Calc. They simply loved OpenOffice.org. In the end feedback and suggestions were taken on a form so that the program could be improved next time. An almost exhaustive list of Windows alternative applications on Linux, compiled by iLUG-Cal, and a contact details were distributed. THe pictures can be found here.
These three days were a great learning for the teachers as well as for us. We were happy that we could reach such a diverse crowd and have been able to bring them into the world of FOSS, they being teachers can teach others about FOSS. It was a job well done by the IOTA Cell, NIT Durgapur.