Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Fedora Installation Workshop in Ranchi

Fedora Installation workshop was organized at Ranchi, Jharkhand, India on 23 April, 2017 to introduce Fedora OS to local students and computer users. The workshop was conducted by Mohan Prakash and was attended mostly by undergraduate students. Fedora DVDs and stickers were distributed. The participants used Fedora Live and also installed Fedora on their machines. Mohan Prakash spoke about important packages shipped with the Fedora DVD and introduced different websites related to Fedora.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A book for all software engineers that changed the way I worked

This book changed me, my attitude, my way of approach towards things and much more all about which I can only feel, not say much. The name seemed weird at first : "i want 2 do project. tell me wat 2 do" by Shakthi Kannan. But as I went through it, I felt, I should have read this before. It is actually a crux of all the experience and practices developed over the years by great engineers in the world of programming. Practices that may seem trivial but actually matter a lot. Practices that may bring out the best out of a person and help him or her learn to the fullest potential. Seldom we have a code of conduct, a book of behavior and practices and we suffer as the person before us in professional world just thinks, "look what do we have here, a joker and a nuisance" and we are rejected silently or in verbose. Matters end sadly but surely.
Shakthi Kannan has provided us with a short and effective guideline on how to act, behave and pursue things in the world of programming.
The book starts with a simple advice to call people by their first names and do not be carried away by emotions as people might tell you something that you don't like. Stick to your job and focus on learning because shying away or feeling sad for some comments will only make you a loser. Then the book discusses a notion that simply a student having a degree does not guarantee his being an engineer. This may seem obvious to us but most of us think very boastfully of our degrees (at least I had that kind of an air) and pride ourselves as software engineers. Here the book plainly states that,  ". . . you can not buy knowledge" and rightly advises to be a prolific reader.
It outlines the practice of writing in mailing lists. There are illustrations about how to write the subject, how not to write in short forms, how to avoid writing in all caps, how to respond inline and trim the contents appropriately. The book discusses about how to link to a mentor. It stresses the importance of stating the problem precisely and not to make orders. It highlights the importance of selecting the right job, the right person, the right tools at the right times. A very important thing that most of us often forget and easily neglect is our replies to our mentor. The book states that no reply or late replies imply that you are not interested.
The book talks about various communication tools like the wiki, rss, irc, mailing lists, telephone, chat and spells out their properties. It urges the reader to select the right tool for the right purpose. The book also urges the user to go through search engines, ask on the mailing lists, ircs, and other places before asking the mentor a particular question. Truly that way, the question becomes more precise and becomes easy for the mentor to help and address.
The book highlights the importance of learning good English as this is the main mode of communication in the software industry. One must try his or her level best to write correct English and at least do a spell check before sending in things to others. If English is weak, it becomes essential to learn the language up to a minimum level first.
The author stresses upon regular communication with the mentor and team members of the project from time to time. He also demonstrates about how to ask a question to the mentor, not be blunt about it and ask a precise question. He highlights a very important point that I always felt short of, that is do work on regularly basis and not in the last minute. Regular jobs can be checked and corrected from time to time.
Last but not the least, the author tells us not to make any assumptions and always give proof of our statements. He says that we must never hesitate to ask when in doubt. We must always make sure that we have understood because remaining in silence gives the impression that we have understood. Our hesitation or wrong way of communication may jeopardize the entire exercise of the project. The discussion ends with a wonderful quote from the great Napolean, "Impossible is a word only to be found in the dictionary of fools".
Ever since I have read it, I have recommended it to others, my colleagues and my students. And I am sure that any one of you who goes through it will also change the way you think and behave. 

Friday, 9 December 2016

Using Scrapy to crawl websites

A wonderful tool Scrapy came to my notice that can be conveniently used to crawl websites. It has many good features and I tested it successfully on Fedora 25. I am using it currently to do a bit of data mining and data analysis.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Fedora Friends: unique experience in FUDCon Phnom Penh

It was a wonderful experience meeting great folks at Phnom Penh during the FUDCon organised there last month. With some I was already acquainted with from the FUDCon at Pune. With others it was the first meeting. During the event I got to know another wonderful side of Open Source Projects in general and of Fedora in particular and that is the wonderful friendship that develops between collaborators and contributors. Sitting together, encouraging each other, helping to learn and many more things that might seem trivial but have tremendous importance in this selfish world. You won't even know that you are sitting beside and talking to one of the finest engineers of the day. And even if you know very little, there is no inferiority feeling among such wonderful people. It is easy to get haughty and develop ego about the things that we learn and do but not to go that way was one of the biggest things that I took home from Phnom Penh FUDCon.
You should contribute and continue to meet such great folks - I told myself again and again. The talks were great. Rain played spoilsport on the second day, but for me I learnt much and started contributing in areas that I had not touced upon earler. The event ended with the FUDpub and that too was nicely organised with lots of good food, beer and all. There was a sweet telegram group to keep people informed and in touch. And we continued posting in it till we all reached home safely and some continued even after that 😃😃😃😃😃😃

Sunday, 13 November 2016

A Rich Conclave of Fedora Contributers: FUDCon Phnom Penh

It was great to be a part of FUDCon Phnom Penh and that too as a speaker. Only lucky ones do get such a wonderful opportunity. Furthermore, it was an extravagant and rich conclave of developers and users of Fedora. And it was  a rare opportunity for me to meet extraordinary people, prolific contributors and great friends in the making. It was a rare opportunity to sit by them, listen to them and learn from them. Their contributions so wonderful, their talks and workshops so productive and useful. Since there were three parallel tracks running, I could not hear many of the discussions (as one can't participate in more than one place at a time). So I can only admire the talks of Parag Nemade on 'How to Globalize your software', of Alex Eng on 'Zanata: Translation Platform', of Harish Pillay on 'The final balance of Projects and Products', of Robert Mayr on 'News from the council', of Gerard Braad on 'Project Atomic', of Ryan Lerch on 'Portable Dev Environments with Vagrant', of Kushal Das on 'Testting Fedora Atomic Hosts in an automated way' and of Siddesh Poyarekar on 'Hello World: Revisiting the first C program we write'.
These were highly interactive sessions with participants asking many interesting questions. The talks were very helpful and opened up many possible ways of contributing to the Fedora Project. Besides the above talks there were others which I did not get the opportunity of attending as there were parallel sessions working. This was my second FUDCon. The first one was at Pune where I could attend only for a single day. I missed many interesting talks there but this time I could make up for it and learn a lot.
This FUDCon was significant for me not only from the view point of having learnt many things to work with but also due to the fact that I could sit and talk with many important people, the likes of Brian Exelbierd, Harish Pillay, Ryan Lerch, Robert Mayr and Kushal Das. I was absolutely awestruck at the tremendous effort put in by Sirko Kemter and his team in organising the event. Besides there were so many other engineers and contributors like Gerard Braad, Alex Eng, Siddesh Poyarekar, Jens Peterson, Noriko Mizumoto, Parag Nemade, Sumantro Mukherjee, Sayan Chowdhury, Nisha Poyarekar, Estu Fardani, Anwesha Das, Srijan Agarwal and Abhinand. 
The talks were great, the evenings were wonderful, friendship all around and the inspiration to contribute made the event truly memorable for me. There was a sweet telegram group which kept us in contact with each other throughout the event, till we all reached home. And here I am posting in my blog in the honour of this event as something that I will cherish reading long after.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

My First International FOSS Event: FUDCon Phnom Penh

It was a privilege to be a speaker at FUDCon, Cambodia 2016. This being my first international FOSS event was ever more exciting. Right from the day I received the invitation from Sirko, I felt extremely privileged. On reaching the place I found that the event was much bigger than what I had expected it to be. There was a bar camp being organised by the university with over 5000 participants. Simply speaking it was a grand and huge occasion.
My talk started just after the opening keynote and it was on 'Android Development on Fedora'. Android being a popular name and Fedora being a increasingly popular Linux distribution attracted lots of enthusiastic listeners to my talk. The discussion focused mainly on configuring Fedora for Android Development. It covered many programming languages like native code, python, html, java, etc. I also spoke in details about the command line tools and also the IDEs available for this purpose.
The discussion covered detailed aspects like setting environment variables, setting path for JDK, SDK and other things. There was discussion about build tools like ant and maven, about emulators and smart phone devices and about wrappers like phonegap. I showed the audience that everything works seamlessly on Fedora. I would always stress upon the fact that Android development in any form can be done well on Fedora as a Fedora machine can be configured perfectly to achieve these targets. 
Among the IDEs I spoke about Android Studio. Android studio has the gradle building tool.There is intelligent code completion and superb  support for installing emulators. Besides one can go for cloud integration with the help of Android Studio. The discussion covered the installation of different tools related to android development such as the SDK and NDK. A discussion about how graphic designs can be shown using native code and NDK caught the attention of everyone.
Besides this there were many other talks by people from the Fedora community and other participants of the bar camp that were excellent in content and nature. I shall discuss about those talks and workshops in a subsequent blog post and there may also be a blog post talking about my experience and what I learnt from this FUDCon at Cambodia.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Taking home from FUDCon Pune

It was phenomenal what I took back home from FUDCon Pune. Lots of memories, experiences, knowledge, and also a nice swag kit and Fedora 22 DVDs.
It was my first event of the kind and given the experience of previous ones of other kinds that I had attended in the past, there were some apprehensions in my mind. Fedora had sponsored my trip and that was really a big thing for me as I had never met anyone from the organisers in person earlier.
I reached the MIT campus early at 7:30 in the morning and there were people already present there setting up the booths and making arrangements.
The first keynote was amazing. Dennis Gilmore highlighted what's new in Fedora 22. It was attended by a huge audience, about 200. Many questions were discussed. I had a short exchange with a couple of faculty members of MIT Pune about this session. They really liked it but felt that it was a bit difficult for the student participants to comprehend but nonetheless, agreed that it was essential for the developers and users to know such details.
I attended the education panel as suggested by Amit Shah who conducted the discussions. The deliberations covered interesting exchanges about the challenges faced by an educator during teaching things related to open source software. At the same time it was unanimously agreed to take the initiative to bring to students and learners the knowledge, philosophy and benefits of open source software in spite of all the challenges.
The speaker's lounge was another place that really fascinated me. I could meet so many from the Fedora team in person, with whom I only had met over the IRC. There was Kushal Das, my mentor, and also Truong Anh TuanSiddhesh PoyarekarPravin Satpute among the ambassadors. I also had nice discussions with Kazi Nizamuddin a speaker at the conference about his experiences in introducing Fedora among school students.
There were seven parallel tracks running, so I could attend only some of the discussions. Two of the discussions that I really liked were 'Open Security for open source' by Huzafia Sidhpurwala and 'DNF the new package manager' by Parag Nemade. I also attended a nice session by Praveen Patil on Python Powered open source science lab.
My talk on 'Android Development on Fedora 21' was the one before the closing keynote of the day. I have already given a summary about it in one of my earlier posts here. The final keynote was addressed by Harish Pillay and he spoke about a tool that would analyse the development of a FOSS project. It was an important discussion for me and later in the Cocoon Hotel where the speakers were provided accommodation,  I discussed with Harish Pillay about his talk. This was something that I really took back home with great pleasure, it gave me lots of things to work, for my research on engineering open source software.
I really wanted to stay but had to return to Ranchi after the first day of the conference for some urgent work. I heard that the other two days were more exciting than the first. The swag kit given to speakers was truly awesome. (The umbrella is an eye catcher here at Ranchi).
Last but not the least the stay at the hotel was very nice and the cab in the morning was ready at 5 am to help me board my flight in time. (I had put Kushal Das in some bother about the cab timing but he really helped me with the arrangement patiently). Thank you Kushal and Amit. Thank you Fedora for making me a part of your team and giving me such a wonderful opportunity.