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Went in early today to setup stall… found that others (Dr. Rituparna Chaki of CSE Dept, WBUT and other WBUT volunteers and staff) were already there. We didn’t yet have an electrical connection, so Rituparna-di had poked the BITM staff for one. The connection arrived soon enough, but without a proper ground. The OLPC-India guys at the next stall managed to escalate the issue and got it fixed for all. Thanks a bunch guys!
Meanwhile I managed to get hold Mr. Chaudhury, the Curator. He promised me that our flex stands, additional tables that I had requested for would arrive soon. True to his words, things worked out within the next hour or so. In the meantime, I did a quick-n-dirty orientation of LTSP and BN-IN interface for the two volunteers - Ira and Suparna (both ME students). Atanu informed me that one of the 12V DC TFT monitors have gone kaput and so one of the thin-clients we had fetched from untested stock.
Therefore, leaving Rituparna-di in charge, I took Atanu and went back to WBUT for replacements as well as the LCD projector. Unlike the day before yesterday, the driver I had with me today (Rajesh) was a good one who knew the bylanes et al nicely and we were soon at office.
I had planned to be back in 1 hour as I still had my presentation to prepare for my talk in the post-lunch session - “Innovative Experiments in using Technology within Schools”. However it was double of that. All thanks to Oishila and a loose CAT6 jack at WBUT. Somehow managed to fix that and left for BITM again.
On my way back, I got a call from Parantapa (a final year engg. student from BESU). He had come down to the stall to volunteer. It was great to see at least one person responding to my call for volunteers on the LUG list. He was a big help and has promised to come back tomorrow.
Interestingly the first batch of visitors we had at the stall was a group of relatively elderly ladies from Mumbai. Wearing burkhas and speaking only Hindi (with us at least), they demanded to be explained what was on the show. The volunteers were slightly at a loss in handling the group, partly due to not being fluent in Hindi, so I stepped in to the rescue .Turns out the ladies were housewives from Mumbai, on vacation in Kolkata and decided to walk in on seeing an exhibition. But it has to be said that they were very keen on learning all about it.
The second session at the Auditorium, started off at around 2:45 PM. I was to speak on the Bijra Project initiative and my slides weren’t in shape yet. Met the guys from Pratham, they were really interested in the Bijra Project and want to visit Bijra. Nizam bhai who was there, promised them all the help they may need locally.
At the session, there were a total of 3 speakers. Me, Arundhati from an NGO called Pragati and Dr. Jayanthi Sivaswamy from IIIT Hyderabad. I was the first speaker, however my F7 loaded Macbook’s projector display played hookey. When I had nearly resigned to the fact of speaking extempore, a guy from the audience, came up to me and asked if I would be comfy with presenting using his Ubuntu Laptop. Whoa!!! I finished my presentation using his Compaq lappy, he also had the mpeg codecs loaded so I could also play my videos. It felt really nice!
Dr. Jayanthi’s presentation was really interesting, she spoke about and demoed a Virtual Lab Authoring s/w for Physics, written using VC++ and OpenGL, the project being funded by Media Labs Asia. During the Q/A session, when she mentioned that the software would be given to school for free, I quizzed her about the degree of “free”-ness she was referring to. Her answer was straight and simple - GNU GPL. So I requested her to put up the project on sf.net asap as it looked rather interesting and useful stuff. She agreed. Later I got together with her team’s lead devel who is also attending. We exchanged cards and Dr. Jayanthi asked me if she could access some of the young local FOSS talent pools to further develop the software in a collaborative fashion.
The session closed with the screening of a film by Comet Media Foundation. It was a inspirational piece. Rather nicely done in my opinion. The credits screen had one more item was interest. The film was funded by Hivos.
I came back to the stall, and finally had my lunch around 5:45, since visitors’ streams ended up by six, we decided to wrap it up and call it a day. I went back to WBUT for a briefing session with Prof. Thakur, who in return shared with me the details of his meeting at FOSS.IN. Looking back it was a rather fruitful day. Tomorrow I plan on spending some time with the OLPC India team, particularly Amit (Gogna) who has been leading the Khairat pilot in Maharashtra.