Archive for the 'Conferences' Category

Upcoming - “System Administration Reloaded” a lecture by Devdas Bhagat on Dec 26, 2009.

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

What : A lecture by Devdas (f3ew) Bhagat, who will be passing through town and was coaxed into giving this talk.

Where : Dept of Physics, West Bengal State University, Berunanpukuria, Barasat.

When : At 12:30 PM on Saturday, 26th December 2009.

Lecture Synopsis - “Most people who end up being system administrators are self taught. There is little formal theory in this field so far. System administration also involves very different sets of tasks, ranging from helpdesk issues to management reports, from wiring to software.

A very large number of people also start off with small numbers of machines to run and few issues to troubleshoot. As the number of machines grows, keeping pace with troubleshooting becomes impossible. Sysadmins spend time firefighting, and then burn out. Hiring is often very limited due to budgetary constraints or simply due to lack of available labour.

This talk deals with the constraints sysadmins work under, and how to work around them so that they aren’t as big a bottleneck. We take a look at the mindset required to do this work, and how to convince management that the solutions you are implementing are cheaper than the alternative. We also take a quick look at some of the solutions available for sysadmins to reduce their workload.”

Speaker Bio

Devdas Bhagat is just another recovering sysadmin, and is currently playing database administrator for a large domain registration system. In his copious spare time, he works with other business units at his workplace to help tune their systems, add business benchmarks and other general monitoring stuff. He has spoken at the sysadmin miniconf at LCA’09 (Linux Conference Australia) on system automation and on DNS benchmarking. He has spoken at various network operator group (SANOG) conferences on spam control, DNS, operational issues, large scale email systems, etc. He has also been a speaker on databases at FOSS.IN and it’s previous avatar, Linux-Bangalore. When not busy working with computers, he spends time in the hills trekking and photographing.

Organised by : West Bengal University of Technology in association with Kolkata Linux Users’ Group (ILUG-CAL.ORG)

BESU, Instruo ‘09 and BigBeard’s talk

Monday, April 20th, 2009

The Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU), the erstwhile BE College, Shibpur, is a venerable institution of higher learning in the country. Unfortunately, of late, it has frequently been in the news, for reason that had little to do with its glorious past of academic excellence. So, when after a large-ish gap, the students there tried to organise their techfest - Instruo ‘09 on 11 - 12 April, efforts were made to support their effort at the climb-back.

Prof Suryasarathi Barat, Director of the BESU’s School of IT (PDSIT), had requested me if I could help them scout for “big speakers”. I did know of one “big speaker” and therefore got in touch with Atul Chitnis (Toolz). With everything in place, suddenly there was the sad news of Toolz’s dad passing away and he having to rush to his mom’s side in Germany. With like 4 days to the Techfest, things could have gone into a tailspin, except that Toolz asked me to talk to Kishore Bhargava (BigBeard).

Kishore was available to speak on the 12th. He was also a great sport, as Kabir (his son) was going to give a recital later that evening which BigBeard didn’t want to miss. He landed up on 11th evening from Delhi. The next day (12th) we landed up around 11:00 AM. Kishore was already there. He’s talk was just before the lunch. Even though the awareness about FOSS in the student community was really low (when asked about having heard of FOSS, only 4 hands had gone up in a room with over 70 students). This is a bit strange as the professors keep insisting that they “have linux in all our labs“. There is some serious disconnect here.

Kishore’s talk was as always - lively. He drew in both the students and teachers, and made the session highly interactive. I tried to record his talk on my E71. The video is here, split up into 5 parts since youtube no longer allows for videos longer than 10 mins to be normally uploaded.

Part 1 of 5

Part 2 of 5

Part 3 of 5

Part 4 of 5

Part 5 of 5

Kishore’s presentation is here. It is under Creative Commons. BY-NC attribution. And if you use it somewhere please send nice “Thank You” to BigBeard :-)

Kishore finished up with inviting students and faculty members to attend this year’s FOSS.IN at NIMHANS. He then took in a series of questions from both students and the professors. The “Top Ramen” guy (Gaurav) seemed to have a lot of questions. One of the resonating queries was “On Windows we have .NET / VC++ to program with, what do we use to do GUI programming on Linux, there are so many choices PyGTK, Qt, Glade and many more?”. Apparently “C-H-O-I-C-E” is something neither the students nor the teachers here are very comfortable with. There is a deep sense of unwillingness to leave aside the cacoon of “imagined comfort of the known“.

We all walked down for lunch at the BESU guest house. There we met with the new Vice Chancellor - Prof Ajoy K Ray. He was very open and has invited us back at BESU for future programs and activities. With a pragmatic view about things, and a willingness to listen to others, it seems that Prof Ray is trying to bring in a new drive and energy about the place. BESU needs it badly.

ILUG-Cal collaborates with IOTA @ Kolkata Bookfair 2009

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Responding to the call for support from IOTA (Institute for Open Technology and Applications), ILUG-CAL.ORG team members did a wonderful job of presenting the case of GNU/Linux and FOSS in general at the Kolkata International Bookfair between 28th Jan and 8th Feb 2009.

Here some of the photos from that event:


From L to R : Rohit, Gaurav, Susmit, Nishant, Mukesh, Shinjan, Sarbartha, Dipanjan, Hemant, Shivam, Debnath, Saikat and me (sitting)

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Update on FOSS activities at NIT Agartala

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I had met Aveek Sen, 1st Year student from NIT Agartala during my keynote at Mukti ‘09 at NIT Durgapur. Since then he came down to visit me at my office. We spoke for some time, where I tried to share some ideas on what they could do at their college. Lack of bandwidth is the bane of their existence. He went back to Agartala and here is what he mailed to me on the progress so far.

I received a very good response in my college. I along with a batch mate Swapnil Paratey, seniors-Sushil Deshmukh, Nagendra, Sarfaraj & Rivu , are organising a seminar on Linux & FOSS on 24th February,2009.

We are also supposed to work on the database management system, website & online ticketing system of an auditorium in Agartala-Sukanta Academy.

As I mentioned earlier, I am planning to work on a nanotechnology experiments simulation software & require your help. Please get me in touch with some people as I would like guidance & certain experimental raw data from them.

Also, please let me know about the repositories in a disc. Sorry, I could not get in touch with Mr.Susmit Sanighrahi. He was unavailable on phone that day & after coming back to Agartala, I was a little occupied. I plan to contact him within the weekend.

I am on twitter now & have my blog on wordpress by the name Aveek Sen’s blog.

Blogging from ODF Olympiad (india) prize ceremony at Kolkata

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Just watched Jaijit from Sun announce the names of the winners from India at the Science City Auditorium. Bright kids all, and also from A-list premier english medium schools.

Nothing’s wrong with that, except they are hardly the kids that *really* need FOSS… I was also wanted to hear the total number of participants this year, but only got to hear the details on webserver logs.

An “interesting” Friday

Monday, September 1st, 2008

The friday dawned cloudy with promises of rain and the TMC brigands…. er brigades, promising to bring the city traffic to a stand-still between 4 - 5 PM. Around 10:35 AM, Susmit and Sayamindu landed up near my house and together we headed down to RCCIIT - a local govt. run engineering college with a whole bundle of equipment - 3 laptops, 1 OLPC XO, 1 AMD UMPC, 1 Intel ClassmatePC, other assorted hardware and freebie goodies like stickers and badges from Gnome and Firefox. The occasion was TechTrix ‘08 - the college’s annual Tech Fest which Susmit wrote about here.

Reached the college, the final 120 meters had to be trudged on foot as the road was all dug up, courtesy a sewage project under implementation. Dipanjan and a few others from the local RCCIIT LUG (which is called a SLUG or Students’ Linux User Group for some reason). There was a power-cut and we were late in starting off the “show”. There were about 85 - 100 students, mainly from the 1st year and a few from the 2nd and the 3rd years, as well as a few teachers. I went up first, it was more of a general introduction to Free & Open Source Software and how it pervades all aspects of computing - from super computers to embedded applications like mobile phones and everything in between. Susmit was up next and he spoke about the Fedora project and how to start using and contributing to it. Finally with time running short, Sayamindu went up with a short but lively talk about the OLPC project.

In about 2 hours time, we tried to give these young students an overall idea about FOSS - using and contributing, trying to share with them the excitement from multi-dimensional perspectives. By the time it was over, the heavens had opened up. So we sat down and finished off the packets of snacks that the organisers had arranged. We ended up discussing with our young hosts what they could do next. Around 1:45 PM, already getting late for a proposed meeting with Tamal-da, we decided to call up a taxi and leave. Dipanjan our principal host volunteered to venture out in the torrential rains and get a cab as we were anxious not to get our equipment wet.

Dipanjan disappeared for 15 minutes and then suddenly came back thoroughly drenched. He informed us that the cab was there, but then very apologetically added that we would have to cross the sewage-cum-storm water canal over a foot bridge as the taxi can’t come to this side (college side) of the canal as the roads were all dug up.

The rains had by then dropped down to a drizzle but the roads were flooded. So, we jumped across large pools of water using slippery bricks as toe-holds and hoping not to skid and to get our gear across as dry as possible. The footbridge turned out to be standard issue rickety construction made of bamboo, over a hyacinth covered water body that looked poisonous in color. We crossed it in a single file and they even charged 50p (about 1 cent) per head as “toll”, finally clambering up the slippery slopes covered with slush from what-nots and finally we got into the cab waiting there for us.

By then it was already late and the spectre of the TMC road blocks looming large and ominous we decided to cut out proposed trip to Tamal-da’s office short and headed into the China Town for some much needed food and a place to hangout for next 3 hours so that we could “ride out” the crazy road blockade enforced traffic snarls.

We decided to go to our regular joint - Kafulok. But on reaching there we found the place’s to remain closed between 4 - 6 PM (we had never come at this time of the day before)… baah!!!!! Having left our taxi, it was now left for us to trudge back through the slushy lanes overflowing with the effluents from the tanneries…. nice touch… even nicer with Sayamindu detailing an even more worse Lake Market during the monsoons… YUCK!!!! suddenly our present situations looked a lot better.

We ended up going to the Hot Wok (very imaginative name indeed ;-) . Since Susmit is a teetotaler, it was left to Sayam and me to polish off a pint of Vodka and a couple of Bloody Marys while Susmit nursed a plain water and a Virgin Mary. That the excitement was far from over was pointed out by Susmit - the label of our bottle of White Mischief vodka ;-)

label on the bottle of vodka

By 7:45 we decided that we should be able to get transport and get back home. And so we got on the 2nd cab we found and headed home without any further incidents.

A meeting with Nick Negroponte

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Amit (Gogna) called me up today to say that Prof. Negroponte will be coming to India in the 1st week of August and that Reliance Communications (ADAG) will be setting up video conferencing around the country on matters of the little green laptop. He has asked me to send him a list of names of the people who can make a difference with the OLPC project in this part of the country.

I’m looking forward to the event to see where OLPC goes from here on.

On a related note, yesterday Kushal had punched in the panic buttons saying the Bijra School’s LTSP system was not working, so I had asked Subhodip and Arindam to do a site visit today and fix the problem. They reported back that it was a dusty and loosely seated RAM problem on the server, which they managed to fix.

Which reminds me that we need to hold a fresh re-orientation workshop at the school soon.

Free Map India 2008 (CCU) - Day 1

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

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Yesterday when Schyuler and Mikel arrived at WBUT, Prof Thakur happened to talk about Chaos and non-linear system dynamics. His words turned prophetic today! :P

Went to the Jadavpur University guest house in the morning to pick up our guests. Turned out that Mikel wasn’t feeling too well… we arrived at WBUT. I had someone go find some ORS for Mikel, he looked close to collapsing.

With Schyuler in the driver’s seat, we started off around 10:15, with a brief 2-minute intro from Prof Thakur. Arindam called up from somewhere en-route to Kolkata in Rajdhani Express, that they would be arriving directly to WBUT from Howrah station. Oishila had managed to secure their accomodation at SN Bose centre guest house.

With Mikel feeling steadily worse, had him lay down in WBUT’s day care centre. Apparently there were no babies in there today. So our big “baby” got to lay down there. Had the doctor come in and check him out. Pronounced it a case of stomach upset.

The workshop was in full-swing with Schyuler explaining the basics and working concepts to everyone. Except for the ILUG-CAL and FSF members, the sheer hands-on format of the workshop was unfamiliar territory for most. Yet when they got to go out with the GPS recievers, most got into the groove quite well.

Some like Santanu Chatterjee, a lecturer of CSE at WBUT and his colleagues, did a wonderfully detailed job of the task at hand, as did Susmit and gang (Subhodip and Arindam)…most importantly others too picked up the thread nicely.

I stayed back at the Uni, as did Schyuler. Urbi from Kalam landed up finally, and we had a nice discussion about how community mapping could find a place in a project like Neighbourhood Diaries. It was interesting to listen to Schyuler outline the idea behind the work he is doing for UNICEF.

We spoke about Free Software localization and the Collaborative Contents Network program which I’m trying to drive since the last couple of months. Urbi expressed a strong interest in having a localized blog setup for Neighbourhood Diaries project. We are planning to sit down with Bishan (Samaddar) shortly to discuss further on this.

With everyone coming back in with their collected data, we proceeded to the lunch. Checked in on Mikel, he was sleeping. We got some “cheerey” (pounded rice flakes) for him. Just what the good doctor ordered, in case he should wake up feeling hungry. The sessions got underway, post lunch.

That where things become more interesting for me, the actual plotting of the collected data and correcting the errors, including the lack of data in some cases. In between, I managed to bug Schyuler several times with questions like accuracy of GPS readings, the atomicity and transaction control of the data upload process, the strength of the developer community and OSM community processes in place for revision control and collaboration.

Once the proxy settings for java were in place, every one played around with the data and we got the first OSM gps data for Kolkata online. By 5 PM most of the participants were ready to call it a day. Only a handful, about 7 people stayed back for over an hour discussing in details and asking questions. Mikel woke up and announced he was feeling hungry. So it was washed “cheerey” with salt, sugar and Kinley bottled water for him… he had it sitting on the Day Care Center bed :P

Since both Mikel and Schyuler were not happy with the things at Jadavpur University guesthouse, after a bit of head scratching, we hopped over to Hotel Sojourn (”Ho-tell Sujon” in local speak). We were lucky to get accommodation for the night. Both of them were happy with the room. Tomorrow of course we have to look for new lodgings for our two speakers. Ah well!

A city kid’s reaction to OLPC XO and other stories

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Day 2 and 3 from Bal Vividha

A small video of the reactions of a young city-based kid to the OLPC XO. The editing, subtitling and title card creation was done using Kino and Gimp. The video was shot using a Canon Powershot A610 digicam. This is my first attempt at doing something like this, so rough edges and bad technique is to be expected :P The uploaded version has loss of details, thanks to conversion and compression, it’s not *this* bad in the final edited version on my lappy.

A slightly older lad (studying in Class VII from the South Point High School) can to our stall, and played a nice game of
on one of our CASTLE Labs terminals.

Among other things, Lipika Bansal from Waag Society, Nederlands came around to the stall. She was very interested in knowing what we were doing. She wanted to visit Bijra to see what we were doing. It was a lovely exchange of ideas. She shared with me details of several projects that Waag was into at present. I particularly liked the idea of the experimental Scottie

On the last day of the exhibition, Satabdi and Debamitra from AID India came over. They too wanted to go and visit the Bijra High School project site. Probably we’ll all go for a visit on Tuesday (the 11th).

Mr. Arup Chakraborty - a member of ILUG-CAL.ORG and a key person with the Kolkata efforts of Indian Assn. for Blind Persons, came down as well, along with a colleague. They are presently using Orca screen reader and are interested in getting it to work with Bengali Unicode text. They have expressed a keen interest in closely working with ILUG-CAL in setting up a training program for the visually challenged persons in using Free and Open Source Software. We all agreed to establish a base-line reference for the program within December 2007.

Bal Vividha drew to a close on Sunday, 9th December. Chandita from Comet Media Foundation, Amit from OLPC India and myself, we all sat down for a quick review. We drew up the tentative plans have a program on ICT in Education at Mumbai during the 3rd week of February, 2008.

Day 1 of Bal Vividha

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Today we had our visitors - the kids!!! KGeography, KHangman and the huge trove of games proved to be a _H_U_G_E_ hit. Some kids even asked how to get the net connection going on the systems and how to view movie CDs. :)

The OLPC XOs which were on the first-ever public display in these parts of the world was a major hit as well. I spent quite a bit of time with Amit from the OLPC India team discussing the project’s progress in India and possible plans for West Bengal and the east. In between we went down to WBUT and had a meeting with Prof. Thakur as well.

Also had a nice chat with Lajpat, the guy who volunteered me his Ubuntu lappy yesterday. It was a good exchange of ideas. Also got Parantapa to meet with Jitendra, the lead devel for the Physics engine for the Virtual Lab authoring software from IIIT Hyderabad.

Tomorrow promises to be a busy day. In the meanwhile here are some of the pictures from the first two days.

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