Archive for the 'Kolkata' Category

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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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.

Aabida speaks from Bijra High School

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

Aabida Jamadar is a student of Class IX at Bijra High School. Soon after the CASTLELabs deployment at the school on 14 - 15th of November, Kushal shot this interview video. To me, this video really exemplifies what we are trying to do - to reach out, both in terms of technology as well as the more controversial topic of pedagogy.

I had been wanting to work on the post-production and sub-title this interview. Today I finally found the time. Here is the finished video. Many thanks to Kushal for shooting this spot-on interview.

Much of the credits for the success, go to my friends and colleagues from the Ankur Bangla Project, especially Deepayan’s Bangla Archive Project. Kids just love it! :D

Service outage on

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

After serving up over 7+ TB of FOSS content in the month of December so far, the mirror @ WBUT, went down for the first time today. However, like the early-September outage, once again it was the supply of electricity that decided to play hookey.

There has been a major cable fault at the HT transformer on the University campus, disrupting the University’s power supply. Around 2:30 PM, the power was restored temporarily, but there were issues with the load distribution. As a result, the phase the mirror was on, was again taken off-line. Power had to be diverted towards the bio-tech labs, where the incubators needed power to prevent the microbial cultures from going into thermal shock.

The latest update is that repair work is going on emergency basis and services to the affected phase is expected to be restored by mid-day tomorrow. We hope to be back on-line by 1:30 PM tomorrow, or if possible even earlier.

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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A call for help

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

There is going to be an education fair with a difference (Bal Vividha) to be held at Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM) from 6 - 9 December 2007. The program has a strong pro-FOSS agenda.

FWIW, I’m helping WBUT to put up a stall at the venue where we’ll be showcasing LTSP with Bengali / Hindi Desktop and Multi-media Support; AMD Geode based Ultra-Value Clients PCs running FOSS s/w and using just a 12V DC input to power themselves.

I’m terribly short of hands to manage the displays for 4 days. So, this is a general call for help to you all. We need stall volunteers. Anyone interested will be “rewarded” with a quick-n-dirty hands-on experience on LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) technology and cups of coffee and my boring company :P . Interested persons can get in touch with me over phone - 98300-20971 or by email off-list

And I have a bit of exciting information for the last, we (the organisers) have managed to invite OLPC (One-Laptop-Per-Child) India team to come and participate. And so you may actually get to fiddle around with the latest XOs. So, even if you are too busy to volunteer, do come down to the exhibition, it would be rather exciting :D

Volunteers needed to support WBUT-LUG’s InstallFest

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

The nascent West Bengal University of Techology’s Student LUG (WBUT-LUG) is organising its first event - an InstallFest and Hands-on Workshop on Linux Installation of the 25th of August, 2007 (Saturday) from 12 PM onwards. This is most likely the *FIRST* Installfest to be “formally” organised in West Bengal, by students themselves.

Due to a huge expression of interest from amongst the students, it has been decided to hold repeat sessions on consecutive Saturdays, so as to accomodate the large number of students.

However, we need volunteers to assist these new, would-be users.Already Susmit Shannigrahi, a WBUT / HITK alumni and a Fedora Ambassador has volunteered. We need more volunteers for 25th and for 2 more Saturdays after that.

The volunteers can also bring in their own systems. There will be a 2 Mbps dedicated connection, with both wired as well as Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) networks available for downloading software updates.

FWIW, Susmit has already created a local YUM repository for Fedora 7. And we may use Cobbler ( for doing n/w based installs on the boxes.

So, who all are volunteering for the 25th August, 1st September and 8th September 2007? Also, if you know of somebody who may be in CCU during those dates and is interested in helping out, then please forward this message to them.
You can contact me at indradg at gmail dot com

BSNL’s IPTV service to roll out by July in Kolkata

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Mr. Raman Agarwal - the Jadavpur Area Manager of Calcutta Telephones is going to watch today’s Cricket World Cup final on BSNL’s yet to be launched IPTV service. As I sat in his office at the Ranikuthi Exchange, a 21″ Panasonic TV was unpacked, a DataOne connection was installed and tested, next came the IPTV set-top box. It was smaller than an ADSL modem, it’s shape strangely resembled the Nivo from Ndiyo. Must be a coincidence! :-)

The Set-top box had a power-in socket, a RJ-45 socket, an USB 2.0 socket and a pair of A/V cable sockets, of which only one was being used. The box was silk-screened “Digital Dolby”. A remote completed the ensemble. The connection for the TV setup was like phone_line -> splitter -> ADSL modem with 4 10/100Mbit port -> IPTV-to-PAL converter->TV set.

BSNL is converting the digital transmissions from both pay services as well as free-to-air ones into MPEG4 format and streaming them. The proposed service would offer about 110 channels, I watched some 10 - 12 channels today. Plus I tried the VoD (Video-on-Demand) service, currently there are only 4 movies in their library, I tried the first one… it was Arjun Pandit … unfortunately, i was never a fan of Sunny Deol :-P

The picture and sound quality was consistent and sharp, but I did notice a few glitches now and then. This was apparently due to some new network switch being tested at the CalTel HO. The good news is that IPTV can be actually watched on the PC/Laptop without even the STB. What do we need of the computer… just VLC and the IP address and port numbers of the streaming server(s) :D

A look at Kolkata

Friday, April 27th, 2007

I had gone to meet the GM (IT) of Calcutta Telephones for some work. His office is on the 10th floor of the Tiretti Bazaar Exchange which is bang in the middle of central Calcutta… sitting just a few blocks away from the Calcutta Police HQ at Lalbazaar.

The view from the top was rather amazing… it looks so different from what seems like way up there… :-)


The Rabindra Seta (aka Howrah Bridge) can be seen towards the left part of the frame.


The following photo was taken on the road outside while waiting endlessly for the signal to turn green, the buses belching fumes, the 38 degree heat that felt much worse, the builders’ ad promising an affordable, mega-housing project for the middle-class and in midst of all that, the poster of a just release local movie - aptly titled “বিধাতার লেখা” quite literally “The Decision of God!” :-P