Archive for March, 2007

In a few more hours…

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

… about 5 more to be precise, I should be in Chennai. I’m going there to attend a meeting of NRC-FOSS, and looking forward to meeting up with a lot of old friends who are also attending.

While reading the proposed agenda of the meeting, on the topic of how to encourage more FOSS contributions from India, I couldn’t help but recall this post by Toolz.

Finally on 12V DC

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Yesterday we crossed a milestone. Our NijeShikhi (নিজে শিখি) project demanded that we put together a low-power consuming PC with a 15″ TFT LCD monitor. The whole rig has to be rugged, portable enough toto be carried in a back-pack or on a bicycle’s carrier. The power would come form a mobile 12V DC solar photo-voltaic unit supplied by WBREDA. The unit is to function for at least 6 - 8 hours every day.

The PC part was the easy bit, thanks to all the help extended by AMD India by the way loaning us test units of Geode LX800. We were more worried about powering the monitor. But our experiments yesterday showed that finally we may have all the components in place, although things will go through further design iterations in the coming weeks.

Today I’m supposed to be doing the first, fully functionality, public demo at the Heritage Institute of Technology

Making a sense of life

Friday, March 16th, 2007

I sometimes wonder what I’m doing with my life… FOSS was something I loved using, of using it to help make a difference somewhere. During the last few years I had turned that enthusiasm into a profession. Somewhere in between, the politics of FOSS, the politics of real life, the compromises, the worries about the bottom line, cash flow and the next month’s salary bill etc I was beginning to miss the old days when it was simply about fun.

I would miss the early years of ILUG-Cal when I could volunteer to use my Sundays to install Linux on newbies’ systems. That was way before I counted my time in consulting hours. I would console by telling myself that unless FOSS is a commercial success, it would a losing game in the end, and that this was the path I had chosen with my eyes wide open. But somewhere it was becoming more and more about the business rather than the joy of seeing someone else start to find their feet in the rich world of FOSS.

These days I rarely find the time to individually help someone, but for some time now I have again started albeit in a different way. Sharing my experiences and the possibilities of FOSS with audiences in various fora. I used to wonder how much of that was actually useful. As I was checking my mails today, I found the following e-mail from someone I don’t even remember of speaking with at a Seminar held at Jadavpur University on the 10th of the last month:

Sir I am rajarshi raut a student of jadavpur university.I was highly influenced by your speech on the future of open source s/w in india and have recently procured an ubuntu(6.10).I am happy to say that my system is running smoother than ever before and it has surpassed my wildest expectations.Thank you sir for enlightening us.

It’s exactly unexpected mails like these that help make a sense of the life. I do not know how far this young man will go in his FOSS experiments, but I wish him all the success.

2nd R workshop concludes

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Today was the final day of the 2nd R workshop we had organised (”R for All - An Advanced Tuturial). This time we had less time to prepare, so the participation was a little low at 19, compared to our first programme on Nov 17, 2006 where we carried the field with 26 participants. As usual, Arin (Dr. Arindam Basu) did a fabulous job. That he finds time out for teaching people to use Free Software from his hectic schedule as a surgeon is quite something!

FWIW, since the last month, Arindam has also been acting as a guest faculty at the MPhil in Management programme of West Bengal University of Technology’s newly setup School of Management. He’s teaching computer applications and statistical methods. The interesting part, statistical methods is being taught on R. I do not know of any other MPhil programme in the country where R is being used as teaching platform. It just one of our small ways of pushing the envelope further for Free and Open Source software.