Archive for February, 2008

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!

Sorry Miss! But you can’t work in the Incubation Centre at Night!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

“Dear All
You are all aware that this incubator works 24 X 7. However, keeping in view, need for security and efficient working of the Incubator, following guidelines need to be followed.

1. Our office needs to be intimated in writing, if you or your employees stay back after 9 PM.
2. If you or your employees work out of your unit on Sundays and declared Holidays.
3. No lady member can stay back at the Incubator after 9 PM. No lady member will have access to the incubator after 7 PM
4. All Incubates and their staffs must sign-in at the security gate. Alternatively you can handover a list of your authorised personnel to our office.
5. The security has been so advised.

You are requested to co-operate with the security staff

Thanking you,

For Ekta Incubation Centre
Arindam Dutta
(Advisor & Member Secretary)”

We received this cease-and-desist note from the manager of EKTA TBI yesterday. Here is the context, since 24th of Jan, 2008, we (a new setup of which I’m one of the startup team) got a place as an Incubatee in the Ekta Incubation Centre - a DST Govt India sanctioned Technology Business Incubator run by the Ekta TBI Society under the aegis of West Bengal University of Technology

We have 7 hard-core tech employees, two of whom happen to be women and also very good at their jobs. Among other things that we do, we are also in the business of remote support and data-center maintenance. One of our major clients is a large and well-known European data-center company. We need to run a 24×7 operation, something that we had explained when we made our presentation to the Ekta TBI board members. We were accepted and allowed to start our operations under a Service Agreement which outlined the dos and donts. There was nothing about night shifts and women on the staff.

And then there was this!