inpycon09 the success story

When the first discussions happened, everybody doubted it might become just another conference discussion that will never happen. It has taken the support and sheer determination of quite a number of people to make it happen. We just wanted to try it once, to at least see how the Python community responds to such initiatives and it has ended up being more than encouraging to make this a yearly event. This is the simple story of inpycon09.

When I landed at the IISc campus on a not so chilly morning, the posters were up and I could find a few people waiting here and there in the corridors. When I entered nothing was up yet, other than a few volunteers running around putting posters and direction notices. Slowly people started turning up and I could see more known faces. By 9 AM, there were enough crowd to start the registration counter and soon a long queue got formed.

The conference kit consisted of a notepad, ID tag, a pen and a pycon tee. It was a simple white tee, with a caption in the back. Unfortunately we ended up having a spello in it, which indeed made the tee more special ๐Ÿ˜‰ Halls were fast filling up and when Prabhu Ramachandran was delivering the keynote the benches got filled and people started filling up the foot steps as well. It was a very interesting talk, encouraging everyone to go and give a shot with Python. He had also included his associations with ILUGC and how it helped him. He advised people to become a part of an active LUG. His talk was mostly around SciPy and Mayavi.

As the keynote ended, talks in other two halls started, kicking the normal proceedings of the first day of inpycon. Every hall was running full house and we would’ve had around 300 people attending the conference, especially a big bunch of students of REC, Chennai. Kenneth and Noufal took the Introduction to Python talk, leaving me for the second day. There was actually a balance of talks, not just focusing on web development. And the lunch was really good.

A lot of #linux-india guys had turned up and it was surprising to meet them before the normal foss.in season. The first day ended up quite satisfactorily and gave us hopes for the second day to run smoothly. Though we did not have a huge crowd on the second day, and it being only a half day of scheduled talks, it too went calmly. I took the beginners’ introduction to Python, following by Kenneth taking some advanced topics. There was a white sheet posted with post-it notes to be used to express the feedbacks from delegates and we ended up getting some quite interesting, even contradicting opinions posted about the conference. We welcome the criticisms as it helps us to know our holes and stop it from appearing next time.

On the whole, the beta release of inpycon was a satisfying success, leaving my weekend to have not been wasted and giving us the encouragement to come back better next year, may be in Chennai ๐Ÿ˜‰

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ILUGC Monthly Meeting June 2009

The monthly meeting of ilugc, which usually happens every second Saturday, for the month of June 2009 happened yesterday. There were two talks, Emacs’ org-mode by Ashok Gautham and CUPS configuration in the Configuration Series by Raman P.

As we did not have projector this time, both of them had to resort using the white board, which made them actually finish the talk sooner than expected. Although Raman managed to make the talk interesting by including real life situations he had faced, thanks to his experience, Ashok struggled a bit as his was more a practical demonstration. We should try our best to get the projector for the meet from next time, as well as the speakers should be prepared to do without one.

There was a lot of first timers to LUG meet this time, and one of them is involved in a project developing custom made embedded boards, which they plan to make available for a cost of 3ooo INR so that students can buy and play with them. He will hopefully be demonstrating the board during the next meet, so embedded fanboys mark your calendar in advance.

Here are some snaps from the meeting,

Ashok Gautham during his org-mode talk

Ashok Gautham during his org-mode talk

Raman speaking about CUPS configuration

Raman speaking about CUPS configuration

PyCon India 2009 Discussion #1

DateTime: 03 Mar 2009 9.00 PM (+5.30 UTC)

Location: #bangpypers at irc.freenode.net

The first IRC discussion for the PyCon India proposal happened in BangPyper’s IRC Channel. A large number of Pythonistas participated in the discussion and contributed invaluable ideas, suggestions and concerns during the course of the meeting. To our own surprise, the channel recorded it’s highest ever head count even before the officially announced timings. A quick summary of the topics and points raised during the meeting is as follows,

What?

The important topic of discussion was the theme for the PyCon India. People shared their views on what they wanted PyCon India to be.

  • A few people also raised concerns about using the name PyCon, as the name carries a huge value among the international community and any attempts to even make a localized version of it should stand up to the same quality.
  • The target audience for the conference was also discussed. Most people felt that the need for catering to newbies can not be neglected, but at the same time it’s should not just be a beginner level event as well. The conclusion was more on the lines of addressing the interests of already existing python programmers, let them be beginners, novices or seasoned hackers.
  • There was also a stress on giving importance to Indian speakers as this being an Indian version of the PyCon
  • The rationale behind the conference is to encourage Python and to display how PUGs help to spread Python within India (quoting Ramakrishna Reddy).
  • Baiju suggested having each day of the 3 day conference for one type of audience, the first day catering to beginners with tutorials, workshops and beginner talks; the second day filled with developer talks for audience who are already working full time with Python, and the third day being a code sprint.
  • The next main topic getting discussed was whether to have one talk after another or to have parallel talks running at same time.
  • There was also suggestions to have separate tracks for Python for web, system programming and for developing desktop applications.

When?

While it was unanimously decided to have the PyCon India during the first half of September, a majority vote went to 3rd, 4th and 5th of September leaving out the Sunday for people to get back to their real life. This now becomes the tentative dates for PyCon India, to start with looking up for venues on these days. Depending upon further developments happening on other related fronts, the date will get finalized.

Where?

Again it was unanimously decided to have it this time in Bangalore. Future PyCon(s) might happen in other cities, but the first one is surely to happen in Bangalore considering the fact that BangPypers is leading the effort, as well as concentration of organizing Pythonistas seem to be maximum in Bangalore comparatively (agreed, this is debatable on other fronts).

How?

The later half of the discussion was taken up by what are the things to be done to move forward. It was decided to have a formal CFP being made soon, as well as having an Open Review process for the submitted proposals using the software used for PyCon. Ghose B has been put responsible for getting the software in place, while Svaksha and Ramdas share the responsibility of Media and Publicity.

Other points which popped out during the discussion are,

  • Whether to have stalls? If so who all can be given a stall?
  • Whether to have delegate fees? If so, what would be the ideal fee?
  • Corporate presence during the conference

As this was the first ever discussion on the idea of having PyCon India, no conclusive decisions were taken other than few stances. Each of the above discussed topic will be subjected to further iterative discussions as things mature and progress further.

The next meet of IRC discussion is currently to happen at #bangpypers in irc.freenode.net on 10th March 2009, 8.230 PM IST. If you want to participate in the discussions, please be there. We are open to all kinds of ideas, suggestions, concerns and criticisms. Please feel free to poke us at #bangpypers anytime or drop a mail to BangPypers mailing list.

Even if you are not a Pythonista, please help us by spreading the word among your friends, colleagues, your HR and your company. Some of them might be really interested at some aspect of this conference.

miss it this time

Due to unforeseen circumstances, personal reasons, financial crunch and “leave” reasons, am not going to join the party at FOSS.NITC this time. It was fun last year with pradeepto, kushal, aanjhan, vivek, jace, kiruba, atul, shreyas, tejas, praveen and lot of known faces joining for a promising FOSS meet. This year, a majority of the tribe will go missing. I fear this was mainly due to the postponing of the schedule a couple of times, from feb end to march end and again to april first weekend.

For me with little penny left in my pocket, mother to be taken back home and morally can’t take successive weekends off from work, I mailed them that am dropping off. They felt so bad, am sorry, so did I. Hope you still rock on this year and we all can join you next year. Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

fossconf chennai 2008

Chennai chapter of Indian Linux User Group had geared up for their new avatar as conference organizers. Their long standing stint of not conducting a conference of their own was going to end. The discussions were happening for months, new logos getting designed, new conference management system getting developed. NRCFOSS joined hands with ILUGC and finally Madras Institute of Technology, the premier and historical institution which created leading professionals and world famous technologists like Dr. Abdul Kalam, was selected as the venue.

The conference was focussed on being a platform for first time speakers to come out of their shell and get an experience of speaking in a FOSS conference. Their audience will be a blend of experienced FOSS community members, students and academicians. In addition to just talks, there was also demo stalls as usual. This time, in addition to usual demo stalls on various topics, we had student present their final year projects. This was an opportunity for them to interact people who were doing similar things in their professional life, thereby they could get the valued feedbacks from the community and improve their projects.

The lectures happened in the Lecture hall, while the demo was in Hanger I (where Carte Blanche used to happen every time). Various colleges who have been interacting with ILUGC and NRCFOSS had sent their students as volunteers, participants and delegates. The core volunteer team was formed by the enthusiastic MIT Computer Club students, the one who conduct Carte Blanche every year (supported by ILUGC).

We had around 109 talks spread over 3 days (actually 2 days) and 863 registered delegates, while the registration desk reports the total attendance was above 1500. The attendees were mostly students from colleges and a few from nearby schools, academic community from the participating colleges, a few from the industry and representatives of the community. There were around 10 physical volunteers from ILUGC and another half a dozen from NRCFOSS co-ordinating the entire conference.

The conference formally began at 1.00 PM on 1st February, 2008 and was formally closed with Brian’s talk at 2.00 PM on 3rd February. Though there were few talks without enough audience, the beginner level talks were running houseful. May be the speakers should consider the focussed audience group before selecting what they are going to speak on. Or, may be we had too many of new entrants getting enlightened about FOSS that they choose to stick with beginner talks. We will be careful next time when we accept talks.

Though there were initial glitches and confusions during the first session on Day 1, with a speaker going missing while the alloted room was filled with audience, we managed to straighten up things as soon as possible. We had lots to learn from this experience of conducting a FOSS conference, when the major audience was students pretty new to the topic. There was also some logistic issues due to miscommunication or lack of proper communication channels. But on a whole we managed to walk across the rope, from one end to another without falling down and bruising ourselves.

We had people from few other LUGs attending the conference and they were really surprised to know that the entire show was run and supported by the students, with the LUG just standing behind and giving them a shoulder when needed. They also appreciated the idea of displaying the student projects which were actually nothing but final year projects for their B.E. degree.

What I wish to do now is to join hands with some of my friends (if they like this idea), with the students themselves and help them have a hosting space where they can properly host their projects. This means they will have a version control system, a issue tracker and project management tool and a weblog for them to blog as they proceed with their development. A few, with whom I talked about this, were really interested with this idea and said they will help in this. Hope, I get a few more helping hearts from those who read this post ๐Ÿ˜‰

The fossconf chennai has ended and we are contented of performing to our best, and accept the mistakes we made, taking them as a good learning experience to improve ourselves next time. Thanks for those who supported us, who participated and those who have a shoulder and hand in making this happen ๐Ÿ™‚

live from foss.in

Day 2, 5th December 2007,

Here am, from one of India’s premier FOSS event’s 2nd day. Yesterday was awesome and the Debian/Ubuntu Project Day happening fine. Today am watchdog’ing KDE Project Day along with other volunteers who are helping it to run smooth. I actually see a lot of foss.in volunteers around, making me feel a lot of us are indeed Ks ๐Ÿ˜‰

Being a part of volunteer team had been interesting, with some running around, heavy lifting and more importantly sitting in the registration desk all along half of yesterday. Again, I got the opportunity to meet a lot of guys who I usually see in #linux-india, as well make some new acquaintances. So far it has been really interesting though I have been missing some of the talks on being a volunteer. As the main conference starts tomorrow, we expect more delegates, more talks and more work to do ๐Ÿ™‚

At last I found some power socket to comfortably keep my system running and as every ubunteros does, have started dist-upgrade ๐Ÿ˜‰ With only a few things to fetch, it should be done in another few minutes. Pradeepto is talking about creating the setup for KDE4 development. I tried to svn fetch the source and build kde4 over my system, but some freaking dependency (the required version is not available stopped be in my endeavor. tazz told me that he has found a work around, additionally promising me to write it down somewhere and make it available for others to follow.

Day 3, Main Conference Day 1, 06.12.2007,

Had an amazing day with Main Conference kicking started. Spent my first few hours in the registration desk as usual. As it had rained today and was much colder than previous days, the delegates arrived a bit late. Then catched up with jace and Zope guys on a RDBMS with Zope talk (was really useful as we are trying to do similar thing at work). Went around and helped guys with random stuff here and there. A bit of my butt got burned as no one was manning the Debian stall and some foo guy has taken the place to setup some electronic things all over. Missed baiju’s talk as I got caught in some random stuffs. Now sitting with sankarshan and ramki, with sankarshan making me update the blog ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have two important things from last 2 days to tell about. First is the mess-up at the last talk of Debian/Ubuntu Project day. When we were in the process of finalizing the list of talks, Kart me and few others wanted the “Java Packaging in Ubuntu” talk to be not there as it doesn’t seem to 100% ok for the project day concept of encouraging new contributors to Debian|Ubuntu. But there were a few others who said we need to have the talk as they themselves are Java programmers. So we finally ended accepting the talk (and also we did not have another talk alternative).

What happened in the last few days was the original speaker wasn’t able to attend foss.in and hence he had sent a replacement which we thought was ok. But when I was helping the speaker to get his laptop setup for the talk, I noticed it was running vista. Though I wondered how one can deliver a java packaging on Ubuntu talk over a vista laptop, I did not want to interfere so I silently left the place (so did a lot of Ubuntu-In guys). Later I came to know that the talk was nothing to do with the intended topic was and there was a lot of complaints about it. I heard Kartik has written an apology kinda post, but I think its not just him who is responsible. Though its *us* who had to be responsible for accepting the talk at the first place, but still a Java packaging on Ubuntu talk is not a way to OT or way out of the conference’s purpose. But this turned out to be a good lesson for us to be doubly careful next time when we are with such an opportunity to select something to represent the team in such a premier conference. We are sorry guys, if it had disappointed you, its has hurt you in any way, we are sorry for choosing a wrong talk for such an occasion ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Second thing is about the surprise “K”onqueror party thrown in by Ramki, Sankarshan and co. last night at R-R, Church street. Actually this became a complementary party to the Mozilla party attended by a lot of other guys and the foss.in team. We had a lot of K guys attending the Konq party and as it started to rain, the hot south indian thaali happened to be the right kinda dinner ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks to Ramki for the idea and for adding me in into it ๐Ÿ˜‰ (We guys managed to put ourselves in a single car and go there ๐Ÿ™‚ ) (Hope Sankarshan is now satisfied with me blogging about two things he had asked me to ๐Ÿ˜› )

Will try to keep this post updated along the 5 days, so keep checking for updates ๐Ÿ™‚

Python BoF at foss.in

I was enquiring Baiju about the Python Collective at the Bar Camp Bangalore 5, which is scheduled for this weekend, as I hadn’t seen any discussion about it in the BangPypers list. This is when Baiju asked me about having a BoF during foss.in, which I readily seconded and as per his advice, start the discussion in BangPypers list for the same. And thats why this post comes out.

We plan to have a “Python BoF” during foss.in 2007, organized by BangPypers (the Bangalore Python User Group). The discussions will happen in the BangPypers Mailing List to decide the day and time, after which I will update the tentative date and time here, as well announce it in both BangPypers and foss.in mailing lists. Hope to see a lot of Pythonians at the BoF and interesting discussions happen ๐Ÿ™‚