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Delhi Bloggers’ Meet #30 – Meetup with Shashi Tharoor

By on May 22, 2009 in Personal | 3 comments

Delhi Bloggers’ Bloc conducted DBM#30 on 21st May 2009 at The Attic, Connaught Place. It was convened at such a short interval after DBM#29 because noted author , former UN diplomat and now-politician Shashi Tharoor was in town (silly me – of course he would be in town…he’s in the friggin’ Parliament!). He agreed to attend the event. The venue had space for 60 people, but a little bird told me that only 42 people turned up. While we were waiting for him to arrive, some of us bloggers / twitterers were joking that we would be able to estimate how corrupt Shashi Tharoor is (or isn’t) by observing how late he turned up for the meet. And he arrived right on time! Shashi Tharoor spoke about his impressions of social media (he tweets too) and whatever small role it played during the election process. His campaign manager also spoke about the use of technology beyond Internet, such as automated phone calls. A valid query which was raised at this point was that in the 2004 India Shining campaign, the BJP had automated calls with recordings of Vajpayee played too – and weren’t that successful. The answer was that in this particular case they tried to make the call sound as ‘realistic’ as possible, with ambient background noise (BJP campaign had ‘India Shining’ elevator music playing in the background), pause after saying hello, recording was in Malayalam etc. Which makes me think – if the call was so realistic then why didn’t the voters think it was rude of the bloke at the other end to not have a proper conversation and hang up abruptly. Not all the voters would be tongue-tied, would they? There was a Q&A session which took up most part of the meet. Old people mostly hung around and listened while the youth brigade kept pestering him with questions ranging from ‘effectiveness of the UN’, ‘sequel to his book The Great Indian Novel ‘, to ‘is the Congress party considering listening to feedback on the blogosphere, now that they have an MP who tweets’ (that was me). Shashi Tharoor cames across as a really candid and honest guy saying stuff other politicians wouldn’t have the balls to say off-the-record. As interesting as it was, the session had to be wrapped up because he had another interview scheduled at The Park hotel nearby. Before he left he was gheraoed for autographs, photographs, childhood reminiscences and ‘Parliamentary language’ (read ‘pull him by the kurta and go “No, you answer my question first!”). The gentleman in question had to make a precipitous escape to stay on schedule for his next interview. Photos from Delhi Bloggers’ Meet 30 with Shashi Tharoor are available on my photo...

Photos from DBM29

By on May 10, 2009 in Personal | 0 comments

Photos from Delhi Bloggers’ Meet 29. Fun to meet up with bloggers and twitterati. Must contact Yahoo! Maps / Google Maps to index more places.

Tweetup today!

By on May 9, 2009 in Personal | 3 comments

Delhi Bloggers Bloc is organizing a tweetup today, from 5.30pm to 7.30 pm for bloggers and tweeple in Delhi. Details about the event are available here. Just a quick post to tell that I’ll be attending too and let’s hope to see good turnout there. :)

BarCamp Delhi 6

By on Mar 21, 2009 in Personal, Tech Takes | 2 comments

Been weeks now since BarCmp Delhi 6 was held – on 28th February and 1st March 2009. Not many people seem to have put up photographs, although I did put up whatever few I had from BarCamp Delhi 6. In retrospect, the event took a huge beating in participation due to the fact that it was being held at Gurgaon. Admittedly, reaching the venue was a difficult proposition for many people. But then, we didn’t get any other venue and are glad that MDI Gurgaon helped us out during that time. Read up tweets from BarCamp Delhi 6. Day 1 I reached early in the morning to help set up stuff. Pleasantly surprised to find WiFi working at every room sessions were to be conducted in. Others who had volunteered were Piyush, Jasdeep, Anand, Rashmi, Vaibhav, Deepak, Praval, Honey, and Gaurav (hope Im not missing out anyone here!). Soon enough participants started trickling in for registration. (About halfway through you realize that you might need to miss a few sessions for this, but that’s OK.) Post-registration I decided to attend a session on social media. Most of the action happened after the lunch break (lunch had to be paid this time since we didn’t have enough sponsorship to cover food). Pankaj Jain and Deepak Shenoy gave an update on the financial crisis; as always, the statistics were startling. Shwetank Dixit, Opera evangelist, conducted a session on ‘The Open Web’ concept which Opera has been championing. Rohit Srivastava of Clubhack gave an incredibly obvious (and thus boring) session on Internet security. ‘How to interact with the open source community’ was worth attending after that. I met my friend Animesh of iTasveer and demonstrated a bug in in their shopping cart which makes the browser unstable when a large number of photos are added in Firefox or similar browsers. (It seems to be a Gecko layout engine or JavaScript issue.) The highlight of the day was Pavan Duggal‘s open house interaction session on cyberlaw in India; specifically about privacy issues. He took an ongoing case where an explicit video was shot by some company’s employee using a company-provided phone and one of the parties is now threatening to sue the company because the video has been leaked. Just as in WordCamp the interpretation of law spurred some heated discussions – and talk of hard work and creativity. Pavan Duggal also spoke on the liablity of website / forums owners on content which maybe posted by third parties, ‘legal acceptance’ of terms and conditions, etc. This was the closing session of the day. Day 2 Turnout on the second was visibly much lesser. While day 1 had around 180 participants, day 2 had around 50. Among the volunteers me and Deepak were the first to reach. Eventually people started turning up, so we decided that until there was a reasonable crowd we’d conduct an informal discussion. The bright side is that in these smaller groups a lot more interaction and active discussion can take place. Sessions got off to a late start, with some product demos in the morning. I requested Praval to talk about his journey from being a freelance writer to co-founding MediaRedefined. I was up next with my BarCamp Delhi 6 Quiz. This was primarily a re-hash of some of the best questions from a few of my earlier quizzes. Credit also goes to Espera; I took some questions from her Physics Quiz. (I don’t regret make an un-original set this time, because eventually the audience turned out to be small.) Guru Dutt, an ex-quizzer and alumnus of MDI Gurgaon, walked away answering the highest number of questions (thus getting the highest number of chocolate bars in the process). Lunch was individually bought from the canteen. Again, lots of interesting discussions and networking during the lunch break. Post-lunch, we had an presentation by Abhay on usability testing in India. He gave some interesting anecdotes from usability tests, and those are quite extensive because he does that for the Naukri.com group of companies which own quite a few major Indian web portals. At the end of the day, I really enjoyed being an active part of BarCamp Delhi 6, meeting up so many friends and making news ones. Oh, and there was Twilight Fairy + Sanjay Srivastava’s photo exhibit at Epicentre in Gurgaon (visited that on both days after BCD). Awesome...

WordCamp India

By on Mar 18, 2009 in Personal, Tech Takes | 23 comments

“All your participants are belong to us!” Phew…I finally get down to writing my post on WordCamp India (#wci on Twitter). This was held on 21-22 February 2009 (the first day of WCI was clashing with the second day of freed.in) at the Adobe India office in Noida. WordCamp is conference similar to BarCamp (except for the ‘un’ bit) for WordPress users. The organizers hit jackpot by getting the founder of WordPress Matt Mullenweg himself to come for the event – along with top blogger Om Malik of GigaOm fame. We had free WiFi courtesy Adobe so a lot of us did live tweeting / live blogging there. (Signing on to that network was another story. We all had to read agree to a long EULA, sign up for a guest account on the Adobe network. All pretty cool, when you consider that their network was rock solid.) Guess what? Our collective effort made it the most discussed topic on Twitter throughout the world on both days! You can check out all tweets tagged #wci related to WordCamp India on Twitter. I’ve also uploaded photos from WordCamp India in my photo gallery here (mostly contributed by Prashanth), and you can see photos clicked by other people at WordCamp India here. WordCamp India – Day 1 Reached the Adobe office somewhat late because I had trouble finding where it was. Once you know what it looks like it’s kinda hard to miss because of the funky color scheme the building has (see picture above). The souvenir we got turned out to be…pencils. Now that was a dampner. But they were also giving out WordPress tattoos, stickers and badges. I had one tattoo of Mozilla Firefox on one cheek (from MozillaCamp Delhi). At WordCamp, I got some WordPress tattoos, the other cheek was populated soon. Some called me ‘cheeky’ (pun intended), but everyone did recognize me as ‘The Tattoo Guy’ – including Matt Mullenweg. I was also wearing multiple multi-coloured badges. You see, when these goodies are distributed people jump on them as if they’re hungry refugees getting aid from the World Food Programme – as evidenced by how greedily they were ‘attacking’ the box where the badges etc to be distributed. Yet, not a single person apart from me bothered to actually wear these. (Even for that matter, nobody other than me used the stickers given at MozillaCamp Delhi.) Love it? Flaunt it! When you’re a user of an open source project it is your duty to be an evangelist. There is no corporation full of moneybags to sponsor any publicity. YOU, as a user of open source software, have to contribute in any way you can. (This is the same sick mentality as those who order multiple Ubuntu CDs via ShipIt – or forget multiple, even single CDs for that matter – and never bother to distribute / use them. Morons. A lot of money goes into that programme. The least you can do is have a conscience and not misuse it if you plan to sit on the CD like a hen for eternity.) Adobe Noida seminar hall (free bald head included) On Day 1 there were around 200 people who were attending – most of them bloggers. I found it surprising that hardly any developers were present. Sessions on Day 1 were: Keynote session by Om Malik; welcome session by Twilight Fairy: I missed both these because I reached the venue late. Implementing a radio site using WP (by Shreyas): This session was about how RadioVerve customized WordPress (the website currently runs on that). I refused to listen to this session on principle – because he had used Comic Sans font for displaying code in his presentation. How to get started after installing WordPress (by Abhijeet Mukherjee): This was a useful session for those who hadn’t used WordPress – and quite surprisingly there were quite a few of these folks. The presentations touched base with the most important stuff and was a good beginners’ guide to WordPress. (Partial video of Matt Mullenweg’s “State of the Word” session) State of the Word (by Matt Mullenweg): Matt Mullenweg spoke of how WordPress started of, it’s current state, and where it’s headed. The quick history lesson included screenshots from a bygone era when WordPress was young, goofy photos of Matt, photos from other WordCamps, statistics et al. There was this one photo of Matt from when he was in high school – and very geeky looking. Implementing SEO in your WP blog (by Abhinav Gulyani): Totally lame session. It prompted a many to comment that screening of speakers should have been done at WordCamp, apart from inspiring many caustic tweets. I’d have given a howlarious picture here if it wasn’t for SlideShare not working properly. Even the presentation he used was copied from here! You can see the presentation which Abhinav gave here. That bring me to my other point – too many people seem to be using boobs to get a point across. Now now, I’m not complaining against hallowed traditions such as booth babes at CES (or any expo) but inserting pictures of Ah-Tah every second slide doesn’t make sense. That guy didn’t even have the balls to show this slide! (As soon as he came to this slide, he switched to the next one and ended his presentation.) Optimizing Google AdSense on your WP blog (by Amit...