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Freed.in/2009

By on Feb 26, 2009 in Personal, Tech Takes | 0 comments

freed.in was held on 20-21 February 2009. You can find loads of pictures from freed.in on its Flickr group. As always, it was held at JNU. I arrived a tad late but found that the event hadn’t started. The official excuse for this year was ‘traffic’. At the registration desk, I found Abhishek – who was doing volunteer work for the event. Registered at the desk. Got a cool freed.in sticker which is of really high quality…and some ‘stickers’ printed on paper from Fedora which suck. Not even perforated, you need to cut them out with a scissor and then too you get only cheap stuff. Bought an ILUG-D T-shirt with a Universal Truth printed on it. Goldwyn Rodrigues (works in software testing for Novell’s enterprise products) brought OpenSuse 11.1 DVDs for distributing; took one of those. Maybe I’ll OpenSuse 11.1 again some day in the future and will have better luck than last time I installed the same version, this time using the GNOME environment. Met @honeytech, @rajeshlalwani, @sepiaverse there. (Yes, people were tweeting live from the event. You can go through #freedin tagged tweets here.) The event started off with welcoming the ‘chief guest’… That’s right. In the true spirit of a conference on free and open source siftware, the ‘chief guest’ at freed.in is You. Yes, you, you and you. And you too. All of you. Andrew Lynn, some professor from JNU started off talking about a project they’re spearheading called ‘Open Source Drug Discovery’ which uses idle time of computer labs in colleges across the country to analyze the stability of new molecules for drug development. (Phew, long sentence!) That was followed by a talk by Goldwyn Rodrigues on breaking into WiFi networks. Mostly about how weak WEP is as an encryption standard and how to use MAC ID spoofing + DNS forwarding to bypass authentication mechanisms on some networks. Shantanu Choudhary gave a talk on his efforts at creating an ‘offline Wikipedia‘. A lot of people kept asking him about “How will you incorporate the updates which are done on Wikipedia every minute?” I think that was completely missing the point because in places, say, like rural areas where they don’t have Internet connectivity even a static dump of Wikipedia can be a useful education resource. JNU’s WiFi network kept logging us out every few minutes. Everyone was getting exasperated and shouting “Blistering barnacles!” before Captain Haddock came along and fixed things by logging me into the network with a four-letter password. (I dunno what it was.) It was time for lunch soon…and it was surprising that 220 people turned up to eat when there were only 100 or so people attending freed.in. Or maybe not, given that it was held at JNU. A lot of freeloaders from the JNU staff, JNU students and assorted people who’d come for other seminars pounced on the buffet before freed.in participants did. As a consequence of which attendees like Jasdeep had to go without the delicious jalebis. Animesh Kumar (from Abhishek’s college) spoke about how they’ve utilized old Pentium III processors which their school was about to scrap for parallel computing. Senthil Kumaran showed how to make text-based ping-pong using Pygame. Next was Krishnakant Mane, a visually challenged guy who gave a talk on ‘RPC for modular programming’. It was touching to see this guy touching typing code all by himself and then waiting for his screen-reader software to read it out to him to check if was correct. His grit truly deserved the thunderous applause he got at the end of his talk. Gagandeep Singh Sapra (who blogs at g-spot.in) spoke of data centers and open source software used there. You can see the complete presentation, but here, I present you an interesting bit… After that there were two presentations from Fedora representatives on some tools they’re building / already using to a) automate RPM checking process b) measure software usage statistics. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend day 2 of the event since I was going for WordCamp. Some more interesting sessions were held on day 2. More about WordCamp India...

See you at Freed.in

By on Feb 18, 2009 in Personal, Tech Takes | 6 comments

Hear all! Freed.in, an conference on free and open source software will be taking place at Jawaharlal Nehru University on 20-21 February 2009. Now I know what the first question everyone wants to ask is – “Will there be free WiFi?”. From what I hear, we will have that. Can’t think of a conference on FOSS without that. Have a look at the sessions which are scheduled and register yourself as a participant. Participation is free of course. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend day 2 because I’ll be attending WordCamp.

TCS IT Wiz 2008

By on Feb 15, 2009 in Personal | 3 comments

“Finally, a quiz archive of TCS IT Wiz 2008”, I thought when I came across Aditya’s post about it.Unfortunately, it isn’t a complete archive but it still gives a good idea of how it is. Karmanya had put up an archive (which I had mentioned earlier) but it seems that the archives are longer available for download. (So I’m uploading the same, without any changes, here.) Prashanth has spoken about the event too. A few of my responses to the notes in Aditya’s archive: It is true that the Toshiba Qosmio series has some laptops which come with the Cell processor. Read a Gizmodo story about it or reviews of it on CNET. It is true, however, that is not the primary processor on the laptop – it plays second fiddle to the Intel Core 2 Duo processor and handles video-related tasks. Pickbrain screwed up big-time when he says Cell processor is used in PlayStation Portable. It isn’t. Lenovo is not a subsidiary of IBM. It bought the rights to IBM trademarks (such as ‘Thinkpad’) and took over IBM’s desktop and laptop division. (One clarification about the first statement in Karmanya’s archive) The ‘Pope’ being referred to is not ‘The Pope’ but ‘a Pope’. Ivan Pope, to be precise. For all those who stumble across this post when searching up about TCS IT Wiz, do you know any other archives on the Web on this? Post them here in the comments section for all to see. PS – Yesterday was special…in more than one sense. (‘Yesterday’ in India, according to Epoch standards, Friday the 13th.) It was the day on which Unix time passed the 1234567890 seconds since Epoch Time milestone. There was a cool countup for this. Click the text ‘Relive the moment’ for some fireworks. PPS – Awesome post by Aditya on Code Wars...

Fixing Add/Remove Error in Ubuntu

By on Feb 13, 2009 in Tech Takes | 2 comments

If you’ve used Ubuntu, then you’d be aware that to install/uninstall new application you can resort to the graphical installer under Applications > Add/Remove. This installer allows you to browse through repositories of software, search through them and install the ones you want. So when Kinshuk mentioned that he was facing a problem with Ubuntu’s Add/Remove application I thought I should go ahead and write this post because I faced this myself once. What happened with him is that when he started Add/Remove, he couldn’t see a single application listed under it and the all the categories were blank. Here’s how to solve this. Go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager. You’ll be prompted to enter your password. Do so. Note that the problem (no software listed) affects only Add/Remove and not Synaptic. Search for the application gnome-app-install. Right-click and choose Mark for Complete Removal. This will prompt you that some other packages will be uninstalled too. Agree to that. Click Apply. After that is completed, search out gnome-app-install again and install it. At third base now, just a bit more to go for the home run. Remember those packages which were removed earlier? You need to install them again. This is to ensure that you can carry out upgrades smoothly in the future since one of these is a meta package which handles that. Search out, and choose to install these packages: apturl – This allows your browser to handle apt:// protocol links and launch the application installer when you click on such a link in your browser. ubufox – Modifications Ubuntu makes to Firefox. You could leave this out, but I suggest you install it because leaving it out can cause problems during upgrade in the future. ubuntu-desktop – A meta package listing software bundled with Ubuntu. Keep this in for smooth upgrades. Reload your repositories. Click the Reload button in Synaptic Package Manager. Done! Go to Add/Remove again and you’ll find that software listing and categories have been restored. I didn’t come across a bug report in Launchpad for this, and I’d forgotten to take screenshots so I didn’t file one. Maybe if one you who come across this post while searching on the Internet for a solution could take a screenshot and file a bug report before rectifying the...

SEO EXPERT? O REALLY? YA REALLY!

By on Feb 6, 2009 in Tech Takes | 8 comments

A few days I posted about MozillaCamp Delhi, which (hopefully) will be taking place on 10th February 2009. I went to their page today to see if the venue has been finalised. (It hasn’t.) I came across a new entry in the list of attendees. One where the person had manually given 3 spaces, written the number, and then added his name (instead of just hitting return and adding a new entry in the list). Our user is a SEO EXPERT / WEB DEVELOPER – MOZILA FIREFOX USER. In case you haven’t already hotfooted to his webpage, do so. He is “I M OWN PERSON-THERE’S NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD OUT THERE LIKE ME” and owns a “black-brown jarman shepherd”. I could probably quote some other biographical details but it’s best that you read it yourself. No, I mean, really. Please do. Why give out spoilers here? As a Mozilla Firefox user since the days when it was a fledgling little baby, I think I feel happy about this. After all, Mozilla Firefox finally seems to be trickling down to the users of…er…that level. Which is a good thing. With a greater number of users on our side we can no longer have statements in web development tutorials / books such as “Since IE occupies the majority of market share, code for it instead of bothering to make it compatible with others” (paraphrased statement from an actual book by Wiley Publications). Preetam Singh Patel – and Obsessed Firefox Users like him – are accidental heroes in the long road towards eventual domination that Mozilla Firefox is on the path to. PS – Don’t I just love the mockery done for Safari users? Hell yeah! PPS – A few hours after posting this, the venue for MozillaCamp Delhi was finalized. It is going to be held at Indian Social Institute, Lodi Road. You can get a map / directions to the venue here (http://tr.im/mozcampdel, in case you want to share with...