FOSSCell reviving…

There were many inventions that happened due to accidents. In our case the accident resulted in the second life for FOSSCell at our campus. Now I cannot even remember how our small discussions grew up into this.

Earlier the FOSSCell was started by few of our seniors of which I remember(maybe, only know) is Praveen. It was born at a time “long long ago…”. The kind of vision these people had was very clear and solid when this group formed in our college. Later it had grown a lot. But as everything that has a start has an end, there were bad and gloomy days for FOSSCell also.
Even when people getting into the college are intelligent and wise, they have less awareness about these kind of topics that is something like “must know” in the case of a Computer Science graduate (this is just my personal opinion, I dint mean to hurt anyone’s feeling 😉 ). When ever a workshop is conducted, the irony that is observed is, even when there is lot of participation from the juniors, but people knowing the basic idea(even heard) about these topics are very less. Not only this, the main coding competitions that others outside die to get in, like Google Summer of Code, ACM ICPC etc are all unknown for them.

I personally has seen a speaker reducing the number of topics that he has to present, only because people din’t know the basics. Here I am not trying to tell the point that, not knowing the basics initially is the problem. The problem is actually not with the freshers that come into this college, but with their seniors who are already in the college.
One of the main problem here is that “seniors” just minds their own business and completes the four years at college. They don’t take much time to teach or talk to juniors about technical matters. May be till this year I was also in that group. But there are exceptions.

Few of us in final and pre-final year had discussions on these matters for like three, four days. It was some serious discussions we had. Everyone had something to say and wanted to do something to make a change. Then we decided to take the Software Freedom Day that was coming up as chance to start our work. We clearly knew that the fresh minds, that is second years should be given a very good orientation about what we really intent to do, about our view, aims and working style. We planned on the main point that we have to put up during our talk with the juniors. We spent most of our time in making the presentation for the orientation.

During the SFD celebrations we tried to make all the talks, as much interactive and interesting as possible. We all who were into conducting these talks and workshops really worked hard to make it ass simple as possible and we followed a practical approach. Hands-on work could give them a clear cut idea on the issues that they will face in during the development of any big projects. We believe that this is very important to learn new things. One cannot learn swimming by just reading a book which says “Swimming for Dummies” :P.

Later after that we had arranged for doing some hands-on projects which are still going on. The topics for the projects were mainly divided into two parts people who liked web-development and others. Web development was taken as a separate topic, was to encourage students to contribute to the Content Management System made for Tathva and Ragam by people from my year.

Another idea behind doing all these was that introducing students to open source communities and the methodology that are made use of by the community. In simple words we wanted to encourage students to use mailing lists rather than social networking sites for all kind of discussions, and wanted them to learn about version control systems, basics to intermediate usage and administration of Linux based operating systems. The replies that our mailing list got  for the first post after these discussion was the highest for any post ever got, in that mailing list. This was really appreciated by many of our seniors. And then we got lucky that one of our alumni had come for the SFD celebrations, after he read about it on the mailing list.

This try is meant for inculcating “free and open source” values to our juniors mainly students who are yet to come. Starting the efforts by orienting the current second years is just a small step toward a bigger leap in the future. Currently everything is going in a positive slop. We hope this streak never fails again like what happened in the near past. We people who will be graduating this academic year is expecting that our juniors will continue bearing the torch that we have lit together. 🙂

I know that its not yet the time to tell this, but I should do it.: Thank you all for giving me this great experience.

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Three down, One more to go

The new acadamic year starts again. After 4 years enjoying and not thinking about anything to KG school where some teachers becoming your worst nightmare. Then 12 years of schoolling where we met the most wonderful people you have ever come accross in your life, your friends. The great teachers who taught and guided you throughout two by third of your life. Then after a rat race “ENGINEERING ENTRANCE EXAMINATION” comming to NIT, Calicut. Now when I see my juniors comming here and taking admissions, those nostalgic thoughts come to my mind again. In the first year, not thinking about acadamics, trying to hide from seniors, going for a tour around the campus and what not….

My life here really has affected me – on a positive sense, and has gone beyond what I thought 3 years ago when I first came to this college. Now its just less than a year to graduation; The old anxiousness returns: “What is going to happen after this????”

The entropy change when a person shifts from a system a newer or different system is what this is all about. I am aware that these feeling are only relative. May be only a very few people will be or is going to think in this manner. May be many more people wanted to get out of this system ASAP. Some people may get trapped in this system and get stuck, some never escape.

When we joined here togather we thought that we all will leave togather, but we all know that it is not going to happen.
Some who were not even remotely connected became our best of friends. Some who were so close are are getting separated.

All people who has spent time here at NITC will never be forgetting any of those days….anything that this college life has taught them. I will anyway be there at the top of the list. There is everything that you find outside, in here. You name it we have it.

There is only limited time left now…. The clock is ticking very fast… Now will be a good time to look back at what I have done and gained and lost….

git@fossmeet

Untill the git session at Fossmeet 2013 at NITC, I was using git only as a method/tool to upload my code into Github. That particular session  by Mr.Noufal Ibrahim really changed my views on usage of git.  The word particular was added only because of the satisfaction I that got after attending that workshop.

Me and one of friend Krispin were attending the programme together. Actually gt was the only version control system used by us till date(just heard few names like subversion, mericurial etc). For pushing code into Github repository we only require few commands like add, commit, push and very rarely I used commands like pull. When we first used the branching technique in git, we got really amazed.
In reality I was searching for the file that I created for one branch, when I couldn’t find it in the other. Once I have heard one of seniors tell his friend that all code are maintained using git. Actually I didn’t get why he was wasting his time with all these stuffs. But that  session was the point were I really got point on why people use version control system.

We have a compiler lab for this semester and I could have saved a lt of time if I had used git. Whenever I changed the code I make of copy of it and edit the copy only, and since i have a habit of changing the code very often, I had may copies of the same file with only a small difference in them or sometimes nothing.

Now the next thing on the list list would be to study the internals and some advanced topics in git. (well before the Fossmeet itself I had tried to learn git by myself, many times. And all those tries resulted in nothing. But this time it would be different.For sure…. :))

here at NITC….

For the past few days I was searching for blog posts written by my seniors here at NITC, about their experience here at the college. I found that most of them, were very happy and anxious in sharing their views experiences about their college life., and if I write something about it now some of the things would be a repetition but some of them would be unique to me.

Actually I started to hear about NITs only during the last few weeks of schooling life. Till that date I was aware of only few nationally renowned colleges which includes IITs.
After my JEE results came, I was about to fix one of the colleges in Kerala itself and started to search for it and without any reason I expected that I will not be getting admission in NITs also.

But at last due to some good deeds that I had done before  I got an admission at NIT, Calicut. As all other students who got into this great institute, I also had lot of dreams….

One funny experience that happens regularly after this was that when I tell about the college to some people in my neighbourhood, the first question that a arised was “Are you in NIIT?”.
For first few times I used to correct them but later I changed my style of answering these questions as : “Studying engineering in Calicut.”

The one thing that most NITC’ians (I have to research about other people) is that after two years they study in this college they feel that something is not going right.

One specific fact that I started to understand by the end of my first year and is fully convinced now(after about 3 years of survival in this college 🙂 ) is that once you get into something, it is pretty hard to get out it, till you have passed out of this college. Be it any any habit, or any any other field. This information is particularly aimed at people who are a little dedicated to their work. Now you must be thinking that obviously, all the people who like their work do it without a break….. but here the situation is a little different. In a group of people, most of them were dragged into doing it by their seniors(may be during ragging or their school seniors) during their first year, even if they are not interested.

I am telling all this is only to give you an idea of the circumstances, a (“normal”) first year is going through in the beginning. He is not given much chances to try out different things. But later when they go to their senior years, then these people have to take the initiative to move on to other things, which usually never happens.

Next thing that I found very interesting but also disappointing is the Clubs of NITC. These people can make great changes to the views and interests and also give the students a great platform to express and review their talents. But that never happens here. All of them just wanted their name to get publicised but never looks at what the majority wants. I really have to quote my friend here: “Club activities should be taken as a service to the society”. I just wished that even if it couldn’t do anything good to the whole community it could have done something good to the students at the college.

In most students here, all kinds of development happens but the development in terms of engineering skills has never changed from the point he/she had entered into the college. From my experience till now I really have a feeling that any person who had got out from this college must have acquired some skills to survive. I hope that I also have got something to survive with, when I get out of this college.