Foresight == coolness

I was looking at Planet GNOME when a post regarding foresight caught me eye. I was especially sad at missing the bounties up for offer or rather let’s call them prizes πŸ™‚ . I will look into the porting and packaging bit and the entire project looks rather luscious to me. BTW, looking forward to the Fedora 9 release for syncing to the mirror so that everyone picks up from there.

GSOC Idiosyncracies

Well the last week is not looking the best for me. Over the past few days I heard some weird bad news that made me feel a bit apprehensive about the whole idea of Google Summer of Code. I am not writing a crib post because it does not look likely that my proposals will make it through but what amazes me is the manner which defines the ousting.

I applied for a proposal for GNUnet under the GNU project. Although I am not supposed to know but everyone ultimately gets some feedback from the mentors. Accordingly, I found out that I was consistently between 1st and 3rd rank. The whole scenario changed on 14th April, when my mentor who had taken ownership for my proposal told me that there is one more application for GNUnet and that the other person was a complete newbie so had got higher weightage. True, I had been working for GNUnet over the past 2 months but how does that make me ineligible? I got the answer saying that I would contribute to the project anyways and the other person would not. So the mentors downgraded my proposal to 12th rank. He could have kept it at 9 since GNU looked like getting 8 slots but now with an extension of 2 slots too, I am basically out. He killed my chances instead of diminishing them. With due respect, he told me tried his best to get my proposal for a second slot as 8 GNU subprojects are selected and 2 look like getting a second slot. Apparently, he is now pissed off that the slots are likely going to wget and grub because of the merit of the project( read as the popularity of projects) and some other finer nuances which are not nice to list rather than on the merit of the proposal, but even then how does that matter. I know GSoc is about getting new contributors but is it for people who are looking for some quick money and then running off. I can see huge vacant chinks in the Gsoc armoury. Another observation I made is that some mentors are overenthusiastic to see their mentees make it while some are detached. Looks like a huge slice of luck is also involved in this case.

I had another brush of problems for my proposal under Debian too. I proposed a project under Lintian for Debian for which I have been doing some patch work for some time. It seemed that my Debian proposal was not getting ranked sufficiently as it did not seem interesting to mentors. Also I was told, I might have lesser chances for the same shitty reason that I was already working on it and it would be nice to get some nice new people in. There also seemed a problem that potentially attractive proposals were getting ranked by mentors. Somehow the whole experience has left a bad taste.

I know some people might think I am shouting out here, but at the same time I am thankful to a lot of people who ranked and gave me great reviews on my proposals. In the end some stupidity and weird reasoning looks like standing like a block. If this is a beacon for the future people might stop contributing in the future to particular project in the hope that they might make it to GSoc.

GLUG-NITH serves up a TLDP mirror

In addition to the Fedora and GNU mirrors that is being served by GLUG-NITH, on demand of the University users, a TLDP mirror has also been set up here. After a couple of mails the TLDP mirror admins have added us to the mirrorlist, so that everyone around knows about the mirror and can use it well. Here goes a lot of thanks to the College authorities and kudos to the GLUG-NITH community.

$a.out $success

So finally we got to host a re-run of a.out this time after much delay. All the delay was caused a great deal owing to the unavailability of the participants. It was a bit hectic designing the questions but then things came out cool when it was being moulded into a storyline. The Bourne series rocks and so did the questions.

20 teams made it to the finals and we organised it in the Comp science department lab on 15 systems running RHEL 4 and a 5 Windows system on which we installed OpenSSH. All the participants logged onto the server and had a nice time hacking on the machine christened C Labs. The competition level was mindblowing. The total marks for 4 questions was 900 and 2 teams tied at 580 with the 3rd team at 300 and 4 teams at 150 and 2 at 70. In order to resort the tie I had to run valgrind suite and time commands for memory and time complexity of their programs. It was unfair but then something needed to be done.

Director Sir is out of stations so we need his signatures on certificates. Once that is done we will hold the prize giving ceremony. Participation certificates for the 20 teams and winner certificates for the winners(that sounds stupid as its obvious).Money will also be handed out. 1500,1000,500 for the 1st,2nd and 3rd prizes respectively. I am going to take these guys for a trip for a party else they will not get any money. First prize goes to Agam and Khushboo(Final years), 2nd prize to Ramakant and Sarvendra(3rd years) andΒ  3rd prize to Sandesh and Gaurav(3rd years). 2 first year guys Arnab and his partner(if the partner dude reads this post I am sorry I dont remember your name. Do tell me your name) did a fantastic job as well. Well done.
Congrats to all. I got to rush now else I won’t get dog food in Manimahesh mess.

Freedom Is Not That Free

On 7th June ie. Thursday I got to attend a talk that was organised by HBCSE and the speaker was Mr. Georg C.F. Greve, the President of Free Software Foundation, Europe. He has come to HBCSE for a week-long visit for a goodwill bonding mission and also to see the work going on regarding GNOWSYS under Dr. Nagarjuna G. which will act as a backend to the SELF project. The topic of his talk was Free Software and Science and it was really memorable owing to his message clarity and strong reasoning.

 

The day started off rather auspiciously. All of us knew it would be a hard day’s work for us given the fact that we would have to toil with our basic minimal Zope class but then things finally figured out within a minute. Something that we were toiling on throughout the night just sorted out in a minute when an idea of adding a pointer struck us. So much so for easy solutions. In the afternoon it was the talk that took central attention.

 

The V.G. Kulkarni Auditorium was impressive and with the audience consisting of HBCSE employees, ILUG-Bom members and some GNU/Linux enthusiasts, the atmosphere seemed expectant. The talk didn’t go formal as we expected but rather went on an informal note right from the very beginning. It started off with the definition of Free Software which consists of nothing but freedom. Here “Free as in Free Speech not Free Beer”. The domain of Freedom was very clearly and subtly specified by the following 4 words:

1. Use.

2. Study.

3. Modify.

4. Redistribute.

Just add the word “software” after these words and if all the 4 criteria are met by the software then its FREE SOFTWARE, that was the definition.

 

Moving on, the question of licenses came in which ultimately hypothetically may refer to the same ideas of Freedom despite their variety. Then it came to the concept of how Free Software is scientifically compatible and Propreitary Software is not.

Here compatibility means how it is scientifically or logically justified. Since Science deals with experimentation and study of theories and nullifying of wrong theories through experimentation, study, logic and deduction so, proprietary software which does not let us study the code and hence no methodology to check for its validity is incompatible. This was the basic argument of Georg with a lot of other points. The SELF project and Freedom in Learning where Software and people controlling the software should not control the access to knowledge was greatly harped upon.

 

Then came the questions from the audience which Georg answered in quite innovative manners and had the whole audience sometimes guffawing upon the anecdotes that he provided. It was fun all around and specially the Free Chai and biscuit after this rocked…

Then we rushed back to the lab to complete the work else we could have had a bad time.