Welcome to the Un-Conference

Here comes the WikiCamp!!

Its all about understanding and harnessing the power of wikis…

It aims to bring together the best minds from the Wiki/Internet space to talk about issues,opportunities,future and evolution of this powerful tool…

Demystifying terms like Collaborative Knowledge Sharing, Wisdom of Crowds, Crowd Sourcing…

To enliven the "Spirit of Sharing"…. [That's what it means to me!]

The event is scheduled for the 25th of February, and the venue is at Tidel Park, Chennai.

Who's the Organiser?? Everyone is. WikiCamp runs as an unconference, where everyone is an organizer and there is no passive audience. So it is as much your event.The overall co-ordination is being done by The Knowledge Foundation, the same group behind events such as Barcamp Chennai, Blogcamp and Proto.in.

I am a Promoter of this event… You can be one too…. just write a post in your blog space… and help in telling the world about it…

Wanna Participate?

Planning... to save a Sem!!??

We are less than a week away from our supposedly dreaded 'test-1'… n i have no clue even about what the syllabus is, in each course… There's 'Theory of Relativity', of which i'm able to make no head or tail.. then there's 'Electrical Sciences', which totally "transformed" my plans for this sem… then…SPM.. muP.. POM… MT.. C&S………

There are loads and loads of other stuff too…

Relativity… Emacs…. C++… Python… Table Tennis… learning a bit of Music… picking up practical electronic skills… reading a few books…(quite a few actually..).. and so on…. [not to forget.. attending classes… doing a bit of course related work…]. The list seems only to be growing everyday…

There's nothing that I've crossed out yet.. there's not one thing that's done to perfection…[with a third of the sem already through!!] {I already get the feeling.. its "Another sem down the drain"}

But didn't I begin this sem with plans to "rock" it?? Wasn't I supposed to attend all the classes that I possible can?? What's it that I've been doing for the past 5-6 weeks?

I don't know!! I really can't pinpoint what's been achieved in the past one month or so… [other than of course quite a considerable amount of sleep…….]

Why are things so horribly out of place?? What's to be done.. to get on track asap.. I wonder… What should my priorities be? Why am I being overwhelmed by the things I got to do?

I realise this time of my life is as precious as any other… (probably more…) and i need to make the most of it…. but what is that "most"?? [It's definitely not sleep!]

I wish to put together,
all my time, energy and matter
to do a job, little
that will ob'ly be infinitesimal
It wouldn't make me a hero
but shouldn't amount to zero…

to me, something tangible
definitely seems possible
because nothing is impossible
if there is the quantum of struggle…

but it must come
before I get back home
needn't create an uproar
but before the end of semsester four

[Don't mistake this for a poem… for it is not!! Its just some scribbling of mine.. which will keep me alive if at the end of this sem… there's nothing other than this.. which is tangible… something concrete.. something "see"able]

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice inside says to me, "This is going to take more than one night." – Charles M. Schulz

Little Things.
Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.
Thus the little minutes,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.
– Ebenezer Cobham Brewer.

Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years!!

Here's an interesting article by Peter Norvig, Director of Research Google I have just copied the whole essay here… also here's a link to the Original one…

Update: - [2010-10-11 Mon] - Removed the copied content

Happy gNew Year!!

Hi! I'm a bit late…(courtesy:lightning quick network speeds @coll…{I started this post a couple of weeks back, at home… and its been rotting all this while, in my drafts!} ) [Its already time when the resolutions taken just a couple of weeks back fade away into oblivion… ] but anyways.. Wish You a Very Happy gNew Year!! oops.. Happy New Year!

Actually this year started of for me not as the usual Happy New Year.. but as Happy gNew Year! I have been gifted a new PC by my mom n dad for the new year… and that too an AMD system, (Believe it or Not..) preloaded with Linux Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4]! {Its like a fairy tale for me…} Its an AMD Athlon 3200+ with (512+256)MB RAM and 80GBHDD…. and an awesome 17" TFT Monitor!!

I am happy that my resolutions to have a go at the comp… [ and use it to the best of my abilities to learn about s/w and h/w…. to try n imbibe in myself the spirit of true hacking…] haven't yet gone down the drain! { I've already ripped open the HCL company seal on my box… and opened it up a couple of times to fiddle with my HDD and RAM… }

A couple of days after I got the comp… I tried installing Debian… and being a NooB doesn't help..(does it?).. I messed up the X-Server… After some desperate attempts to get the thing working.. I gave up……. [I had some ebooks etc. downloaded on my comp at home, which I wished to dump on my comp]. So I persisted… I tried FC 6 [Fedora Core] …. everything was fine until the final step… FC refused to show me the Login screen!! Finally at 3 am I gave up…. I planned to get the most valuable stuff onto a CD and set things right, back in the comforts of my room and the company of Voodoo, but that was not to be….

At 10am, (I just woke up then), I find that the comp at home refuses to turn ON!! I thought it was some petty problem like a loose contact somewhere, which could be set right easily.. but after an hour of struggle.. I realise that the problem is serious.. {The SMPS had blown off} [looks like a Hindi Movie,doesn't it??]

Then began the real fun!! I somehow managed to connect the old hard disk to the new Mother Board…[my new cabinet is quite small… I now realize that I placed the HDD in quite a precarious position…].. but there was no OS on either HDD… [the "Windows" on the old one…. din't open… they felt awkward in their new environs… ;-) ] I would have returned back to coll without any of my stuff.. but for Knoppix (live) … it saved the day for me!! Finally I managed to dump my stuff onto the new HDD… [All 's well that ends well!! :-)] Now I've got both the Linux distro's [Debian and FC-6] along with all the stuff I collected at home! [ Thanks to V00d00!! ] along with a little confidence that I am not too bad at handling H/W!

When I look back at this whole episode… It feels as if nature had conspired…. to keep this one resolution of mine ALIVE…. to ignite in me the fire of "the spirit of true hacking"… [ I hope that I play my part well.. (nature played its brilliantly…) and pick up a zillionth part of the commitment ( and dedication to hacking) of the Hackers from the Hacker Land!! ]

Here's a pic of one of the very few cool things I could get my comp to do….. [ I accessed the Remote Desktop Server on my own system…..]

fav.png

The Hacker Ethic : Access to computers and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works should be unlimited and total. Always yield to the Hands-On Imperative! – Steven Levy's "Hackers : The Heroes of The Computer Revolution"

Awe[ful] @ Science !!?!??!

I was at the B.M Birla Science Musuem yesterday… it was calm with no one in there.. the only people i could see were the sweepers and cleaners.. the place was dull and lifeless… I dint like it.. but slowly.. as the afternoon progressed.. people started coming in and by 5 in the evening.. there were quite a few in. The museum seemed to have sprung to life suddenly… there was a lot of action all around with people enjoying in ( and trying to understand) the wonderful world of science….

A lot of kids had come along with their parents… to dive into the world of science… they were enjoying it… the parents also turned into kids and were having great fun… it was a great sight… the parents tried their best to demistify the happenings… those with a science background did it from thier knowledge.. the others patiently went through the explanations…

The kids were thoroughly enjoying it… I don't know if they would later on in life remember what they learnt now… but definitely a love for science and physics will be ignited in their hearts, it will fill their consciousness… the spirit of curiosity will have multiplied manifold… even the elders..connected with the child somewhere deep within themselves… they too enjoyed the wonders of the world of science…[and ofcourse the company and thrill in the eyes of their kids..] I too enjoyed the experience… the experiments and the thrill of the others brought a smile to my face too…. but it set me thinking…

If science can inspire so much awe.. what's happening at our engineering colleges? When people have the chance to learn a whole lot of science and put it to practical use… why isn't it that they are excited about it? Why is it that people just endup mugging a few formulae just before exams and get over with it? Where's the problem? Where is that curiosity, all of us had as a child, lost?

I can recollect, in the last sem while doing experiments in the MT lab there wasn't even a tenth of the awe or joy… that i could see and feel at the museum… why?? Is it that the child within us.. [the future engineers] dead? { If that's true.. then the country is in deep trouble..} But I don't think that's true… I enjoyed my visit to the museum totally…and I am sure every other 'to be engineer' would have too.. then where's the trouble?

I don't know exactly… but I wonder if its because everything is equated to marks and grades… all that matters to an engineering student [and the world around him/her..] is his/her CG or %age… Is this what the country needs? Were the 'temples of Learning'- the IIT's and a whole lot of other technical institutions set-up for this very pupose? Of what use are those engineers to the country, who aren't in awe of science and engineering, whose spirit of curiosity has been overpowered and suppressed by the present education system?

Isn't it time we have a closer look at our education system… why are we still sticking to the 'British sytem' introduced during a colonial rule.. to break the back bone of our nation… to supress our ability to think rationally.. to produce third rate clerks to work for them at lower wages? Why is the emphasis on marks and grades growing exponentially? Shouldn't we start working to cut this growth at its root? Is this sytem good enough to produce "real" engineers, doctors, lawyers, journos, CA's, architects, designers, writers, artists etc etc..

Where have all the gurukuls of the ancient past and the Santiniketans of the recent past gone? Isn't the country in desparate need of more of these 'temples of learning'??

The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence. – Rabindranath Tagore

Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it –Albert Einstein

The Joy of a 'Project!'

Just finished the 'Test-2'. Here's the first post that can genuinely be called "mine"…

With my last minute 'C2S' plans [Co-operate to Survive… does it ring any bells??] failing to work, the tests did their job,cleaned me up [both literally and metaphorically]. Though I didn't learn much while preparing for the tests, the syllabus gave me a brain wave (surprised to find that my Brain is still ticking…. after more than one year of Engg.) : Build my first Computer game!! [Don't expect too much from it… I'm a novice at programming and my game doesn't even have a GUI as of now!]

I had been doing a l'l bit of C programming off late but, I never learnt 'file management' until the "Test-2" forced me to, and Viola! I embarked on a self assigned, "Project - Hangman".

Here's a peek at the game… [after a lot of testing and debugging (the use of technical terms is just a matter of "phantee")]

"Phantee"- a typical hyderabadi term; has no literal english translation; refers to "concealing ignorance in style" ??

The basics were quite simple and were done in two hours… but then began the real test! The program needed a lot of improvements to make it "Playable" but, the tests were less than a week away.

I managed to find enough time even during the tests (it doesn't really matter whether you spend a week, a day or just an hour mugging - you are bound to be cleaned up!), and finished most of the stuff within a week.

There were quite a few road blocks which I had to get around. Amongst other things, obtaining a 'decent' database of words was one. Initially, I wrote another program for building up a dbase of your own. This wasn't good enough…. so, with some ideas from Arunodai, I successfully integrated a dbase of 14000 words [picked it from another version of hangman] with my own version. After one whole week of debugging and improving {with an annoying disturbance called 'Test-2'}, now my game is quite 'playable' (i.e it can be played by people other than me).

So you might say, "what's the big-deal about writing a simple program of about hundred lines, that can randomly display words and check if you guess it right within seven turns?". This l'll project of mine may seem like a Pro'jest' to many! [writing a complex code, messing it up, debugging it for one whole week, etc just for the sake of creating a simple game, that can be played if you have a friend,a pen and a paper. Doing so much<span class="text"> for a game, that already has 'n' version, seems very foolish and a collosal waste of time and effort. Doesn't it??] Obviously, that's not a great achievement, its not something thats worth a mention in the Guiness Book of World Records or something. But it taught me a lot of stuff, stuff that you can't learn from books,stuff that you can't learn by mugging [I wonder if you can learn anything under the sun by "Mugging"], stuff that you can only learn by experience.I learnt a lot more of Computer Programming through this project, than I learnt through two, '3-point' courses!! {Of course, I wouldn't have even dreamt of doing such a thing, if not for these two courses, that introduced me to programming and taught me the essentials}. Can't such projects make the other courses a joy too?

This brings me to our recent TRW [Technical Report Writing] project. You might wonder what kind of projects could be given in this kind of a course. We were asked to write a report on 'Waste Management' in our college, and to include some suggestions on the ways to improve it. Though this was an interesting job, with scope for some field activity and other such stuff, we [a group of six members] successfully turned the 'project' into a Pro'jest'!! [that's my personal view; the others in the group may disagree].But still, we learnt a lot on Report writing. A lot more than what we learnt by reading pages and pages of instructions, on the techniques of writing good reports,by the so called experts.

Both the projects helped me understand stuff better and to put them to use. Why can't all courses have little projects, along with the routine stuff? Will it not improve my understanding of the subject matter? Will I not learn a great deal of things more than I do by mugging things up, just a week before the tests? Will it not be an experience, a lesson, of its own??

I see and I forget. I hear and I remember. I do and I understand. –A Chinese Proverb.

I wonder if my "Engineering", will ever be a joy for me?

I am looking forward to more Projects… to make engineering a joy for me!! [it doesn't matter even if they're self-assigned ;-) ]

Is Disney buying MIT??

web.hacked.screenshot.medium.gif

On April Fools Day of 1998, hackers broke into the MIT web server and changed the MIT home page to indicate that The Walt Disney Company had purchased MIT for $6.9 billion.

The hacked page contained a link fake to a press release titled Walt Disney Corporation to Acquire MIT for $6.9 Billion.

Later that day the MIT News Office issued a press release titled MIT says "Disney buys MIT" hack revealed by low price

A "Free Software" Hack!!

freesoftware.hack.jpg

Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2003 23:45:42 -0500
From: "Harley D. Eades III"
To: rms@gnu.org
Subject: Tribute to freedom.

Hello,

One late rainy night I had an idea. There is a hill on IL route 29
in Peoria IL, that people climb and write a small message across
this hill for everyone to view from a far. What would be better
than spreading my two most favorite words across this hill. So we
set out with a little over 200 garbage bags and nearly 400
nails. 12:30am and rainy so you can figure that a hill of that
size is going to be slippery (lol) nearly falling down hill with
every step we start building each letter. At around 2:30am we have
finished and now the sun will rise over a hill which spreads the
words Free Software to every person that passes by. This is by far
a vary small non-complex hack but I beleve it is a hack in it
self. This is a tribute to Free Software [and the GNU Project].

Happy Hacking
Harley D. Eades III
FSF Associate Member
Hacker