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Bye bye :-(

I've been meaning to do this for a while now -- I have now moved my blog to http://arunraghavan.net/blog. The ads on the front page of LJ just annoy me to no end. I understand that the LJ guys have to make a living too, but this is much simpler for me (and all my content stays in one place).

I managed to export all my data to Wordpress on the new site, and realised that there were more than 2000 comments. There's no way I'm going to get that kind of community after the move, and that actually almost made me not switch. But it is done now. I've not been active on reading my friends posts, and that sucks. Will probably try to move that to a Google Reader so I don't completely lose touch.

It's been a great 5+ years on LJ. See you on the other side, folks! :-)


FOSSKriti '09 is *here*

Been a hectic few months, but I could hardly miss posting about this. Some of you might remember the little F/OSS miniconf, we did last year at Techkriti, IIT Kanpur's technical festival. FOSSKriti '08 sparked off a number of great F/OSS events in colleges across the country. FOSSKriti '09 is now here, bigger and badder than ever (for small values of ever :P)!

Last year, we started planning the event sometime in mid-Jan, and we did the best we could in about a month. This year, Shashank (better known as Chintal), Zakir, Surya, and the rest of team had more time, and you can tell that they've been busy. The theme for this year is "The Open Web", and we have an awesome line-up of talks, workshops, and hackfests around this theme. We've got folks from Mozilla, Drupal, Yahoo, and Sahana and more. It's going to be four butt-kickingly amazing days!

Bottom line: If you're in the vicinity, be there. It's happening from Feb 12th to 15th, at IIT Kanpur.

FOSSKriti "09 - The Open Web

p.s.: It blows that I can't make it. :(

Copy -- right?

So derherr were chatting about copyrights and I stumbled upon the website of the Government of India's Copyright Office, and some clickety clicking later, came upon The Handbook of Copyright Law. Wanted to chronicle interesting bits for posterity.

  • Fair use: Includes standard stuff like research, private study, criticism/review, reporting current events, judicial proceeding, amateur performance to a non-paying audience and some more ambiguous stuff ("the making of sound recordings of literary, dramatic or musical works under certain conditions")

  • You own copyright to all photos of yourself (caveat: see fair use): "In the case of a photograph taken, or a painting or portrait drawn, or an engraving or a cinematograph film made, for valuable consideration at the instance of any person, such person shall, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, be the first owner of the copyright therein."

  • Computer programs are abou the same as literary works: With the exception that you can "sell or give on hire or offer for sale or hire, regardless of whether such a copy has been sold or given on hire on earlier occasion."

  • Translations: Are protected by your copyright

  • Registering copyright: By default, you own the copyright to work that you have created. "However, certificate of registration of copyright and the entries made therein serve as prima facie evidence in a court of law with reference to dispute relating to ownership of copyright."

  • Term of copyright: 60 years after death of the author for most things. 60 years from date of publication cinematograph films, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, and some other stuff.

Phew! Certainly learned some new stuff today.

It starts ...

So this is the proverbial it. FOSS.IN/2008 starts today. We took some hard decisions to come upon the current format. We have an amazing lineup of stuff that's happening through every day (don't believe me? See the schedule). All systems are, in fact, go (I feel more redundant with every passing year). I think this poster sums it up the best (shoutout to Hari for the awesome artwork!):

In the unlikely event that you're still wondering what FOSS.IN is all about, and whether you should come, just head on over and check out the little video we've made. It should answer any questions that you have about what the 2008 edition of FOSS.IN is all about.

Time to head to the venue now, see you there!

p.s.: I like this one too :-) ...

One small step for student-kind

Today, the VTU (the university that granted me my bachelor's degree) did something incredibly smart. In one fell swoop, they have achieved what Kerala and Andhra Pradesh have been trying to do for years, in vain.

That's right — the VTU has done the one thing that will ensure that no student of theirs will ever learn a Microsoft-related technology — a ton of Microsoft software is now part of the official curriculum.

Thank you, VTU!

Aside ...

Reminds me of the "Basic Computer Skills" Lab in 3rd semester, where we had to create a document in Word and a presentation in PowerPoint. The external examiner expected you to remember exactly under which menu each random feature lay. It took her about 10 minutes to figure out that I was searching through the menus blindly after every question. :)

Not to mention 5th semester, where our DBMS lecturer tried to strong-arm me into learning Visual Basic for a project on databases. This one I managed to hold out on, and did my work in PHP+MySQL.


FOSS.IN/2008 delegate registration is now open -- what are you waiting for!
Finally, after ages, "soon" is here, and my loyal readers can ascertain that I am, in fact, still alive. A wider, life update will come later (heh), but for now ...

Preparation for FOSS.IN/2008 is well on way, and this year is going to be different. The Call for Participation is out. The newest thing in there is that there aren't going to be nearly as many talks as before. You'll see the term FOSS WorkOuts rather prominently displayed, and this is where the action is going to be. We're going to be seeing a lot more doing than in years gone by. Head on over to the CfP to learn more.

Atul's post on the new format has caused some furore in the community, in addition to some pockets of encouragement (links abound and the topic is hackneyed, so no linky). All I have to add is this -- a lot of people who are working on distros and doing packaging seem to be gravely offended. Well, I'm a packager too (erm, did I mention that I am now a Gentoo developer?), and there is no reason to take offense. What we're trying to say is that we can be achieving more at the event to increase both the number of contributors as well as the depth of contribution, and the latter especially is the focus. I can expound on about this, but there's been enough talk.

The cool folks over at IndLinux have already started plotting, and we've been trying to get some traction on some GNOME performance work. Hope we can get some more folks to run with it. I, for one, am looking eagerly forward to the proposals we get this year.

N810 - we wantee!

This article by Ted T’so is an excellent commentary on the controversy around Nokia’s Dr. Ari Jaaksi (one of the bigshots behind the amazing Nokia N770/800/810 internet tablets) recent comments (1, 2) on the need for open source developers to understand business constraints. Extremely well-balanced. Bruce Perens also wrote an interesting piece on it.



This college administration (and, by extension, everything), makes me physically sick.

IITK Fascism Update

So we (some of us students) met and decided to do something about the sudden implementation of the Internet shutdown from 0000-0600. Some updates:

The intimation about doing this was sent at 2357 hours today (yesterday, to be precise) to all. The notification basically stated that because of “undesirable activities”, Internet will, with immediate effect, be disabled from 0000 to 0600 every day. And that’s it -- poof. The hostel network is disconnected from the rest of the Institute, thus making sure that nobody can access the Internet (or even the Institute’s own computing facilities). To compensate, the Computer Center (with a capacity of <200 computers) is to be kept open 24x7.

Of course, this was unacceptable, so a bunch of us decided that something needs to be done. There are 2 issues -- the decision, and how it was implemented. While the decision itself needs discussion (more about this later), the implementation is of immediate concern. People were not prepared, and work on several people's theses were affected. Plus, this has been done just a little after the end-semester exams, when most students are not on campus. This sort of fascism usually rears its head under precisely these circumstances. We decided that what needed to be addressed right now is the implementation -- the Internet has to be made available this night.

A couple of our student representatives spoke to the Dean of Student Affairs (the DoSA -- the official channel between the students and the administration). The DoSA basically said that they, the various Deans and the Director (and Deputy Director?) have made the decision at nothing would be done about it. More precisely, the Director, as the highest power in the Institute has taken the decision and that's that. Further discussion may be taken up with him.

About 60-70 of us went to the Director's house at about 2:30 (the entire process was peaceful -- there was not shouting or slogans). We met with the security, who called the Head of the Computer Center (CC) and the DoSA to the place after some attempted dodging.

The CC Head turned up first and started asking what our problem was. He offered such resources as a vehicle to transfer us from hostel to CC as well as as many pen-drives as we require to transfer data from our machines to the CC machines. The DoSA just said that we’ve given you 2 years to think about whether this should be implementing it, and now we will be implementing it, so there.

Our student representatives (who did a pretty good job), after some dialogue, got the connection reinstated for tonight. They will be further taking up the issue later today.

The decision itself is extremely foolish, of course. Moreover, the dictatorial way in which this is being done is just as shocking. Let’s see how things pan out in time. Perhaps sense and sanity will prevail.