FOSS.IN (India's largest Free & Open Source Software event) was held last week at the Bangalore Palace over a period of four days (Nov 29 - Dec 2). This conference, formerly known as Linux Bangalore, has expanded its scope this time to include other FOSS topics in addition to Linux.

On the first day I reached the venue at 8.30 A.M. But the registration process which was supposed to have started at 8 A.M. got delayed & I ended up waiting in the queue till 9.15 A.M. to get my entry pass & delegate kit. As a result of this delay, all talks were delayed by nearly an hour. The inauguration finally happened at 10 A.M. followed by Alan Cox's general talk on participating in open source projects. I followed this up by attending a bunch of tech talks - investigation of Kernel Mode Linux, performance measurement of Linux 2.6.10 kernel (last 10 minutes) and an egregiously bad talk on the pitfalls of Loadable Kernel Modules (the grating accents of the two 'professionals' who delivered this and the set of unprofessionally done slides which they used made the whole discourse all the more repulsive). But Andrew Cowie's talk on equivalence, which I attended next, made up for the insipid morning. Andrew is an amazing speaker - eloquent, brimming with energy, almost hopping with excitement on the stage. Following this I attended a talk on Sun's Project GlassFish & another one on the Apache Software Foundation's Geronimo project. But the highlight of the day was our drive back from the venue which lasted all of 2 hours as we managed to take every wrong turn we could have taken along the way. Despite my repeated assurances to Chandan that we were headed up the wrong 'alley', he chose to ignore my advice resulting in temporal losses for both of us.

On the second day, I attended the post lunch set of talks - Interaction of GPL & non-GPL code in Linux kernel - a very informative one and shared subtree concept & implementation in the Linux kernel. After this I proceeded to roam around the various stalls set up by numerous open source companies. Sun profited the most from this event as their OpenSolaris demos at their stall went down very well with the delegates.

The third day began with a talk by Andrew Cowie aimed at "motivating participation in FOSS from people who may not have yet found a way to do so". The best part was when he strongly derided the dogmatic stance adopted by Richard M Stallman regarding the usage of the word "free" by citing one instance where RMS left a bad impression on the attendees at some conference when he started yelling at a translator who translated 'free' to imply 'at no cost' rather than 'without restrictions'. To substantiate his point further, Andrew also commented on the usage of the term GNU/Linux instead of just Linux to describe what RMS calls 'the GNU operating system which uses the Linux kernel'. These observations drew a huge round of applause from the audience. But the rest of the talks which I attended left much to be desired for. I returned back to work after lunch.

On the whole, the broadened scope of the event benefitted some sections, notable among them being Sun. But I feel this expansion has somehow diluted the event. According to the organisers of the event, " was a glorious success. 2733 delegates, 140+ speakers, 180+ talks, workshops, tutorials and BoFs. It was fantastic." Yeah, but that is just the statistical analysis & statistics can lie. Quality isn't assured by numbers. Honestly, very few speakers were convincing enough in their arguments. But my opinion in this matter may have been clouded by my attendance at only a few talks. Moreover even the ones I attended were mostly technical in nature - so I might be partly wrong here. Based on my experiences as a delegate at Linux Bangalore 2003 and FOSS.IN 2005, I can confidently dole out this piece of advice - as is the case with open source development, self reliance is the best policy when attending such conferences; always try to get an introduction to a topic rather than trying to get in depth information about it (you can always Google for the details anyway :-)).

Tags : Blogger Days, Linux, The Binary Files

Posted by Rajat @ 8:58 PM   |  Comments

Busy-ness Proposal

VapourWare Unlimited
World-class fuzzy solutions

Are you being troubled by pesky 'contacts' who inundate you with inane instant messages when you are rather busy? Do you find yourself unequal to the task of communicating effectively & impressively with your peers & superiors? Presenting BusyBuddy Instant Messaging Enhancements - a suite of cross-platform plugins which is guaranteed to be the panacea to all your IM complaints. BusyBuddy is the perfect supplement to boost the quality of your Instant Messenger so that your life online remains hassle-free.

The technology

BusyBuddy is a kind of middle layer between your messenger & you. It works with all the popular messaging clients across all platforms. BusyBuddy has at its core a fuzzy logic driven engine which intercepts your keyboard & mouse events and keeps track of the pressure & frequency accompanying these. Then using the MoodMeter (patent pending) technology, it generates a 7x7 matrix consisting of various parameters like current weather conditions, current status of the target & various other random & probabilisitic values reduced to their fuzzy equivalents. The inverse of the same is generated to accurately gauge your current mood based on which an appropriate response is sent. The responses are chosen from a humongous database of seemingly witty repartees with the most appropriate one being chosen by a set of complex algorithms. All this so that you can sit back & relax - let BusyBuddy manage your messages while you utilise the time thus freed to make a quick visit to dreamland, ogle at attractive colleagues or even for actually doing some work.

The company

VapourWare Unlimited is a start-up based in the New Lake Village area, right in the heart of Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India. We specialise in development of fuzzy & intangible software solutions for corporates. Our products are specially geared towards helping our clients achieve total employee satisfaction so as to enable greater increase in productivity which ultimately leads to more profits. Our motto is "Always keep your fingers crossed & hope for the best".

Product Features

All message transfers are encrypted by default using the popular & unbreakable Digital Fortress encryption algorithm which makes use of mutation strings to produce indecipherable gibberish for any eavesdroppers.

Status Messages
You may have noticed that when you haven't shown any online messaging activity for some time your messenger begins to show the time for which you have been idle along with a prominent status message. This may be interpreted to mean a serious lack of communication skills which may have a deleterious effect on your career. Hence BusyBuddy makes sure you are never idle in the chat landscape by frequently updating your status with random & sometimes witty messages like High (3rd Floor), Too busy to respond etc. You can also choose the theme for your session from a variety of status message themes.

This is by far the most important function of BusyBuddy. Auto-reply enables you to free up valuable time for other important tasks by taking up the onus of replying to all your messages, irritating or otherwise. The best part here is that all such transactions are transparent to you, the end-user. You also have the option of actually being entertained by the same automated conversations by using the easy-to-use wizard to set it all up.

Here are two actual conversation samples obtained during usability testing for BusyBuddy's auto-reply feature:-

Boss : Is the sub-optimal strategies evaluation report ready?
BusyBuddy : I am waiting for more input from the control group for graphical depiction of the thought processes behind the sub-optimal strategy decisions in incorporated entities. Will take some time.
Boss : Oh, all right. Carry on. Keep up the good work.

Friend : I have a bad feeling about today's match. You know the gut feelings I generally have, right?
BusyBuddy : Are you by any chance talking about your gas problem?


Q : Why the name BusyBuddy?
A : The name is partly a reflection of its origins in the constant appearance of busy status messages. The other inspiration is the word 'busybody' which refers to anyone who meddles in other people's business which is precisely what our suite does - intercept messages meant for our users & perform the desired actions.

Q : Being so feature rich, why don't you make it a full fledged messaging client?
A : We want to leverage existing infrastructure to derive optimum benefit both for customer & end user. Hence we decided to build a suite of plugins rather than a messaging client.

Q : I want to purchase BusyBuddy. Where do I go?
A : Thank you for your interest. BusyBuddy is currently in beta testing. We still have a few minor glitches (one of them being response routing mismatch which basically means that messages intended for your sweetheart maybe sent to your boss & vice versa) to sort out before we can release it for public consumption. Be patient till then. If you would like to receive regular updates about BusyBuddy's status, leave your email ID with us along with any positive feedback you might have.

Q : I don't believe you OR I hate you for unspecified reasons.
A : We always respect & value feedback from our target audience. If you have any reason to be dissatisfied with our claims or software, please leave your comments along with your email ID. We will get back at you by forwarding all the unsolicited messages we receive to your inbox.

This post is my protest against the constant indifference to my repeated attempts at online conversation with some of my contacts, the cause for which is supposed to be their various degrees of 'busy-ness'. After being constantly snubbed, I decided to profit from my frustration by converting it into a 'business opportunity with a social cause', so as to alleviate the sufferings of kindred souls facing a similar predicament.

Tags : Blogger Days, Humour, The Binary Files

Posted by Rajat @ 8:30 PM   |  Comments