Monthly Archives: October, 2012

Munnar – Day1

 I’m starting off with my most recent travel destination Munnar. Its a brilliant place though I did not expect it to be. Well, I had started off my journey with two other friends from my college. A last minute decision as we could not go to Silent Valley. It took us 5 hours to reach there and we had to switch buses at Udumalapet. We started off late….nothing out of the ordinary……and got into the most crowded bus that I had ever got onto in my life. Sweaty and damning my luck I was out of that pit and reached Ukkadam bus stand . We barely managed to get onto the Udumalapet bus on time. After these preliminary glitches the rest of our journey was eventful. The wind mills on the way to Udumalapet are something you must not miss. I just loved them.

Then we got onto the Munnar bus at Udumalapet. This took us through the Anamalai tiger reserve and the Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary. The was pretty sunny and the views were good but not brilliant till we reached Marayoor. Here we bought a couple of peculiar fruits(I think they were berries) and an avacado without actually knowing it was an avacado. From here the journey was filled with sights and sounds of tea gardens and streams creeping their way throught the hills and ending up as water-falls. They were beautiful sights.

One of the best experiences to the nose as far as I am concerned is when the mild fragrance of tea engulfs it as you are passing by a tea factory. This is exactly the experience you will have when you are around half an hour away from Munnar. After this brilliant experience we arrived at Munnar town which appeared to be lost in its own frenzy. Not quite what I had expected judging by the tranquil journey we had had. The thing that struck me first when we went to the tourist office just by the bus stop was that this was a place full of friendly people. Honestly speaking,this is the place with the best auto drivers out of all the places I’ve been to India. They are the best and cheapest guides you could get. We went by auto to our restaurant at Devikulam called Autumn trees, it was 7kms away fro town. We encountered some beautiful sights on our way there from which I realised why this places was so popular.

Tea Stall

After all the beautiful sights it was time to bargain for a price at the hotel. We did get a the room at a reasonable price. The hotel was’nt that great(it was clean though which was all that mattered) but the location was good. So we decided to go for a walk after having a cup of tea at the tea stall by the highway. As expected the tea was brilliant, the best tea I had had in my life ( Hav’nt visited Assam yet!) and I mentally made a note to drink tea at this place for all the three days we were here.

The walk was quite a treat. We enjoyed it as went along the highway due to the beautiful surroundings which were so laid back and also due to mild weather. As we kept going we noticed a small path by the side of  the highway which lead down to a beautiful lake. The lake was enchanting enough for us to go down by the slushy, muddy and slippery path. When we reached the lake it was just an amazing experience which I shall not forget for years to come. The lake was just beautiful and was tempting us to take a dip. We resisted that temptation as we knew we were better off on land than in unknown waters.

We just could’nt take our eyes off the lake, but it was getting dark and we had to leave. So we slowly trudged up the path and made our way back to the highway. To our surprise we discovered that there were leeches all over our shoes. One of my friends did provide us with some entertainment by jumping up and down with his shoes in his hands. He was repulsed by the leeches and when he saw that a small leech had clung on to his calf he pulled it off and started running back to the hotel. My other friend and I had cleared off all the leeches off our shoes and walked back to the hotel and had a good laugh about the leech-phobic friend of mine.

Once we had got back to the hotel it took us some time to get ourselves spic and span and double check for leeches in our shoes. After all the tidying up we decided to walk a bit into town and have dinner at a small hotel called Rajalakshmi which was suggested to us by the receptionist. It was a shabby little place with tables and chairs all cramped up in a small space. The food, I would’nt say was exceptional but it was good and very very affordable which reduced the overall expense of our trip by quite a margin. The people here were as friendly as ever and we had a good time eating and chatting up at the table. While going back we sat down on low clearance wall and talked some more and tried blowing the fog to make it look like we were smoking. I loved doing this ever since I was a kid and this time was no exception. After a night full of maniacal fun we retired to the hotel and slept quite early so that we could get up in time to go down the Mattupatty side of Munnar.

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Cyprus !

Just found out a bit about Cyprus and Crete today [Courtesy : Globetrekker TLC 😉 ] Will post about Crete some other time though.

Firstly about Cyprus, It is famous for its awesome beaches and bars. Cyprians are known to love partying. They have a hell lot of good beaches. They have mid afternoon bubble bath dances on the beach and parties raging from the night till dawn. Cyprus is also known for free diving, one of the world’s 3 best free divers is from Cyprus and he can dive upto 75 metres. Free diving is a dangerous and beautiful adventure sport. It takes years of practice and a controlled & calm mind to go even over 20 metres. Its also home to the Temple of Apollo (The greek Sun God) which was destroyed by an earthquake which occured more than a thousand years ago. The beautiful ruins of this temple lie facing the beach which makes for a beautiful sight. Apparently, during the Summer solstice the Greeks come over to this Temple to perform a thousand year old ritual to show the people the importance of the temple in greek culture.

Cyprus has the influence of both Greeks and Turks as the Turks invaded it as well. There is a buffer zone dividing North Cyprus from the rest of Cyprus though it is recognised as a seperate country only by Turkey. North Cyprus is full of Turkish Cyprians and the rest is full of greek Cyprians. Even the currency differs in these two parts. But since the past few years there has not been any agitation between the Turkish and Greek Cyprians and they are allowed to pass through the buffer zones to meet each other or explore the other part of Town. All in all , Cyprians are a wonderful set of people who host mind blowing parties and I’m happy to have seen that episode!

More details and dvd order available on:

http://www.pilotguides.com/tv_shows/globe_trekker/shows/europe/cyprus_crete.php

JSFoo Bangalore

Let me start this off with the story of how my talk got selected….yeah I SPOKE at JSFoo ! I submitted my talk proposal for PyCon and JSFoo at around the same time because they were the conferences I found most apt and tailored to my requirements, taking into consideration this year alone (Sept-Nov). I was lucky that my talk for JSFoo did actually get through, because this was my first chance to deliver an official talk to a tech oriented audience with more or less similar interests. The theme of this year’s JSFoo was “JavaScript everywhere”. You can check out the website (I know its too late – but you can always go next year) at JSFoo 2012

T-shirt

I am presently contributing to this project called – WebRTC at Mozilla, doing some bug fixes and helping out with a few tests. I thought this would be a great topic to talk about because this was a project with immense potential with all the big names like Google, Mozilla, Cisco, Ericsson, Opera etc involved in it and once this is out it will revolutionize the Web. So I talked to those involved in this project on the IRC and they thought it was a great idea too. They also helped me get in touch with the Mozilla Developer Relations team who would help me with selecting the content to present at JSFoo. My talk proposal can be found here – JSFoo WebRTC. I was very sure that the proposal wouldn’t get through because of the number of votes on it, but it did get through and nothing could contain my excitement. In this process, I also applied for the Mozilla Reps program and after a brief interview I became a Mozilla rep before i knew it. Whoa! So much happened in just over three weeks. Funny that nothing exciting like this ever happens at university (I thought universities were meant for this) !

Now, it was time to get started with preparing the slides for my talk as I had to submit them for review before JSFoo. Oh! I almost forgot I also did a sneak preview talk – WebRTC preview during PyCon about my talk at JSFoo thanks to HasGeek. I know the expression in the end is funny (made it quite popular at uni) but that’s not the point 😛 Got the slides prepared with some help from a few blogs, Justin Uberti’s talk at Google i/o , Anant’s talk at MozCamp Europe and of course my own content. The slides can be found at JSFoo WebRTC slides. All the references are added under – “Want to know more?” – So, no copyright issues please 🙂

Hall

Time flies real fast, before I knew it I was NIMHANS Convention center at Bangalore. It was a really cool place for a conference. It was great to be back in this environment, I had been wanting to ever since PyCon. Learnt a lot of new stuff during the first half – kicked off with a brilliant keynote, followed by a great talk by Rakesh Pai about what was being done at his startup called Errorception with node.js which was really informative. Then, there was a talk by Shreyank Gupta (who also became good friend) about Underscore.js and I realized then how fucked up my JavaScript code was in terms of readability and understandability. My advice to you all from the first session – use Java Script, experiment with node.js and score with Underscore.js. Then during the lunch I met a a few guys from a startup called Bang the table. They had interesting ideas and a lot of content to share. Had great food and good discussions. After lunch was the session on using CreateJS and Canavas by Haris Shivaramakrishanan, he was Adobe’s technical Evangelist. He showed us how to create a simple game using CreateJS in around 30 mins and how much fun it was to do it! He is a great speaker and it was a really entertaining talk which showed me that I could finish my Graphics mini project at university in 2 hours. Wasn’t really into the next session but I enjoyed the session by Jon Maim, founder of Minish on AngularJS.  Now, it was time for a cup of tea and then I was back again listening to how to internationalize Web Applications with the help of Wikimedia Libraries. The final session by Rakesh Pai just blew my mind – he built a robot with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, an Ultrasonic sensor and a few hardware parts on wheels. He controlled the robot which ran node on its Raspberry Pi with his laptop (obviously there was a wifi module) and this was really amazing to watch. It was one of the best sessions I had been to. Forgot to mention, in the midst of all the excitement during the breaks I was trying to get my WebRTC demos working – yeah they were NOT working :/ During this time I met some really great and helpful people – Kingsley, Sajjad, Yuvi, Harris, Vamsi and anyone whom I forgot to mention do forgive me (writing this blog in a hurry). Kingsley is like the GOD, Sajjad was a fellow Mozilla rep and he does a lot of stuff for HasGeek, Yuvi also does a lot of stuff for HasGeek and is a Wikimedia contributor, Harris is a new intern at HasGeek and Vamsi worked at Bang the Table. In the evening made friends with Shreyank who worked with Red Hat R&D at Pune. So, made great friends again – which is again one of the primary purposes of attending conferences.

Nagarjuna

It was 6pm and that meant it was time to PARTY! We had a party at the Xtreme Sports Bar. Been long since I had been there and it was great time – drinking beer, hogging, meeting new people and socializing. Also, played pool for sometime and in simple terms that night was just AWESOME! Got back and tried to see if I could do something about the demos not working on Windows. Went on IRC asked the guys, who told me they had just landed a patch on this issues and now the demos had to work. Updated my Nightly and tried…still didn’t work. Left early the next day to figure something out, and the moment I tried all the demos seemed to work. Yipee! – so the patch had landed and resolved all my issues. Now, I was looking through all my slides rehearsing for my talk and trying to shorten it to complete it within 30 mins or rather 25 mins as the last five minutes were for questions. So, I didn’t or rather couldn’t listen to Sankha talking before me. He had some technical issues with the projector and I was hoping the same wouldn’t happen to me. Now, it was my turn. I went  on stage feeling slightly nervous but once I began to speak I forgot it all 🙂 I too had issues with the projector unfortunately but it was more fun talking so it didn’t disturb me much. Though, I couldn’t show everyone the code for PeerConnection and DataChannels due to flickering projector (to emphasize on how simple the JS api for WebRTC was) I think the talk went pretty well (Disclaimer : Audience poll not taken). I think it would have been great if the projector didn’t act funny but I still had a great time and I really have to appreciate the tech support by the HasGeek team. The bottomline is I that I discovered that I love speaking on stage and I can’t wait to do it once more (please don’t curse me guys – I’ll show better stuff next time) 🙂

Arduino Bot

Again, it was a great day. I really enjoyed it and during lunch I got to talk to Aravind and Gaurav who were the founders of askabt, a new startup which was about to release their product at the end of this month. Learnt a lot from them and shared a lot of ideas. I also got a JSFoo T-shirt as I was a speaker…lucky me! I also talked to Jon after my talk as he seemed interested in WebRTC and also I was interested in his work at EPFL and Minsh. I also met Sunil after his talk and he is like this open and friendly super informative encyclopedia. His talk was fun and taught me new stuff. With Sunil and Jon’s help I am sure I can complete my Graphics mini project at college in an hour. As usual there was an awesome talk by Anand S on d3.js and it was simply entertaining and very informative. I think I am going to experiment with d3.js, it does look really tempting – what amazing visualizations it offers! In the end there was a talk by Sudar from Yahoo who also use JS to develop an Arduino bot which could be controlled from any laptop which was given access to it. Everyone controlled it and played around with it for a while. This was quite a fun session! After this it was the end of the conference and time for the vote of thanks and everyone to go back home. I wish everyone could stay back, I didn’t want to leave such a great crowd! Anyways I guess all good things have to come to an end. So, I really want to thank Zainab, Kiran, Sunil, Rakesh and all the other guys involved in organizing this brilliant event. Thanks guys! We should do this much more often!

Photos by : $hrink

PyCon India 2012

PyCon in India! wo! How can I not attend it – this was what I thought when I first  found out that there was to be a PyCon in India that too in Bangalore.  I registered right away and proposed a session as well, unfortunately the talk did not get selected (JSFoo seems to offer me more luck, but more about that later). The days I most anticipated were really worth the wait and the money.PyCon was just two days filled with fun, knowledge and of course the deadly Python.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw David Mertz giving the keynote address, one of the 11 directors of Python in India! It also had other people like Jacob Kaplan Moss, Anand S, Nick Coghlan and Prabhu Ramachandran who gave exceptionally good talks. I had the privilege to meet most of the mentioned people and got to know interesting stuff and also shared some ideas and got a great insight into how python could be and is being used in all the web and data analysis domains. Another person who I cannot fail to mention is Yannick Giringas who I had met during one of the talks. He was from FB in CA and he also shared a lot of knowledge and ideas which I could have never got from anywhere else. I did really enjoy the talk with him and his. Then PyCon was where I met a few of my high school friends and their friends which again was great not only because of the fact that I had not seen them for so long but because I got to explore new avenues, introspect on what I was going to do and of course I got to form new ideas and new philosophies about OpenSource, Higher Studies and Life in general.

We are not as gifted as Buddha to get enlightened in one go, but we can do it in parts and all these parts have to be done concurrently. One very important part (for us developers and preachers of computers, code and the internet)  is attending conferences, especially ones like PyCon where you meet new people with similar interests. It shows you how much more could be done and more importantly that you could do something about it. It opens up your mind to new possibilities, allows you to explore new areas and talk to experts in those fields. It helps you plot the graph of your life by adding new dots and more importantly it helps you connect them the way they should be (An analogy like the one in Connect the dots). It gives you an idea as to what all companies are working with the technology you are passionate about and what is to be done and being done in this field and the fields you are interested in. You get to meet and discuss with people which may lead to enlightenment or you working with someone who you just met towards some common interest. There is nothing like these conferences to boost your confidence and strengths so that you can delve deeper into your areas of interests, the real world problems and much much more resulting in the healthy survival of software, ideas, talent and society as a whole. So, be open, be innovative, share ideas, pursue your interests, learn new things, add to your knowledge DB and contribute to the society. (Btw a little of all these could be attained by attending good conferences)

A link to PyCon India is provided here so that you get an idea of what you have missed or in case you have attended = what you enjoyed:

http://in.pycon.org/2012/

P.S. My sincere thanks to Hasgeek, PSF and IPSS for organizing this event and all the sponsors for supporting it. 😀