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2008 August 27 [Wednesday]

its live


On Monday, Abhas, Tania and me met at the Deeproot office  ...yeah I should have blogged earlier.... pfft. but I dislike writing reports. so here is Tania's summary of the meeting to the indichix list :

Though I went to the meeting mainly as an observant, I wanted to share with the list what I found was an important input to the project: the idea of setting up labs not only as technical learning environments, but as project learning environments in which women (and men, Vid, please react/correct me if this was not a point agreed or discussed with Abhas) can contribute to the development of social projects which would be  enhanced by the use of free software. The advantage is that that contribution becomes itself a way of learning about FLOSS for those who are joining the labs. It is a two way process!!! It is a colaborative learning environment, set up not just for the sake to participate in the FLOSS community, but to doing it so, as a way to help others, to enhance community building around FLOSS, a community that goes beyond expert users. WOW! sorry, I really think is a great idea and I believe it completely fits into LC philosophy.

Besides DeepRoot has already a network of nonprofit organisations that would work as a starting point for this (http://www.deeproot.co.in/deepofix/users).

Unfortunately I could not stay till the end of the meeting, perhaps I could say something more if I would have ... but anyway, I hope in the other cities this labs are opening up great opportunities for you girls to develop new understandings and possibilities of what LC is about in India, just like I felt it started to happened yesterday at DeepRoot.

Tania's very eloquent mail saved me the task of writing most of this blog entry :-P so now i return to worrying about the coming weekend activity : how many hours will i waste to drape this ? Am missing the experts so much now :(

2008 August 25 [Monday]

linuxchix bangalore meet-up

Abhas of DeepRoot Linux expressed an interest in hosting LC-labs at bangalore and we are having a meet-up at his office at 4pm today. This should give each woman an opportunity to discuss their individual interests, find out what options are available and how she can make the best use of the facilities at hand.

The Deeproot office is near Cantonment station which I hope is not very inconvenient and yet central for women to access. Here is the office address : #93/4, First Floor, Nandidurga Road, Bangalore - 560046 INDIA

See you there !!

2008 August 15 [Friday]

LC Labs sponsors

At any given point my draft box tends to overflow with half-finished entries, some of which i discard if i aint in the blogging mood. To maintaiin the semblance of a regular blogger, i finally got around to using the weasel method of auto publishing while away enjoying the Independence day weekend. Happy 15Aug !

In the libre community the easiest way to ensure the growth of an idea or project is to allow people wanting to participate to take it further. So at Pune we have Swatee Karpe (PLUG) sponsoring the labs for weekdays and weekends and if you are in Mumbai you can get in touch with Jayashree Pare and Warren Noronha :
Email: warren.noronha AT gmail.com
Blog: http://www.hyperionreactor.net
Phone: +1-415-620-8700
Phone: +91-989-280-6204

While these spaces are open to the public, its not a random walk-in audience-oriented space. Rather, it is an opportunity for women (and men who support them) who usually collaborate online to work together, in person, on specific tasks. If interested, get in touch with the person(s) listed above to find out the timings. They will be managing the whole show locally.

If you have and idea, space or want to donate machines, here is a list of people whom you can contact for the following cities :

1] Delhi : Hassath [hassath gmail com] and AjayKumar [ajuonline gmail com]
Requirements: Space + infrastructure

2] Bangalore : me [vid at this domain]
Requirements: Space + infrastructure

For Chennai, Hyderabad and Mangalore we have people interested in being mentors and mentees but since this is the Free/Libre community feel free to take the initiative to find sponsors for space and infrastructure. Here is the standard format I use for writing to prospective sponsors.

--------- Letter --------

Dear Sir/Madam,

[Here, add your name and intro, unless you know the person, inwhich case, not required]

As per our discussion, this is a formal request to [add the company name] to provide us with a small room for conducting mentoring
sessions on Libre software in your organisation.  LinuxChix is a community for women who like Linux, and for anyone who wants to support women in computing. We are an international group of Libre Software users and developers, founded in 1999 with the aim of "supporting women in Linux". We have several local chapters [0] across each continent.

[0] http://www.linuxchix.org/regional-chapters.html

Having LC labs is an experiment, mainly aimed at increasing women participation in Libre software communities. Since the number of women contributing to libre software is very low (~2% ) when compared to men. In contrast the proprietary ICT industry has 28% participation, further balanced at around 50% in India, but yet few Indian women volunteer with Free/Libre software. We are trying to bridge this skewed gender gap and experiment with possible solutions.

Due to low ICT adoption in India, especially Libre software, we would like to earmark a sponsored local space which will be open to women of any age, irrespective of their financial, social or educational background to use. Since Libre software is freely available anyone is free to learn to use and contribute to it.

Thus far, LinuxChix has largely been an online interaction experience via IRC and mailing lists. This effort is meant to provide women the opportunity for periodical meetings, arrange regular sessions and workshops to contribute to Libre software. Currently, for Mumbai planning and execution is underway with Pune being the second city to follow.  The focus is on contributing upstream (Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, etc... ) and our activities would mainly revolve around :

- learning to do packaging,
- learning the dependency cycle,
- creating patches,
- bug squashing,
- localisation/translation of libre s/w
- conducting hack sessions,
- etc....

The LinuxChix-India Chapter was also featured in the ET recently :

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Infotech/Software/LinuxChix-India_aims_at_free_software_access_for_women/articleshow/3217080.cms

We have no age restrictions or qualification limits and any woman with a desire to learn is welcome. We hope [add company name]  can support us in this endevour and help us turn this into a successful experiment to inspire others to contribute and create Libre software and not limit it to Indians being mere consumers of Libre software.

Awaiting a positive reply !

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

[add your name]
Team LinuxChix-India

2008 August 5 [Tuesday]

An idea grows

Besides the pleasant weather another way to recognise I am in Bangalore is when there is a powercut. And what timing, precisely when i am working on the machine or need to fix dinner. Nice try BESCOM. </end infrastructure rant>

So far the responses to yesterday's request have been good, got some mails and an interesting comment. There was a request for Indichix labs in Mangalore and Bangalore BUT I never knew it would be so tough to get space in Bangalore. That is a surprise for sure.

I also got an office space for Pune and found a mentor in Chennai, Sudarsan Santiappan, who's comment had pertinent questions which may help us evaluate things. My reply to his comment was so long that I think its best converted into another blog post as I was repeating most of the following in each individual mails. Am I lazy or wot ^_^ ?

So here goes...

SSudarsan: If I understand correctly, this is typically equivalent to setting up a company which would target to deliver OSS. In the process of delivery, the team gets matured as OSS contributors.

Yes, in a sense its comparable, but the differentiator is none would earn a salary as we are non-profit project :-)  Jokes apart, for example, the goal is NOT to learn/create an "Indian" or a "pink" distro. Instead mentors can teach about the dependency cycle, package management, packaging across platform, and help to improve/develop/maintain the existing distro's, bug squashing/patching, and so on... Since LinuxChix is distro-agnostic, any experienced volunteer from the Debian, Ubuntu, Kde, Gnome, Python, Suse, etc ... communities can conduct talks, demos, take live sessions to encourage IndiChix. Most importantly sharing and learning in a group is fun and we develop new skills besides the knowledge gained during the learning process, plus the peer recognition and meeting nice people. So coolness factor is high !!

SSudarsan: The best places to start such an endeavor are the following;
1. Houses that can accommodate few computers and people with Internet support.
2. Computer centers of Schools and Colleges, which can hired at subsidized cost.
3. Tie-ups with Software Learning centers.

Cafe Coffee Day is not exactly the best venue for meetings nor conducive to learning packaging. So if we can provide an environment where they can come during weekends to learn for a few hours it would be a worthwhile experiment. In a nutshell the challenges and pressures are different and yet similar across different Indian cities; Also we are not-for-profit and have no inflow of revenue so hiring is a long shot at the moment, unless we find a generous sponsor :)

SSudarsan: One needs to have the following but not limited to; to sustain such an endeavor are the following:
0. Understanding the Vision

Contribute upstream. To add and expand, the moot idea is to reduce the challenges, as the knowledge divide for women is higher. With this experiment we can try to bridge this with help from like-minded people. Unlike other developed nations, in India, we have a number of women working in the proprietary software industry, which may be equivalent to men, but yet we have few (maybe around 100+) giving back to the Libre community. I met many newbies who are confused about:

+ where to start contributing, how to start, etc...

+ self-doubts about being good enough,

+ lack of knowledge about existing projects, or

+ Even wonder what to do at projectA, does my skill set match, do i have enough experience, etc... 


SSudarsan: 0a. Are you going to do service ?

Service ---> "upstream"  projects.


SSudarsan: 0b. Are you going to develop free s/w for the community ?

Absolutely, YES. Creating islands of excellence seems counter-productive.


SSudarsan: 0c. Are you going to commercialize the s/w developed ?

Not sure I understand what you mean but ...; I am no lawyer but I suppose; the existing license of the upstream project will prevail. This may change depending on the project too. :-8

SSudarsan: 0d. Are you having enough money flow to sustain this operation ?

As mentioned earlier, we are not-for-profit and generating revenue is not exactly on the top of the list right now. Besides the legal implications there are enough challenges, as is, to solve :)

SSudarsan: 0e. Who are the beneficiaries ?

Any (wo)man interested in helping and contributing to IndiChix, upstream projects, sponsors (you get to evaluate potential dedicated, hardworking technically adept women).

SSudarsan: 1. A Business model to sustain software development. Preferably a revenue model for sustained operation covering inflow and outflow.
2. A team of mentors/managers to train contributors and execute projects.
3. A detailed plan for people, projects, revenue in terms of growth and prospects.

and more...

If such a system is setup in Chennai, I would be willing offer mentorship.

The revenue model is too early imho, as
We (are a not-for-profit org and it has legal implications. Currently we will have to find a way to survive on sponsors aka charity.  Thanks for offering to mentor in Chennai.

To subscribe to IndiChix list, visit the list http://mailman.linuxchix.org/mailman/listinfo/indichix

2008 August 4 [Monday]

libre labs for indichix

A few weeks ago I had asked if there was any IT firm in India willing to host Free Software Labs just for women ? Many people wrote and asked what it would entail and I had suggested:

#1. Requirements :
1.1 Libre computer labs equipped with machines and an Internet connection.
1.2 Centrally located within city limits.

#2. Goals :
2.1 These labs ensure a static space so women dont have to travel far or to lonely places for local meets.
2.2  It would enable local FSF/GNU volunteers to introduce and teach them packaging, translation, bug-squashing, etc...
2.3  Increase contribution to upstream projects like Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, Suse, KDE, Gnome, etc...

#3. Do's and Dont's :
3.1 Not meant to be used for personal use (downloading movies/songs, chatting, etc...)
3.2 Currently restricted to women participants.

#4. Managing and growing the Idea :

Managing and decision making (how many days a week, who will talk, what talks, etc....) is left entirely to the women volunteers in the city.

4.1 Mumbai :  Although I had started out looking for space in Bangalore, I have an interesting proposal from an MNC in Mumbai who are willing to lend space, infrastructure etc). BUT at this point, I would like to know if chix in Mumbai are willing to take this further.I would not be able to do that from another city and neither am I interested in micro-managing things. I would prefer if local chix took initiative in this regard. So is anyone up to the challenge ?

4.2 Bangalore : Currently, machines are available but space is a challenge. At Mukt.in a few alternatives were suggested so let me see how things pan out.

4.3 Delhi : Not much except I found a committed volunteer (again at mukt.in) who is willing to help out with this. Any Delhi-chix interested ?

4.4 Other cities: Please reply to the list if you want a similar lab in your city.


The whole idea is centered around sharing and learning together. With a systematic effort we may reduce and hopefully eliminate the "how do I start" which is the common question every newcomer has.  That said,this needs your co-operation and depends entirely on your interest levels.

So I hope we pull this off as a team !!  Do add your thoughts /suggestions to improve it.

Thanks.

/end mail......................

That was the mail I had sent a little earlier to the Indichix mailing list. I just came back from Hyderabad today morning, where I was attending mukt.in from Friday. To my utter surprise things fell into place at and I have a lot to blog about, the event and the fun I had :-P

2008 July 16 [Wednesday]

launchpad re-launched

Rinchen just announced the new theme that LP has got. They have the nice new logo from the contest winner too :)  As i write this, I logged in once using an openid page and not the regular launchpad.net page.

The new theme is visible only to the beta testers so i cant blog much about what i like and dislike since that will keep changing too over time. But I noticed the favicon for the news page (see the url) has the old logo but the help page has the shiny new colored hexacon on the left, next to the url. So I filed a bug and its fixed (update). Now its time for some shuteye before the morning run.

2008 July 14 [Monday]

linuxchix-india in the news

Tweeting and denting helped this last month and now its back to blogging ?? .... dunno, but I have definitely been slow in blogging about LCIN being in the news. A few weeks ago Fred had written to the mailing list (along with a long questionnaire :-)) wanting to write an article on IndiChix (the Indian chapter of LC). His article on Indichix has now been syndicated in the Economic times and Siliconindia,and many other publications ...someone even dugg it. Nice, thanks Fred !!

Besides the other challenges that women face its no surprise that you will find access to infrastructure a real issue. This may be a common problem for a lot of women all across the world but in India its worse. Without getting into the reasons as I dont think they can be analysed, quantified and solved easily. Rather than dwell on the "why" I had suggested this idea on the list :

Ask IT MNC's in India as part of their CSR (corporate social activities) to sponsor small 'libre-learning-for-women-labs' in their office premises which should be open to any woman to use and learn about Gnu/Linux. These Libre computer labs should be equipped with machines and an Internet connection which would enable local FSF volunteers to introduce and teach them packaging, translation, bug-squashing, etc...

Is there any IT firm in India willing to host Free Software Labs just for women ??

2008 June 11 [Wednesday]

non-gpl hardware

Matthew has an interesting entry listing out all the non-gpl hardware components that we are still forced to use. I hope that catches the attention of Libre software proponents and gets them to redirect their energies, instead of wasting time dissing Ubuntu (no links, you can find the comments yourself) or griping about the other Libre software projects out there...

.....and no please dont say you only buy hardware that only supports GPL because the common folks on the street would not even know what is GPL and lesser still about binaries, codecs, embedded controllers, acpi, blah, blah...

For that matter it would be cool to have every electronic appliance around me run on GPL code ...hmm... ok, time to go back to reality now !

2008 May 22 [Thursday]

Freeze it

Touché, Craig ! At the Fridge we've been wanting to get all the loco's that had Ubuntu release parties and community events featured, but want to do that without treading on toes w.r.t. licence** issues. The team is working on some cool ideas at UDS and we want every loco team out there to send us articles, pictures, announcements, etc... of your local city-event on Ubuntu.

It does not matter if your event is small and was held in a college in foo-city/village/country. If it is Ubuntu related, it deserves to be on the Fridge and location does not matter. Frankly, a link from the Fridge can really drive traffic to your blog :)... [Caveat: make sure its a personal non-commercial blog and not related to your work-place/school/college or anything equally sticky... and puhleez no cheesy titles of 'Ubuntu with girl/boy-friends'. That would be the easiest way to not feature on the Fridge. You can do better.]

Go get creative folks! Submit of your stories (including pictures) should be sent to {fridge-devel (add@) lists (add.) ubuntu (add.) com}

** So does the CC cover issues like scrapers sponging off on your google juice? I've had issues with scrapers in the past, who according to SEO experts are parasites feeding on Adsense and dont deserve to sponge off me -- googling for the string "Vid" (my root, but its also a slang for 'video' in English) throws my blog within the first few hits, and thanks to both of them, my problem was solved. CC sounds good but apparently Google requires the authors copyright. 

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