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Science.Technology.Engineering.Medicine.

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2008 April 24 [Thursday]

no real name

Finally the real name policy (on LP beta testing team) has been done away with. In the past, there have been many discussions against the policy with zero outcome and not so nice things like people being kicked out for not following the "real name" policy. Last year, I was rejected for not agreeing to the RNpolicy and in Jan when the fridge was in transition mode, we editors were going to trial out the list via LP. Since I've felt the RN-policy was restrictive, I offered to leave the team rather than being forced to accept something that encroached on my individual/personal freedom of choice. That LP is not GPL'd is subject matter for another post.

I have always been a supporter of using nick's online and not necessarily because of gender and the accompanied harassment. If fame and recognition is what people want, they know how to get it, but in my case its a question of personal choice/freedom. That said, in the libre software community you are what you do/behave/act and one is not defined by name, age, nationality, colour, country, beliefs, etc...

.... Which brings me to policy making. Most times, on closer observation it is evident that policies are adhoc despite the good intentions behind it. If they lack the multi-dimensional view-point we wont be anywhere closer to a possible solution than when we started. Which will only leave us with procedures and processes which people will blindly follow (hint : the CoC signing, which needs a separate post too) because it exists and needs to be done with inorder to get to the next level of power. Wrapping a coat over the real issues does not get the desired positive results, if that is what the community wants to see happen....especially not if you are trying to solve a social problem with technical solutions. Does not work. Period.

So I am really glad that someone's been listening and finally got rid of the real name policy. Thanks, dil se :)

2008 April 3 [Thursday]

wrong path

Legitimizing monopolistic standards does not help create an open, free and transparent environment. Doing IT Wrong.

2008 April 1 [Tuesday]

libre laptop

Hmm... I've been lazy about bragging about this : The OS free laptop that I had helped load Ubuntu was sold within that week. How cool is that !!

I cant take any credit for the sale as it was the efforts of the sales person there, but knowing  that i contributed indirectly to the sale makes me feel warm inside. Breaking down pre-conceived mindsets was not easy and the sales guy did a good job of selling it. His manager informed me that they were pleased enough to pre-load all the machines with it. Now I need to mail him the Ubuntu-AMD cd's :)

I wish more machines would be sold with _linux-inside_ (tm?) in India. Go experiment, Be different!

2008 March 22 [Saturday]

holi and linux

Gone are the simple water-balloon days and what used to be a fun fest gets worse with each passing year. Ugh, who wants to walk around with purple-green hair... Holi is so much safer with just good friends N family, given that its de'riguer for strangers to pelt one with balloons filled with chemicals, or eggs, stones, paint (nope, not the fabric kind) and other assorted rubbish-filled balloons all through the week before Holi. On Holi day absolutely anything goes. Besides Holi, many friends will be celebrating Good Friday, Purim (Jews), Navroz (Parsis), Eid, and Magha Puja (Buddhist)... a lunar co-incidence of 6 different religions or what ? Happy festivities y'All :-)

Recently, I saw some laptops on sale/display sans any OS (had Free Dos) at a retail establishment. I asked for a demo and (as expected) he could not provide one. I asked if he would load any OS of my choice and he hesitated. He probably thought I might hand out a pirated Windows CD to him or something illegal so that was my cue to give him an primer on what Gnu/Linux, Ubuntu, GPL, etc... was all about and he smiled that all-knowing smile while listening and I knew it was a home run. Its a relief that awareness is getting higher, people actually know what piracy is all about and dont stare blankly when you say "Linux".

I happily provided him the Ubuntu (but ofcourse :-)) CD and the manager nodded approvingly as we had some good eye-candy for all to see. Since they had a number of models on sale sans the OS, I handed out some Ubuntu CD's to go with the other machines. To see a machine running an OS that is not Windows sitting pretty amongst others is quite nice. Even more fun to see the curiosity it evokes among casual passers-by. The practical touch-N-feel to see-it-work helps a lot more :-)

Btw, Bruce Perens is standing for board elections and needs your help. Viva Free Software !!

2008 January 23 [Wednesday]

indichix needs you

When it rains, it pours. How true ...

Starting week3 of the new year sick has echoes of the past which morphed into a crashed desktop disk and spiced things up with the Ubuntu kernel trouble on the lapy. Subtracted power last weekend for good measure and salted with patchy internet (/me being pro-active, changed it :)) when bestowed with power....boiled over to me wondering if i should have gone for it after all. Since i didnt, it was time for the IndiChix meetup last saturday with Ankita, Vikram and Balu (the Bangalore Mirror reporter) in attendance. Maybe its the location(*)... do we need to find a convenient, central venue in the city ? What the heck, i tend to go around in circles anyway. /eye roll.

Anyway the article that was supposed to be about women in Technology somehow landed up in the entertainment section of Bangalore Mirror. [/me cringes] So if anyone did read about us on Jan19 in the Bangalore Mirror, kindly fill in the blanks, since they dont have a website and Balu was not able to get a copy (sold out he said) that day.
Not that there was a deluge of applicants for this call ; which I announced today, making it easier to focus on stuff i really care about. I also posted the meet-up minutes to the list for further discussion. We had feedback that our website (which is a wiki) is very confusing for newcomers to navigate. Sheesh...... I have to agree that information is difficult to find but a wiki is always like that, in a constant state of flux. A static site is not inclusive and a wiki allows even a newbie to voice themselves. That is not an excuse, but the fact remains that none of the i'chix have ssh access to the private servers where the site is hosted (by Vaibhav) so we depend on him a lot at the moment, and cant keep demanding changes daily without proper planning. That is not practical in the long run. We still need to get the planet up and running, kwim ?
It makes more sense to get a team working right at the start (I understand when Sulamita talks about burn-out, time issues, etc..), something I'd rather not see happen with IndiChix. For this we have to increase the circle of trust and the faster we do it the better it is for the group. Also currently the women dont own the site domain which is ironical, being a grrls group and all that. Not sure about others but I find it absurd to call it a woman's group when women are playing second fiddle (read, scared of speaking their mind). Maybe women fear making mistakes (i know i do too) and being judged harshly on that prevents them from trying in the first place. In the technical world its almost rare to see women stepping up. Strangely, I rarely see men who commit -mistakes- blunders worrying about their image. i digress.

responsibility - authority == no show

One of the aim is to get women involved in every level in the community @ IndiChix, in which case we need to initiate open and transparent communication (which is very difficult as is, and almost impossible if one is constantly going to worry about inadvertently offending people) just like open source code.

Kick-starting that I mailed the IndiChix list (only subscribers can read archives) about the domain being transfered to atleast 2 grrls locally. Names suggested : Archana, Runa, Aneesha, Barkha, and Ankita. I guess responsibility without authority does not scale well in the free software community.... and since its a community it should be a community decision. So subscribe to the list and vote for any 2 grrls you prefer or if you are a 'chix, suggest your name and take over the responsibility. The third name I suggested was one of the TresChix, incase we local 'chix go MIA :)

Folks reading this, if you know grrls interested in web-development please ask them to join us and holler about themselves on the list and suggest ideas there.

(*) For most Bangalorean's distance is everything but here a commute of 15 km is a huge no-no, which is surprising for me. Well Mumbai has a reliable and efficient (albeit crowded) rail system, so people dont balk at travelling 68 km (incl. return trip/up-down) almost daily for work from Borivali to Churchgate (and back). But then folks there are the spirit of the city. There is no melting pot like it elsewhere.

2008 January 18 [Friday]

indichix meetup@blr

The meet-up is at 3 pm tomorrow (atlast :)) Since suggesting it last month, it was getting postponed, /me was sick and i almost thought it wont happen ...but it is gonna happen tomorrow at Christ College (and i still need to map out my way there...sheesh...if i am late means i am lost.). For tomorrow, I had almost convinced an upstream dev to agree to talk tech at the meetup and almost announced it on the list. Almost because as of now he has some other work so maybe next-time. Heck, I intend to keep bugging him till he agrees (and i know you are reading this :)) to talk about his project.

While i was wasting (a lot of) time googling for a solution to this issue earlier today, i saw a bounce in the mailbox from a journalist. Apparently, he had seen a blog about the meetup in bengaluru and wanted to give us publicity. Nice that mainstream media is taking an interest in technology :) Our little journalistic adventure is archived on the list since i had asked that a draft of the article/writeup be posted there. My assumption being : folks can quickly correct mistakes if any, as we have members from different timezones across the world, so responses will be quick (can i say 24/7 :)) and we can avoid wrong messages going in print. Recanting is always a waste of time and never really useful since the damage is already done. Well, there were not many corrections except crediting the appropriate projects.

Terminology is important and since most people will not know what GNU, GPL, FSF and FLOSS meant (egad....!) I sent him a bunch of links for the GNU and FSF projects and a wiki link on what FLOSS is all about. I hope he includes that in the article since that is the only way we can reach out and educate people. Even if one person takes the trouble to type www.fsf.org in their browser and read, we succeed and add to our ilk :) Let's see what happens tomorrow.
For those not in the know, Bangalore Mirror was formerly known as Vijay Times, a very popular daily providing local gup-shup until it was taken over by BCCL (aka TOI) sometime last year. Strangely they still dont have a website. Heck, even Mid-Day has an e-paper for Bangalore. Since i cant link BMirror here, i asked balu (the journalist) to bring 2-3 copies tomorrow when they attend our meet.
Talking of BCCL/TOI, Mint (an HT group publication) had an interesting article about them the other day. Some years ago i remember reading somewhere that most articles were paid for (as in, a company paid the print-media company to write about them, instead of buying plain visual 60x60 cm adverts, which few people glance at anyway). Check out the list of companies BCCL has invested in.

system down

i face a similar problem that neil williams has blogged about, here and here. Two days ago i updated the testing ubuntu system and the grub file was overwritten. That means when my system installs the updates and restarts, it wont be able to because of the annoying bcm43x driver issue crap. Arghhh..... So far i did try all the noapic nolapic permutations and combinations on this page, which ofcourse didnt solve my problem.

MJG explains some here and another here but frankly now i understand when people say Linux is not ready for the mainstream, add hardware that does not support free/libre software and you go down under. With no OS how the hell will they google for help. Thankfully i kept the dualboot on the lappy, so could use windows to google, which has not helped much but need to get this sorted asap. Using Windows the last 2 days has been well a test, but wth...

[update0-jan18] ram says the issue is with the filesystem (fuse), /home is in another partition and booting hangs whilst loading device drivers, does not even boot from the cd..... found a fuse problem, else may have to do a fresh install if nothing else works :(

2008 January 10 [Thursday]

GraphTheory

Being ill and drowsy with medication, this week I stuck to surfing, and saw this math problem, to be precise its graph theory :) Among the various ideas, i suggested Warshall's algorithm for shortest path. If its planer there is Kuratowski's theorem. Which will work better now?

2008 January 7 [Monday]

indichix needs list admins

Since I am spreading myself thin, i sent out a call for list admins for indichix. The purpose being to encourage grrls who have not started volunteering to make a start somewhere and as i see it, out here its best achieved by putting power and control in their hands.


Nothing huge, just a few minutes per week and as is the custom in "linuxchix.org" the more the merrier. Plan to keep it open till the weekend, which should be sufficient time for 'chix to respond.

BTW, whilst responding to the message (on the list), please do write a little intro about yourself, as much as you are comfortable revealing (ex. name, city, why and how you see yourself as a part of LCIN, how you plan to take this group forward, anything else you think is relevant to Libre s-w...), to help folks there get to know you better.... not mandatory, just courtesy.

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