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2010 October 9 [Saturday]

PyDojo-20101008

As per the schedule, we had the first dojo meet at CIS yesterday. Met Satish Kumar while searching for the CIS office and a helpful biker who cursed google-maps actually guided us there as we were both relying on the wrong geo-location plots on Google-maps (openstreetmap someone?)...as if the city's whimsical penchant for one-way roads was not irritating enough. There is an interesting anecdote --the biker who guided us there took us to the exact building and i asked him how he knew the place when 'CIS' didnt strike a memory chord. He promptly replied that there was a foreigner (he used the term 'white') who worked at CIS whom he has seen around town. Ah! There is something about finding your way around Indian roads, something to be said about the human touch that google-maps or other tech gadgets cannot compete with.

The CIS staff were very helpful and Royson immediately arranged refreshments and we both started off discussing what the dojo was all about -- many dojo participants around the world were nice enough to have a discussion on how they did things, what worked and didnt -- so it being the first day we had time to discuss how to structure it or not to have a structure at all, etc... In the middle of this discussion NigelB and Akshay Gandhi walked in and the discussion veered to the RHCE course he had joined. Later Nigel showed us the git graph he was working on. We had a longish discussion on git, bug trackers, communities and it was 8.45pm when we left, but not before planning to meet next week to work on nltk at 7pm same place. Join us!

I'm was multi-tasking --listening to a IE9 product pitch for html5/css3, while typing this entry, so any errors and missing information can be attributed to the much tortured greycells. </excuse>

2010 September 18 [Saturday]

ILUG-Bangalore meetup today

Announcing the ILUG-Bengaluru Meetup on Saturday 2010Sep18

Time:  1800 - 1930 hrs

Venue:  Jaaga,  Rhenius Street (Off. Richmond Road) , Opposite Hockey Stadium, Shantinagar, Bangalore

Directions: http://jaaga.in/contact

Agenda:

Open house:        Anything goes barcamp-ish session.

Regular Activities:         GPG keysigning - http://www.debian.org/events/keysigning


Note:  This is a back-to-back meetup with Ubuntu-IN . The Ubuntu-IN meetup is from 1630 to 1800hrs and is about Indian Language Localisation and all other things Ubuntu.

2010 May 16 [Sunday]

a commercial opportunity

A visiting professor wrote about a commercial opportunity available at their college which is looking for folks who can set up a bulletin board and forum to answer questions from students. Here is a brief write up of the job:

a) Are you the one who can answer all the following questions without flipping / blowing your top off :
1) How can I use the vi editor to edit my file? What is Couchdb?
2) How can I compile my program better than typing javac myProgram.java / How can I use the Facebook OpenGraph API?


b) Are you someone who is willing to be surrounded by young minds willing to learn and open to learning new stuff? Are you willing to try new stuff that can help improve the spread of knowledge

c) Do you feel stifled by your job and are willing to try out the new technologies before settling on a steady corporate job? Have you wanted to improve the quality of learning? Have you yearned for infrastructure to try your ideas but did not find it. For example do you want to try a cluster ? Do you want to play around with Clojure and want a couple of interns / bright minds who can help you try Proof Of Concept ideas ?

d) Are you good in setting up forums / moderating online technical forums

e) Are you in Bangalore?

If all the above excites you and you want to contribute to the making of the next generation education institution this is your choice. Send a mail to nextgenerationbangalore@gmail.com with your resume and a short write up on why you fit the bill and we can start talking.

2010 May 8 [Saturday]

chaturanga

Sexual assaults involving ministers mixed with never-ending power-cuts make a heady summer mix. Its not surprising that the frequency of water cuts and power cuts has spiked the moment local Municipal elections voting got over. People have filed PIL's but KPTC/BESCOM cant seem to curb the power theft that occurs right under its nose, which is self-evident when you take a walk around any main street with shops and direct your gaze skyward to see the criss-crossing wires from each electricity pole situated on the roadside--all illegal but under the benign gaze of the officials. The shopkeeper will tell you why you could not get away with it without the connivance of the employees of inefficient BESCOM whose palms they regularly grease, lest its converted into "commercial rates" which is four times higher than the residential rates....and thus residential power theft continues. The powers that be are aware of the irregularities and yet dont care. What would it take to turn things around?

If that is the local state of affairs, the national level is no better. Nope, Sonia Gandhi, a woman at the helm has not changed things for the better. Its not uncommon for women to bear the brunt and pay the price when it comes to law-making policies. India has always had women politicians and yet the scams continue to tumble out of the closet catching the players on a sticky wicket, and we continue to live with corruption, lobbying for power while the money-making games continue, resulting in tacit compromises instead of clean governance. If anything politicians lack the will to root out corruption and a citizen has no choice when it comes to choosing a clean political party to represent them. Today, corruption and crimes are committed by politicians from just about every party and ideological frame of mind --Quid pro quo.

2010 January 19 [Tuesday]

january meetup

Bangpypers Bengaluru Meetup

DATE+TIME:: 20100123 (Saturday) at 1530 Hrs.

VENUE:: ThoughtWorks Technologies ; 2nd Floor, Tower C, Corporate Block, Diamond District, Old Airport Road, Bangalore.

AGENDA::

1. BaijuM will give a demo about using collective.buildbot for setting up buildbot (Continuous integration server) 

2. Noufal will give a short intro talk about setting up a buildbot at his workplace for CI using py.test, being customised to run the tests.

2010 January 8 [Friday]

bengaluru lug january meet

Here is an update on the Bengaluru LUG meetup tomorrow:

From, http://groups.google.com/group/ilug-bengaluru/browse_thread/thread/e276d78bb443394f

ILUG Bengaluru Meetup - Saturday 9th January 2010

Time:  1630 Hrs onwards.

Venue:
       ThoughtWorks Technologies
       2nd Floor, Tower C, Corporate Block,
       Diamond District, Old Airport Road

Agenda:

       Neo Freerunner

               - state of neo freerunner/ open hardware
               - state of the software/firmwares openmoko/android etc.
               - personal experiences of various users

       Anything goes session

       Will be an unstructured/open format meetup.

Regular Activities:

       GPG keysigning - http://www.debian.org/events/keysigning

For newcomers

The meet itself will last ~1-2hrs, but usually a smaller group tends to move
to other locations for extended discussions which can potentially last until
way past dinner :-)

Kingsly.

2010 January 6 [Wednesday]

key signing party with DD Sean Finney

http://groups.google.com/group/ilug-bengaluru/browse_thread/thread/d99f63e1a9f8090f?hl=en

There is a meet today evening for key signing, followed by a dinner. Debian Developer Sean Finney will be there.

People interested for key signing or attending the meet, please feel free to join us.

Venue: Koshy's Restaurant
Time: 18:30 hrs IST
Guide:
http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=4568273450830720944&q=Koshy%27s%2BRestaurant,%2BBangalore

http://tinyurl.com/yz8ej7n

PS: Please carry a copy of your ID (preferably Passport or Driving License) for the Key Signing.

Regards,
Ritesh

2009 December 29 [Tuesday]

neo freerunner meetup in bangalore

There is a Neo Freerunner meetup scheduled on Saturday, 2010Jan09 in Bangalore. Since the timing for the meet was not mentioned, mail Manish Chakravarty [manishchaks at gmail d0t c0m], if you are interested in attending this meet at TW.

TW's address :
ThoughtWorks Technologies India Pvt Ltd ;
2nd Floor, Tower C, Corporate Block ;
Diamond District ;
150 Old Airport Road ;
Bangalore - 560008

2009 November 17 [Tuesday]

bangpypers lug meetup

Date and Time : At 16:00 hrs on 2009Nov22 (Sunday).

Venue :  ThoughtWorks Technologies ; 2nd Floor, Tower C, Corporate Block ; Diamond District, Old Airport Road ; Bengaluru

Proposed agenda: R.Mahadevan's talk on python bindings for llvm.

2009 November 8 [Sunday]

Mining for money and power

This entry is an ode to our shining political servants (pun intended).

#0#. After 17 days of hardcore bargaining, Mumbai finally hosted the swearing-in of a government for Maharashtra state.

#0#.Down South, Karnataka's politicians are busy playing with the tax-payers money, while the US thinks its getting Bangalored with competition.

President Barack Obama has exhorted schools in the US to develop globally competitive standards to help students take on `folks in Beijing and Bangalore'..........engage in intrigues, mud-slinging, backstabbing and witch-hunting. They throw ideologies to the winds, ditch friends and join hands with foes. They use money and muscle power to bulldoze their way to the seat of power....

#0#. A Ranchi resident files a PIL on Koda and Co. who had de-frauded 3.6 crore rupees per day for 3 years to bid for South African mines while his wife sacrifices goats for his well-being as the ED is hot on his tail with an imminent arrest.

#0#. China sees RED when the Dalai Lama visits an Indian state while many Indian states have Naxals and Maoists on a killing spree and our national song, Vande Mataram, has been issued a fatwa by Muslim clerics.

Mera Bharat Mahan - Indians are ironically a blessed lot!

2009 October 7 [Wednesday]

more PyCon-IN-2009 moments

Finally both the key organisers decided to blog and its always nice to read detailed posts. 

Shyamshankar : "......The next session, was mine...... on “Idiomatic Python”.......The focus of the talk was ........ Python 3.x. .....there should have been more core language talks......."

Kenneth writes : "....my first experience of interacting with with a non-foss group,...... I stayed cool ........ During the testing period, there were a lot of suggestions, comments and criticism, by and large constructive and helpful, although some of them were totally inane...."

My tiny (almost zero) contributions were testing his app online, so i hope any comments / suggestions didnt sound inane ^_^

Noufal modestly opines : ".......and I don’t think I’m being immodest if I said that I did a decent job. The credit for the whole event though belongs to the entire community since everyone pitched in at the right time to keep the whole thing running smoothtly. Give yourselves a hand..........."

Although I couldnt make it, all the attendees who blogged about the conference had only good things to say about pycon india 09. That, in my view, is the best credit any event organiser can get.


2009 March 5 [Thursday]

Sexual assaults in public spaces

I've changed the title of this post thrice because I refuse to dilute sexual harassment and assaults by calling it eve-teasing -- sounds frivolous and trivialises crimes against women.

India in the 21'st century is definitely unsafe for women, even if she is accompanied by a man and nobody seems to care enough about public sexual harassment to act on it. I've had to warn many female (and male) friends visiting India to NOT travel alone or even in groups of 4-5 women as they dont know the local language and without men in their group its inviting trouble. Saying that about your country sucks big time.

On Monday after a protest was held outside the police commissioner's office, Shankar Bidari, the police commissioner of Bangalore said :

"Bangalore people are so cultured people they will never tolerate any indignity, harassment or assault on women. Even without police and without government, the dignity of women in Bangalore city is perfectly safe and protected,"

I wish !!  One of the women who was attacked describes her ordeal and after reading this article, its deeply disturbing that the PC who is responsible for the safety of the city's citizens has trivialized the issue with insensitive press statements but didnt the Home Minister Dr V S Acharya and District In-Charge Minister J Krishna Palemar called the pub attack and MLA’s daughter’s abduction as ‘small and common’ incidents and scream at the media reporter to "not waste his time with silly incidents" ?! There was a photograph of the Police Commissioner (check out "After hrs" last page of Bangalore edition of DNA newspaper dated 2009mar05) calmly enjoying the Mysore Maharaja's birthday bash on Tuesday at Palace Grounds Palace because : None of the women noted the assailants bike numbers, hence NOTHING can be done.

WRONG, Mr. Bidari, Bengaluru is not safe...... INDIA is not safe for women. I can narrate my experiences too BUT do you even want to listen to women like Archana and others who were attacked ?!

Join us :

Women in Bangalore are facing serious violence and attacks - for wearing jeans, going out in the streets, fighting back the moral police etc and we need to stop these attacks. This is a letter to the police commissioner/home minister/press release regarding the recent attacks on women in bangalore,

Endorse the petition at : http://www.petitiononline.com/petition.html


FRI, Mar06 :
Please come to ALF [Phone : 080-2286 5757] on Friday anytime between 2-6pm to make posters for the protest at the DGP'S office on saturday.. Charts and colours will be provided but feel free to bring your own and you can bring money you would like to contribute. Alternative Law Forum, 122/4 Infantry Road, (opposite Infantry Wedding House), Bangalore 560001, (nearest bus stop- Shivajinagar Depot)

SAT, March07:
1. Gather at Nrupathunga Road at 15:30.  (Parking available at YMCA, DG's office compound, etc.)  Stand on either side of the road, outside DG-IG's office, holding placards, silently.
2. Either the DG-IG comes out at 16:30 collects the memorandum and addresses the audience, or a small representative group goes in to his office when called and present the memorandum.
3. If the latter, then the representatives will address the gathering, when they come out.
4. Gathering shall disperse at 17:30.

SUN, March08:
0. On Sunday 2009March08, International Women's Day,members of the group and other citizens will walk down various prominent roads of the city. Its called "Take Back the Night Walk" and is being held by women to reclaim our lawful right to be safe at night across India. It starts at Indiranagar, Ulsoor and the other two places where the women were attacked
1. At 18:00, people will gather at the five locations as designated by the area coordinators.  They will interact with the audience (in as many languages as possible), and spread awareness about the various goals of the Fearless Karnataka campaign.   This will involve spreading of information flyers and testimonials, conducting bystander polls, and other such forms of interaction with the people on the streets.  This can go on till 20:00.  (Volunteers for poster-sticking will do so around this time.)
2. At 21:00, people gather at the designated spot in Majestic, bringing along with them necessities such as food, water, and community spirit.  There will be further performances, video projections (if possible), songs, and other such activities there.
3. This will go on till 23:00, when people will disperse in their vehicles (pooling as much as possible), in public transport, tempos (which are currently being investigated), etc.

[updated, from FKNK]

2009 March 2 [Monday]

UbuntuWomen meetup and BarcampBengaluru

Living in different countries means syncing oneself across the timezone span and after the fever and sinus torture of last weekend I was not sure if I'd have it in me to stay awake till midnight staring at the screen or making any coherent statements in the current heat wave. I hate Indian summers :( but I digress ...

Technology makes it easier to sit at home and meet various folks online in real-time so we (read Ubuntu-Women) did just that and had an IRC meetup last night as a kind of stock taking on the project founded (by yours truly :)) three years ago. Gosh 3 years already !! Everyone agreed that UW was doing well and that we love it in its present form :) We would like to do more but given that each of us is handling more than we can as is, its stretching things to take on additional responsibilities. Mamarok volunteered to do a series of interviews for Ubuntu's Full Circle mag so that is something to look forward to.

On saturday, someone asked me if I was attending BCB8 this time too and i remembered that Jose's talk (now postponed) was scheduled on the same day...darn !! Since Ram's office was hosting us it was imperative that we release the space for others. Jose was in great demand from a lot of groups who wanted him for a talk at their college/lug meetup so I will need to see when he is free next.

Talking of Barcamp bangalore, there was a lot of angst (on the list) over the undue focus on technology to the exclusion of non-techie technology enthusiast. The wiki has been replaced and one has to register an account now for bcb8. I completely understand why the blogger or general technical enthusiast would feel excluded but in retrospect I also realise why there is a tech-focus (even if it is forced on us, the unwilling junta). I have attended only 2 barcamps thus far, loved BCB6 the most, with BCB7 lacking the magical spell that I had so come to take for granted at a barcamp.

I dont really want to see a sales pitch, even if it is a startup and they have done something cool or got VC funded and hence the listener must endure a monologue, one-way conversation. Whoever wants to be talked down to? How boring. I want to be able to interact and talk to people and share ideas. For me a barcamp would mean seeing someone talk about linux and not really about sessions on astrology and Kamasutra/dating.  Even if they had maximum participants and maximum laughter was heard from the rooms where these sessions were being conducted, I didnt plan on attending the dating/KS session and Tania and me sat through the astrology session at bcb7 because that was the only room where we could charge our laptops :( Gah, so much for attendees.  Travelling 32 kms on a weekend suddenly seemed a waste of time :-(

I hope bcb8 @ Y! changes into an upswing with the magic of bcb6

2009 February 24 [Tuesday]

National coalition for Libre software

Nah, I didnt have a free weekend nor did I go out as planned, the crick in my neck and painful shoulder not withstanding. Rather, I spent this weekend attending two Libre software events. I use the term "Libre" to denote "free software" simply because the latter confuses many people into the "i-dont-need-to-pay-money" mode which is very misleading and erroneous description. Hmm... who does not like free stuff but the English word, "Free" != "phukat/muft" and the term "libre" is more close to the Indian translation of philosophical "liberation".

  • LUG meet

It was a meet i was gonna miss but things got sorted and I walked in at 6:30 pm to find the meet was still going on. Err.. imagine listening to Manish for 2+ hours....poor attendees :P ! A coffee break later (which I'm sure the listeners craved by now) Ritesh spoke about DM and we wound up at 9 pm. Yeah, its inconvenient for a lot of folks. Completely agree with kingsly that we need a bouncer to pull speakers off the stage. Any volunteers :-D? I saw a number of new faces, so we are definitely growing. Yippieeeee !

  • National Coalition for Free software

Initiated by IT for change, CIS-India hosted a meetup in Bangalore on Sunday where the objective was to get feedback from different groups working and volunteering in Freesoftware communities. Leaving my friends at MG Road with a promise to return in an hour, I walked out at 7pm :). When I walked in there was a pre-meeting going on and later the room filled to around 35-40 people. Currently many individuals and organizations are acting in isolation and that dilutes the effort so this meet was to find out how we can collaborate and help each other out. COOL !!

Met Kenneth, Radha dropped by, as did Sriram and Kingsly, besides many other folks I had met at different time spans including Prashant from AltLaw forum and 2 more lawyers. Vinay who was taking minutes of the meeting has a complete picture captured in words. I am waiting for Vinays synopsis of  Sunday's confabulations to hit the list:). 

Introductions started and Abhas was perhaps the only company there with the rest of the motley crowd comprising of volunteers and NGO representatives. Each of us spoke about our contributions to Libre software, discussed the challenges we faced and the common recurring theme was lack of support on the ground level. Kenneth spoke about the work NRC-Foss was doing in smaller 2/3- tier cities and how they promote learning and sharing via wiki's, which received a sum total of 3 lines worth of content contribution in the last 2 years of its existence, if i remember his words correctly. Kingsly suggested we should have smaller events all around the year to increase the participation and reach. I had spoken about the lack of women contributors/volunteers in libre software, where I do draw a distinction between people paid to work in Free software and those that do it in their spare time. Both are important but there is a significantly less amount of spare time the non-paid female volunteer gets and that is where the "be nice, be polite" LC philosophy helps in making the transition easy.  While there are many female Linux users, the contributors are definitely a smaller subset of this set.


While encouraging more people to adopt Linux is important, Sebastian and Yann echoed others with "Increase contributors, not just consumers of Linux". They summed this up towards the end but I highlight this here because the first thing a volunteer/contributor encounters is the community which is largely via the mailing lists/IRC and forums. If she encounters a hostile atmosphere where aggressive flaming and posturing is indulged in by a handful of vocal flamers, it is bound to turn this person to be a passive observer, lurk quietly and most people (including men) usually leave quietly, all of which are a loss. Yeah, feel free to disagree that you are immune to nastiness and that assholes should be ignored. Umm...naa, I dont have to tolerate assholes to use Linux/Libre software, much less while contributing my time for free. No one should have to tolerate assholes. Period !! For a change, stand-up to bullies around you and say "Stop being an Asshole". It works.


License issues arose but by and large the most common and recurrent theme in the discussion was the lack of support, with almost everyone agreeing that Linux support sucks, commercial and community alike. They are right, there is no local framework where people can communicate face-to-face. IMHO, a local lug is perfect space to plug this gap. I touched upon why its important to have more local meets and more sessions, install fests aimed at newbies where they can have face-to-face community interactions and participation and this was in the "what do we plan to do" section.  There are probably lakhs of people who dont know how to use a mailing list and/or IRC. Hey, I certainly dont expect my family members to log onto IRC to ask for help and would rather help them out. Nah, I dont think they should not have to RTFM, google or any other bull-shit that one gets to hear from nerdy geeks. Well these are the folks that would solve a Linux problem for their own kith and kin so why not others?  What of those folks who would still be open to trying out Linux but dont have kids to help them out. Suparna was explaining how hard it was for her to make this switch to Linux and she ploughs on because she has nice people around her willing to help her out.


Libre software in Education was discussed and related an incident of ICSE schools treating computer education as a money-spinner. Heck, education has become a "get-rich-quick" scheme instead of the original goal, that of imparting knowledge. Somewhere in the rat race we seem to have allowed education to be overtaken with money and greed. *sigh* !!  There were many good ideas and a number of people signed up to various tasks.  Another suggestion I had was regarding the  the government encouraging small and medium scale entrepreneurs in Libre software (not just the large software export houses). If the manufacturing industry can gets tons of sops for women entrepreneurs why not replicate the same model for women in Libre/Free software which is a great start-up enabler. Besides Tax-incentives, this would also solve the problem of women leaving the work pool after marriage/kids. It will also allow the creation of more jobs and increase the employment rate since Libre software needs a learning attitude more than fancy expensive degrees.  The benefits are many but this needs a detailed analysis, so I'll pen those in a separate blog entry.

When it came to a coalition, most opined that it would be better to have and independent NGO for this purpose and many organisations would not be comfortable to go under any existing banner. For example, FSF-India has a limited agenda and would not be interested in local meet-ups and such like. When the question of signatories was thrown up, I mentioned that since LC and UW are not registered entities, I am not an elected representative holding any office of power so I cannot represent the project legally or aim to speak on its behalf unless authorized to do so. I was just a volunteer donating my valuable time. This was true for many individual contributors who are now welcome into the coalition. It was also suggested that atleast one such meeting be held in Chennai (which KG agreed to do), Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkatta. Sunil was the most gracious host with pastries, samosas, patties, and coffee being served to each guest and we wound up by 7pm, with the post-meeting discussions being very interesting too.

But right now I need to go pen a rant on why I hate this city's one-way roads. No really they suck big time... starting with a nice kick for that idiot auto driver  for giving me directions to Frazer town from Cunningham road, instead of MG Road. Neither do I have that bad an accent and nor does MG road sound like Frazer town. Sheesh, can someone start a "NO Oneway roads" campaign please !!

2009 February 20 [Friday]

moral policing and hooliganism in Bangalore

There is more to Bengaluru than the "Indian silicon valley" tag and there is no dearth of self-styled criminals and goons masquerading as culture-vultures.

From, http://vishshanker.sulekha.com/blog/post/2009/02/this-happened-in-bangalore-bengaluru-shocking.htm

A few of my friends and I were just paying our bills and coming out of our regular Friday night watering hole and dinner place in Rest House Road, just off Brigade Road, and most of the women in the company were already standing outside. Some of us outside were smoking, people were happy, there was laughter and jokes, as there were many other people in the street, all coming out, satiated, in the closing hour of the various pubs and restaurants around.

Suddenly from up the street a massive SUV comes revving and speeding, hurtling down, and stops in a scream of brakes and swirling dust, millimeters away from this group of 4 women, barely missing one of their legs. A white Audi, imported, still under transfer, with the registration plate of KA-51 TR-2767. Some millionaire's toy thing, that in the wrong hands can kill.

Naturally the women are in shock. And quickly following the shock comes indignation. These are self made women running their own businesses, managing state responsibilities for global NGO firms, successful doctors. They are not used to being bullied. So they turn around, instead of shrinking back in fear. They protest.

And as soon as they turn around in protest, the car doors are flung open, and a stream of 4-5 rabid men run out towards these women, screaming obscenities in Hindi and Kannada against women in general, fists flailing. Some of us who came in running at the sound of the screaming brakes now stand in the middle in defense of our women, and then blows start raining down. One of the goons make a couple of calls over the cellphone, and in seconds a stream of other equally rabid goondas land up. They gun straight for the women, and everyone – a few well-meaning bystanders, acquaintances who know us from the
restaurant, basically everyone who tries to help the women – starts getting thoroughly beaten up.

Women are kicked in the groin, punched in the stomach, slapped across the face, grabbed everywhere, abused constantly. Men are smashed up professionally, blows aimed at livers, groins, kidneys and nose. A friend is hit repeatedly on the head by a stone until he passes out in a flood of blood.

A plain-clothes policeman (Vittal Kumar) who saunters in late stands by watching and urging people to stop, but doing absolutely nothing else. A 'cheetah' biker cop comes in, with our women pleading him to stop this madness, but he refuses action, saying a police van will come in soon and he cannot do anything. Everyone keeps getting hammered. Relentlessly.

The carnage continues for over 20 minutes.

Finally when the police van does come in it is this vandals who are raging and ranting, claiming to be true "sons of the Kannadiga soil", and we are positioned to be the villainous outsiders, bleeding, outraged. How do the cops believe them, especially seeing the bloody faces of our men and the violated rage of our women, while they carry nary a scratch on their bodies? Don't ask me! Yet, it is us who these goondas urge the newly arrived law-keepers to arrest, and the police promptly comply, and we are bundled into the van, some still being beaten as we are pushed in. Some blessed relief from pain inside the police van at least, even if we are inside and the real goons outside, driving alongside in their spanking white Audi. The guy who was hit by the stone is taken  separately by the women to Mallya hospital.

Inside the police station at Cubbon Park it becomes clear that these goons and the police know each other by their first names. The policeman in charge (Thimmappa) initially refuses to even register any complaint from me, on the purported grounds that I am not fluent in Kannada and I have taken a few drinks (3 Kingfisher pints, to be precise) over the evening. No, it doesn't matter that I didn't have my car and was not driving, and no, it doesn't mater that the complaint will be written in English. We watch them and the goons exchange smiles and nods with our our bloodied and swelling eyes and realize in our pain-clouded still-in-shock brains the extent of truth in the claim of one of the main goons when he claimed earlier in the evening in virulent aggression: we own this town, this car belongs to an MLA, we will see how you return to this street!!

This was the turning point of the saga, I guess. For we refused to lie down quietly and be victims.

One of our girls, a vintage and proud Bangalorean who is running one of the town's most successful organic farming initiatives, took upon herself to write the complaint, when I was not allowed to write the same. Another Bangalore girl, a state director of a global NGO firm, wrote the other molestation complaint separately on behalf of all the girls. Some of us called our friends in the media and corporate world. Everyone stepped up. And even when the odds were down and we were out, we did not give up, and as a singular body of violated citizens we spoke in one voice of courage and indomitable spirit. That voice had
no limitation of language, not Kannada, nor English, or Hindi. It was the voice of human spirit that cannot be broken.

And in the face of that spirit, for the first time, we saw the ugly visage of vandalism, hiding behind the thin and inadequate veil of political corrupt power, narrow-vision regionalism and self-serving morality, start to wilt.

We spent 6 hours next day in the police station. The sub-inspector of police who filed our FIR, Ajay R M, seemed a breath of fresh air inasmuch that he did not appear a-priori biased like others, even though the hand of corruption and politico-criminal power backing these goons was still manifest in many ways: a starched, white-linen power-broker walked in handing over his card to the sub-inspector in support of the goons; the goons got an audience with the Inspector because of this intervention, while we had to interact one level lower down in the hierarchy; the plains cloth policeman of last night, even though he had arrived far too late in the crime scene, gave a warped statement, passing it off as a "neutral" point of view, repeatedly stressing that we came out of a pub and hence were drinking, positioning this as a 'drunken brawl', while completely forgetting to mention the unprovoked attack against the women and the one-sided vandalism and violence that ensued. I guess one cannot blame the low ranked police officer – the criminal connections of these goons must be pervasive enough for him to be careful.

Thanks however to the impartial handling of the situation by Ajay, soon the goons were all identified. The lead actor was one Ravi Mallaya (38), a real estate honcho and owner of a small property off Brigade Road which he has converted into a "gaming" (you know what that means, don't you?) adda. The others identified are Mohan Basava (22) of Chamarajapet 12th Cross, R. Vijay Kumar Ramalingaraju (25) and Shivu Rajashekar (20). All are residents of 12th & 13th Cross in Vyalikaval. Their bravado and machismo were by that time evaporated. It was good to see their faces then.

Of course nothing much happened to them, nor did we expect it. They were supposed to be in lock up for at least the weekend till they were produced in court, but we understand that they were quickly released on (anticipatory?) bail. The car, purportedly belonging to an MLA, also does not figure in the FIR, apparently for reasons of "irrelevance to the case".The media also have given us fantastic coverage and support so far, strengthening the cause.

The goons meanwhile, as an after thought, also filed the customary reverse complaint on the morning after we filed our own complaint: the women have apparently scratched the car! (Why did they not file the complaint the same night, considering they came to the Police Station in the same car? Why was the car allowed to be taken off police custody? Why is the car still irrelevant to the case and not in the FIR? Questions.. questions..).

Is this the end of this saga? Probably not. Are these women, more precious to us as friends and wives than most things in our lives, safe to walk or drive down Brigade Road from now on or are the goonda elements, slighted by this arrest and disgrace, are lying in ambush, waiting, biding their time to cause some of us more grievous harm? We don't know. Is there reason for us to remain apprehensive of future attacks and victimization? Perhaps.

But here is the point.

We stood up.

We believed in the power of individual citizens even in the face of hooliganism, intolerance, corruption and power mongering. Even though many of us have the option of leveraging political or government connections, we deliberately chose to fight this battle as individuals. Sure, these connections have been activated and they have been kept informed, should the worst case scenario unfold tomorrow. But we have chosen to not leverage them. And in every small win we
register as a group of individual outraged citizens of Bangalore and India, however insignificant these milestones may be in the larger scheme of things, there is one small notch adding up in favor of what is right, one small notch against what is wrong. And we believe that every such small notch counts, each such mark is absolutely invaluable.

It is the people who make this city, this country, this world. It is you and I, as much as the terrorists inside and outside. And in our small insignificant little ways, it is my responsibility and yours to not shirk from investing effort – not just lip service or any token attempt, but real effort – in backing up what we ourselves believe in. It is so easy to logically argue that everything is corrupt, nothing is worth it, there are so many risks involved. We must not fall trap to this escapist trend. We must not fail to try.

Next time you feel outraged, violated, abused, don't let it go by and add up to your list of litanies and complaints. Stand up and take it to the limit - at least your own limit. Not in the same way as they wrong you, but in the way that every citizen, at least in theory, is entitled to complain and protest. Do not let the hooligans power rant scare you or prompt you into submission. Do not allow the corrupt cop make you give up trying. Carry the flame forward. Try harder.

If are up to it, start right now.

Forward this note to everyone you want to be made aware of this. Post it in your own blogs. Talk about it amongst your circles. And if anyone of you should like to step forward with a word of empathy or advise, talk to me. Comment.

It is not Bangalore that is going to the dogs. It is us. We have far too long become accustomed to let everything go. And the more we let things go without any protest or fight, the dormant criminal and dark elements of the society get that much more encouraged. Every time we turn the other way, the hooligan next street gets incentivized to push the boundary a little further, provoke a little more, try something a little more atrocious. It is time for us to refuse to let this go on. We are responsible for making ourselves proud. Lets believe in ourselves. We can do this.

My name is Saugata Chatterjee. And I am standing up.I refuse to let Bangalore go to the hooligan slumdogs, even if some of them are pets of corrupt power millionaires.

Bengaluru LUG meet on Feb21

From : http://groups.google.com/group/ilug-bengaluru/msg/25b35d77e6514b9d

ILUG Bengaluru Meetup - Saturday 21st February 2009

Time: 1630 Hrs onwards.

Venue:
ThoughtWorks Technologies
2nd Floor, Tower C, Corporate Block,
Diamond District, Old Airport Road

Agenda:

Introduction to the Android Platform  - Manish Chakravarty

- Introduction to Architecture Components/Subsystems
- State of the Android Platform
- Developing for the Android Platform
- Demo of the current state of the platform

Device Mapper - How it works and why you should be using it - Ritesh Raj Sarraf

- Design of the DM Framework
- Advantages/Disadvantages
- Using Device Mapper

Regular Activities:

GPG keysigning - http://www.debian.org/events/keysigning
Open house where participants can interact / discuss other topics.

RSVP at http://ilug-bengaluru.wikia.com/wiki/Meetings

2009 February 8 [Sunday]

Sita in an ice cube

Indian women are indeed blessed !! We now have a convict of the 1993 Bombay blasts contesting elections for a parliament membership, who opines that every Indian woman should give up her identity and take her husbands name after marriage. Pearl's of wisdom indeed ... from a man who has had multiple adulterous relationships whilst being married (thrice if you must know), an ex-drug addict who never bothered to care for his young daughter Trishala or wife Richa Sharma, both of whom were conveniently abandoned although he knew for years that Richa suffered from cancer. Morally inspiring for all those women in his life who hanker for dutt (pun intended) lastname, provided they manage to stick around dutt long.

Dutt may have munnabhai'ed the media and even ruffled Renuka Chowdhary's feather's, but it was definitely not enough masala for the media spotlight to dwell on him for long. The confused-plastic-faced-ac(h)tor-wannabe-politician was quickly upstarted by the street-thugs "Shri Rama Sene" in Karnataka.  India now has its very own homegrown wannabe "Taliban-Sene" who orchestrated and videotaped the molestation and attack of women in Mangalore in the name of god. Apparently physical violence and a public molestation of women is the easiest way to be in the news. Tsk-Tsk ...dutt's what happens if you wash Pri(vate)ya Dutt(y) linen in public, Sanju baba. Politics is gonna be a steep learning curve for you. If the Muthalik-meets-Dutt scenario had occurred some years ago, how many times would Dutt have been married off on Valentine's day ?? :-D

All in a Go(o)d days work, given that Indian politicians have certainly run out of issues to solve in the run up to elections, where the mastermind of the Mangalore attacks is known but yet is allowed to abscond. Targeting 49% of your population is good enough to get eye-balls, never mind that politicians dont have the balls to address important issues like eradicating corruption, ensuring proper supply of electricity, proper public infrastructure, good primary education, water and so many other social issues which jostle for attention...but none of these silly issues are as important as women visiting a pub.

Any woman who visits a pub instead of making rotis at home, feeding her husband and pressing his tired legs at night, is fit to be called a prostitute according to the Rama Sene while enlightened souls (in the NCW too) went a bit further to justify the attacks in the name of stemming immoral activity in the Mangalore pub. Since the police and judiciary have outsourced their work to local thugs and hooligans its high time the government stopped wasting the tax-payee's money on maintaining a police force and judiciary, both of who cannot ensure law and order nor keep justice. Well if India can be the outsourcing manna for the world why cant we outsource the police's work to these self-appointed custodians of Indian culture ?!? Think of the Tax benefits!!

Fundamentalist Hindu bigots == fanatical Islamic radicals ?! If there is a logic to the methodical madness being unleashed across each state one has to give credit to their inspirational idol, the Taliban. Nothing less will do. If the ShivSena and MNS in Maharashtra can rail and rant against the South Indians and then drive away the North Indians, then why should the wannabe-power-grabbing-southern-politician be left behind. He can jump onto the "lets control the corrupt Indian woman" bandwagon which is a problem that has taken on global hues today, with gullible Indian woman being lured by the foreign hand... what sacrilege!!

  • Mytholog(icall)y

Not to be left behind, some women feel they should form a Sita Sene to counter the increasing attacks on women and the debate on "Indian culture" is ferociously raging on the idiot box and in the print media. Every person I have met thus far, has an opinion (or two or three) by which time my grey cells stop parsing the string "indian culture" correctly. The word "culture" tickles my phunny bone (and I've been told I have f3w of those) enough to delve into some mythology since religion is the thread that binds retrograde chauvinists across the world masking their selfish desire for control and power.

Kalpana Sharma summarized it more eloquently :

The Sri Rama Sene is a fringe element. But lurking under the skin of many men, irrespective of caste or community, is a similar view of what women should and should not do. Men fear women’s autonomy, for, it challenges their power. And they fear women’s sexuality even more. Hence, the desire of fundamentalists of all types to control women’s sexuality.

Is that why every river has a feminine name and Earth is called MotherEarth and the country is called motherland and not FatherEarth and Fatherland respectively !? Culture-vultures never miss an opportunity to letch on mytholog(ical)y to explain that women should be frozen into this ice cube of patriarchy, certainly fit to be seen and admired, but she can never stir or voice herself.

Were the women of yore beautiful icy figurines trapped in an ice cube?

Not Sita, Rama's wife, who left her husband when he asked her for an "agnipariksha" (trial by fire) to prove her chastity. She epitomises the courage (that many Indian women lack) of leaving her twin sons with her husband Rama and returning to her mother's (Earth) after around 20+ years of marriage. 

Draupadi practised polyandry, perhaps the only woman with 5 husbands at a time when it was more common for men to practise polygamy. She is the only woman in mythology over whom a war, the Mahabharata, was fought to avenge an insult to her. In that epic, she refused to tie her hair until her insult was avenged.

Mirabai had no compunctions about leaving her husband for Krishna and would the brainless religious fundamentalist idiot dare to brek the idols in the Radha-Krishna temples(?), since Radha was never married to Krishna and left her husband for Krishna. Its called  adultery in English, but for millions of Indians the name Radha-Krishna is synonymous with love, bhakti and devotion.

Wendy surmises the position of women in Vedic literature, especially the Chandayoga Upanishad where Jabala asks her son to take her name so he calls himself "Satyakama Jabala (the son of Jabala)". Interestingly, dutt (pun intended) may have been completely missed instances in Indian mythology where the children take on the mothers name and not that of the father (who was sometimes unknown, or got just a passing reference....).

Gowriputra (son of Gowri, an epithet for Parvati, Ganesha's mother who is supposed to have sprang from the scurf of her body) ;

Krishna was called "Devakiputra" (son of Devaki) ;

Skanda, one born of 6 mothers ;

Pandavas were called Kuntiputra's ; ... so on...

The Sene has surely not seen this aspect of Hinduism.  Moving on to the men who are commonly addressed with the prefix Sri/Shri which is the feminine subjunctive in Sanskrit. It is also an epithet for Lakshmi whose husband (Vishnu) is commonly referred to as "Lakshmipati/Shripati" (the husband of Lakshmi) as is Sitapati (Husband of Sita).

Shiva's epithet is "Umapati", the husband of Parvati or Shakti (the female energy) without whom he is considered to be a shava (corpse). Are there instances of Parvati/Shakti being addressed as "Shivapatni"? Not that I know of.

There may be more but I am not inclined to dig out lores of yore when I can blithely snore away the night, sans the pita-pati (pun wholly intended).

2008 September 21 [Sunday]

Bangalore deserves better

The Airport Authority of India says that BIAL airport is already saturated and so does the experience of hundreds of passengers, a few of whom get this platform to air their grievances. Harish Bhat, COO of Titan Industries, has a very interesting take on the Bengaluru airport's toilets. Among other grievances he mentions important factors like travel-to-airport time, space, functionality, aesthetics, etc.. which press releases always ignore.

Strangely the wikipedia page on BIAL has only glowing reports and nothing negative about the company in the wikipage. It has no links to the negative press reports at all. Checking the wiki page history shows edits by just IP's and not a registered user. I wonder why????  Is this their spin doctor (PR agency : Macromedia Research And Development Private Ltd ???) at work again using fake mail-ID's to leave anonymous comments on my earlier blog entry.

In one interview to the press, Mr.Brunner, the CEO, openly states that they are looking to commercialise the 4000 acres of land given by the Indian government. So did the government give BIAL 4000 acres of land to make profits at the expense of the Indian taxpayer? He blames everyone else (ground handlers SATS, to the taxi service, other agencies, etc..) for all of BIAL's problems except perhaps their shoddy planning.  According to the CEO, "Peak-hour capacity (is what matters)" - Does that mean local airlines should fly during non-peak hours (ala 24/7), Mr.CEO?. How many Indians want to travel to Delhi, a domestic flight a 02:00 AM?

Would Mr. Brunner be able to construct an apology of an airport like BIAL in Europe and call it International?

Worse, they are now pressuring the government to allow them to charge an additional User Development Fee of Rs.675 (plus 12.36% service tax) per passenger who uses the BIAL airport. Gee, 770 bucks for an airport that does not even have adequate restrooms, charges 400 rupees per HOUR for parking charges, and has snacks bars where the average cost of a patties or pastry is between Rs.50-85 bucks. The socialist and communist political parties might tag "flying" as a luxury (its a another matter that the political class of socialist and communists jet around the country but....shh, pretend you didnt notice that) meant only for the rich, but its not. Its just yet another option of faster travel in this global age.

Since the Karnataka government found Bial airport is not up to the mark, it can restrict BIAL to only International flights and reopen the old HAL airport for domestic routes. THAT would make better business sense for domestic travellers. Even Infosys is not happy with Bial, and yet the high court stayed the August 18 order by a full Bench of the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC), which had declared BIAL as a public authority covered by the RTI Act, 2005.

If infrastructure projects meant for the public, using public tax payers money are not accountable and will not come under the Right to Information Act, the best recourse is to stop the privatization of public infrastructure projects, thereby keeping the government accountable under the RTI Act. 

Indian cities dont need basic infrastructure like airports, railways and bus stations which are a few hundred kilometers outside the city limits. THAT is NOT smart city planning at all !! As citizens we need to stop absorbing accepting lies and sugar-coated words about infrastructure projects gone wrong - it is the tax-payers money, hence our money, that is being wasted by corrupt private companies, hence inexcusable!

2008 September 19 [Friday]

SFD week in Bangalore

At our last meeting we decided that SFD-2008 will stretch into Software Freedom Week in Bangalore.

From tomorrow ...

2008Sept20 : SFD with students at ChristUniversity from noon to 3pm.

2008Sept24 : Its time to say STOP SOFTWARE PATENTS on World day against Software patents.

2008Sept25: BMSE SFD Celebrations organised by BMSLUG and SUN Club.

2008Sept27 : Gnu turns 25 and you can sing Happy B'day Gnu at RV College which is organizing the 25th Anniversary.

Besides these FSUG-Bangalore in collaboration with the Centre for Internet and Society are conducting an essay competition all over Karnataka state for school students. Check the wiki page for regular updates on SFWeek.

2008 September 16 [Tuesday]

BCB7

At BCB7 someone saw the "i am blogging" sticker and asked why i had not blogged about bcb7. Heh, this lazy blogger needs reminders :-).  Attended the citizenmatters but the rest of the time was spent in the corridors, meeting and catching up with friends - old, new and the unknown (having a gender-neutral nick is sheer fun at times :)) was a better way to spend a weekend.

The best news was when AshwinMahesh of Mapunity told me they were working on my idea which I had pitched to him some months ago. wOw...it felt nice and warm to hear that. They are already into geo-mapping and my proposal was based on my pain point - my trysts with auto drivers in Bangalore.  Yeah, i know Chennai is worse.

Anyway, my technical solution to get out of sticky situations was, suppose I had a 'hotkey' on my cell phone which i could press when an auto-driver took me on deserted roads, it should send a distress signal to the nearest cell-phone tower which will convey my geo-coordinates, tie it to my cell# and pass the information to a central server which will send out my location message to atleast 5-10 friends (or family members) simultaneously providing them my exact geo-location co-ordinates. This is important as i am a moving target in a vehicle so they could not help me if they dont get a GPS location for me. He thought it was a good idea and their beta would be out soon :) yay !!

As barcamp was in progress, there were bomb blasts in Delhi with the terrorists mocking the police. Nothing new for Indians since the aam junta has to live with terror when elected representatives go soft on tech-savvy terrorists but move around with Z+ security themselves, and the crime-busters are clueless about the whodunnit, or maybe they just dont care - as someone said, "In a nation of One billion living, who cares for the few thousand dead". Chilling words!


2008 September 15 [Monday]

++LClabs

Its fantastic to see an idea grow and carried forward because other people believe in it. Thrilled to announce that we have a new addition to the LC family -- Labs in DELHI :-) YAY !!

FAT-net has agreed to host the space and bandwidth and its open to women learners only but men are allowed to conduct technical talks. Check the 'fat-net.org' website for their addres. Contact Hassath [hassath gmail com] and AjayKumar [ajuonline gmail com]for more details. With Delhi its 4 Indian metros covered ...the others being :

2.MUMBAI: At the Bigadda office in Malad. Contact Jayashree Pare [Jayashree DOT Pare # GMAIL DOT] or Warren Noronha - Email: warren.noronha AT gmail.com { Phone: +91-989-280-6204}

3.PUNE :  Contact Swatee Karpe (swateekarpe # GMAIL dot COM) for further details.

4.BANGALORE : DeepRoot Linux Pvt. Ltd., #93/4, First Floor, Nandidurga Road, Bangalore - 560 046 INDIA Phone: +91 (80) 4112 4781 / 82 / 85. Contact Mr. Abhas Abhinav or me.

2008 July 25 [Friday]

bomb blasts in bengaluru

I was wondering why I was getting so many "are you ok?" sms [Yeah, I am OK], since my phone was jammed and I could not make any calls nor internet access.  That is when I came to know that there were 7 bomb blasts in Bangalore in the afternoon today and the police opine that the terror outfits SIMI and LeT are behind it.

Terrorist killings continue in Srinagar (capital of J&K) and in Jammu despite the J&K govt having been arm-twisted into withdrawing the order (40 ha land granted to the Amarnath board) amidst the strikes and attacks, or was this just coalition political gimmicks.

The fact is the Shrine board took years to get permission for the land as is wont when a country calls itself secular because it has for decades used the taxpayers money (RS.280 crores annually) to fund Hajj (pilgrims are flown for free to Mecca from Mumbai and Delhi by both national carriers, Air-India and Indian Airlines). Now some local Christian churches want the same concessions that the Indian government gives Hajj pilgrims [from DhimmiWatch (Indians use the word kafir so the word dhimmi to denote non-muslims is new)].

Its tragic when innocent citizens lose their lives in bomb blasts across Indian cities but there continues to be political apathy in taking firm action against terrorism.  This like many other crimes is going to be yet another statistic since the Indian governments has always lacked the political will power to bring criminals to justice and highlights our non-existent justice system.

The Indian SiliconValley


I've had problems adjusting to life in the Indian (version of the American) silicon valley before although things like infrastructure have improved considerably, in the negative that is.

I find the load shedding is much more regular than power supply. Boycotting summer school holidays to Chennai seems tame when compared to the current situation where a  weekday gets an average of 8 hrs load shedding (9am to 5pm) very regularly and weekends its 7am to 8pm ; but now they want to increase load-shedding till August. Nice well-planned move.

I am no apologist for capitalism but do remind me to invite Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy to live and endure the after-effects,  rather than indulging in grabbing media bytes by protesting against dams and every infrastructure development project that happens. Which is less than what I can say about the Indian elected representatives wasting time and burning tax-payers money in mindless political one-upmanship games. This when there is acute shortage of essential goods and a breakdown of communication services but our ministers are unaware of ground reality. What happens in everyday life is reflected in a larger canvas for the world to see. Not surprising that.

Looking at the situation in gest, I could assume and imagine scenarios about being in an empty bungalow (now i wish it was, but well...) and jump out of my skin each time the cell rings. Maybe improve my skills in the art of making shadows in the candle light with sound-effects, or scream in fear when a door opens/closes accompanied with a c-r-e-a-k-y sound for the ultimate realistic effect. Now all I need is to get meself a white sari and walk around the house aimlessly holding the lit candle. Gotta give that yester-year actress some competition. If only I could remember her name now.

If you thought power is the only problematic quibble point next to the favorite whipping horse called inflation, then think again. The 4 days water cut last week, including a dead phone connection for 10 days, no internet (if i am lucky its an hour in the morning), was enough fuel for a verbal/blog diarrhea about the major metro which was gonna rival an American west coast ...gah !

2008 July 16 [Wednesday]

MySQL event

Sun Microsystems is organizing a half-day event to popularize MySQL in Bangalore on 2008-jul-29.

You can find the details of the event here.

2008 June 11 [Wednesday]

kickstart your sunday

Kickstart is a not-for-profit initiative aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and they plan to kickstart your Sunday with a special edition of Startup Saturday at IIM Bangalore on 2008June15 (this sunday), with a program targeted at new start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs.

The event is all about introducing the concept of entrepreneurship in a more scientific manner, along with the stages & challenges of entrepreneurship, product development, choosing appropriate technology, various sources of finance & selling one's concept to a VC, preparing a Business Plan, etc.

Some of the speakers you will hear include :
1) Dr. Mohan Tambe, CEO, Innomedia Technologies, Bangalore.
2) Mr. M J Aravind, Venture capitalist, Bangalore.
3) Mr. Raghunathan Perumal, CEO, Agile Labs, Bangalore.
4) Mr. Sujai Karampuri, CEO, Sloka Telecom, Bangalore.
5) Prof. Suresh Bhagvatula, NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, IIMB, Bangalore.
6) Mr. Rajeev Kumar, Serial Entrepreneur, Bangalore.

and they will give you gyan about ::

Talk 1. Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship
Talk 2. Idea Validation
Talk 3. Business Plan - Basics
Talk 4. The Founding Team
Talk 5. Technology and IPR
Talk 6. Product Management and Marketing
Talk 7. Legal aspects of setting up your own company
Talk 8. Selling + How to talk to a VC + Alternate sources of funding, followed by Panel Discussion

If you plan to attend, register here or send your confirmations to amitsingh.mail@gmail.com or raja.rajeevkumar@gmail.com.

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