foss.in 2009

December 8, 2009 at 6:59 am (FOSS, Uncategorized)

I went to foss.in this year with extremely high expectations although it was my first time. In the end, I came out content and happy.

As soon as I entered the NIMHANS Conference Hall gate I saw the huge banners and not many people outside. I assumed people are busy hacking or attending conferences. From quite far away I could recognise Kishore Bhargava sitting at the registration desk. There was some confusion there since I was a speaker and my delegate code was not important. They kept searching for my delegate code and found nothing. It was eventually solved.

Once inside the hall I naturally made my way to the Fedora stall since most of my friends were there already. Met Sayamindu, Shreyank, Kushal, Susmit, Hiemanshu, Rangeen and a few more there. Kital and Dmitris were sitting at the Fedora stall most of the time too.

The first auditorium I entered was the one where KDE POTD was happening. Pradeepto was sitting at the edge of the stage (on the floor) with a mic explaining to people how he got involved. Once it got over I went and said hi to him and Kartik Mistry. From what I heard, it was one of most successful POTDs ever in the history of FOSS.IN .

I had my workout session in about an hour or so, so i went to the auditorium which was assigned to me. I sat through a Rahul Sundaram talk on PackageKit. It was a pretty complete overview of PackageKit’s features. At the end of the talk my name was announced and Rahul Sundaram shook my hand and said “So you are Debayan, nice to meet you.”.

About 30 minutes before the session I noticed that in the schedules page the organisers had changed my workout session to a talk. I was not prepared for that. Fortunately I had a presentation from the Indic Meet held around 8 months back in Pune. I edited it to a certain degree, changed the headers and went onto the stage.

The talk was a little dis-organised, as I was improvising on the spot. OCR inherently is a good topic for presentation. You can WoW the audience just like that. Once the talk was over I got many questions. Krishnakant Mane asked me some 6 question back-to-back. I answered to the best of my abilities. As soon as I got off the stage a lot of people came up to me to discuss further. I met a few people who had worked on OCR before and wanted to join the project and some people who gave me links to resources that I could use for OCR training and testing.

I was looking forward to hooking up with a bunch of Indic guys and discussing a few ideas I had. Santhosh Thottingal, the grand daddy of Indic was missing that day. I decided to stick to the Fedora booth and chatted with Sayamindu. I got some misconceptions regarding rendering cleared by him. We hacked on the OCRFeeder GUI and tried to a solve a few problems.

I met Baishampayan Ghosh. He encouraged me to continue working on the project and also gave me some ideas on how to take the project further and build a community around it. I met Akarsh Simha, but I regret not spending more time with him.

One of the most fruitful conversations I had was with kakashi (Real name is Pranav Swaroop I think, man I have a bad memory). He has been working on a Machine Translation tool called Apertium. He was a volunteer and was guiding me during my talk too. He is a guy full of great ideas and I plan to stay in touch with him the future. He is planning to pursue his Masters at some University at Prague. I hope his VISA troubles are solved soon.

I finally met Santhosh ,Jinesh and Lakshmi kamath together. All Indic guys together finally. It was then that I realised that the floor above existed and it was meant for workouts!!

We discussed on a plethora of topics ranging from finding sponsors for an Indic dedicated server to better algorithms for correcting incorrect classifications in the OCR. kakashi, santhosh and I discussed at length on how to crowd source Indic development. We also sat together and talked to Krishnakant Mane on how we could help the visually impaired community with TTS and OCR solutions. It proved to be an impetus for me, seeing where my work would be used and applied if completed.

Needles to say, it was absolutely great to meet my college friend Shreyank Gupta. We had a great time. I liked his look. The long locks of hair suited him well. It was unfortunate that I missed his talk since I was at Chennai that day. I did see him getting a lot of stuff done with Hiemanshu and Dmitris Gzelos helping him out.

During the brain storming sessions we had, I got the idea of auto generating test data by rendering them onto an image. That would be the final piece in the puzzle that would free all dependencies on external help for the project.

There was a lot of focus on hardware related projects this time. I could see a lot of people flocking the openbeacon huddle upstairs. Sayamindu and Kushal bought an Adruino board during the conference and played around, playing irritating music.

I finally met Jigish Gohil aka Cyberorg. He was leaving no stone unturned in convincing people that the openSuSE L-i-fe  distribution was the best on the block.

There was a speaker’s party held at the hotel banquet hall. We had awesome fun with a lot of leg pulling. I chatted up Marko Andre who works for Nokia and is a Gnome contributor. He had worked on pattern recognition too at one point of time and was interested in my work.

There was a healthy dose of music this year. Its difficult to put into words the fun that I had during both the programmes. I loved the blues session by ‘Blues before sunrise’ as much as ‘The Raghu Dixit Project’ the next day.

Overall it was an excellently organised event. The quality of the delegates was quite high in terms of technical knowledge. Most people just wanted to fiddle with stuff, and that was truly the spirit of FOSS.IN.

I really regret not having a camera. Looking forward to a point in life where I can have one.

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1 Comment

  1. Shreyank said,

    Thanks. No one else likes my hairstyle! 😦

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