Recalling the days from Akademy 2013 in Bilbao, Spain

It has been almost 3 weeks since I’ve been back from Akademy 2013 which was held in the splendid city of Bilbao this year, and it would be foolish to not write about my experiences there, since memories however bright they might be, can easily fade away with time.

Akademy was only for a week, from 13th to 19th of July. But each and every day was so eventful, that, by the time I and others started leaving, it felt like we’ve been there since ages. This was my first Akademy and there were several highlights that I’d like to mention.

This being my first Akademy is one of several firsts for me that happened during this trip. This was also my first travel outside of India and thus, this was an entirely new and exciting experience for me. I tried to interact as much as possible with everyone who attended Akademy and met people who I only knew by their IRC nicks.

This was also the first time I gave a talk in any major conference, leave aside Akademy. To find so many people present in the room awaiting my talk, that too early in the morning was unnerving as well as motivating at the same time. The friendly and helping nature of the KDE community made me feel comfortable. I would like to thank everyone who was present during the talk and especially Lydia, Valorie and Rishab for being especially helpful. Further details on my talk are here.

The usability testing on KStars was also a new experience for me, where so many issues came to the forefront. The BOF on Simon was quite absorbing, even though I could not see anything (having lost my spectacles the previous night – long story to be discussed some other time), with interesting ideas being put forward by the attendees regarding different ways to use Simon. Other than Simon, another project that has got me interested is Artikulate, which is being developed to become a pronunciation training software. I spoke to Andreas Cord-Landwehr (CoLa) and promised him contributions from my end to the project. One talk that especially impressed me was by Mailson Menezes where he spoke about how he implemented tile-based engine in Okular during GSoC 2012, so that greater zoom-levels could be achieved. It was one of the examples of the awesome work that is accomplished during the GSoC/SoK periods.

Each and every day in Akademy was really full of fun and energy. The daytrip, the evening trip to Algorta, the boat trip, the Akademy and Qt CS parties; all these added a lot to the fun factor of the event and helped new members of the community, like me to interact with all the nice people. All in all, Akademy 2013 gave me a lot (if I neglect the lost spectacles) and I hope to give back much more to KDE than I do now.

I have also shared pictures from Akademy here and here on Flickr.

P.S. There was another highlight. I had a snail in Algorta. Following me, Yash too had one. See the picture here.


I’m going to Akademy 2013!

It is dangerous as well as exciting to invite more people to your first ever talk in any major conference, and that is what I’ll be doing here. 😀

So, yes I’ll be going to Akademy this year (if my visa application doesn’t betray me)! I will be speaking about how I used QtQuick with C++ in my project for KStars during GSoC 2012. Please find more details about my talk here, and if you are planning to attend, do not forget to register yourself here.

Also, thank you so much KDE for supporting my travel and accommodation expenses. This will be my first ever Akademy and my 2nd KDE conference after the awesome, 2011 in Bengaluru, India. So, really looking forward to this one! 🙂


GSoC 2012 work merged finally!

Finally I have merged my Google Summer of Code work for KStars and the new feature called “What’s Interesting…” is on master branch. This feature suggests “interesting” sky-objects to users to view. Whether a sky-object is interesting or not depends on the night-sky conditions and the equipment availability. Hopefully this feature would prove useful for beginner astronomers. Although this merge has taken a long time, I never felt like all that work could go waste. Thanks to Akarsh and Rafal for helping me throughout.

While a lot of polishing has been done, I’m sure there is always room for improvement. I’m therefore awaiting feedback from users of KStars regarding any unnoticed bugs or feature requests.


Restoring browsing sessions in Mozilla Firefox across several installations (for GNU/Linux distros only)

This might be known to many, but to those who do not – this might be helpful.

We like to back-up important data when we perform a fresh installation of any OS. However for those who deal with a large number of tabs in their web-browser, all these tabs amount to useful information (browsing history, bookmarks, tab-groups, etc.) which we would not want to lose with any fresh installation. Being able to restore all this information on a fresh Firefox installation is certainly welcome.

Today I freshly installed Fedora 18 with KDE to upgrade from Fedora 16. So while backing up my data I copied the ~/.mozilla directory as well. This directory has information related to all browsing sessions. After installation of Fedora 18, I just went to my home directory and copied back the .mozilla directory from my backed up data to ~. Running firefox -p then allows you to select from the browsing profiles, and you get back all your tabs, tab-groups, browsing history, bookmarks, etc from your previous sessions. Result: No information lost. 🙂

Cheers and happy browsing!

Weekend with potential FOSS contributers.

GNU/Linux Users’ Group, NIT Durgapur has in a large way contributed towards the creation of an awareness of Free and Open Source Software in the college. Through yearlong activities comprising of talks, tutorials, workshops, installation fests and an annual FOSS festival, which we call “Mukti”(meaning freedom), we have been able to create and sustain a (mostly) FOSS friendly environment in our college.

However, the amount of contributions from students of our college to FOSS has not been a lot. To correct this, GLUG, NIT Durgapur held a series of talks over the weekend on how to start contributing to FOSS.

Day 1(Saturday): Before Lunch(9 am to 11:45 pm): The day started with Tirtha Chatterjee providing a brief history of FOSS and the philosophy associated behind it. Briefly he talked about what a kernel meant, the idea behind the term GNU/Linux, distributions(or distros) and desktop environments. He got tired from all the talking and it was time for me to introduce the very important concept of licensing. So an introduction to various licenses like GPL, LGPL and Creative Commons was given. Some concepts of programming like compiling, linkng and libraries like Qt and Gtk were then introduced until it was time for lunch. Unfortunately no pictures were taken for this half.

After Lunch (2 pm to 4 pm): “Contributing to FOSS and Google Summer of Code” – This was the topic of discussion in the second half. Tirtha got busy with some work and thus was unavailable. I talked about how to start contributing to FOSS, finding and fixing bugs, contacting developers, obtaining and building source code. I gave them a brief overview of Git and CMake. Then I talked about the Google Summer of Code program and how one can start contributing to free software through programs like this. How to apply, how to get ideas, how the slots are distributed to various organisations, what are slots, how to get mentors, how to write strong proposals and when do we start? All such questions were addressed. Arnab was there to take some pictures when I was blabbering away.


Day 2(Sunday):(11:00 am to 1:00 pm): The discussion on FOSS contributions and GSoC continued from the previous day to Sunday morning with I and Tirtha sharing our own experiences. The importance of communication with the community members was stressed on. Concepts such as IRC and mailing lists were introduced. Those present in the session were encouraged to search up bugs on the internet and look at past GSoC project ideas.

Here we see Tirtha helping out. 🙂
IMG_3372IMG_3381Also some serious and enthusiastic faces.. 🙂
IMG_3368 IMG_3366 IMG_3370

Hope they end up contributing to the FOSS community. 🙂

Solving “Too many pattern attempts” problem in Samsung S5300 Galaxy Pocket

So you might have one of those friends who just likes to play with the lock pattern on your android phone. And then he/she might enter a wrong pattern 20 times! What happens as a result of this is not pleasant. You will be asked to sign in with your Google account. But that won’t work. You will repeatedly see this message: “Invalid username or password” even though you are sure you are entering a correct username and password. I tried different solutions given  on youtube and other forums but none worked. Well except one where a “sucky” but working solution was provided. By sucky I mean having to factory reset your phone. That seems to be the only solution.

To reset your phone these are the steps. (I speak on behalf of Samsung Galaxy Pocket S5300 only though)
1. Power off your phone.
2. Press your volume-up button, your home button and your power button till your System Recover Screen comes up.
3. Scroll down to “wipe data/factory reset”and press the home button to select this option.
4. A confirmation screen comes up. Scroll down to “YES — DELETE ALL USER” and then press the home button.
5. Select the “Reboot System Now” option next and wait for your phone to reboot.

Your phone will then boot with all data wiped and all settings reset. At least you can use your phone after this. If anyone has any better solution do post your comments. Cheers. 😉

Do refer to this documentation provided by Google as well. [Edited June 22, 2013]

GSoC Update: What’s Interesting… in KStars?

This is really very late. I had been very busy trying to get my visa for Akademy which I ultimately failed in. Anyway, Akademy is over now and things are looking fine with my GSoC endeavour. I am mostly done with beginner-level implementation for the What’s Interesting… feature. My feature now suggests Planets, Bright Stars and Constellations to the user.

Here are some screenshots:

Primary category selection view

Planetary Objects – sub-category selection

Interesting bright stars

Details view for planet Venus

The user can click on a sky-object from the list suggested and the skymap slews to centre the sky-object on the map. The details for the sky-object is shown along with its approximate position in the sky-map. The user can view the next “interesting” object from this details-view as well. Deep-sky objects are available but are unfiltered(all are not interesting to look at).

So I have used a QML interface for this feature. Getting to learn the model-view stuff and actually implementing it was exciting. I miss the thrill now a bit. 😉 Anyway, back to brief technicality, the models for the QML ListViews are defined in C++ classes by using QStringList based models for the category selection views and by sub-classing  QAbstractListModel (class SkyObjListModel ) for the list of interesting sky-objects belonging to a particular category. Sky objects are stored as SkyObjItems. The SkyObjItem class subclasses QObject and its instances are used as items in the SkyObjListModel. I later plan to write another blog on how I used the C++ list model in QML and how the different signals from the QML interface were implemented in C++ slots.

What next? Next I will move on to dark-sky objects. I will implement the light-pollution and equipment parameters and try to get an interesting list. I have designed the wizard that would ask the user for location conditions and equipment parameters. I will be using this formula from this paper by JOSÉ RAMÓN TORRES LAPASIÓ to calculate the limiting magnitude for sky-objects. Here is the useful part:

Formula for True Limiting Magnitude

Bortle Dark-Sky Scale will be used to calculate the LM and subsequently the SB_0T. This will be used to calculate the TLM. all this for the next few days. I need to push hard though and make up for time I had to sacrifice during the visa application process. Hopefully I can get the the DSO stuff working in a week. And yeah I’ll buy a pair of astronomical binoculars to actually test my feature. Or maybe a telescope? Will see. Till then, cheers! 🙂

P.S. : Also you can “checkout” my work from my KStars repository branch – gsoc2012-samxan. 🙂