10 years of DGPLUG

I was in NIT Durgapur, West Bengal (my home away from home until a year and a few months back) to attend an event celebrating 10 years of DGPLUG. This was held in the college campus from 29th August to 2nd September. Not considering the fact that being back in West Bengal for that short interval was a beautiful experience for me, I have returned back to Pune with a bag full of memories from the event, which I believe was an amazing success. The goal of the event was to celebrate a decade of the DGPLUG community while holding talks and workshops to promote contributions to Free and Open Source software from the region. All thanks to Red Hat and the TEQIP cell NIT Durgapur for making this possible by providing the necessary funds for travel and accommodation. I’ll try and provide a day-by-day account of the event as I remember:

Day 0: We (me, sayan, chandankumar, praveenkumar, rtnpro and pjp) reached Durgapur around 5:40 pm and were settled in the hotel in an hour. We took some rest, while waiting for Kushal to arrive after which we had a nice dinner at a local restaurant, called Layeks. We discussed our plans for the next day during and after the dinner. All we could do after a day of journey and a fulfilling dinner was to sleep off. We needed to start early next day.

Day 1: After the initial formalities, the event started off with Kushal initiating the talk on the history of DGPLUG. I’m pretty sure the audience really loved that talk. Next there was some story-telling by the DGPLUG members where they spoke of how they were introduced to FOSS contributions, the DGPLUG community and how DGPLUG played an important role in each of our lives.

The audience was introduced to the DGPLUG summer training program that is organised each year following which the new members of DGPLUG were called in on stage to introduce themselves and speak on how the DGPLUG summer training helped.

After this Kushal demoed IRC live on the big screen which provided the audience with enough entertainment to get them charged up for the technical talk by Prasad J. Pandit (P J P) on iptables. His talk touched on concepts of networking and invited a lot of questions from the audience.

Prasad Pandit

P J P starting his talk on iptables

The day ended with pjp’s talk and we headed off to our hotels to freshen up for a team dinner.

Day 2: This day started with a well-promoted Python workshop, which was evident from the overwhelming participation. The D. M. Sen Auditorium Hall was packed with no seats left.

Full House 2

Fully packed auditorium for the Python workshop

The participants took off to Python really well, and there were comparatively a lot few mistakes from them even though the workshop pace was not too slow. During the course of the workshop, the students were introduced to Vi/Vim and almost all of them used this for editing purposes. We realised that the workshop was a real success when we found the auditorium hall filled to capacity even after an 1-hour break for lunch.

Day 3: Workshops were help on web development using Flask and testing in Python. I did not have much to contribute to the workshop on Flask and instead gave some time to my personal agenda which was giving time to the KF5 porting work for KStars that I had been postponding for long.

Day 4: This was the last day of the event for me. The day started with Kushal Das giving a short talk on the importance of providing documentation for the code we write. This provided the necessary build up to the workshop introducing the participants to reStructuredText format or RST. By lunch time, the participants had a grasp of the RST format. After lunch, Kushal started off with his workshop on documenting Python using Sphinx.

Over these past 4 days, I interacted with 2 guys, Sourav Moitra and Raunak Pillai, both of whom showed a lot of interest in getting started with contributing to KDE. Sourav Moitra was interested in Astronomy and KStars interested him. He got KDE installed on his Fedora 20 system and I helped him build and install KStars from source. He also setup KDevelop with KStars and learned how to to use KDevelop as an IDE for development purposes. He went through the source and asked question to clear off doubts.

The event managed to retain a very healthy crowd each day and I consider that an important parameter to measure the success level for an event. On top of that we received feedback from the participants which made it clear that they wanted more such events being organised in NIT Durgapur and surrounding locations.

P.S. : Akademy 2014 is about to start off and I feel so sad not being able to attend it. Anyway, wishing Akademy 2014 all the best and hope all the attendees have an awesome time!

How to get an IRC bouncer with ZNC for KDE developers

I had been postponing setting up an IRC bouncer for a long time inspite of its benefits, until recently, when I actually went through with the really easy process even for lazy people like me. This is all you really need to do:

  1. Go to https://sysadmin.kde.org/tickets/ and login using your identity.kde.org username and password (Here I am assuming you already have a KDE identity account)
  2. Go to ‘Submit A Ticket’ and select ‘IRC’ from the list of options available.
  3. File a bug with appropriate information for ‘Subject’, ‘Priority’ and ‘Freenode Nickname’ and provide some other relevant information in the text field.
  4. Once this ticket is closed by KDE sysadmin, which might take 1-2 days, you will receive a login id and password through email.
  5. Open https://bnc.kde.org:7778/ and login using the above login id and password.
  6. In ‘Your Settings’ you can configure your account which includes changing the password set by sysadmin, adding your Freenode network and then adding the channels you want to stay connected to.
  7. Just remember that when you add servers to your network which is Freenode, the format is ‘One server per line, host [[+]port] [password]’. For example:
    irc.freenode.net 6667 <your_password>
  8. Once you are done with this you need to configure your IRC client. For Konversation which is the client I use for IRC, all you really need to do is follow the steps here: http://community.kde.org/Sysadmin/BNC#Settings_for_Konversation. However, do note that ‘yourusername’ == <your_kde_identity_username>/Freenode.

That’s all that you need to do! Also this is the wiki page that talks about setting this up for other IRC clients: http://community.kde.org/Sysadmin/BNC. So go ahead and setup your IRC bouncer; and you can always see what happened on a channel even when you are not connected.


Memories and some notes from KDE-Edu Sprint, 2013

I have been too sick for the last couple of days since I returned from the KDE-Edu Sprint 2013 which was held in A Coruna, Spain this year. Well, now I’m a little better and would like to talk about what a nice experience it had been.

I had no experience when it came to sprints, and I was expecting a lot of hacking and interesting discussions on KDE-Edu software. All these expectations were fulfilled as I did hack on Artikulate during my stay there; made a few commits after a long, long time and enjoyed it. Other than hacking on Artikulate, there were several discussion sessions through which I came to know of various KDE-Edu applications that I was not aware of and learned more about applications I already knew. Especially I had little idea that there were so many language learning applications in the KDE-Edu suite. Parley will surely be an application I shall be using. I also submitted two tasks got GCI this year from KStars, to improve upon my feature “What’s Interesting…” in KStars. Hope there would be students who would like to work on these tasks and I’m looking forward to some mentoring experience.

Post this sprint, I am going to continue my work with Artikulate which currently involves several changes to the UI to accommodate user profiles support currently being worked on by Andreas.

Since there were 7 people attending the sprint (Oindrila was not able to attend the sprint as her Visa was rejected.. again!), this was a nice opportunity to get to know KDE folks (Andreas, Sebastian, Albert, Aleix and Jose) I have met during Akademy 2013 in a better way. Also met Punit, who was travelling for the first time not only outside India, but also outside Gujarat – his home state. Also people got to know that I am a late riser, failing to come to breakfast on time every day! :-/

Like any other KDE event, this event was a great experience. Jose and the local support from GPUL was awesome. Also countless thanks to KDE e.V. for once again agreeing to fund my travel all the way from India. I have uploaded some of the pictures from the sprint on Flickr.

Cheers! 🙂

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 conf.KDE.in, 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.


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.

Huff..so 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. 🙂