BarCamp Chennai 5 – #bcc5

For reasons of hashtagging search results leading directly to my blog, I included that in the title.

Why post so soon after the previous blog post? Because I promised I would to a bunch of like minded geeks.

Today, I attended BarCamp Chennai 5. It’s an unconference – which is another way of saying it’s the most free forum on the planet. The participants are the ones who conduct all the sessions and with whom all the interaction takes place. There is no greater authority asserting itself and taking centre stage all the time. I absolutely loved the concept.

It takes some time to understand what an unconference is and how much freedom you have in there. Actually, you have zero restrictions and some minor monitoring in case things get out of hand for the sponsors – PayPal.

I went to BarCamp with my friend, Abishek. Believe me, getting to that office is not a piece of cake considering all areas beyond Thiruvanmiyur are memory blocks you can’t access (The influence of assassin’s creed is evident, sorry 😛 )

But we made it to the PayPal office and after fumbling around the maze they call the parking area, we got to their registration desk and to the 6th floor into the Main Camp. We took quite some time trying to wrap our heads around their schedule. Once convinced we’d got it right, we proceeded to our first session – BrainNook.

BrainNook is an online multiplayer game – for kids. It was an eye opener as to how an online multiplayer is generally designed. I mean – this is nowhere close to the complexity that MMOs like WoW or others possess but the basic underlying architecture is the same – server handling, client handling, server-client communication and all that. BrainNook is an educational game and can be accessed here. I never bothered trying to play it because I know I have no interest in these things. The session anchor – Abhijeet Vijayakar – explained to us the major components of the game design. The game seems fairly simple on the in-game quest designs part (hardcore gamers will know what I mean by that term) but still amazes me on how much resource is needed for such a simple idea. Starting from a server having 2 server management softwares – PHP+MySQL and Flex – till the feature-rich client and the custom analytics code for data collection, the game took 15 months to design and while not a visual treat (it’s for kids – so what the hell), it certainly brings out some design perspectives. The games in BrainNook are designed from a few prototypes to which specifics are supplied so that the Flex server can supply the required game on demand. It’s like keeping a substrate and either adding or removing stuff to get the desired product. One valid question was the design inconsistencies when it is laid open to developers who want to create a game with a different base prototype. Although the answer was not satisfactory, the game is only in its developing stages. So a lot can be overlooked right now.

After that, we moved on to the NoSQL session. Now, considering I’m not at all knowledgeable in RDBMS or any type of data management system, this was a no-brainer for me. But the session was really interactive and I came across a lot of tech jargon like JSON, schema etc. The basic thing I understood was that instead of data management that SQL does, NoSQL aims at decentralisation of data management and a more flexible data storage structure. Querying for patterns seems to be a problem to deal with. Although some explanation was given, it was beyond my plane of knowledge to grasp it.

After a little loafing around since we had no other session which was interesting, we went to the TEDTalk given by Siddhartha Jayakumar. Siddhartha suffers from Cerebral Palsy and has no coordination with this movements but still managed to get a job into RBS and get a CDCS certification and go into the documents checking section. Very inspiring talk, all in all.

The most interesting session was the next one – On the Android OS by Mr. Gajendran. The last time I attended a session on Android was in college and the ex-Amrita Motorola employee was not exactly very knowledgeable. Fortunately, when you are given a session by a man who hacked the bootloader of his nexus one on his own – as a hobby – you are lucky because he knows everything about the OS. The session was basically about how the Android framework is built and the interaction of applications within the android environment. Very very interesting to say the least.

After getting a T-Shirt (which I’m wearing right now 😛 ) and taking a look at who won the PayPal award for an innovative money making idea using the PayPal API, we left the building back home.

I was tweeting the whole while I was there and checking random laptops plugged into the #bcc5 stream in twitter to check my own updates appearing 😀

All in all, a very fun and productive day – definitely what I predicted it to be .. Or not! 😛

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BarCamp Chennai 5 – #bcc5

For reasons of hashtagging search results leading directly to my blog, I included that in the title.

Why post so soon after the previous blog post? Because I promised I would to a bunch of like minded geeks.

Today, I attended BarCamp Chennai 5. It’s an unconference – which is another way of saying it’s the most free forum on the planet. The participants are the ones who conduct all the sessions and with whom all the interaction takes place. There is no greater authority asserting itself and taking centre stage all the time. I absolutely loved the concept.

It takes some time to understand what an unconference is and how much freedom you have in there. Actually, you have zero restrictions and some minor monitoring in case things get out of hand for the sponsors – PayPal.

I went to BarCamp with my friend, Abishek. Believe me, getting to that office is not a piece of cake considering all areas beyond Thiruvanmiyur are memory blocks you can’t access (The influence of assassin’s creed is evident, sorry 😛 )

But we made it to the PayPal office and after fumbling around the maze they call the parking area, we got to their registration desk and to the 6th floor into the Main Camp. We took quite some time trying to wrap our heads around their schedule. Once convinced we’d got it right, we proceeded to our first session – BrainNook.

BrainNook is an online multiplayer game – for kids. It was an eye opener as to how an online multiplayer is generally designed. I mean – this is nowhere close to the complexity that MMOs like WoW or others possess but the basic underlying architecture is the same – server handling, client handling, server-client communication and all that. BrainNook is an educational game and can be accessed here. I never bothered trying to play it because I know I have no interest in these things. The session anchor – Abhijeet Vijayakar – explained to us the major components of the game design. The game seems fairly simple on the in-game quest designs part (hardcore gamers will know what I mean by that term) but still amazes me on how much resource is needed for such a simple idea. Starting from a server having 2 server management softwares – PHP+MySQL and Flex – till the feature-rich client and the custom analytics code for data collection, the game took 15 months to design and while not a visual treat (it’s for kids – so what the hell), it certainly brings out some design perspectives. The games in BrainNook are designed from a few prototypes to which specifics are supplied so that the Flex server can supply the required game on demand. It’s like keeping a substrate and either adding or removing stuff to get the desired product. One valid question was the design inconsistencies when it is laid open to developers who want to create a game with a different base prototype. Although the answer was not satisfactory, the game is only in its developing stages. So a lot can be overlooked right now.

After that, we moved on to the NoSQL session. Now, considering I’m not at all knowledgeable in RDBMS or any type of data management system, this was a no-brainer for me. But the session was really interactive and I came across a lot of tech jargon like JSON, schema etc. The basic thing I understood was that instead of data management that SQL does, NoSQL aims at decentralisation of data management and a more flexible data storage structure. Querying for patterns seems to be a problem to deal with. Although some explanation was given, it was beyond my plane of knowledge to grasp it.

After a little loafing around since we had no other session which was interesting, we went to the TEDTalk given by Siddhartha Jayakumar. Siddhartha suffers from Cerebral Palsy and has no coordination with this movements but still managed to get a job into RBS and get a CDCS certification and go into the documents checking section. Very inspiring talk, all in all.

The most interesting session was the next one – On the Android OS by Mr. Gajendran. The last time I attended a session on Android was in college and the ex-Amrita Motorola employee was not exactly very knowledgeable. Fortunately, when you are given a session by a man who hacked the bootloader of his nexus one on his own – as a hobby – you are lucky because he knows everything about the OS. The session was basically about how the Android framework is built and the interaction of applications within the android environment. Very very interesting to say the least.

After getting a T-Shirt (which I’m wearing right now 😛 ) and taking a look at who won the PayPal award for an innovative money making idea using the PayPal API, we left the building back home.

I was tweeting the whole while I was there and checking random laptops plugged into the #bcc5 stream in twitter to check my own updates appearing 😀

All in all, a very fun and productive day – definitely what I predicted it to be .. Or not! 😛

This and That *ramble ramble*

These days when you want to express something on the web or share something interesting, there appear to be a LOT of ways. For instance, among my friends, facebook seems to be a very permeating phenomenon.

Self styled web 2.0 elitists like me though give vent to all feelings and share information on almost all famous sites. The reason? It is a complicated one but what other job have I, lying down on the bed at 3 in the night and using the wordpress app to do what this post is describing.

But I digress as usual. The reason all elitists use all the networks possible is threefold.

The first – we don’t know which of these sites will survive the test of time (relates to very very bad pun if you’ve just spent the evening seeing PoP:SoT). Each of these sites has very high potential but no one is ever sure which is the best of them. For instance, Yahoo! has damn near died even though it had major hype for quite some years. For web visionaries (I’m starting to become delusional giving myself all these weird names, I swear), none of these are the ultimate social networking sites while all of them put together are.

The second reason – loss of information. The web has also become a major storage house of personal media and information. The very thought of losing any of this information gives some people the creeps. This is a branch off from reason 1 since dying company ==> loss of information. I personally trust google to never clear it’s storage banks (which contains MOST of my digital online data).

The third reason – being hip and happening. There are times when the newest start ups catch on so soon that people are amazed by it. The ones who were with the service from the start become these undesignated yet unanimously anointed “pro members” kinda users and get this fan following. Say what you want but having a web following is something else when you realise that the guy or chic who is admiring your work is from another part of the world 🙂

In my case, I have only few services I use to share feelings, links, info and all that – twitter, facebook, google buzz and wordpress.

Facebook and wordpress are obvious candidates. Twitter and Google Buzz is redundant usage since both are micro blogging sites. So redundant that my accounts in both sites are connected. What I post in one place, goes to the other which saves me unwanted trouble with copying pasting and all that. One of the two can survive.

Twitter is the pioneer. I cannot say whether it’s good or bad since whatever they do is the first thing ever of that kind in microblogging. So yeah, they have high chances of surviving. Google Buzz was a new startup and they started promoting the service in a revolutionary way (typical google). They provided mobile users with location based services and the ability to simply post online with a photo and all that on the go. All other social networks caught on a little later to this concept.

Social networks intrigue me a lot. As I said before, I’ve always believed one of the greatest goals of techonology was building the perfect social network (apart from solving multi dimensional equations, invent time travel, find the theory of everything and all that).

Anyway, typing on the phone is pretty cool (what with my supremely modded fyodor ROM and all that) but it’s getting painful. So yeah … adios!