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! 😛

Return of the Satti

Guess who’s back … Back again .. 😀

Finally, my holidays are here. FINALLY! I dunno how long I’ve been waiting for this one.

So .. I thought about when and if I should blog again. I thought a lot and then, I thought, let’s do it.

What does a holiday entail to a hyper active teenager who is going to be not-a-teenager in a matter of months? For me, it means gaming (a lot), some book reading, some movies and trawling the net and wikipedia alternatively for internships and random information respectively.

This might be the one vacation that I truly plan on using productively. But, when you think about the fact that this may be the LAST vacation I ever have, I feel I should rethink that particular stratagem.

So, a report on my progress:

First, the book reading. I’ve finished 2 books since the last time I blogged – Shantaram and H2G2 part 6 of 3 😛

Shantaram, as I typed before, is about a heroin addict who escaped from Australia and came to India and fell in love with the country. To say the book was good would be an understatement. It actually left a profound impact on me. The highlight, as I mentioned before, was it’s deceptively simple language. The other highlight I found upon further delving into the book, was the fact that the author was very philosophical in the way he looked at the world. In fact, there are some particular lines in the book – parts in which the narrator is pondering over some worldly aspects of life – when it gets really profound and then you realise, the author is actually right about what he is saying. My tweet about the book being awesome got a –1 on a RT (thanks @shridharama) which I partially deserve because I mentioned that it may be close to LotR, which, now I come to think of it, is just absurd. The book tracks Roberts journey from coming to India and living in a Marathi village, moving to the slums of Bombay, opening up a free health clinic there, acting in bollywood, working as a street soldier for the Bombay mafia, fighting alongside the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and a lot more. Should you read the book – Hell Yes!

H2G2 was a very funny book. I’ll be frank though – it wasn’t even close to the reboot I thought the series would get. Instead, it turned out to be a pretty funny sequel-prequel … If you read the series, you’ll know why I can’t call it either. The amount of inconsistency and blatant stupidity the story deals with sometimes gets on your nerves – fair examples being the bistromathic drive, the tender moment – horrible accident juxtaposition (or the lack of it) and some others. Also, DNAs final books leave a big question mark as to where in the space-time region, the protagonist actually is and which dimension he still exists in. But, since the story is meant to deal with absurdities and the notion that a lot of stupidity can couple together to create a great, meaningless and yet, quite an enjoyable story, you can forgive all its faults. Scratch that, you’re actually expected to praise them 😛

Now that those 2 books are ticked off my reading list, I’m getting back to Isaac Asimov and books in his series that other authors have written. Following the chronology can get really boring with this author considering that his science and his stories make perfect sense – unlike any of the H2G2 series. Right now, I’m reading a book written by William F Wu about Robots in Time. It’s the third book in a series of 6 where robots get lost in time and a team of 3 humans and one advanced humanoid are sent in search of them. The reason all these books fall under the chronology of Isaac Asimov, is that the robots in the books always obey the 3 laws he set down. Those 3 laws are so famous, in fact, and so quintessential that all AI systems are planning to be made on their basis. But Asimov’s interpretation of his laws was a lot different than what this author does. William Wu goes so deep into those laws, you sometimes wonder if such complex AI systems aren’t human in themselves and if the paradoxes and difficulties they encounter will simply not lead to a machine rebellion that so many movies depict.

Heavy pondering on trivial and completely abstract issues apart, I have also covered up a lot on the movies front 😀

I’ve seen only 2 good movies since the last post – “Stranger than Fiction” and “Tron”.

“Stranger than Fiction” is a superb movie. Having a storyline unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, the movie was very well taken. All B Grade actors except for one guy who looked remotely like Alec Baldwin. I expected a better climax but I could’ve settled for this one anyway. Must-watch!

I watched Tron mainly because I wanted to be able to follow the storyline in the sequel coming up called “Tron: Legacy”.

“Tron” had a story unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was definitely created by a computer nerd from the 80s. But the graphics are absolutely, phenomenally, totally sucky! When I say, they suck, I mean they S-U-C-K! To put it in perspective, I found the graphics of that epic arcade game – Skyroads – to be slightly better than what this movie offered. Yes, it sucked that much. You want a glimpse of what’s got me so wound up? Here, see for yourself:

Yep, that’s how the majority of the movie looks like. That, btw, is the game of “Lightcycles” which is a very very important part of the movie. No spoilers though. For true nerds, the movie is an epic. It marked a totally different type of out-of-the-box thinking.Giving personalities to programs and creating protagonists and antagonists in a plot that concerned the internal workings of a computer was a major breakthrough in unconventional thinking. Consensus: If you’re a nerd, I beg you to watch this. If you’re not a nerd, give this a miss.

The holidays have also marked the return to the world of TV Shows. I’m still following Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Dexter, Chuck and Lie to Me. To say the least, Dexter seems as epic as ever and Chuck seems to be getting better and better guest stars – what with Linda Hamilton, Timothy Dalton and all that.

Tomorrow is my first productive activity for the holidays. I’m attending this unconference called BarCamp Chennai – 5th Edition. Sounds like fun. But considering I have stage fear and this being an unconference, I have some trepidation about going there. It’s in Shollinganallur. So we’ll see. Abishek is coming here and mostly Ashwin may make it as well. Will be fun, hopefully 🙂

Surprisingly, I still haven’t touched the PS3 since coming back. I guess it was due to the lack of games. No worries – the issue has been solved. Today. With this:

😀 … Yes, that’s right. I got the epic awesomesauce game. Sadly, I still haven’t played it. I’m waiting for the TV to get free so that I can let loose my awesomeness 😀 … I don’t think anything this childish should excite me so much at this age. But what the hell 😀

I also went out with the buggers today. Where did we land up? In citicentre. I dunno why we keep returning to that dilapidated, good-for-nothing mall again and again. But we do. I purchased AC3 there, ate a sub, a veg zynger and a chocolate ice cream 😀

Also, I’m getting my C++ programming back on track. Just finished a permutations program which was eluding me for quite sometime. Should get started on the others 🙂

Apart from this, life is just the usual. I’ve got a thing for Opeth’s jarring death music now. I guess it’s a passing phase. Also, I’m trying to be productive and prepare for my CAT entrance next year. Yes, I’m a very padips and studious fellow 😛

Until tomorrow (when I update the blog concerning #bcc5),

Adios!

PS: Hashtagging should be made a search engine base for the whole internet, I swear. Metadata tagging is so yesterday.