Summer of '12

My semester vacations have just started and I will be getting a few things done this summer:

  1. Vidalia Project - My highest priority is creating the plugin to create and configure hidden services in Tor and to schedule bandwidth usage.
  2. Getting unfat - I’ve put on quite a few pounds over the years and science says that’s not a good idea for somebody who wants to live forever.
  3. Work on CS basics - Due to ending up in ending up in electricals, I’m seriously lacking knowledge on CS theory. I’ve started with Udacity CS
  4. I will taking the Algorithms class on Coursera and Calculus on Khan Academy.

This will make my summer a success.

IITM Shaastra HackFest 2011

I attended the Arduino workshop Shaastra HackFest with my friends. “Attended” because I didn’t really work on anything. (Poda ! No working when out with friends and all)

What I did there was basically hang out with IRC nicks, meet new people and BS around. however, it appears that my classmates got started with the arduino.

The only agenda was #c-h website which has since been resolved.

This post will serve as a reminder when those “CHA. I HAVE NO LIFE DA” moments turn up.

On Thurs, dinner at Ascendas with gsathya, beachbrake, handa, pratul and kau. good food, jokes, laughter. We turned up late for the event. So we have have 3 out of 4 mentors turning up late. Wonder what kind of impression that must have given :P

I got too many calls and SMS and finally switched my phone to silent mode.

First day was pretty basic arduino stuff and i just hung with pranavrc and gsathya and got trolled :| And yuvipanda walked around mumbling something along “what a bunch. I’m going to have to teach them PHP”. This is a particularly peculiar case as panda pretty much hates PHP “with a burning white-hot passion of a thousand suns”.

I don’t really remember what happened on the second day. The third day we nobody did anything. just a series of lectures given by the mentors. We missed pratul’s “Taking over the Earth and taking over Mars” talk on git. I learnt to use vim to its 10% potential.

Now it appears as if nothing extraordinarily fun happened. it was VERY MUCH fun but I just don’t recall it now :|. This can probably be compared to “The Hangover” except we had sleep-deprivation instead of roofies and computers instead of …err never mind. I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.

[caption id=”attachment_76” align=”aligncenter” width=”300” caption=”Me with ma "homies".”]

[caption id=”attachment_77” align=”aligncenter” width=”300” caption=”Looking happy not sure why.”]

Why *YOU* should come for the Arduino Hackfest

This is regarding the IITM Shaastra Arduino HackFest - [http://www.shaastra.org/2011/main/events/Hackfest/](http://www.shaastra.org/2011/main/events/Hackfest/). It got repetitive telling my friends what an Arduino is and what goes on at HackFest. This would be useful for anyone who wants to learn how to quickly connect do cool stuff like blink LEDs, read temperatures, design bots and toys.


What is HackFest ?

It is a 3 “night” event held during IITM Shaastra. It is one of the much awaited geek events in Chennai. A lot of students turn up to get started with programming and contributing to opensource. It is usually held near a weekend, so this year, it might be 30th, 1st and 2nd. The introductory talks explaining the basics might happen in the evening. But most of the “hacking” happens between 2200 to 0400. So it is a midnight workshop :P. Last year, I attended for a day and chickened out due to fatigue. Make sure you don’t return home on the first day or you will probably give up too.

The Arduino HackFest would be conducted by Priya Kuber - http://arduino.cc/blog/2011/08/26/introducing-priya/. Don’t be afraid :P

What is Arduino ?

Google has the best answers - http://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+arduino

An Arduino is simply an electronic board which is very simple and easy to work with. It provides a very user-friendly way to program micro-controllers. You can program an LED to blink at your command in a few minutes if you are familiar with basic C. The Arduino Uno board costs around Rs. 1500.

It has a HUGE online community and fan following. You can always look up the forums for help and ideas.

What can I use it for ?

You can use it to build a gajillion awesome electronic toys/pranks/devices.

These are some of the cool stuff students have made - http://hacknmod.com/hack/top-40-arduino-projects-of-the-web/

Apart from this, it will also come in useful for your final year project and any robotics related competition. Maybe next year, you can participate in http://www.shaastra.org/2011/main/events/Aerobotics/ and http://www.shaastra.org/2011/main/events/Robowars/.

You can also apply what is being thought in college. You can learn how servos work, try out logic gates, build your own virtual CRO, etc. The possibilities are limitless.
<blockquote>At Yahoo OpenHack 2011, Banglore, I built a TV remote controlled LED/bulb. Using just the Arduino, a resistor, an IR Photo detector module, Ken Shirriff’s IR library and a random TV remote, we built a circuit which switches ON LED if you press channel 1 and switches it OFF for

  1. All this in just around half an hour. And I had ZERO previous experience. This is considered an extremely simple circuit !</blockquote>
     How do I participate ?

Go to http://www.shaastra.org/2011/main/events/Hackfest/ -> “Event Format” -> Questionnaire_arduino.doc. Fill that up and save as a PDF and upload it according to instructions under “Registration”. Make sure you apply for accomodation… just in case.

The questions are fairly easy and google is your best friend. This isn’t a competitive event. No fixed number of seats and such. You just have to learn to google your questions in the correct words. HackFest is not school where they spoon-feed you. One single mentor cannot possibly go around and personally teach 60 participants. You’ll have to look up stuff online or discuss with friends… you know.. like actual college. So please don’t just rip off answers from a friend. Look around and find it. The deadline is 18th September so hurry !

The cost would be around Rs 1000 for the hardware. You can take the Arduino Board home. This is not a certificate course. Heck, I don’t even think they give out “participation certificates” so resume padders, FO.

And you will also get to meet Chennai’s GSoC-ers xD

A few guys from 2nd year VEC would definitely be attending it. Moar the merrier !

GSoC - The Finishing

I successfully finished my GSoC and I’m feeling extremely burnt out. The constant midnight coding and sleep deprivation always gets to you. I don’t really feel like programming for at least another fortnight. I’m currently doing what normal people do - hanging out on FB, TF2, and catching up with friends, movies and sitcoms.

GSoC was definitely the best thing which happened to me in the last half decade. I learnt about the various processes involved in successfully developing a software - collaboration across time zones, version control and bug triaging. I had hands-on experience on how developing works in the real world. You realize that developing software is less of writing totally new code using exotic languages and more of reading docs and implementing the code. I spent the majority of time reading docs and understanding code written by others. I spend a ridiculous amount of time figuring out what I did wrong and where. Some of my commits made it to the master repo and it makes me ecstatic to think that a few hundred people might use what I wrote.

That said, I would really like to thank ‘Jeff’ Fortin Tam, Luis De Bethencourt, Mathieu Duponchelle and the whole PiTiVi team.They were there 247 to help me out and answer my (looking back, retarded noob) doubts and were extremely patient and friendly. I did disappoint them. I fell behind schedule. Only towards the end I realized I hadn’t made it amply clear that I would have school throughout GSoC. Freshmen don’t get much of a summer vacation down here in India in Anna University. I fscked up royally.

It was definitely NO pleasure cruise. Many days, I stayed awake till 0230 and then woke up at 0700 for college. This also involves appearing perennially drunk in class, miraculously passing Circuit Theory ( I still have no clue how. I was SURE I would flunk), taking a quick nap during lunch break and the bus ride, drinking ridiculous amounts Coke and the like. Success isn’t sexy. Lets just say I traded my sleep, and a few grades which could have taken me to a “plushy job at TCS” for something waaay awesomer. Something which I would reminisce a decade from now :)

I guess I got my swagger back.

The Month That Was

This April has probably been my most busiest and productive month ever.

It was GSOC time. GSOC is… google it nub. I had been planning on participating in GSOC for a year now. However, I was quite confident I didn’t have have the required skills. I was told to atleast give it a try by the #h-i-ers. So I started scouting around. After a lot of searching, I realized the only thing I knew was Python + a little bit of GUI.

And then I found PiTiVi on the GNOME ideas page. I hanged around #pitivi and had a look at their wiki. Thankfully, it was built on py + gtk (+ gst). So I had a look through their idea and bug lists and submitted the proposal. I must have slept for around 4.5 hours at night that week. The rest I compensated for at college :)

And then we had our “First Official #c-h Alliance Round Table Conference” at Elliots Beach which was attended by all the regional Pirate/Ninja overlords. I met idlecool, Sup3rkiddo and Stattrav in person for the first time. I also got my first epic portrait with Sup3rkiddo’s depreciated value DSLR. And then yuvi tells me I would need a patch to get into GNOME and I went into overdrive trying to find an easy bug.

YuviPanda wanted to do something semantic on MediaWiki, idlecool applied for Sahana and gsathya applied for Orbot - TOR Android client.

I finally found https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=608108. The only difficult part was finding the correct classes and functions. I submitted 2 patches which turned out to be “technically correct but wrong from the user’s perspective”. So I went back and just modified it a little bit and Voila! it worked. I submitted the patch and it officially became my FIRST PATCH EVAAAH.

This whole month, I don’t remember studying anything at home and apart from doing my record work, I didn’t touch my college books. Now I have to get back to my books as the end sem exam is approaching. As of writing this post, GSOC acceptance is 1 day, 11 hours, 53 minutes and 11 seconds away and gsathya is feeling extremely anxious and tensed :P.  I’m feeling quite calm. #h-i also looks surprisingly peaceful.