October 30th, 2005


Insignia 2005

I was busy attending Insignia 2005 day before yesterday. First, the bad news. Because of heavy rain in Chennai, Hiran and Shakthi couldn't make it for the event. Dinil was much more adventurous - I shall not describe the tale of his amazing journey from Chennai to Trichur in these pages lest I deprive him of his right to embellish it in his own words - suffice it to say that it was indeed a great struggle!

Arun, the top guy of FSF India, inaugurated the event and gave an interesting talk on what `Free Software' really means. The idea he wished to convey was that Free Software has much more to do with building a free and democratic society than just writing code. The session was well received by the audience (click on the tumbnails below to get larger image).

As the programme was running a bit behind schedule, the technical talk section could begin only in the evening. Meantime, Sujeevan (from S2S2 Kannur), Gopal and Swaroop (Yahoo Blore) arrived and we talked for some time. Gopal was coming for the first time, and he was supposed to give a talk on `DotGNU'. For Swaroop, it was his second visit and he was going to give a talk on web development with Python. Anivar had accompanied Arun and for him too I think this was the first visit to GEC Trichur.

Swaroop's session was supposed to begin at 1:30, but got delayed by almost an hour. Meantime, we walked around the exhibition room and took a few pictures.

Anish was explaining how to configure and run the Xen virtual machine monitor - I doubt if anybody really understood him!

Anand had written a few demos using VPython, the amazing 3D graphics environment for Python.

Azhar had two demos ready - one was a simple parport based stepper motor control program and the other one, `the ridiculously sensitive charge detector'!

Vivek and Rejith were demonstrating some simple Phoenix experiments - Vivek had to do some running-around to get the pendulum experiment right.

Here is an image of the damping sinusoid taken during the last few moments of the pendulum's motion:

Anil and friends demonstrated remotely controlling XMMS through simple home-brew hardware and software from the Linux IR remote project.

Anjali and friends demonstrated various interesting stuff like a home-brew temperature sensor using 0809 ADC, a simple IC tester capable of testing various logic IC's...

A few students demonstrated Scilab, the powerful numerical computation engine.

There was also an interesting demo of Audacity, the powerful audio editing engine for GNU/Linux.

After visiting all the exhibits, we left for the seminar hall - it was time for Swaroop's talk. TurboGears is a powerful platform for web development with Python - Swaroop gave a hands-on introduction to getting your site up and running with TurboGears. I am mostly web-programming illiterate, but I think I should try out this cool tool when I get time ...

Gopal gave a talk on DotGNU - as the topic was fairly technical and the audience was not really prepared for heavy-duty stuff, Gopal had to try really hard to keep their attention.

Next, it was time for Dinil to give his talk on the fundamentals of Linux networking. I was very happy as I was listening to one of my best student's talk - nobody in the audience had any clue that this guy had reached Trichur after undertaking a standing bus journey (in wet clothes) from Chennai for almost 12 hours - he had not slept a wink the last night and was thoroughly exhausted, but the talk didn't reflect any of that and was very professional and informative.

Sreejith and Krishna Kumar had come to attend the talks - after Dinil's presentation, the four of us went to my house and sat talking for some time - Sreejith as usual tempted me to go for a `MSc' or `PhD' just for a `change'! KK seems to be stuck with HPC and Dinil with studies. Sreejith is busy doing nothing and I am busy motivating others to light LED's with the parallel port after having expended all my energy doing the same myself for the past many years ....