the foss.in event itself was really well put together. this year it was kept highly technical so the audience was correspondingly technical. they had both local talent presenting, such as ext4's Suparna Bhattacharya, as well as a good number of internationals. i opened the second day with a talk entitled "kde4 and you" which stirred up a lot of interest. you can download my slides in kpresenter format or as a pdf.
it's really nice to be able to present kde4 these days compared to, say, 6 months ago. i can actually start up apps and show them, for instance ;) there's also the work visible in phonon, solid, sonnet, akonadi, etc. we're slowly but surely clawing our way to this rather complex release.
as a side note, what we need now are application developers taking employing things like solid in their apps to be aware of events like network link droppage or phonon for simple multimedia support. these may end up being post-4.0 release features for some (many?) apps, but they need to happen to expose the power of these frameworks in a practical way to users (e.g. us ;) and app developers should start thinking about them sooner rather than later.
my next presentation on kde4 app devel played to a standing-room only audience. one can't ask for much more than that. taj's presentation on qgraphicsview and prashanth's demo of vtk designer (more on that in a later blog!) were both excellent must-attends as well.
the kde india meeting (seen in the pictures to the
qapp->reverseLayout() ? left : right) was extremely productive as well. attended by about 20 people in an outdoor tent, we sat around in a circle discussing the allure of and barriers to kde development.
one outcome is the start of a project by a handful of people to create a set of step-by-step tutorials, much like the ones Qt has, for kde app development. this will be both a great way for them to learn as well as to provide very useful and badly needed high level development documentation for the project. as an added twist, it seems they will be using python for this. the future is now. ;)
this project came out of the discussion of barriers the attendees faced which included according to them: learning curves, lack of community to motivate them (aka "poke them with a stick"), documentation, making desktop devel more exciting and cool, c++ and access to the source code.
the latter (source code access) is an interesting example of a regional issue. many have very limited internet access though they have modern computing facilities otherwise. for them, being able to get regular drops of source code on physical media (e.g. a dvd) would make a huge difference to them being able to be more involved. not everywhere has broadband and so we face distribution issues in these areas.
but the biggest blocker seemed to be the local community, or lack thereof. there are so many people with development skills who are putting them to good use, even creating open source software. but they don't know about each other often and they certainly don't reach out to the broader global community. for india it isn't a language barrier or even a cultural-incompatibility issue like it is for some other countries in the region. nor is it that the people don't get the tenets of free and open source software; my conversations with people in attendance showed a high degree of sophisticated understanding of the topic.
so what is it? it's mostly a "people standing up and taking the initiative to create community" problem. i hope our foss.in efforts and kde india's maturation into year 2 helps to set this problem on its head and create terrific opportunities for everyone. i'll continue to work with taj, pradeepto and many of my new found friends in india to see what we can do.
i'll be blogging about some of the great kde initiatives and software i experienced at foss.in in subsequent blogs, including a very interesting roll out of kde to rural schools revolving around latex (!), high end visualization software and the local kde solaris community. there's just too much material in my writing book's notes for one blog entry.
but i couldn't write about my few days in india without any mention of the food. as opposed to many countries i go to and more or less starve (vegetarian food is not in every country's vocabulary) i feasted like a king in india. i love strong flavours, spicy heat and new combinations. bangalore did not disapoint. my personal favourite was this one local lunch place we went into: they sat us at a cafeteria style table and put a banana leaf in front of each person. waiters came around bearing flatbreads, curries, stews, rices ... all vegetarian and all deadly good. we ate with our hands (no utensils offered) and only paid 45 rupee a person (a little over a dollar). i ate until i was full and happy and probably effervescing spice through my pores. the evening bbq's at atul the-wunderkind-organizer chitnis' house were similarly amazing gastronomies with the added benefit of additional company. =)