Adacamp – learnings and realizations

I am so so glad that I attended Adacamp, Bangalore last month. First, it was nice to be able to talk freely in an environment where everyone agrees to the basic principles of Feminism. It was a liberating experience because I did not have to think if I am alienating the person (mostly men and sometimes women too) I am talking to. I didn’t have to worry about if I was making myself and whatever I had been doing and talking unacceptable to the person.

I realized a few more things about myself. That I love helping others. And it gave me immense joy to be able to do that. That students were coming up to me and asking me about OPW or WFS-India was wonderful. That I got to encourage them in pursuing what they wish to pursue and sharing opportunities with them and thus in a way mentoring them made me glad.

I learned that the sexism that women face at workplaces can be dealt methodically. These life skills can be learned and practiced to help ourselves get less affected emotionally.

I also learned to be sensitive and respectful towards the choices and preferences that others have. I might not believe in them or follow them, but it’s important to understand them and interact with the person accordingly so that I do not hurt the person or make him/her uncomfortable.

And finally, it was lovely to meet wonderful ladies from different places. Got to connect with them. Learned a lot from various sessions. Unconferences are cool way to learn the things that we the participants decide to learn. Got new ideas to work on them. Hopefully come February, I’ll be able to start on some of them. I do hope to attend it next year as well!

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My experience at Grace Hopper Conference in India, 2014

There are 2 types of people I have seen in the software industry. One who just wants to hold on to his/her whatever job he/she has got, doesn’t want to learn new things, doesn’t want to try new things and definitely doesn’t want to take any initiative. And there’s another type – and I must say that I met very few of this type – who are passionate about their work. They drive new things. They bring new ideas and execute them. And I must also confess that before coming to this conference, I haven’t met any such women in the IT industry. I am not counting the women in FLOSS community. They are passionate about technology and open source software but I do not get to see them in the IT industry. GHC India 2014 surprised me. I got to see women, who are passionate about their work, talking on various technical topics that includes machine learning, cyber threats, secure cloud, tends in hardware. These are women who are mothers, wives and they are at senior positions at big multinational companies or have started their own startups.

They are passionate about their work and technology. And it filled my heart with hope. I won’t say that I was clueless or pessimistic about my future, but seeing women entrepreneurs or women at senior positions working in challenging and interesting fields did motivate me to believe in myself and work hard on what I want to achieve.

So my message to all the women in technology, if you are passionate about your work, if you wish to achieve something in your life, then do attend it next year. It will definitely going to be an awesome experience attending GHC.

Day 2 of Grace Hopper Conference India 2014

It’s one thing to know that you will see more than thousand women in computing in one place and it’s completely another thing when you actually see technical women all around you talking, laughing, networking with each other at the conference venue.

The day 2 of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in India started with a bang. The huge Kalinga hall at the Hotel Lalit Ashok was jam packed with women from different cities in India and abroad.

Jayshree Ullal, the President and CEO of Arista Networks gave an inspiring keynote. “Be passionate about what you work”, “Take risk, follow your instinct” were some of her key messages. I do suggest you watch her keynote here.

There were so many sessions going on in parallel that I wanted attend, that I really had a tough time in selecting where to go. The session on Wearable Technology was nice. Also the session on “Technology Trends – Hardware and Software” was informative.

Networking and bonding are very important part of GHC. Everyone of us were encouraged from the very beginning to connect to women working in other software companies. There were booths established by various companies offering quiz and goodies and collecting contact details if any one is interested to explore opportunities. And oh! the food was awesome too!

Day 1 of GHC India 2014


It’s super exciting to attend Grace Hopper Conference India 2014.

The first day had 2 parallel day-long events – a hackathon and a bootcamp on Ruby on Rails. Since I didn’t pre-register for the hackahon, I attended the Bootcamp during the first half and some time in the second half. But most of the second half I sat through the Hackathon presentations! And they were amazing. Women from Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore teamed up and built amazing stuff over a period of 2 months. There were students and as well as working professionals who took time out of their professional and personal commitments and worked on their ideas to create a product with value to the society.

One of them was a mobile app which connects people who have stuffs which they want to give away with the people who needs that stuff and there’s no money involved in the transaction. Coincidentally, a few days back a friend was looking for just the same thing after he faced the problem of loads of not-being-used-anymore stuffs that he had bought for his baby.

Then there was another app which converted voice to sign languages which can be used to communicate with a differently abled people. Another app made it easy to lodge complaints related to civic amenities and that complaint gets registered to the BBMP website. It was amazing to learn about every one of the presentations!

The presenters at the bootcamp were good too. And Ruby on Rails being a framework where you can actually make your app online in just a couple of minutes it was a good choice. But there were a few technical glitches. But I think it was good enough to invoke interest among those who wish to implement their ideas quickly or pursue learning more about Rails framework.

Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on 29th March for women

Breakthrough and Women in Free Software and Culture in India are organizing a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in collaboration with Wikimedia India to create articles on Women Parliamentarians and Women Scientists in India on Wikipedia to highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

Through this event we encourage women and transwomen to contribute to Wikipedia and increase the quality of articles related to women. This event aims at creating new articles, expanding the existing stubs and translating English articles to various Indic Languages. It is part of the series of month long events going on during Women’s History Month.

FAQ

When?
29th March 2013. 1pm till 6pm

Where?
Office of Breakthrough
#E-1 A Kailash Colony
First Floor
New Delhi 110048, India
Tel: 91-11-41666101

Who is this aimed for?
Women and transwomen who knows about Wikipedia are particularly encouraged.

Can men attend?
Yes, but you have to come along with an interested woman participant.

Any other prerequisite?
Yes. Please bring a laptop with you.

GUADEC 2013

Guadec2013: Before the family photo
A couple of firsts! My first time at GUADEC and my first trip abroad as well. And guess what! It was also a first time for GUADEC where it saw 18% women participants! All thanks to wonderful programs like Outreach Program for Women and GSoC internship.

Overall, it’s been a nice experience at the conference. For people like me who are new contributors to Free and Open Source Projects, the talks opened up new avenues. Anish Patils’ talk on Predictive Input Methods, Jeff Fortin’s talk on PiTiVi, Srinivasa Raghavan’s talk on Evolution, Juan Pablo Ugarte’s talk on Glade were some of the many that I enjoyed.

The lightning talks were wonderful too. Imagine within a span of an hour and a half you get to hear about a lot of interesting stuffs. The interns talked about their projects (where I too presented about my internship project). In another session there were presentations on topics like typeface designs, Terms of Conditions Didn’t Read project among others. I almost felt like standing at an icecream parlour and having difficulty in choosing what to eat since there are so many lovely flavours! You can check out the videos from here if you are interested.

And not only the talks, the conference gives one a chance to meet people whom one has never met before. And even though internet has helped us bridge the physical distances, face-to-face interactions do help to build up rapport with the person with whom you are collaborating or about to collaborate.

Photo courtesy: Ana Rey

Report of the Localization Hackathon event on CFD

WFS-india, a voluntary organization has been created a month back by some enthusiastic people wanting to see some gender parity in FOSS world. The group decided to organize a Localization Hackathon event on the eve of Cultural Freedom Day on 20th may, 2013 from 08:00pm to 09:30pm at the above mentioned channel.

The event aimed to get participants localize a few strings from ayny of Mozilla, Fedora or VLC Media Player. It was attended by seven participants from across the globe . More details about the participants are given below in the chat log. The session was coordinated by Chandan Kumar with the assistance of Biraj karmakar and Runa Bhattacharjee. Amani_glugcal, kaustavdm, Priyankanag also helped in the event.

People learnt what is localization and how to get started in any language by using transifex and pootle server. They were asked to contact the language co-rodinators via mailing lists if they face any issue. Due to lack of time the participants could not start translating any string.

It was realized that it is not possible to hold a full localization workshop within a short span of 1 hour. Participants faced various problem with one not being able to log in to one not finding her language in the list of languages.

But overall it was a nice event where people took out time from their schedule and tried to contribute to FLOSS.

* The chat log of the event can be found at – http://fpaste.org/13234/
* This report has been prepared from the original report written by Chandan Kumar.
* The next meeting of the group is at #wfs-india on freenode on 27 May, from 9:30pm IST.

Localization Hackathon for Women on CFD (20 May)

Women in Free Software India is organizing an online Localization Hackathon for women on Monday 20 May 2013 that is Cultural Freedom Day. Our goal is to include more women in Free and Open Source Software.This event will be good for anyone new or not yet aware of FOSS and it doesn’t require any programming experience. Please join us from 8pm to 9pm tomorrow at #wfs-india channel on http://webchat.freenode.net/ to participate.

Here’s a cool introduction page for the event which you may share along with the poster – http://wfs-india.github.io/

cfd_poster

Online event for women in India on Cultural Freedom Day

Finally, things are taking shape. We got a very few but dedicated people interested to promote FOSS among women in India. After the first two meetings we decided to have this online event where

  • we will have an online digital art competition
  • a Mediawiki hackathon
  • an event on localization.

Everything is in planning stage right now. But we want to make FOSS attractive for girls/women in India to first use it and then contribute to it. When they hear about this event or attend it, they should feel – yeah, it’s cool – I want to do this.

Have to plan some cool promotional materials for it.

There’s one big obstacle though. People, especially women in India think of FOSS as something “geeky” – not to be touched by everyone. That it is not easy to use.

If we do not address these myths, they will continue using third grade proprietary software without even trying any other alternative!

Please share your ideas/suggestions on how to make this event interesting and appealing to women in India.

In case you want to help, please join http://wfs-india.dreamwidth.org/ an participate in the irc meetings.

Big Data, Maps and Visualizations


The Hacks Hackers New Delhi group conducted an event on “Big Data, Maps and Visualizations” in the city yesterday. It was an interesting mix of programmers or “hackers” and journalists working on digital and print media. The idea was to create prototypes where graphs can be created from the data available on various fields and inferences can be made from the visualisation of the data. It is a classic case where programmers and journalists can come together to create meaningful and interesting reports.

Earlier even though one had access to data, the sheer volume of it could have made it very difficult for him to analyse it. Although it didn’t stop great reports to be published, now dealing with such huge volumes of data can be made very easy by blending a little technology in the field of data analysis.

Let me give you an example. A group in the event worked on availability of doctors in the country. Oh, you do not have to scratch your head for that. It’s abysmal 6 per 10,000 population (source: World Bank). This group first tried to find out statewise data on availability of doctors, vacancy for the posts of doctors in government hospitals etc. They took datasets from data.gov.in and using google Charts API made graphs which clearly communicated the horrible state of our public health infrastructure.

Another group did a very interesting visualisation of data on rape cases and the conviction rates in different states in India. They used colour coding on the map of India to make their point. Similarly another group used the heat map to visualize the IMR of various states in India. They used an opensource Heatmap Javascript library to generate the picture.

I too joined a group. We tried to find out how important education is to the overall development of the nation. We took a survey of people present there and nearly everyone felt that education is very important. But the data showed no direct relationship between the literacy rate and the 5 parameters of development that we chose.

We didn’t have much time to delve deeper into the question. Of course, I am not suggesting that we should neglect education. By all means we should strive to achieve 100% literacy. But we should also raise meaningful questions about the status quo. And such visualizations should enable the citizens to participate in the debate on the course of development that our country should follow.

For the technology part in our prototype, we at first used google Fusion Tables. Then we switched to Highcharts js. It did not require much coding and I think it can be incorporated webpage/presentation by anyone with very limited knowledge of html and JSON.

Overall it was a fun event to learn new stuff, interact with people and discover the strength of the new technologies that has unleashed a whole new set of possibilities to represent data.