Less than a week to go for Meta Refresh. Speakers have started arriving in town. Exciting times. Have you seen the schedule?
Less than a week to go for Meta Refresh. Speakers have started arriving in town. Exciting times. Have you seen the schedule?
On 19th and 20th January, HasGeek organized a hacknight to commemorate the life and works of Aaron Swartz.
Why host an Aaron Swartz memorial hacknight? In the aftermath of Aaron’s death, some people began expressing doubts, uncertanties and misinformed opinions about his activist causes. They questioned whether Aaron committed a ’crime’ by downloading articles from JSTOR and whether the means he used for liberating data were wrong in the first place. It was important to dispel these doubts and provide people with a better understanding about issues such as IT laws, copyright rules and access to information, and how these are implemented in different parts of the world.
Aaron had initiated several coding projects during his lifetime. Anand Chitipothu, who collaborated with Aaron at the Internet Archive and maintains his web.py framework, suggested that the hacknight could also be an opportunity where people get familiar with Aaron’s coding projects and work on some of them.
The hacknight: 87 people registered for the hacknight. Approximately 40 people turned up. Some participants proposed projects to liberate different kinds of public data such as electoral data, weather data, information about train timetables and crawling data from government and NIC websites. Developers worked on these projects to make the data searchable and usable.
Discussions during the hacknight: The hacknight started at 3 PM with a discussion about the life of Aaron Swartz and the political and legal implications of his coding projects and activism.
This discussion was led by Anand and Kiran Jonnalagadda of HasGeek.
Kiran gave an elaborate background about Aaron’s life starting with how he established RSS 1.0 as a standard and the collaboration between Aaron and Lawrence Lessig on using the RDF format for Creative Commons licensing, leading to Aaron’s work with Reddit and its acquisition by Condé Nast. Shortly after Reddit’s acquisition, Aaron left Reddit and began a career in activism. In this period, he started freeing data funded by public money which constitutionally belonged in the public domain. He published data from the catalogue of the Library of Congress and the US case law archives on the Internet Archive. Later, Aaron downloaded articles from JSTOR to release academic papers whose research was funded with public money. Before he could sift through the downloads, Aaron was caught by the police. He returned the hard disk containing the downloads. JSTOR and MIT did not pursue cases against him, but the United States government charged Aaron for breaking into the MIT campus and faking identity by changing the MAC address of his computer.
At the end of Kiran’s presentation, participants asked several questions about activism, what constitutes offensive speech, framework of IT laws in India, and the process of law-making.
At 5 PM, Sunil Abraham of the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) joined the hacknight. He made a presentation about copyright laws, the Indian IT Act and Aaron’s work.
Sunil explained how Aaron believed in the importance of access to information by releasing data from copyright and thereby enabling freedom of expression. According to Sunil, Aaron Swartz is a very troublesome hero because his data liberation projects do not fall into one neat category. Moreover, the means he used for his activism are questioned by different activist groups. This makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what one must credit Aaron for and what category of activism his work falls under.
After Sunil’s presentation, there was a half hour discussion about the scope of copyright laws in India, copyright exemptions and what constitutes copyright infringement. Participants agreed that the trouble lies with the broad interpretations of copyright and IT laws. This enables the state and private parties to target and harass a person, often on frivolous grounds.
Discussion about hacknight projects: At 6 PM, participants with project ideas and those who wanted to join projects gathered in the garden. Over tea and snacks, groups / pairs were formed. Participants reported two difficulties here:
This affected participants’ motivation to stay through the night.
Web.py workshop: After the tea break, Anand conducted a workshop on web.py.
Some participants came to the hacknight mainly to attend this workshop. The code used in this workshop is available on github.com/anandology/webpy-workshop.
Anand also worked on the database module of web.py to decouple it and make it into a separate python module. This project requires more work before it is completed. The code is available at: http://github.com/anandology/sqlpy
Projects at the hacknight: A complete list of projects that participants worked on during the hacknight are available on the hacknight website. We talked with some of the teams and individual participants to understand their projects, the process they followed for solving the problems, and outcomes at the end of the hacknight.
Liberating electoral data: Arun Raghavan, an open source enthusiast, and four other participants (Arun K, Praveen, Mikul and Sumant) worked on scraping electorial data from http://ceokarnataka.kar.nic.in/. They planned to build a frontend which will make it easy for users to search their names and polling booth information. Currently, the electoral roll is published as a PDF document for each polling station along with a search form (which is unreliable and fails often) for individuals to find their names on the roll and the location of their polling station.
It was difficult to parse the data because the PDFs were not designed for machine readability. Hence, the team had to spend time understanding how to extract the text. The other problem was that the person’s name was written above the father’s name, but if the person’s name was very long, it overlapped the father’s name. This made it difficult to determine where the person’s name ended and where the father’s name began. The team managed to come up with a heuristic to distinguish between the person’s name and father’s name based on slight differences in the way the text was printed on each sheet.
At the end of the hacknight, the group almost managed to get a dump of an entire electoral roll. The project repositories:
Other data liberation projects:
Indexing Government websites by category of information: Elvis D’souza worked on crawling government websites and indexing them by category, for e.g., education, import-export trade, science and technology, etc. According to him, government websites contain lots of information including documents and spreadsheets. At the hacknight, Elvis completed the indexing process and ran some statistics about information contained in these websites. He eventually wants to build a portal where people can access this index and the documents.
Railway timetable data: Anand scraped data from the IRCTC website. Supreeth Srinivasmurthy worked with this data to plot a map. Bibhas Debnath also worked on the timetable data to build an API. A demo of this API is yet to be released.
Parsing weather data: Asok Padda converted weather data from HTML format to Excel sheets. Hourly weather data for all weather stations in India during 2012 is parsed and uploaded to Internet Archive: http://archive.org/details/www.imdaws.com-2012
Other projects: Kashyap Kondamundi started building an app which will help people to calculate the current values of their mutual funds. He built 70% of this app at the hacknight.
HasGeek has requested participants to post updates about their projects and share links to their code.
Overall achievements from the hacknight: Participants reported the following outcomes from the hacknight:
Participants appreciated Anand’s presence as a mentor during the hacknight. He interacted with the teams and helped them when they were stuck with their projects, either with his expertise in Python or by suggesting alternative ways of approaching the problem.
HasGeek thanks CIS for sponsoring the venue and providing logistical support during the hacknight.
Here is Benjamin Lupton introducing his talk on “Why the next big thing sucks” at Meta Refresh, 22nd and 23rd February 2013, Bangalore. See you there!
Aaron Swartz's suicide last week came as a shock to us. Both HasGeek and our friends at the Centre for Internet and Society (who host us) have used his code and been inspired by his efforts.
We are hosting an Aaron Swartz memorial hacknight to help keep his memory and work alive. Join us this Saturday, January 19 at the Centre for Internet and Society to discuss Aaron's work, learn about his projects and contribute to them. The event is free and open for all, but you have to register so we'll have a headcount and can plan logistics.
HasGeek was incorporated on December 15, 2010. We are going to be two years old this weekend, and we’re throwing a party to celebrate!
Join us on December 14, 7pm onwards, at our HQ at the Centre for Internet and Society: No 194, 2nd ‘C’ Cross, 4th Main, Opp. Domlur Club, Domlur 2nd Stage, Bangalore – 560 071. Map.
This is an open party. Bring your friends, bring your kids, bring your own beer and food. We will have music, games, and a barbeque in the lawn, and we’ll order from nearby restaurants to ensure everyone’s well fed.
See you on the 14th at 7pm!
Why don’t you have sponsors subsidise ticket prices, we are often asked.
I’ve pointed out previously that sponsors and participants have different expectations from an event. Money from one isn’t the same as money from the other. Cash is fungible but expectations aren’t.
We learnt our lesson at AndroidCamp, our first ever ticketed event, on April 1, 2011. AndroidCamp was an unconference with no published agenda and tickets were Rs 300 each. We spent a long time agonizing over the price and the decision to charge. Rs 300 was just enough to cover food and beverages and we weren’t comfortable asking for more.
The Rs 300 you pay isn’t Rs 300 in our hands. We sold tickets via DoAttend, which takes a 4.9% + Rs 15 cut. On Rs 300, that’s Rs 29.70, nearly 10% of your money. Then there’s Service Tax at 10.3% (in 2011; now 12.36%). That’s another Rs 28. We receive only Rs 242 of your 300.
DoAttend’s fee was unavoidable—every other ticketing service charged the same or more, DoAttend refused to revise the rate, and nobody on the team wanted to deal with cash and cheques from 100+ participants, so we used DoAttend and took the hit—but we had a workaround for Service Tax. Since ST only applies if a service provider does over 10 lakhs of business in a year, we routed the money through an individual who made less than that, instead of through HasGeek. That individual was me: I had no income the previous two years, so a few thousand rupees turning up in my bank account wasn’t going to get me in a soup. I received the ticket money and paid the vendors personally. Needless to say, this is no way to run a business, but we did save Rs 28 per ticket that one time.
I’ve put out this detail to help you understand the unusual lengths an event organizer has to go every single time to make everything seem seamless to a participant. Anyway, back to AndroidCamp:
We had a free venue courtesy our sponsor, who had just moved into a new building with an extra floor they weren’t using. The floor was spacious. It was also empty. As an unoccupied floor, it had no furniture, no air conditioning and no power sockets. We drew wires from the floor below, hired the AV setup and mattresses, and got an aircon vendor to do a temp setup. We expected this would be cheap, amounting to a few thousand rupees, but it turned into a few tens of thousands of rupees. We were dependent on sponsors to cover it.
The evening before the event, just when we were getting all this stuff in place, our main sponsor pulled out. Our contact there did not have approval from her bosses and this was the end of the line. There was no hope of getting approval overnight, so the sponsorship was off.
That meant we were going to be roughly Rs 40,000 in debt the next morning. We didn’t have that kind of money spare.
I made several frantic calls that evening, to her bosses, to the other sponsors, to friends at other companies asking if they could sponsor. I drew a blank everywhere. We were left with two options:
I continued talking to the errant sponsor and convinced them that pulling out so late wasn’t done. They agreed to pay, but because this wasn’t approved via the right channels, they had to take it out of the small expenses budgets of two departments, and they could only pay by credit card. This meant I had to get a payment gateway just for them. I applied to EBS, but they were super lethargic, so I ended up making a fake event on DoAttend with only two “tickets” on sale.
This exercise took about two months.
Meanwhile, participants at AndroidCamp had a great time, oblivious to the backstage drama. I spoke to a few and explained the situation, and nobody had a problem paying more to ensure the event went off smoothly. Why didn’t we just recover the cost from participants then, the people who actually benefited?
This became a policy with the next event, Scaling PHP in the Cloud, and has remained in place since. The minimum unavoidable expenses are always paid for by participants, regardless of how much sponsor money is available.
A few months later at Droidcon India 2011, we lost a confirmed sponsor a week before the event because I refused to let them have an oversized banner draped over the venue. We had to retract their name from the website, reprint our banners, and redo the event’s budget. HasGeek took the hit, but the event wasn’t compromised because participants paid for what they received.
With the Cartonama Conference 2012, we hit a bad patch with sponsorships. We had a single community sponsor whose money covered about 15% of the event’s expenses. The remaining 85% came from ticket money. Participants got the event they paid for. If we hadn’t charged, there would have been no event, and nobody would have benefited.
Making events independent of sponsors is the best thing we have done, even for sponsors. They are no longer paying someone else’s bills. Cartonama’s sponsor paid only for the value they received. They neither paid extra to cover for participants, nor had an event cancelled on them because of a shortfall.
Part four in our series on ticket pricing is still pending, but in the meanwhile we a big announcement.
HasGeek TV went live this morning. This is our one-stop website for videos from all our events, plus anything you feel worth sharing.
HasGeek TV has been “coming soon” for most of this year as we struggled to make time between events. This proved rather hard with our hectic schedule, accelerating up to one event every week from September. Droidcon was the last event of the season and, with November freed up, we finally had the time to pull together and work on the website. We are celebrating with livestreaming from FOSS.IN, an event we’ve literally grown up with. This is the first time FOSS.IN has been livestreamed, so it’s a major milestone for them as well and we’re proud to help make it happen.
This is just the beginning for HasGeek TV. There are plenty of rough edges with both the website and the way we produce video, and we hope to improve to the point where having high quality video for every event becomes a perfectly normal thing.
If you’d like to offer us a commercial service, please take the time to look around and understand what we do — we receive too many commercial offers that we can’t make any use of.
If you’d like us to shoot video for your event, we’re sorry, but we only do our own events. We occasionally extend support to other community-friendly events and user groups like PyCon India, FOSS.IN and Bangalore JS, but we are not an event management firm and can’t help you with yours.
The Droidcon Hacknight is over and we witnessed a few amazing apps that were built overnight. The interesting part was that many of them were beginners in Android application development. The HasGeek and Bangalore Android User Group crew are happy that they found the proper atmosphere and motivation to start and finish an app overnight.
Here are a few of the apps that participants built:
1. Data fetching app
Developed by Bhiman. An app that sends back data as a response to a text message. You can message your phone from another phone requesting information like a note or contacts. This app will respond with the requested details. Developed using Android APIs and Java.
2. CareTaker: a prescription reminder app
Developed by Satyam Kandula and Kakkirala Lakshman. An app designed for elderly people. With this app, you can take a picture of your medicine and set schedules for when they should be taken. The app will sound a reminder at those prescribed times showing you the picture. Developed using Android APIs and Java.
3. E-ticket: a ticketing app to reduce paperwork
Developed by Mujasam BN, Kapil Pahuja, Anushree Jain, Jagdish Nagar, Isaac Balaji and Hari. An app that generates barcodes from provided information. These are stored for display on the phone, with a backup copy emailed to you. Developed using Android APIs, Java and MySQL.
4. Zone-wise expense tracking app
Developed by Jabez Mammen, Annapoornima Koppad, Senthil Kumaresan and Sreenivasan Ganti. An app that keeps track of your expenses location-wise so that you can understand where you have spent most of your money. It plots the entire information as a pie-chart. It is based on the SMS that one receives at a Point Of Sale. Developed using Java, Android APIs and AChartEngine for plotting the pie chart.
5. DroidJuice: an app that monitors battery life to create and compare statistics
Developed by Anenth Guru, Santhosh Guru, Sandeep Bhaskar and Muthuraj. An app that tracks the phone's battery life and uploads it to a server so that (a) the user can track the battery's status and (b) the data can be statistically analysed to understand the quality of one's battery. Developed using Android APIs, PHP, MySQL, and hosted on AWS.
6. Vedic mathematics tutorial app
Developed by Badrinath VM, Somit Srivastava, Harshit Kohli and Kiran Vadakkath. An app that teaches you the steps that are used in Vedic mathematics, to break down complex calculations into simple ones. The app gives you step by step instructions on how to apply Vedic calculation on the example problem that you give it. Developed using XML, Java and Hashmaps.
8. App for children: learn the alpphabets and numbers
Developed by Kishore S Meda and Saravana Rajan. An application that lets children learn the basics of the English alphabet and basic arithmetic. There is a brilliant voice feedback as well as cute and attractive animations that will get kids engaged. Developed using Java, HTML and the Android APIs.
9. BroCode: an advisory service app
Developed by Neeraj Jain, Bhavya Sidappa and Francis Xavier. An application that lets the user post issues that he has so that friends can give advice or comment on it (optionally anonymously).
10. Puzzle game app
Developed by Sunanda Saha and Ashish Gupta. An app that can take any image and cut it up into pieces of 3*3, 6*6, etc and shuffle it for you to put it back together. Developed using Java and XML.
It was an awesome experience altogether at the hacknight. There was a lot of team spirit as you can see from the projects. Everyone from beginners to advanced Android developers had a wonderful time and the HasGeek and BAUG crews were only too happy to be with them.
Here are few thoughts that the participants shared.
Dheeraj & Ershad
“JSFoo taught us a lot about Coffee, and in the process made us drink a lot of it too!”
“We are happy about the quality of folks. Where we usually have simple questions, the crowd here is actually discussing with us the real problems they are facing with our tech. It was a really great day!”
Vedratna & Linto
“The sessions had really interesting topics. However, we wish the speakers were allowed a little more time.”
“The topics were impressive. Many had excellent presentation skills as well. However, I felt that the content should be a bit more generic, keeping the audience in mind.”
Vetrichelvan & Sarath
“CreateJS rocks! Things get interesting when you show the code, make it run and that’s it.”
Gaurav, Samyak & Bhoomit
“’Hack at it, if you don’t get it’. It is borrowed, but it applies.”
“JSFoo everywhere, HasGeek everywhere!”
“Talk on 3D FPS game by Milan: one of the best talks I have ever attended.”
George & Alstair
“CreateJS was awesome. Looking forward to more!”
“We got HasGeek!”
Here is looking forward to a wonderful JSFoo 2013!
Here’s a basic fact: humans need to eat every few hours. Conferences would be cheap if they didn’t have to feed people and everyone just went over to a nearby restaurant, but restaurant kitchens can’t cope with a few hundreds descending at once.
Food is such a basic necessity that it’s regulated by government. Public kitchens require a license. In theory, government-appointed food inspectors ensure that a kitchen serves quality food. In practice, haha! Any restaurateur will tell you that it’s not possible to run a honest food business. The quality of a restaurant is determined by market competitiveness, not food inspectors, who basically get paid to go away.
We’re therefore lucky that in India catering is not regulated the same way, at least not in practice (my thanks to Madhu Menon for pointing this out). In the US and Europe, conference venues come with their own licensed kitchens. When you rent a venue, you are also required to use their kitchen and cooks, regardless of how good they are. We don’t have this problem in India (unless you go to a hotel where “outside food” is prohibited). For HasGeek events, we hire the venue and caterer separately. This is why the food at HasGeek events is so good: we found a great caterer and give them enough business to get decent prices and lenient credit terms, so we take them to every venue we do an event at. We don’t have to work with the venue’s cooks.
What does food actually cost? When you eat at a restaurant, the food itself is <= 35% of the price (thanks again, Madhu).
Nobody likes having the basis of their rates questioned, so they try to bundle it with something else. When you go to a hotel and ask to rent a ballroom for your event, they’ll tell you that the venue is free, but you have to pay for the food and guarantee a minimum turnout. Typical prices range from Rs 600 to 1000 plus taxes (always plus taxes!) per head per day. The food itself is a small part of this cost, so hotels compensate by laying out an elaborate menu that is more food than anyone needs to eat, especially when you are at a conference and need to remain alert through the day. If you are not used to controlling your intake, you’ll probably eat everything that is served, get hit by carb coma, and doze off in the afternoon sessions. Not the best use of your time.
We spent a long time looking at this and decided food was too important to let hotel economics dictate what you eat. The food component of your ticket remains variable though, between Rs 200 and Rs 350 (per day) depending on how many are attending and whether the event is over one or two days. A conference of 400 requires a catering staff of 30. Two day events cost more than twice a single day event because of the more elaborate setup requirements. We start work on the venue the previous afternoon and some of us stay there overnight, so the catering staff have to work longer hours to serve us breakfast and dinner.
Part of this is because of the way venues are rented: per day. We pay for the days of the conference, but setting it up takes 6-8 hours on the previous day. The venue would much rather make money by renting it out to someone else, so they often do that without notifying us. Droidcon India is on November 2 & 3 at the MLR Convention Centre. Last week they informed us that they are hosting a marriage reception on November 1 and the venue will become free at 11 PM. That’s before they clean it up, which means we get to start work around 1 AM on November 2. When I host the opening session in the morning, I’ll be lucky to have three hours of sleep on me. Our only other option is to pay up another lakh to block the venue on November 1 and add that cost to your ticket price.
Next post: sponsor subsidies.
This blog doesn’t take comments because we’re still working on it, but you can leave a comment on this HackerStreet thread.
This post is the second in a series on how event ticket pricing works. Start here.
This weekend’s JSFoo is at the NIMHANS Convention Centre near Dairy Circle. It’s large, centrally located, has enough parking space, and excellent acoustics in the auditoriums. As a government-subsidized facility, the pricing is reasonable and transparent. There are no hidden charges. Other venues like to bill you separately for electricity, generators and cleaning. Nimhans provides one figure and sticks with it. The facility is so popular that they take bookings three to four years in advance.
So what does Nimhans cost? Rs 1,85,000 per day. For a two-day event like JSFoo, that is Rs 3,90,000, and it doesn’t end there. Nimhans doesn’t provide projectors, so we have to rent those separately. The audio system in the second hall hasn’t been functioning for months, so we have to rent out a full audio setup for that hall. The cost: Rs 25,600. Next: Nimhans doesn’t provide tables and chairs. They have chairs bolted to the floor in the auditoriums, but everything else has to be rented. We need tables and chairs for everything from the registration desks to food counters. At our last event at Nimhans, The Fifth Elephant, the furniture rental bill worked out to about Rs 70,000.
Added up, the venue alone costs roughly Rs 5 lakhs. That’s more money than most of us make in a year, and it only works out because the cost is divided among hundreds of participants (Rs 5,00,000 / 500 participants = Rs 1000, your share of the venue cost). As a popular venue, Nimhans requires bookings to be made roughly one year in advance, and requires 25% as an up-front non-refundable booking fee. We booked the place for JSFoo (Oct 2012) back in Jan 2012, making the bet right then that JSFoo would have enough attendees to justify the venue. The booking cost us Rs 90,000. We do roughly one event every month so, as you can imagine, that is a lot of money locked up in bookings.
This year’s Droidcon India is at the MLR Convention Centre in Whitefield, which is similar in size but somewhat more affordable. The base cost is about Rs 3,60,000 and with additional rentals it comes up to about 4 lakhs. MLR likes to tack on lots of additional charges, so it’s difficult to pin down an exact cost until after the event.
The architects of the building set out to build a beautiful monument and didn’t want it marred with ugly power sockets, so there are almost no power sockets in the building. We have to bring our own electrical cabling and wire up the building each time. We looked at the cost of renting wires and figured it was cheaper to just buy them and recover the cost over multiple events, so we now own over Rs 50,000 worth of electric wires, power strips and network cables.
Can venues be cheaper? Yes, but there’s always something to be compromised. We’ve hosted several events at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram in the Christ University campus. They charge Rs 5000 per room per day, including for projector and audio. This is a steal compared to the other venues and allowed us to have ticket prices as low as Rs 600. The campus is just gorgeous and we would have used the venue for every event, except participants have consistently complained about it. The rooms have bad acoustics, the audio system is old and scratchy, the projector is feeble and the screen is small, and there’s no air conditioning, so it gets too hot in the summer. Dharmaram works for events of up to 200 people in the cooler months, but not as well the rest of the year or for a larger audience.
We evaluated nearly every venue in Bangalore before settling on places like NIMHANS and MLR. They cost a lot but are among the only usable venues for events with between 300 to 1000 participants.
Next post: on food.
This blog doesn’t take comments because we’re still working on it, but you can leave a comment on this HackerStreet thread.
We are often asked why tickets cost “so much,” or why participants have to buy a ticket at all. I’ll attempt to explain how pricing works over the next few posts, and I will start with this quote because it is important:
If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold. (source)
We create events that cater to your interests as an individual first and foremost, and the only way to ensure that is by making you the customer. Events cost a lot of money and are typically funded by a mix of ticket sales and sponsorships, but the motivating factors for participants and sponsors are rather different:
|1. Learning from other smart individuals||1. Speaking to a large audience about their product/service|
|2. Forming peer-groups, meeting others like themselves||2. Recruiting smart individuals|
|3. Discovering market value for their skills and understanding what skills are in demand||3. Receiving a contact database of participants to add to the company newsletter or to contact for recruitment|
A typical sponsor puts down 10x to 200x as much money as a typical participant, so if one is to expend energy in convincing someone to pay, it makes sense to give sponsors more attention. This is rather common. HasGeek’s first few events were all free for participants, with sponsors covering all expenses, but we learnt quickly that the difference in priorities was a problem. The top priority for a sponsor is to meet participants, but the top priority for a participant is not to meet sponsors, it’s to learn from great speakers and meet others like themselves.
This means participants are more important than sponsors. This is why we now structure events so that participants cover the minimum unavoidable costs, and sponsors contribute to make it nicer for everyone. If a sponsor makes demands that compromise the participant’s experience, we can afford to turn them down because the event will still run without them.
We have worked with some great sponsors who really get it. They understand that participants take precedence and structure their engagement so that there’s value generated on both sides. I wish this were true for every sponsor, but an uncomfortably large part of our sponsor interactions involve us saying “no” until the sponsor gives in or gives up.
There really are just two: venue and food. An event requires a place for everyone to gather, which means there’s rent to be paid, and people need to be fed every few hours to keep those brains chugging. Everything else, including internet access, is nice to have but not a fundamental requirement.
In the next post, I’ll break down how venue pricing works.
This blog doesn’t take comments because we’re still working on it, but you can leave a comment on this HackerStreet thread.
Hey there folks,
On 13 and 14 October, we hacked the heck out of the JSFoo Hacknight!
The enthusiasm and excitement about the JSFoo Hacknight was so overwhelming; some of the participants started showing up half an hour before the hacknight was officially due to start!
By 12.45 PM, we had over 25 participants at which time we decided to kick off the event. Everyone got together in the hall where we did a round of introductions. Those who had project ideas came forward and shared it with others. Once we were through with personal and project introductions, people started teaming up and working on their ideas. Ideas such as map based photo sharing, e-mail sending app, currency converters, chrome extensions for Hacker news feeds, etc, were all laid out.
While hackers' started getting their brains on hyperdrive, it was almost lunch time and many had a growling stomach. The lunch being a bit late, all of them started working seriously only after they had their fill of biriyani!
Rajasekharan Vengalil from Microsoft conducted an interesting tutorial on building Windows 8 apps using JS. After a short introduction, he demonstrated the basics of creating a single page app using Visual Studio. He explained how different files of code were organized as subfolders each having their own JS and CSS files apart from the global ones, illustrating the template driven method of development.
As almost all the participants were ones who had prior experience in web development, he only explained as much as was needed for them to start exploring and implementing. He also talked about the WinJS library that had a lot of useful APIs for building apps.
The interactive Q&A session that followed was quite long and answered questions on the details of making cross platform apps as well as performance issues. Many attendees got together with Raj later to pick his brains and build Windows 8 apps
Meanwhile, the participants made maximum use of the open spaces in CIS - the lawn and lobby area to further brainstorm on their ideas.
Ciju and Jonathan, the other two mentors, were all over the venue, ready to help anyone who got stuck at some point. Jon even came up with a node.js tutorial that he and Barbara ran after lunch.
We didn't want to just provide the space to hack and sit back, so we encouraged participants to team up for work on projects and took measures to make the event more social, one of which was having these introduction sessions to start the day off and the tutorials.
In the evening, a few of the hackers got together at the kitchen to rustle up beverages. There were the inevitable jokes and discussions about CoffeeScript and Chai.js and which one would be implemented! However, they made sure that no one went out with an empty cup.
Towards night (pre-dinner to be specific), things started to get serious as most of them had a core idea thought out. Many had already started their implementation while some where about to begin their hacks when dinner arrived. Another round of dicussions were made during dinner after which everyone got in the groove.
Here's a few of the projects that were worked on at the Hacknight:
We had these cool stickers, which were quite popular with everyone:
The event was fun. Everyone met and made friends with many others. The HasGeek crew enjoyed being among the geeks. We hope the ones who attended the event enjoyed it as much as we did. Be sure to check out the videos of introductions and of participants describing their projects at HasGeek's YouTube channel.
Once again, a ton of thanks to Microsoft and ActiveSphere for supporting us!
Cheers folks, here is to the future!
[Haris joined HasGeek as an intern this week. He’s helping bring this blog back to life. –Kiran]
I’m not sure why we stopped blogging. The blog just… fell silent one day, and then we forgot about it. Well, no more. HasGeek had just one full-time employee, me, back when the last post was written. We are now eight people and bustling with activity, with plenty to write about.
If you are looking at this page and it looks rather bare, that’s because we just moved the blog to a new platform and haven’t quite finished setting up.
If this page looks good and you’re wondering what the previous line was about, that means we’re done.
The event does not have a website yet. This is your early notice. As a commitment to JS, we’re building the event’s website using Node.js. Here’s an experimental corner that uses WebSockets to livestream the #hasgeek IRC channel from Freenode. You should consider hanging out in the channel too.
Early Geek ticketing is already open. The event is on October 1 in Bangalore. We surveyed 20+ potential venues across Bangalore last week and will announce the selected venue within the week (venues can be forgetful unless the booking was made in cash, but I’ve been travelling through the past month, so it’ll be a few more days). Get your ticket now.
We are also accepting sponsorships for jsFoo. We’re working on the sponsor kit and will put it out in a few days, but it’s roughly on the same lines as Scaling PHP in the Cloud. See that event’s sponsor document (PDF).
Do tell your friends about jsFoo. If you are a JS guru and would like to present, add a session proposal. We’ll make the schedule on Sep 10th based on the most voted-up proposals.
Update: jsFoo is now JSFoo. The lowercase “js” may have been hip, but it caused way too much confusion around how to spell the name correctly.
It’s been a quiet few months on this blog while we worked on our backend technology. More on that later; there’s more exciting news:
Our next event is on Scaling PHP in the Cloud.
Most apps are designed around single server deployments. One VPS with one WordPress or Drupal install, or maybe something you built with CodeIgniter. Scaling up from there to a multi-server deployment is often a challenge. You have to think in entirely new ways, from cache invalidation to database sharding to deploying the same code on multiple servers.
Scaling PHP in the Cloud is a one day conference on tackling these challenges. The event is on July 9, 2011, in Bangalore. Registrations and the call for sponsors will open later this week, but the call for speakers is now open.
To submit, head to http://funnel.hasgeek.com/phpcloud/
The event has a Barcamp-inspired format. Anyone can propose to speak, or can propose a topic and request someone else to speak. We found a venue that can take over 400 people. To help bring some order for that large a gathering, we’re taking submissions in advance, with public voting. The selection team (currently Aditya Sengupta, @aditseng, and Nigel Babu, @nigelbabu, but you can also join) will draw up a tentative schedule from the most popular proposals. We will publish this schedule as a guide to the event, to help participants plan their day, but will have many open slots for anyone else to step up and speak.
The venue has three halls and we’ll have three parallel tracks to group sessions under:
Lectures, demos, workshops, case studies — they’re all welcome. Tell us how to use some tool, how to architect code for the cloud, or how your company manages its servers and why you’re a great place to work at (wink!).
At the end of the day, we’d like everyone to go home not with some fuzzy notion of why something is good, but a solid sense of what they should do next. This is an event for hands-on geeks.
Your sessions don’t necessarily have to be about PHP. This is an event on scaling in the cloud, and with PHP being as popular as it is, we use that as the reference point: sessions have to make sense to someone working with PHP. Your session could be about deploying with Fabric or legal jurisdictions for cloud hosting, not involving PHP at all, but still relevant to a PHP developer.
The event has a nominal registration fee to cover expenses, but speakers who make the selection team’s cut get a free pass (we’ll refund your ticket if you bought one already).
Head over to http://funnel.hasgeek.com/phpcloud/ and submit a proposal, or vote on the current submissions. We’ll add support for comments in another day — you can then ask proposers to clarify their proposals as needed.
Like everything we do at HasGeek, the Funnel is an open source app. You can contribute to the code, use our website for your own community events (just ask us to add an event) or fork the code and install your own instance. We’re coding furiously behind the scenes even as you read this. Expect new features to appear every day over the next few days. The code: https://github.com/hasgeek/funnel
One of the common requests we get at our events is for help with recruiting. The economy is currently in a state where available jobs outnumber qualified candidates, so companies are doing their best to make working for them worthwhile. The one big problem, however, is with getting the word out on available positions.
HasGeek, on the other hand, is in the business of talking to developers. We evangelize upcoming technology that shows promise, and the true test of its viability is in whether you can find a job that uses it.
A job board that connects these two makes perfect sense, so we built one. It’s in beta with many rough edges, but poke around and tell us what you think. Are the available job types and categories appropriate? Should there be more, or fewer? What is the primary criteria by which you look for a job? By the location? Whether it’s full or part-time? Whether programming or management oriented?
We want to structure navigation around the way people look for jobs, so your feedback is important. We will be rapidly iterating with ideas to get it in shape in time for AndroidCamp on April 1.
Our next event is AndroidCamp on April 1. It’s a great day for puns and serious discussion on all things Android. Registrations aren’t open yet, but you can sign-up to be notified when we get that in place, roughly around this weekend.
AndroidCamp is an unconference, supported by participants for participants. Specifically, independent developers and startups. If you’d like to have an early lead on shaping the event before registrations open, head over to the discussion group.