The Ohio Linux Fest

Today I attended the Ohio Linux fest 2013. It was at the Greater Columbus convention center. One key reason which drove me there was that today’s keynote speaker was Mark Spencer, the founder of Asterisk the open source PBX. Asterisk happens to be the PBX that we’re using at the back end of DialBlood. He was a much younger guy that i expected. His talk was very insightful. The way he was able to setup a sustainable commercial business (Digium – his telephony company) at the same time nurturing & growing a powerful open source project was interesting. The challenges he faced/facing were also somewhat unique:

  • People using his own product to compete with him – the disappointing side effect of open sourcing.
  • Large scale Chinese imitations (of telephony hardware)

After his presentation I went and talked to him personally, told him about what we are attempting to do with DialBlood. He was interested & asked me to mail him our details. He also suggested that Asterisk12 has features like RESTFUL web interaction that we might find handy. I also got an autograph from him.  🙂

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I also attended sessions related to Ubuntu community as well as Raspberry Pi, all really interesting. There was also an exhibition where many Linux based products were demoed. One of the stalls which was put up by a company called Systems 76 impressed me. The had high end Linux machines running games like the latest version of DOTA in maximum graphical configuration. Linux gaming has apparently come a long way since I last checked!

 

Got some goodies as well. 🙂

P.S: This is the first post I’m making from the Android WordPress app on my new phone. Please ignore typos..

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The Boston Trip

Myself & Siddharth went to Boston last weekend (Aug 17th-19th). For a trip that started off in a mess, it ended really well. 🙂
Alfred, the other LabX intern joined us from Chicago. The stay and travel was all coordinated by Sampreeti, the director of LabX and a PhD. student at MIT.

Initial mess – We had some hiccups in our way to Boston. The flight was at 8.30 am. I usually wake up past 9am. I figured it would be a wise idea to stay awake the whole night so that I’ll be up on time & I can make up for the lost sleep on the flight – neat plan, bad execution. I thought I’d do the packing towards the later end of night so that I’ll have something to engage in. I was awake till 4.30 am and then accidentally fell asleep. My phone also got accidentally switched off. I missed a lot of calls. Siddharth came over & woke me up by 7.10am. I quickly packed up & we got in the car. Time 7.45am. Thats when I ask Sid if I need passport for domestic airlines. Apparently yes! I didn’t have it. I ran back home, emptied both of my suitcases and started rampaging through all my documents. At 8am, all hopes were lost. We were discussing where the nearest Indian embassy was – for me to apply for a new passport. Thats when my passport pops up at some obscure hidden part of a suitcase. Joy! We made a run for the airport. Reached – 8.15am. 15 mins for the flight to take off. Actual reporting time being 45 mins before the flight, we didn’t have any hope. But surprisingly, we sped past the baggage check in & security check & boarded the flight with 10 mins to take off. Yay!

Wait. It wasn’t over. We put on our seat belts & got ready for take off. Then came an announcement – the pilot just noticed that the flight’s (Southwest airlines) engine is dripping oil. We were evicted from the aircraft and made to wait for 40 mins. Ours was a connecting flight via Baltimore. Thankfully we had a waiting time of 2 hours at Baltimore and Southwest had a spare aircraft at the airport. So finally Bon Voyage!!

From Boston airport, we headed directly to Sampreeti’s MIT hostel – where we were to stay for the next two days. Her room was on the 19th floor of one of MIT’s oldest hostel(1930s).  One side of the drawing room was mostly a big window pane with an amazing view of Charles river and the MIT campus. We were joined by Sampreeti’s friends Daniel Wiese & Stephenie Scott from MIT & Chris Gary from UMass.  We all headed out for lunch to a popular hangout nearby. Afterwards, Stephenie and Chris showed us around the MIT & Harvard campuses. Harvard was just around half an hour walk from MIT campus. We also had frozen yogurt at the famous Harvard square. Sweet.

We headed to Sampriti’s lab next. Got introduced to her labmates – a culturally diverse international team (a Spaniard, a Japanese etc.). We then went for dinner to an Indian restaurant with them. While waiting for the cabs, a group of students playing scavenger hunt came and asked us to dance with them as part of a task they got – was hilarious. Afterwards, we decided to walk our way back to Sampreeti’s dorm. It was more than an hour long walk & our legs were hurting badly by the end, but we all enjoyed every moment of the journey. Boston is really beautiful at night. The skylines are a sight to behold, esp. from the Harvard bridge over Charles river.  At some point during our walk back, we lost Sid! His phone also apparently died at the same time. We searched around for half an hour and then figured he’d find his way back somehow. Thankfully, Sid had an amazing direction sense. He got a Boston map, figured things out and got back safely.

The next day myself, Siddhath & Alfred toured Boston on our own. We went to Prudential Tower & did some window shopping at the malls nearby. We went to Skywalk Observatory on the 50th floor of the tower. It gives an amazing view of the entire Boston. We were provided with small phone like devices which would give an audio description of each scene – a personalized guided tour that we can pause & repeat as per our comfort. Afterwards we went for the duck tour, a guided tour through the streets and waters of Boston. The ‘ducks’ are amphicars that can be rode both in land and water. The hilarious narration of the conductor ‘Major Tom Foolery’ was one of the key highlights of the tour. We spend time enjoying street performances and strolling the Boston Commons for the rest of the day. We had home cooked dinner at Sampreeti’s place at night.

The boston trip was a really enjoyable and memorable one. I’m really thankful to team LabX for spending the time & effort for organizing such an trip and giving us such a wonderful experience.