5 min read

Blogging from Calicut!

I’m blogging from a Ubuntu Linux desktop in the awesome 24-hours Computer science lab in NIT, Calicut. This place is so big!

Coming back to the event that we had come for – the FLOSS Meet @ NIT Calicut, it was very successful and we had a great time today.

Actually, the morning didn’t start out well for me, we didn’t travel in a good bus and we landed near IIM, Calicut at 4.30 am , we then took an auto rickshaw and reached the NIT Calicut campus. We had a few hours of sleep and then we got up groggily and had to get ready to give a talk on stage!

We had a small inauguration function on stage. I’ve seen many inauguration functions where you have the names put up in front of the seats on stage and we usually clap at the speeches and stuff but I never expected my name to be on such a platform! ;)

Dr. S S Gokhale (the director of NIT Calicut), Dr. K P Mohandas (Professor at NIT Calicut) and Mr Sudhakar (Vice President of CSI) were the dignatories on stage. We were then introduced to the audience and some background info on where we studied, whats our interests, etc. was mentioned.

The Slither away with Python! Talk
The Slither away with Python! Talk
The Slither away with Python! Talk
The Slither away with Python! Talk

There were some 140-150 students in the auditorium. It was good that we got the first turn to give the talk since the students are fresh in the morning and are usually more retentive. After all, we all have been students at one time and understand the psyche of a student.

Soon, Pradeep and myself took over the stage and we started asking the students about what their previous programming experience and what they are interested in. Almost all students knew C++ and didn’t know Perl. So, yaay! They hadn’t been spoilt by Perl and we knew it would be exciting to introduce them to a clean language like Python to C++ students.

We gave a pep talk to them that Python is used in the real world. In fact, Yahoo! Groups runs on Python and also Pradeep’s company ZeOmega deliver real-world solutions for hospital management.

The first thing we showed was the Python’s interpreter prompt. You can always see the sparkle in the eyes of anybody new to Python when you show them that you can type code on the prompt and get back results immediately. We then talked about the other basic stuff like indentation, more syntax stuff, functions and more importantly, the ‘Pythonic’ way of approaching things.

The Slither away with Python! Talk
The Slither away with Python! Talk

We two had actually one plan – do a better Miguel-and-Nat act than Miguel and Nat. Well, I think it’ll suffice to say that we may not have beaten them at their own game but we did pretty well. We were having fun on stage and explaining things at the same time. We were giving an example of a college marks card application and our marks was like this:

students = {

'Swaroop' : [60,70,80],
'Pradeep' : [40,40,40]


Needless to say, the students laughed and enjoyed it. Before we knew it, one and a half hour was up and we took a tea break. Then, we talked about OOP and classes and then some cool Pythonic stuff such as list comprehensions. After that, Pradeep talked about his company ZeOmega and their project Zepp which they plan to open source in the coming weeks. I then asked whether anybody was not aware of Yahoo and of course, nobody raised their hands, so I didn’t talk about my company ;)

The audience
The audience
The Banner

Yahoo! had given me some T-shirts to give away to students. So, we asked some questions to students and whoever answered got a free Yahoo! ‘Open Minds Open Source’ T-shirt. We asked questions like ‘Who is the current maintainer of Linux’ and ‘Which is the only BSD-based LiveCD’ to ‘Which was the first Linux distro ever’ and ‘Who was the founder of GNU?’.

So, we rounded up the talk and were happy that the talk went well. I usually measure a good talk by the number of doubts and questions asked – it means that the audience is listening to you and digesting what you are saying. We took questions throughout the talk and answered them immediately.

Then, we had a lunch break. This was followed by Shanker Balan talking on FreeBSD and Atul Chitnis giving an energetic talk on the philosophy of FLOSS. I especially liked the way he emphasized that open source is a process, not just a product.

This was followed by a demonstration of Slynux by Sarath Lakshman. It was cool to see a 15-year old demonstrating his customized distribution of Linux.

I want to mention Dilip and Praveen who are students of NIT, Calicut and took the initiative to organize this FLOSS event. Congrats to them for making it a great success :)

I think I better stop writing now. Its almost midnight and we are going trekking in the hills and see water falls tomorrow morning at Thusharagiri :D

Note : I will put up the photos and presentation when I get back to Bangalore on Monday.

Update : I have finally uploaded the full collection of photos. Also, here’s the presentation titled ‘Slither away with Python’.