Mozilla at 4CCON

I’m writing a blog post after a long, long time and the reason why I’ve been dormant is because I’ve not done anything of significance for the past 6 months. As I’m writing this, I’m also watching the US Open Semifinals between Rafa and Dimitrov (the 5th set is on and I really hope Rafa wins this one! *fingers crossed*).

Back to my story, I had the wonderful opportunity to represent Mozilla at 4CCON (Collaboration, Contribution, Communities and Commons) which is a National Level Conference organized by FSMI, a premier free software organization in India. I was invited to give an advanced workshop on using Selenium for testing web applications using Python on the Firefox browser.

The session went well, initially with 15 participants which later swelled into a crowd of 50 participants. The conference had workshops in a variety of topics and my session was scheduled to be on the first day – the 26th of January. Incidentally, it was the Republic Day of the country – I feel good sharing the things I’ve learned and practiced on the very day the Indian Constitution came into effect, over 60 years ago.

The full day workshop started off with a quick introduction on Python as a programming language, moving on to the uses and applications of the Selenium test framework and most importantly – the significance of unit testing. I highlighted the various API methods that Python developers could use to test a simple web page. The entire slide deck of the 1 day workshop is hosted online here.

In the later half of the day, I made the participants set up a basic website on their own and test for simple elements on the page like Dialog Boxes, Forms and Links. The participants found it interesting to inspect the DOM (Document Object Model) structure of their favorite websites and give various test scenarios and the exciting part was when they actually found a few bugs.

At the end of my workshop, I had a section on Open Source projects and how the participants could contribute. I shared stories of many successful people who started off fixing the odd bug here and there – are now the leaders in their technology fields. This was found to be inspirational by the participants there.

 

During the next 2 days of the conference I was invited as a delegate and attended various keynotes apart from meeting many FOSS enthusiasts whom I had met only virtually, hitherto.

On the whole, it was a productive workshop and I hope the participants will take up open source contribution and do justice to the enthusiasm they’ve displayed.

Chennai has grown in leaps, I hope to see better things in the days to come. 🙂

 

 

Aside

Firefox OS App Days at Anokha 2015, Amrita [#MozMonth]

Continuing with my MozMonth activities, here’s a blogpost on the second of four events I conducted during a 4 week period from Feb 21 – March 21.

5th, 6th & 7th March – App Days at Anokha

This was a very special event to the heart because the planning of this event took about 4 months, the first request having been received from Ragav – an amazing web developer and Mozilla enthusiast at the college. The initial discussions about this event started on the 22nd of November, 2014. Can you believe it?

So we discussed back and forth for the major part of 3 months, found appropriate resource persons, finalized the structure and yes – the picture was perfect. Believe it or not, this was my first chance to meet my counterparts in the Tamil Nadu community. I was excited to meet all of them and host a super cool event. And then strikes disaster. One of lab exams is conveniently (for my teachers) placed on the first day of the event, Thursday the 5th of March. And so, I had to join the team on the second day, i.e. the 6th of March, Friday. Now starts the unfurling of 2 days of simplicity, brilliance and sharing.

Greenery beckoning

From the time I touched down at Coimbatore on Friday, I was treated with utmost care and humility by the folks at Amrita. The road route to Amrita is also a very interesting and spiritual one – mountains, clouds, fauna all along the way; felt like I was going on a hill station.

Got to give it to you guys, everyone else needs to learn how to handle their guests from the hospitality team at Amrita. Despite having over 100 guests for their popular tech fest Anokha, each guest was given individual attention and looked after in the best way possible. During the day, the sun god didn’t have any respite on our poor souls but in came the boon – air conditioned labs.  Bless you!

Drive through nature

Drive through nature

Some sights are worth sharing. Drive was an excellent one – the college has a railway track which runs parallel to the entrance gate. Can you beat this? I don’t think so. Also there are peahens roaming inside the college. Perfect blend of nature and tranquility.

 

 

Well – I reached the college in quick time, and then an amazing sight waits for me. I go on to the terrace of the guest house offered to us and I see this, I’m literally on cloud nine. FYI, that’s the view from the guest house provided by the college. It was in itself a magnificent structure to stay.

On cloud 9!

On cloud 9!

Day 2

Yes, I finally made it to Day 2 of the event which was planned as a hack day for the participants. The first Mozillian I met from the Chennai / Tamil Nadu community was Viswa, an amazing web developer and a committed Rep. His works talk for himself, leading the FSA community – with innovative App of the Month contests. I hear he reviews close to 100 FxOS apps a day, which I think is totally awesome. His session mainly focused on getting the simulator up and ready using the brand new Developer Edition. Kudos to the organizing team for getting all the installations done, prior to the event.

Hackers trying to simulate their apps

Hackers trying to simulate their apps

All this was happening in parallel, so that participants can get a feel of what’s happening by doing what we’re telling them to do. Also, exploring the various features the simulator offers. I was personally involved with mentoring the participants there, suggesting what they need to do in case they miss a step – or for a few inquisitive ones show some magic. For mentors, I personally feel these add-ons or tools are a boon:

Responsive view can be used to quickly check how your app (individual HTML documents) looks on a mobile device, whether it fits the phone screen, handy or not. Developer Tools is your right hand ( rather right hand’s right hand) – use the inspector to check which part of code a particular element points to, check out its related CSS & JS content. Manipulate values inside the inspector code are to preview how your app would look, all this would’ve been a lot tougher if it weren’t for the Dev Tools.

Looking into a crisis. ;)

Looking into a crisis with Achyuth. 😉

Yes, I did some work as well. Walked around, explained concepts about basic web development – what to learn and what not to learn. Achyuth was another engaging Rep I had a chance to meet during the event. He’s the guy to talk to. You can walk the talk, share stories, listen to amazing stories, get to know how things are done, and the energy I’ve seen in him is simply astounding. You have a query, and he always an answer.

The “what not to do” is more important to know, than the what to do.

First lab - hackers at work

First lab – hackers at work

While we 3 were managing one lab, the other lab had some cool guys – Rishav & Ashutosh all the way from Trichy and the organizing team member, Ragav. Rishav and Ashutosh are familiar faces – having seen them in developer events at Bangalore. Ashutosh got all the participants excited by showing some of his cool HTML5 games using canvas and later realized it’s a little advanced for the newbies present over there. Nevertheless, the participants made an honest event to learn canvas and positioning of graph coordinates, etc. Be sure to check out Dive into Canvas if that’s your cup of tea!

IMG_20150306_124217

Rishav, Viswa, Achyuth and there’s me!

 

Yes, Day 2 was hugely a success thanks to the super energetic team.

Day 3

Moving on with the fast pace of proceedings, rest of the team had to leave and I was joined later in the evening by my roommate Gautham – I had heard a lot about him and his work for Mozilla, but never actually had a chance to meet him in person. This proved an opportunity to do exactly that.

I had a talk about the Mozilla mission and the FSA program, followed by another talk about webmaker from Gautham. We had an interactive session with the participants and I’ve listed a few FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) below which we were asked by the audience.

FAQs

1. I’ve learnt a bit of web dev and Firefox OS apps. What next?

Next step would be to explore wide variety of Firefox OS API – learn to make use of them to create a wide range of useful apps.

2. What are the club activities that one can take up?

Webmaker parties, office hours, app of the month contest and many more

3. How do I contribute code to Mozilla?

Check out http://whatcanidoformozilla.org/#!/progornoprog/proglang

4. Can I access all of Firefox browser code base? Really?

Simple answer is yes, if you’re a little curious checkout this

5.  What if I make my own version of Firefox OS?

Most welcome. We’ll all be delighted!

6. My folks back home know only Telugu, can I do something that would help them?

Localization is a deep rooted area of interest for Mozilla. Checkout this

7. Is coding the only way to contribute to Mozilla?

No! You can check out any of the wide variety of fields here: http://whatcanidoformozilla.org/. Take a pick.

8. What have you done to get here (at this level)?

A lot many interesting and cool things, you can scroll down this blog or check Who Am I?

9. When can I leave? I have a bus in 2 hours.
And with this, we wrapped up the 3-day event.

You guys were awesome, thank you!

You guys were awesome, thank you!

 

Resources:

Takeaways:

  • Start making plans well in advance
  • Get to know the skill set of participants beforehand
  • Mentors & speakers need to adapt themselves accordingly
  • Tackling questions from audience beyond the scope of a beginner level workshop is a challenge and mentors need to be prepared for it

Decoding ANSI C – with Kernighan & Dennis

While people are thinking of the next big what and moving ahead in time, I’m taking a step (more like ten) backward to delve deep into one of the most popular and cliched computing books of all times –  The C Programming Language by our very own good friends at Harvard and Princeton respectively – Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan.

The Big Old C Book

The Big Old C Book

I would be taking up one chapter per week and listing out my experiences of solving the book here. If you’d like to join the journey, you are free to do so!