Tatoo love!

A fresh start – PESITBSC Firefox Club

When my community manager told me that we’re going ahead with a campaign to install Firefox on Windows 10 machines, I was like, “Whaat?” Being a total Linux convert myself, I’ve never even booted Windows on my machine for more than 18 months now. So, it didn’t make any sense at first. Later when I slowly read through the ideals laid down by FSF, one of the important aspects of `freedom` was to respect others’ choice of software.

So after a careful study, it came down to this philosophy,

We as torch-bearers of the open web, advocate the use of free and open source software but most of our counterparts use proprietary software and we cannot allow them to be told what to choose. Mozilla cares about our privacy, and the right to choice should always remain with the user.

Having set the above USP, I proceeded with chalking out a plan to host an event to not only make the #SwitchToFirefox, but to set a trend at it.

Take Back Control - Event poster

Take Back Control – Event poster

This was followed by discussions with TJ and Biraj to see if we can get some Mozilla goodies for the event and they obliged.  Side note: The Firefox for Windows 10 campaign goes on till November, so feel free to check it out and if you’re inspired by it like me, don’t hesitate to host an event – at your school, coffee house or popular adda. 🙂

Although the shipment sent by TJ was weeks beforehand, it was routed to Chennai by mistake instead of Bangalore and I had to make a flurry of phone calls to finally get it here. And yes, it arrived on time. It landed exactly one day before the event, and we were just glad that it reached here. Thank you USP!

Basic agenda:

  • Club introduction and goals by Abhiram
  • Net neutrality debate by Abhinav
  • Privacy talk by Bhoomika
  • Firefox for Win 10 – customization by Sharath
  • Developer tools demo by Amjad

If you missed the event you can catch a sense of it on the event report penned down by all the speakers. However, what you will not get to see in the event report where we had an impromptu discussion by Sandesh, our club founder and Abinav – a very talented web developer. Sandesh talked about how one can protect one’s privacy on the internet as well as his contribution story.

For the photo-frenzy people, take a look at our Flickr stream by Alekhya. Thanks!! 🙂 The Facebook event page has also been properly documented, do take a look at it.
I had great fun hosting the first event of the year, it’s up to these guys now to take the baton forward, and I hope they will.

Magic happens here - Firefox Club PESITBSC

Magic happens here – Firefox Club PESITBSC

 

 

FSA logo

Firefox Student Ambassadors rationale and process

This post is about my talk on Firefox Student Ambassadors (FSA) program as part of the tech-evangelism workshop in Bangalore.

The mission of the FSA program is to promote, support and educate the core values of the Mozilla mission, open-source and free software projects. It is targeted towards college students, irrespective of their streams or fields of study. At the core is the Mozilla mission which is to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web. True to its nature, the FSA program accomplishes just that – by breaking barriers for new (enthusiastic) folk to contribute to the community on a global scale.

One of the ways the FSA program accomplishes it is through the means of events and activities on campus. The reason for this is that events attract a lot of interested students, and act as a forum for positive discussions. Events are usually focused on Mozilla products and initiatives – but not necessarily limited to it. Topics for discussions include open source software, privacy, WoMoz (Women in Mozilla) and a lot more. A discussion of this sort (focused on a central theme) can be termed as a MozCofffee session. An ideal audience size for this would be around 10-15 people and not more than that. If the size of the crowd increases, then there might be chances of missing each one’s opinion. Moving on, the next kind of activity a club can host is the Sign-Up festival where a club lead takes up the responsibility of recruiting interested FSAs by talking about Mozilla mission and the opportunities that are available. Maker parties are another category of events that clubs can take up to ensure the spread of web literacy and also increase the enthusiasm level of the participants.

An important thing to note here is the processes involved in hosting an event. It’s usually recommended to follow these steps in the same order by the organizer:

  • Apply for permission with campus authorities
  • Decide resource persons for the event and make sure they are available
  • Coordinate dates and decide a feasible one
  • Allocate an accessible auditorium/seminar-hall/computer lab/ classroom as per your need
  • Invite audience from and off campus – analyze their demography and skill set beforehand
  • Set up the technical equipment (projectors, speakers, etc) and make sure they work
  • Inform participants the location of the venue without any ambiguity
  • Measure the impact created using sign-up forms or social media tools

Hope this article throws enough light on club activities and helps throwing better and structured events in the future. Comments and feedback, most welcome.

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

Getting things started at CMRIT [#MozMonth]

Phew, what a month it has been. Travelling across the country, talking Mozilla, its projects and the impact it has created – one awesome ride, I should say. This is the first of four events I conducted during a 4 week period from Feb 21 – March 21.

 21st Feb – Maker Fest CMR

It all started with a mail from this guy, asking me to judge a webmaker event as part of Cultura 2015, in CMRIT Bangalore. Yeah, it was a shocker to me as well.

Abraar - CMRIT's MozGuy

Abraar – CMRIT’s MozGuy

Well, I had to give a demo of the webmaker tools which was followed by the actual hack. Surprise surprise! Jafar and I get roses, yes real roses. The icing on the cake is that Jafar, was completely unaware of this. I had an idea that they’d welcome us – but definitely not with roses.

Jafar with his rose

Jafar with his rose

No guesses for the theme of the competition – it was the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 or Your favorite TV Show. With all the fever set in, it was the perfect time for the creative lot to spin out their inspiring ideas into apps. And so did the participants.

Amazing crowd at Cultura

Amazing crowd at Cultura

Hacker at work

Maker at work

 

 

 

 

 

For the prelims, we had some amazing makes – you can find them all here on the etherpad. We didn’t have a time limit for the prelims as it was the first time participants were exposed to the webmaker tools. For the finals, we did have a time slot of 45 minutes, and what people can do in 45 minutes is really brilliant. The theme for the finals was ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission – yes, we were the first to get into the Mars orbit on first attempt. We had some surreal makes, and judging them was no easy task for Jafar and me.

And we have a winner!

And we have a winner!

I had great fun, teaching people how to use webmaker tools in the first half – followed by evaluating their makes in the second half. The makes were witty, creative and most importantly opened up the doors for everyone present to delve into the amazing world of open web. Special thanks for the CMRIT team for having Jafar and me there – you guys were awesome.

Resources:

  • You can find the entire photo bucket here on Flickr
  • Slides used during demo made using thimble

Takeaways:

  • Modelling webmaker events as competitions increases quality of makes
  • Theme based webmaker parties are better
  • Swags help, but they aren’t the only way to reach out

    You guys were awesome!

    You guys were awesome!