It’s raining Rust at Red Hat

I know it’s been a while since I’ve put out a post and mostly because I’m trying to learn amazing things and get my hands dirty, trying to build solutions that actually make sense.

One such pet-project has been Rust, probably the fastest growing systems level programming language today. Hitherto, I’ve always looked at Rust from the outside, never got my hands dirty, mostly because I was under the assumption that it had nothing to do with web development. Turns out, I was completely wrong!

This year’s Rain of Rust campaign gave me an opportunity to revisit the programming language and the reason why it’s been garnering interests at astronomical pace. For a nascent programming language which is in the 1.19th version of its release, it’s challenging the big guns – C and C++. Yes, you heard it right.

On to the campaign

The campaign, although initiated and led by volunteers from the Mozilla India community at first was later adopted by the larger Mozilla community with contributions from all over the world like these events in Mexico and Brazil. The main goal of the event was to increase outreach about the language and train developers to contribute in the rust ecosystem.

At Bangalore

As one of the crucial aspects of the campaign was to organize on-the-ground events and so, with the gracious support of our host Sumantro at Red Hat, we managed to pull of a small event consisting of rust enthusiasts and Mozilla Tech Speakers.

We had our very own Vigneshwer leading the introduction to rust and hands-on session. This was well taken by the participants who had just installed rust and exploring what they could do with the language.

With witty remarks, use cases and insights of the language, Vigneshwer kept the participants interested. During the hands-on he introduced the kits built by the Rust India community and explained how participants could use them to learn the language. On the whole, it was a well-rounded session and helped the participants understand why rust is important and how they could contribute.

We then had a talk by Ravi from Ather energy which has used rust components to send  location data packets from its two-wheeler vehicles to the cloud in a secure and reliable fashion. His talk was inspirational as the participants were able to visualize how rust could be used in a production scenario.

For the last talk of the day, we had our own ReMo and host Sumantro show a demo on Rocket, a simple web framework for rust developers. This was in particular interest to me as a web developer, hitherto I was under the impression that rust could only be used for parallel computing and system level programming scenarios.  Now that I know rust has a fast and safe web framework, watch out JavaScript! Here’s Sumantro’s post on how to set it up on Fedora.

 

Last word

On the whole it was personally fulfilling that we pulled off a workshop in ~1 week of planning and what was comforting was that the feedback we received through the new ReMo feedback form was a 6+ on a scale of 0-7. Yay!

Finishing off with a mighty group photo. A round of shout-outs to Bhumika and Ra Fey for helping us out with the posters and social media calls to action! You guys are wonderful. ^_^

 

Rust Workshop | June 2017 | Bangalore

Rust Workshop | June 2017 | Bangalore

 

Fin.

Setting the stage for CC

After the Leadership Summit at Singapore, I have always connected myself closely with Mozilla’s Campus Campaign (CC) initiative – the idea to tap students’ potential to bring about a change in behavior, to bring about change in policy at a massive scale and finally innovate through the process.

Mozilla’s brainchild comes at a crucial time – especially with respect to India, where IIT alums are becoming Ministers of State and students from JNU are evoking tremendous change in mindset of the entire nation. Considering this as testament to the power of students on college campuses, I set about my own planning sprint for Mozilla’s Campus Campaign which aims to take back the web, in ways you can only imagine!

Kochi, 18th March 2016
This took quite some planning and a consolidated effort from Kumaresan, FSA E-board and me. The idea here was to update the regional community (Mozilla Kerala)  at Kochi about what I learnt at the Leadership Summit, unveiling the curtains on the big Campus Campaign and finally formulate a plan of action! Although this seemed far-fetched when I initially kicked off, I am happy to say that I accomplished all the 3 goals I met for myself and more!

Since this was a community meetup, we (Kumaresan & I) made into an invite only event – so that people who have been a part of the community for quite some time were the only ones turning up. After setting up a form, soliciting responses and filtering – we finally came up with a shortlist of attendees. These people were then invited to join us at Cochin University’s Hacker Space – a student driven center for innovation on campus. (I’d love to have one of those on my campus). 

On 18th March the day of the meet-up, I reached the venue early just to ensure that I don’t go lost wandering around the huge campus, and as I make my entrance – I find this!

CUSAT entrance

CUSAT entrance

Yes, coincidentally the Arts Festival of Cochin University for 2016 was exactly on that very day! Talk about timing. Anyways, I had my work cut out for me at the Hacker Space. Since I reached well in advance – I was able to understand how the space worked, who is involved, etc from Shibin another amazing Mozillian from the community.

As the meet-up’s starting time neared, we had a slow trickle of community members and around 5 we had a full house of 25 people – our target! Yay. The audience was majorly FSAs (Firefox Student Ambassadors), with some participation from the Reps at Kochi. I first went on to introduce myself, tell them what I do and why I am there all the way from Bangalore – to talk about the CC in length and along with them, chalk out an amazing plan. I used my slide-deck on Mozilla inspired by Brian King to get the ball rolling, later talked about my own experience at the Leadership Summit and then moved on to pitch the CC.

IMG_20160320_174639

Campus Campaign pitch

I talked specifically about the three goals as part of the campaign, specifically with reference to the Indian context.

  • Policy change
  • Behavior change
  • Technology & innovation

Later, we split into groups to discuss more on the tasks that would click in each college and when would be the best time to conduct it. Here’s Kumaresan taking the lead in one such group activity.

We re-grouped and shared our notes and it turns out mostly our thoughts were the same. I’ve listed them all out on the etherpad here! For those of you who don’t know – Mozilla Kerala is fragmented into 3 zones, the Trivandrum community, Kochi community and the Calicut community. After a rough estimate of 5 colleges per sub-community, we’d be looking at 15 active campuses during the campaign. Taking into the consideration the exam as well as holiday schedule at Kerala, this is a tentative timeline we’ve drawn up:

  1. March end – finalize campuses
  2. April second week – finalize 2-3 contacts in each campus
  3. Through April – decide strategies & fix outcomes
  4. April end & May – contact over e-mail (exams)
  5. June second week – Campaign kick-off!

Post this, we had amazing burgers waiting for us and more importantly, 7up – that did a good job of quenching my thirst!

Personally, I think this was a very crucial meeting with the up-coming CC and some amount of restructuring is necessary and I believe I was able to drive the message across – about why taking back the web is necessary. And we will!

Resources:

 

Breaking the ice!

My first Mozilla localization sprint

That’s right. After 2 and a half years of being in the Mozilla community, I had a chance to attend my first localization sprint. L10n has always been a distant non explored territory, maybe for the very reason that I stay in Bangalore – which is a tech hub of sorts and discussions here take you to what Python libraries you use or what’s the latest JavaScript framework over filter coffee, but not about how farmers in rural Karnataka are going to use the Firefox browser.

Fortunately, a couple of phone calls and some mails from Khaleel gave me an opportunity to check out what exactly goes into localizing great products into Indic languages. Of all the places in the world, this was about to take me to Pondicherry  (a historical French settlement town along the Bay of Bengal coast) and I immediately said YES! I was supposedly invited to give a talk on Mozilla’s flagship FSA program and conduct a recruitment drive at Dr Pauls Engineering College in the area.

The moment I set foot in Pondy, the striking French influences struck a chord with me!

After a quick shower at a friend’s home I was ready to hit the road to reach our destination – Dr Pauls Engineering College. The efforts of the college’s dean needs a noteworthy mention, he was the sole reason we could organize an event there. Session took off to a great start with Adam briefing the 40 odd participants with fundamentals of open source software and its philosophy. The session was well received and a great effort, putting up this slideshow for the event, Adam!

This followed by our presence organizer Khaleel giving a talk and demo on how to get started with Pootle. He first described the importance of localization in a very creative and catchy manner that I’m sure struck a cord with all the participants there with me included! I made my very own Pootle account too! The mentor thus became a participant himself. Khaleel then gave a demo of how to get started with translating the strings. He gave specific emphasis about what to do and what not to do!

This was followed by a delicious and homely lunch organized by the college at their premises. After lunch, I started an ice-breaker to help everyone know each other better.
This is what I did –

  • Split everyone into 6 groups of 6-7 each
  • Introduce oneself to group members
  • Gave them a time slot of 5 minutes, within which they had to jot  all the new words they learnt from the morning’s session
  • Whichever group has the highest number of buzz words, wins!

This activity helped the participants bond well with each other and it helped them activate their grey cells after a heavy lunch!

Breaking the ice!

Breaking the ice!

We then moved on to the FSA slideshow, where I explained what one can do as a part of the program! This was followed by a open source overview and then a FSA recruitment activity where 40+ participants signed up as proud ambassadors of the open web!

The evening included a blissful hitch, discussion about life and philosophy with Khaleel and Vignesh – local FOSS enthusiasts. Beach was a welcome relief, after an intense discussion and a heavy heart, I bid goodbye to the lovely city of Pondy!

 

Until next time, Pondy! Ciao. <3

Customary group pic, MozFace ON

MozFace ON – Customary group pic

PS: @khaleeljageer and @AdamSwartz , you guys are doing amazing work in the region, please continue to do so! Pure respect. நன்றி தலைவா!