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!

Cover photo

Mozilla at inGenius 2015

It all started with a casual conversation over a cup of chai about how amazing it would be if Mozilla could sponsor a hackathon in college. After 2 months of bug follow up and expert opinion thanks to Kaustav, we got Mozilla’s dev-rel team to agree to be an official sponsor for inGenius 2015. Simultaneously, I was in conversation with TJ and Biraj about the possibility to get all the RALs (Regional Ambassador Leads) of FSA (Firefox Student Ambassadors) program in India under one roof to catch up on what each community is doing and possibly transfer the learning to their counterparts. And yes, that was agreed to as well! So yes, it was all set and we had our amazing RALs Akshay and Karthic coming down from Hyderabad and Chennai respectively for the event.

At times, I do like the whole buzz of calling up people, matching their schedules, booking ttickets.  The rush it gives me! xD

The day started off with us trying to get a table for ourselves and by the strike of 10, we were given our space, WiFi (most important) and a few chairs. Kudos inGenius! The Mozilla party consisted of FSAs from MVIT Mozillians led by their club lead Srushtika, another budding Firefox Club in the region apart from Kaustav, Akshay, Karthic and myself.

Mozilla contingent

Mozilla contingent

In order to engage participants visiting the stall, we had set up a “Who’s there at inGenius” pin up board where participants could pin their Twitter handles! This was an interesting experiment and we had fun deciphering the various handwriting styles and analyzing different color of sticky notes. Kaustav even managed to group all the similar colored notes into clusters. 😛

Pin up board

Mozilla Pin up board

The organizers had also provided us a slot to talk about the Firefox Developer edition and FSA program. Kaustav introduced the crowd to the Firefox Developer edition while I highlighted the various aspects of FSA program and the impact it has on each ambassador – right from picking up essential skills to interacting with a good set of people all over the world.

Kaustav talking about Developer Edition

Kaustav talking about Developer Edition

Abhiram talking about FSA

Abhiram talking about FSA

We had a chance to interact with over 200 participants out of which 75+ registered as FSAs, which is indeed an important takeaway as participants really want to be a part of this program and it feels good that we (Mozilla contingent) are trying to make that happen.

Getting busy at the Moz stall

Getting busy at the Moz stall

FAQs

  1. I’ve heard a lot about Mozilla, but don’t know how to contribute! Can you help me?
    Sure, head to whatcanidoformozilla.org where you can choose your interests and select a project you’d like to work on.
  2. Where can I register for the FSA program? What happens after I register?
    Head to fsa.mozilla.org and fill out your details. This will be followed by a welcome mail which will have all the instructions you need to follow. These tasks will be about attending Mozilla events and how you share it with your peers.
  3. How do I get recognized in the FSA program?
    There’s a three-tier recognition process we follow, check them here.
  4. I heard there’s a “Mozilla Phone”. What’s it all about?
    There’s a mobile operating system called Firefox OS which is supported and developed by Mozillians all around the world. You can buy them in your own country, check this. The operating system is built using latest web technologies.
  5. Can I pick up a Mozilla sticker?
    Sure, go for it. 😀

The stall lasted till late into the evening and we were able to reach out to some of the organizers and professors present there as well. At the close, the RALs were glad to take a picture – first event where multiple RALs took part and shared their experiences.

Where magic gets planned - RALs

Where magic gets planned – RALs

Personally this event was a great learning experience for me – to coordinate within various groups in the Mozilla community, reach out to interested people, plan schedules and pull off an event of this scale! I hope the contingent had a worthwhile time at inGenius.

Where magic happens!

Where magic happens!

Do share your feedback in the comment section, I’d appreciate it. Signing off!

 

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!

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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