Sunday Apr 26, 2009

Pizza treat for FOSS and Sun Tech Quiz winners

I had conducted a FOSS and Sun Quiz on 2nd March. The first three winners received cash prizes of INR 300, 200 and 150 respectively. Also they were promised a pizza treat at Smokin' Joes. Conflicting schedules did not allow us to have it till now. So yesterday, we all found free time (we have loads now coz exams are over) and decided to get it done. Prakhar could not make it though.

\\Pizza treat for FOSS and Sun Tech Quiz winners

From left: Abhishel, Gurupad and Me

Saturday Apr 18, 2009

Its been a long time

Came across this while googling up my own name (yeah I do that from time to time to gauge my own popularity (or the lack of it))

This was a post I made in 2001, when I started my own Linux User Group at Tezpur, a sleepy town in Assam. I called it Tezpur Linux Users Group (TLUG). I was 14 then. And everyone in my LUG was older than me by at least 8 years. We went on for more than a year before I (or rather my mom) closed it down so that I would study for my board exams (10th Standard exams).

Felt funny reading it after so long.

By the way, end semester exams round the corner. So I will take a break for a few days. A break from blogging and coding and everything good that there is in life.


Thursday Apr 09, 2009

SPOT Demo at Mindbend 2009

Mindbend is the annual technical festival of SVNIT (Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology). This year it was conducted from the 1st to the 4th of April. Alongside Mindbend, our institute also celebrated Sparsh 09, our annual cultural festival. It too was spread across 4 days, with Bombay Rockers and Rhythm Nation performing on the last night. So while we unleashed our creative and innovative ideas during the daytime at Mindbend, the evenings were for having fun at Sparsh. We strongly believe in the adage, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.


Being the Sun Campus Ambassador to SVNIT, I decided to conduct a Sun event at Mindbend. I chose SPOT, a technology I was introduced to by Jay Mahadeokar at Sun Tech Days 09. The reasons for choosing SPOT was simple, it’s cool and it attracts electronics and computer guys alike. I also ordered a huge amount of Sun goodies to distribute during Mindbend

But then SPOT also means delving into electronics, a subject which is not my forte (I only code. Period). So I had to enlist the help of my friend Nirzaree Vadgama who is a student of Electronics Engineering in her second year. We decided to make a SPOT controlled car where one SPOT is placed on the car and controls the motors and the other SPOT is used as the remote, which when tilted moves the car in the desired direction. Apart from the car we also made simple programs for demonstrating individual components of the Sun SPOT like accelerometer, temperature and light sensor, wireless communication. The money for buying electronic components for the car was sponsored by the ACM SVNIT Student Chapter of which I am the Chairman. Also many activities of our local Sun Club will henceforth be sponsored by the ACM Chapter. It took us two evenings to get the car done. In the process we learnt how to perfectly burn a L293D motor driving circuit (we burnt two circuits) and how not to crush your finger with a hammer while driving in a nail. My job was mainly to write the code and it was quite easy considering that it was Java programming and the SPOT API is well documented. I also modified the code for the remote control such that one could hold the remote control SPOT horizontally and move around and the SPOT would follow. 

So finally, we had our Tech Demo on the 2nd of April. Murphy’s law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong) came into act and our car stopped working 3 hours prior to the event and Niz was almost at the point of a nervous breakdown. However, nearly 15 minutes before our event, the car started functioning properly. The Mindbend organizers had demonstrated their immense insight and intelligence by giving us a 1PM-3PM slot (right after lunch) and placing a robotics contest and coding contest in parallel with our event. This resulted in a significantly lower audience of nearly 50 from the registered 90+ audience. Most of the audience had seen us working on the SPOT and already had a basic idea of the device. We were quizzed on the features, the kind of I/O pins, memory and what not. Some of the audience suggested us some really whacky and innovative ideas on how we could connect an antenna to the SPOT (though I am not sure if any of those would work). Also we had two persons among the audience who read the Mindbend leaflet and though we were physicist giving a talk on solar Sun SPOT. Nevertheless, we entertained them and they left happily with lots of gyaan and Sun goodies. The one thing I observed was that SPOT really lit up the faces of the audience. Even a physics faculty got interested (and no he did NOT mistake it for the spots on the Sun). However, they were a bit disappointed with the price tag of SPOT which at nearly 15k is a tad too high for India (Sun Labs, are you listening?). 

Overall, the demo went well. We also asked students to register for OSUM and are planning to set up a local OSUM site as our college blocks I would also like to thank my friends, Punit Mehta and Ruta Desai for helping out on making the circuit and are now part of our core Sun Club. I also thank Jay for answering all my queries (some very silly ones actually). 

With this demo, I have got many people interested in learning Java as a language for embedded systems and made them realize the immense potential of Java. Now everyone wants the Sun SPOT kit for a few days of experimentation. 


Friday Apr 03, 2009

Did a Sun SPOT demo at Mindbend 2009

I made my own presentation for it...will share that...also will upload the pics of the workshop...but am busy in the events probably on sunday...

Friday Mar 20, 2009


As I have already said, we are doing a Sun SPOT demo at Mindbend, NIT Surat annual technical festival. We will begin the actual work from monday. We will be developing a few robots, and other practical applications on Sun SPOT. After Mindbend is over I plan to do a contest here at SVNIT on Sun SPOT. We will ask people to present their ideas on how to use Sun SPOT effectively for a practical and useful project. The best idea gets a cash prize and full support(buying electronics equipments etc) from ACM SVNIT Chapter to implement the idea on the Sun SPOT.

Wednesday Mar 18, 2009

Free software business model

I wrote this article for my college magazine sometime late 2006

The Free Software Business Model: How to make money from something that is free

The term “Free Software” has been misunderstood a lot.So lets set it
straight.Any software classified as free software must give you(the
user) 3 freedoms-freedom to run the software as and when you wish,
freedom to access and modify its source code,freedom to redistribute
copies(modified or otherwise) of the software with or without a fee.It
also allows you to keep your modifications private.But the question
that comes to mind is…..

…. how do I make money from free software? There
are various ways in which a software company can make money from free
software.Look at HP,IBM,Sun,Red Hat,Google and MySQL.They are thriving
examples of companies making money from free software.Its easy,all you
need is a sound….

… model
First you must realize that free software is not a business model in
itself. It is only a production and distribution method.Keeping this in
mind there can be two alternatives.

….the dual - license model
where businesses offer a free version but charge a fee for a commercial
license. MySQL and Sun, with, follow this model.For this
you need a compelling value proposition -a software that does,what it
is supposed to,very well.Trolltech(you haven’t heard of it) has been
growing consistently over the last 10 years using a dual-licensed
policy for its Qt GUI development framework.

….the support model
where you get software for peanuts but the company charges for support
just like Red Hat. It discontinued support for all its Red Hat Linux
products and decided to concentrate on the enterprise space(Red Hat
Linux Enterprise) giving Red Hat a 40 pc yearly increase in revenue
till date.Others like IBM, simply use free software to supply services
to enterprise customers.Google is providing services and software for
free and making money and lots of it.

In a nutshell if you want to profit from free software, you might
need to be more business-savvy than you would in other businesses.But
once you gain momentum….Bill Gates and Microsoft could well be history.

Recommended reading: The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric S. Raymond

Tuesday Mar 10, 2009

Visit to blind school

Visited a nearby blind school on 3rd March. I had visited it once
earlier and interacted with the kids there. These visits are an
initiative of Nirzaree, a friend of mine.She is a very kind hearted
person and really cares for those kids, well,actually, she cares for
everyone around her.

So this time, she called up and gave me a 5 min notice to be
there. However, someone had locked my room from the outside and I got
seriously delayed for that reason.By the time I reached, the others were almost about to leave.

Our visits have mostly been very casual. We go and we spend time
with the kids, play with them, tell them stories. Playing Antakshiri
is of course a favourite. But this I wanted to do something more. I
wanted to listen to the problems of this kids and help them. I dont
know how, I know I want to. I am a programmer and may be I can write
some useful software  for them. May be I can ask cash rich
Surtis to donate money (Surat is after all the city of diamonds and
Gujarat has quite a few millionaires and billionaires) because I am
good at convincing people (yes you can call me a good sales guy). So
I went and talked to a few teachers and got some views. However, I
will have to meet the members of the trust that runs the place. That
will happen on Saturday

I am interested in knowing the kind of software they use in their
computer labs. Probably that would give me some idea how I can I help

Am planning to buy them a braille copy of all of Harry Potter
books. Now that I get extra monthly income through my Sun CA stipend,
this would be quite affordable :)

Tech Demo on OpenSolaris 2008.11

I had conducted my OpenSolaris 2008.11 tech demo on 6th March. Only 21 people turned up. Reason: It was evening of the singing auditions for the cultural fest of our college. Some 170 people had signed up for that and another 500 turned up to support those 170. So that meant I did not have a large enough audience. But then, the people who turned up were the most interested one. We discussed about OpenSolaris, why it was important and also allowed them to use it on my laptop. Taught them how to install it on VirtualBox (this was not part of my initial agenda but since a smaller number of people turned up, I could afford it).

And this is exam week. So no activities whatsoever now.

Monday Mar 02, 2009

My first CA event

Conducted my first CA event today. It was a quiz on FOSS and Sun technologies.Went well. Next, Opensolaris intro on 4th March.

Saturday Feb 28, 2009

OSUM events and Sun Tech Demos for this week

The following OSUM events and Sun Tech demos are lined up this week

1. Quiz on FOSS and Sun technologies:
Date:Monday, 2nd March
Time: 5:00 PM
Venue: Room CO-4,Computer Engineering Department

The top three winners will be given cash prizes of Rs.200,150 and 100 each. Also they will receive Sun goodies (key rings, pens, DVDs, wrist bands). Plus a pizza treat at Smokin' Joes.

2. OpenSolaris Tech Demo
Date:Wednesday, 4nd March
Time: 5:00 PM
Venue: Seminar Hall,Computer Engineering Department

Trivia(and common sense) questions will be asked. Correct answers will receive Sun goodies

3. Netbeans 6.5 Demo
Date:Friday, 2nd March
Time: 5:00 PM
Venue: Seminar Hall,Computer Engineering Department

Trivia(and common sense) questions will be asked. Correct answers will receive Sun goodies

Many more will follow. I want to do a OpenSolaris install fest soon.

Awesome OSUM membership drive

NIT Surat OSUM group is now 112 member strong. Hopefully, we will breach the 200 mark tomorrow. But now it is important to keep the group alive with activity.

Thursday Feb 26, 2009


Lots of updates:

1. Visited Sun Tech Days 09 at hyderabad. Learnt a lot (Sun SPOT and JavaFX were the most interesting). Had a lot of fun. Met other Campus Ambassadors. Also Rajesh Umashankar, Ganesh Hiregoudar and many other Sun execs (sorry I cant remember names. I have a very bad memory). Pics and a detailed account coming up.

2. Installed OpenSolaris on multi boot along with WindowsXP and Ubuntu. Took quite a lot of time as my DVD drive is not functioning, so I had to use USB disk to install all of these. Plus Internet not working properly.Also OpenSolaris Grub and Ubuntu GRUB did not recognize each other. That required a bit of tweaking. I did not enjoy OpenSolaris on VirtualBox because my laptop had just 1 GB memory and OpenSolaris requires at least 512 MB to itself. And I wanted the real feel of the OS. So I have it now. Took a lot of time but its done. Now experimenting with OpenSolaris. Will soon write and how to on how to install opensolaris using USB and do triple boot.

3. My first CA event, a quiz on FOSS and Sun Technologies will be conducted on Monday, 2nd March. I chose quiz because it would make people read about Sun and its technologies and thereby make my work easier.

4. Have formed a 4 people Sun Club. We are working on a Sun SPOT based robot. Since I am not much of an electronics guy, my friend Nirzaree will handle the electronics and I will just do what I do best, code. We are also planning other innovative use of the technology. Everyone is excited about SPOT. Everyone wants it. I will probably order another kit through our college ACM Chapter. Will be giving a demo of our robot at our college annual tech fest,Mindbend. Also will do another Sun Tech demo there. Plus I am hoping if someone from Sun could come and deliver a talk or conduct a workshop. Anyone interested??

Thats all for now...Gotta sleep....

Wednesday Feb 11, 2009

Hello World

Got my blog today. Will soon begin posting all my Sun CA related activities here. As of now, I have just installed a few copies of OpenSolaris on some of our lab machines. Sadly, I haven't yet installed it on my laptop as my DVD drive is not functioning. However, I guess I will get around that problem by installing VMWare and then pairing my laptop with my room mates laptop and using his DVD drive to install OpenSolaris on VMWare. I don't know if there is any way in which I can install OpenSolaris through a pen drive (will have to Google this). If yes, then that solves my problem.

I am heading over to Sun Tech Days 09 on 16th. There's lot to learn from it. I am more interested in the OpenSolaris and Java track, specially the hands on ones.After I am back from it, I will have my first official Sun CA event Well, yes, I am rather late in starting.but my college started on 5th Jan and most students decided to take an extended holiday till 19th. What with TechFest 09 and internal exams thrown in one after the other, I hardly had any time to do any activity whatsoever. Plus there was a neck and back injury which put me on bed rest for 3 days. So I guess, I have produced a long enough list of alibi for my inaction.

My first event will be an introduction to Solaris on the 23rd of this month, right after I am back from Sun Tech Days 09. This will be followed by 2 more workshops (install fest and intro to dtrace) on 25th and 26th Feb.

Also being the Chairperson of the ACM Chapter, I have other responsibilities too. We are beginning a few projects out here, chief among which are a small semi-autonomous 6 wheel, independent transmission and suspension vehicle with on board camera and wireless control and a GNU/Linux cluster project. And we also have to get our chapter website redesigned.

Somewhere in between all of this I have to complete a project for National Innovation Foundation. The project in question is a website, which would enable sharing and collaboration on final year science and engineering projects all across India. Students will be able to further ideas by other students or work on a project suggested by the industry. It will also enable technology transfer and copyright enforcement, a feature on which I am yet to work. In all, the website is 80 percent ready. I have developed it in Drupal, a software that I have begun to love.

 Hoping to meet you at Tech Days 09


Hi. I am Sandip Dev. I am a student of Computer Engineering at SVNIT (NIT-Surat). My passions are coding, listening to music, reading and learning new things. I am also the Chairperson of the ACM Chapter of my college and Sun Campus Ambassador here.


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