DebianUtsavam 2012 – Medal of Honor!

Yet another memorable event at MES, Kutipuram! I must say I’m starting to enjoy my life now. I had no clue the event would turn out to be such an enjoyable one when Praveen ettan first mailed us telling us to get it together on short notice.

There is one milestone in my life that I simply have to mention here and that is, it is the first time I’m getting a medal in my entire life! I’m just so happy that it was for my effort at teaching too. Here it is.

Day 1  (28/04/2012) – Welcome to GNU/Linux!

After attending the release party not a month ago which consisted of about 10 people, I was amazed to see around 30 for this event. Most of them were a group of young foss enthusiasts who knew they had to learn about it and they wanted to learn too.

The event was scheduled to start at 9.30am. But holding up the philosophy of “All good things to those who wait”, we started the event sharp at 10.30am with Ershad, the tallest foss hacker among us, inviting the new ones among us to freedom as well as rejuvenating the rest of us. I could say he got through to us with his cycle. Lol! His session lasted for about half an hour and at about 11:00, it was time to get techy and Nakul was the one who was going to get us so.

Let me mention Nakul and Kiran here. Nakul has this “Alright everyone! I’m here so you guys have nothing to worry about. Let me handle it” attitude and his presence made the entire occasion joyful. Whereas Kiran had this “Yup, you are doing great and all of us are learning from you” attitude. Both of them together were an awesome team in organizing as well as getting the event to go forward smoothly. Great and awesome guys to be with. Its an honor to have gotten to know them.

So at 11:00, Nakul came forward with his arsenal of commands. Ummm… Usually people commands the Arsenal I guess but what the heck…

Anyway, command line and shell scripting were his topics. He ordered each of us to go and sit in front of a system and he started his session. Starting from the very basic of changing directories and creating folders (recursively and not), he took us to tee even! Not tee as in “tee hee” but tee as in the command used  to “read from standard input and write to standard output and files”. Changing the permissions, ownerships (leaving poor Kiran both ‘ownerless’ and ‘permissionless’ over a few files!), the representations of ownerships and all were covered. He more or less taught us the heads and tails of more, less, head and tail. He he… Sorry bro,just couldn’t resist writing that sentence and nope! He exactly taught us, along with examples, what all those four commands meant. He wound up his session with the hierarchical structure of the Linux file system at about 12:oo.

However, we were blessed with a senior pass out from MES itself by the name of Haris (Not me!) and he came forward to share with us his experiences in real life about using GNU/Linux. From how he knew Ubuntu to be just a software to remove viruses to how he actually started using Linux to live. It was pretty enlightening know that all of us had much to hope for.

At about 12.15, we stopped for lunch. However, none of us were ready to give up on foss even during Lunch and I was pretty much amazed at the Discussion Sadiq and Ershad had over their lunch. While I’m one who walks around using free software/open source software (Please note that I’m writing both here as Sadiq is going to be reading this), I’ve never dug deep into the roots of its philosophies. But Sadiq had and frankly, he has done an amazing job at it. He exactly knew what he was talking about while supporting Stallman. He wouldn’t settle, no matter what, for using just ‘Linux’ over ‘GNU/Linux’. The discussion heated up the curries and rice on the table which ended in finally Ershad admitting that Sadiq was right. My stomach was too full by then I guess! Ha ha…

We prayed and got back to the labs at about 1.30 and it was my session then. But I let Ershad handle the introduction to my session and sat back while he nicely demonstrated how apt-get, synaptic and all worked along with how software installation in Linux (No! GNU/Linux) was different from that of Windows. He concluded his session at about 2:00pm.

Then I came forward and I guess no one had any clue that I was scared out of my wits! It was the first time I was taking a technical session and suddenly I felt that I was going to mess it up completely. I really felt to howl and shout out aloud, beat a few times on my chest (Like King-Kong) and cool off my tension. But fearing that would further scare all those present there (I was scared enough for all of them), I pulled myself together and started my session.

I’m not writing down my entire session here because that might remind me of more than I want to remember. He he.. My session was on “installing from source” and I had taken the tuxmath game ( as an example. Everything seemed to go well with everyone encountering errors while running their configure scripts and them slowly solving it when all of a sudden came the worst nightmare of every developers – The Horrendous Dependency problems! (reminds me of how Labeebka raised one hand and shouted “Jai Ubuntu!”) No one could install softwares using apt-get because of “Unmet dependencies”, “broken packages” and what not! The lab was infected with confusion and the threatening dependencies popping up everywhere! Sajith sir, Nakul, Ershad, Sadiq and me where on full swing trying to solve these but as much as we tried to solve things, we began to realize that that much things were screwed up.

However, while all of this was going on, the group of  Shamsudheen sir (I hope that is what his name is!) and the sir from the mech dept. (can’t remember his name but I think it is Ayush) got the source installation correct and boy was it a weight off my heart to see the game up and running on their system. I had no idea the game required “Teacher’s privileges” to be installed. Lol! After this happening, unfortunately for our efforts, the internet connection was down and out for the day at 3:00pm and we could not proceed with fixing the Debian system there. Sadiq managed to copy the required library files from the computer in which the installation worked into one of the computers among the girl’s batches and the game worked there too. I concluded my session there telling them the rest of the steps in the installation process and here I forgot to mention an important point. I can only hope the ones who attended will be reading this.

NOTE: While installing from source, the first thing you should do is not run ./configure, but to see whether there is a README or INSTALL file within that folder. This is because ./configure, make and make install are the steps used for softwares that are developed using the GNU make philosophy. But there are many other softwares that will have to be built in a different manner and the instructions for these will be contained in the README or INSTALL file.

Here let me mention Sajith sir. An awesome person who is ready to help when and where help is needed without invitation. He knows how everything works and has a solution for any problem that happens in that lab even if he has to sit and hack at it for long hours. If it weren’t for him, Mine and Nakul’s session wouldn’t have imparted as much as it had imparted. From what I have heard from the students there at MES, he is a teacher under whom the students are proud of having learned! But alas, he is leaving MES to pursue his M. Tech in the coming June. That will be a great loss for them as well as for us as he is the backbone of such events being conducted there. A kernel lover at heart, he aims at making a serious contribution before he returns back to his profession again. Wishing him all success!

Coming back to the event, after I clumsily concluded my session at about 3:00, Sajith sir came forward with a beautiful explanation of what Makefiles are and how they worked. Once his small session was over, our “guest of the day” reached the venue. Mr. Labeeb Mattra and man, did  he have the cutest smile among all! He had this childish face with a geeky spectacle and a whole lot of Debian and FOSS philosophy oozing out of him.

His session was on the Debian philosophy, how it came to be and why it was so. He started at about 3:30 and took us through the romantic world of Debra and Ian (Deb-ian), told us why we needed to support the existence of Debian in our society even if we didn’t use it, how the elections were held at Debian, its philosophy and finally stressing upon FreedomBox and how our personal information was valuable to us. He concluded at about 5:00 and we were on our way home without further delay.

And by the way, all of us “session takers” got Debian medals. Hope someone puts up the pics as well as the list of attendees somewhere.

Day 1 comes to an end.

Day 2 – Debian Packaging

This day was Praveen Ettan’s. However, he let us know he’ll join us only by 10.30am or so and told us to get started on discussion. The internet was down at the morning and Sajith sir was running after it and finally it got fixed. Thank God!

We got started on discussions at about 10:00 with Labeebka chairing it. There was just one topic of discussion and that was why we considered our personal information to be valuable. We traveled through the secretariats of various Governments as well many NGOs and other institutions and saw how it might pose a potential threat to our privacy as well as us being tracked at each and every moment of our life. By the time we had reached this conclusion, Praveen ettan entered the scene and Labeebka handed over the session to him.

Praveen ettan was introduced to us by certain wise and composed person whom I could not get to know and the introduction made us all gape at the great man standing in front of us! I was really jealous of him. Not because of his knowledge or achievements but because of his goatee which was one of my wishes to have before I left college! He he!

Anyway, he started off the session by reading out to us a certain message (or entry by himself) from his phone which inspired all of us to share what we knew with others as well as to write blogs and discuss our experiences of attending the event on the mailing lists. Thereafter he proceeded by asking us what we knew from the previous day’s session and got us to answer a few questions regarding how Debian worked.

He then went on to why packaging was done and how it was done. The theory behind packaging, you could say. A software would get released by someone and its first packaging would happen either if a Debian Developer out of his own interest took the software and packaged it or if someone put forth a request to have that software to be available on Debian. Usually, the package then would go into the “unstable” stage where a priority will be set for it to be Low, Critical or Security. These will stay in the unstable state for 10, 5 and 2 days respectively and then will be moved to the testing stage provided all its dependencies have their bugs fixed and are already present in the testing stage.

There is also an experimental stage where the softwares that are sure to contain a lot of bugs and that crash often are kept. However, on passing continuous tests, these will be added to the unstable state as well.

Now, the testing stage ‘freezes’ when all the softwares that the Debian community decided at their last stable release, would be there in their next stable release, are there in the testing stage. Once freezed, no packages will be automatically added to the testing stage and if you are able to fix bugs from the unstable stage, you have to manually add it to the testing stage. Once the freeze has all the ‘decided-upon’ softwares, the stable version is released and the testing stage unfreezes.

There is something called the ‘backports’ here too which either contains newer versions of softwares that are already in the stable release or softwares that were out after the last stable release. So by manually adding the backports repo, we can install those too.

Praveen ettan made us explain and repeat this session ourselves and finally it was time to go for lunch. Just before leaving the lab, Riyas, a second year fossie (hey, cute term isn’t it?) at mes, jumped up and caught me. Apparently he had not gave up on compiling tuxmath from source and he had almost finished running the configure script correctly. We spent a while together and he did an excellent job of compiling and running the game! Now that is one lad with the proper enthusiasm and potential.

We had a hearty lunch (for which the mes fsug group paid the bills) and returned back to the labs after praying at about 1:30pm.

The hands on session was started and we guided through by Praveen ettan along the steps for packaging a certain Ruby library called mixlib-log using the gem2deb tool. However, gem2deb was not within the Debian repo and we had to install it from source. We did that, made our first package of  mixlib-log and then he tells us to fill out the various informations in the files present within the debian/ directory by referring to the New maintainer’s guide!

We were to run lintian on the .changes file and see the errors and warning there and resolve them one by one. We did it and finally had a package ready but alas, it was just an example and not something to be uploaded. Ah, suddenly I remember how Praveen ettan explained asking for sponsors in order to upload a package and also how the “web of trust” was formed between the various Debian Developers using the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) mechanism.

The session had no formal ending but all of us sat back for a while with him assigning a gem to each of us. Many among us have already requested to work on a bug and let’s hope this is the start and growth of a new Debian community.

Before ending my entry, there is something noteworthy that happened. Although what I am about to say will make more sense to my classmates at college, I’ll just put it down for the sake of it. Guys, I didn’t even yawn during sessions of entire two days! My friends at college can see how amazing this is considering my unmatched skill of sleeping right under the teacher’s noses by sitting in the first bench!

Expressing my joy of having two of my Juniors from NSS, Ashiq and Ranjith having attended the event, here is to the future where I hope gatherings of these nature will be plenty.



I guess the best was for the last… College final tour!

Finally, the college tour that I never thought was going to happen, happened and boy am I freaking glad that I did not miss it! At last, we truly really felt we were friends and we felt from our hearts that there were moments in life that could be made memorable only by all of us being together and sharing all the joy and happiness that each and everyone of us had!

It is true. Not only is 1 + 1 = 2 in maths but when everyone comes together with all the little happiness and joy that they have, everything bundles up into one huge unforgettable joyous occasion that is worth living through and that is exactly what happened with us being together. We shared, we laughed, we suffered, we talked, we cracked jokes, together we pulled through and here we are with a bucket load of memories… It was worth it.

I could say that our journey was not only through Pondicherry, Mahabalipuram, Chennai, Hyderabad and Hogenakkal, but also through many of our friends’ hearts.

Writing about the trip won’t do justice to it because I’m sure each and every one of us have our own reasons of finding joy and remembering the tour. So this is just what comes from me. And mind you, visiting the places or being at the places accounted for only 20% of the enjoyment. The rest was being with friends and sharing the moments with them. However, those moments are in our hearts and as such, this post will just be an outline to remember the glory days by.

First of all, I have to mention Ambika ma’am. It is no joke that all of us were really worried what was going to happen if she came along. As in we won’t be able to enjoy the tour and stuff like that. But to all of our surprise, she was extremely co-operative and did not cause any sort of trouble. At her age, with her illness, she adjusting with us and our stupidity the way she did has increased our respect for her ten fold! I believe I have done a great mistake in talking to her angrily and even though I have apologised to her personally, here I do it once again for being a part of making our dream of a final tour come true!

Before starting the travelogue, I have to say that I was desperately missing Jinu. I was almost at the verge of giving up on the tour when it dawned upon me that it was now or never… This was the last time that all of us were going to be together and if I chose to back down from it, that would only simply result in me getting depressed just like our last tour. So happen what may, I decided to go along with the tour.

16th April 2012, Monday, 8:00pm

The bus had arrived and almost all of us were there. While all of us had our own plans to have a good time at the tour, the tour-guy, Rajesh had his own too. Instead of bringing the 49 seater bus that he had promised us, he brought a 39 seater. Blood boiled in many of our veins and it would have been only moments before the entire seen got ugly with us and Rajesh if not Gouthaman and Rahul held us back saying that we were trapped and we had no choice but to get in.

The travel bags were  packed in at the back of the bus and we held on to our smaller bags with the critical stuffs in them. Rahul (or ‘Thadiyan’ as we call him) was the key player here. He took upon the responsibility of packing things up on himself and I seriously doubt whether anyone else would have done a better job than him at it.

After a little bit of griping and cursing, we did get in and our journey began! You could say this was the taste of things to come.

Music, laser lights, young hearts, the dancing began and we had a jolly good time. At last it was time to sleep. The movie “Venicile vyapaari” was playing and oh my God was it atrocious! Anyway, me, Chellan and Ponnan were together. I had this small disturbing pain on my left foot’s thumb. However I ignored it and got to sleep. However, all of us had underestimated the power of centralized A/C of the bus and by midnight, most of us were freezing and shivering of cold. While the three of us managed to cuddle under Ponnan’s blanket, many of us had trouble finding warmth that night. But as I said at the beginning, we suffered and pulled through.

17th April 2012, Tuesday, 6:30am (Pondicherry)

The bus coming to a halt made our minds happy with thoughts of a freshening bath and tasty food. We were shown to our rooms and were told to get ready by 8:00am. It was in the midst of freshening ourselves that the terrifying news reached us! The restaurants were on strike that day! Which meant we were ‘foodless’.

However, Rajesh ettan somehow managed to arrange a hospital Canteen for us and all of us had a pretty decent meal. Even though they couldn’t provide me with my order for my second Masala Dosa, I contended myself with a Plain Dosa and the tea there was simply awesome.

We got out and by this time my left foot had swollen a bit and the pain was noticeable. We walked over and visited the Aravindha Ashramam (Forgive me my spellings), and from there on went to the beach. I don’t know how to put this, but it was rocky and not the kind of beach where the sand blended into the blue ocean. We spent a while there, clicked a few pics, had a few ice creams and went over to Gandhi park. We rested a while there and then got in the bus again.

At about noon we boarded a boat to an island about 3kms away from the main land. We were with life jackets and I looked fat! We had a pretty nice time at the beach there. Our lunch arrived on one of the boats and we had a small buffet. We spent a while there and at about 3:00pm we boarded a boat back to main land. Now, that was the second beach today and my leg was hurting pretty bad.

In the evening, the bus stopped and we were asked to get out. We got out and guess what?

Dhe pinnem oru beach!

It was the third beach and it was then that I found that it was almost impossible for me to walk due to the pain in my swollen foot. The beach was fun however with comparatively huge tides and I watched helplessly as my friends were having fun jumping and splashing in the tides. Ponnan had changed to his shorts and T-shirts and had come hurrying till the verge of the beach where when he reached he had a change of heart and decided not to get wet.

We reached back at our hotel at about 7:00pm and we were to spend the night there. My sis prescribed an ointment and few tablets for me which Thadiyan and MR went and bought (God bless them!) Sunil brought food for me to my room as I couldn’t walk and I spent the night watching Ghost Rider and Undisputed 3. Many engaged in their own good times and I engaged in mine, which was to sleep.

18th April 2012, Wednesday, 4:00am(Mahabalipuram, Chennai)

Well, 4am was the time at which we were told to get ready and that’s why we got ready at least by 5:30am. I’d like to mention specially about someone here and that is Sinto. When it was almost 5:15am and we were still not ready to leave, I decided to go and pray. After finishing praying when I got in the bus, all the seats were occupied and there I was standing with my swollen foot. My sis had told me to take rest that day and I could not afford to give any pressure for my left foot. But no one seemed to care and no one gave me a seat. It was then when Sinto stood up and let me sit. That touched my heart and I owe him much.

Well, we left and reached Mahabalipuram at about 7:30am where everyone went for sight seeing while I remained in the bus to rest my foot. So as for what happened there, someone will have to fill in. We had breakfast at a nearby hotel and the bus stopped a little further away. Someone asked what the place was about and guess what? It was the next beach! Augh! Everyone was like “Noooooooooooooooooo! Not again!”. The bus took off from there and much too obviously, we reached Merina beach at about 11.30am.

Now that was the 5th beach! Man, it was kind of getting weird with all the beaches. It was as if we were on some science expedition where we were testing the conditions of all the beaches or something. Suffice to say I did not get down there too. Everyone was back and we stopped for lunch at a hotel where the girls did not like the food much and most of the Biriyani that they ordered were wasted.

While everyone was getting ready to leave from there, me and Gori went in search of a mosque and to our surprise we found that the owners of that hotel were people from Malappuram and Mahe. When we told them that we were looking for a place to pray, they heartily opened one of their lodge rooms for us and we both finished our prayers from there. We left there unprepared for what was yet to come.

We visited some sort of a Shrine in the evening which was again denied of me due to my swollen feet. From there did I make the all-too-dangerous “41 idiots” remark! I hope nothing comes of it.

We started from there at about 4:00pm and saw “Ramjiraavu speaking” on the way. Man, I laughed my heart out! “Baalashnaa, moone baalashnaa!” Ha ha… Lol! At about 7:00pm, we reached a posh looking cafe where we stopped for tea. They had good toilet facilities and teas that cost about 25 bucks! I did not like the baji that they served at all and let ponnan eat all of it.

All of us were hungry and were looking forward to dinner. We started from there on our long journey to Hyderabad! Everyone got in the dance mood and I could only sit and look at them while all of them were on their feet. Even MR was there! Everyone was exhausted and lied down eagerly waiting for dinner. It was almost 9 and we were told that we would reach the “promised restaurant” in ten minutes or so. The bus kept on going while me, Ajith, Chellan and Don were having fun with Chalis as well as actual jokes (Yes, there is a difference between the two!)

The 10 minutes became 20, 30, 1 hour, 2 hours and the smiles on our faces slowly started to fade. At 11:45pm, I got a message from Rahul who was sitting at the front, “Eda, idhu pani kitti” (I still have it in my phone). When it was almost 12:20am (yes, midnight), we pulled up in front of a Punjabi Dhabha and had Roti and Tomato curry from there. Man, I devoured 5 of the Rotis!

As if all this was not enough, stopping the bus there, it wouldn’t start again! And many among us pushed the bus to get it started! Same was the case when just after we had left this spot and the bus stopped at a nearby petrol pump.

To Hyderabad!

19th April 2012, Thursday, 8:00am(Hyderabad 1)

Reached the promised Hotel at Hyderabad and we were allowed time till 9:30 for getting fresh. We had breakfast (again me being denied my Second Masala Dosa). We left and reached the Salar Jung museum first thing in the morning. Man, was the security strict there! The things I had to go through to take my bag inside it! Finally we did get inside and we saw the portraits of a few cool dudes and as you can well imagine, the whole visit was a series of jokes one after another. Seriously, Chellan has a way of making all the occasions memorable with his presence. All through the tour everyone had a nice time with him I guess.

We left there and reached some Mahal at 12.30 which I skipped for fear of my foot getting worse. But how long was I just going to sit there? I decided that’s it. No more sitting duck! After their Mahal visit when they were going to see Charminar and Mecca masjid, Chellan called me and I caught up with them. Charminar was a majestic view and it seemed that the girls had to cover up their heads if they were to enter Mecca Masjid. All of them decided to skip it. But then, there it was right in front of us and some of us couldn’t resist getting in. We did and enjoyed the spacious courtyards and the huge mosque for a little while.

It was almost lunch time and we were landed in a hotel where they served the all too famous Hyderabad Biriyani! I sat and devoured it and was licking my fingers clean while all the renowned eaters of MH as well as the girls were having a hard time finishing it. Triumphantly, I went back and got in the bus.

We left the place and on our way the guide was “To right is, to your left is…” ing us. We finally reached snow world and my foot was hurting. I simply ignored it and all of us got ready with our coats, gloves and boots, the shutters opened and we ran in screaming! From there within it was total havoc! We were throwing snow here and there, there and here and everywhere! It was freezing cold and smoke came out of our mouths while we exhaled. Man, it was really troubling when you got hit on your face with snow. You could hardly breathe. It was attack, revenge, vengeance, team spirit and what not! I’m not going to forget the moments inside that place! As I said, words don’t do justice to what we experienced inside it. It was fun. It was lovely.

We got out at about six and skipped the proposed boating at Hussain Sagar lake to shop for pearls instead. It was done and we reached back at our hotel at about 8:00pm and all went for casual shopping. I took rest for my foot and Rahul, Mr and Pretty together hunted for the medicine to be put on my foot and Pretty finally got it for me (oops! I still haven’t given her the money for it!). We had dinner which was Roti during which Chellan made a certain comment regarding Sariga. Ponnan exploited the situation and made him tell her his comment! He he…

Trying to get the bought medicines into a usable form, Chellan and me finally gave up trying to dissolve Magnesium Sulphate in Glycerine and settled for it simply being a vague mix of the two. He helped me soak cotton with it and tie it up on my swollen foot.

We had good night’s sleep that day.

20th April 2012, Friday, 8:00am

We were up and about at 6:00am and after having breakfast, set off for Ramoji which we reached around 10:00am. We were given the official Ramoji stickers as well as the tickets and were let inside. We boarded a bus wholly for us and went into the heart of Ramoji.

Reaching the destination, we first entered a Blue round-bulging-eyed Head’s mouth and found out that it was a sort of entertainment park for kids with Arcades, Scary house, skating and things like that. After that we boarded a bus that took us on a tour through London, Paris, Taj Mahal (Poor EC guys had to go all the way to Delhi!), Red Fort, Kolkata international airport, the Trichur and Hyderabad National Highways that were both on the same road, multi-branch banks and what not!

We got down at some place and visited a few gardens, the Hawa Mahal and a certain cave (where Afaf just couldn’t take the suspense!) after which we got back to the place where we started from. It was time for the Ramoji movie magic or something and we went on a small trip through a fairy tale land after which we were taken through a series of steps that they used to make Cinemas.

It was lunch time and we had a great buffet. Then we visited the Dynamic motion theatre that depicted bomb blasts and earthquakes at Ramoji with real effects. That was fun. After all of us were terrified of the shaking and the tubes that hissed gas at our feet, all of us went for seeing the spirit of Ramoji, a few dances and entertainment shows after which we were blessed by an awesome stunt sequence in the wild wild west.

The day was at an end and we left the place and stopped at a hotel for dinner. Man, everything being decided, I had to sit with a bunch of girls because I was eating vegetarian! And those other girls were none other than Amrutha, Namita and Aparna. While the first two went on a spree of making fun of me till the food came, Aparna silently supported them suffice to say my stomach was already half filled even before the food arrived!

GKV distributed ice creams to celebrate his birthday and we were on our way to Hogenakkal.

21st April 2012, Saturday

You must have noticed that I did not write any time there because time simply stopped making sense to us. We were in the bus at about 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning when we pulled up at a petrol pump. Some of us got down to use the waterless toilets and stretch our legs and arms. We again were on our way all of us dreaming of breakfast. But by now we should have known nothing good comes of dreaming about food in that bus we were in. The cycle repeated and finally at 11:00am we stopped in front of some hotel (whose footsteps were decorated with shit) and here our dear Rajesh ettan told us to go and eat. We were like, “What!?”. We hadn’t brushed, bathed or anything and for that question his answer was it was to get fresh that we had stopped at the Petrol pump.

All of us lost it and Sinto lost it a bit more than the rest of us and charged at the guy raising his voice. It was a mess and we managed to get a room for our ma’am and her husband and the rest of us brushed our teeth outside the bus and some within the wash area of the hotel. We had our breakfast and were on our way to Hogenakkal on the way which the driver was executing the Dijikstra algorithm of finding the right way by eliminating the dead-end ones! he he…

We reached Hogenakkal at about 1.30pm and 10 of us were stuffed into a small room telling us to get ready by 2.30 for lunch. It was magical how everything gets sorted out with the ten of us somehow adjusting and pulling through and finishing our chores by 2.30pm. We had lunch and went for the renowned Hogenakkal boating.

Man, was it fun! All the round-boats consisted of six of us plus the boat-man and only one boat consisted four of us, the luxury team which was Ponnan, Chellan, Sriram and Rithwik. I was first in a boat with Ajith, Sumi, Bini, Sariga and one more whom I can’t suddenly remember. We went for a short distance, got down, walked a bit and again reached a point where we had to get in. Here a few shuffling happened and guess what? I got the boat with Amrutha, Namita, Anisha, Aparna and MR!

All of our boats were launched and all of us got in the mood. Splashing each other, attacking other boats, going under waterfalls, shouting, laughing, howling… We enjoyed the moments together… Probably the last moments to be together…

We reached a shore some distance away at the other end of which there were strong currents but the water was only waist deep! We could just float and the currents would take us to the other end! From there none of us knew what we were actually doing. We splashed each other a lot, threw stones, pushed others into the water, lost a few spectacles, took a dip, clicked pics and had the time of our lives.

After spending almost an hour there we were on our way back to the hotel to remove our drenched clothes. All of us were completely wet from bottom till top! We bathed, changed our clothes and at about 7:30pm, loaded our bags in the bus and went for the camp fire.

The flames caught on, music was put and we were in the dance mood! I danced my heart out along with everyone and I guess the girls too had a great time there. All of us were exhausted by the end and we slowly walked for the “last supper”. I did not think much of the noodles and rice that they served and ate very little.

We boarded the bus and many of us were asleep the moment we sat down. However, Rajesh ettan brought a mic into the middle of the bus and each one of us were asked to say something. GKV thanked ma’am and her husband and also did Arjun. Ma’am blessed all of us and her husband said we took him 20 years back in his life. Sariga sang a song and we pulled in Ponnan to sing his all too famous “Jo bhi mein”! Applause and laughter and then I came in and messed up saying something. Here I made one of greatest wish come true and that was to sing “We will rock you”. I sang it with the help of the beats from everyone and that was followed by Namita and Anisha singing their own pieces. GKV burst into his rapturous melodies and we had to plead to get the mic back from him! Lol. Chellan came forth with his breath-taking breathless and Rithwik sang a song too.

After all these precious moments were over, we put a few selected songs by Ponnan. While me, Chellan and Ponnan were sitting at the front, the girls came and requested us to go back so that they could dance. We obliged and went back. I was feeling dizzy and sat down. Chellan too sat down. After a while Ponnan came slowly dancing to the music. Then I don’t know what the heck happened because Chellan was suddenly in a superb dance mood! It was almost 11:00pm when this happened and everyone had gone to sleep except for me, Don, Sriram, Ponnan and Chellan.

The five of us were at the back and man, was Chellan an amazing dancer! All of were gaping at his steps and he had his eyes closed and was completely immersed in it! I was sitting and cheering these guys. But after a while I simply couldn’t sit and I too joined them for three songs. We called “JAI” for the five of us ourselves and had a blast till 12.30am in the night! Then we decided it was getting too late and went and turned off the music and laser lights. We talked for half an hour and finally, enjoying the last moments to the fullest, it was time to sleep.

22nd April 2012, Sunday, 3:15am

We reached back at our college and I went to Don’s hostel. The girls were taken to the Railway station and were accompanied by a few of the boys. The tour was at an end and I left Don’s hostel at about 9:30 in the morning.

Sitting in the bus from Olavokkode to Palakkad, while seeing the all too familiar junction where the SAI nursing home was located, a few tear drops watered my eyes. This was it. It was over.

Python script to rename a group of files.

Hi all,

I wanted to sort a group of pics in one of my folders by a general name along with an incremental number. Even though I’m the “Solution is already available, so why not do that?” kinda type, this time, I decided to write my own script to do it.

import os
import sys

# checking whether path and filename are given.
if len(sys.argv) != 3:
    print "Usage : python <path> <new_name.extension>"

# splitting name and extension.
name = sys.argv[2].split('.')
if len(name) < 2:
    name[1] = ".%s" %name[1]

# to name starting from 1 to number_of_files.
count = 1

# creating a new folder in which the renamed files will be stored.
s = "%s/pic_folder" % sys.argv[1]
except OSError:
    # if pic_folder is already present, use it.

    for x in os.walk(sys.argv[1]):
        for y in x[2]:
            # creating the rename pattern.
            s = "%spic_folder/%s%s%s" %(x[0], name[0], count, name[1])
            # getting the original path of the file to be renamed.
            z = os.path.join(x[0],y)
            # renaming.
            os.rename(z, s)
            # incrementing the count.
            count = count + 1
except OSError:

Basically, the code first checks whether three arguments are given in the command line. The first argument being the program itself, the second one being the path and the third one being the naming that you want to perform. If one of the argument is missing, the code won’t execute.

After that the code processes the naming that you have given. It prepares the variable ‘name’ based on whether you have specified the naming with an extension or not.

Then we create a folder called “pic_folder” in the specified path. However, if a folder with that name is already present, we will use that folder itself.

The walk() function in the os module is pretty cool. It gives the entire path of the files present  in the path that we give to it in a 3-tuple. One is the path to the directory. The second one is the name of subdirectories and the third one is the filename.

We then create a string ‘s’ with the new name and path followed by creating the path of the files to be renamed. Then we simply rename the files and increment the counter.

Try it out and let me know what bugs you about it.

The source code can be found at too.

Happy hacking!

GNOME 3.4 release party at MES, Kutipuram. A day well spent!

Looking back, some decisions of my life have been very well taken, deciding to attend the Gnome release party held at MES Kutipuram being one of them.

I came to know about the event from the SMC mailing list. Seeing a get together of top notch free software enthusiasts at a venue so close to my home was simply something that I couldn’t miss.

Let me put down the names of those who were there because that might be the first thing one would forget if kept unused for long.

There was Sajith sir, a teaching staff at MES, who had welcomed me on the mailing list. A very gentle and friendly person who was of immense support to the students there for anything regarding freedom.

Praveen ettan was also there who was the RMS of SMC while Santhosh Ettan was the Linus of SMC. Lol! Unfortunately Santhosh was not able to make it for the party.

Jishnu ettan was there whom everyone there referred to as “Guru”. I was wondering why this was so and I found out why it was so! If you see, you’ll know why too.

Then Sadiq, Kiran, (Update)Nakul, Sooraj, Riyas, Nuh, Rahul, Anish, (Update)Anees and two girls were there. Guys, forgive me if I got your spelling wrong! After all, we were all together for only a short while and we were not spending that time refreshing names! But here is what we actually spent our time on…

It was a completely informal atmosphere where even though I felt a bit out of place at the beginning when everyone was just arriving, it took only a few minutes of interaction between everyone to feel right at home. Such was the free will everyone treated others with.

Trying to start the event, the organisers were dumbstruck at their carelessness. No Knife to cut the cake, no balloons and no cello tapes! On the double, two of them went out and bought all these. And boy did I start to shudder when one of them gave me a balloon to blow! I had never done that in my life! But could I let them know that? Of course not. So I held the open end to my mouth with one hand and pulled the other end so that it was stretched. And what do you know? When I blew it, it actually started to expand! I was surprised at myself and I was like, “Yo guys, here take this one too”. Sooraj taught me to tie it and now, that was the first important lesson that I learnt from this party!

The event kicked off about at 11am (scheduled to start at 10) after everyone goofed off and got over with the initial introductory jokes and cracks (not to mention hacks!) by cutting a Gnome 3.4 cake! Coincidentally, it was Anish’s birthday and it was he who cut it. We all had a few chit chats over eating it and finally when everyone was done with it, we all went to the front of the lab where the projector was all set.

Oh by the way, this party was being held at one of the computer labs at MES. Jishnu ettan started by introducing the features of Gnome 3.4 and few nice applications including a nice preview tool. I forget what its name is, but you can use it if you click on the file and hit “space+enter”. Nagul told us what Gnome was about too.

Then Anish introduced to us what SMC was all about, their projects and how to get involved. We stopped for a lunch break at about 12.30 till 1.30. Afterwards, everyone except Rahul, Sooraj and the girls, sat around for a hearty discussion.

It was serious as well as extremely funny how everyone interacted. Patent-wars and sue-chain was one among the main humorous topics of discussion. Then the serious discussion was on how the entire mentality of people needs to be changed regarding freedom. Praveen ettan chaired the discussion.

The need for copyright, whether it was a necessity or not nowadays as well as how people should support a good cause with donations was discussed. The situations nowadays at colleges and the lack of awareness among the students regarding free software was another one among the numerous topics.

For the question of why people don’t see free software as an alternative for their computing needs, the answer of piracy was put forth. If the proprietary software companies and copyright holders tracked the use of their services and products strictly, then people would appreciate the initiative of free software. As long as one was a thief who never got caught or threatened, why would he go for legally earning or using something? The quality of the open source softwares might be different compared to the proprietary ones but that is no reason to treat these as second-rate ones just because they are free and people are, out of their own interest, writing and developing them.

Ah, now that I read the above paragraph again, I see the free software/open source thing. That was discussed too as in using GNU/Linux instead of just Linux. A lot of other small topics were talked on and many of them let us have a hearty laugh together.

The discussion came to an end at about 4 after which we all went together to have tea. Afterwards we all shook hands and went our own ways, keeping in mind to pray and work for a better tomorrow.

Personally, I really missed Ershad at the gathering…

Looking forward to such free gatherings in the future…

Update: Photos of the party!