Nearly there. After around 6+ months of discussing, poking, cajoling towards an Regional event in India, there is a Proposal now in place for an Project Day. It is there on the mailing list and we expect that it will be accepted since it is fairly well aimed and clear. How does it go ? Well, here’s the short bits:

+ there’s a keynote from Michael Bemmer

+ there’s a presentation/talk by Louis Suarez-Potts

+ there are ample talks, show-n-tell around the following: ODF, OO.o architecture, UNO, Extensions, L10n-ICU-Indic, Dictionaries among other things.

Join us to discuss more about what we plan to do  on the mailing list.

For lack of a better $SUBJECT…

A number of folks would have received this mail on various LUGs. Being generally curious, I had dropped by that site and among other things got angry enough to rant a bit. The aspect that I missed out on that reply was the inanity in the page design – it takes two clicks (1 from main page to a summary page inviting me to the article and then another click) to the main story. That’s 1 click more than what is required to get the reader to read the article. Bad.

Advocacy, chit-chat and event planning for GNOME in India

I could possibly see it coming. Sitting on a draft mail to the list for Advocacy, chit-chat and event planning in India I managed to misplace it completely. So what’s in this post is a faint recollection of what I had drafted along with hopefully additional ideas.

The list has been existing for a while now (from 2003 December onwards) but there’s not much that’s been done through the list. This is to be construed as a “Call to Arms” for pushing GNOME visibly across India. The mission of the GNOME Marketing Team can be taken to be a jump-off point. The idea that was around when the list was proposed was:

+ Enabling companies/developers doing work with GNOME in India to connect to others through the list
+ Coordinating and planning “show-n-tell” sessions at various places
+ Track GNOME desktop deployments across the country
+ Figure out what can be done in education with regards to GNOME

With the Project Days around the corner (where I think Shreyas and Sayamindu are cooking up something – folks can you do that on the above list please ?) this seems like a nice time to discuss what can be done. Additionally, this can perhaps be extrapolated to what are the easy to do “show-n-tell” for various tech-fests and other meets which are coming up.

There’s a substantially more number of developers/companies working with and on GNOME so it seems to be a nicer idea to spread the reason to be talking more about it. The obvious question that I get asked is “why should I be on this list since I am already filing bugs/posting to other GNOME lists/insert-your-favorite-task”. It is a fair question. As on date the list does not offer anything that would make it sticky for companies or developers. But given that it is right now relatively low traffic, it might not be a bad idea to start being on the list (and the channel #gnome-india ?) while spreading the message across. There’s another planned blog on “why you should be here” but that’s for another day.

Tracking GNOME desktop deployments would assume increasing importance if coupled with tracking the usage of localisation. I never tire of repeating that it is time enough that folks started to really “use” localisation on the UI and the localisation framework (input-rendering-printing) so as to enable all the existing rough edges to be polished.

The education bit would perhaps be best explained by Sayamindu, the short bit is coming up with a list of technical stuff (I prefer to call them developer fundamentals) which would allow students to begin contributing to GNOME. If he does not blog, more on that later.

An idea called Prajna

This month the iLUG-Cal list has a thread on Prajna or the Cognizant FLOSS Corps. You can read more about it here. Without even attempting to summarize what the concept is all about, I’d request anyone who is interested to read up the blog. Right now what I expect from the Prajna team is a Plan of Action which would allow others from outside of Cognizant to join up. There are a large number of like (if not similar) projects that are running piecemeal across the country. What I like about Prajna is that it has within itself the seeds of being an over-arching umbrella to create a federation of such projects.

What Prajna also has the ability to get going is training up a skillset in FOSS that can be useful to startups and companies alike. Having a hands-on experience in managing deployment prepares the mind to face different challenges as can be read off Indranil’s blogs on the internship experience. Prajna also is well placed to have a means to extend the reach of localisation. Right now there’s not much happening in terms of usage of localised desktops in the area of education.

How Prajna ties in existing Commons Knowledge and experience into a project that can be readily replicated across various states remains to be seen. I wish them all the best.

Users of localized operating systems

Yesterday night, over an exchange of mails a few friends narrowed down the root cause of the misbehaving (the rendering for a particular document was off-the-charts on one distribution, but was pretty much sane on another). All of that led me to think that given that Indic Localization has been the talk-of-the-town for over four years now, and pretty much available through major Linux distributions for the past two years, there has not been a large number of folks actually using localized Linux. That’s kind of sad if that is true, it is really a bad thing if folks actually use it but don’t talk about it.

Let’s take the case which kept a few of us busy last evening. The original poster “uses” localization bits. Being a writer, he’s affected by fonts, input methods, rendering and printing bits. Anything that means:

+ installation or re-installation of the Operating System

+ fiddling around with various fonts

+ tweaking input methods

+ rebuilding/recompiling applications

is a waste of hours which take the writer away from the core task. Somewhere along the way it might be time to start thinking about “users” like our writer to see how localization help them do the work (while also being booted into a local language environment). There would be various types:

o the blue-sky users from the ICT4D group who require the L10n on the user interface to enable to be part of “inclusive computing”

o users of various eGovernance projects who require L10n framework (input-rendering-output) to get the various kinds of transaction down

o the users (like our writers) who use tools and not really the OS and expect the tools to be “L10n aware”

The current mode of Indic Localization aim to meet the requirement of the first two groups (second more than the first perhaps), but what we don’t seem to be getting into the third group into the game. Given that spinning out a custom distribution (and LiveMedia) has become so much easier across distributions it would be a good idea to have feedback loops going by getting the third group involved. Localization of late has attained the unfortunate tag of “string crunching”. Fact remains that L10n does mean that but actually means much more than the very restricted comprehension of the term. Thus, the greater the number of folks using L10n bits the better it is in terms of being enriched.

In a side note, these two were incidents of yesterday and trivially interesting.

“Clear”trip dot com (pun intended)

Sometime back I was telling all those who cared to listen that the Calendar might be the single most elegant piece of UI improvement that Cleartrip has put in place. Sadly, I guess they are failing to get some other bits in place eg. the confusion between Madras and Chennai (the location selector has Madras whereas the results has Chennai) and the flights on the Calendar not getting reflected on the trip selection bits. The site has become noticeably slow in churning out the results (or is it due to the readability of the inserted advertisement while the results page loads ?). In short, I don’t think I am going to use the site even to check the options of which are the flights available till they get some improvements in place.