January 28, 2010 § 5 Comments
Before getting any further, let me clarify that I am not really an expert at getting jobs. With my 6.14 CGPA, I haven’t been eligible for the campus placement process at any of the companies I fancied and I wasn’t interested in any of the companies where I was eligible. So basically, my experience of the whole interview and selection process is zilch. And I very much hate wearing formals to an interview, I mean I will code just as awesomely whether I wear jeans, formals or bermudas. Nevertheless, I have solved the technical questions in the mock test papers for many of my friends who were eligible and I also answered last minute phone queries on various technical stuff (oye difference between C++ and Java? Polymorphism ka definition bata? etc) right before my friends were about to face the interviewing panel (And I can proudly say that most of them are now happily placed).
Now lets back to the topic. As you are aware, Sun Tech Days 2010- Hyderabad is on March 24th and 25h. I had a blast last year at Tech Days and will go again. So I sent text messages, tweets and status updates to see if anyone is interested in going with me. And yes, a few people were interested in coming along. But almost everyone has the same query, “How is it useful? Will Sun give me a job if I go there? Will it look good on my CV?”. I then politely inform them that TechDays (or any developer conference for that matter) is about learning new technologies, meeting up the developers of that technology first hand, expanding your horizon and yes, networking with other developers. But none of these can directly lead to a JOB. Any company, be it Sun, Microsoft, Google or Oracle or any other, does not do these event to recruit, they do these to popularize their products, get developers excited about them so that these developers would go back and use some of these products in their own projects, but never to find potential employees. Yes you could, potentially, meet up the company people, and really impress them with some cool idea and they might refer you; but that’s just as unlikely as me beginning my preparations for any exam more than 14 hours in advance. Very very rare.
And when I say this, it dampens their spirits to no end. The response is somewhat like, “Ummm..Well…Its 1000 bucks plus travel and stay…good event..but I don’t know any of those stuff….I will be lost..still I will think…”
Well I am sorry but I hate this attitude. First realize that no company will ever recruit people from a developer event. If say Sun were to recruit everyone who came to Tech Days Hyderabad, it would directly double their present employee count. So that ain’t happening. Secondly, why is that you expect that almost everything that you do has to directly enable you to get a JOB? If you are good at what you do, you will get a job (provided you haven’t messed up your academics like me and your university has got a competent Placement Division). The goal of your engineering studies should not be to get a job, it should be to learn how to develop software (or electronic circuits,buildings, bridges, cars, chemicals etc but I will stick to my field here) that are awesome and flawless, near perfect. It should be to develop a deep, almost fanatic, interest in your field (or a sub field or sub sub field). It should be about experimenting, making mistakes and screwing up, and yet gearing up for the next adventure.
As Rancho puts it in 3 Idiots, “Chase excellence, success will follow”.
Last year when I attended Tech Days 2009, I had just become a Campus Ambassador for Sun. I was still not much into CA activities and my only contact was my co-ordinator Ajay Kumar. I had heard about Ganesh Hiregoudar, the APAC Manager of the CA program and my boss, but I had never met him. His name drew up visions of some burly, short haired, short tempered, pointed haired boss images in my mind. No one other than Ajay knew I would be at Tech Days and I too had no idea that anything special regarding CA activities would happen at Tech Days. My first day went well and I met one CA, I was wondering if anyone else had arrived. The next day, in the morning, I ventured to the OpenSolaris installation area tucked at a corner of the HICC. Actually I did not go there for OpenSolaris but rather for the Sun SPOT demo by Jay Mahadeokar and Vasusen Patil, I was very excited about it and hadn’t received my kit yet, in fact I did not know that I was supposed to get a kit. Unknown to me, a lot of CAs, Ganesh Hiregoudar and other people associated with the CA program were all there near the OpenSolaris corner. They identified me because of my orange Sun bag. A few confusing moments followed by introductions with a lot of awesome people and I was put to help out people install OpenSolaris and also register for OSUM . And yeah I got to finally meet Ganesh Hiregoudar and all my fears turned out completely false. He was anything but burly, didn’t have short hair and was did not frighten you at all. He was the most polite boss one can ever have, the most awesomest boss. I also met Rajesh Umashankar and Kumar Abhishek. The whole CA gang went out for dinner in the evening, sponsored by Sun.
Before I had gone to Tech Days, I was an unknown CA, just an employee ID, an email address. Once their, I met these people, was able to impress them (though I have to admit it wasn’t intentional). Now they knew me and liked me. After a few weeks, I was offered internship at Sun,I applied and was selected. Not every CA gets to do an internship at IEC but I made it. And it was due to that internship that I was able to work with the Sun HPC Team at Singapore. And now I am doing another project with them. And all of this happened because I went to Tech Days. I did not go to announce my presence to my bosses there, I went there to learn about Sun technologies. I hadn’t even hoped to meet any of my bosses, Ajay too was not coming. But that visit really worked wonders.
So the lesson is, don’t just do things because you are absolutely sure it will give you a JOB, do things because you like to do those. Learn and explore. Opportunities will surely come and you will be at the right place at the right time. Don’t do everything for a “certi”. Most of the certis that you get after working in fests in our college are useless. No employer is really bothered about those. But you might actually end up learning something in the process. There will be no dearth of jobs if you have a passion for your work.
Well, enough free advice for now. Have fun. Hope to see you at Sun Tech Days 2010 at Hyderabad.
January 28, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Here it is finally, Cube3_div 1.0. This adds Division algebra feature to CUBE 3.2 . Finally, its over. Now can completely devote myself to other projects. Thanks to Verdi March of Sun APSTC Singapore and Markus Geimer and Brian Wylie of Julich Supercomputing Centre for all their help and support.
Download and check (only if you are interested in MPI/Open MPI development). Click here to download.
January 21, 2010 § Leave a Comment
This was a poster I once made as a Sun Campus Ambassador. Lists out some of Sun’s innovation
October 12, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Wow. What an experience!
Attended BarCamp Mumbai 6 today at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR). This was my very first BarCamp and so I was unsure what to expect. I reached the venue at 6 in the morning as I had reached Mumbai early and had nowhere else to go. I had prepared half of my presentation on the bus to Mumbai and wanted to finish the rest provided I get a place to charge my laptop. On finding the gates of SPJIMR closed, I headed off to the Andheri Railway station hoping to find a plug point. Once again I was failed by Mumbai. By now hungry and tired I reached a KFC outlet which had opened at around 7:30, which again could not provide me with a plug point but I did find the next best thing, breakfast and that too, chicken. So I had some breakfast. But I still wanted coffee and a helpful guy at KFC told me that one Barista outlet nearby would be open. So I headed off to Barista for my morning cuppa. However, to my dismay, the outlet was to open only at 9 and I decided to sit outside. By now, having had a nice breakfast, mother nature was giving its call and I had no place where I could go and answer it in solitude. I was however relieved that the Barista outlet opened at half past 8 and I hopped in, dropped my bags (one containing my laptop and the other containing lots of Netbeans and OpenSolaris Cds) and answered mother nature’s call just in the nick of time. Once done and much relieved, I had the best start of my day with two cups of double espresso and proceeded to finish the rest of my presentation. Then I headed to the venue at 10 AM.
I got my session registered and selected a time suitable to me. Then I lay down Cds of Netbeans and OpenSolaris 2009.06 on the floor of one of the auditorium and on a desk at the other so that interested people may collect them. I also kept a bunch of OSUM Laptop stickers for whoever was interested. Soon a horde of people started picking them up and there were some queries coming my way. In all I had kept a hundred Cds in all and by the end of the BarCamp all were taken and many had stuck the OSUM stickers on their laptops. Someone had also brought Ubuntu 5.10 Cds to distribute.
Next was the introduction ceremony where everyone introduced themselves in 30 seconds followed by another chance given to attendees who wanted to take sessions to give a very brief intro about what they are gonna talk about. Then the people who wanted to talk were asked to choose a timing for their talk and mark that time on a board placed outside with a post-it not, in many ways like a physical wiki. The sessions were divided across two halls. The first session I attended was by Manan Kakkar who spoke about the tech blogging scene in India. Some of his tips and ideas were good but I found his tone admonishing and patronizing at times and his idea about tech blogging seemed a bit myopic because of his presumption that all tech blogs only report tech news. This was followed by one on solving Rubik Cube and What History can teach us about prospering in the tech age respectively.
The session that I like most (beside mine of course) was the one of Scaling web apps by Vaibhav Arya of Skenzo as bits of it related to HPC which is my area of interest. Lunch followed and I chatted with Amitabh Jain who was to present a talk on Django Framework to be parallel to mine. He is a techie-turned MBA from IIM-A-turned entrepreneur and techie again. Talking to him again made me think if should reconsider my decision to go for MBA, or should I do a Masters in Comps. Soon after lunch I attended a session on Zopte, a web based dynamic website creation and hosting tool. I wanted to go deeper into it but mine was the next session and hence I was busy re-reading my presentation.
I had realized during the introduction session that the crowd was only party techy and that too relating to web technologies. And my talk on Parallel Application Profiling using Scalasca was strictly cutting edge High Performance Computing. Actually I had wrongly assumed that one must speak of ones original work at a BarCamp and my Scalasca work was the only original worthwhile work I could claim of. Had I known the target audience I would have probably talked on JavaFX or Zembly or FBML. Nevertheless I decided to do my best to talk about HPC, Parallel Apps programming, Profiling and Scalasca in my span of 20 min, hoping to create a world record of sorts. As expected, my session had a little more than a dozen people, most had left after reading the title. Still I decided to give it my best and skipped slides which I knew would be too technical. I had prepared those slides while on the bus and at Barista the next morning, so they weren’t exactly my best creation. I finished up my session fast and was asked quite a few questions and all were on the basics of Parallel Programming and MPI which I tried to answer to the best of my abilities.
I attended one more session and then left as I was tired and wanted to go back to Surat and sleep. Overall it was a great experience. I met school kids, entrepreneurs, professional blogger, coders, a really varied crowd and you could learn something from everyone.Overall an enriching experience. Looking forward for more.
So guys I will call it a day now. Am dead tired, need sleep and my back aches from having sat for nearly 32 hours. Good night.
September 25, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Software Freedom Day is the worldwide celebration of Free and Open Source Software. Sun Microsystems has been sponsoring SFD celebrations for the past few years. Also Sun supports SFD activities through its numerous Open Source University Meetup (OSUM) clubs worldwide. The OSUM clubs are provided with Sun merchandise, software CDs/DVDs, posters and banners to celebrate the event. All of these activities are co-ordinated through the OSUM site http://www.osum.sun.com .
We celebrated SFD at SVNIT on 18th September, one day earlier, because its Navratri time and most students were about to leave that evening. Posters and banners were put up at the departments and hostels. I also designed a custom A3 poster for SFD. Apart from this SMSes were sent to students who had attended previous Sun Tech demos.
The topic on 18th was OpenSolaris and ZFS along with OpenSolaris installation on Virtual Box. I had done an OpenSolaris intro last year too but decided to do it again because an 1. entirely new batch of students have come this academic year 2. got feedback during my last talk that everyone wanted to learn OpenSolaris 3. the last talk on OpenSolaris saw very poor participation as it clashed with a singing competition where half the college decided to participate and the other half decided to cheer the participants. So with this OpenSolaris intro I want to start off with a long series of workshops on OpenSolaris and its related technologies.
The talk began with the usual on how Sun OS became Solaris and Solaris has become OpenSolaris. I like my talks to be free moving and at times wander off to parallel areas. Also I prefer not to stuff my slides with too much of information. I generally have one big heading per slide and 4 lines(preferably words) of text. I expect my audience to look at me and not the slides. I talk, the slide doesn’t. Also I make my slides visually appealing. For me a presentation is a work of art and I am learning to improve my craft.
So yes, we discussed a lot of things like why no Free OS can play MP3 and many video formats out of the box and the workarounds to those problems. Why OpenSolaris matters and where it stands vis-a-vis other OS? The future of OpenSolaris post Oracle-Sun merger. Why OpenSPARC is better than Intel x86 and yet why it does not sell as much? Why Apple decided to switch to Intel processors etc
During my intro of OpenSolaris ZFS, I also talked about the recent intrusion at apache.org and how the sysadmins managed to save a lot of data and effort as they were using ZFS at various places. The students were also fascinated by the concept of Zones and lots of questions and doubts were fired on this. Due to time restrictions I could not talk in depth about Crossbow and I had to move on to the installation demo. Nevertheless, I will be talking about all of the above in great detail in future sessions.
Also there were goodies for asking and answering most questions. The guy who asked most questions got a Sun USB stick and the next three got OSUM bags. In all it was a fruitful discussion and will bring in more people next time.
Some more tech demos are planned in the next few weeks. Wish me luck.
August 7, 2009 § Leave a Comment
My SCALASCA project is coming to an end. Its nearly over. I will take up another after this. This seems to be addictive, I want to learn more and more about it. And I have such fantastic and supportive people like Ganesh, Rajesh and Verdi. I wont talk about my next project right now. Let me complete this one first.
Ganesh Sir has already let students from my college (www.svnit.ac.in) work on porting apps to OpenSolaris IPS. Now he is also willing to let selected students to work on HPC projects under Sun Engineers from Singapore, who are also researchers at NUS. And I am understandably ecstatic about it. This will really help our students. HPC @ Sun means the cutting edge of technology and some really cool projects.
Also I and a few other friends of mine are fully going ahead with our plan of setting up a cluster here. Exciting times ahead.
August 7, 2009 § Leave a Comment
My CA term got extended for a year. So I will be the CA throughout my 4th year. My coordinator this year is Kumar Abhishek, a absolutely cool guy whose tech demos are wildly popular. My first event this year was on 4th Aug. It was an introduction to Sun and FOSS. I wanted to talk to people about FOSS, why it matters to Sun and why it should matter to them. We at our ACM Chapter, too, take FOSS seriously and do our best to promote FOSS. I made 2 types of posters(20 each), one to promote FOSS and the other to highlight Sun, which were put up at various part of the college.
The talk focused on what FOSS is and I talked a bit about all the history related to it including the Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative. I also talked a bit about some popular FOSS software to make it clear that FOSS means serious software and not just enthusiasts stuff.Then the talk moved over to Sun Microsystems. My focus was mainly the software and hardware that Sun develops and some of its pioneering work. The students were particularly interested in OpenSolaris and have asked me to conduct workshops on it. That will soon happen, but before that I need to conduct workshop on Netbeans and SPOT. I am already in the process of installing Netbeans on all PCs in our computer lab. The talk went for about 90 mins and I was happy to see that the students were not bored.Students who asked good questions or answered my questions received Sun goodies. A total of 43 students attended, a good feat considering most had left home for raksha bandhan. Expectations are high now and I have to deliver. I will do at least one more tech demo next week, if possible two.
Wish me luck.
July 22, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Most of you already know that I did an internship at Sun Microsystems India Engineering Center this summer (I am sure I have bragged enough about it). The internship has been a fantastic experience. The very first day I was welcomed by Rajesh, the Sun CA program co-ordinator for the south of India and Ganesh Hiregoudar, the APAC Head of the Sun CA Program. On the very next day I got a complete list of projects in my preferred area, High Performance Computing (HPC). I chose a project and a conference call was scheduled with the concerned Sun Engineer, in my case it was Verdi March, who works at the Sun Singapore office and is also a researcher at National University of Singapore (NUS). I was also alloted an account at Singapore Grid Discovery Zone to run my apps. My project was to find the per function speed up of a parallel application across multiple profiles. If you haven’t understood anything, don’t worry. I will explain.
Any computer application is made up of functions (I trust you already knew that). Profiling an application involves executing it and finding performance metrics out of it, like number of system calls, the time taken for each such call, the time taken by each function to complete,the amount of memory used, the number of bytes of inter process communication done by the application etc. In my case, all the applications were parallel ones, applications which use more than one CPU/cores/nodes. Now each time you run a app, under different conditions like different number of CPU, the performance characteristics will be different. Function will take different amounts of time to complete under different conditions, sometimes lesser time (a speed-up) and sometimes more (a speed down, i.e a speed up of less than 1). My job was to write a program that could read the performance profiles and calculate this speed up.
Here comes SCALASCA (Scalable Analysis of Large Scale Parallel Applications). SCALASCA profiles and analyses parallel apps. It been developed by the Julich Supercomputing Centre in Germany and has been used on such well known supercomputers like the Blue Gene……
My job was to extend SCALASCA to calculate the per function speed up. SCALASCA already does the job of profiling your application and generating a trace in XML format. It also provides an API to read/write those files. However, there isn’t much documentation available on SCALASCA as the developers are mainly people at the Julich Supercomputing Centre. Neither is there a mailing list for discussing problems. Hence I spent a hell lot of time going through the source and trying to understand the underlying design. The problem was further compounded by the near lack of comments in the source code. However, the SCALASCA developers, particularly Markus Geimer and Brian Wylie replied to all my question which enabled me to understand the CUBE API (CUBE is the tool that displays the performance data in the form of a GUI and allows you to perform operations on it).
Understanding the architecture of SCALASCA and the CUBE API took me quite a few days. And finally on the fourth week, I had nearly written a code that I believed would do the job. However there are still a few compilation errors to be taken care of (They have reduced from 26 to 4 now). I should complete the whole thing in the next couple of days.
I also met many of the other CAs. Made great friends with Abhishek Uppala, Vasusen Patil, Jay, Avinash, Abhishek Gupta, Okendra and others. Rajesh and Ganesh were always helpful and approachable. They are the best bosses you can get. I, Rajesh, Uppala and Vasusen also made a trip to Pondicherry. It was a fantastic experience. We played Foosball daily and my performance as a defender improved from pathetic to passable. We also had a few CA conferences and a team lunch as a farewell to Vijaya Santosh, a CA co-ordinator.
Overall the experience was amazing and I am looking forward to go back to IEC.
April 26, 2009 § 2 Comments
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.